When drafting a project big man in the first round — someone like Florida State’s Solomon Alabi — the key question has to be work ethic. Is he going to be happy just to make the NBA and luxuriate in the perks that come with the job, or does he genuinely want to get better?
David Thorpe, Executive Director of the Pro Training Center and ESPN analyst, worked out Alabi and in an interview at Raptors Republic gave him about the highest work ethic honor you could — comparing him to Joakim Noah.
Noah is the same player in practice you see on the court in games, and that kind of relentless effort makes a team work harder ad play better.
“I think Alabi, like Noah, has the chance to be that kind of guy,” Thorpe said.
The NBCSports.com mock draft has Alabi going at No. 25 to the Hawks (who could certainly use a shot-blocking center). He may have moved up since the NBA Draft Combine and some reportedly impressive workouts, maybe going as high as 19 to Boston.
Alabi had a good athlete, he measured taller than anyone in the combine — 7’1″ with a 7’5″ wingspan. However, he is not fast, he was the slowest player at the combine, and finished dead last in the lane agility drill.
Yet the scouts love him. In part because he has a good offensive game, Thorpe saying he has a consistent jumper out to 18 feet. He could come in and be a bench big you can run the pick-and-pop with and get some defense.
Alabi is very raw with his offensive moves in the post. And the native Nigerian only started playing basketball at 15, so there are questions about how high his ceiling really is.
But an energy guy who is a legit center who can block shots and has a midrange game? And comes with incredible energy? This may be a project worth taking on.
For the second consecutive year, the Warriors have lost their lead assistant to another team. When the Pelicans hired Alvin Gentry during last year’s playoffs, Steve Kerr promoted Luke Walton to associate head coach and added former journeyman big man Jarron Collins to the bench. Now that Walton is headed to the Lakers as their next head coach, the Warriors will go outside the organization to find a replacement, according to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein. And one name that will likely not be in the mix is David Blatt, who very nearly became an assistant under Kerr in 2014 before being offered the Cavaliers’ head job.
Given Walton’s success this season as interim head coach while Kerr recovered from back surgery, this will undoubtedly be the most attractive assistant job in the league.
In the last few years, NBA head coaching salaries have skyrocketed, and new Lakers coach Luke Walton is no exception. According to the Los Angeles Times‘ Mike Bresnahan, Walton is getting $25 million over five years, which is the same as Steve Kerr’s deal with the Warriors, now-former Knicks coach Derek Fisher’s deal in New York, and Fred Hoiberg’s deal with the Bulls.
This kind of money has become standard for head coaches who don’t also have front-office power. Tom Thibodeau and Stan Van Gundy both get between $7 and $8 million annually to do both jobs. Given how good Walton’s current situation with the Warriors is, the Lakers probably had to be on the high end of the coaching spectrum to get him to leave.
On Friday night, the Lakers announced that they’re hiring Luke Walton as their next head coach, effective as soon as the Warriors’ playoff run is over. It’s a good hire, but it’s especially interesting given Walton’s close relationship with Phil Jackson and the rumors that never seem to go away, that Jackson might be set up to return to the Lakers to run the team alongside fiancée Jeanie Buss after next season, when he has an opt-out in his contract with the Knicks.
But that doesn’t mean Walton will be running the triangle, as he said in his first comments to reporters since the news broke.
Via the Orange County Register‘s Bill Oram:
Regardless of whether Jackson eventually gets back in the picture in Los Angeles, Walton has been a successful assistant in Golden State and has the right temperament to lead the Lakers into the post-Kobe era.
Stephen Curry might be back sooner than expected. It’s been one week since he suffered the sprained MCL in his right knee that led the Warriors to rule him out for at least two weeks, but head coach Steve Kerr said Saturday that there’s at least an outside chance he could play Tuesday in Game 2 of Golden State’s second-round series against the Portland Trail Blazers.
Via ESPN.com’s Marc Stein:
Obviously, the smart money is on Curry not playing this early in his timetable. But the fact that it’s even on the table would seem to indicate that, barring a setback, he’ll be back for at least some of the series, which tips off Sunday.