- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
MANY SCOUTS did not know how good Hinrich was going to be when the Bulls made him the seventh overall pick in the 2003 draft--and they also weren't sure what he'd be. Scouts had him pegged as the classic combo guard, a throwback to players such as Danny Ainge and Dennis Johnson, who manned the backcourt for the Celtics in the mid-1980s. But Hinrich, the oldest player in this group (he spent four years in college), has emerged as a steady point guard with a rugged, pell-mell style that has made him a fan favorite in the Windy City. He's also a surprisingly stout perimeter defender, helping to create turnovers that lead to fast-break opportunities.
T.J. FORD, 23
BRYAN COLANGELO loves speed, so one of his first moves when he took over as Raptors president was to trade for T.J. Ford, who some believe is the fastest player in the league. The deal is a major gamble because Ford is an unproven commodity who had surgery in 2004 for a congenital spinal condition that was aggravated by an injury. But he says it hasn't slowed him down. His new teammates will find out quickly whether he's right, because that's the only way Ford knows how to do anything on a basketball court.
DEVIN HARRIS, 23
IN PREPARING to face the Mavericks in the Western Conference finals, the Suns' staff determined that Harris can be devastating going to his right, which is why a big part of its game plan was to force him left. Yet in the opener Phoenix defenders were unable to stay in front of Harris, who repeatedly went right, got to the basket and laid 30 points on the stunned Suns. Harris's backcourt mate, Jason Terry, may go by Jet, but around the league everyone knows that Harris is the Mav who can really fly. The offense still revolves around Dirk Nowitzki, but when coach Avery Johnson needs to pump up the transition game, fans will get a ride from Big D's fastest jet.
DEE BROWN, 22
SO HERE'S a scenario to consider if you're a Jazz fan. Rookie Dee Brown has just grabbed a defensive rebound--he's not a great leaper, but he has a knack for coming up with the ball in a crowd--and is taking off on a one-man fast break, which he often did at Illinois. Does he continue on his aggressive charge to the hoop or does he pull up and wait for instructions from his coach, Jerry Sloan, who is not a fan of one-man fast breaks? Brown will probably do the latter in the early going, but if the Jazz is going to play a style at all in keeping with its name--and why did the team draft the speedy Brown if it wasn't looking for a little improvisation?--you will eventually see more of the former.