Friday, February 15, 2008

3 Games Away: Or Chris Wallace and the Finger

I know it is the All-Star Weekend and I could join nearly every blogger in the world in talking about the different celebrations but honestly I don't care about the All-Star game or the 3 pt Shooting contest or even the Slam Dunk Contest (heresy with Rudy Gay performing I know). I'm not even that interested in the Rookie-Sophomore game despite three Grizzlies playing in that.

I can see 5 Grizzlies playing live 41 times a year. Why should I care about a few more exhibitions?

What I am interested in today is 3 games. Not any three games in particular but the 3 games that separate the LA Lakers from the lottery.

What you say? Didn't Stephen A. Smith just proclaim the Lakers the class of the Western Conference? Didn't no less an expert than Gregg Popovich say that the trade of Gasol to the Lakers should have been blocked by a trade evaluation committee? How can I possibly think that the Lakers could drop into the lottery???

Well all of you pundits are getting the finger from Chris Wallace.

No, he is not making an obscene gesture at anyone. He is far too fine a man to do that (publicly at least). Instead Chris Wallace is giving people Kobe's finger. Kobe has a torn ligament in his right pinkie finger Thursday and the Lakers All-Star has decided not to undergo surgery that could sideline him for six weeks. Having the surgery would nearly guarantee a lottery trip for the Lakers so the news could be better, but an injured Kobe is far better for Memphis' chances than a healthy one.

Which brings Memphians back to the trade. When it was made people automatically assumed the Grizzlies were basically getting a 2nd rd player with the Lakers draft pick. Some despondent souls went so far as to assume that Memphis would make a terrible selection with that pick.

Oh ye of little faith!

A top 20 pick is just as good as a late lottery pick in this draft. Heck, this is the type of draft where the last player taken in the first round could be as good as the 5th player taken. If you don't believe that has happened before consider the 1985 draft. That was the first year the lottery was used and the #5 pick was SMU graduate John Koncack. Joe Kliene from Arkansas followed him up at #6. The last two first rd picks were AC Green and Terry Porter. Which two would you rather have had? Not enough? How about 19986 when the 5th pick was Kenny 'Sky' Walker from Kentucky. Portland with the last pick took Arvydas Sarbonis. In 1992 Minnesota took Christian Laettner and Denver took Laphonso Ellis. Golden State at 24 suffered with Latrell Sprewell. in 1993 it was Isaiah Rider at #5 vs Sam Cassell at 24.

Need more convincing? Maybe you want something more current and more painful for Grizzlies fans. How about Darko Milicic at #2 instead of Josh Howard at #29, Leandrho Barbosa at #28 or Travis Outlaw at #23? The Grizzlies took Troy Bell and Dahntay Jones at #16 and #20 respectively.

The point is that this draft is similiar to many drafts in that there is going to be good players, possibly great players, available late in the draft and the sooner a smart mind gets a chance to draft one the more likely it is he will make a smart pick.

Is Chris Wallace a great mind? He does have one strike against him by taking the job as GM of the Grizzlies. However, his track record implies that he does in fact know how to select players that will be successful in the NBA. More importantly he appears to know who won't be successful even more. There is an old story about a young Chris Wallace, at that point not employed in the NBA, going to a NBA GM and beggin him on his knees not to draft a certain player. The GM ignored him and now both the GM and the player are out of the NBA and Chris Wallace is. 1981 he started Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook that covered college players. That magazine became required reading among the movers and shakers of the NBA for the player evaluations. He was named by Sports Illustrated as one of the most influential members of college basketball media in 1991. His actual draft picks include such players as Paul Pierce (#10), Joe Johnson, Chauncey Billups (#3), Joe Johnson (#10) and Mike Conley (#4).

He definitely has the resume.

So now Chris Wallace has the opportunity to show that the resume isn't just a piece of paper and the Lakers have a problem that may affect their standing in the Western Conference, not to mention the general mayhem he has caused in the conference that should benefit the younger teams in the not too distant future.

It may be Kobe's finger but don't be surprised to see Chris Wallace pointing it at some of his critics in the not too distant future.

BallHype: hype it up!


Anonymous said...

Love the website. Not sure about Wallace's resume. Paul Pierce fell to no.10. Grizz GM at the time, Stu Jackson, was strongly considering Pierce at no.2, but drafted for need instead and went with Bibby.

ChipC3 said...

Of course Paul Pierce fell to Wallace at #10. Just like Rudy Gay fell to Houston at #8 which allowed Houston to trade him to us. Amare Stoudamire fell to #9 allowing Phoenix to pick him. Every year some one falls and it takes a gutsy GM to pull the trigger and take the player when so many others are running away.

No obvious players fall however. There were questions about Pierce that proved to be answered positively. Michael Olowokandi went #1 in that draft. Raef LaFrenz went #3, Robert Traylor went #6 and Larry Hughes went #8. Obviously those players shouldn't have been drafted ahead of Pierce but GM's decided to anyway.

And if Stu Jackson took a player need with the 2nd pick in the draft then he should be symbolicly hung in Vancouver.

Oh wait a minute, he already was after the Otis Thorpe trade that cost us a chance at Carmello Anthony or DWade or Chris Bosh. Now that is a bad GM!

CarlCR said...

Good analysis Chip. I guess your main point is that if the Lakers fall out of the playoffs because of Kobe's finger then the Grizzlies would get a higher pick. True, but realistic.

However, that would mean that 5 or 6 teams would have to play better ball (win more games) than the Lakers over the the last 30 games. Even with Kobe's hurt finger, I doubt that Utah, Dallas, Golden State, Houston, and Denver will all play that much better to overtake the Lakers. San Antonio would be the 6th team, but they have the same number of losses as the Lakers and so are almost tied.

Even if they don't fall, if CW is a great evaluator of talent then he should be able to get the better player even later in the round.

Either way, it is not like some year's drafts where the top 2 or 3 seem to be so much better than the rest, so the top picks are so much more important. This year's draft seems to be a lot of talent that is all about equal as far as we can tell now.

Last, if the Lakers do make the playoffs and do well, like to the finals in the West or the NBA, does that make the Gasol trade look/seem even worse?

ranstay said...

Chip, why soooooo much love for Wallace? Wallace had no idea Kobe would get hurt, unless he's psychic. And I wouldn't count Kobe and the Lakers out just yet. It's still too early to tell. The trade is done, and we have to live with it, but let's not try to make it into something it's not....a great move! I do hope luck falls Wallace's way, as every Grizz fan should. Still don't make Wallace into something he's not, remember he also traded Joe Johnson to Phoenix. Chris Wallace's resume is not impressive now. Here's hoping it will be in the future!

BoulderGriz said...

Its a damn shame that the Griz don't play the Lakers again until the end of March. If the game was tomorrow I wouldn't be surprised to see Wallace sign Jeff Gillooly to a 10 day contract.

Anonymous said...

Um didn't Coach Ivey covet Mike Conely. So that would mean that he realy didn't draft him correct. And does that same tract record then include Casey Jacobson, and the waving of Kiney? Or bringing in J-Crit when when Lowery is already better now, not to mention you just bought out a point gaurd just weeks ago. no I think you are wrong about this guy totally.

ChipC3 said...

"Um didn't Coach Ivey covet Mike Conely. So that would mean that he realy didn't draft him correct."
Wallace told me that he would have taken Conley if he had the 3rd pick in the draft. Just because other people liked him also doesn't mean Wallace shouldn't be credited for picking up the phone and calling his name.

Unless you just want to force all of the negatives on Wallace but give him no credit for the positive moves he made.

"Wallace had no idea Kobe would get hurt, unless he's psychic. And I wouldn't count Kobe and the Lakers out just yet."

Well I did compare early picks with mid to late 20 picks so you can't really say I am predicting the Lakers to fall out of the playoffs. However they are just three games out of 9th place, Bynum and Kobe are hurt and the likelihood of the Lakers ending with the top spot in the conference is far less likely. That was the point I was trying to make.

"Even if they don't fall, if CW is a great evaluator of talent then he should be able to get the better player even later in the round."

That was the point I was trying to make.

Remember also that only about 22% of first round draft picks have good careers in the NBA. That means 78% don't. With 5 picks the Grizzlies should average 1 good to great player. 2 players would be above average. I fully expect some of these draft picks to not work out but we can't strike out either.

Thanks for all of your comments. You make some great points.

Anonymous said...

The last time Wallace had 3 first round picks, I believe he chose Joe Johnson, Joseph Forte and Kedrick Brown; he then traded Johnson for 1/2 season of Rodney Rogers. That track record doesn't give me great confidence...

zack said...

good article...

Go Rockets!
Go Suns!
Go Spurs!
Go Nuggets!
Go Mavericks!
Go Hornets!
Go Warriors!
Go Blazers!
Go Jazz!

Anonymous said...

Can we get a proofreader? Anyway.

The Lakers might make the playoffs but they won't get much further than the first round without an effective Bryant.

And I hope this draft is as deep as people claim it will be. We'll see.

Ronan said...

Okay then.... Chris Wallace is now writing for the site....Vin Baker...hmmmm?....This draft has some depth but not where we need the late 20s. The reason that finds like Josh Howard stick in the mind is because they are rare. Purposely aiming to pick in the 20s would be just stupid, really, really stupid. The lakers still make the playoffs without Bryant. I dont know if you've been watching but they're a really good all round side now. Its not just Kobe anymore. Still I guess if theres some kind of car park team bus explosion then yeah....I guess Wallace did good. Im guessing he goes to prison for setting the explosions though. Was he counting on an injured Kobe when he made the trade? Of course not. For the record a top 20 pick is not th esame as a late lottery pick.....unless youve got a really poor GM making the pick......ah....okay I get it now....Kudos

Anonymous said...

Wallace's track with the Celtics wasn't all that great. You think it's coincidence they're better after he left.

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