Archive for June, 2008

Welcome to the Jungle: George Hill Highlights

June 30, 2008

Who is George Hill?

June 28, 2008

A “prototypical Spur,” according to the Express-News, George Hill was apparently the Spurs first choice at 26 all along. (Suck it, Chad Ford!)

I at least recognized Hill’s name because I kept seeing it on kenpom.com. Among players who used 28% or more of his team’s possessions, Hill had the highest offensive rating in the country. Will it translate to the NBA? Tough to say, since Hill only played against two prominent NCAA teams: Marquette and NIT runner-up UMass (he hung 30 on them in a IUPUI win).

But, as a 6-2 guard, his numbers were spectacular: 54.5% FG, 45% 3PT, 81.2% FT, 6.8 boards, 4.3 assists, and 21+ points a game. That alone sure makes him sound like a potentially solid back-up.

There’s more evidence of why he fits the Spurs mold in the E-N article, as well as the fact that he passed on scholarships to Florida, Indiana, and other marquee programs to stay close to family. Hell, I’ll just quote pretty much the whole thing, below the fold: (more…)

One Uninformed Assessment

June 28, 2008

The rush after the draft to award grades, decide who won and lost, etc., is my least favorite part of the whole process. Franchises spend millions on scouting and analysis and often get it wrong. I really don’t see how a journalist thinks he knows any better.

More useful, for purposes of looking back, is to record how I felt about these prospects going into draft day. So based on a mix of college games I watched, stuff I read, and general NBA consensus, here’s my impression of the 2008 draft class, broken down by categories that are probably similar to how most fans think about these guys (draft position in parentheses):

Franchise Saviors

Potential championship cornerstones

  • Michael Beasley (2)
  • Derrick Rose (1)

Could Be Great

Ceiling seems to be second or third best guy on a really good team

  • Kevin Love (5)
  • DJ Augustin (9) — a personal bias since I watched him so much and think he’s got the PG gene
  • OJ Mayo (3)

Bust Alert

  • Russell Westbrook (4)
  • Eric Gordon (7)
  • Anthony Randolph (14) — as a Warriors fan, this felt like the worst pick of the draft. Any of the bruising post players still available would’ve helped G.S. on the glass. Not this guy.
  • Alexis Ajinca (20)
  • Serge Ibaka (24)
  • D’Andre Jordan (35) — back when he was slotted as a lottery pick

Intriguing But Risky

  • Joe Alexander (8)
  • Danilo Gallinari (6)
  • Marreese Speights (16)

Could Go Either Way / Not Enough Info

  • Jerryd Bayless (11)
  • Kosta Koufos (23)
  • Donte Greene (28)
  • Nicolas Batum (25)

Why Aren’t People Higher on These Guys?

  • CDR (40!)
  • Darrell Arthur (27)

Quality Role Players

  • Brandon Rush (13)
  • Ryan Anderson (21)
  • Courtney Lee (22)
  • Mario Chalmers (34)

Serviceable Big Men

  • Brook Lopez (10)
  • Roy Hibbert (19)

The Giant Mess of 2nd Tier Bigs

  • Jason Thompson (12)
  • JJ Hickson (19)
  • Javale McGee (18)
  • Robin Lopez (15)
  • Ante Tomic (44)

Others of Note

  • Joey Dorsey (33) — seems like a guy this strong and coordinated will find a place in the league
  • George Hill (26) — Another year, another “Who?” pick for the Spurs, but possibly this draft’s Rodney Stuckey. Deserves his own post.

Spurs Feva?

June 26, 2008

From Chad Ford, this is just bizarre:

The Spurs sent an e-mail to every team in the league at 3:30 p.m. saying that they were willing to move the 26th pick. The e-mail asked league executives to “E-mail us your interest and your offers to 26.”

That’s the first time I’ve heard of something like this in all of my years covering the draft. Make your Spurs pitch below in our comments section.

You know what this means, right? We’re not far off from…

Draft Master-Debating, Part IV

June 26, 2008

I won’t let Reid suck me into an endless back and forth over who compares best to whom, but I have to say: don’t write off Hinrich just yet. By every account, last year’s Bulls team was a phenomenal train wreck, almost to a man. Their record, their defensive performance, and their individual numbers were all complete aberrations from where everyone thought they were headed this time last year.

Just to stay focused on Hinrich, his PER by year since entering the league: 13.1, 15.3, 15.5, 17.0, 13.1.

Assuming he was healthy, that sudden plummet is practically unheard of for an NBA player who saw no significant change in his role on a team. That said, he slid right with the team, and didn’t step up to right the ship.

What these numbers mean, then, is purely a matter of interpretation. If you believe that Rose has the force of personality to take such a huge leadership role at such a young age (a la Chris Paul), then it makes sense to get an asset back for Hinrich and hand Rose the red captain’s cape.

On the flip side, there’s a decent chance that a less overbearing, less tyrannical, and less bald coach could get this roster playing like it’s 2006-07 all over again. And that team was widely considered to be one young dynamic post scorer away from making some serious noise. Plug Beasley into that Baby Bulls team and what happens?

So how to decide which scenario is correct? I think it all comes down: do you believe Rose’s leadership is more important than Beasley’s potential to “get it” in a couple years and become an absolute monster. You have to trust the Bulls on their internal evaluations that show they do believe that, but it’s surprising to me that they’re that desperate. Maybe so.

As for Beasley, there’s really no telling how his personality will develop. Shaq was goofy, too, but he worked hard enough to ride his his talent to 2.67 titles (thanks to the refs, the 2006 and 2002 titles are docked .67 championships each). Melo’s pedigree as an NCAA champion was second to none this decade, and now he’s staring at five straight first-round exits.

In short, if Rose’s season approached anything Chris Paul did in college, indicating a combination of fantastic leadership and once-in-a-decade talent, I would have no problem with him #1. But he didn’t quite got there. And that’s why you take the PF who just had the most dominant college season since … Tim Duncan?

*I feel like I have to mention that our speculation based on these surface numbers is a far, far cry from what NBA teams have access to, so we’re basically guessing the weather by just looking at the clouds.

Looming Draft Question #5: Where’s Mark Cuban?

June 26, 2008

When the Mavs pulled the trigger on the Jason Kidd deal in February, the most baffling part was why Mark Cuban and Donnie Nelson were willing to include so many first-round draft picks. Kidd was unhappy, the Nets were going nowhere, and there didn’t seem to be any other teams interested in picking up his hefty contract. I felt slightly re-assured when I came to this line in Cuban’s long post explaining the deal:

And as far as the draft picks, there is no question there is risk there, but in the NBA, there is always the option to buy low first round draft picks, so we weren’t as concerned there.

Then yesterday I see that the Hornets sold the 27th pick to the Blazers — who by most accounts are trying to add veterans — and I was pissed off again. Where you at, Cuban?

See, the Mavs are maxed out on salaries with only 7 guys under contract (plus some residual money owed to D.J. Mbenga). Two of those guys gave them almost nothing down the stretch — Stack (I know, he had a couple flashes) and Eddie Jones, who’s likely to exercise his $2 million player option.

The team desperately needs to fill the holes in its bench, but really only has the mid-level exception to work with. If they split that up between a few players, then they’re betting on some pretty long odds with marginal players. If they give it all to one player– DeSagana Diop, as the DMN reports they’re considering — that still leaves quite a few holes.

Will there be any talent left late in the draft? Well, the Mavs got Howard back there and the Spurs got Barbosa, briefly. A guy like CDR might have some similar success. Or they could gamble on damaged goods like KSU’s Bill Walker.

Cuban’s come this far with the Kidd deal and if this team has any window left, it’s next year. Why not throw a few million the Grizzlies’ way and try to fill one hole with the 28th pick?

Come on, Cube, where you at?

Looming Draft Question #4: Logjam in the Middle

June 26, 2008

If you try to create you own mock draft, as Reid and I are doing for a drinking game tonight, you’ll see that the sure-fire lottery picks dry up around the 10 slot. From there, everything gets clogged to hell. By my count, 14 players are in the mix for the 11 draft slots between 10 and 20.

By picks 21 and 22, teams are looking at definite role players, like Courtney Lee and Ryan Anderson. But the 13 players in contention for the middle of the first round are all considered potential impact players, including a whole chunk of big men with TUP.

Here’s the 11 picks: NJ, IND, SAC, POR, GS, PHX, PHI, IND, WAS, CLE, CHA.
Here are the 14 players: Koufos, Speights, Westbrook/Bayless (at least one will go top 9), Augustin, Chalmers, Arthur, Rush, Greene, Tomic, Jordan, Randolph, Hibbert, R. Lopez, McGee.

Meaning, barring any surprise picks (likely) or more trades (inevitable), at least three guys considered borderline lottery material will slip into the mid to late twenties. My selective memory of history here says that one of those will probably become the sleeper of this draft (sleepers if you count CDR). Think: Rajon Rondo, Danny Granger, Josh Howard, Marcus Williams, Jameer Nelson, and so on. Not stars, but great picks that late.

Looming Draft Question #3: How good can Kevin Love be?

June 26, 2008

For months I refused to believe that a fat Backstreet Boy could be legit in the NBA. Throw in that he plays for the constantly over-hyped UCLA, and I figured he was just the next great white hope.

But then I watched him play a little, saw that the chin beard was douchiest part of his personality, and heard he already dropped 15 pounds this off-season. Then I saw his numbers, and if I’m going to argue that Beasley’s astounding stats have to factor into his evaluation, the same holds true for Love.

And Love was off the charts. He was among the most efficient offensive players in the country, shooting over 60%, with 3-point range, and taking care of the basketball. A big part of that was his dominance on the offensive glass, and that’s the big question mark: will NBA bigs erase that advantage? Or does the former big boy still know how throw his weight around?

Looming Draft Question #2: Why can’t the Sonics, Wolves, and Heat work out a deal?

June 26, 2008

The Sonics want Beasley, the Wolves would be more than happy with Love, and Pat Riley seems determined to draft Mayo.

So why haven’t I heard rumors about the simplest solution? CBA throw-ins aside, the basic configuration should be: the Sonics give up something to the Wolves to swap picks 3 and 4, then Seattle takes on Mark Blount’s terrible contract to trade the 3 for the 2 with Miami. Everyone wins.

Looming Draft Question #1: What’s the deal with CDR?

June 26, 2008

Going into today’s draft, I’ve got some questions. For posterity, let’s record them, starting with Chris-Douglas Roberts projected selection in the Josh Howard/David Lee/Leandro Barbosa range at the end of the first.

From a fan’s perspective, we see one of the most creative, unvonventional, athletic scorers in all of college basketball, who came up huge on the big stage (minus a couple free throws).

But GM’s are hardly giving him a sniff, and Hollinger’s numbers, for what they’re worth, put him squarely in the could-go-either-way category. So what’s up? Does his athleticism not translate to an elite NBA level? Is there some flaw that scouts see and video confirms? Does he not have NBA range?

Stranger still, his stock never moved a tick even after he was player No. 1A on a team that probably should’ve won the title. Meanwhile, Rose’s similarly outstanding tournament catapulted him to the #1 pick; Brandon Rush’s solid showing bumped him to mid-first; and Mario Chalmer’s one big shot might have pushed him from the second round to the lottery. So why not Douglas-Roberts?