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News » Slumping teams need time, trades or both

Slumping teams need time, trades or both

Slumping teams need time, trades or both

Straight Shooting

Let's turn the standings upside-down, and reconnoiter the worst teams in the league. Which of them might ultimately be headed in the right direction? Which of them is headed nowhere?

Oklahoma City (3-26): Kevin Durant, Jeff Green, and Russell Westbrook are talented youngsters who are learning the NBA ropes together — although Westbrook is struggling to learn the point guard position. Chris "Mr. Jump Hook" Wilcox provides a potent if erratic scorer off the bench, and Nick Collison is the consummate hard-working role player. Everybody else on the team is roster-fill.

Attracting notable free agents to a team that's several years away from being respectable will require an extraordinary sales job plus scads of money. Which means that the help the Thunder need can only come from trades and the draft.

Still, OKC's Little Three constitute excellent building blocks.

Washington (4-23): Even the eventual return of Gilbert Arenas won't be enough to rescue the Wizards from the doldrums. For sure, a healthy Agent Zero, Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler will score points by the dozen. But Andray Blatche is incredibly inconsistent, while Nick Young and the team's other younguns lack star-quality.

Blame Ernie Grunfeld for assembling a team that lacks any kind of interior presence at both ends of the floor, and also lacks adequate defensive skills.

Only several radical trades can provide any hope for this franchise.

Minnesota (4-23): The T-Wolves are still paying the price for not getting an adequate return for Kevin Garnett. Al Jefferson can score and rebound, but does little else. Both Randy Foye and Rashad McCants are talented players, but neither is a point guard or a dependable shooter. Mike Miller is disinterested and should be traded ASAP. Craig Smith is a part-time banger who's logging too many minutes. Ryan Gomes is a terrific eighth man.

NBA roundup

Thanks and right back at you for your kind words.

I think that Robertson was a much better defender than Paul. And, through the years, the committees of NBA coaches who vote for All-Defensive teams would agree. Thus far, CP3 was voted by the coaches to only one All-D team — second-team status in 2008. While Robertson was a second-teamer four times (1986, 1988-90), and a first-team honoree twice (1978, 1991).

The only caveat in the above information is that this is only Paul's fourth season in the NBA, while Robertson had a 10-year career.

In any case, because of his diminutive size — 6-0, 175 — Paul is strictly a sniper, and a gambler. If his gambles are unsuccessful, Paul is liable to be overwhelmed by bigger, stronger opponents, e.g., either taken into the pivot, or moved to a sweet spot, bumped, and then watching helplessly as his man shoots over the top.

On the other hand, Robertson measured 6-4, 208, so he was rarely bullied by opponents. In addition to his quick hands and quick feet, Robertson had the strength to force opposing point guards to turn away from the action, which, aside from stripping the ball, is the best that a defender can hope to do. Also, because of his size and strength, Robertson was better able to switch screen/rolls without suffering the severe disadvantages that result when Paul is forced to do the same.

Give Paul a slight edge in overall quickness and speed, but Robertson was a more versatile and effective defender.

Travels With Charley

Here's another incident that forced me to accept the fact that I wasn't cut out to be a successful coach in the CBA.


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Added: December 27, 2008


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