Tag: Miami Heat

Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins

67RIEFNS No. 4: Andrew Wiggins vs. Jabari Parker


The NBA is full of talent, personality and suspense. During the doldrums of 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.

It’s been six years since the No. 1 and No. 2 picks both made the All-Rookie team. Heck, it’s been just as long since the top two picks played even 2,000 minutes as rookies.

We’ve been waiting a while – since Derrick Rose and Michael Beasley – for the highest draft picks to immediately meet expectations.

Can Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker finally buck the trend?

They’ve got a heck of a chance.

Rarely do top-two picks enter the season without major expectations. Even Anthony Bennett, whom Cleveland reached for at No. 1 last year, faced the pressure typical of a No. 1 pick. So, whenever one or both of the top two picks struggles, it’s surprising on some level – even though it usually happens.

But per annual tradition, I have my hopes up Wiggins and Parker will deliver.

Parker looked NBA-ready at Duke, and Wiggins acquitted himself quite well in summer league. If Parker and Wiggins can handle it, the Bucks and Timberwolves have openings for playing time.

Adding intrigue: Wiggins’ and Parkers’ positional overlap, giving potential for an individual rivalry.

The Cavaliers – who at the time were trying to lure LeBron James – insisted Wiggins was a shooting guard, and Parker might play some power forward for the Bucks. But both should see a majority of their minutes at small forward.

Wiggins’ trade from Cleveland takes him from Parker’s division, but Minnesota-Milwaukee can still be a nice regional rivalry. Their fan bases border, at least.

Wiggins and Parker will be competing this season – against each other and against the recent history of top-two picks failing to immediately excel. If they can collectively meet the latter challenge, the former becomes that much more intriguing.

Steve Clifford sees Marvin Williams as primarily stretch four with Hornets

Josh McRoberts, Marvin Williams

Charlotte took a huge step last season, going 43-39 and making the playoffs.

But to build on that surprising success, the Hornets must replace starting power forward Josh McRoberts, who signed with the Heat.

How will they do that? Marvin Williams, Cody Zeller and Noah Vonleh are all candidates to get minutes at power forward.

Charlotte coach Steve Clifford offered a major clue about his plans.

Clifford, in a Q&A with Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer:

Q. How do you envision Marvin Williams’ role?

A. He can play a balanced game – he’s plays both offense and defense well on the NBA level. He’ll play both forward spots, but I see him primarily as a stretch 4 (a power forward with 3-point range). Up close you see that he can shoot and pass very well. He’s a very smart player who makes smart, simple plays. And he’s very professional in his approach.

I bet the veteran Williams begins the season as Charlotte’s starting power forward. Zeller – or even Vonleh once he gets healthy – could eventually take the job, but Williams’ experience probably puts him ahead right now.

McRoberts’ perimeter play proved an excellent complement to Al Jefferson, who dominates in the low post. Williams can match McRoberts’ 3-point shooting, but he’s not nearly as good of a passer.

Williams raises the floor of Charlotte’s starting power forward, and he’s definitely a viable option. But if Zeller can build off his second half to last season, he might raise the ceiling. Similarly, Vonleh, a rookie, has major potential.

Once Zeller and/or Vonleh earn bigger roles, Williams can slide to small forward, too. Lance Stephenson, Gerald Henderson and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist will take a majority of minutes on the wing, but Williams can eventually split minutes between both forward positions.

Williams’ signing set up the Hornets for the present and future.

Klay Thompson’s agent: Thompson better two-way shooting guard than Kobe Bryant

Golden State Warriors v Los Angeles Lakers

Klay Thompson, fresh of a successful run at the World Cup, is eligible for a contract extension.

I’m sure he wants a max deal. Given that the Warriors wouldn’t trade him for Kevin Love, Thompson will probably get one.

But just in case, his agent, Bill Duffy, is trying his case through the media.

Sam Amick of USA Today:

Duffy is widely known to be demanding a maximum contract that the Warriors would prefer not to pay. His reasoning? He sees Thompson as the best shooting guard in the game.

“I don’t want (Los Angeles Lakers star) Kobe Bryant to go crazy, but there’s some uncertainty as to who he is right now (because of injuries that limited him to six games last season),” Duffy told USA TODAY Sports. “But I think Klay Thompson right now is the top two-way, two-guard in basketball. I think when you look at his body of work, when you look at what he accomplished guarding point guards on a regular basis (last season), I think it’s pretty clear.”

Just seven active(ish) shooting guards have made an All-NBA team:

  • James Harden
  • Kobe Bryant
  • Dwyane Wade
  • Manu Ginobili
  • Joe Johnson
  • Paul Pierce
  • Ray Allen

Allen stretches the limits of active. Pierce and Johnson are more of small forwards. Ginobili (37), Bryant (36) and Wade (32) have all aged considerably. And “two-way” was Duffy’s way of eliminating Harden, a notoriously bad defender.

Shooting guard is a weak position league-wide right now, opening the door for the emerging Thompson.

Thompson might not be there yet, but he’s at least knocking on the door.

I tend to believe Thompson is better than a 36-year-old who played just six games last season due to injury. Just because his name is Kobe Bryant doesn’t mean he’ll overcome all the factors working against him. Maybe Kobe beats the odds. I’ll take the odds.

Really, Dwyane Wade is probably a bigger threat to Thompson. The Heat star is coming off an NBA Finals where he looked over the hill, and injuries have bothered him in recent years. But he’s considerably younger than Kobe and played very well when on the court most of last year.

However, as Duffy knows, comparing his client to Kobe is a better gambit than comparing him to Wade. One, Thompson is more likely to compare favorably to Kobe than to Wade at the end of the season. Two, comparing Thompson to Kobe is more likely to drum up discussion than to Wade.

Duffy’s job is not to make sound basketball judgments. It’s make Thompson money.

By the end of the season, Thompson could certainly prove Duffy right and become the best two-way shooting guard in the NBA. But I think there’s an even better chance Thompson lands that max extension from the Warriors.