Weekly Countdown (cont.)
3 Left-handed prospects
All three play for the Warriors. If young forwards Brandan Wright and Anthony Randolph realize their potential, they could join 22-year-old center and co-captain Andris Biedrins as the first all-lefty frontcourt in modern memory.
3. Why it's important. "Because you guard righties your whole life,'' Doc Rivers explained. "It should be easy -- you should just put your hand up [defensively], and your hand should mirror his hand. But if you watch when lefties shoot, the righty is always reaching across his body because that's what you do every day. You're taught to force everyone left defensively; now all of a sudden you're supposed to force him right. It's easier said than done. That's why you see all the left-handed/right-handed players -- like Kevin Johnson: He was right-handed, but he only went left [on his drives].''
What would happen if the Warriors started three natural left-handers across their front line? Especially with Don Nelson devising schemes for them?
"It would be a nightmare, really,'' Rivers said. "Plus, they're all pretty skilled. That will be funny if it happens.''
2. How Biedrins became one of the NBA's more productive centers. The 6-11 Latvian is averaging an impressive 15.7 points and 12.4 rebounds despite his unusual style. "He's not such a traditional center,'' Nelson said. "It's hard to throw him the ball and create the low post and a dominance down there.
"But if you put him in screen-and-rolls and get him the ball on the move, he's pretty good. He catches everything, he has great hands and an ability to go after every rebound and play hard and do all of those kinds of things. We are going to him more, but he just doesn't get you what other really great centers get you down there. It's different.''
A typical southpaw, in other words.
1. What's the difference between Wright and Randolph? Each is 6-10 and a skinny 210 pounds. The rookie Randolph is two years younger than the 21-year-old Wright, who is in his second NBA season.
"Their games are completely different,'' Warriors assistant coach Keith Smart said. "Randolph has more perimeter skills. He doesn't have the shot yet, but he can put the ball on the floor. One [Wright] will play more around the basket and in the paint; the other one will develop a shot at some point and play more out on the perimeter.''
Said Nelson: "I have a hard time predicting exactly. But it's exciting because they're long and they have different personalities. They both have quick jumps and the ability to block shots.''
How will left-handedness affect their development?
"Well, their brains are backward, so that ought to tell you something,'' Nelson said. "I guess they're all going to go left, huh?''
An NBA scout assesses two rising talents:
2. 76ers second-year small forward Thaddeus Young. "He needs to improve his jump shot," the scout said, "because he does not have consistent range with it.
"But the big thing is his effort. His first effort, second effort, running the floor and defensively -- he gets all of those things. He's outworking everybody when he's out there. He's going to be a really good player. I bet he will get better on the jump shot, like Trevor Ariza has done. They have similar qualities -- the quickness, the length, but Thaddeus Young has a little bit more substance to him upper-body-wise. He can get to the rim anytime. He's athletic, he has size, he can handle the ball, quick feet and he doesn't back down.''
1. Bulls rookie point guard Derrick Rose. "He's got to mature and concentrate on delivering the ball to shooters in a way where they're not catching it down around their ankles. Sometimes the one-handed push pass doesn't get right to the shooters where they catch it in stride. But it's something he'll get around to, because everybody tells me the kid's a worker and one of the most humble kids they've come across. He is so quick in getting to the rim and just buckling people over, and not even with a crossover -- he'll use an inside-out dribble with one hand and just keep it in the same hand to leave them on the floor. Andre Miller might not recover for a week and a half because he had back-to-back games trying to stay in front of Rose.
"The guy has a beautiful jump shot off the dribble. It looks textbook -- the rotation on the ball, everything. He just needs to concentrate on finishing the play with the right pass at the right time. But he's the kind of player that you rebuild your team around. He's that good.''
1 View of technical fouls
1. The champion Celtics surprisingly lead the league with 39 technicals, 11 more than the No. 2 team (Phoenix). "Our guys are getting chirped at a lot,'' Rivers said of the trash talking the Celtics hear from opponents this season. "And we're responding, so we have to do a better job there. But it's like I said to one of the officials, 'Don't give a guy a tech for being emotional as long as he's not embarrassing you. He's frustrated with himself.' ''
A big preseason question was whether the Celtics would have the hunger to fight for another title. Their technical fouls are in fact a positive sign of their fire.
"The only rule I have -- and we broke it a couple of times -- is no fourth-quarter techs,'' Rivers said. "Because those are killers. I don't want any techs. But I also don't want to ever [suppress] any of our emotion as a team. It's part of our personality.''