The NBA season is over, and the NBA draft is nearing. At least that is what all of the leading sports' websites are telling me. In case the NBA scouts and decision makers are actually listening, there are a few things that should not be remotely considered when heading into the 2011 NBA Draft.
I know that the pickings are a little limp, but there are still a few prospects that can change some lives and save some front offices from obscurity.
Names like Kyrie Irving and Derrick Williams are a couple that come to mind, but there are also some very bad moves that could shift the direction of a team's future at any given moment. Current players and forming trades should be thought of as team's make the choices that will lead them to the bottom or top of the crop next season.
What could each team do to guarantee they will not have a title shot in 2012?
Where is the guy that commands the lockerroom, because besides Josh Smith’s aggression towards opposing players I do not see a commander in chief? Sure, Coach Larry Drew can take on that role, but there is only so far he can step onto the court.
Most of the men in an Atlanta jersey seem a little too timid to direct their angst towards their own teammates while others are more than willing to pull their men aside to critique and motivate them.
It is not so much that they need to begin breaking each other down, but when they are playing below a certain criteria, what is wrong with a little pep talk?
Wade does it.
Chris Paul is on his way out. The facts just not have become as public as Dwight Howard has made his own exit from Orlando. Oh, give me a break! Everyone but those in denial understand that Howard is taking his talents to somewhere other than Florida, and Chris Paul is looking to stray away from his home in New Orleans.
You cannot really blame him for wanting to leave. The team that he is with is not as mediocre as the Cleveland Cavaliers were while supporting LeBron James’ endeavors, but they are not winning him a championship either.
New Orleans needs to assume a position that will not drive him out any sooner but will prepare for his departure.
Miami Heat showed everyone that they not only had some of the best scorers in the game, but some of the best defenders as well.
Locking down Derrick Rose was something that I for one did not think LeBron James could accomplish. Even though he choked in the NBA Finals, there were still moments where you saw the defensive prowess rear its pretty little head through that door of destruction.
Then the door slammed shut and Dallas put the Heat away in six games.
Still late game efforts from Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh stepping his playmaking abilities allowed Miami to get to a point most naysayers thought they would arrive at next year. Their early season mishaps allowed them the strength to push through in the latter moments when it truly mattered, with the exception of the Finals.
Drafting another defensive component would stack the team in all the wrong places. What Miami needs is another scorer. Someone more dependable and younger that can be molded into the type of player the Heat can use long term.
Get off of Russell Westbrook’s back would you?
He is still a kid and though he is paid to not let his age show in the way he handles himself in the name of the league, you have to give him time to grow into playing a position he has only had two seasons to accustom himself to.
Many commentators forget that he had never played the position of a point guard before the NBA, and for someone who has seldom operated under the current circumstances, I would have to say that he is doing pretty well.
I would even power rank him among the top five guards in the league along with Rajon Rondo, Chris Paul, Derrick Rose, Deron Williams and Jason Kidd.
Of course Kidd has to be included. Winning an NBA Championship as a starter must give you some type of perks.
You saw the Chicago Bulls series, didn’t you?
A lot of fans expected Derrick Rose to blow past Darren Collison like he does every other player in the NBA, but a lot of fans forgot how well Collison operated in New Orleans in Paul’s place during the injury.
Not saying that he has reached that elite level, but as a young guard, he is showing more promise than asked of him. The Indiana Pacers were supposed to be an easy breakfast for the Chicago Bulls, but they put up more of a fight than any other undervalued team in the Eastern Conference.
Their youth eventually showed its cruel face, and they were booted in the first round, but the vision of success sits clearly atop the franchise now more than when the bunch was led by Jim O’Brien.
Frank Vogel does an excellent job leading his players, and they left the court respected after the loss in game five. Darren Collison, with a full season of an open minded coach at his disposal, will be the franchise point guard of Indiana’s future.
You heard it here first!
Five games, 18.2 minutes.
Must I say much else?
Mike D’Antoni is gone so why are we still behaving like the “Seven Seconds” philosophy still works for anyone?
Sure the Phoenix Suns feel like they are sitting on top of world by scoring as many points as possible per game, but what about stopping the opposing team from getting off on the other end of the floor? It seems like the organization is even more clueless as Sun’s General Manager Lance Banks talks about Jimmer Fredette.
"He's fun to watch, and he was very impressive in the workout he had here. He has a confidence and a swagger about him that is very unique," Blanks reverently remarked. "I don't want to overstate it, but he's high character, and given the right opportunity and the right situation, he's going to figure it out."
"It's an entire game, and there has to be balance," he explained. "Defense is very important. But it's a sliding scale. There may be an offensive player that seems more worthy of being a part of this organization.
"I don't want us to go out and draft Jimmer, and (the public) thinks we were dishonest or misleading," he continued. "You've got to play an entire game, both sides of the floor, we feel, in order to be competitive in this league."
Well Mr. Blanks, drafting Jimmer Fredette would be counterproductive. It would go against everything that the organization has stated about the direction they are headed in.
Brandon Jennings. Eh, the kid is OK.
But, if you are ready to hop back into the shuffle, there needs to be someone on the floor that can shake it up with Derrick Rose and have scoring at vital moments on their mind as well.
Did anyone else see how Derrick Rose embarrassed Jennings this season?
That cannot happen. There is no way a point guard should be afraid of the competition presented to them in the form of another athlete. The diehard mentality must be present at all times, or there is no reason to crown him important to the franchise.
Sure the team is last in the rankings as far as points scored, but they are also skipping to the tune of failure when it comes to ball movement. Being 30th in assists is unacceptable when you have someone with the potential that Jennings seems to hold.
Maybe it is all a joke.
Maybe he is not the savior that we all expected him to be. If this is true, which it seems to be at the moment, Milwaukee should look at high pressure cookers like Brandon Knight and Kemba Walker who are already at a high level in passing and scoring in the clutch moments of the game.
Pardon me if I am dwelling on the epic happenings in the NCAA tournament, but both showed the killer instinct that guards need against the likes of Rose, Westbrook and Paul.
Watching Carmelo Anthony showed everyone how strong a players’ will to go back home can influence his and his franchise’s decision to send him there. Anthony was not shy about admitting his desire to play for the New York Knicks.
Viola! He is sporting No. 7 in a blue and orange get up in front of Madison Square Garden’s most extraordinary fanatics. The reception he has gotten in NY has been the homecoming that he more than likely expected.
I think the honorary mayor of Charlotte would have him beat.
Stephen Curry has spoken up a few times about the feeling of being back home in the offseason. He does not seem all that happy in Golden State, even though he is one of the media’s darlings. Curry has an uncanny ability to say what needs to be said at the perfect time and not giving an inch more.
Sorry kid, but I am going to stretch this as far as it can go.
Charlotte has two different point guards that have already expressed an interest in playing for Michael Jordan. In this year’s draft, since there are no guards with the potential of either Chris Paul or Curry, the team should focus their attention on someone who can score the ball from anywhere on the court.
Can we refuse another?
Just because Dwight Howard has been speaking up a lot lately about how insubordinate his teammates are to success, does not mean Orlando must look toward the draft to clean up the mess. Trades and free agency must be used to adequately stack the team to Howard’s liking or at least attempt to.
There are no LeBron, Kobe or even Wall type of players in this year’s draft with the exception of two or three, therefore the draft will not suffice.
The Magic must look elsewhere for role players and only use the draft as leverage in future deals or a couple of supporting cast members that would be used here and there.
The Bulls have a core that works for them. What they experienced at the hands of the Miami Heat was simply growing pains for a point guard that has had to carry the team for the extent of the regular season and postseason.
If Rose did not have a burst, the Chicago Bulls were at an entirely high risk of losing everything they had worked for. He knew it and the men that surrounded him knew it as well.
If he went to the Finals it would have been a miracle, but the fact that he made such a huge turnaround in a single offseason shows that he is willing to put in the work necessary to defeat all odds.
Luol Deng and Joakim Noah are two of the best men on the team next to Rose because they can read their star player and understand when he needs their help. Noah is spectacular defensively, and Deng can give you an easy 15-plus at any given moment. Carlos Boozer needs to be replaced but not by a draftee.
He must be countered by someone already equipped to handle the pressures that they will face in next year’s postseason.
Kevin Garnett still has something in him. But how long will that something last? Never one to disrespect someone who has done so much for their organization, I will only point on one of the injuries he sustained that put the Celtics at a disadvantage in the regular season.
This season to be exact.
The nine consecutive games that he missed this past season cost the Celtics the first and even second positions in the postseason. Of course Rajon Rondo was out for a nice period of time during this season as well, but Garnett’s age shows that he will not have many moments to make up for it.
In the series against the Miami Heat, he disappeared in a game, directly after he scored 20-plus and took us, as fans, back down memory lane. Like I said, there is something left. But not enough to take Boston back to a Finals’ series win.
Regardless of any rumors circulating about Brandon Roy’s future in the NBA, the man still has gas left in his tank to push forward.
I think he made that more than clear when he allowed the Portland Trailblazers to rally back from a 20-plus-point deficit against the same Dallas Mavericks that swept the Lakers, beat OKC in six and did the same to Miami.
Watching how Dallas came together in the end proved how difficult it was for Roy to give his team the boost to win a game that was thought to be over at the beginning of the fourth quarter.
Portland may have been considering asking Roy to retire, but another grand mistake that they could make in this year’s draft is bring in someone to take over Brandon’s job when he is not finished.
This coming from a team that has been holding on to the thought of Greg Oden’s game for light years.
Roy’s role in the organization is still mildly pertinent, and forcing him out by way of newbie would be an error.
How many times do I have to go over how much this trio will not make sense in the future for the New York Knicks?
Donnie Walsh has headed out, and I think that it is time for D’Antoni to follow. Not that I do not think that he is a good coach. He just is not a good coach for two players who need someone to demand defense from their game.
If NY goes into this year’s draft looking for someone to fit into the system that is already in place for the Knicks, they will continue to fail until they wake up from the pipe dream.
All that was missing during playoff round against the Oklahoma City Thunder was a man to step up and take the last shots without mishap. The Denver Nuggets had that man in Carmelo Anthony until he packed up and headed to the Big Apple.
The defensive scheme embedded into Nene Hilario and new Nuggets like Wilson Chandler is effective enough. But there were moments where that extra point production would have pushed them over the top, and they could have been facing the Memphis Grizzlies.
Deron Williams only made the move to New Jersey to give him more time to view other prospective rosters.
The NBA is a business. Give yourself as much leverage as possible and then strike.
Now that we are past the John Kuester facts of life, it is time to get down to business. New leadership on the bench and new ownership behind closed doors should merge in order to figure out exactly what moves need to be made to return to glory.
The last thing Detroit needs moving forward is another installment of Get Shorty.
Ben Gordon is enough at the moment. A Kemba Walker type of guy is quite unnecessary. Although it is quite tempting seeing as how he was the NCAA tournament’s most successful and dominant player. Still, his transition to the NBA game is too much of a gamble to risk it all on another fun sized athlete.
Markieff Morris outperforming his draft prospect counterparts should guide the Pistons in the exact direction they should be headed. President Dumars is said to love the guy’s toughness and since Detroit’s toughest years on the court were their greatest, it seems like that may be the first place to start.
You can say what you what about the events leading up to Williams’ exit from the Utah Jazz franchise, but he left a certain type of hole in the point guard position for the roster.
Let’s release the moments where they showed little spurts of life before being wiped from the Western Conference Admissions forum. Let’s evaluate what men they have available for the job.
Ronnie Price (How many games did he actually play last season?)
Devin Harris (Close to what they need but no cigar)
Devin Harris was supposed to be the man of the future, but it seems like that dream has refused to cross the threshold into reality. The team is 26th in the league in rebounds. Do players like Brandon Knight or Kemba Walker really show the potential to help the team improve in that right?
Not to say that either player will not be a success, but the Jazz should look in the direction of bigger players like Enes Kanter, solid paint performers that would add distinction in areas that the Jazz needs it.
Demar DeRozan is Toronto’s future, or at least, it seems so now.
The game is ever-changing, so at any moment, circumstances could flip. Now, with a new coach in place, that has in fact come down from an extreme high with the NBA Championship Dallas Mavericks, the front office needs to shuffle in players from this timid draft that will make an immediate impact in Dwane Casey’s system.
He is defensive minded and has already expressed his desire to turn the strategies of the Raptors toward that end of the floor.
“I refuse to be a part of the choir that says, ‘Andrea cannot play defence.’ I refuse to be a part of the choir that says, ‘Jose can’t keep guys in front of him.’ Or, ‘This team is 30th in the league in defence.’ Because I know they can be better than 30th in the league defensively.”
Drafting players like Jimmer Fredette, who refused to play much defense in the NCAA game, would not be what the doctor ordered for a coach who must contend with restructuring the defensive strategies of the men already in uniform.
Pure scorers have their place in the league but not in front of players who have the ability to stop adequately and give their teams more possessions on the floor.
The Washington Wizards have a lot of men for the job, but none are performing to the height of requirement. McGee impressed me a bit at the slam dunk contest, and if the regular season was a fraction as admirable then we would not be having this conversation.
But, it was not.
The Wizards are not considering dealing JaVale, but if they think that he is the answer to all of their low post problems, they are and have been sadly mistaken. I would hate for Washington to sit around and wait for him to blossom into what they believe he can be like the Los Angeles Lakers did with Andrew Bynum.
The difference is that LA had the time to bide because they had plenty of other options and were coming off of their second championship in a row. Now Bynum has emerged as the star they expected him to be and other pieces around him are responsible for the Lakers’ shortcomings in this year’s postseason.
JaVale can be explosive at times, but never have I thought to myself that his capabilities surpass what he has done this season.
If that is the case and he has hit his mark in the league, Washington must consider stacking their team with other options, so they can become a little more threatening than an average of 104.7 points per game allowed.
Ricky Rubio is a project at best in my eyes. Seriously, the blast from the past is not making me shift my playoff hopes to the Timberwolves anytime soon, and I think that his acquirement of Rubio will only add to his long list of mishaps with the Minnesota organization.
I was reading an article over at Yahoo! Sports that wrapped all of my concerns about Rubio into a well scripted statement.
"Minnesota has to work extra hard at not only fixing Rubio's stroke but keeping his chin up."
Everyone understands that the sophomore season is the true telltale of what the rest of a rookie’s years in the league will be like. It shows whether or not he has the offseason work ethic to fix the problems that were wrong in his first year and if he can manage the scrutiny tossed on his back.
If you have things like a stroke and pick and roll capabilities to tamper with, the insults will come swift, especially for a player like Rubio who has all of this publicity surrounding him since David Kahn spoke of getting him to play in the US.
There are people just itching to see if all the hoopla is well warranted. In his case, although he is decent defender and open court shooter, there will rarely be situations where he will be unguarded. His lack of talent in the pick and roll plays will allow turnovers and transition hoops for other teams.
The Timberwolves worst decision in this draft would be to get a player that would work well alongside Rubio because it has yet to be seen if he will be a bust or not.
Andre Iguodala’s days in Philly are numbered. The fans may love him, but that does not mean that this fact overshadows how liable he is becoming during game time. It is not that he was injured that he was not playing up the standard that he was expected to.
There is a belief that if he had performed with the heart the rest of his team exposed during the entire Miami series, they may have not been booted in five games. Of course, Miami was playing like a team on purpose, but every Goliath has a David.
Lou Williams clutch three-pointer to put the Sixers above Miami struck a chord in everyone but Iguodala. A veteran’s best moments should be in the postseason, but he flopped.
Is that really the message you are trying to up and coming talent in Pennsylvania?
Tim Duncan came, conquered and will be leaving soon. I love the guy’s demeanor and humility, but everyone has to walk away from the game at one time or another.
The decision is usually left up to the organization to determine by more bench time and less inquiring about franchise decisions.
Duncan will always be a viable fraction of the San Antonio Spurs, but the time is nearing where he will have to decide if he will be one of those guys who knew when their time was up or one who had to be wheeled off of the court.
We already saw how the coaching situation was handled. Enough said.
It is simply not happening. There is no way in basketball hell that Dwight Howard would consider talking his talents to California and not competing with the Lakers.
It would be bad enough having to stomach getting past them in the Western Conference Playoffs, but playing with a team that seems to have no defensive preparations is a little outlandish even for the grandest imaginations.
It would the highlight of every Golden State fan’s life, but it would be the crushing end of Howard’s.
Can we just put this train wreck of a rumor to bed?
The Grizzlies made some noise in this year’s playoffs. With their first playoff win ever, they appeared to be geared towards a series win over the less experienced Thunder team.
Their ball movement was commendable but nothing to be awestruck by. The Grizzlies should draft a point guard like Corey Joseph that needs to be sculpted into an NBA caliber athlete but has the potential to trump Mike Conley in the long run.
It would seem as if the Mavericks do not have much to change because they won the NBA Championship, but no one seems to remember that right before they won their age was in question.
The average age of the starting lineup is 30-plus years, and that it does not appear like the history of the NBA supports the aging superstar’s success.
At least not to my knowledge.
There does not need to be too much quick change, but players do need to be put in place to take over when the current members of the Championship team are worn and torn.
Last year, I would not be caught dead making this statement, but the Kings should look for a more quality addition to the roster than Tyreke Evans.
The experiment is over and he has not been able to shift the direction of the downwards spiral the Kings have experienced the last couple of seasons. In such a small market, there needs to be a guy that will elevate the franchise in the spotlight and in comparison with the rest of the league.
Even though he has been rumored to behave immaturely on and off the court, DeMarcus Cousins, as a rookie, stepped onto the team and took over from beginning to end.
When you think about the organization in a bad or good light, his name comes to mind. Cousins may not have rookie of the year statistics, but he fought harder and harder as the season trout forward.
Evans, after being injured for such a long period of time, was upstaged by the newcomer Marcus Thornton, including a 33-point game against the Los Angeles Lakers at the end of the regular season. Tyreke shot 27.3 percent, and if it had not been for Marcus, the game would have been over long before it started.
Tyreke Evans can be effective. Just not in Sacramento.
This situation is reminiscent of the one that the Carolina Panthers faced when drafting Cameron Jerrell Newton as their No. 1 pick when other solid players with much more big conference football experience were available.
However, Newton was just too much of a high quality athlete to pass up. His high risk-high reward status makes the thought of drafting him a challenge, but the thought of letting him become your competition is not an option.
The combination of his skill and his dominance over the toughest conference in NCAA football including the intangible to win at every level he has experienced made him invaluable.
Kyrie Irving faces that same instance with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Cavaliers have been scraping the bottom of the barrel for about a year now, and their troubles have been played out for everyone to see. Teams compete against them with a higher level of confidence simply because they are preparing to face a team that has already reached the peak of futility not too long after reaching the grandest height of success.
Cleveland has fallen so hard, and no matter how many fans would like to debate how influential the franchise is in a football town like Ohio, the fact will always remain that the state has been through their share of pain with the collapse of the organization.
Passing up Kyrie Irving when you have an aging point guard on one hand and a mediocre point guard on the other is unacceptable to say the least. His potential is what makes him so feasible a pick for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Even though he only played a minor portion of the season, his return showed the will and determination that winners must employ at the next level.