Rookie Rankings, Week 22: Not the Worst Draft Ever. Not Yet, Anyway

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Anthony BennettThere’s been some talk lately that the 2013 draft could be the worst in NBA history.

We could wait more than a year before jumping into the adjoining worlds of shortsightedness and hyperbole, couldn’t we?

Yes, this was a bad draft. We’ve said it ourselves several times. For the first time since 2001, the top pick is going to average less than five points per game. For the first time since 1988, the Rookie of the Year is probably going to be a double-digit selection.

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Rookie Rankings, Week 21: Gorgui Dieng’s Late-Season Surge

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Gorgui DiengWe have reached the point of the season where teams that are out of the playoff race start giving more playing time to their younger players to see what they may have.

One of those teams is the Minnesota Timberwolves, who may have something in rookie big man Gorgui Dieng.

New Timberwolves GM Flip Saunders spent the offseason loading his roster with veterans such as Kevin Martin, Corey Brewer and Ronny Turiaf in hope of making the playoffs for the first time since 2004. While Minnesota (35-35) already has surpassed last season’s win total, break-even ball doesn’t get it done in the Western Conference.

While the veterans got most of the minutes, Dieng and fellow rookie Shabazz Muhammad – both acquired in a draff day swap that sent Trey Burke to Utah – mostly sat and watched. Through the first 64 games, Dieng accumulated 22 DNPs as Turiaf backed up Nikola Pekovic in the middle.

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Bernucca: Who Is On Your Team’s Mount Rushmore?

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rushmoreThis past week, NBA TV released excerpts of an extended interview with LeBron James (airing in its entirety Monday night) in which Steve Smith asked “The King” to name his Mount Rushmore of basketball.

James offered a quartet of Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and Oscar Robertson. But it’s really an unfair question, because in addition to those four players, there are at least three more – centers Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bill Russell – who are in the “best ever” conversation. And that group doesn’t include active players who eventually will join the conversation as well, like Kobe Bryant and James himself.

A better exercise might be establishing a Mount Rushmore for each team.

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SH Blog: Bynum market is slow; Aldridge wants to extend in Portland

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noncallAt what point does public acknowledgement of mistakes stop being enough?

It drew a lot of attention when Paul George was fouled on the final shot in a huge Indiana-Miami game and it wasn’t called. The latest one, featuring Monta Ellis grabbing both of Austin Rivers’ arms, was far more egregious, and the NBA has admitted it was the wrong call.

SH Blog: Knicks and Clippers have internally discussed Melo for Griffin; Cavs might keep Bynum

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curryIf you haven’t been watching Golden State basketball recently, why? Seriously, why? They’re just as fun to watch as they were last year, only now they play defense as well (fourth in defensive efficiency). They just knocked off two of the East’s three decent teams in the space of two nights.

The Blazers have made the West a little more crowded at the top, but Steph Curry and Co. are showing that they belong right up there with those top teams. With Chris Paul out for a little while, this could be their chance to surge past the Clippers in the Pacific Division.