HOOPSWORLD Week In Review
Brown: Kobe Deserves Freedom
By Eric Pincus
Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers has been one of the most dynamic scorers in the NBA for over a decade.
As great as he is individually, there are times when Bryant goes “vortex,” taking too many shots regardless of how efficient his inside players are performing (Shaquille O’Neal, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum, etc.).
Most recently in a loss to the Denver Nuggets on New Year’s Day, he took 28 attempts, connecting on six and totaling 16 points while center Bynum had 18 on just 12 shots and Gasol 20 on 15.
Getting Kobe to take his foot off the gas was a lengthy challenge for Coach Phil Jackson. At times, Bryant shot the Lakers into games. On occasion he would shoot them out.
More often than not, the Lakers would win. Jackson was willing to take the good with the bad.
Now it’s Coach Mike Brown’s responsibility to make sure the Lakers harness Bryant’s ability while also taking advantage of team’s pair of skilled big men.
Less Equals More For Perkins
By Derek Page
Oklahoma City Thunder center Kendrick Perkins pushed himself in vigorous offseason workouts leading up to this season and the slimmer big man says he’s ready to take on some of the best players in the NBA – namely NBA Finals MVP Dirk Nowitzki.
While many NBA players were maxing and relaxing over the summer, Perkins put himself through some strenuous activities that have resulted in the Thunder big man dropping over 30 pounds from last season. With the bevy of overweight and out of shape professional athletes reporting to their respective teams to start the season, it’s refreshing to see an athlete like Perkins – who was already a solid NBA player – work that much harder to improve his game.
The noticeably leaner Perkins believes this will help him contribute even more in Oklahoma City’s up-tempo play style.
Ricky Rubio Adjusting Well To The NBA
By Stephen Litel
Now four games into his rookie NBA season, Ricky Rubio is adjusting well to life far away from home in the NBA. He has already been embraced by Timberwolves fans, creating a new home in Minnesota quickly.
“Good,” Rubio told HOOPSWORLD, referring to the Timberwolves’ play in the early season. “I mean, except we didn’t win any game. We played good, but we are two or three possessions away to win one of those games. I feel good, but something is missing because we need to win. All of us have to take that step and try to win.”
Very quickly into his career, Rubio has been able to show he belongs in the NBA. While his new Timberwolves teammates were able to see his talents during training camp, Rubio is now also garnering respect for his talents around the league. With each game he plays, he is more accepted and the praise continues to grow.
DeMar DeRozan Becoming A Focal Point
By Stephen Brotherston
Starting his third season with the Raptors after being drafted ninth overall in 2009, 22-year-old shooting guard DeMar DeRozan is being asked to grow up fast and become one of the focal points in Toronto.
“The team will definitely go off how Andrea and I are playing,” DeRozan told HOOPSWORLD. “We have to take that responsibility and take on that challenge every night.”
Last year DeRozan started in all 82 games and doubled his rookie scoring average with 17.2 points per game, finishing second behind Andrea Bargnani. This year, the team’s one-two offensive punch continues to be Bargnani and DeRozan, but a lot more is being expected from both of them than just scoring.
“Look at it like a challenge,” continued DeRozan. “You’ve got to be up for the challenge and be willing to take whatever consequences that comes with it and be accountable for everything you do. I think that’s part of being a pro and at the same time just understanding your role, and once you understand, I think it becomes much easier.
John Lucas’ Hard Work Finally Paying Off
By Mark Nugent
John Lucas III is the epitome of a journeyman. He began his college career at Baylor University were he played for two seasons and then transferred to Oklahoma State University. After two years at OSU he went undrafted and signed with the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2005, only to be waived three weeks later. He spent his first two NBA seasons on the Houston Rockets’ bench and in 2007 headed overseas to play basketball.
Lucas played in China, Italy and then returned to the States where he spent time in the D-League before being picked up by the Chicago Bulls late last season. Now, because of a shoulder injury to C.J. Watson, Lucas is getting his chance to prove he can play at the highest level and that his hard work over the years is starting to pay off.
“This is a game I love,” Lucas told HOOPSWORLD. “When you love something you stay focused throughout, when there are good times and bad times because you never know. With me, I’m always in practice, I’m always watching film, always doing my daily routine like I’m in game shape. When I go out there, when I practice I don’t practice half-ass, I go out there and practice 100% like I’m a starter or I’m a backup. Just in case.”
NBA Draft 2012: The Top Ten
By Yannis Koutroupis
We are three months into the college basketball season, which has allowed draft boards to start taking shape more accurately than they did during the offseason. There is still a lot of basketball to be played in the NCAA and things can change a lot over the next three months, but as of right now there is a set group of players that have clearly established themselves worthy of being ranked in the top ten. Over the next few weeks we’ll be breaking down our rankings in depth, starting today with players 1-10:
1) Anthony Davis (Kentucky) – 6’10, 220 lbs. Power Forward
Davis possesses everything that is required of a number one overall pick. He’s young with a ridiculous amount of upside. His athleticism and speed are matched up perfectly with a ridiculous wingspan that he does a great job of making the most of. And, on top of all of that, he’s got a frame that will support the necessary strength that he needs to add in order to hang against the grown men that patrol the paint in the NBA.
As of right now, the top spot in the 2012 draft is Davis’ to lose. Either he gives it up, or one of the players ranked below him on this list blows up in a significant manner over the next three months to steal it away from him. That seems unlikely, but it is certainly possible.