NBA PM: The Trade Deadline’s Real Winners?
When a HOOPSWORLD poll immediately following the NBA trade deadline asked readers which team had made the best trade, the answers were overwhelmingly split between the winners, the Houston Rockets, and the second-place Milwaukee Bucks. The Rockets acquired Thomas Robinson, the fifth overall pick in last summer’s NBA draft, from the Sacramento Kings, and the Bucks acquired sharp-shooting sixth man J.J. Redick from the Orlando Magic.
Now, with the benefit of a little hindsight, that poll might look a little different. Redick has been great, and with him in the mix the Bucks have all but locked in a playoff berth. Robinson has had some interesting moments in Houston, as well, though his long-term benefit to the team is still very much in question. Meanwhile, a team that was left off the list altogether because of their poor record may have actually won the day.
It was something of a head-scratcher when the Kings gave up Robinson to Houston, especially when what it netted for them was Patrick Patterson, who appears to have peaked, Toney Douglas, who was the fourth point guard on the team at the time, and seldom-used big man Cole Aldrich. Small sample sizes are always dangerous, but in the fifteen games since the Kings inserted their new players into the lineup they are showing marked improvement across the board.
Over the last ten games the Sacramento Kings, winners of just 32 percent of their games prior to the stretch, have won five of ten, and are leading the league in scoring, True Shooting Percentage (TSP) and also Net Efficiency Rating. They have also won four of their last six, including impressive wins over the Los Angeles Clippers and Chicago Bulls. Patterson is giving his new team 9.2 points off the bench, shooting 55 percent overall and also 55 percent from three-point range. Douglas has quickly endeared himself to head coach Keith Smart, particularly after he hand-delivered the win over the Clippers with a huge fourth quarter and 19 points and seven assists overall. Even Aldrich, who has been used sparingly, played an important role in the win over Minnesota with his defense of Nikola Pekovic.
From the Kings’ point of view, Robinson is a solid prospect, but he is also young and needs time to mature. A quick look across the team’s roster shows that they don’t need any more guys who fit that description. What Coach Smart was looking for was more veteran guidance to help advance the team’s rebuilding process, and while it is still too soon to assess the long-term impact of the trade with Houston, the early returns look very good.
It might just be that when we look back at this year’s trade deadline from next year’s vantage point the Sacramento Kings will turn out to be the big winners after all.
Kevin Martin Confident In Thunder
The Oklahoma City Thunder are slipping a bit of late, with many now having a hard time seeing them as repeat Western Conference champs. Kevin Martin, however, is completely convinced that his new team has what it will take to get back to the NBA Finals. He talks with HOOPSWORLD about his role with the team, the Thunder’s prospects heading into the playoffs, the improved play of Hasheem Thabeet and more in this exclusive interview:
The Shabazz Muhammad Birth Certificate Scandal
In recent years we have had our share of crazy conspiracy theories regarding birth certificates, but in the news today we have a real, sure enough case of a birth certificate issue with regard to the NBA. It turns out that top NBA prospect Shabazz Muhammad, who according to the UCLA men’s basketball media guide was born on November 13, 1993, was actually born on the same date in 1992, making him a full year older than he has claimed.
Today the LA Times is reporting that Muhammad’s father, Ron Holmes, initially refuted the report of his son’s adjusted age, but then did an about face and offered what was almost a bribe to ease the sting of the revelation.
“Bazz is going to blow up in the NBA lets [sic] team up and blow this thing up!!!” Holmes wrote to Ken Bensinger. “I’m going to need a publicist anyway why shouldn’t it be you. [sic] We can do some big things together.”
What impact this news will have on Muhammad’s draft status is debatable. First of all, it means he has spent most of his career playing against players who were one year younger than him, meaning he had a distinct advantage over his opponents and likely had inflated numbers as a result. Second, for the large number of NBA teams who spend as much time looking at a player’s character as they do his talent, this might be the kind of thing that causes certain teams to pass.
It’s not as if the age myth would have slipped through the cracks when the NBA did background checks leading up to the draft, so this was not something that would have gone undetected for much longer. It doesn’t change the fact that Muhammad is the most talented freshman in the country and is projected to be a top three pick in the draft.
It will be interesting to see how this deception impacts the career of a player who some say has the potential to be the best young shooting guard in the NBA. . .if at all.
HOOPSWORLD’s March Madness Coverage
Make sure you’re up to speed on all of the top NCAA teams and players by checking out HOOPSWORLD’s March Madness content.
We have previewed every single first-round game. You can find all of the previews here. They have in-depth stats, players to watch and a poll so that you can vote on which team will win. Once it tips off, feel free to discuss the game in the comment section.
Are you an NBA fan who only watches the NCAA Tournament to get a look at this year’s draft prospects? Here is a look at 20 players to watch during March Madness as well as a list of prospects to keep an eye on during the opening round.
HOOPSWORLD will continue to push out NCAA Tournament coverage over the next few weeks so be sure to check back regularly.
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