This article is part of our The Give and Go series.
Subject: Give and Go
Date: March 25, 2008 7:50 AM PDT
First things first -- how are your brackets? Sadly, I had Pittsburgh and Georgetown in the Final Four, so my chances of finishing in the money are very similar to the Knicks' chances of making the playoffs.
I stand behind my Georgetown pick... but the Pitt selection, in retrospect, was pretty dumb. If I had factored in the "seven man rotation" factor and the "sent to Denver" factor, I might have realized that they'd be absolutely dead on their feet mid-way through the second half of their second game... which, of course, is what happened.
Now that you've had a chance to actually see some college ballers this year, anyone jump out at you as an NBA prospect?
That aside, there are two big NBA stories on all the back pages -- Dirk Nowitzki's injury and Donnie Walsh's job status.
Not much to say about Nowitzki that I didn't already say in this week's Barometer -- I love Brandon Bass as a short-term pickup in every fantasy format, and I think there's a very real possibility that the Mavs will fall out of the playoff picture. Agree? Disagree?
As for Donnie Walsh... as I wrote on my blog last week, I was really beginning to think Walsh was just using the Knicks to secure a better deal from the Pacers. (Actually, I'm not convinced that wasn't the case -- it may be that it just didn't work.) Now most of the NBA press is reporting that Walsh will take a job at Madison Square Garden any day now.
You think he's the right man for the job? He has an excellent reputation -- but the Pacers haven't exactly been the picture of stability over the last several seasons. Would you rather have him running your team, or one of the other oft-mentioned candidates -- a Kiki Vanderweghe or Jerry Colangelo or -- dare I suggest it -- Jerry West?
Personally, I'm a Colangelo guy. Jerry West, it has been reported, hates New York -- at best, hiring the Logo means giving an NBA legend one more payday... but the Knicks just did that with Isiah Thomas.
I'm not sure what Kiki did to merit the reputation he seems to have as a front-office guy, aside from having 'Melo fall into his lap. Tell me again where he drafted Nikoloz Tskitishvili? Fifth overall? In a draft where Amare Stoudemire went ninth and Caron Butler 10th?
Actually, a lot of guys would like a do-over in that draft... after Yao Ming (1st) Stoudemire and Butler there's a whole lot of "unfulfilled potential" in the top of that draft.
Jay Williams (out of the NBA - bad motorcycle accident)
Tskitishvili (out of the NBA - wasn't very good)
Dajuan Wagner (out of the NBA - medical problems)
That's what, three all-stars, one or two solid starters (Gooden, Dunleavy), one solid rotation player (Wilcox) and a lot of ugly. Or am I being unfair?
Subject: Re: Give and Go
Date: March 26, 2008 2:01 AM PDT
I've got three brackets, and they're doing okay. I had Clemson making the Sweet 16 in all of them, and that's not good, but besides that they're mostly intact. I went with Yahoo Sports' Brad Evans' advice and took Kansas to win two of them, so that's really the key. Two of my pools are pretty small - 20 people or less - so only the final four and winners matter. When you have 250 people in your pool, then you have to get almost everything right to win - unless you picked some random three seed to win the whole thing and they do. It's funny because I always mock Evans for losing every bet we made in Vegas last year, but this year he's been on the money so far, even calling Davidson his big sleeper a month ago.
To be honest, I haven't done much scouting or even as much watching as I'd like. Just been crazed with baseball drafts and other nonsense. And since I live half a block from Venice Beach now, I've been trying to spend more time outdoors when I can. The other problem is that they televise random games based on region, and unlike the last five years when I've been in Vegas for March Madness, you can't tune in to whichever one you want - or watch them all at once.
I did see Darren Collison take over for UCLA down the stretch against Texas A&M, but I wonder if he's too small to be much of a factor in the NBA. What about you? Whose stock do you see rising?
As for Walsh, it looks like he's not taking the job after all
To be honest, I don't care who gets the job - as long as it's somebody other than Isiah running the team, I'm fine. I'd probably rank them Colangelo, Walsh, West, Vanderweghe, but really I'm just longing for the day when the Knicks aren't a laughingstock. Could you imagine if the Knicks were a serious team again, and our government was doing its job? Impossible, I know.
By the way, I love looking back at old NBA drafts. Some of them like 1999 were just loaded with talent (Elton Brand, Steve Francis, Baron Davis, Lamar Odom, Wally Szczerbiak, Rip Hamilton, Andre Miller, Shawn Marion and Jason Terry were nine of the first 10 picks). Who was the big bust, you ask? Jonathan Bender at No. 5 - drafted by Toronto but acquired by the aforementioned Walsh. Of course, Bender might also have been a star were it not for bum knees, so I'm not sure you can say that's a black mark on Walsh.
So yes, the Tskitishvili draft was pretty ugly. But still a terrible pick. Do you think the 2007 draft will eventually live up to the hype and come close to 1999's draft? Or are players like Corey Brewer, Jeff Green, Yi Jianlian and Mike Conley merely destined to be roster filler?
Subject: Give and Go
Date: March 26, 2008 7:10 AM PDT
Based on what I've seen in the tournament, I really like Brook Lopez of Stanford. Has legit size, really polished post moves and a bit of a nasty streak. I imagine he'll make a very good NBA player.
NBADraft.net has him all the way up to number three overall now.
The guy that concerns me size-wise is D.J. Augustine.
As for the Knicks, the papers here are reporting it as a more-or-less done deal, and suggesting that we may have some sort of announcement this week. The big concern that keeps getting reported is the idea that Thomas might be retained as head coach -- which, frankly, wouldn't surprise me. (But then my expectations for the New York franchise are pretty low at this point.)
Speaking of which, I don't like to talk about the '99 draft... for "French Guys Who Got Posterized by Vince Carter" reasons.
I think there are a lot of good-to-very-good players from the 2007 draft that have yet to emerge... a lot of teams took guys that they knew might take a little while to emerge, even at the top of the draft. Conley is one example... Noah. Brandan Wright. Spencer Hawes. Thaddeus Young. Aaron Afflalo. Wilson Chandler. Aaron Brooks. They all went to teams where they'd be stuck behind veterans, at least initially, and we're really just starting to see what they can do.
Don't underestimate the transition from China to the USA when looking at Jianlian -- remember, Yao Ming didn't exactly dominate in his first season either. For a good portion of this season, Jianlian was one of the most productive rookies in the league, but he's got stiff competition at his position from Charlie Villanueva, he hit the "rookie wall" pretty hard, and then he got hurt.
Also too early to judge Brewer, Green -- and Kevin Durant, for that matter. How much can you really tell about a player on a team that bad? Though I'd be happier with Brewer if he hits the weight room pretty hard in the offseason -- it's hard to imagine him ever becoming a major factor at 6-9 and 185.
Subject: Re: Give and Go
Date: March 26, 2008 11:34 PM PT
I'm not saying that we can call Brewer or Jianlian or Green busts just yet, but for example, the Rookie of the Year debate is pretty underwhelming - Durant has been okay on a terrible team, Horford has been pretty good on a mediocre one and Luis Scola has been a key role player on a pretty good one. But Brandon Roy in 2006-07, I'd argue, would win over any of the three.
And in 1999, Brand averaged 20 a game right out of the gate, and Francis got 18. Of course, the rest of the future stars in that class took a couple years to get going. Still, I expected more from this year's class, even after Oden went down.
Article first appeared on 3/26/08