Sunday, June 27, 2010

Wolves Draft Recap

First round, #4: Wesley Johnson, SF, Syracuse

It was a given that Wesley Johnson was going to be picked by the Wolves and I like the pick. With his length, athleticism and ability to stretch the floor, he will be able to contribute from day one and give some room for Kevin Love and/or Al Jefferson to operate under the basket. Johnson shot 42% from 3-pt range, 50% from the floor, and 77% from the foul-line and he also grabbed 8.5 rebounds per game. You have a guy you know wants to make the best of his situation and will work hard every day. Some fans wanted Cousins but I don't think the Wolves can afford to gamble on a guy who has questionable attitude and work ethic especially given the fact that these kind of problems can quickly get contagious in a very young locker room. Expect Johnson to contribute right away with his outside shooting, ability to run the floor and rebounding.

Martell Webster for Luke Babbitt and Ryan Gomes

I personally loved this move and I know the Wolves have caught a lot of flak from so-called armchair "experts" who have suddenly come out of the woodwork to criticize the Wolves front office. Although Webster has been in the league for 5 years, he is only 23-yr old with a lot of upside remaining. He provides the Wolves with length at the shooting guard position (6'7") and outside shooting and give the Wolves a young player who could continue to improve. Luke Babbitt certainly was a solid pick but he wasn't really needed since we drafted Wesley Johnson earlier. Ryan Gomes simply hasn't improved as much as he should have in the last couple years. In all, I expect Webster to stretch the floor and help improve the Wolves 3-pt shooting which was an abysmal 34% last season.

Layzar Hayward, Nemanja Bjelica, Paulo Prestes are players I don't much about but I expect the Wolves to keep the last two overseas while Hayward will provide some reinforcement at the power forward position as the Wolves are trying to deal Al Jefferson away. The Wolves will now try to address signing Darko Milicic and Nikolai Pekovic who will provide the Wolves with some size up the middle. On July 1, the free agency period will begin and the Wolves will attempt to woo someone via a sign-and-trade involving Al Jefferson.

Grade: The Wolves had a very solid draft and the team certainly did improve which is all you can ask for.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Pick of the Litter: T-Wolves Draft Prospects

Hassan Whiteside

While there is plenty of competition at the Center position, Hassan Whiteside tops our list as the best Center in the 2010 NBA Draft. The Marshall big man enters the Draft after finishing what was the most dominate performance by a freshman since Michael Beasley at Kansas State in the 2007-08 season. Beasley dominated the scoring column during his only season with K-State while Whiteside's stats were more impressive across the board. To call him a stat stuffer would be an understatement as he recorded 3 triple doubles in points, rebounds, & blocks (he also had games were he ended having a double double with 9 & 8 blocks on the side).

Needless to say Whiteside possesses natural shot blocking abilities that are a combination of his great anticipation and freakish 7'7" wingspan (tied with Shaq for 3rd longest in past 20 years). Aside from his potential as the anchor of a teams defense, he also has an offensive game that is quite diverse and well developed.

His size and athleticism alone made him an instant force playing the post in Conference USA. If a body was not placed on him while in the post he would consistently collect the offensive boards followed up by letting the BEAST OUT on the unsuspecting rims with his Monster put backs. While his freakish length allows him to catch any ball lobed up near the basket for and easy layup or ally-00p, he is also able to effectively shoot the mid-range jump shot.

His jump shot has a very fluid motion to it, lacking the usual hitches that most big men have. He gets set using the B.E.E.F. fundamentals, keeping his body straight as he elevates for the shot (most bigs shoot more of a set shot). Getting this type of elevation makes blocking his shot nearly impossible given how long he already is.

Whiteside is very comfortable with his jump shot, which he showed this year taking and knocking down the occasional turn around jumper a la his idol Kevin Garnett. He even finished the season shooting .600 % from the 3-point line which measures 20.9 ft in college compared to 23.9 ft in the NBA (but relax he was only 3-5). None the less his 15- 18 ft jumper should translate immediately to the pros. Defenders shouldn't be mistaken if Whiteside is left open he will knock down the shot.

While his shooting is very exceptional for any player his size, his shooting form (see picture above & to the left) is a little unorthodox. Its clear to see that his left hand (guide hand) is holding the top of the ball instead of being placed on the the left side on the ball (Ray Allen pic). Its obvious no one expects the same type of shooting results in Whiteside that have made Ray Allen an All-Star player. Still I believe that pro coaches will work with him to try and get him to move his guide hand down do the side of the ball.

Combine Measurements

While making player evaluations it is helpful to have current player comparisons in terms of size and athleticism. These comparable measurements allow us to help envision what types of advantages and/or disadvantages a player might have at the NBA level. Strengths/weaknesses that may not be apparent through studying game film. As well as giving GMs a way to determine who is the better fit between two players based on the smallest margin of an athleticism grade.

*Note all measurements and data below were taken during the NBA Combine before a month before the players were drafted. So these represent where each player was physically when entering the league.

As you can see in the chart above, Whiteside measures out nearly identical as 5 time NBA All-Star Chris Bosh in both height and weight. The only exception being that Whiteside has a wingspan long enough to land planes on. Although at this point he is listed at the same weight Bosh was as a rookie, it appears that Whiteside possess a frame that will able to take on more weight as he matures. Which would only benefit him as a Center having to go up against big bodied interior players on a nightly bases who weigh in the neighborhood of 250 lbs.

Once again Whiteside and Bosh test favorably by both having equal sprit times and nearly equal lane agility scores. While the sprinting test is more important for guards the lane agility test is much more informative. As it measures a players lateral quickness which is very important for man on man defense. The old saying goes "your only as good as who you can guard" In that case Whiteside should excel in the league because while his agility is not elite (Noah got 11.79) it is still a good score for most PFs. The most encouraging category of the list are his 12 bench reps, this shows that while thin he is deceptively strong.

Whiteside Vs. Bosh(2003): They both attack the rim, can stretch the floor and shoot with rang, good rebounders. Whiteside is a better Shot Blocker & overall defender, more active on offensive boards, stronger & longer. Bosh had better handles and a more developed post game.

Recap of USA - England World Cup Match: LEGO STYLE

If you just watched this video without seeing the real life highlights, than let me be the 1st to tell you that you are not a REAL Sports Fan.
Because 1st of all the World Cup is amazing and secondly who doesn't watch Sports Center or go to the ESPN website?

So here go check out ESPN to find out more about the World Cup.
Pick a Country to support or just cheer on team USA and join the rest of the world in watching one of the greatest sports tournaments in existence!

For those of you who do keep up with World Cup action I think you will enjoy the reenactment of England's Goalkeeper Green and his now infamous allowed goal.

I swear that Goal will NEVER get old especially this Lego version!