James Harden trade makes sense for both Thunder and Rockets

james harden rockets

I’m at a Halloween party Saturday night; Lucky Strike cigarette hanging out on my mouth, glass of a scotch in my hand (I went as Don Draper from Mad Men) when I get a text that the Oklahoma City Thunder traded James Harden to the Houston Rockets.  I had the same look on my face that Don did when his wife Megan sang “Zou Bisou Bisou” in front of their friends at his 40th birthday party; one of shock and pure amazement.

The deal seemed to come from nowhere as I had seen no rumor tweeted or written anywhere leading up to the deal.  Here is my breakdown of the trade.

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Marquette’s Jimmy Butler Joins the Chicago Bulls

jimmy butler

Marquette small forward Jimmy Butler was one of 54 players invited to the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago last month.  He’ll soon be heading back down I-94 again, this time as a member of the Chicago Bulls . GM Gar Forman selected him with the 30th (last) pick in the first round of the draft last night. Forman talked with the media after the draft about Butler, and said he envisions him playing some two in addition to the three.

Chicago’s GM said that Butler was exactly who they wanted, and was shocked that he was available at that position. It’s pretty obvious that Chicago is in dire need of a shooting guard, and outside shooting in general, which is not Butler’s strengths. But then again, after Klay Thompson, there were real legit SG prospects in this draft. Butler said hes working on his shot though.

And he has something else that fits in well with the Bulls- defense.

By Paul M. Banks

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Marquette’s Jimmy Butler Helping NBA Draft Stock, Named Portsmouth MVP

jimmy butler marquette

Jimmy Butler may not overwhelm or particularly “wow” you with any specific aspect of his game.  That is part of the reason he was robbed and only received All-Big East Honorable Mentions this past season despite clearly being the most important all-around player for Marquette.

Still, Butler is starting to gain some steam as a NBA prospect after helping lead Marquette to the Sweet 16 and earning MVP honors at this weekend’s Portsmouth Invitational (a camp for college seniors where NBA scouts get to further analyze their NBA Draft prospects.)

By: David Kay

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The Final Straw; Minnesota Needs to Show David Kahn the Door

Minnesota Timberwolves President David Kahn

Some people only get so many chances to prove that they’re incompetent. Others get to prove they suck at their jobs daily. Minnesota Timberwolves President of Basketball Operations David Kahn appears to be in the latter. That trend needs to end now.

For anyone who has discussed the Minnesota Timberwolves with me for more than two seconds over the past 20 months, you knew this was coming.

By Peter Christian

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NBA Trade Machine Challenge: Blow Up Pistons’ Roster

rip hamilton tayshaun prince

The Sports Guy refers to himself as the Picasso of ESPN’s NBA Trade Machine.  Well if he is Picasso then The Sports Bank’s Peter Christian and David Kay are the da Vinci and van Gogh of the trade machine (though neither would cut their own ear off while working on a trade… or at least I don’t think.)

In this new feature, Peter and David will play the role of NBA general manager since they are likely more intelligent than half of the GM’s out there.  One will propose a challenge to the other to make a trade happen with certain requirements and the other will accept the mission like he were Tom Cruise and explain why all parties involved would pull the trigger on the deal.
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Hayward to play in Portsmouth Invitational

By: David Kay

The Portsmouth Invitational presents an opportunity for college basketball seniors to impress NBA scouts and hopefully secure a spot in the NBA Draft.  Marquette senior forward Lazar Hayward will get that chance next week.
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2009-2010 Big East Basketball Preview: Part 2 of 5

harangody

by: David Kay

Part of two of our week long Big East Hoops Preview continues with the teams that will likely fall on the wrong side of the NCAA Tournament bubble.  Unfortunately, I have to include my beloved Marquette team in that category.

This list includes the most hatred duo to ever play on one college basketball team, a usual conference powerhouse re-tooling, my MU boys (tear), and a usual bottom feeder that could be poised to make some noise for the first time in almost a decade.

9. Notre Dame (9th, 8-10 in BE, 21-15 overall, NIT)

2009-2010 Outlook:
A lack of depth was a major issue as the Irish failed to live up to their lofty expectations last season, and it will once again be a concern as four important seniors graduated.  Luckily, Luke Harangody chose to come back for his senior season and Ole Miss transfer Ben Hansbrough (yes, Tyler’s little bro) should step into the starting line-up right away.  A Harangody and a Hansbrough on the same team; the hatred should be plentiful for ND this year.  Tory Jackson should be a steadying presence as he enters his fourth year as the team’s starting point guard.

Projected Depth Chart
F/C: Luke Harangody (Sr)/Thomas Knight (Fr)/Mike Broghammer (Fr)
F: Tyrone Nash (Jr)/Carleton Scott (Jr)/Jack Cooley (Fr)
SF: Scott Martin (Jr)
SG: Ben Hansbrough (Sr)/Joey Brooks (Fr)
PG: Tory Jackson (Sr)/Jonathan Peoples (Jr)

Gone: G-Kyle McAlarney, G/F-Ryan Ayers, C-Luke Zeller F-Zach Hillesland

Player to Watch: Martin- The Purdue transfer started in eight games for the Boilermakers during his freshman season.  He is a well-rounded player who can hit from the outside and will need to be a perimeter compliment to Hansbrough as sharp-shooters McAlarney and Ayers (who combined for 218 three-pointers last season) have both graduated and Jackson is inconsistent from deep.

10. Pitt (2nd, 15-3, 31-5, NCAA Elite 8 )

2009-2010 Outlook:
I realize this is low for Jamie Dixon’s team.  But losing four starters in Blair, Young, Fields, and Biggs means 59% of their scoring, 63% of their rebounding, and 60% assists from a year ago need to be replaced.  If their role players from last year can adjust to being starters under the tutelage of Dixon, there is a good chance Pitt will be tourney bound.  It doesn’t help though that returning sixth man Gilbert Brown will miss the first semester after being suspended for the first semester due to academic issues while their lone returning starter, Jermaine Dixon has a broken foot that will cause him to miss the beginning of the season.

jamie-dixon

Projected Depth Chart
F/C: Gary McGhee (Jr)/Talib Zanna (Fr)/J.J. Richardson (Fr)
F: Nasir Robinson (So)/Gilbert Brown (Jr)/Dante Taylor (Fr)/ Dwight Miller (Fr)
G: Jermaine Dixon (Sr)/Lamar Patterson (Fr)
G: Brad Wanamaker (Jr)/Tim Frye (Jr)
PG: Ashton Gibbs (So)/Chase Adams (Sr)/Travon Woodall (Fr)

Gone: C-DeJuan Blair, SF-Sam Young, PG-LaVance Fields, PF-Tyrell Biggs

Player to Watch: Gibbs- The reins of the Pitt offense will be put in Gibbs’ hands.  He helped lead the Jamie Dixon-coached U.S. U-19 team to the gold medal this summer which should be a big confidence booster as he only averaged ten minutes per game off the Panther bench last season.  Dixon needs someone to step into the leader role on the floor with four starters gone, and Gibbs will have to be that guy.  Spending a year learning from Fields could have only helped his preparation to be the Pitt floor general.

11. Marquette (5th, 12-6, 25-10, NCAA Second Round)

lazar12009-2010 Outlook:
Like Pitt, Marquette loses four starters who accounted for 67% of their scoring and 83% of their assists including their trio of four-year starting guards (McNeal, Matthews, and James.)  It will be a major transition this season as MU tries to find a new identity as six new faces join the Golden Eagles.  MU suffered a major loss in the pre-season when expected starting point guard, freshman Junior Cadougan, ruptured his Achilles tendon and will be sidelined for the season.  Still, If they can build their chemistry early in the year and Hayward emerges as a go-to player, there’s a chance Marquette could be dancing.

Projected Depth Chart
C: Chris Otule (So)/Youssoupha Mbao (Fr)
PF: Lazar Hayward (Sr)/Joe Fulce (Jr)
SF: Jimmy Butler (Jr)/Jeronne Maymon (Fr)/Erik Williams (Fr)
SG: Dwight Buycks (Jr)/David Cubillan (Sr)
PG: Mo Acker (Sr)/Daruis Johnson-Odom (So)/Junior Cadougan (Fr-out for season, ACL)

Gone: SG-Jerel McNeal, G/F-Wesley Matthews, PG-Dominic James, C-Dwight Burke

Player to Watch: Mbao- For a team that has lacked a real inside presence the past few years, having a 7’2 threat like Mbao will finally give Marquette a shot blocking threat they haven’t seen since Jim McIlvaine or Amal McCaskill.  It will just be a matter of how much Mbao will be able to contribute in his first season.  He is still rail thin and very raw, but if he can play 12-15 minutes a night right away at a very unsettled position, it could be a major boost for the Golden Eagles.

12. St. John’s (13th, 6-10, 16-18, CBI)

mason-jr2009-2010 Outlook:
Getting a medical redshirt year for senior Anthony Mason Jr. who played in just three games last season due a torn muscle in his foot was a big-time plus for a program that hasn’t had a winning record in conference play since 2001-2002.  They only lose one player who barely contributed and their recent youth movement is beginning to mature.  St. J’s could make some noise, but until they prove to be a consistent team, cannot be ranked any higher than this.

Projected Depth Chart
PF: Sean Evans (Jr)/Dale Coker (Jr)
F: D.J. Kennedy (Jr)/Justin Burrell (Jr)/Rob Thomas (Jr)
G/F: Anthony Mason Jr. (Sr)/ Omari Lawrence (Fr)
SG: Paris Horne (Jr)/Quincy Roberts (So)/Dwight Hardy (Jr)
PG: Malik Booth (Jr)/Malik Stith (Fr)

Gone: C-Tomas Jasiulionis, C-Phil Wait (transfer-Monmouth), SG-TyShawn Edmundson (So) (transfer)

Player to Watch: Horne- When Mason Jr. went down with his injury, Horne stepped up his game and finished the season at Storm’s leading scorer.  He loves to pull the trigger from deep and could be a solid compliment to Mason Jr.

WEEK LONG PREVIEW:
Monday: Teams 13-16
Wednesday: Teams 5-8
Thursday: Teams 1-4
Friday: Post-season Award Predictions

Does Lazar Hayward have Pro Potential?

lazar

By: David Kay

During his first three years at Marquette, Lazar Hayward has been an outstanding complimentary player, taking a back seat to Jerel McNeal, Wesley Matthews, and Dominic James.  With the trio of guards now graduated, Hayward will be the go-to player on a very young, inexperienced Golden Eagle squad next season.

The 6-6 senior, who just finished playing for the United States in the World University Games, put himself on NBA scout’s radars by averaging 16.3 points and 8.6 rebounds per game last season.  How Hayward handles the transition to the focal point of MU’s offense will play a major part in where/if he hears his name called in the 2010 NBA Draft.

Click here for a complete breakdown of Hayward’s NBA potential.