Reflections from last night's EPIC double header
GREAT IDEA. Everyone loves the Final Four (my favorite sporting even), and this had all the buildup as that. This early season Final Four also had the big names and scouts in the stands, with some awesome talent on the floor.
The big three freshman had a ton of hype coming in. They lived up to it. Each one had different games but each put on a show. Wiggins and Parker in the late night finale have slightly different games but each one scored, rebounded, and threw down some nice dunks.
This is almost like the collegiate version of the Big Three of Jordan, Magic, and Bird.
Three college superstars who could also turn into NBA superstars at some point. These three guys along with the rest of the freshman class is going to turn this into a GREAT college basketball season. The big name teams are loaded (Kansas, Duke, Kentucky, and even Louisville, Michigan State, and Michigan). UNC has talent too as does Florida and Memphis. These are basically the teams that have run the Final Four for the past 25 years. Even U Conn looks to be back on track.
The only downsides of these games were the refs and the inordinately long games.
Kentucky/MSU: Randle is a beast. The rest of Kentucky couldn't shoot. Bad floor spacing. Looked really Grit 'n Grind to me with Randle doing his best VINTAGE Z BO impersonation. Kentucky needs to improve. They also need better spacing, 3 point shooting, free throw shooting, and even better guard play. MSU looked very good. Gary Harris is the real deal and as good as anyone outside the top 5 of the 2014 draft. Payne is solid and did a good job defending Randle early on. Michigan State looked in preseason form. In beating Kentucky they deserve the number one ranking, and are one of a handful of teams that are legit threats to get to the Final Four.
Duke/Kansas game: Too many fouls and stoppages of play in a game that wasn't overly physical. This foul stuff was out of control last night, ruining the flow of the game and making it kind of random.
Then Wiggins/Parker were in foul trouble for most of the game and Jabari fouls out with 2 minutes left which was anticlimactic.
Jabari, to me, has that all-around offensive game like Carmelo Anthony. Similar size and build, and a guy who is a solid to above average athlete -- but not ELITE. He also has a lot of Paul Pierce in his game with his knock down 3's, good face up game, jab steps, and that measured pace that PP has mastered. Jabari is no point forward freak like LeBron James (or maybe even Grant Hill) but he can run some offense, and he can handle the ball. So he really does have some point forward potential in spots. The PP like ability to orchestrate at the top of the key along with a Boris Diaw-like passing game and facilitating from the inside.
To me, he is a small forward on offense, a bit bigger than Paul Pierce with better facilitating skills than Carmelo Anthony. Like Melo though, he can play the stretch four. He can also be a 2nd or 3rd option power point from the 4 spot like Boris Diaw. I also like how Jabari can rebound well and then bang inside.
Great question about who does Jabari guard. I think he has to guard small forwards. I don't see the freakish length to guard bigs inside like Cousins or Duncan LaMarcus Aldridge, and he will get worn out trying to body up to Kevin Love, Blake Griffin, and Z Bo all night. To me, if he wants to be a top tier superstar he needs to be able to guard the ELITE small forwards like LeBron, Durant, and Paul George.
Right now, I think he could matchup favorably with Carmelo and Rudy Gay as well as Paul Pierce, so that's pretty good.
To reach that next step though, he has to be able to defend LeBron, Durant, and Paul George. Then his ability to guard power forwards in spots will also help his all-around game.
With his size, shooting touch, and offensive range, I think he projects better on the next level than Julius Randle (a guy Michael Wilbon is calling a more athletic Zach Randolph) or Andrew Wiggins. Jabari has legit small forward size with possibly even more strength and height. Defense will be the main issue but the offense looks ready to go. Jabari's great potential as a quick scorer, a 3 point marksman, a passer, as well as a guy who can rebound, score some on the blocks, run the floor, and even play the stretch four makes him an IDEAL player for today's league.
If he can defend then he is going to go to multiple all-star games and be an MVP candidate.
You guys are right, he is not an ELITE athlete, but I think he can get up ok and will be much better once he gets more conditioning and gets more toned. I see no reason why he can't be like Rudy Gay, a guy who can get up and throw down power dunks and make above the rim plays. Maybe not PEAK RUDY from a few years back but maybe like the Rudy Gay of the past 2 or 3 years.
If I had to pick one of these 3 guys to get you 25 points in the league I would go with Jabari Parker. I just think a guy with 3 point range and knock down shooting form is the way to go. He can also get you 7 or more boards a night and 3.5 to 4 assists for the complete package. Julius Randle is like Z Bo. More athletic and maybe quicker baseline to baseline (but I didn't see it in the Michigan State game). I will give Randle the benefit of the doubt and say he is a better and more inventive passer than Z Bo (although Zach can pass ok), but Randle has less length than Zach. Randle also didn't defend that well (kinda like Z Bo). Randle can dunk but he is not going to go up over the top like Blake Griffin. He is more of a below the rim guy like Z Bo. Randle will help himself a ton if he hustles more when he doesn't have the ball and if he learns to defend. He also can't float too much outside. He needs the mid-range jumper like Randolph of course, but he can't hover around the 3 point line all night.
Wiggins is a guy I like but he is by no means a finished product yet. I loved the step back 15 footer when Kansas really needed a bucket. He's not a gunner like T Mac, so I like the way he lets the game come to him. Wiggins put Duke away when he had to. His team won so that's basically all that matters. He hit a clutch shot, his team won, and he had more dunks than Jabari Parker for the quick tale of the tape. He needs to refine his shot, get stronger, and I think he will be fine. I like the way he finished in traffic and how he could make a move from just outside the paint. Andrew Wiggins projects better as a shooting guard than a small forward. His size/length is closer to Kobe than LeBron/Durant/Paul George so he should use that to his advantage. He has defensive potential like Scottie Pippen but he is not yet that kind of dogged defender. He also lacks Pip's rugged wing play and toughness. Wiggins is more Jordanesque in feel. He picks his spots, feels more comfortable at mid-range, and shows that great athletic blend of a good first step, an explosive second jump, and the ability to get up, glide, and float. I think his hang time will help him a lot. It doesn't seem like he has huge hands (like Pippen or Jordan) so that might hold him back a bit. Although Kobe doesn't have huge hands either and he is still a beast.
Wiggins needs to get in the gym, work hard, do all the little things, and watch game tapes of Jordan and Kobe.
If I could put these guys on IDEAL TEAMS I would put Jabari Parker on the Boston Celtics. He would be a great fit at the 3 if Jeff Green can play the 2. Both guys are very good all-around players with Jabari having more size and a better shot. Jabari could also be the next in line after John Havlicek, Larry Bird, Reggie Lewis, and Paul Pierce. With Rondo at point guard and Avery Bradley as a smaller 2 or the third guard, the Celtics with Parker will have undergone a near textbook quick rebuild. Those guys along with Olynyk and Faverani inside will give them six guys to build around. They could also go small with Rondo, Avery Bradley, Green, Jabari Parker (stretch four), and Olynyk as the stretch five.
Andrew Wiggins would be a great fit with the Bobcats. He is a scorer and would be a great wing partner with MKG. Kemba can run the team and score, and they also have Al Jefferson, Biyombo, and Cody Zeller inside. MJ can also tutor Andrew Wiggins. I would love to see Wiggins there in terms of fit.
Not sure where Julius Randle fits in best, although he can pretty much play for anybody. Low post skills, scoring, and rebounding are hard to pass up. He could be like a young Moses Malone in Philly with that long perimeter trio of MCW, Wroten, and Evan Turner, Thad Young at either forward spot, and Nerlens Noel (defense) and Spencer Hawes (offense) at the other big man spot. Randle could also work on the Wizards as the inside guy to pair with Marcin Gortat or Nene. With John Wall and Bradley Beal as fixtures at guard and with Trevor Ariza/Otto Porter at small forward, Julius Randle gives them an added dimension that they need. If the Grizzlies tank, I could also see Randle as the Z Bo replacement.
The Utah Jazz need help, although they have Gordon Hayward at the 3/2 and Favors/Kanter at the 4. I think they go Best Player Available even if the fits aren't great.
The Nuggets need help. I don't think they go with another Carmelo Anthony type guy. Andrew Wiggins should be the guy there. He has the flash and athletic talent to make the Nuggets hot again. He could also really take advantage of Mile High basketball in an up-tempo offense with Ty Lawson, Kenneth Faried, Galo, and Javale McGee.
The Suns have come out of the gate firing on all cylinders but if they miss they playoffs they could end up with a top pick. They have the Morris Twins at the 4 spots and Plumlee/Frye at the 5 so they might not need another inside guy. I think either Jabari Parker or Andrew Wiggins would be a great running mate with Bledsoe and Dragic. Either wing would also fit in ok with Gerald Green. Green does a lot of what Wiggins does so maybe they go with Jabari Parker there.
If the Lakers luck into the top pick, I think they take Andrew Wiggins. The Lakers like to roll the dice and go after guys with the most UPSIDE (Kobe) and Wiggins will excite the league and rally the fan base. He can also learn from Kobe Bryant. With Kobe, they can put Wiggins at the 3 and let Mike D figure out how to use all the Lakers' offensive weapons. The Lakers could use some of Randle's toughness at the 4 spot but power forward position has pretty good depth and Julius Randle has less odds of being a transcendent superstar.
The Raptors would LOVE to get the top pick. Andrew Wiggins would give the Raptors the most buzz they've had since Vince Carter so that would be great for Canada and good for the league. You might think they need to trade Rudy Gay then, but I would trade DeMarr Derozan and keep Rudy at the 3 with Wiggins and Terrence Ross at the 2.
The Cavs are a wildcard who could obviously dominate the offseason if they luck into the top pick and if LeBron takes his talents back home. Then they obviously go with Wiggins with the first pick to give them a rotation of LeBron at the 3 or 4, Kyrie Irving at point, Wiggins on the wing, Dion Waiters at the 2 either starting or off the bench, Tristan Thompson at the 4, and Anthony Bennett somewhere at forward. Not even Cleveland can screw up a team with LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, Andrew Wiggins, Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson, Andy Verajo, Anthony Bennett, and Andrew Bynum.