The Downbeat #1034 - The "pre-pre-pre-pre-Draft edition"!

We could be picking one of these guys at #14, maybe even the guy getting blocked - Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA Draft is coming up and we're going to ramp up our Draft coverage here. I mean it. We have three picks, and I don't expect us to move any of them. The #14* (lottery still to come) and #21 would normally be good starting points to move up if we wanted to, but this draft appears to have a very high drop off point in talent after #5. And I don't think two middle to worthless first rounders will get us #5.

I know that we have some needs (point guard? point guard? anyone? anyone? Bueller?), but I don't think we're going to get a PG at #14 who is a clear cut lotto guy. I don't expect Trey Burke or Michael Carter-Williams to be available, so we're probably not going for a directed draft approach in terms of fixing a position. It's almost assuredly going to be BPA (unless we're picking for some other team -- but that would require our front office to use those telephones on their desks to do so). (BPA = best player available) The vast majority of players projected to go in the #10 to #20 spots are either bigmen or wings. You know, the last four lotto picks we have on the team right now are also all either bigmen (Enes Kanter / Derrick Favors), or wings (Gordon Hayward / Alec Burks). We're most likely going to add another bigman or a wing lotto pick this NBA draft. The sooner we accept this the better it is for all of us.

That being said, do you have any guys that stand out in mind? Dario Saric? Kelly Olynyk? Gorgui Dieng? Rudy Gobert? Kentavious Caldwell-Pope? Mason Plumlee? Jeff Withey? Or do you think we'll go PG and not BPA at #14? What do you guys think the Jazz will do? What do you think they should do?

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One of the guys who could be in our "Pick #21 BPA range" could be 6'8 Russian wing Sergey Karasev. He's Russian, and he's a wing. But he's nothing like Andrei Kirilenko. This southpaw is a natural shooter. Check out this video by DraftXpress (DX) from the 2013 Nike Hoops Summit. N.B. This is from the much shorter international / NCAA three point range.

I am leaning towards the belief that the Jazz will just go BPA with both picks. We value flexibility, and spent the last two seasons (and two trade deadlines and two off-seasons) with four starting PFs. I don't see talent re-distribution along the 5 different positions changing anytime soon.

All that said, I'm not really high on Karasev, but I'm putting this video out there because I think he could be on the BPA short-list at #21. And I think the Jazz will go BPA at #21 (like we did at #20 for Eric Maynor, and #23 for Kosta Koufos -- we know how well those picks ended up). Of course if it was ME I would pick Myck Kabongo at #21. But the Jazz will not do that. And that's fine. I'm not the best GM either, why should I expect our team to have nice things?

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Is the era of the high-scoring bigman done? Or is this a product of guys who would normally play a bigman role in earlier era of NBA ball now have much better face up and traditional guard skills that the Bigman role is less important? You could argue that guys like LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Carmelo Anthony would probably had been PFs in earlier eras. They would have worked on their bodies and post moves more, and dribble skills and shooting less if they were raised in those eras. Or at least that's the premise. It's always hard to look at players from different eras; yet we always do when looking at how Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan stack up. We could also try to do this with high scoring forwards as well.

So let's look at the highest four scoring years (as seen in largest PPG) for these three young guys and Karl Malone, but with the critical period of it being their Top 4 scoring years at the age of 25 or younger. Because of the dynamics of coming out early from college this means that this is Karl Malone's first four years in the league, while it goes up to being LeBron and Melo's 7th seasons in the league. For good measure I also put in Karl's year in his 7th season in the league, so we can compare.

Player Team Age Exp Season G PPG FG% FTA/Gm FT% PPS
LeBron James Cavaliers 21 3 2005 2006 79 31.4 48.0% 10.3 73.8% 1.36
Kevin Durant Thunder 21 3 2009 2010 82 30.1 47.6% 10.2 90.0% 1.48
Carmelo Anthony Nuggets 21 3 2005 2006 80 26.5 48.1% 8.9 80.8% 1.35
Carmelo Anthony Nuggets 22 4 2006 2007 65 28.9 47.6% 8.7 80.8% 1.29
Kevin Durant Thunder 22 4 2010 2011 78 27.7 46.2% 8.7 88.0% 1.41
Karl Malone Jazz 22 1 1985 1986 81 14.9 49.6% 5.0 48.1% 1.18
LeBron James Cavaliers 23 5 2007 2008 75 30.0 48.4% 10.3 71.2% 1.37
Kevin Durant Thunder 23 5 2011 2012 66 28.0 49.6% 7.6 86.0% 1.43
Carmelo Anthony Nuggets 23 5 2007 2008 77 25.7 49.2% 7.7 78.6% 1.34
Karl Malone Jazz 23 2 1986 1987 82 21.7 51.2% 6.6 59.8% 1.25
LeBron James Cavaliers 24 6 2008 2009 81 28.4 48.9% 9.4 78.0% 1.43
Kevin Durant Thunder 24 6 2012 2013 81 28.1 51.0% 9.3 90.5% 1.59
Karl Malone Jazz 24 3 1987 1988 82 27.7 52.0% 9.6 70.0% 1.37
LeBron James Cavaliers 25 7 2009 2010 76 29.7 50.3% 10.2 76.7% 1.48
Karl Malone Jazz 25 4 1988 1989 80 29.1 51.9% 11.5 76.6% 1.49
Carmelo Anthony Nuggets 25 7 2009 2010 69 28.2 45.8% 8.9 83.0% 1.29
Karl Malone Jazz 28 7 1991 1992 81 28.0 52.6% 10.7 77.8% 1.50

Wow, I didn't realize how good these young guys were. All three young SFs played their third seasons in the league at the age of 21, which is one year YOUNGER than Karl's rookie year.The second major take away is that all of these guys get to the line. (Hmm, maybe that helps you score, and helps your team win because winning is based upon which team has the most points?) I did use PPS here because I don't know where I can find PPP value for the 1980s. But from that metric too it seems like Durant is a really efficient scorer. (Point of direct comparison: this year Durant's PPS was 1.59, Al Jefferson 's was 1.13)

I do wonder how many times Karl would get to the line today with the rules they have in place, but despite the era and rules changes let's not forget that Karl Malone started his career (on a team with Thurl Bailey, and Mark Iavaroni, and Mike Brown) as the starting SF for the Jazz. So this may be less apples to oranges as we expect. I also do wonder if any of these kids will play to age 40, like Karl did. The one major thing in Karl's favor is that he plays almost every game, while these other kids took more time off early (and also played in a lockout shortened year last year -- which affected only KD).

Ultimately, I don't know how the high scoring forward is going to evolve for certain, but it seems to be more face-up and three point shooting oriented than ever before. Unless, you know, Enes Kanter brings sexy back back to the basket scoring back.

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Karl Malone is outspoken in ways that probably make a lot of people cringe. In a way it's one of the things that he does that I really appreciate because with him you know that he's going to be honest enough to tell you how he really feels -- even if he's wrong. He's a stand up individual, who has the capacity to be ill-informed but then over time will learn and improve. I remember that somehow in his mind he thought that Greg Ostertag's contract was larger than it actually was, until David Locke pointed the facts out to Karl. He still wished to be indignant about it and was, but he understood that the points of view that he had were based upon incomplete facts. Of course, years before this he was very vocal (but honest enough to be vocal about something huge) about the Magic Johnson HIV+ news. I will maintain that Karl was saying that the majority of the NBA felt and feared then, but his lack of tact (or perhaps his over-honesty) prevented him from keeping it to himself.

In a way, he was the open book that forced the Jazz PR to have so many migraines. Right now they run a closed ship beyond highly groomed statements and soft journalism spots with entities that are owned by the same people who own the team. For example, the Jazz really didn't say much about the whole Jason Collins thing -- and I really doubt they ever will. It's shooting themselves in the foot to say anything and the smart business move would be to pretend it even happened.

Karl is the opposite of 'smart business', and he opened the flood gates with his opinion (ESPN recap of some of what he said here). I was trying to squirrel this information away, but the always amazing Moni has a great transcript of the interview at her site. I'd tell you all to check it out, but I know that you visited her site before you loaded up SLC Dunk.

"This is my opinion, and Imma tell you why I got my opinion, ok? My brother-in-law, who was in the Air Force, right? My brother-in-law is gay. He got married to his partner that's gay. Now, 25 years from now (Ed Note: He probably means 25 years ago), being from The South, this probably would've been a different story. He educated me. (Emphasis added)" - Karl Malone, on Jason Collins (via Moni)

Here it is again if you missed the link before. And thanks Moni for doing such a great job!

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Okay, I wrote 2000 words here and I was just getting started. I'm going to instead make this a long form post, and instead insert this picture of a cute little Kitty and Dog. (via The Shums / @TheShums)

Tumblr_mm5bjfdbg61qdlh1io1_400

via 24.media.tumblr.com


It's nice to delete a very long, strongly worded section, and replace it with that. Thanks Shums, your tweets really make me better manage my nerd rage at time.

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