ShareBullets: Defensive Drafting of the Mind
A D.C. basketball court picture, some words, a link, some words about links, commentary, NBADRAFTGOOGLESEO, and some more links…
[Alice Deal H.S. – Washington, D.C. – photo: K. Weidie]
At the risk of sounding expected and generic in critiquing a general sports column meant to appeal to the masses that was unexpectedly generic (at least according to what should be expected of the Washington Post), I’ll point out Jason Reid’s column in the Post last Monday about this new and innovative concept in the NBA called “defense” (sometimes spelled with a capital ‘D’), and how the Wizards should, you know, draft for it, with a very long-winded introductory sentence to this bloggy post of links.
“While he prepares for next month’s NBA draft, Washington Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld should consider defense.”
Splendid. I considered spending $10 for a crab cake sandwich from the fine dining institute of Ollie’s Trolley in downtown D.C. for lunch last week, but chose life. Hopefully Grunfeld more strongly considers Reid’s advice. If not, Reid expands on his theory about defense to begin paragraphs four and five of his column. Let’s read, since doing so is fundamental:
“Regardless of the path he chooses, however, improving Washington’s defense should be high on Grunfeld’s checklist.”
Got it. After considering defense, Grunfeld should really write that consideration down. What else?
“Defense should be on Grunfeld’s mind whenever he reads scouting reports or analyzes video of top prospects.”
Sweet. This is really driving home the point. In fact, if I owned the Wizards, I’d go so far as to put “Defense” in the footer of all franchise print-outs. (Actually, strike that. This is important stuff, better make it the header too.) And in scouting video, I’d subliminally splice “Defense” in black text over a white background in every twentieth frame (but only for clips of those those who can actually defend, else Mr. Grunfeld might get tricked).
But that’s not all… what else should Grunfeld do? Reid writes:
“And if players express lack of interest in defense during pre-draft interviews, Grunfeld’s interest in them should wane.”
Good tactic, but I’ve got a better option. If a player so much as hesitates when asked about defense, throw a full glass of water in his face, leave the room, and turn off the lights. If there’s a better way to deal with those who express a lack of interest in defense during a verbal interview, then someone please tell me.
Kidding aside, Reid’s valid points are this… What has Grunfeld ever considered? His draft history is inconsistent, albeit decently filled with late picks who have stuck around for much longer than expected, with a couple hidden gems. Make of this sample what you will (with ordered draft position in parentheses): T.J. Ford (#8), Greg Anthony (#12), Marcus Haislip (#13), Nick Young (#16), JaVale McGee (#18), Oleksiy Pecherov (#18), John Wallace (#18), Walter McCarty (#19), Hubert Davis (#20), Dontae’ Jones (#21), Monty Williams (#24), Charlie Ward (#26), Peter John Ramos (#32), Dan Gadzuric (#33), Szymon Szewczyk (#35) DeMarco Johnson (#38), Ronald “Flip” Murray (#41), Michael Redd (#43), Sean Marks (#44), Dominic McGuire (#47), Vladimir Veremeenko (#48) Jason Hart (#49), and Andray Blatche (#49).
The 2011 Draft is not about going after the top defensive talent that will achieve the highest potential the quickest to best fill a team need. Well, it’s kind of about that, but it’s also about not drafting basketball cretins, on the court and off. This area, according to that resume, is where Grunfeld could improve. Yes, Monty Williams is a coach and Greg Anthony is analyzing basketball on T.V., but also, Dontae’ Jones was suspended for spitting at opposing fans (Miami Heat fans) before ever playing a game, John Wallace idolized Derrick Coleman, Andray Blatche is Andray Blatche, Oleksiy Pecherov got buckets without really getting buckets, and JaVale McGee is calling himself “Pierre” these days.
Grunfeld has shown he can build ‘okay’ teams in New York, Milwaukee and Washington, but that he might be much better at tearing apart what he’s constructed (at least in D.C.). Player development and health care in the nation’s capital under his reign have also been average, at best. Now that the company line is “Build through the draft,” he better bring his best hammer.
And on speculation surrounding Grunfeld’s most important assignment, Ted Leonsis writes in his blog:
“Mock drafts. Expert opinions. From some folks who have never seen a player play, they speak with conviction about players; what they are good at; and what is happening behind close doors. I love this Internet thing!
This is all great for generating interest and speculation but I am always surprised by the deep held convictions some people have about players they have never even seen play in real time; never met; and never scouted. Never talked to teammates, coaches and doctors.”
This is to say, ‘Trust us.’ And well, under the Grunfeld administration under Leonsis, there are no complaints at all about Kevin Seraphin, Trevor Booker and Hamady N’diaye (John Wall, a clear No. 1 pick, doesn’t count toward recent draft accreditation). All three have given the impression, in my past year of intensely watching and covering them as Wizards, of solid people with strong promise as players. The resume of previous Grunfeld picks is fun to reference, but it has no bearing going forward.
Maybe the lesson is: don’t go chasing upside waterfalls when that very upside could occasionally defecate in the source of said waterfall, sometimes literally. Draft for smarts, draft for hustle, and oh yea, make sure they play defense. Grunfeld got off to a great second-life start last year, but now is the time for more. The intelligence on drafting intelligence must be more intelligent than ever.
People are buzzing, perhaps too much, about Florida State’s Chris Singleton leading up to the draft… He’s been working out at Tim Grover’s gym in Chicago and is writing a draft diary for SLAM.
NBA Player X certainly has a lot of interesting things to say, this is one of them:
“Let me tell you American basketball’s dirty little secret: Our coaches are terrible. And not just in the NBA. Coaches across the whole game stink — high school, AAU, college. They’ve grown fat on our natural athletic abilities, and they’ve gotten lazy. Nobody coaches fundamentals anymore. We might as well rename the NBA the AABA: African-American Basketball Association. (I’m black, by the way.) It’s basically a very talented street-ball league. Americans simply can’t dribble, pass, work the post or shoot the rock as well as our foreign counterparts, like Dirk Nowitzki.”
But not necessarily so says TrueHoop:
As it happens, a blog called In the Game just published a whole bunch of stats comparing different international basketball leagues, and the results contradict Player X fairly convincingly.
The NBA was compared with the Euroleague, EuroCup, Greek, Spanish, German league, Israeli, Belgian, French, Adriatic, Italian, Turkish and Eastern-European leagues.
One league is by far the best in the world when it comes to both free-throw percentage and 3-point field goal percentage: The NBA.
Tit for Tat between a team owner and covering media isn’t just an isolated incident, it’s necessary to publicly hash out the conversation in the face of this historically changing media environment. Plus, sometimes it’s fun. Dan Steinberg in covering Ted Leonsis’ dealings/thoughts on the media:
“…maybe I don’t know enough Caps season-ticket holders, but the idea that more Caps [fans] get information from Ted’s Take and team e-mails than from ESPN and ESPN.com, or from Yahoo! sports, or from local TV news or free papers or WTOP, is extremely hard for me to believe. Maybe it depends what the definition of “fan” is. Or the definition of “information.””
LeBron is going bald, via his headband timeline.
[The Basketball Jones]
NHL or NBA in Baltimore? A big maybe.
Dunno why, but Pau Gasol looks like he just smelled the fart of a Frenchman in this photo.
[The Basketball Jones]
The top 20 worst Jay-Z songs… pretty spot on.
[The Smoking Section]