HOOPSWORLD Week In Review
The Riddle of DeMarcus Cousins
By Travis Heath
The question was a simple one.
“Would you draft him?” I was asked.
“Absolutely. He’s the most talented player in this draft.” I responded. “But remember, I’m being asked to evaluate his talent. I don’t have to coach him.”
The previous exchange occurred during an NBA consulting gig I had prior to the 2010 Draft. The player in question was big man DeMarcus Cousins. I watched literally every second he played in college and did the same for all of the other prospective lottery picks.
I wrote an extensive report on the good, the bad and the ugly. Looking back, it’s apparent there wasn’t much I didn’t like about him as a basketball player.
One of my mentors who has coached and recruited in Division I college basketball and worked as a coach and talent evaluator in the NBA once told me, “Write everything you want to say about a player in four or five sentences. If you want to write a huge report for yourself, fine. But most people aren’t going to read all of that. In academia you write these big, wordy essays. Don’t do that B.S. here. Get right to the point and make it clear where you stand.”
The Case For NBA Most Improved
By Steve Kyler
With the halfway point of the NBA season approaching for most teams, there are a few players that have really upped their games this season. Some of that is due to new roles such as becoming starters or having more minutes, some have simply broken out in a big way.
Predicting the field for the NBA’s Most Improved Player award is never easy, so rather than personally pontificating on the merits of each guy, we put this out to the HOOPSWORLD writers and let them nominate a candidate and make their case.
James Harden – Houston Rockets
When the Houston Rockets did their due diligence on James Harden they saw a player who had incredibly high stats in all the right places and being a team that focuses heavily on stats, they decided he was someone they would love to add to their roster. When contract talks between Harden’s camp and the Oklahoma City Thunder hit a snag, the Rockets got their chance.
Harden staked his claim on the franchise player role for Houston right out of the gate, scoring 37 points and dishing 12 assists in a win over Detroit, after which he dropped 45 points on the Atlanta Hawks. Normally a player who gets hot early will eventually struggle as teams begin to plan for him, but Harden has continued to impress, even earning Player of the Week honors last week when he averaged 29.3 points (second in the conference), 3.25 steals (second in the conference) and 5.5 assists in leading the Rockets to a 4-0 week.
James Harden is the real deal. If you don’t know, you better ask somebody.
– Bill Ingram
D-League Impacting The NBA Draft?
By Yannis Koutroupis
The 2013 NBA Development League Showcase was held this weekend in Reno, Nevada and there was a unanimous consensus that the talent level was as high as it has ever been. There was a representative from every NBA team as four games were played each day over a four-day period, featuring the entire league.
There were several NBA players down on assignment, most notably Oklahoma City Thunder rookies Jeremy Lamb and Perry Jones, along with Denver Nuggets forward Quincy Miller and Houston Rockets forward Terrence Jones.
All of those players could be playing college basketball this year as they had eligibility remaining, but ultimately decided to make the jump to the NBA and become professionals.
Why An Eric Gordon Trade Is Unlikely
By Bill Ingram
Fans of the New Orleans Hornets were stung a season ago when long-time franchise cornerstone Chris Paul was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers. The salve on the wound was the fact that the Hornets got budding young star Eric Gordon back in the deal, and it was expected that he would take the place of Paul in the hearts and minds of the Hornets’ faithful. Unfortunately, injuries prevented Gordon from doing much of anything last season, and even as this season got underway rumors that Gordon didn’t want to be in New Orleans accompanied nearly every report that his return had been delayed once again.
Now, finally, Gordon is healthy, and though he’s played just a handful of games he’s already showing Hornets fans that they have reason to be excited about his game. He scored 24 points and dished out seven assists in his debut last week and hit the game-winning shot in overtime against the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday night.
Knicks or Lakers Signing Martin?
By Alex Kennedy
The halfway point of the 2012-13 NBA season is approaching and yet Kenyon Martin remains unsigned. Around this time last year, Martin was coming back from a short stint in China after signing with the Xinjiang Flying Tigers during the lockout. When Martin returned, he visited with several teams and weighed a number of offers, and ultimately decided to sign with the Los Angeles Clippers.
Now, there aren’t any offers for the 35-year-old Martin to consider. Over the offseason, several teams expressed interest in Martin including the Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets, Dallas Mavericks and San Antonio Spurs. However, none of the teams offered a contract so Martin is still at home.
At first, sources blamed Martin’s unwillingness to sign for the veteran’s minimum as the reason why he wasn’t signed, but even since Martin has backed off of that stance he hasn’t been picked up. Some reports have even indicated that Martin would even be willing to sign a 10-day contract in an effort to prove that he can still bring something to the table for an NBA team.
Can Thunder Rookies Lamb and Jones Play?
There was a lot of positive spin put on the Oklahoma City Thunders’ acquisition of Perry Jones III at #28 in this year’s draft and the Houston Rockets trade that brought lottery pick Jeremy Lamb to the team meant Oklahoma City had two high profile rookies on the roster for the current season. However, lost in the excitement of being a first-round pick in the draft was the fact that these two inexperienced kids would have to compete for minutes with proven veterans on a championship caliber team. It was never going to be easy for Jones and Lamb.
“It’s hard, the tough thing about this team is it’s tough to get minutes,” Thunder head coach Scott Brooks said. “There are no scholarships here, you have to earn every minute and the guy in front of you, there might be two guys in front of you who are really good and they’re really young. It’s tough to break in and get minutes from Russell [Westbrook], Kevin [Durant], Serge [Ibaka] and Thabo [Sefolosha], but they have to keep waiting for their opportunity. In this league, if you don’t prepare yourself for that opportunity, when you get it, you’re not going to have success and you are probably not going to get another opportunity. But our guys always work and we believe in developing our players, developing them everyday regardless of if you’re in the rotation or not.”