PODCAST: The Not-So-Great Divide

LeBron or D-Wade in Europe? Sportswriter and ESPN.com contributor Jonah Keri stops by to discuss European basketball’s impact on American sports culture.  Could the Euroleague ever catch on in America?  Are Josh Childress and Linas Kleiza wasting their time? And most importantly: can we convince Jonah to meet us in Paris for a Final Four rendezvous?

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Childress, Jennings, and Kleiza: trendsetters, or soldiers of a lost cause?

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Posted 2 weeks, 5 days ago at 6:35 pm.

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Latavious Williams says no to Memphis and looks to China and Europe

By: Slam and Freaknick

Latavious Williams has just created another ripple in the already troubled waters of American hoops.

The 17th rated recruit on Rivals.com is opting out of his agreement to play college ball for the Memphis Tigers and will reportedly be leaving his home in Starkville, Mississippi to play internationally.  After committing to new Tigers head coach Josh Pastner in the fall, he encountered some trouble gaining academic clearance from the NCAA.  Instead of waiting any longer-especially considering the NCAA’s recent investigation of of the school’s alleged academic tampering with Derrick Rose and Robert Dozier-he has decided to explore his options elsewhere.

Williams fits the profile of most 6′7″ American forwards: he is a long and athletic who exploits the weakness of high school competition by using his superior leaping and rebounding ability to create easy opportunities around the basket.  He’s a bit more developed physically than many his age (close to 200 lbs.) but needs to add a little muscle if he wants to have a career in the paint.  Again, like most prospects, his fundamentals could use some work.  So, in what corner of the world will he be polishing his post skills and refining his jump shot?  So glad you asked…

Latavious Williams is just the latest to bust through borders in the name of hoops.

Where is he Going to Play?

Williams is reportedly trying to work out a contract in either one of  China’s two professional leagues. While the Chinese leagues are less competitive than those in Europe, the Chinese Basketball Association has produced a few notable NBA players: Yao Ming (you may have heard of him before), Wang Zhizhi, Yi Jialian, and Sun Yue.  If Williams went the European route instead, he would likely end up in a smaller domestic league (Latvia,Estonia) or a junior team for a larger, more competitive league (Greece, Italy).  It’s not certain where he’ll end up, but one thing’s for sure:  he will be playing with men.

What is the Effect for Other High Schoolers?

This is a lot like the Brandon Jennings situation in that the player’s academic woes sparked his migration.  Jennings spoke very highly of his experience with Roma (although the critics were not as impressed) and despite a lack of production, Jennings still found himself in the NBA Draft Lottery. High school star Jeremy Tyler took it one step further and will be skipping his senior year of high school to play (at least) two years in Europe before returning to fulfill his NBA dreams.  Now that Williams, another top recruit, will shun the traditional youth developmental system and get a head start on his professional career, the NBA will be forced to take another peek at its age requirement to see if it’s actually hurting the state of basketball in America.  Additionally (though this is a long shot), the NCAA might have to consider compensation plans for its student athletes.  The hoops community (we included) will all be watching to see how this plays out. Happy travels, Latavious; we wish you the best of luck.

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Posted 2 months ago at 3:21 pm.

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Jacko’s Draft Wrap

By: Freaknick

While 60 young men were celebrating the realization of their NBA dreams, the world was mourning the loss of Michael Jackson.  So, to recap the 14 players plucked from European squads on draft night, we will borrow some songs from the greatest entertainer of our generation:

Not even David Stern could rock the stage at MSG like the King.

Ricky Rubio (#5-Timberwolves): “You Are Not Alone”.  Congratulations, Ricky! You’re our starting point guard and the face of the franchise!  But…uh…we’re going to draft three more point guards, just in case.

Brandon Jennings (#10-Bucks): “Wanna Be Startin’ Something” .  Brandon Jennings has been known to stir things up and talk out of turn.  Bucks coach Scott Skiles doesn’t particularly go for that sort of thing.  We may have an 82-round brawl on our hands.

Victor Claver (#22-Trailblazers): “Black or White”.  White men can’t jump.  But don’t tell that to Woody Harrelson. Or Victor Claver. Dude has hops.

Omri Casspi (#23-Kings): “We’re Almost There”. While he may stay overseas another year, he’s very close to contributing to Sacramento’s re-building efforts.

Rodrigue Beaubois (#25-Thunder): “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You”. Despite erratic play, poor shot selection and questions about his durability, Beaubois’s sporadic outbursts of athleticism kept him close to the hearts of scouts worldwide.

Christian Eyenga (#30-Cavaliers): “Smooth Criminal”.  Eyenga snuck into the back end of the first round despite an unimpressive body of work, and could be stealing Cleveland’s money.

Sergio Llull (#34-Nuggets): “They Don’t Care About Us”. Unfortunately, the second round is used as a platform for ESPN to repeat everything they said in the first round.  Twice.   Continue Reading…

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Posted 2 months, 3 weeks ago at 8:00 am.

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Slam’s Draft Diary: Part 1 (The Lottery)

NBA Draft Diary

I managed to do a running diary of the entire NBA draft, 5 whole hours, 2 rounds, 7 cups of coffees, and 1 diary.  Here is the first part as I will release it in 4 parts, it’s very long.  Check out Freaknick and I go at it right after the first round ended on the podcast.

Hello World this is your resident hoopologist Slam checking in with his first of many running diaries.  I’m going to be you analysis on the 2009 NBA Draft, also known from this point on of Draft de Complementary Players.  If you’re looking for a stud in this draft outside of the top 5, then you might as well move along, this draft is tailor made for teams looking for role players.  Now let’s get into some pre-game talk, Stu Scott takes us away.

7:02 p.m. - We just got word the Dick Vitale is going to be making an appearance, everyone get your earplugs out.

7:03 - Who has more hair gel Andy Katz or Rick Bucher?  I say tossup.

Andy Katz loves the hair gel OR Ric Bucher might love it more

7:06 – John Barr tells that there is “tons of excitement” around the Shaq trade, then why does he sound so unexcited?  Between Shaq, Richard Jefferson, and Vince Carter getting traded I think the most valuable guy is Richard Jefferson.  Shaq won’t be able to have back to back monster seasons and Vince Carter’s greatest achievement is winning the Dunk Contest

7:11 – All the analysts are praising Orlando for getting Vince Carter but doesn’t this mean they can’t sign Hedo Turkoglu?  Hedo was their ball handler in the clutch last year and isn’t he more valuable to the team than Vince “I need my shots” Carter, let’s think big picture here.

7:13 – A camera in the Clippers war room: an inside look on how to screw up an NBA team.

Got to love that nose

7:21 – Some Ricky Rubio talk FINALLY. We even have an interview EUROLEAGUE BABY.  Let’s rate Ricky: English- C- Style- D Nose- A+.  Ricky loves the beaches in California, is that an open petition to try and be a Sacramento King?  I hope not but Rubio is going to be the funniest point guard to watch for the next 10 years so let’s hope he doesn’t end up in purgatory in Sactown.

7:32 – “New York home of the Knicks and Liberty” thanks David Stern but I think we all agree you can shorten that statement next year. But HERE WE GO, some NBA Draft.  I say Blake Griffin goes one, call me crazy.

7:35 – OO yes a montage of Clippers #1 draft picks, the Kandi-Man made a jump hook, really? They can do anything with video nowadays, the Clippers can’t mess up Blake Griffin, I think.

7:38 – Blake Griffin first pick what? Who? When?  Yes this was a can’t miss pick; he scored at will in college and grabbed rebounds from all over the place.  If Griffin can get a go-to post move and he can be a killer on the fast break, look out.

7:43 – Exclusive Mike Dunleavy interview.  He says “We’re going to look and see what’s the best decision for our team.” I’m going to go with that’s the opposite of what he has been doing since he’s gotten there.

7:45 – Hasheem Thabeet is our 2nd pick, do I have to wait or say it now: BUST.  As a Syracuse fan I watched UConn all year and Thabeet has zero offensive game.  Yes he can change the game defensively but he is abysmal offensively, think Ben Wallace but with injury concerns cause he’s so big.

7:52 – NOOOOOOO… Continue Reading…

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Posted 3 months ago at 1:22 am.

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