Calling all conspiracy theorists.
As most of you know, here at the HQ we really try to keep the site Raptor-centric and stay away from irate rants and non-relevant banter. Well, after watching last night's NBA Championship win by the Miami Heat, while taking in a viewing of Mr. Lif/Cage and the other Def Jukies, that's going to have to change for a few minutes.
Riddle me this. If Dwyane Wade, Shaquille O'Neal and Antoine Walker all had injuries that required them to miss the NBA Finals, would Dallas still "somehow" have lost? Miami did outplay Dallas in stretches but the refereeing through the final four games was abysmal at best and really made me wonder. Everyone knows about the relationship between David Stern and Mark Cuban...could the Sternbot (to quote a classic Sportsguy term) have given orders to ensure that he never had to present Cuban with the title?
I'm not saying that Dallas was completely robbed. The team did miss many open looks that should have been converted for easy scores (check Josh Howard's shooting percentage for the series...) But once again last night Gary Payton was allowed to grab Jason Terry's jersey on drives to the basket, Antoine Walker was allowed to travel during jerky post moves and Dirk Nowitzki was called for phantom fouls whenever he was pushed in the chest by D-Wade.
Now I've liked Dwyane Wade since his days at Marquette and he played a phenomenal finals. But don't tell me Devin Harris gets those same calls. Wade rules? I'm not sure but I've seen enough X Files episodes to know when something is not quite what it seems...
Ok, enough on that, especially with this morning's workouts which were to bring three of the drafts top names to the ACC. And here they be:
Who is he? 6-8 Sophomore guard from UCONN.
Last Year: Averaged 15.2 points, 6.4 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.8 steals for the Huskies. Was a consensus All-American, First Team honors and was one of four finalists for the Naismith National Player of the Year award. He earned Second Team All-America selection by the Associated Press, USBWA and ESPN.com. He was named to the All-BIG EAST, All-NABC and All-USBWA First Teams.
What Can He do? Gay is the type of basketball talent scouts drool over. With the height of a power forward and speed and athleticism of a two-guard, Gay has the ability to be both a great offensive player and lock-down defender in the NBA. He's incredibly explosive and can finish around the rim with the best of them. His length and latteral quickness also allow him to be a perimeter stopper akin to Tayshaun Prince. Gay can do a bit of everything and as a result he's been compared to everyone from Shawn Marion to Scottie Pippen. His game has a smoothness that makes what he does on the court so effortless and unfortunately this is his biggest flaw. While Gay could end up being the best player from this draft when all is said and done, the biggest knock on him has always been that he doesn't dominate the way someone with his skill set should. He will also need to bulk up some and work on his mid-range game.
Bottom Line: We once called this year's draft "the Rudy Gay Bowl." Gay almost came out for last year's draft and once he decided to return to UConn, he looked to be the top choice in this year's draft along with LaMarcus Aldridge. Obviously other players emerged as the season wore on but the bottom line remains the same - Rudy Gay still is the consensus top pick in terms of overall potential. Whether that potential will ever translate to NBA success is anyone's guess...however another player who scouts and GM's had similar concerns with coming out of UConn, is of course none other than Toronto's own Charlie Villanueva. In terms of Rudy's fit with the Raptors, at first glance it would seem that he plays the same position as Villanueva. But Gay's length and athleticism could have him playing three different positions on the court and a lineup of Mo Pete at the 2, Joey Graham at the 3, Rudy Gay at the 4 and Bosh or Villanueva at the 5 would be very interesting. Right now it doesn't look like Gay is on the board if Toronto keeps the pick, but a trade-down scenario could see him join CV Smooth in back-to-back UConn Raptor draft picks.
Who is he? 6-8 Junior guard/forward from Gonzaga.
Last Year: Averaged 28.1 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.1 steals for the Bulldogs. Consensus All-American, named the Chevrolet Player of the Year as selected by CBS Sports, John R. Wooden Award Top Five honoree, James Naismith Player of the Year finalist, co-recipient of the Oscar Robertson Trophy presented by the United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) and co-recipient of the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Player of the Year along with JJ Redick.
What Can He do? One word, score. Morrison was last season's top offensive threat in the NCAA using his instincts, size and determination to score in a variety of ways. While Morrison was a deadly offensive player from mid-range prior to last season, he added a deadly turn-around jumper, various low post moves and in addition is now a consistent long-range threat. In fact he single-handedly willed his Zags through many a game last season. With great form on his shot and a decent first step, Morrison can score even when double and triple-teamed, something that was a common occurance last season. Defensively Morrison was decent when he put his mind to it, but his lack of athleticism is a concern at the next level. In addition, he's not a great rebounder for someone his size and some worry that his diabetes will give some GM's reason to pause.
Bottom Line: On paper Morrison looks to be a great pick to be the rookie of the year. He'll probably be good for 15 points per game right off the bat and his passion and enthusiasm should be contagious to teammates. Everyone remembers Gonzaga's heartbreaking last minute loss to UCLA (especially our resident UCLA fan Jeff Chapman) and Morrison's reaction. Many a mock-draft has Morrison as Toronto's top pick now instead of Bargnani and Toronto sure could use some of Morrison's grit and emotion. He may also be a good fit too even though it would appear he plays the same spot as CV Smooth. In our interview with Draft Express' Jonathan Givony, we'll dwelve deeper into this idea but at this point it's safe to say that Morrison is among those being considered at the top. Whether Colangelo feels that Morrison would fetch more via a trade with another club is another story.
Who is he? 6-3 Senior Guard from Villanova.
Last Year and Previously: Averaged 20.5 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.0 rebounds and 1.4 steals for the Wildcats. Wooden Award Finalist, NABC First Team All-American, NCBWA First Team All-American, Sporting News First Team All-American, Big East Player of the Year.
What Can He do? Foye was one of the top players in the NCAA last season. A great leader, Foye was one of college's top scorers due to his ball handling skills, shooting touch and ability to finish in traffic. He has a great mid-range game having no trouble stopping on a dime for shots or dropping in floaters. Defensively he uses his superior strength to body up his man and his quickness to apply great on-the-ball pressure. While undersized, Foye is a great rebounder using his strength and athletic ability to get control of the glass. The main con though as mentioned concerning Foye, is the fact that he's undersized to play the 2 in the NBA, and there are questions as to whether he can effectively run the point.
Bottom Line: Chauncey Billups? Mike James? Juan Dixon? Dwyane Wade? All of the above came into the league with the combo-guard label and all have had varying degrees of success. The knock on Wade was that he was too small to play the 2 and not a point guard, especially since he lacked a consistent outside shot. Well...we all know how that story turned out. Foye is no Wade but does have similar characteristics in terms of rebounding and scoring abilities and leadership traits. It's extremely unlikely that he'll be taken with the first overall pick, but once again, if the Raptors look at trading down, they'll want to get an idea of Foye's skillset in case he's still on the board.
Of course the fourth member of this workout is none other than Denham Brown and of all the workouts that have taken place at the ACC, this is the one I'd pay the most to see. Morrison and Gay will undoubtedly be matched up and likewise Foye and Brown. Morrison's scoring will be a test for Gay's defence and vice-versa. Foye and Brown will be locked in a heated battle of combo guards as well. In fact Brown may be the player who is tested the most as he will be guarding the quicker Foye and the taller players in Gay and Morrison. In addition, after a sub-par first showing, Brown will want to attack this trial with a vengeance. Of all the four, I still feel that Gay is the best fit for Toronto. While some worry about his attitude and passivity I think just like Charlie Villanueva, that can be changed with proper coaching and motivation. And of course, I'd still love to see Denham in a Raps uniform next season.