Season-ending thoughts on all of the lottery teams
Posted: Tuesday April 17, 2007 12:47PM; Updated: Tuesday April 17, 2007 6:06PM
It may be about time for the marathon NBA regular season to give way to the ages-long NBA playoff season, but we're not ready to say goodbye quite yet to the dregs of the league. Here's one more look at the 14 non-playoff participants.
His stats didn't take a huge jump (13.2 points per game over the season's last three months, 12.1 in the first three), but it was good to see Marvin Williams do away with his inner Don MacLean over the latter portion of the season. Eschewing the catch-and-shoot ideal that limited his effectiveness, Williams started driving and scoring more while taking nearly a third of the three-pointers he attempted during the season's first half. The second pick of the 2005 draft still doesn't smack of superstardom, but if he can develop an in-between game that sends him to the line more often, the Hawks will get a little more bang from Williams than he's previously offered.
Doc Rivers: Not as bad as some say, and not doing as good a job as the Celtics would like to think. It isn't easy to get on board with the idea that Rivers has earned a contract extension and a fourth season with Boston, but even though it flies in the face of a batch of guesswork by some in the media (Jeff Van Gundy, Scott Skiles and Rick Carlisle available this summer? On what planet?), it may not be the worst idea for Rivers to return for at least 2007-08.
Why? Name a solid pro coach who is readily available. Jeff Bzdelik could make it work, but he just took the job at Colorado. Suns assistant Marc Iavaroni would work anywhere, but Danny Ainge may not like what "No Baloney" has to say about Boston's roster. Other than those two, it appears to be a retread wasteland, though Boston should take a hard look at assistant coach Dave Wohl if nobody emerges. The obvious move would be to wait on Doc's extension and explore those options first, but if nobody else is around, why not keep him on board until a viable candidate surfaces, then eat his salary? Think of it as money that could have gone to Raef LaFrentz.
It boggles the mind to think what sort of team this could be if it could stay healthy. Sean May's name initially springs to the front of the boggled mind, the sort of all-around scorer who could make life heaps easier for the league's 26th-ranked offense, but he has played only 58 games in two seasons (career averages of 10.4 points and 6.7 boards in 21 minutes). Emeka Okafor looks like he needs help getting out of the back of a cab, and Primoz Brezec hasn't looked up to NBA speed all season. Get that frontcourt right, do something creative with Gerald Wallace's impending free agency as well as all that cap room, and take advantage of that likely top 10 draft pick, and there's no reason why this team (health permitting, of course) shouldn't contend for a playoff spot next season.
Outside of Jermaine O'Neal's reemergence as a monster on the defensive end, there wasn't much to like here, save for two things. First, as we mentioned last week, this year's implosion makes it a heck of a lot easier for Pacers bosses Donnie Walsh and Larry Bird to take a blowtorch to this roster. And phrases like "heck of a lot" provide a nice segue into another lovely thing about this organization: the radio work of color commentator (and former Pacers coach) Slick Leonard, who is full of "dab-nabbits" and other G-rated pseudo-curses. No bumpkin, that Slick -- you can tell he wants nothing more than to unleash a torrent of Lenny Bruce-styled commentary, but somehow (this season, especially) he's reined himself in. TV analyst Quinn Buckner also receives high marks for refusing to big-time opposing coaches like most bitter ex-sideline walkers often do while working as broadcasters.
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