Tag: 2011 NBA Draft

Jacob Pullen

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


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.

Timberwolves may get to keep 26-year-old draft pick


This will likely be the last time Tanguy Ngombo will ever be mentioned on this blog.

Because the No. 57 pick (third from last) in the NBA Draft will never suit up for the Minnesota Timberwolves. But Ngombo made some headlines the day after because some records showed that the player out of the league in Qatar (yes, apparently they have a league there) was 26 years old, not 21 as the Timberwolves had believed.

If he was 26 he was ineligible for the draft. The league investigated and it was possible the Wolves could be punished, but that may not happen, reports Ken Berger at CBSSports (via Ball Don’t Lie and TBJ).

While we’re on the topic, sources say the Wolves expect a favorable ruling from the NBA office that they will be able to keep No. 57 pick Tanguy Ngombo despite a dispute over his age. Though information has come to light that Ngombo is 26 – and thus ineligible for the draft – sources say the Wolves have government documentation from multiple entities that Ngombo is, in fact, 21. The belief among some executives is that a team should not be punished if government documentation is inaccurate.

If the Wolves have government documents showing the native of the Congo is 21, then they should not be fined. That said, the fact the rest of the world figured this out within 24 hours of the draft but the Timberwolves were surprised calls into question the quality of research that was done here. At the end of the second round the Timberwolves took a crazy shot in the dark rather than drafting a guy who might actually make the league out of college. If one were cynical, one would say the Wolves intentionally drafted a guy they would never have to pay.

This is a 26-year-old nobody else had seen, not on anyone else’s draft boards, and now he is the Timberwolves property. This is the last we will hear of him. Good luck in Qatar, Ngombo.