Tag:Minnesota Timberwolves
Posted on: July 13, 2011 12:09 am
Edited on: July 13, 2011 12:28 pm
 

Kevin Love on Rambis, overseas, lockout

Posted by Matt Moore

Kevin Love had himself quite the day on Tuesday. Earlier in the afternoon, his team (which has locked him out along with the rest of the NBPA) fired his head coach, Kurt Rambis, the second coach Love has seen go in his three years in the league. His general manager took to the stage and said a number of bizarro things. Then Love attended the Gatorade Athlete of the Year banquet for the third time. Had himself quite the day, the first-time All-Star and NBA's Most Improved Player for 2010-2011 did. 

Love's one of the more focused guys in terms of his approach to the game, which is part of the reason Gatorade has put him front and center, and you can tell the lockout is grinding on him. 

"Basketball's my first love," Love said via telephone interview Tuesday night. "To have an extended summer, I'm not completely mad at it, but at the same time, this is what I do, basketball's my life." 

Love made it clear that the players are not oblivious to how the lockout which began on July 1st appears to the public. 

"For the fans, with both the NFL and the NBA, not only do they want to see the games on Sundays and Thursday nights for football, but they want to see us. And we know they don't want to see billionaire owners and millionaire players bickering over money." 

But since the lockout is out of his control, Love's going to take a look around at other options to pursue that "first love" of his. After Deron Williams' suprising exodus-in-wait announcement about playing for Besiktas in Europe, the headlines have been flooded with comments and rumors about players possibly headed overseas next year. I told Love I would be the 9,000th person this week to ask him about his plans for playing overseas, and Love made it clear as most players are: nothing is done yet, but the option is being considered. 

"We're definitely checking out our options," Love said. "We're definitely open to hearing from them. I'm going to sit back and wait to see what a lot of the other guys do, but it's definitely intriguing. At the same time, though, I just want the lockout to be settled."

As for Rambis, Love called the firing of the second-year head coach a "tough situation" while also supporting Rambis by saying he expects the former Laker assistant to have another job soon with all his experience. Love also made reference to how the front office approached the situation, a process Ken Berger of CBSSports.com called "embarassing" which was echoed by most who cover or operate in the league's coaching circles. 

"(Rambis) was put in limbo for a while by our front office. They took their time and weighed all their options. Kurt's going to find another opportunity. He's going to get another job soon."

Love has had an embattled relationship with both Rambis and General Manager David Kahn amid subtle comments from Love questioning the direction of the franchise and both the front office and coaching staff's decision to bury him up until the second month of this season -- at which time Love exploded into an All-Star and the Most Improved Player. He set a record for consecutive double-doubles in a season and had a 30-point, 30-rebound game for the first time since Moses Malone. So, yeah, looks like KLove may have been right about that whole "needing more minutes thing." Tuesday night, though, Love said he was hopeful the relationship with his next coach would be better. 

"You always hope for the best," he said. "I want to have a great relationship with whoever coaches the Timberwolves or whoever coaches me throughout my career."

So what kind of coach does Love think the Timberwolves need as one of the youngest in the league, but one that David Kahn says is "through rebuilding?"

"As far as us having a young team," Love said, "we're going to need, I won't say a disciplinarian, but a guy who can teach us how to win and has been there and done that."

Good luck with finding a coach with that kind of resume this late in the game. At the same time, not like there's an upcoming training camp to worry about so maybe the Wolves do have some time. 

While the Wolves figure out their coaching situation and the league sorts out its lockout, Love said he'll be splitting his time between training in Minnesota and southern California where he was born, raised, went to school, and calls home. He'll be training at his former school -- UCLA -- and said he would "definitely" be playing in the infamous pick-up games on campus. He'll also have plenty of time for his charity events and for nights like Tuesday's Gatorade High School Athlete of the Year Awards banquet in Hollywood. 

The award is for the top national high school competitors in twelve sports who excel not only on the field but in the classroom and off the field through charity and community service. The award, which has been given since 1985, is selected based on those who "achieve in the classroom and demonstrate strong character." Winners are selected by a panel of nationwide sportswriters and commentators. Love himself won the award in 2007, and has attended the event as a representative for basketball the past two years. 

So Love had a pretty good time, since he also said Tuesday night he planned on attending again in 2012.

"Every time you can come back to see the new wave of high school athletes, it's great," Love said via telephone interview Tuesday night. "I was here in 2007 accepting it, and seeing the new winners is so rewarding. I'm looking forward to next year as well."

Hey, at least Love knows one thing that'll be happening next year.
Posted on: July 12, 2011 7:31 pm
Edited on: July 12, 2011 7:51 pm
 

Report: Don Nelson a potential Wolves candidate

Posted by Royce Young

The NBA's all-time winningest coach might be making a return. But only because he's so intrigued by the Minnesota Timberwolves. I know. What?

According to ESPN.com, Don Nelson, most recently of the Warriors and likely a beach in Hawaii, is open to a return to coaching specifically with the Wolves because of the roster.

I can tell you this: I'm intrigued at the thought of Don Nelson coaching the Timberwolves. The reckless, up-and-down offense coupled with zero defense, featuring Ricky Rubio, Kevin Love, Wesley Johnson and Derrick Williams? Um, yes please.

David Kahn has said repeatedly that he wants the Wolves to play an up tempo style game and the team would be built on an exciting brand of basketball. That never really happened because, for one, Jonny Flynn was the point guard and, two, because newly fired coach Kurt Rambis tried to install the triangle offense while also pleasing the front office with some running.

Obviously, it never worked.

Nelson, though, is 71 and his last few seasons with the Warriors didn't go well. He was stubborn with rotations, erratic with decisions and almost appeared apathetic on the bench as Golden State slogged through mediocrity, save for one shining playoff year.

Nelson's son, Donnie, hinted back in October that his dad might not be entirely done coaching. "Never say never,'' Donnie said. "I thought when he was the godfather (in Dallas after handing the coaching reins to Avery Johnson in March 2005), I thought that was the perfect existence. But he wanted to coach again. With him, you just never know.''

Would a Don Nelson era with the Wolves be successful? I doubt it. But would it be a lot of fun and so very, very David Kahn? Absolutely.

Posted on: July 12, 2011 12:20 pm
Edited on: July 12, 2011 12:51 pm
 

Timberwolves finally, mercifully fire Rambis

Posted by Matt Moore

Ken Berger of CBSSports.com has confirmed reports from from Yahoo! Sports that Minnesota head coach Kurt Rambis, after months speculation, was finally fired today by Wolves management.  

The Wrath of Kahn: Rambis fired
Rambis' release follows months of not only needless speculation and waiting as Rambis waited for the axe to fall, but downright embarassing treatment of the former Laker. Ken Berger detailed how GM David Kahn has treated Rambis since deciding to fire him months ago, including demanding a written report from Rambis reviewing his job performance.  There were reports Rambis was to be fired after the draft in June, but even before that, Rambis was not even included in pre-draft workout planning or consulted with during the workouts. Berger reported as early as March 11th that Rambis could be headed for the chopping block. 

Whether it was an effort to convince Rambis to step down to avoid paying him the remainder of his contract, or simple old-fashioned incompetence, the way this has been handled is embarrassing for Glen Taylor, David Kahn, the Wolves organziation, and the NBA. It's a borderline case for a lawsuit, considering the disrespectul treatment of Rambis whose only real crime was trying to run a flawed system that hasn't succeeded in the past 30 years without Kobe Bryant or Michael Jordan involved, and being saddled with one of the most questionable general managers in the league.

Kahn drafted two point guards, then hired a coach whose system minimizes the role of the point guard. The Triangle would emphasize Kevin Love's strengths if used right. Naturally, Love was buried until he finally forced his way out, despite reports that neither Kahn nor Rambis thought much of Love. It was a failed regime from the get-go. Now Rambis stands as the fall guy for the mistakes of the organization as they try and move forward.

Reports surfaced earlier this month that the Wolves were actually actively bringing in coaching candidates for interviews. Most recently, Bernie Bickerstaff, a veteran front office man and assistant last season with the Portland Trail Blazers, was brought in to interview for a job with Rambis still technically in the position.  

So ends the Rambis era in Minnesota.

The Kahn era continues.
Posted on: July 11, 2011 7:47 pm
 

Blake Griffin, Kevin Love play Jenga in video

Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin and Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love face off in a game of Jenga. Posted by Ben Golliver.

kevin-love-blake-griffin

It feels like it has been absolutely forever since we've seen two of the NBA's most promising young power forwards.

Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin and Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love both made the 2011 All-Star team, but they also both failed to qualify for the NBA playoffs. It's been months since either has been in the headlines, other than when Love expressed some skepticism that Ricky Rubio would actually come play for the Timberwolves.

That changes today, as the pair face off in a game of Jenga for a pretty hilarious "behind the scenes" style video.

Shot to help promote the ESPYs, the NBA's reigning Slam Dunk Champion and Most Improved Player get ultra-competitive as they attempt to pull Jenga pieces without knocking over the tower.

"Concentation," Griffin says when asked how playing the game might help him during the NBA's lockout.

"A good hobby," Love interjects. "Keeps your mind focused on the task at hand. We both play down on the blocks."

"Also, the floor is made of wood and Jenga pieces are also made of wood," Griffin concludes.

 Here's a look at the video courtesy of YouTube user ESPN. Stick around for the winning and losing reactions, which are pretty hilarious.




Hat tip: The Basketball Jones.
Posted on: July 11, 2011 6:23 pm
Edited on: July 11, 2011 10:23 pm
 

What teams risk in a lockout: Northwest Division

A look at what is at stake for the NBA's Northwest Division if a whole season was lost due to the lockout. Posted by Ben Golliver.

ricky-rubio

Talk of losing an entire NBA season is a bit ridiculous. But it's a possibility. And with all this hardline talk going on, it seems like neither the players nor the owners are wanting to budge. There's incentive for teams to get a deal done and not just for the money, but because a year without basketball and more importantly, basketball operations, could greatly affect each and every NBA franchise.

Earlier this week, we took a look at the Southeast Division, the Atlantic Division, the Central Division and the Southwest Division. Let's continue with the Northwest Division.  

MINNESOTA Timberwolves


The NBA's worst team won just 17 games last year, had the league's seventh-worst home attendance and is generally mentioned at the top of the list of examples that "prove" the NBA's economic system is broken. That's because their local television, ticket and memorabilia revenue simply cannot compete with the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics of the world. Despite all of that, the Timberwolves might very well have more to lose than any other team in the Northwest Division if the league were to miss an entire season.

Let's start with 2009 lottery pick Ricky Rubio, who against all odds took the plunge and decided to finally join up with Minnesota. For multiple seasons, Rubio has represented hope, carrying Timberwolves fans through ugly winters and late-season collapses. The wait was excruciating. The uncertainty about whether he would or wouldn't stay in Europe further into the future made it worse. Now that he's on board, he's been greeted at an airport, introduced to his teammates, sold some jerseys and rallied the collective fan spirit a bit. To lose an entire season would make that interminable wait that much longer. It would also rob Rubio of a valuable development and acclimation year, which would be an absolute disaster. This is a point guard who needs to start on Day 1, entrusted with the full support of his coaching staff and allowed to make mistakes and build chemistry with his teammates while learning on the job. No season means no opportunity to do any of that.

Aside from Rubio, there are financial risks as well. That might be surprising, because the Timberwolves currently are the only team in the NBA that does not have anyone on their books for more than $6.3 million next season, a fairly astonishing accomplishment. Of course, there's a catch: All-Star power forward Kevin Love is on his rookie deal. Indeed, Love is heading into the last pure season of his rookie deal before Minnesota either must issue him a qualifying offer or sign him to an extension. Worse yet, it's possible that Love, one of the league's premier rebounders, will command a mini-max extension or close to it. The point here? He's set to make just $4.6 million next season, a bargain for his production. If the season is lost, the Timberwolves miss out completely on that outstanding value and are one year closer to biting the bullet on extending him without having reaped full benefits. That's tough.

Last but not least, a lost season is the perfect excuse for any franchise to delay tough decisions or to talk themselves into trying to make things work. With an imbalanced roster full of mixed and matched pieces, the Timberwolves, despite their accumulated talent, are going to struggle mightly again next season. The pains of those struggles, theoretically, could be enough to finally convince owner Glen Taylor to pull the plug on president David Kahn, a man who hasn't shown the ability to construct a team and outright wasted two second round draft picks on technical mistakes during the 2011 NBA Draft, by trading a hurt player (Jonny Flynn) and drafting someone who lied about his age (Tanguy Ngombo). A year without games, then, is a year without losses, which means another year for Kahn to preach patience and wiggle out of responsibility for this mess. The sooner Kahn is gone, the sooner this ship turns around. A lost season will make "sooner" feel like never.

OKLAHOMA CITY Thunder

While the Timberwolves need to get headed in the right direction, the Oklahoma City Thunder are already there. With the best designed roster in the league, two young All-Stars, an undisputed Northwest Division title and a Western Conference Finals appearance under their belt already, and a passionate fanbase that is guaranteed to provide 40+ home sellouts next season, the Thunder would happily start the season today. A lost season, then, would be a nightmare.

Name something, anything, and it's at risk for the Thunder. They lose the value of Russell Westbrook playing on a rookie deal. They lose the value of James Harden on a rookie deal. They lose the value of Serge Ibaka on a rookie deal. They lose one year of Kevin Durant's Hall of Fame playing career. They lose another season of playoff experience. They lose a very good chance at making a run at an NBA Finals. They lose a season of having their top eight players (Durant, Westbrook, Harden, Ibaka, Kendrick Perkins, Thabo Sefalosha, Nick Collison, Eric Maynor) all locked into affordable contracts. They lose the chemistry and momentum that goes with having an entire nucleus together for multiple years.

What's worse: they have nothing to gain from a work stoppage, other than perhaps the money that would come with increased revenue sharing. Without a single bad or untradeable contract on their books, there is no financial reason OKC would root for a year away from the game. In fact, any change to the Collective Bargaining Agreement that firms up the cap would make it more difficult for the Thunder to keep all this talent in house. That means they wouldn't get the chance to win now and their ability to win later could be compromised.

Usually, young teams that make a deep run through the playoffs can't wait to get back on the court for a second go-around. Multiply that feeling by about 10 and that's the situation facing OKC. 

PORTLAND Trail Blazers

lockoutYou might think the injury-plagued Trail Blazers would welcome some time off to lick their wounds and assess the damage, but missing an entire NBA season wouldn't necessarily be a good thing for this franchise. Really, it's a muddled picture.

The main benefit is clear: the Blazers have a very difficult cap situation next season, thanks to a mini-max contract for guard Brandon Roy, who is apparently no longer capable of reaching his previous All-Star level of play. Saving the $15 million owed to Roy, as well as the $10.5 million owed to aging center Marcus Camby, would be a tempting proposition for most small-market owners. Money aside, saving the miles on Roy's knees wouldn't hurt either.

Blazers owner and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, however, has dealt with serious health problems in recent years and is clearly in spend-big, win-now mode. He would cut a check tomorrow for five times his team's total salary cap if it meant a shot at the NBA Finals, no questions asked. It's difficult to imagine a financial enticement that would make it worth Allen's while to take a year off. 

Aside from Roy, the other big question is center Greg Oden. Missing an entire NBA season doesn't play in Oden's favor, as he hasn't taken the court for an NBA game since December 2009. A lost season means his layoff would extend nearly three full years to October 2012. That's a long, long time to be away from basketball. Complicating that further for the Blazers is the fact that Oden is a restricted free agent this summer. The Blazers would retain matching rights on Oden if a season was lost but they would be forced to offer him an extension without being able to see whether he recovers fully to be able to take the court and, more importantly, withstand injury once he's out there. Oden could command a mid-level type of offer on the open market, which would be a major investment for Portland, because the Blazers have already committed to nearly $80 million in salary for next season, with contracts to Roy, forwards LaMarcus Aldridge and Gerald Wallace and guard Wesley Matthews already on the books into the future. Without another center on their roster who is in their long-term plans, though, the Blazers wouldn't have a choice. They'd have to pay up. Given that situation, you want as much information as possible; a lost season would mean no information.

Finally, the Blazers have a big question at the starting point guard position. His name is Raymond Felton, and he was acquired in a draft day trade for previous point guard Andre Miller. Felton is in a contract year and hasn't played meaningful minutes with any of his current teammates, except for a stint in Charlotte with Wallace. Felton will require a good-sized contract extension next summer as well and the Blazers would surely like to see how he gels with their core, particularly Aldridge, before they commit to him long-term. Without any starting quality options on the roster, they would again find themselves stuck in a corner, forced to do what it takes to retain Felton without a readily available back-up plan.

To boil it down: the Blazers have enough questions without a lost season. Missing a full season would simply create an array of complications and made some tough roster decisions that much more difficult and, potentially, costly. 

DENVER Nuggets

Sure, the Denver Nuggets lost franchise forward Carmelo Anthony to the New York Knicks, but they did an excellent job of stripping their roster down to allow for a quick bounceback rebuilding effort. The Nuggets, somewhat like the Thunder, are in a financial position where their salary cap situation makes it more advantageous for next season to take place unhindered. The Nuggets currently don't have a truly horrible contract on their books, although the mid-level deal for Al Harrington and the $15 million or so left to be paid to Chris Andersen over the next three years are regrettable. Indeed, the Nuggets have committed to less than $40 million in salary for next season, pending a potentially major financial commitment to big man Nene, who has decided to test the free agency waters, and a decision on guard J.R. Smith.

The biggest risks for Denver would be missing out on the value of point guard Ty Lawson on his rookie deal and managing whatever concerns might arise about Denver's ability to use its salary cap flexibility to continue work on its rebuilding situation. Most analysts believe teams with salary cap room will be in a position of strength, regardless of how the new CBA shakes out, so perhaps that uncertainty is more of an annoyance than a true concern. 

The Nuggets have a lot of questions. How will they spend their money? Who will they bring back? Who will they let go? Are the players under contract currently good enough to compete for a playoff spot in the Western Conference next year or is it better to continue slashing and burning for another season? These are good questions to have because they all point to one fundamental truth: The Nuggets have flexibility thanks to their young, cheap assets. The worst case scenario is that Nuggets fans have to wait a year to watch a promising, athletic upstart group entertain. That's not too bad. 
 
UTAH Jazz

If I'm the Jazz, I'm totally cool with taking a year off. A lost season means that Utah would save $14 million owed to Al Jefferson, $10.9 million owed to Mehmet Okur, $9.3 million owed to Devin Harris and $8.1 million owed to Paul Millsap. While Millsap is probably worth his number, the other three certainly aren't worth theirs, especially on a team that lost its foundational identity when it shipped franchise point guard Deron Williams to the New Jersey Nets at the trade deadline.

Right now, Utah's finances are pretty tight, with $61.5 million already committed for 2011-2012. Look ahead just one year, though, and that number drops to $48.7 million. To make things even nicer, Jefferson, Harris and Millsap will all be expiring that season. The Jazz will be poised to take advantage of their new-found flexibility, keeping the parts that fit (probably only Millsap) and dispensing with the rest.

The biggest risk in a cancelled season for Utah would be the lost development for younger guys like Derrick Favors, Gordon Hayward and 2011 first-round picks Enes Kanter and Alec Burks. In Favors, they have a potential franchise forward who needs to start enjoying a loose leash so he can blossom into the player the Jazz expect him to be. Forcing him to take a year off does him no good and, depending on how he responds, could do him some harm. Kanter, meanwhile, looks like an even bigger risk on paper because he was forced to sit out last year at Kentucky, his only year at the college level, due to eligibility issues and because he hasn't yet tasted the NBA game. A lost season would mean two full years away from competitive basketball, not an ideal situation for someone the Jazz selected with the No. 3 overall pick in this year's draft. As for Hayward and Burks, they are lesser concerns. Both have shown promise and clearly have room for improvement. Losing a year wouldn't be critical, but it would be better for them individually if it could be prevented.

On balance, the financial rewards seem to outweigh the development risks for the Jazz.

Salary numbers courtesy of StoryTeller's Contracts.
Posted on: July 6, 2011 3:39 pm
Edited on: July 6, 2011 5:02 pm
 

Michael Beasley busted for pot possession

Minnesota Timberwolves forward Michael Beasley was reportedly busted for pot possession. Posted by Ben Golliver. michael-beasley
 
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on David Kahn.

Multiple reports on Wednesday indicate that Minnesota Timberwolves forward Michael Beasley was recently cited for possession of marijuana.

The Star-Tribune reports that Beasley was stopped while driving but was not under the influence.
Timberwolves forward Michael Beasley was cited for marijuana possession after being pulled over for speeding in Minnetonka, police said Wednesday.

The traffic stop occurred about 3 a.m. on June 26 on Hwy. 12 near Carlson Parkway, said Capt. Scott Boerboom. Beasley was driving 84 miles per hour in a 65 mph zone, Boerboom said.

Officers who stopped Beasley, 22, smelled marijuana in the car and found slightly more than a half-ounce in the vehicle, Boerboom said.
Kare11.com is also reporting the citation and notes that Beasley's offenses are "petty misdemeanors which will result in fines."

The Star-Tribune notes on Twitter that it's "unclear" whether Beasley will be subject to fine or suspension by the NBA, but the citation was handed out prior to the lockout going into effect on July 1.

The citation comes less than two years after another marijuana-related flap involving the No. 2 pick in the 2008 NBA Draft. Beasley entered rehab in 2009 after posting pictures of himself with marijuana on Twitter. 

Kahn made headlines in July 2010 after trading for Beasley. The Timberwolves president said, ""He's a very young and immature kid who smoked too much marijuana and has told me that he's not smoking anymore, and I told him that I would trust him as long as that was the case."

The NBA fined Kahn $50,000 for those comments. 

It has been assumed that Beasley is a trade piece for the Timberwolves after the organization drafted University of Arizona forward Derrick Williams with the No. 2 pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. Beasley and Williams are both score-first combo forwards and it's unlikely there are enough minutes and shots for both players. 

The 22 year old forward has been slapped with the "red flag" label since his rehab stint. Another run-in with the police involving marijuana, even a minor one during a lockout, isn't helping his reputation or his trade value.

Beasley averaged 19.2 points and 5.6 rebounds in 32.3 minutes per game last season, his first with the Timberwolves. He was acquired from the Miami Heat in a trade that helped clear space for the arrival of free agents LeBron James and Chris Bosh.
Posted on: July 5, 2011 2:18 pm
Edited on: July 5, 2011 2:30 pm
 

2012 NBA Draft: Light at the end of the tunnel

A look at five top 2012 NBA Draft picks and where they might fit best in the NBA. Posted by Ben Golliver.

A confluence of factors made the 2011 NBA Draft one to forget. The one-and-done class was weak to begin with; there were only 3-4 players selected who are believed to possess eventual All-Star talent; the impending NBA lockout scared many top players into returning to school; there wasn’t an American-born center taken in the first round; two of the most talented international players (Enes Kanter and Bismack Biyombo) had very short resumes and another, Jonas Valanciunas, had a tricky contract buyout. On and on the list goes.

In that light, the 2011 NBA Draft was about assessing risk for bad teams. Which incomplete player fits best with our pieces? Which of these diamonds in the rough might pan out in the right circumstances?

The 2012 Draft couldn't be more different. Yes, we're 11 months away, but it's setting up as an evaluating of rewards rather than riches thanks to a crop that should be in the running for best class since 2003 brought LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and company. Considering that the NBA's lockout is now officially underway, the 2012 class serves as the perfect light at the end of the tunnel.

At first glance, there are arguably 10 prospects who could have been top five talents in this year’s draft. Why? Because the one-and-dones that stayed put – big-name stars like Harrison Barnes and Jared Sullinger – will converge with a very strong high school Class of 2011 – topped by Anthony Davis, James McAdoo, Michael Gilchrist, Austin Rivers and others. 

Here’s an early look at five top prospects and where their impact would be greatest.

harrison-barnes1. Harrison Barnes | Sophomore | UNC | SF | 6-foot-8, 210 pounds   

Barnes should headline the 2012 NBA Draft class and is the early favorite to go No. 1 overall. Despite falling short of preseason All-American expectations and starting slow as a freshman, Barnes came on strong over the second half of the season, averaging 21.3 points and 6.3 rebounds in March. He has all the tools to be an NBA All-Star and an elite scorer. He’s polished, smooth, has a pretty stroke, good size and a scorer’s self-confidence. After he gets a second season under his belt, Barnes should be ready to start from Day 1 and step in as a No. 1 scoring option from the get-go in 2012-2013. He understands the marketing side of the modern game and projects to be a franchise building block.

Best fit: If the Toronto Raptors and Charlotte Bobcats are as bad as everyone expects them to be next season, Barnes serves as the potential savior.

2. Jared Sullinger| Sophomore | Ohio State | PF | 6-foot-8, 250 pounds

The No. 2 spot in next year’s draft is Sullinger’s to lose, although he’ll certainly have his share of challengers. A traditional low-post power forward, Sullinger shed questions about his weight to become the best freshman in the nation last season, averaging 17.2 points and 10.2 rebounds per game. Sullinger is strong and relentless, overpowering older players at the college level. Physically, he’s a throwback in this age of combo fours and he would be the consensus No. 1 pick next year if he were an inch or two taller and a few inches longer so that he could more comfortably play center. His productivity on the glass – and the offensive efficiency that goes with it -- is his top selling point. The biggest concern: Will he be subject to mismatches on the defensive end (too short to guard fives, too big to stay with combo fours on the perimeter)?

Best fit: Pair him with a lengthy shot-blocker. The Washington Wizards – with JaVale McGee -- or the Detroit Pistons – with Greg Monroe -- would allow Sullinger to do what he does best.

3. Anthony Davis | Freshman | Kentucky | PF | 6-foot-10, 220 pounds

The best word to describe Davis is “tantalizing.” At this point, despite a solid showing on the All-Star circuit, Davis is regarded more for his potential than his current ability. That’s to be expected given a well-documented growth spurt that has made him the most hyped American big man prospect since Greg Oden. While Davis is much skinnier and less overwhelming than Oden, he is significantly more mobile. He's also  extremely long and active around the basket on both ends. Kentucky is an ideal situation for him to develop: surrounded by future pros and not asked to do too much, Davis should have an excellent chance to make a big impact games during March Madness, even if he isn’t putting up overwhelming stat lines. There isn’t a team in the NBA that wouldn’t take him today based on the rarity of his physical package. If he continues to develop his strength and size, he has a very good shot to go No. 1 overall, even if he’s riskier right now than Barnes or Sullinger.

Best fit: Pairing Davis with a wide body, low-post presence would be his best-case scenario: Minnesota, next to Kevin Love, or Sacramento, alongside DeMarcus Cousins.

4. James McAdoo | Freshman | UNC | PF | 6-foot-8, 223 pounds

McAdoo is a supremely talented, although sometimes overlooked, combo forward who will likely play four as a pro. His skill level, comfort with the ball in his hands, nose for rebounds, ability to finish and general intelligence make him a can’t-miss prospect. A (very) distant relative of NBA Hall of Famer Bob McAdoo, he raised his profile on the All-Star circuit and declared at the Nike Hoop Summit that he was ready to average 20 points and 10 rebounds as a freshman at Carolina, a feat that would be unprecedented. With UNC returning so much talent, he’s in line for an adjustment of expectations but there’s no question that he was born to play basketball at the NBA level.

Best fit: The Cleveland Cavaliers didn’t get the talented combo forward they desired in Derrick Williams in 2011. McAdoo would make a nice consolation prize. Pending a decision on Kris Humphries and a rumored free agency pursuit of David West, McAdoo would fit nicely next to Brook Lopez in New Jersey too.

5. Michael Gilchrist | Freshman | Kentucky | 6-foot-7, 205 pounds

NBA teams haven’t exactly shown a desire to reward elite wing defenders with top draft selections, but Gilchrist deserves it. He really redefines “motor” and “intensity,” making full use of his ideal wing size. He enjoys playing chest-to-chest defense but is comfortable off the ball as well, equally capable of taking a No. 1 scoring option out of the game or breaking plays from the weakside and finishing in transition. Other than an ugly release on his jumper, Gilchrist is a solid offensive prospect too, able to score and make plays, and fully comfortable with the ball in his hands.   

Best fit: Any team in need of an intensity injection. The Raptors, Wizards, Bobcats and Los Angeles Clippers all qualify.

All height and weight figures courtesy of DraftExpress.com.

Posted on: June 29, 2011 3:10 pm
Edited on: June 29, 2011 3:48 pm
 

2010-11 top 10 best moments

Posted by Royce Young



Some are saying the 2010-11 NBA season might've very well been the best in league history. History. What better way to top that off than with a debilitating lockout where players and owners haggle over money? Momentum!

But despite all the depressing lockout stuff, there's no doubt this past season was pretty special. It all started with a wild free agency period that was capped off with a one-hour special and a preseason celebration party in South Beach. It finished in that same place but instead with the Mavericks being the team that took their talents there.

It really was a pretty remarkable season. The NBA grabbed its highest ratings since the Jordan Era, had an amazing All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles, saw the rise of a bundle of young players that will carry the league to great places over the next 10 years and had polarizing teams and figures that had people talking constantly. I don't know that 2010-11 was the best ever, but for sure, it was really darn good.

And what better way to send it off than arbitrarily trying to wrap it all together in a list of 10 neato plays? There's no better way, that's what.

There were some pretty difficult omissions. Like Paul Millsap's 11 points in 28 seconds. Or Emeka Okafor's crazy buzzer-beater. Or that one Brian Cardinal thing he did that one time. Like any top 10, there were some tough cuts and I'm sure you'll disagree. Regardless, here are my top 10 moments from the season and 10 really good reasons why a lockout would totally suck.

10. Touchdown, Wade to LeBron
LeBron was a wide receiver in high school at St. Vincent - St. Mary. But I don't think Dwyane Wade was ever a quarterback. This play is pretty much what people were dreaming about the second LeBron announced he was teaming up with Wade. Two incredibly skilled players with stupid amounts of ability hooking up for a ridiculous play. Hate the Heat all you want, but you know you loved this play.

9. Taj has a moment, or two
It started with one of the ultimate posters of the season. Two hands, right over Dwyane Wade. It was so dirty that even Wade's children were giving him grief over it. Then he went ahead and followed that up with a follow-up finish in punctuate Chicago's Game 1 Eastern Finals win. Every time I watch these two dunks it makes me want to scream like I'm Carlos Boozer.

8. Love sees 30-30
Really, the top Kevin Love highlight from this season is probably his failed high five with Wesley Johnson. But I'll just recognize Love here with his second best moment of the season -- the first 30-30 game in, well, about 30 years. Love humliated the Knicks with a 31-point, 31-rebound effort doing something that no one has done since Moses Malone. Just look at that again: 31 points, 31 rebounds. Love was pretty unreal all season but that is just really outlandish.

7. The game that never ends
With the stakes high, the Thunder and Grizzlies needed 63 minutes of basketball to settle Game 4 of the Western Semifinals. Memphis led the series 2-1 after Oklahoma City blew a big fourth quarter lead in Game 3. What's crazy is that Memphis led by 18 in the first half of this game.

But the Thunder held a seven-point fourth quarter lead and finally lost it after Mike Conley hit an impossible 3 over Kendrick Perkins. Then Grievis Vasquez doubled down on the insanity by dropping another game-tying 3 in the first overtime. Eventually Kevin Durant and the Thunder wore down Memphis and took the game 133-123 and used that to top the Grizzlies in seven to move on to the Western Finals.

6. Indiana starts the third 20 for 20
How does 54 points in a half sound? Pretty good, right? Well, what about 54 in a quarter? That sounds like a pretty good number for an entire game if you're the Butler Bulldogs.

The Pacers started the third quarter against Denver 20-20 and would've had a perfect quarter had Mike Dunleavy not missed with a couple seconds remaining. For a team though to hit 20 consecutive shots? An entire team? If I'm George Karl and the Nuggets, at that point I'm not even guarding them just to see how many in a row they can hit.

5. Reke, from pretty far out
It looked like O.J. Mayo had just hit a nasty backbreaker for Memphis against the Kings. The Grizzlies went up one with 1.5 seconds left and Sacramento didn't have any timeouts left. No bother for Tyreke though as he launched from behind the halfcourt line and drilled a game-winner as time expired.

Still though, the most impressive part of this is the sixth sense from Donte Greene. He's entirely on the court already celebrating before the shot dropped. What would he have done if it had missed? I guess he just knew it wouldn't.

4. Coming back is easy to do for Dallas
Worst thing you can do: Put the Mavericks in a double-digit hole in the fourth quarter. Dallas had already pulled off two impressive comebacks against the Thunder and Lakers, but its Game 2 triumph over the Heat is really what won the Mavs an NBA title. Trailing by 15 points late after a Dwyane Wade 3, the Mavs turned it on with Dirk scoring the team's final nine points in the last two minutes to steal a game in Miami and probably a trophy right out from under LeBron and the Heat.

3. I believe that I just saw a man fly
Don't get in J.R. Smith's way. He won't just dunk over you, he'll dunk through you. With two hands.

2. Durant, Haywood and oh my goodness
Magic Johnson said this was the greatest postseason dunk ever. And considering the circumstances -- Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals -- he might have a point. Durant's Thunder were off to a bit of a slow start against the Mavs and faced falling into an 0-2 hole. But Durant woke up the team by throwing down right over Brendan Haywood.

Durant picked up a technical after the dunk for having some words for Haywood, but if I were the officials, I'd have just kicked Durant and everyone else out, because he basically turned out the lights right there.

1. Blake Griffin



Take your pick. Over Mozgov. Over Gallinari. Over a car. Oops from Baron, oops from Bledsoe, oops from Mo. The 2010-11 regular season was really kind of the season of Griffin and how he took over the world with YouTube highlights. No player has made people buzz quite like Griffin. Night to night, you had no idea what might be coming. When Blake Mania was reaching its peak in January, I think we all thought he might dunk over Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol if Gasol was standing on Bynum's shoulders.

I still don't think we've seen the ultimate Blake Griffin highlight. And when it comes next year, that just means we'll have 2011-12's best moment. If there is one. Oh please for the love of James Naismith, let there be one.
 
 
 
 
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