HOOPSWORLD Week in Review
A Perfect Season?
By Luke Byrnes
Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves, but Duke looks like a much better team than the one that captured its fourth national title in the history of the program last season.
It isn’t all that uncommon for a defending national champion to enter the following season ranked atop the national preseason polls. When three starters graduate and move on to play professional basketball from that team, however, it becomes much more of a rarity. For the 2010-11 Duke Blue Devils men’s basketball team, that is exactly the case.
Coming off a 61-59 victory over Butler in the 2010 NCAA Championship game, Duke came into this season without last season’s co-captains, Jon Scheyer and Lance Thomas, as well as center Brian Zoubek, a trio of seniors which may have been the team’s three best defensive players. That being said, Coach Mike Krzyzewski team returns the 2010 Final Four Most Outstanding Player, Kyle Singler, guard Nolan Smith and adds Kyrie Irving, one of the top high school recruits in the class of 2010.
Why They’re John Wall’s Wizards
By Stephen Brotherston
When the Washington Wizards unexpectedly won the 2010 NBA draft lottery, it wasn’t unexpected that they would be taking the consensus number one pick in the 2010 draft, point guard John Wall from the University of Kentucky. This one-and-done college player led a team of potential future NBA stars deep into the NCAA tournament and when HOOPSWORLD started our NBA Rookie of the Year watch, it was John Wall leading the way.
"He has been hurt recently but if you look at what he has done when he wasn’t hurt, he was able to average over 19 points and nine assists," said head coach Flip Saunders. "Anytime a 19-year-old comes in with those types of stats, that’s pretty impressive."
John Wall is a young player on a very young team. The Wizards will not have a 30-year-old on the active roster this year until Josh Howard returns from injury. And as Saunders knows, this can have an effect on his team.
Farmar Tests His Mettle
By Alex Raskin
Jordan Farmar hadn’t started since his rookie season. Sure, the UCLA product played meaningful minutes in Los Angeles alongside Kobe Bryant for the past four seasons. He even defended Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen in the NBA Finals. But until Wednesday night’s game against Oklahoma City, the Nets point guard had not gotten a starting nod since the Lakers beat the Kings in the last game of the 2006-2007 regular season.
"I’m the guy running the show," Farmar told HOOPSWORLD about his role in the wake of Devin Harris’ sprained knee. "A lot more responsibility, but also a lot more freedom. For me, that’s really how I’m comfortable playing basketball—knowing I have the faith to make any decision I want. Make or miss a shot, turnover, whatever, I’m still going to have a chance to rectify it the next game and just be really comfortable." And he got plenty comfortable on Wednesday.
Mike Conley Talks Greg Oden, Grizzlies Future
By Lang Greene
Sometimes in life things just don’t follow the designed script – especially on the hardwood.
There are a variety of circumstances that factor into why players don’t meet or exceed their lofty expectations coming into the league. Failing to properly adjust to the plethora of off court temptations and excess that stardom brings have taken the most talented prospects and turned them into historical afterthoughts — see Chris Washburn or the tragic stories of Len Bias and Eddie Griffin. However, in the blink of an eye, succumbing to an assortment of injuries can turn a once surefire franchise centerpiece into a possible career role player or journeyman.
Sadly Greg Oden, the No. 1 overall pick of the 2007 draft, is at a career crossroads before turning 23 years old after recently undergoing microfracture surgery on his left knee. In addition, Oden had a previous microfracture procedure on his right knee which required him to miss all of his rookie campaign.
Top Six NBA Storylines So Far
By Jason Fleming
With the quarter turn of the 2010-11 NBA season now in site, it’s time to review a little bit the season so far. This season had so much hype coming in it would have been almost impossible to justify it all, and while all the preseason hype has not proven to be justified new aspects have taken their place.
Let’s take a look at the six biggest storylines of the 2010-11 season so far:
1 – Miami’s Struggles: When predictions were made about the 2010-11 Miami HEAT they almost never fell short of Eastern Conference finalist. They were expected to come out and win games, a lot of them, with even some talk of them possibly winning 70. As it turns out that was quite optimistic, and in retrospect completely silly. Chemistry is so important in team sports; many forgot just how long it takes to develop, assuming three All-Stars could make it happen right away just because they wanted to make it happen. It doesn’t work that way.
Top 5 High School Flops
By Joel Brigham
When you take a look at the most successful NBA players in recent league history, it’s hard to ignore the fact that many of these superstars never attended college. Obviously players can no longer skip directly from high school to the league, but starting in 1995 with Kevin Garnett and spanning until age restrictions were placed on the draft in 2005 there were quite a few young men who were given the opportunity to make big bucks without risking injury in the NCAA.
That list includes Garnett, obviously, as well as Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Dwight Howard, Tracy McGrady, Rashard Lewis, Jermaine O’Neal, Al Harrington, Tyson Chandler, Josh Smith, Monta Ellis, and Andrew Bynum, among others.
Serge Ibaka: The "It" Factor
By Susan Bible
Serge Ibaka’s journey to becoming an integral member of the Oklahoma City Thunder is a unique one. He had childhood experiences few can even fathom. Those very experiences have contributed to the type of player he’s evolving into today - one who is fearless, determined and confident. Of course, his natural freakish athleticism certainly helps.
Born September 18, 1989, in the city of Brazzaville, the capital of the Republic of Congo, to basketball-playing parents, Ibaka, one of 18 children, lived through poverty with no electricity or running water, or even food, at times. By the age of fourteen, he had lived through civil unrest in his country, his mother’s untimely death and his father’s political imprisonment. The one constant was his love of basketball. He learned the game on worn outside courts wearing sneakers with cardboard inserts to cover holes in the soles.
Should We Blame the Owners?
By Mark Nugent
Across the NBA the economic news appears to be good. Season ticket sales are up and television ratings are up, yet NBA Commissioner David Stern tells us that the NBA stands to lose upwards of $370 million this season. How is this possible and who is to blame? According to the owners, the blame falls squarely on a bad labor deal with the players and the only option is for massive salary cuts and the introduction of a hard cap. Is it fair for the owners to put all of the blame on the players? Don’t they have a part to play in this problem too?
NBA Players’ Association President Derek Fisher thinks so. "We just feel that if there are teams or individual owners that feel strongly [about adopting a hard cap], they need to make some different decisions regarding the salaries and how much money is being spent on players or personnel. They have every right to make that decision and not pay guys as much as maybe they’ve been paying."