Tag:Jan Vesely
Posted on: June 22, 2011 6:34 pm
Edited on: June 23, 2011 5:29 am
 

Five GMs who face big dilemmas on draft night

Posted by Matt Moore

It's passed over because we're so far removed from it and because that's not how the machine works, but stop for a second and consider what it's like to be a general manager who actually has control, whose owner trusts him. It's draft night. The future of your franchise rests with you. A pick gone wrong and that can mean a pink slip. Questions from the media, from the fans. You've got to somehow not only see what these kids, and they are kids, have done, but what they will do. And that's not just on the floor, it's in the locker room and outside the halls of the arena.

You've got to look into a kid's soul and see what he's made of, out of basically a handful of workouts, some measurements, and maybe a psych profile, if he consents. And it's not a simple "yes or no," you have to choose someone. You've got hundreds of options, a dozen or so serious options, and you've got to hit the right one. Miss, and it's a black mark on your career that may follow you forever. And no matter how many people you bring in, no matter how much consultation is done in advance, at the end of the night, when it's time to make the call, it's got to be your say. You have to make the decision.

And we think shooting free throws is tough.

With that in mind, here are the top five GMs/front offices facing the toughest decisions of the draft.

1. David Kahn, GM, Minnesota Timberwolves: He can't miss every time, right? After drafting Jonny Flynn to go with Ricky Rubio, who didn't come over, essentially going 0-2 on viable point guard options until this season, then following it up by passing on DeMarcus Cousins and others to reach for Wes Johnson, the Wolves could really use a home run. So naturally Kahn is trying to trade this pick like there's no tomorrow. They've reached out to everyone, and so far no one is biting. So if they keep the pick, the Wolves have to decide whether to take the best talent available, Derrick Williams, even though he creates a logjam at small forward/combo forward position for them, or roll the dice on Enes Kanter. You know, because what they don't have is enough Euro centers with upside.

Kahn's in a bad spot, having to try and hit a home run to save his job by bringing in a veteran star. He announced at the end of last season that "rebuilding is over" for the Wolves, which is pretty insane for a 17-win team. He can't wait to see if Williams will be an impact guy, he needs one now. If he does have to take the pick, Williams is the best overall talent, but that doesn't jive with what he did throughout the past calendar year, bringing in Michael Beasley and Anthony Randolph. It's a significant problem and not one you should envy. Even if the Cavs were to suddenly pass on Kyrie Irving for Williams, the Wolves still couldn't take Irving because of Rubio.

In the end, the Euro teen center who hasn't played in two years is the safe option. That's how tricky the Wolves' position is.

2011 NBA Draft
2. Bryan Colangelo, GM, Toronto Raptors: There's talk that Bryan Colangelo is under pressure, even after his contract extension, from above to stay away from a Euro. This is the kind of thing that happens when you draft Andrea Bargnani and then give him a bajillion dollars in extension. In doing so he's managed to create a problem because the best talent and fit at the No.5 spot is likely to be a Euro.

The Raptors need rebounding and size, and Jonas Valanciunas provides both. Sure, the big man is not coming over till 2012, but the Raptors also aren't going anwywhere until then. Another year of letting DeMar DeRozan, Jerryd Bayless, and Amir Johnson lead the team while trying to find somewhere to ditch Bargnani to isn't a bad option. Then when Valanciunas comes over, they'll have another high pick, and worst case scenario the ability to put Bargnani next to Valanciunas with Amir Johnson at the three for defensive coverage of Bargnani's limitations in space.

If not "Choonus" (as no one besides me is calling him), Jan Vesely is a great fit here. An explosive combo forward who won't need the ball and whose limitations in ball handling will be managed by low usage, Vesely brings size, athleticism and aggressiveness. A DeRozan-Vesely-Johnson 2-3-4 combo is just plain nasty.

But Colangelo may not be able to take either of those and may instead have to reach for... Kemba Walker. If the Utah Jazz aren't too spooked by Brandon Knight's attitude, Walker will be the best known-American talent in the draft at that point, and finding a replacement for Jose Calderon will be seen as a smart pick. No one will criticize them for taking Walker, despite Walker not being the type of defender Dwane Casey's going to want to work with and the fact that he's honestly a reach here. Not much of one, but a reach.

So does Colangelo take the Best Player Available or the Most Popular Available? That's the kind of thing impacted by your previous decisions which come back to haunt you.

3. Geoff Petrie, President of Basketball Operations, Sacramento Kings: This should be easy. There's a good chance either Brandon Knight or Kemba Walker falls this far, despite the above scenario. They take that guy, they're good. But for whatever reason, the Kings are still trying to figure out what to do with their backcourt.

Alec Burks has become the hot name to take but he's not a point guard in any way shape or form. He becomes redundant next to Marcus Thornton, even if Tyreke Evans stays at point guard. Jimmer Fredette is too much of a reach.

Kawhi Leonard is the safest pick possible, filling a need at small forward, a polished player who can defend, and leaving the backcourt questions out of the equation. But he may go higher. The Kings are in a danger zone that guarantees their options will be limited, but the decison tree is complicated by the wishes of the Maloofs. Fredette brings ticket sales, that's for sure, but he's going to be an awkward fit with both Evans and Thornton needing shots. What's going to win out, making money or the right decision? Let's just say we don't have high hopes for the voices of reason.

4. John Hammond, GM, Milwaukee Bucks: Hammond's got a lot of holes to fill and is just outside the ability to fill them in the draft. Meanwhile, he's trying to move down. Move down and not make an improvement, the team could slide even further backwards. Make the wrong pick and he's wasted all that opportunity. Power forwards are abundant at the No. 10 spot for Milwaukee, but Hammond's got Drew Gooden, Larry Sanders, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Jon Brockman,and Ersan Ilyasova (who he's reportedly trying desperately to trade). So that's not really viable. He sunk a huge portion of cash into John Salmons which didn't work out, so while drafting a shooting guard sounds like the right move, it comes with usage concerns.

Popular players like Fredette are there, but with Jennings it may only exacerbate a tense situation. And the other option is a fleet of talented but wholly incomplete combo forwards without a decent lock among them. All are long-term prospects, none are sure things. And that's relative to the entire draft process which is a crapshoot.

The Bucks have been active in trade rumors but are trying to find an identity. They seemed like they'd stocked their team with athletic, relatively young players and yet don't seem to have the right combination. The 10th pick doesn't provide them many answers and may leave them eying simply a chance to move out of the spotlight.

5. Daryl Morey, GM, Houston Rockets: No team with a real chance of competing needed a lottery win like the Rockets. With Yao Ming a huge seven-foot question mark and failed attempt after failed attempt at securing a star, they need a big name to put next to the versatile complimentary talent they have. But instead here they are with two picks that help them almost not at all.

Their options are a series of athletic threes and undersized fours (the Morris twins, Jordan Hamilton, maybe Tristan Thompson), when they already have Luis Scola, Patrick Patterson, Chase Budinger, and Jordan Hill to go with Chuck Hayes. Their only real need is at five, and Valanciunas is almost guaranteed to be off the board. With Motiejunas more of a stretch four than a real five considering his defense and effort problems, there's simply not a fit here. Marcus Morris is the most surefire player available here, and he comes with huge question marks and a limited upside.

Morey is charged with somehow turning these elements into a contender, despite the best "star" on the market being Andre Iguodala, which would be like adding a Swiss army knife when you need a broadsword. His second pick in the first round leaves him only with the exciting possibility of drafting a Euro center who won't be available for several years, or a player like Jeremy Tyler who would likely spend at least a year with the Rockets' D-League affiliate, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers.

Morey's been considered a genius and a math wizard for years in this league. With the team stangnated and no help available in free agency or trade, the draft looks like his last chance to pull a rabbit out of a hat. And right now, the hat looks awful empty.


Posted on: June 21, 2011 7:58 pm
Edited on: June 21, 2011 10:09 pm
 

NBA Draft: The joy and agony of combo forwards



Posted by Matt Moore

In every draft there's a gluttony at a position. It never seems to be point guards, though 2009 came close. This year, it's combo forwards.

First there's Derrick Williams, who projects himself as a small forward. But most of the kids project themselves as a small forward, thinking their jumper is good enough and they'll always have that lithe frame. As Williams puts on muscle (or fat) he's likely to morph into more of a stretch four model. His athleticism and explosiveness is good enough to keep him playing on the perimeter, but defensively he's likely to wind up defending bigger players. Which is problematic since he's not as tall as most power forwards. You can see why the movement to get Williams to the top selection (likely) fell short. On the other hand, if he manages to keep his weight down and play the 3 smoothly, his combination of range and athleticism combined with a nasty set of shoulders could put him in great position.

Jan Vesely is the underrated small forward with the height to play power forward. That's right. Derrick Williams will likely wind up playing power forward even though he's too short and Jan Vesely will probably play small forward even though he's 6-11. It's a weird NBA, really. Vesely has incredible explosiveness but needs to be on a team where he can be a jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none. He doesn't have a reliable jumper and can be turnover heavy. He actually translates well to a poor man's Josh Smith. Vesely will be a steal at his position while everyone flocks to Enes Kanter who has earned a living in the last three months scoring on chairs.

The Morris twins are both tweeneres that will spend more time at PF than SF mostly due to their more limited athleticism. They do have range (Marcus' obviously being higher), but lack the athleticism to get up and down the floor as a small forward. Still, without dominant size, they're looking at a struggle regardless of position, unless they hit another gear in the NBA.

Chris Singleton is yet another player that's going to drift from position to position. Unlike the Morris twins, he's got the athleticism, but not the range. His rebounding abilities are particularly alluring as a prospect, but he lacks a post game.

Are you sensing a patttern? There is a plethora of combo forwards available and the reason they're combo forwards is that they're incomplete. This is just inside the top 15, before we get to players like Tristan Thompson and Tobias Harris. It's a draft that's rife with holes in talent, and even the talent that is there is more fraught with concerns than the usual.

And still that talent is alluring. That's the thing with combo forwards. No type of player sucks in fans so easily as those with the ability to leap, muscle, hook, run the floor, swat, and still have range. For a long time the myth was based on a fictional player, some sort of hybrid between Magic Johnson and Moses Malone. Then LeBron James came along and made the prototype a reality. Then we all decided we hated him because he's a jerk. But the myth goes on. The idea is for a player with size, length, and athleticism to develop range, handle, and savvy. It's like asking Voltron to strap a transformer to his back. 

The bar has to be much lower for these players. It's often a struggle just to find a place for them, and for them to mold to that spot. This year's class is no exception with a collection of rare strengths and witnesses that make you think the forwards in this class grabbed their attributes blindly from a top hat. 

That's why in this draft, even moreso than in the usual crasphoot that is the yearly selection process, teams need to be cognizant not only of whether the player is a good fit for what they want, but if they are capable of defending that talent. Have an overstock of mid-range shooters but struggle with post scoring? Don't target a player who can't play back to the basket and hope he turns into it. Have issues with developing defensive personnel? Don't bring in the player who lacks awareness. It will only compound your problem.

Sounds obvious, right? Except that traditionally teams are resistant to these ideals instead opting to do what's best for them or aim for talent by default. But this draft allows for some creativity precisely because it isn't stocked, or even partially filled, with All-Stars. Having so many role players and tweeners can be a good thing because it makes every pick that much more crucial. There's no defense for not knowing this is a weak draft class. So teams which are gambling on these forwards need to have a set development plan in place. This is not a "stick them in and see what happens" kind of draft. The convenient part is knowing that ahead of time and planning accordingly.

The myth of the athletic big man is as old as the league itself. Tyrus Thomas, Stromile Swift, Anthony Randolph, even the league's recent history is filled with players of the prototype who can't put the tools together with any skill. They key in the 2011 NBA Draft isn't staying away from any and all combo fowards. It's merely recognizing that best talent available doesn't mean best talent available for your team. Maybe if they can learn that this year, it will become a trend they can use in all situations.
Posted on: June 1, 2011 1:32 pm
Edited on: June 2, 2011 5:11 pm
 

Report: No NBA workouts for Donatas Motiejunas

Donatas Motiejunas will reportedly not work out for NBA teams due to scheduling issues. Posted by Ben Golliver.

One of the top European prospects in the 2011 NBA Draft can't find the time to squeeze in workouts for NBA teams.

Donatas Motiejunas, an offensive-minded, versatile forward from Lithuania, will reportedly be so occupied over the next three weeks in the run up to the Draft, which will be held June 23, that he won't be able to visit and meet with individual NBA teams in their home cities. 

The Racine Journal-Times reports that Motiejunas has a good excuse: he will be busy playing for his club team in Europe and then participating in a European scouting combine.
Motiejunas, a 6-foot-11 power forward, is playing for Benetton Treviso in the Italian League. Benetton has advanced to the semifinals of the Series A League. After the playoffs, Motiejunas plans to attend the adidas EuroCamp June 11-13.

As such, Herb Rudoy, Motiejunas' agent, said his client won't be able to work out for any NBA teams before the draft. "It's not that he doesn't want to; he just can't," Rudoy said. Rudoy also said he is in the process of setting up a physical for Motiejunas with an NBA team and then having the results forwarded to other teams interested in Motiejunas.

A native of Kaunas, Lithuania, Motiejunas is regarded as one of the more skilled big men in the draft. Some NBA officials project him to be selected anywhere from 6 to 14.
Motiejunas is clearly in the top tier of international talent that includes Enes Kanter, Bismack Biyombo, Jan Vesely and Jonas Valanciunas that has established itself as likely lottery picks.

The million dollar question is whether not holding workouts will affect his draft stock. While there's always the possibility that wowing scouts at a private workout gets them to fall in love with you, Motiejunas won't be doing himself too much harm by remaining abroad through the process. 

First, Motiejunas, 20, is a top five international prospect in this year's field and has been on the NBA radar for multiple years. He's a prospect that stands out immediately -- especially at a young age -- because of his height, length, overall offensive skill level and the fact that he's left-handed. He was the headliner of the 2009 international team at the Nike Hoop Summit, competed in the major European youth tournaments and has played for two seasons in the Italian league. Scouts know him and know him well.

Second, it's not like he's hiding. Not only is he playing in competitive play right now, he will be attending a major scouting showcase along with other top prospects this month. Adidas touts its Eurocamp as "the premier international basketball pre-draft camp" and notes that Biyombo will also be in attendance, as will Davis Bertans and Lucas Nogueira, two other possible first round picks. A clear picture of his basketball talents, if not clear, will emerge over the next few weeks.

Third, the relatively weak nature of the top half of the first round plays to Motiejunas' advantage here. If this class was stocked with elite athletes jumping out of the gym in private workouts or even if it was simply loaded with serviceable seven footers, there would be more pressure on him to prove himself. As it stands, there isn't a single American-born seven-footer projected to go in the first round. With such limited supply, Motiejunas, despite the finesse nature of his game, figures to be in high demand.
 
 
 
 
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