Ask Sam Mailbag: 05.04.18

It's May and the playoffs so far are pretty interesting. I'll admit to you that I am not a fan of what is happening in the NBA in terms of fans and player interaction. What is your thought on the Westbrook confrontation from yesterday? Another question which I have for you is what are your thoughts on the fights taking place during the playoffs. ...it seems like every game I turn on ...fight. Is it just me or is this year's playoff campaign more brutal than any other? 

Tom Plonowski

Victor Oladipo #4 of the Indiana Pacers goes to the basket against the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game Seven of Round One of the 2018 NBA Playoffs on April 29, 2018 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio

The column on the history of #6 picks. It injects a dose of reality into our collective fantasies about the forthcoming draft.
On the other hand, for those of us who need to cling to hope, it's fun to look at the players who got drafted after #6, too. Especially in some of the more recent drafts, it's interesting how many of the outstanding players came later in the process.

One of the most dramatic examples of that was the 2013 draft. #1 (Anthony Bennett) washed out, #2 (Victor Olidipo) has just emerged as a star, #3 (Otto Porter) has been a solid starter for several years. After that,the biggest stars in the draft came at #10 (CJ McCollum), #15 (Giannis Antetokounmpo), and #27 (Rudy Gobert).

The other thing is, these guys are so young, it takes three or four years to figure out who's got it and who doesn't.  A lot of the stalwarts from the 2014 draft are just starting to play now (Embiid, Wiggins, Parker) and some are still learning the game (Exum, Gordon, Vonleh and many others). Looking at that year, in particular, makes you realize that today, it's not only drafting the right people, but it's also having the coaching and support program to grow them.

The kick in the head is, some of these guys don't start to blossom until the end of their rookie contracts, at which time owners have to pay through the nose for everything they did to develop the player. I bet that causes some head-shaking in the league's board rooms!

Kirk Landers

As you showed, it's really a mixed bag at #6.  Bird doesn't count - would have gone higher if he hadn't stayed in school another year. But it's
not because the talent is all gone by #6 – not even close. When you look at all of the exceptional players who were passed up at #6, it simply
proves what we've been saying all along – good scouting is more important than getting one spot higher on the board.

Of course, luck is a factor too.  Even the best scouts can't always tell which teenage boys will grow into NBA players.

A few stray comments on past drafts…

How did Rod Thorn not know that MJ would be special? OK, nobody knew he'd be the GOAT.  But Kevin L. was jumping for joy, and I heard a lot
of buzz on MJ long before the draft.

Not sure I'd have taken Curry and Chandler, but can't fault Krause for picking Curry.  He could have been a very good player – a little smaller than

Shaq, but also more athletic. A healthy heart and a few more grey cells, and Curry would have been a big star.

Scott May was a huge mistake.  I met him on Pratt beach (a few blocks north of Loyola) the summer before his rookie year.  He was playing pick-up
with some Loyola guys on a cement court by the beach.  Very nice guy!  But I noticed when he walked away that there was something wrong with his hips.  He sort of waddled like a dog with hip dysplasia  Not a good sign.

Art Alenik

Carmelo Anthony #7 of the Oklahoma City Thunder drives past Derrick Favors #15 of the Utah Jazz due to the block by Steven Adams #12 of the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first half during Game Six of Round One of the 2018 NBA Playoffs at Vivint Smart Home Arena on April 27, 2018 in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Instead of asking "Will Carmelo be voted into the Hall of Fame?" I'll ask the same sentiment a different way: has there been another perennial All-Star player in the past thirty years (my timeframe) who has engaged in as many "I'm not about winning, I'm about me" moments as Melo? Getting himself out of a winning situation in Denver to go to a worse situation, signing contracts that left his teams with little room for signing good players, not getting along with players who take his spotlight, and now "I'm not coming off the bench" in OKC when he's barely a replacement level player now. Maybe Melo is actually par for the course, so would love to hear your ranking of him in the "Me-First" All-Stars.

Alejandro Yegros

I see Jamal Crawford opting out. We all knew he was miserable.

Bob Ding

Do you think the Bulls have any shot at Kawhi Leonard?  If the Bulls get a top three pick, would you trade both first round picks and maybe someone like Robin Lopez for Kawhi?

Steve Schnakenberg

Here's my projected 2018-19

  • Dunn / Grant / Payne
  • EVANS  / Holiday / Nwaba
  • PARKER / Valentine / Zipser
  • Markannen / Portis
  • JORDAN / Asik / Felicio

This squad would look pretty good if we can get a top free agent. Assuming we resign Nwaba and trade Lopez for future picks. Could we score Deandre Jordan and Jabari Parker? If we grabbed Tyreke Evans as well we'd be top 4 in the East just like that!!

Matthew Mikulice

Hey, just wondering why bulls chose to keep Portis over Mirotic? Currently it seems like he is better, had a great series. Was Markennan a factor?

Darren Rowe

Serge Ibaka #9 of the Toronto Raptors and Marcin Gortat #13 of the Washington Wizards jump for the rebound in Game Four of Round One of the 2018 NBA Playoffs on April 22, 2018 at Capital One Arena in Washington, DC.

Lopez is so valuable to us. If you want an example of why just look at the Wizards with Gortat. You don't think they would love some vet leadership from a guy like Robin? Gortat from what i can see is a terrible teammate who is always so quick to throw guys under the bus. 

Mike Queenswurst

The 3 has ruined the game? Yeesh. Just look at OKC. 3 3 3 3. So boring and just not smart basketball 

Mike Sutera

Somebody must tell Lavine that attaching something heavy to his back using a belt and pulling like a horse pulls a wagon is asking for a serious back injury.  I just saw a video (below the link) of Lavine doing exactly that.  This reminded me of Loul Deng doing the same thing during a summer just to show back issues during the next season. I have back problems, so I am aware of incorrect postures or bad exercise methods.
Here is the link.

William Blanco