NBA AM: Can The HEAT Get 34 Straight?
Bring On 28: The Miami HEAT made short order of the Orlando Magic last night in Orlando, bringing their impressive win streak to 27 games.
The “new normal with this group,” joked Shane Battier. But a recurring theme from all of the guys in the winning locker room was that beyond the questions about it, the HEAT as a team really doesn’t talk about the run that they are on, rather the work they need to do to tighten up their team game before the playoffs.
The HEAT players repeatedly mentioned that we hadn’t seen their best basketball yet, and the lapses that have allowed other teams to gain leads or even compete with the HEAT over this stretch have given them reasons to keep pushing and working.
HEAT star LeBron James said while he respects how rare a run like the one the HEAT are on is, breaking the 33-wins record isn’t the goal, its just one of the things they can accomplish on the way to the goal.
“We’re not able to kind of hit the pause button,” James said to the crowd of reporters huddled around his locker. “We’re not taking our team for granted. I continue to always say, ‘wins in professional sports are hard to come by’ and teams like this are really rare, so to be a part of a team like this we don’t take for granted.
“Our historic run, you know, is about winning championships. That is what we want to be known for, but it’s a process and whatever comes in between that we can be excited about it. But we didn’t have a goal in mind in saying ‘let’s go on a long consecutive win streak’, but our goal in mind was to win each and every game we go out on the floor. It doesn’t happen like that every night, we know that, but that’s the way we approach the game.”
The HEAT notched win 27 last night and could have win 28 on deck versus the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday.
If the HEAT can get past Chicago in Chicago they have the New Orleans Hornets in New Orleans on Friday for win 29. The Hornets just broke Denver’s 15-game win streak last night so that may not be the push over game everyone expected. Win 30 might be the streak ender in San Antonio on Sunday.
If the HEAT can survive those three games win 31 could be at home versus the Knicks, win 32 could come in Charlotte versus the Bobcats on April 5. The record tying 33rd win could be at home versus Philadelphia on April 6 and the record setting 34th win could be April 9 at home versus the Milwaukee Bucks.
The HEAT still have a tough road to manage to get to 34-wins, but with 27 in the bank already seven more to break the ‘71-’72 Lakers 33-game mark is a lot closer than it was a week ago.
So there are 16 teams left, who should you put your support behind? HOOPSWORLD has you covered with detailed game by game previews with predictions for every game, updated throughout the tournament. You can see the previews in bracket form or in just a straight directory style list. Stay on top of the tournament as the chase for the National Championship continues.
Haslem Talks Streak: Udonis Haslem has two NBA championships with the Miami HEAT. His first was in 2006 as part of the Shaquille O’Neal/Dwyane Wade group that took down Dallas. He grabbed his second ring last year and is looking at a possible third ring this June.
For a player who was undrafted and brought on through summer league, Haslem has come a long way and is enjoying every second of the ride he’s on.
Haslem talked with HOOPSWORLD about the HEAT’s streak, his role as a veteran leader and how his team is approaching the goal of getting another championship this year.
No Virtue In Staying: When talking about the NBA Draft class no comment gets made more in March and April than the annual “he’s not ready, he should stay in school” proclamation, and while the value of a college education is great, the idea that a possible draft pick should forgo the NBA Draft for another year in college is almost laughable in this day and age.
This week a respected colleague of mine got into a heated debate over UCLA guard Shabazz Mohammed, suggesting that while he was a lottery pick talent, he simply wasn’t ready as a player for life in the NBA and that despite the countless millions that await him in the NBA, he should stay another year in school and develop his body and his game.
Now the premise is sound. If a player comes out and fails, the amount of time and money a NBA team will invest in him may be shorter than anyone can project – ask Earl Clark. The Phoenix Suns drafted him in the lottery, did not pick up his contract option and now the 14th pick in 2009 is playing for $1.2 million while the player drafted 17th, Jrue Holiday, just signed a $41 million contract extension this summer.
Could Clark have been better prepared had he done another year with Rick Pitino in Louisville? Maybe.
The problem with the premise is the assumption that staying means you’ll get better or more valuable. Perry Jones III was pegged as a possible top five player in the 2011 NBA Draft class. He opted to stay another year, damaged his knee and had an underwhelming season, causing him to drop to the Oklahoma City Thunder at the end of the first round. He lost millions of guaranteed dollars for one more year.
Another problem with the premise is that the role a player had this year may not exist next year. Terrance Jones opted for another year of college at the University of Kentucky; he won a National Championship, but found himself drafted in the middle of the draft because he wasn’t deemed to have as much “potential” because of his season at UK, which featured other players in starring role,s not Jones. Jones was drafted, but not nearly as high as had he forgone his second year.
The truth of the matter is while players may or may not be “ready” the absolute best place to develop NBA game and skills are “in” the NBA, whether that’s through D-League assignment or even daily work with the main team.
NBA teams have far better resources when it comes to strength and development training. There is 24/7 availability to work that is not available to college players and there is the chance to actually play in NBA games that’s invaluable to learning the speed and pace of the NBA.
It’s also easier to focus on your basketball game when that’s all you have to worry about and you have the money to take care of all of your physical needs.
If a NBA team is going to pay you to learn and develop your game, a player has to come out. Historically few players have increased their draft stock by staying; most have taken a five-to-ten draft spot tumble in exchange for another year of college.
The value of a college education is not the issue because players can continue to take classes in the summer or online throughout the NBA season, and a lot of them do exactly that after landing in the NBA.
The issue here is risk versus reward.
The NBA requires players to wait one year after their high school graduating class, that’s a good rule for the business of the NBA. It has nothing to do with ability to play, it has everything to do with being able to sell the players they draft or avoid investing millions in the wrong guy.
But for the players, opting to stay in school rarely results in a better situation down the line, especially for ranked players today. The only reason to consider staying is if you are projected outside the top 80 prospects, but if a player is inside the top 80, there is a greater chance than not that he’ll earn a NBA paycheck and there is no better place to get ready for the NBA, than the NBA. And if a team will pay you for a year to do that, a player has to consider that.
There is considerable risk there too. New Orleans guard Austin Rivers was not ready for the NBA. He took the gamble because his name was hot and the Hornets invested the 10th overall pick in him. He has struggled to find his game in the NBA, and while he’s gotten considerably better as of late, if he can’t turn the corner next season and deliver on his promise he could find himself in the same situation as Clark.
That’s the premise my colleague was trying to make regarding Muhammad, coming in and failing could cost you more than waiting another year. However, when you factor in injuries and a history that shows staying generally equals dropping, there is no virtue in staying in college. Players rarely improve their situation and if a NBA team is going to pay you develop, it comes down to having a belief in your own ability to play at the NBA level and that’s a different animal all together.
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Sacramento Is Upping Their Game: The Sacramento Kings still stink on the basketball court, but the city’s bid to keep the team in Sacramento has been supercharged in recent days with minority Warriors owner Vivek Ranadive joining Billionaire Ron Burkle and 24-Hour Fitness mogul Mark Mastrov in a revised bid to keep the team where it is and block a possible move to Seattle.
Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson tweeted yesterday that a fourth heavy hitter has also committed to Sacramento’s ownership group with Paul Jacobs, CEO of Qualcomm, tossing in on the deal.
Sacramento has agreed as a city to provide some $258 million to help fund a $447 million downtown arena, so most of the required items in a viable counter-proposal are in place.
The NBA has scheduled a meeting for April 3 for each side of the deal to discuss its offer with the NBA’s relocation and finances committees in New York. It’s expected that after that meeting the committees, which have been combined for the sake of expedience, will make a recommendation to the full NBA Board of Governors at their April 18 meeting, which is likely when a sale of the Kings could be finalized.
Sources close to this process say that Sacramento and specifically Mayor Johnson have a fairly specific set of objectives to deliver in order to be in the running to keep the team.
Sacramento’s new ownership group must deliver a sale price that values the team in excess of the $525 million Seattle’s offer reflects.
That’s an all-in valuation, not the amount that needs to change hands. That amount would not include relocation or transaction charges, as those would be assessed on top of any sale price regardless of a move.
Sacramento must deliver an arena plan that is approved, and funding that is equal to or better than the tentative arena deal in place in Seattle.
Sacramento would need to deliver at least five new long-term corporate sponsors that commit to $2 million per year for five years, so a total of $50 million in new corporate sponsor money and a new TV rights package that would put Sacramento equal with other NBA markets and reflect the current market value for NBA rights.
Sacramento’s initial offer did not reflect that, and they have been given a chance to re-work their proposal. According to Mayor Johnson, Sacramento will be ready for the April 3rmeeting in New York with the right kind of offer.
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