TrueHoop: Charles Jenkins

Las Vegas Summer League Bullets: Day 4

July, 17, 2012
7/17/12
12:57
AM ET
By Sean Highkin, Hardwood Paroxysm
ESPN.com
Archive
  • Amin Vafa of Hardwood Paroxysm talked to Dion Waiters about the expectations the rookie faces after a disappointing start at Summer League.
  • Andrew McNeill of 48 Minutes of Hell writes that Kahwi Leonard’s outstanding performance on Sunday evokes lessons from Chris Ballard’s book The Art of a Beautiful Game: “We shouldn’t want to see him dominate, for him to make it look easy. Mistakes are a good thing, so long as they’re coming in ways that Leonard is unfamiliar with. As Sunday night’s game developed, Leonard seemed to make adjustments and improvements on the fly. Where the driving lanes were clogged early, Kawhi figured out how to exploit them and get to the rim.”
  • Some teams use Summer League as a means of getting particular guys acclimated to playing together, while others simply focus on giving players minutes. It would appear that the Celtics are in the latter category. First-round picks Jared Sullinger and Fab Melo both impressed in Boston’s 87-69 victory over the Hawks, but they did not play together much. I asked Melo about this, and he didn’t seem to think it was a predictor of the way the rookies would be used during the regular season: “We’re just playing, having fun, and trying to play hard. We don’t worry about rotations right now.”
  • Sullinger’s father instilled an appetite for rebounding in him from preschool, Sullinger tells CSNNE.com’s Jessica Camerato.
  • If you watch only one video featuring the Warriors’ Draymond Green getting coffee for Charles Jenkins, waxing philosophical about his love of R&B music, and riding through Las Vegas Aladdin-style on a magic carpet, make it this one.
  • Which NBA coach has the best sense of style? Alvin Gentry weighs in.
  • James Herbert of Hardwood Paroxysm sat next to Damian Lillard’s mother, who was in the stands as the sixth-overall pick scored 25 points in his Summer League debut for Portland.
  • Hornets 247 has video interviews with Austin Rivers and Xavier Henry following the Hornets' loss to the Trail Blazers.
  • Blazers rookie Meyers Leonard throws down a dunk in practice and celebrates with a cartwheel, no small feat for a seven-footer. (via OregonLive.com)
  • Chris Bosh shares the most impressive meal he's ever cooked, and rates himself as a dancer.
  • Charlie Yao of Roundball Mining Company interviews ESPN’s own David Thorpe about Chukwudiebere Maduabum, the Nuggets’ 2011 second-round draft choice who was prevented from entering the league due to visa problems.
  • Mike Prada of SB Nation is impressed not only with Bradley Beal’s talent but also his coachability.
  • Kyle Weidie of Truth About It points to Wizards guard Earl Calloway as a standout performance from Washington’s loss to the D-League squad whose impact won’t necessarily be reflected in the box score.

Fix tanking: No more protected picks

April, 24, 2012
4/24/12
4:07
PM ET
Mason By Beckley Mason
ESPN.com
Archive
In theory, protected draft picks are a smart idea.

Protecting a draft pick permits a team to hold on to the pick under certain circumstances -- for instance, a top-five protected pick stays with the team if the pick is one of the top five in the draft lottery. This allows a team to trade a draft pick and narrowly define the value of that asset.

A hypothetical example: The Washington Wizards would probably be willing to trade an unprotected No. 1 pick (or several unprotected picks) for Kevin Durant. But to get Durant's teammate Serge Ibaka, they might be willing to trade only a top-10 protected pick.

That's the original concept. But in practice, protected picks can lead to some pretty nasty side effects.

The Golden State Warriors are the latest example of what happens when pick protection goes bad. To try to hold onto their top-seven protected pick, the Warriors have thoroughly tanked the second half of their season -- on Saturday night, rookie Charles Jenkins played 48 minutes and Mikki Moore got 24 minutes.

Mikki Moore!

Ethan Sherwood Strauss explains the Warriors’ motive and pinpoints the problem:
As the seventh-worst team, the Warriors have a 75 percent chance of keeping their pick. As the eighth-worst team, they have a 90 percent chance of losing it.
When picks are protected, especially in the late lottery, the impetus begs certain squads to tank.

Consider the risk-reward equation in this scenario: a seventh pick that could end up being a franchise cornerstone, or nothing.

Accordingly, since March 14 the Warriors have gone 5-19 in a desperate attempt to hang on to that protected pick. John Hollinger (Insider) has seen quite enough, and has a suggestion for how the league could prevent this kind of flagrant tanking:
Here's a memo to the league: Stop including conditional protections on draft choices like this. What the Warriors have done this past month is an abomination and needs to be stopped. The only protection that should be allowed are outside the top 14 or inside the top three.

We've seen too many teams make a mockery of the game in the final month of the season because they were trying to keep their draft pick (most notably in the infamous Mark Madsen 3-pointer game a few years back), and it's one of the big reasons that so many of the games in March and April stink.

Amen.

But the Warriors aren't done. Having come this far, Golden State still must lose their last two games to give itself its best opportunity to keep its pick.

How perverse is it that the Warriors’ big end-of-season test is whether they can lose to the lowly Hornets at home?

The question of how to motivate bad teams to play their hardest at the end of the regular season, when playoff seeding is decided, is a difficult one. But it’s not hard to notice that certain elements, like protected picks, directly cause some of the bad basketball we see each year.

This one’s not as comprehensive as some tanking fixes, but it's an easy one. Just do away with protected picks and instantly remove one of the most obvious reasons for teams to tank away huge portions of the season.

Defense in decline since Rubio's injury

April, 5, 2012
4/05/12
11:21
AM ET
By Ryan Feldman, ESPN Stats & Info
ESPN.com
Ever since point guard Ricky Rubio was lost for the season with a torn ACL on March 9, the Minnesota Timberwolves have struggled. They were 21-20 when he got hurt and are 4-11 since then, and much of the Timberwolves’ struggles are on the defensive end.
Ricky Rubio
Rubio

Rubio is not the quickest player, but his length and size helped cover a lot of ground. Without Rubio -- who ranks third in the league in steals per game (2.22) -- the Timberwolves have had to rely more on smaller guards like J.J. Barea (6-0) and Luke Ridnour (6-2), both of whom rank in the bottom 40 percent in points per play allowed.

The Timberwolves are fine offensively without Rubio. In fact, they've scored two more points per 100 possessions with Rubio off the floor. Defensively they've allowed seven more points per 100 possessions without him and are allowing 11 more points per game.

Minnesota’s opponents have scored 100 or more points in nine of the last 15 games after scoring at least 100 in 17 of 41 games that Rubio played.

But how are opponents scoring so much more lately?

Without Rubio on the court this season, Minnesota’s opponents are scoring 22 percent more fast-break points, 11 percent more second-chance points and 4 percent more points in the paint.

However, with Rubio not on the court at all anymore, those numbers have been amplified even more over the last 15 games. Minnesota’s opponents are scoring 30 percent more fast-break points, 14 percent more second-chance points and 14 percent more points in the paint.

Some of those increased easy baskets -- fast breaks, second-chance points, points in the paint -- can be attributed to Nikola Pekovic missing eight of the last 15 games with an ankle injury. But more of it can be attributed to Rubio's injury; the Timberwolves have had trouble stopping opposing guards from penetrating and dishing.

Over the last 15 games, opposing guards have an assist-to-turnover ratio better than three-to-one. In the 15 games before Rubio’s injury, that ratio was less than two-to-one.

On March 12, the Phoenix Suns guards combined for 74 points, 16 assists and two turnovers. On April 2 against the Sacramento Kings, Isaiah Thomas had 17 points, five assists and no turnovers.

In Wednesday’s loss to the Golden State Warriors, guard Charles Jenkins had 19 points, seven assists and two turnovers as Golden State erased a 20-point deficit with 58 second-half points.

Not having Rubio also impacts the Timberwolves on the boards. He averaged 4.2 rebounds per game, which ranks 10th among guards.

The Timberwolves were strong playoff contenders before Rubio’s injury. Now, they're in last place in the Northwest Division, five games out of the playoffs with 10 games left to play.

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