Saturday, December 19, 2015

Big men and the near future

I would say the general perception of the NBA is that it is going small, with the Warriors as the prime example of what you can do with that style of play.  On the other hand the league has very quietly amassed a large base of big men prospects, specifically C prospects, and there seems to be more potential for the league to go big than at any time since the 3 pt line was introduced. 

I don't intend this to be a contrarian piece since NBA finals winners have always been heavily influenced by a big man.  The Mavs, Pistons, Celtics, Spurs and Lakers could all claim that either a C or a PF/C was their best player across 10 titles since Jordan's second retirement. Additionally a C was clearly at least the 2nd best player for the Wade/Shaq title, 2 more Lakers titles and the most recent Spurs title.  It is only the immediate past with the Warriors and the 2 Lebron lead Heat championships.  It feels though, to me at least, that the very recent past is not a trend, but a hiccup due to a variety of factors, and that there is an almost absurd amount of FC talent ready to dominate the league.  Just the guys under 27.

Group 1:  Demarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis, Karl Anthony Towns, Andre Drummond.  Cousins has gone from a place holder to a legitimate MVP caliber player in the past few years, sadly stuck on the worst franchise in the league.  Daivs is terrific and is stuck on a team that has decided to challenge Sacremento's title.  KAT has been incredible for a rookie, and one can only hope that Minnesota has better management going forward than during Kevin Love's/Kevin Garnett's time there.  Drummond is actually the only one on a decently successful franchise.  Some boneheaded moves for sure, but far from the other three teams.  Still 4 guys at the top that are all either already great or almost great? 

Group 2:  Hassan Whiteside, Rudy Gobert.  High impact players still, with room to grow for Gobert (and room to iron out inexperience with Hassan).  Either of these guys could be a Ben Wallace or Tyson Chandler type impact guy on a championship team. 

Group 3:   The mashup of who knows.  With as much talent as there already is above them only 1 or 2 guys breaking out would put teams without a strong big man at a serious disadvantage.  In no particular order

Valancunius- still only 23 Toronto seems to be on the fence about his future.  His production over the past year + has been solid (20 PER, 16/12 per 36) but he still hasn't been given the time on the court to be a dominant force for them (27 mpg in his 4th year, time missed for injuries).

Alen Len-  Has responded with better play since Chandler went down, top end potential doesn't seem to be there.

Kristaps-  Media darling actually deserving of the praise!  Dreams of him being a more athletic Dirk are overblown but still tons of potential.

Noel/Okafor/Embiid- Hopefully Philly does have the wherewithal to avoid the Minny/Sac/NO path, and hopefully one or more of these guys lives up to their potential in the near future.  In Embiid's case hopefully he gets on the court.

Nikola Jokic-  Who?  Denver's 2nd round pick in 2014 has quietly gone about being very solid for a 20 year old rookie.  He hasn't gotten the mins yet (<18 per game) but all the advanced stats says he has been a capable scorer (16 pts per 36 on 60% TS) and rebounder (16.3% TRB) without any major TO/Foul problems.  His numbers in Europe are Greg Monroe like. 

This isn't an exhaustive list and I know some would include Vucevic (I think has plateaued) or Nurkic (Meh, but not without potential) or maybe even WCS.   The point isn't so much to order the players correctly, but to have a feel for how deep a position is/will be so you can evaluate needs better. 

No comments:

Post a Comment