The NBA season may have been over for some time, but that doesn’t stop the highlight reels, or the way they make me feel.
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I’m not a fan of LeBron James. It’s not that he’s not a great player. He is. It’s just that he does stupid shit, and he’s a dick. Dancing on the court and asking Nike to confiscate tapes of you getting dunked on by a college player… Just be a man and get over it. And that’s just for starters. But we’ll get back to that dunk in a bit.
LeBron James is to the NBA what Brett Favre is to the NFL. A good player who dominates way more headlines than he deserves. Kobe Bryant is the best player in the NBA, and even his awful Game 7 Finals offensive performance (not knocking those boards at all) doesn’t change that. Why the news begins and ends with LBJ is beyond me. When he gets a ring, maybe he’ll deserve the hype. Until then, Wade is a bigger story in my eyes as he’s more important to his team. This draft was all LeBron, all the time. It wasn’t about the players being drafted, it was about where he goes in free agency and what that means for the rest of the 2010 free agent class. And it made for a shitty draft, because it felt like no one really appreciated the players in it (from a media perspective).
I was more concerned about the Hawks in this draft, who aren’t in a position to do as much damage on the open market as other NBA squads, so outside of the first five picks, this draft didn’t hold too much interest. Smarter people will give better analysis, but I like the way things went. Teams made the right moves, and while I know Washington can’t pass on John Wall, the legit #1 pick for this year, it’ll be very interesting to see how (if?) he pairs with Gilbert “Agent Zero Ain’t a Nickname I Will Shoot Your Ass” Arenas. Big contract and potential headcase don’t exactly scream movable asset.
I’ll let you read the whole scenario of how the Hawks did what they did tonight via the AJC, but let’s talk about it. Jordan Crawford seems like a really solid pick, especially if he can pick up some skills on the defensive side of the ball, but I’m not totally sold. There are so many guys that can do what he does (see anyone referred to as “Instant Offense”) that I’m not sure why you get this guy and not get the same skill set from a free agent. You can find a diamond in the rough big in the draft, because there just aren’t as many that you can pry away from other teams. Not saying I have a problem with the pick, I just think it doesn’t address an immediate need.
When Sund made the trade for 27 (Crawford) and 31, I assumed we’d get one of the “project” centers that had been bandied about, especially with Hassan Whiteside still on the board. But they opted for Tibor Pleiss, a European project and promptly traded his rights for cash. Huh? For a team with size issues, I don’t know why they didn’t try to use the pick, with 2nd round contracts not being guaranteed, to improve the team now or in the near future. You always need bigs, but maybe Rick Sund knows something I don’t about who can be had on the sly in free agency.
With the Hawks other pick, they drafted Pape Sy, a nearly unknown Frenchman who has been listed anywhere from 6’3″ to 6’10,” though I’m told he’s actually 6’7.” Always hard for me to speculate on Europeans as I don’t know anything about International basketball, but new coach Larry Drew is apparently hot on him.
The Hawks get a bona fide scorer in Crawford, a young version of Jamal Crawford with less passing, and a potentially excellent French big man who no one knows. Maybe he’s on the team now, maybe down the road. It seems like as good a draft as the Hawks could have managed with the picks they had and not trading away any other assets. And they got back $3 million, so I’m sure tickets will be more affordable…
Remember how I said we’d get back to LeBron and getting dunked on? Yeah, that was Jordan Crawford. The King can keep polishing his non-existent crown while trying to grow up and ruining SportsCener, but I’ll take the guy who just plays the game.
And if he looks familiar, that’s because he’s been on the bench the last six years under former head coach Mike Woodson. According to the AJC’s Michael Cunningham, Larry Drew has been named the new coach of my beloved Atlanta Hawks. After Avery Johnson took the Nets job, the final candidates were Drew, Dwayne Casey and Mark Jackson (the latter of whom has never coached at any level). Ultimately the Hawks decided to go with familiar rather than flashy.
I don’t know how I feel about this. None of the names in the candidate search (including Johnson) really impressed me. I was hoping for an out-of-the-blue choice to come in and be named, but it just didn’t happen. The Hawks played this one close to home and all I can do is remain optimistic. This deal is so new the contract is still being worked out, and Drew hasn’t said thing one about his plans, philosophy or what he’s going to do with the rest of the coaching staff.
There’s a part of me that finds the promotion of the assistant troubling. If they knew this was a possibility, why wasn’t this done at any point during the last 6 years of the Woodson regime? Sure, the guy had a contract, but coaches get fired all the time, some with longer tenures and better pedigrees. I feel like this move could have, and probably should have, been made during a season as a trial run. You have more options in the offseason to conduct your search, but at least you can see how things work out in real situations if you give one of your assistants the reins while things still matter. Maybe the Hawks were never bad enough to fire Woodson after they got better, but don’t tell that to former Cleveland Cavs skipper Mike Brown. He was fired a year after being named Coach of the Year and following a second consecutive 60+ win season.
I’m contradicting myself a little bit, but I’m concerned. Your coach is as big, if not bigger, as any decision you could ever make regarding the roster. Scott Skiles in Milwaukee is a prime example. His best players kept getting hurt, and he kept his team winning even into the playoffs against a supposedly superior opponent. I’ll give Drew his day, but the Hawks need to look at things beyond wins and losses as Drew takes control.
Drew doesn’t need to win next year, that would be kidding ourselves. But all the little things that spell out championship basketball (aka fundamentals) need to improve. That’s how we’ll know if we’ve got our guy or a dud.
Make us proud, Larry Drew. This is your shot. Own it.