The Cleveland Cavaliers secured their second No. 1 overall pick in the three years since LeBron James left town Tuesday night in the NBA draft lottery.
SH Blog: NBA Draft Lottery Recap, Cleveland Hits the Jackpot (Again); Howard Bashes D’Antoni; Coach K To Return To Team USA?
SH Blog: Myers says desperate times are over in Golden State, Howard intrigued by Rockets and Mavericks
If you’re the general manager of the Golden State Warriors, how should you feel about the state of the team now that they have been removed from postseason action?
- They were 23-43 just a season ago, good for third worst in the Western Conference.
- Brandon Rush, arguably the team’s best perimeter defender and slasher, was lost for the season two games into the season.
- Andrew Bogut missed 50 games and labored through the entire season.
- Stephen Curry, once again, had multiple episodes of sprained ankles
- They were 47-35 this season and went beyond the first round of the playoffs.
- Curry proved to be a franchise-level player in the regular season and the playoffs. The decision to sign him early to a now-amazing contract helps their salary-cap situation.
- Bogut, even when playing at 50 percent, is an incredibly valuable asset when he’s on the floor. He has the entire offseason to get the troublesome ankle right.
- Klay Thompson, though mostly horrific in the second round for all but one game, proved to be a reliable defensive presence and at times dominant on the offensive end.
- Harrison Barnes proved that he will be a presence in this league when given the opportunity.
- Draymond Green and Festus Ezeli were absolute steals in the second round of the draft.
It seems like every couple years or so, there’s a dilemma about who to select first overall in the NBA draft, and one of the options is almost always a defense-first center with an “unrefined” offensive game. This year’s model is Nerlens Noel, and right now it’s looking like he’ll go No. 1 unless a team with no need for a center lands the No. 1 pick. Our own Joe Kotoch, whose next Mock Draft goes up Tuesday, has already told you that Orlando and New Orleans will look to trade the pick if they win Tuesday night’s draft lottery.
It’s not hard to see why. Franchise centers are perhaps the hardest thing to find in the NBA, and the truly great ones can absolutely transform a franchise (see: Dwight Howard with the Magic). But past lotteries are absolutely littered with “project” centers that never turned into what so many people thought they could. Darko Milicic, Hasheem Thabeet, Kwame Brown… the list goes on. Does anyone remember Patrick O’Bryant? Nikoloz Tskitishvili? All these guys were drafted in the lottery since 2000. None of them have made an All-Star team, and most are out of the league.
So when the draft order is revealed Tuesday, the team who the ping pong balls favor might end up with a franchise player or a total bust. Or maybe Ben McLemore, whatever he turns out to be. Nothing is for sure. It’s what makes the draft so fun.
Now to the latest NBA news and rumors:
- With the Grizzlies playing in their first conference finals, it’s time to take a look back at some of the moves that got them where they are today. Peter May of this site has already spoken to Chris Wallace about the Gasol-Gasol trade that was mocked around the league when it was made. More on the subject from Jeff Caplan of NBA.com: “The next move came on Feb. 1, 2008 and will go down as the franchise’s moment of truth. At that moment, however, it was perceived more like the moment of ultimate doom. Wallace agreed to a trade that unleashed shockwaves of ridicule from, yes, the media, but also shockingly from within the league. The backlash, Wallace said, was so fierce that it damaged the team’s ability to conduct business in its own city as it set out to sell critical sponsorships and arena suites for the following season. “People [potential clients] would list off all the big-name people [in the NBA] that had ridiculed us,” Wallace said. “It was like running the 100-meter dash with a 20-pound leg weight.” Everyone knows the deal: Pau Gasol to the Lakers for his chubby, unheralded younger brother Marc Gasol, bust Kwame Brown, Javaris Crittenton and a couple first-round draft picks. Stunning criticism crushed Wallace for getting fleeced while being backhandedly credited for handing the post-Shaquille O’Neal Lakers the keys to certain championships. “I expect the media to shoot from the hip and not study the deal. That’s to be expected,” Wallace said. “I just shook my head. I had never seen that kind of response from inside the league. I don’t deny that was the assist for two Lakers championships, but we had to shake things up. We had never won a playoff game. We had been in the 20s [wins] and there was complete apathy in our market. Calipari and the Tigers were roaring at the time. When we went around the league, we weren’t going to get a tit-for-tat deal. We wanted to bring our salary structure down, get assets and draft picks. And no one else had a Marc Gasol.” “
Well, the Knicks are done. Kind of anti-climactically, as well, at least compared to previous playoff series against Indiana (see right). Now it’s up to the Pacers, who are kind of like the anti-Heat, to stop the Miami freight train that seems destined to roll right on through to the finals.
For all the gory details on just what went wrong in the Knicks’ elimination, I’ll point you over to Chris Sheridan’s latest column and podcast.
In the West, we’ve got the Grizzlies and the Spurs starting today, in a series that should push the Spurs in an entirely different manner from the way the Warriors pushed them. If the Grizzlies get their way, Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol will suffocate Tim Duncan in the low post and Tony Allen will shut down Tony Parker and/or Manu Ginobili. But the Spurs don’t make a habit of letting their opponents get their way. In fact, as Jan Hubbard writes in his latest column, the Spurs are all about doing it their way, and not anybody else’s.
Today’s blog actually doesn’t focus much on the playoffs, though. There’s lots of draft stuff in here, since the combine just happened. Check out all the links below, of course, but also be sure to read Jeremy Bauman’s roundup of the biggest news from the combine.
- Mike Krzyzewski is considering a return as Team USA’s head coach. Pete Thamel of Sports Illustrated reports: “Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski acknowledged in a phone interview Saturday that he’s in discussions to return as head coach of USA Basketball through the 2016 Olympics. “There’s a chance,” Krzyzewski said. “That’s correct.” Krzyzewski said he hasn’t made a final decision, but his openness to the position represents a significant change. For eight months, Krzyzewski has maintained he’s not returning as USA Basketball’s head coach. On Saturday, Krzyzewski said he and USA Basketball Chairman Jerry Colangelo have been talking about his return “quite a bit.” Colangelo said Saturday he and Krzyzewski have been discussing his return “in installments.” “I think it’s very close to being resolved,” Colangelo said. “That’s all I can say for sure.” He added: “Give it another week and it should be resolved.”
On one of the rare off nights in the NBA playoffs, we have a few precious hours to catch our breaths and take care of everything we’ve neglected — our friends, families and most importantly, errands — for the last six weeks, and reflect.
While a handful of teams focus on the NBA draft combine, the Miami Heat, San Antonio Spurs and Memphis Grizzlies are gearing up for the conference finals, which the Spurs and Grizzlies will kick off in San Antonio on Sunday afternoon.
Meanwhile, there is still one series left to be determined – Indiana leads New York, 3-2, and the teams return to Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Saturday night for Game 6.