Monday, June 30, 2008

Gunnin' for that #1 Spot

Apparently, Adam Yauch of Beastie Boy fame is now making movies...

Gunnin' for that #1 Spot is a documentary that chronicles the lives of eight high school basketball phenoms while they prepare for the 1st annual Elite 24 game at Rucker Park. Four of the players - Michael Beasley, Jerryd Bayless, Kevin Love, and Donte Greene - were selected in the first round of Thursday's draft (coincidentally one day before the documentary hit theaters) and the other four - Kyle Singler, Brandon Jennings, Tyreke Evans, Lance Stephenson - are not for behind.

By all accounts, the film isn't a deep look at the problems with recruiting, agents, and the like involved in high school athletics, but instead a chance to get to see the personality of these kids before they are corrupted and changed by stardom and money. According to Scott Weinberg at
If you're looking for an insider's indictment of the college recruiting process or some sort of glorified promotional piece of Nike, Reebok or Adidas, you'll be disappointed to learn that Gunnin' for That #1 Spot is content to be a slick, simple, and enthusiastic little documentary. If the movie is celebrating one thing above all else, it's how a little talent and a whole lot of dedication can allow a fresh-faced kid to follow his favorite dream right into stardom. I'm sure someone could do a fantastic "flip-side" documentary on how these young athletes are often bought, sold, and exploited for other folks' profits, but that's not this flick. Here we get about an hour of set-up, introduction, and insight -- and then we get a half-hour of playground basketball magic that had me muttering "wow" on more than one occasion. And I'm not even a big basketball fan!

But there are millions of b-ball freaks who will absolutely devour this refreshingly upbeat and colorful documentary -- plus it's got a few great tunes, a couple of solid laughs, some really excellent basketball, and several beautiful shots of New York City. Best of all, it shows a bunch of great kids doing something they really love. Even my cynical side can't take a shot at that stuff.

I haven't had a chance to see it yet, but I will as soon as possible. If anyone has seen it, leave a comment and let me know what you think.
Continue reading...

Sunday, June 29, 2008

6/29 - Some Links, Some News

So now that the NBA Draft is done and the 60 players selected (and many who didn't, both seniors and underclassmen) are now officially starting their professional careers, it's time to get back to the college game. Over the coming weeks (and months), I will be doing a lot of previewing for the 2008-2009 college season. Look for team and conference previews, preseason all-american lists and a preseason top 25 list. 

But before I leave this draft behind, here are some last links and must-reads about the draft.
  • Luke Winn of wrote a great piece on the roller coaster draft night of Darrell Arthur. As more information comes out, it looks like the whole kidney issue was a non-issue - he apparently had high levels of creatine which could be a sign of kidney problems, but the tests results that cleared him never reached the rest of the league. Memphis (who eventually landed him after a series of trades) got a steal with Arthur. Losing $1.3 million in guaranteed money because of a false rumor can't feel good.
  • Max Wasserman from The Big Lead did an analysis of some of the most well known NBA mock drafts. Apparently, Chad Ford is not the be all and end all of the draft...
  • On that same note, Draft Express used the win-score statistic to look at the early winners and losers of the draft.
  • Leave the Man Alone had an interesting look at ... NBA Draft fashion?
Some last news and notes. The rumors about UConn's Stanley Robinson leaving school are true. He is currently back home in Alabama taking classes at a community college. Robinson never truly adapted to life up north, and apparently it has gotten bad enough where he may be able to receive a medical red shirt for this season. For Iowa State guard Wesley Johnson has officially decided to transfer to Syracuse, where Jim Boeheim will be able to use his scoring (and the extra depth) he brings to the Carrier Dome. It's old news by now (especially since only USC will feel the lasting effects), but the Sporting News takes us on another tour of OJ Mayo's life in SoCal. 
Continue reading...

Friday, June 27, 2008

Brandon Jennings to Europe! It's Official (maybe)

So reports are coming out of Arizona that prized recruit Brandon Jennings did not receive a qualifying test score, and will now be headed to Europe (or maybe the D-League) for a year until he is eligible for the 2009 NBA Draft. It is only a source, and it is the East Valley Tribune (not exactly reporting this), Wildcat fans may still have hope, but it looks like Chase Budinger's work load just got a lot bigger next year. Continue reading...

NBA Draft Winner's and Loser's

First of all, I just want to apologize to everyone that had to keep scrolling down to keep up with the live blog last night. About 20 picks in I realized it would have been smarter to put new posts on the top, but hey, it was my first live blog and I think it went pretty successfully. Thanks to everyone who followed along!!

Now back to the draft.

Before I get to the winners and losers of this year's draft, let me just run through a few things that happened in the second round or after the draft itself. This biggest news coming out of the second round on Draft Night was the blockbuster trade between the Memphis Grizzlies and the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Wolves will send the rights to OJ Mayo (3rd) along with Marko Jaric, Antoine Walker, and Greg Bucker to the Grizz for the rights to Kevin Love (5th) and Mike Miller, Jason Collins, and Brian Cardinal's horrific contract (2 years, $13 million). This is a pretty good trade for both teams. Minnesota lands a big man to play along side Al Jefferson and a shooter in Mike Miller, who should be able to open things up for Randy Foye, Rashad McCants, and the big guys in the paint. The only thing I don't like about this trade for the Wolves is that they now have a small front line without a great defensive presence. Memphis gets a player that they can market, will brings in fans, and may actually be talented enough to build the franchise around (and they get rid of Cardinal's contract). The worst part of this trade for Memphis is we will never see a front line of Gay Love, although Gay Mayo still has a nice little ring to it. Another interesting side note - Mayo and Love were the two finalists for best beard's of the draft. I gotta give it to OJ, Love's was just a bit too redneck for me.

The most interesting night probably belonged to Darrell Arthur. He was projected as a late-lottery or mid-first rounder, and as a result was in the Green Room at the MSG, but as a result of concerns of a blood test and kidney issue, he dropped all the way to 27th to New Orleans. This was only the beginning of a roller coaster night for the former Jayhawk. The Hornets were picking there for the Blazers who had bought the pick. The Blazers subsequently sent Arthur to the Rockets (see below), who them sent him to Memphis for Donte Greene (28th) and a future second rounder.

There were many others trades during the draft, with Portland (no surprise there) being involved in many of them: they moved Brandon Rush (13th), Jarrett Jack and Josh McRoberts to Indiana for Jerryd Bayless (11th) and Ike Diogu; they sent Darrell Arthur (27th) and Joey Dorsey (33rd) to the Rockets for Nicolas Batum (25th); they sent the rights to Omer Asik (36th) to the Bulls for three future second rounders; and they sent Mike Taylor (55th) to the Clippers for another future second rounder.

Other trades of note: DJ White (29th) was traded from the Pistons to the Sonics for Walter Sharpe (32nd) and Trent Plaisted (46th); Mario Chalmers (34th) was traded from Minnesota to the Heat for two second rounders; Bill Walker (47th) was traded from Washington to the Celtics for cash.

And now, the 2008 NBA Draft Winners and Losers.


  • Jason Thompson - He was projected all over the board (some had him going in the second round, some in them mid-first), but the Kings scooped him up with the 12th pick. I don't really understand this one - the Kings have Brad Miller and last year's 10th pick Spencer Hawes, and really need a point guard.
  • Mario Chalmers - Yea, he dropped out of the first round and won't receive a guaranteed contract, but he ended up with Miami, a team in dire need of a point guard that can knock shots, play D, and not turn the ball over. I can see him making this team and getting a good amount of playing time along side D Wade.
  • Portland Trailblazers - First, Brandon Rush drops all the way to 13th for them. Then they are able to package him with Jarrett Jack (a poor man's Brandon Roy) and Josh McRoberts (the only good thing he's done the league is LC from The Hills ... zingg) for Jerryd Bayless and Ike Diogu, giving them a scoring guard and playmaker to play along side Roy. Next, they use the pick they bought from New Orleans to take Darrell and package him with Joey Dorsey for Nicolas Batum, an extremely athletic and talented wing that they will store in Europe for a few years until he is NBA ready. Oh, and they managed to turn two second rounders this year into four next year.
  • Others with a good draft: Boston (I love the two guys they picked up - Bill Walker and JR Giddens. They provide depth on the wing, play D, and are athletes. Both head cases, but is anyone going to cross KG?); Utah (they got Koufus with the 23rd pick, a big guy that can pull the other team's center out of the lane with his shooting ability, and Ante Tomic at 44th, a guy that some expected would go in the mid first-round); and Miami (they made the right decision taking Beasley with the second pick, and landed Chalmers in the second round as well).
  • DeAndre Jordan - This guy was viewed as a potential top 10 pick at one point, but a loss of confidence at the end of the season combined with a poor combine and workouts, and he slid all the way out of the first round. He's got loads of talent, but can he ever put it together? I wouldn't be surprised if the only time you ever heard his name again was as a precaution to underclassmen.
  • Jamont Gordon and Davon Jefferson - There were seven other early entrants that didn't get drafted, but these are by far the two most notable ones. Gordon is a tough, rugged player that can probably make a roster in an Adrian Griffin role if he figures out that he is not going to be an NBA star. Jefferson, for all the talent and athleticism he has, has no work ethic (which showed when he was out of shape for the combine and his workouts). Too bad his eligibility is gone, because he could have helped USC a lot.
  • Sacramento Kings - OK, so you miss out on your top three choices (Russell Westbrook, Bayless, and Augustin), but the best you can do after that is select a guy that you could have gotten with the 25th pick? You have to know that those three may be gone and have a contingency plan ready, right? And to top it off, you pick Patrick Ewing, Jr. and Sean Singletary with the 42nd and 43rd picks while Bill Walker, Ante Tomic, Richard Hendrix, and DeVon Harden are all still on the board? Those four have a much better chance of being an NBA player than Singletary or Ewing. I just don't get it.
  • Milwaukee Bucks - OK, so draft day wasn't so terrible for them. They need to move one of their 4/5s and pick up some wings that were willing to play defense. Well, they did that - Yi Jianlian and Bobby Simmons for Richard Jefferson. And then with the eighth pick, they take Joe Alexander. I love the pick, but isn't he the same player as Jefferson. To top it off, they take Luc Richard Mbah a Moute with the 37th pick - another rebounder/defender/hustler on the wing. Don't get me wrong, I love all three of those players, but there was more than one reason the Bucks were in the lottery. On second thought, I'm going to hold judgement on this one.
  • Washington Wizards - Your poised for a playoff run, especially you can get Gilbert Arenas back, so who do you take? JaVale McGee. Don't exactly know what Ernie Grunfeld was thinking on this one.
  • Others with a bad draft - Charlotte (Felton is on the market, so they took Augustin as insurance, although I am not sold on DJ as an NBA starter just yet, and they took Alexis Ajinca, who averaged a whopping 5 pts and 5 rebs in France last year. He does have a 7'8" wingspan and, in the words of Jay Bilas, tremendous upside potential. I do like the pick of Kyle Weaver at 38th); Seattle (I liked the Westbrook pick - fits in well with Durant and Green - but I don't understand why the Sonics keep wasting first rounders on big men that disappear - Mohammed Sene, Robert Swift, Johan Petro. And they also added DJ White, DeVon Hardin, and Sasha Kaun); and Golden State (so the Warriors last year traded J-Rich for super athletic, super skinny lefty forward Brandon Wright. This year's lottery pick - super athletic, super skinny lefty forward Anthony Randolph. Really?).
Continue reading...

Thursday, June 26, 2008

NBA Draft Live Blog!!

Rob (2:10): I'll start out this foray into the wonders of new media with the simplest of all discussions for this Draft - Derrick Rose or Michael Beasley? I'm sticking with Rose on this one. I think the guy is going to be a special point guard one day - I keep saying it, but imagine Deron Williams with D-Wade's athleticism. I think Beasley will have more of an immediate impact than Rose, and may be a better fantasy player, but if your starting an NBA team, who do you want - Melo or Deron Williams? I'll take the PG everytime.

Ross (2:31): Hey big guy. Glad to join you for this exciting draft night. As to your first question, I have to disagree. If I was the Bulls, I would take Beasley. The best reason for Chicago to take Rose is that he is from the city and will immediately help fans forget about their horrific 49-loss season last year. But I watched both of them play extensively in college. Rose succeeded because he physically dominated the point guards he played. He was simply bigger, faster and could jump over the other team's point guard. Not to mention he has perhaps the most talented supporting cast in college basketball around him. You couldn't double team Rose to get the ball out of his hands because Memphis had so many weapons. Beasley, on the other hand, faced double and triple-teams every night. Teams focused their game plans entirely on him, and he would still get 30 and 15. I think he is the better player now, and will be the better player throughout his career. With the first pick, you want an all-star for ten years. That's Beasley.

Rob (3:38): Just a couple of trades to make note of: the Nets are reportedly sending Richard Jefferson to the Bucks for Yi Jianlian and Bobby Simmons and the Clippers are trading the 7th pick and their 2009 first rounder (protected) to the Sonics for the fourth pick. It looks like the rumors that the Sonics want Brook Lopez may actually be true, but who do the Clippers want with the fourth that they are willing to give up a future first rounder for? Could this be a play to get Beasley?

Ross (3:45): Interesting trade by the Nets. I always assumed that Vince Carter would leave before Jefferson. How do the Nets put the ball in the basket next year? That is a team that is lacking some scoring punch. Rob, before the draft starts, let me ask who you think the steals of the draft are going to be. Guys that are going to go after the lottery is finished but that will have an immediate impact next year. Thoughts?

Rob (5:50): There are three guys I really like after the lottery. The first is your boy Courtney Lee. The kid is big enough and athletic enough to compete with any NBA two, has range out to the NBA three, and can create his own shot if need be. Rumor has it that he is all but a lock at 22nd to the Magic, which would be a good fit for him. I think he could be a 10-12 ppg guy down the road. I also really like Marreese Speights. He is another big, athletic post out of Florida, but he has some serious motivation issues. I think the guy to emerge from the second round this year is Richard Hendrix from Alabama. He is only 6'7", but has a wingspan of 7'3". He's a house at around 250 (down from closer to 275) and averaged 17 and 10 in the SEC. I think he can contribute right away for any team a la Paul Millsap, and maybe if he can keep losing weight and improve his quickness and athleticism he could be a poor man's Carlos Boozer one day.

Ross (5:56): Completely agree about Courtney Lee. He can play both guard positions, and is strong enough and experienced enough to come in and handle the grind of the NBA right away. I disagree a little with Speights and Hendrix. Both of them are extremely talented players and great athletes. Yet watching them in the SEC, I always felt like they underproduced. It seemed like they floated too often, relying on talent and not exerting themselves fully. Unless both have a serious change of attitude, that won't cut it in the NBA.
One of my sleepers is Darell Arthur from Kansas. He hasn't been getting a lot of pre-draft hype, but some analysts have him going to Washington at 18. He's an experienced player who was phenomenal in the NCAA tournament. I don't know what it is, but I always think that if you have success during March Madness, on the big stage, you can play in the NBA.
Ok Rob, what about draft busts. Guys that are slated to go in the first round that will be out of the league in three years????

Rob (6:13): Anyone listed at 6'11" or above??? Ok, that's a bit of an exaggeration but not as much as you would think. In the lottery, I think Anthony Randolph won't turn into much. I saw him play twice this year, and he looked really impressive, but I've heard some bad things about his work outs (how are you out of shape going into the NBA Draft workouts) and he is very, very raw. He has a huge upside though (i hate that word). I also think any team that would use a pick on DeAndre Jordan or JaVale McGee is throwing a pick away. both are long and athletic, but play no defense, are way too weak to play the pivot in the league, and don't have much in the way of a post game. Draft Express even had a stat that said that McGee was scored on 66% of the time his man had the ball in the post this year, in the WAC, not a powerhouse for big men.
Another guy I forgot to mention who could be a steal is Chris Douglas-Roberts. The guy can just flat out score, and I feel like guys with a herky jerky style like CDR's can always find a way.

Ross (6:25): Well, Rob, I just got home from a long day of work. I've got a 6 pack here with me, ordering some Chinese food, and settling in for a long night of NBA Draft! Either this is going to be a great night, or I really need a better social life.
Good call on CDR. Another guy who had a lot of success in college and should be ready to handle the grind of an NBA season. Plus, he's long and can get his shot off at any time. So tell me what you think about this. I know Beasley and Rose are supposed to be terrific, and I think they will be, but I think there's another perennial all-star in this draft, and that's Eric Gordon. Yes, he slumped at the end of the year, but his IU team was in disarray. I saw him play a lot. The guy has NBA size, is strong as an ox, and has range out to 25 feet. You can't play off him because he's such a good shooter, but can't get up close cuz he's so quick. What do you think? I think he's somewhere in between Ben Gordon and Gilbert Arenas. He may never be 27 ppg in the NBA, but 20+ is very realistic.

Ross (6:31): Rob, why do people keep talking about Michael Beasley's attitude problems??? All he did was autograph a bunch of stuff at Oak Hill with Ty Lawson. I think thats hilarious. They're talking about him like hes Pacman... excuse me, ADAM Jones.

Rob (6:40): I don't know. I feel like Mayo's character issues are much worse. Beasley is just a goofy kid that plays pranks. But he's a warrior on the court. Mayo is a primadonna that still thinks he's the next LeBron James. And I guess Ronald Guillory is the kind of person you want your draft pick hanging out with......

Ross (6:41): I think it's been tough of Mayo. He's been in the spotlight his whole life. Remember, he's still just a kid, as are all of the guys that are coming out after one year. It just seems like people want to pick at something, and when there's nothing to pick at, they make up stuff. Here's my bust: Kevin Love. I know, I know, he was a great college player, but I think he simply won't be able to guard NBA 4's and 5's. Can you imagine him checking Amare? Dwight Howard? Love can be a solid, if undersized forward, but not a top-7 pick.
By the way, Jay Bilas just called Mario Chalmers a "senior to watch." I love ESPN announcers, even if they DID go to Duke...

Ross (6:47): Rob, here's my first prediction for you: Roy Hibbert will be a bad pro. I know, he's 7'2 with good ball skills. And he did improve exponentially in his years at georgetown. But I actually think he regressed in his final year in college (he would have been a higher pick had he entered after Georgetown's Final Four season), and I also think the days of 7'2 centers are over. Back in the 80's and early 90's, we saw more players like this (Mark Eaton, anyone???). But the game has changed. There are so few true centers, and so many more athletic hybrids. Jermaine O'neal, Amare, Dwight Howard, Chris Bosh, etc., these guys play the 5 but really are more of a mix. My question is, who can Hibbert guard? He's slow, has terrible lateral quickness, and could never run the floor with any of them. On offense, he takes a while to get his shot off and faced players 6 inches shorter than him in college. I think he is a back-up, at best.

Rob (7:00): I think you're right on with Hibbert. He will hang around the league for a while, but I can't really see him being much more than a mediocre center, but given his skill set I can understand how someone might see another Zydrunas Ilgauskas. I disagree about Love, however (Note: if Chad Ford's last mock draft holds true and the Grizzlies take him, then their forwards will be Rudy Gay and Kevin Love). I think he is big enough and smart enough that he can use the phenomenal skills he has, even if he defense is lacking. Not a star, but i can see him being a 15 and 8 guy for ten years.
Also, Andy Katz just announced that Rose will be the number 1 pick, and Ric Bucher is reporting that the Heat will actually pick Beasley. Rose isn't a surprise, and I think that is a good fit for them (how often do good point guards come along), but everything has said the Heat have been shopping the second pick around. Maybe they were just trying to work a great deal out of it, but I think that is such a smart move. How can you pass on a guy as good as Beasley?

Ross (7:06): Why wouldn't the Heat want Beasley? You then have three guys who can score 25 on any given night (or on the same night) with Wade, Matrix and Beasley. Put a decent point guard on that team who doesn't turn the ball over, and that team finishes in the top 4 in the East.
I can't keep listening to Dickie-V talking about the "temptation of South Beach." What, is he hitting up the Gold Club in Miami?? Why is this not an issue with every player on the Heat, Marlins and Dolphins? Beasley is a good kid and will be a great pro. Stop making up stories to fill airtime!!!

Ross (7:14): Was it just me, or did Derrick Rose not even come close to the question that was asked about what the Bulls have told him?? And does OJ Mayo sound a little like Kermit the Frog?
A reader asked if the Nets will move to Brooklyn. I think they probably will. A new arena is already being planned at the Atlantic Shipyards, and Brooklyn as a borough is changing every day. There's more money there, and I think there's room for two NBA teams in this city. How about Jay-Z as owner/coach?? That would sell tickets!!

Ross (7:19): Rob, let me ask you about the Wizards at the 18th pick. Do you think they will keep the pick? Their biggest holes are at backup center and backup point guard. A steal for them might be a guy like Jason Thompson out of Rider. 6'11, 250 pounds, can really rebound and is strong enough to play defense in the league. Not sure he'll ever be a scorer in the league, but would give the Wiz some much needed toughness. If they draft JaVale McGee, I will jump in front of a bus.

Rob (7:22): I like Thompson a lot, but he is basically the same player as Andray Blatche. As you said before, I like Arthur there. He is dropping on draft boards because he didn't measure out well with he length or athleticism, but he can play and can run the floor. He is kind of an Antawn Jamison type player. I also like Chalmers there a lot. He can knock down open shots if Gil penetrates, and he is a lock down defender that will create havoc in the passing lanes (when was the last time Agent 0 played defense).

Ross (7:29): That's true about Blatche, but I wonder how much time Chalmers would get with Nick Young, a promising young player, already there.
Let's get back to the players on the board. I have always been wary of guys who play well for a few games down the stretch of a college season, and get people really excited. A perfect example is Joe Alexander. This guy was a good player all year, but wasn't even mentioned on draft boards. Then he heats up in the Big East Tournament and into the Sweet 16, and now he's top 8??? He's a decent NBA player, but do you really see him being a starter, worthy of a lottery pick?
So the Bulls took Rose first, what happens to my main man Duhon???

Rob (7:31): Yea, I think Alexander will be a good player. He is a great athlete - 6'8", 36" vert, fast and strong. He also is a proven hard worker - he didn't do anything his freshman year and turned himself into a great college player. I think 8th to the Bucks may be a stretch, but the kid can play and will be a solid starter in the league. Just because he killed Duke in the tourney doesn't mean he's not a good player.
So Rose is officially the #1 pick. Not a surprise. I think Duhon stays, and they move Hinrich somewhere.

Ross (7:37): Rose's mother says that Chicago is the only place he knows how to play?? Um, was she blackout for his last year at Memphis??? Pretty funny...
I still think Beasley will be the better pick. If Miami doesn't take him here, there will be some Sam Bowie references...

Rob (7:39):So Beasley goes second to the Heat. Thank god, they would be fools to not take him. In response to a reader, I think the Knicks take Danilo Gallinari. No point guards in the draft save DJ Augustin can run D'Antoni's system, and 6th is too high for Augustin. Gallinari is a tough kid, can shoot, and is tall on the wing.
What does Minnesota do now? Put Mayo in the backcourt with carbon copies Rashad McCants and Randy Foye?

Ross (7:43): Why not take Brook Lopez, move Al Jefferson to the 4, and go big??
I'm I'm the Knicks, I'd trade the pick. No player at the 6th pick is going to save the team in a year. Trade down, get two or three picks and some cash, and rebuild from the ground up. I know that doesn't play well in New York, but I think that's the smart move.

Rob (7:46): Good decision. I'm of the philosophy that you always take the best available (by the way, how old does Mayo look with that beard and what is he doing with those shoes). Anyway, I guess the Clippers - Sonics deal fell through because they couldn't get Mayo. I think the Sonics take Lopez. They need the center.

Ross (7:52): I think Westbrook at 4 is a horrible pick. He was about the 5th most valuable player on his college team. He's a great athlete with no consistent jumper and a less-than-average handle. He is a great defender, but I don't like this pick at all. They needed a scorer to take some pressure off Durant, and this just ain't it. Westbrook just said he's a point guard, but wasn't even the best on his college team. Top-4 pick?? Really?

Rob (7:54): I like the pick, just not at four. He's a great defender, which durant can't do, and can get out and run the floor. But I think they should have gone with Lopez, they need an inside presence especially in the west. Westbrook may one day be Leandro Barbosa/Rajon Rondo, but there is more out there they could have gotten.

Ross (7:57): I agree with that. Four is too high. Who do the Grizzlies take? Commish is up and... they take Kevin Love. I like this pick. I don't think he's a star, but he has terrific fundamentals and will add some stability to that team. They are very athletic already, and Love provides nice balance.
Random Thoughts: If I see that Sprite commercial where they all jump into the court again, I'm gonna throw up. First of all, who drinks Sprite after playing ball?? Kieffer is probably trying to dive into his neighborhood court right now...
Second Random Thought: How funny does Pinnapple Express look??

Rob (8:00): Pineapple express will be great. Those guys can never do wrong. I like the Rudy Gay - Kevin Love front court more than anything out of that pick. Love should be a solid guy in the league for a long time. Btw, when did the NBA start interviewing parents? Who cares what Love's dad has to say?
Love's uncle is the lead singer of the Beach Boys? That's crazy.
I have no idea who the Knicks take here. They basically just need to blow that whole team up and start over,a nd noone here will do that for them.

Ross (8:03): Gallinari!!!! GOOOOOOOOAAAAAALLLLLL!!!!! Great pick, he will be really good on headers around the goal, and has a really strong right foot...
Wait, what? This is the basketball draft?? Oh... Well, he should be good to pair with Frederick Weiss.
Seriously, this guy is supposed to be good. But the Knicks needed help, NOW! Does this help them next year? Readers, do they win more than 25 games? Hard to say yes unless Dantoni is a genious.

Rob (8:05):Yea, I really don't see him adding anything this year. Even with Beasley the Knicks don't win 25 games. I think the Clippers gotta go with Gordon here.
"I like .... to win". Atta boy Danilo.

Ross (8:08): Danilo might think that boo means "I want to drink grappa with you" in Italian.
Now the Clippers take... Eric Gordon. Good pick. Take the best player available. This guy is a stud. Strong, fast, can shoot and finish at the rim. Not sure he fits terribly well with that team, but he is a great player. Horrible blazer though. He looks like Marc Ramos on prom night in the barrio...

Rob (8:12): Yea, what is Gordon doing with that suit. Grea tpick for them in my mind. Gordon, Maggette, Kaman, and Brand should at least compete in the West for the playoffs.
Bucks are going with Alexander here. They need a small forward and someone to hustle and play D. Alexander's the guy.

Ross (8:13): Funniest image of the draft so far: Danilo walking into the Knicks locker room, looking the team in the eyes, and saying... "I want... to win." Then Eddy Curry calmly gets up, walks over to him, and shanks him in front of everyone. Amazing.
Joe Alexander? Really? Again, I think good player but a role player. Worthy of the 8th pick? I'm not sure. I like that he played for Bobby Huggins, so you know he's tough, but he's kind of a tweener. Probably not quick enough to guard small forwards, but not big enough to play power forward.

Rob (8:15): Alexander was the second fastest player in the NBA combine in the 3/4 sprint and top ten in the agility drill. So yea, he can guard three's. I love this pick. There is a reason he shot up draft boards.
The Bobcats are prob gonna go with Brook Lopez here, which gives them a front line of Emeka and Lopez. That's not a bad team with Felton and J-Rich also. Personally, I don't think Lopez is going to turn into much more than Brendon Haywood at best, but at least that is a solid 12 and 8 center for ten years. They also have the 20th pick too, so they still have room to play here.

Ross (8:20): I like Lopez here. He has a remarkably mature post-up game. Good jump hooks with both hands, can step out and shoot it to 15 feet. I'm not sure that he's a star, as you said, but a solid center to pair with Okafor, who is a little undersized to play center anyway, and then you bring Sean May off the bench, is nice.
So here they go... The Bobcats select: D.J. Augustin. Wow. Raymond Felton must feel like he just got slapped in the face. How do you explain this? They didn't need a point guard. And I don't think Augustin is going to be a great pro. What is MJ doing??

Rob (8:23): I don't know about that one either. Felton is finally turning into something, and you take Augustin, a PG that dominates the ball and can't guard anyone? I don't know. He's a great talent, but i don't know.
Did anyone else see Brook Lopez crying in the Green Room? Come on dude, you know you're on national TV right? I have no idea what the Nets do here. I'm going to say Lopez again, but I may be 0-3 on that. I also like Bayless for them, because without Jefferson they need a scorer, and Harris can guard two's if need be because he is about 6'4".

Ross (8:26): And the Nets take... Brook Lopez. Nice pick. He's a solid post guy, plus if the team is ever bored on the plane, I hear he's a great cartoon artist. Seriously though, I think he will help them immediately, and that's what they need. Bayless is probably the best player left, right?
Do Josh Boone and Brook Lopez combine to form the ugliest front line in NBA history?? Sorry, thats mean...

Rob (8:28): I like this pick too. A quick question though. Going back to Milwaukee's pick, why do they trade for Richard Jefferson when they were going to pick Alexander? Aren't they the same player?

Ross (8:30): I agree. 6'7, good athlete. If anything, Alexander's absolute ceiling is... Richard Jefferson.
Another side note: Robin Lopez is HILARIOUS. He could hang out with me anytime.

Rob (8:32): Jerryd Bayless and TJ Ford in Indiana's back court? That will be the smallest backcourt in NBA history. Maybe that trade won't go through.
Who will the Kings take here? I really have no idea. I have heard Chalmers, Hibbert, Arthur... I think they need to go with the best out, and that is Arthur.

Ross (8:34): Here are the thoughts of an ESPN producer right now: Stephen A., ask him ANYTHING other than "Are you a true point guard?" Seriously, he has asked that question to like 8 of the 11 guys picked so far. Very creative, Stephen A. I can't wait till another foreign player gets up there and doesn't understand what "true point guard" means. SAS might explode.
If I'm the Kings here, I might take Brandon Rush. He's a guy that knows how to win, and can play right away.

Rob (8:36): Jason Thompson???? Why do you take him there. You can trade down and get him at 20. He may turn into a pretty good player - he is obviously a late bloomer as he grew four inches in high school - but come on, you just picked Spencer Hawes last year and already have Brad Miller. Aren't they the three same players?

Ross (8:40): My guess is Stephen A. Smith is soooo disappointed that he can't ask Thompson if he's a true point guard...

Rob (8:42): Why do they make the most standoffish broadcaster in the history of television the interviewer? I'm sure every player is thinking about how much of a jackass SAS is.
I think Portland goes with Rush here. He's a winner, a defender and a shooter, and will fit into a role.
And the pick..... It's Rush. Great pick.

Ross (8:44): I agree. Great pick, will really help Roy and Webster. 22 minutes a game, 9 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists. Also a solid guy, which is no small issue with the Jail Blazers. Also, I think Jason Thompson will surprise people. A little high to take him at 12, but he's a good player who can rebound and defend NBA centers. Not as bad as some people think.

Rob (8:46): And the Blazers go with... Anthony Randolph. Risky pick, because you can't know how he is going to develop or how hard he will work with guaranteed money, but he has a ton of potential. I think the Warriors are a great system for him because he can get out and run the floor, but Brandon Wright is pretty much the only player on the Warriors roster that isn't a free agent.
SAS: "Anthony, your long, athletic, you can shoot, you can score ... but can you be a true point guard".

Ross (8:51): Yeah, Anthony Randolph is risky. But how is he that much different than Brandon Wright? Still, at 14, it's probably worth the risk.
Quote of the night - Dick Vitale: "Dantoni. Gallinari. Sounds like a great Italian restaurant." Hilarious.
Getting close to the Wizards!! Might Chalmers still be on the board?? I hope so!
Rob, best players left after the lottery??

Rob (8:54): Darrell Arthur, Marreese Speights, and Kosta Koufus. All bigs. Chalmers is probably the best guard left, you better hope he keeps dropping.
The Suns pick Robin Lopez, and I love that pick for them. He is a scrappy defender that will hustle and give you energy, pretty much the exact opposite of Amare.
Team Lopez's mom is white? What??? And she looks like she is about 6'5". They probably should have gotten him a bigger hat though.

Ross (8:57): Yeah, I think Arthur will be a very good pro. I agree, Lopez is a good pick. He runs the floor, plays D and rebounds. Will be a good backup for both Amare and the Diesel. Plus, hes hilarious.
A story for you: This is an absolutely true conversation I had on Friday night with Steve Nash in a club.
Ross: 11-7.
Steve: What?
Ross: That would be the score if we played on-one-on.
Steve: Oh... um... haha (nervous laughter).
Ross: Seriously, I used to be a point guard, and I really love your game.
Steve: Thanks man.
Ross: Oh... um... haha (nervous laughter).

Rob (9:00): 11-0 you mean right? Good pick for the Sixers, they need some physicality. I also think if Speights is motivated all season he is a top 10 pick this year. So the question with this pick is: is this for the Pacers of the Raptors?
Ross - who is the last player that is in the Green Room? DeAndre Jordan. How far does he fall?

Ross (9:04): Big Roy Hibbert!!! Not a bad pickup for Indiana, will be a decent NBA player.
Wizards are on the clock. Who do they take? I think they need size, so Jordan, Koufos, or Arthur would be the most likely.
I agree, Speights is a good pick for the 76ers, because Thaddeus Young is not a physical player.
Another true story: I played against Big Roy in summer league. I had 24. He had 4 against my high school's 6'5 center. They won by 3. I'm not impressed.

Rob (9:08): Stop dropping names. Noone's impressed. I think the Wiz go with Chalmers.


Rob (9:12): So there's a trade. Brandon Rush and Jarrett Jack from Portland to Indiana for Bayless and Ike Diogu. I like that trade for both teams. If Indiana gets Ford thats a good backcourt with Rush and Dunleavy, and Bayless will fit in well with Brandon Roy. Good all around.

Ross (9:13): So I'm Ernie Grunfeld, GM of the Washington Wizards. My team has made the playoffs the last three years, but we can't get out of the first round. We need one player to get over the hump. There are a lot of solid contributors out there, guys that can help right away. So draft night comes, and I'm gonna take... Javale McGee??? Really?? I'm speechless. He is a project that won't contribute for three years. What's the thought process here? Plus, they have Brendan Haywood, Andray Blatche, and Etan Thomas coming back. Brilliant. This is why I love being a Washington sports fan.

Rob (9:15):Cavs gotta go with Arthur. He's a top 10 picks any other year. So they take.... JJ Hickson? I don't know about that one. He's raw, has no ball skills, but is strong and a very explosive big guy. I don't know, al depends on how he develops in the league.
How is Arthur still around? Maybe missing all those workouts actually hurt him. I think the Bobcats need to go big here, and I think Koufus is the best pure big guy left. He's 6'11", has a good jumper, and is a pretty good athlete (36" vert). He could turn into a pretty good player.

Ross (9:21): I think Hickson is a good pick. He played in the ACC and played well against good big men. He'll be a good pro, and has some time to develop on a veteran team like Cleveland. Interesting theme: teams are definitely favoring potential over proven college players. Anthony Randolph, Javale McGee, JJ Hickson are all guys that could be good, but it will take a lot of work. I think Arthur, Courtney Lee and Chris Douglas-Roberts will be good right away. Thoughts??

Rob (9:24): Exactly. Ajinca averaged 5 and 5 in a French pro league. But when has an NBA Draft not been based on potential? But your right, all the guys that will help right away are going to end up going to the best teams. Some middle of the pack team is going to get a gift in Arthur.
So the Blazers are also sending McRoberts to the Pacers? Now I guess the Pacers have a game changer - NBA Finals? I think so.

Ross (9:27): Don't knock McRoberts. He went to Duke, he's obviously going to be a good pro. Plus, he used to date LC from the Hills, so he does have that going for him.

Rob (9:30): Haha. LC is smokin'. I kinda like this pick with Anderson. He put up incredible numbers at Cal and can put the ball in the hoop, which the Nets need.
Now my question for you is will the Magic take Courtney Lee, who is a good pick, will be a solid pro and fills a need, or do they take Arthur, easily the best player left?

Ross (9:32): Personally, I hope they take Arthur, so that JJ Redick doesn't get buried deeper on the bench. Seriously though, there is a lot of quality left. I can't remember a year when so many proven players have been around so late. I'm talking about guys that were all-conference in college. They might not measure up as well in pre-draft workouts, but they are proven players who can contribute. Magic about to pick, I think Arthur has to be the pick...

Rob (9:35): Nope, they took Lee. This was pretty much the most sure thing heading into the draft, as everyone had Lee penciled in here a while ago. I like this pick, as I said before, because Lee is going to be a solid NBA guy for a while.
I can't believe Arthur is still on the board. I don't know if he fits Utah's flex offense, or fits with Seattle when they have Green and Durant already, so he may keep dropping. He would be a dream for Houston at 25 though.
And you're right, there are a ton of good college guys still available. Everyone has been saying that this is a deep draft, I guess they were right.

Ross (9:40): You're right, Lee was a good pick at 22. Reminds me a lot of Rodney Stuckey. A solid player from a small school that put up huge numbers in college, and everyone saw what he did in the playoffs. At 23, the Jazz take Koufos. Good pick. Will give them quality minutes off the bench, and actually I think is a nice compliment to Boozer downlow. Koufos is a good athlete but can step out and shoot a mid-range J. He should be a nice fit in Utah.
Rob, who's a guy that was sure he was going to go in the first round that will drop to the second and not get that guaranteed contract?

Rob (9:42): Agreed. He can shoot, won't after to worry about playing in the post to start, and pulls out the center allowing Williams and Boozer to have space to work. Great pick for them.
It's DeAndre Jordan. He was considered a top 5 pick early in the season, and there is now way that Arthur slides past Portland at 27. Most of the teams picking now are looking for a role player to fill a need and will pick a foreign guy and keep him in Europe to develop as opposed to letting a guy like Arthur develop here.

Ross (9:46): Serge Ibaka? Again, not to beat a dead horse, but how do you take Serge Ibaka over a guy who just played in the National Championship game? Either NBA GM's are geniouses, or idiots. I'm just not sure which.
I'm watching the draft right now with my little brother Jake, who just asked me "Who the hell is Serge Ibaka?"

Rob (9:49): I like the pick, just not for the Sonics. They need something immediate to help them (and help them stay in Seattle) but Ibaka will be able to develop for a few years in Spain before he comes over here.
Side note - what is Jeff van Gundy more jealous of his brother for? The fact he has a coaching job or the fact he has a full head of hair?

Ross (9:52): The Rockets take... another French guy, Nicolas Batum. This guy is actually supposed to be very good. 6'7, can jump out of the building. Supposed to be a lot like Boris Diaw. He needs to fill out a lot, but if he says in Europe for a year or two, he will be very good.
Ric Bucher just reported that Darell Arthur has an undisclosed kidney condition. This is huge! Why did no one report this earlier? What does this mean?

Rob (9:55): Yea, and Batum was supposedly having a medical issue as well - he failed a test on his heart at a workout in Toronto.
Arthur is more of a surprise. I had no idea about this, as I'm sure most people in the media didn't. That's too bad for him. I guess its karma though - maybe he should have gone to class in high school.
For the record, on ESPN's graphic for the Spurs, they printed Mark Jackson's advice to the Spurs: "Needs to younger talent". Nice. Maybe that's why you can't get a coaching job.

Ross (9:58): George Hill is a great pick for them. Will be a very good backup to Tony Parker. When you're the Spurs, you need to fill small holes. This does that.
I feel bad for Arthur. Never good to be the last guy in the Green Room.
YESSS! The Sprite commercial is on again!!! Hey Rob, I'm thirsty, gonna run down to the corner store and get.... a Sprite.

Rob (10:00): Oo-ee-poo-ee's finest goes to the Spurs! I love the small schools getting some props this year. So this pick is for the Blazers. Who do they take here? I like CDR here. Gives them another scorer from the wing who can fill a need and fit into a team concept.

Ross (10:06): FINALLY, Darrell Arthur is taken. This is a great pick for them. He adds strength, versatility, and an overall solid player. With Oden healthy, they will be a force next year. I still don't think that Steve Blake takes a team deep into the post-season though. Glad to hear that Arthur is healthy and ready to go. I think he will be a very good player in the league.

Rob (10:08): Glad to see Arthur picked as well. He is a steal for Portland this late. For Memphis, the announcers are trying to say that the Grizzlies need another big guy, but who are you going to pick here that can contribute right away? I think they should take either Chalmers or CDR here, because both are proven winners and can add depth to a team. They are probably better off with CDR because they already have a log jam at PG that sent Juan carlos Navarro back to Spain.
And they take... Donte Greene. I'm not really sold on this guy. He is a 6'9" gunner that lives outside the three point line. At best, he can be an Al Harrington, which isn't half bad, but he has a long way to go to get there.

Ross: (10:13): I agree on Greene. He settles for jumpshots way too much, which is a shame because he is a fabulous athlete. Needs to work on shot selection as well as getting stronger to succeed in the league.
I think the consensus that CDR and Chalmers are the best players left. Another guy that I think will be a good pro is D.J. White from Indiana. He's really strong, and was the only post option at Indiana and still put up great numbers in a rugged Big Ten. Would be a steal around now.

Rob (10:15): I agree about Chalmers and CDR, and White as well. He has had a bunch of injuries, but he is still only 21 years old and is definitely a big body.
We've forgotten about Bill Walker. Yea, he has knee problems, but he was a top 5 player in high school and a potential top 10 pick before his injuries. I think he's worth the risk at this point.
And the Pistons take.. DJ White. Good call Ross. He fits with the Pistons perfectly.

Ross (10:20): I agree, White will fit in and, with Maxiell, give them nice depth off the bench. He should be a good fit. And the last pick of the first round awaits... Who do the champs take? I think of any of their starters, Ray Allen probably needs the most support. I think CDR would be a great pick for them. He's a proven winner, plays hard-nosed defense, and would defer to the proven players on that team.

Rob (10:23): He is good. Gives them another guy to create shots and he played for Calipari at Memphis, so you know he can D up. Chalmers could help as well, because you get Eddie House's shooting without losing the defense of Rondo too much. I think those two could provide a nice backcourt. To tell you the truth though, I expect Boston to go overseas and leave the player there to develop. Maybe a guy like Ante Tomic.

Ross (10:26): Definitely possible, but I don't think the Celtics can't just stay the same and expect to win. They will be a year older, and there's always the question of whether or not the players will come back equally hungry after winning the title. KG is intense, so you know he'll keep them focused, but you never know.
And the Celtics take... JR Giddens. Here's a guy that not too many people know about. He started at Kansas and transferred to New Mexico. Had some off court issues, but is extremely talented. The Celtics are probably thinking that he will stay in line with the veterans on that team, and could contribute off the bench.
Well Rob, this has been fun. A great draft, and more still to come. Goodnight everyone!

Rob (10:30): I like the pick now that I think about it. He's a great athlete, a good defender, and can hit the three - sounds like a James Posey to me, and he turned out well. He has some off the court issues, so hopefully KG and Pierce can keep him in line.

Well that's it for now. It's been fun!!!

Check in tomorrow for a look at the second round and thoughts on the draft overall. Continue reading...

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

More Trades, More Rumors...

-The two most fragile players in the NBA have been traded for each other, as the Raptors and Pacers have finally agreed on a deal that sends TJ Ford, Rasho Nesterovic, and the 17th pick to Indiana for Jermaine O'Nea and a player to be named. This deal is pending physicals for both players and for salary cap reasons cannot actually be completed until July 1st.

-The Bobcats have completed their second trade of the week as they have agreed to send a future first round pick to Denver (lottery protected) for the 20th pick, where reports say they hope to land Roy Hibbert. Earlier in the day they sent the 27th pick to Portland for cash.

-There are rumors swirling that Portland will send Jarrett Jack and the 13th pick to the Nets for Marcus Williams and the 10th pick.

-Nicolas Batum's physical never was circulated to team's throughout the league, and many people believe that he was given a guarantee by the Spurs that they would select him with the 26th pick. Talent-wise, he is probably better than that, but without the physical there is a much better chance he will drop to the Spurs. Continue reading...

6/25 - Some Links, Some News

The NBA Draft is right around the corner, so now is as good of a time as any to let everyone know that I will be live-blogging during the draft. With that said, a lot of new rumors came out in the last two days. Let's take a look at them.

-This has been a pretty hot rumor for weeks now, but it looks like the Heat are dead set on picking up a guard to play alongside Dwayne Wade, while making a run at either Elton Brand (this year) or Carlos Boozer (next year). The new developments, as reported by Chad Ford, are that the Heat held separate, "secret" (I don't really know what that means) workouts for Jerryd Bayless and OJ Mayo, and are high on both, making it seem very likely that they will trade down and pick one of these two. The two hottest trade rumors: the Heat would get the 5th pick, Mike Miller and either Kyle Lowry or Mike Conley Jr. from the Grizzlies for a package including the 2nd pick (aka Michael Beasley); or that the Heat would send the 2nd and Shawn Marion to the Clippers for the 7th and Brand. Both are much more likely than the Heat actually using the pick on Mayo or Bayless.

These are all rumors, and at this time of year it is common for NBA GM's to give out disinformation, so who really knows what the Heat's intentions are. But given everything surrounding Mayo's recruitment to USC and getting paid while there to his dealings with Ronald Guillory, it is interesting that Pat Riley is so concerned about Beasley's character while not worried about Mayo's.

-It is being reported by Chad Ford that the Hornets have traded the 27th pick to the Blazers for cash. This is an interesting decision by the Blazers. They already have 12 players returning, have Greg Oden and Rudy Fernandez joining the team, and rumors have it that last year's first round pick, Finnish PG Petteri Koponen, is ready to come over as well. And now they just added their fifth pick this year, with four of them coming in the top 36 of a deep draft. Why would the Blazers make this trade? Because they are using Paul Allen's seemingly endless money supply to horde assets for what should be a very busy off-season. The Blazers situation regarding the salary cap and their core of young players is explained in great detail at the BlazersEdge.

UPDATE: This trade has still not been confirmed, but is expected to be on Draft Night.

-As always, Jonathon Givony at Draft Express gives some great insight and insider information on the draft. Here are the highlights:
  • Great news for Nicolas Batum. He has been cleared by doctors to continue working out after a long day of testing. He already has worked out or has last minute workouts scheduled with San Antonio and Cleveland.
  • The whole "Russell Westbrook has a promise" story-line seems to be just a rumor, as he continued working out this week. Apparently, it was just a tweaked ankle that forced him to cancel some workouts, and the fact that he is getting frustrated that he cannot land any workouts with other top guard prospects Mayo, Eric Gordon, Bayless, or Derrick Rose. Although he doesn't have a guarantee from the Bobcats, Larry Brown is reportedly enamored with Westbrook, which means that he probably won't fall beyond the 9th pick.
  • Darrell Arthur has apparently begun working out again, and has apparently looked pretty good, although he still seems like he will drop to the late lottery or even out of the lottery.
  • Bill Walker, who still does not have a promise from any teams in the draft, has decided to undergo surgery on his injured knee. It was thought previously that Walker had a slight tear in his meniscus, but it now appears that he has a minor ligament strain. He will be out of commission for 3-6 weeks.
-In case you hadn't heard, this year's class of freshman is pretty good. As many as twelve could go in the first round (and maybe six of the first seven over all), which would break last year's record of eight freshman first rounders.

-Many NBA Draft analysts, and GM's as well, love to make comparisons between prospects and players currently in or recently out of the league. Tim Buckley has a nice article looking at why teams do this.
Continue reading...

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Brandon Jennings: Trendsetter?

Numerous media outlets (including myself) reported over the weekend that Brandon Jennings, the consensus #1 recruit in the country committed to Arizona, was looking at the Euroleague as a fallback option in case he didn't receive qualifying scores on the SATs. Well, it looks like spurning Tucson may not be simply a fallback option after all.

Gary Parrish of CBS Sports spoke to Kelly Williams, Jennings' advisor, and what he had to say probably did not comfort Wildcat fans:

"In all honesty, I think Brandon wants options," Williams said by phone. "If he has the opportunity right now to make $800,000 from a team and get a shoe contract and make more than $1 million before he even goes into the draft, then why wouldn't he do that?"

It is a very good question - why wouldn't he? What can he gain by going to college? He gets to go through the farce that is a one-and-done players academic regimen (sleeping through classes, having tutors help him with do his work for him). Add to that that Jennings, as well as the coaching staff, athletic department, and school in general, will have to worry about every "extra benefit" he receives, hoping to avoid the negative press and impending punishments that USC currently faces, all while the school is cashing in the checks from merchandise revenue, ticket sales, and tournament bonuses as a result of Jennings' basketball ability and star power.

Does that sound more attractive than playing professional basketball in Italy, or Spain, or France for a year, making upwards of (or more than) a million Euros (which at this point is like, what, $2 million)?

David Stern and the rest of the NBA's Front Office suits can talk until they are blue in the face about how 17 year old high school seniors are too young to be drafted or how the NBA Draft's age requirement helps protect NBA team's because it allows them to have a full season of scouting while the player's are at college. In fact, the new rule actually hurts the scouting of draft prospects because NBA teams are no longer allowed to watch these kids play in high school, which is part of the reason this draft is so wide open and unpredictable right now. Read this quote that's Ian Thomson got from an NBA General Manager picking in the lottery:
"A lot of people are under pressure in this draft. There's going to be a couple of guys who go after the first two in the lottery who will be potential All-Stars, and a couple of young guys picked way back in the 20s who will be really good, and one guy in the second round whom everyone misses on.''

The problem, he went on to say, is that no one can tell the future stars from the potential stiffs. The reason for this uncertainty?

"The age of the players,'' he said. "These players used to come out of high school or even after two years of college. Now the rule is that they have to play one year of college, and that's what a lot of them are doing. We aren't allowed to watch them in high school anymore and so we're trying to judge them based on one year of college. It's not enough. Not being able to watch the high school players is really hurting us. Otherwise, we'd all have better knowledge.''

The only reason that Stern has put in the horsesh*t rule is because he wanted NBA teams to stop drafting high school players that noone has heard of and instead draft college athletes who have already made a name for themselves. Do you think there would be as much debate over Beasley vs. Rose if they had both been coming out of high school? Would Oden vs. Durant have gotten as much pub if neither had stepped foot on a college campus?

This rule is also good for the NCAA. Before the age limit, the best high school players in the country were completely skipping college, but now the NCAA gets a year to showcase these stars. So basically, if you are a high school star, the NBA forces you to play a year in college, where the NCAA and universities exploit these kids, profiting of their ability to put fans in seats (in front of a TV or in a gym) and jerseys on the backs of fans, simply in order to increase their marketability before they reach the professional level. This only furthers the argument that college players should receive some type of income (and don't give me the whole "they are receiving a free education" argument when you know damn well the best players won't be there for four years or have any intention of graduating).

So back to the original point, this could be a landmark decision. It is a tough one, however. Jennings', although supremely talented and athletically gifted, does not really fit the Euro style of play - he is a flashy penetrator that likes to get up and down the floor. Combine that with the language barrier and the fact that he will be playing with physically mature, grown men, and there is a possibility that he could hurt his draft stock if he goes abroad and does not perform well (then again, he may go to Arizona and stink up the joint).

On the other hand, Jennings' would be going into a situation where he would be a professional - where his life wouldn't revolve around staying eligible, it would be entirely focused on the sport that will become his career. He will be living in another country, which means he will have to learn to be responsible and mature in his decision making, both regarding his sport and the money he will be making. If you are an NBA GM, isn't this the kind of education you want your top prospect to be getting? Or would you rather him learn how to do a 30 second keg stand and bring home sorority girls?

If Jennings' does end up playing in Europe, it would be interesting to see if this establishes a trend among top high school prospects. On paper, it doesn't look so bad. Continue reading...

Monday, June 23, 2008

NBA Draft Green Room Invitees

The 16 Green Room invitees have been announced:

Joe Alexander, West Virginia
Darrell Arthur, Kansas
DJ Augustin, Texas
Jerryd Bayless, Arizona
Michael Beasley, Kansas State
Danilo Gallinari, Italy
Eric Gordan, Indiana
DeAndre Jordan, Texas A&M
Brook Lopez, Stanford
Robin Lopez, Stanford
Kevin Love, UCLA
OJ Mayo, USC
Anthony Randolph, LSU
Derrick Rose, Memphis
Brandon Rush, Kansas
Russell Westbrook, UCLA

My bet is Jordan is the last one left in the Green Room. Continue reading...

6/23 - Some Links, Some News

-Over the weekend, and on the heels of Billy Gillespie getting a commitment from 6'4" eighth grader Michael Avery to play basketball for Kentucky, the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) announced that they strongly oppose getting any type of commitment from recruits until after their sophomore year in high school.

Rush The Court had an interesting look at this on Friday. The bottom line is, 14 is way to young to be recruiting players, especially when they have yet to decide on a high school to attend. Billy Gillespie has been taking a lot of criticism for this method of recruiting, but he is not alone - Tim Floyd of USC and Bruce Weber of Illinois, to name a few, have both offered scholarships to players before they set foot on a high school basketball court.

I absolutely agree with the NABC's decision. 14 is way too young for a kid to be deciding his future, especially if they have yet to even decide on a high school. And how can the coaches know if this kid will end up developing into a big time player? How will already being committed to a school effect the kids work ethic? How can the coach know that this kid will be strong enough academically four years down the road? Since none of the commitments are binding at that age, if the player doesn't end up developing the way that the coach had hoped, will he withdraw the offer? Imagine how that would make the kid feel.

There is a reason that there are rules in place that restrict contact with players before their junior year. Let's hope that coaches will not only follow the letter of the law, but the spirit of the law as well.

-There is a possibility that Arizona recruit Brandon Jennings could be headed to Europe to play while he waits out the year after high school. Jennings is apparently having problems getting eligible for Arizona due to problems with his standardized test scores.

"The first time I took it I didn't try, the second time I did so I had to take it a third time," Jennings said.

Right now it looks like it is more of a precaution in case the test scores do not come back favorably, partially because the European system is different than the American system - teams are not going to be looking to sign 18 year old americans for one season. There are junior programs set up to develop younger players before they reach the top level club teams. Jennings would also face playing time issues and problems with finding a team to play with. He would need to sign an agent with strong ties to Euro basketball.

Another option that has been mentioned is that Jennings could play in the D-League, where he would be eligible because he is a high school graduate (but he wouldn't be able to get called up to the League). But, again, this doesn't seem like the best option. Hopefully, his he receives good test scores and can play the year out under Lute Olsen, who has sent the likes of Jason Terry, Mike Bibby, Gilbert Arenas, and Damon Stoudamire to the NBA.

-Draft Express and Chad Ford (here and here) keep us updated on the latest NBA Draft rumors. Some of the highlights:
  • OJ Mayo worked out for five teams picking in the top six on Saturday in Chicago. The team with the most interest in him, who Mayo may have the least interest in because of their smaller market, is the Timberwolves. He was given a pretty extensive interview and psychological evaluation by the team, and they came away impressed. The Wolves third pick has also been the subject of many trade rumors, as teams looking to add some star power (the Bucks, the Clippers, the Knicks) have all shown interest in the pick.
  • The Suns (no. 15) and the Blazers (no. 13) have both been involved in trade rumors regarding their picks. The Suns have made Leandro Barbosa and Boris Diaw available in an effort to either land a veteran or move up in the draft (they reportedly want Joe Alexander, Russell Westbrook, or Brandon Rush - all three look like they will be gone by 15). The Blazers have been rumored to be looking to trade the 13th pick for a while, but may in fact hold on to it on the chance that Alexander or Westbrook happen to fall that far. The Blazers also hold the 33rd, 36th, and 55th picks, and most likely will not want six rookies in training camp (remember they finally get Greg Oden and Rudy Fernandez on the court), which means that they will almost certainly be involved in some sort of draft day deal.
  • Speaking of Westbrook, he has canceled his remaining workouts, which means that he most likely has a promise from a team. Ford reports that it may be the Bobcats picking 9th.
  • It looks like Jerryd Bayless may not be as much of a lock in the fourth pick as many people have predicted. The Sonics have been very interested in Brook Lopez, and many GM's have him slated in that spot. Lopez only worked out for the Wolves, the Sonics, and the Grizzlies.
  • Stock Rising - Kosta Koufus, Robin Lopez (he has been invited to sit in the Green Room on Draft Night), Kyle Weaver, Jamont Gordon, Alexis Ajinca, Mario Chalmers.
  • Stock Falling - Brook Lopez, Darrell Arthur, Anthony Randolph, DeAndre Jordan, JaVale McGee.
  • Nicolas Batum has had to cancel a number of workouts after a test in Toronto to measure the strength of his heart came back "borderline". Teams are trying to figure out if the rumor that his father died of heart issues is true.
-One comparison that I've seen made multiple times is the 1994 draft, where Glenn Robinson and Jason Kidd went 1-2, and this year's draft with Michael Beasley and Derrick Rose sitting atop the board. It is a pretty good comparison - Robinson averaged 30 and 10 at Purdue while Kidd averaged 17 and 9 for Cal, both similar numbers to what Beasley and Rose put up. Kidd had the more successful individual career (although the Big Dog did win a title in 2005 with the Spurs, although his career had pretty much been ended by injuries and apathy at that point) making nine all-star teams to Robinson's two. But what made Kidd more valuable was that he was always a team leader - he helped the Mavs improved from 13-69 to 36-46 his rookie year; he led to Suns to the playoffs in each of his five seasons there; he turned the Nets from perennial doormats into perennial contenders taking them to the Finals twice; and his leadership ability was a main reason the Mavs got him back mid-way through last season. True, Robinson was a good scorer in the NBA (20.7 for his career), but he wasn't a winner or a leader. Kidd was and Rose is, and isn't that what the Bulls need - someone to carry and lead this group of young and talented, but often misguided, team? Someone who is willing to do whatever it takes to win, not whatever it takes to put up 20?

-Just a few good reads. Andy Staples from SI wrote an interesting piece and the path that Keith Brumbaugh has taken to the NBA. Sunday's Washington Post had an article about the mother of Carlton Dotson, the former Baylor player who was convicted of killing teammate Brian Dennehey in 2003, and how she is coping. Dave D'Alessandro of the Star Ledger wrote a great piece on the NBA Draft (h/t The Big Lead). Continue reading...

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Testing the Waters

Over the past few months, there has a lot of talk about changing the NBA Draft's "Testing the Waters" rule, which allows underclassmen are allowed to declare for the NBA Draft with the caveat that they can withdraw before a certain date (June 16th this year, ten days before the draft) and maintain their eligibility (they are only allowed to test the waters once - the second time they declare the player loses their eligibility). And this year, the NBA and the NCAA have done away with the rule requiring returning players to pay back the costs of their pre-draft workouts.

Jay Bilas has been outspoken against the rule (see here and here), as has Dickie V. Fellow ESPN writers Andy Glockner and Dana O'Neill have also been critical of the process (is it just me or is it a little odd that no one at ESPN other than Chad Ford has been in favor of the rule. Maybe it has something to do with the worldwide leader's college basketball coverage and the huge amount of money involved).

I know and understand all the arguments against testing the waters. It hurts the coaches from a recruiting standpoint, especially those at the mid-major level, for two reasons. First, by not knowing if a player is coming back, it makes it tough to sign recruits in the spring, especially if you are trying to guard against the early entrant leaving a hole in your line-up - the recruit will not know if there is actually going to be playing time available. Adding to that is the problem of scholarships. Each school is allowed 13 and the player testing the waters needs one if he chooses to return, so the coach can recruit for the spot but cannot officially offer the scholarship until the player decides on his draft future.

The other argument is that once a player declares and comes back, no matter what he does the following year or how much he improves his game, he will not be able to live down the impressions that NBA scouts already have. The best example of this is Jameer Nelson, who decided to withdraw from the draft his junior. During his senior year, he only led St. Joe's to an undefeated regular season and a John Lucas III three away from the Final Four, and earned national Player of the Year honors. Despite all of that, however, Nelson still dropped to 20th, the same range he was projected to go his junior year and after the likes of Luke Jackson, Robert Swift, and Sebastian Telfair. 

I get all of that. What I don't get is why people will be so against one of the few rules that actually benefits the players. Take last year for example. According to Mike DeCourcy of Yahoo Sports, last year 53 players left school early for the draft. 22 of them returned to school, while 27 spent time on an NBA roster. That means that 49/53 potential early entrants, or 92.5%, benefitted from the way that the draft process was structured. How is that a bad thing? Take a look at some of the examples. 

Brandon Rush blew out his ACL during the workout process and was able to return to school, where he won a national championship with Kansas and has set himself up to be a mid-first round pick. If he was forced into the 2007 NBA Draft, he probably would not have been picked as high, and would have faced an uphill battle to earn a contract and make it in the NBA. The same thing happened with Dee Brown before the 2006 draft.

What about Dominic James? He declared early for the 2007 draft because of the great crop of point guard's in this years draft, but decided to return (he didn't declare for this draft so he will graduate) because he didn't lie where he was going to get picked. If he had left in 2007, would he still be in the league right now? Would he have gotten his degree? How are any of these three situations bad? 

There are always going to be players that make poor decisions regarding the draft (Luc Richard Mbah a Moute this year, guys like Olu Famitini, Kennedy Winston, Randolph Morris, this list goes on and on) and there will always be guys who are happy to be drafted in the second round and try to earn their spot on an NBA team. The worst that happens is these guys end up earning a paycheck overseas or in the NBDL. But these are the guys that are going to be leaving regardless, and maybe even can be convinced to come back as a result of poor performances in the pre-draft camp and workouts. Worst-case scenario - more players end up coming back to school. How is that a bad thing for college basketball OR for the players? 

The only people it is bad for is the coaches, who already make ridiculous sums of money. How much do the players make? Nothing. Even is you count the combined cost of all of the scholarships, it doesn't equal what most coaches make per year. 

Maybe it's because I used to play, maybe it's because I'm younger and still have the point of view (and values) of the guys playing, but I really just don't see how letting players go through the draft process and THEN decide whether or not to stay in the draft is bad for college basketball. If anything, move up the pre-draft camp and the deadline for keeping your name in the draft, or maybe even create a rule where your allowed fourteen scholarships one year if you offer too many scholarships and then have a player come back (although that is a bit of a slippery slope). Whatever it is that happens, don't take away the one advantage the players have in the business known as basketball.

Continue reading...

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

6/18 - Some Links, Some News

-The Derrick Caracter Saga continues. The oft-maligned junior-to-be has had many run-ins with Louisville coach Rick Pitino over the course of his two years at Louisville, and in March put his name into the NBA Draft. Apparently now not only has he decided that he wants to return to college, but he wants to come back to Louisville. Problem is, not only is Caracter academically ineligible, but Pitino has already used his scholarship for a former walk-on. Jeff Goodman of FoxSports is reporting that Pitino will not allow Caracter back, and that he is in fact going to have to transfer if he wants to continue his college career.

-Staying in the Big East, it looks like UConn's roster shake-ups may not be over. Already dealing with the transfers of Doug Wiggins and Curtis Kelly, it now looks like Stanley Robinson may also be leaving the Huskies. The Alabama-native was never able to adjust to life in the Northeast, and now faces the prospect of academic ineligibility. A more telling sign that Robinson's days as a Husky may be cut short is that Nate Miles has finally been cleared to play. With a large recruiting class already this year, Miles, an athletic, 6'7" forward who has drawn comparisons to former Husky Rip Hamilton, will need a scholarship to open up somewhere, and it is looking more and more like it will be Robinson's.

-For those interested, Draft Express has compiled a complete list of the NBA Draft combine results from the last 16 years. One of the more interesting results - Dwight Howard is all of 6'9".

-Sherron Collins has not had the easiest road in life, but he really isn't doing himself any favors. Collins failed to show up in court or respond to court letters resulting from an incident in 2007 where he allegedly exposed himself and rubbed up against 35 year-old Jessica Brown in an elevator. According to Bill Self, Collins did not know about the letters or the court appearance because he is in Chicago with his ill father. Whatever the reason, Collins now owes $75k for damages.

-The Chicago Bulls worked out Michael Beasley on Tuesday, and reportedly it went very well. But the most intriguing part of the visit was the media session with Beasley afterwords. Some highlights:

-Asked about measuring 6-foot-8 at the pre-draft camp rather than his previously listed 6-10: "I'm a little disappointed to find out I'm actually a midget."

-Asked if he can you succeed at the NBA level like he did in high school and college: "Depends if I like the coach."

-Asked what he knew about other Bulls players: "They got one Jayhawk that I'll have to work really hard to get along with."

-Asked if he saw Bulls GM John Paxson play: "I'm not that old."
The Bulls plan on having Rose in for a workout on Thursday. It still looks like the Bulls favor Rose, but the real intrigue is in who Miami likes at No. 2. In Chad Ford's most recent mock draft, he says
One source close to the process says Pat Riley thinks Rose is a bad fit in the backcourt with Dwyane Wade, because drafting Rose would give Miami two athletic slashers who (a) are subpar shooters and (b) would have to try to share the ball. That source insists the Heat are bluffing about their interest in Rose in the hopes that Beasley falls to them at No. 2.

That contradicts everything I've been hearing the past month -- but the source is credible enough to be taken seriously. Still, I don't think Beasley is the type of player Riley usually appreciates.

So I still say that, assuming Miami is keying on either Rose or Beasley, if the Bulls take the player at No. 1 whom the Heat want (presumably, Rose or Beasley), Plan B appears to be taking O.J. Mayo or trading the pick.
-Three final things. Emmanuel Negedu, the top-50 recruit that bailed on Arizona, has decided to sign with Tennessee. Adding Negedu only bolsters what was already a top 10 recruiting class for Bruce Pearl, headlined by top 5 recruit Scotty Hopson. Former Kentucky Wildcat Derrick Jasper has decided to transfer to UNLV next year. California JuCo player of the year Roburt Sallie has decided to sign with Memphis, where he will rejoin former high school teammates Robert Dozier and Antonio Anderson, adding another talented wing player to the Memphis rotation. Continue reading...