Friday, October 24, 2008
With the 2008-2009 fast approaching, I thought it best to “let the proverbial cat out of the bag” and name my pick for 08’-09’ Rookie of the Year (ROY) – Palma de Mallorca, Balearic Islands native - Rodolfo "Rudy" Fernández Farrés of the Portland Trailblazers.
Fernández’ Beijing Olympics heroics in Gold Medal game as well as his Blazers’ pre-season display of aerial artistry, timely shooting, pinpoint passing, and instinctive defensive skills have certainly gotten my juices following for the upcoming regular and fantasy NBA seasons.
A lot is expected of the man that I have christened as “Da Boy.”
The evolution of a trade
It all started with a 6’7’’ Czech guard named Jiri Welsch.
Not a lot of people remember the former Mattoni League MVP who was drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers (16th overall) in 2002. Welsch never got an opportunity to play for the 76ers during his rookie season as his rights were immediately shipped to the Golden State Warriors. The following season, Welsch was again traded, this time to the Dallas Mavericks and then subsequently dealt to the Boston Celtics along with Chris Mills, Raef LaFrentz and a 04’ lottery-protected selection for Antoine Walker and Tony Delk (It seems like it happened yesterday).
Still with me?
Now this is where our story truly begins as less than two years later, the Celtics moved poor Welsch (this guy never caught a break) to the Cleveland Cavaliers for a future first-round pick in 2007 that eventually became the 24th selection by virtue of the Cavs 2006 team standings.
In 2006, the Phoenix Suns drafted Kentucky point guard Rajon Rondo and then traded him along with “The Braided One” Brian Grant for the aforementioned Cavaliers selection and cash considerations.
The following year, the Suns used the Cavaliers pick, which the got from the Boston trade to draft Rudy Fernández.
In total, it took a series of trades involving four NBA teams over the course of two seasons and another year of continuous discussions and negotiations on the part of the Portland Trailblazers brain trust (General Manager Kevin Pritchard please stand up!) to pry Rudy away from his mother team of eight years—DKV Joventut of the Spanish ACB League.
It took awhile, but Rudy Fernández is finally in the National Basketball Association (NBA).
What it this “Da Boy” business?
The moniker “Da Boy” was something I had come up with. It was inspired by a conversation that Nate McMillan shared with the media during the Fernández’ press conference last September 22, 2008. McMillan recalled the time wherein the USA coaching staff and Kobe Bryant scouted the Spanish National Team game during one of their games in Beijing Olympics.
The 6’5’’ Rudy Fernández stood out in that contest, which prompted the observing Kobe Bryant to turn to McMillan and say, "He's your kid, huh? He's pretty good."
“Kid,” in my mind, equating youth or “Boy.”
While “Da” (pronounced Da-H) instead of “The” serves as homage to his namesake, the late Filipino actor Rudy “Daboy” Fernandez.
The statistics and other immeasurable intangibles
With the exception of the two games that “Da Boy” missed due to the ankle sprain he suffered last October 8, 2008 against the Golden State Warriors, Fernández has been truly impressive.
In the five games that he has played to date, Rudy has certainly lit up the stat sheet by averaging slightly more than 29 minutes, 12 points, 3.4 rebounds, 4 assists, 0.2 blocks, and an amazing 2.6 steals per contest. His shooting percentages (46% field goal and 100% free throw) are not that bad either with half his 10 field goal attempts coming from long distance (35% three point field goal percentage).
Looking at his game this early in the pre-season, Fernández has lived up to the high praises given by fellow Spaniard and current Toronto Raptors starting point guard Jose Manuel Calderon when he said, "I think he's (Fernández) a great player, he can score and he can do a lot of things. He's not just a scorer; he can do a little bit of everything. He's a great player.”
Sean Meagher of OregonLive.com added, “while Rudy instantly garners your attention with his "flash-and-dash" style of offensive play, it's how he makes the team better that makes him so important. He creates, not only for himself, but more so for his teammates. He creates open shots for guys either cutting to the basket, trailing or standing in the open corner. He has the rare ability to feel things out before they happen, anticipation. Rudy has the ability to squeeze passes into a tight window most players wouldn't even think about. He's got a constant motor that's always running as long as he is on the court. Many of the tools he plays with, aren't taught. And just think about what he will be able to do when he really learns the NBA game and with a year or two of NBA coaching.”
On my end, if there was any area that Rudy may need to work on, it would be his turnovers (averaging 3 miscues per game in the pre-season) as well as knowing when to put the reigns on his cerebral yet somewhat reckless (yet entertaining) game which has already left him open to injury this early in the season (e.g., ankle sprain).
It’s too early to tell if any of Rudy’s immediate success will carry over to the regular season.
But with talent, opportunity, and confidence.
Anything is possible.
Now playing: The Ting Tings - Great DJ (Calvin Harris Remix)
Monday, October 20, 2008
Annually, the NBA Draft brings together the best crop of collegiate and international talent into Madison Square Garden in New York City. Prior to this momentous occasion wherein young aspirants take their first step to earning millions of dollars, NBA teams spend months and sometimes years scouting and assessing talent across the United States, Europe, and even Asia.
Some teams have a knack for assessing good talent like the Golden State Warriors (Latrell Sprewell 24th pick in 92’; Gilbert Arenas 30th in the first round of 01’; and Monta Ellis 40th selection in 05’) and San Antonio Spurs (Manu Ginobili 57th 2nd round pick in 99’ and Tony Parker 29th selection in 01’).
Another team with what I would like to call, “a great draft sense” (along with superior scouting and assessment skills) is the Phoenix Suns. They were able to draft a number of solid NBA players over the last 20 years (“Thunder” Dan Majerle (1st rd; 14th overall in 88’); Steve Kerr (2nd rd; 50th overall in 88’); Former New Jersey Nets’ All-Star F/C Jayson Williams (1st rd; 21st overall in 90’); Cedric Ceballos (2nd round; 48th overall in 90’); Michael Finley (1st rd; 21st overall in 95’); 2-time MVP Stephen John Nash (1st rd; 15th overall in 96’); their lone choice the following year named Stephen Jackson (2nd rd; 42nd overall in 97’); Shawn Marion (1st rd; 9th overall in 99’); Amare Stoudemire (1st rd; 9th overall in 02’); traded for San Antonio Spurs draft choice Brazil’s Leandrino Barbosa (1st rd; 28th pick in 03’).
Not bad right?
Well, with “new” Phoenix Suns’ owner Robert Sarver’s mandate to tighten his squads spending, first round draft picks since 04’ were traded elsewhere in order to avoid paying them since 1st round picks are guaranteed a two-year rookie deal under the new NBA collective bargaining agreement.
From 2004-2007, there are the players that the Suns virtually gave away. Luol Deng (1st rd; 7th overall in 04’) was sent to the Chicago Bulls in a prearranged deal. Lil’ Nate Robinson (1st rd; 21st overall in 05’) was traded to the New York Knicks along with guard/forward Quentin Richardson for F/C Kurt Thomas and the rights to 2nd round pick Dijon Thompson (2nd rd; 54th overall in 05’).
2006 didn’t shine any brighter for the Suns who owned two 1st round draft selections (#21 & #27). The Suns drafted Rajon Rondo (1st rd; 21st overall in 06’) and traded him, along with a broken down Brian Grant to the Boston Celtics for their 2007 1st round draft (a picked conveyed to the C’s by the Cleveland Cavaliers who got guard Jiri Welsch in a prior deal) and cash considerations. With the 27th selection, the Suns drafted promising Spanish guard Sergio Rodriguez (1st rd; 27th overall in 06’) but traded his rights to the Portland Trailblazers for cash considerations.
The 2007 Cleveland Cavaliers 1st round selection turned out to be Spanish sensation Rudy Fernandez (1st rd; 24th overall in 07’) who was subsequently dealt again to the Portland Trailblazers along with shooting forward James Jones for cash.
Can you imagine if the Suns kept half those guys?
Can you fathom the team not signing Marcus Banks to a five-year $21 million dollar contract in 06’?
And how can we all forget the greatest crime of all?
Absorbing Shaquille “The Big Cactus” O’Neal’s $40 million dollar deal for the next two years.
So much for Sarver’s belt tightening mandate.
Now playing: The Whispers - Rock Steady
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Breaking news over at the Cleavland Cavaliers training camp is that combo guard Delonte West has sought "help for depression and “a mood disorder” he has been battling his entire life."
AP sports writer Tom Withers' also quoted the 25-year old West as saying "I felt a feeling of anger and I just wanted to throw it all away and quit the team." A move (if actualized) which would have left the bulk of 3-year $12.6 million dollar contract (team option for the third year) that he signed with the Cavaliers this past off season on the table.
West also shared contrasting and extreme periods of elation (e.g., West had a number of puzzling remarks after going 2-of-12 from the floor (7 points; 28 minutes) during the Cavaliers pre-season loss to the Spurs last Thursday. West called the matchup as "the funnest game I've played in years" and that "being on the court felt like being on the playground as a child again.") as well as depression (e.g., “When everything is on the upside, I’m feeling the worst.")
While going through the article, my first impression was...
Bipolar Mood Disorder.
www.mental-health-matters.com gives a very concise description of this mental illness:
"Bipolar mood disorder is the new name for what was called manic depressive illness. The new name is used as it better describes the extreme mood swings - from depression and sadness to elation and excitement - that people with this illness experience.
People with bipolar mood disorder experience recurrent episodes of depressed and elated moods. Both can be mild to severe. The term ‘mania’ is used to describe the most severe state of extreme elation and overactivity. Some people with bipolar disorder do not experience depressive episodes-only the episodes of elation and excitement."
I have to give West a lot of credit. He didn't have to come forward and explain to the press...to explain to the world...why he had spent almost two weeks away from the Cavaliers and missed three pre-season games this season. Both he and the Cavaliers simply could have given the generic response: absence due to "personal reasons" or "matters," while the Cavaliers report have reported, "did not disclose the reason for his absence."
But West felt he owed everyone an explanation and he has said all the right things. He mentioned his need "for help" following his behavior "toward a high school referee during a scrimmage at the Cavs’ training facility on October 3."
West also shared that he has begun to seek therapy and is taking regular medication.
West shares, “In a sense, you feel like a weaker man because you have to raise your hand and ask for help,” West said. “But I found out over the last week that it made me a stronger person. I came back focused, and with the help of some medicine and talking with people on a regular basis, I’m back in good spirits.
“I’m back here 100 percent.”
Now playing: The Ting Tings - Great DJ
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Been really busy with work so I haven’t really had a chance to post anything over the course of almost two months (has it really been that long…)
Anyway, the 2008-2009 NBA season is upon us and despite not blogging, I’ve kept abreast with recent player and team developments—a necessity for annual NBA Yahoo! Fantasy players such as myself. (Speaking about that, any of you guys interested in forming a head-to-head league?)
One news report that caught my eye other than the ones watching everything and anything that Gilbert Arenas, Jr. does or the latest on the Dwyane Tyrone Wade, Jr. divorce and having Bad Boys II star Gabrielle Union ever present at Heat games or if Steven John Nash turning 35 will make him even less of awesome player that he is, etc.
News of Los Angeles Lakers forward Luke Walton brings me out of my hiatus—well at least for the next fifteen minutes, before I have to get ready for work.
Here is the story, ocregister.com’s Kevin Ding writes in his Lakers Blog about a chat he had recently with Walton about an El Segundo woman (identified later as 34 year-old Stacy Beshear) following him around wherever he goes. From real amateur tailing techniques to irrationally throwing unsigned basketballs to very real shooting gun hand gestures, Luke has every reason to be worried.
Ding quotes Walton below:
* “She seemed nice enough (when she first began appearing regularly outside the Lakers’ El Segundo practice facility for autographs), and there are a lot of people who are out there all the time. I would sign stuff for them most of the time, but every once in a while you’re in a rush trying to get somwhere after practice. So one time I waved and said I had to be somewhere. And I saw her reach her pen out, and I didn’t think anything of it, and when I got to my house, I saw I had a big blue mark all down the side of my car from her Sharpie pen. So then I was like, ‘That’s messed up. I sign stuff for her all the time. Now she does that; I’m not going to sign anything for her anymore.’ That’s before I knew she was stalking me.”
* “A couple of days later, I was signing stuff, and she came up. And I just rolled up my window and drove off. And as I was driving off, she threw her basketball at my car. It didn’t hit the car, but I saw it was bouncing down Nash Street. And I was kind of laughing like, ‘She’s kind of lost it.’ But at the same time, it was like, she’s really starting to pick up what she’s doing.”
* “Once I moved out of the gated community, that’s when I started noticing. I’d come home, and the same car with tinted windows would be parked across the street all the time. One time, I was like, ‘I swear I see someone there.’ So I walked up and saw her, and she had a hat on, and I said, ‘I can’t believe this is the same chick from the practice site.’ And then for a while, everywhere I went, I’d see her park like a street down. As soon as I took off, she’d start following me.”
* “I’ll be going somewhere, and she’ll be following me everywhere I go. I’ll start really driving nuts, and she’s right behind me, staying with me. It sucks, because you figure you just go out and play basketball and you have your personal life, but then you have to start worrying about stuff like, ‘I don’t want to drive to my teammates’ houses if she’s following me, because I don’t want her to know where my teammates live.’”
* “It was more an annoyance than anything else until recently when she did that gun thing (gesturing at him with her hand as if shooting at him). And then I was like, ‘All right. Now she’s crossed the line.’ ”
* “I’m hoping she’s done. I hope the police finally scared her enough so that she’ll leave me alone.”
In a world where people simple just have an obscene amount of time to talk about other people’s lives or simply make it point to focus on what their obsession is doing...rather than focusing on themselves.
This is serious!
But sadly, they may not be thinking rationally at this point.
Now playing: Pearl Jam - Porch (Live on MTV)