In a draft lottery that stayed to form — the only shift was New Orleans from fourth to first — there are still winners. And there are still losers. The only difference is it is based more on what you did going into the draft then the luck of the ping-pong balls. If you gambled on a good result, you got snake eyes.
So who won and who lost. Lets take a look.
Winner: New Orleans Hornets. They get the top pick. They get Anthony Davis, the franchise changing big man to go up front. They can market the unibrow. This is a franchise that was in such bad shape a couple years ago that the league had to buy it to keep it in the city. Now they have a new, committed owner in Tom Benson, a great young coach in Monty Williams, and don’t forget they got maybe the best young two-guard in the league in Eric Gordon as part of the Chris Paul trade. There’s a lot of work to do, but the Hornets are now officially a team on the rise.
Loser: Brooklyn Nets. They traded their first round pick in this draft to get Gerald Wallace and the only way they got to keep it is if it was top three. No dice, Portland gets the pick. Wallace, by the way, is a free agent who could leave the Nets this summer. Remember the Nets also gave up a couple lottery picks to get Deron Williams from the Jazz last year. Deron Williams who also is a free agent and could leave the team. And now they don’t have any first round picks this year to throw in for Orlando if they want to try and trade for Dwight Howard.
The Nets could strike out this summer and have nothing to sell when they move into their new Brooklyn arena. Except for Jay-Z.
Winner: Golden State Warriors. They had a deal with Utah — if the pick was in the top 7 Golden State got to keep it, if it was 8 or lower it went to Utah. The Warriors tanked at the end of the season (finished 1-11) to get into that spot, they just couldn’t have anybody leapfrog them at the lottery. There was a 28 percent chance someone could cost the team it’s first round pick. They got lucky.
Loser: Charlotte Bobcats. Not a huge loss, but they go from having the sure-fire Davis at No. 1 to having to make a more difficult choice at No. 2. Do they take Andre Drummond, the talented UConn big man who has a high ceiling but didn’t always show a lot of passion and fire in college? Kentucky’s Michael Kidd-Gilchrist will bring it hard every night and defend, but he doesn’t have the same ceiling. No easy call for them now, no sure thing.
It was expected Kobe Bryant would retire at the end of this season.
It was not expected Kobe would make that official on Nov. 29 — it’s caught the media at Staples Center Sunday (of which I was one) and the fans by surprise.
In this PBT Extra, I talk with Jenna Corrado about the mood inside Staples Center Sunday.
More importantly, I discuss the sense I got that Kobe understands it’s time to walk away, and he is at peace with that.
Stephen Curry acknowledges the Warriors – who are 18-0 and won four straight to end last season – talk about the NBA record of 33 consecutive wins.
But what about another major record Golden State is chasing, 72 wins in a season?
Shooting guard Klay Thompson called it possible. General manager Bob Myers deemed it impossible.
Interim coach Luke Walton would prefer everyone just keep quiet.
Walton, via CSN Bay Area:
“The 72 thing is far, far away,” Walton said. “We shouldn’t be spending any time thinking about that.
“I’ve also said before that we’re not going to coach this season trying to chase that record,” Walton said
“We’re still going to give players nights off on back-to-backs,” he added. “And we’re going to do our best to limit minutes for some of our players. Our main concern is being healthy come playoff time.”
I don’t think Golden State will win 72 games, but prioritizing health won’t necessary stop the Warriors. They’re so deep.
They outscore opponents by 5.8 points per 100 possessions when Curry sits, 5.6 when Draymond Green sits. Those marks would rank seventh among all NBA teams.
Golden State has the luxury of resting players and continuing to win. That’s what makes the chase for 72 realistic. This team is less likely than most to wear down late in a season where it’s pushing to win every game.
Health entering the playoffs is important, but a 72-win season would raise these Warriors to legendary status. If they’re in range late in the season, I think they’ll go for it – even if the top seed is already secured.
But for now, Walton is probably taking the right approach. Plenty of teams start fast (though never this fast) then drift back toward the pack. No point risking Golden State’s health yet.
Kevin Durant once told the media, “You guys really don’t know s—.”
The Thunder star expressed regret, but if he knew how we were going to treat Kobe Bryant, he might have stuck to his guns.
Durant, via Anthony Slater of The Oklahoman:
I did idolize Kobe Bryant. I studied him, wanted to be like him. He was our Michael Jordan. I watched Michael towards the end of his career when he was with the Wizards, and I seen that’s what Kobe emerged as the guy for us.
I’ve been disappointed this year because you guys treated him like s—. He’s a legend, and all I hear is about how bad he’s playing, how bad he’s shooting. It’s time for him to hang it up. You guys treated one of our legends like s—, and I didn’t really like it. So hopefully, now you can start being nice to him now that he decided to retire after this year. It was sad the way he was getting treated, in my opinion.
But he had just an amazing career, a guy who changed the game for me as a player mentally and physically. Means so much to the game of basketball. Somebody I’m always going to look to for advice, for help, for anything. Just a brilliant, brilliant, intelligent man. And it’s sad to see him go.
Kobe is shooting 20% from the floor and 30% on 3-pointers for a 2-14 team. How else should we describe his season?
Why not bash the person most publicly critical of Kobe? Or the many people around the NBA who recognize how far Kobe has fallen? Or Byron Scott, who has repeatedly intensified discussion of Kobe’s demise?
Why is the media, which is not some monolithic entity anyway, the primary target?
There are writers who fawn over Kobe, writers who criticize him and many more who do both. We don’t all think alike.
If we did, Durant would be bound to treat Kobe like s—, too.
Like many players, Hassan Whiteside posted a tribute to Kobe Bryant upon the Laker star’s retirement announcement.
But Whiteside’s is a bit, um, different.
Whiteside salutes himself for making Kobe smile. (That’s not a smile.) The Heat center also tweeted a screenshot of the Instagram post with the hashtag “
#koberetire,” which sounds pretty commanding.
Is Whiteside in on the joke or is he that self-centered? I’m honestly not entirely sure.