NEW YORK -- No Weekly Countdown today, I'm sorry to say, but there is plenty of mail rescued from the spam to which I'm glad to respond ...
I can't prove you right or wrong. We won't know about Westbrook for two or three years, which is OK with the Sonics, who are trying to build a team that turns the corner as
There is a huge swath separating the opinions of those who believe that Westbrook will supplement his athleticism and defensive abilities with improvement as a ball handler and shooter, as opposed to the non-believers who doubt he will ever be anything more than a backup point guard lacking the ball skills to be a starter in the NBA. On his behalf, I would say that Westbrook is a hard worker in the gym and he will make the most of his potential, whatever that potential may be.
The thing about Durant is that he is a competitive guy who is going to try to play defense. He is popular among other players -- they would love to play with him, which shows he is a team-first guy. That is a rare quality in someone of his talent. Most players of his age don't know anything about defending in the NBA, anyway. He may never become an excellent defender, but it's a good bet that he'll eventually help create an environment that encourages hard play at both ends of the floor.
Yi is something of a big man's Westbrook. Those who like him praise his versatility, his ability to run the floor as a big man and his potential to outwit other power forwards with his quickness. Whether he'll be able to defend his position is a worthy question. The Nets have been looking to unload their big contracts -- next up,
See, this is what I like about this roster. Team USA isn't going to win with traditional low-post NBA big men.
It's too early to rate Bryant historically. The Lakers had a terrific season in reaching the NBA Finals ahead of schedule with a young team while trading for
I haven't spent a lot of time thinking about flopping, because doesn't the NBA have much bigger problems? It's the same way I felt about the decision to change the NBA ball a couple of years ago: Sometimes you can mess things up by trying to make them better. Maybe the league should assess some form of penalty after the fact for flopping in order to prevent unnecessary collisions and potential injuries to the NBA's expensive players. The league wants to keep its stars on the court for as long as possible. But in another sense, I maintain that it weakens the NBA to give the referees one more judgment call when they're overwhelmed as it is.
You may be right. But the inexperience and unfinished nature of the players who enter the draft forces NBA scouts to look beyond the here and now. Two executives have told me that Greene has a terrific shooting stroke that is especially hard to find in someone of his size. That said, he wasn't drafted until No. 28, ultimately landing in Houston, so many teams share in your doubt.
It isn't a guard's game. Guards are more important now that the NBA has outlawed hand-checking on the perimeter and it's easier to pierce the first line of defense, and there are fewer big men to be found who are skilled in the footwork and low-post fundamentals of previous eras. But physical, hard-fouling defense is still being enabled by referees during the playoffs, and the Celtics proved that mobile big men are as important as ever for showing on pick-and-rolls out to the perimeter and staving off lanes to the basket.
I had the first eight picks right and nine of the first 11, which, as I stand today upon the mountaintop of NBA mock-drafting, makes me feel like a total nerd. I mean, is there an emptier, more hollow victory in sports than to win the NBA mock draft?