We all love the NCAA tournament, but as NBA fans we watch it with a different eye — who is going to be coming out of this showcase and on to the NBA. This is part of a series looking at future NBA players you should watch this weekend.
Georgia Tech has a long list of NBA studs to its name — Chris Bosh, Kenny Anderson, John Salley, Mark Price, Thaddeus Young, and the list just keeps going.
And will keep going — Georgia Tech has two players to watch when they take on Oklahoma State Friday night. One would think that with two potential first round picks the Yellow Jackets would be higher than a 10 seed. But their problem is a lack of guys to fear on the perimeter, so their two big stars have a lot of company in the paint.
The big name is Derrick Favors, the power forward (certainly at the NBA level) who likely will go somewhere between three and five overall in the draft. Favors is as athletic as anybody in college basketball right now, he can just explode at the basket — watch him on the boards. He shoots well (hit 59% of his shots this season). But at the NBA level he ideally needs to be on a team where he can use those gifts in the open court because this season has shown limits to his halfcourt game. Like having enough post moves to consistently create his own shot. But this is a case where a guy can get over-analyzed — you can teach him post moves (and he has been better lately at that). You cannot teach leaping out of the building.
On the opposite low block is Gani Lawal — another big long athlete (seven foot wingspan) who likely goes in the first round. DraftExpress Assistant Director of Scouting Joe Treutlein gave us some exclusive comments on Lawal:
“Gani Lawal has flown a bit under the radar this year, but playing alongside Derrick Favors on a team with shaky guard play, specifically in terms of post entry passes, certainly hasn’t helped him stand out. A high energy athlete who’s very good on the boards and could do some garbage work, he’s a fringe first rounder now, but could contribute quickly in the NBA in the right situation.”
How good either of these guys look in the NCAA tournament may depend on the guard play the Yellow Jackets get — if you can double team without fear of getting burned on the perimeter, you can slow anyone.
But what you want to see out of an NBA prospect is how they deal with the adversity and big stage of the tournament. That will be interesting to see for Favors and Lawal.
Don’t make a bet you’re not willing to follow through on. I mean, we all do it — “If Trump wins I’m moving to Canada” — but never really mean it. We don’t follow through.
Except sometimes people do.
Reddit NBA user ‘PARTYxDIRTYDAN’ made a bet that he would eat his shirt if the Warriors repeated as Western Conference champions. Call it a bad beat if you want — he came about as close to winning that bet as he could without actually winning it — but the man was good to his word. He had a little BBQ sauce on it, but he ate his shirt.
He probably shouldn’t make a similar bet in the Finals, no matter how big a Cavs fan he is.
(Hat tip Deadspin)
LeBron James got what he probably wanted deep down — a second chance at Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals (starting Thursday night). It’s a chance for revenge from last season and to knock Curry off his pedestal.
Except this is a difficult matchup for the Cavaliers and their current style of play, something Kurt Helin and Dan Feldman of NBC Sports get into in this breakdown of what’s to come on the NBA’s biggest stage.
They both foresee a long couple of weeks coming for Kevin Love, and difficulty for the Cavaliers getting enough stops. While the Cavaliers now want to play faster and shoot threes, they may have to change tactics against the Warriors.
As always, you can listen to the podcast below, or listen and subscribe via iTunes, download it directly here, or you can check out our new PBT Podcast homepage, which has the most recent episodes available. If you have the Stitcher app, you can listen there as well.
Golden State is the clear favorites to beat the Cavaliers and repeat as NBA Champions.
But for gamblers, there’s not much money to be made in taking the safe route, where you have to risk a lot to win a little. The money is on the underdog.
Which is why the early cash has gone to Cleveland, something reported by online gambling site Bovada.lv. Here are their current odds to win the series:
Cleveland Cavaliers +175 (7/4)
Golden State Warriors -210 (10/21)
(That means for every $100 bet on Cleveland the gambler would get $175 if they win; where with Golden State it would take a $210 bet to win $100.)
“We opened the NBA Finals at Cleveland +200 (2/1) and Golden State -240 (5/12) and the public pounced on Cleveland, forcing the adjustment of the lines to +175 and -210,” said Kevin Bradley, Bovada.lv Sportsbook Manager. “While the wagering has evened out a bit more on each side, 60% of the public is currently on the Cavaliers.”
This just makes sense as a gambler — why would I risk so much to win with Golden State? I get the much better payoff with a smaller amount bet with Cleveland, even if the outcome is less likely to go my way.
Remember, for a book the goal is often even betting on both sides, so that they rake in their percentage and win regardless of the outcome. That said, the books may be Warriors fans for the next couple of weeks.
Bismack Biyombo made $3 million this season playing for the Raptors.
Next season he is going to make five times that or more playing somewhere. Biyombo is a free agent and the going rate could be $17 million a year.
After a breakout playoffs, Biyombo wants to stay in Toronto with the Raptors and would even consider a hometown discount to make that happen. That’s what he said on Sportsnet 590 The FAN’s Andrew Walker Show. Does Biyombo expect to wear a Raptors jersey next season?
“Honestly, I do. We still have some unfinished business. It was so much fun to see the team go from last year to this year making the Eastern Conference finals. Be it would be fun to go even further next season.”
The Raptors want to bring him back, but the salary cap makes it difficult. The Raptors do not have Biyombo’s Bird rights, so they need to use their salary cap space to re-sign him. The Raptors top priority is bringing back DeMar DeRozan (who will be a max or near max player), and remember they gave Jonas Valanciunas a four-year, $64 million contract extension last summer.
Would Biyombo be open to a discount to stay in Toronto?
“Yeah. Things can always be worked out. I’ve said that to my people, I’ve said that to Masai. When the right time comes I’d be open to figuring something out. At the end of the day it’s for fun, not money. It’s not always about money. Money is great, but at the same time I ask ‘how much fun am I going to have? The city is great, the team is great, and we’re winning.”
The question may be how big a discount are we talking about? Let’s say Team X does offer $17 million a year for four years, would Biyombo start at $15 million to stay? $13 million? Where is that number?
Next season Biyombo is going to make more money than he had in his entire NBA career up to this point. This is set your family up for generations money, and while the sentiment that the game should be for fun is what we as fans of the game want to hear, how much money would you leave on the table in his shoes?
With the Raptors talking about giving Valanciunas a bigger role in the offense next season, how much can they afford to pay his backup? Biyombo could be on the move.