HOOPSWORLD Week in Review
2011 NBA Draft: Top SFs
By Luke Byrnes
As we continue our coverage of the top prospects for the upcoming June 2011 NBA Draft (we have already looked at point guards and shooting guards), today we take a look at the cream of the crop at the small forward position.
1. Harrison Barnes, North Carolina – Coming into this season Harrison Barnes was considered by most to be the top overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, but after a slow start both individually and as a team the 6-8, 210 lb., swingman has seen his stock dip some. There is little doubt Barnes will be one of the first names called next June, regardless of the fact that it has taken him longer to adjust to the college game than just about everyone thought it would. A solid athlete, Barnes can do it all, showing a wide variety of skills that more than make up for any athleticism he may lack. The Carolina swingman can dribble in traffic, shoot from distance, get to the hoop, finish around the basket and make the difficult pass. 12 games into his freshman campaign, Barnes has settled too often for perimeter shots rather than attacking the basket, attempting more three-point shots (49) than free throws (44) this season. As he continues to get more comfortable, expect those numbers change and Barnes to look more like the player tabbed as the No. 1 pick in the draft. No player in this class has the complete package (leadership, work ethic, ball-handling, play-making, etc.) Barnes possesses and he is a virtual lock to become the first small forward off the board.
Get Lopez Back In The Post
By Anthony Macri
Now in his third year, New Jersey Nets center Brook Lopez’s points per game continue to rise. However, he is shooting a lower percentage than ever before, and his assist and rebounding numbers are both down from a year ago. While the Nets are an improved club under new coach Avery Johnson, Lopez’s efficiency and overall level of play seem down from the past. To what can we attribute the drop off?
The central problem for Lopez seems to be how little he’s prizing position before the catch. That is, he seems content to receive post passes with both feet outside the lane, sometimes an entire stride outside the lane. He is often higher up the lane line (sometimes at the second hash mark or higher) as well. Being so far off the block leaves him squarely in no-man’s land when it comes to post play.
Knicks Catch Their Breath
By Alex Raskin
The other shoe may have finally dropped in midtown Manhattan.
The Knicks had won 13 of 14 games when the Celtics pulled off a miraculous two-point win at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 15. Two nights later Miami dropped New York by 22 at MSG.
But nothing has ripped the Knicks back down to earth quite like Saturday’s 109-102 overtime loss to the 8-20 Cavaliers.
"It was a tough month and a half," Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni said before Wednesday’s 112-98 win over the Thunder. "Emotionally we got a little ahead of ourselves.
"We were riding a high and the Garden was crazy, which was great," he continued. "I’m not complaining, but that takes stuff out (of players). It’s like playoff games."
Top 5 Largest Trades in History
By Joel Brigham
Orlando’s two trades earlier this week, combined with the re-heated rumors about a potential multi-team New Jersey deal for Carmelo Anthony, brought up the idea to discuss the largest and most complex trades in league history. It took a lot of moving bodies to bring Gilbert Arenas, Jason Richardson, and Hedo Turkoglu to Central Florida, but that particular pair of trades involved only three teams and eight people—nowhere near the largest of all time.
So what do you suppose we’re going to do with today’s top five list? You got it, folks—here’s a look at the five biggest and most complex trades in the history of the NBA:
Marvin Williams Not Cool With Benching
By Lang Greene
The Southeast Division has become synonymous with change over the past few months. The Orlando Magic, Washington Wizards, Miami HEAT and Charlotte Bobcats have all undergone dramatic roster transformations since the end of last season. Yet amongst the whirlwind of changes the Atlanta Hawks still remain essentially the same squad that resurfaced on the national radar during the 2008 campaign.
The Hawks’ front office has taken the stance of remaining slow but steady and is intent on allowing their assembled nucleus to reach their respective ceiling. Even when the organization relieved Mike Woodson as head coach after an embarrassing playoff sweep to the Magic last season, ownership played it safe by hiring his long time assistant Larry Drew to fill the vacancy – a move predicated on not disrupting the chemistry of the unit’s core.
So it comes as no surprise that when something unexpectedly goes against the fabric of consistency in Atlanta, eyebrows will raise and frustrations will surface. It all began when starting lineups were announced before Monday night’s divisional clash with Orlando, when Hawks small forward Marvin Williams’ name was noticeably absent.
Brackins Listens, Learns From Veterans
By Mark Nugent
Being a first-round draft pick in the NBA doesn’t guarantee success or even playing time. Some rookies get sent to the D-League until their team believes they are ready, while others sit on the bench and get few opportunities to showcase their talent. The Philadelphia 76ers Craig Brackins falls into both categories.
He played five games for the Springfield Armor in early December averaging over 17 points a game, good enough to get him called back to the team. But through the Sixers first 27 games of the season, he has only seen 10 minutes of NBA court time. Brackins isn’t getting down; instead he’s using his time on the bench as an opportunity.
"It’s a good experience because of the fact that we have a lot of veterans. A guy like Elton Brand, Tony Battie, (Andres) Nocioni, you can learn a lot from them," Brackins told HOOPSWORLD. "I just work as hard as I can, keep my tools sharp and then basically learn as much as I can and just be hungry in practice and compete."
Aminu Should Be Worth the Wait
By Joel Brigham
At this point in the season, L.A. Clippers forward Blake Griffin is probably the Rookie of the Year, but he’s not the only guy on that young L.A. roster experiencing his first go-round in the NBA. The Clippers have four rookies on the roster, including fellow lottery pick Al-Farouq Aminu, and all that youth (added to injury issues for starting point guard Baron Davis) has caused the team to get off to a slow start this season.
But while Griffin is finding that everything is coming easy, Aminu is experiencing a little sharper learning curve. The lessons learned start with the team’s disappointing 7-21 start.