NBA Draft: Five big risks in the 2011 NBA Draft

5 Comments

Right now, there are no busts in the 2011 NBA Draft.

By 2014 we will be calling a few of these guys busts, but right now they are just risks. In this draft, picking out what risks to gamble on is amazingly difficult, seemingly every player has some glaring flaws. We’d preach patience — wait at least wait a couple years before you decide to rip your GM for what was such an obvious decision (while forgetting how you told your friends you thought this was a great pick on draft night).

Some risks are bigger than others — and in this draft boom and bust are hand-in-hand. Particularly among the big men. Some of the most athletic players and the guys with the highest ceilings are the guys who may never pan out.

Which is why our “sleepers list” and “risk list” have some crossover this year. Here are five guys that are risks (if you want to call them potential busts, that’s your call).

Jeremy Tyler, 6’11” power forward, Japanese league: Big men move up the draft board at the end every year, and that is happening for Tyler because he comes with legit NBA big man size. And he has some skills, a face up game and he can board. Some teams like him. But the guy was unimpressive in Japan last year. There are real questions about his maturity and desire. He skipped his senior year of high school and the chance to go to a major college to go instead to Europe, a decision that backfired. Another flame out is possible, but some team may well take him in the first round anyway because of his size and potential.

Bismack Biyombo, 6’8” power forward, Congo: He gets portrayed as a Joel Anthony/Ben Wallace type — all offense and no defense. He is maybe the best athlete in this draft so it’s not likely he will out completely (he has looked good in the Spanish league, so there is some basis), but then again we all said these same things about Hasheem Thabeet a couple years ago. Biyombo was an offensive disaster at Eurocamp and that has to give you real pause.

Jonas Valanciunas, 6’11” center, Lithuania: Another real boom or bust guy. He has some nice offensive moves, he has shown he is willing to bang bodies and compete, he has soft hands. But he is sushi raw. He has to bulk up, improve his footwork, his defense, his shot, his ball handling… you get the idea. Lots of potential there and again not likely to be a bust, but there is a real risk there.

Josh Selby, 6’3” point guard, Kansas: He’s an explosive athlete coming out of high school who went on to be suspended for the first nine games at Kansas (and often sat in crunch time), was a ball-dominating guard who had poor shot selection and missed a lot. The Morris twins overshadowed him, but he struggled to try to fit in with that. He’ll be a point in the NBA but really has two guard skills — except for the whole good shooting thing. He hit just 37 percent of his shots last season. The guy has exceptional athletic skills but there are questions about if he knows how to use them at the NBA level.

Donatas Motiejunas, 7’0” Center, Lithuania: We hate to stereotype players around here, but Motiejunas fits the mold — he is a classic European big man. Which means he can shoot fairly well from the outside but don’t expect the seven footer to hang out in the paint and be productive. He is a stretch four and you should think poor man’s Andrea Bargnani. There could be value in that, but he has to be in the right situation. He could well flame out, once he gets to the USA (there are questions about his buyout).

Sixers’ Joel Embiid upgraded to “probable,” will start in Game 3 Thursday

Associated Press
3 Comments

Everything you saw in the first two games of this Miami/Philadelphia playoff series you can throw out in the trash.

Joel Embiid is back and is now “probable” for Game 3, the Sixers announced, upgrading his status from “doubtful” earlier in the day. Embiid had been out with a concussion and orbital bone fracture.

Embiid will go through warmups — trying out both a mask and goggles — then will make a formal decision. However, he is expected to go. He certainly wants to play. And he is expected to start. How many minutes he can go remains to be seen.

This changes the Sixers and the series. Yes, Philly has likely Rookie of the Year Ben Simmons and high quality role players such as J.J. Redick and Robert Covington, however, is Embiid that makes it all work. Put simply, when Embiid is on the court the Sixers are 15.2 points per 100 possessions better — their defense is elite and their offense is outstanding.

The Sixers will be better with their best player back in the fold, but don’t think this makes the series a cakewalk for Philly. It changes everything about matchups, but things are not all positives. When Embiid is on the court, the up-tempo, ball-movement style that the Sixers built around Simmons slows down and stops at points. The Sixers have played Hassan Whiteside and his rim protection off the court with floor spacing shooting bigs, now he has a place to be in the matchups. There are things the Heat can do now that may work for them.

It just may not matter — Philadelphia just got a lot better.

PBT Podcast: NBA first round playoff series breakdowns

Getty Images
Leave a comment

LeBron James‘ Cavaliers looks to be in a battle royal in the first round — and they could lose to Victor Oladipo‘s Pacers.

Miami’s defense and versatility is challenging the Sixers and shaking the faith of all those that just jumped on the bandwagon.

Utah stole a game in Oklahoma City showing great grit and resolve, not to mention a lot of Donovan Mitchell.

Anthony Davis has done everything but walk on water for the Pelicans.

The first round of the NBA playoffs has been filled with fascinating storylines — and we are just two games into each series. Kurt Helin and Dan Feldman of NBC Sports break down all eight first-round series in this podcast, starting in the East and the tight races there, then move into the West. There’s even some “who wants to pay Jabari Parker this summer?” talk thrown in.

As always, you can check out the podcast below, listen and subscribe via iTunes at ApplePodcasts.com/PBTonNBC, subscribe via the fantastic Stitcher app, check us out on Google play, or check out the NBC Sports Podcast homepage and archive at Art19.

James Dolan says Knicks must build around ‘great’ Kristaps Porzingis, offers fair rebuke of meddling charges

AP Photo/Richard Drew
Leave a comment

Phil Jackson received a standing ovation in his first game at Madison Square Garden as Knicks president. Don’t forget how excited New York was for Jackson, who coached the Bulls and Lakers to 11 championships and played for the Knicks’ last title team. He was welcomed as a potential savior.

The common refrain: Jackson would have a chance to succeed if Knicks owner James Dolan didn’t meddle.

Immediately, Dolan said he would cede control to Jackson “willingly and gratefully.” Dolan later pledged to honor Jackson’s full five-year contract.

But fans turned on Jackson as he did an awful job and the Knicks struggled. Dolan opted into the final two years of Jackson’s contract, anyway, as he said he would all along. Fans got angrier. When Jackson publicly flaunted Kristaps Porzingis trade talks, outrage reached a fever pitch. Finally, Dolan stepped in to fire Jackson.

Dolan, via Larry Brooks of the New York Post:

“A great player in hockey is the difference, but a great player in basketball is the team.

“And I think we have a great player in Porzingis. We just have to build around him.”

“Everybody who wants to talk about the Knicks wants to ask me about Phil Jackson,” Dolan said, smiling and shaking his head. “The entire market wanted to me to hire him and when I did, the entire market said it was a great move. The only thing was, everyone said that I shouldn’t interfere with him.

“Three years later, everyone wanted to know when I was going to do something about Phil. The same people who told me not to interfere wanted me to interfere. But that’s OK. I just think that Phil underestimated the job.”

Dolan makes a salient point about how people perceive his involvement. The problem isn’t that Dolan meddles. It’s that he makes poor decisions.

Hiring Jackson – an out-of-touch former coach with no front-office experience – was a poor decision. I’m not enthused about Steve Mills as Jackson’s replacement, either, though we’ll see how that plays out.

Building around Porzingis is a better decision. He’s an extremely talented 22-year-old.

But it’s hardly a foolproof plan. Porzingis is recovering from a torn ACL. Dolan said Porzingis could return in December – or miss next season entirely.

Either way, the Knicks must surround Porzingis with better teammates. Dolan will and should be a part of that process. Whether he’ll positively affect it is another matter.

76ers: Joel Embiid doubtful for Game 3 against Heat

AP Photo/Chris Szagola
5 Comments

MIAMI (AP) — Joel Embiid remains listed as doubtful by Philadelphia for Game 3 of the 76ers’ Eastern Conference playoff series at Miami on Thursday night.

Embiid was on the floor with the 76ers for their morning shootaround practice, but coach Brett Brown says there’s no change in the All-Star center’s status.

Embiid has missed Philadelphia’s last 10 games while recovering from a concussion and surgery that repaired a fractural orbital bone around his left eye. He’s no longer in the NBA’s concussion protocol.

He took to social media after the 76ers lost Game 2 of this series to the Heat, saying he’s tired of being “babied.”

Embiid has averaged 22.9 points and 11 rebounds in 63 games for the 76ers during the regular season.