Category Archives: NBA

Sam Dekker: NBA Draft All Access

Just as I’ve done the past two years, I shadowed a player at the NBA draft. This time it was Wisconsin’s Sam Dekker, who was drafted in the first round by the Houston Rockets. Part profile, part draft day diary, my story appears on the Wisconsin alumni website. There will also be a shorter version that appears in the school’s alumni magazine.

Three Point Contest Preview

Looking for a winner in tonight’s NBA All Star three-point contest? How about reading my preview for Vice Sports? I used Vantage Sports’ incredible statistical database to assess the field. Instead of just regular shooting percentages, I looked at the numbers for wide-open attempts, which better approximate the shooting that will take place tonight.

I Went to an NBDL Game

When you drive past a marquee advertising a NBDL game the following night and you’ve got no plans, you can’t not go. My friend Lee agreed, so we went to last night’s game between the Westchester Knicks and Erie BayHawks.

Many others apparently felt the same way, as the Westchester County Center—better known for hosting sports memorabilia shows and reptile exhibits—was packed. We got in line for tickets and were immediately told they were running out and that there were no longer two seats together.* This seemed absurd to us, even in an arena that only seats 2,500 people. It turns out both the employee and we were right: While it was true that we had to buy tickets in different rows, once inside it was clear we’d have scores of seating options. Were the open seats no-show season ticket holders? I have no good answer.

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NBA Draft Coverage

Nik Stauskas (second from right) with the rest of the top prospects and commissioner Adam Silver.

Nik Stauskas (second from right) with the rest of the top prospects and commissioner Adam Silver.

I know it’s been a while since you’ve heard from me, but I’ve been keeping myself busy with plenty of freelance writing. On Thursday, I shadowed Nik Stauskas at the NBA draft, just as I’d done with Trey Burke the year before. Stauskas was drafted by the Sacramento Kings at No. 8, higher than he was projected in any mock draft I saw. It was a fun day, and I wrote about it for Michigan Today. The story was published yesterday.

Before the draft, I collaborated with friend Nick Williams on a statistical analysis that shows why drafting centers is unwise. That ran on Sports on Earth last week.

Thanks for reading!

NBA Draft All-Access: Trey Burke

2013 nba draft

The first people I recognized on the day of the NBA draft were the Zeller parents on the ninth floor of the Westin hotel in Times Square. This couldn’t have been more fitting. If you’ve watched any college basketball the last five years, you’ve seen them. As the parents of three sons who played college ball, Mr. and Mrs. Zeller have gotten as much airtime on ESPN as Dick Vitale.* Cody, the Indiana center, was this year’s draftee, so when he showed up to meet his parents for breakfast, followed by his oldest brother and his family, I felt right at home.

*In the Zeller family, each son is better than his older brother, as opposed to the Kahn family where the middle son is by far the most talented.

I was at the hotel by 9 a.m. to shadow Trey Burke throughout the most important day of his life. I chronicled Burke’s experience for Michigan Today. Due to a word count and the fact that the piece focused on Burke, many of my observations went unreported. Here is what didn’t make it into the story, starting with what I saw at breakfast:
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Trey Burke: What Is His NBA Ceiling?

Trey Burke (Credit: Adam Glanzman)

When kids start high school, adults of all kinds can’t wait to tell them how this is not middle school anymore. It is time to get serious. The dedicated students rise to the challenge. The same thing happens in college. This is not high school, the professors say. No more coasting. Again, the committed students do well.

Trey Burke was a dominant high school player but was told he was too small for the big, bad Big Ten. He was the National Player of the Year last season and led Michigan to the national championship game. Now there are doubts about how his game will translate to the pros. Yes, he will be a lottery pick in Thursday night’s NBA Draft; in fact, it’s hard to imagine him falling past the Pistons at No. 8. While hardly any expert thinks Burke will do poorly at the next level, opinions run the gamut as to his ceiling.
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Should Dwyane Wade and Manu Ginobili Be Benched in Game 7?

The players with the worst plus-minus in the 2013 NBA Finals have a combined five NBA championships, Olympic gold medals for two different countries, and enough individual achievements to warrant a Hall of Fame induction. They are also two of the most fearless slashers in the game, capable of hitting acrobatic shots among the giants, and often tumbling to the floor in the process. Have their hard minutes caught up with them at the worst possible time?
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