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NBA Awards 12/21/12

3-Game Thursday
After recapping Thursday’s 3 games and seeing the best & worst individual performances of the night, I’m gonna take a look at the #2 overall selections of the draft since 2000. I was inspired by seeing three of them play in the OKC/Minn game last night – Durant, Thabeet, and Derrick Williams…mainly Williams’ mere 5 min of playing time. In that game in Minn, the T-Wolves jumped out to an early 10 pt lead and stayed up on the Thunder all game, eventually winning 99-93 and snapping OKC’s 12-gm winning streak. C Nikola Pekovic (24/10/2 blk) paced the Minn effort early, accumulating all but 2 rebs & 1 of his blks in the first 30 minutes of game time (halfway thru 3rd Q). Late in the game, it was pint-sized spark plug JJ Barea who kept Minn in front, at one point scoring 13 straight T-Wolves pts in the 4th Q, on his way to 18 for the game. Outside of KD (33), Westy (30, but 9-28 FG%), & Ibaka (14), only 3 guys scored a total of 16 pts for the Thunder, as Kevin Martin was out with a thigh bruise. Westy was just 1 asst away from a tri-double.
       In Dallas, the Heat enjoyed extended garbage time in a 110-95 defeat of the Mavs, as they were up by 30 pts after 3 quarters. No Maverick scored more than rookie Jae Crowder’s 15. The Big 3 led the Heat as LeBron (24/9/5 asst), Bosh (17/7/4 asst, 3 stl), and Wade (19/5/6 asst) all shot better than 50% from the floor….In Portland, no one stepped up for the Nuggets as Cory Brewer, Iggy, and Ty Lawson tied for the team lead in scoring with just 13 pts – none of them making half their shots. Andre ‘The Giant’ Miller did have an impressive 9 rebs & 7 asst against his former team, though. It was another large JJ Hickson effort (18/18/3 blks) that paced the Blazer win, alongside 22 from Batum and 20 from Wes Matthews.
 
The Akeem Olajuwon Award — Kevin Love  —  28 pts, 11 rebs, 7 asst, 6 FTM, 0 stl, 2 blk, 4 treys, and 9-20 shooting…While it was Pekovic early and Barea late, it was Kevin Love’s steady play throughout the game that proved to be too much for OKC to overcome (as well as Westy’s very errant shooting). Love is still only shooting 36.3% on the year, sub 25% on treys, but he’s getting his rebs (13.9) and getting to the line (8.9 att/gm), as the T-Wolves are now 2 games over .500 (13-11).
 
The Jerome Moiso Award — Danilo Gallinari  —  6 pts, 5 rebs, 0 asst, 4 FTM, 0 stl, 0 blk, 0 treys, and 1-10 shooting in 26 ugly minutes…Gallo’s play was a major bummer for the Nuggets last night, and on the season, his career-low 39.4% shooting also been a major bummer. What’s surprising is that this is the 4th straight year that the #6 pick of the 2008 Draft has shot below 42%, making just 41.2%, 41.5%, and 41.4% in the three seasons prior to this. Now in his 6th season, though still only 24 years old, it’s quite possible that this is just who he is – a ‘sharpshooter’ SF who doesn’t really shoot so straight after all.
 
#2 Overall Picks Since 2000
2000 – Stromile Swift…an uber-athletic PF who never really ‘got it’, he peaked his 2nd year (11.8/6.3/1.7 blk) and only averaged 20+ min/gm for 4 of his 9 seasons in the league.
2001 – Tyson Chandler…it took him a few years to figure things out (straight outta high-school), but he eventually became a dominant defensive force, winning Defensive Player of the Year last season while averaging over 9 reb/gm six times (including this year).
2002 – Jay Williams…a hotshot PG who led Duke to an NCAA title in 2001, Williams showed nice promise as a rookie (13.1/3.6/6.4 asst, 1.6 stl) before destroying his left knee in a motorcycle accident and never playing again in the league after his rookie year.
2003 – Darko Milicic…the legendary bust taken ahead of Melo, Bosh, & Wade (the #’s 3, 4, & 5 picks taken right after him), Darko has never averaged more than 8.8 pts (2010-11), or 6.1 rebs (2007-08), though he did fly swat 2/gm once, also 2010-11. He’s now out of the league after playing 1 game for the Celtics this year, his 6th and likely final NBA team.
2004 – Emeka Okafor…Okafor averaged at least 13/10/1.7 blks his first 5 years in the league, but his production has fallen rather precipitously since then, as he’s now down to 7 pts & 5.7 rebs in just 22 min/night with the Wizards.
2005 – Marvin Williams…The painfulness of this mistake pick is that PGs D-Will & CP III were picked right afterwards. Williams averaged over 13 pts & 5 rebs his 2nd thru 4th seasons, but has fallen off since then, now at just 9.6/3.9 rebs with Utah this year.
2006 – LaMarcus Aldridge…a building block PF who’s averaged at least 17 pts/gm since his 2nd year and over 20 pts the last 3 seasons (including 2012-13), Aldridge made his 1st All-Star team last season, while also making all-NBA 3rd team.
2007 – Kevin Durant…Finally we have a bona fide stud, 3 time All-Star, 3 time 1st team all-NBA, and 3 time scoring champ. Definite Hall-of-Famer if he stays healthy, and rapidly climbing the list of all-time NBA greats.
2008 – Michael Beasley…We’ve talked a lot about him this year, the talented head-case who’s also a SF/PF tweener. He’s averaged more than 15 pts just once, 19.2 his 3rd season. Now at 10.8/3.7 rebs & shooting just 37.7%, he could be on his way out of the league if he doesn’t shape up soon.
2009 – Hasheem Thabeet…a massive bust, period. This 7’3″ center out of UConn peaked his rookie year playing 13 min/gm and posting 3.1/3.6 rebs & 1.3 blks. He’s now a 12 min/night backup in OKC.
2010 – Evan Turner…He’s basically Andre Iguodala w/o the gnarly athleticism. He can score, rebound, and dish, but doesn’t do anything exceptionally. He’s finally getting 30+ min/night now that the 76ers have traded Iggy, and has responded decently with 15.1/6.9/4.2 asst while shooting 44.1%.
2011 – Derrick Williams…The bust label was whispered a bit last season, but now those whispers are getting louder & louder. Another tweener SF/PF, Williams has not found a niche with Minnesota yet, especially after they acquired AK-47 in the off-season. With career averages of 8.7/4.6 rebs and 41.1% shooting, he likely needs a change of scenery. Very good chance he never pans out.
2012 – Michael Kidd-Gilchrist…I didn’t like him at #2 overall as his athleticism didn’t really impress me so much at Kentucky, but he’s had some solid games his rookie year, including his most recent effort – 25/12/4 asst, 3 stl, & 9-14 shooting two nights ago. Of course, that was on the heels of a 7 point/3 rebound stinker the night before, so the jury is still out on him. He’s at 11/6.4/1.9 asst, 1.4 blk on 49.5% shooting 25 games into his NBA career. At least he’s a hustle, big effort guy who will not have Beasley-type ‘head problems’.
 
So of these 13 players, all highly coveted in the draft, we have only two of them that have made All-Star games or been all-league. Seven of them have been outright busts at their draft slot (2000, ’02, ’03, ’05, ’08, ’09, ’11) and of these 7, four are outright busts period (’02, ’03, ’09, and I’m including Derrick Williams in ’11). Not a lot of success here, rather surprisingly. 
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