AROUND THE RIM
Though Stephon Marbury has never won a playoff series, Knicks president Isiah Thomas contends that he has recently become the NBA's top point guard—and that he will prove to be one of the best ever. "When I came into the league, everybody said Bob Cousy was the best point guard, and I wanted to put my name next to his," Thomas says. "I've told Stephon that he should make that list read, 'Cousy, Isiah and Stephon.' "...
For the next two months scouts will keep an eye on Danish small forward Christian Drejer, who left Florida last month to sign a two-year, $1 million deal with the EuroLeague champion, F.C. Barcelona. Drejer hopes that his versatility will shine through at Barcelona and help lift him into the first round of this year's draft—which wasn't going to happen in Gainesville, where he was disenchanted with the Gators' selfish play. In his first three Spanish League games, the 6'9" Drejer averaged 5.3 points and 4.3 rebounds in 19.3 minutes....
Their 4-5 stretch through Sunday brings up bad memories for the Timberwolves. Since 2000-01 Minnesota is 24-29 in March and 170-91 in the other months.
On March Madness:
"The college tournament has our playoffs beat in terms of drama, because it's a 100-yard dash and ours is a marathon. But I get tired of hearing that the NCAA tournament is pure basketball and superior to what we do. The level of play is the equivalent of Double A baseball (it used to be Triple A—before the teenagers started turning pro). And you've got to be real naive to think that it's pure. A lot of the best players have their 'advisers' calling guys like me to see whether their NBA stock is up or down after each game, and a lot of coaches are using the tournament to angle for their next job. Also, so many of those coaches spend entire timeouts berating the officials, and then Dick Vitale praises them by saying, look at him! He's Mr. Intensify! He wants his team to win!' And I'm saying, If he really wants his players to win, then why isn't he coaching them?"
The Celtics have stayed in the playoff chase (seventh in the East through Sunday) because of their 7-foot, 250-pound high-energy center. Blount, 28, came by his relentless style the hard way. He was drafted 55th by the Sonics in 1997 after a misguided decision to leave Pitt as a sophomore; since then he has been waived twice and done stints in the CBA, USBL and IBL. Boston got him from Denver at the trading deadline last year, and he meshed with defensive-minded coach Jim O'Brien and assistant Dick Harter, who this season praised him as the league's best post defender. Blount was averaging 15.3 points and 11.3 rebounds over his last six games at week's end; he also had 28 points and 21 boards in a March 1 win over the Magic. He plans to opt out of the last year on his contract, worth $1.1 million. "A lot of teams need a big man roaming around," Blount says, "helping the guards and keeping the ball out of the paint."
3. College grads looking for career opportunities should consider the NBA. In the past 12 months the 29-team league has had 25 G.M. and head coaching changes.
2. At the top of Denver G.M. Kiki Vandeweghe's summer shopping list is a big man who can score in the post. The Nuggets are the league's foremost fast-break team, but they struggle mightily in the half-court against the good defensive teams. Through Sunday the Nuggets were 3-12 against the top seven defensive teams and 33-23 against everyone else.