Some coaches loathe them, while others embrace them warmly. They are NBA rookies, a curious lot who quickly find out that they aren’t in (the University of) Kansas anymore. While the game may still be basketball, the way it is played and how you navigate a schedule two-and-a-half times larger than any they’ve every played, is an eye-opening experience. A player such as Portland’s PG/SG Brandon Roy or Charlotte’s SF/PF Adam Morrison are blessed with an opportunity to earn minutes right from the start, which helps ease their transition into the NBA game. Others, such as SF/PF Tyrus Thomas in Chicago, PG/SG Randy Foye in Minnesota, and No. 1 pick SF/PF Andrea Bargnani, are finding quality minutes hard to come by, and consequently finding their production limited. Let’s take a look at some rookies who are finding the transition to the NBA game to be a positive experience, and a few that aren’t.
Usually within the first ten games of the regular season, teams reveal their identity. Offensive strategies and defensive schemes against certain opponents are put into action, leading to what gives the best chance for success. So far, the Lakers have faced a good sample of opponents, ranging from the speedy Phoenix Suns to the slow prodding, defensive oriented Detroit Pistons. From that experience, though early in the season, Phil Jackson has exhibited the player roles defensively and within the triangle offense, for the starters.
Odom, the #1 Offensive Option?
During the first three games of the regular season, Laker fans witnessed the true game of Lamar Odom. From the get-go, we watched as he relentlessly attacked the basket, dived into the post, and hit three-point shots with regularity.
Just look at these statistics.
Oct 31 vs. PHX – 34 points, 12/24 FG, ¾ 3pt. FG, 7/7 FT, 13 rebounds, 6 assists
Nov 1 @ GSW – 22 points, 8/14 FG, ½ 3pt. FG, 5/7 FT, 9 rebounds, 9 assists
Nov 3 vs. SEA – 28 points, 7/12 FG, 4/5 3pt. FG, 10/12 FT, 4 rebounds, 6 assists
That’s 54% from the field on 16.67 field goal attempts per game, 72% behind the arc, 8.67 free throw attempts per game, 8.67rpg, 7apg.
Carmel’s Josh McRoberts has embraced his new role at Duke as he delays his NBA future
By Mark Montieth
The comparisons to Larry Bird will flow whenever Josh McRoberts decides it’s time to enter the NBA, as they do for every large, white versatile basketball player.
Josh McRoberts has been touted as a first-round NBA draft pick since he graduated from Carmel High School. Now a sophomore at Duke, he’ll likely join the Blue Devils’ group of recent first-round picks when he enters the draft.
North Carolina’s most recent recruiting class may just have three future first rounders. Tywon Lawson, Wayne Ellington, and Brandon Wright make a formidable freshman trio. Those three players compare well to the prior championship UNC players of Raymond Felton, Rashad McCants, and Sean May. Felton, McCants, and May are all doing very well in the NBA, getting very good playing time, and being highly productive.
Tywon Lawson is a high tempo point guard. What’s surprising to see is just how built he is. At nearly 200lbs. with his 5’11” height, he can absorb some contact and finish. His best talent is his ability to change directions at a high speed, leaving defenders on their heels before making a play. Like Felton before him, as a freshman, he’s struggles to run a half-court set efficiently, more comfortable breaking down a defense with dribble penetration instead of player movement and ball movement. There are also concerns about his 3pt. range and decision-making, but it’s just a matter of time before he’s able to blend his talents to a premiere collegiate system and later to the NBA game.
The Lakers lost to the Hornets the other night, by the two weaknesses that fans had hoped they would’ve improved; interior presence and point guard defense.
After a very soft defensive game in the 1st half, the Lakers were simply outplayed at both ends of the floor. The Hornets won on energy and hustle by their active bigmen, as well as smart point guard play with heavy utilization of the high pick and roll.
It isn’t so much that the Hornets are the league leader in offensive rebounds because they shoot so poorly. It is because they take a lot of shot attempts, tip-ins, stabs at the ball, taps, right underneath the hoop. It doesn’t take long for three to four shots at point blank range to occur in three seconds. Those extra 10-14 attempts per game drops their field goal percentage. The Hornets finished with 19 more field goal attempts, with just 6 less attempts at the free throw line.
The Philadelphia Inquirer
PHILADELPHIA – If the rebuilding starts in earnest now, the 76ers are lucky in one respect. This is a good year to be a bad basketball team.
With every loss this season, the Sixers’ fortunes may improve dramatically in the short term. For they have the good fortune to stink in a year where stinking could pay off, in a franchise-altering kind of way.
Next year’s draft could be one of the best ever. With premier freshmen who had to go to college for one year under the NBA’s new collective bargaining agreement before becoming draft-eligible, combined with an unusually high number of talented sophomores and juniors who didn’t leave school early, personnel types are salivating over the prospective talent in the 2007 draft.
With a quarter of the season over, the Lakers have shown key strengths and weaknesses over proven competition during the regular season.
Right now they stand at 2nd place in the Pacific Division with a 15-7 record. Against strong playoff teams such as the Rockets, Spurs, Clippers, Pacers, Jazz, Nets, Bulls, and Suns, they’ve proven they can not only hang with the elite teams, but show they belong with that group. Clean execution, great energy, and an enthusiastic defense have led to these wins.
The Sonics, Blazers, Pistons, Jazz, Bucks, Hornets, and Mavericks have given them all of their losses this season.