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.
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 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.