Posted on: July 7, 2011 4:03 pm
Edited on: July 7, 2011 6:09 pm
Posted by Royce Young
Talk of losing an entire season is a bit ridiculous to me. There's just way too much at stake. Money, momentum, fan support, money, loyalty, money -- it's just hard to imagine losing any games much less a whole season.
But it's a possibility. And with all this hardline talk going on, it seems like neither the players nor the owners are wanting to budge. There's incentive for teams to get a deal done and not just for the money, but because a year without basketball and more importantly, basketball operations, could greatly affect each and every NBA franchise. Let's start with the Southeast Division.
The biggest question hovering over the Magic isn't about wins and losses or if Gilbert Arenas should stop tweeting. It's all about Dwight Howard's future and July 1, 2012. That's when Howard will become an unrestricted free agent. General manager Otis Smith has already said he won't trade Howard, but that could just be talk. Howard has said he wants to be in Orlando, but hasn't committed, turning down a three-year extension.
But if NBA offices are shut down and all transactions are halted, Howard might be forced to stay with the Magic all season -- except he won't play a game. Meaning Orlando could lose out on A) having a team good enough to convince Howard he wants to stay because he can win there; B) the Magic won't have an opportunity to trade Howard and get a Carmelo-like deal where they can restock the roster instead of letting him walk with nothing in return; or C) the Magic miss out on at least one more year with Howard meaning they miss out on a chance of having a good team that can compete. That's a lot to think about if this lockout starts stretching into 2012.
It's simple and very obvious for owner Micky Arison and the Heat: Lose the 2011-12 season and that's one less year you have of Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James. That's one less year of the spotlight, the attention and all that money funneling right into South Beach. That's one less shot at a title. That's one less season of constant sellouts, through-the-roof merchandise sales and huge TV ratings.
Basically, it's one less season of $$$$$. And one big reason for Arison to be an owner willing to bargain.
The Hawks are in pretty solid shape right now. After the 2011-12 season, they only have six players under contract, including all their big names (Joe Johnson, Josh Smith, Al Horford and uh, Marvin Williams I guess).
But a prolonged lockout could simmer the momentum built from last season's deep playoff run. The roster still isn't quite there and a resolution on what to do with Smith has to be figured out. The earlier he's traded means the more he's worth. Losing that opportunity is bad news for the Hawks, even if they choose to keep Smith.
But on the bright side, it is one less season of overpaying Joe Johnson.
The Bobcats aren't really going anywhere this year, or even next year. The roster needs work. It needs more talent, more ability and better structure.
But the Bobcats used two lottery picks on Bismack Biyombo and Kemba Walker, meaning there's a little jolt of young talent on the roster, which is exactly the direction Rich Cho is looking to take them. Younger, faster and a path to building, not just hanging on with marginal veteran talent.
A year without basketball for the Bobcats means a year of stunted growth. These guys need to play together every second they can and I don't just mean on a blacktop in Greensboro. Even if they lose 60 games, that's progress. But they need to be on the court to even have the chance to learn through losing.
Michael Jordan was a player (if you didn't know). I don't know if that means he's on the players' side because I'm sure he also wants a system that helps his franchise competitively and one that helps him make money, but at the same time, I think he cares more about winning and playing than all the rest.
It's the same story for the Wizards too. John Wall, new pick Jan Vesely, Nick Young and JaVale McGee are all young guys that just get better every night they play.
The bright side though is that Rashard Lewis is owed $21.1 million next season and that could be money well not spent. Which is why Ted Leonsis, an NHL owner who has been through an extremely painful lockout, probably isn't all that worried about things like stunted growth when there's money to be saved and made. The Wizards aren't on the path to prosperity right now and are likely one of the teams hemorrhaging a little dough. The Wizards risk setting back their development, but I think that's a price Leonsis would be willing to pay.
Posted on: July 5, 2011 2:18 pm
Edited on: July 5, 2011 2:30 pm
A look at five top 2012 NBA Draft picks and where they might fit best in the NBA. Posted by Ben Golliver.
In that light, the 2011 NBA Draft was about assessing risk for bad teams. Which incomplete player fits best with our pieces? Which of these diamonds in the rough might pan out in the right circumstances?
At first glance, there are arguably 10 prospects who could have been top five talents in this year’s draft. Why? Because the one-and-dones that stayed put – big-name stars like Harrison Barnes and Jared Sullinger – will converge with a very strong high school Class of 2011 – topped by Anthony Davis, James McAdoo, Michael Gilchrist, Austin Rivers and others.
Here’s an early look at five top prospects and where their impact would be greatest.
Barnes should headline the 2012 NBA Draft class and is the early favorite to go No. 1 overall. Despite falling short of preseason All-American expectations and starting slow as a freshman, Barnes came on strong over the second half of the season, averaging 21.3 points and 6.3 rebounds in March. He has all the tools to be an NBA All-Star and an elite scorer. He’s polished, smooth, has a pretty stroke, good size and a scorer’s self-confidence. After he gets a second season under his belt, Barnes should be ready to start from Day 1 and step in as a No. 1 scoring option from the get-go in 2012-2013. He understands the marketing side of the modern game and projects to be a franchise building block.
Best fit: If the Toronto Raptors and Charlotte Bobcats are as bad as everyone expects them to be next season, Barnes serves as the potential savior.
The No. 2 spot in next year’s draft is Sullinger’s to lose, although he’ll certainly have his share of challengers. A traditional low-post power forward, Sullinger shed questions about his weight to become the best freshman in the nation last season, averaging 17.2 points and 10.2 rebounds per game. Sullinger is strong and relentless, overpowering older players at the college level. Physically, he’s a throwback in this age of combo fours and he would be the consensus No. 1 pick next year if he were an inch or two taller and a few inches longer so that he could more comfortably play center. His productivity on the glass – and the offensive efficiency that goes with it -- is his top selling point. The biggest concern: Will he be subject to mismatches on the defensive end (too short to guard fives, too big to stay with combo fours on the perimeter)?
Best fit: Pair him with a lengthy shot-blocker. The Washington Wizards – with JaVale McGee -- or the Detroit Pistons – with Greg Monroe -- would allow Sullinger to do what he does best.
The best word to describe Davis is “tantalizing.” At this point, despite a solid showing on the All-Star circuit, Davis is regarded more for his potential than his current ability. That’s to be expected given a well-documented growth spurt that has made him the most hyped American big man prospect since Greg Oden. While Davis is much skinnier and less overwhelming than Oden, he is significantly more mobile. He's also extremely long and active around the basket on both ends. Kentucky is an ideal situation for him to develop: surrounded by future pros and not asked to do too much, Davis should have an excellent chance to make a big impact games during March Madness, even if he isn’t putting up overwhelming stat lines. There isn’t a team in the NBA that wouldn’t take him today based on the rarity of his physical package. If he continues to develop his strength and size, he has a very good shot to go No. 1 overall, even if he’s riskier right now than Barnes or Sullinger.
Best fit: Pairing Davis with a wide body, low-post presence would be his best-case scenario: Minnesota, next to Kevin Love, or Sacramento, alongside DeMarcus Cousins.
McAdoo is a supremely talented, although sometimes overlooked, combo forward who will likely play four as a pro. His skill level, comfort with the ball in his hands, nose for rebounds, ability to finish and general intelligence make him a can’t-miss prospect. A (very) distant relative of NBA Hall of Famer Bob McAdoo, he raised his profile on the All-Star circuit and declared at the Nike Hoop Summit that he was ready to average 20 points and 10 rebounds as a freshman at Carolina, a feat that would be unprecedented. With UNC returning so much talent, he’s in line for an adjustment of expectations but there’s no question that he was born to play basketball at the NBA level.
Best fit: The Cleveland Cavaliers didn’t get the talented combo forward they desired in Derrick Williams in 2011. McAdoo would make a nice consolation prize. Pending a decision on Kris Humphries and a rumored free agency pursuit of David West, McAdoo would fit nicely next to Brook Lopez in New Jersey too.
NBA teams haven’t exactly shown a desire to reward elite wing defenders with top draft selections, but Gilchrist deserves it. He really redefines “motor” and “intensity,” making full use of his ideal wing size. He enjoys playing chest-to-chest defense but is comfortable off the ball as well, equally capable of taking a No. 1 scoring option out of the game or breaking plays from the weakside and finishing in transition. Other than an ugly release on his jumper, Gilchrist is a solid offensive prospect too, able to score and make plays, and fully comfortable with the ball in his hands.
Best fit: Any team in need of an intensity injection. The Raptors, Wizards, Bobcats and Los Angeles Clippers all qualify.
All height and weight figures courtesy of DraftExpress.com.
Posted on: June 30, 2011 4:54 pm
Edited on: June 30, 2011 5:21 pm
Posted by Royce Young
A report from Sports Illustrated indicated something like 25-30 players might take their talents across the Atlantic and play in Europe next season because of all this lockout talk. Not nearly the mass exodus that some have been picturing.
Well, count one in already though.
Hilton Armstrong, most recently of the Hawks, has signed with ASVEL in France, according to Sportando. Armstrong was drafted in the first round by the Hornets in 2006 (No. 12 overall) but never has lived up to expectation. He's a good sized center with a solid skillset and quality athleticism, but has never played more than 16 minutes a game in a season.
He was traded to Atlanta from the Wizards in the Kirk Hinrich deal. He's never had a major impact and with his contract up this summer, he just decided to go to Europe. I don't know if this had as much to do with the impending lockout as it does with the fact Armstrong simply isn't a consistent NBA rotation player.
Posted on: June 27, 2011 2:16 pm
Edited on: June 27, 2011 3:16 pm
Minnesota Timberwolves forward Derrick Williams is the odds-on favorite to win 2011-2012 Rookie of the Year. Posted by Ben Golliver.
Derrick Williams might have been the No. 2 selection in the 2011 NBA Draft, but he's sitting in the pole positon to win the 2012 NBA Rookie of the Year award.
Bodog.com has released its early odds for which member of the Draft Class of 2011 will take home the Rookie of the Year award. Williams, a dynamic combo forward out of Arizona, leapfrogged one-and-done Duke point guard Kyrie Irving, drafted by Cleveland Cavaliers, to claim the No. 1 spot. The No. 10 selection, BYU guard Jimmer Fredette, selected by the Sacramento Kings, also finished ahead of Irving.
Here's a look at the top 10. Strictly for entertainment purposes only.
Why does Irving slide? Two reasons. To win Rookie of the Year, you must be as NBA-ready as possible and have the opportunity to play boatloads of minutes so that you can accumulate stats.
In Irving's case, he missed a good chunk of his rookie season at Duke, raising questions about how ready he is to be an impact player in the NBA from Day One. Second, the Cavaliers have a muddled point guard position with Baron Davis, Ramon Sessions and Boobie Gibson hanging around. That will likely get sorted out before next season rolls around, but it will be difficult to trade Davis, who is sure to get some serious burn.
Williams, on the other hand, is arguably the best physical specimen in this year's class. The Timberwolves have nothing to lose and, while Michael Beasley is on the roster and has a similar game, Minnesota has every incentive to turn Williams loose. With Rubio in the fold, look for the Timberwolves to continue to play an up-tempo game, with Williams given the green light to shoot and attack as often as he likes. One possible area of concern: Williams and Rubio, by virtue of playing on the same team, could cancel each other out.
Fredette represents the dumb money on this list. With no limit on his shot attempts in college, he compiled absurd scoring numbers. While he enters Sacramento figuring to get plenty of minutes, Tyreke Evans will command a very large chunk of the team's possessions, as will emerging big man DeMarcus Cousins. If Fredette doesn't defer, he will be marginalized. Ownership might be infatuated with him, but winning over his teammates is far more important.
Kanter appears to be more NBA-ready than most, but he enters a very crowded frontcourt in Utah. Surely he will carve out a solid role. But will it be enough to put up real numbers?
One solid dark-horse candidate: Kemba Walker. While he might not start from Day One because of D.J. Augustin, Walker will find plenty of available minutes in Charlotte's torn-down backcourt. The Bobcats are entering Year One of a major rebuild and thus will have Walker's development as a top -- perhaps the top -- priority. He enters the NBA after three years in college, and he proved that he was a star on that level.
Ultimately, I would expect this to boil down to a three-man race between Williams, Irving and Walker. Williams is a worthy early favorite.
Tags: Brandon Knight, Charlotte Bobcats, Cleveland Cavaliers, Derrick Williams, Detroit Pistons, Enes Kanter, Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, Jan Vesely, Jimmer Fredette, Kemba Walker, Klay Thompson, Kyrie Irving, Marcus Morris, Minnesota Timberwolves, Ricky Rubio, Sacramento Kings, Utah Jazz, Washington Wizards
Posted on: June 24, 2011 3:47 pm
Edited on: June 24, 2011 7:29 pm
Posted by Royce Young
When people say things like, "It's never too early to talk about..." what they really mean is, "It's way, way too early to talk about this but I'm trying to at least acknowledge that."
So... it's never too early to talk about next season's early contenders for Rookie of the Year (assuming there is a next year blah blah blah). Most everyone proclaimed last night's draft to be of the weak variety and while it very well may be, it's going to have a couple good players. Whether it's the top overall pick or a sleeper taken in the 20s, the 2011 NBA Draft won't go down as a total dud.
Who are the candidates to make a big rookie splash? There aren't a ton of franchise changing guys in this draft, but more a bundle of potential. Someone will be named Rookie of the Year and honestly, this might be one of the most wide open races in a long time. Derrick Williams isn't Blake Griffin. Kyrie Irving isn't Derrick Rose. From picks 1-15 really, there are a lot of guys that could contend. So here are my top five.
1. Kyrie Irving, PG, Cavaliers: If the No. 1 overall pick isn't a Rookie of the Year candidate, well, then his name must be Michael Olawakandi. It's hard to really know if Irving is going to step right in and start from day one or if the Cavs want to groom him behind Baron Davis -- don't laugh -- but he's going to get his minutes. This franchise is now his. He's the guy.
He's not John Wall or Derrick Rose, but that just means he's not as flashy. He makes plays everywhere, shoots the ball extremely well and is incredibly composed and mature. It's pretty easy to picture Irving averaging something along the lines of 15 points and five assists per game, which will likely be enough to win the award.
2. Derrick Williams, F, Timberwolves: I think Williams is a fantastic player. A 6-9 guy that's athletic and strong and shot 57 percent from 3? How could you NOT like him?
But I've got questions that almost made me leave him off the list. Where does he fit in with the Wolves? Is he their starting small forward? Does he fit alongside Kevin Love? Does Michael Beasley take too many shots and minutes from him? Does Williams play power forward and Love slide to center? Can Williams play power forward? Is he too much of a tweener, like Jeff Green?
If the Wolves are smart, and of course that's a whole other thing there, Williams sees minutes from day one and Beasley is shipped out so that Williams' growth is never messed with. I don't think the two can co-exist. Give the keys entirely to Ricky Rubio, Love and Williams and see what they can do. If that happens, I think he can put up pretty solid numbers and a few flashy highlights as well.
3. Jan Vesely, SF, Wizards: Blake Griffin didn't win the Rookie of the Year last year just based off a bunch of crazy highlight dunks. But there's no denying that they certainly helped.
And Vesely is the prime candidate to be 2011-12's official YouTube Party candidate for Rookie of the Year. He has an incredible amount of athleticism, a bunch of flash and some skill to boot. He can score, play and dunk. If Vesely gets minutes, he's going to grab some attention. And in winning awards, sometime attention is all it really takes.
4. Jimmer Fredette, PG, Kings: I'm coming clean -- I'm a total Jimmer junkie. I think he's going to be a great pro. My philosophy is, if you're one of the best at your craft at the highest level you can play, you'll likely be good at the next level too. Adam Morrison excluded, of course.
And Jimmer can score. Yeah, his defense stinks. But I think that was more of a product of the system and structure he operated in at BYU more than anything. BYU's coach Dave Rose knew Fredette couldn't dare pick up a couple early fouls, so he was hidden in a 2-3 scheme and rarely moved his feet or went for a steal. I don't think that's just because Jimmer doesn't understand a simple defensive stance, but more that he was instructed, "Don't you think about picking up a foul." There were similar concerns about Blake Griffin's defense too, but at OU Jeff Capel employed the same mindset to Griffin's defense. And I think that worked out.
The Kings cleared out room for Jimmer to immediately start and run the show. If he's ready for it, he's going to have a chance to put up really nice numbers on an improving team. Is he going to look to score or pass? That's to be seen. But he's a smart guy, has a bunch of talent and knows how to play. He's going to be good.
5. Alec Burks, SG, Jazz: I live in Big 12 country so I'm a bit biased having seen Burks play most of his college games. But let me tell you, that dude tore up the conference. Inside, outside, defensively, rebounding -- he was a one-man team.
The Jazz are slowly transitioning and while Enes Kanter was the No. 3 pick, I think he's going to be brought along more slowly than Burks. There's not a whole lot standing in the way of Burks and playing time, while Kanter has to settle in somewhere around Paul Millsap, Al Jefferson and Mehmet Okur. I don't know what the future of Andrei Kirilenko is but I'm sure Utah isn't that worried about finding room for Burks to play. He's going to likely be in the rotation from the start and might even push C.J. Miles for the starting shooting guard spot.
Posted on: June 23, 2011 8:25 pm
Edited on: June 23, 2011 10:07 pm
Posted by Matt Moore
(Follow along with our DraftTracker)
With the sixth pick, the Washington Wizards select Jan Vesely, F, Partizan.
So the rumors were true. Aggressive. Athletic. Raw. Not the terms usually used with a Euro, but Vesely is not the usual type of Euro. Vesely shows a rare combination of fierceness in attacking the rim.
Vesely joins John Wall as a running mate on the break. With the ability to rebound and defend, Vesely has an underrated post game. He knows how to finish in traffic and yes, he's going to make a ton of highlight reels. It matches perfectly with the direction of the Wizards.
The question will be if Vesely's lack of a jumpshot, comined with Andray Blatche's Blatche-like-ness and JaVale McGee's lack of touch makes for too raw of a front court. Also, should Vesely wind up as a PF at 6-11, things would get crowded down low for the Wiz. As long as the team is going young and athletic, though, this is a great choice, and Flip Saunders should be able to get a ton out of this kind of weapon.
For all the talk of Kanter, Valanciunas, and Biyombo,Vesely has a decent chance of being the Euro steal of this draft.
Also, upon getting drafted, Vesely's very attractive lady friend planted a huge kiss on him, and later Vesely told ESPN: "I like the John Wall game." Pure Euro gangster.
Posted on: June 23, 2011 6:17 pm
Posted by Matt Moore
From Michael Lee of the Washington Post:
For what it’s worth, the Wizards have invited staff members from the Czech Republic Embassy to attend the team’s draft party at Verizon Center on Thursday. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the Wizards will take forward Jan Vesely with the sixth overall pick, but it certainly is an indication that he is in strong consideration to join John Wall in Washington.via Does Wizards’ NBA draft invite provide clue to pick? - Wizards Insider - The Washington Post.
With Vesely being A. Czech, B. the best available small forward (arguably, depending on your love of Kawhi Leonard), and C. the most athletic player who isn't completely raw (see: Biyombo, Bismack), this seems to make a lot of sense.
Vesely has gotten lost in the Kanter-Valanciunas-Motiejunas-Biyom
bo foreign player shuffle. He's not a good, let alone great, shooter, but he's got good footwork in the post, great length and athleticism, and incredible aggression. The kid plays with an outright fire you don't see out of a lot of the Euro prospects who come over, given that so much of the European game is guided by touch. Vesely is considered older at 21, but still has great upside and on the break with John Wall would be an absolute terror.
We'll have to see if this just the most elaborate smokescreen you're going to find.
Posted on: June 18, 2011 10:57 am
Posted by Royce Young
John Wall threw out the first pitch for the Nationals' game on Friday and as the announcer said, it was really more of a bounce pass than anything else. Maybe it went 20 feet. But it skipped nicely off the ground and right into the catcher's mitt.
It's not the worst first pitch of all time but it's definitely on the Mount Rushmore of terrible first pitches I'd say.
Also, it's unconfirmed whether or not Wall did the Dougie after.