There has been a great deal made about how weak the 2009 draft class is. I actually do not think it is that bad of a group. The real issue is the top of the class is lacking in star power.
There is no top three or four players in this draft. In fact a lot of analysts believe that you can get just as good of a player at 18 or 20 as you can at four or five. That does not reflect well on the top of the class, but I think there is some depth here. Players such as Earl Clark, Eric Maynor, Ty Lawson, DeJuan Blair, Jeff Teague, Chase Budinger and Nick Calathes are all good prospects. There may not be a superstar in the group, but there are a lot of potential starters out there.
The other observation I will make about this draft is I actually think Blake Griffin is overhyped because he is head and shoulders above the rest of the group. Working off that analogy if the average height of the top players in this class is 6’0″ tall, then Griffin is 6’5″. Griffin looks great righ now, but the typical draft class has an average height of say 6’4″ and when Griffin gets out among those players he may not be such a sure thing after all.
Kind of reminds me of a guy out of Cincinnati named Kenyon Martin.
One thing I think Nuggets fans should be concerned about is despite having to worry about the Jazz and Trail Blazers, the Timberwolves and Thunder are both in a position to really help themselves tonight. The Thunder are drafting third and I expect them to add another nice piece to their collection of young talent. If they land Ricky Rubio, look out. There are reports that Russell Westbrook is telling the team, or at least his agent is, that he does not want to be shifted to shooting guard and not to draft Rubio. General Manager Sam Presti cut his teeth in San Antonio. I do not think he is going to let the desires of a second year player prevent him from doing what he thinks is best for his team. In addition to the third pick they have selection number 25 too. That is right in the range where some undervalued players will be waiting to be snatched up.
Minnesota has four first round picks. I know it is difficult to think of Minnesota drafting well, but if they manage to pull out two starters and two rotation players, that will put them well on their way back to respectability.
I will leave you with three lists.
Players I like: Blake Griffin, Ricky Rubio, Tyreke Evans, Brandon Jennings, Earl Clark, Eric Maynor, Ty Lawson, Tyler Hansbrough, DeJuan Blair, Jeff Teague, Chase Budinger, Nick Calathes and Toney Douglas.
Players I do not like: Hasheem Thabeet, Stephen Curry, DeMar DeRozan, Gerald Henderson (Dahntay Jones part two), Terrence Williams, Austin Daye and Sam Young.
Players I do not know what to think about: Jonny Flynn, Jordan Hill, James Harden, Jrue Holiday, James Johnson, B.J. Mullens, Omri Casspi, Taj GIbson and Darren Collison.
Second round value: Patrick Mills, Wayne Ellington, Danny Green, A.J. Price, Paul Harris, Lester Hudson and Jon Brockman.
Coming up next, the ESPN/TrueHoop Network draft live blog/chat.
Andy Katz is reporting that the New York Knicks have purchased pick 29 from the Los Angeles Lakers for $3 million and will be selecting a guard, possibly James McClinton from Miami. He also says that the Cleveland Cavaliers at 30 will be hoping one of the top point guards falls to them. Those are two more teams who may snatch up point guards that would be good fits for Denver.
On the other hand Katz claims that Minnesota is hoping a specific player with pick number 18 and the two players he mentions are Earl Clark of Louisville and James Johnson of Wake Forest. If they player they want is gone they will trade the pick. Both Clark and Johnson are expected to be gone before that point in the draft. If Minnesota is looking to move that pick, it could be a possibility for Denver to jump up and nab a point guard or draft DeJuan Blair.
As exciting as it is to have your team in the NBA Draft Lottery with a decent shot at landing the first pick and watching them make a selection in the top five or six picks of the draft, I sure hope to get used to having the Denver Nuggets picking late in the first round.
As I am sure you all know by now Denver does not have a first round pick in the 2009 draft. They dealt what would have been the 26th pick in the draft as part of the Atkins for Petro deal, but they also received the Thunder’s second round pick, number 34, which is where they currently stand.
It is pretty clear that the Nuggets have two areas that are in need of an upgrade. One is finding a backup point guard who can fill in for Chauncey. Most Nugget fans have had a love/hate relationship with Carter, but the truth is he has been one of the more solid back up lead guards in the NBA. When you factor in his minimal salary he quite honestly has been a Godsend. However, Carter just turned 34 and you have to be concerned about him showing up to training camp having lost a step or two.
This draft is full of point guards from top to bottom and there may be a decent point man or two who go undrafted. The two mock drafts I trust the most, Chad Ford’s at ESPN.com (subscription required for picks 6-60) and DraftExpress.com, have all of those players being selected by pick 24. That is not to say someone will not fall, but if Denver wants to get a point with a decent chance of succeeding, they will probably have to move up.
I think if one of the point guards they want drops into the mid to late twenties there is a good chance the Nuggets make a deal to trade up. So the big question is what players are we talking about?
If Denver jumps up a few picks players like Eric Maynor, Jeff Teague or Darren Collison could be the target. Maynor is a senior out of Virginia Commonwealth University who has made a name for himself thanks to a couple of nice moments in March Madness. In 2006-07 Maynor made a name for himself when he picked the George Mason point guard clean on back to back plays scoring five points all by himself in seconds to tie their conference championship game at 57. VCU went on to win the game (I think Maynor had 11 points in the final two minutes) and in the first round of the NCAA Tournament Maynor hit the game winning shot to knock Duke out, which may have been one of the happiest moments of my life. See all three plays starting at 2:17 of this video.
VCU missed the NCAA Tournament the following year, but came back in 2009 and fell one point short of upsetting UCLA. Maynor is a point guard through and through. He has a slight build, but can play defense and he knows how to run a team. He has been tagged to go to Philadelphia for weeks now by both ESPN and DraftExpress, but if Philly does something else or if one of the higher rated point men drops to them Maynor may be available for Denver in a spot where they could possibly trade up.
Jeff Teague a sophomore from Wake Forrest, but he is more of a scoring point guard. He is a very good three point shooter converting 39.5% as a freshman and 44.1% as a sophomore. He has tremendous quickness and Chad Ford compares him to Devin Harris. The bad news is Teague averaged roughly one turnover per assist, which is not what you want out of your point guard. His defense is a big question mark as well.
Collison was a decent college point guard and if Denver is not able to move up to get Maynor, Teague or another top rated point, the Nuggets may have to take him. He has tremendous quickness and Ford has compared him to Aaron Brooks who drove the Lakers crazy in the playoffs. I have seen Collison play on several occasions and have never been blown away by him, but to be fair the past couple of season he has shared the backcourt with a couple of lottery picks in Russell Westbrook and Jrue Holliday so his getting overshadowed is understandable. He is a good defender, but is small even compared to skinny players like Maynor and Teague.
Another name that keeps popping up around the Nuggets’ pick is Patrick Mills. Mills is an Australian who played at Saint Mary’s. He made a name for himself in the Olympics when his quickness was too much for the United States’ guards to handle. He can get in the lane at will, but he is not a very good shooter and he needs to ball in his hands to be effective. He is another player that was helped by Brooks’ performance against the Lakers. However, he is not the shooter that Brooks is and he lacks the finishing prowess of a Tony Parker when he gets in the lane. I would not be upset if the Nuggets plucked him at 34, but I see him as more of a taller Earl Boykins than a Chauncey Billups.
If the Nuggets are really feeling gutsy there is a possibility they trade away the Charlotte Bobcats’ first round pick they own along with pick 34 to jump way up to try and draft Ty Lawson or one of the other highly ranked point men who might be available in the early teens. I think that is a distinct possibility, but that Bobcats pick is a lottery ticket. As with any lottery ticket it may be worthless, but the chances it might pay off big makes it difficult to give up.
The other obvious area of need for Denver is their big man depth. Unlike the point guards that may be available, there are no big men who get me excited. DeMare Carroll of Missouri has been linked to the Nuggets, but with him I see a player who at best is Renaldo Balkman with a better jumper, and it is not just because of the hair. I realize the knock on Balkman is he cannot shoot, but if Denver is going to draft a power forward he needs to be a bigger power forward, not a small quick one in the mold of Carroll and Balkman.
Taj Gibson of USC is another big that is mentioned in the late first and early second round. He is taller and more explosive than Carroll, but he is very lean and I am not sure he will be able to rebound consistently in the NBA. He did pull down 9.0 a game last season at USC and rebounding is a skill that translates very well from college to the pros.
Derrick Brown from Xavier is a very good shooter and is athletic, but is not a real banger and as with Gibson I am worried about his rebounding. He only averaged 6.1 boards a game last season.
Chad Ford actually has the Nuggets drafting Jeff Pendergraph of Arizona State. Pendergraph is one of few big men with any beef projected to go in the second round, but he is still listed just an inch taller than Kenyon Martin at 6’10” and he weighs the same as Kenyon at 240. Quite honestly, I may have seen Pendergraph play, but if I did, I sure do not remember it. Based on his profile he would appear to be more of an offensive player than a defensive one. Offense on the block is nice, but not if it is not backed up with good defense and the ability to rebound.
Typically I would never lock in on a single position, but the Nuggets need for a young back up point guard and the plethora of such players available makes it safe to lock in on that position. The only way I would rather see Denver draft a big man instead of a point tonight is if someone like DeJuan Blair falls into the mid twenties and Denver is able to jump up and grab him. Other than that, I have no desire to see Denver draft a big just to add depth. I would much rather see them bring in a guy like James Mays who was in cap last year than take a flier on a someone they hope can play.
Denver is always unpredictable. They have made quite a few moves over the previous few years either leading up to the draft or on draft day itself. We also never know who they like and who they do not. Last year they claimed to have Sonny Weems in the top ten of their draft board so who knows what player they really like who will be sitting there at 34. Of course, if there is no one they like they will probably trade out of the draft and move on.
Quite honestly no one knows what will happen tonight and that is why the draft is so much fun.
I love the NBA Draft and draft day is here. I have not written anything about the draft yet thanks to the Nuggets only having the 34th selection, but look for a post or two tomorrow.
That will not be the end of the draft coverage though. You should plan on taking part in the live draft chat that will be featuring many of the bloggers from the ESPN/TrueHoop Network. I will be taking part to chronicle anything that Denver may or may not do and to help make fun of any GM that deserves to be made fun of.
Heading into the season without Marcus Camby many Denver Nuggets fans were worried about the rotation at power forward and center. Nene and Kenyon Martin were considered health risks and it was impossible to know what we would see out of Chris Andersen. Juwan Howard was on the roster, but he was let go shortly after the season started.
Denver had big men Nick Fazekas and James Mays in training camp, but they were both waived prior to the start of the season. They did acquire Cheikh Samb in the Billups trade on November 3, 2008, but he was clearly not ready to contribute. As the season wore on and Nene, Kenyon and Birdman starting missing a couple of games here and there with bruised ribs or calf strains Denver realized they had to get another big man even for no other reason than an insurance policy against a serious injury.
Enter Johan Petro.
The Nuggets sent Chucky Atkins to Oklahoma City and swapped their first round pick for the Thunders’ second rounder in tomorrow’s draft to acquire Petro. The common analysis of the deal was if Petro cannot get on the floor for OKC how is he going to play for Denver?
Well, the plan never was for Petro to play much, just to hang out in a box with a hammer tied to it and that said “Break glass in case of emergency!” Petro came to Denver with 45 games left in the season and George Karl broke the glass on 27 occasions although Petro only played more than eight minutes on 12 occasions and those situations were comprised of either blowouts or a handful of games where Petro filled in due to injury or suspension.
Petro was as advertised on offense. He has little post game to speak of, he likes to take jumpers and it is difficult to discern why when you see the result and he is not what you would call a great finisher as the roll man off of ball screens. Most Nugget players would not even think about passing him the ball except for Carmelo Anthony. For some reason Melo fed Petro all the time. It may have been simply because he was open or it may have been because Melo just liked seeing how Petro would fumble the pass away. It could be through his hands, between his legs off his chest, the possibilities were numerous.
Fortunately for Petro offense is only half the game. Petro did prove to be a very good rebounder and he had his moments on defense as well. The highlight of Petro’s season as a Nugget had to be in Orlando when he did a solid job guarding Dwight Howard due to the Birdman sitting out with a bum wrist. Petro only played 15 minutes, but without him Denver would have had to go small and Howard would have just demolished them on the boards.
There may not be many true centers in the NBA anymore, especially ones that can dominate games on the block, but at some point you are going to need a seven footer like Petro to come in and prevent you from getting abused in the lane.
It may seem like Petro is expendable, but I believe the Nuggets have to have a player like him on the roster.
Denver seemed to get better at defensive rebounding as the season wore on, but there were nights where they were dominated on the boards. If you just look at total rebounds Denver appears right in the middle of the pack. However, if you judge them by their defensive rebound percentage, which adjusts for the number of shots that are hoisted up, the Nuggets were tied for 23rd in the league in defensive rebounding percentage.
Petro had the second best rebound rate on the team at 16.3, just behind Birdman’s 17.6 rate. For comparison Nene had a rebound rate of only 13.8 and Kenyon was even worse with a rate of 13.7. The Nuggets are going to need someone who can come off the bench or fill in when needed who can rebound and not kill them on defense. They also need that player to be relatively cheap. Petro is a restricted free agent and in order to maintain the right to match any offer he receives Denver will have to offer him a one year qualifying offer that is reportedly $2,849,703.
Petro is not worth nearly $3 million for a team who will surely be looking to cut corners where possible, but with the Nuggets desperate for a big man insurance policy it would be difficult to let Petro walk. Denver would love to sign a competent big man for the minimum, but there are no Chris Andersen’s out there in the free agent market this summer. There are a couple of intriguing free agent big men that can be had, but I am not sure they will be in Denver’s price range (we will get into that another day).
The Nuggets do have the option of playing a dangerous game with Johan. They can decline to present a qualifying offer, making Petro an unrestricted free agent, and try to sign him for much less than the $2.8 million he would be guaranteed under the qualifying offer. There is no way anyone offers Petro $2.8 million for next season and one of the ways teams get into salary cap hell is paying players above their market value (see the New York Knicks or Los Angeles Clippers).
The question then becomes would Petro as an unrestricted free agent sign with someone else just to spite Denver for not making the qualifying offer? Also, by making Petro an unrestricted free agent Denver would have to either sign him to a minimum deal or dip into their mid level exception money if they need to go above the minimum.
It is difficult to say this with Denver being so hard up for big man depth, but I think the Nuggets need to roll the dice and not extend the qualifying offer to Petro. There is still a chance they can retain Petro as Nene/Birdman insurance at a much lower price and it will also free them up to bring in a better big man that could fit into their budget. If Petro were to sign the qualifying offer it would further crimp the Nuggets cap and tax situation.
If the plan fails and Petro walks away for nothing at least the Nuggets have a $3.24 million trade exception left over from sending Atkins to Oklahoma City which would be a valuable tool to find someone else to fill Petro’s emergency role. After all, the Pistons just traded away Amir Johnson for cap relief. There will be more deals like that out there.
Jason Hart will always hold a special place in my heart as the report that the Denver Nuggets were going to sign him was shared with the world by Nuggets bloggers. Due to the closing of the Rocky Mountain News Chris Tomasson had no place to report the story so he turned to Andrew at Denver Stiffs and myself to get the news out. It was the first, but hopefully not the last time Nuggets news broke over the blogosphere.
As exciting as his arrival was Hart made very little impact on the Nuggets. He only more than four minutes on two occasions and never played more than eight minutes.
I was a fan of Hart’s when he came out of Syracuse. I thought he could be a serviceable backup point guard in the NBA and he was a solid contributor for a couple of teams earlier in his career. When we found out he was going to be a Nugget I wondered if the plan was to have him take over as the backup point guard for Anthony Carter in the 2009-10 season.
At this point I think the chances of that are unlikely. The only area Hart would provide an upgrade over Carter would be with his shooting ability, but that would be like trading your walkie-talkie for a vintage 1985 25 pound cell phone. Sure the cell phone is better, but not nearly as well as you need it to and good luck keeping up with the folks using BlackBerries and iPhones.
As with Sonny Weems, Hart has value simply due to his ability to fill a roster spot at a cheap price, but I do not expect to see him back with Denver next season.
Hart is a part of Nuggets history, but I bet he was hoping for being remembered for his play on the court instead of how the news of his signing broke.
The Colorado 14ers are no more, but they did defeat the Utah Flash 2-0 in the D-League finals and I was there.
I will be honest, as cool as it was to watch the 14ers put the cap on a great season and to mill around on the court during the celebration afterwards I was there for one reason, to see Sonny Weems and assess his progress. I observed Weems when he played his first home game as a 14er (complete with a brief postgame interview) and I saw a very raw player. It was his first game action in almost eight months as he recovered from a groin injury and at the time he said his number one goal was simply to build stamina.
Weems posted some very solid stats since that appearance, including leading the team with an average of 22.0 points per game in the playoffs despite the fact the he played only the fifth most minutes per game. Needless to say I was excited to see how he had developed during that short time.
The Flash was a good team to observe Weems against. They had two wing players in J.R. Giddens (Boston) and Morris Almond (Utah) who had been assigned to the Flash by the NBA team who was holding their rights. Giddens is a good athlete who could possibly prove a solid foil as a defender and Almond was a scorer who could test Weems as a defender.
Before we get to Weems’ on the court performance, I have to comment about some of his off the court behavior. In pregame warm-ups he was content to stand under the basket and collect rebounds. With each catch he would fire off a strong and accurate chest passes to teammates. I thought that was interesting because he was the one player on the roster who had an NBA contract. If anyone on the team could big time anyone else it was Weems. What I saw before the game was also verified in my brief conversation with him following the game. He is very humble and the kind of guy everyone would like to have on their team.
Shifting to the action on the court Weems came off the bench as he had been doing for most of his time with the 14ers. When he entered the game for the first time with 5:01 left in the first quarter and the 14ers up 17-14. It did not take him long to adjust to the speed of the game as drives down the middle off a high screen and dropped in a nice left handed layup.
It was a good start and I was pleasantly surprised with the versatility Weems displayed on offense. He was much more than the player who relied on dunks to score his points earlier in the season. He showed the ability to drive with both hands into the lane from anywhere on the floor. He is very comfortable driving to his left, which is great to see in a young player.
He used a variety of finishing shots including straight pull up jumpers, layups with both hands, a spin to a fade away and of course a couple of nice dunks. He even finished a drive into the lane in the first quarter with a little right handed jump hook type effort.
When he collected a defensive rebound he looked to push the pace. If he had room he would race the ball up the floor himself. He did not always make the right decision, but did succeed in putting pressure on the defense, which of course the Nuggets love to do.
The one area of his offensive game that was not up to par was his three point shot. His inconsistent spin that I witnessed several times the first time I watched him play was gone. His spin was pure and consistent. Weems actually spent to terms with the 14ers. In first stint he shot only 7-39, 17.9% from behind the arc. In his second tour heading into the playoffs he was a much better 11-31, good for 35.5%. However, on this night he was a dismal 0-6 and the primary problem I saw was his shot was flat. In the four playoff games he appeared in he only made one of 13 three point attempts. He shows some promise as a solid three point shooter, but he clearly has a lot of work to do in that area. Thanks to his other talents he does not have to rely on the three in order to be effective.
From a passing standpoint Weems is solid. He ended the game with seven assists, and a couple of them were noteworthy. He made a nice entry pass into the post from well behind the three point line resulting in a bucket, he made a nice dump off pass to a big in traffic off a drive and converted a long outlet pass for one of the many dunks the 14ers converted. He even tossed a pretty alley oop that was converted for a crowd pleasing dunk.
It was rare that he received the ball in the post, but it warrants mentioning that he did display a very smooth turnaround jumper that he converted over Giddens. I even thought he could have gone to the line for getting bumped on the way up.
He had a few other offensive plays of note. He apparently picked up the quick jumper on the reach in from Chauncey Billups as he was awarded two free throws by swinging his arms up to shoot through the defender’s arms. He showed the ability to catch and shoot off an inaccurate pass. He runs the floor hard and clearly likes to dunk. In one instance he made a layup running off a make which was good to see.
Defensively Weems made some significant progress from earlier in the season although his defense is far behind his offense at this point. Weems did not get much of a challenge from Giddens as he was not a significant part of the Flash’s offense. There were a few occasions where he was matched up against Almond and he did a good job of staying in front of him.
At this point Weems simply is not a focused defender. He was caught ball watching as many players, young and old alike, are wont to do. The best example was on one occasion when the 14ers were switching screens Weems switched onto the big who set the screen and did not make a move to follow him rolling into the lane. He did realize his mistake and on the shot hustled into the lane and pushed the guy far enough under the hoop that he could not make an attempt at the offensive rebound. It was probably a foul, but showed strength and the desire to make up for his mistake.
Overall Weems does remind me quite a bit of a “young” J.R. Smith although it is strange to think J.R. is only ten months older than Weems is. He does not have the long range shooting ability that Smith does, but he has a very good midrange game and is a willing defender if not a highly competent one. I also have to stress once again how polite and humble he is. Based on the strides he has made he appears to be very coachable.
Weems will probably never be a star, but he absolutely has the talent and physical ability to be a number three scorer at some point in the next two or three years. The key will be whether or not he can raise his defense to the level where he can earn significant minutes.
At this point I can certainly see Weems in the Nuggets rotation as early as next season. There is reported some interest in Dahntay Jones around the league (Zach from Celtics Hub informed me there are reports the Boston might be looking at adding Jones) and if he is offered a contract much larger than the minimum I do not foresee Denver bidding to retain him. Weems is clearly not the defender that Jones is, but should Jones sign elsewhere I expect to see Weems backing up J.R. Smith.
The one thing Weems has going for him is his tiny contract. With the Nuggets are guaranteed to be over the tax level next season Denver will love to keep him on the roster simply to avoid having to play another player more whether he is in the rotation or not.
On the other hand, I would think with the solid play Weems exhibited in the D-League there may be other teams interested in him. It is possible Denver uses him in a trade with the logic that they already have a similar and more polished player on the roster in J.R.
One way or another, whether it is for Denver or another team, I think Weems will play in the NBA next season.
Click here to listen to my postgame one-on-one interview with Sonny. Sadly it was cut short by the call to head to the locker room. And he took my stat sheet (he seemed excited to see he ended up with seven assists). I did not even get to autograph it for him. Other than that it went pretty well.
The NBA has announced the schedule for the summer league games held in Los Vegas and the Nuggets will be playing six games. Games are played at either the Cox Pavilion or the Thomas & Mack Center. Games begin on Friday July 10, but Denver does not see the court until July 14. I am guessing the start times are Pacific.
Denver vs. San Antonio – 7:00 PM Tuesday, July 14 – Cox Pavilion
Denver vs. Washington – 7:30 PM Wednesday, July 15 – Thomas & Mack
Denver vs. Portland – 7:30 PM Friday, July 17 – Thomas & Mack
NBA D-League Select vs. Denver – 7:00 PM Saturday, July 18 – Cox Pavilion
Denver vs. New Orleans – 5:30 PM Sunday, July 19 – Thomas & Mack
The Nuggets have had some good talent on their summer league roster in the past, but it is difficult for even a good player to make the jump from summer league standout to earning a spot on the regular season roster. Last season Dahntay Jones was able to do just that and depending on what Denver does with players like Linas Kleiza, Anthony Carter, Johan Petro, Renaldo Balkman and Jones there could be a chance for someone to follow in Dahntay’s footsteps.
The NBA will announce today that the Denver Nuggets will be playing the first ever exhibition game in Taipei on October 8, 2009. The Nuggets will face off against the Indiana Pacers at the Taipei Arena.
There are two things that come to mind when I read this release. First of all, from a basketball perspective I do not think it is ever good when your team has to travel thousands of miles to play a game. That is a long trip and it will take time for the Nuggets to recover once they return. The NBA has played games in Asia in the past and they seem to do a pretty good job of scheduling a long break for any team who is returning from a trip to that part of the world. I am sure the Nuggets and Pacers will have a week without any additional preseason games once they come back from Taipei, but it will still be a physically draining experience that might impact their ability to practice for a few days after their return to Denver.
The other interesting thing I noticed is that there are two references to Taiwan in the press release. Taiwan is a country on the island of Formosa off of the coast of China. The nationalist forces of Chiang Kai-shek fled there after being defeated by the Communist forces of Mao Zedong in 1949 marking an end to the Chinese Civil War. Communist China has never recognized Taiwan as a legitimate country and they throw a hissy fit whenever someone in the international community refers to Taiwan as Taiwan or the Repulbic of China.
The two governments struck a compromise that would allow Taiwan to participate in international competition as long as they are referred to as Chinese Taipei.
Now, when the NBA says the Nuggets and Pacers will play in Taipei, they are referring to a city in Taiwan and using the term that Communist China prefers. The NBA press release announcing the game there did not mention where Taipei is thus not mentioning Taiwan. However, in a quote from Tim Chen, the NBA Greater China CEO, has the following quote:
“October 8th will be an historic day for the NBA and for the millions of basketball fans in Taiwan,” said NBA Greater China CEO Tim Chen. “Taiwan fans are very passionate about the game and we are honored to be able to present a matchup of these two great teams for them.”
I find it interesting that in the bulk of the press release the NBA almost goes out of its way to avoid mentioning Taiwan, but then the man who you would expect to be the most sensitive to the issues involving using the name Taiwan says it twice.
I am never as smart as I think I am so I am probably reading something into this that is not there, but I would think Chen’s use of the term Taiwan is intentional. His use of Taiwan could be a slap in the face of the government of Communist China or it might be no big deal at all. I tend to think it would be considered the former due to the effort Communist China has gone to prevent Taiwan from being considered Taiwan for decades.
In m y mind it certainly is possible Chen is challenging China by his use of the term Taiwan. We have seen Ping Pong Diplomacy in China that lead to the normalization of relations between the United States and China in the 1970′s. Could some roundball diplomacy lead to some normalization of relations between the People’s Republic of China and Taiwan?
I received a couple of intriguing emails today to stir me from my inexcusable blogging slumber. I have a list of players that the Nuggets will be working out on Friday and Saturday and there is very disappointing news regarding the D League champion Colorado 14ers.
First of all the three separate workouts have been scheduled over the next two days.
Group one (Friday, 10:00 AM)
Paul Delaney – 6’2” 200 PG UAB, Ranked 94
Daniel Hackett – 6’5” 205 PG USC, Ranked 87
Lester Hudson – 6’2” 190 SG Tennessee Martin, Ranked 88
Curtis Jerrells – 6’1” 208 PG Baylor, Ranked 57
Tyreese Rice – 6’1” 190 PG Boston College, Ranked 77
Robert Varden – 6’5” 205 SG UAB, Ranked 82
There are some interesting players in this group. The most intriguing prospect is Lester Hudson who was the first player in men’s division one history to record a quadruple double (25 points, 12 rebounds, ten assists and ten steals). The biggest strike against him is his age as he will be 25 when the 2009-10 season starts. Daniel Hackett from USC has proven he can play alongside a scorer like O.J. Mayo and is a stout perimeter defender. He would be a better option as a potential undrafted free agent than a player to be selected at 34. Tyreese Rice had a great career at Boston College and definitely proved to everyone he can light up North Carolina, but Baylor’s Jerrells is the highest ranked player according to ESPN’s top 100 thanks to his quickness and ability to push the pace.
Group two (Friday 12:00 PM)
Anthony Goods – 6’3” 200 SG Stanford, Ranked 92
A.J. Price – 6’2” 193 PG UCONN, Ranked 46
Kyle Spain – 6’5” 209 SG San Diego State, Ranked NR
Raymond Sykes – 6’9” 220 C Clemson, Ranked NR
A.D. Vassallo – 6’6” 216 SF Virginia Tech, Ranked NR
This group is A.J. Price and a bunch of players who were apparently invited as a favor to their agents. You can be unimpressed with Spain during this footage against BYU in the Mountain West semis (he is number 15), Sykes is a center who does not rebound much, Goods is an undersized shooting guard who could not break the 29% mark from the college three point line.
Group three (Saturday 10:00 AM)
Courtney Fells – 6’6” 210 SG North Carolina State, Ranked 72
Jeremy Pargo – 6’2” 210 PG Gonzaga, Ranked 69
Garrett Temple – 6’6” 190 G LSU, Ranked NR
Ben Woodside – 5’11” 185 PG North Dakota State, Ranked 93
I would rather have Jannero than Jeremy Pargo, Fells is supposedly impressing teams on the workout circuit and looking at Temple’s numbers I have no idea why he would even be under consideration for a spot in the summer league in Belize. Woodside is the only intriguing player in this group. You may remember him as the player from North Dakota State who almost single handedly upset Kansas in the first round of last season’s NCAA Tournament.
The Nuggets have taken part in a couple of large scale workouts and have seen a lot of players through those exhibitions (click here to see a list of players from the Golden State workouts and click here to see a list of players from the New Jersey workouts). With the Nuggets drafting at 34 it is nearly impossible to know what players they are interested in might be available, but I think it is safe to say that most of the players they are bringing in on Friday and Saturday are mostly summer league fodder at best.
The other big piece of news is the Colorado 14ers have gone the way of the Denver Dynamite. Both teams won their league championship only to end up sitting out the next season.
According to the NBA the 14ers have been purchased by some Dallas muckity mucks and will be moved to Frisco, TX. That means the Nuggets and Nets are without a D League affiliate for next season.
The interesting thing about the departure of the 14ers was that it was just announced that the Broomfield Events Center was going to be managed by a partnership of Anschutz Entertainment and Kroenke Sports Enterprises, which I thought was a very good sign that the financially troubled 14ers would return to Broomfield for another season.
I was fortunate enough to have attended the 14ers final game to scout Sonny Weems and you can look for a post recapping that experience soon. I promise.