Oden Even More of a Beast than Originally Thought

Posted by rtmsf on June 4th, 2007

Greg Oden

Somewhat lost amidst all the Billy Donovan and Lebron talk in the hoops world this weekend were reports from the NBA’s predraft camp, coincidentally also held in Orlando.  We’ll get to who helped and hurt themselves in a minute, but we have to first mention that Greg Oden is apparently a gazelle trapped in a seven-footer’s body.  Consider this report from the Portland Oregonian:   

Oden is faster than Durant in the 3/4-court sprint, quicker in the lane-agility drill, and has better numbers in the running and standing vertical leaps. And, Oden has a mind-boggling 7.8 body-fat percentage … most big men are north of the 12 percent range. For instance, other top-rated big men such as Washington’s Spencer Hawes (13.0), Duke’s Josh McRoberts (13.7) and Pitt’s Aaron Gray (10.8) don’t compare. [...]  Oden is 6-foot-11 without shoes, 7-feet with shoes. He weighs 257 pounds.   His wingspan is 7 feet, 4.25 inches (fourth best in the draft). His standing reach is 9 feet, 4 inches (the highest of anyone in the draft). His standing vertical is 32 inches, his running vertical 34 inches.

For a big man, these numbers are sick, as he outperformed the smoother and more fluid-looking Durant in every athletic category.  What this essentially means is that Oden has guard-like athleticism (not to be confused with guard-like skills - see: KG) as a traditional back to the basket seven-footer.  No wonder the scouts have been drooling over this guy since he was in ninth grade.  There shouldn’t have been much question, but if there was any at all, these athletic numbers will put to rest the notion of Portland taking Durant over Oden in about three weeks. 

Players Who Helped Themselves (draftexpress.com): 

  • Jared Dudley (Boston College)
  • Taurean Green (Florida)
  • Demetris Nichols (Syracuse)
  • Aaron Gray (Pittsburgh)
  • Zabian Dowdell (Virginia Tech)
  • Jared Jordan (Marist)
  • Ramon Sessions (Nevada)
  • Jermareo Davidson (Alabama)
  • Antanas Kavaliauskas (Texas A&M)
  • Ali Traore (France)

Players Who Didn’t Help Themselves (espn.com‘s Chad Ford – insider access required):

  • Dominic James (Marquette)
  • Joseph Jones (Texas A&M)
  • Sean Singletary (Virginia)
  • Marcellus Kemp (Nevada)
  • James Mays (Clemson)
  • Dominic McGuire (Fresno St.)
  • Ron Lewis (Ohio St.)
  • Kyle Visser (Wake Forest)
  • Aaron Brooks (Oregon)
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06.04.07 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on June 4th, 2007

Some non-Billy Donovan news for today:

  • The Mailman will become an assistant strength coach with his alma mater Louisiana Tech.  Oh, and he also paid the school $350k for the privilege.   
  • Mike DeCourcy comments on who should stay in the draft or go back to school as the June 18 withdrawal deadline approaches.   
  • Implosion is fun – the Charlotte Coliseum demolition occurred Sunday morning.
  • In case you missed it, it pays to play hoops at a high level.  Last week SI put out its Fortunate Fifty – the fifty athletes who earned the most money in 2006 through salary, winnings and/or endorsements - fully HALF of the list was comprised by NBA athletes. 
  • Finally, a non-basketball related video that simply reminds us of the brutality of nature.  Love the shifty croc (Bob Huggins?) that sneaks up on the lions at around the 3:30 mark.   
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The Christine Donovan Effect

Posted by rtmsf on June 4th, 2007

CD Angry

Mrs. Donovan appears thrilled at the press conference naming her husband the new coach of the Orlando Magic.

Memo to Billy Donovan:

Listen to your wife before you sign the contract next time. As a married man of over a decade, you should have known better. Sure, her lips may have been mouthing “do whatever you want, honey” but the eyes… look at those eyes!!! were saying something completely different.

Because of this egregious infraction in marital comprehension, you now look like a circus clown (isn’t Barnum & Bailey’s college around there too?) and more than a little flakey in front of the basketball universe. Sure, others have been down this road – most recently, Dana Altman (Creighton to Arkansas and back) and Gregg Marshall (Winthrop to College of Charleston and back) – but neither of them were foolish enough to sign a contract prior to backing away. The last person we can remember who actually signed the contract while still employed was Bobby Cremins (Georgia Tech to South Carolina and back), and has he been heard from since? Not really. (Note: Majerus was unemployed/retired/at the trough when he backed out on USC in 2004; and Cremins is now the head coach at College of Charleston in an ironic twist.)

bd-magic.jpg

So let’s be honest, Billy. Despite complete radio silence coming out of Gainesville, and Orlando officials stating publicly that you are still in a “dialogue” with the Magic, we all know that this is simply legal saber-rattling for the sake of saving face. The buyout/settlement that you will pay Orlando will surely be substantial. Wouldn’t that money have been better spent on a new convertible Benz for your wife – which, incidentally, you’re going to have to buy her anyway (look at the eyes). A Benz might actually be getting off easy – imagine all the painstaking interrogations and whispering that is already going on behind her back at the PTA meetings and at the pool’s social committee. Her ears are burning and her eyes are furious.

Actually, Billy, here’s another thought. After you get off the phone with Orlando management, maybe you should call Tiffany’s as well. We heard that diamond earrings look just divine while driving an SL 55 Roadster.

Update: Andy Katz wrote that Donovan started having second thoughts on Friday afternoon at the Florida farewell press conference, and upon waking Saturday morning, he was sure he had made the wrong decision. This dovetails very nicely with the Christine Donovan effect. Who hasn’t gone home thinking a decision is final only to learn that your opinion is far less valuable than you believed when it results on you sleeping on the couch that night?

 

 

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Billy D Flip Flop?

Posted by rtmsf on June 3rd, 2007

John Kerry

John Kerry has nothing on Billy Donovan these days

Shocking news is being reported that Billy Donovan, much discussed on this very blog and many others in recent days because of his skedaddle from Gainesville to Orlando, now wants out of his contract with the Magic and is actively seeking to return to the Gators. Exactly WHAT THE HELL is Jeremy Foley selling down there? That guy could literally convince Brad Pitt that Rosie O’Donnell is a nice trade-in for Angelina Jolie. Absurd.

You have to figure that Orlando will not want to have a coach – even one with Donovan’s stature – if he doesn’t want to be there. And Florida would welcome him back with open arms. Presumably any contractual buyout would involve millions of dollars. Maybe Foley can sweet-talk some UF boosters into putting up the dough.

Who is the most pissed man in America tonight? Anthony Grant. Talk about being left at the altar… His salary was set to at least triple (he made $300k last year at VCU) and he was coming into a tremendous situation with the #1 recruiting class in America awaiting him. Wow. Just wow.

This will be very interesting to track the rest of tonight and into tomorrow. We’ll update as necessary.

Update: As of 2:19am EDT, the Orlando Sentinel is reporting that the Orlando Magic will allow Donovan to return to the Gators.

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Billy the Kid Fallout

Posted by rtmsf on June 2nd, 2007

Billy Donovan Magic

As expected, the college hoops/NBA blogospheres have been abuzz with thoughts on the reasoning behind Billy Donovan’s decision to leave Florida for the Orlando Magic, as well as speculation as to how well BTK will do when he gets there. As we said on Thursday when the news was breaking, it’s unlikely that Donovan will become an abject failure in the NBA like his mentor Pitino in Boston or several of the other successful college coaches who made that jump – most notably, Carlesimo, Calipari, Tim Floyd, Mike Montgomery and even switching sports with another ex-Gator, Steve Spurrier. The key distinction is that Donovan’s opportunity with Orlando, very much in contrast with most NBA job openings, is a pretty good one. Orlando was a playoff team this season, albeit barely, and they do have a young stud in Dwight Howard to pair with solid PG Jameer Nelson and a surplus of salary cap space. Plus Orlando as a city has long been attractive to free agents because of its warm weather, exclusive neighborhoods such as Isleworth (Shaq and Tiger have homes there) and tax benefit (no state income tax in Florida).

So the question really shouldn’t be whether Donovan will fail in Orlando, it’s whether he will succeed. Can he shrewdly use his eye for talent to build around Howard to make the Magic a 50-60 win team over the next five years, eventually rising to the level of challenging the Lebrons for the JV Conference title? In the NBA, the old adage goes, it’s all about the players. The coaches above failed for many reasons, often including a lack of imagination and management acumen, but the most important reason was they simply had inferior talent. Billy Donovan is in a unique position as a new NBA coach where he should be able to avoid that pitfall, and for that reason, it says here that he’ll have a successful tenure in Orlando.

The media expectedly is falling into two camps on this issue:

Successful:

Kelly Dwyer at cnnsi.com:

From Mike Montgomery to Rick Pitino, John Calipari, Tim Floyd, Lon Kruger, Leonard Hamilton, P.J. Carlesimo, Jerry Tarkanian and Dick Vitale, the NBA landscape is littered with former college coaches who thought they could exhort and prod their way toward NBA glory. And, to a man, each fell well short. Only Pitino, Floyd and Carlesimo were offered second NBA jobs, with only Floyd (the most maligned of the bunch) improving his record in his second stint.

The overriding theme here is respect, and how to earn it from professionals making guaranteed money while the coach tries to sustain a sense of gravitas from training camp in October to, hopefully, a playoff run in the spring. NCAA coaches, who are allowed to wield scholarships and playing time over the head of impressionable youngsters, are able to get away with emptying all their motivational shells in the midst of what, at best, could turn into a 40-game season. NBA coaches tend to hit their 40th game in early February, with a playoff push and possible postseason run still weeks away.

Despite all the historical evidence suggesting failure, each pro team and each coach think their situation could be the one exception — the one marriage of pro team and ex-college coach that actually works. There is some evidence that suggests that Donovan, for all intents and purposes, could be the one who breaks the losing streak.

Ian Thomsen at cnnsi.com (linked yesterday but written on Apr. 9):

“Here’s what I’ve noticed about Billy,” a GM said. “A few years ago he realized he wasn’t very good at coaching defense. He moved one of his assistants — which is very hard to do for a head coach, because in that world it’s all about loyalty and sticking together — and [in 2004] he brought in an old veteran guy, Larry Shyatt, to fix the problem. And that’s why they were able to win two national championships.”

Here’s the picture I should have recognized last week. Donovan has been aiming toward an NBA career, and along the way he’s been humble enough to recognize his weaknesses and fix them. He will have a lot to learn in the NBA, but there is a feeling among his potential employers that he won’t be the typically dictatorial college coach who fails to form a partnership with his richer, more powerful NBA players. Donovan will adapt and grow into the job.

“When he hires his assistants in the NBA, he won’t go the buddy route,” the GM said. “If he perceives he’s not good enough in a certain area, he’ll go and get himself some help. He’ll figure out what he needs to be successful in the NBA, and he’ll put the right guys around him.”

Tony Mejia at cbs.sportsline.com:

Orlando has, in one single move, become relevant again. And even if Donovan fails, conventional wisdom is that he can always return to the college game the way mentor Rick Pitino did. He has had a nice re-birth, no?
But he won’t fail. He’s walking into a wonderful situation and was smart enough to recognize that. The Magic made his choice all the easier by ponying up the jack. I honestly never felt they had it in them. The climate has changed. Orlando wants to be more than mediocre.

The Big Lead:

Plus, unlike many college coaches before him, Donovan can win in the NBA: the Magic are already a playoff team in the East, probably will get Vince Carter this summer, and it looks like a couple teams in the East are going downhill (Miami’s old, Detroit’s aging, and Indiana appears to be on the path to rebuilding).

Failure:

Pat Forde at espn.com:

I sincerely hope Billy Donovan doesn’t wind up like all the others.

I hope he’s not the next Tark, the next John Calipari, the next Tim Floyd, the next Lon Kruger, the next Mike Montgomery. I hope he doesn’t follow the same failed path as his mentor, Rick Pitino. I hope he doesn’t wind up with his wind pipe being massaged by a player, like P.J. Carlesimo.

I hope he’s not just another college coach who, for some reason, couldn’t tolerate living with the happiness and success he built by hand, and chose the misery of losing in the NBA instead. I hope he’s not the next in a conga line of call-up coaches who flop when taken out of their element.

Bob McClellan at yahoo.com:

The NBA is grinding, demanding. It’s four games in a week, not two. It’s hitting the road 41 times, not 10 times like the Gators did last season (and two of those were in-state trips). There are no non-conference cupcakes, although there are two games with the Memphis Grizzlies.

The fact is coaches don’t leave the NBA because they get better gigs. They leave because they get pink slips. They leave exhausted, chewed up and spit out, black and blue.

Orange and Blue would have been the safer choice.

Dan Shanoff as guest blogger at deadspin.com:

And the final insult for any college fan, Florida or anywhere: What, exactly, is the lure of coaching in the NBA? On its face, it sounds like the shittiest job in sports.
Zero job security, with a “when” not “if” inevitability of a bad ending to nearly every coaching hire. (Welcome to Indiana, Jim O’Brien!) Star players who run the team. Financial realities that hamstring moves.

Roughest of all, the “Ring or Bust” mentality. Jerry Sloan is the ideal of NBA coaching longevity, yet he is best known for NOT winning a championship. And most of the coaches who have won a title recently (Jackson, Tomjanovich, Popovich) have enjoyed coaching the greatest players of their eras. Dwight Howard is the best post player in the East — not a bad foundation to build a contender — and they have double-digit cap millions to use (please God: NOT Vince Carter…hmm: Gerald Wallace?) But yeesh, those odds are still ugly.\Meanwhile, Billy D was on track to be one of the Top 5 most successful coaches in college hoops history. His style seemed MADE for college. (His weakness – Xs and Os – will be magnified in the NBA, while his strength – personality – will be mitigated.)

Brian Schmitz’s Magic Basketblog:

If hiring him winds up being the biggest transaction of the summer, it will mean the Magic failed to land a prized free agent or make a trade for the missing piece or pieces. And Billy’s NBA maiden voyage could hit rough water for a team that carries, perhaps, oversized expectations, firing Hill even after he led the Magic to their first playoff appearance since 2003.

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