Tag:NBA draft
Posted on: September 7, 2011 10:19 am
Edited on: September 7, 2011 10:36 am

Report: Draft options being explored in CBA talks

By Matt Moore

There has been talk of a revised draft being discussed in the CBA negotiations for some time. Months ago, reports surfaced from multiple outlets about the union offering a solution for increased competitiveness through granting lottery teams multiple first-round picks. That idea sparked quite a bit of debate. Now Chris Sheridan, formerly of ESPN and hot on the heels of his report of how the two sides aren't that far apart, dropped this little bombshell Wednesday: the owners want a third round of the draft. From SheridanHoops.com:
SheridanHoops.com has learned that NBA owners have proposed adding a third round to the annual draft, a proposal that the players’ union has countered by offering an array of changes to the draft that would help address the owners’ desire for more competitive balance.
via Exclusive: NBA wants 3rd round in draft | SheridanHoops

Sheridan also lays out multiple options being offered from the union's side, including two variations on the multiple-first-round-pick scenario. One such scenario eliminates playoff teams from the first-round altogether (outside of the last team in), giving teams 1-15 picks 16-30. That's going to set off calls of alarm from everyone from people who think it's basketball socialism (gasp) to fans of teams who traditionally finish top five and don't want to lose a competitive edge for being good. 

But there's a lot of interesting elements at work with both proposals.

A third round is going to create a cacophony of "What's the point?!" debate. In short, the second round of the draft this year was an abject joke, with teams taking guys with red flags who clearly will not play a second in the NBA.  (At least that's the widely-held projection; remember, this is the NBA draft, the greatest crapshoot you can find outside of Vegas.) So if they're not getting value from the second round, why add a third? Here's an alternative question asked by Scott Schroeder of RidiculousUpside.com on Twitter:  Why not?

After all, if the contracts aren't guaranteed, then there's no harm, no foul adding a third round. It's only going to force teams to work harder, create a larger spectacle of the draft, and give teams more chances to get a good solid look at a player. The best thing about a third round is what it likely comes in conjunction with, a revamped NBA D-League.  The D-League's current structure is still in the exploratory phase. Teams are adding their own affiliates quickly, but it's taken years to get the league to a point where teams will commit, and even then, they're still wary. A renovation to the D-League's structure would create extra roster spots (on an assignment level) for the players drafted late 2nd-early 3rd. It means that those players who teams really like and would like to take a longer look at would get a chance to play under a team's system, versus having to go pursue a career overseas far from the eye of the team. Additionally, it removes some of the danger in reaches. If you draft a player based solely on his athletic ability in the 2nd, or his size, perhaps, and discover in camp that he's a nightmare in terms of conditioning or, well, ability, that third-rounder gives you another player you have rights to with which to hit a home run. Is it going to happen very often? Of course not. It's also worth the minimal level of investment necessary. The additional work and subsequent job creation for scouts and draft personnel in such a situation is a nice added benefit as well. 

It also means another hour of NBA draft coverage, which could just be really long for everyone involved.

Then there are the union's options, including two different variations of assigning multiple first-round picks to struggling teams as cited by Sheridan. The elimination of playoff teams from the first-round will surely cause panic among those who think bad teams should be punished into oblivion, but in reality, it's a win-win situation for everyone. Most often those draft picks wind up getting no playing time, as they're stuck on good teams who don't have roster spots, but want to keep the talent anyway. Players languish when they're not used, and don't even get practice time because of the NBA schedule. Being assigned to the D-League can be the best thing for them development wise, but that's such an undeveloped part of the league at this point, it comes with its own risks.

Conversely, granting teams in the lottery or the top eight, depending on the variation of the proposed rule change, gives teams wanting to recover from rebuilding a faster out. For starters, it covers the liability of a bad draft. Whiff on that 10th overall forward you really needed to make a difference for you? You've still got the 20th. It will be argued that teams that draft well won't have this problem. The issue with that is that you're just not going to find a team that has hit a home run with its draft every year for even the past five years, let alone ten. The draft is random, full of chaos and confusion, and locks wind up as busts and reaches turn out to be golden. Granting teams in the lottery that second chance is a good thing.

And for those who do draft well, it's an immediate reach up out of the gutter. Teams can become contenders in one year with two talented rookies, it gives them a base of the future and lowers the incentive to go out and get a veteran player to overpay just to fill a roster spot. Instead of panicking and throwing money at a low-efficiency, high-salary chucker, teams can simply get their pick of the fourth or fifth best wing in the draft. If they don't need a rookie, if they truly need that veteran? It gives them an extra trade chip. How many more deals would get done, how many more unhappy veterans would get moved if the trading teams knew they could get a first-rounder out of it? If you're drafting for need for a power forward but there's an All-Star wing available, you could trade your top first-rounder and still fill that power forward need with the second pick. Meanwhile, what are the contending teams missing? The ability to draft a bellboy to carry the bags? Someone to get the donuts, per Delonte? 

For the teams truly in need of those picks in the playoffs, picks 14-18, this is a bad thing. But that's the good thing. Rebuilding happens to everyone. Punishing teams trying to rebuild is ridiculous because it's a hard job inherently. But worse than rebuilding is purgatory, those 8th-seed, one-and-done, year after year appearances that inspire no fan excitement, don't generate much playoff revenue and don't really show the team anything. Depriving teams of that draft pick gives them two choices. Improve or fall off, which is what should happen. Teams should never be stuck in purgatory. It should be contention or rebuilding, and this idea provides that.

There's certainly going to be a lot of talk about the proposed ideas, but these are still on the periphery. What matters is the BRI split, because that determines the money, which is what everyone cares about. The rest of this is just window dressing. But it's interesting that the window dressing could determine the contour of the league for years to come, and provides the most interesting facets of the lockout debates.
Posted on: August 11, 2011 10:00 am

Is a 3-year collegiate rule on the horizon?

By Matt Moore

Rutgers men's college basketball head coach, Mike Rice, posted on Twitter Thursday morning that he's "hearing" that "NBA owners want to adopt same rule as NFL. Players will have to wait 3 yrs(sic) to enter the draft."

It's the first we've heard of such a proposal in the CBA talks, though an adjustment to the age rule has been discussed. Moving to three years would radically change the landscape of the NBA, shortening career spans, damaging the ability to develop raw talent, and limiting the effectiveness of the D-League. It would also allow college to weed out bust players and take the burden of development off NBA clubs. It's also an idea that the players union would likely hate, but might be willing to compromise on to get a few extra Bucks out of BRI. 

The debate on how long to keep players in college is always going to be a tense one. It touches on the question of limiting a person's earning potential, protecting the college game and pro investments, and of course, the always sensitive subject of the exploitation of athletes by the NCAA. Rice, being a member of a profession that would be greatly helped by getting their talented players locked in for three years, isn't an objective source, by any means, but the whisper in the wind is certainly enough to perk up an ear. More and more it seems likely that after this new CBA is finally agreed upon, the NBA won't look anything like it has in recent history.  
Posted on: August 8, 2011 10:25 am
Edited on: August 8, 2011 10:35 am

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."

Posted on: July 21, 2011 9:05 am
Edited on: July 21, 2011 9:22 am

Derrick Williams expresses regret if season lost

By Matt Moore

Derrick Williams, like a lot of college kids, enjoyed being at college. It's a fun atmosphere, as a star athlete, you're treated as a demigod, there are lots of fun activities (and, you know, partying), and no real responsibilities (relative to the "real" world).

Williams elected to leave college as a sophomore to cash in on his draft value coming out of the NCAA tournament. Only problem, that cash is locked up in the lockout.

On Wednesday, after announcing his signing with Under Armour, Williams did the press circuit, and The Basketball Jones asked him about that decision to jump. Williams made it clear that if the NBA loses the entire year, he's going to be pretty upset at how things turned out. From TBJ:
“If they told me I was going to miss all 82 games next season I would have stayed in college and enjoyed myself and enjoyed all of my teammates and everybody else who is involved with Arizona. I definitely would have went back.”
via TBJ Q+A: Derrick Williams on Under Armour, the lockout and staying in school | Blog Archive | The Basketball Jones | Blogs | TheScore.com.

You have to wonder how many draft picks feel this way. It's not as if they weren't aware of the lockout coming out. There's a reason so many player decided to return for this college season, knowing the lockout would affect things. But the way it's worked out, there's been so many negative signs, it's looking as if those players will lose a whole year of income and a year of campus hijinx. 

Williams made the best decison he could at the time, but it's still frustrating for these players that the one year that's best for them to enter the draft, this whole disaster happens. Forces out of your control, and all that. Just another victim of a lockout that didn't need to happen the way it did. 

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: 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.


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.

Posted on: June 24, 2011 3:47 pm
Edited on: June 24, 2011 7:29 pm

Way too early Rookie of the Year contenders

Posted by Royce Young

When people say things like, "It's never too early to talk about..." what they really mean is, "It's way, way too early to talk about this but I'm trying to at least acknowledge that."

So... it's never too early to talk about next season's early contenders for Rookie of the Year (assuming there is a next year blah blah blah). Most everyone proclaimed last night's draft to be of the weak variety and while it very well may be, it's going to have a couple good players. Whether it's the top overall pick or a sleeper taken in the 20s, the 2011 NBA Draft won't go down as a total dud.

Who are the candidates to make a big rookie splash? There aren't a ton of franchise changing guys in this draft, but more a bundle of potential. Someone will be named Rookie of the Year and honestly, this might be one of the most wide open races in a long time. Derrick Williams isn't Blake Griffin. Kyrie Irving isn't Derrick Rose. From picks 1-15 really, there are a lot of guys that could contend. So here are my top five.

1. Kyrie Irving, PG, Cavaliers: If the No. 1 overall pick isn't a Rookie of the Year candidate, well, then his name must be Michael Olawakandi. It's hard to really know if Irving is going to step right in and start from day one or if the Cavs want to groom him behind Baron Davis -- don't laugh -- but he's going to get his minutes. This franchise is now his. He's the guy.

He's not John Wall or Derrick Rose, but that just means he's not as flashy. He makes plays everywhere, shoots the ball extremely well and is incredibly composed and mature. It's pretty easy to picture Irving averaging something along the lines of 15 points and five assists per game, which will likely be enough to win the award.

2. Derrick Williams, F, Timberwolves: I think Williams is a fantastic player. A 6-9 guy that's athletic and strong and shot 57 percent from 3? How could you NOT like him?

But I've got questions that almost made me leave him off the list. Where does he fit in with the Wolves? Is he their starting small forward? Does he fit alongside Kevin Love? Does Michael Beasley take too many shots and minutes from him? Does Williams play power forward and Love slide to center? Can Williams play power forward? Is he too much of a tweener, like Jeff Green?

If the Wolves are smart, and of course that's a whole other thing there, Williams sees minutes from day one and Beasley is shipped out so that Williams' growth is never messed with. I don't think the two can co-exist. Give the keys entirely to Ricky Rubio, Love and Williams and see what they can do. If that happens, I think he can put up pretty solid numbers and a few flashy highlights as well.  

3. Jan Vesely, SF, Wizards: Blake Griffin didn't win the Rookie of the Year last year just based off a bunch of crazy highlight dunks. But there's no denying that they certainly helped.

And Vesely is the prime candidate to be 2011-12's official YouTube Party candidate for Rookie of the Year. He has an incredible amount of athleticism, a bunch of flash and some skill to boot. He can score, play and dunk. If Vesely gets minutes, he's going to grab some attention. And in winning awards, sometime attention is all it really takes.

4. Jimmer Fredette, PG, Kings: I'm coming clean -- I'm a total Jimmer junkie. I think he's going to be a great pro. My philosophy is, if you're one of the best at your craft at the highest level you can play, you'll likely be good at the next level too. Adam Morrison excluded, of course.

And Jimmer can score. Yeah, his defense stinks. But I think that was more of a product of the system and structure he operated in at BYU more than anything. BYU's coach Dave Rose knew Fredette couldn't dare pick up a couple early fouls, so he was hidden in a 2-3 scheme and rarely moved his feet or went for a steal. I don't think that's just because Jimmer doesn't understand a simple defensive stance, but more that he was instructed, "Don't you think about picking up a foul." There were similar concerns about Blake Griffin's defense too, but at OU Jeff Capel employed the same mindset to Griffin's defense. And I think that worked out.

The Kings cleared out room for Jimmer to immediately start and run the show. If he's ready for it, he's going to have a chance to put up really nice numbers on an improving team. Is he going to look to score or pass? That's to be seen. But he's a smart guy, has a bunch of talent and knows how to play. He's going to be good.

5. Alec Burks, SG, Jazz: I live in Big 12 country so I'm a bit biased having seen Burks play most of his college games. But let me tell you, that dude tore up the conference. Inside, outside, defensively, rebounding -- he was a one-man team.

The Jazz are slowly transitioning and while Enes Kanter was the No. 3 pick, I think he's going to be brought along more slowly than Burks. There's not a whole lot standing in the way of Burks and playing time, while Kanter has to settle in somewhere around Paul Millsap, Al Jefferson and Mehmet Okur. I don't know what the future of Andrei Kirilenko is but I'm sure Utah isn't that worried about finding room for Burks to play. He's going to likely be in the rotation from the start and might even push C.J. Miles for the starting shooting guard spot.

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