HOOPSWORLD Week In Review
Where Do The Thunder Go From Here?
By Susan Bible
The simple answer to the question posed in the title of this article is this: The Oklahoma City Thunder need to evaluate what went wrong for them in the NBA Finals so they can figure out how to win a championship next season.
The generally-accepted blueprint in building a successful NBA team is that it involves a process of progressing steps. Each season should reflect overall growth – by the number of wins and players’ performance and stats – from the prior season in a team’s quest of reaching the ultimate goal.
Given that train of thought, the Thunder franchise should win a ring in the 2012-13 season since their progression has been a textbook example. Obviously that’s no guarantee, but the Thunder is on an upward swing. Their star players have improved each season. As for the team, in 2008-09: a 23-59 record at .280 percentage, 2009-10: a first round appearance vs. the Los Angeles Lakers (.610 win/loss percentage), 2010-11: a Western Conference Finals appearance vs. the Dallas Mavericks (.671 win/loss), and 2011-12: an NBA Finals appearance vs. the Miami HEAT (.712 win/loss). Who knows if the theory will come to fruition, but rest assured the Thunder will do everything in their power to make it a reality.
2012 NBA Draft Losers
By Stephen Brotherston
Anyone who tells you they knew Thursday night’s draft order in advance is either psychic or pulling your leg. Teams inevitably take the players they wanted, not taking the various mock drafts into consideration. This knowledge can still leave one scratching their head about some of the moves witnessed coming into the draft and after Commissioner David Stern announced the names of the NBA’s newest recruits, some teams exited the process looking like they had left a lot on the table.
The real impact of any draft often isn’t fully known until most of the players have completed their rookie contracts, but we may not have to wait that long to label this year’s biggest draft losers.
Dallas looked like one of this year’s big winners when projected lottery pick Tyler Zeller fell to them at seventeen, then they traded down.
Where Do The HEAT Go From Here?
By Tommy Beer
Despite the fact the city of Miami is still sipping champagne and celebrating the HEAT’s impressive championship run, we know Pat Riley is not one to rest on his laurels. The core of this stacked roster is obviously intact, but a dynasty is often achieved by adding essential pieces to the puzzle each off-season. And make no mistake, multiple championships are the clear objective of this organization (LeBron said so himself…)
Thus, the question then becomes: What moves will team president Pat Riley and company make this summer in order to maintain momentum and position themselves for a run at another ring?
Front Office Management and Coaching:
For the first time in a long time, there are no doubts or consternation as to who will coach the HEAT going forward. Or who should coach the HEAT, for that matter. As much pressure as was heaped upon LeBron James’ shoulders these past two seasons, head coach Erik Spoelstra was under immense pressure, as well. Plenty of pundits claimed Miami would be better served bringing in an experienced coach who could handle the personalities and deal with the bright lights and big stage of important NBA playoff games. However, Pat Riley remained faithful in his staunch support of Spoelstra. The move ultimately, finally paid off this month, when Riley handed the Larry O’Brien Trophy to his young protégé last week at center court after Game 5 of the NBA Finals.
Clippers/Mavericks/Jazz/Rockets Execute Trade
By Eric Pincus
The Los Angeles Clippers have traded guard Mo Williams to the Utah Jazz in a four-team trade that returns their 1999 pick (4th) in Lamar Odom.
Odom arrives via the Dallas Mavericks, who gain an $8.9 million trade exception (TPE) that will expire in a year’s time. The Los Angeles Lakers still retain their original Odom TPE, also $8.9 million, which expires on 12/11/12.
Should the Mavericks decide to go under the cap, they would need to renounce their Odom TPE unused. Dallas is expected to target Deron Williams. If the Mavs don’t achieve that goal, they may never go under the cap and thus the TPE could prove to be a valuable tool to acquire a player.
Top 10 NBA Free Agents
By Stephen Brotherston
In less than a week, NBA teams will be able to start pursuing this year’s free agent crop. Often times the best players are coming off their rookie deals and the likelihood of securing top restricted free agent (RFA) talent is remote, but this summer the list of unrestricted free agents (UFA) is impressive. The UFA list may not be up to the summer of LeBron James free agency and some of the big names may be a little long in the tooth, but there is more than enough superior talent available to make owners and general managers drool just a little.
1. Deron Williams, Brooklyn Nets – UFA (player option), Age 28
Williams averaged 21 points and 8.7 assists on a dreadful Nets team after seemingly forcing his way out of Utah a season ago and he has made it clear that he intends to obtain his freedom in order to get a new long-term contract.
The best young veteran point guard available this summer, Williams has been top five in assists for the past six seasons and is a virtual certain 20-point, 10-assist player on a good team.
The battle for Williams’ services appears to be set between Dallas and Brooklyn, but anyone in need of a franchise point guard should be looking here first. In a social-media conscious world, does the Nets’ “Happy Birthday Deron!” message on Facebook carry any weight?