Tag: 2011 NBA Draft

Derrick Williams

Derrick Williams thought he should have been No. 1 pick


The quote below can be taken out of context, as ego run amok. And it shouldn’t. Derrick Williams — the Arizona star who No. 2 overall to Minnesota in the last NBA draft — said what I would want any No. 2 pick to say.

He said he thought he should be No. 1.

You want that fire. Even if it’s Michael Beasley picked behind Derrick Rose, you want the No. 2 guy to feel he could have been No. 1. Here is exactly what Williams said to Grantland.

I thought I should’ve (gone No. 1). I always have faith in myself. But you know, one or two, there’s not much of a difference right there. I’m happy with no. 2. I feel like Minnesota was a better spot for me anyways. Sometimes going one step lower can be a great thing, it could be a better fit, and I think for me it was.

Williams has a nice outside shot, can score in transition at the NBA level and is athletic. He’s going to put up points in Minny. He looked good in the free-flowing pro-am games of summer because it fits his style. But there are a lot of questions about how well he can defend at the next level, his ability to make smart plays within the half-court offense (especially when doubled) and his rebounding.

There are questions about No. 1 pick Kyrie Irving, too. But in today’s no-touch-on-the-perimeter NBA, a very good point guard is incredibly valuable. That gives Irving a potentially higher ceiling, a building block for a Cavaliers team that is starting from almost the ground up. So the pick made sense.

But if Williams is truly motivated and improves his game, in a few years we could be wondering why he wasn’t No. 1 overall.

NBA prospect arrested for allegedly beating girlfriend

NCAA Illinois Basketball

You may not know who Jereme Richmond is, but now you will for the wrong reasons.

He is one of those guys who just missed having his named called in the NBA Draft. The 6’7” swingman out of Illinois tried to go pro after his freshman year, but that season was inconsistent and scouts were worried about his fundamentals. Basically, he’s athletic but a real project. The kind of guy who would have gotten put on a summer league team and been given another look, maybe even earned a training camp invite somewhere.

Now, he’s got much bigger problems — he has been arrested on charges of beating a woman and threatening her with a gun. From The Daily Herald.

Richmond, 19, and Matthew Riley, 22, of North Chicago, were arrested Monday afternoon outside the victim’s house after police found a loaded .40-caliber semiautomatic pistol in the car the men had driven….

On Sunday, (Lake County Assistant State’s Attorney Stephen) Scheller said, the woman drove to Richmond’s residence in the 2000 block of Arthur Drive in Waukegan to retrieve her cellphone. The two began to argue outside Richmond’s house, Scheller said, and Richmond shoved the woman back into her car during the ruckus. Monday afternoon, Scheller said, Richmond and Meyer drove to the woman’s house and Richmond began to argue with her again as her mother looked on. At one point, Scheller said, Richmond spit on the woman and said he was going to shoot her.

If he did this, he should be punished. If he does avoid jail time, NBA teams are still going to question his maturity and decision making skills (things they already questioned). Teams are not going to put the effort into developing a guy if they don’t think he can keep his head about him.

Kanter doesn’t want to sit another season, considers China

enes Kanter
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Last season the NCAA relegated Enes Kanter to wearing a suit when Kentucky played, saying he had played for a professional team in his native Turkey and was ineligible to play college ball (he did practice with the team).

Still, there was enough promise there — big men with soft hands are a rarity — that the Utah Jazz drafted Kanter No. 3 overall.

And now the lockout could force him to sit another season. He, understandably, does not want to do that.

So while he is hesitant, Kanter is considering playing in China, his agnet told the Salt Lake Tribune.

Kanter’s agent, Max Ergul, told The Salt Lake Tribune on Friday that his client has official offers from two teams. Ergul does not want Kanter to miss another year of basketball, and he will seriously weigh the offers if the lockout stretches into late September.

“It’s very interesting stuff,” said Ergul, who said he could not reveal the names of the Chinese teams because details of the negotiations are still confidential. “We’ll be entertaining those ideas as well as the lockout progresses. He’s a ballplayer — he has to play.”

Kanter will play for Turkey in EuroBasket starting at the end of August. That tournament will deterimine European Olympic bids for the 2012 London Olympics.

Winderman: K-State’s Pullen shows how this NBA summer is different

Jacob Pullen

Yes, we can gasp all we want about reports that link Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant or Dwyane Wade to European destinations. The NBA rumor cycle, even amid a lockout, must, after all, be fed 24-7-365.

But whether any of that happens certainly will be more of a September or October story, if it is a story at all.

No, what July is about, what it always has been about, lockout or no lockout, are the players who fill out rosters, those at the end of the bench.

And that makes this week’s biggest story this:

Jacob Pullen has signed to play for Series A Pallacanestro Biella of the Italian League, in a city of about 50,000 in the foothills of the Alps.

Granted, Pullen went undrafted in June coming out of Kansas State. But we are talking about Kansas State’s all-time leading scorer, a player with the fourth-highest point total in Big 12 history, someone who helped guide the Wildcats to the NCAA Tournament in three of his four seasons, the final three played in the absence of former running partner Michael Beasley.

The official NBA Draft guide when as far as to note, “Excellent perimeter scorer capable of creating his own shot. Gets to the free-throw line well. Good at running pick-and-rolls. Tough and energetic defender.”

Prior to the draft, Pullen auditioned for the Kings, Nuggets, Suns, Bobcats, Heat, Timberwolves, among other teams. This is not a case of a player deemed unworthy of an NBA tryout.

During a typical offseason, he would have graced the roster of one team during the Orlando Pro Summer League and another during the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas.

Both of those events, of course, were canceled.

Because of that, there was no one there to offer the type of small guarantee that often keeps such a known quantity stateside for training camp, where increased exposure can be gained during the preseason.

It is the type of partial guarantee that John Lucas III received last summer from the Bulls, Marquis Blakely received from the Clippers, Kenny Hasbrouck received from the Heat, Patrick Ewing Jr. received from the Knicks, Tweety Carter received from the Thunder, figures that generally range from $50,000 to $150,000.

The NBA will be just fine without Jacob Pullen.

But just about every year a Jacob Pullen becomes some team’s, well, Gary Neal, someone who makes the most of an opportunity because the opportunity is there in the first place.

Yes, Deron Williams is planning a Turkish retreat, but his NBA future is secure. The Nets know when the lockout is over they will have an All-Star point guard in place.

But when a team is looking for a backup point guard during camp or for an injury replacement at midseason, there might not be as many options in 2011-12, with the Jacob Pullens of the world locking themselves into Euros at a time when the dollars simply aren’t there.

Ira Winderman writes regularly for NBCSports.com and covers the Heat and the NBA for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. You can follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/IraHeatBeat.

Toronto’s Valanciunas looking like a draft-day steal

2011 NBA Draft

When the Toronto Raptors used another first round pick on another European player, half of Toronto said “who?” and the other half just rolled their eyes.

But we tried to tell you at the time — Jonas Valanciunas was the pick to make.

And his performance for Lithuania at the FIBA Under-19 World Championships is turning heads — he earned tournament honors averaging MVP honors while averaging 23.0 points, 13.9 rebounds and 3.2 blocks per game. He dropped 36 points on Serbia in the tournament finals to lead Lithuania to the win.

Yes, he did it against inferior talent — although Valanciunas completely outclassed Florida center Patric Young, who is considered a borderline lottery pick for next year.

They were watching in Toronto and Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun liked what he saw.

In addition to the gaudy numbers, Valanciunas displayed a genuine love for the game and an intensity and desire to get results at both ends. He showed good fluidity and bounce and kept his foul rate — one of his main weaknesses — mostly under control. He played every minute of the final and looked like he could have kept going, instead bolting around the gym and playing to the many Lithuanian fans in the building before accepting his MVP and championship trophies.

For an in depth breakdown of how Valanciunas plays, check out Sebastian Pruitti over at NBA Playbook, who looked closely at his game.

Now, this all needs to come with a lot of disclaimers because he is 19 and… well, do you remember yourself at 19? Picking the best pro at 19 is hard because people develop differently. But the early signs are good.

This is not Andrea Bargnani part two. The Raptors may have the steal of the draft.