When the Last Time

We haven’t posted anything in quite some time, so I thought it would make sense to run down some basketball happenings from around the country. Most of these nuggets have some bearing on our favorite teams, but in reality this post just allows me to say I put something up without actually writing a coherent article. It’s like I’m Bill Simmons or something. Without further ado:

Roy Hibbert Pulls Out of Draft, Owns NCAA
Georgetown center Roy Hibbert, a junior, decided to pull out of the NBA Draft last week. My initial reaction was that this choice seems a bit nonsensical given that he was likely going to get picked in the top 10, but closer analysis proves that this was probably a smart decision. First, not that many top 10 teams need a center. Discounting Portland and Seattle, who will take Oden and Durant, of course, Minnesota and Sacramento appear to be the most likely candidates to take a five, but those teams have other needs and quite possibly could have passed on Hibbert. As such, there was no guarantee that he would go in the first round.

Second, Hibbert is going to rock the entire NCAA next year. In the Big East, UConn’s Hasheem Thabeet is probably best qualified to match up with him in the post, but Thabeet is extremely raw. In the nation, few players have the tools to best Hibbert. If you remember back a few months ago, Hibbert had minor trouble with Oden in the Final Four, but that was Greg Oden. Point being that Hibbert should have no trouble dominating his opponents next year, meaning that he will likely find himself the top big man chosen in what looks like a mediocre draft for posts. Good call Roy.

As for the Warriors and Lakers, Hibbert’s move means that they’ll each have one less player to pick from at 18 and 19, respectively, as there was no way Roy was going to last that long. Bummer.

Brandon Rush Pulls Out of Draft
This decision to stay in college, on the other hand, probably shows why Brandon had a less than easy time qualifying out of high school. Rush is undoubtedly one of the best perimeter defenders in the nation, but he’s somewhat limited athletically (i.e. not a stud). Given those talents, he was likely to go somewhere in the last half of the first round this year, although reports varied on exactly where that would be. Of course, Rush is probably going to be the same kind of player next year, and it’s unlikely that he will improve his stock much (see Afflalo, Aaron c. 2006). Expect some playoff team to draft Brandon in 2008, with the expectation that he’ll be a solid role player for many years in this league.

More bad news here for our teams. Rush actually had a decent chance to go to either Golden State or LA, and I think he would have helped both clubs quite a bit. The Warriors need one or five more defenders, and the Lakers need anyone with a pulse on either side of the ball.

Update: It turns out Brandon Rush tore his ACL and will miss something around six months. This is obviously a very good reason to pull out of the draft, rendering my whole first paragraph stupid. All of us at Plissken wish Brandon well in his recovery.

The NBA Playoffs Still Exist, Apparently
The conference finals are in full swing, although you wouldn’t know it if you actually watched the games; these things barely hold my interest more than a meaningless regular season game between the same teams. But, I guess they’re still important, so we wouldn’t be worth anything as an NBA blog if we didn’t at least touch on the subject.

Let’s start with the West, where the Spurs hold a predictable 3-1 lead on the Jazz. I must confess that this series is actually more interesting than I thought it would be, although that’s mostly because of the first two games, in which San Antonio completely dominated Utah. Spurs games are much more exciting to me in blowout form, likely because in close games I always feel like Duncan et al. are just forestalling the eventual outcome of a Spurs win because they feel like. In blowouts, though, they look like a mechanical beast steamrolling the competition, and seeing them embrace their nature as coldhearted killers just feels right. Let’s have some more of that in Game 5.

The Pistons-Cavs series, like all of the Eastern Conference, has featured some absolutely dogshit basketball, the kind of stuff you expect to see in a January game between Oklahoma St. and Texas Tech. As far as I can tell, no one on the Cavs other than LeBron would get starter’s minutes for any Western playoff team, and the Pistons look incapable of winning any game in this series by more than five points. This one is really only interesting when LBJ plays either awfully or wonderfully, and even then those performances won’t really mean much if they lose until we can situate them in the eventual LeBron Narrative.

Kobe Kinda Sorta Demands Zeke from Cabin Creek
A few days ago, Kobe said that he would demand a trade if Dr. Buss didn’t bring in Jerry West to make all personnel decisions, but now it seems he’s rescinded those comments. I should probably let my associate Carter handle this issue in greater depth, but I think Kobe’s gripes with Kupchak are completely legitimate: the dude hasn’t done much to make this team better (like drafting project centers in the top 10 when he has the best player in the NBA in his prime) and I can't think of any great moves he's made (several good ones, though).

(In an earlier version of this post, I underrated West as a GM because I forgot about a lot of his pre-Shaq moves. Apologies.)

As far as trading Kobe, I often say that the Lakers should at least consider it, if only to see what they could get, but that’s a topic for another time.


Ben Q. Rock said...

I don't know whether to be happy or sad that I'm not the only person not watching the playoffs. It seems like the Pistons and the Spurs are only delaying the inevitable rematch. I don't see either team scoring more than 79 points in a single game in the Finals. Is that something I want to be a part of? No, no it is not.

Ty Keenan said...

I actually have been watching most of each of the games, just not with the same fervor as before. I'm sure I'll watch the Finals and yell at the screen some.