<
>

Three Deep Thoughts

Deep Thought #1
As of 2001, the NBA has a rule that bans a defensive player from standing in the lane for more than three seconds without guarding somebody. The whole idea is to make the game fun to watch. It stops defenses from packing the paint, and aims to increase scoring with beautiful offenses.

But in a subtle way, I think it could sometimes hurt offenses.

Here's my example: Ben Wallace is about as ugly an offensive player as there is the NBA. But because of this rule, Cleveland didn't get punished much for playing him -- Dwight Howard had to at least pretend to guard Wallace. If this rule didn't exist, Howard would set up under the rim and stop anyone from getting easy layups the whole time Wallace was out there, and the Cavaliers would be looking for a big man with a jumper. If they managed to find one, that team might be prettier to watch.

Deep Thought #2
Everybody still adamant Maurice Williams was the right pick for the All-Star team?

(OK, this thought's not so deep.)

Deep Thought #3
As the draft approaches, there's an old debate about drafting for need vs. taking the best available player. There are strong cases to be made for both. But lately, I've started thinking it depends on the stage of your team's development.

My over-riding thought is that in all player acquisition, draft or otherwise, if you can see a path to a title, you take it. Period. Winning draft day, or winning a trade, is nothing compared to winning titles.

So, if you run a team that you think can win a title with a speedy point guard like Jeff Teague, then dammit, you take Jeff Teague and don't worry about what anybody else says.

I'm sure we have all played gin rummy. In this case, Jeff Teague is that seven you have been waiting for all game. When you get that piece, you lay down all your cards and say "rummy," even if it means discarding an ace.

On the other hand, when the cards have just been dealt, who wants a seven? At that stage of the game, you are willing to displace just about any card to accommodate whatever queen, king or ace might stray your way.

The point being: If you are a piece or two from a title, just get that piece.

But of course, most teams aren't, and I bet they're better off taking the player they believe -- with some clever long-term judgment -- to be the best available.