Tag:2011 NBA Draft
Posted on: August 8, 2011 10:25 am
Edited on: August 8, 2011 10:35 am
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Video: Kemba Walker coast to coast



By Matt Moore


I wasn't big on Kemba Walker as a prospect last year, despite all his success. And I wasn't big on Walker pre-draft because of the same concerns plus his size. But as time has gone on and I've went back and watched more of his work last year, you can see why some scouts had him so high. Walker's got great quickness, handle, and scoring ability. That should be enough to keep him on the floor in some capacity in the bigs. Trying to predict draft pick defensive potential is impossible given the sharp curve they face and the change in fundamentals from one level to the next. Walker has all the pieces to put it together. 

We'll talk more about Walker, but first, we interupt your regularly scheduled analysis to bring you this video of Walker going coast to coast in the Dyckman Pro Am this weekend. Ba-boom:

 

Nice, Kemba. 

One thing that switched my head around on Walker is this piece from NBA Playbook, talking about his ability to work in an area that is seldom used in college: the pick and roll.
When Walker is looking for his own shot coming off of a ball screen, he is a very dangerous player.  He does a good job of creating space for his shot, but what makes him really special is his ability to get to the rim when coming off of a ball screen.  Walker was in the top 15% of all college players (in terms of PPP) when taking it all the way to the rim coming off of a ball screen drawing a foul 33.3% of the time (Basically, every three times Walker attacked the rim off of a screen, he went to the free throw line).

What makes Walker so tough to cover when coming off of a ball screen is that he has a combination of quickness and shooting ability.  Walker is a good enough shooter that if you go under the screen, he is going to pull up and knock down the jumper.  This means that defenses need to try to go over screens while hedging.  Walker is simply too quick and is able to take advantage by driving by the hedge man and getting into the lane (while not shying away from contact).  Finally, he is good enough with the ball that he won’t turn it over often (only turned it over 3% of the time when attacking the rim).
via Draft Pick Scouting Report: #9 Kemba Walker | NBA Playbook.\

How do you neutralize a size disadvantage? Be quicker than everyone else and be able to effectively use ball screens. Walker's not an elite level of fast in the NBA, especially not when compared to other elite point guards. But he's got great quickness and a knowledge of the floor. His curve to learn how to operate an offense at the next level isn't as sharp because of his experience. He's going to have to learn when to shy away from the shot and how to distribute to other players, but that natural scoring instinct will translate, and if he's efficient enough, that will keep him on the floor.

Maybe I was wrong on Walker this whole time. We'll have to wait and see.

Emphasis on "wait."

(HT: PBT
Posted on: July 11, 2011 1:03 pm
Edited on: July 11, 2011 1:55 pm
 

Valanciunas shows off in FIBA under-19 games

Posted by Royce Young



It wasn't against Dwight Howard or Tyson Chandler. Heck, it wasn't even against Joel Anthony or Ronny Turiaf. But despite qualifiers, Toronto's first-round pick Jonas Valanciunas absolutely dominated in the FIBA under-19 World Championships.

Not only did Valanciunas lead Lithuania to gold in the U19 games (the U.S. finished fifth), he was easily the tournament's best player. The Raptors new center averaged 23.0 points, 13.9 rebounds and 3.2 blocks per game to go with 59 percent shooting from the field and 81.1 percent from the free throw line. He put a bow on his wonderful tournament with a 36-point, eight-rebound and three-block effort in the gold medal game.

Somewhere, Bryan Colangelo is probably just a little bit excited.

But it wasn't just about the numbers against non-NBA players. That stuff is nice, but there's a lot more in play if Valanciunas -- the most intriguing player in this year's draft -- is going to become an NBA force. Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Star saw a little more from Valanciunas.
He showed just about everything the Raptors were hoping for when they picked him fifth overall.

In addition to the gaudy numbers, Valanciunas displayed a genuine love for the game and an intensity and desire to get results at both ends. He showed good fluidity and bounce and kept his foul rate — one of his main weaknesses — mostly under control. He played every minute of the final and looked like he could have kept going, instead bolting around the gym and playing to the many Lithuanian fans in the building before accepting his MVP and championship trophies.

Like I said, the numbers and stats are one thing, but the intangibles that makes an effective NBA players are equally important. You hear words like "motor" and "upside" tossed around a lot and in most cases, they don't mean anything. But stuff like hearing a guy is committed and passionate are good any way you shake them.

Valanciunas will be Lithuania's backup center on the team that will host the Eurobasket tournament in August and September. There, we'll all get a little better taste of what he's capable of as Turkey is in Lithuania's group which features Chicago's defensive stud Omer Asik. Put up 36 points and eight rebounds against Asik and that'll catch some real attention. 

Regardless of perspective, it's hard not to at least take notice of what Valanciunas accomplished as the tournament's MVP. He's probably not NBA ready in terms of walking on to the floor and competing as a starter from day one in Toronto. He's still extremely young and needs to fill our his lanky 6-11 frame. But dominating against your age group and handling top prospects from the United States as well as the rest of the world is something to at least notice.

Posted on: July 5, 2011 8:04 pm
Edited on: July 5, 2011 8:30 pm
 

Kyrie Irving files police report against stalker

Kyrie Irving has filed a police report seeking a restraining order against a Twitter stalker. Posted by Ben Golliver. kyrie-irving

Kyrie Irving, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, hasn't yet signed his rookie deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers because of the lockout, but he's already taken a major step on the road to becoming a professional athlete.

Over the weekend, WOIO.com reported that Irving filed a police report seeking a restraining order against a woman who had been stalking him over Twitter.
The woman is identified as Jessica Jackson also known as Miss Hawaii.

According to the West Orange Police report, Irving says he met Jackson once in person in front of a hotel in Charleston, S.C., for two minutes. The two had a short conversation and then went their separate ways.

Irving says Jackson then posted some videos on YouTube blasting him and allegedly threatened to stab him via his Twitter account.
A Montclair Patch report clarified that the meeting between Irving and Jackson occurred in Charlotte, North Carolina.
 
In a post appropriate for those 18 years and older, BlackSportsOnline.com reports that the woman has a criminal background and a history of sordid behavior. 

Irving is a sharp guy who told reporters the day before the draft that he plans to return to Duke University to continue work on his degree if the lockout extends into the fall. The lesson here, probably, is that if Irving can find himself mixed up in a situation like this then any NBA player can.

Hopefully this will be the last we hear of it.
Posted on: June 29, 2011 12:52 pm
Edited on: June 29, 2011 1:07 pm
 

Valanciunas dominant against US in U-19 games

Posted by Royce Young

The Cleveland Cavaliers were the first team on draft night that had to make a big decision. At No. 4 with Enes Kanter off the board, who do they go with?

There's Jonas Valanciunas from Lithuania who is raw and needs strength and might have buyout issues. There's Tristan Thompson from Texas who is an impact rebounder and defender but doesn't have quite the upside of Valanciunas. Or there were other options like Jan Vesely, Bismack Biyombo or whichever one of the Morris twins is better.

The Cavs passed on Valanciunas and so the Raptors were grateful at No. 5 to pick up the 19-year-old center. And while it's still WAY too early too tell, that pick certainly looked pretty darn good yesterday in a tuneup for the FIBA under-19 games.

Valanciunas dominated against the United States, scoring 23 points and grabbing 11 rebounds as Lithuania worked the U.S. 108-75 in a friendly before the games get going Thursday.

Now of course, before anyone gets too excited, it's just one game, and a game that didn't even count to boot. It also wasn't against anything resembling NBA talent, though University of Florida big man and projected lottery pick Patric Young played against Valanciunas in the game and had only six points.

As the Toronto Sun notes, Valanciunas still needs at least 15-20 pounds on him before he's really able to compete inside against the big physical centers in the NBA, but the guy has serious talent. The Raptors went with the best guy available on draft night and grabbed the guy a bunch of teams were hoping would slip to them later.

Valanciunas has been pegged as another Pau Gasol because of his touch around the basket, and there's no doubt the young Americans trying to guard him probably couldn't tell the difference Tuesday. But it's way too early to make any real determination on things. Still, the Raptors and Bryan Colangelo have to be feeling pretty good that the Cavs passed on Valanciunas right now.

Via PBT

Posted on: June 25, 2011 5:12 pm
Edited on: June 25, 2011 6:31 pm
 

2011 NBA Draft: 5 second round steals

Here's a look at five second round steals in the 2011 NBA Draft. Posted by Ben Golliver. davis-bertans

1. Davis Bertans -- San Antonio Spurs at No. 42

Acquiring George Hill for picks was a nice win-now move for the Indiana Pacers, but the San Antonio Spurs did very well to get value in the package coming back. Snagging Kawhi Leonard, the major slipper in the first round, was a great move. Picking up Bertans, a Latvian forward with first round potential, was arguably even better. That Bertans fell to No. 42 and the Spurs, historically one of the smartest organizations in the NBA, seems almost unfair. An excellent shooter with great length and a bit of handle to boot, Bertans can develop at his own pace overseas, ready to inject talent when needed in the post-Duncan era.

2. Darius Morris -- Los Angeles Lakers at No. 41

The Lakers needed to address the point guard position after exiting the playoffs earlier than usual this year. The aging Derek Fisher and the frantic Steve Blake didn't perform up to expectations and there are question marks about Shannon Brown's future in Los Angeles. Morris, who has often drawn comparisons to Andre Miller for his play-making and size, was the best point guard remaining on the board and had been considered a first round prospect by some talent evaluators. The Lakers filled a hole beautifully and hedge nicely against Father Time. 

3. Josh Selby -- Memphis Grizzlies at No. 49

Did anyone fall further than Josh Selby? A top high school talent endured a confusing and disappointing single season at Kansas before bailing to the pros as a one-and-done. Anyone snatching him up in the second round, given those circumstances, was getting good value. That he lasted until No. 49 is pretty amazing. Memphis -- led by no-nonsense coach Lionel Hollins -- showed this season that it can keep difficult personalities and egos in check and turn a group of cast-offs into a team that defeated the San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs. If Selby is able to stick and get his career back on track, his scoring ability in the backcourt would make a trade of O.J. Mayo less painful. If not, the Grizzlies can simply cut their losses. All-reward, no-risk here.

4. Jeremy Tyler -- Golden State Warriors at No. 39

Jeremy Tyler is a risk, without question, and the Warriors are already reportedly $2 million deep into that risk after purchasing the pick used to select him from the Charlotte Bobcats. Tyler was a top 15 talent in this year's draft crop, once regarded as the best high school player in his class. He's shown signs of maturation and his offensive instincts are fairly well-honed. He will need to grow up as a professional but the same goes for many in this class. Getting him on a second-round contract with the flexibility of a non-guaranteed deal means he is on a tight leash and will have every reason to be on his best behavior. He's in a position where he's got to prove himself all over again to really see an NBA payday, the type of which he expected when he left high school early to play overseas years ago. Getting him fully in shape to reach that goal is the first step. No one should be surprised if he becomes the most talented player picked in the second round within two or three years. Golden State needed to get tougher and bulkier inside, which they did here. 

5. Andrew Goudelock -- Los Angeles Lakers at No. 46

Goudelock is a small school scoring point guard without much of a defensive reputation. That description alone carries plenty of question marks and risks. But the Lakers -- with Kobe Bryant, Andrew Bynum, Paul Gasol and Andrew Bynum in the fold -- have the talent, not to mention the deep pocketbooks, to sustain those risks with ease. As the guard trio of Bryant, Fisher and Blake ages, GM Mitch Kupchak's job was simply to inject the roster with youth and upside. In taking both Morris and Goudelock in the second round, he gets two different looks to fulfill that goal. Given that they are both on second-round deals, he only needs one of them to stick. The fact that both guards have the upside to be rotation players -- in L.A. or elsewhere -- means the Lakers landed two solid assets late in a shallow pool. That's intelligent drafting.
Posted on: June 25, 2011 3:59 pm
Edited on: June 25, 2011 6:41 pm
 

2011 NBA Draft: Top 3 point guards face logjams

Kyrie Irving, Brandon Knight and Kemba Walker -- the top three point guards in the 2011 NBA Draft -- face logjams of varying degrees on their new teams. Posted by Ben Golliver.

walker-irving-knight

NBA executives talk all the time about drafting the "Best Player Available" rather than targeting a particular position of need. The logic goes that NBA roster turnover happens at such a pace that it's better to collect talented players, letting them beat out incumbents for a spot, rather than compromising on upside simply to complete a jigsaw puzzle that could change quickly due to injury, chemistry or other factors.

One of the most unusual aspects of the 2011 NBA Draft is that the top three point guards that went off the board -- Duke's Kyrie Irving, Kentucky's Brandon Knight, Connecticut's Kemba Walker -- all went to teams with an incumbent option or options at the one.

Starting from Day 1 has proven to be a blessing for recent point guard prodigies like Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls and Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder. Getting NBA reps at the earliest age possible -- with a support staff and management structure that trusted in their abilities -- was vital in the development for both. Last year's No. 1 selection, John Wall, followed that same track for the Wasington Wizards. But Irving, Knight and Walker could face slightly different circumstances. Let's take a look at each.

Kyrie Irving -- Cleveland Cavaliers

The No. 1 overall pick, Irving, out of Duke University, is the most NBA-ready point guard prospect in this year's group. He goes to a team that needs a new face, a new identity and a new direction after an awful season that resulted from the departure of LeBron James. He's got the size, smarts, scoring instincts and play-making ability to start from Day 1. He should start from Day 1.

The only problem? The Cavaliers have former All-Star Baron Davis and capable back-up Ramon Sessions already on the roster. Sessions' agent made it clear earlier this summer that something would have to give if Cleveland drafted Irving, but nothing gave on draft night. Neither Davis nor Sessions was traded. Daniel Gibson looms too, as he played a fair number of backcourt minutes last year as well.

The ideal scenario long-term would be to move Davis and the remaining money on his contract, however possible. That would allow the Cavaliers to turn the keys over to Irving immediately, with Sessions, a very capable and fairly paid back-up, able to step in and play big minutes as needed behind Irving or alongside of him. Gibson, if his $4.4 million salary for 2011-2012 couldn't be moved, would then provide depth.

The only problem? Davis is on the books for $13.9 million next season and has a $14.8 million player option for 2012-2013 so there may not be any takers until he becomes an expiring contract at the end of next season. Theoretically, the Cavaliers could make him an amnesty clause casualty, depending on the terms of the next Collective Bargaining Agreement.

If Irving and Davis are both on the roster, Cleveland will need to get to work on Davis, making sure he understands his role as a veteran on a rebuilding team. At 32, Davis' job now is not to lead Cleveland to the playoffs. His job is to help mentor Irving into a franchise, All-Star caliber player.

Brandon Knight -- Detroit Pistons

The Pistons were a dysfunctional mess last season under coach John Kuester, who tried all sorts of different things at point guard, including a Tracy McGrady experiment. 

Brandon Knight -- a very talented, intelligent prospect who has done his best to shake off the "combo guard" label since finishing his one season at Kentucky -- enters the mix on a roster that currently has Rodney Stuckey, who was recently extended a qualifying offer for next season, and the undersized but capable Will Bynum. Knight is not as ready as Irving this year or as ready as Wall was last year, so turning the keys over to him immediately would mean a long, painful journey.

The biggest question for the Pistons is what to do with Rodney Stuckey. Knight's presence certainly makes the team less dependent on Stuckey, so if someone makes an offer that is too rich for Detroit's blood, they won't be in a position where they will be forced to overpay to retain him. With that said, keeping Stuckey around if possible is worth doing. He is talented and will draw trade interest down the road, especially if he's retained on a reasonable deal, once Knight develops. 

Assuming Stuckey returns, which would be the best case scenario, Knight should plug in as the second string point guard, playing as many minutes as he can handle and given every opportunity to prove himself to be a starter. In that scenario, Bynum becomes expendable. He's on the books for $3.25 million for each of the next two seasons and there should be a decent market for his services at that number.

If Stuckey either isn't retained or is moved in a sign-and-trade, Bynum becomes the Day 1 starter, with Knight as the back-up. In an ideal world, Knight responds to that role well and potentially works his way ahead of Bynum by the middle or latter half of the 2011-2012 season. If the learning curve happens to be steeper, Bynum remains in place. If the Pistons fall totally out of the Eastern Conference playoff chase given that rotation, Knight could take on the starter role, allowing the Pistons to get to work on the future.

Kemba Walker -- Charlotte Bobcats

On Draft night, the Bobcats executed a complicated three-way trade that shipped out forward Stephen Jackson and guard Shaun Livingston to land an extra top 10 pick and Corey Maggette. An under-reported highlight of this trade was getting out of Livingston's contract, as he was owed $3.5 million for 2011-2012 and 2012-2013. Clearing Livingston not only moved his salary but it also opened up plenty of minutes in Charlotte's backcourt.

Enter Kemba Walker, the star of the 2011 NCAA tournament and a potential franchise guard. He joins a stripped-down team that is clearly looking for a slash-and-burn style rebuilding project after the trade of Jackson and the 2011 deadline move of Gerald Wallace to the Portland Trail Blazers. Walker will join a backcourt that currently includes last year's starting point guard, D.J. Augustin, and two guards Gerald Henderson and Matt Carroll. That's it. Those are the only guards currently under contract for the 2011-2012 season.

In other words, Walker will be given free rein, likely as a third guard, to both score and distribute. He should have the ball in his hands plenty and should be encouraged to take as many shots as he wants. He'll be playing in a pressure-free environment as he learns the ropes. The Bobcats will surely encourage him to push Augustin for the starter's job, but anything past playing major minutes in a back-up role this year will be gravy. Augustin will become a restricted free agent following the 2011-2012 season so the Bobcats will have plenty of flexibility in terms of how they handle his future with the team. 

Going forward, new GM Rich Cho will have the luxury of shaping Charlotte's roster to fit Walker's skillset. Those moves will begin soon as the Bobcats clearly need to fill out their roster. Regardless, this is an excellent landing spot for Walker. He can move into a starter's role at his own pace while getting plenty of playing time immediately. The best of both worlds.
Posted on: June 25, 2011 2:31 pm
Edited on: June 25, 2011 6:51 pm
 

Jimmer Fredette billboard at Palms in Las Vegas

The Palms Casino in Las Vegas celebrates the Sacramento Kings' drafting of BYU guard Jimmer Fredette. Posted by Ben Golliver. jimmer-billboard

Go big or go home.

That seems to be the mantra for the Maloof Family, owners of the Sacramento Kings, after conducting a confusing, dispiriting draft on Thursday night. It was an evening that saw them take on money, downgrade their roster in trade, trade down for no real reason and draft BYU guard Jimmer Fredette, the most hyped and polarizing player in the 2011 NBA Draft.

Reportedly, not everyone in Sacramento was on board with the selection, as whispers floated that members of the coaching staff would have preferred a different approach.

But Fredette was linked to the Kings for days, if not weeks, before the draft because of his marketability and regional popularity. The goal for the Kings, who nearly relocated to Anaheim, are looking to build a new arena and are struggling at the gate, is to monetize Fredette's popularity.

It's a somewhat desperate effort given that Fredette is 22 years old, lacks a true NBA position and almost certainly cannot defend on the NBA level. But desperate is all the Maloofs have left.

Last week, we noted that the Maloofs were selling their stake in the Las Vegas Palms Casino to get rid of their debt burden. That didn't stop them from putting up a sign celebrating their draft night. "Jimmer Fredette A Sacramento King" bellows the billboard in front of the hotel.

While this is meant to be a festive scene, it comes of as a bit depressing. One crumbling jewel of the Maloof's dwindling portfolio hawking the misguided and illogical strategy of another.  

Photo credit: DJ MacKinnon on Lockerz.com.
Posted on: June 25, 2011 11:23 am
Edited on: June 25, 2011 6:54 pm
 

Valanciunas' buyout situation settled

Posted by Royce Young

A few days before the draft, some concern arose that Jonas Valanciunas, the big Lithuanian center the Raptors selected fifth, was going to have some major buyout issues.

As a result, there was some speculation that Valanciunas could slip down in the lottery. He didn't and I guess it was because the buyout thing wasn't that big of a deal.

Raptor general manager Bryan Colangelo told the Toronto Sun that the buyout has been resolved with Valanciunas' team Lietuvos Ryta. Valanciunas' deal was for three years with his Euro team. 

"I can confirm the buyout is in place," Colangelo said.

The Raptors can contribute up to $500,000 of the $2.4 million buyout under the terms of the current collective bargaining agreement.

Now that Valanciunas will join the Raptors alongside Andrea Bargnani, Toronto will get a fresh look at its new front line. Valanciunas isn't ready to be an impact player, though, as he needs to add strength, which he admitted draft night. "I have no so strong body," he said. So that'll likely be the focus for the young 19-year-old center. Some have said he's a young Pau Gasol and if that's the case, Toronto will likely be fine waiting however long for him to add strength.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com