Jun 29, 2013, 2:00 PM EDT
When Nerlens Noel first went down with an ACL injury, the reaction of most scouts and league executives was he wouldn’t fall or if he did he wouldn’t fall that far in the draft. He was still a top three pick.
But things started to feel different the last couple weeks. I can’t remember a year the presumptive top pick had more negative things said about him and his game in the run up to the draft.
Then come draft night he fell all the way No. 6, where he was taken by New Orleans and promptly traded to Philadelphia. Nobody seemed to want Noel.
What was going on? Turns out the knee injury and the risk that comes with it did cause him to fall.
When trying to do a good mock draft, you can’t just take into account the talent of the player and the needs of the team. The other key factors are the general manager’s/team president’s personality and his job security — is the decision maker in a position he feels comfortable taking a risk? Or does he need to go with a player he feels more comfortable with and can help sooner?
Noel, coming off an ACL repair that was red flagged by a couple teams, was certainly a risk.
Cavaliers’ owner Dan Gilbert said on the night of the lottery he was tired of being in the lottery and wanted to be in the playoffs next year, and you know GM Chris Grant has heard that more directly. So come draft night Grant didn’t feel comfortable taking Noel — a player with potentially more upside than Anthony Bennett but a also a player coming off an ACL surgery with more long-term risk and a player that was not going to help much in his rookie season at least.
There are different ways players fail in the NBA. If he doesn’t work hard, it’s on him. If he doesn’t fit the system, it’s on the coach. None of that threatens highly paid and career-minded general managers — in both scenarios they can keep their jobs. (I’ve even heard it suggested that some general managers keep sub-par coaches around to have someone to blame should it all go awry.)
But things go down very differently if the team fails because it bet on a player known to have been injured, and injuries are his undoing. That tends to be seen as the front office’s fault. When the engines fail in that airplane, there never seem to be enough parachutes for the front office guys. That’s just how it goes
Kevin Pritchard was the NBA’s next great GM when he drafted Greg Oden — on track to be alone at the top of a big budget team’s hierarchy. Then Oden got hurt. Six years after making that pick, and after a spell of unemployment Pritchard is still keeping his head down, trying to restore his reputation in Indiana’s increasingly crowded front office.
Does it matter that 29 other GMs would have taken Oden over Kevin Durant? No. (And any GM that says otherwise is selling you revisionist history, at the time everyone had Oden on top of their boards.) Injuries to a top pick can kill a career.
In Philadelphia, new GM Sam Hinkie rolled the dice and I think had a great draft night. With Jrue Holiday, Evan Turner, Thaddeus Young and crew this was at best a .500 team looking at a bottom three seed in the East and getting suck in a rut in the middle of the conference. They went all in on Andrew Bynum and missed and now they were stuck. So Hinkie blew the whole thing up — he is getting bad to get better. The Sixers will lose a lot of games next season but be in position next draft to get one of the top players in the best draft in a decade.
And then, maybe Noel will be playing — he has the most potential in this draft, 7-foot guys who run the court like a guard, can block shots and be a defensive force don’t grow on trees. It’s a good risk for Hinkie.
Of course, it’s easy for me to say that — my job doesn’t depend on Noel coming around and being a productive player in a few years.
Mar 15, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT
The mere presence of Phil Jackson in the Knicks front office will have an immediate impact in terms of big-name free agents looking at New York as a possible destination.
Mar 15, 2014, 12:30 PM EDT
After playing out consecutive 10-day contracts, the Nets have signed Jason Collins for the remainder of the season.
Mar 15, 2014, 11:00 AM EDT
Kenneth Faried showed why the Nuggets would have been crazy to trade him at the deadline, as he helped send the Heat to their fifth loss in six games.
Mar 15, 2014, 9:30 AM EDT
Ultimately Thomas Wolfe will be proven right, you can’t go home again. Not even Phil Jackson. It’s easy to sit back and list the reasons Jackson’s return to the team that drafted him, taking over basketball operations of the New York Knicks, will not work: James Dolan; Jackson has never had any front office experience before;…
Mar 15, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT
Evan Turner wasn’t initially that fond of the Sixers new GM, but he may have changed his mind on his way out of town.
Mar 15, 2014, 12:46 AM EDT
I wouldn’t say Utah’s Enes Kanter dunks on the Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan because that implied Jordan got in his way. Jordan went for the block but kind of tried to swipe it as Kanter went by. Didn’t work, big dunk for the Jazz. The Clippers went on to win the game 96-97, their 10th consecutive…
Mar 14, 2014, 11:02 PM EDT
Tony Wroten of the Sixers became the latest player to experience a shoe malfunction.
Mar 14, 2014, 9:31 PM EDT
Pau Gasol believes that Kobe had every right to demand the Lakers put together a team capable of winning immediately.
Mar 14, 2014, 8:03 PM EDT
Paul Pierce continues to play up his hatred of the Knicks.
Jermaine O’Neal explains his reasoning for confronting Blake Griffin outside locker room following loss to Clippers
Mar 14, 2014, 6:36 PM EDT
Blake Griffin apparently did something on the court that, at least in Jermaine O’Neal’s eyes, crossed the line.
Mar 14, 2014, 5:35 PM EDT
After a disaster of a season in New York, Knicks owner James Dolan has made his bold move to save face. Now we will see if it actually turns the franchise around. The Knicks have announced they will “hold a press conference on Tuesday, March 18 to make a major announcement.” That would be the…
Mar 14, 2014, 4:59 PM EDT
For the big Thursday night game where the Bulls showed up ready to play and the Rockets just showed up, TNT mic’d up Carlos Boozer for the game. And he talked. And talked. And yelled “and one” at the top of his lungs. And talked. Tomike Shengelia doesn’t want to listen and Boozer keeps talking.…
Mar 14, 2014, 3:55 PM EDT
By the time Phil Jackson signs with the Knicks it feels like Ted Mosby will have met the mother of his children. Finally. Pretty much every source in the universe says a deal is close, that includes Ramona Shelburne and Chris Broussard of ESPN. Todd Musburger, Jackson’s Chicago-based agent, is in Los Angeles to finalize…
Mar 14, 2014, 2:58 PM EDT
Mike Woodson knows what is coming. It is expected that some time in the next 72 hours Phil Jackson will put pen to paper and become the president of basketball operations for the Knicks. When the season ends he’s going to clean house (CAA is not going to enjoy the experience), bringing in his people…
Mar 14, 2014, 2:08 PM EDT
Jimmy Fallon has been looking into buying a truck, this is the one he needs. Tim Duncan teamed up with Gunn Chevrolet in the San Antonio area to customize a 2014 Silverado for a giveaway. If you didn’t know, Duncan is a bit of a car nut and owns Blackjack Speed Shop, a customizing shop…
Mar 14, 2014, 1:22 PM EDT
Phoenix has to turn things around. Fast. The team is 3-7 in their last 10 and in the deep Western Conference that spells trouble — they have tumbled out of the playoffs and now are two games back of Memphis and Dallas in trying to get the last ticket to the postseason dance. Jeff Hornacek…
Mar 14, 2014, 12:44 PM EDT
The Boston Celtics and Rajon Rondo have had better days behind them. In front of them too, they hope. Boston will miss the playoffs for the first time in seven seasons, and Rondo missed the All-Star Game for the first time in four years. To avoid repeating either outcome, Rondo must get fully healthy. That’s…
Mar 14, 2014, 12:12 PM EDT
This is what makes Inside the NBA on TNT great. You can be sure some star almost fell asleep on the set of a Sunday morning football show this year, but they got him some coffee and kept it off the air. Not Inside the NBA. They show Charles Barkley nodding off and the guys…
Mar 14, 2014, 12:00 PM EDT
Terrence Ross has won a Dunk Contest. He scored 51 points in a game. He starts for the Eastern Conference’s third-best team. But he still has to take out the trash when he goes to his mom’s house. Raptors.com interviewed Ross with his mom, Marcine Ross, when Toronto played in his hometown of Portland last…
Mar 14, 2014, 11:30 AM EDT
Michael Jordan is commonly accepted as the best NBA player of all time, though occasionally someone else believes a different player belongs No. 1. Consider Kevin Durant among those dissenters. At least partially Durant on Kobe Bryant, via Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News (hat tip: Matt Moore of Eye on Basketball): “He’s…
- Report: LeBron ‘will look at’ Knicks in free agency now that Phil Jackson is in place 0
- Nets announce signing of Jason Collins for remainder of the season 3
- Phil Jackson to Knicks could work. It probably won’t, but it could. 21
- Pau Gasol says Kobe was right to rip Lakers front office 39
- It’s confirmed: Phil Jackson returns to Knicks to head up front office, revive franchise 33