June 27, 2008

Kevin McHale has this NBA Draft thing all figured out, doesn't like OJ Mayo

I know this is not a Timberwolves' blog and in my own defense I have been 100% on topic throughout the life of Gopher Nation. But I feel compelled to throw in my two cents on the Timberwolve's draft and Kevin McHale pulling another draft day trade. Since McHale is a Gopher alumn I think I'm still batting 1.00

I also know that I'm treading on very thin ice here as I try to criticize not just one of the best athletes in the history of Gopher athletics, but I'm also going to question the greatest GM in all of sports (Forbes said it, not me).

The principals of this trade are only half of what bothers me, I'll get to that in a minute. But I get this vibe from McHale that he thinks he knows something nobody else knows. He thinks the joke is on everybody else but in truth they are all laughing at him. What I mean by this vibe is that his track record for drafting is terrible no awful no abysmal, I can't find a word to describe it. Yet he continues to operate each subsequent draft like the previous. With such an unbearable draft record (KG being the lone exception and one could argue he got lucky) why would you just not take the sure thing and be happy with it.

Sitting at #3, McHale did the right thing by drafting Mayo. Mayo has certain skills that directly translate to the NBA and he will contribute immediately (more detail below). But that wasn't good enough for KMc so he traded him. While the entire basketball world agrees that Mayo can shoot the NBA three, has the ability to be a very good defender and has a chance to be a perennial All-star, McHale decided he knew something they didn't and traded Mayo to Memphis.

What did he get in return? He got Mike Miller who will be a nice addition as a productive player and Kevin Love. Love might be fine and also a productive player, but his upside is not what Mayo's is. The NBA is a league of stars and explosiveness. Kevin Love is neither (neither is Miller for that matter).

In an effort to be more specific lets take a look at each players listed strengths/weaknesses (courtesy of stolen from Draft Express)...

OJ Mayo
Strengths Weaknesses
Size Between a PG / SG
Versatility Poor shot selection
Scoring Instincts Turnovers
Shot-creating ability w/either hand Does not get to the FT line enough
NBA 3-pnt range Reliance on outside shot
Ability to pull up sharply off the dribble Struggles to get by defenders
Basketball IQ Year older than class
Court Vision Low shooting percentages
Perimeter Defense
Work Ethic

For my money you can throw a couple of those weaknesses out the door.
  • Tweener? - at 6'5" and NBA range he will play SG and provide some min at PG if needed.
  • Year Older than his class? - So he'll have only a 12 year career not 13.
  • Turnovers/Shot selection/reliance on outside shot? - if he truly is coachable and has a good work ethic (listed in strengths) those can all be corrected.
  • Character Flaws - I honestly believe this has been overblown. I know Mayo's attitude and confidence (arrogance) does not play well in Minnesota, but to be great at this level you have to have swagger. You have to not only want to take big shots you have to believe nobody can guard you and that you are the best person on the floor to take that shot. His other flaws are meaningless once he signs a contract. He hasn't been arrested and most importantly he is known as coachable and having a good work ethic. Those last two attributes have been glossed over because of the scandal surrounding his agent friend while still an amateur player.
His strengths are exactly what you are looking for in an NBA perimeter player. Draft Express says best case scenario is Mayo has a career similar to Chauncey Billups. That is pretty much spot on.

Kevin Love
Strengths Weaknesses
Productive Size
Hands Explosiveness
Strength Plays below the rim
Fundamentals Lateral quickness
Intensity Defensive potential
Ability to score in the paint Not much Upside
Excellent Touch
Range out TO 3-pnt line
Free Throw shooting
Basketball IQ
Passing Skills
Winning attitude
Little downside

When your strengths include attributes like fundamental, productive, excellent touch and passing skills; you are not destined for NBA greatness. And what kills me from within is that his weaknesses include NBA requirements like size, explosiveness, lateral quickness and playing below the rim? Best case scenario for Mr. Love? Personally I see best case being a Christian Laettner type career. Solid player who puts up some decent numbers but will never be more than a #3 option on a good team. Not capable of leading into the playoffs or carrying a team when needed.

Apart from their individual skill sets, Mayo would fit much better on this team than Love. I know we are full of perimeter players but a backcourt of Foye and Mayo to pair with Jefferson in the post is a very good trio. I see two offensive sets that are actually dangerous and require gameplanning by the opposition starting immediately.

1-Mayo coming off an Al Jefferson pick n roll is dangerous. Mayo needs just a little space provided by the screen to hit a mid range pull up (a strength of his) or to dish to Jefferson.

2-Foye and Jefferson have an inside out 2-man game on one side while Mayo stretches the defense on the backside waiting to who his NBA ready 3-point jumpshot.

Love on the Wolves roster? He is a good sized PF who is not big enough to play C (remind of you anyone on the Wolves roster?). Regardless of how good Love may or may not be we don't need another PF. Best case we have two good PFs starting side by side. Again I go to what is a proven formula for success in today's NBA. Two big men doesn't do it. You have to spread the floor with some explosiveness and shooting from the outside to go with someone who can dominate the paint. Tim Duncan doesn't need another big man clogging things up, he needs Parker and Ginobili to keep the defense spread and knock down open shots. Jefferson as a post up PF is great, but where does Love play into this? Setting a back side screen to free up Miller? Finding an opening on the backside baseline for a 10 ft jumper? I think that kind of player can be found without giving up the #3 pick in the draft.

In all fairness the rest of the pieces of this trade I like a LOT. Mike Miller fits in great here and should be productive immediately. Jaric and Walker had to go and it frees up considerable cash in the very near future. If you want to buy into 2 > 1 philosophy then this was the right move. But in a league of stars you brought in two role players for someone who might ("might" is of course the operative word here) be a star.

TWolves Blog agrees with me. I think it is kind of hard to tell what "Let's just say my throat is still burning from the vomit." really means.

PagingJimShikenjanski doesn't comment on the trade but isn't happy about the NBA.

TNABACG loves the lateness of the trade making for incorrect headlines in your paper edition of the Star Tribune (what is the paper edition thing?)

John Hollinger of the WWL disagrees with me (DAMN). "When we break it down, it's hard to see how Minnesota loses: Love is, in my estimation, the better of the two prospects."

Chris Mannix (from SI) agrees with me as well. "With Mayo and Al Jefferson as cornerstones, the Wolves were going somewhere. Now, Minnesota will have to build around a talented but undersized frontcourt (Love, Al Jefferson) without a marquee guard."

Timberwolves' owner Glen Taylor also agrees with me - "Our people thought that Mayo had far more upside than Love," Wolves owner Glen Taylor said. Quote can no longer be found on STrib but TWolves Blog still has it for us to ponder.


NOTE: I like the pick of Petrovik (I'm not bothering to look up spelling).
OTHER NOTE: picture of a GIDDY Kevin McHale was stolen from Star Tribune, picture of players wearing hats, from ESPN


Anonymous said...

GITTY, or taking a SHITTY. push it out man.

Tom said...

Who wants to bet that McHale drafts Tyler Hansbrough next year. He will fall in love with TH's toughness and winning attitude.

Christopher G said...

I think everyone is focusing on the exchange of rookies and not the trade as whole. At least wait until there is some actual NBA game evidence before we start second guessing.

If you look back at scouting reports from the 2006 draft, they were saying Brandon Roy was the guy with no "upside" and some were drawing Dwayne Wade comparisions to Randy Foye.