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Tag:Derrick Williams
Posted on: June 24, 2011 12:37 am
Edited on: June 24, 2011 11:20 am
 

2011 NBA Draft Winners and Losers



Posted by Matt Moore

It's all over. After an underwhelming crop of draft choices led to a flurry of trades, the dust has settled and the picks are wearing the right hats, finally. Here are your winners and losers of the 2011 NBA Draft:

Winners

Cleveland Cavaliers: Irving is mostly a case of winning by default, but they wouldn't have been the first team to be unable to get out of their own way with an obvious pick. Irving gives them a franchise point guard to build around and was the best player overall in this draft. Going for Derrick Williams would have been sheer hubris in order to burn LeBron by choosing a replacement forward. Then, with the fourth, they could have opted for Valanciunas, which would have been a good pick. But there's a reason so many teams were chasing Tristan Thompson. His workouts showed how he would translate on the next level, and with that kind of athleticism, he provides a good running partner for Irving. They managed to not overcomplicate the combination of two top-five picks. They got good talent both small and big. That's a win right there.

Washington Wizards: The Wizards very quietly had a terrific draft. First Jan Vesely was available, who fits a need for them at slashing forward. With his athleticism and aggression, he makes a perfect partner to run the break with John Wall. Then, miraculously, Chris Singleton tumbled all the way down to No.18 where the Wizards jumped all over him. Singleton is a lottery talent that fell out of the top 14. He gives the Wizards the ability to move Andray Blatche if they can find a taker for his contract. He can rebound and defend exceptionally well. Singleton's length and athleticism, combined with a chip on his shoulder from dropping, makes him a great pick for the Wizards. Shelvin Mack in the second round was a great value pick for backup point guard.

Charlotte Bobcats: In a day, the Bobcats transformed Stephen Jackson, Shaun Livingston, the No.9 and No.19 into Corey Maggette, Bismack Biyombo, and Kemba Walker. That's a great haul. I've never been big on either of the Bobcats' draft picks, but when you consider the balance between an athletic super-freak who is unrefined and an established winner with limited upside, the Bobcats managed to grab two of the most hyped players in the draft. Biyombo provides length and athleticism to pair with Tyrus Thomas. Walker creates a complication at point guard with D.J. Augustin already being an undersized point guard. But Augustin has never won over the Bobcats organization and Walker will be given every chance to compete for the starting role. If his size issues aren't as much a concern as they've been made out to be, and if his shot creation translates to the next level, the Bobcats have just instantly created their foundation for the future while ditching one of their biggest contracts. A great start for the Cho era in Charlotte. 

Denver Nuggets: Raymond Felton got flipped for Andre Miller's non-guaranteed expiring contract and Jordan Hamilton, one of the steals of the draft who inexplicably fell. This for a guard the Nuggets didn't want in the first place. Oh, yeah, and they nabbed Kenneth Faried, who perfectly fits their needs and is a great value pick where they took him. Masai Ujiri is better than you.


Losers


Minnesota Timberwolves: Yes, again. Williams is a great pick, if they were moving Michael Beasley. Or if they were trading Williams. But David Kahn reportedly says they're not moving Williams. They wasted an opportunity to create more assets by moving either one, and instead, will now bullheadedly try to cram two similar players (three if you count Anthony Randolph) into a spot. It's a messy situation and Kahn should have taken one of the other offers made to him for the pick. Then there's the other trade, which was just a mess all over. They pulled in another Euro center to add to their collection, Brad Miller and his too-long, too-expensive contract, and ditched Jonny Flynn. The only redeeming quality is the future first which may or may not be protected into oblivion. Another sterling night for the Wolves. If Williams turns out to be worthy of the No.2 pick, and count me among the people that think he is, and the Wolves recognize that versus burying him as they did Kevin Love, this can be salvaged. From this vantage point, it doesn't look great. 

Update: Wolves wound up swapping Mirotic for the 28th and 43rd picks from the Bulls, then moved the 28th pick to Miami for the 31st pick, which they then sold as well as the 38th pick which was theirs. They used the 43rd on Malcolm Lee, and then traded for the 57th. While not getting Mirotic is a lot better than drafting him, they did all that and wound up with a first later, Malcolm Lee, and Targuy Ngombo. Not a great haul, there. Saved the boss some cash, though.

Golden State Warriors: How many guards can they need? New head coach Mark Jackson and GM Larry Riley constantly talked about defense. Then the Warriors took a shooter. They haven't moved Monta Ellis, so now on the roster they have Stephen Curry, Monta Ellis, Charlie Bell, Jeremy Lin, Acie Law and Reggie Williams. And they just added Klay Thompson. It was an unnecessary move with bigger players with more defensive presence available. The Warriors have enough talent to not need the best player available. But, again, they opt for the usual. Disappointing.

Portland Trail Blazers: Where did that come from? The Blazers first take a huge reach on Nolan Smith at No.21. Smith had his proponents as the draft got closer, and certainly isn't a terrible pick. But in taking him, they elected to create redundancy after trading too much (Andre Miller and Rudy Fernandez) for Raymond Felton. The result is a reformed back court as the Blazers had promised, but not nearly as good as one you would have thought they could carry with the pieces available. Smith may work out well, but he'll never be starter caliber. And, with as many talented guards as there were late in the draft, taking him was a bit of a shock. Jon Diebler is 6-6 and can shoot. That's about it.  


Individual Winners:


Jan Vesely: Underrated as everyone talked about Kanter and Valanciunas, Vesely not only winds up with a good team fit for himself, but stole the highlight of the night with a kiss on the mouth of his lady friend. Then he said "I like the John Wall game" in his TV interview. Vesely came off incredibly cool for a 21-year-old Euro who can't shoot.

Tristan Thompson: Congratulations, Tristan, you cleared about ten spots in three days! It's a marathon, not a race.

Joe Dumars: Lucks into Brandon Knight. Rodney Stuckey problem: solved.


Individual Losers:


Brandon Knight: Plummeted due to his attitude and wound up in dysfunctional Detroit.

Josh Selby: If there was no age limit to the draft, Selby would have been a top ten pick last year. Now he falls all the way to the second round.

Jordan Hamilton: Something really bad must have been found on Hamilton, medically or otherwise. There was a nineteen-pick differential between Hamilton and a player who has rumors of being older than listed with a back issue and a contract problem. That's not a good look for the Texas ex.
Posted on: June 23, 2011 11:03 pm
Edited on: June 24, 2011 12:07 am
 

NBA Trade: Wolves, Rockets trade Miller, Flynn

Posted by Matt Moore

The Wolves finally did it. They managed to get rid of Jonny Flynn. After months and months of discussion, the unhappy marriage that began in 2009 ends as Ricky Rubio finally dons a Wolves uniform and the other point guard selected is shipped off. 

Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reports:
The Rockets-Wolves deal: JFlynn and No. 20 Montiejunas to Houston for Brad Miller, No. 23 Mirotic and future 1st, sources confirm.
So. Just to review. The Wolves try and move the No.2 for a month. Can't do it. Take Derrick Williams when they have Michael Beasley and Anthony Randolph. Have another top twenty pick when they need talent. And then trade it for another Euro center that likely won't come over, Brad Miller who is nearing the end of his career despite having several years left on contract, and a future 1st. Maybe the 1st will be good. 

Meanwhile, the Rockets have acquired a point guard no one wanted, who they are now reportedly trying to trade, when the have both Kyle Lowry and Goran Dragic. And they surrendered a future first rounder just to get rid of Brad Miller who was a mistake to sign last summer, and Montiejunas. 

The Rockets struggled defensively last season without Yao Ming and desperately need a center to bring toughness. So naturally they've traded for Motiejunas whose biggest questions were toughness and effort. It's not that Motiejunas lacks upside, he's got great range and scoring ability. But his questions defensively more than outweigh the good elements, which is why he plummeted out of the lottery and all the way to No.20. But the Rockets needed a center, and they got one.

Winner: We'll give it to the Rockets, only because they managed to take in less money and Motiejunas might surprise. It's neck and neck though.

Loser: Let's say it's the Wolves. Mirotic might be great and the future first is nice, but they have Milicic and Pekovic, and now Miller and his money. An odd trade all around.
Posted on: June 23, 2011 10:29 pm
Edited on: June 23, 2011 10:52 pm
 

2011 NBA Draft: Top 10 Analysis

Here's a rundown of all of our analysis on the top ten picks of the 2011 NBA Draft.

No.1: Cavaliers select Kyrie Irving, PG, Duke University

Irving has been the top pick since last summer and despite a brief dip after his injury in the winter, he returned to the top spot in a flurry of offensive firepower in the NCAA tournament. Irving gives Cleveland not just an athletic playmaking point guard with a jumper, but a franchise quality player with a humble attitude and great basketball IQ.

The question will be who the Cavs will build around Irving. Anderson Varejao is rumored to be being moved and with the No. 4 pick is expected to be used on a big man such as Jonas Valanciunas or Enes Kanter if available. Irving will function as both scorer and distributor for the team. He volunteered for a thorough physical to remove doubts about his toe and has been completely cleared.

Irving's closest comparison is Chris Paul, though he's not the player Paul was when he was drafted. Still, Irving is described by nearly every analyst as "special" and the kind of player the Cavs needed to get in order to kick off their rebuilding project. Landing the top pick with the lottery selection they got in a trade of Mo Williams to the Clippers, Irving represents what the Cavaliers hopes will be a change of luck for a notoriously fate-challenged franchise.

Irving's athleticism isn't of Calipari-point-guard caliber, but he also has a polished jumper and excellent vision. He's not elite at the level of John Wall, but he does have a great overall mix of abilities. Derrick Williams would have been a solid choice here, but Irving was simply the best player available. The question will be if he will reflect the overall quality of this draft, or if he truly is their franchise player to help rebuild the broken kingdom LeBron James left behind.

No. 2: Minnesota Timberwolves select Derrick Williams, F, Arizona

After weeks of posturing and talking, the Minnesota Timberwolves ended up doing pretty much what we all expected them to do: They drafted Derrick Williams from Arizona.

(Now, before I really get into this, keep in mind the Wolves could very well trade Williams later. Maybe by the end of the night, maybe tomorrow. Just want to get that out there.)

I think everyone agrees that the second best player in this draft was Williams, with some even seeing him as maybe the best. So to take him second overall makes sense. What didn't make sense for the Wolves, and the reason they shopped the pick so hard, is how Williams fits within the already jumbled roster David Kahn has assembled. It makes sense to move Michael Beasley now and clear room for Williams to play. But if that doesn't happen, the Wolves rotation is a total mess of raw talent without any rhyme or reason.

Which is what makes the most sense. A core of Ricky Rubio, Kevin Love and Williams isn't a bad trio. Love and Williams are a bit similar and with Williams kind of being a tweener forward, there could be some awkwardness in the two fitting together, but you have to go with him here.

It still makes a lot of sense for the Wolves to move Williams if a deal comes along, but for now, the idea is for Kahn to clear out the clutter a bit and really let his core of young, talented players take over. That's how the Thunder built around Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and at the same, Jeff Green. Those guys had room to fail, then grow and most importantly, develop. Give Williams and company room to breathe and the Wolves might eventually start to make some progress.

In all honesty, Williams may have the most star power of any player in this draft. Love is a very good player -- an All-Star. But I'm not sure he's a true building block star that can carry you. Williams very well might be. He shot 57 percent from 3-point range last season, can play above the rim and score the ball. It's a question of his defense at the next level and a question of where he plays.

There was talk of Enes Kanter at No. 2 as well, but that would've been a copout "fit" pick. Not necessarily a bad selection, but when you're the Wolves, you can't afford to potentially miss out on a star player. Williams was the obvious choice, and the right one.

Now we've just got to see if they hang on to him.

No. 3: Utah Jazz select Enes Kanter, F/C, Kentucky

In a lot of ways, the Jazz sort of held the keys to this draft. What direction were they going to go and where would the chips all fall behind them? Well, they went the direction of Enes Kanter and not Brandon Knight.

Not necessarily a surprise, but a month ago, that definitely wasn't a sure direction for Utah. Kanter is a true center, a 6-11 post player with soft hands and a good touch. Which is what they already have in Al Jefferson.

How does Kanter fit alongside Paul Millsap and Jefferson? We'll see. But it's hard to turn down a player of his caliber in that spot, especially when the Jazz had another pick to use in the lottery. Taking Knight made a lot of sense in a lot of ways, but now the Jazz can fill that spot later on down.

The Jazz are looking at a bit of a rebuild with this roster and in order to do that, you have to take talent. Kanter's got that. He's a bit of a mystery as he didn't play at all at Kentucky, but he was a top college recruit, was excellent in Turkey and by all accounts, will translate well to the NBA.

No. 4: Cleveland Cavaliers select Tristan Thompson, F, University of Texas

Tristan Thompson had made a meteoric rise throughtout the late draft season.  He went from being a mid-teens pick all the way to the fourth pick. His length and size started to catch eyes in the combine and in workouts. His frame and body give him the ability to out-muscle other players, which is rare in a draft low on size. 

Cleveland now has a power forward to pair with Kyrie Irving. The other option, Jonas Valanciunas, won't be available until 2012. Thompson can make an immediate impact. Defensively Thompson's got good ability as well. There are questions about his touch and face-up game, but he showed enough in workouts to convince GMs... like Chris Grant, obviously.

This may have been a reach, but in a weak draft this fills a need. With a surefire lock in Irving, the Cavaliers were able to gamble on who they thought was the best big in this draft. The question will be how he translates to the NBA and if he can put some polish on the raw athletic game he brings off the bat.

The question now turns to whether the Cavs will trade J.J. Hickson, who disappointed last season and who rumors said clashed with Byron Scott. Hickson will likely gather interest on the open market.

No. 5: Toronto Raptors select Jonas Valanciunas, C, Lietuvos Rytas

There were a lot of directions for the Raptors to go with the fifth pick. Bismack Biyombo, Brandon Knight and Kemba Walker were all talked about in this spot.

But with the cards falling where they did, the Raptors simply couldn't pass up an upside player in Jonas Valanciunas. Bryan Colangelo loves himself some international players and Valanciunas was the highest ranked international on the board. Really, it's a match made in heaven.

He probably won't be able to help Toronto next season -- if there is a next season -- as Valanciunas has a complicated buyout to settle that will likely keep him in Europe another season. Which honestly, is probably a good thing. Valanciunas needs more seasoning, needs a little more weight to his frame and a little bit of time to mature and progress.

It's good that the Raptors realize that rebuilding takes time. Instead of trying to land someone that helps now, the Raptors elected to stay patient and hope that Valanciunas can develop into a post presence alongside Andrea Bargnani. Some see Valanciunas as a young Pau Gasol, which might not be a good thing though. The Raps are extremely soft inside and if Valanciunas is going to play with Bargnani, he's going to have to toughen up a bit. He's extremely young and as they say, has that whole upside thing working for him.

Which is what Toronto is banking on.

No. 6: Washington Wizards select Jan Vesely, F, Parizan Belgrade

So the rumors were true. Aggressive. Athletic. Raw. Not the terms usually used with a Euro, but Vesely is not the usual type of Euro. Vesely shows a rare  combination of fierceness in attacking the rim. 

Vesely joins John Wall as a running mate on the break. With the ability to rebound and defend, Vesely has an underrated post game. He knows how to finish in traffic and yes, he's going to make a ton of highlight reels. It matches perfectly with the direction of the Wizards. 

The question will be if Vesely's lack of a jumpshot, comined with Andray Blatche's Blatche-like-ness and JaVale McGee's lack of touch makes for too raw of a front court. Also, should Vesely wind up as a PF at 6-11, things would get crowded down low for the Wiz. As long as the team is going  young and athletic, though, this is a great choice, and Flip Saunders should be able to get a ton out of this kind of weapon.

For all the talk of Kanter, Valanciunas, and Biyombo,Vesely has a decent chance of being the Euro steal of this draft.

Also, upon getting drafted, Vesely's very attractive lady friend planted a huge kiss on him, and later Vesely told ESPN: "I like the John Wall game." Pure Euro gangster.

No. 7: Charlotte Bobcats (from Sacramento Kings) select Bismack Biyombo, F/C, Congo 

The Kings picking seventh, completed a three-way trade with the Bobcats and it was for Charlotte to move up for Biyombo.

What are they getting with the great unknown from Congo? A defensive presence, an athlete and someone that has a lot of room to improve. They aren't getting someone that can score. They aren't getting someone that's going to be part of any offensive set they have. A lot of people have compared Biyombo to Ben Wallace and that's probably pretty accurate.

There are questions about Biyombo's real age, a potential buyout complication and if he really is as good as he showed in a couple showcases. A few months ago, he was a total unknown. But he wowed scouted and GMs in Portland, didn't look great in workouts but because of an ability to change games defensively, Biyombo went high in the lottery.

How does he fit in? I don't think he's a starter from day one, but with Tyrus Thomas alongside in that frontline, the Bobcats definitely have some jumpers. They've got athletes. Biyombo said he thinks he can lead the league in rebounding and blocks, which is what the Cats are looking for. They could've looked for an offensive impact player, but Michael Jordan and new GM Rich Cho are defensive minded people, and Biyombo fits right in with that.

No. 8: Detroit Pistons select Brandon Knight, PG, Kentucky

Most projections didn't have Brandon Knight slipping, but he fell right into Detroit's lap eighth. I suppose Joe Dumars said, "We've got to go best available here."

Because just a week ago, the Pistons extended a qualifying offer to Rodney Stuckey who is a yonug, talented point guard that by all appearances, is part of the process with the Pistons. Now, they've got two talented young point guards.

The feeling was that Detroit would go big and liked Bismack Biyombo. But with him coming off the board a pick earlier to the Bobcats, the Pistons had to weight their options. And it was a best available situation and Knight was best available.

Potentially, there's a chance that the Pistons could move the pick elsewhere to someone for Knight. They were involved in a lot of talks leading up to the draft and I'm sure there's a team that was eyeing Knight that could be willing to make a play for him. Knowing the Pistons' situation, offers will probably come in. And maybe Detroit is open to moving their pick.

If not, Detroit's got a young, solid point guard to work with. That's a roster that needs some talent and some youth. There were other options there that might've been a better fit (Kawhi Leonard, Chris Singleton, Klay Thompson) but Detroit couldn't say no to Knight.

We'll see what happens next.

No. 9: Charlotte Bobcats select Kemba Walker, PG, UConn

So... I guess D.J. Augustin didn't show enough last year? Augustin had a career season and looked to be developing nicely, but instead the Bobcats took an undersized scoring point guard who is more of a scorer rather than a distributor. That makes sense.

It's not a terrible pick, especially when paired with their seventh pick in Bismack Biyombo. The Cats have two fairly big reach rookies, and the odds are that one of the two will work out. Either Biyombo's insane athleticism or Kemba's will to win will make them special players, if both of them don't succeed. Meanwhile, Augustin has to go on the trade block, and with Corey Maggette now on roster, the Bobcats will have a lot of shots coming from the back court starting next season... whenever that is.

Walker's defensive questions are considerable considering his size, but there's no denying his pedigree. If Biyombo was the pure athleticsm, pure tangibles selection, then Walker is the opposite, the pure-polish, pure-intangibles lock. He brings a fierceness that owner Michael Jordan is obvioiusly drawn to, and with his pedigree, he'll help the ticket sales department. Walker's translation to the NBA isn't a sure thing, but his popularity and resume is. 

The freak of nature and the unconquerable hero. Not a bad haul for Rich Cho's first draft.

No. 10 Sacramento Kings (from Milwaukee Bucks) select Jimmer Fredette

It's officially Jimmer Time, Sacramento.

The feeling earlier today when the Kings moved back to 10th in a three-way trade that also brought them John Salmons was that they had Jimmer Fredette in mind.

They got him.

The questions with Jimmer obviously start with his defense and where he'll play. But with the Kings moving Beno Udrih and basically committing to Tyreke Evans off the ball at shooting guard, Jimmer will likely start from day one at point guard in Sacramento. In reality, that's a pretty fun, dynamic backcourt in Evans and Fredette.

What kind of pro will Jimmer be though? Is he good with becoming a Steve Nash pass-first type of player or does he want to keep scoring and firing long distance shots? Jimmer is the type of player though that's willing to fit in. He's coachable, smart and has the ability to learn. Can he guard Derrick Rose? Can he guard Russell Westbrook? Heck, can he guard guys like Jose Calderon and Derek Fisher? We'll have to see.

But the Kings have added some punch and some excitement to the roster. With Jimmer, Evans, Marcus Thornton and DeMarcus Cousins, they've got a pretty exciting young core of talent.

Now, can they win? Jimmer will bring a bit of excitement and energy to a fanbase that needs it as the Kings hang on for dear life in Sacramento. But that near car smell will wear off quickly if the team doesn't start winning. Jimmer will bring a little jolt of excitement, but ultimately, winning is what really gets people buying tickets.

And that's what the Kings drafted Jimmer to do.
Posted on: June 23, 2011 10:46 am
 

2011 NBA Draft LiveChat and Experience

Join us starting at 1PM EST for a marathon NBA Draft LiveChat and Experience, coming to you from Newark, NJ at the site of the NBA Draft. We'll have our NBA bloggers sharing the latest news and taking your questions. We'll also have guest appearances from our college basketball experts at 2PM EST, and we'll talk NFL and labor news at 3PM EST. We'll be talking draft all the live-long day. As the day goes on you'll get the live experience from Ben Golliver who's on the scene of the draft sharing audio, video, and images from the draft. Join us, starting at 1PM EST!

 
Posted on: June 22, 2011 10:42 pm
Edited on: June 22, 2011 10:55 pm
 

Derrick Williams: Compare me to Dirk, not LeBron

Arizona forward Derrick Williams distances himself from LeBron James but welcomes a comparison to Dirk Nowitzki. Posted by Ben Golliver. derrick-williams

NEW YORK, N.Y. -- Derrick Williams would rather be compared to Dirk Nowitzki than LeBron James.
 
In one of the most interesting scenes from Wednesday's NBA Draft media availability at the Westin in Times Square, Williams, a forward out of Arizona who is expected to be the second player selected in Thursday's 2011 NBA Draft, went out of his way to repeatedly distance himself from James.

Williams, who averaged 19.5 points and 8.3 rebounds for the Wildcats as a sophomore, has done this through the pre-draft process any time someone asks him what it would like to be taken by the Cleveland Cavaliers with the first overall pick. Clearly, there will be a huge burden that goes with filling James' sneakers after he abandoned the Cavaliers to team up with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh for the Miami Heat. The storyline takes on added emphasis in Williams' case because he throws down his fair share of highlight reel dunks and because he wore No. 23 -- the number James wore for the Cavaliers -- at Arizona.

"I don’t want to be LeBron, I don’t want to be anything like it," Williams said bluntly. "Whoever gets picked at the No. 1 spot, that’s what the city is going to be looking for. ‘The Next LeBron.’ If they pick me, I don’t want to be labeled next to him. He’s going to go down as one of the top 25 best players to ever play the game. I’m not trying to be like him. I just want to go out and play my game like I’ve been doing my whole career."

While Duke University point guard Kyrie Irving is the favorite to be selected No. 1 overall, Williams told the media that they shouldn't count him out yet.

"I think there’s always a chance," he said. "We’ll never know until that draft pick comes. One or two, it’s an amazing feeling."

As Wednesday developed, "one or two" started to sound less and less like a guarantee. The Minnesota Timberwolves hold the No. 2 pick and are reportedly shopping the pick hard while also giving consideration to Turkish big man Enes Kanter. Williams is considered a clear-cut top two player in this draft by most talent evaluators, but the Timberwolves already have forward Michael Beasley in place, who shares some similarities with Williams in that he is a combination forward who is a versatile scoring threat.

"Me and Mike Beasley probably play a little similar," Williams admitted. "I probably like to shoot a little bit more than him. On the advantage side of that, it’s hard to guard two guys that similar. You rarely have two guys that play similar on the same team."

It's unclear whether having two players who both need touches on the same team with Kevin Love would actually be an advantage or a disadvantage. At least it's clear Williams has given some more thought to questions about his position.

Soon after the Draft Lottery, Williams began steadfastedly maintaining that he is a small forward, even though his body -- 6-foot-9, 250 pounds -- and his college résumé pegs him as at least a stretch power forward, if not an undersized four. On Wednesday, he seemed to concede that his game probably isn't as clear cut as he might have wanted to make it. 

"I don’t want to be labeled as one position," Williams said. "My whole life I’ve been labeled as multiple positions and multiple spots on the offensive and defensive side. 

"There are so many types of different players these days. You look at Dirk Nowitzki, he’s a four but he’s never in the post, he’s on the wing. Lamar Odom, he’s a combo four. Hybrid fours like Antawn Jamison. I think I fit well in this league."

It's strange to hear a high-flyer like Williams compare himself to Nowitzki, and that's probably wishful thinking. There's only one Nowitzki. Physically, the two don't have similar body types and Williams definitely doesn't have Nowitzki's array of jumpers. The Odom and Jamison combinations fit a little better.

Williams knows that regardless of what position he plays, defined or not, he has an adjustment coming. "There’s a lot of bigger guys on the court. Strength-wise, I would probably say that [is my biggest fear]," Williams said. "Just not being as big as everybody else. At the college level I was bigger than most guys. I can’t use that to my strength now.

In this, Williams, who won't fall past the Utah Jazz at No. 3, is correct. If he's worried about his strength at the NBA level, he definitely shouldn't be compared to James.

Posted on: June 22, 2011 7:50 pm
Edited on: June 22, 2011 7:59 pm
 

Kanter back on the Wolves' board?

Posted by Matt Moore

I thought we had this settled. The Wolves were not going to take Kanter, it was down to Derrick Williams or a trade, and all was right the world. Well, chaos has just been reintroduced, potentially. 

ESPN reports:
Late Tuesday night, sources told ESPN.com that the Wolves were strongly considering taking Enes Kanter with the No. 2 pick.
via Wolves considering Kanter at No. 2? - TrueHoop Blog - ESPN.

Kanter would actually make a lot of sense. It doesn't create the logjam at SF for the Wolves after they used assets to acquire Michael Beasley and Anthony Randolph, and while Darko Milicic has been serviceable... he's still Darko. Ricky Rubio with Love and Kanter means they just need to find perimeter weapons and they're set, with Wes Johnson a definite maybe at one spot.

But hold on there, fellows and fellowettes. From Ken Berger of CBSSports.com:
If Minnesota is unsuccessful in procuring a veteran star for the second pick, sources said the Wolves are comfortable selecting Arizona's Derrick Williams, who team officials strongly believe will be on the board after the Cavaliers select Duke point guard Kyrie Irving.
via Draft buzz: Nash, Smoove, and more - CBSSports.com.

ESPN also backed off on the Kanter talk today, saying it might be a smokescreen.  If it is, you have to wonder if the Wolves realize that if you leak a hundred things (as they've been rumored in talks with everyone except the Harlem Globetrotters, Manchester United and the New York Giants' cheerleading squad), it doesn't make what you're doing seem mysterious and unknowable. It just makes you seem like you don't know what in the holy name of Garnett you're doing. 

Kanter makes the most sense, so I'd steer clear of that pick as a selection for the Wolves. Much better to go with the player they don't want or need or their continued pursuit for a veteran star to pair with the Wolves who David Kahn says is done rebuilding. In truth? The Wolves likely won't know what they're doing until the call is made to Newark Thursday night.
Posted on: June 22, 2011 7:31 pm
Edited on: June 22, 2011 7:49 pm
 

Report: Odom offered for Wolves' No. 2 in draft

Posted by Matt Moore



For the last week, rumors have been floated about Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum being involved in trade talks by the Lakers. Every scenario has been shot down from one side or another and the pretty constant refrain has been that those two are not on the table for L.A., as they want to continue to compete for a championship. Yup, pretty clear those guys aren't going anywhere. 

Lost in all this was the question of whether Lamar Odom was on the table. According to the L.A. Times, he is.  
The Lakers tried to move up in Thursday's NBA draft by offering forward Lamar Odom to Minnesota for the Timberwolves' No. 2 overall pick, but Minnesota turned them down, according to two NBA officials who were not authorized to speak publicly about the trade talks. The Lakers wanted to use the No. 2 pick to select Arizona's forward Derrick Williams, the officials said.
via Lakers offer of Lamar Odom for No. 2 pick in NBA draft rejected by Timberwolves - latimes.com.

The apparent interest from the Lakers in Williams is somewhat confusing. Williams is not considered an out-of-this-world lock, he's not even the top player in the draft. He's older, and it's unclear if he'd fit in with the kind of alpha dog mentality he'd have to face from Kobe Bryant. On the flip side, it may show a dedication to keeping the Lakers relevant beyond just the current team's run, as Williams would inherit the team from Bryant just as Bryant inherited... okay, won the team in a cage match with Shaq. It would be very Lakers-like to turn a supporting component like Odom into next decade's star player just as the current team fades into a lesser state due to age.

But so far, it hasn't been enough. The Wolves were the one to reportedly reject the trade, because they feel Odom's a power forward and that position is committed to Kevin Love. Why they wouldn't employ Odom as a small forward in given situations is a little baffling, but again, it's the Wolves. You glean what you can.

Still, Odom being on the block means there have been rumors about all three of the Lakers' primary frontcourt assets. As much as the Lakers keep selling the idea that it's buisness as usual and they're in no rush to remake the team through a trade, the grapevine tells a different story.
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.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com