Bucks clinch playoff spot, Jason Kidd deserves ‘NBA Coach of the Year’ title

The Bucks have turned around quickly under head coach Jason Kidd.

The Bucks have turned around quickly under Head Coach Jason Kidd.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

On Sunday, April 12, Jason Kidd coached the Milwaukee Bucks to a playoff berth with a victory over Kidd’s former team, the Brooklyn Nets. This is the first 40-win season and playoff appearance for the Bucks since the 2009-10 season.

When Jason Kidd was hired by the Bucks in July 2014, there was less focus on how good a coach he would be for the Bucks and more emphasis on the manner in which he landed the position. At the time, Marc Lasry, Bucks owner and Kidd’s former business partner, acknowledged that Kidd’s agent reached out to the Bucks’ owners about joining the club.

Many were more bothered by Kidd's (l) pursuit of an occupied head coaching position than his close relationship with Bucks owner Marc Lasry (r).

Many were more bothered by Kidd’s (l) pursuit of an occupied head coaching position than his close relationship with Bucks owner Marc Lasry (r).

“We were asked to keep it confidential and we did and I think in retrospect that was a mistake,” Lasry said. “That was our fault. We shouldn’t have done that. In this process, we made some mistakes.” The manner in which Kidd’s hiring occurred stood out and caused public feedback. Boston Globe writer Gary Washburn stated, “[Kidd] didn’t exactly pick an organization primed for a resurgence.”

Jabari Parker (l) and  Larry Sanders (r) were supposed to play a major role in the team's turnaround.

Jabari Parker (l) and Larry Sanders (r) were supposed to play a major role in the team’s turnaround.

Fast forward to the current situation for the Bucks who have remained off the NBA radar for the majority of the NBA season, despite their remarkable turnaround. The Bucks will be the only team in the playoffs with none of its active players appearing in an NBA All-Star game. The team has overcome a number of challenges this season. The number two overall draft pick, Jabari Parker, suffered a season-ending knee injury and there was also the unexpected departure of center Larry Sanders due to mental health problems.

Khris Middleton (l) and Giannis Antetokounpo (r) are emerging as stars for a surprisingly tough Bucks team.

Khris Middleton (l) and Giannis Antetokounmpo (r) are emerging as stars for a surprisingly tough Bucks team.

The Bucks won 15 games last season and most observers expected the team to be in line for a lengthy rebuilding period. However, coach Kidd has helped his emerging stars like Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton become reliable contributors. Kidd has also been able get good production from veterans such as Jerryd Bayless, O.J. Mayo, Zaza Pachulia and Ersan Ilyasova. Taking a team from second in the draft to sixth in their conference is a compelling, NBA Coach of the Year, type of feat.–OnPointPress.net–

Charles Glover Jr. is a sports aficionado and a training/benefits consultant. Follow me @GloverIsGood on Twitter.com,

3 Players to watch for in the 2014 NBA Draft

This year's draft class features highly touted freshmen  (l - r)  Jabari Parker, Joel Embid, Andrew Wiggins, and Julius Randle.

This year’s NBA draft class features highly-touted freshmen (l – r) Jabari Parker, Joel Embid, Andrew Wiggins, and Julius Randle.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

On Thursday June 26, 2014, the National Basketball Association (NBA) will hold its annual draft and as usual there is intrigue surrounding the top pick. Even with top prospect Joel Embiid’s foot injury and subsequent surgery, there is great anticipation for the landing spots of other top prospects like Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, and Julius Randle.

The Philadelphia 76ers would  use their second 1st round draft pick to take Michael Carter-Williams 11th overall in 2013. Carter-Williams would win NBA Rookie of the Year this past season.

The Philadelphia 76ers used their second 1st round draft pick to take Michael Carter-Williams 11th overall in 2013. Carter-Williams won NBA Rookie of the Year this past season.

However, there are always players that receive less attention heading into the draft and end up becoming valuable players. This past year’s NBA Rookie of the Year winner, Michael Carter-Williams, was drafted 11th overall by the Philadelphia 76ers. Two years ago Damian Lillard won NBA Rookie of the Year after being drafted 6th overall by the Portland Trailblazers. Additionally, this year’s NBA Finals MVP, Kawhi Leonard, was drafted 15th overall in the 2011 draft by the Indiana Pacers (and traded on draft day to the San Antonio Spurs).

Current NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard was drafted 15th overall in 2011 by the Pacers and traded to the San Antonio Spurs that evening.

Current NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard was drafted 15th overall in 2011 by the Pacers and traded to the San Antonio Spurs that evening.

This year there are three players that are a bit under the radar, but can make a significant impact in the near future if they go to the right team that provides the best situation.

Former UCLA guard Zach Lavine has the skill set to be a valuable starter for years to come.

Former UCLA guard Zach Lavine has the skill set to be a valuable starter for years to come.

Zach Lavine (Guard) UCLA: Lavine is expected to be drafted somewhere in the middle of the first round but has top of the first round talent. The 19-year-old 6’6″ guard has dynamic athleticism as illustrated by his 41.5″ vertical jump at the NBA combine. Additionally, Lavine is a combo guard with good ball-handling skills and shooting ability. His inconsistent performance in his only season in college has scouts unsure of how he will translate to the next level. The best fit for him would be the Charlotte Hornets as the 9th pick. His offensive skills, defensive ability, and athleticism would blend excellently with a Hornets team that needs to improve its perimeter play.

Former Michigan State forward Adreian Payne will look to translate his offensive ability to a lottery draft pick selection.

Former Michigan State forward Adreian Payne will look to translate his offensive ability to a lottery draft pick selection.

Adreian Payne (Foward/Center) Michigan State: Payne is expected to be drafted towards the end of the lottery and there are 14 lottery picks. The 23-year-old senior is ready to contribute right away and sports an impressive 7’4″ wingspan on his 6’10” frame. He is an excellent shooter, making 42 percent of his three-point attempts his senior year in college. He needs to improve on defense but can immediately help a team that can use frontcourt scoring. An ideal fit would be the Denver Nuggets with the 11th overall pick. Their team suffered numerous injuries last season and could be ready to turn things around quickly with a healthy roster and talented draft pick or two.

Former Wichita State forward showcased an offensive repertoire that many NBA teams can use this upcoming season.

Former Wichita State forward showcased an offensive repertoire that many NBA teams can use this upcoming season.

Cleanthony Early (Small Forward) Wichita State: Early is expected to be drafted towards the end of the first round. The 23-year- old senior gained notoriety with his fantastic play during the NCAA tournament this year. At 6’8″ Early has good size for his position and has demonstrated an ability to create his own shot while also being able to shoot from the perimeter. He has to show improvement on the defensive side but he will be a great addition for a playoff team looking to add bench scoring immediately. The ideal place for Early would be 21at overall, going to the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Thunder have struggled to get consistent scoring from players not named Durant or Westbrook. The team can remain in position to contend for a championship next season with the addition of player like Early who can make an impact right away.–OnPointPress.net–

Charles Glover Jr. is a sports aficionado and a management training consultant. Follow me @OpenWindowMES on Twitter.com.

NCAA vs. NBA draft policy: Are changes needed? (Part II)

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has made it a priority to address the issue of raising the age limit from 19 to 20.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, holds up the name of the Cleveland Cavaliers, who won the NBA Draft Lottery. Silver  has made it a priority to address the issue of raising the age limit from 19 to 20.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

The National Basketball Association (NBA) is down to its final 4 teams vying for the NBA Championship for this season. Meanwhile, Tuesday marked the beginning of the next season as the Cleveland Cavaliers won the NBA Draft Lottery, giving them the chance to pick first in the draft in consecutive years. While the draft lottery creates a modicum of suspense for NBA fans, the league would be better suited making major changes to the NBA Draft that would make the teams better for the long run, analysts say.

The advent of the NBA Draft Lottery was meant to be a deterrent to teams intentionally losing so that they could have the number one pick in the draft. The main impetus for the change was consecutive years where the Houston Rockets (1983 & 84) seemingly tanked in order to land two highly touted prospects, Ralph Sampson in 1983 and Hakeem Olajuwon in 1984. The change was necessary but the overreaction to institute a draft lottery allowed for a routine in which the worst teams do not receive the best players.

The NBA Draft lottery was instituted after the Houston Rockets received the #1 pick in 1983 & '84 and used them to select Ralph Sampson (r) and Hakeem Olajuwon (l) respectively.

The NBA Draft lottery was instituted after the Houston Rockets received the #1 pick in 1983 & ’84 and used them to select Ralph Sampson (r) and Hakeem Olajuwon (l) respectively.

Contrasting this with the National Football League (NFL) model that aligns the top pick with worst record, with the exception of consecutive years, one can see why there tends to consistently be a problem with the distribution of talent in the NBA. The draft lottery system raises questions about the legitimacy of the process as conspiracy theories are constantly attached to this system. All of these issues make the questions about who should be eligible to be drafted seem minor, yet the age of the draftees continues to be an issue that’s front and center.

The hoopla surrounding this year’s draft class was focused on talented underclassmen like Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Joel Embiid, and Julius Randle. These young men were all freshmen when they declared for the draft. They are the latest in a consistent string of talented youngsters who spend just one year removed from their graduating high school class before declaring for the NBA draft, as is currently required by the NBA. Many are opposed to this ‘one and done’ rule in theory, yet there is more excitement surrounding this draft class than there has been in several years.

This year's draft class features highly touted freshmen  (l - r)  Jabari Parker, Joel Embid, Andrew Wiggins, and Julius Randle.

This year’s draft class features highly touted freshmen (l – r) Jabari Parker, Joel Embid, Andrew Wiggins, and Julius Randle.

Numerous opponents to the NBA’s ‘one and done’ rule make many unsubstantiated claims as to the certain improvement of the quality of the NCAA and NBA if the the rule goes away.

ESPN president John Skipper described the rule on age limits:

“The single worst violation of student-athlete relationships,” Skipper also said: “I have no quarrel with kids wanting to go play basketball. I think they should have to stay a couple or three years.”

ESPN President John Skipper is one of many who oppose the NBA one and done rule.

ESPN President John Skipper is one of many who oppose the NBA one and done rule.

Skipper is among the many who believe the indentured servitude that is collegiate sports is a better fit for the very athlete who will generate billions annually for televisions networks, advertisers, institutions, and franchises. Interestingly, Skipper is against these college players being paid.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has received greater attention from his handling of the Donald Sterling mess than for his initial agenda, which has been to change the ‘one and done’ rule.

“I’ve been a proponent of raising the age [limit] from 19 to 20 because I think it would make a better league,” announced Silver in a conference call with sports editors in April. With no data to back these assertions, Silver has repeatedly stated the importance of raising the age limit.

NBA Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson supports the one and done rule and points out the exploitive nature of the NCAA.

NBA Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson supports the one and done rule and points out the exploitive nature of the NCAA.

Inquiring minds should ask: What financial benefit would the league see if this were to occur? The simple answer is, without any other changes, an increase in the age limit would drastically reduce the average players’ earning potential. Players are far less likely to receive maximum contracts after the age of 30 and a change of the ‘one and done’ rule automatically pushes every player closer to 30 by the time of their second free agency contract. Meanwhile, there is no salary cap for coaches and executives.

As is stands, the millionaire executives paid to evaluate, draft, train, and coach the players have unlimited earning potential, with a longer period of time to do their job. However, players would have their earning potential limited and have to spend more of their physical prime playing for free. Many supporters of the ‘one and done’ rule think about current athletes and the luxurious lifestyle they are afforded.

The Cavaliers won the number one pick in the NBA draft with new General Manager David Griffin (l) receiving congratulations from Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum (r).

The Cavaliers won the number one pick in the NBA draft with new General Manager David Griffin (l) receiving congratulations from Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum (r).

They forget about the hundreds of athletes that came before them who were completely taken advantage of. They do not consider that these current NBA rules are already restrictive, considering how dependent the sport is on selling its superstars. NBA Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson points out:

“Colleges are greedy, They want to keep them [kids] in school because it helps them – it helps the coach, it helps the winning percentage.”

The NCAA’s motive is clear, keeping talent that produces billions annually for as long as possible makes sense for business. However, the NBA seems to be confused by claiming to want to put the best product on the floor. But this year’s draft class illustrates that a great number of the best players available are 19, not 20 or older. So why wouldn’t the NBA want them? Actually they do. They just realize that so many of their executives are so poor at developing these youngsters when they come into the league that they hope to get more finished products. Unfortunately for them, there is no business immune to the pitfalls of poor management, which is the NBA’s biggest problem, not age limits as the league tries to suggest..–OnPointPress.net–

Charles Glover, Jr. is a sports aficionado and a management training consultant. Follow me @OpenWindowMES on Twitter.com.

The NBA could achieve talent, economic parity, if it embraces the NFL’s draft model

 

 

Andrew Wiggins (l) and Jabari Parker (r) are the two highest ranked prospects for the 2013-14 NBA draft if they declare themselves eligible for the next NBA season.

Andrew Wiggins (l) and Jabari Parker (r) are the two highest -ranked prospects for the 2013-14 NBA draft if they declare themselves eligible for the next NBA season.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

The popularity of the National Football League (NFL) has grown over the past twenty years, while the National Basketball Association (NBA) has seen peaks and valleys in its television interest, fan loyalty and attendance. The NFL has been able to generate greater parity and excitement for its teams in more small market cities compared to the NBA equivalent because star players from college football teams are guaranteed to go to the NFL teams that performed the worst in the previous season but the opposite is true in the NBA.

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck was drafted #1 overall in the 2012 draft.

Indianapolis Colts’ quarterback Andrew Luck was drafted #1 overall in the 2012 draft.

The NFL draft model ensures that the team with the worst record in the league will receive the first pick. There is also a provision that precludes a team from receiving that coveted first pick in consecutive years. On the other hand, the NBA has a draft lottery that gives a weighted chance at the first pick in the draft according to the records of the teams that did not make the playoffs. The team with the worst record has, at best, a twenty-five percent chance at procuring the top choice in the draft. The small market teams in the NBA would greatly benefit from the NFL draft model as it would give them a better chance to land big name players from college. This would then grow their fan bases.

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton was drafted #1 overall in the 2011 NFL draft.

Carolina Panthers’ quarterback Cam Newton was drafted #1 overall in the 2011 NFL draft.

The NFL has seen small-market teams with terrible seasons rebound quickly with the selection of the right players in the draft. In conjunction with other moves in free agency, this results in quick improvements. The Carolina Panthers drafted Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton with the first pick in the 2011 draft and the team is having its best success in several seasons this year. The Indianapolis Colts drafted second generation NFL quarterback Andrew Luck first overall in 2012 and made the playoffs the very next season. These players were big names in college and helped create excitement for the fans of their respective teams while improving the performance of those teams as well.

The New Orleans franchise drafted Anthony Davis with the #1 overall pick in the 2011-12 NBA draft.

The New Orleans franchise drafted Anthony Davis with the #1 overall pick in the 2011-12 NBA draft.

Conversely, in the NBA, the Cleveland Cavaliers won the draft lottery for the third time in ten seasons and picked Anthony Bennett first overall last season. The New Orleans Pelicans (Hornets at the time) selected Anthony Davis with the first pick in the 2011-12 draft. Those teams have yet to see their teams improve to playoff material, yet but many believe that those teams have bright futures. The challenge for the NBA is to have small market teams land stars that can help generate widespread interest which would eventually translate to more money for those franchises.

The Oklahoma City Thunder were able to draft Kevin Durant (l) and Russell Westbrook (r) in consecutive seasons; moves that helped turn their franchise into perennial title contenders.

The Oklahoma City Thunder drafted Kevin Durant (l) and Russell Westbrook (r) in consecutive seasons, moves that helped turn their franchise into perennial title contenders.

The Oklahoma City Thunder organization is the most referenced small market team, loaded with young stars through the draft in the NBA. The challenge for other NBA teams is to land young exciting players that become top-tier talent that can eventually transform a team to a title contender. Small market teams in the NBA have an additional challenge of retaining young stars they initially draft. Some of the biggest stars in the NBA change teams in pursuit of a championship. Parity in the NBA is difficult because many small market teams struggle in putting together consistent winning teams while retaining their drafted stars.

Troy Polumalu of the Pittsburgh Steelers is one of many stars from small market teams, on and off the field, for the NFL.

Troy Polumalu of the Pittsburgh Steelers is one of many stars from small market teams, on and off the field, for the NFL.

The other challenge is few small market teams draft big name stars. The Sacramento Kings, Milwaukee Bucks, Charlotte Bobcats, and Toronto Raptors stand out as teams that are in small markets, have struggled on the court, and have had a difficult time landing stars that can help their teams become playoff contenders. The NFL has big name stars in many small markets, which helps keep interest for those teams, even if they struggle with those stars on their team. Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay Packers’ quarterback), Adrian Peterson (Minnesota Vikings’ running back), Cam Newton (Carolina Panthers’ quarterback), and Troy Polamalu (Pittsburgh Steelers’ safety) are just a handful of NFL stars from small market cities that are regularly featured in commercials. All of these players were also drafted by their current team.

The NBA would have a better chance of achieving the parity it desires if the rules in the NBA draft are changed to decide the order of the draft, based on records. A provision that would help guard against teams intentionally losing games to get the best draft pick is to prevent teams from having the top three picks in consecutive seasons. The potential for landing top-tier talent will always be alluring through the draft because of the potential to have a young star transform a franchise to a winner. The potential draft class for the NBA includes two of the most hyped freshmen in college basketball in years: Andrew Wiggins (Kansas) and Jabari Parker (Duke). It would be phenomenal for the NBA if the best player in the draft had a chance to transform the worst team in the NBA into an exciting championship winner.–OnPointPress.net.

Charles Glover, Jr. is a sports aficionado and management training consultant.