HOOPSWORLD Week In Review
Who Wins The 2012 NBA Title
By Bill Ingram
This week’s HOOPSWORLD poll asked readers to chime in on which team would win the 2012 NBA Championship. The choices were as follows:
1) The Dallas Mavericks
2) The Miami HEAT
3) The Chicago Bulls
4) The New York Knicks
5) The Oklahoma City Thunder
6) The Los Angeles Lakers
Almost included in the poll were the San Antonio Spurs and the Memphis Grizzlies, though each gave me pause for different reasons. First of all, if the Grizzlies can keep Marc Gasol in town and merely swap Shane Battier for Rudy Gay, they should be better than last season, when they were one small step away from the Western Conference Finals. That said, the return of Gasol is anything but certain, and without him the Grizzlies will be grasping for a playoff spot, not contending for a championship. As for the Spurs, this looks to be the year age finally catches up. Antonio McDyess has retired and Tim Duncan is in his final season. If they get healthy at the right time the Spurs might make one more run, but it seems unlikely.
So, without further ado, here are your picks for the 2012 NBA Champions:
Top 5 Underrated Free Agents
By Joel Brigham
The lockout is ongoing. We know that much, but we also are starting to get the feeling things could wrap up closer to sooner than later, and if that’s the case we’re not too far off from finally getting to enjoy a little player movement via free agency.
In preparation for that, HOOPSWORLD recently put together a poll in which the top 30 free agents were ranked by our own staff, as well as editors from HoopsHype, NBA trainers, and development coaches.
These are, of course, completely subjective rankings, but they do show a good representation of how smart basketball people feel about this free agency class. That said, there are a few guys on the list who are, in the eyes of some, a little underrated.
So that’s our top five this week—which players on the HOOPSWORLD free agency rankings are ranked most unfairly? Let’s have a look, starting with…
Coach: Evaluating A Prospect’s Physical Gifts
By Anthony Macri
In the first article of this series, I gave examples of things to look for when it came to evaluating a prospect’s offensive and defensive game understanding. Last week, the topic was how to judge specific skillsets and player aptitudes. This time around, the focus will be on physical gifts – both measurable and observable.
One of the most common areas to make a mistake in the evaluation of a potential pro is looking at his physical gifts. This is the proverbial ‘eye test’ that some folks, fans and “experts” alike, use to judge a prospect. Many disparage the measurable characteristics of a prospect in one breath, then use them on the next to compare one player to another. Given this reality, what is the best way to judge physical gifts in relation to a player’s game understanding and skillset?
It should never be denied that physical gifts are a critical piece of being a professional athlete. How much weight it receives in the overall evaluation of a player is very observer-dependent. For me, the physical gifts are often the first thing I notice, or the thing that allows the player to (in some cases literally) leap out from the crowd. However, after the initial identification, my own weighting tends to put those physical gifts more toward the back of the priority list. Instead, I examine things like game understanding and skillset, both of which were discussed in the previous articles of this series.
CBA Scenarios: The Amnesty Cut
By Eric Pincus
The NBA and NBPA seemed to be on the verge of an agreement to end the lockout last week but once again talks died out with no deal.
An additional two weeks of the season were cancelled and while some may still be made up, Commissioner David Stern said in certain terms that there won’t be a full 82-game schedule.
The best to hope for is rumored to be 78 games if the two sides can reconvene this week and scratch out a deal. Despite the rhetoric and vitriol, there’s a relatively small gap left to close with the owners willing to go up as high as 50% of Basketball Related Income (BRI) and the players down to 52.5%.
In the meantime, some of the details of what will likely be in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) have leaked out. The proposed the Amnesty Clause was touched upon in two articles recently (Getting the Lakers Under the Tax and Getting the Magic Under the Tax) but how would the “Get Out of Jail Free” card impact the league as a whole?
CBA Scenarios: The Stretch Clause
By Jason Fleming
All the of buzz in these collective bargaining negotiations between the NBA Owners and Players has gone to the potential ramifications of an amnesty clause, but the truth is another option has the potential to be used more often. The stretch exception, as it’s being called, could be a lifeline to teams over the course of the next collective bargaining agreement.
Eric Pincus did a good job yesterday detailing what the amnesty clause could mean to each team, so here we are going to build on that.
First we need to define the stretch exception. The stretch exception is as currently defined is a modification of the rules under the old CBA that dictated how waived or bought out players counted against the salary cap. (Note: This is widely reported as not quite a done deal in negotiations, but it’s more defining the details rather than the element being in or out of the deal – it’s in.) In the previous CBA a player’s salary counted for the full amount against the cap. If a lower buyout was negotiated, that amount was applied proportionately against the cap for the remaining years of the contract.
NCAA: Top 5 Seniors With Upside
By Yannis Koutroupis
This season, even more so than previous ones, is far from ideal for seniors with aspirations of being a first round pick in the draft. While it’s been trendy in the past for prospects to stay in school for as little time as possible, the well-placed fear over the labor situation in the NBA convinced a large group of top-ranked underclassmen to stick around. Plus, the 2011 recruiting class is project to be star-studded, making it even tougher than ever for four-year players to become a top-30 pick.
That does not mean that it’s completely out of the question. Most importantly what NBA general managers and scouts look for in players is upside. It’s because freshmen and sophomores are perceived to have more room to improve that they often get chosen over their elders. But, there are cases where the more experienced players can still prove that they are far from peaking as well. And in HOOPSWORLD’s latest feature getting you prepped for the 2011-2012 college basketball season we take a look at the top five seniors with the potential to continue their development at a high enough rate to justify first round expectations.