On Thursday morning, March 18, you had no idea who Omar Samhan was. Admit it. I didn’t, and I live in California and watch a whole lot of basketball. This guy, and St. Mary’s, were not on the NBA radar.
By the next Monday, he was your favorite new player. He had dropped 29 points on Richmond and 32 on Villanova. Didn’t really look like an NBA body, was not leaping out of the building, but the guy was getting it done. And those guys — big men who can just find a way around the rim — can find their way in the NBA.
Then he went up against an actual future NBA frontcourt in Baylor and needed 17 shots to get his 15 points. He impressed nobody that night.
So, can Samhan play in the NBA? ESPN’s player development guru (and all around good guy David Thorpe) said, basically, nobody knows (the link is Insider, but Thorpe would be the reason to get Insider, he’s that good). Samhan hasn’t played much against the kind of competition you can judge him against. Samhan is going to get a chance in camps and workouts to prove he belongs.
“The upcoming NBA draft workouts will be the first time he’ll see NBA size and talent almost every day, from his pre-draft training to the three or four workouts per week he’ll likely be attending throughout the spring. Some of the smarter teams will schedule an early workout with him, then plan on seeing him again just before the draft. It’s an excellent way to mark progress.”
Basically, does he get better as workouts go on, does his conditioning dramatically improve and does he figure out how to use his body on better players? If so, there is “upside” and somebody may take a second round shot with him. If he doesn’t improve, well, there are other places to make a living playing besides the NBA. It’s on him.
Paul George‘s first experience starting as a power forward was going up against Anthony Davis — not just one of the best power forwards in the game, one of the handful of best players in the game period. That didn’t go well for George, and he wasn’t happy about it.
His second experience was in another preseason game Tuesday, going up against the Pistons and their four, Ersan İlyasova. He’s not quite as intimidating.
George scored 20 points on 7-of-8 shooting, 4-of-5 on threes — and that was just the first quarter (you can see it all in the video above).
As we have said before, George at the four is not a bad call by the Pacers, but some of that depends on the matchup. On the nights the Pacers face Davis or Blake Griffin or LaMarcus Aldridge or Zach Randolph (or a handful of others) the Pacers’ coaching staff is going to have to adjust. But there are a lot of nights where George at the four is going to force the other team to adjust, and that will play into the Pacers’ hands.
Last season, DeMarcus Cousins received zero MVP votes (the same as every year of his career). Even though he averaged 24.1 points, and 12.7 rebounds a game, which was enough to get him his first All-Star berth, MVP is another thing entirely. Only players on winning teams tend to draw the attention of MVP voters.
This season, can Cousins — arguably the best center in the game — get in the conversation?
He thinks it’s more than just that, he told Kevin Ding at Bleacher Report.
The topic is the 2015-16 NBA MVP award and whether it could be reachable for DeMarcus Cousins.
“Reachable, man?” Cousins told Bleacher Report, his voice rising high. “It’s mine to grab.”
As noted above, the only way Cousins gets into the conversation — fair or not — is if the Kings are in the playoffs (at the very least). He understands that.
“It’s going to take a full team effort,” Cousins said. “I’ll try to play at a high level and bring my team along with me.”
Vlade Divac built a Kings’ team designed to start winning now — as you would expect from a team a year away from moving into a new arena they need to fill. Owner Vivek Ranadive is not about selling hope anymore, he wants to sell wins.
I think Cousins can help provide that.
I’m less sold on the cast around him being able to help.