From a long term perspective, there is a great deal to like about Jonas Valanciunas.
Exhibition Game, Pre- FIBA U19 Men’s World Championship [Latvia]
Team USA 75
Team Lithuania 108
From a long term perspective, there is a great deal to like about Jonas Valanciunas.
Exhibition Game, Pre- FIBA U19 Men’s World Championship [Latvia]
Team USA 75
Team Lithuania 108
When a team wins only 22 games in a NBA regular season, and fails to make the playoffs for a 3rd consecutive year, and chooses to relieve its head coach from his duties, and hires a replacement from outside of their existing organization, then, this new person would be making an error, if he decides to retain the services of assistant coaches who worked with this same team during several of the previous seasons.
New Toronto Raptors coach Dwane Casey has completed the bulk of his coaching staff, with former Raptors assistant and 76ers and Magic head coach Johnny Davis agreeing to join his staff as lead assistant coach.
Davis coached Allen Iverson in his rookie season in Philadelphia, but was fired after one season. He spent parts of two seasons as Orlando’s head coach, and was interim head coach in Memphis after Marc Iavaroni was fired two years ago, before the Grizzlies named Lionel Hollins head coach. Davis, a former teammate of Hollins’ on Portland’s world championship team in 1976, remained on Hollins’s staff.
Davis will join assistant Scott Roth, who had interviewed for an assistant’s job with the Lakers under new head coach Mike Brown, but will remain in Toronto. Roth had been at Golden State, Memphis and Dallas before joining the Raptors in 2009, and also has extensive international coaching experience. Assistants Eric Hughes and Micah Nori will also remain as holdovers from Jay Triano‘s staff. Triano was fired at the beginning of the month and Casey was officially hired to replace him last week. Toronto is also hiring longtime assistant coach and scout Tom Sterner to the staff. Sterner was with the 76ers last season and has been with the Warriors, Magic and Mavericks in almost three decades as an NBA coach.
Hopefully Dwane Casey will exercise better judgment, as he becomes increasingly familiar with the lanscape in Toronto.
Prior to the start of the 2010-2011 season, many NBA observers felt that theSan Antonio Spurs were about to begin their descent on the leeward side of the championship mountain.
However, in the aftermath of what the Spurs have now done during the last 12 months:
- Amassing 61 wins in the 2010-2011 Regular Season
|SAN ANTONIO SPURS’ PLAYER ROSTER|
|#||END OF 2010-2011||PRE 2011-2012|
|1||PG||Tony Parker||PG||Tony Parker|
|2||OG/SF/PG||Manu Ginobili||OG/SF/PG||Manu Ginobili|
|3||SF||Richard Jefferson||SF||Richard Jefferson|
|4||PF||Antonio McDyess||PF||Antonio McDyess|
|5||C||Tim Duncan||C||Tim Duncan|
|7||OG/SF||Gary Neal||OG/SF||Gary Neal|
|8||PF||Matt Bonner||PF||Matt Bonner|
|9||C||Tiago Splitter||C||Tiago Splitter|
|10||PG||Chris Quinn||PG||Chris Quinn|
|11||OG/SF||Danny Green||OG/SF||Danny Green|
|12||SF||James Anderson||SF||James Anderson|
|13||SF||D’Sean Butler||SF||Da’Sean Butler|
|14||PF||DeJuan Blair||PF||DeJuan Blair|
|15||PF/C||Steve Novak||PF/C||Steve Novak|
|2010 2ND Round Draft Pick, Not On Roster Yet|
|16||OG/PG||Nando de Colo||OG/PG||Nando de Colo|
|2011 1st and 2nd Round Draft Picks|
|17||SF||Kawhi Leonard |
|18||PG||Cory Joseph |
|2011 2nd Round Draft Picks, Not On Roster Yet|
|19||SF/PF||Davis Bertans |
|20||SF/PG/OG||Adam Hanga |
re-furbishing their player roster, via trades, free agent signings, and the expert manipulation of the 2010 and 2011 NBA Drafts, there should be little doubt, whatsoever, that the Spurs have every intention of staying perched exactly where they have been for the last decade, i.e. firmly entrenched in the upper echelon of the Western Conference.
The simple fact is that:
- RC Buford and Gregg Popovich have just acquired 4 young players through the 2011 NBA draft with the capacity to fill a “rotation spot” for the Spurs for the better part of the next 10 years
- The key acquisitions for the Spurs during this time frame have NOT been DeJuan Blair, or Kawhi Leonard … but, instead, Gary Neal, Tiago Splitter, James Anderson, Nando de Colo, David Bertans and Adam Hanga … more-than-one of whom actually have what it takes to become a high level player, down-the-road, in the NBA.
Related: On the Spurs and solving for pattern
As a GM with a tremendous amount of “media savvy” it is truly amazing just how frequently Bryan Coalngelo makes public statements that he has absolutely no business saying.
As for Valanciunas, whether you like his projections or not — and the number-crunching nerds in the analytics world will have you believe he’s an efficient keeper — you had to give Colangelo a certain kind of credit for calling his name. The GM, who is hyperaware of what’s said and written about his club, had to know it wouldn’t be a popular pick. He had to know it might not be a pick that helps him earn the third-year guarantee on his current deal. He made the pick all the same.
He also acknowledged the “angst” of the populace, this before he shared the reaction he and his Toronto cohorts had been receiving from their counterparts in NBA draft rooms.
“Everybody is saying . . . ‘Excellent pick. Perhaps the best pick in the draft,’” Colangelo said. “This is a solid pick. Trust me.”
Three seasons out of the playoffs and counting, Colangelo has to know that’s a difficult thing to ask of the Air Canada Centre’s hoop-loving customers. He also has to know that, even if his words on Thursday night one day ring true, he might not be around to take the credit.
The fact is:
1. As a collective, General Managers in the NBA make some of the most inaccurate assessments of future players in the league;
2. What other GMs actually think about the “quality” of your team’s selection in a Draft is irrelevant;
3. Bryan Colangelo does not have an outstanding record of achievement when it comes to making an accurate assessment of which drafted players are most likely to develop into “stars” in the NBA and which ones are not.
In all likelihood, the Raptors did not chose Jonas Valanciunas with the No. 5Selection of the 2011NBA Draft because he was the BEST PLAYER AVAILABLE but, rather, because the team’sbasketball brain-trust:
i. Thinks he will become the best player, sometime down-the-road;
ii. Who also happens to play the Center position, which is the specificposition where they believe their team is currently the most deficient.
Unfortunately, as a general rule of thumb, drafting by “positional need” is NOT the best way to build a championship-calibre team in the NBA.
Toronto chose Jonas Valanciunas with the No. 5 Selection in the 2011 NBA Draft.
Jonas plays the Center position and is currently listed as:
- 19 years of age.
Other KNOWN FACTS concerning Jonas Valanciunas, include the following:
i. He is a highly efficient scorer within close proximity of the basket [i.e. Euroleague/2010-2011: 70.0 FG%; 91.7 FT%; 0-0/3FG; 7.6 Pts/14.9 MP];
ii. Offensively, he has been used primarily in Pick and Roll situations;
iii. Rebounding is one of his strengths [i.e. Euroleague/2010-2011: 5.4 Rebs/14.9 MP];
iv. Shot blocking is one of his strengths [i.e. Euroleague/2010-2011: 0.6 BS/14.9 MP];
v. He plays the game with a good-to-high level of intensity;
vi. He is a relatively “good” athlete for a Center;
vii. He has a relatively “good” frame which should be able to carry additional weight, as he continues to mature physically;
viii. He was selected as the MVP for the European U 18 Men’s Championships last year [i.e. with 31 Pts and 18 Rebs in the Gold Medal game];
ix. He is under contract to his European club team for the 2011-2012 season and will only be eligible to join the Raptors for the 2012-2013 campaign, if there is a NBA season that year;
x. He is NOT Andrea Bargnani [C].
i. He is a relatively poor passer who does not yet display the ability to create easy baskets for his teammates [i.e. Euroleague/2010-2011: 0.2/Ast; 1.4/TO];
ii. He is NOT Brandon Knight [PG] or Jan Vesely [SF/PF], each of whom was also still available when the Raptors made the No. 5 Selection … and a player with the capacity to eventually become a “star” in the NBA – according to yours truly, based upon “positional upside” [i.e. relative skill-set and athleticism at the position played] – with Derrick Williams [SF] and Kyrie Irving [PG] no longer available; and,
iii. He is NOT Tobias Harris [SF/PG] or Davis Bertans [SF], or [even] Josh Selby [PG], each of whom was still available when the Raptors made the No. 5 Selection … and a player with the capacity to eventually become a “star” in the NBA, if the Raptors would have decided to “trade down”, in an effort to acquire more than only 1 future rotation player from this year’s Draft.
|2011 NBA Draft Prospects With Good Upside,
Relative To Their Position
|Name||Hgt||Wgt||Pos||Age||Comp. Player Type||Obtained By|
|Projected as a 1st Round Selection|
|Derrick||Williams *||6-9||250||SF/PF||20||Paul Pierce||Minnesota/Kahn|
|Brandon||Knight *||6-3||180||PG||19||Joe Dumars||Detroit/Dumars $|
|Jan||Vesely *||6-11||240||SF/PF||21||Andrei Kirilenko||Washington/Grunfeld|
|Nikola||Vucevic||7-0||260||PF/C||20||Robert Parrish||Philadelphia/Stefanski $|
|Donatas||Motiejunas||7-0||215||PF/C||20||Toni Kukoc||Houston/Morey %|
|Kenneth||Faried||6-8||225||PF||21||Brian Grant||Denver/Ujiri %|
|Tobias||Harris *||6-8||225||SF/PG||18||Mark Aguirre/Magic Johnson||Milwaukee/Hammond $|
|Iman||Shumpert||6-6||220||PG||20||Ron Harper||New York/Walsh $|
|Kyle||Singler||6-9||225||SF||23||Shane battier||Detroit/Dumars $|
|Davis||Bertans *||6-10||210||SF/PF||18||Larry Bird/Dirk Nowitzki||San Antonio/Buford $|
|Chandler||Parsons||6-10||220||PF||22||Mike Miller||Houston/Morey %|
|Projected as a 2nd Round Selection|
|Josh||Selby *||6-3||195||PG||20||Dennis Johnson||Memphis/Wallace|
|Nolan||Smith *||6-4||190||PG||22||Jason Kidd||Portland/Buchanan|
|Norris||Cole||6-2||175||PG||22||Maurice Cheeks||Miami/Riley $|
|Shelvin||Mack *||6-2||210||PG||21||Jo Jo White||Washington/Grunfeld|
|Adam||Hanga *||6-7||220||G/F||22||Manu Ginobili||San Antonio/Buford $|
|LEGEND: Bold – Has the capacity to become a “star” player; Italics – Much better than many draft evaluators realize with the capacity to become a high end player in the NBA; * – Should be a target for Toronto, in effort to, either, trade up or down; $ – Former NBA Champion or Finalist, as an executive; % – Up-and-coming executive with a keen eye for NBA level talent.|
By making this specific selection, the Raptors:
i. Added a very solid prospect … for the 2012-2013 season … with the ability to become a 10+ year, starting Center in the NBA;
ii. Increased their likelihood of being in the 2012-2013 NBA Draft Lottery;
iii. Failed to add a, possible, future “star” player to their current roster, in the form of Brandon Knight, or Jan Vesely, or Tobias Harris, or Davis Bertans [or, even, Josh Selby]; and,
iv. Re-confirmed their commitment to their players from last season, as their core group moving forward, including some combination of: A) Youngsters – DeMar DeRozan [OG/SF], Jerryd Bayless [PG/OG], Sonny Weems [OG/SF], James Johnson [SF/PF], Julian Wright [SF/PG], Ed Davis [PF], Amir Johnson [PF], Joey Dorsey [PF], Solomon Alabi [C] and Alexis Ajinca [C]; B) Young Vets – Andrea Bargnani [PF/C] and Linas Kleiza [SF/PF]; and, C) Veterans – Jose Calderon [PG], Leandro Barbosa [OG/PG] and Reggie Evans [PF].
Although Jonas Valanciunas [C] is almost certain to become a “good” Center in the NBA, sometime down-the-road … ala Pervis Ellison, Joel Przybilla, or Zydrunas Ilgauskas, etc. … in terms of being able to compete for, and eventually win, a League Championship … it is most unfortunate that the Raptors, once again, wasted another golden opportunity to add a future “star” player – i.e. with ahigh degree of Positional Skill, Athleticism, and Leadership – to their existing roster and, instead, were trumped by the likes of RC Buford, Joe Dumars, Pat Riley, John Hammond, Ed Stefanski and Daryl Morey.
The 2011 NBA Draft will take place later on this evening.
Here’s an assessment of the players with the most prodigious upside, according to this corner:
|DRAFT PROSPECTS WITH THE BEST UPSIDE,
RELATIVE TO THEIR POSITION
|NAME||HGT.||WGT.||POS.||AGE||COMP. PLAYER TYPE|
|Currently Projected 1st Round Selection|
|Derrick||Williams *||6-9||250||SF/PF||20||Paul Pierce|
|Brandon||Knight *||6-3||180||PG||19||Joe Dumars|
|Jan||Vesely *||6-11||240||SF/PF||21||Andrei Kirilenko|
|Tobias||Harris *||6-8||225||SF/PG||18||Mark Aguirre/Magic Johnson|
|Davis||Bertans *||6-10||210||SF/PF||18||Larry Bird/Dirk Nowitzki|
|Currently Projected 2nd Round Selection|
|Josh||Selby *||6-3||195||PG||20||Dennis Johnson|
|Nolan||Smith *||6-4||190||PG||22||Jason Kidd|
|Shelvin||Mack *||6-2||210||PG||21||Jo Jo White|
|Adam||Hanga *||6-7||220||G/F||22||Manu Ginobili|
|LEGEND: Bold – Has the capacity to become a “star” player; Italics – Much better than many draft evaluators realize with the capacity to become a high end player in the NBA; * – Should be a target for Toronto, in an effort to, either, trade up or trade down.|
From a Raptors’ perspective:
OPTION 1 – Trading Up to acquire Derrick Williams [SF] from Minnesota
OPTION 2 - Choosing Brandon Knight [PG], or Jan Vesely [SF], with the No. 5 Selection this evening
OPTION 3 – Trading Down to acquire some combination of:
A. Tobias Harris or Davis Bertans;
B. Josh Shelby or Nolan Smith or Norris Cole or Shelvin Mack;
C. One more promising young player from another team’s existing roster.
would be the best way to proceed.
From 13 years ago …
Yesterday, Dwane Casey was named the new head coach for the Toronto Raptors.
CASEY’S HEAD COACH EXPERIENCE WITH MINNESOTA
|44-38, .537||33-49, .402||20-20, .500||22-60, .268|
|Off Rat, 6;
Def Rat, 15
|Off Rat, 21;
Def Rat, 22
|Off Rat, 23;
Def Rat, 17
|Off Rat, 27;
Def Rat, 27
|1st Rd, No Pick
2nd Rd, No Pick
MINNESOTA’S PERFORMANCE PRE-, DURING, AND POST- CASEY
|Min Off Rating||Min Def Rating|
|08-09||24-58||Wittman, 4-15||McHale, 20-43||in Boston||24||25|
|06-07||32-50||Casey, 20-20||Wittman, 12-30||12th yr||23||17|
|04-05||44-38||Saunders, 25-26||McHale, 19-12||10th yr||6||15|
|95-96||26-56||Blair, 6-14||Saunders, 20-42||1st yr||25||20|
According to these rudimentary facts, the Raptors have hired a solid defensive-minded basketball coach who, over a period of years:
1. Is likely to improve their overall team defense;
2. Is unlikely to perform as a Transformational Coach and take their team into the upper echelon of the Eastern Conference … unless, of course, their GM [i.e. Bryan Colangelo] also does a much better job of drafting elite level players with outstanding defensive ability than he has done to this point in his career.
June 20, 1967 marks a special day in the history of sport.
There are 2 very good reasons why one man only will always be remembered as THE most important heavyweight champion of all-time.
The summer of 1967 marked a tipping point for public support of the Vietnam “police action.” While the Tet Offensive, which exposed the lie that the United States was winning the war, was still six months away, the news out of Southeast Asia was increasingly grim. At the time of Ali’s conviction, 1,000 Vietnamese noncombatants were being killed each week by U.S. forces. One hundred US soldiers were dying every day, and the war was costing $2 billion a month.
Anti-war sentiment was growing and it was thought that a stern rebuke of Ali would help put out the fire. In fact, the opposite took place. Ali’s brave stance fanned the flames. As Julian Bond said, “[It] reverberated through the whole society. …[Y]ou could hear people talking about it on street corners. It was on everyone’s lips. People who had never thought about the war before began to think it through because of Ali. The ripples were enormous.”
Ali himself vowed to appeal the conviction, saying, “I strongly object to the fact that so many newspapers have given the American public and the world the impression that I have only two alternatives in this stand – either I go to jail or go to the Army. There is another alternative, and that alternative is justice. If justice prevails, if my constitutional rights are upheld, I will be forced to go neither to the Army nor jail. In the end, I am confident that justice will come my way, for the truth must eventually prevail.”
Already by this point, Ali’s heavyweight title had been stripped, beginning a three-and-a-half-year exile. Already Elijah Muhammad and the Nation of Islam had begun to distance themselves from their most famous member. Already, Ali had become a punching bag for almost every reporter with a working pen. But with his conviction came a new global constituency. In Guyana, protests against his sentence took place in front of the US embassy. In Karachi, Pakistan, a hunger strike began in front of the US consulate. In Cairo, demonstrators took to the streets. In Ghana, editorials decried his conviction. In London, an Irish boxing fan named Paddy Monaghan began a long and lonely picket of the US Embassy. Over the next three years, he would collect more than twenty thousand signatures on a petition calling for the restoration of Muhammad Ali’s heavyweight title.
Ali at this point was beginning to see himself as someone who had a greater responsibility to an international groundswell that saw him as more than an athlete. “Boxing is nothing, just satisfying to some bloodthirsty people. I’m no longer a Cassius Clay, a Negro from Kentucky. I belong to the world, the black world. I’ll always have a home in Pakistan, in Algeria, in Ethiopia. This is more than money.”
What was your reaction to the Finals?
I think it was a triumph of great teamwork over great individual play. The Miami team really is not. They weren’t ready to play the team game the way the Mavericks were, and that’s why the Mavericks came out on top.
What about how people react to LeBron James?
I think people just did not like his style, in self-promoting and aggrandizement of himself that ESPN was part of, and the event on ESPN turned a lot of people off. All these things to say about him as an individual. It’s a team game. People seem to lose sight of that pretty quickly.
How does he proceed from here?
That burden, really, is going to fall on the franchise, to get the right players that comprise a good team. He’s always going to be, for his whole career, a dominant and outstanding player. The way that they put the team together and promoted the team really did not do the team any good, and it didn’t do the game any good. It’s a team game and they should promote it as such.