Sunday, May 31, 2009

Height, Length, Width

The annual list of pre-draft measurements were released this week, and of course there were numbers that came out that weren't expected. Some of the surprises were positive, and some were negative. Many prospects' stocks rose and dipped because of these measurements, which leads me to think, how much do these measurements really matter, and how much should they matter.

Power Forward DeJuan Blair measured just over 6-5 without shoes. This was a guy who we saw have a great year at Pittsburgh, but now that the news that he's only 6-5 come out, many people want to discount him. Others want to say, it's ok, because he has a wingspan of a player who is a few inches taller, or his standing reach is better than average.
This is the same 6 foot 5 inch DeJuan Blair who outmuscled and dominated the 7 foot 1 inch Hasheem Thabeet during a meeting between Pitt and UConn this year. Apparently his lack of height didn't hurt him in that game, but now that the news is out, I guess we should all expect DeJuan Blair to have no shot to compete in the NBA, since he's, you know, only 6 foot 5.

Blake Griffin is the conensus best player in the draft, and expected to go #1 overall, but he only has an average wingspan for his height. Surely that makes the Clippers feel less confident about selecting him with the #1 pick. Forget that he won 4 different national player of the year awards, he has average sized arms.

We also found out that Ty Lawson has alligator arms. While Lawson and Jonny Flynn are the same exact height, surely Flynn is the better prospect since he has a wingspan of over 3 inches more. Forget that Ty Lawson ran the best team in college basketball last year, and improved across the board from his sophomore to junior year. His tiny arms definitely are a hinderance to his pro career.

Speaking of wingspan, DeJuan Blair has a huge wingspan. So he's short, but has a wingspan of a player a half foot taller. Does his wingspan cancel out his lack of ideal height for the power forward spot? His wingspan is a positive, but his height is a negative, so I guess we're back to square one. Blair's wingspan is a half an inch bigger than Jordan Hill's wingspan, and Hill is 4 inches taller. What do you make of that? I don't know what to make of it, I'll tell you that much, but what I can make of all of this is that this list sends the masses of draftniks and fans into a frenzy about how players are rising and falling, based on black and white numbers, while their skill-sets and accomplishments throughout the season are momentarily forgotten.

Just ask Saer Sene. >>

Friday, May 22, 2009

Tracking the Reshuffle - Part One

Every draft has its own flavor.

Some are headlined by a can't-miss franchise changing superstar (LeBron, Yao, Duncan) or by a popular debate (Oden or Durant? Howard or Okafor?).

Sometimes, though, a draft doesn't acquire a theme or personality until years after the event. The 2001 draft wasn't one of the more anticipated, but became significant for having more All-Stars taken after pick #25 than in the lottery.

By all accounts, 2009 is not a particularly strong draft, nor is it really suited for capturing the public's attention. So I've decided to focus on what I believe will be most fun part of following this draft - the reshuffling of the deck.

Here's why I think this will be the draft where workouts will shake up the board more than any other.

1. I believe there is a trend developing away from raw athletic talent and objective measurements and towards productivity and basketball skills. A combination of development time and money constraints in combination with recent success of undersized and less explosive players marks the trend. Teams can get premium role players at bargain prices. This draft is chock full of these players.

2. GMs and Coaches want more team-oriented players. Adding that great potential talent without the character to match is out. Nobody can afford it. Teams want guys who will fit in. Every team has players they can't trade because nobody wants to deal with them. There are already too many obstacles when trying to improve the roster - nobody wants to risk adding more.

3. Mistakes can't be covered up. There is no money to sign that expensive free agent because your draft pick is a bust. You better be sure the guy you take can play. Nobody can afford to screw up. If there is a guy who is now projected to go in the second round and he shows in your workout he can do what you need, you are taking him in the first and not looking back.

4. I think there is less difference between the 15th and 40th best players in this draft than in any I can remember. I don't see a lot of media or fan backlash for a GM that takes - say - Toney Douglas over Nick Calathes or Tyler Smith over Austin Daye.

Any thoughts on 2009 being the "Year of the Reshuffle"? Comment below!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Blake Griffin, Welcome to the Black Hole

And with the first pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, the Los Angeles Clippers select...Blake Griffin!

"Clearly, we're taking Blake Griffin," Clippers General Manager and Coach Mike Dunleavy said in a telephone interview from Barcelona, Spain.

"This guy is the No. 1 pick. We're extremely excited. He's the guy."

Could a worse situation have presented itself for Blake? The Clippers have a log jam in the front court, with Zach Randolph, Chris Kaman, and Marcus Camby as three of the Clippers four highest paid players. Zach Randolph, exclusively a PF, like Blake, is the highest paid player on the Clips roster. Obvious wisdom says trade Randolph, but with Randolph being owed over $33 million over the next 2 years, that's not an easy task. Add in Randolph's persistent run-in's with the law, a malcontent attitude, and lack of defensive prowess, and it's almost impossible to find a team that would be willing to take him at that cost.

The second problem for's the Clippers. One of the most inept basketball franchises in the NBA. Mike Dunleavy, coach and GM, good at neither. Donald Sterling, notoriously thrifty owner. Second fiddle in their own city. One playoff series win since 1978. Is there a more depressing franchise?

Congratulations Mr. Griffin, you're going to be a Los Angeles Clipper!