Chad Ford has a list of all the players he anticipates going pro, the 50/50 guys and the unlikelies: “Last year at this time, Derrick Rose said he’d definitely be returning to Memphis. He’s now finishing his rookie season with the Chicago Bulls. The general rule is that if a player is projected as a lottery pick, his chances of declaring for the draft are very high. Of course, nothing is a given. Most recently, Blake Griffin decided to stay in school last year even though he was projected as a top-three pick in the 2008 draft. This year could see similar decisions. The draft class is weak, and a number of the top prospects aren’t ready for the NBA and really could use another year of college basketball. College underclassmen and international players who will be 22 years old or younger at the end of this year have until April 26 to declare themselves eligible for the NBA draft. Last year, 69 underclassmen and 22 international players initially declared for the draft. But by the time of the draft in June, most of the players had withdrawn. In the end, 38 underclassmen and five international players kept their names in the draft.”
And he’s also got some comments about who’s hot in the tourney and who’s not: ”Not: Once again, Thabeet is proving that just because you’re 7-foot-3 and taller than anyone else in college basketball doesn’t mean you’ll be making a huge impact on the floor. UConn largely ignored him on offense during its rout of Texas A&M on Saturday. Against Texas A&M’s strong front line, Thabeet took two shots in the game, grabbed six boards and watched Jeff Adrien do all the work down low. That’s not the type of performance you really want to see in the tournament from a possible top-10 pick.”
Bill Simmons writes about the statistical revolution and it’s deficiencies: “The Spurs won their past two titles by surrounding a Tim Duncan-Manu Ginobili-Tony Parker nucleus with role players who didn’t care about numbers, rarely made mistakes and wouldn’t dare challenge the pecking order. Yes, Carmelo Anthony was a significantly better basketball player than Bruce Bowen between 2005 and 2007; Bowen was a better fit for the Spurs. That team didn’t need another scorer. It needed a top-notch defender and agitator who knew his place. Our current batch of public numbers can’t measure Bowen’s impact in that role. Maybe those numbers exist somewhere, but who knows?”
The LA Times previewing tonight’s game: “Oklahoma City has actually been playing better than its 20-50 record indicates, winning seven of the last 12 games, many of them without leading scorer Kevin Durant, who recently returned from an ankle injury. After the Thunder’s 97-90 victory against Minnesota on Sunday, Coach Scott Brooks told reporters that former UCLA guard Russell Westbrook was “as good as any rookie in the league right now.” Westbrook is averaging 15.8 points, five assists and 4.8 rebounds for the Thunder. Second-year forwards Durant and Jeff Green are averaging 26 points and 17.1 points, respectively. “They’re a team that has a great future ahead of them,” Jackson said. “They lose a lot of their games close.”
Paul Forrester of Sports Illustrated writes about how it is difficult to project how a college player will do in the NBA: “Defense. “If you don’t give an effort at the top college level, it’s probably not going to transfer to our league,” the scout said. “A lot of college basketball fans who don’t watch the NBA on a regular basis have no idea how big our players are and how skilled they are. “So I look for how they guard really good players, because, regardless of the system, effort should always be there. I watched someone at the Philly regional [of this year's tournament], and he kept turning his head on defense and guys went by him. A 12-year-old knows that if the ball is passed away from your man, you take a step to the ball. If you’re going to turn your head on defense, if you’re not willing to work and hustle, that’s more than effort — that’s concentration. Maybe you can work on that, but we don’t have a lot of patience. That you’re young can be an excuse for a little while, but the money is too great, the stakes are too high to give someone a huge window.”
HoopsWorld power rankings: “Really, take the “interim” tag off Coach Scott Brooks. He deserves it already…”
And rookie rankings: “It may have taken Westbrook a little bit longer to find his stride as a pro, but he seems to have taken O.J. Mayo’s spot as the league’s second-best rookie. As far as numbers are concerned he’s not particularly consistent but he does seem to dominate in at least one major category every night. If it’s not points, it’s assists. If it’s not assists, it’s rebounds. As soon as he figures out how to put that all together on a night-in, night-out basis, he’s going to be a force-if he’s not a force already.”
Hornets247.com had a post looking at the best penetrators in the league. He has a neat little formula and Russell Westbrook checks in at No. 20: “To see what stats I used and where I got them, you can see my notes at the end of this post, but what I ended up with was 43 players. I then put together a rough ranking system based on how often those players are assisted when making shots,(the fewer times they are assisted, the more times they are creating the shot themselves) and then adjusted that rank based on whether they were a better or worse than average shooter, since a guy who generates shots on his own but sucks at hitting those shots should be penalized.”
And the more I think about, picking the name “Thunder” really was pretty smart. Because when I went to weather.com to check tomorrow’s weather and I saw this, you know what I immediately thought of?
Ohhh yeah. That’s right. There’s definitely Thun-daa in the area.