May 19, 2013 11:01 PM EDT
We have seen a whole lot of changes since the pre-Tournament issue of the Lottery Lowdown. March Madness gave us a few players to watch both this year and for 2014 while the Nike Hoop Summit and Combine helped clarify the picture in terms of athletic ability and positional versatility.
The Teams: Who has What (pre-lottery selection order)
- Orlando Magic
- Charlotte Bobcats
- Cleveland Cavaliers
- Phoenix Suns
- New Orleans Pelicans
- Sacramento Kings
- Detroit Pistons
- Washington Wizards
- Minnesota Timberwolves
- Portland Trail Blazers
- Philadelphia 76ers
- Oklahoma City Thunder (Toronto's pick via Houston)- Pick goes back to Raptors if it ends up in the top three
- Dallas Mavericks
- Utah Jazz
The Player Pool: Winners and Losers of Early May
Even though the NBA Combine gets most of the attention when it comes to May, one of the other big events that continues to have a major impact is the Nike Hoop Summit. Beyond giving us a glimpse of the following year’s rookies who will play in college, the practices and game give draftniks an excellent chance to look at international players on the court with other high-level talent. This year’s stand out among draft-eligible players was Dennis Schroeder. He looked to have the combination of physical and mental abilities necessary to run an NBA team down the line which sent his stock sky-high and potentially got him a promise in the late lottery.
At the combine, Steven Adams showed a depth and refinement to his game not present during his single season at Pitt. While it is always worrisome when a player who has been underwhelming for a full year looks substantially better in a less realistic and small sample size like the combine, it helps Adams more than most because it shows his dedication to maximizing his ability.
Two of my bloodline favorites, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Shane Larkin, had huge Combine performances. Both player surprised with better than expected athleticism as well as an understanding of the game and attitude that reflects their understanding of what being a professional athlete is all about. Even though neither of them makes my Top 20 below, they are right on the cusp and should be able to contribute early on to their new teams while becoming more complete players with more coaching and experience.
The biggest losers were a pair of shooting guards that needed to justify their pre-season hype. Both Archie Goodwin and BJ Young have athletic ability and enough interesting components in their games to be impact players in the pros but completely underwhelmed during the 2012-13 collegiate season. I am someone who loves players with physical potential and need coaching, yet it gets harder to really risk anything on players when their flashes are deeper in the rear view mirror.
I continue to worry about the possibility of Trey Burke as a starting point guard in the NBA. While we already knew that his size will be below average for the position (especially with the new breed of hyperathletic guys entering the league), his agility was underwhelming and will make it even harder to create for himself and others. Only otherworldly shooters like Stephen Curry have made it work as a starting point guard without either of those tools and that is a big ask of Burke.
Finally, we saw both Cody Zeller and Kelly Olynyk show that they might have to play more PF since they do not have the size to play center full-time. Each of them has enough skill to be fine at power forward for times but true centers are a much rarer commodity and can have much longer careers. Without a much stronger outside shot than either player has shown thus far, they will really need to work to become an important player on a great team.
Preliminary Player Rankings of Draft-Eligible Players
Here is where the players stand as of now.
[NOTE: I include all draft-eligible players regardless of their likelihood to declare for the 2013 Draft. This provides a better measuring stick for everyone and also explains why the list runs to 20 rather than 14.]
- Nerlens Noel, C/PF, Kentucky- The physical tools to be a special defender on the interior (and one who rebounds well for his activity as a shot-blocker) and has the potential to be solid but not spectacular on the offensive end. His weight is a concern and absolutely must be improved in order for him to reach that elite level as an interior defender but he appears to have the frame and work ethic to make it happen. Due to positional scarcity and a weak draft class, he sits at No. 1 despite the injury.
Good Fits: Charlotte, Cleveland, and Phoenix
Bad Fits: Detroit
- Victor Oladipo, SG/SF, Indiana- Oladipo might be the best complementary perimeter prospect to enter the league since Andre Iguodala. His ability to defend the 1, 2 and 3 at the next level comes with an understanding that he cannot and will not be the offensive focal point. Victor’s time at Indiana has done a great job of preparing him for his role at the next level and just about every team could use a player like him even if you need other talent around him in order to thrive.
Good Fits: New Orleans and Minnesota
Bad Fits: Orlando and Sacramento
- Rudy Gobert, C, France- Could a team really stash a player taken this high in the draft? Probably not even though Jonas Valanciunas serves as at least a partial precedent, so he likely will fall farther than his potential would suggest. I shudder to think at what Gobert can be with the right coaching and talent around him, particularly a PG that can maximize him on the offensive end. It would be legitimately hard to draft him this high since it will take some time for him to hit his stride in the NBA (potentially even the end of his rookie deal) but the juice should be worth the squeeze.
Good Fits: Washington, Phoenix, Minnesota, and New Orleans
Bad Fits: Detroit, Utah, and Portland
- Alex Len, C, Maryland- Len stands out as a prospect that will benefit greatly from the increase in talent at the next level. Gaining teammates who can both get him the ball and take pressure off him offensively should reduce some of his faults and allow him to use his athletic gifts in a more productive way. Even though it was early in the season, dropping 23 points, 12 boards and four blocks on Kentucky while Nerlens Noel and Willie Cauley-Stein combined for 12, 15 and seven shows what he can do against high-level talent.
Good Fits: Cleveland, Washington, New Orleans, and Minnesota
Bad Fits: Sacramento
- Otto Porter, SF, Georgetown- As has become quite the theme for this draft class, I am not sure if Porter’s game will translate perfectly to the NBA, but he has the ability to be a meaningful contributor even if he cannot transcend at the next level. Georgetown guys often underwhelm in terms of draft hype thanks to their system so that could work in Porter’s favor as well though I would have liked to see more defensive impact out of him.
Good Fits: Washington, New Orleans, Cleveland, and Minnesota
Bad Fits: Portland
- Anthony Bennett, PF/SF, UNLV- The least valuable position in the NBA is a non-elite power forward that cannot defend centers because of how many people already in the league can play the part and how frequently new ones come into the fold. Bennett has shown substantially more depth in his game than most freshmen but also had the benefit of being older than most of them as well (he turned 20 on March 14). He makes up for a lack of height with a legit 7’1” wingspan and the unpolished tools to score in a variety of different ways, which has become a necessity for PF’s in the big leagues. What makes Bennett so fascinating is that he could end up being a new era stretch four in the NBA because of his handle and shot with a little potential to even get some minutes at SF in a pinch. Bennett will contribute early but will need to improve both his strengths and weaknesses in order to stand out at the next level.
Good Fits: Phoenix, Detroit, and Washington
Bad Fits: New Orleans and Portland
- Dennis Schroeder, PG, Germany- Seeing Schroeder this high may be a surprise but his performance warrants it in this draft class. While the other draft-eligible PG’s have limitations that could move them to a different position or make a bench role the best fit, Dennis should be able to stick as a point guard in the NBA and eventually become a solid starter at a key position. He showed at the Nike Hoop Summit that he can run a team and create offense against elite competition (Andrew Harrison, the PG for the US team, will be a lottery pick in the much stronger 2014 class). Schroeder has the size and court vision to distribute along with the ballhandling and passing to create for others with a jump shot good enough to keep opponents honest. Schroeder still has plenty of work to do on cutting down turnovers, finishing and shooting the NBA three, but those are fixable issues with proper coaching and time.
Good Fits: Utah, Orlando (not #1, obviously), Sacramento, Detroit, and OKC
Bad Fits: Portland and Philadelphia
- Glenn Robinson, SF, Michigan- It feels a good deal better to make a mistake on an elite athlete and that could end up being the case with Glen III. The son of the Big Dog is not just a physical specimen though, since he also has a pretty good basketball IQ and some intriguing potential as a scorer. That said, he needs to up his effort both mentally and physically to make the most of his ability.
- Giannis Adetokunbo, SF, Greece- Some may call him this year’s “International Man of Mystery” since we have seen so little of his game thus far and that criticism is wholly justified. Giannis is special because of his phenomenal athletic profile (7’3” wingspan, respectable speed, and gigantic hands) and instincts for such a young age- he turns 19 in December of this year. He can handle the ball reasonably well and has remarkable defensive potential. There is an additional risk since we have never seen Adetokunbo play against high-level competition, though it’s not like the other draft-eligible SF/PF’s (Poythress and Tony Mitchell’s freshman years come to mind) impressed when they had the chance. I would not even call Adetokunbo a boom/bust guy because he should be able to contribute even if the flaws in his game never get corrected. He just has insanely high upside while also being incredibly unproven.
Good Fits: New Orleans, Detroit, and OKC
Bad Fits: Washington and Minnesota
- Steven Adams, C, Pitt- A legitimate surprise at the Combine because he showed depth to his game that we simply have not seen before. Building a jump shot that gets results takes time and effort, which also helps answer one of the biggest criticisms about Adams. He has an NBA body and plays a position where effort and size can allow a player to provide value to the team that drafts him during the rookie deal even as he develops.
Good Fits: Minnesota, Washington, and Dallas
Bad Fits: Utah and Detroit
- Ben McLemore, SG, Kansas- McLemore is getting a ton of pub right now as a potential top-3 pick, but has the problem of being a dependent talent on offense while not having a major impact on the defensive end. His handle just does not reach the level necessary to make me believe he can generate shots for himself and others at the next level. People have compared him to former AAU teammate Bradley Beal who has come into his own at the end of his rookie year, yet Bradley did a better job creating his own offense than McLemore has at this point. Plenty of potential to be sure, but the holes in his game will make him a very limited player unless and until they can be closed.
Good Fits: Minnesota and Philadelphia
Bad Fits: Detroit, New Orleans, and Utah
- Willie Cauley-Stein, C, Kentucky- Stop me if you have heard this before: Athletic big man who can defend NBA Centers but needs to get stronger and develop a deeper game in order to make an impact. In a class full of raw center, Cauley-Stein may just be the most raw. One of those guys whose stock could benefit from staying in college, but would have been better off developing in the league and getting to his second contract that much faster.
- Shabazz Muhammad, SG/SF, UCLA- I have said for years that the only swingmen (shooting guards and small forwards) who should go high in the draft are those with a meaningful chance of being No. 1 scorers or elite defenders. The revelation about Muhammad's age raises real questions about his ability to get points on “fair” competition and his effort on the defensive end must become more consistent in order for him to become a starter in the league. He still has a great work ethic and the base to become a legitimate NBA player even though there are more questions than there were before.
Good Fits: Minnesota, Portland, and Philadelphia
Bad Fits: Utah, New Orleans, and Cleveland
- Tony Mitchell, PF/SF, North Texas- In a draft full of middling prospects, it seems worth it to go after one of the biggest boom/bust guys we have seen in years. Mitchell is one of the best athletes in this class and had an absolutely horrendous season. That said, Tony did a good job in the U-19 World Championships where he was the per-minute rebounding leader over guys like Valanciunas and Patric Young who have more established reputations on the boards. If he can put it together, Mitchell could be an NBA starter and/or an important contributor on a strong team and provide both rebounding and defense that is hard to obtain and retain for each and every NBA franchise.
Good Fits: OKC, San Antonio, and Indiana
Bad Fits: Utah
- Trey Burke, PG, Michigan- As was the case for me with Damian Lillard last season, I am not convinced that Burke will be a long-term starter in the pros. His physical profile will put him at a pretty great disadvantage on both sides of the ball against next level starting competition and all the heart in the world cannot make up some of those gaps. At the absolute worst he will be an awfully fun change of pace guy who gets spot starts and that has a meaningful value in today’s NBA.
Good Fits: Detroit, Dallas, and Utah
Bad Fits: New Orleans and Washington
- CJ McCollum, SG/PG, Lehigh- After last year’s stunning defeat of Duke in the NCAA Tournament, McCollum started getting the draft hype he had deserved for a little while before after finally developing his game enough to be a legit NBA player. The challenge for CJ is that he does not appear able to run an NBA offense and also does not possess the size to be a reliable off-guard. Fortunately, he can score in bunches sufficiently to make him worth taking, especially since he also generates turnovers on the defensive end.
Good Fits: Minnesota, Portland, and Dallas
Bad Fits: New Orleans, Detroit, and Sacramento
- Marcus Smart, PG/SG, Oklahoma State- As someone who loves analyzing point guards, there have been few that have given me more fits than Marcus Smart. He has a different physical presence than the freak PG’s that have come into the league recently because he is bigger (height and width) than most of them and also a little bit slower. His activity and desire to play defense is a big help and will provide value to teams even if he has more trouble getting to his desired spot on the court. In all honesty, we could see him more as a two guard defensively which may open up some different doors in terms of teams and fit with the bevy of guys who should be defending PG’s and playing off the ball currently in the Association.
- Cody Zeller, PF/C, Indiana- Over the past year, Cody has suffered a little bit from Matt Leinart Syndrome, meaning that draftniks have had another season to tear down his game as an elite prospect in the public eye. The problem is that some of those concerns are legitimate since his short wingspan and slight frame will allow him to be exploited defensively at the next level by Centers while those same limitations could curb some of his talent on the offensive end. Shockingly, his agent tried to spin Cody as a power forward at the Combine which further illustrates Zeller’s potential problems playing the most valuable NBA position. He will need to show a strong shooting stroke to generate anywhere close to the value he had when perceived as a true center. Regardless, Zeller will still be a useful contributor who will make teams sweat when he is on the court.
Good Fits: OKC, New Orleans, and Dallas
Bad Fits: Minnesota and Portland
- Alex Poythress, PF/SF, Kentucky- Since he was in high school, I have been rooting for Poythress to develop an offensive game that worked for a perimeter player since it would make him an absolute force in the NBA. Unfortunately, that has not happened thus far. However, his combination of size (6’8” or so with a 7’1” wingspan) and athleticism should allow him to be a disruptive force in the pros. His potential to guard both SF’s and PF’s makes him incredibly intriguing in a league looking for players with that type of ability.
- Michael Carter-Williams, SG/PG, Syracuse- Despite not being sure that he can run an NBA team as a primary ballhandler or defend NBA point guards, MCW showed in Chicago that he can help out the team that drafts him in other fascinating ways. He has sufficient quickness and size to make SG’s sweat and can provide teams with another level of flexibility given his ball-handling abilities.
Good Fits: Detroit, Portland, and OKC
Bad Fits: Philadelphia, Washington, and Minnesota
May 19, 2013 2:04 PM EDT
The Indiana Pacers are in the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since 2004 after eliminating the New York Knicks with a 106-99 win at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Game 6 on Saturday night.
The Pacers were led by a different player in each of their four wins over the Knicks and in Game 6 it was Lance Stephenson’s turn.
Stephenson, who can be maddening to watch, scored a career-high 25 points on 9-for-13 shooting to go along with 10 rebounds. The New York native had 16 points in the first half and exploded in the fourth when Indiana pulled away in what was the most exciting game of the series.
How can the fifth-most important starter on a team be exasperating to watch? Consider this sequence: Stephenson bricked a three from the right wing, then stole the ball on the ensuing possession and converted an old-fashioned (not exactly something you’d call ‘Born Ready’) three-point play.
In the early going it looked as though the Pacers could run away with a series-clinching victory, but the Knicks refused to go down without a fight. More than four minutes into the second quarter the Pacers held an 18-5 edge on the glass but only had a six-point lead. Indiana closed out the first half well to lead 55-47 after 24 minutes.
New York shot 35.4 percent in the first half and Indiana held a 25-15 rebounding edge. Uncharacteristically, the Pacers hit 50 percent of their shots. As we’ve come to expect, they turned the ball over eight times.
As the Pacers flirted with a finishing punch in the third quarter, the Knicks finally exploded from deep. Indiana did a great job of pushing New York off the three-point line and closing out on shooters all series, but they lost Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith over a 108-second stretch that saw the Knicks go on a 12-2 run. Shumpert and Smith combined to hit four-straight threes to erase a double-digit deficit and tie the game at 72.
The Knicks went 6-for-7 from deep in the quarter and outrebounded the Pacers by four as they took control of the momentum heading into the fourth period. Early in the fourth New York was winning the 50/50 battles, but Indiana owned the last five minutes.
The fulcrum of the game turned out to be Roy Hibbert’s tremendous block on Carmelo Anthony with the Knicks ahead 92-90. The Pacers seemed to have all the energy after the rejection. Stephenson then went on a one-man run to push his team into the next round.
“That block, I think it spearheaded the run they made,” Anthony said at the podium after the game.
Hill Plays, But Isn’t Right
George Hill was active for Game 6 on Saturday night despite missing the last game after suffering a concussion on Tuesday night in Game 4. It’s hard to quantify what his presence meant to the team, but it was obvious that he wasn’t 100 percent.
He finished 2-for-10 and front-rimmed a number of shots, a sign of fatigue and weak legs, but Hill was a game-high +12. He did his job at the line (7-for-7), but went just 1-for-6 from deep (a shot the Pacers will need against the Miami Heat). By avoiding a Game 7, Hill will have some time to rest up and heal before the Conference Finals start.
Carmelo Takes More Heat
Carmelo Anthony seemed to bring all he could with New York’s season on the line, scoring 39 points on 15-for-29 shooting, but all you will hear is how he performed in the fourth quarter. He made just two of his seven attempts with four points and three turnovers with the game in the balance.
“I don’t think it was fatigue and they didn’t make any adjustments,” Anthony said when asked about his rough fourth quarter. “A couple shots were almost in. We got some great looks coming down the stretch, shots that when we take we normally make. We got those looks tonight. We got what we wanted in the fourth quarter, but they just didn’t go down for us.”
Anthony has been dealing with shoulder issues since the end of the regular season, and appeared bothered by them once again in Game 6, and he also turned his ankle in the second half of this one.
More of the blame for this loss belongs on Mike Woodson and the lack of a consistent supporting cast. He has had to hoist an amazing amount of shots just to get the Knicks to the sixth game of a second-round series. Anthony simply looked tired on Saturday night.
A lot went wrong for the Knicks in the second half, but they looked great in the third quarter and received a number of clutch shots from Iman Shumpert and Chris Copeland. The duo combined for 22 points on 7-for-10 shooting after halftime, with Shumpert single-handedly bringing New York back in the game.
After Shumpert scored 16 points in the third quarter, he played less than seven minutes in the fourth quarter and didn’t attempt a single field goal. How can that happen? Anthony is your clear-cut No. 1 (and perhaps No. 2 option as well), but with the season on the line you must at the very least give the hot hand a few chances to extend his run.
Copeland brought great energy to the floor all series, but only got significant time in in the last two contests.
Woodson didn’t have a perfect roster to work with, but you have to question some of the decisions made down the stretch – including time management with the season ticking away.
It was fitting that the Pacers took the podium as a group after Saturday night’s closeout victory given the balance they provide. Consider this: Anthony led New York in scoring in all six games. Each member of the starting five led Indiana in scoring at least once against New York (Paul George did so twice).
That makes them hard to double defensively because any open player can get hot and take advantage of open looks. It killed the Knicks when they doubled-down on Hibbert in the paint and the perimeter combination of George and Hill didn’t even shoot well from the perimeter.
Quite simply, the only way the Pacers can threaten the Heat and advance to the NBA Finals is to receive offensive balance from their first five, defend the three, limit turnovers and get something substantial from their bench.
May 20, 2013 1:55 PM EDT
NBA fans in Seattle feel very angry and disappointed following the NBA Board of Governors’ vote to keep the Kings in Sacramento, and rightfully so. Only a few months ago the Sacramento Kings moving to Seattle looked like a foregone conclusion. I have written on the Seattle-Sacramento-Kings situation a few times before (here and here), with the Cliffs Notes version reading that the only sensible solution is one where both Seattle and Sacramento have teams.
On May 15, 2013, the NBA Board of Governors voted by a 22-8 count to deny Chris Hansen’s bid to relocate the Kings’ to Seattle (while not voting on the proposed sale). While the Kings have since been sold to Vivek Ranadive’s group and will remain in Sacramento, and the story has been rehashed all over the web, the purpose of this article is to look forward, not backward. Before we do that, however, here’s some of what we’ve learned from the Kings situation:
- David Stern still harbors a grudge against Seattle.
- The NBA’s new edict to keep teams from relocating at all costs (conveniently instituted immediately after the Sonics moved to Oklahoma City) means relocation of another team to Seattle does not appear to be realistic anytime soon.
With all this being said, Sonics' fans should have hope, as many significant steps were laid for the return of the NBA to Seattle, which will occur sooner rather than later. Why the optimistic view? Here’s why:
- The League Was Reminded that Seattle is a Fantastic NBA Market. The old adage out-of-sight, out-of-mind is based in truth. Well, Chris Hansen, Steve Ballmer and the rest of the Seattle ownership group importantly reminded the NBA that the Seattle market is simply too good to be left vacant. Five years have passed since the Sonics moved to Oklahoma City, and naturally with some time having passed, a Sonics-less NBA had been becoming more and more engrained in the NBA world. However, over the past few months, Seattle has forced its way onto the NBA radar in a big way. While the Kings will ultimately not move there, the talk of the Kings moving to Seattle for the past several months did serve a meaningful purpose in reminding the NBA loud and clear that Seattle needs to have its Sonics returned.
- The Seattle Ownership Group & Arena Plan are Absurdly Strong. Let’s see, Steve Ballmer’s net worth exceeds $15 billion dollars. That’s $15 BILLION DOLLARS! You think the NBA wants someone with such wealth and stature in the league? Me too. As for the arena, the design looks to be state-of-the-art, and upon obtaining an NBA team, not much remains as a roadblock to having the arena built. When viewing the proposed ownership group and arena plan together, very few existing NBA teams can match what Seattle has in place.
- $$$$$. While the potential bidding war for the Kings didn’t quite happen because David Stern said so, the league owners were made well aware that the Hansen/Ballmer group would be willing to pay a pretty penny for a team. So hello expansion! Let’s assume a price tag of $600 million dollars for an expansion team - this would mean $20 million per owner. Yes, the owners would have to carve out another piece of the revenue pie to a new 31st team, but if you run the numbers (even accounting for the next TV deal increasing substantially), the $20 million up-front payment to each team should make this enticing to the owners, enough to allow the Hansen/Ballmer group into the exclusive club.
- David Stern’s Remaining Tenure Can Be Measured In Months. No matter whom you ask, the response will be the same – David Stern is not a friend of the NBA’s return to Seattle. If you need any proof, listen to the first sentence out of David Stern’s mouth at the press conference following the relocation vote. But, from what we have seen so far from Adam Silver, his replacement in waiting, the new commissioner does not share the same icy relationship with Seattle. Further, Silver’s comments at the same press conference indicate an appreciation for the Seattle market and a genuine desire to get the NBA back to Seattle. It should be expected that Silver will look to carve out his own path as commissioner, rather than serve as Stern’s lackey. We won’t know for certain until Silver takes the helm, but all evidence points to Silver having a net positive impact on the NBA’s return to Seattle. Too bad the same thing can’t be said for David Stern.
So Seattle NBA fans, there are legitimate reasons to have hope. But, patience will be required. With all of this in mind, what exactly needs to happen in the meantime? Let’s break this into two groups:
Chris Hansen/Steve Ballmer:
The Seattle ownership group needs to focus on two key tasks. First, the group needs to maintain close contact with the league office, and most specifically, Adam Silver. The league is in the process of opening up negotiations with the TV networks for the next TV contract, and it’s not unreasonable to think that the new TV deal will be agreed within the next year or so. The NBA has stated on multiple occasions that it will take a close look at expansion once negotiations for the next TV deal are completed (not when the existing TV deal expires in 2016), so it may be as soon as one year before the league looks at expansion.
Second, and perhaps more importantly, the ownership group needs to continue dialogue with the other NBA owners. This is critical because it’s the owners that ultimately say yay or nay on expansion. Remember that the vote against the Seattle relocation was 22-8, not 30-0. If you disregard the Maloofs’ vote (they had a vote in the relocation), then you still have seven owners who were in favor of the move to Seattle. This is a very important piece of information to consider, as it means that the Hansen/Ballmer group has allies among the owners. Hansen/Ballmer need to continue to lobby these owners to help them with expansion. In addition, there are strong rumblings that a handful of other owners were in favor of the move, but were ultimately convinced to vote against the move by Stern. So within the BOG, there are owners who support Seattle, and the Hansen/Ballmer group needs to get them on board with expansion. If Hansen/Ballmer can get the BOG on board, expansion will happen, and thus, Hansen/Ballmer need to focus on gaining league-wide support from the owners for expansion.
For the fans, the tasks at hand require less explanation. First, easier said than done, keep up the support. Admittedly, it’s hard based on what has transpired, but don’t give up the faith. The Sonics’ return is close to happening, believe it. And once the NBA does return, all of the sweat and emotion put into this cause will have been worthwhile. Second, Sonics fans need to do their part to keep the political climate in Seattle favorable to the NBA’s return and the new arena. For a starting point, there is an upcoming mayoral election, and Sonics fans need to galvanize the Seattle voters to keep an NBA friendly mayor at the helm of the city.
For a moment, I’m going to take off my journalist hat and put on my Sonics hat. Sonics fans, I’m one of you. I grew up with the team, and their run in the 1990’s was one of my most memorable sports experiences to date. Together we need to continue to fight for the Sonics’ return. We need to provide our support to the Hansen/Ballmer group. They’re in it for the long haul, and we fans need to be as well. Brian Robinson and company, keep up the great work at Sonics Rising. I encourage all NBA fans, not just Sonics fans, to take a look at the Sonics Rising page at SB Nation. As you will see, Seattle’s passion for the Sonics is very real. Quite frankly, the level of support is remarkable based on how the NBA has treated Seattle these past five years. I know the Kings process was disturbing on many fronts, and I’m not a fan of moral victories, but in this case, quite a bit was done in terms of furthering the return of the NBA to Seattle. I have no inside knowledge on this, but I do believe that the Sonics will be playing again in Seattle within the next five years, and that an expansion team will be announced within the next 2-3 years. We’re very close - just hang in there a bit longer, and we will be rewarded. And if/when you feel like giving up, think about the younger generation growing up in Seattle. They deserve the chance to grow up with the Sonics just as we did, and our perseverance will be worth it once our team finally returns.
Alright, to wrap up, there are many reasons to be optimistic about the Sonics return, despite what transpired with the Kings. Look forward, not back, and hang in there. The plan is very simple: at the next BOG meeting, Chris Hansen will march into the room and put a $20 million check on each owner’s chair, and that will be that. j/k But in all seriousness, it’s a matter of when, not if, for the Sonics’ return, and it will be oh so sweet once they do. I’d love to hear from you if you have any comments. I can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and you can follow me on Twitter at @NeemaHodjat.
May 17, 2013
Players that failed a concussion test and returned this season – John Jenkins, Nikola Vucevic, Darrell Arthur, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Chris Kaman, Pau Gasol, Marvin Williams, Jeff Pendergraph and Anthony Davis – missed an average of 11 days.
May 17, 2013
Chris Copeland’s presence helped the Knicks cut the rebounding deficit (43-40) by pulling Hibbert and West away from the basket on pick-and-roll plays and by roaming along the three-point line along the wings in Game 5.
May 17, 2013
In a game that the Knicks should have run away with, the Pacers narrowly missed an opportunity to steal one on the road and advance to the Eastern Conference Finals in the process.
May 17, 2013
Had the Thunder been patient and truly believed in the strength of their program, they would have discovered that James Harden is better than good. Meanwhile, the Thunder are left with the burden of finding the right guys to get the team back to contender status.
May 15, 2013
RealGM sat down with Dirk Bauermann in Vilnius to talk about the changes in his life, time with Lietuvos Rytas, German basketball, Dirk Nowitzki, his new role with Poland national team and much more.
May 15, 2013
With another good showing on the glass and scoring from George Hill, the Pacers now have three chances to close out the Knicks and advance to a likely showdown with the Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals.
May 14, 2013
Andrew Wiggins decision to attend Kansas isn't the only news to shake up the Way Too Early Top 25 over the last few weeks.
May 12, 2013
The Pacers used an inside-out approach in their 82-71 win over the Knicks in Game 3. Typically, the Pacers feed Roy Hibbert early to establish an inside presence. On Saturday night, Indiana hit a number of outside shots in the first quarter and rode Hibbert late.
May 11, 2013
RealGM sat down with Ettore Messina in London to talk about what the future holds for CSKA, the Euroleague Final Four format, Viktor Khryapa and things that money can't buy.
May 11, 2013
Instead of taking their opponents to the limits of their ability and playing the game on their advantage, Mark Jackson and the Warriors ceded the high ground for the false positive of standardization and gave away any semblance of comfort or experience since Andrew Bogut and Festus Ezeli played about 20 seconds together in total during the regular season.
May 10, 2013
Pablo Prigioni has become an x-factor for the Knicks in the playoffs. Prigioni excels when orchestrating the offense in pick-and-roll sets as a pass-first point guard with the ability to make three-pointers if left open on defensive switches.
May 09, 2013
RealGM sat down with Euroleague president Jordi Bertomeu to discuss the 2012-13 season, the new format of the competition, its biggest problems and the future of Euroleague.
May 08, 2013
The Pacers can win a game in which Carmelo Anthony hits 50 percent of his shots, but they can’t allow anyone else to go off and they certainly cannot allow a 30-2 run.
May 07, 2013
Alex Len was wise not to jeopardize his future for a short-term gain. And most of all, he knew he could have challenged his ankle to perform in workouts, but then this stress injury promised to linger and leave him needing surgery anyway.
May 07, 2013
Carmelo Anthony cannot truly become a great player until he consistently makes great plays that go beyond simply scoring. The championship chances of the Knicks depend on Anthony’s willingness to do more than shoot the ball.
May 06, 2013
Seven teams named new GMs after the 2011-12 and candidates seem to fall into two different categories these days: the young savant and the seasoned veteran.
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