HOOPSWORLD Week In Review
Chris Paul Doesn’t Fear Lakers
By Derek Page
Only by means of NBA-intervention, Chris Paul is not a member of the Los Angeles Lakers.
Instead of joining the Lakers by way of a mammoth three-team deal in December of 2011, the trade was rescinded by the league office and, it seemed at the time at least, that Paul was not destined for a move to LA. But that was not the case as both the Lakers and Paul’s former team, the New Orleans Hornets, continued wheeling and dealing that winter and the effects were felt across the NBA.
Originally a part of the deal to acquire Paul, disgruntled Lakers’ forward Lamar Odom was instead shipped to the Dallas Mavericks that December with the Lakers receiving a massive trade exception in return. Fast forward to a year later and LA used that very exception in a sign-and-trade with the Phoenix Suns to acquire two-time NBA Most Valuable Player (MVP) Steve Nash.
The Lakers weren’t finished after Nash and went ahead and added the best center in the NBA in Dwight Howard to create a super team, on paper at least, heading into next season that looks primed for a title run.
Cavaliers Creating Their Own Thunder
By Stephen Brotherston
When NBA teams are mired in mediocrity or futility, it isn’t long before the calls to blow the whole thing up and rebuild like the Seattle Supersonics/Oklahoma City Thunder did after 2006. What most complainants gloss over is just how hard it is to deliberately spend multiple seasons in the lottery, collect enough early lottery picks to make an impact, and limit your misses on draft night. However, Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert is showing how it can be done, if your checkbook is big enough.
Just like many of today’s rebuilding teams, Seattle didn’t actually start the process at the first signs of collapse and who could blame them. The year before, they were a 52-win team with Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis and seemed to be just one more piece away from contending. The high-risk draft of seven-foot project-center Mouhamed Saer Sene with tenth pick in 2006 that followed did not seem to be that big of a deal at the time.
Back to the lottery in 2007 and under newly-installed executive vice president and general manager Sam Presti, the rebuild went into full effect. Lewis was allowed to walk to the Magic as a free agent and Allen was swapped for the Celtics fifth pick of the 2007 draft, Jeff Green, in a multi-player deal. Seattle had finished fifth from the bottom, but lottery luck moved them up to second overall and they nabbed future all-star forward Kevin Durant. The Thunder had both an all-star to trade for a high lottery pick and a big helping of lottery luck in year one of their rebuild. Ending up with two top-five picks in a NBA draft is more than a little unusual.
Knicks, Nets Offer Contrasting Media Strategies
By Alex Raskin
A 2009 episode of “Mad Men” titled “Love Among the Ruins” dealt with the reconstruction of New York’s Penn Station to make way for the present day Madison Square Garden with the newer version of Penn Station tucked below.
Citizens were outraged over the plans to demolish one of the most indelible icons of the city, but ultimately, they didn’t really have a say. The plan was going ahead with or without public support.
And while those in charge of the project sought out an ad campaign to squelch the protests, main character Don Draper swung in with his usual brand of logic.
“Your concern over public opinion shows a guilty conscience,” Draper said, suggesting that an ad campaign could inadvertently serve to fuel the fire.
It’s a line of thought that the Knicks—the present-day tenants of the new Madison Square Garden—have embraced this offseason.
Owner James Dolan, general manager Glen Grunwald and coach Mike Woodson have remained completely silent on the subject of Jeremy Lin since the Knicks refused to match his offer from the Houston Rockets.
Fantasy Hoops: Summer Stock Report
By Tommy Beer
Many of us are busy prepping/cramming for our fantasy football drafts, which always entails plenty of preparation. However, for the prudent student, it’s never too early for some extra-credit hoops homework. Thus, after releasing my Top-100 Overall list last month, I’ve put together a list of players at each position that have seen their stock spike this summer…
Kyle Lowry – Toronto Raptors:
Due to the combination of an assortment of injuries and illnesses that sidelined him over the final two months of the regular season and his falling out with Rockets management and coaching staff (which resulted in Houston shipping him off to Toronto), it appears many have forgotten just how much of a fantasy force K-Low was when healthy last year. Over the first half of the 2011-12 season (33 games), Lowry averaged 15.9 ppg, 5.3 rebounds, 7.5 assists, 1.9 steals, and 1.8 three-pointers. Those phenomenal all-around stats had him ranked seventh overall in 9-category leagues during that stretch, behind only Durant, LeBron, CP3, Kevin Love, D Wade, and Steph Curry. With the Raptors, Lowry may have to split some minutes with Jose Calderon, but it is well known that Toronto has been looking to dump Calderon’s salary for a while now, so that impediment to 35+ minutes a night may be removed sooner rather than later. Either way, Lowry will likely remain undervalued on draft day, and it would behoove savvy GM’s to take advantage.
Coach: The Challenge Of Offensive Integration
By Anthony Macri
Three of the most significant acquisitions this offseason were accomplished by two teams: the Los Angeles Lakers adding point guard Steve Nash and center Dwight Howard, and the Philadelphia 76ers landing center Andrew Bynum. These changes represent a fundamental shift for both squads in terms of talent, and will require a radically different personnel deployment structure. That is, both teams will need to employ a different style to reach their potential.
In the case of Los Angeles, the addition of Howard will get a lot of attention, but it is more the presence of Nash that will cause change for the Lakers. Nash’s proficiency as a penetrating guard, particularly off of ball screen action, cannot be exaggerated. Failure to full utilize these talents, especially in combination with two very good screen and roll partners in Howard and Pau Gasol, would be a serious mistake.
The real question for Lakers fans is how to best incorporate Kobe Bryant into this new calculation in a way that exploits his still considerable talents as a one-on-one scorer from a variety of places on the floor. There a number of conceptual changes that Los Angeles can employ that will incorporate all their deadly offensive weapons into an integrated system. However, some of these changes would be a relatively radical shift for Bryant in particular.