Baller Shots presents SIMPLE NBA DRAFT PROFILES
Today’s profile: Joel Embiid
The blue and white balloons still shine bright as the lights of the event center in the Lexington Hyatt Regency begin to dim. The sound of gentle chatter still fills the mostly empty room, as employees pull the dustbuster and vacuum cleaner from the supply closet. The small group of men sitting in the middle of the room ignore the chairs being stacked, as they enjoy coffee, cake, and conversation. They’ve spent most of the night signing jerseys, basketballs, and photos of their playing days, so it’s actually the first time they’ve gotten to catch up with one another. These fundraisers are the only times they ever seem to see each other, outside of welcoming other Kentucky Wildcat alumni into their ranks. As they finish their coffees, they make plans to watch the draft at a local bar one of their old booster buddies owns. They laugh, they reminisce, and then they leave. The tallest of the group, a slightly-hunched seven footer, with the arms that almost go down to his knees, ducks his head to avoid the top of the doorframe.
As Sam Bowie walks to his car, he exchanges texts with his kids, checks in on the progress of the latest horse he bought, and casually looks through the ESPN app on his phone. While looking for the score of England’s World Cup game, he finds something that makes his heart sink. He takes a deep breath, reading through the gruesome, familiar details. Much to his chagrin, he accidentally scrolls to the comments section of the news article, his eyes catching the mentions of his own name. Closing the app and putting his phone back on the charger, he closes his eyes, hearing the soft Kentucky rain upon his windshield as the cheers of thousands filling Rupp Arena. Bowie sits in the moment, the ring of his cell phone bringing him back to reality. As he sees the caller ID read the name of his daughter Samantha, he answers with a smile.
Joel Embiid is a fantastic basketball player, and perhaps the only one of his kind in existence today. There isn’t another true center in the game today who moves or shoots like he does. You can see in both the game footage and the workouts that he is exceptionally smooth at everything he does. One of the biggest problems for big guys in the league is that they don’t understand their own size or power, or what it really means to possess it. They think they have to be pounding bodies down low, with Shaquille O’Neal chastising young men for not protecting the post and Hakeem Olajuwon teaching the “Dream Shake” so today’s centers can compensate for their supposed lack of real shooting skill.
Joel Embiid is not that kind of center. If you must find an NBA comp, and of course you must, you’ll have to go back all the way to Roger Murdock Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The resemblance in their game is uncanny. Obviously a more finesse style is clear, with Kareem utilizing his skyhook, and Embiid using a step-back jumper or a one-hand toss toward the basket. How they use their body is very similar as well; very wide stances when posting up, making full use of their exceptionally long arms to effortlessly catch and move around the ball. Neither player could ever be described as a stiff, or as “just a body”. Make no mistake, though. These guys can get it done around the rim. I’ve never seen players dunk with more ease and less flash. Just slamming it down for two, then hustling down the court. Yes SIRRRRRRR.
Their offensive prowess and body control makes you forget about both of their defensive games. They both are quick blockers, precise as assassins, showing up from seemingly nowhere to disrupt layups and easy shots around the basket. Futhermore, they both have the uncanny ability to continue moving the ball the other way after the defensive stop, their long strides getting them downcourt, or using that same precision I talked about for the smart outlet pass.
You want a modern NBA comp for Embiid? The closest I can find is Joakim Noah, but even he doesn’t have the scoring skill Embiid has. Noah’s jumpshot is absolute garbage, even if he does manage to score with it, and he’s not exactly known for his fancy footwork. But he does have a similar body, and knows how to use it for (near) maximum efficiency. Noah’s an amazing passer, and an explosive, punishing, relentless defender. Embiid has such an amazing head start though, there really is no telling where his career could go.
For now, the only place he’s gone is to the operating room. A stress fracture to the navicular bone in his right foot has resulted in a plate and two screws being inserted there, and with a previous stress fracture in his back, Embiid’s career is now bringing up the names of Sam Bowie and Greg Oden. It’s a cliche, to be sure, but only because it’s been real. It’s unknown if human beings are even meant to be seven feet tall, and many who live long lives find it filled with pain, regardless of previous occupations. Those who play basketball, a game filled with running and a surprising amount of physical contact can find their bodies failing them far faster.
It’s heartbreaking, because you want to believe. When you see something as wonderful as his talent, you don’t want to see it end so soon. You want to see it play out. You want to see it blossom, and lead this young man to a wonderful life. Time will tell if a team’s faith in Embiid will be rewarded, but one thing is for sure: the rewards that await them are one of a kind.

Baller Shots presents SIMPLE NBA DRAFT PROFILES

Today’s profile: Joel Embiid

The blue and white balloons still shine bright as the lights of the event center in the Lexington Hyatt Regency begin to dim. The sound of gentle chatter still fills the mostly empty room, as employees pull the dustbuster and vacuum cleaner from the supply closet. The small group of men sitting in the middle of the room ignore the chairs being stacked, as they enjoy coffee, cake, and conversation. They’ve spent most of the night signing jerseys, basketballs, and photos of their playing days, so it’s actually the first time they’ve gotten to catch up with one another. These fundraisers are the only times they ever seem to see each other, outside of welcoming other Kentucky Wildcat alumni into their ranks. As they finish their coffees, they make plans to watch the draft at a local bar one of their old booster buddies owns. They laugh, they reminisce, and then they leave. The tallest of the group, a slightly-hunched seven footer, with the arms that almost go down to his knees, ducks his head to avoid the top of the doorframe.

As Sam Bowie walks to his car, he exchanges texts with his kids, checks in on the progress of the latest horse he bought, and casually looks through the ESPN app on his phone. While looking for the score of England’s World Cup game, he finds something that makes his heart sink. He takes a deep breath, reading through the gruesome, familiar details. Much to his chagrin, he accidentally scrolls to the comments section of the news article, his eyes catching the mentions of his own name. Closing the app and putting his phone back on the charger, he closes his eyes, hearing the soft Kentucky rain upon his windshield as the cheers of thousands filling Rupp Arena. Bowie sits in the moment, the ring of his cell phone bringing him back to reality. As he sees the caller ID read the name of his daughter Samantha, he answers with a smile.

Joel Embiid is a fantastic basketball player, and perhaps the only one of his kind in existence today. There isn’t another true center in the game today who moves or shoots like he does. You can see in both the game footage and the workouts that he is exceptionally smooth at everything he does. One of the biggest problems for big guys in the league is that they don’t understand their own size or power, or what it really means to possess it. They think they have to be pounding bodies down low, with Shaquille O’Neal chastising young men for not protecting the post and Hakeem Olajuwon teaching the “Dream Shake” so today’s centers can compensate for their supposed lack of real shooting skill.

Joel Embiid is not that kind of center. If you must find an NBA comp, and of course you must, you’ll have to go back all the way to Roger Murdock Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The resemblance in their game is uncanny. Obviously a more finesse style is clear, with Kareem utilizing his skyhook, and Embiid using a step-back jumper or a one-hand toss toward the basket. How they use their body is very similar as well; very wide stances when posting up, making full use of their exceptionally long arms to effortlessly catch and move around the ball. Neither player could ever be described as a stiff, or as “just a body”. Make no mistake, though. These guys can get it done around the rim. I’ve never seen players dunk with more ease and less flash. Just slamming it down for two, then hustling down the court. Yes SIRRRRRRR.

Their offensive prowess and body control makes you forget about both of their defensive games. They both are quick blockers, precise as assassins, showing up from seemingly nowhere to disrupt layups and easy shots around the basket. Futhermore, they both have the uncanny ability to continue moving the ball the other way after the defensive stop, their long strides getting them downcourt, or using that same precision I talked about for the smart outlet pass.

You want a modern NBA comp for Embiid? The closest I can find is Joakim Noah, but even he doesn’t have the scoring skill Embiid has. Noah’s jumpshot is absolute garbage, even if he does manage to score with it, and he’s not exactly known for his fancy footwork. But he does have a similar body, and knows how to use it for (near) maximum efficiency. Noah’s an amazing passer, and an explosive, punishing, relentless defender. Embiid has such an amazing head start though, there really is no telling where his career could go.

For now, the only place he’s gone is to the operating room. A stress fracture to the navicular bone in his right foot has resulted in a plate and two screws being inserted there, and with a previous stress fracture in his back, Embiid’s career is now bringing up the names of Sam Bowie and Greg Oden. It’s a cliche, to be sure, but only because it’s been real. It’s unknown if human beings are even meant to be seven feet tall, and many who live long lives find it filled with pain, regardless of previous occupations. Those who play basketball, a game filled with running and a surprising amount of physical contact can find their bodies failing them far faster.

It’s heartbreaking, because you want to believe. When you see something as wonderful as his talent, you don’t want to see it end so soon. You want to see it play out. You want to see it blossom, and lead this young man to a wonderful life. Time will tell if a team’s faith in Embiid will be rewarded, but one thing is for sure: the rewards that await them are one of a kind.

Sources do not expect Dumars to stay in the position much longer—either he’ll step down or owner Tom Gores will go in a new direction. Dumars, one source said, is weary of the criticism he has received in trying to rebuild the Pistons after constructing a franchise that went to the Eastern Conference Finals six years in a row (2003-2008). The criticism, the source said, fails to account for a dismal Detroit economy and restraints placed on Dumars while the franchise was up for sale and ultimately changed ownership hands.

Hey, memo to Joe Dumars, if you’re tired of people criticizing you after you make shitty move on top of shitty move, maybe you should stop making said shitty moves.

I can only roll my eyes so many times at GMs who, with amazing methods of measuring a player’s talent, value, and statistical contribution at their disposal, still manage to make god-awful deals for their franchise.

Am I supposed to feel sorry for Joe Dumars? The dude signed Charlie Villanueva and Ben Gordon to deals worth a combined 95.7 million dollars over five years, then doubled down by signing Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings for a combined 74 million dollars. Joe Dumars should not have done either of these things, and worse yet, there were plenty of people on the planet who were telling Joe Dumars to not do these things.

Even if all Joe Dumars had to judge players on was game footage, judging players by the eye test alone, he should have known better. Both Smith and Jennings are ball hogs, and two of the most ill-advised shot-takers ever. I’m positive that under “personality” on their NBA 2K14 profiles, both these guys are listed as “unpredictable”. Both players have shown the potential to be good, even very good, but both require a disciplined coach to utilize only their strengths, and coach the weaknesses out of them. Even if Mo Cheeks had been that man, why even tempt fate like this? What the hell was Joe Dumars thinking?

In the fourteen years Dumars has been the President of Basketball Operations and General Manager for the Detroit Pistons, ten head coaches have come, and nine have gone. In the past six years alone, counting current interim head coach John Loyer, the Pistons have had five head coaches. That is absurd. That is absolutely absurd, and it shows that Joe Dumars no longer has any idea what he’s doing, and everybody hates him because of it.

Dumars does not have the right to be frustrated with the criticism of his decisions. The only person Joe Dumars should be frustrated with is Joe Dumars.

I was shocked. Shocked, I tell you. Not because Luol Deng was traded after, oh, four years of seeing his name in rumors.
I was shocked because he’s only 29 years old.
Luol entered this league the same player he is today: tough defender, secondary-to-tertiary scoring option, and above all else, an anchor. Somebody Bulls fans could love unconditionally, because there was nothing to dislike. From the get-go, his numbers were what they are now: double-digit points, 5+ rebounds, probably too many minutes. You could describe a lot of players, particularly forwards, with those vague numbers, but how many get those numbers when nothing else is expected of them?
Deng was never the star of this team, and everybody was fine with that. We had Ben Gordon, or Kirk Hinrich, or Derrick Rose, or Joakim Noah. Even Marco Belinelli and Nate Robinson grabbed more headlines than Deng last season. He’s a high-level constant, a very, very good player who functions best as part of a three-headed monster. Was he important to the Bulls? Some would say so. I would say the fact that he’s getting replaced by Jimmy Butler, Nikola Mirotic, and/or whoever the tanking Bulls draft as a prime example that he wasn’t important. He was a nice asset, a very good player. A two-time All-Star, after having to play 40 minutes per game two seasons in a row. But not important, because noobody is going to look back on the past 9 years as the “Luol Deng” era. There were so many eras Luol played a part in, and that he was a contributor for. But that’s all he was, just a part. A very good supporting actor.
Make no mistake, Luol Deng could’ve been the star of the Bulls. There’s no box on the form he couldn’t check off. Scoring, rebounding, defense, charisma, toughness, etc., they can all be brought to the table by Luol. But he wasn’t that guy, on or off the court. He was quiet, sometimes expressionless, but still warm. He didn’t attract media personalities that derided him, nor vigorously defended him. Well, unless you count what happened last summer. Last summer, the lines were drawn.
To get you caught up, here’s mah dude @SBN_Ricky on what went down:

Deng was issued a spinal tap when doctors suspected meningitis during last season’s playoff run, an injection that had severe repercussions on Deng’s body and glued him to a hospital bed. Once he was there, the Bulls showed little concern for him. Deng didn’t even have a private hospital room, much less visits from team personnel. Tom Thibodeau had the gall to say Deng had “flu-like symptoms, whatever" when asked about Deng’s illness. It set the stage for another contentious negotiation process.

Read the whole article (please) and you’ll learn this was not the first mistreatment of Luol by the increasingly-hated Bulls front office, but it was certainly the death knell, particularly after the cash-strapped team offered the “hometown discount” extension. I knew from the second the news came out about that lowball contract that Deng wasn’t going to come back, and I’m glad. Not in a “good riddance” way, but in a “so long, and thanks for all the fish” way. He was a very good player who did a lot of things for the community, but with his injuries and likely diminishing returns, what was there left for him to do here? All parties involved, including many fans, were ready to turn the page, papercuts be damned. 
Good luck Lu. Nothing but love.

I was shocked. Shocked, I tell you. Not because Luol Deng was traded after, oh, four years of seeing his name in rumors.

I was shocked because he’s only 29 years old.

Luol entered this league the same player he is today: tough defender, secondary-to-tertiary scoring option, and above all else, an anchor. Somebody Bulls fans could love unconditionally, because there was nothing to dislike. From the get-go, his numbers were what they are now: double-digit points, 5+ rebounds, probably too many minutes. You could describe a lot of players, particularly forwards, with those vague numbers, but how many get those numbers when nothing else is expected of them?

Deng was never the star of this team, and everybody was fine with that. We had Ben Gordon, or Kirk Hinrich, or Derrick Rose, or Joakim Noah. Even Marco Belinelli and Nate Robinson grabbed more headlines than Deng last season. He’s a high-level constant, a very, very good player who functions best as part of a three-headed monster. Was he important to the Bulls? Some would say so. I would say the fact that he’s getting replaced by Jimmy Butler, Nikola Mirotic, and/or whoever the tanking Bulls draft as a prime example that he wasn’t important. He was a nice asset, a very good player. A two-time All-Star, after having to play 40 minutes per game two seasons in a row. But not important, because noobody is going to look back on the past 9 years as the “Luol Deng” era. There were so many eras Luol played a part in, and that he was a contributor for. But that’s all he was, just a part. A very good supporting actor.

Make no mistake, Luol Deng could’ve been the star of the Bulls. There’s no box on the form he couldn’t check off. Scoring, rebounding, defense, charisma, toughness, etc., they can all be brought to the table by Luol. But he wasn’t that guy, on or off the court. He was quiet, sometimes expressionless, but still warm. He didn’t attract media personalities that derided him, nor vigorously defended him. Well, unless you count what happened last summer. Last summer, the lines were drawn.

To get you caught up, here’s mah dude @SBN_Ricky on what went down:

Deng was issued a spinal tap when doctors suspected meningitis during last season’s playoff run, an injection that had severe repercussions on Deng’s body and glued him to a hospital bed. Once he was there, the Bulls showed little concern for him. Deng didn’t even have a private hospital room, much less visits from team personnel. Tom Thibodeau had the gall to say Deng had “flu-like symptoms, whatever" when asked about Deng’s illness. It set the stage for another contentious negotiation process.

Read the whole article (please) and you’ll learn this was not the first mistreatment of Luol by the increasingly-hated Bulls front office, but it was certainly the death knell, particularly after the cash-strapped team offered the “hometown discount” extension. I knew from the second the news came out about that lowball contract that Deng wasn’t going to come back, and I’m glad. Not in a “good riddance” way, but in a “so long, and thanks for all the fish” way. He was a very good player who did a lot of things for the community, but with his injuries and likely diminishing returns, what was there left for him to do here? All parties involved, including many fans, were ready to turn the page, papercuts be damned. 

Good luck Lu. Nothing but love.