Friday, May 31, 2013

Friday Roundtable: Best NBA Coaching Hire Thus Far

Mike Malone is heading from Golden State to another California team as the new head coach of the Sacramento Kings. (

BDD's Friday Roundtable is a weekly discussion among a group of our writers on a trending NBA or college basketball topic.

This week's question: Phoenix, Charlotte, Sacramento and Atlanta all hired new head coaches for next season. Which hire will turn out to be the best for the team?

I love Hornacek-to-Phoenix, but the Sacramento Kings have quietly made a coaching carousel coup by hiring Mike Malone. The former Golden State assistant is fresh off a strong run into the playoffs with a Warriors team featuring young principle players, much like the current Kings squad. Malone made a connection with turn-GSW guard Monta Ellis and Sacramento brass must be hopeful their new head coach can form the same kind of rapport with mercurial big man DeMarcus Cousins, while fostering a positive growth in the Kings' young backcourt.

Recent Kings coaches have not enjoyed long tenures or peaceful locker rooms. Enter Malone, who was recently part of turning another underachieving franchise in Northern California. Young, first-time head coaches always have a buzz around them, for better or worse, and pique the interest of the basketball community, free agents included. Malone's hiring makes Sacramento a slightly more appealing destination for players on the open market. Ellis is interested in re-connecting and, although bringing him in would conflict with Isaiah Thomas' development, it is a start for a suffering organization. With the Kings officially staying in SacTown, the pressure is on Malone to help steer the franchise in a winning direction. Some of the pieces are there, some still need to be acquired, but the biggest necessity has been fulfilled: getting a coach who has come out on top when encountering a situation like the one facing the Kings. Malone is that coach.

Right off the bat, I think you can remove Steve Clifford's name from contention. Not that I think he's a bad coach or will do a poor job, but he's walking into a nightmare in Charlotte with a team that has gone 28-120 the past two years. Clifford doesn't have much experience and even the league's best coaches would need a lot of time, patience and Tylenol to fix that program.

I actually like all three of the other hires, and since all three are first-time head coaches, it's difficult to predict which ones will adapt to the new leadership role the quickest and easiest.  I agree with Alex that both Jeff Hornacek and Mike Malone are strong fits with the Suns and Kings, but I also think Mike Budenholzer can be the type of coach the Atlanta Hawks need. Budenholzer does not have the name power of Hornacek, but he did spent the past 17 years with Gregg Popovich in San Antonio, and if there is a current coach in the league to study and learn from for 17 years, it's Popovich. More importantly, Budenholzer was not just present for the Spurs' championship years. He was on the sideline to experience that 20-62 team in 1996-97 and watch how it transformed into a frequent NBA Finals contender.

It depends on free agency, but most likely Budenholzer will have a more experienced squad than Hornacek and Malone, and definitely one that has seem more success than the Suns and Kings. But still Atlanta is looking to take that next step from just making the playoffs to winning and advancing, and Budenholzer may be the guy to do it.

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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Draft Profile: Steven Adams Surprises With Offensive Skills

In the run-up to the 2013 NBA Draft on June 27, the BDD staff will be profiling several projected lottery picks and other draft entrants. Next up: Steven Adams.

Steven Adams didn't have a stellar freshman year at Pitt, but his offensive potential is high. (

Position: Center
College: Pittsburgh
Current Draft Express Prediction: No. 16 in first round, No. 16 overall to the Boston Celtics

Synopsis: You can't teach height, and Steven Adams has plenty of it. You can teach offense, but Adams already has plenty of that, too. It didn't show up as much as many were expecting during his freshman season at Pitt, but he proved himself plenty during the NBA combine.

Adams was measured 7-feet tall with shoes on and 255 pounds at the combine. Pure 7-footers will usually find a place in the league, especially when they have the offensive game of Adams. He averaged 7.2 points and 6.3 rebounds per game last season at Pitt, but that was in an average of 23 minutes of playing time per game. Fans have  become spoiled by players coming in and succeeding right away in the first year of college, but those are exceptions, not rules. It takes time to adapt to a new style and level of play, as it did for Adams. That's the beauty of the combine. All the worries of the past season can be fixed with strong workouts, and Adams is proof of that.

Remember, he's only 19 years old. Yet multiple scouts and coaches have raved about his offensive talents. At this age, Adams has a tremendous amount of untapped potential. ESPN's Chad Ford said Adams was the winner of the first day of the combine, and showed his range by draining jump shots. The Celtics have been impressed, as both assistant coach Jay Larranaga and former player Brian Scalabrine have praised Adams' talent. Scalabrine told a Boston radio station, "I haven't seen him in action like five-on-five, but this kid would be a tremendous asset to the Celtics. He's strong and big and would take so much pressure off guys like Garnett. He's athletic and pretty intelligent and would fit in pretty well."

If he's still around at No. 16, Boston might be Adams' new home.

Quote to note: "I can say I was honestly stunned. Where did that come from? That's not something you develop with a few weeks with a trainer. He was way more skilled than we thought. That makes a huge difference in our evaluation of him." - an NBA general manager said of watching Adams' offensive ability during the combine, via Chad Ford.

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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Tim Duncan and Gregg Popovich Set Playoff Record In Spurs Style

Tim Duncan and Gregg Popovich have accomplished what no other player-coach duo has in NBA history. (

Tim Duncan and Gregg Popovich accomplished this feat in a very Duncan and Popovich manner.

They did it without a lot of flash, but they did it better than anyone else. They did it in a way that makes you feel surprised when you hear it. It can't possibly be right, until you think about it and realize it makes absolute sense.

ESPN Stats and Info tweeted before Monday's Spurs/Grizzlies game that Duncan and Popovich had won 128 playoff games, the most for a player-coach duo in NBA history. That number is now 129 and will surely rise more before the season is over.

That's more than Michael Jordan and Phil Jackson.

That's more than Red Auerbach and Bill Russell.

That's more than Magic Johnson and Pat Riley.

That's more than Karl Malone and Jerry Sloan.

You get the idea. That group is impressive company, yet there are other great duos that fall behind Duncan and Popovich in that category.

Yet either due to the style of play or the location of the team, the Duncan/Popovich duo never seems to be appreciated for the Spurs' postseason success the way the before mentioned duos were. They've won more playoff games than anyone else through consistency, experience and a style of play that would make James Naismith proud.

Duncan is the Big Fundamental, a lock for the NBA Hall of Fame, and Popovich the wizard with a secret to youthful stamina and getting a group of players to play like a team. They've been doing this since 1997, when Duncan was a rookie and Popovich was a second-year head coach. And it's not just playoff wins they have to show for it, it's four NBA Championships as well. Every year seems to be the year the Spurs, and Duncan, are too old (Duncan is 37) and yet here they are, off to the NBA Finals again. And here we are, surprised that they could be leading a statistic like the one above.

Right now Duncan and Popovich's workman-like mentality rubs off on us. They work hard and take care of business, not making more of the success than it is. The Spurs are in the NBA Finals again. That's what we've grown to know and expect as long as these two and guys like Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili are still playing.

Sometime in the near future, the time will have come where Duncan hangs up the jersey and Popovich sits somewhere other than the bench. Maybe in hindsight we will look back with less shock at that number and appreciate the success more.

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Monday, May 27, 2013

Draft Profile: Phil Pressey - Offense Initiator

In the run-up to the 2013 NBA Draft on June 27, the BDD staff will be profiling several projected lottery picks and other draft entrants. Next up: Phil Pressey.

Phil Pressey has experience leading an efficient offensive attack. (Dak Dillon/US Presswire)

Position: Point Guard
College: Missouri
Current DraftExpress Prediction: No. 21 second round, No. 51 overall to the Utah Jazz

Synopsis: His nickname is Flip. It's not quite as imposing as Pistol, but Phil Pressey is no Pete Maravich, either. He can make impressive passes yet he does not have the same scoring gene as Maravich, making him one of the closest prospects to a pure point guard in this year's NBA draft. Pressey recorded 240 assists in his junior year at Missouri, finishing behind only nine other D-I players in the statistical category, yet he did not crack the top 250 scorers on the NCAA's top level of competition. This is because Pressey was primarily busy advantageously facilitating the talented offensive pieces around him, posting final per-game lines of 11.9 points and 7.1 assists.
There will be worries about Pressey's size (5'11" with shoes, 177 lbs), but Hardwood Paroxysm's Kevin Hetrick found that size is often unimportant when it comes to translating a point guard's offensive game into NBA terms. Instead, for an upperclassman such as Pressey, agility is a more revealing statistic. Hetrick's correlation between NBA success and agility tilts in the Mizzou guard's favor. Though he did not rank near the top among players at his position, Pressey's 10.86 measurement is significantly better than the 11.15 combine average for point-men, according to DraftExpress. Coupled with his 3.13-second 3/4 court sprint — Hetrick also found a positive correlation with speed for point guards — Pressey could sneak into the first round or be a steal for a backcourt-needy team in the second round, in which he is likely to slide due to his "advanced" age of 22. 

Quote to note: "A lot of teams know what I'm capable of watching me play over my past three years at the University of Missouri, but what they didn't know is how I can pressure the ball and get into guys." - Pressey on his defense, a less talked about facet of his game, via

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Friday, May 24, 2013

Friday Roundtable: Predicting The Eastern And Western Conference Finals

Fact: Matt Bonner's New Balances do not add inches to his vertical leap. (

BDD's Friday Roundtable is a weekly discussion among a group of our writers on a trending NBA or college basketball topic.

This week's question: What teams will make it out of the Eastern Conference Finals and Western Conference Finals to face each other in the NBA Finals?

Eastern Conference Finals:

The Indiana Pacers will not fumble away a 2-1 series lead against the Miami Heat this season because they will never have one. It will take the Heat five more games to close out the Pacers, 4-2, featuring numerous nail-biters. Indiana is a team built to contend with the Heat. It is no fluke the Pacers have claimed a high playoff seed in consecutive seasons; they have even made strides this season, re-tooling the bench and advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals, though that may be due to the luck of not running into Miami in the semifinals again.

That being said, there is no team in the East capable of stopping LeBron James' march to a third consecutive NBA Finals appearance. He's playing too well and, along with a healthier-than-he's-looked-in-a-while Dwyane Wade, the Heat's supporting cast is full of players who could be starting on multiple teams if they played elsewhere: Shane Battier, Ray Allen, even late free agent pick-up Chris Andersen. Mario Chalmers' unavailability to play allowed Norris Cole to show the progressions he has made as a defender, which opens up even more doors for a team that's championed the "positional revolution."

Western Conference Finals: 

Oddly enough, the Pacers' Western Conference doppelganger is still in the title hunt, as well. The Memphis Grizzlies are a team with a high caliber defense and an offense that seemed to be climbing the ladder toward equal footing until the San Antonio Spurs made it sputter in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals. The Spurs' core cannot have much left in the tank, but this series is the reason why coach Gregg Popovich rested his stars during the regular season. San Antonio has the experience necessary to make it out of this series alive and, thanks to Pop, its players also have the requisite stamina. Memphis will have its time -- soon -- but when convincing arguments could be made for Tony Parker and Tim Duncan being viable league MVP candidates at separate times during this season, the Spurs are playing like (for lack of a better term) a team of destiny.

Eastern Conference Finals:

Indiana had plenty of chances to win game one of the series. There was a better chance of Mario Chalmers dunking on Roy Hibbert for the win than Ray Allen missing a free throw followed by Paul George hitting the desperation and tying 3-pointer after the Pacers ran around the perimeter for eight seconds. Yet that happened and still a blown defensive play allowed LeBron James one of the easier layups he will ever take to win the game.

The Pacers say it will make them better, more confident. It could also crush their spirits being so close to taking a critical early game on the road. This probably won't be a blowout series. Indiana has played well against the Heat and Hibbert's size can be an X factor down low. But the Pacers still look inexperienced and uncomfortable, as proven at the execution late in regulation and overtime. This series will be close, but Miami wins it in six.

Western Conference Finals:

It feels like it's been the "last ride" for the aging San Antonio Spurs stars for two or three years now. This is a young man's game and Tony Parker and Tim Duncan are running out of time. Well, maybe not quite yet. It's not time yet when Parker gracefully dishes out 18 assists and Duncan efficiently tallies 17 points and nine rebounds in game two of the Western Conference Finals. They've proven that.

Meanwhile, Memphis' offense is MIA as the Grizzlies have failed to crack 90 points in either game this series. Give credit to Popovich's defense and planning for that. Memphis needs more from its role players like Tony Allen and Tayshaun Prince if it hopes to get back into this series. Everyone was expecting Oklahoma City to meet Miami again in the NBA Finals, but I think the fans will do OK with a Spurs/Heat matchup after San Antonio finishes off this series with relative ease.

Eastern Conference Finals:

I see the Heat winning the series, but it might take them seven games. The Pacers lost Game 1 in overtime in Miami from a last second layup by LeBron James. However, this defeat did not demoralize the Pacers. After the game Pacers’ coach Frank Vogel said he was, "Very encouraged, our belief in our ability to beat this team has strengthened after Game 1. Our familiarity in the playoffs, in the playoff series grows with each day, grows with each game, and there's a lot of things we can definitely do better."

Even with the win, the Heat had a problem shooting the ball. Shane Battier went 0-4 and Ray Allen went just 1-8. If their shooters can “heat” up from outside, expect them to win in 7.

Western Conference Finals:

The Spurs are up 2-0, but the series is now heading back to Memphis. The Spurs have played great basketball. They are well coached and have the right players to make any adjustment that needs to be done.

When asked if the Grizzlies will make any big adjustments to their lineup, coach Lionel Hollins responded with, “It’s not something I’m ready to do. We want to come out and play much more aggressive, much more confident. There’s no need at this point to change the starting lineup. I mean, we lost an overtime game and we got blown out in a game. We’ve got to come here and hold serve. We have to play better obviously. We’ve got to play better earlier and we’ve got to play better later.”

The Spurs have looked great, but the Grizzlies have shown that they can grind out a game and get the win. Can they do that over a whole series to get into the NBA Finals? Spurs in 6.

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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Draft Profile: Small But Athletic Shane Larkin

In the run-up to the 2013 NBA Draft on June 27, the BDD staff will be profiling several projected lottery picks and other draft entrants. Next up: Shane Larkin.

Shane Larkin may not be 6 feet tall, but he is one of the most athletic players in the draft this year. (

Position: Point Guard
College: Miami
Current DraftExpress Prediction: No. 23 overall, No. 23 to the Indiana Pacers

Synopsis: Shane Larkin's physical qualities are both some of his biggest strengths and weaknesses. Larkin was measured at 5'11.5" with shoes on at the NBA draft combine, which will make him one of the smallest players on the court and could worry some teams. However, Larkin also recorded a 44-inch max vertical, which was the highest of the combine and second highest ever at the combine behind only former Kansas player Kenny Gregory, who had a 45-inch vertical. Larkin paired a high vertical with a great 3/4 court sprint time of 3.08 seconds. Larkin may be small, but he is athletic and that will make up for his lack of height.

On the court, Larkin was an offensive spark for Miami as a sophomore, leading the team with 14.5 points per game and 4.6 assists with eight games scoring more than 20 points. He was also a viable 3-point threat, hitting 40.6 percent of his threes last season. Most importantly, Larkin only turned the ball over an average of 2.3 times per game and he was forcing nearly that same amount by recording two steals per game.

Off the court might be another reason teams will be comfortable taking Larkin. It's well known that Larkin is the son of MLB Hall of Famer Barry Larkin, so Shane has spent his entire life around professional sports. The sport isn't the same, but Shane knows the environment, routine and what is expected from a professional athlete, so one would think the adjustment to professional basketball from an everyday life standpoint will be easier for Larkin than it may be for others.

Quote to note: “I knew I could jump. I knew I was fast. I didn’t think the teams knew how high I could jump, how athletic I was or how much I can bench press. So just being able to show that even though I’m a smaller guy, I can play above the rim and I’m strong enough to battle the big guards is a good thing.” - Shane Larkin on his athletic ability via the Chicago Sun-Times.

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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Letter Of Advice To Dan Gilbert As Cleveland Wins NBA Draft Lottery

Dan Gilbert's Cleveland Cavaliers just won the NBA draft lottery for the second time in three years. (

The Cleveland Cavaliers are familiar with this situation. They were here in 2003 and again in 2011. Now the Cavaliers have won the NBA draft lottery again, giving them the No. 1 pick in June's draft. It would make them seem lucky and happy if it wasn't failure that brought them here so many times.

The history is well known. Cleveland selected hometown hero LeBron James in 2003. James did not win a title in Cleveland and in 2010 he left for the Miami Heat and Cavs owner Dan Gilbert wrote an angry letter to the fan base in comic sans. The Cavaliers struggled without James and took Kyrie Irving with the first pick in 2011. That has worked out well in that Irving has grown into an All-Star caliber talent, but still the Cavs struggle. Now Cleveland will most likely draft Nerlens Noel in June, and rumors are circling that the Cavs might look to restore peace with LeBron and bring him back to Cleveland when he enters free agency in 2014.

These are important times for the Cavaliers and Dan Gilbert with crucial decisions that will effect the immediate future of the franchise. To help, Beats Dimes and Drives has written you a letter (styled similar to Gilbert's, but sorry, no comic sans this time) with a few words of advice.

Dear Mr. Gilbert,

As you know, you again won the NBA draft lottery. You have an opportunity to drastically improve your on-court product in the upcoming season, which I'm sure this fan base is desperately looking forward to. 

Clearly the last three years have been disappointing to you all. It must have been hard to focus on basketball when there were so many LeBron jerseys to burn.

You deserve more.

The good news is the pieces are falling into place with a talented point guard and now hopefully a dominate low-post presence in Noel, if that is the direction you choose. Heck, maybe your "former hero" and "self-titled former King" LeBron will even forgive you and give you a second chance. 

Wouldn't that be something? Would you even want him back when he disproved your guarantee of winning a championship before him? You would, and should, because the path the franchise has been down isn't getting you anywhere, which is why I would like to offer some advice.

Stop worrying about LeBron. Move on. Of course you would naturally want him back, anyone would, but LeBron seems to consume you, and having him back won't necessarily make that better. Even after winning the lottery you said, "We thought originally after everything had to be reset that it would be a three-year process," and, "For everyone in Cleveland who has supported us through these three years, I think this is for them." 

It wasn't the apocalypse. Yes he is the best player in the league, but you could have put together other competent pieces. Instead you fired your coach, Mike Brown, hired another that did worse, Byron Scott, and now just brought Brown back. Not to mention paying Luke Walton more than $6 million (second most on the team) this season for 3.4 points per game.

Instead of blaming LeBron's leaving on the destruction of the franchise, make some positive free-agent moves to bring experienced and proven players to Cleveland. Because ...


Most importantly, you have a potential great player in Irving and possibly another in Noel. They may not want to be in Cleveland for the rest of their careers, especially if the only thing they are winning is the lottery. 

If they leave, it will hurt, but learn from your LeBron mistakes. No letters. No obsurd guarantees of championships. No curses or bashing of personalities. 

Focus on how to make the team better without them. It is what should have happened in 2010 and your fans are still waiting. 

They are still waiting on that brighter day and that championship you promised them. And I promise you if you keep with these failed promises and guarantees, no one will be listening the next time you pull up a word document in comic sans on your computer.

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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Sadness Wins the No. 1 Pick in the NBA Draft Lottery

This undoctored photo of a projected lottery pick exists.

The NBA's annual draft lottery will be held tonight on national television. The luck of the proud men and women representing each of the Association's least successful franchises will tentatively decide which team picks where through the first 14 spots in the draft. But remember that, no matter who walks away with the No. 1 pick, they will feel the intense burn of shame rising through their body because, well, all these teams sucked this year. Here's why the no one walks away from this a winner:

Orlando Magic (20-62; 25 percent chance): Nothing is quite as magical as 3.5 hours away from the NBA's best team.

Charlotte Horned Bobs (21-61; 19.9 percent): Google thinks this guy is your new mascot/jersey designer.

Cleveland Cavaliers (24-58; 15.6 percent): The Cavs' star player probably isn't named after a Sailor Moon character, but who knows? He could be. I didn't check.

Phoenix Suns (25-57; 11.9 percent): By hook or by crook, owner Robert Sarver will mismanage this franchise to an NBA championship before 2098.

New Orleans Pelicans (27-55; 8.8 percent): Austin Rivers: point guard.

Sacramento Kings (28-54; 6.3 percent): Everything is going right for Sacramento right now. The Kings are destined to win the draft lottery, falling prey to the Maloofs' long-gestating endgame: trading the No. 1 overall pick for the rights to Wisconsin Sentor Herb Kohl's Milwaukee Bucks in exchange for favored residency.

Detroit Pistons (29-53; 3.6 percent): Have fun living in Detroit.

Washington Wizards (29-53; 3.5 percent): Michael Jordan played only 98 fewer minutes for the Wiz in two seasons than John Wall has through three years.

Minnesota Timberwolves (31-51; 1.7 percent): There's an Eastern timber wolf and a Canadian timber wolf. Both species reside in Canada. This is clearly the next franchise to relocate.

Portland Trail Blazers (33-49; 1.1 percent): The Blazers have been a sinking ship since Juwan Howard left, and Damian Lillard is no Juwan.

Philadelphia 76ers (34-48; 0.8 percent): Text Andrew Bynum later and let him know the outcome. He can't watch the lottery because he'll be too busy teaching everyone on the front office's draft board how to bowl.

Toronto Raptors (34-48; 0.8 percent): The Raptor is one of the NBA's best mascots. He's entertaining, energetic and interactive. To wit, he's nothing like the team he represents.

Dallas Mavericks (41-41; 0.6 percent): Myth: reached a .500 record so they could "shave" their beards. Fact: Mark Cuban has had the Mavs training staff give players estrogen in increasing doses to achieve Cuban's dream of creating a team of Brittney Griners.

Utah Jazz (43-39; 0.5 percent): Technically, the Jazz didn't suck. They were a fringe playoff team going into the finals weeks of the regular season. But they reside in the "Beehive State" and when Gordon Hayward realizes this, he's bound to do something inherently nerdy with it.

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Draft Profile: Pass-First Prospect Michael Carter-Williams

In the run-up to the 2013 NBA Draft on June 27, the BDD staff will be profiling several projected lottery picks and other draft entrants. First up: Michael Carter - Williams.

NBA scouts think Michael Carter-Williams' greatest strength is the length of his tongue. (Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Position: Point Guard 
College: Syracuse
Current DraftExpress Projection: No. 12 first round, No. 12 overall to Oklahoma City Thunder 

Synopsis: Michael Carter-Williams is not Michigan's Trey Burke or Lousiville's Peyton Siva. Those diminutive point guards led their respective teams to the national championship as a follow-through on season-long hype around both programs. Carter-Williams, the lengthy Syracuse pointman, inherited his own history-rich squad as a sophomore after playing just 10 minutes per game as a freshman. Depleted by the holes left by the departures of Fab Melo and the back court duo of Scoop Jardine and Dion Waiters, Carter-Williams was tasked with running a team in what usually looks like college basketball's best conference during his program's final year before defecting.

How did it end? Carter-Williams led his team to a fifth place conference finish after a three-way tie atop the Big East before spearheading the Orange's run to the Final Four. C.J. Fair took the scoring reins and led Syracuse in rebounds, but Carter-Williams held his own, executing the offense to the tune of 7.3 assists per game, which landed him fifth amongst all players in the NCAA last season. His 2.15 assist-to-turnover ratio (7.3 apg to 2.4 TO per game) is not great, but is passable for a second-year point guard who experienced limited playing time as a freshman.

What truly separates Carter-Williams from the rest of this year's point guard crop in the draft is his size: he stands nearly 6'6" and weighs 184 pounds. He has the size but lacks the shooting stroke to play shooting guard, but his court vision and wingspan (measured over 6'7" at the pre-draft combine) will make him a challenge for the majority of point guards currently playing in the NBA, let alone smaller opponents. Carter-Williams' battery of ball-handling skills allow him to create his own shots and, with an improvement in his field goal percentage (43.8 from two, 29.2 from three), he could be a full offensive threat on the professional level. The polish Carter-Williams needs to add in that aspect is balanced by his defensive abilities. Though playing in Syracuse's zone defense during college, Carter-Williams proved to have quick feet to jump passing lanes in addition to exercising the patience and deftness needed to nab 111 steals through 40 games, good for fourth in the NCAA.

There's development to be done, which could cause Carter-Williams to fall in the draft in what is already perceived as a weak class. But if a franchise is interested in a project with sizable upside - or the team is confident that the 21-year-old can develop enough to be game-ready by the fall - Carter-Williams is worth a look.

Quote to Note: "That would be nice, but I kind of want to get away and play somewhere else" - Carter-Williams, a native of Hamilton, Mass., on possibly getting drafted by the Boston Celtics. Via the Boston-Herald.

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Monday, May 20, 2013

George Washington University To Include White House On Court Design

George Washington's new basketball court will include images of the Capitol, White House and
Washington Monument. (

The latest design trend for college basketball, hashtags aside, has been the taking court designs to a new level.

We've documented this fad on the blog before, with Long Beach State and Oregon taking part by putting their native trees on the court. Now George Washington University is taking pride in its city by showcasing historical landmarks on the court floor.

George Washington's athletic department released the design along with a press release Monday in which the White House can be seen with the Capitol building and the Washington Monument on either side.

GW Director of Athletics and Recreation Patrick Nero is quoted in the press release saying, "After our graduating students and student-athletes enjoyed their Commencement ceremony on the National Mall yesterday, unveiling this spectacular new floor design today further emphasizes our campus setting in the heart of D.C. When people around the world are watching our games, we want them to immediately recognize and understand the university's unique setting in the middle of the action in this world-class city."

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Are The Indiana Pacers The Miami Heat's Newest Playoff Rival?

With Oklahoma City out of the playoffs, can the Pacers be the Heat's newest rival? (

It wasn't the playoff rivalry we were expecting. It wasn't in the round we were expecting. But it involves the Miami Heat and has the making of a rivalry with some staying power.

An NBA Finals with the Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder was almost predestined, but the loss of Russell Westbrook and the Memphis Grizzlies spoiled that dream. The Thunder/Heat rivalry could still be a thing of the future, but this year's Thunder team is a prime example of how hard it is to advance to the Finals if you can't remain healthy.

We're going to have to wait another year to see if the Heat/Thunder storyline continues, but right now the Indiana Pacers could step into that role nicely.

It's still in the early stages, but the promise of an intense playoff rivalry between these two is strong. The components for a good rivalry (consistency, competitiveness and drama) are all present, so far, and the next few chapters, starting with game one of the Eastern Conference Finals Wednesday, will show how strong this rivalry can be. Obviously the future of this matchup is up to chance, but the foundation has been laid nicely.

It has hardly become a reoccurring theme, but the Heat and Pacers have now met in the past two playoffs, last year facing off in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. The stakes are larger this time with a ticket to the finals on the line, and with Miami the sure favorite to advance and win the title for the second consecutive year. Miami doesn't look to be going away soon and Indiana keeps improving, so it's hard to totally discount that the two will meet again in the next few years.

Remember last year when the national media screamed, "What is wrong with the Heat?" as Miami was being questioned and LeBron was looking to fail again? That was because of the Indiana Pacers. After the Heat won game one of the series, the Pacers won games two and three, with the second win coming by 19 points. The proverbial sky was falling in Miami. Miami went on to win the series 4-2, but don't think the Heat left that series feeling great about themselves. The Pacers got in their heads and forced Miami to respond. If nothing else, the Pacers proved they could compete with the mighty Heat, and players like Roy Hibbert and Paul George have only gotten better in the past 12 months. If this year's series goes six or seven games, the Pacers will be a popular pick to contend with Miami in the future.

A great rivalry is built on on-court competitiveness and off-the-court distaste. The Pacers and Heat are off to a good start in the distaste portion. Last year it was Indiana coach Frank Vogel being fined $15,000 for calling the Heat the "biggest flopping team in the NBA." This year Vogel is getting under the Heat's skin again, now saying Miami is "just the next team" in the way of Indiana winning a title. You can imagine the reaction of the Heat players, who consider themselves much more than that. Their destiny is "Not one, not two, not three..." and LeBron James has made that clear. Whether intentional or not, the Pacers are trying to get into the Heat's heads and build a level of anger that could do great things for this rivalry. The Heat want to prove they are special while the Pacers are the underdogs doing everything they can to show Miami is not. Seeing which one is right is what will make this series exciting.

This is Indiana's rivalry for the taking. The Boston Celtics team as we know it is coming to an end and until Derrick Rose comes back and shows the same productivity, the Pacers could be the best shot to end the Heat's season early and gaining a new rival in the process.

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Friday, May 17, 2013

Friday Roundtable: Andrew Wiggins and Tanking NBA Seasons

Andrew Wiggins is a Canadian kid. Will the Raptors make a move to draft him? (

BDD's Friday Roundtable is a weekly discussion among a group of our writers on a trending NBA or college basketball topic.

This week's question: Andrew Wiggins committed to the University of Kansas for a pit-stop before going pro. Which NBA team is most likely to pull the biggest tank job to draft the likely one-and-done talent?

Orlando, seemingly, has already taken steps toward this after Dwight Howard forced his way to Los Angeles and the Magic jettisoned J.J. Redick to the Milwaukee Bucks for what looked like spare parts to some. Even so, Nikola Vucevic and Tobias Harris (in his partial season there) came on strong for Orlando while the team as a whole sank to last place in the entire NBA. Having that front court duo together for an entire season, however, will likely keep the Magic from repeating in that respect.

The team making the biggest (read: worst) play for Andrew Wiggins will be the Cleveland Cavaliers. Forget waiting for LeBron James and his potential homecoming in 2014. He's already established himself as one of the greatest basketball players of all time and has yet to hit 30 years of age, but pairing him with Kyrie Irving would marginalize the young point guard's ball handling wizardry and ability to control the pace of games with James needing to be the primary ball-handler to maximize his talents.

Would that be worth it? With the right role players, absolutely, but the Cavs don't have those kind of ancillary components right now. They have Irving, Tristan Thompson, an underwhelming-as-a-rookie Dion Waiters and Anderson Varejao, who hasn't played since December after an injury derailed his fantastic start to the season. Aside from those players, the Cavs roster looks like a scrap heap of journeymen, outcasts and Did Not Play - Coach's Decision All-Stars.

Cleveland was only four losses away from tying Orlando for the league's worst record in 2012-13. Without All-NBA numbers from Varejao in a few early outings or a couple out-of-his-gourd games by Irving, those four wins could have easily gone the other way. If we presume Irving will be better all-around from one more year of experience and Varejao will perform at a slower rate or finally be dealt for pennies on the dollar, the Cavaliers' schedule should look awfully familiar come the end of next season. The only contracts the Cavs have on the books for 2014-15 are those of Varejao (pending trade) and Alonzo Gee, with team options for Irving, Thompson, Waiters and Tyler Zeller. (Those first two are essentially automatic, the third is probable and the fourth, not so much. Sorry, Tyler.)

It isn't a stretch for Cleveland to head into that season with a core including one of the league's top point guards and Wiggins with at least two young role players in tow with Thompson and Waiters. But spurning LBJ in order to form a young team with unknown upside a la the Oklahoma City Thunder? That would be a tank job, especially if it the lottery didn't work in the Cavs' favor.

It seems like it was a lot longer ago than just the 2009-10 season that the Phoenix Suns propelled to a 54-28 record with Steve Nash at the helm and battled the San Antonio Spurs in those gritty playoff matchups where the two teams met three times in four years.

Those better days seem distant because since then the Suns have failed to finish above .500 and no longer have their beloved star in Nash. The Suns were last in the Western Conference with a 25-57 record and seem like a favorable pick to be in a similar position next season with New Orleans and Sacramento having young talent still adjusting to the league.

Phoenix desperately needs help at the shooting guard or small forward positions, especially looking toward the future. The Suns' two shooting guards right now are Jared Dudley (10.9 points per game) and P.J. Tucker (6.4 ppg) and those two will be 29 years old when Wiggins will likely be entering the draft next season. The Suns are slightly better off at the SF position, but Michael Beasley has had multiple off-the-field issues during his time in the NBA and only averaged 10.1 ppg this season. Beasley will also be entering the final year of his contract when Wiggins is drafted. Wesley Johnson is Beasley's backup and averaged eight ppg but only played about 20 minutes a game last season and hasn't asserted himself as a starter.

Not only does Phoenix have the need at Wiggins' positions and the situation that would likely place them in contention for the possible No. 1 draft pick, but Wiggins would also have a talented point guard in Goran Dragic to facilitate the offense. Dragic managed 7.4 assists per game for a team that was No. 21 in scoring, yet is still an scoring threat at 14.7 ppg this year. Imagine the two-man offensive schemes the Suns could develop with Dragic and a versatile, athletic swing man like Wiggins.

The Suns need a star to bring the team back to relevance and what's one more season of poor play for the prospect of Wiggins' potential? Phoenix needs the type of player and style of play Wiggins can offer because that 2009-10 season will only seem longer and longer ago.


My initial, knee-jerk reaction was to say that the Charlotte Bobcats would be the team to throw their season away and do whatever it took to be at the top with a chance to take Andrew Wiggins with the first overall pick. However, that would imply that the Bobcats knew how to do something other than lose, and that simply isn’t the case. My second thought was it could possibly be the Mavericks, given owner Mark Cuban’s tendency to do things out of the norm and his burning desire to be in the headlines. But again, while I still think it’s possible, I moved away from that notion. The team I have finally settled on that is most likely to throw its season in order to obtain the player with the most hype before ever setting foot on an NBA floor since LeBron James may come as something of a surprise.

I think the Boston Celtics are the most likely team to throw their season to have a chance to pick Andrew Wiggins.

Yes, I know, it’s blasphemous for me to insinuate that such a storied and respected franchise not only in basketball, but in all of sports, would dare sink to throwing games simply to have a chance at taking one player. However, this is not just any player, and the Celtics have an out that could provide them with a shield from scrutiny and accusations from media about taking a dive on their season.

Under the guise of rebuilding, the Celtics could potentially move all their aging players in order to acquire picks and expiring contracts to give them a chance to build a team around Wiggins, as well as lose the amount of games necessary to have a pick high enough to draft him. Players like Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett could still be attractive pieces for contending teams looking for that one last element that will push them into title contention. The team has already been rumored and reported several times in the last couple of years to have been actively trying to trade the one building bock it has in point guard Rajon Rondo.

While fans would be frustrated about losing, the idea of rebuilding has already been placed in their heads as a necessity after the early exit from the playoffs this season, which was largely blamed on the declining play of aging superstars Pierce and Garnett, and the loss of Rondo to injury. The fans know they need a new centerpiece for their team, and this opens the door for the Celtics to move expensive, aging players, and put themselves in a position to lose consistently in the effort to acquire Wiggins.

The Sacramento Kings were founded in 1945 but have only won a single title. That was way back in 1951 as the Rochester Royals.

The Maloof brothers have been destroying the franchise and turning away fans, it's time to give Sacramento something to cheer about. What better way to make your fans happy than by drafting the soon to be college phenomenon Andrew Wiggins?

Tanking is a tricky situation for the new management. It is in their best long term interest to be as bad as possible next year as they have the opportunity to build around a player from the loaded 2014 draft. However, they must show the city of Sacramento that things are truly changing and that they are ready to make the best basketball team possible.

The Kings have a few valuable trade pieces despite winning only 28 games in the 2013 season. The new management should look to clear house and get rid of every trace of the Maloofs while stockpiling young players and draft picks. This will allow them to show their fans that they're ready to shake things up while giving them the best chance possible to land Wiggins.

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Thursday, May 16, 2013

Oklahoma City's Eric Maynor Playoff Problem

Eric Maynor's game isn't possessed, but he could have made a difference for the Thunder. (Mark D. Smith/USA Today Sports)

While the Oklahoma City crowd cheered on the home team for the last time of the 2012-13 season, chanting "O-K-C" even as it became increasingly evident that the Memphis Grizzlies were advancing to the Western Conference Finals, the Thunder's series-long struggle ended in an 88-84 Game 5 loss. Since losing Russell Westbrook to a torn meniscus in Game two of the first round, the Thunder's largest margin of victory was nine points in a 103-94 road win over the defense-optional Houston Rockets.

For a team built around two of the NBA's best players, the dynamic shifts dramatically when the main ball-handler of the two, and of the team, is sidelined by injury. Westbrook rose above the "upside-trumps-mistakes" and tag that hung on his profile and, for that matter, the narrative that a number Westbrook's looks at the basket should be used by Kevin Durant. Those were the storylines that followed Westbrook over the past couple years and he came into his own this season, successfully playing alongside Durant and helping lead the Thunder to a better winning percentage than when James Harden was Oklahoma City's sixth man on the way to an NBA Finals berth last season.

That's why it was so devastating when Westbrook was removed from the Thunder's equation for playoff success. It thrust reserve point guard Reggie Jackson onto a big stage in just his second year as an NBA player. Serge Ibaka assumed the role of primary sidekick for Durant, but failed to connect on enough of his beloved long jumpers to raise his offensive production to match that of his defense. Meanwhile, Jackson performed admirably, averaging 3.9 assists and 15 points on a 53.4 effective field goal percentage (which adjusts for three-pointers as being worth more than other field goals) per 36 minutes during the playoffs, all of which contributed to his a .126 Win Shares per 48 Minutes, well above the league-average .100 mark.

Had he still been on the Oklahoma City roster, James Harden would have filled many of the minutes left from Westbrook's departure from the postseason, though that would have changed the course of the Thunder's entire season, especially considering their matchup against the Harden-led Houston in round one of the playoffs. It is another, smaller move made by the Thunder one that would not have had such a drastic change on OKC's season or the NBA landscape at large — that could have changed the course of the Thunder's performance against the Rockets and Grizzlies in the playoffs. On Feb. 21, just before the NBA's trade deadline, Oklahoma City acquired the rights to Georgios Printezis and a trade exception from the Portland Trail Blazers in exchange for back[pup point guard Eric Maynor.

Maynor was, as a friend texted me the day of the OKC-Portland trade, "damaged goods" after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in January 2012. He fell behind Jackson on Oklahoma City's depth chart, playing just 10.6 minutes per game with the Thunder. Printezis' rights have been held by five NBA teams, including the Thunder, and his potential contract is a mere bargaining chip as the Greek big man is unlikely to ever see playing time in the Association. By obtaining his rights and trading Maynor in February, Oklahoma City saved a small fraction of the $2.3 million on the point guard's contract this season and in turn, Maynor became the second-string option behind Damian Lillard, who played more minutes (3,166) than anyone else in the NBA on the way to winning Rookie of the Year. 

Injuries are hard to predict. Westbrook had not missed a single game in five years, including an additional 45 playoff games. Would Maynor have been a better fill-in option than Jackson for the Thunder at this point in the year, with an entire season on the line? Jackson showed potential after his depth chart promotion and in the playoffs while Maynor's production was reflective of a player struggling to regain what he once had. There is no definitive answer and if there was, it would ultimately look more like an opinion based on what a person values in a player. Maynor has postseason experience, having previously played in 23 playoff games with the Thunder including a seven-game series in which OKC bested the Grizzlies to move onto the 2010 Western Conference Finals. That all happened pre-injury, though. Maynor was rehabbing his knee during the Thunder's run against the Miami Heat last summer. Jackson, on the other hand, was with the team but never saw any playing time.

Per 36 Minutes:
Reggie Jackson 2012-13 5.4 11.8 .458 0.9 3.8 .231 1.9 2.2 .839 0.8 5.3 6.0 4.4 1.1 0.5 1.9 3.0 13.6
Eric Maynor 2012-13 4.0 10.5 .377 1.3 3.6 .354 1.7 2.3 .726 0.3 1.4 1.7 6.8 0.8 0.0 3.0 2.1 10.9
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 5/16/2013.

It is a case of experience versus youth; dinged-up although not entirely devalued versus untested but possibly more able. Maynor will be a free agent this summer and, had he been retained by the Thunder, a big playoff performance would have increased his value on the open market. As things happened, he is a 25 year old on  his way to journeyman status after suffering a knee injury early in his career, having already been on three teams. 

While keeping Maynor around may have benefited Oklahoma City in the short term, letting Jackson take the reins to this extent was the correct move in the long run. He received valuable experience that will pay off for the Thunder in the future, possibly soon. As a perennially successful team, the Thunder are essential shoo-ins for the playoffs as long as Durant and Westbrook are capable of sustaining the explosive performances that make them two of the league's premier players. With Jackson now having been tested against a defensively great Grizzlies team and squaring off against an improving offensive point guard like Mike Conley, Jackson now has a rudimentary understanding of what playoff competition is like that suggests he will be able to perform at a higher caliber than most reserve point guards with potentially two years remaining on their rookie contract.

No game in the OKC-Memphis series was decided by more than six points. Without Westbrook, the Grizzlies were able to control the overall tempo. The Thunder functioned without Maynor and, in the future, could likely function without Jackson, too. Portland has its point guard of the present and, barring basketball tragedy, the future. The Trail Blazers could pick up Maynor or another team will offer him a contract in free agency. Either way, Maynor will find his way, and Jackson is on the path to making a solid career for himself in the NBA.

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NBA Owners Vote To Keep The Kings In Sacramento

The NBA owners voted Wednesday to keep the Kings in Sacramento. (

The plot felt like it was written in Hollywood, made for the big screen, instead of a real-life saga taking place nearly 400 miles north in Sacramento.

A town struggles and worries with uncertainty for more than two years that the "evil" owners of their beloved basketball team are trying to move the team to Seattle. It seemed like the deal was inevitable, before a heroic mayor does everything in his power to keep the team at home. Months later the city gets a huge victory, but the owners still say they will sell to no one but Seattle. Tension built for the climax of the plot, which is a final ruling by the NBA owners to seal the fate.

The saga has concluded and the people of Sacramento can officially exhale their collective held breath and celebrate. The Kings are not moving to Seattle.

The Maloof family, owners of the Kings who have recently treated Sacramento like an ugly step child they were forced to be with, lost their hope in moving the franchise to Seattle with a vote by NBA owner representatives Wednesday in Dallas, according to ESPN. This comes after a unanimous recommendation last month by the league's relocation committee to reject the deal.

A vote of 22-8 kept the Kings in Sacramento after hours of deliberation by the owners group. The Maloofs still own the team as of now, but NBA Commissioner David Stern said in a news conference after the decision that he would expect the Maloof family to sell the Kings to the Sacramento group of investors created by Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson and with the financial backing of billionaire Vivek Ranadive.

Now the work begins for the fans and city of Sacramento to fill seats and buy merchandise to prove to the owners they made the right decision and for the prospective new ownership group to revamp a struggling on-court product. But right now, the city deserves its moment to celebrate. 

Everything worked out in the end for the fearful city, as if it was written in Hollywood and not Northern California.

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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

D-League Decoded: Philadelphia 76ers and the D-League

Philadelphia has a new D-League affiliate in the Delaware 87ers. (

Late last month, it was announced that the Philadelphia 76ers acquired the defunct Utah Flash D-League team and moved them to Delaware to become the 87ers (or Sevens per the team's Twitter account).

Previous to this acquisition, the team's affiliate was the Sioux Falls Skyforce, who were co-owned by three other NBA teams, the Timberwolves, Heat and Magic. Of course, if you know anything about geography you would know that Sioux Falls, South Dakota is a long ways away from Philadelphia, which made it hard for the 76ers to use the D-League until now.

Avoiding the team's weird name that's based on the Constitution, the 76ers are now able to use the D-League to their overall advantage to help develop some of their young players. Now, the team is probably going to be facing a huge overhaul after the Andrew Bynum disaster from this past season. With a team that's rebuilding, you're going to have a lot of porspects that will be in need of developing. Sure, the team can immediately put those players on an NBA court but may be at the risk of putting them out there too early.

At this moment, the 76ers have seven players who are 24 years old or younger, which should increase during the upcoming NBA Draft because of their three picks (No. 11, No. 35 and No. 42). Using Delaware as a means of development for those rookies will be crucial for the simple fact that they'll be able to transfer them in between each location. That alone will allow Philiadelphia's front office to use the same approach that teams like Oklahoma City and Golden State used this past season who both had their own D-League team.

Despite being a solid developmental move,  they only assigned one player (Arnett Moultree) during the 2012-13 season, which does make sense of the strange situation the team was going through. With that said, Philadelphia did use the other teams involved in the D-League to call up two players (Shelvin Mack and Justin Holiday) who turned out to be below average pickups but still meant that there was that connection.

Speaking of connection, the 76ers front office hired and assigned Aaron Moszer to be their first team president. This was possibly the best overall hiring for this new ball club because of Moszer's 15-year experience working in the world of minor league sports. Before signing on to Delaware, Moszer worked as the VP of Sales/Marketing for Ripken Baseball, which is one of the top developmental leagues for youth baseball in the US. While helping out the future of the game of baseball, Moszer was also an instrumental part in the inagural season of the Aberdeen Ironbirds who are the Class A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles. Of course, Moszer won't be in charge of the on-court aspect of the team but will be the key man in charge of making sure things go right in the first season of this team.

Again, we're about six months until the team will open up shop to start its first season so a lot can happen in that time frame, but this is still a great move for the future of a rebuilding Philadelphia 76ers franchise.

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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Andrew Wiggins Is Headed To Kansas

Andrew Wiggins and his parents while on an official visit to Kansas last winter. (

The No. 1 recruit in the country finally made his decision official just after noon eastern time Tuesday as Andrew Wiggins announced he will be playing basketball at Kansas next year.

Florida State had felt like the favorite throughout the recruitment process, as both of Wiggins' parents attended FSU, but it could have been the opening spot left by Ben McLemore and the supporting talent that made the difference for the Jayhawks. Another factor could have been Wiggins' brother, Nick, who is at Wichita State, which will now be about three hours away, and the two are very close. The announcement was a long time coming, but the wait looked to have helped Wiggins in his decision after knowing exactly what he is entering next season.

Kansas is losing all five starters, but now has a class coming in with the No. 1 small forward (Wiggins), No. 1 center (Joel Embiid), No. 4 small forward (Wayne Selden), No. 9 shooting guard (Brannen Greene) and No. 10 point guard (Connor Frankamp), according to

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Andrew Wiggins College Decision: The Waiting Game Paid Off

No. 1 recruit Andrew Wiggins waited longer than everyone else, a strategy that could pay off. (

He made the college basketball world wait until the very end for the most anticipated college basketball recruiting decision of the year. But that's the perk of being the No. 1 player in the class and the most sought-after player in the country.

Other players have known and announced their college decision for months. The NBA Draft deadline came and went. And still, the sport, and more specifically the four schools still in the running, waited anxiously for Andrew Wiggins' decision.

There's not a team in the country that wouldn't welcome Wiggins with open arms, and either Florida State, Kansas, Kentucky or North Carolina will do that Tuesday when the decision is finally revealed. When everyone wants you, you have all the time in the world. Wiggins took his time, waiting longer than every other top recruit, because that's what the benefit of being the best.

While the wait has been agonizing for everyone else involved, Wiggins was smart in his patience. The landscape of a team can change drastically between the regular season in February and May. Kentucky brought in recruit after recruit while more members of its current freshman class returned to school than most believed. Wiggins' wait took Kentucky out of the running, and for him, who most likely wants to be a one-and-done, this is a good thing.

Imagine if he would have committed in February. He would have no idea Alex Poythress, Kyle Wiltjer and Willie Cauley-Stein would return instead of going pro as expected. Maybe other recruits would have gone elsewhere knowing Wiggins' decisions, but if all commitments remained the same, there would not be much room for all the talent, let alone egos. Four of the top 10 players in the Rivals 150 are already heading to Lexington.

Also during this waiting period, he found out for sure that Ben McLemore was leaving Kansas and guys like James Michael McAdoo and PJ Hairston were returning to UNC. Wiggins now knows exactly what he's entering in to. There are no shocking returns or unforeseen transfers or coaching moves. It will be interesting to see if future No. 1 recruits follow Wiggins' strategy.

A pressure is lifted for to recruits finally announcing their decision and ending the media and speculation circus, and sometimes a wait won't be needed. If the top player happens to be a local kid who has known he wanted to suit up for this team since he was in middle school, then go ahead and commit. But for those like Wiggins who seem legitimately torn, what's the rush? 

The wait means more time for headlines and more anxiety from coaches, but the view of a team is so much clearer in May. It's not like people were going to forget about Andrew Wiggins. The wait will make the reward for winner of the Wiggins Sweepstakes taste that much sweeter.

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