Will Jeremy Lin change the NBA? Who else was missed?

Jeremy Lin at the 2010 Golden State Warriors o...
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By: Ian

It wouldn’t be a sports blog without joining the rest of the crowd and talking about Jeremy Lin. So in this case if everyone jumped off a bridge I’d follow. Jeremy Lin has caused such a stir in the media, the internet and the NBA world, even with aliens. If they ever came to this planet and commanded to take them to our leader, you better take them to Lin’s place, of course I’m kidding. What a great story to tell, a player who got cut twice, went undrafted and now has his chance to show that everyone missed a golden nugget and he is doing just that. I love what is happening in New York with Jeremy Lin and I hope that it continues and he proves to be a legit Point Guard. The way his career was going there was no way he would have ever been compared to Steve Nash or any elite Point Guard but he turned that around but all of this just makes me think… who else did everyone miss on? Who didn’t get the chance to shine and went unseen? Did the NBA miss the next Michael Jordan? Bill Russell? Larry Bird? Did we all miss someone who, might not be elite, but be able to scratch the surface to being one? Whose bench did he rot on? Out of all the sports we watch on television does basketball need a second league?

In the NBA you never hear about a late round gem or anything like that, heck if you’re not picked in the top 10 then a team might not even think you can “make it”. Yet in the NFL you have 7 rounds and it is very likely for a team to get a solid, consistent starter in the later rounds like 4th or 5th. Example being the Kansas City Chiefs kicker Ryan Succop who was picked last in the draft a few years ago, gaining the title Mr. Irrelevant, but he has made his case and has become a decent starter. I know, it’s a kicker, but okay then let’s look at Tom Brady who was a 6th round draft pick, even Darrelle Revis the top shutdown corner in the  league was picked in the 3rd. Kurt Warner anyone? So, how is it that in the NBA even 1st round picks must fight to be noticed and the 2nd round is full of future d-league players?

Obviously the numbers of players per team is a reason, 15 being the most, but only about 12 can dress for a game. Also most starters play a significant amount of time and on both sides of the ball so a player must be good at both offense AND defense, which can sometimes hurt the offensive studs who are defensive duds (unless your name is Carmelo Anthony then you’ll be fine). Also you have to take into factor that if a team has a star on the team then that player is most likely going to see about 40 minutes or so at his position who that doesn’t leave a lot of room for others. The NBA is also not known for player loyalty or General Managers trying to build through the draft, which I think hurts them because with a high turnover in rosters then it’s hard for players to develop and prove themselves. Also you have cases of players being played out of position out of necessity or because someone sees them playing that position, even if they’re potentially better at another.

So far the story is Jeremy Lin but one of the hidden stories could  possibly be Sacramento Kings point guard Isaiah Thomas, who they picked last in the 2011 draft and has played well and is establishing a role for himself on that team and in the NBA. Who could have been a name that maybe surprised some people? I’d say Kyle Singler, who was once a first round pick but because of a poor senior year at Duke he fell in the draft to the second round. Who am I honestly surprised isn’t on an NBA team yet? Jon Scheyer, the former Duke star who is now playing overseas and who I really believe could be a good role player for a team. Also Boston Celtics shooting guard E’Twaun Moore has shown that he can play in this league so I plead with the NBA General Managers… in the 2nd round instead of picking international players who MIGHT be on your team during your tenure why not instead pick a young kid who can come in and be a role player for you. Maybe guys like Lin, Thomas, Moore and others can turn the NBA around and show that talent does exist outside of the top 10, you just have to be willing to look for it.

Some key names from the 2nd round

2008 NBA Draft: Guard Mario Chalmers to Miami Heat, Center Omer Asik to the Chicago Bulls (eventually), DeAndre Jordan to the Los Angeles Clippers.

2009 NBA Draft: DeJuan Blair to the San Antonio Spurs, Chase Budinger to the Houston Rockets,

2010 NBA Draft: Landry Fields to the New York Knicks

Who eventually could become a key role player? Greg Stiemsma undrafted player who currently plays for the Boston Celtics who could turn into a defensive type of role player who has a knack for blocking shots. Greg need to look no further than Ben Wallace as a guy who made it as a specialist in the league. He is also fairly decent on the offensive side of the ball cause he can hit the outside shot. Luke Harangody who was drafted in the 2nd round in the 2010 NBA draft by the Boston Celtics and was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers mid-season. He is a player who has some good hustle, can score and has decent rebounding ability. I see him as a Matt Bonner/Troy Murphy type of guy eventually if he is given a chance. He just really needs to work on his defense. Chandler Parsons who got drafted this past draft by the Houston Rockets. He is a good player, picked by a team who has a tendency to find some good players late and actually keep them. Another team who can do that? Boston, except they don’t usually keep those guys but that is the life of a competitive team, I guess. Lance Stephenson who was drafted by the Indiana Pacers. He showed some promise early in the league but has trailed off but I think he can be a decent player eventually. Of course most of these guys could easily end up solid d-league starters but they have to work hard on getting better and being consistent cause they won’t be all-stars but they can be a key member of a bench.

I’m not sure how many other all-stars the NBA has missed but seeing what Jeremy Lin can do and knowing that even the Knicks were about to cut him makes me think. I guess however for every diamond in the rough you can find a hand full of all-stars so it evens out but still, it’d be nice if the NBA had more late draft/undrafted steals cause it’s not really out of the realm of possibility. This is just one area of the NBA that can bother me and one of the reasons why I can’t get into the NBA as much as I could.

Can the Boston Celtics succeed with Rajon Rondo as the main guy?

Kobe Bryant pointing at Rajon Rondo

Image by Aaron Frutman via Flickr

Just as I feared the NBA decided to keep on its dangerous path of cutting the competing teams down to only single digits. Still making it possible for teams to go after multiple stars and create their own all-star team is going to put some other teams at a real disadvantage and a tough spot. So with that said you now have to look at your favorite team and wonder if they can draw 2 or 3 star players to keep your team relevant and in your state. I am against this move by the NBA because you have 30 teams in the NBA and could have only 5 of them or so will be competing year after year and that will make the NBA boring and more predictable than it already is.

So can Rajon Rondo be the main guy for the Celtics and draw in 2 other star players and lead the Boston Celtics to 18? Can Rondo develop a respectable shot, preferably 3 point shot, and free throw percentage? From the perspective of a shooter, yes he can draw in other players and at least attempt to lead a charge to banner 18. With that being said, can he draw in stars and not just average to above average talent? That I don’t know, it is possible but the chances might be better to draw in highly sought after talent if you had a better scorer at the helm, that way it doesn’t all fall onto their shoulders. As much as players want the ball, more chances to shoot and score and someone who is more than willing to dish it to them, they also want to win. So having a pass-heavy PG on your team puts a lot on the shoulders of the other guys on the team to score and get to the line and do it consistently and efficiently.

So can Rondo develop a jump shot and become a respectable threat to score? Maybe, but he has to work hard at it. The issue now is he is surrounded by Hall Of Famers and might not feel the need to work on it as much as he should and might not work on it until he is “the man” and he is forced to but will it be too late by then? I think of Rondo and I can’t help but think of Jason Kidd and that they are a little alike because both were pass-heavy PG’s who couldn’t shoot but Kidd worked on his shot and has a 3 point shot that has become respectable and one you must defend. Rondo has been worse in his first five seasons at the free throw line than Kidd was and that might be a reason, although Kidd was not Mr. Automatic either in his first five seasons. Rondo’s first five seasons he is about an average of 62% and Kidd was about 68% in his first five seasons. It is possible that he could develop a shot but the questions are always going to be there until he does and the questions hold some value and have weight to them.

The other question is whether or not Rondo was just a product of the Big 3 and not a real talent but I think that is wrong, Rondo is a very talented player and unique and earned his all-star votes. The Celtics are better with him on the team and it would be hard to see him in another uniform but it could happen because Danny wants to be the GM of the Celtics for a long time and waiting for Rondo to eventually develop a dangerous 3 point shot or jumper is just not a risk he might want to take. Would I if I was Danny, wait for Rondo to develop a jumper? No, probably not but I might pull him into my office with Doc and mention that the weight is on him more than ever to become a scoring threat and field calls from teams interested in him. Danny is a smart GM and will do what it takes to win and it sometimes requires trading away players he likes so to try to improve the team.

The thing that you do not want to do if you’re running a team is rent a player by giving up an all-star player. You do not want to trade Rondo to the Hornets for Chris Paul just so Paul can leave Boston next off-season and go to New York and now you are stuck without an all-star player at all. With all the positives and negatives from all of this I think in the end you must keep Rondo and go forward with him for better or worse and see how it plays out. Of course you take calls for him and try to get a young star here to help the Big 3 scoring but you also must remember that Rondo has some great speed and plays better with an open court, running the floor and could be a better PG with young guys surrounding him verses older players. However the Celtics are on the edge of rebuilding and like every other team want Dwight Howard and what is one way to draw him to your team? Chris Paul. Plus if you do grab Howard you almost don’t want Rondo on your team cause now you have two players who are horrible at the line, so do you want 2 out of your starting 5 to be targets for intentional fouls at the end of the game? Definitely not.

Even with all the excitement leading into this season and the potential for some weird and good deals via trade to happen I am still not sure if I’ll watch it. It’s just sad that a team, to stay away from years of mediocrity, has to trade or at least attempt to trade a player who is a very talented star. Current Big 3 getting old? No problem! Trade away the young pieces you have developed and get another Big 3 as soon as possible or be ready for some changes. I don’t know about anyone else but sometimes I forget who some of the other NBA teams are just because they’ve never been a contender, that’s sad.

Does the new CBA need to introduce a new NBA?

Photo of game between Boston Celtics and Miami...

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The NBA games have become hard to watch and just like the MLB you can pretty accurately predict who will win it all and who will have a tough time. The new Big 3 in Miami just proves the point that small market teams will always have a disadvantage unless this new CBA changes that. What in my eyes makes the NFL so much better than the NBA? It’s because I feel that anything can happen, a small market team can win the Super Bowl and a big market team can go 0-16 cause it’s more equal and more difficult really to get an all-star cast all on one roster. The NBA needs competitiveness so that it creates a stir and creates more change and the feeling that if you don’t watch, you actually might miss something. Instead of now where you can predict that the NBA Finals would probably be Heat Vs Lakers but wouldn’t it be more interesting if it could be any team. You could argue that the smaller market teams could play at the top of their game and come out on top but really, when you have all-star casts running to bigger markets to “play together” it seems unlikely and honestly not appealing. I’m a huge Celtics fan, but I do think it would be nice if for once it’d be more equal, can you imagine if it was a 76ers Vs Grizzles, I know sounds like a yawn fest but with the talent spread out equally who knows who could on those teams.

I find it sad that typically a player does not finish with the team that drafted him, that 5-6 teams dominate the league always, that it seems there is always a high turn over for owners and that means that teams could be moved rather easily, and that the all-star weekend means nothing cause it’s typically Heat/Celtics Vs Lakers/Spurs… it gets boring. A more competitive league means it will be more entertaining and less predictable, which means for me as a Celtics fan that after the Big 3 era I don’t have to worry about another 10 year drought. It could still happen but the likely hood, I believe, goes down if the talent is spread out and it’s more of a competitive league. What NFL fan isn’t happy that finally the Lions and Bills are legit threats? That the Eagles tried to do it the NBA-way and have failed so far? A big market team like the Cowboys can stink? It’s fun to watch the NFL, not so much with the NBA. Take notice Stern cause this is a more important decision than you may know, or maybe you do. A high-octane league with all-stars teaming up in 3’s to join one team may offer more ratings, when and if they actually face each other, but what of those other smaller teams? Who is watching them? Maybe you can hope that by all those big names joining forces will open doors for players on smaller teams to reach that level and soon every team will have multiple all-stars on them, hm, maybe.

I believe that Stern knows what he is doing, he is a smart man and hopefully can make this more fun to watch and not so dominated by the refs. The lock outs that have happened under his reign will tarnish his legacy but the outcome of this one I think will define just how much of an impact it makes, it could be a little side note or it could be the main story. It is not easy to run a league I could imagine and I would not want to be in the shoes of either of the commissioners but I can share my opinion on how to improve them, interjecting a fans point of view. So does the new CBA need to introduce a new NBA? Yes, unless it wants the ratings to stay the same as it is now, maybe even decline a little. Hey, I could be wrong but I think a competitive NBA is a good NBA.