Saturday, April 5, 2008

PROSPECT PROFILE: ANTHONY RANDOLPH

It's not like we need another Brandan Wright, but this Anthony Randolph sounds like Brandan Wright with a jumper - closer to Chris Bosh than Wright in that regard. Like Wright he is skinny and long, can run the floor well, and block shots, but he also has the ability to play the small forward position because of his good handles and ability to take opponents off the dribble and also hit the mid-range jumper.

Nelson loves players that can cause mismatches and Anthony Randolph could turn out to be a great player after a couple of years of development. He's projected to be selected at #5 by ESPN and in the late lottery elsewhere.

You can find several of his games at this link including LSU vs. Florida with Mareesse Speights and Nick Calathes / LSU vs. Tennessee with Tyler Smith:


http://sports.yahoo.com/top/collegebroadcast/teams/jps


Statistics:





From NBADraft.net:

http://www.nbadraft.net/admincp/profiles/anthonyrandolph.html


Birthday: 7/15/1989
NBA Postion: Small Forward
Class: Freshman
Ht: 6-10
Wt: 200
College Team: LSU
Hometown: North Little Rock, AR
High School: Woodrow

NBA Comparison: Lamar Odom/Tayshaun Prince

Strengths: Long, lanky forward with a great deal of upside ... His length and agility makes him very unique playing on the wing ... Highly versatile. He has a vast array of offensive abilities, especially impressive considering his age: Randolph has a tremendous handle and gets to the basket extremely well off the bounce ... A smooth athlete with great foot speed ... Runs the floor like a deer and has amazing fluidity ... Really makes a difficult match up as he's able to use his great length on both ends of the floor ... His offensive skill set is developing quickly ... Scores very well around the basket with a wide array of hooks and finger rolls. Being left handed enhances his effectiveness ... Has really developed as the season has gone on, and is beginning to dominate on a regular basis ... Causes mayhem crashing the glass, often following teammates shots with highlight one handed finishes ... Also shows solid vision and playmaking ability for teammates ... Has a lot of defensive potential. Blocks a ton of shots (2.3 pg) for a wing player due to his length, timing and explosiveness ... Shows good promise as a free throw shooter (70%), hard work and repetition should help him increase it ...

Weaknesses: A high risk, high reward type pick at this stage of his career. He's got a chance to be special, but in turn a higher than average chance of being a bust as well ... Still very skinny, and may always be on the skinny side ala Tayshaun Prince ... His arms in particular need bulking up ... His NBA readiness isn't quite at the level of some other draft hopefuls ... Must get stronger and tougher both physically and mentally ... Must gain confidence and not get discouraged when things aren't going well ... Still prone to cold nights shooting the ball ... He's a very shy, quiet kid, and the year in Baton Rouge has been great for him but he could really use a second year to continue his maturity and off court development before taking on the bright lights and distractions that exist at the next level. Unfortunately that appears unlikely, as Randolph is said to be leaning towards entering the draft one-and-done ... Maturity question marks will need to be answered in the evaluation process leading up to the draft. ... Shows a solid shooting stroke, but really need to develop more range. The three ball isn't currently in his repertoire (11% on the year with just two makes) ... Will need to tighten his handle and become less turnover prone ...


Aran Smith - 3/9/2008

Strengths: A raw talent. Extremely versatile forward with great quickness and athleticism ... Has the ability to face the basket, as well as play in the post ... Can get by players off the dribble with his great first step ... Shows a lot of raw potential, especially considering how much he improved over the past year... (Similar to Chris Bosh at the same stage of his career although not as stong)

Weaknesses: Must get a lot stronger physically, needs about 25-30 pounds minimum ... Also must get a lot tougher mentally ... Still very raw skill wise, puitting it all together, but his potential is considerable ...Notes: Undecided on where he will go to college ... Moved from Arkansas to Dallas as a junior ...


Aran Smith - 7/3/2006




from DraftExpress:



http://www.draftexpress.com/profile/Anthony-Randolph-1069/


Strengths:• Size• Wingspan• Quickness• Explosiveness• Fluidity• Left-handed• 4/3 mismatch threat (in style right now)• Ability to run the floor• Ball-handling skills• Ability to create shots w/either hand• Mid-range jumper• Shot-blocking• Defensive potential/Quick enough to hedge screens on p’n’r• Only 18 years old• Huge upside

Weaknesses:• Lacks strength• Skinny frame• Lives off instincts/Lacks fundamentals• Forces issue/ Doesn’t know limitations• Turnover prone• Cannot hold spot on the block• Fades away/Struggles finishing through contact• Poor 3-point shooter• Shot selection• All-around defense• Can he guard NBA PFs?• Pushed around in post• Inconsistent motor• Lacks awareness• Always on losing teams• Intangibles?


February 21, 2008

Although he continues to largely slip underneath the radar screen as far as national attention goes, few freshman have shown more glimpses of potential than LSU power forward Anthony Randolph.
It all starts with his physical tools…6-10 or 6-11, incredibly long, left-handed, fluid, quick, explosive off his feet, with great open-court speed…Randolph fits the bill and then some. He does have an extremely lanky frame, though (think Brandan Wright), one that might struggle to put on significant weight even down the road.

Skinny or not, Randolph wows you at times with the versatility he displays offensively. He’s a very good ball-handler for his size, able to grab a rebound and take the ball all the way down the floor (weaving through traffic impressively) and finish the play himself, or even create shots for himself in the half-court. His first step is excellent, and he has some basic jab-steps or wiggle moves that keeps his matchup guessing constantly as to what his next move will be. Although he’s left-handed, he seems to be just as dangerous going right, which is quite intriguing considering his size, youth, and the fact that he’s seemingly living purely off his instincts at this point. This ability to face up and attack his man off the dribble makes him a huge mismatch threat at the next level, especially as he continues to polish up his ball-skills, learns how to minimize his turnovers, and becomes a better finisher around the basket. He also has some basic (mostly finesse) moves he can execute with his back to the basket, but his lack of strength hinders him from being as much of a presence here as he could.

Randolph’s jump-shot needs lots of work, even if there are definitely some things to work with as he’ll show from time to time by knocking down a smooth mid-range jumper, sometimes coming off a pick and pop play. His mechanics are strange, though, like many left-handed shooters (especially from 3-point range), releasing the ball while almost standing sideways, not quite squaring his shoulders or elevating off the floor, and getting extremely poor results—just 2/16 from behind the arc on the year.

That wouldn’t be so bad if Randolph didn’t have as much of a tendency as he does to settle for bad shots and force out of control drives. His whole team seems to play incredibly selfish basketball, and Randolph is at times just as much a culprit as his shot-happy guards. He doesn’t seem to quite know his limitations at this point, settling for weak, off-balance, turn-around jumpers from mid-range, fading away from contact in the post, and generally showing poor shot-selection and a limited feel for the game. It’s not hard to tell that Randolph still has plenty of room to improve with everything that has to do with his fundamentals.

Where Randolph seems to need the most work, especially when considering how he’ll have to be used at the next level, in his defense. He gets pushed around in the post mercilessly; being unable to hold his spot on the block, and thus letting most big men just have their way with him as they please.

The problem here is that Randolph doesn’t seem to put up much resistance, giving up too much space in the post, not showing a great deal of fire fighting back against stronger players, and displaying a laid-back demeanor that is somewhat concerning at times. He gambles for steals, shows poor awareness on the perimeter, and isn’t always quite as active as you might hope. He clearly has the quickness and length to hedge screens and stay in front of his man, as well as the instincts to get after the ball and make his presence felt, but he doesn’t seem to quite know how at this point. With that said, it’s hard not to be impressed by the physical tools, reactivity and nose for the ball he shows coming up with blocks, getting in the passing lanes, grabbing offensive rebounds and more—you’d just like to see it happen more often. There seems to have been some improvement in his effort (particularly as a rebounder) since LSU switched coaches a few weeks ago, so we’ll have to see how this continues in the near future.

All in all, Randolph might be viewed as one of the more intriguing long-term prospects in this draft once you get past the top 5-6 names on most team’s boards. He’ll probably be viewed as the type of hybrid face the basket 4/3 that is becoming very much en vogue in the NBA these days (see: Shawn Marion, Travis Outlaw, Tyrus Thomas, etc) as a mismatch threat playing on a very up-tempo team. There are still a lot of kinks he needs to work out in his game before he gets there--both physically and mentally--but considering the fact that he won’t turn 19 until July, time is obviously on his side. From what we’ve been hearing for quite some time, there is a very good chance that he’ll be in the draft.



From ESPN:

Draft Projection: Top 10

Similarities: Chris Bosh or Brandan Wright

Positives: A super athletic big man with a long wingspan. Explosive leaper. Skilled. Can score with his back to the basket or by sinking a 15-footer. Has excellent speed for a big man. Runs the floor very well. Has shown that he can be a serious force on the boards and as a shot-blocker.

Negatives: Lacks strength. Needs to add a lot of muscle to his frame. He gets pushed around on both ends of the floor. While he has a reliable outside shot, he doesn't have deep range. Poor free-throw shooter. Still raw with his low-post moves.

Summary: Randolph is generating significant buzz from trusted NBA scouts. If he were playing for a higher-profile program, we'd probably be talking about a lock for the Top 5. If he declares, he'll be a hot name.



Thursday, April 3, 2008

The Main Problem: Lack of Flexibility with the Rotation



We have the guys that are capable of helping in areas where we struggle (rebounding, defense, post scoring), but they were not allowed to play and develop along the way for fear of changing that which Nelson is comfortable with. When things are going bad, Nelson doesn't go to the guys that could fix what is currently not working (fatigue, lack of interior defense, intensity, or rebounding, shooting). For whatever reason, he is content to watch large leads slip away or games like the last two (Spurs and Mavs) get way out of hand before doing anything about it. No one is held accountable for their bad play and then fatigue and complacency set in.

I don't buy the argument that we would have lost more games and would be in worse shape than we are now. The current rotation has not dominated much this year and in fact, have lost big leads only to barely win at the end. We could not blow out teams because heavy minute players were unwilling to play hard every minute they were out there in order to conserve their energy for a late game push. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't. When it did, if felt exhilarating. When it didn't, it cost us winnable games and breathing room for the playoff run. We have the potential to be better than a 50-win team, but the potential remains untapped by Nellie. He will live and die with the vets because he thinks experience trumps effort and skill. This is not always the case. One rookie/soph on the floor surrounded by vets will not lose you the game. If that one guy is causing too much problems over a reasonable time to make a judgement, take him out - but for goodness sakes GIVE THEM A CHANCE!!!!

If the main guys played 100% while they were on the court and Nellie used the bench more to relieve guys if they were tired or having an off game, we would be in much better shape. The young ones would be better prepared as a result of getting spot meaningful minutes and late season fatigue would not be as big an issue.

I don't blame Baron or Jackson. If it was made clear to them that they wouldn't play 40 minutes a game, they would be more willing to play as fast and furious last year. CJ Watson has shown that he can be an asset when he's out on the floor. Belinelli could play a minute or two when leads are big vs. weaker competition. Monta has shown enough to trust a few minutes of PG duty to him. There is no reason for Baron and Jackson to play that many minutes the entire season. I question Nelson for playing the likes of Mbenga (unskilled), Webber (over-the-hill), Croshere (ill equipt), and often struggling Harrington, Pietrus, and Barnes at the 4/5 spot while letting his arsenal of long big men (Wright, O'Bryant, and Perovic) go to waste. Sure they aren't the most talented offensive bigs we have, but they can make a difference on the glass, defensively in the paint, and a little scoring on put-backs or on smaller guys. Nelson is a master of the mismatch and a great x's and o's guy, but his lack of flexibility with the rotation has been what's holding back the team from achieving more.

I still think we have a shot if we could play the way we are capable of playing. But without Nelson trusting the bench and shuttling guys in and out to find what works and to fix what doesn't, we will see more of the same.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Prospect Profile: Marreese Speights

How many times have the Warriors been abused by undersized, athletic PF's the last couple of seasons? The likes of Milsap, Landry, Maxiell, and Thornton turn into All-Stars when they face the Warriors. We're too small, too light, too this, too that. We have no answer on our current roster, but Marreese Speights just might be what the doctor ordered. Although he's raw, he possess the tools and traits to grow into that physical pressence in the paint the Warriors so desperately need.

Sitting on the bench on the Championship winning Florida Gators last year, he patiently waited for his turn to shine. This year he has emerged behind the shadows of Joakim Noah and Al Horford to man the paint for the Gators. Only a sophomore, he has wowed scouts and made a name for himself with his efficient and powerful play. His per-40 production is outstanding (23.9 pts, 12.8 reb, 2.8 blk). He ranks 6th overall in EFF/40 with 31.0 behind Michael Beasley (37.7), Reggie Williams, Kevin Love (32.8), Luke Harangody, and Jason Thompson (31.1).

Speights is a great prospect who will need time to mature, but whether he declares for this year's draft is still unclear. Teams will drool over his shooting touch, power and NBA ready body that oozes with potential. Whatever he decides, he will likely be a lottery pick.

Check out this game vs. Tennessee on March 5, 2008. You'll get a sense of why Speights (and teammate Nick Calathes) is so highly regarded.
http://cosmos.bcst.yahoo.com/up/player/popup/index.php?rn=193177&ch=193300&cl=5786593

Statistics:

http://sports.espn.go.com/ncb/player/profile?playerId=31834


From NBADraft.net:

http://www.nbadraft.net/admincp/profiles/marreesespeights.html

Birthday: 8/4/1987
NBA Postion: PF/C
Class: Sophomore
Ht: 6-10
Wt: 250
College Team: Florida
Hometown: St. Petersburg, FL
High School: Hargrove Acad

NBA Comparison: Juwan Howard

Strengths: Fluid bigman with excellent length and shooting touch … Shows a lot of offensive promise with great touch on his shot within 8 feet of the basket … Very effective at the pick and roll … Has good hands and a terrific frame … He should be able to put on additional weight allowing him to play more physical … Huge wingspan gives him the length to play both the 4 and 5 positions at the next level as his body matures … Neither incredibly fast or explosive, but he is an above average athlete with excellent physical gifts … Still prone to making a careless pass here and there, but has above average vision and can develop into a quality passer … Has the length and athleticism to become a solid shot blocker … His rebounding should improve as he continues to get stronger …

Weaknesses: Struggles to create offense for himself … Really has a ways to go in developing reliable post moves … Seems to shy away from contact, even though he has the body mass and strength to bang … A bit of a finesse guy. Must add some strength and develop a nastier disposition … Added leg strength will help him to battle inside for post position … Loses focus and intensity at times, likely more to do with his age and lack of experience than anything, but it shows he’s not ready for the NBA yet … Has good touch but will need to extend his range. A consistent 12-15 foot jump would make him even more effective offensively … Has a lot of upside, but must develop better court awareness and understanding, helping on defense where to position himself for rebounds etc …

Notes: Playing and practicing alongside Al Horford and Joakim Noah as a freshman was a terrific opportunity to raise his level of play, and learn what it takes to be a pro …

Aran Smith - 2/9/2008



From DraftExpress:

http://www.draftexpress.com/profile/Marreese-Speights-1183/

January 31, 2008

Over the summer, we took a slight leap of faith discussing the outrageous per-40 minute production freshman Marreese Speights (28 points, 15 rebounds, 3 blocks, 68% FG) put up playing limited minutes behind the NBA-bound trio of Al Horford, Joakim Noah and Chris Richard. Many questioned how we could go as far as to call him the #1 NBA draft prospect in the SEC after playing only 6 minutes per game. What they didn’t realize was that beyond the numbers, the video we could see of the minutes he did play was that impressive.

Fast-forward to his sophomore year, and Speights is playing quite a bit more, up to 22 minutes per game, and his per-40 production has not dropped as much as you might think. 25.5 points, 14.2 rebounds, 2.7 blocks, and 64% shooting from the field is what he’s currently averaging per-40, while his assist-rate has quadrupled, and his turnovers are down by about 15%. He’s also fouling quite a bit less. More importantly, Florida is far exceeding expectations this season in the win-loss column, sitting at 18-3 overall, and 5-1 in the SEC.

Physically, it’s not hard to tell why Speights has terrific NBA potential. He has good size at 6-10, an NBA caliber frame, super long arms, and impressive athleticism. He runs the court well, has good quickness, is extremely quick off his feet, and is notably explosive finishing around the basket. He’s a very mobile big man, fluid and coordinated, and has excellent hands to boot. Our good friend David Thorpe of ESPN’s Scout’s Inc recently told us that Speights reminds him somewhat of Al Jefferson, and this seems to be a pretty good best-case scenario comparison.

Offensively, Speights is a back to the basket center all the way, looking most comfortable playing in the paint, but also showing some small sparks of potential with his jump-shot as well. Speights doesn’t have the most diverse post-game you’ll find in the NCAA, but he does a few things extremely well. He is strong enough to establish position fairly well deep inside the paint, and has a terrific jump-hook he can hit with either hand and range out to about 5-7 feet. If closer than that, he likes to finish impressively with a powerful one-handed dunk, aided greatly by his terrific wingspan and the quickness in which he gets off his feet.

Speights can also spin-away from his matchup and knock down a turnaround jump-shot, having the talent to just throw the ball in the basket from tough angles and even under duress. He has absolutely outstanding touch around the basket, and seems to have the potential to even be a legit option in the paint in the NBA as he continues to develop his all-around game. What he lacks in fundamentals, he makes up for with outstanding natural instincts, coming up with plays at times that hint at great things that might come down the road. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that the game comes pretty easy for him. His 64% shooting average from the field ranks 4th amongst all NCAA players in our 2008 or 2009 mock drafts.

As talented as Speights is around the basket, there are still quite a few things he needs to work on. For one, he doesn’t always do a very good job establishing position for himself to receive the ball in the paint, not looking quite as motivated as you’d hope to dominate his matchup on this end of the floor, and at times, just floating up and down the court aimlessly. You don’t always know what you’re going to get from him on a nightly basis in terms of his activity level. His ability to read defenses and react to his matchup also leaves something to be desired, as he does not have many real counter-moves in his arsenal, and often seems to decide what he is going to do before he even gets the ball.

Although he’s shown some sparks of being able to finish with his left hand, he still doesn’t fully trust himself here, preferring to go to his right at times even when he’s forced to go against his body to do so. He’s not immune to throwing up bad shots as you’d expect a young, somewhat late-blooming big man to (he was not the most highly touted recruit coming out of high school), not always knowing his limitations, and clearly still lacking an incredibly diverse arsenal of post-moves at his disposal at this point.

Facing the basket, we find somewhat of a mixed bag. On one hand, Speights appears to be developing a pretty nice jump-shot from 15-17 feet out, and possesses a pretty soft touch from the free throw line as well. His ball-handling skills are poor, though, meaning he’s not yet able to take advantage of his superior athleticism as much as he should when facing up against slower big men. While no one will confuse him with Vlade Divac anytime soon, he does a pretty nice job passing out of double-teams, and generally seems to be a fairly unselfish player who is able to make quick decisions with the ball in his hands—all relative to the fairly limited experience he possesses at this point.

Defensively, Speights still has a long ways to go until he’d be considered “trust-worthy” enough by an NBA head coach to see significant minutes at the next level. His fundamentals here are extremely poor, showing very little in terms of a real defensive stance, giving up excessive space in the paint, biting excessively for pump-fakes, not being very effective rotating over to help out on team defense, and doing an extremely poor job hedging the pick and roll. His commitment here leaves a lot to be desired, as he’s often fairly lazy closing out on shooters, and generally doesn’t seem to put in the greatest effort on this end of the floor. A lot of that has to do with his overall focus-level, which just isn’t always there.

Speights can block shots at this level, even if he’s not freakishly explosive, but his excellent timing, hands and wingspan really make him a factor. He has a knack for sticking his hands in the right place at the right time, and can even swat away some shots with his left hand. This same knack/timing and terrific tools show up in his rebounding too, where he can be dominant at times when he really puts his mind to it, especially on the offensive end. He’s especially impressive with his ability to tip-in the missed shots of his teammates with terrific touch, and go after his own field goal attempts with a put-back dunk. He’s already the 8th best rebounder per-40 minutes pace adjusted in the country amongst players in our database, and that’s despite the fact that he forgets to box out occasionally, and has a tendency to coast from time to time.

As you can probably guess from this write-up, Speights has some extremely unique tools at his disposal that can really get you excited if you catch him on the right night. We actually don’t have that many question marks about his combination of physical tools and skill-set (if he continues to develop his game)-- it’s more about his mental approach to the game that leaves you wondering at times. He’s been criticized by Florida’s coaching staff for some of the things we’ve outlined here, and these issues (effort, commitment, focus, etc) may extend off the court as well depending on who’s being asked. That may be a product of his youth, and could certainly improve in time depending on the type of people that are around him. We’ve already seen him make big strides in this area as the season moves on (he seems to be getting a lot of tough love from Billy Donovan and co.), and that’s why another year in college could be just what the doctor ordered, also in order to further develop his promising skill-set.



from ESPN:

http://insider.espn.go.com/nbadraft/draft/tracker/player?playerId=19161&draftyear=2008

Draft Projection: Lottery

Notes: Speight's per-40-minute numbers as a freshman were off the charts. He
With the 2007 class of Gators off to the NBA, it's Speights turn to shine.(Jimmy DeFlippo/US Presswire) averaged 28.3 points and 18.2 rebounds.

Positives: Huge body with good athleticism and strength. Good low-post scorer. Efficient. Quick in the paint. Impressive low-post moves for a sophomore. Good defender and shot-blocker. Excellent rebounder. Tough.

Negatives: His conditioning is still an issue. He needs to work on his jump shot. He doesn't have a great face the basket game. Might be a little undersized to play center in the NBA.

Summary: With Al Horford and Joakim Noah in the NBA, a lot is falling on Speight's large shoulders at Florida -- and he's delivering. Like Horford and Noah, he's doing big things in limited minutes. A likely lottery pick if he declares for the draft.


Monday, March 31, 2008

50 Wins and No Playoffs - A Case for Playoff Seeding Change

The Golden State Warriors, Denver Nuggets, and Dallas Mavericks are engaged in a heated battle for the final two playoff spots in the Western Conference. We could potentially see a 50-win team be excluded from the playoffs in the West while a team with less than 40 wins gets in the playoffs in the East. The Western Conference team that just misses the playoffs would likely be the 3rd or 4th seed in the East, but instead is forced to sit at home to watch a flawed collection of teams fight for a title that they should have a right to fight for themselves.

It was said that the Western conference dominance is cyclical, but if you look at the young talent base brewing in the West, you will see that it will only get stronger. The best young point guards are in the West (Chris Paul, Derron Williams, Parker), most of the best young bigs (Stoudemire, Ming, Jefferson, Bynum, Boozer, Biedrins, Odom), and both current and rising stars that will be around for a long time (Kobe, McGrady, Roy, Durant, Ellis, Davis, Nowitzki, Anthony, Aldridge, etc.)

The west is a beast and it is unfair that we will likely see a repeat of this year's playoff race dilemma for years to come.

It's time for a change, David Stern. Revamp the existing playoff season in favor of one that will allow the best of the NBA to compete for the title. Warriors telecast man, Bob Fitzgerald put together a brilliant plan that not only fixes the current playoff system, but also addresses the current conference alignment and how to make it more schedule/travel friendly for all NBA teams.

http://www.nba.com/warriors/interactive/fitz_files_blog_june07.html

In his new plan the conferences would look like this:



According to Fitz:



Currently, the Warriors play each Eastern Conference team twice (home and away). They would continue to do exactly the same thing under this suggested format. Ten Eastern Conference teams would result in 20 regular season games for the Warriors.


Currently, the Warriors play teams such as San Antonio, Dallas, Houston and Memphis four times (sometimes three). That is the same number of times they play the Sacramento Kings, Lakers and Clippers, which should be their divisional and geographic rivals. This makes no sense from a travel perspective and the time zone change doesn’t work well for television broadcasts either. Create a Central Conference and play each of the 10 Central teams twice, which would add 20 more regular season games.


This results in an 80-game schedule (once the amount of the league season), much less travel, better rest and health for players, better local TV broadcasting opportunities, the nurturing of geographic rivalries and familiarity with nearby opponents (think Red Sox/ Yankees).



This leads us to the playoffs. If Fitzgerald's plan was implemented, the top finishers in each of the 6 divisions would automatically receive playoff bids. The rest of the field would be made up of the 10 best teams based on record, regardless of region or division. Seeding of the teams would be based on regular season record, placed in a 16-team bracket, and playing a 7-game (2-3-2 format) series.


One wrinkle in this process I would add is that I would award the top 6 division teams the top seeds so that more importance is placed on winning your division.


Currently, the playoff seeding would look like this:









* click picture for larger view *



Oh the possibilities!!! Unlikely and thrilling match-ups that would only be possible if the two teams meet in the finals are now a reality!! Kobe vs. Lebron, Howard vs. Anthony, Paul vs. Agent Zero...on and on. And that's just round 1!!! In the Round 2, we could see Boston vs. Phoenix, Golden State vs. Cleveland, Detroit vs. San Antonio, and Orlando vs. New Orleans. Think of what that would do to the ratings.

The best of the best battle it out instead of weak Eastern teams that struggle to even reach .500. The best of each side of the bracket meet to find out, without a doubt, who is the best in the NBA. When the Western Conference Finals generates more interest than the NBA Finals, something is wrong.

Not only does this new playoff system and conference alignment make the NBA a more entertaining and fair product, it also has some pleasant side effects.

  1. With the mixed seeding of the playoffs, teams will no longer be reluctant to trade within their own conferences. This will open up new opportunities to deal and more options are available for GM's to improve their teams, balance their rosters, and maximize their return on player assets.
  2. Western Conference teams that just miss the playoffs after a 50-win season won't end up with a better draft pick than a weaker group of Eastern Conference teams that struggle to win 40 games. Lottery talent is distributed fairly among the worst teams.
  3. Good teams and their fans get to enjoy more basketball.


It would be a shame to not be able to see all the best teams play in the post season. There are so many benefits to a change in a system. The NBA has a history of being open to change and I hope this season serves as a wake-up call that something needs to be done.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Prospect Profile: JaVale McGee

With the likely departure of Patrick O'Bryant due to the questionable decision not to pick up his option, the Golden State Warriors might turn to the draft for a player that could eventually help Biedrins hold down the fort. High on the list among all centers in terms of potential is Sophomore sensation, JaVale McGee. At 7'-0" and with a tremendous wingspan, he is surprisingly agile for a player his size. As you can see from video highlights of his game, he has the range on his shot, the ability to put the ball on the floor, and finish emphatically in crowds. He's a great shot blocker with 2.8 blocks/game. Due to his status as a project and the slow development of recent draft picks such as O'Bryant and Saer Sene, McGee's stock might fall far enough (if he decides to come out this year) to where Chris Mullin will have the option to draft him for the Warriors. At the 20 range, his upside might be too big too pass up. What remains to be seen is whether Mullin and company have the patience to develop this intriguing prospect loaded with potential and with a more aggressive mindset than that of Patrick O'Bryant.


Statistics:
http://sports.espn.go.com/ncb/player/profile?playerId=32080



from NBADraft.net:

http://www.nbadraft.net/admincp/profiles/javalemcgee.html


Birthday: 1/19/1988
NBA Postion: Center
Class: Sophomore
Ht: 7-0
Wt: 237
College Team: Nevada
Hometown: Flint, MI
High School: Hales Franciscan




NBA Comparison: Andrew Bynum/Patrick OBryant

Strengths: Long athletic bigman who is absolutely bursting with potential ... Runs the floor exceptionally well ... Improving at a rapid pace on both ends of the floor. Has freakishly long arms: around a 7-6 wingspan which makes him a great rebounder and shot blocker ... Can really become a force defensively when he adds strength and discipline on opponent's shot fakes ... His length makes it extremely difficult for opponents to get shots over ... His offensive game is showing a lot of promise with developing back to the basket skills. He even shows some ability to face the basket and make drives or spot up ... Has a competitive spirit that is not apparent in many bigmen who picked up the game because of their size. A late bloomer who went underrecruited out of Chicago. McGee's parents were both professional basketball players so he has been around the game from a young age ... Shows solid form and touch on his shot ... Has a tremendous frame which should allow him to get much stronger and retain his great agility and athleticism ... Gives great effort and shows very good stamina for a bigman his age ... Added strength will give him better balance and make him a lot more effective imposing his will inside ... Has the potential to be a top 5-10 center in the league someday (if he's patient about entering the NBA) ... Has even shown the ability to knock down shots from college 3, no question influenced by the presence of Nick Fazekas last year ...

Weaknesses: Still must gain maturity. He gets frustrated far too easily and loses his composure quickly when calls go against him, or when he's struggling ... Still growing into his body and game, learning what he's capable of and steadily becoming a factor night in and night out ... Needs to develop some go to moves. A reliable jump hook would make him an absolute force ... Must improve from the free throw line (50% wont cut it). He has solid shooting touch and should be able to raise his FT shooting to at least 70-75 percent over time if he develops a consistent routine and works at it ... Should be wary of leaving school early. It's likely he would be a first rounder this year, but a third year in college would really help him in the long run as he would be much better prepared for the NBA and not run the risk of losing confidence and falling short of his full potential ...Notes: JaVale's parents were both professional basketball players. His father, George Montgomery starred at Illinois and was a second-round draft pick in 1985 by the Portland Trailblazers. His mother Pamela McGee, and her twin sister, Paula, were All-Americans who led USC to NCAA National titles in 1983 and 1984 ... Pamela also played and coached in the WNBA and is now a high school coach in Sacramento ... In Javale's freshman season he saw little playing time playing behind WAC player of the year and NBA draft pick Nick Fazekas.

Aran Smith - 12/1/2007




from DraftExpress:

http://www.draftexpress.com/profile/JaVale-McGee-1197/

Nevada’s sophomore big men has made some huge strides from his innocuous 3 point, 2 rebound, 10 minute per game freshman season. Coach Mark Fox has him up to nearly 28 minutes per game this year now that Nick Fazekas is off to the NBA, and McGee has responded with an excellent 13.4 points, nearly 9 rebounds, and 3.5 blocks per game.


In terms of pure upside, it’s difficult to find that many players in college basketball who are as intriguing as McGee. Standing 7-feet tall, with a pterodactyl wingspan, McGee is already in a class of his own in terms of his physical tools. He’s also an incredibly mobile player for his size, showing great fluidity and outstanding quickness, running the floor extremely well, and being super quick getting off his feet to finish around the basket or challenge shots.


More than just a physical marvel, McGee also drops some stunning glimpses of potential from time to time. He can palm the ball like a cantaloupe and swoop around the post to throw in a soft one-handed jumper off the glass, or use his outrageous extension to pull off some circus style dunks. His incredible reach also makes him an outstanding offensive rebounding threat, being able to just outreach everyone else on the floor and tip the ball to himself, sometimes to catch the ball and finish with a terrific put-back dunk, all in one fluid motion. It’s hard not to come away extremely impressed by some of the plays he makes from time to time, and you only wonder how good he might become if he can somehow learn to deliver them on a more consistent basis.


Offensively, McGee has nice touch around the hoop, and shows some glimpses of a jump-hook shot or a turnaround jumper. It all comes in very small doses, though, as he lacks the strength to establish (and hold) any real position for himself in the paint, and looks very uncomfortable banging in the post and trying to finish against opposition. His footwork is quite average, and he rushes his shots badly, lacking a great feel for how to set his man up and often preferring to fade away softly from contact rather than go up and finish strong. He’s particularly ineffective trying to finish moves from the left block, as his left hand is just non-existent and he makes a mess trying to force up difficult shots with his right.


Even though McGee has a hard time finding good shots for himself in the paint, he’s still somewhat of a black hole, as his 0.8 assists compared with 3.0 turnovers per game average might suggest. Once the ball go towards his direction, it’s very rarely going to come out, as he is more likely to just heave a bad shot up on the rim rather than survey the area using his height and maybe kick the ball out.


Despite being 7-feet tall, McGee looks pretty comfortable facing the basket, showing surprisingly good ball-handling skills putting the ball on the floor to create his own shot, and shooting range that extends all the way to the 3-point line. These are incredibly intriguing skills that could be developed into real weapons down the road, but for now, McGee has no idea what his limitations are seemingly, and sometimes does more harm than good with his forays out to the perimeter. His shot selection is poor, and he often overdoes things with his dribbling, making him a true feast or famine type of player who follows up one good play with one bad one. It doesn’t seem like he’s completely resolved to the fact that he’s 7-feet tall and not a guard, at least based off some of the moves he tries to execute at times. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that his basketball IQ is questionable, and he surely lacks a great deal of high level experience. He’s shooting only 50% from the field (pretty poor for a 7-footer), and just 59% from the charity stripe, which is usually a sign that he’d be best served working on his free throw shooting before he tries to impress with his 3-point stroke (where he is 4 for 16 so far on the year).


Defensively, McGee has game-changing potential thanks to his combination of size, length and athleticism. He also has pretty good timing on top of that, making him quite a force at times with his shot-blocking. He’s had three games this year for example with 6 blocks or more, and is averaging three per game on the season in under 28 minutes.


With that said, McGee has a long ways to go on this end of the floor as well, blocks and steals aside. His lack of strength is a hindrance when trying to deal with physically developed players, and he often gets pushed around in the paint with his obvious lack of bulk and toughness. McGee suffers from the same problem that a lot of young shot-blockers do—he gives up excessive space in the post thinking he’ll be able to compensate with his length and quickness to send the shot back as soon as it goes up. This is sometimes indeed the case, but at the next level it won’t be as easy, and he already has a tendency to bite on pump-fakes and get caught with his hand in the cookie jar. We’re often lacking a certain degree of activity from McGee, as he shows poor awareness on the defensive end and doesn’t always play as hard as one might hope. He gets outhustled occasionally going after rebounds, and doesn’t fight back at times when smaller players are pushing him around.


All in all, McGee is a superb prospect who is in dire need of a great deal of maturing and developing (and playing time) before he can even begin to think about the NBA. He could probably get drafted in the first round solely based off his potential, possibly this year already, but sitting on the bench for a few years is probably the worst possible thing you could wish upon a player like him. He reminds of somewhat of a mix between Brandan Wright and Patrick O’Bryant at this point in his career, but is obviously getting better day by day and still has a huge amount of upside left to tap into. It will be very interesting to see how he continues to develop.




from ESPN:

http://insider.espn.go.com/nbadraft/draft/tracker/player?playerId=19227&draftyear=2008


Draft Projection: Mid to late first round


Notes: McGee has declared for the 2008 NBA Draft and hired an agent, ending his college elibility.His father, George Montgomery, was drafted by the Blazersin the second round of the 1985 NBA Draft. His mother, Pamela McGee, played and coached in the WNBA.

Positives: Athletic big man with an excellent face the basket game. Long arms and explosive leaping ability make him an excellent shot-blocker and a good rebounder. Is developing a low-post game, but is still very raw. Has a reliable midrange jump shot and even some college 3-point range. Has the ability to create his own shot off the dribble. Good motor for a big man. Could be a 4 or a 5 in the league.

Negatives: Still developing, especially as a low-post player on the offensive end. Needs to add strength and weight, though it looks like he has the frame to do it. Poor free throw shooter.

Summary: Right now he's one of the biggest sleepers in the draft. He's still a year or two away from being ready for the NBA, but his improvement this season has been dramatic. He could go anywhere from the late lottery to late first round. Right now we have him somewhere in the middle, but with great workouts, he has the potential to crack the lottery. You aren't going to find many prospects with his combination of size, length, athleticism and basketball skills.


JaVale McGee Highlights