June 28, 2007
The draft is upon us.
We’ve just gotten excellent news that Nellie is staying. Could this mean that they know something we don’t?
Mully and the Warriors have been extremely active on the phones thus far, as the rumor mill has been churning for weeks now, leading to tonight. Monta Ellis, Jason Richardson, Andris Biedrins and Adonal Foyle (really) have all been prominent in trade talks, with the W’s going hard after Chinese phenom Yi Jialian, who is projected to go anywhere from #3 to #11.
- Keep J-Rich. Maybe we’re suckers for nice guys and loyalty, but how many NBA players take out full-page apologies? We’re also willing to bet that the jump-shooting, lay-up prone J-Rich we saw in the second half of last season will be replaced by a fully healthy, in-shape retro version next year. Which means dunks.
- If Monta Ellis can get the Warriors in the Top 10, you have to consider it. If Atlanta is willing to swap the #3, pull the trigger and take Al Horford. Easy decision. If it comes down to Yi or even Joakim Noah for Ellis, we say roll the dice and do it. Yi and Noah have bust potential, but combo guards like Ellis are much easier to find than 7’0″ uber-athletic (yes, uber) guys who would be perfect in Nellie’s system: run, jump, catch alley-oop. Also consider Ellis’ injury history, his size (how many 6’0″ impure point guards have been successful in the league?), and the doubt that we’ll be able to resign him.
If we keep the #18 pick, the following players have been slotted in the draft range:
- Thaddeus Young: A lefty leaper, Josh Smith Jr; but we have plenty of swingmen, unless we lose both Matt Barnes and Mickael Pietrus. Maybe.
- Sean Williams: The big man who draws comparisons to Amare Stoudemire is easily the best defensive big man in the draft not named Greg. A Top Ten talent, but his checkered history is troubling. Check out this article on him. We’d roll the dice on Williams, hoping to get lucky at #18 and stealing the sleeper of the draft. But we don’t have to live with the consequences.
- Jason Smith: Not another center who dominated in a second tier conference. We’ve been down this road before with Patrick O’Bryant, Adonal Foyle and Todd Fuller. Most mock drafts have the W’s taking Smith. Shudder. /negativity
- Josh McRoberts: No.
- Julian Wright: If he’s there, Mullin has to take him right? Most drafts have Wright going in the #8-#15 range, but some have him falling.
- Petteri Koponen: Yeah yeah, too early for #18, but at #36, we hope he’s there. The Finnish point guard is a personal favorite and we will never ever forgive the W’s if they pass on him at #36. We’re rooting for him to fall, but we’d bet the house that a savvy team like the Spurs or Mavs snatch up the Flying Finn. Fall, Finn, Fall!
- Other players we’d snatch up in the second round (we also have the #46) : Marco Belinelli, Jared Dudley (will be gone), Taurean Green, Marcus Williams, DJ Strawberry (if only for the Daaaaaarrrrrrylll, Daaaaaaaarrrrryll chants), Aaron Brooks (please please take him at #46), Michael Fey (just kidding)
- Avoid: Glen “Big Baby” Davis, Arron Afflalo (sorry Bruins), Aaron Gray
June 9, 2007
Several weeks ago, we reported on the rapidly rising draft stock of 18-year-old Finnish point guard Petteri Koponen. Well, now that draft workouts are in full swing, the suave Scandinavian is continuing to impress NBA scouts. Here’s what ESPN Insider and draft guru Chad Ford had to say about Koponen’s recent performance at a two-day, ten-team workout camp in Orlando this week:
Almost every team was shocked at how well Finnish point guard Petteri Koponen handled the workout. Only 18 years old, he was put up against college veterans like Taurean Green, Aaron Brooks and Sean Singletary.
Koponen, according to multiple team sources, stood out with his poise, shooting and ability to adapt his game to the speed of the workout. One executive went so far as to say he saw enough to rank Koponen as the fourth-best point guard in the draft. Others said that he was on par with [Florida point guard Taurean] Green, who also played well in the workout.
Koponen will skip the Reebok Eurocamp to continue individual workouts, and it looks like he may have a good shot at sneaking into the late first round. All of which makes it hard to understand why the Orlando pre-draft camp selection committee excluded him from the camp.
Koponen currently plays for the Honka Espoo Playboys in Finland (really). The 6″4′, 195-pound point guard has the size and strength to make it in the league and despite being only 18 and having no college experience, has been repeatedly described as “polished.” It’s pretty impressive that the Finn can hold his own with the college-tested point guards. Plus, he looks like one of the Hansen brothers. Hooray Suomi!
Workout season requires sorting fact from fiction [ESPN Insider]
May 2, 2007
Just when you thought “sports” couldn’t get any lower than the table tennis and competitive karate-chopping that grace the screens of ESPN8 these days, Forbes released an article detailing the some of the more obscure sports from around the globe.
Now, we’re family with some, notably India’s usual elephant polo and Finland’s wife-carrying. But some piqued our interest.
Kabbadi seems promising. It’s a game that combines “tagging” the opposing team on the other side of the court with, um, holding your breath. It’s almost as if they’re asking you to cheat. Plus, Wikipedia describes it thusly: “two teams of seven players (wearing socks and boxer shorts, sometimes briefs).”
But our favorites inevitably involve the age-old enjoyment of seeing inanimate objects tossed:
And there seems to be no end to the list of things people toss competitively: typewriters (Missouri, on Secretary’s Day), “cow chips” (Oklahoma), haggis (Scotland), rubber boots (Finland) and mobile phones (the Finns again).
Nothing says entertainment like a good heave-ho! And as if on cue, Deadspin unearthed this gem from Vitamin Water’s latest ad campaign:
Unusual sports busting out all over [Forbes]
Tracy McGrady Lets His Boys Breathe [Deadspin]
April 9, 2007
This past weekend was the Nike Hoops Summit, which is something of an opportunity for international and domestic players alike to showcase their skills for NBA scouts. According to ESPN Insider and draft guru Chad Ford, a Flying Finn stole the show. You know, someone from Finland. The country! With all the saunas and sauna competitions (above):
This year’s sleeper was 6-foot-4 point guard Petteri Koponen from Finland.
Koponen got some attention from NBA scouts earlier in the year, and Grizzlies president Jerry West even made a visit to Finland to see him play this season.
Despite being wowed by his poise and fundamentals, scouts wondered whether he has the speed to make it in the pros. On Saturday, against two of the best high school guards in the country (O.J. Mayo and Derrick Rose), Koponen was solid, committing just one turnover and dishing out six assists against constant pressure from the two future NBA lottery picks.
His play caused one prominent NBA GM to remark, “He may be a better fit in the pros than I thought. I’ve been surprised he’s been able to do what he’s done against that competition.”
We’re not positive, but we think this Petteri Koponen is Number Four in the picture above, sitting in between Jaski and Jussi.