T-minus five days until Mother’s Day. Don’t you dare forget.
Piston Powered takes a look at my proposed Rip Hamilton deal: “This trade definitely intrigues me. This draft is short on big men, so a trade like this might be the only way to get one – unless B.J. Mullens falls to 15. As I’ve said with the Billups trade: better a year too early than a year too late. Hamilton has value now, but will he next offseason? I believe the Thunder have the cap room to take back Hamilton without Detroit having to take Atkins or Watkins. So, that’s a plus for the Pistons.”
Jermaine Taylor of Central Florida who averaged 26.2 ppg (third in the nation) and was Conference USA Player of the Year will work out for the Thunder soon. The 6-4 shooting guard is charting his draft journey right now: “From Orlando, I left this weekend to train in Indianapolis with Shon Bolden. He’s the same guy who trained rookie George Hill, who is a client of my agent Michael Whitaker. I will be training with George and a few returning college basketball players, but I am not so concerned with who I am training with, but rather focused on improving my overall game. My first workout is with Oklahoma City Thunder coming up soon.” I watched Taylor play in the Conference USA tournament this year. He reminded me a lot of Toney Douglas, the star scorer for Florida State. Dime even called Taylor “the biggest sleeper in the year’s draft.” That’s two shooting guards getting workouts so far – I’m thinking we’re getting an idea where Presti wants to go with that second pick. (Draft Express profile)
LeBron winning the MVP at just 23 put the spotlight back on Wes Unseld who is the youngest MVP ever: “Bob Pettit, Bob McAdoo and Wilt Chamberlain were all 23, but the youngest player to ever win the award remains Wes Unseld, who turned 23 only nine days before he won the MVP with the Baltimore Bullets in 1968-69. The 6-foot-7 Unseld also won the rookie of the year that season. He and Chamberlain remain the only players to pull off that amazing ROY-MVP duo in the same season.” Kevin Durant’s got three years until he’s 23. Any chance?
I was watching the Tampa Bay Rays-Baltimore Orioles game last nigth and Gary Thorne relayed a really interesting quote from Rays skipper Joe Maddon. He was speaking about Evan Longoria who is off to a sizzling start in his sophomore campaign. When someone asked Maddon about a potential sophomore slump for the AL Rookie of the Year, he se said something like, “Some guys you worry about that because they think they’ve already got it. They don’t work as hard because they think they’re there. Not Evan though. He’s still working like he’s got something to prove, like he’s a nobody in this league.” As soon as I heard that, I immedietely thought about how that described Kevin Durant perfectly.
This writer from Bleacher Report sees the Thunder taking a point guard: “I believe the Thunder will focus on a point guard and here’s why: By selecting a point guard in the draft, it will allow Russell Westbrook to move to his more natural position at shooting guard and inject a ball-handle with a floor leader mentality and in certain cases more team-oriented agendas than Westbrook has displayed in his first season with the Thunder. At the very least, the experiment of plugging in Westbrook at point in his rookie year provided Russell with some experience running the team and should the new draftee falter, Westbrook can revert back to his old position and help out in that area.”
Tom Ziller mocks the draft: “Thunder – James Harden: Harden seemingly killed his stock with a poor tournament performance, and his style isn’t tailored to the camp scene. But Sam Presti has been shown to value smart, versatile players who can defend. Harden fits the bill and a positional need at the two-guard between Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant.”
Hornets 24-7 looks at Byron Scott and whether or not the Hornets should keep him: “And what worries me the most: when the team is in the playoffs and facing a coach with the ability to make changes and be flexible, what happens then? When the Hornets played the Spurs last season, they didn’t make any substantial adjustments at all from game to game. Is that what we’ll see in the future? Is Byron a closer – or is he a starter? Is his best skillset taking poor teams and turning them into contenders, but in general being unable to finish the deal? Should Byron move on to a rebuilding team like Sacramento, rumored to be interested in hiring him away from the Hornets? Today, as of this moment, I’m leaning towards yes. Unfortunately, ask me again tomorrow and I might have another answer.” Wow, one year removed from being Coach of the Year and now possibly on the chopping block.
Mike McGraw of the Chicago Daily Herald looks at possible suitors for Ben Gordon: “Oklahoma City might be a possibility for Gordon, since the Thunder don’t have a ton of money wrapped up in rookie Russell Westbrook and ex-Bull Thabo Sefolosha. Portland has a chance to free up some cap room, but Gordon is a fit only if the Blazers decide to move Brandon Roy to small forward. Any of the other NBA teams can offer Gordon the mid-level exception of around $5.6 million. Last year, the Bulls offered Gordon around $54 million over six years and may not have to go that high to outbid the competition.”
Welcome to Loud City looks at who should stay and who should go: “Damien Wilkins has pretty much no reason to even be considered for sticking around Oklahoma City come next season. He underperformed all year, and doesn’t have much of an upside or role with this team going forward. His numbers declined in all his major statistical categories and he spent far more time on the bench than he did on the court, and for good reason. Perhaps he’ll be paired together with Earl Watson or Chucky Atkins during the offseason to create a more valuable package with two expiring contracts, instead of one. Whatever the case, I don’t expect him to be on this roster next season. In fact, I’m even inclined to say his future right now is more leaning toward a stint in the D-League than another NBA Roster, but I imagine that time will tell. He does still have a year left on his contract, so he should be on someone’s roster next season, but after that, he could be playing in a quiet arena near you.”
HoopsWorld looks at Durant’s pledge to get stronger: “It would also allow him to be more physical defensively. Foul rate doesn’t necessarily mean much, but it is worth noting that in his two seasons Durant has averaged only 1.7 fouls a game. You never want your star in foul trouble, but with a stronger body and the ability to body people more, Durant may see a tiny spike in his fouls but be more of an impact when he does use his body defensively. Don’t expect Durant to bulk up – that’s not his body type – but do expect him to be able to absorb and dish out some more physical moves this next fall. Just what the rest of the league wants to hear, that one of the brightest young stars in the league is addressing what might be his biggest deficiency.”