Rookies I Can't Wait to See
I can't wait to see these rookies play their first NBA game. These aren't the players who are the most talented or the most dominant, just the ones that I'm really itching to see. For example, Emeka Okafor is an outstanding player, and an admirable one too. He graduated in three years with a degree in finance. When asked questions about leadership, he cites a paper he wrote comparing the leadership styles of Aristotle and Machiavelli. He's known as a defensive stopper but he also has a nice offensive game. His basketball IQ is through the roof. If I could offer him a head coaching job 15-20 years from now or a GM position 20-25 years from now, I would do it instantly, all day, every day, and twice on Sundays for good measure. Yet I feel I understand his game and have no doubt he will fit into the NBA. I will watch him. But I can wait to watch him. These other players, man, I simply can not wait!
UTTERLY CAN'T WAIT
He put up better numbers than Dwight Howard, better numbers than Kevin Garnett, better numbers than the oddly highly touted Robert Swift, and better numbers than just about anybody. He Wilt Chamberlained his high school circuit. When he played with Howard at an All-Star game, he was co-MVP. He is going to be huge. I can't wait to see him play.
Sebastian Telfair and Shaun Livingston
I don't have high hopes for the first year of either of these two guys but they supposedly can make some flashy passes and fancy moves. I'd like to see that, especially if they match up against each other.
He can do it all, score, defend, fill the wings, and, best of all, pass. I can't wait to see him running the floor with Iverson. I hope coach O'Brien finds a way to maximize Iggy's potential. He could be a really exciting player to watch.
It's not often you get to compare how a six-foot Basketball Player of the Year would do in the NBA. I hope coach Davis finds a way to use him at point, even if it means having a smallish backcourt of Nelson and Francis. I'd like to see what he can do.
I GUESS I CAN WAIT IF I NEED TO
Howard is going to be a terrific player, there seems to be no doubt about that. And given I can't wait to see Nelson, perhaps there's some transitive property that means I almost can't wait to see Howard. It's a lock I will be watching his first game, of course, but if it were postponed to play one of the first guy's second games, I wouldn't be upset.
Why did he slip so much in the draft? Most mocks had him going at third, or certainly in the top five, worst-case six. He learned basketball from his brothers, who had learned it from Manute Bol, who himself was recently in a car crash up in Connecticut. Bol led the league in rebounding his rookie year and had some amazing highlights of something like four blocks in a row, on the same possession. At one point in his career, he shot three pointers, and his arms were so long, it looked as if he was shooting down with his shot, even from way out there. Deng is supposedly a very versatile forward, and though he's not going to lead the league in blocks or three pointers, he will have his moments. And though I guess I can wait, I admit I am looking forward to them.
I don't expect much out of him except to be a very decent point guard in the league but I wonder what Dallas saw in him that I missed. What does he have that zoomed him up to fifth place, ahead of Deng and Iguodala? Dallas clearly has one of the best scouts in the league (just look at last year's haul of Marquis Daniels, now earning $5 million after being undrafted, and Josh Howard, picked last in the first round, and now tenth in the NBA in steals per turnover. Now we'll find out if Harris is an unexpected superstar or if the Mavericks are better at selecting undiscovered gems than comparing the polished ones.
I just don't get what all the big deal is about him. He'll probably get some garbage minutes this year. I guess I'd like see him play a bit.
GUYS I SEEM TO HAVE IGNORED
Ben Gordon (and Emeka Okafor)
He's going to be an excellent player but there are already lots of excellent players in the NBA. Part of my lack of impatience in seeing him play is that he already feels like an NBA player to me, same as I described above with Okafor. Both UConn players are a case of high-expectations matched with very-high possibilities of meeting or exceeding those expectations.
He's not quite in the league with Gordon in terms of clearly being an excellent player in the NBA, but he will be solid, probably a starter for the Hawks. I have nothing against him. It's just that my expectations aren't very high for him, while the chances of him meeting or exceeding my expectations are very high indeed. So I can wait.
Perhaps Biedrins belongs in one of the two earlier categories. I am kind of excited about watching him play, but it is for Golden State. Do they have a chance at finally making the playoffs?
This guy seems to be a very versatile player but I wonder how he will be used by Cleveland. It would be unfortunate if he were just reduced to a spot-up shooting role given he can do so much more, but with LeBron James doing the penetrating and Carlos Boozer doing the rebounding, unless Jackson makes an awkward move to point, he may well just have to patrol the perimeter waiting for a kick-out for an open look. I'd like to see his talents maximized but I'm worried there's a good chance they won't be. And if they're not, then what am I looking forward to?
That's my list. I've bared my soul. Do you agree? Is your list different? Email me or feel free to post on the Hoopsworld.com message board.