Thursday, June 26, 2008

Initial Draft Reactions

Since people don't come here for anything but Kansas perspective, we'll keep my thoughts (almost) entirely focused on the ex-Jayhawks. But just to lead you into thought #1, my only real question mark in this draft so far is Augustin to Charlotte a #9. So I guess they're giving up on 2005 top 5 pick, Ray Felton? Also, if I'm the nets I would have taken Arthur over Lopez, but that's entirely understandable.

Reaction # 1 - Brandon Rush is taken 13th by the Trail Blazers. You have top be happy for Brandon going to Portland as an absolutely PERFECT fit. He can come in and not be expected to do to much, but will be an outstanding 6 man for a team that's ready to win, if not now, soon. Couldn't be happier.

-Reaction # 2 - Not so thrilled about Rush's trade to Indiana. Aside from feeling bad for him going to a worse team, I just don't understand the move. Indiana got Bayless, someone thought to be a possible top 5 pick and needed a guard anyway. So they give up exactly what they wanted just to get a worse PG (Jack) and Rush, even though they already have Danny Granger, Mike Dunleavy and Brandon's brother, Kareem. But like I said, even more than that it just sucks that he has to leave a team that's poised to become a serious contender for the lowly Pacers.

Reaction # 3 - I might dislike Stu Scott even more than Stephen A Smith.

Reaction # 4 - Why in the hell has Darrell Arthur not been drafted? Others could have taken him, but these are the ones I truly don't understand:

- Golden State (14): You're ready to win now and you run an offense that needs athletic bigs that can run the floor and shoot it - arguably Arthur's best attributes. Instead, you take Anthony Randolph - a guy who could do those things if he happens to develop. But first things first, he needs to reach 200 pounds...

(Side Note: Phoenix (15): I understand not taking Arthur as they already have Stoudemire, but how do they pass on Chalmers for Robin Lopez? Could there be a better fit for their offense as a backup to Steve Nash or even playing with Nash if Barbosa is out? Phoenix is another team that needs to win now and all they did was improve their post defense for 15 minutes or so a game. Chalmers would have GREATLY improved their perimeter defense and given them a lot of offense, as well as much-needed depth for a point guard in his mid-thirties and with back problems.)

- Washington (18): Again, a playoff ready team that needs inside scoring and they take JaVale McGee?! Clearly he's an athlete with potential, but Arthur can already do most of the things they hope McGee will someday be able to. Then again, I guess McGee does have longer arms, so I guess it makes perfect sense...

- Cleveland (19): Your entire offense is giving LeBron the ball and setting screens for him. And let's see, what's the perfect way to help free LeBron off those picks? Guess 1: Have a threat to pick and pop. Guess 2 : Have a threat to pick and roll. For some reason I think Darrell Arthur can do both of these things better than JJ Hickson. Again, a team that needs to win now (if they have any hope of keeping LeBron) and they take a project. Unreal.

- New Jersey (21): I understand the Ryan Anderson pick. I didn't understand why all of these people were projecting him as a second round player, but he still doesn't make more sense than Arthur as he is the exact same player as Yi Jianlin, who they just acquired. Arthur, on the other hand, would make a perfect 4 to compliment Lopez at the 5 - that's a front court that could score a bit.

(Side thought: Okay so the Stu Scott/Screamin A thing is more like a wash. But they both continue to achieve new levels of douchetitude.)

- Orlando (22): Again, I don't dislike the Courtney Lee pick. They need a shooting guard. But how much better do they get if they can plug in Arthur at the 4 so that Lewis and Turkoglu can quit playing so out of position? I say it semi-eliminates their need for a shooting guard and ho is to say that they couldn't get a serviceable one later when you have the chance to take a lottery talent as opposed to a guy many thought was a second round pick.

-Seattle (24): Serge Ibaka could be a great player. I really have no idea. But he won't even be in the country for a few years. Why not pay a player that you know is already great and be able to coach him yourself?

Houston (25): Same story with Nicolas Batum. I'm sure they've heard goo things and he'll likely become a NBA player some day. You know, once he actually moves to the U.S.

FINALLY - New Orleans (27) takes Arthur. Unfortunately he's heading to Portland, per the proposed trade. Let me first say that he would be a great pick for New Orleans to run the floor with CP3. And honestly I don't think he fits Portland as well as they already have LaMarcus Aldridge as a somewhat skinny, scoring 4. But since Kevin Pritchard is one of only a few competent GMs in the league, he probably figured that at pick 27 you can't pass up someone who could (would) have been a top-10 pick if not for some kidney test. And let me also say that if the test he took in Washington truly came back fine and they didn't tell anyone, that is more than fucked up. If they were doing it for selfish reasons to take him themselves I would understand, but since they passed on him for JaVale "only Nevada recruited me" McGee, then it's just fucked up. Then again, that's on him (and moreso his agent) to get that information out there...

Reaction # 5 - Is there any way Danny Ainge is smart enough to take Chalmers #30? As I argued in my draft profile, I'd say he's every bit as good as Rondo, but even though they have similarities, they could make a great combo and Chalmers would be a big upgrade over the House/Cassell backup tandem.

Reaction # 6 - WHOA! Ex-Jayhawk JR Giddens is the pick of the Boston Celtics. To be honest, I like the pick as a team looking to the future since Ray Allen likely doesn't have many more years on those ankles.

At the end of the first round, my main reaction is pretty much what it is every year and that is that agents and possibly even NBA GMs should be shot for lying to these kids. Personally, I never understood how Chalmers could go from a fringe first round pick to landing in the lottery, but clearly that's what he, and even Chad Ford, was told. In their defense though, this is just more proof that this draft is done worse than any of the others. First, they exploit the kids my making them go to college for one year, no matter how little interest they have in school. And secondly, why in the shit are these guys given two months to decide if they want to be in the draft. That's 60 plus days after the season of agents and GMs lying to them, eventually causing several to seriously damage their future. If you can't tell, I think the whole thing makes even less sense than the BCS.

Reaction # 7 - In looking at the next five picks (Portland, Minnesota, LA Clippers, Charlotte, and Chicago), I really don't see where Mario is going. The Blazers really don't need one, Minny already took Mayo (and has Foye/McCants), Charlotte already has Felton and now Augustin, and the Bulls already took Rose even though they had Hinrich, Duhon and Gordon. Yikes.

Reaction # 8 - Well, I guess the T-Wolves didn't care that they already had Mayo, Foye, & McCants, because they just took Chalmers. Well, if he had to go in the 2nd, at least it was early. I won't say "I told you so," but to be honest, he has to be wondering if he made the right choice. I always got the feeling from Bill that he didn't agree with the decision, but it's hard to argue when he's being told possible lottery. Too bad...

Reaction # 9 - And there goes DeAndre Jordan. Now there's a guy who went from lottery lock to second round. Fortunately, it was no one's fault but his own. I feel bad for the kid, but honestly, he never looked like he gave a damn in college and that was the basic report from his workouts as well. It'll be interesting to see if he ever pans out.

Well, that'll wrap it up for the time being. We'll check back in at the end of the draft to see if either Jackson or Kaun is selected. I'll also be curious to see where CDR ends up going. That guy can play and if he doesn't get taken because he's a little unorthodox, that's crazy. All in all, it hasn't been a great night for the ex-Jayhawks. As recently as Wednesday, Ford/Simmons had all three in the lottery and in the end, only Brandon was so fortunate. Darnell getting taken would lessen the blow a bit for fans, but likely won't help DA or Mario much. I mean, they did everything right by not signing agents at first so they could gauge their value - they got told they were possible lottery and then end up falling to 27 and 34.

**Post-edit** Jail-Blazers return as they take Joey Dorsey. Good to see CDR go. He should grab a roster spot there with the Nets. Also, it's worth mentioning that Pee Pants Walker has yet to be drafted as of pick 43. Never been a huge fan of the guy, but I hate to see this...

Reaction #10 - Proposed trade of Mario to the Heat. Love this trade for him. I'm not sure if he'll start right away, but I can see him being a perfect point guard to play alongside Dwyane Wade. Not to mention, Beasley and the Matrix. Good spot to land for Mario and I fully expect him to get a guaranteed contract.

Reaction #11 - Darnell Jackson goes #52 to Miami and this is the happiest I've been all night. I can't tell you how much he deserves this and how hard I'll be rooting for him to make it. I know this much, that's a guy I'd want on my team. My gut instinct is that he'll be the last Jayhawk taken as Kaun has such a large contract in Russia that no NBA team will be able to match. We'll see though...

Reaction #12 - And I'm wrong again. Sasha Kaun goes #56 to the Sonics. We probably won't see him in OKC for a few years, given his recently signed 3 year contract, but still good to see. That makes 5 Jayhawks taken, tying the record set by UCONN two years ago and matched by Florida last year. (Note: If you count Giddens, that's 6. But we won't, because he is now a Lobo.)

So I guess the final thoughts on tonight is that it ended up pretty good. Brandon obviously had the best night of anyone. Mario and (hopefully) Darnell will likely be on the best team. Sasha will have a chance to develop before coming back to play with Durant in OKC. And then there's DA. You have to feel for DA right now, both because of how far he fell and that he has to play in Portland where they already have Aldridge. But if he can find a way to contribute and get himself ready for that second contract, that's where the money is anyhow. Best of luck to all. And Rock Chalk!

**Second Edit** So I just woke up to the news that Darrell was traded twice more last night, effectively making him a member of 4 different teams last night. The best thing about it is that he got out of Portland, where he really didn't fit a need. The worst is that he ended up in Memphis. But even though they're likely to lose, whereas Portland may have won, I think this works out better for him in the long term. So now he'll team with the also newly traded OJ Mayo to join Rudy Gay, Hakim Warrick and Mike Conley to form a decent nucleus. I think all five of those guys are pretty decent, but a long story short, that team isn't winning any time soon.

Also reported this morning was that both Darnell Jackson and Sasha Kaun were traded to the Cavaliers, making it so that all five drafted Jayhawks were traded at least once last night. And of course, Arthur was involved in three of them on his own. The final tally (as of this morning, at least):

Brandon Rush - Indiana Pacers
Darrell Arthur - Memphis Grizzlies
Mario Chalmers - Miami Heat
Darnell Jackson - Cleveland Cavaliers
Sasha Kaun - Cleveland Cavaliers (after Russia)

The best thing about where all of these guys ended up is that all should be able to make the roster, and Rush, Arthur and Chalmers should be competing for big time minutes as well.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

NBA Draft Profile: Mario Chalmers

As you've likely surmised by now, we're running a bit behind on our attempt to preview all Jayhawks hoping to be drafted on Thursday. However, we made a promise to at the very least do a feature on those expecting a first round selection and if nothing else, we are true to our word. Today your featured Jayhawk is none other than Mario "The Shot" Chalmers.

Before we get to Chalmers, though, congratulations are in order for one Sasha Kaun who recently penned a contract in his native Russia that will pay him $1,047,042 each of the next three years. However, he can still be drafted Thursday and just as with other international players, the team that drafts him will hold his rights to eventually bring him over. From the sounds of things, it seems like he did hurt his draft chances by signing this contract, but it's hard to blame him as there aren't many professions paying you a mil per year for at least three years and the NBA will always be there.

The other hopefuls, Darnell Jackson and Russell Robinson have signed no such contracts. Projections still seem to list Jackson as late second round selection and Robinson on the outside looking in. I'd be surprised if he didn't get a few tryouts for a free agent contract, however, I think he is better suited to head overseas for a bit.

Now, without further commotion, the NBA Draft Profile on the one and only, Mario Chalmers…

I, for one, have always thought that Chalmers had all of the tools to be a very solid NBA contributor. Apparently the general public did not subscribe to that same school of thought until he made a three pointer. A three pointer that was well guarded and tied the national championship game with 2 seconds left in regulation and sent an entire fan base into euphoria, but a three pointer all the same. Up until this moment, Chalmers was considered an early to mid second round pick, well behind Arthur and Rush and often behind Collins as well. Between that shot and a few weeks of workouts, he has now been projected as high as #12 to Sacramento, ahead of all other Jayhawks. Granted that is only one projection and in nearly every other he is behind both Arthur and Rush, but still…crazy how perception can change.

Despite most of Chalmers' publicity coming from that one shot, I don't think this attention is unwarranted. This rings especially true to me after watching Rajon Rondo be an integral part of the recently crowned NBA champion, Boston Celtics. Remember, it wasn't long ago that Rondo and his Kentucky teammates were humiliated in Allen Fieldhouse by the freshman led team of Brandon Rush, Mario Chalmers and Julian Wright. This particular day was Brandon's, but the point still resonates. When you consider the things that Rondo was drafted for and what he has done well, the primary considerations are defense and his enormous hand size. As far as I know, Mario doesn't have freakish hands, but he sure does have some long arms and uses them to play some pretty spectacular defense. Given that they're both listed at roughly 6'1" and 170 lbs., let's go ahead and call the size factor a wash. If you want to debate defensive merits, I'd probably say Rondo is better on ball, while Mario is better off the ball. I'd say both have their own level of value and again call this a wash.

But as we all know, as overall players they really aren't all that similar. Most of what Rondo does offensively is geared around running the offense by getting into the lane with either the intent to finish or distribute. The kindest thing to say about his outside shot is that it's not his strong suit. Chalmers, on the other hand, has been playing off the ball and has scored a great deal of his points from the three point arc. However, at the pro level, his size will likely move him back to the point, a position he played in high school but moved away from in college, due to sharing the backcourt with Russell Robinson and Sherron Collins. But with that three guard rotation, it's not exactly like he hasn't handled the ball since high school. In fact, he actually led the team (and nearly the league) in assist:turnover ratio last year at 2.25. For comparison, Ty Lawson was slightly ahead of him at 2.32, while the lottery-projected DJ Augustin and Derrick Rose were behind him at 2.1 and 1.8, respectively. This certainly isn't the only indicator of point guard success but it certainly sheds some light on the question; can Chalmers really run the point?

Because if he can, with his scoring ability and defensive prowess he becomes a no-brainer. He can dribble with either hand, he can get into the lane, he's an extremely gifted passer and along with all of those things, he has a shot defenders will have to respect. He probably won't be Chris Paul or Deron Williams, but as I alluded to above, there's no reason to think he can't immediately be as good as or better than Rondo. I doubt he's ever a franchise PG or maybe even an all-star, but with adequate minutes, I can see him posting a pretty consistent line of 10(p)-6(a)-4(r)-2(s). And that last sequence really comes to the crux of Mario; he does a little bit of everything. Aside from individual games, his stats are rarely going to jump off the page at you, but he has an innate ability to contribute in nearly every way, especially in the big moments (as you may have heard about lately). His knack for baiting players and even officials, combined with his overall drive and skill set make Mario an ideal player to have on any team. He may not have the physical presence that will allow him to carry a team, but he has every ability to be either an incredible bench player or a solid starter for years to come.

One thing we know for sure, there will never be another Mario Chalmers.

** Post-edit **

It seems hard to believe and personally I don't see it happening (though it's tough to argue with any other than Mario at #12), but the Bill Simmons/Chad Ford mock draft that took place today had Arthur, Chalmers and Rush going 10 (Nets), 12 (Kings), & 13 (Blazers), respectively. I'm not sure if it will pan out exactly like that, but it's certainly going to end up a whole lote more accurate than what The Big Lead is working on... And let's just say that I'm a little embarrased to even be dignifying Ian Thomsen's latest by mentioning it here...

Monday, June 16, 2008

NBA Draft Profile: Brandon Rush

And we're back to the hardwood. As you all know, today is the last day for underclassmen to pull out of the upcoming NBA Draft. However, as you also know, Mario Chalmers decided against doing so. Best of luck to you, Mario! We here at IBT will be rooting for you for years to come, hopefully not as a member of the San Antonio Spurs.

If you're interested, it appears that purple school down the river lost their last remaining hope of being competitive next year. Despite another knee injury, Bill Walker will stay in this year's NBA Draft. Fare thee well, Pee Pants, we hardly knew ye…

Roy and the Tar Heels luck was quite the opposite, as Lawson, Ellington and Green all pulled their names out of the draft to return to Chapel Hill. Memphis' Robert Dozier is also coming back and though he doesn't get his own link, his coach has high expectations for him,
"I want Robert to come back with two things in mind -- to help the team win a national championship and become the player of the year in college basketball," Memphis head coach John Calipari said in a statement. Piece of cake.

And lastly, before we get to Brandon Rush's draft profile, it seems that a default judgment has been issued against Sherron Collins in the amount of $75,000. Apparently, Collins (or his attorney) did not respond too the summons. By the way, if you can get through that report without laughing, you are a better man than I. (Also worth noting: alleged incident, May 17, 2007 --- court case filed for money, May 14, 2008 (aka: Finals week).

Without further ado, here is the NBA Draft Profile of Mr. Brandon Rush…

As we've all heard ad nausea, this isn't Rush's first go round in the NBA Draft. He originally declared out of prep school before removing his name and enrolling at Kansas for a presumed one and done campaign. Despite having a great freshman season and leading the Hawks in scoring and rebounding, Rush decided that he needed at least another year in Lawrence before chasing his NBA dreams. As expected, he again led the team in scoring his sophomore season and after a tough defeat to UCLA in the Elite 8 he decided to test the NBA draft waters. Fortunately, for all of us, and even for him, he tore his ACL during a pre-draft workout and subsequently pulled his name out of the draft and began rehabbing for his third season in a Jayhawk uniform. We all know what happened after that…

Rush is a hard case to figure as far as projecting to the NBA. Not whether or not he'll be successful (he will), but to what extent. On the one hand, I've always thought it suited him better than the college game as there is much less zone defense and a typically spread out floor. As someone who has a dead-eye shot, but a little trouble handling in traffic, this seems ideal. Add to that his unreal athletic skill and ability to defend and you have yourself a surefire NBA contributor. To put it simply, even if Rush's game never improves dramatically; there's no reason to think he can't enjoy a career mirroring Raja Bell.

But can he do more? Does he want to? No one who has watched Rush will question either his competitiveness or desire. When the Hawks were struggling, he was often the player who would hit a shot or make a move to the basket to try and get them going again. He gives of a very ho-hum vibe, but if you've really watched him, you know that the emotions do come out. I, however, completely disagree when all the "experts" talk about him as a guy who wants the ball in the big moments. Anyone who watched the Hawks over the past three seasons knew that simply wasn't true for Brandon and that some guy named Chalmers actually fit that bill. My guess is that the rest of the nation now knows this as well. Regardless, Brandon is a great competitor and will do what it takes to win.

Off the court, we never really knew until this off-season. To be perfectly honest, I'm not sure I saw any improvement from his freshman to his sophomore year. I'm sure Bill Self and better basketball people than I will tell you differently, but from my perspective, he was pretty much the same player. However, between his sophomore and junior years, he showed me all he needed to. In addition to somehow rehabbing from an ACL tear in just five months, he also improved several dimensions of his game. Granted, he still doesn't drive as much as he should (could), but when he was playing well this year and taking it to the hole, he seemed to have another element to his game; passing. This isn't to say that Rush wouldn't or couldn't pass before his junior campaign, but that he got noticeably better at it this year. During his first two years, if Brandon was taking the ball into the paint he was going to pull up for either a jumper or charge in for a floater. By improving his ball-handling skills and overall court awareness, he has now added the ability to kick out to either side of the court, making him much more difficult to defend when he's driving the lane. Note to NBA defenders though; if you're not crowding Rush, you're playing him all wrong. He's certainly improved these areas of his game, but shooting is still his strength and he can definitely be frustrated into a bad night, especially if he's not hitting shots early.

Now I know I called him Raja Bell earlier, but defensively, the jury is still out. I say this only because of his surgery. I'm not sure we ever saw Rush at 100% this year and at times that cost him on the defensive end. Assuming he gets back to full strength, this can and likely will be what keeps him in the league for a long time. With his athleticism, arm length and lateral quickness, he will be able to defend most twos and threes. To go along with this asset, it should be mentioned that Rush has always been a great rebounder from the guard position. I doubt he ever puts up many double figure nights, but with ample playing time, you can expect him to get his share. I'd say anywhere in the 4-6 range seems entirely reasonable.

Much like was the case with Arthur, I'm sure you knew before reading a word that I thought Rush was on his way to a solid pro career. I think I've reinforced that opinion with some legitimate arguments though, and I'd love to hear what you think as well. Will Brandon be the next Raja Bell? Will he be better? Worse? No matter what happens in the end game, he leaves college as a national champion, beloved Jayhawk and on the verge of being a very rich man.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Tough at the Top

Since football season is barely 80 days away we thought this a good time to take a quick break from our NBA draft profiling to offer up a quick insert on IBT's perspective of the upcoming Big 12 race. Going into the season it appears that the league has 5 teams firmly entrenched in the Top 15 in the nation. Throw in a few others that have a chance to improve and it looks like the conference will be even more competitive than it was a year ago. Lest we forget that last year the league went 5-3 in bowl games and that is factoring in Big Game Bob's post-2000 annual protest of the BCS. Building upon that success, I would say that nine teams are likely to be bowl eligible this year…

Oklahoma: Despite their apparent unwillingness to show up for bowl games any more, OU has done little to show me that they don't deserve to be at the top of the conference as of now. However, we saw what their offense looked like without Sam Bradford under center, so they would be wise to protect him at all costs. Something else interesting to watch will be how they will adjust to their newly installed no-huddle offense. Then again, Kansas seemed to make the adjustment pretty seamlessly last year so there's little reason to think the Sooners won't be able to do likewise.

Tough ones: Red River Shootout
Losable: Kansas, @ KSU, Texas Tech, @ OSU (And you wonder why they're a chic pick for the national title)
Predicted: 11-1

Methzouri: This is not to signify that they're the second best team, but rather that two south teams can't play for the title and as of now, we have more reason to believe they, and not our beloved Jayhawks, will play at Arrowhead twice this year. With that said, they have some questions to answer after losing some key parts from their offensive line last year. And to a much lesser extent, they have some skill positions to replace, starting with Rucker, Temple and Franklin. As you'll notice below, though, they have an incredibly easy road schedule.

Tough ones: Neutral v. Illinois, @ Texas, Kansas @ Arrowhead
Losable: @ Nebraska (for now we're saying Nebraska in Lincoln isn't a cakewalk – that could certainly change)
Predicted: 10-2

Texas: With Will "Boom Muthafucka!" Muschamp (EDSBS) at the helm you have to expect the defense to be vastly improved. And assuming that's the case, Texas better work fast in putting together a whole team because Muschamp could be a prime head coaching candidate if he enjoys similar success as in season's past. Offensively, you know they'll have the athletes. They'll also have a third year quarterback, not to mention Chiles waiting in the wings to spell him with Vince like speed. I can't say the schedule stacks up in their favor though.

Tough ones: @ Colorado, Red River Shootout, Methzou, @ Texas Tech, @ Kansas
Losable: Texas A&M (Horns fans hope that with Fran gone, maybe they can start beating the Ags again)
Predicted: 9-3

Kansas: As alluded to above, they're no higher than second in the North pecking order. Some would likely even argue they will end up lower. And with this year's slate, that may be a valid argument. But as a team coming off a 12-1 Orange Bowl championship season and returning most of the key pieces, they get the benefit of the doubt until proven otherwise. Defensively they lost Talib and McClinton, their two best, but return starters at every other position, not to mention nearly the entire second string, so they'll be both experienced and deep on this side of the ball. Offensively, it's all about the tackles. Sure, they lost their primary back and #1 receiver, but the replacements at those positions will be more than serviceable. However, if this offense is going to succeed, it's going to have to get solid play at the tackle positions, where Cesar Rodriguez and Anthony Collins were so stable a year ago.

Tough ones: @ South Florida, @ Oklahoma, Texas Tech, @ Nebraska, Texas, Methzou @ Arrowhead
Losable: @ ISU (Colorado and KSU were considered here as well, but given that they're both in Lawrence, it seems like if KU has any chance of putting together another good season, those have to be sure wins.)
Predicted: 9-3

Texas Tech: And now we get to everyone's cliché pick to finally break out of their 9-3 mold. Consistently the nation's best offense is supposed to now be joined by a much improved defense, led by their beloved Coach Ruffin, who was promoted mid-season last year. Apparently, the Red Raiders led the conference in defense after his promotion (8 games). However, what these experts are failing to consider is the opponent in these games. We here at IBT will not make the same mistake. Of the 8 games played, in 3 of them they allowed a mere 7 points; the opponents were Northwestern St, Baylor and A&M. Only the latter of that list does much for me. In the other five, they played Iowa St., Colorado, Methzou, Texas and OU and gave up 17, 31, 41, 59 and 27 points, respectively. That averages out to a solid 35 ppg and the 27 given up to OU was when the Sooners were sans Sam Bradford. Call me crazy, but I'm going to have to see this defense contain a legitimate opponent or two before I put too much faith in Tech as a genuine contender. Contrarily, I'd expect Harrell and Crabtree to light up the scoreboard no matter who they're playing.

Tough ones: @ A&M, @ Kansas, Texas, @ OU
Losable: @ KSU
Predicted: 9-3

It seems to me that after these five the cliff drops off a bit. However, one can hardly be too disappointed as all five of those teams are preseason top-15. From there, I would say the other teams likely to find their way into a bowl game would be Oklahoma State, Colorado, Texas A&M and possibly Nebraska or KSU. I highly doubt ISU or Baylor does much of anything outside of their own stadiums and even then I'm guessing the home crowds won't always get to leave drunk AND happy. Sometimes, maybe neither.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

NBA Draft Profile: DA

And so starts the draft profiling. We'll be offering up profiles of at least the three Jayhawks likely to be first round selections and, if time provides, also those hoping to be selected in the second round or sign via free agency. You can also find this post over at the fantastic college basketball blog, Rush the Court, where they are profiling all of the likely top first round selections, with the help of local blogs. Without further ado, the draft profile of Darrell Arthur...

Darrell Arthur is cheater! To all of the NBA GMs reading this: Do not draft him! When he was in high school, his math grade was changed from a D to a C. This is not a guy you want on your team. End of story.

All kidding aside, Darrell Arthur is a lottery pick. Because if he isn’t and DeAndre Jordan is, my head just might blow up. Granted, this would not be Bowie over Jordan or Darko over Carmelo/Bosh, but it would be a travesty. Fortunately, that won’t happen because DA is built for pre draft workouts. He’s 6′9″, 225 pounds, runs better than any big in the game and can jump out of the gym. Long story short, he already has the perfect NBA body and once (if) he adds 10-15 pounds to the frame, he’ll have that too. You throw in the ability to handle the ball, a few good post moves and an unbelievably smooth jumper and you’ve got yourself a workout specimen.

But will it translate to NBA success? The short answer is “yes.” A longer answer is “yes, but not right away.” And the longest answer is the one you’re going to get.

I would be willing to argue that of the big men in this draft, no one outside of Michael Beasley has a better offensive arsenal than Arthur. Unfortunately, one of the big separating points between him and Beasley is that he can’t really create off the dribble. As you may know, Beasley can. As you may also know, in the 1-on-1 age of the NBA this could be an issue. But then again, Tim Duncan, Elton Brand and David West aren’t making their millions by taking people off the dribble, either. Now, Arthur is not and will never be Tim Duncan. But Elton Brand isn’t out of reach and with a little work in the weight room, he can easily be David West. Chicago and Miami are probably looking to get more out of their picks but I can’t imagine too many other teams being very disappointed if they select a player who in his fourth year is named to the all star team, averages 21/9 and is the second best player on a team that finishes second in a stacked conference.

For any of that to happen, though, Arthur is going to have to make a commitment. As previously mentioned, he is going to have to add some muscle to his body. And with this added strength, he needs to develop an added emphasis on rebounding. For a guy with his size and athletic ability to only average 6 rebounds a game in college is unfathomable. Not only are the rebounds important but with his prowess around the basket, if he can find a way to start grabbing a couple on the offensive end, he would see a noticeable spike in his point production as well. Arthur is good offensively, but he isn’t good enough to outweigh being a rebounding liability at the power forward position. If he wants to crack a starting lineup, he needs to figure out a way to start pulling down 8 per game.

As alluded to earlier, the only real “weakness” in Arthur’s offensive game is his inability to make something happen off the dribble. But at power forward, that’s really more of a bonus rather than a necessity. The issue I have with him on this end of the court is his approach. This could partially be tied into his adding strength and focus on rebounding, but from a macro perspective, he just needs to look for more ways to score. As he plays now, he receives the ball on the block or the elbow and shoots either a jumper or a fadeaway. He’s incredibly good at both of these shots so he is able to score 13 points a game on a very balanced team. I’m not telling him to go out on the perimeter and look to stretch his range, but rather to make harder cuts or more importantly set some high elbow screens on which he can pick and pop. With as well as he runs the floor, if he expands his offensive game by also picking up some easy points on cuts and tip-ins, he could find himself at 20 points pretty regularly.

The one aspect of his game that I haven’t really mentioned is his defense. That’s partly because I’m not really sure how good he is or can be on that end of the court. And I’m having an especially hard time figuring out how well it will translate to the NBA. On the one hand, he has great instincts, long arms, a great vertical and he slides his feet as well or better than any other big man in the draft (possible exception of Mbah a Moute). But in spite of all those attributes, he consistently found himself in some foul trouble and was nothing more than a solid defender. If I had to guess, that’s what I would figure he’ll amount to at the next level as well – he’ll make some plays and he won’t be a true liability, but he’ll get scored on by the bigger forwards.

As you likely assumed before you even read a word of this, I’m high on Arthur’s NBA potential. And certainly there is a level of bias in that assumption. But more than that, I just feel like he’s at his best when he’s playing against the best. Look at his 20/10 against Memphis or during the regular season when he scored 20, 22, & 16 against Arizona, Texas & Texas again. If that’s not enough, look back to last year when in only his 6th game and in only 16 minutes he put up 19/9 in leading Kansas past the defending and eventual National Champion Florida Gators. It’s also worth noting that in that game he went up against two top 10 picks in Horford (9/8 ) and Noah (17/4), a second round pick in Chris Richard (2/5) and that Mareese Speights played 2 minutes, picking up 2 offensive boards and a foul while missing a shot. Darrell Arthur is ready to contribute now and when (if) he puts on some more muscle, he has every capability to be a major impact player.

Out of Chad Ford’s Top 15, with no regard to team need and simply by the requisite of ‘best player,” I’d put Arthur in the second tier…

Tier 1: Bayless, Beasley, Love, Mayo, Rose
Tier 2: Augustin, Arthur, Gordon, Lopez, Westbrook
Tier 3: Galinari, Greene, Jordan, Randolph, Speights

And personally, if it was me, I’d be more inclined to take Alexander, Rush, or even Koufos before most of those last five. But I digress. So like I said earlier, Darrell Arthur has every opportunity to succeed in the NBA. And now you know the long version of why I think that way. Just like in Algebra class, you’ve got to show your work.

Friday, June 6, 2008

FANtastic Friday...part deux

Before I get started, if you haven't read this ESPN article about the night beer and violence consumed an Indians/Rangers game, you should...a must read

We here at KJ-IBT are simple folk, busy toiling away during the work week at our simple jobs(ok, that is only me...the others have legitimately decent, high paying careers). So, when the weekend comes all we wanna do is get drunk, get blowed, spit shit, spark blunts and fuck hos(my first Tech N9ne reference, score!). This being another round of FANtastic Friday, we thought we would post some of our favorite pastimes...namely drinking, sexing and fighting. Oh yeah and golfing too....

Final Four loser Ty "Stringer"Lawson got picked up for a drinkin' and a drivin', something KJ-IBT knows a thing or two about(once again, mostly yours truly). In his free time he also likes to get used and abused by Sherron Collins. But, he also looks strikingly similar to Stringer Bell from The Wire, as shown above.
Diora Baird is hot and I really want to go golfing, and have sex with her and go's a vicious cycle, but you get the picture. What's that saying, if there is grass on the ball? Works for me.
Dodgers/Rockies Melee
Red Sox/Rays Brawl
Anytime you get a chance to punch Manny, you better connect, please please connect. I haven't been involved in fisticuffs many times in my day, but I do know it is better to punch with your eyes open.

Here's to a good weekend filled with our favorite pastimes for all of you(3 readers) out in interwebland.

gratuitous random hottie Alexis Thorpe

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

We found the WMDs

So pretty slow around here so I thought I would again try a captioning contest. Worked well last time as my only comment was ginger saying I was an an idiot but I am nothing if not persistent. So get ready for contest 2. I will buy beer for anyone who wins... strike that I will buy beer for anyone that posts a damn comment period.

Anyway this is from the J-Hawks visit to the white house the other day.

Starter captions...

-Good job on the championship guys, mission accomplished!
-In Crawford I am known as a bit of a baller, hehehe ( in jon stewart tone)
-I thought Cheney only had buckshot not basketballs, duck!