[Also known as Confirmation Day in the Church of Bracketology]
photos from Draft Express and the Hoops Report
Years ago I would meet with some friends at one of the larger bars in Manhattan to watch the NBA draft, mostly so I could lose my mind and start cussing into the air, in public, when, say, Marcus Camby was traded (with the rights to Nenê) for Frank Williams and a broken Antonio McDyess (who has, admittedly carved out quite a decent post-injury career for himself). I think my friends just wanted to see what I did when the Knicks did something so very obviously bad for their future and salary cap.
The funny thing is that I have a lot more affection for the Nets, really, but the Knicks are what New Yorkers of my age grew up with – Patrick Ewing, the kind of physicality and slowdown style that facilitates rules changes, the haircut of Anthony Mason, the post-game interview voice of John Starks… so it’s the Knicks I focus on when watching the draft. The Nets under Rod Thorn have made very good picks, from the Richard Jefferson year to Lopez and Anderson last year. They’re not all gangbusters, but they get players who get on the court.
Some of the storylines going into tonight’s NBA draft:
+ The Knicks might be looking to trade Quentin Richardson for Memphis’ Darko Milicic… and may pick Gerald Henderson of Duke tonight. Apparently Coach Krzyzewski convinced Mike D’Antoni to sign free agent Chris Duhon, improving Duhon’s nightlife options immeasurably… possibly to the detriment of the team (no evidence, just conjecture). I kind of would like Darko. He’s not the second coming, but might be better under D’Antoni; he improved slightly in his scoring per 40 minutes last year. What else will the Knicks do to improve?
+ Not a storyline per se, but Free Darko analyzes the model stylings of future draftees Hasheem Thabeet, Pretty Ricky Rubio, Stephen Curry, Tyler Hansbrough, and more.
+ Some guy named Shaquille O’Neal who is very large was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers for the expiring contracts of Ben Wallace and Sasha Pavlovic. Basketball Prospectus thinks it is a poor trade, since O’Neal is a defensive liability and needs the ball to be effective… and he’s not that effective anymore. And I like Zydrunas Ilgauskas’s game next to LeBron (Z has some range and some post game)… I think the team needs something more impactful at the guard position. Casn they find a steal in the draft to keep Lebron in Cleveland?
+ Speaking of Basketball Prospectus, here are some statistical translations from Euroleague stats for Pretty Ricky Rubio, Brandon Jennings, Omri Casspi, and Sergio Llull, who I have not heard of. And while we’re at it, here are translations for stateside players, ranking the guards in terms of WARP (Wins Above Replacement Player). Will these projections be correct? Is Nick Calathes a future NBA star?
+ And then there’s the Brandon Jennings thing. Ball in Europe talks about how Jennings’ season was a net negative, a bust, and those numbers bear it out. Rough season for the youngster, even though Lottomatica Roma teammate Ibrahim Jabber likes his game in a long-winded post on True Hoop.
And he might be bitter now, but the benefits may be greater than simply showing that he can play and score. Lisa Olson writes on Jennings’ study abroad year:
People who study these things for a living say he is certainly a top three talent, but then they add words like “mystery” and “enigma” and “bad attitude” to his dossier, and nobody knows quite where Jennings will land….
“It was tough,” he says. “But I made a decision and I stuck with it. I like to think I matured as a man and as a player.”
Thing is? Jennings is still talented, but he has to improve some parts of his game, according to scouting reports (the outside shot, the decision-making). And he’s probably going to be drafted in the lottery. His experience will inform players like Jeremy Tyler that it is possible to go to Europe for basketball and come back, but it won’t be like going to State U and playing 38 minutes a game, with Dick Vitale yammering how they are awesome-baby. And maybe that’s a better fortune.
+ The last few days have been trade-crazy, with teams trying to get into position to get the impact players in what many feel is a weak (but possibly deep with role players?) draft. Richard Jefferson is happy to be “relevant again,” and I am happy he is as well; part of that deal means forward Amir Johnson will go to Milwaukee; the Timberwolves got the #5 pick in the draft, along with some large bodies who hold down the chairs; 76ers are looking to the old school logo; and Tracy McGrady might find himself traded for a draft pick. Those Rockets played pretty well without him…
+ Who are going to be the sleepers and the busts? SI’s Luke Winn looks at efficiency numbers in different scenarios… James Harden might have some work to do on his game in the faster-paced (than his Arizona State offense) NBA.
Who would believe you can get 56 stars tattooed on your head while you were asleep? No one is that fast, nor that gentle with a needle… In New York, is Bloomberg just delaying the budget deficit hit until after the elections, where he is running for an unprecedented third term… Meanwhile, California’s budget deficit will have them dealing out “IOUs”, because liabilities at interest is just what the Golden State needs… there may be water on the moon (a moon of Saturn).
And for fun, the top 10 recent male politician infidelity confessions to accompany you while you read Gov. Sanford’s emails to his lady friend in the Palermo neighborhood of Buenos Aires. Transformers 2 gets bad reviews, but apparently has a lot of Megan Fox bouncing in slow motion. That, I suppose, will sell, but I can’t stand to listen to her act. So instead of the gratuitous Megan Fox picture I should put up, here’s a gratuitous Cat Deeley photo, just because I can… and instead of arrows or bullets, I’ll use Toni Basil’s crazy eyes.
Too short for a Toni Basil: From a while ago on the NCAA’s blog: Do You Have What It Takes to be an Athletic Director?
Hopefully the squad will do well in the Caribbean Basketball Championship this coming week… and maybe make moves to be included in the 2012 Olympics. And with all the Jamaicans in London, they might find it a little like a homecoming. As long as there are no more Jamaican Me Crazy headlines. Please.
Good to hear about former Marlins, Red Sox and Cubs pitcher Matt Clement. Apparently he’s hung it up in baseball and is coaching his high school’s basketball team in Butler, Pennsylvania; he played baseball and basketball before graduating in 1993.
He was never quite the same after that horrific injury, taking a baseball off his head faster than he could react. Good luck to him, and his future career.
Chances of ever seeing that Moneyball movie are pretty much dead now, after Sony stopped production, and no one wants to pick up the Steven Soderbergh/ Brad Pitt version of the Billy Beane-based book. Art Howe would have gotten to be himself! One-liners!
The “high budget and limited commercial appeal” sunk the project; apparently, “adult audiences”have not brought in the desired revenue. Summer blockbusters for kids all year! And no more baseball movies, unless they are financed by Kevin Costner.
Ryne Sandberg thinks Sammy Sosa doesn’t belong in the Hall of Fame. Well, does Sandberg belong? Just asking!
For me, I am not very surprised that Sammy was on some steroid junk… the whole throwing his back out sneezing seemed to me like something that happens in conjunction with overworking the body’s muscles. I don’t know, but I would have suspected then. But, so what? Players are always trying to get over. If he is determined to be the best of the players who took steroids, he still has to have been great player to be the superstar that he was.
Another too short for a Toni Basil: Was there match-fixing at Wimbledon? Certainly, anyone looking to throw a game knows to do it in the less-publicized, less watched contests… so that’s not out of the realm of reason.
Barack Obama will throw out the first pitch at the All-Star game in St. Louis this year. I hope they don’t boo him… the city, like the Cardinal uniforms, tends towards red. Speaking at Notre Dame and showing up at the midsummer classic? He really is trying to win everybody over with smiles and availability.
And he’ll probably wear a White Sox jersey.
New York’s Metropolitan Transit Authority is selling the naming rights to my old train station at Atlantic and Flatbush in Brooklyn to Barclay’s Bank, since that is where the new Nets stadium – if it is ever built – will stand.
The new design for the Barclay’s Arena for the Nets (from the New York Press) really does look like an airplane hangar.
The U.S. Men’s National Soccer team has taken their second loss in the Confederations Cup in South Africa, a 0-3 stomping that featured another red card (this time Sascha Klejstan was sent off; Ricardo Clark caught the card in the Italy game), another early goal given up on defense, and the perception that the United States can’t hang with the big boys on the pitch.
Ann Killion of the San Jose Mercury News put it best, comparing where the US MNT is as compared to the stated goals of 11 years ago; the U.S. felt that they were ready to emerge as a power, and Landon Donovan and DeMarcus Beasley were going to be key to that future.
There have been moments, for sure, and the team is far better than they used to be, especially in comparison to the local North/ Central American competition in the CONCACAF. And it’s not like the U.S. side is losing in basketball, a sport where the country has a long history, decided advantage, and deep fan appreciation/ identification.
But still… the results and notes from today just make it sound like a dog of a game.
After that downer, some links from this week:
* Emmanuelle Chriqui threw out the first pitch at a Dodgers game earlier this week. Hat tip to popoholic.
* Boise State football is looking to go on the road for some guarantee cash money from a big school (h/t Fanhouse) in 2010. This will bring in some money from the bigger schools to the smaller (budget-wise) state school; but brings up an interesting question. What team would bring in Boise State for a challenge game? They are always competitive, even if they have lost their last few guarantee games against Washington, Georgia, Arkansas, and South Carolina.
* Florida State will have to vacate 14 wins from their football squad’s record for violations invovling academic fraud. Man, that’s tough. But now maybe coach Bobby Bowden and Penn State’s Joe Paterno can retire; one could look at them and think that while they do love football, the lure of retiring as D-1 college football’s all-time winningest coach has to help them when the job seems to stressful, when the kids are acting like fools, when the age-related injuries slow them down… it’s time for both to consider hanging it up. They are like coach emiriti these days.
* As you know, Tim Floyd resigned from the University of Southern California amidst allegations of cash to recruit OJ Mayo and a perception that serious sanctions were coming down, especially since the allegations of wrongdoing have been very public. Currently, USC is moving ahead with its coaching search and looking for coaches with pro experience. They have locked in on former Seton Hall and pro coach P.J. Carlesimo and former New Mexico State and pro coach Reggie Theus. Reggie Theus is interested. I think he’s a good call – he seemed to be a decent coach at New Mexico State, players wanted to come to play for him, and while his pro career wasn’t stellar, it wasn’t terrible (and was cut too short). Put a pretty charming face on a couple of hard years and possible ineligibility for the Big Dance, USC!
* Some Japanese pro wrestlers are accused (and there is evidence) of some serious animal abuse with a pet monkey. Honestly, don’t read it if you’re squeamish. I thought it was some of the most juvenile, disgusting actions I have read about in a long time.