Tag: Andrew Bynum

Raptors Media Day

67RIEFNS No. 46: Jonas Valanciunas on verge of a breakthrough


The NBA is full of talent, personality and suspense. During the offseason, It’s easy to forget how wonderful the league can be. So, I’ve assembled 67 Reasons I’m Excited For Next Season (67RIEFNS). They’ll be presented in no particular order.

Last year, a 21-year-old Jonas Valanciunas posted 11.3 points on 53.1 percent shooting with 8.8 rebounds per game. Just seven other players have posted those numbers at such a young age:

  • Buck Williams
  • Shaquille O’Neal
  • Chris Webber
  • Tim Duncan
  • Dwight Howard
  • Andrew Bynum
  • Andre Drummond

All of them – with the exception of Drummond, who seems like a lock – became All-Stars. There’s good reason to believe the Raptors’ center will follow suit.

Valanciunas is a skilled interior scorer. He has excellent hands and good footwork, seemingly making it easy for him to create opportunities in the post.

Toronto just didn’t get him the ball enough last year. It’s on Kyle Lowry to feed Valanciunas more often this year.

If that happens, that All-Star berth could happen sooner than later – for both.

The Raptors exceeded expectations last year. Now imagine what happens if they take full advantage of, arguably, their highest-upside player.

Kobe Bryant on Julius Randle playing with Kobe, for Byron Scott: ‘If you f— this up, you’re a really big idiot’

Los Angeles Lakers Media Day

Lakers coach Byron Scott is trying to motivate rookie Julius Randle by publicly calling him out for not being in good enough shape. Repeatedly.

If that seems harsh, you should see Kobe Bryant’s words for the No. 7 pick.

Remember, this is the same Kobe who called ESPN voters who ranked him the NBA’s 40th-best player “idiots.”

Kobe on Randle playing with Kobe, for Scott:

If you f— this up, you’re a really big idiot. You know what I mean? ESPN are idiots, but you’re a really big idiot if you manage to f— this up.

Unfortunately, it really doesn’t work that way. The best players, even those with championship experience, don’t necessarily make the best mentors and coaches. They can’t just transfer their knowledge and skills through osmosis.

While Kobe has played for the Lakers, a dozen other first-round picks have made their debuts:

  • Javaris Crittenton
  • Jordan Farmar
  • Andrew Bynum
  • Sasha Vujacic
  • Brian Cook
  • Kareem Rush
  • Mark Madsen
  • Devean George
  • Tyronn Lue
  • Sam Jacobson

And here are first-round picks who made their debuts on teams Scott coached:

  • Tyler Zeller:
  • Dion Waiters
  • Tristan Thompson
  • Kyrie Irving
  • Christian Eyenga
  • Darren Collison
  • Julian Wright
  • Hilton Armstrong
  • Cedric Simmons
  • Chris Paul
  • J.R. Smith
  • Zoran Planinic
  • Brandon Armstrong
  • Jason Collins
  • Richard Jefferson
  • Kenyon Martin

Scott seems to have a much better record of player development than Kobe, both are far from perfect. Perhaps, all the busts just screwed it up themselves, but I think it’s more likely neither Scott nor Kobe provide a perfect Petri dish for rookies to grow.

Unquestionably, Randle can learn from Kobe and Scott. And, so far, it seems Randle has the talent to succeed.

But even if Randle takes every reasonable step, it’s still possible he fails as an NBA player. It’s far to soon to declare he’ll make it – even with Kobe and Scott around.

Report: Chandler Parsons was ‘Cleveland’s guy’ if Cavaliers failed to land LeBron James


Before last season began, the Cavaliers were aggressive in free agency, foregoing a more traditional strategy by signing free agents that the team believed would help them improve immediately, and certainly enough to make the playoffs in the watered-down Eastern Conference.

It’s just that none of those moves worked out.

Cleveland signed Earl Clark after he had his best season with the Lakers, and added Jarrett Jack after he was a key component on a playoff team in Golden State. And, perhaps most foolishly, the team took a chance on Andrew Bynum, which ended in about as messy a divorce as possible.

The point, here, is that the Cavaliers have proven that they would go out and add players in free agency, even if the decisions about specific players were questionable, at best. LeBron James and Kevin Love solved the organization’s problems in that area this summer, but had James chosen to remain in Miami, another curious roster move was reportedly on the horizon.

From Marc Stein of ESPN.com:

Yet the most serious early interest in Parsons in 2014 free agency actually came from Cleveland. It was widely assumed in Mavericks circles that Dallas would turn its attentions to Parsons once formally eliminated as an option by Melo and LeBron, but sources told ESPN.com that Parsons — before things really heated up with his eventual new employers — found himself being recruited by another All-Star peer he regards as a friend: Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving.

Sources say the Cavs, furthermore, would soon inform Parsons he was “Cleveland’s guy” if their ambitious bid to bring LeBron home unraveled.

This detail comes from a longer look at Parsons’ journey as an unrestricted free agent, which ended with the Rockets not matching the three-year offer sheet tendered by the Mavericks.

It’s unclear if Parsons would have considered the Cavaliers as a real option, because like so many NBA cities, Cleveland is undesirable to free agents anytime LeBron doesn’t happen to be firmly in place on the team’s roster. But would he, by himself, really have been enough to push the team to a higher level, and one capable of consistent postseason contention? And, would the salary the Cavaliers committed have prevented the team from making smarter upgrades that would have better-positioned them for long-term success?

Thankfully in Cleveland, these are difficult questions that now don’t need to be answered.