Archive for June, 2008

NBA Draft Master-Debating, Part 3-1

June 26, 2008

I have to admit: I don’t quite understand the logic floating around that the current NBA demands a top-shelf point guard to get anywhere near a title. For all the excitement that Nash and D’Antoni injected into the league, there’s no championship to be divvied up in their divorce papers.

Looking at the last 10 years — when the Lakers and Spurs dominated the championship ceremony — they did it largely without elite PGs. Parker’s evolved into a top tier player, but he was shaky at best for their first title and a half.

This year, the West’s Final Four featured three dominant point men — CP3, Deron and Parker — but it was Derek Fisher who ended up starting in the Finals. And he lined up opposite Rajon Rondo.

As Wright points out, there was a similarly misguided importance placed on centers a few years back. That made some sense, at least, with Shaq and Duncan dominating down low and actually winning titles. What did not make any sense, of course, was assuming that an Adonal Foyle or an Erick Dampier could have any impact on that dominance.

Oddly, the most ridiculous reach for a dominant big man came from the 6′ 6″ shooting guard whose teams shredded the league with the likes of Bill Cartwright, Bill Wennington and Luc Longley in the post.

Why MJ thought Kwame Brown deserved to go number one will forever remain a mystery.

But Paxson is not pulling an MJ by taking Rose at number one. This isn’t a pick based on height and wingspan. This is a freshman who just led his team within a hoop of the NCAA title.

If there’s a trend at work at here, I think it’s a trend toward taking a guy who’s a proven winner and who clearly has his head on straight.

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Doh.

June 25, 2008

Hollinger:

Sadly for Spurs fans, Tiago Splitter is one example of the dollar’s weakness keeping a prized player on the other side of the Atlantic. His projected NBA numbers are outstanding — 18.5 points and 10.3 boards, 54.4 percent shooting, 18.11 PER — and it’s unfortunate that such a wise draft choice has to be wasted because of a silly thing like currency fluctuations.

That 18.11 PER projection would put him higher than any prospect in this draft except for Beasley. Uuuugh.

UPDATE: Just noticed this other quote from that Hollinger article:

If I had to slot him into my board, I’d rate [Gallinari] sixth — combining my numbers with some subjective opinion, I have Michael Beasley and Kevin Love as the two best players, followed by Derrick Rose, Joe Alexander and Darrell Arthur. Gallinari, Jerryd Bayless, Marreese Speights, Brook Lopez and D.J. Augustin round out my top 10, with Mario Chalmers and Roy Hibbert the next two names on the board. Since there’s only about 12 guys in any draft who can play, those are the 12 I’m putting my money on.

No OJ Mayo? Not even as a solid role player? Yowzer, that’s some faith in your numbers.

NBA Draft Master-Debating, Part 3

June 25, 2008

First of all, let’s clear out the Hinrich comparisons:

Hinrich was a senior when he put up the stat line you reference. As a freshman, he averaged 5 points and 4 assists. Now, his being a senior doesn’t totally diminish those numbers, but if he had put up that line as a freshman, then he would have immediately been near the top of a lot of draft boards.

As it was, he went a respectable 7th in a loaded draft, behind Lebron, Carmelo, D-Wade, Bosh, the Kamaniac, and of course, Darko. Pretty good company though.

You don’t come out and say it, but you sort of imply what I’ve heard elsewhere: the Bulls don’t need a point guard.

Last year’s starter put up these numbers:

10.7 ppg / 45% fg / 6.8 apg / 2.9 rpg / 0.9 steals / 14.56 PER

Oh wait, no, that was Earl Watson. Hinrich’s line was a more modest:

11.5 ppg / 41% fg / 6.0 apg / 3.3 rpg / 1.2 steals / 13.13 PER

Hinrich’s PER puts him 32nd among point guards, behind such luminaries as Watson, Nate Robinson, Ronald Murray, Keyon Dooling and Chris Quinn. I don’t hear people telling Seattle or New York that they already have a point guard…

As for the Beasley-Glenn Robinson comparison, I fear I set up a straw man for you. Beasley stands to be better than the Big Dog, but how much is that saying? The guy had some good scoring years, but was he ever a contender to take a team beyond the second round? Not that I recall.

Beasley will put up better numbers — particularly in efficiency, as you point out — but I have a sinking feeling they’ll end up tied at 0 for championships. Maybe Derrick Coleman is a better comparison; maybe Carmelo’s even closer. Or maybe he’ll be a Vince Carter type. The point is that there are guys in the league who seem to have what it takes to get a team to the top and guys who don’t.

I don’t see it in Beasley. He could be an important cog on a team with veterans, but will he ever be the best player on a championship team?

I’ll gladly bet against it.

You do raise an interesting point about fads in valuing different positions. I think you’re right, but I don’t think it applies to Rose. I’ll try to sneak in a post on that tomorrow before draft festivities commence.

Finally Some Mock Sanity

June 25, 2008

Chad Ford has just updated his mock draft to version 6.1, and it includes, for the first time, a pick I think the Spurs might actually make: Cal’s Ryan Anderson. A 6-10, sweet-shooting PF, Anderson fits nicely into the Spurs’ system. He’ll replace the ghost of Robert Horry, who I hear will be kept around as a special adviser on nut punches and dirty screens away from the play.

Many of the earliest editions of Ford’s mock draft, always taken with a grain of salt, had the Spurs taking a backup PG, which didn’t make any sense. Admittedly, for Spurs fans the only pick that makes sense is CDR. The Spurs need an athletic wingman like Reid needs to do some 10-lb. curls. Or maybe we’re blinded to CDR’s limitations because we’ve been pining for 10+ years for any rotation player, besides Manu, who can dunk with one hand.

Anyways, Jacque Vaughn is fine, and the Spurs have too many other glaring holes — now that the vets are shot and the Scola-Splitter picks backfired — that we can’t keep drafting for 3-4 years down the road.

In light of that, you can see how an Anderson pick differs from previous mock draft. To recap the progression of Spurs predictions:

Mock 1.0: Nicholas Batum, SF/PF, France, age 18 — I’m intrigued, but he won’t be ready for years.

Mock 2.0: Ante Tomic, C, Croatia — Another big project.

Mock 3.0: Mario Chalmers, PG, Kansas — See above.

Mock 4.0: Ty Lawson, PG, UNC — No way.

Mock 5.0: Chalmers

Mock 6.0: Tomic

Mock 6.1: Anderson

For Spurs fans, who pretend we’re OK with the defense winning championships, the best thing about Anderson is that he can flat-out score. He was only a few free throws from being a 50-40-90 guy last year, and his offensive rating in college last season was among the highest in the country, a shade above even Beasley (whose usage rate was higher) and a shade below Love (whose usage rate was lower). He won’t be an NBA star, but if he’s the Spurs pick, it’s going to be great having that firepower in reserve.

NBA Draft Master-Debating, Part 2

June 24, 2008

There’s much more to the debate than the numbers, but if Reid really wants to play the comparison game straight out the gate, let’s go there.

Glenn Robinson’s best year in college, as a junior, after which he was the unanimous No. 1 pick, but before much of his potential was destroyed by injuries and alcohol problems:

  • 93-94 Purdue 30.3 PPG | 48.3 FG% | 38.0 3PT% | 79.6 FT%
    10.1 REB | 1.9 AST | 4.1 TO | 0.9 BLK | 1.6 STL

Michael Beasley, two years younger, after a single season of college basketball, but before his potential will be just decimated by too many Vinny Del Negro jokes:

  • 07-08 K-State 26.2 PPG | 53.2 FG% | 37.9 3PT% | 77.4 FT%
    12.4 REB | 1.2 AST | 2.9 TO | 1.3 STL | 1.6 BLK

So even a cursory look at the basic stats shows Beasley ahead of Robinson. He contributes more efficiently and holds a little edge in the defensive categories, too. And with Robinson, there wasn’t even a debate about who went first.

Now to Derrick Rose, whose remarkable tourney performance led his team to a 2nd place finish, during which he showed he “can go 200 mph and is a smart point man, but his shot is unpredictable”:

  • 07-08 Memphis 14.9 PPG | 47.7 FG% | 33.7 3PT% | 71.2 FT%
    4.5 REB | 4.7 AST | 2.7 TO | 1.2 STL | 0.4 BLK

Actually, though, the quote above isn’t about Rose. It was about a guy the Bulls might have on their radar, Kirk Hinrich, who also led his team to a NCAA Finals loss, captured Long’s heart with his hustle, but was nowhere near the conversation for the top pick:

  • 02-03 Rock Chalk 17.3 PPG | 47.5 FG% | 40.6 3PT% | 70.4 FT%
    3.8 REB | 3.5 AST (4.7 for his college career) | 2.2 TO | 1.9 STL | 0.4 BLK

So the fact that Rose is even in the No. 1 conversation means either A) his intangibles really are off the charts, or 2) maybe we’re starting to overvalue those intangibles a bit.

If the measurables aren’t convincing, let me throw this out there: mimicking the success of other teams hardly guarantees wins, but it’s a popular NBA strategy. In the early part of this decade, teams trying to follow the Shaq model overpaid (i.e., overvalued) the Erik Dampiers and Adonal Foyles of the world — and are still overpaying them.

It’s possible that, now, we’re all a little too eager to invest in the next dynamic PG thanks to the non-title-winning-but-beautiful-to-watch success of Nash, CP3, and Deron Williams.

And that’s how you talk yourself out of picking the sure thing.

NBA Draft Master-Debating, Part 1

June 24, 2008

I’m back. Been around the world…

Just kidding. I’m only back to make Wright look bad, by having him articulate for posterity why he’s favoring The New Glenn Robinson as this year’s No. 1 pick.

I’ll get this started by pointing out the obvious:

The Chicago Bulls need Michael Beasley like I need an eating disorder.

This is a team in disarray, with a roster that’s already full of goofballs and questionable-motivation guys. Larry Hughes just wants to have fun. Drew Gooden thinks about his haircut during crunch time. Tyrus Thomas, after being the No. 4 overall, couldn’t focus long enough to get more than 18 mpg in his second season. Joakim Noah is one of the only Bulls who plays with some fire (Nocioni notwithstanding), and he got suspended one game last year for verbally abusing an assistant coach, only to have his teammates double down on it.

Vinny D.

And, just so you know, Hughes is the team’s “veteran” at age 29. What did the Bulls do to offset this lack of experience? Hired a coach who’s never been a coach.

Enter Michael Beasley?

Maybe Beasley’s gotten a bum rap for some high school hijinks. Maybe he’s not crazy. Maybe he works harder than people say. But, by all accounts, he is a goofy guy, one who hasn’t held his coaches, or their rules, in the highest esteem. That, to me, seems pretty well-established.

I don’t think Beasley would ever go Sprewell on Vinny D., but it’s not hard to picture him loafing around in practice, cracking jokes in team meetings, and wandering off during a timeout huddle. And who on the Bulls is there to rein him in?

Beasley In His Element

Exactly.

Vinny’s got his hands full already with this team, and rather than choose the quiet guy who leads by example and might be able to steady the ship, you want to throw Michael Beasley into the mix?

Really?