Tag:Tristan Thompson
Posted on: June 23, 2011 10:21 am
Edited on: June 23, 2011 11:33 am
 

Rockets looking to trade up in draft for big man

Posted by Matt Moore

The Houston Rockets may have a dilemma at their spot, but they have no intention of hanging around to bite their fingernails over it. CBSSports.com's Ken Berger reports that the Rockets are shopping their two first-round picks, the No. 14 and No. 23, in order to move into the top ten. Specifically, Berger reports that talks have opened with the Detroit Pistons in a two-for-one swap that would allow the Rockets to get what they really want: a big man. Berger reports that late-riser Tristan Thompson is at the top of the list, along with Congolese phenom Bismack Biyombo.

The Pistons don't have an outstanding need beyond getting rid of their locker room-cancer vets, so this makes sense. It puts the Pistons in a position to gain more depth without getting stuck with a pick that's too good not to take, but only in a draft this low on star power. Still, that eight spot will have one of several good prospects available, especially with some of the reaches being discussed. However, it sounds like Detroit's not the only team Houston is chatting with in an attempt to move up. 

The Racine Journal-Times reports that the Rockets are also talking to the Bucks about the No. 10 pick, and this one is more than just a pick-swap, there are players involved: 
The teams have tossed around different trade scenarios with Bucks forward Ersan Ilyasova being prominently mentioned.

It's hardly a secret the Bucks would be interested in Rockets forward Patrick Patterson, whom the Bucks were hoping to land in last summer's draft.
The Bucks could also have interest in Rockets forwards Chase Budinger and Jordan Hill, yet another player they liked in the 2009 draft.
via BUCKS NOTES: Milwaukee, Houston discussing a deal.

Ilyasova is a promising all-around player still with upside at 24, and would give the Rockets a talented big man to pair with Luis Scola. Patterson seems like a high cost, though, as he showed a world of potential in his rookie season. Budinger is just the kind of player that GM Daryl Morey often raises the value of and then sells high on, while Hill is still somewhat of a project. Draft Express reports that the Rockets may have sweetened their deal by including Courtney Lee, which would likely get the Bucks' interest considering their desperate need for backcourt depth.

The Rockets' pursuit of a big man makes all the sense in the world, considering Yao Ming's highly questionable return to Houston and their glaring need for height. Thompson makes for an odd fit next to Luis Scola, but Thompson has been the one player who has made the hardest charge up the draft rankings in the past 24 hours, with some reports pegging him as high as No. 4. Biyombo on the other hand is a freak athlete with great work ethic and the <a href="http://www.draftexpress.com/nba-pre-draft-measurements/?year=2011&sort2=DESC&draft=0&pos=0&source=All&sort=5" target="_blank">second-greatest wingspan of any prospect in the draft. Fellow workout prospect Chris Singleton described Biyombo as being able to scratch his knees standing up yesterday, which is just circus-clown freaky.

The Rockets need a homerun. In a draft without really any of those types of pitches, the Rockets seem dedicated to fighting their way into the batter's box anyway.
Posted on: June 22, 2011 4:49 pm
Edited on: June 22, 2011 5:22 pm
 

The Pistons have their guy... whoever that is

Posted by Matt Moore

Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reports:
With top prospects in New York Thursday for media and service responsibilities, a person familiar with the draft discussions said the Pistons appear to have zeroed in on Texas small forward Tristan Thompson with the eighth pick. Thompson canceled other scheduled workouts after working out for the Pistons with five other players Wednesday.
via Draft buzz: Nash, Smoove, and more - CBSSports.com.

There have also been reports that Kawhi Leonard has canceled his workouts after meeting with Detroit. Throw Marcus Morris and now Markieff Morris on that list as well.  Now, Leonard was expected to go top six regardless, but it's interesting that so many players are certain Detroit's going to take them if available. 

The quandary for the Pistons is a complex one. They clearly need to go in a younger direction, ditching the older talent they have. But they can't really upgrade in positions they need to because of how those players have killed their value. Greg Monroe is a huge part of the future. Austin Daye presumably is, but he played most of his minutes at small forward. Jonas Jerebko is also part of that future, but he split time between the 3 and the 4. So if they draft a power forward like Marcus Morris or Tristan Thompson, Jerebko likely moves to the 3 and Daye is then benched, and that's before you get to the issue of Tayshaun Prince and whether to bring him back. If they go with Kawhi Leonard (if available) Jerebko stays at 4 and Daye, again, remains on the bench and they still have the Tayshaun Prince problem. And they still have to settle what they're going to do at the 2 with Rip Hamilton needing a trade more than anyone in the league and the question of whether to retain Rodney Stuckey

It's a mess the Pistons have gotten themselves into, and it appears one they're prepared to compound.
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: March 18, 2011 10:34 pm
Edited on: March 18, 2011 10:39 pm
 

Prospect Watch: Irving makes triumphant return

How did some of the NBA's top prospects do the first Friday of the NCAA tournament? Posted by Ben Golliver.
kyrie-irving


Kyrie Irving, Duke: 14 points, four rebounds, one assist, two steals, one block

The projected No. 1 pick of the 2011 NBA Draft delighted college and pro basketball fans alike with news that he would make his return to the court during the first round of the NCAA tournament. As Irving hadn't touched the court since December due to a toe injury, the pre-game questions were more about how he would fit in chemistry-wise rather than how polished his play would be after all the time off. 

On both counts Irving's Friday performance was a smashing success, although his fill-up-the-boxscore effort came against much weaker competition. As Irving has nowhere to go but down when it comes to his draft stock, he didn't really show scouts anything he hasn't shown before. However, he did look like his normal self and that's enough for just about everyone. More dimes in the next round will have everyone breathing totally easy once again. For more on Irving, check out this column for CBSSports.com by Eric Angevine.

Harrison Barnes, UNC: 24 points, 16 rebounds, three assists, two steals

The rout was on for North Carolina on day one as they rolled up 102 points en route to hammering Long Island University. Barnes' stat line was impressive but his efficiency wasn't exactly consistent, as he shot 7-9 on two-point field goals while bombing away (errantly) to the tun of 2-10 from downtown. Still, his highlight reel smoothness with the ball in his hands was evident and he compensated for his quick trigger by hitting the glass hard. 

Something to keep an eye on as the tournament progresses: turnovers. Barnes finished with a team-high four on Friday, understandable given it was his first taste of the tournament stage as a freshman. Possessions are a premium at the next level, though, especially for top-flight wing scorers that need touches in volume. 

Derrick Williams, Arizona: 22 points, 10 rebounds, one block

It's safe to say that Williams, a versatile forward, won the highlight of the day as he helped secure a dramatic victory in a back-and-forth game with Memphis by blocking a last-second shot attempt. It was his only block of the night, but plays like that have a way of enduring in the memory, especially if Arizona can mount a bit of a run through their region. 

Williams scored 22 points on just 11 shots, hitting all nine of his free throws and exerting his physical presence against a smaller Memphis team. He showed the ability to finish while taking contact and also stepped out to confidently knock down the only three-pointer that he attempted. He displayed the full offensive arsenal.

For more on Williams, check out CBSSports.com's Eye on College Basketball Blog.

Tristan Thompson, Texas: 17 points, 10 rebounds, seven blocks, one assist

Thompson will almost certainly be a late riser up the NBA mock draft boards this spring as his solid frame, elite timing and aggressive attitude will translate excellently to the pro game. His seven blocks were certainly not by accident, as his long arms and quick springs let him contest and alter shots many other players would simply watch go over their heads.

Thompson essentially traded baskets and rebounds with Oakland senior Keith Benson, a player to whom he gives up three inches of height. Thompson's length and instincts more than make up for his average height for a power forward (6'8") and his ability to get low to establish rebounding position is essential at the next level. His buzz will only grow stronger.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com