Tagged: 2009

Thunder Rumblings: Stephen Curry High on List

Mitch Lawrence is reporting that the Knicks aren’t the only team hot for Stephen Curry. Apparently the Thunder like what he brings to the table, though they would use him at the two, where he would be undersized and underweight, and where some of his abilities as a passer would be deemphasized…

Oklahoma City has a Stephen Curry fixation. The Thunder attended all of Curry’s home games at Davidson this past season and is looking at him as a potential shooting guard. But they’ll almost certainly move down from the No. 3 pick if they decide to take him. Scouts are not only high on Curry’s shooting, but also think he can make players better around him. “When you look at that Davidson team, they barely had any other Division I players,” said one scout.

Donnie Darko? (Or Darko Miliknick?)

We previously told you to be on the look-out for the possibility that the Knicks could be chasing Darko. Darko has an expiring deal and would thus provide low-risk shotblocking (John Hollinger points out that he has the ninth best shotblocking rate amongst centers, though is below average in almost every other way), some rebounding, and size.

Darko’s time in the league is just about up unless he can somehow revive his career. Darko could be a good fit in this system since his Euro game makes him a decent passer and a solid shooter as well.

Mike D’Antoni’s offense seems like the ideal fit. Remember, Boris Diaw looked like a stiff until D’Antoni showed everyone how to use him. Now he’s a solid contributor. He fills a need up front too. It just makes some sense.

Now word is that Donnie offered Q for Darko. We’re not surprised…in fact, we called it. Even though the deal was rejected, I do expect Darko to be a Knick next year.

(Note, Donnie also offered the Grizzlies $3 million for the 27th pick…I wonder who Donnie has eyes for down there).

Interesting Milicic quote:

“I will find the referees, murder them and then [expletive] their daughters”.

Draft Buzz: Curry, Flynn, Holiday, Maynor Rising. Rubio Falling. Trades?

Since I can’t live vicariously through myself (like the most interesting man in the world), I have to do it through Chad Ford, who attended the Chicago Draft Combine, spoke with many GMs and coaches, and came away with some solid information.

Notably, four point guards are rising…I’m not surprised that they are Stephen Curry, Johnny Flynn, Jrue Holiday, and Maynor. Three out of these four are on my wish list. The two ishiest guys on my ish list didn’t even show up for workouts.

On Holiday:

…UCLA’s Jrue Holiday garner[ed] the most attention. He was the biggest point guard of the top group and seemed to tower over several of the smaller guys on the floor.

During one 3-on-2 full-court drill, Holiday looked like a power forward running on the wing. And while his size was impressive, so was his game. He was hitting his jump shot, finishing with both hands and showing versatility and an excellent handle.

On Flynn:

Flynn continues to generate buzz with his combination of speed and power — even if he was the shortest guy on the floor. Every GM I spoke with now sees him as a lottery pick, with many projecting him in the Top 10.

On Curry:

Curry put on a shooting show — no surprise there — but many GMs commented that he really looked like he belonged when he participated in a number of ballhandling and full-court drills. If Curry can prove to teams that he can play point guard, he’ll go somewhere between No. 5 and 13. If he can’t, he could slip out of the lottery. The results of the first day of camp had to be encouraging.

On Maynor:

Maynor also generated some significant buzz with his decision-making and shooting.

“He looked like he was totally in control out there. There’s a smoothness to his game that I really like,” an NBA head coach said.

I’d be happy with any of these guys. I don’t think Maynor will be a lottery pick. If he is one it will be late in the lottery and if the Knicks wind up with him it will be because they traded down.

Holiday is taking a rocket ship out of the Knicks stratosphere. I’d be happy if he fell though.

I like Flynn’s toughness, and power and speed go a long way in the NBA. He’ll be a capable starter.

And can we finally put to rest the notion that Curry is an undersized 2 who can’t play 1? Isola has been insisting that Curry is unproven, but I think he proved a lot last year and will continue to prove himself in workouts and as a rookie. Now it seems like there are teams ahead of and behind the Knicks who want the kid. If he really wants to be here (and he can’t seem to hide his desire to be on the big stage), he won’t work out for anybody except the Knicks.

Also, according to Ford (link requires ESPN Insider), Rubio is slipping, with teams questioning his touch and his propensity to turn the ball over:

Speaking of Rubio, I encountered a number of NBA GMs and scouts this week who were pretty skeptical about Rubio’s NBA future. They see him as an average athlete who can’t shoot well and who is turnover prone, and wonder aloud why he’s ranked so high.

A few GMs said Rubio isn’t in their top five. While I’ve heard doubts expressed before, the skepticism was expressed much more strongly this week by more execs. I’m going to keep digging. Maybe Henry Abbott struck a chord with his TrueHoop post on Rubio.

In any case, if Memphis and Oklahoma City decide against Rubio and don’t trade either of their picks to a team that wants to move up to get him, it’s hard to see the Sacramento Kings passing on Rubio at No. 4.

Ford also reports that there are lots of potential trades being discussed at the top of the draft. Things are very fluid. I don’t know about you, but I love draft time.

Latest Draft Rumblings and Other News

1. The Thunder are reportedly high on Stephen Curry…Honestly, I don’t think he’s a reach at 3, in this draft. The fact that the Bobcats are interested and might trade up has me worried too.

2. Donnie Walsh interviewed Thabeet yesterday. He has one skill but it’s definitely one the Knicks need.

3. Ty Lawson will work out against Stephen Curry for the Knicks. Hahn thinks Lawson has a chance at going 8th. He’s wrong.

4. Eddy Curry might be less fat (Italian Stallion was the first on the net to report this, following Eddy’s tweeting).

5. The Knicks might invite Alex Acker to summer league. They reportedly view him as a potential late bloomer.

6. The Knicks might bring in Carlos Cabezas for a look and also a guy named Fabien Causeur, the starting PG for Le Havre. I don’t know how I feel about having a guy named Fabien on the squad. Just bloggin’.

Chad Ford: More Love For Stephen Curry

In today’s chat on ESPN, Chad Ford calls Curry’s jumper “a thing of beauty”, says he’s “so clever with the ball”, and shoots down the notion that Curry is too small for his position. He also continues to compare him favorably to Nash:

Nick (NJ): I hope the Knicks do not select steph curry. Regardless of the system, hes an undersized 2 who wont be able to defend anyone or create his own shot. hes got a quick release but i dont think hes worthy of the 8 pick in an average draft year. (and this is well below average). What are the chances the Knicks take Jonny Flynn? Some guys just know how to play in the garden and thats half the battle. And this kid can do it.

SportsNation Chad Ford: I like Jonny Flynn and he could be a good player for the Knicks, but I think you’re wrong about Curry. I got to see him workout today and I think he’s bigger and better than you think he is. He’ll figure out how to run the point and when he does, I think he can be special. His jump shot is a thing of beauty and he’s so clever with the ball. I still think Steve Nash isn’t a crazy comparison.

Can people please STOP calling Curry an undersized 2? He’s a tall 1, okay? He played a full season in Division 1 as a point guard, and averaged 5.6 assists on a team of nobodies. Besides Ford, many other astute scouts have acknowledged Curry’s ball skills, and Bobby Knight calls him one of the best passers to ever play college ball.

Don’t call him Knick Calathes

Nobody was projecting Florida point guard Nick Calathes to be a lottery pick, but he could definitely have been a sleeper in this year’s draft. He did it all for Florida this past year, shooting, passing, and boarding with his good size. He has very good court vision and a high basketball IQ. The main knock on him is that his feet are too slow to defend well at the next level.

Calathes might stay in the draft but he’ll spend at least the next season playing in Greece for Panathinaikos, according to the Orlando Sentinal. That’s sure to hurt his stock if he stays in the draft.

The Knicks only have one pick in this draft, though there has been speculation that they want a second. If Calathes stays in the draft this move will drop him down to the very bottom of the first round.

But should Calathes even be a target at this point? Should the Knicks be looking to develop their talent ASAP? Or if the opportunity presents itself later in the draft, should the Knicks nab Calathes and wait?

Prospect Wish List and Ish List

I’m not as saavy as to the college game as Jon, but I do have my opinions. I put together a wish list and an ish list for this year’s draft.

Wish List (only 8 deep, since it’s pointless to go past 8):

1. Stephen Curry: Elite shooter, elite passer, elite basketball I.Q., astute team defender. Talk about fitting like a glove.

2. Ricky Rubio: Jason Kidd to Curry’s Nash. Great defender, elite passer, creative with the ball, not much of a J.

3. Blake Griffin: Beast. Elite rebounder. Polished offensively. Not a shotblocker or much of a defender, even though he promises he’ll defend on the next level. Reminds me of David Lee in that he’ll take a punch, but will he give one? More talented than David Lee but I’m not sure I want the lane to be a freeway to the paint anymore.

4. James Harden: High basketball I.Q., patient, lets the game come to him, knows how to read the D to set up his O without forcing anything.

5. Jrue Holiday: Apparently a solid point guard who played out of position and thus didn’t get to show it off. But it’s clear that he can defend.

6. Jordan Hill: Reminds me of a big Balkman (and not because of the hair). He’s hyperactive, blocks shots, defends, and chases down rebounds. He has size at 6’10 so you can stick him at center where he can be a weakside defender a la Camby. Downside? Chris Wilcox (not because of the hair).

7. Hasheem Thabeet: Shotblocking skills are unquestionable. But what else? Doesn’t have great footwork and isn’t particularly nimble, so I don’t really ever see him becoming a threat on offense. Got pushed around and outrebounded easily by DuJuan Blair in college, who is about 8 inches shorter than Thabeet. Hey, at least Chad Ford notes that he can hit a 10-15 foot jumper…in an empty gym.

8. Johnny Flynn: Great leader, super fast, great passer, intense, a winner.

Ish List:

1. Tyreke Evans: Just what the Knicks need: another guard to pound the ball into the ground for 20 seconds and then bull his way into the paint or chuck up a desperation jumper. Steve Francis, Stephon Marbury, Jamal Crawford, I’m looking in your general direction. Poor shooter, not a willing passer. Doesn’t fit into SSOL.

2. Brandon Jennings: Risk/reward just isn’t there, especially with more solid options like Curry, Lawson, Flynn, Maynor, and Calathes. He goes to Europe because he can’t get into college (we need a smart player at PG), and can’t get off the bench, doesn’t seem to have one particularly useful skill that he’s shown in game action, and might get cut from his team for a back-up power forward. You might say, he’s 19 and playing in Europe against top competition, cut him some slack! Yea? Well Gallo was playing against equally tough competition and was a top player on his team. Same with Rubio. Maybe Jennings will be a good pro, but I’d prefer some other team gamble on him.

3. Gerald Henderson: Fancy Shandon Anderson? No thanks. He can defend and he’s athletic but he couldn’t hit the side of a barn with his J. Tell me how that fits into SSOL?

Knicks Like Curry, 3 Other Prospects

Berman scoops today that the Knicks have their eyes on 4 prospects, so far, one of whom is Stephen Curry:

“He’s going to be a really good pro,” D’Antoni told The Post. “But it’s too early to gauge. There’s four of them we’ve looked at [on film], and I’m sure that will expand. I didn’t think it’s disappointing. We didn’t drop back. We could get a good player at 8. Sometimes you make mistakes at 3.”

Last week, the 6-foot-3 Curry hired agent Jeff Austin, who represented his father, Dell Curry. Austin had a strong conversation with Knicks team president Donnie Walsh last week about Curry.

“The Knicks have clearly shown interest,” Austin said yesterday. “And Stephen feels the same way. He has interest in them.”

Chad Ford reported the Knicks’ interest in Curry months ago. Last year he called the Knicks’ drafting of Gallinari months in advance as well. At this point I think it’s a foregone conclusion that the Knicks are going after Curry and workouts of any other prospect represent a fall back option in case someone snatches Curry prior to 8 (though I wonder who they are…I’m sure Holiday is in the mix).

You can talk about Jrue Holiday, Tyreke Evans (for some reason), Brandon Jennings (ugh) and Gerald Henderson (never happen): It’s fun to speculate. But the Knicks taking Curry is as close to a sure thing as is possible (again, unless some team higher than the Knicks takes him).

Check out our mock draft: Part One, Part Two.

On Workouts…

Work-outs serve a purpose. But for the most part, I think if you wait until work-outs to narrow the field for you, you’re probably making a mistake.

Chad Ford was down on Thabeet all year, questioning his athleticism and strength. He watches him in one work-out and says that with some practice, all of a sudden he can be the next Mutombo.

Incidentally, Chad also was huge on Darko, raving about how the kid could shoot left handed threes without jumping during workouts.

A lot was also made about how Kwame Brown dominated Tyson Chandler in work-outs.

I just don’t get how a scout’s opinion on a player can vacillate so greatly based on work-outs. Darko could hit those off-hand 3s, but when have you ever seen him do that in a game? Never. And no, and Darko didn’t play in too many games in Europe before he was drafted. He had a reputation for dominating practice and then he had great work-outs. (Red Flag for those who love Jennings.)

The point I’m getting at is that for most prospects, like Thabeet for example, there is at least a full season of game action to use in evaluations. I have a feeling that Donnie Walsh, who scouted Steph Curry extensively, watches actual games in deciding which players he likes. I doubt he’s ever flustered by a work-out.

By the time work-outs happen, a saavy GM probably already knows that he likes the guy he’s invited to the gym. The work-out is like a getting-to-know-you session. Are you a sociopath? A nice guy? Smart? Obstinate? Sociable? As into us as we’re into you? Oh, and lets see that jumper we know so well from watching you play in games for over a year.

That’s why I don’t totally discount the Steph Curry promise even though people have called it ludicrous to suggest the Knicks made a promise before workouts. In Chad’s article, he completely changes his tune about Thabeet because he canned a few jumpers in a workout. What about the entire season of games Thabeet played. Doesn’t that tell you more about the kid than one work-out session?

Steph Curry’s Effusive Praise for D’Antoni, and More

Hahn transcribed some of Jared Rothstein’s interview with Steph Curry, who really seems like he’s looking forward to playing for coach D’Antoni:

The most interesting tidbit from the interview was that Stephen said he was currently reading Jack McCallum’s book, :07 Seconds or Less, which is about Mike D’Antoni’s Phoenix Suns and his offensive system.

“It sounds like one of the funnest systems to play in and it’s proven to work,” Curry said. “And when you get the right talent in there, the right personnel who can do it, and use the system to their advantage, I think it makes D’Antoni look really good as a coach.”

“If that was the system I would play under, it would be something I would look forward to every day, just to get in there and run up and down the court and get the shots up and also play a little defense,” he added.

When asked by Rothstein if this was the most ideal system for a player like him, Curry replied, “I think so, because I like the open court and being able to make plays, using ball screens and getting up and down the floor running.”

I wonder where he wants to play…

…when asked about possibly playing for the Knicks, Curry gushed: “That would be a dream come true. One is to have an NBA jersey, two to play at Madison Square Garden and thee to play in front of some of the greatest fans, I think that would be something I would look forward to.”

Also from Hahn’s post:

Oh and did we mention he’s tight with this dude named LeBron?

“We’re pretty good friends right now,” Curry said.

And for what it’s worth, JR asked Stephen to find a comparable NBA player to his skill set. Curry’s reply?

Steve Nash.

See Tommy Dee’s scouting report, comparing Curry to Nash.

And about that promise rumor:

“I haven’t heard that with my own ears,” he told Rothstein. “I keep up with the media and the press and things like that, so I’ve heard about it [Bloghost note: He must be a Fixer by now..welcome Steph]. But until Donnie Walsh calls me on my phone and tell me, then I’m going to have to say it’s not true right now.”

Bloghost note: Maybe Curry’s a Fixer because he heard about the promise rumor, though it should be noted that The Knicks Fix was about the 14th source reporting it, after, inter alia, NBAdraft.net, HoopsHype, HoopsWorld, The Knicks Blog, RealGM, and The Knicks FanBlog.