Now that we've more or less digested the 2011 NBA Draft, which featured some of the worst team hats I've ever seen, we can turn our eyes to the monster in the corner that has been lurking for over a year. The current CBA deal expires on June 30, so that means the league and players have four days to figure out a way not to undo all the good will they've accumulated this past season. The clock is ticking.
GM Sam Presti offers a few comments on the attributes they saw in Reggie Jackson that convinced them to take the Boston College guard at #24. Talent is nice, but the real test is going to be how Jackson responds once he becomes emersed n the OKC hoops culture where their best players are gym rats.
Mayberry compares Jackson favorably to Russell Westbrook, who was also a bit of a surprise pick when the Thunder drafted him. I can see the comparison hinging on explosiveness and athleticism, but the one thing I liked in watching some footage of Jackson was his ability to stay in control as he operated in the half-court set.
One of the tell-tale signs of a promising young player is his ability to self-correct, and this article points towards Jackson's ability to do just that. You can see that he has a willingness to honestly assess what his limitations are and he has subsequently worked to eliminated them.
Dallas exposed the weakness of both the Heat and Thunder's best players - neither Kevin Durant nor LeBron James have reliable post-up games. Neither did Dirk Nowitzki when he came into the league, and yet he worked at his game to develop one of the more consistent (if unorthodox) post games in the league. I personally think that LeBron has the better physique to develop it, but Durant has better shot-making ability. Regardless, they both have to force themselves to do it if they want to get to the next level of success.
More links after the jump.
No progress, but 50 NBA players showed up at the meeting wearing matching gray t-shirts that said "STAND." Said David Stern of the matching t-shirts:
"They were nicely done."
The man does not blink.
Of course, Stern's brass spheres are not always seen as a good thing. He dances on the edge of a pin when it comes to public sentiment; on the one hand it is good that he projects strong leadership. However, when it comes to negotiation, he does tend to get a bit of the godfather complex.
As if the resume of Timberwolves GM David Kahn couldn't get any weirder, apparently the team failed to do basic due diligence on their 2nd round draft pick Tanguy Ngombo. I think what is most stupefying about all this is the fact that, if you read SB Nation blogs, you already had a good idea that was the case. And still the Wolves blew it.
Dirk got his shot to throw out a first pitch as an NBA champ. Fortunately for him, he did not pull a John Wall. The pitch aside, I have to say that it's a joy to watch Dirk these days. He genuinely looks like the weight of the world has been lifted off his shoulders and he's loving every minute of it.
The guys apply another outstanding acronym (PAWS) to determine which players went to the right teams. By their estimation, the Nuggets came out with the best draft.
Kevin Durant tops the list, edging out LeBron James and Chris Paul. Of special note are two other Thunder players who will be looking to make big jumps next season in their personal statistics.
Blott continues his breakdown of draft night, looking at the disparity between public perception and reality. He re-grades some of the teams' draft grades. Apparently he was not at all impressed with Jan Vesely's girlfriend.
In which Spurs' GM RC Buford is compared favorably to Wolves' GM David Kahn. Shocking, I know.
Jordan Hamilton, the small forward from Texas, saw his draft stock plummet all the way down to the end of the first round, and he has since expressed his opinion that it was in part because of his coach at Texas, Rick Barnes.
The draft is of course the point, but with so much dead air to fill, naturally ESPN has to do a good job to keep people interested. The biggest props went to analysts Jay Bilas and Fran Franschilla, who did a good job conveying lots of information in a short amount of time. The weak spots were (as you can probably guess) the "personalities" who were there to keep the dialogue flowing but mostly came across as excessive.
Beckley Mason offers up some comments from his experience at Draft Night. I thought this was an excellent observation:
This probably shouldn't have surprised me considering that often 21 or 22 year old players are considered "old" for draftees, but I was struck by how green almost all the players in the green room looked. Surrounded by their families, they look less like men ready to reach the pinnacle of their profession, and more like a bunch of kids wearing really really nice suits. It really drove home what a risk picking a 19 year old can be, even if his ceiling is tremendous.
In which draft picks are compared to non-traditional lunch meats. The Thunder choose something called "Worthington Lorma Linda Canned Big Franks," and I'm kind of afraid to look up what exactly that is.
Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov was unanimously named the head of RIght Cause, a political party in Russia.
Right Cause is seen as a Kremlin creation designed to lure opposition-minded, pro-business voters, while building an illusion of competition with the ruling United Russia party ahead December's parliamentary elections.
I get the feeling that Prokhorov's game is slightly more sophisticated than things such as "Brook Lopez Bobble-head Night."
I like this story because 1) it's important to see how kids with physical limitations just want opportunity to be kids, like everyone else; and 2) that the Thunder were not the most important part of the story. Of course it is great when franchises spearhead the way in programs and functions that serve to benefit others, but the truth is they cannot be all things to all people. So in a sense I find it encouraging that in cases like these, the organization just wanted to be involved.