HOOPSWORLD Week in Review
Top 5 Careers Cut Short
By Joel Brigham
Yao Ming’s retirement earlier this summer was a blow not just to basketball fans in China, but to basketball fans everywhere, because a player that big and that skilled simply doesn’t come along every day. The fact he was forced into calling it quits at so young an age strictly because of injuries is truly heartbreaking. Yao hasn’t played meaningful minutes in an NBA season since he was 28 years old, which means the guy’s career was basically over when most other players are just hitting their prime.
It’s a tragedy, to be certain, but is it the most tragic early end to a player’s career in league history? Not even close, as we’ll see in today’s top five. The following are the players whose careers were cut too short for one reason or another, but all have stories that still make fans shake their heads and wonder what could have been…
#5 – Magic Johnson, L.A. Lakers – We know without question that Magic Johnson was one of the ten best players in NBA history, and he earned that distinction retiring about five years before he was ready. At age 31, Johnson contracted the HIV virus, which in 1991 was basically considered a death sentence that forced him to quit basketball immediately.
D.J. White Likes Charlotte’s Future
By Susan Bible
With anxiety about the upcoming 2011-12 NBA season on our minds during this long and hot summer, it’s nice to reach out to players to get their pulse on various things. We did exactly that, and our efforts resulted in having a great conversation with one of the nicest players in the league: D.J. White of the Charlotte Bobcats.
In White’s short three-year NBA career he’s weathered through countless challenges.
Let’s back up just a bit first.
White enjoyed a four-year college career at Indiana; in his senior year, his attention-grabbing averages of 17.4 points per game and 10.3 rebounds per game led to the 2008 Big Ten Player of the Year title being bestowed upon him. He also led the nation in field-goal shooting percentage (.605).
Coach’s Notebook: Developing A Small Forward
By Anthony Macri
This is the fifth and final part in a series of articles on offseason player development at the NBA level. Right about now, every year, players contact trainers and skill development coaches to help them take their games to the next level for the coming year. This may be even more prevalent in this “lockout-enhanced” offseason. The majority of players that contact us at the Pro Training Center are about to enter a contract year, and are looking to put themselves in the best position to maximize their value for future negotiations. For this series, I will examine how we might put together an offseason skill development plan for players at the five positions on the floor, utilizing players who will enter the free agent market in 2012 as examples. Let’s get to it…
Developing a Small Forward
The small forward position might include the most multi-dimensional athletes of any major sport in the world. Guys playing on the wing have to be big (6’6 is usually too small), fast, and quick, and the best ones are explosive and strong as well. It is easy to see athletes like this succeeding in other sports – imagine LeBron James as a tight end (or even a defensive end, for that matter). However, it is the manner in which they implement their athletic gifts, and apply that unique combination of talent to actual game situations, that separates the run-of-the-mill small forward from the ones who have a chance to really produce and get paid. In each category, you can see how a great athlete can learn how to better play athletically.
Debate: NBA Franchise Tag?
By Joel Brigham and Eric Pincus
One of the many issues on the table in the ongoing labor dispute between the NBA and its players is whether or not the league should adopt a franchise tag system like the one in the NFL. At its center, a franchise tag system would prevent the centralization of the league’s top players. HOOPSWORLD’s Eric Pincus and Joel Brigham find themselves on opposite sides of this issue, and debate it for you below.
HOOPSWORLD’s Joel Brigham:
While the NBA hasn’t released an official list of the 22 teams that allegedly lost money by the end of the 2010-2011 season, I think it’s pretty safe to say that the Cleveland Cavaliers were one of them. Nobody loses a commodity like LeBron James for essentially nothing and makes more money as a result. In fact, it has been said that losing LeBron James decreased the value of the entire Cavs organization by $200 million, and it all happened because the best player in the league playing for a relatively small market decided to take his talents to… well, you know.
NCAA: Coaches On The Hot Seat
By Yannis Koutroupis
The coaching carousel in college basketball was tough to keep up with this summer as there was a significant amount of activity. When the 2011-2012 season begins over 50 head coaches will be making their debuts with new programs. There actually could have been more had it not been for some coaches managing to stick around for another year and avoid getting their pink slip.
They’ll likely have the upcoming season to prove their worth because in-season coaching changes happen much less in college basketball than they do in the NBA. That means the pressure is on, though, for them to produce this year or else they may not be employed at this time next year.
There may not be a hotter seat than that of Illinois head coach Bruce Weber right now. Weber boasts a record of 193-86 as the Fighting Illini’s head coach and did take the school to the NCAA Tournament Championship Game in 2004-2005. However, since that season Illinois hasn’t advanced past the second round of the big dance. They’ve missed it twice in that span and have been a .500 team in Big 10 play for the last three seasons.
Top High School Players: Class Of 2012
By Alex Kennedy
The 2011 high school recruiting class was one of the best in recent memory. It featured plenty of star power and impact players. Many of the players from last year’s senior class are expected to be one-and-done prospects in next year’s stacked NBA draft.
In other words, the 2012 recruiting class has big shoes to fill.
This year’s bunch is also extremely talented and features potential stars at nearly every position. Last year, many of the top recruits committed to colleges early, but that hasn’t been the case this year. Of the fifteen players on this list, only three have decided on a college, which has created suspense and made this class particularly exciting to follow.
While it’s difficult to rate players prior to their senior season, especially when many are transferring for their final year of high school, HOOPSWORLD has compiled a list of 2012 recruits to watch during the upcoming year. These players have a ton of upside and are highly coveted by some of the top college programs in the country. These are the prospects to keep an eye on next season: