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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Knicks Morning News (Friday, Jun 21 2013)

  • [New York Times] Miami Celebrates Heat Victory, Spurs Fans Somber (Fri, 21 Jun 2013 09:31:31 GMT)
    Miami Heat fans pumped fists jubilantly, uncorked champagne bottles and swarmed into the streets by the thousands to celebrate overnight after their team captured its second straight NBA title.    

  • [New York Times] Column: LBJ’s ‘Decision’ Looks Smart in Hindsight (Fri, 21 Jun 2013 08:10:53 GMT)
    Chris Bosh told those Heat fans who had left Game 6 early to stay home, and judging strictly by his line in Game 7, he barely bothered to show up himself.    

  • [New York Times] LeBron Takes Place Among the Greats With Magnificent Game Seven (Fri, 21 Jun 2013 07:46:20 GMT)
    LeBron James realized his dream of winning multiple National Basketball Association (NBA) crowns with the Miami Heat on Thursday with the Finals MVP delivering a magnificent 37-point performance to sink the San Antonio Spurs and defend the title.    

  • [New York Times] 5 Things of Note From the NBA Finals (Fri, 21 Jun 2013 07:43:58 GMT)
    Five things of note from Miami’s seven-game win over San Antonio in the NBA Finals, which ended Thursday night:    

  • [New York Times] James Puts Emphatic End on 2nd Straight NBA Title (Fri, 21 Jun 2013 07:40:38 GMT)
    LeBron James and Maverick Carter have been inseparable since they were little kids. Extremely close friends, James trusts Carter with virtually every aspect of his life.    

  • [New York Times] Brilliant James Leads Miami to NBA Title (Fri, 21 Jun 2013 07:22:14 GMT)
    LeBron James, his legacy as one of the game’s greats now secure, led the Miami Heat to their second straight National Basketball Association (NBA) title on Thursday with a 95-88 win over the San Antonio Spurs.    

  • [New York Times] Game 7: Heat 95, Spurs 88: Pushed to Limit, James and Miami Repeat as N.B.A. Champions (Fri, 21 Jun 2013 06:59:02 GMT)
    LeBron James claimed his second N.B.A. title, posting 37 points and 12 rebounds to close out a taut series against the Spurs, who were seeking their fifth title with Tim Duncan.    

  • [New York Times] ‘Basketball Gods’ Shine on Heat’s Battier (Fri, 21 Jun 2013 06:25:16 GMT)
    Shane Battier, benched earlier in the playoffs, delivered a masterclass in three-point shooting for the Miami Heat, playing a vital role in their 95-88 win in the NBA Finals on Thursday.    

  • [New York Times] Spurs Left to Ponder After Finals Loss (Fri, 21 Jun 2013 05:31:13 GMT)
    The San Antonio Spurs’ worst nightmare became a reality when they lost the decisive game of the NBA Finals to the Miami Heat on Thursday.    

  • [New York Times] Proud Spurs Fall to James, Heat in Game 7 (Fri, 21 Jun 2013 05:13:40 GMT)
    Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili trudged off the court, their heads hanging, bald spots that come from more than a decade of games like this for all to see.    

  • [New York Times] List of NBA Champions (Fri, 21 Jun 2013 04:37:20 GMT)
    List of National Basketball Association champions:    

  • [New York Times] Factbox: NBA Champions Miami Heat (Fri, 21 Jun 2013 04:34:17 GMT)
    The Miami Heat won the National Basketball Association (NBA) championship on Thursday by beating the San Antonio Spurs 4-3 in the best-of seven Finals.    

  • [New York Times] James Named NBA Finals Most Valuable Player (Fri, 21 Jun 2013 04:31:13 GMT)
    Miami Heat forward LeBron James won his second successive NBA Finals Most Valuable Player (MVP) award after leading his team to victory over the San Antonio Spurs in Thursday’s championship decider.    

  • [New York Times] Factbox: NBA Finals Most Valuable Player LeBron James (Fri, 21 Jun 2013 04:28:13 GMT)
    LeBron James was named the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the 2013 National Basketball Association Finals on Thursday.    

  • [New York Times] LeBron Leads Heat to Second Straight Title (Fri, 21 Jun 2013 04:07:49 GMT)
    LeBron James had 37 points and 12 rebounds and the Miami Heat repeated as champions with a 95-88 victory over the San Antonio Spurs in Game 7 of the NBA Finals on Thursday night.    

  • [New York Times] N.B.A. Gets Another Memorable Game 7 (Fri, 21 Jun 2013 04:04:05 GMT)
    The Heat had history and momentum on their side for Game 7, the 18th in N.B.A. finals history, but the Spurs held close until the final minute.    

  • [New York Times] List of NBA Champions (Fri, 21 Jun 2013 04:01:24 GMT)
    List of National Basketball Association champions:    

  • [New York Times] Miami Beat San Antonio to Win NBA Championship (Fri, 21 Jun 2013 04:01:19 GMT)
    The Miami Heat clinched their second successive National Basketball (NBA) championship on Thursday, beating the San Antonio Spurs 95-88 in the decisive seventh game of an epic series.    

  • [New York Times] Miami Lead San Antonio 46-44 at Halftime in NBA Decider (Fri, 21 Jun 2013 02:34:17 GMT)
    LeBron James scored 15 points as the Miami Heat snatched a 46-44 halftime lead over the San Antonio Spurs in Thursday’s deciding Game Seven of the National Basketball Association (NBA) Finals.    

  • [New York Times] Shot-Blocking Skills Give Miami an Edge (Fri, 21 Jun 2013 01:32:00 GMT)
    Though they play with a smaller lineup than the Spurs, the Heat led the N.B.A. finals in blocked shots heading into Game 7.    

  • [New York Times] Stern Skeptical of Proposal to Send Rivers to Clippers (Fri, 21 Jun 2013 00:47:25 GMT)
    Commissioner David Stern cast doubt over a deal in the works to allow Coach Doc Rivers to leave the Celtics for the Clippers, citing a violation of N.B.A. rules.    

  • [New York Times] Kids Helped Heat, Spurs Keep Perspective in Finals (Fri, 21 Jun 2013 00:43:48 GMT)
    These NBA Finals were apparently about the kids.    

  • 64 comments on “Knicks Morning News (Friday, Jun 21 2013)

    1. Frank

      Copying this forward from previous thread:

      Well I guess it’s on to the draft.

      Looks like the mocks have us taking guys like Tony Mitchell, Reggie Bullock, Jamaal Franklin, or Allen Crabbe.

      Any preference here? Honestly I’d be fine with any of these guys. All of them are 2 way players except maybe Crabbe, so maybe I’d prefer the others. Franklin especially seems like a jack-of-all-trades guy that I think would fit in well if Hopla can fix his jumpshot.

      I was originally hoping for either Dieng or Withey but I feel like Dieng will probably be gone by the time we pick, and the more you read about Withey the more he feels like Ian Mahinmi or Ryan Hollins. Can find that caliber of player for vet’s minimums.

    2. Frank

      Speaking of Franklin, his stats at SDSU were eerily similar to Kawhi’s while basically playing the same role. Per-40 in their last years there:

      Kawhi – 19p/13r/3.1a/1.7s, TS 51, 29% from 3
      Franklin – 20pts/11reb/4a/2stl, TS 54, 28% from 3.

      If anything, Franklin’s stats are better.

      Draftexpress has us getting Franklin, and Givony generally has a very good track record.

      That said I wouldn’t mind any of the other guys either.

    3. Hubert

      jon abbey:
      also THCJ is wrong a hilariously huge percentage of the time, but he was dead on about Kawhi Leonard, what a stud he already is at 21.

      I remember watching him fall in that draft almost right to us. They took at 15, we took Shumpert at 17. (And Philadelphia, I recall, was locked into Vucevic at 16.) I love me so some Shump, though.

      Funny thing about that draft is there were so many good guys available. I remember watching it unfold (prior to Leonard going at 15) thinking we could have a choice of Leonard, Shumpert, Faried, or Singleton (who I still like and think would be very good on a better team).

      That draft is just a hilarious collective failure of NBA GM’s. Picks 15-22 just blow away picks 2-14:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2011_NBA_Draft

    4. Hubert

      BigBlueAL: 1993 NBA Finals (Bulls-Suns) is up there too.I would say this was easily the best Finals to watch in terms of the great basketball played since the 1993 Finals.

      jon abbey:
      the difference with the Suns is they weren’t already proven champs, they hadn’t even been to the Finals before.

      Plus the Suns got their asses handed to them. That wasn’t a close series.

      Phoenix pulled out a save-face-don’t-get-swept victory in game 3 (that amazing triple OT game), and the Bulls half-assed game 5 with a 3-1 lead.

    5. Hubert

      That was the only time in my life I ever rooted for the Bulls, by the way. I hated the ’93 Suns from the moment Kevin Johnson took out Doc Rivers and started that brawl. And the next day when the two Phoenix radio guys tried to punk Mike & the Mad Dog just cemented it. I was 16, and a grudge was formed. I’m actively rooting for Sacramento to lose the Kings because I still hate Kevin Johnson.

    6. d-mar

      Hubert: I remember watching him fall in that draft almost right to us.They took at 15, we took Shumpert at 17.(And Philadelphia, I recall, was locked into Vucevic at 16.)I love me so some Shump, though.

      Funny thing about that draft is there were so many good guys available.I remember watching it unfold (prior to Leonard going at 15) thinking we could have a choice of Leonard, Shumpert, Faried, or Singleton (who I still like and think would be very good on a better team).

      That draft is just a hilarious collective failure of NBA GM’s.Picks 15-22 just blow away picks 2-14:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2011_NBA_Draft

      I love Shump, and there was a lot of back and forth about whether you would rather have him or Leonard, but I really don’t think it’s that close. Leonard does more things well, including rebounding, and I think his ceiling is higher than Shump’s. That was a tremendous performance last night in the crucible of a game 7 on the road, speaks volumes about the kid.

    7. Hubert

      I think, and again I’m paraphrasing a Strauss tweet, that Indiana-San Antonio trade is going to look lopsided rather soon. Hill is a nice player, but you could have had a George-Leonard combo at the 2-3, with Hibbert at the 5, at their respective ages. Damn.

      It’s a lot easier to find a decent PG.

    8. Keniman Shumpwalker

      Hubert: I remember watching him fall in that draft almost right to us.They took at 15, we took Shumpert at 17.(And Philadelphia, I recall, was locked into Vucevic at 16.)I love me so some Shump, though.

      Funny thing about that draft is there were so many good guys available.I remember watching it unfold (prior to Leonard going at 15) thinking we could have a choice of Leonard, Shumpert, Faried, or Singleton (who I still like and think would be very good on a better team).

      That draft is just a hilarious collective failure of NBA GM’s.Picks 15-22 just blow away picks 2-14:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2011_NBA_Draft

      And interestingly, this draft seems to be shaping up much like this one. It’s bizzarre, actually. The best players in this draft, forget about best value picks, might well happen in the 12-20 range. It’s kind of amazing that GMs picking in the lottery seem to often be swayed heavily by consensus. I mean, would you want to re-build a team with guys like Noel and McLemore? I sure wouldn’t, especially Noel.

    9. Frank

      d-mar: I love Shump, and there was a lot of back and forth about whether you would rather have him or Leonard, but I really don’t think it’s that close. Leonard does more things well, including rebounding, and I think his ceiling is higher than Shump’s. That was a tremendous performance last night in the crucible of a game 7 on the road, speaks volumes about the kid.

      I’m actually not sure that Leonard’s ceiling is higher — clearly Leonard is the better player right now but we have to remember that he’s also in the perfect situation for a young player — option #4 on offense, very little asked of him in terms of ballhandling and shot “creation”. All he’s been asked to do is shoot the corner 3, clean up stuff around the basket, and defend. Shump on the other hand, walked into the D’Antoni mess, asked to play PG right away which he clearly wasn’t ready for, then the injury, no training camp, etc.

      Overall Kawhi is bigger and so gets more rebounds, but not by that much– naturally it’s a small sample but in this year’s playoffs when Shump’s athleticism finally came back, he had a 12.7% rebound% which was actually better than Kawhi’s full-year rebounding. Shump’s a better 3 point shooter, better ballhandler, and better creator off the dribble, and much better distributor (Ian Begley noted that he was playing in summer league to get reps in at PG).

      I think we’ll know more about “ceilings” after Shump finally gets a real offseason and training camp. Maybe this is totally irrational Shump-love, but I think he can be every bit as good as Leonard (in a slightly different role as a swing 2-3 guy with spot PG minutes as opposed to Leonard who mostly plays 3 or small-ball 4).

    10. johnno

      Hubert: That draft is just a hilarious collective failure of NBA GM’s. Picks 15-22 just blow away picks 2-14:

      I think that, for a lot of players, there is an advantage to being picked later in the first round instead of in the lottery. Generally, the guys in the second half of the round are going to teams who are at least pretty good, usually with veteran leadership and good coaching, which puts them in a position where they can be gradually worked into the rotation. Lottery pick guys, on the other hand, are often asked to carry their teams from day one and are often put in situations with poor coaching, poor management, poor teammates, etc., which stunts there growth, saps confidence, etc., etc.

      By the way, why is it that commentators routinely refer to Duncan as “the greatest power forward of all time?” He hasn’t played power forward for 12 years (since Robinson retired). As a center, in the last 20 years alone, I think that there have been at least 3 (Kareem, Shaq, Hakeem) centers who, at their peak, were considerably better than he was at his peak and two more (Robinson and Ewing) who are at least in the same conversation as him.

      By the way, when he missed those two shots with 30 seconds to go, I had a flashback to the Ewing finger roll…

    11. yellowboy90

      if shump would have shot 60% at the rim like he did as a rookie he would have been around a 45% & 40% from 3 guy. Which would probably make people look at him different. I am going out on a limb and believe that his long range shooting is real given his consistent 16-23 ft numbers.

      I expect his numbers from 3 to go down with a higher volume of 3s he is likely to take next season. I think he can stay in that 36-38% range at 4-5 3FGAs.

    12. flossy

      I did wonder last night what we’d think of Kawhi Leonard if he’d been drafted by, say, the Kings.

    13. d-mar

      Frank: I’m actually not sure that Leonard’s ceiling is higher — clearly Leonard is the better player right now but we have to remember that he’s also in the perfect situation for a young player — option #4 on offense, very little asked of him in terms of ballhandling and shot “creation”.All he’s been asked to do is shoot the corner 3, clean up stuff around the basket, and defend.Shump on the other hand, walked into the D’Antoni mess, asked to play PG right away which he clearly wasn’t ready for, then the injury, no training camp, etc.

      Overall Kawhi is bigger and so gets more rebounds, but not by that much– naturally it’s a small sample but in this year’s playoffs when Shump’s athleticism finally came back, he had a 12.7% rebound% which was actually better than Kawhi’s full-year rebounding.Shump’s a better 3 point shooter, better ballhandler, and better creator off the dribble, and much better distributor (Ian Begley noted that he was playing in summer league to get reps in at PG).

      I think we’ll know more about “ceilings” after Shump finally gets a real offseason and training camp.Maybe this is totally irrational Shump-love, but I think he can be every bit as good as Leonard (in aslightly different role as a swing 2-3 guy with spot PG minutes as opposed to Leonard who mostly plays 3 or small-ball 4).

      I would strongly disagree with “better creator off of the dribble” which I think is the weakest part of Shump’s game. He looked lost a lot of the time once he got near the basket on a penetration, but hopefully he can improve on that.

    14. thenamestsam

      Amazing series. Basketball is really the best. Have to say that I really enjoyed all the respect between the two teams last night. It’s nice to see teams compete at the absolute highest level without feeling like they need to resort to the petty trash talk and cheap shots. Seeing the look of genuine happiness that Pop had for Lebron and Wade after the game was amazing. Not a lot of things in life are more impressive to me than someone who can take a loss with true grace.

      johnno:

      By the way, why is it that commentators routinely refer to Duncan as “the greatest power forward of all time?”He hasn’t played power forward for 12 years (since Robinson retired).As a center, in the last 20 years alone, I think that there have been at least 3 (Kareem, Shaq, Hakeem) centers who, at their peak, were considerably better than he was at his peak and two more (Robinson and Ewing) who are at least in the same conversation as him.

      I really think it’s just because it’s a simpler superlative than saying “One of the ten to twelve best players of all time!”. Duncan really isn’t a power forward, but who cares, those distinctions are silly anyway. If you think of the game in terms of “Big”, “Wing” “Guard” I’d have him 3rd in peak the last 20 years behind Hakeem and Shaq (not sure what year you think it is throwing Kareem in there lol), but I think he had a better career than Shaq who was really only at his dominating best for 5 or 6 years. So I’d say second best big of the last 20 years with Shaq, Barkley, Robinson, Malone, Ewing all deserving of being mentioned. Hell of a player and watching him wind back the clock the last two games was absolutely amazing.

    15. Keniman Shumpwalker

      d-mar: I would strongly disagree with “better creator off of the dribble” which I think is the weakest part of Shump’s game. He looked lost a lot of the time once he got near the basket on a penetration, but hopefully he can improve on that.

      I think Shump has the tools be to be a “better creator off the dribble” than Leonard but it’s certainly not the ideal role for him. That’s not saying much, though, as Kawhi is clearly a true swingman who has never filled the role of creating for others (or even himself) off the bounce. He’s a true 3 who can play a little 4 in small-ball lineups. Shump played PG in college and is really a true 2. So comparing his playmaking ability to Kawhi’s feels a little apples-and-orangesy.

    16. thenamestsam

      Keniman Shumpwalker: I think Shump has the tools be to be a “better creator off the dribble” than Leonard but it’s certainly not the ideal role for him. That’s not saying much, though, as Kawhi is clearly a true swingman who has never filled the role of creating for others (or even himself) off the bounce. He’s a true 3 who can play a little 4 in small-ball lineups. Shump played PG in college and is really a true 2. So comparing his playmaking ability to Kawhi’s feels a little apples-and-orangesy.

      Yeah agree with this. Shump clearly has a better handle but I think at the current point in time Leonard has a better idea of what he’s doing. Shump has a great handle but so often he dribbles into the lane with no plan and looks lost. On the other hand, Kawhi is just so polished for such a young player, and it shows off the dribble as well. He’s very good at making simple plays against hard close outs but he has almost no creative responsibility right now. I’d expect to start to see that change next year as Manu either retires or is phased out. They’ll start to give him some more pick and rolls when Parker is on the bench and how he handles that will really determine whether he’s going to be an uber-role player or can be something more like a star.

    17. Hubert

      I was just thinking:

      No one makes 4 NBA Finals in a row. It’s nearly impossible. East may be wide open next year.

      I was just thinking (part 2):

      Only exception (in modern basketball) was the Lakers from ’82-’85. But my god, they were a freakishly great team. I mean, I know we all know that, but looking at it through this context is amazing. Since Russell’s Eightpeat, no other NBA team has made four consecutive finals. But those Lakers actually made 9 Finals in 12 years. That is so ridiculous. And that was all during Magic’s time. From his rookie year in 79-80, to his final year in 90-91, dude was in 9 finals in 12 years.

    18. thenamestsam

      Hubert:
      I was just thinking:

      No one makes 4 NBA Finals in a row.It’s nearly impossible.East may be wide open next year.

      I was just thinking (part 2):

      Only exception (in modern basketball) was the Lakers from ’82-’85.But my god, they were a freakishly great team.I mean, I know we all know that, but looking at it through this context is amazing.Since Russell’s Eightpeat, no other NBA team has made four consecutive finals.But those Lakers actually made 9 Finals in 12 years.That is so ridiculous.And that was all during Magic’s time.From his rookie year in 79-80, to his final year in 90-91, dude was in 9 finals in 12 years.

      I agree to a certain extent, but barring an injury to Lebron there’s no reason to think the Heat will be anything but an extremely tough out once again next year. And I expect that having shown they were capable of a dominant regular season this year that they’ll take the foot off the petal a bit next year and maybe be a bit better rested for the playoffs.

      That said, I think a lot will be determined by offseason moves. The Heat, Bulls, Pacers and Knicks (in that order in my opinion) are clearly going to be the class of the conference next year. But all of those teams have question marks. Bulls and Pacers especially have big questions about their benches they need to answer. Heat have to figure out whether they’re bringing back all 3 or trying to trade Bosh (or possibly Wade). Is Miller retiring or being amnestied? Is Allen retiring? Is Birdman coming back? They could have a few rotation spots open. And the Knicks we’ve obviously discussed ad nauseum. I think it will be closer at the top of the east than it has been so the little tweaks will matter.

    19. Keniman Shumpwalker

      thenamestsam: Yeah agree with this. Shump clearly has a better handle but I think at the current point in time Leonard has a better idea of what he’s doing. Shump has a great handle but so often he dribbles into the lane with no plan and looks lost. On the other hand, Kawhi is just so polished for such a young player, and it shows off the dribble as well. He’s very good at making simple plays against hard close outs but he has almost no creative responsibility right now. I’d expect to start to see that change next year as Manu either retires or is phased out. They’ll start to give him some more pick and rolls when Parker is on the bench and how he handles that will really determine whether he’s going to be an uber-role player or can be something more like a star.

      Absolutely. And I think a lot of Kawhi having a better idea of what he’s doing comes down to better coaching/system and more clearly defined role. As Frank mentioned, Shump hasn’t had a consistent role in his short time in the league. He’s kind of been all over the map between D’antoni and Woody. I do think it’ll be interesting to watch how much, if any, Kawhi’s role expands next year and beyond. I think it’s obvious that he’s got the ability to be way more than a 3-and-D guy, but if he shows the ability to create off the dribble, then look out. His ceiling will raise considerably.

      RE: Shump, it’s true that he often dribbled into traffic with no idea what to do, but he’s shown the ability to be a decent passer out of the PnR and if he gets a little more comfortable finishing in traffic and maintaining his dribble and poise when he does get in to tight spots, I think he can be decent in the role of secondary shot creator in certain lineups. It’s not like he’s massively turnover prone, he just seems to lack a plan sometimes.

    20. The Infamous Cdiggy

      Is anyone else besides me feeling a little bitter/stung today watching our rival win another ring with two figures (LeBron and Riley) that spurned us to join the Heat? Spilled grapes/sour milk anyone?

    21. The Infamous Cdiggy

      yellowboy90:
      can battier, allen, and miller retire. please.

      Cosign

      thenamestsam:
      That said, I think a lot will be determined by offseason moves. The Heat, Bulls, Pacers and Knicks (in that order in my opinion) are clearly going to be the class of the conference next year. But all of those teams have question marks. Bulls and Pacers especially have big questions about their benches they need to answer. Heat have to figure out whether they’re bringing back all 3 or trying to trade Bosh (or possibly Wade). Is Miller retiring or being amnestied? Is Allen retiring? Is Birdman coming back? They could have a few rotation spots open. And the Knicks we’ve obviously discussed ad nauseum. I think it will be closer at the top of the east than it has been so the little tweaks will matter.

      No one’s beating this clutch/peak version of LeBron. Well, at least we aren’t.

    22. massive

      The 2013 Draft will be a better draft than the 2011 Draft. This year’s draft has a lot of players that not only score the ball well, but can either rebound, distribute, play defense, or some combination of the latter 3. 2011 had raw bigs and one dimensional scorers. Ben McLemore, Otto Porter, Anthony Bennett, Alex Len, Trey Burke, CJ McCollum, Victor Oladipo, and Nerlens Noel all look like good NBA players. The busts look like Michael Carter Williams, who is an inefficient point guard with turnover issues and doesn’t blow you away with his athleticism. Steven Adams looks like a bust too. The Plumlee kid screams bust.

      I really like this draft at the top. I don’t like the teams picking because they suck at developing players, but those guys I listed are lottery worthy in any draft.

    23. DS

      The Infamous Cdiggy:
      Is anyone else besides me feeling a little bitter/stung today watching our rival win another ring with two figures (LeBron and Riley) that spurned us to join the Heat? Spilled grapes/sour milk anyone?

      I think I’m in the majority in that I really got my hopes up on Tues. If Miami hadn’t been on life support, I’d be at peace with Riley and LeBron getting another ring.

    24. johnno

      thenamestsam: not sure what year you think it is throwing Kareem in there lol

      As I get older the decades start to blur into each other. I almost included Nate Thurmond and Bob Lanier in the list of centers in the last 20 years. I always thought that the Spurs and the media insisted on calling Duncan a power forward so that he wouldn’t be compared to the great centers. He is an old-fashioned, back to the basket, low post center. Always has been, even when he was playing along side Robinson.

    25. Keniman Shumpwalker

      massive:
      The 2013 Draft will be a better draft than the 2011 Draft. This year’s draft has a lot of players that not only score the ball well, but can either rebound, distribute, play defense, or some combination of the latter 3. 2011 had raw bigs and one dimensional scorers. Ben McLemore, Otto Porter, Anthony Bennett, Alex Len, Trey Burke, CJ McCollum, Victor Oladipo, and Nerlens Noel all look like good NBA players. The busts look like Michael Carter Williams, who is an inefficient point guard with turnover issues and doesn’t blow you away with his athleticism. Steven Adams looks like a bust too. The Plumlee kid screams bust.

      I really like this draft at the top. I don’t like the teams picking because they suck at developing players, but those guys I listed are lottery worthy in any draft.

      This draft may not be as weak as some media pundits are making it out to be, but I’m not sure that I agree that Noel, Oladipo, and McCollum are “lottery worthy in any draft”. When drafting in the lottery, especially the high-lottery, you expect to find guys whose ceiling is franchise cornerstone-perennial all-star, and I don’t see any of those three as having a ceiling that high. McCollum may end up as a shooting specialist. Noel has no offensive repertoire at this point, is too light in the ass to bang with NBA bigs for 82 games, and already has injury concerns. Oladipo I like a lot…would like him a lot more if he were slated to go in the low-to-mid teens rather than top-5 because I worry about him not being able to be more than a scrappy 3-and-D guy. I even worry about Porter. He does a lot of things well but nothing exceptionally well, from what I’ve seen. If I’m missing something on Porter, please educate me.

    26. massive

      You see, that’s where a lot of the problem stems from. In the lottery (and anywhere else in the draft), you are looking for a good player that will be on your team for at least the first 8 years of his careers. If he doesn’t turn into the franchise cornerstone, then that’s okay. Kyrie Irving, Blake Griffin, and Stephen Curry are the only players who are (or can be) true franchise players. Paul George, Anthony Davis, Andre Drummond, Damian Lillard, Derrick Rose, John Wall, and whoever else got drafted since 2008 are in the 2nd category to me; “franchise nucleus players.” Those guys are players who are long-term keepers that you can put other guys as good as him around and build a contender. The Bulls, Pacers, and Knicks all follow this strategy.

      Porter, to me, is without a doubt a franchise piece (not a franchise player). He’s not great at anyone thing, but neither was Paul George, and he’s now only great at playing defense. Oladipo seems like another Kawhi Leonard type. CJ McCollum seems like Monta Ellis if Monta Ellis had a high basketball IQ (he beat Duke by himself his junior year). And Noel is a game-changer on defense like Chandler, and that kind of player is the type you definitely keep as a franchise piece.

      A lot of franchise pieces in this draft. No franchise players in the mold of a KD or Kyrie Irving, though.

    27. Hubert

      The Infamous Cdiggy: Cosign

      No one’s beating this clutch/peak version of LeBron. Well, at least we aren’t.

      They will not make the Finals again next year without major improvements. Games played over time takes its toll. 1 team in the last 40 years has made 4 straight finals (many teams have made 3). And that counts for teams that looked invincible. This team showed cracks and limped to the finish line (which isn’t a knock, just the way it was).

    28. thenamestsam

      Keniman Shumpwalker: This draft may not be as weak as some media pundits are making it out to be, but I’m not sure that I agree that Noel, Oladipo, and McCollum are “lottery worthy in any draft”. When drafting in the lottery, especially the high-lottery, you expect to find guys whose ceiling is franchise cornerstone-perennial all-star, and I don’t see any of those three as having a ceiling that high. McCollum may end up as a shooting specialist. Noel has no offensive repertoire at this point, is too light in the ass to bang with NBA bigs for 82 games, and already has injury concerns. Oladipo I like a lot…would like him a lot more if he were slated to go in the low-to-mid teens rather than top-5 because I worry about him not being able to be more than a scrappy 3-and-D guy. I even worry about Porter. He does a lot of things well but nothing exceptionally well, from what I’ve seen. If I’m missing something on Porter, please educate me.

      Agree. I think there’s some intriguing guys in the depth area and there’s some guys who are lottery worthy (I mostly agree with the ones massive listed) but I don’t see a single guy worthy of a top-3 pick and it’s hard for me to see how a draft with 7 or 8 lottery level talents is anything but super thin at the top. I mean Noel is probably going to get first and not only does he have a torn ACL but like you said he has zero offensive game and he’s skinny as a reed. On Simmon’s podcast he said he reminded him of Theo Ratliff and I think that’s a reasonable comparison. Not a bad player but man, when you get the first overall pick you’re not dreaming on a guy with a torn up ACL and a Theo Ratliff ceiling.

    29. Keniman Shumpwalker

      massive:
      Porter, to me, is without a doubt a franchise piece (not a franchise player). He’s not great at anyone thing, but neither was Paul George, and he’s now only great at playing defense. Oladipo seems like another Kawhi Leonard type. CJ McCollum seems like Monta Ellis if Monta Ellis had a high basketball IQ (he beat Duke by himself his junior year). And Noel is a game-changer on defense like Chandler, and that kind of player is the type you definitely keep as a franchise piece.

      I see where you are coming from and maybe I am expecting too much out of the lottery, but I think the really good drafts have at least a few franchise cornerstone types up top, and then a slew of “franchise pieces”, as you say, followed by the role players and diamond-in-the-rough types. This draft seems to have a bunch of guys who might be useful pieces on good teams but are probably not the type of guys you can plug right into a bad lineup and build around.

      RE: Porter-George…Porter does not possess the off-the-charts size/athleticism combo that PG had. He’s probably further along as a shooter and has a more polished offensive game, but for some reason he reminds me more of an Evan Turner type (better size and shooting ability, not as much playmaking skill). Wholeheartedly disagree on the Oladipo and McCollum comparisons. I mean, maybe in a best-case scenario. But, while he certainly has a higher BBall IQ (which isn’t saying much) McCollum doesn’t possess the creativity off the dribble or ridiculous burst Monta has. Oladipo is 6’4″ and is a true 2 guard, in my mind, making it difficult to compare him to Kawhi. He’s also not a great shooter (though he’s impoved in that area) and doesn’t do much off the dribble. I think he’s closer to a Rich Man’s Tony Allen than any version of Leonard.

    30. massive

      flossy:
      Derrick Rose doesn’t make the cut as a franchise player?Gee, tough crowd.

      Not in my amateur opinion. It’s probably because I think he robbed LeBron in 2011 for the MVP award, but when I saw him get completely shut down by LeBron in that season’s ECFs (he shot 6% from the field with LeBron guarding him), I can’t give him that distinction. He’s not on the same level as LeBron, (healthy) D12, CP3, Stephen Curry, or KD to me. Those guys are the only true franchise players in the league to me. Irving and Harden are on their way, and maybe so is Rose since he turns 25 in October.

    31. Keniman Shumpwalker

      thenamestsam: Agree. I think there’s some intriguing guys in the depth area and there’s some guys who are lottery worthy (I mostly agree with the ones massive listed) but I don’t see a single guy worthy of a top-3 pick and it’s hard for me to see how a draft with 7 or 8 lottery level talents is anything but super thin at the top. I mean Noel is probably going to get first and not only does he have a torn ACL but like you said he has zero offensive game and he’s skinny as a reed. On Simmon’s podcast he said he reminded him of Theo Ratliff and I think that’s a reasonable comparison. Not a bad player but man, when you get the first overall pick you’re not dreaming on a guy with a torn up ACL and a Theo Ratliff ceiling.

      I like the Ratliff comparison (though Theo never looked as skinny as this kid…props to Nerlens for having tall hair and an alliterative name though).

      And you’re right, and that’s my point exactly: A draft with 7-8 lottery talents, none of whom blows you away as a true franchise centerpiece, is a weak draft, or at least not a particularly strong one. Cleveland and Washington aren’t in terrible positions because you can make the argument that both have their franchise cornerstones already in Kyrie and Wall (though I’m not sold on Wall just yet and Kyrie’s AWFUL defense and propensity for getting hurt give me pause), so they stand to benefit from this draft more so than teams like the Bobcats, Suns, and Magic, who desperately need franchise cornerstones around which to form their identities. Not a good draft for teams like that to own a high-lottery pick.

    32. flossy

      massive: Not in my amateur opinion. It’s probably because I think he robbed LeBron in 2011 for the MVP award, but when I saw him get completely shut down by LeBron in that season’s ECFs (he shot 6% from the field with LeBron guarding him), I can’t give him that distinction. He’s not on the same level as LeBron, (healthy) D12, CP3, Stephen Curry, or KD to me. Those guys are the only true franchise players in the league to me. Irving and Harden are on their way, and maybe so is Rose since he turns 25 in October.

      Well, I don’t hold Rose’s MVP votes against him (he didn’t vote for himself, and being the best player on a 62 win team ain’t nothing), and I also don’t think being bested by the clear-cut best player on the planet in a series necessarily disqualifies someone from franchise player status. But regardless, how is Steph Curry a franchise player (and Irving/Harden on their way) but Rose isn’t? Curry (who is older than Rose, btw) has yet to even really come all that close to Rose’s career bests in PER, WS/48, pts/36, assists/36 and AST%. Curry is plainly not any better than Rose defensively–all he really has going for him in a head-to-head comparison is higher scoring efficiency (on much lower usage).

    33. Keniman Shumpwalker

      flossy: Well, I don’t hold Rose’s MVP votes against him (he didn’t vote for himself, and being the best player on a 62 win team ain’t nothing), and I also don’t think being bested by the clear-cut best player on the planet in a series necessarily disqualifies someone from franchise player status.But regardless, how is Steph Curry a franchise player (and Irving/Harden on their way) but Rose isn’t?Curry (who is older than Rose, btw) has yet to even really come all that close to Rose’s career bests in PER, WS/48, pts/36, assists/36 and AST%.Curry is plainly not any better than Rose defensively–all he really has going for him in a head-to-head comparison is higher scoring efficiency (on much lower usage).

      Yeah I don’t think you can leave Rose off this list while bringing in Curry (and having Harden/Irving on the fringe). This is what happens when you don’t play for a year.

      Massive, if putting together this same list a year ago, would you have left Rose off then? Just wondering how much impact the out of sight-out of mind thing might be having on your perception of Rose. To me, he is clearly a franchise cornerstone with far less weaknesses in his game than Curry/Harden/Irving (though Curry inched a lot closer to him this year).

    34. massive

      @33, I think you’re being too liberal with the term franchise player. Those guys come around once every few drafts. Rarely is there a draft like 2003 where you get LeBron James and Dwyane Wade come out in the same year, or like 1996 was with a slew of HOFers. Franchise players, to me, are guys you can count on for being All-NBA 1st teamers a couple times in their careers. Guys like Chris Paul who you can give average NBA players and expect him to win 50+ games in the Western Conference. Or like LeBron who will win 60 games a year with guys he makes look like world-beaters (Mario Chalmers was the 2nd best player on the Heat in Game 6, and they still won).

      If you’re getting a bunch of 2nd/3rd options on playoff teams, you have a good draft. That’s just how I feel about things.

    35. flossy

      Keniman Shumpwalker: Yeah I don’t think you can leave Rose off this list while bringing in Curry (and having Harden/Irving on the fringe). This is what happens when you don’t play for a year.

      Massive, if putting together this same list a year ago, would you have left Rose off then? Just wondering how much impact the out of sight-out of mind thing might be having on your perception of Rose. To me, he is clearly a franchise cornerstone with far less weaknesses in his game than Curry/Harden/Irving (though Curry inched a lot closer to him this year).

      Yeah, and also, we need to better define our terms about what exactly is a “franchise cornerstone player” vs. “franchise nucleus player.” Why is Blake Griffin the former and Paul George the latter? Do the Spurs really not have a franchise cornerstone-level player? I mean, come on.

    36. flossy

      massive: Franchise players, to me, are guys you can count on for being All-NBA 1st teamers a couple times in their careers.

      Then by your own standards, Derrick Rose qualifies, no? Certainly more so than Curry…

    37. massive

      flossy: Well, I don’t hold Rose’s MVP votes against him (he didn’t vote for himself, and being the best player on a 62 win team ain’t nothing), and I also don’t think being bested by the clear-cut best player on the planet in a series necessarily disqualifies someone from franchise player status.But regardless, how is Steph Curry a franchise player (and Irving/Harden on their way) but Rose isn’t?Curry (who is older than Rose, btw) has yet to even really come all that close to Rose’s career bests in PER, WS/48, pts/36, assists/36 and AST%.Curry is plainly not any better than Rose defensively–all he really has going for him in a head-to-head comparison is higher scoring efficiency (on much lower usage).

      I think a lot of Derrick Rose’s superiority in terms of WS/48 comes from playing weaker competition (50 games vs the EC as opposed to 50 games against the WC for Curry) and that he has a better DRtg. To me, that’s attributed to playing with Joakim Noah as opposed to whoever played center for GS for most of Curry’s career. PER, as discussed here at length, is a worthless stat. I’m 100% sure that Rose has the higher PER because he has a higher usage.

      Call me a Berri disciple if you want, but I think Joakim Noah does not get nearly enough credit for the Bulls success.

    38. Keniman Shumpwalker

      massive:
      @33, I think you’re being too liberal with the term franchise player. Those guys come around once every few drafts. Rarely is there a draft like 2003 where you get LeBron James and Dwyane Wade come out in the same year, or like 1996 was with a slew of HOFers. Franchise players, to me, are guys you can count on for being All-NBA 1st teamers a couple times in their careers. Guys like Chris Paul who you can give average NBA players and expect him to win 50+ games in the Western Conference. Or like LeBron who will win 60 games a year with guys he makes look like world-beaters (Mario Chalmers was the 2nd best player on the Heat in Game 6, and they still won).

      If you’re getting a bunch of 2nd/3rd options on playoff teams, you have a good draft. That’s just how I feel about things.

      Fair enough but I think that you just summed up my feelings on what a “franchise cornerstone” is: “Franchise players, to me, are guys you can count on for being All-NBA 1st teamers a couple times in their careers.”

      That’s basically how I feel and I feel that this draft is devoid of those types of guys. I am well aware of how rare it is to land a LeBron, Kobe, Wade, MJ, Duncan, etc (by the way Flossy, there’s your answer to the Spurs question). But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be looking for the next level down from those types in the lottery. The guys I just mentioned are a cut above “franchise cornerstone”. They are all-time greats. I’m not saying that if you don’t land an all-time great in the lottery, it’s a failure. I’m saying that if a draft doesn’t posses perennial all-star, multiple all NBA 1st teamers, then it’s a relatively weak draft.

    39. massive

      flossy: Yeah, and also, we need to better define our terms about what exactly is a “franchise cornerstone player” vs. “franchise nucleus player.”Why is Blake Griffin the former and Paul George the latter?Do the Spurs really not have a franchise cornerstone-level player?I mean, come on.

      Okay, let me backtrack a bit. Here are my clear franchise players:

      LeBron
      CP3
      D12
      Kevin Durant

      Everyone else is a part of a franchise nucleus

    40. massive

      @42, then a lot of teams fail in the lottery every year. There simply just isn’t enough talent in drafts year by year for 14 teams to land a perennial all-star every year.

      I think a strong draft produces 1 all-time great and 3 more perennial all-stars, then your Shumpert/Vucevic/Faried level players.

      This draft, to me, is an average draft. You have a number of good players, a few have the potential to be great, and you have your utility players. To me, without question, this is a better draft than 2011 was at the top.

    41. Keniman Shumpwalker

      massive:
      @42, then a lot of teams fail in the lottery every year. There simply just isn’t enough talent in drafts year by year for 14 teams to land a perennial all-star every year.

      I think a strong draft produces 1 all-time great and 3 more perennial all-stars, then your Shumpert/Vucevic/Faried level players.

      This draft, to me, is an average draft. You have a number of good players, a few have the potential to be great, and you have your utility players. To me, without question, this is a better draft than 2011 was at the top.

      Again, totally fair but that’s where we differ. I don’t think this draft is average because I don’t see any potential greatness up top. I think it’s below average. That said, you’re right that this draft is better than 2011 because, as previously pointed out, 2-14 in that draft were pretty awful.

    42. BigBlueAL

      Hubert:
      I was just thinking:

      No one makes 4 NBA Finals in a row.It’s nearly impossible.East may be wide open next year.

      I was just thinking (part 2):

      Only exception (in modern basketball) was the Lakers from ’82-’85.But my god, they were a freakishly great team.I mean, I know we all know that, but looking at it through this context is amazing.Since Russell’s Eightpeat, no other NBA team has made four consecutive finals.But those Lakers actually made 9 Finals in 12 years.That is so ridiculous.And that was all during Magic’s time.From his rookie year in 79-80, to his final year in 90-91, dude was in 9 finals in 12 years.

      Celtics also made 4 Finals in a row from 1984-1987.

    43. jon abbey

      massive: Okay, let me backtrack a bit. Here are my clear franchise players:

      LeBron
      CP3
      D12
      Kevin Durant

      Everyone else is a part of a franchise nucleus

      the other three guys besides LeBron there all have their share of warts also. Durant is obviously the second best player in the league, but was exposed somewhat without the human tornado that is Westbrook in the playoffs. CP3 has won fewer playoff series than Melo in his career, still have no idea why he never gets called on that. and Howard we saw come back to the pack this year, it’ll be interesting to see how he plays going forward, presumably on a new team.

    44. DRed

      Att eFG Asst’d Blk’d

      Close 22% .568 57% 11% (Leonard)

      25% .406 32% 17% (Shumpert)

      So yes, Shump is much better at creating shots at the rim for himself, but he’s much, much worse at finishing. Hopefully he’ll get better with a nice healthy offseason to work on it.

    45. massive

      DRed:
      Att eFGAsst’d Blk’d

      Close22%.56857%11%(Leonard)

      25%.40632%17%(Shumpert)

      So yes, Shump is much better at creating shots at the rim for himself, but he’s much, much worse at finishing.Hopefully he’ll get better with a nice healthy offseason to work on it.

      That’s what the Summer League exercise is for. They’re making him play so that he can create his own shots for a couple games and develop his moves a bit.

    46. massive

      jon abbey: the other three guys besides LeBron there all have their share of warts also. Durant is obviously the second best player in the league, but was exposed somewhat without the human tornado that is Westbrook in the playoffs. CP3 has won fewer playoff series than Melo in his career, still have no idea why he never gets called on that. and Howard we saw come back to the pack this year, it’ll be interesting to see how he plays going forward, presumably on a new team.

      The Dwight Howard criticism is completely unfair. He was playing with a torn labrum and a bad back. He still led the league in rebounds per game with 12.4 and gave the Lakers 17 points a game.

    47. jon abbey

      massive: The Dwight Howard criticism is completely unfair. He was playing with a torn labrum and a bad back. He still led the league in rebounds per game with 12.4 and gave the Lakers 17 points a game.

      the Lakers team D was horrendous all year and a good chunk of that has to be on him. they went 42-40 with him in the lineup, including the playoffs. true franchise players win games by themselves, the list gets pretty thin after LeBron and Durant right now IMO.

    48. massive

      jon abbey: the Lakers team D was horrendous all year and a good chunk of that has to be on him. they went 42-40 with him in the lineup, including the playoffs. true franchise players win games by themselves, the list gets pretty thin after LeBron and Durant right now IMO.

      And again you’re ignoring that he was playing injured for most (if not all) of the season. Dwight wasn’t healthy, so he wasn’t himself.

    49. BigBlueAL

      At least Zach Lowe mentioned the Knicks in his article as one of the Heat’s “rivals” (along with Indiana and Chicago) who could possibly beat them next season. On 1st Take today only teams Stephen A. Smith and Broussard mentioned who could beat the Heat in the East were Indiana and Chicago.

      If any other team in the East wouldve won 54 games this season while going 3-1 vs the Heat (not to mention 2-0 vs the Spurs) they would be getting so much hype about possible beating the Heat next season. But since its the Knicks who cares lol.

    50. jon abbey

      massive: And again you’re ignoring that he was playing injured for most (if not all) of the season. Dwight wasn’t healthy, so he wasn’t himself.

      I’m not ignoring that, you are. when/if he goes back to being dominant, then he will be a franchise player again. right now, nope.

    51. Brian Cronin

      Yeah, I don’t see how you could consider Howard a franchise guy right now. He easily could be a franchise guy if he returns to form, but how in the world can you be confident of that happening?

    52. max fisher-cohen

      I think all guys have their warts but Lebron is the most flexible because he can dominate you in 3 ways — defense, passing, and scoring. He’s even above average as a spot up shooter now too although theoretically that’s not something you want him doing right now. Thought exercise: are there any playoff teams that would improve more by adding KD than Lebron (assuming both were free to add)? I’d probably go Memphis as they already have passing and defense, and KD would open up so much for Randolph in the post.

      I think you could say the same thing about Howard in Golden State (who doesn’t need Lebron’s passing and scoring as much as they would benefit from a healthy Howard’s defense) and CP3 in 2012-13 Chicago or Indiana (which have the defenders and shooters while lacking the playmaking).

      I think there are a few other players for whom you could make a decent argument that they’d be better than Lebron in certain situations — Marc Gasol and Joakim Noah (who IMO is overall a more valuable player than Rose in most situations, just not Chicago’s). After that though, my list ends.

    53. massive

      I’m confident that he will return to form because the injury he has to recover from in a torn labrum, not a torn ACL. His back, by all accounts, is not an issue for next season.

    54. massive

      jon abbey: I’m not ignoring that, you are. when/if he goes back to being dominant, then he will be a franchise player again. right now, nope.

      If he goes back to being healthy*

      You’re judging a player who has been in the league since for 9 seasons based on the one (which is most recent, so there’s that) that he played injured. That’s unreasonable, especially when there is no real reason to doubt that a 27 year old physical freak, 28 in december, can recover from whatever back and shoulder problems plagued him last season.

    55. Brian Cronin

      There’s no reason to doubt that he can recover from back and shoulder problems? The very fact that he’s still suffering from back and shoulder problems is the reason to doubt whether he can recover from it! This is the sort of issue that sometimes never goes away. Other times it does. How could Howard’s previous 9 seasons possibly impact his ability to recover from major back and shoulder problems? His past has nothing to do with this current injury. All we know for sure about his ability to recover from his back and shoulder problems is that he sure couldn’t do it last season. That’s all we know about his ability to recover from his back and shoulder issues – that he couldn’t do it in Year 1. That is literally all the information we have to go on. So I don’t see how you can look at that information and just assume he’ll be recovered in Year 2. Could he recover? Of course. And if he does, he’ll be right back up there with the best players in the game. But he could also not recover, at which point he’s basically Roy Hibbert. A fine player to have on your team, but certainly not a franchise guy.

    56. Frank

      yeah the shoulder thing is no big deal, but the back– some people never bounce back 100% from that kind of surgery. some people do. we’ll have to see.

      sad that basketball season is over– but glad I can actually get some work done. Nothing makes me want to do real work more than only baseball being on tv.

    57. d-mar

      Frank:
      yeah the shoulder thing is no big deal, but the back– some people never bounce back 100% from that kind of surgery. some people do. we’ll have to see.

      sad that basketball season is over– but glad I can actually get some work done.Nothing makes me want to do real work more than only baseball being on tv.

      Ha – my tolerance level for watching baseball is about 2 pitches, I find myself flipping channels and coming back a few minutes later to see I haven’t missed a damn thing.

    58. massive

      Dwight Howard didn’t come into the season with a torn labrum, though. That injury happened during the season, and he has an entire off-season to recover from it. The back issues are more troubling, but Amar’e Stoudemire had the same problems and he seemed to recover fine from those.

      To me, issues with muscles can go away with the proper strength and conditioning programs. Dwight’s back issues can be resolved and I honestly believe they will be. I only start to worry about an athlete when it comes to bone issues. Those are harder to recover from

    59. yellowboy90

      Anyone else find it funny that sources say Paul was upset that there was talk about his involvement in coaching decision and now there are reports about him being upset the Doc deal didn’t get done. Oh to be a media darling

    60. Count de Pennies

      My problem with Dwight Howard is not so much related to his recent back or shoulder injuries but more with the fact that his game does not appear to have evolved at all during his nine years in the league.

      When he came into the NBA he was already a proficient rebounder, an A-level defender, but had a very rudimentary low post game. Nine years later, he remains a proficient rebounder, an A-level defender (more or less)… but still has a very rudimentary low post game. And his free throw shooting has actually regressed from his rookie season when he shot a career high 67%. It has sunk in the last two years to a career low 49%.

      Seeing as how Howard’s dominance as a rebounder and defender has been largely predicated on his freakish athleticism, his apparent lack of growth is worrisome. At this point in his career, he should at least have exhibited signs that he’s developing some sort of an “old man game.” If the recent back and shoulder troubles are, in fact, indicators of a body that is starting to break down, one wonders how Howard will fare be going forward should he need to rely on veteran savvy & guile to remain effective.

      I still believe he’s worth a max deal in the right situation. His defense and rebounding should remain good enough during the next few years to where it could help put, say, a Houston over the top. However, I would be extremely leery about paying him big $$$ in the hopes that he can be the offensive and defensive cornerstone of a franchise – a role Howard reportedly envisions for himself. He’d have to evolve overnight into a radically different player than what he’s been in his first nine years in order for that scenario to have anything other than an unhappy ending.

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