NBA Draft 2012


Beyond the Lottery: Perry Jones III

Baylor University sophomore Perry Jones III announced on April 9th that he would throw his hat in the NBA ring. Jones came out of high school as one of the top players in the country and had a solid couple seasons in Waco, helping the Bears to a 38-8 record in 2011-12.

The 6’11”, 238-pound combo forward averaged 14 ppg and 7.6 rpg while shooting 50% from the field this past season. His top translatable pro strengths are his size and elite athleticism. At almost 7 feet tall, Jones can play down low or on the perimeter. He is also extremely fast and fluid going end-to-end, and his jumping ability is off the charts.

The 20-year-old Duncanville, Texas native posted season highs of 31 points, 14 boards, 4 blocks and 4 steals. Jones moves well without the ball, makes sharp cuts and is skilled in the pick-and-roll. He uses both hands off the dribble and can get to the rim consistently with his arm length and quick, long first step.

PJ3 has big, sticky hands and is able to catch tight passes in the post or in transition. Once he has the rock, he finishes well, especially when he faces up slower-footed big men. Jones possesses a promising jumper and should become a legitimate long-range threat with time and practice.

Jones’ rebounding upside is enormous. As with many young, natural talents, Jones will be a glass-cleaning menace, both defensively and offensively, once he locks in mentally and decides to crash the boards. On the defensive end, Jones has all of the tools to one day match up with 2’s, 3’s and 4’s thanks to his wingspan, footwork and shot-blocking abilities. As with his rebounding, Jones’ overall defensive game will be determined as much by his mental toughness and dedication as his physicality.

Though Jones displayed his potential for greatness at Baylor, he was inconsistent. The consensus seems to be that if Jones can add fire to his furnace, work on his body strength and build confidence, he’ll enjoy a long, productive NBA career. Look for Perry Jones III to go midway through the first round on June 28th.

Czar’s Finals Preview: Thunder vs. Heat Game 5

When the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder take the court tonight in Game 5 of the 2012 NBA Finals the basketball world will be paying special attention to one player: 27-year-old LeBron Raymone James.

No one has ever measured the true tonnage of “the weight of the world,” but with a Heat victory this evening, The King’s ample shoulders will be that much lighter.

After all, in his ninth pro season, in his third trip to the finals, on his second team, with his legions of critics and detractors ready to pounce at his slightest, magnified misstep, 3X MVP LBJ might finally grab the championship ring that has eluded him up until now and silence the haters, at least temporarily.

However, the young, supremely-talented Thunder could extend this best-of-seven and get back to the friendly confines of their home court in the Sooner State, down 3-2.

After winning the opening game in OKC, the Thunder lost the last three games by 4, 6 and 6 points respectively. And they’ve been in each contest up until the final moments. A different decision here, a made shot there, a tiny adjustment in a play and OKC could easily be leading this series.

In Game 4 on Tuesday night, Thunder PG Russell Westbrook scored 43 points on 20 of 32 from the field in possibly his best game as a professional. Smothered by the Heat’s tenacious D, 3X NBA scoring champ Kevin Durant put up 28 in 46 minutes. But it wasn’t enough as Miami got 26 from James and 25 apiece from D-Wade and Mario Chalmers.

The Heat shot 10-26 from behind the 3, while OKC went 3-16 from deep. Both teams took care of the rock, as the Thunder had 11 turnovers and Miami just 9. James had to leave the game in the last couple of minutes with leg cramps and dehydration. His teammates carried him to the bench and then made some monster plays down the stretch to seal the W.

Since the NBA went to a 2-3-2 finals format in 1985, no team has ever come back to win the title after being down 3-1. But as many roundball pundits and commentators have pointed out, this Thunder roster has already broken the mold when it comes to championship-caliber formulations. Their four top players, Durant, Westbrook, Harden and Ibaka, are ages 23, 23, 22 and 22. So while they lack much of the seasoning and experience of past champs, they make up for it in talent, tenacity and on-court bravado.

Look for a classic 48 minutes tonight in South Beach as the Heat try to finish off the Thunder and claim the 2012 crown for King James.

Beyond the Lottery: Kendall Marshall

On March 29th, University of North Carolina sophomore point guard Kendall Marshall announced that he would enter the 2012 NBA Draft. This season Marshall finished second in the country in assists at 9.7 per game. In fact, he broke the UNC single season record for assists this past season as well as the ACC record set in 1988. Marshall was named a third team All-American and won the Bob Cousy Award for the nation’s top point guard.

Marshall played and thrived in the high-octane offense of Roy Williams at Chapel Hill. At 6’4″ he has great size for a 1-guard, can see the entire court at all times and is always looking to reward his teammates for running and cutting. In the 2011-2012 season, Marshall posted an amazing 3.51 assist-to-turnover ratio.

Marshall averaged 33 minutes per game and often played 38+ minutes in tight contests. He had season-highs of 16 dimes (2X), 22 points and 6 steals. In his final six games in Carolina Blue, he scored in double figures and averaged 10.3 apg.

Marshall is the definition of a natural lead-guard, controlling the pace and flow of the game while recognizing where to move the ball and when to take it to the rim himself. Marshall is equally comfortable running the break and setting up in the half court in settled situations. Many commentators noted this year that Marshall was the best long-passer they had ever seen collegiately. He has exceptional handle and rarely if ever over-dribbles.

The pride of Dumfries, Virginia has a level-10 basketball IQ, which enables him to play great one-on-one defense, help-side team D and break up plays as they develop even with his average speed.

Marshall is not a natural scorer and at times looks hesitant to shoot the ball. He definitely needs to improve his offensive output and shooting percentages in order to crack an NBA starting five. However, toward the end of his second season at Carolina, Marshall’s confidence on the offensive end grew as he hit some big shots and refined his repertoire at the rim.

Marshall played with and against multiple future NBA ballers during his two years in the ACC, so transitioning to the professional game should not be a problem for him. Look for a team to scoop him up between spots 15-18 on June 28th.

Czar Trivia

Karl Malone is the only player to reach the NBA Finals three times without winning a ring since 1980.