Wednesday, June 29, 2005
It's become a common reaction for Minnesota Timberwolves' fans to seemingly every decision- or indecision- Kevin McHale makes. And his selections with the 14th and 47th picks in last night's 2005 NBA draft were no exception. With (college) seniors Danny Granger and Hakim Warrick, and (high school) senior Gerald Green still on the board, McHale used his first pick on talented and troubled two-guard Rashad McCants from reigning national champs North Carolina. With his 2nd, with ANYBODY else still available, McHale exercised his own little known rule: "with your 2nd round pick, you must take either a euro nobody's heard of, or an underachieving, undersized, and "undertalented" player from the Big 10" (remember Rick Rieckert or Marcus Taylor? I try not to either). This year, 6'1 scoring guard Bracey Wright from Indiana (which is great since the Wolves already have two small shoot first, second, and probably third point guards on the roster). To be honest, the second pick bothers me more than the first. Here's why:
Kevin Garnett will be 30 this season, and it's imperative that Minny keeps him happy-which means getting players that can contribute NOW. Say what you want about KG, but he's not only the face of the franchise--he IS the franchise. He might be the most beloved sports figure in Minnesota history, and he's earned the right to not be part of a rebuilding squad. As shown by a trade of a superstar from another team in this town, or by last summer's deals involving Shaq and Tracy McGrady, you cannot get value for a superstar in a trade, so trying to get back to the conference finals ASAP is your only decision. And that's why passing on Gerald Green makes sense. Yes, he could be the next T-Mac, and we could be sitting here 5 years from now with an aging Garnett and still no titles, and saying "what if"? But Green won't help now, and probably not next year. T-Mac and Kobe both took 3 seasons before they became dominant, and from what little I've seen of Green (ridiculous athlete with no jump shot whatsoever) he could take just as long, if at all.
Hakim Warrick is a long, athletic forward who could have helped KG on the boards, defensively, and in transition. But offensively he's not there yet. Yes, he averaged 21 a game last year at the Cuse, but I'd be surprised if he averages more than 10 as a rookie (he was perfect for New Jersey, who of course passed on him for a swing man-which they already have two of.)
That leaves Granger. At 6'8, with a solid skill set and a workmanlike attitude, this was the guy to take. The Wolves had been saying for weeks that 2 guard was the position of greatest need, and although Granger is not your protoype guard, he would have caused some matchup nightmares along with KG and Wally. And defensively he would have helped immensly. He'll be the best player from this draft next year, three years from now, and possibly beyond. And McHale passed him up.
However, I do like McCants. I don't think the attitude will be a real issue for his first few seasons here. He's going to be motivated by all the talk about, well, his lack of motivation and attitude. He'll be hungry to score and should have plenty of opportunities to do it. And more importantly he has the ABILITY to score. KG has been in the league for 10 years now. He's a perennial all-star and all-defensive guy, and if he retired right now is probably in the Hall of Fame. But he is what he is- an incredibly gifted, unselfish do-everything player who can't and won't take the big shot when it matters. If he could defer to somebody, he would. McCants has the opportunity to be that guy. He's going to get those moments. He could be a big time player. How long he sustains it is up to him.
Actually, the only thing holding him back is not his attitude, it's AVP-- as in "Alien Vs. Predator", or the previously mentioned point guard combo of Sam Cassell and Troy Hudson. Cassell looks like an alien, and Hudson the predator with his dreads, and just like the movie characters, both guys will cause destruction, mayhem and the end of life on the planet just to get their shots. And these are the guys who will be running the team. Thankfully Cassell, at the latest, will only last one more season. Hudson will be here long after that. But make no mistake, these two, this AVP combo McHale's created, are the biggest hurdle to McCants having a productive rookie year.
Now you would think that having not one, but two smallish selfish point guards already on your roster would teach you a lesson. You would learn from your mistakes. You would take either the best player available (Ryan Gomes or Lawrence Roberts), or take a project with some, yes I'll say it, UPSIDE (as an aside, did you notice nobody used the word "upside" once last night? Not once!!). Instead, McHale throws the pick away for the umpteenth year in a row. Has McHale had ONE second round pick stick with the team for more than a season? Even one? It's been bad enough the Wolves lost those first round picks, but the fact the Big Ugly Sweater has done NOTHING with the second round picks is just as bad. AND GLEN TAYLOR BROUGHT HIM BACK.
I don't know what revealing, embarrising pictures or information McHale has on Taylor, but it seems like McHale can make as many bad decisions as he wants, and Taylor's not going to do a damn thing about it. So Wolves fans will be stuck with more outbursts and reactions to his moves like the ones they had last night. THe first pick wasn't bad, it just could have been better. The 2nd was worse. BUt I guess it should have been expected.
Friday, June 24, 2005
...is it time for former league Godfather Stern to make HIMSELF an offer he can't refuse? (something along the lines of call fouls consistently, call travelling even once, and keep your players out of prison. Just a thought)
...are Manu Ginobili and Vinny Del Negro long lost brothers?
...is Tim Duncan one of the top 10 players of all time? (I say no, Jer says he's pretty close)
...at NBA pre-draft combines, when are scouts going to start grading these European players on skills they'll use in the playoffs? You know, things like towel waving, awkward high-fives and mumbling something incoherent about how good they were in Kazahkwatitsnamestan? Or if they actually get in a game, things like looking lost, missing shots, playing zero defense, flopping, and mumbling something incoherent about how good they were in Kazahkwatisnamestan?
...come to think of it, if you replace Kazahkwatisnamestan with "Miami of Ohio", wouldn't that last description fit Wally Szczerbiak? Too bad the guy in the big ugly sweater cannot figure this out and trade him.
...how is Kevin McHale going to screw up the draft for the Wolves this year? (hey good thing we brought him back.)
...why didn't the Wolves wait on hiring a coach to see if they could have gotten Nate McMillan or Terry Porter? (Oh McHale, right, sorry I forgot.)
...do you realize that the Wolves fired one of the best coaches in the NBA because Kevin McHale was told if he didn't, that HE'D be fired? (Never forget that last year can be squarely blamed on McHale- and he was brought back)
...who's better at flopping: Manu or any Euro hockey player? And do they teach flopping in other countries? (Probably part of soccer practice, along with prancing, grooming your mullet, slide tackling and rioting.)
...which Packers fans would enjoy kissing Brett Favre more: the men or women? (Whatever the answer, be assured TheDan will write a blog about it)
...is there a bigger sign that the apocalypse is upon us than the fact that Bam Margera, who if you don't know is the world's biggest no-talent-ass-clown, has a hit TV show and is super rich?
...along the same lines, where do these skateboard/motocross/freeloader idiots get all their money? (sorry I was bored the other day and on MTV they had that Cribs show and well these people actually had possessions and cars and houses and it all makes me very nervous)
...who's the worst #2 pick of all time (especially considering who was drafted after him): Darko, Tony Mandarich, Sam Bowie, or Ryan Leaf?
Monday, June 13, 2005
So I'm looking ahead to the NBA draft, the last event before the league drops off the face of the earth with another ridiulous lock-out. One of the sticking points in the next collective bargaining agreement is an age limit for the draft. I am very much in favor of a 20-year-old limit. I hate kids coming into the league out of high school and thinks it's ruining the game (along with horrible refereeing, players running the league and too many WNBA commercials), but if I was a high school senior who either a) had a great vertical leap or b) was over 6'9, I'm coming out no matter what. The Sports Guy and others have made this point, but after reading some draftniks previews for both the NFL and now the NBA on draftees, why go to college? Why wouldn't you go overseas and sit on some team's bench and look good in practice? To paraphrase Bill Simmons "if you're tall and have any athletic ability, just change your name to something unpronounceable with a bunch of consonants, and say you're from some far off country and NBA scouts will love you."
It seems a scouts' job isn't to find what you do well, it's to find what you DON'T do. And why bother going to college when your resume in the NCAA doesn't count? The top prospects in this year's draft are Marin Williams, a freshman from North Carolina who didn't even start for the National Champs. He's 6'8 with great all around skills and athleticism. His numbers for his first year? 11.6 pts and 6 rebounds. Ladies and gentlemen, the top pick in the draft! Andrew Bogut, who everybody but Bogut himself thinks is vastly overrated, could also go #1. I'll tell you right now, the only list Bogut will be on top of in the pros next year is "tall white stiff guys most want to dunk on". He makes Vince Carter look tough, isn't great at anything, but is white and tall and oooooh I almost forgot--he can pass from the high post!! Great because that's what I want out of my center. Ok at scoring, gets pushed around under the glass, and can't play much defense, but my can he pass! The third guy is Gerald Green, a lazy high school kid with a crazy vertical leap and he's tall. His resume includes dunking on high school kids, preening after those dunks, and already being very adept at talking about himself in the third person (a necessary skill in today's NBA).
So these are your top 3 picks. Potential, potential, and potential. Guys that have proven nothing, or next to nothing at college or anything even close to it, but will get picked before much more deserving players because they COULD be the next Kobe or KG. And that's really the point here. These guys haven't shown anything: both what they can, and more importantly what they CAN'T do yet. Whereas guys with great work ethic, good skills and a serviceable college resume slide out of the lottery. Sean May, for example, only dominated for a 3 week stretch when it mattered most. Averaged over 20 and 10 in the NCAA tournament, dominating the tourney like nobody since...well...when was the last time anybody carried his team to a title like that? Yes, he's "only" 6'9, yes he's not exactly fleet of foot, and yes he has difficulty jumping over the foul line, let alone from it. Potential? Not much more than he's shown you in 3 years at UNC. He'll only give you a consistent double-double every night in the NBA, work his tail off in practice, and be a good scoring option in the paint. He's NOT going to be the next KG or Amare, but he will be a very good NBA player.
But according to scouts he's a mid-first round pick at best. Fine, take the other guys. I'll go for guys like May, or these:
- Deron Williams, PG, Illinois: One of the 5 best defensive PG's in the league the moment he's drafted and oh by the way has a good jumper and rarely makes a bad decison.
- Danny Granger, F, New Mexico: Like Marvin Williams is 6'8 with great all-around skills--AND proved it playing all 4 years at New Mexico.
- Ike Diogu, PF, Arizona State: Dominated the Pac-10 for 3 years, AVERAGING almost 20 pts and 10 rebounds. Granted, the Pac-10 is not what it used to be, but the kid is 6'9 with a 7'4 wingspan and about 930 low-post moves. And of course he's probably not a lottery pick.
There's more but I think you get the point. Here's 3 kids with good attitudes who have proven what they can do in college. Not a one will probably go down as an all-time NBA great, but they could step in and start in the league now, and be productive players for a decade. And none, besides maybe Williams, are projected any higher than 5th. Billy Beane is overhyped for his "Moneyball" approach in baseball taking college kids with proven track records, but I'd certainly be willing to try that over taking some 18 year old who's looked good in high school allstar games or in the Uzbekastan Wednesday Night Men's League. Granted with the looming work stoppage, we won't get to see any of this come to fruition, but I'm still hoping when draft night rolls around and the Wolves pick, if May or Diogu's on the board, the Big Ugly Sweater will do the smart thing and take one of them. But coming from a guy who hasn't had a decent draft pick since Garnett, I'm not very hopefull. But hey maybe whichever highschool or Euro-league wonder he takes will have as much "potential" as Endi Ibi, Paul Grant, Will Avery or Rick Rickert. Wait, how does McHale still have a job?
Wednesday, June 08, 2005
First, you need to play a game that you've been playing since you were a child. Of course, you need to work hard, you need to keep yourself in shape to play the game, and you need, to some degree, to excel at the game. Yes, you need to work hard, but still... you're getting paid to play a game. Here's the great part: if you do well, show some improvement, maintain a hard work attitude and get along with those around you, in a couple of years, I'm going to give you even more money. And I'm not talking about any 4% cost-of-living raise here. I'm talking about multiple millions of dollars.
But there is a catch. Just one catch really. You see, I know you've had some problems in the past. But I don't see those problems. What I see is your potential. So I'm willing to look past the rough spots. But, as I'm sure you understand, I need to protect myself.
Yes, you've had this tiny little problem with marijuana in the past. I know you like to hit the peace pipe a little bit, and I know you've spent some time already on the bench because of it. Listen, I know you kids and your drugs. You just like to unwind, kick back with your boys and relax once in awhile. And that's okay. But listen! I'm going to pay you $380,000 a year to play a game, and I'm going to need you to go ahead and not touch marijuana, okay?
But how about this? How about if we don't just think of it as $380,000 a year to play a game, but we think of it as $380,000 a year to play a game and not touch the geef? How's that sound? You play a game, don't smoke the wackey-tobaccy, and I'll give you $380,000 a year. Just to be fair, I am going to make sure that you are given some drug tests, randomly, ten times throughout the year. But you already know they are coming, so that should be no problem, right?
Did I also mention that your status as a player of this game will get you countless other opportunities and freebies? My goodness, I'm sorry. Didn't I mention that?
Well, you can probably expect to get a free car from someone, just for spending 30 seconds in front of a camera. And when you take that car to the custom wheel shop, you'll most likely get those for free too. When you're done at the wheel shop, head on down to the most expensive steak-house in town. What? Forgot your wallet? Oh, don't worry about that. They'll probably comp your dinner, and most of your friends too.
Again, you are going to get all of this stuff, plus you are going to get to play your favorite game, and I'm going to pay you $380,000 a year to do it. Just don't smoke pot.
Do you think you can do that? Do you think you can not touch drugs? Do you think that $380,000 a year is enough to keep you away from it? Do you?
Or are you too much of an idiot to realize that you've been handed the world on a silver fricking platter because you are good at a game?
Anyways, Onterrio, get back to me and let me know if you think this will work out for you. Because if it won't, I'm sure we can find someone else with less talent, who will never be as good as you, who will never make the kind of money that you have the potential to make, but who can at least keep their nose clean.