NBA Draft Do-Over: 2008

How would the 2008 NBA Draft go if owners and GMs knew then what they know now?

Here’s my take…

#1 Chicago: Derrick Rose
The Bulls don’t want a mulligan. They are perfectly happy with their franchise point guard.

#2 Miami: Brook Lopez
Michael Beasley isn’t a bust, no matter what anyone says. But if the Heat had it all to do over again, they’d go with Lopez here, who posted 13.0 points and 8.1 rebounds in about 31 minutes of playing time.

#3 Minnesota: O.J. Mayo
I don’t think the T-Wolves would do anything differently. They’d still draft Mayo and trade with Memphis for Love. Why not?

#4 Seattle/OKC: Russell Westbrook
Likewise, the Thunder have to be happy with what they have in Westbrook, who averaged 20.6 points, 6.1 rebounds and 5.9 assists in February.

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Beasley and Chalmers fined repeatedly throughout season

Rookies Michael Beasley and Mario Chalmers were fined before the season by the NBA and during the season by the Heat for breaking team rules.

The number of fines not only caught the attention of Heat President Pat Riley, but had team staffers addressing the rookies during the season about the penalties that were subtracted from their paychecks.

Spoelstra said none of the fines was for missing practice or showing up late for such sessions, declining to go into detail about the volume or specifics.

“In terms of your actual practice time, [Beasley] wouldn’t miss practice, he was never late for practice, he wouldn’t miss a turn in practice,” the first-year coach said. “And once you get out there and get him on the practice floor, he’ll work for you, he’ll drill for you, he’s coachable.

“It’s all the other things behind the scenes. That’s part of maturing.”

Beasley acknowledged work remains.

“When it comes to playing and it comes to game time and doing my job, I’m always on time, I’m professional,” he said. “There’s some stuff I’ve still got to work on.”

I don’t know whether or not it is deserved, but Beasley already has a little bit of a bad rep when it comes to his attitude. Bill Simmons had some harsh words for Beasley, though I doubt he attended any Heat practices or has ever met the rookie.

[Discussing Jason Thompson] You know, if Michael Beasley wasn’t such a colossal disappointment and semi-fraud, the 2008 draft could have ranked among the best ever.

[Discussing Jeff Green] Great teammate, tough as nails, gives a crap, does whatever you need. He’s the anti-Beasley.

These words prompted me to ask, “What kind of rookie season is Michael Beasley having?” back in February. Statistically, his rookie season was pretty solid, so whatever reputation he’s building has to do with the qualitative aspects of the game. It’s going to be interesting to see how he progresses in his second season.

2008 Year-End Sports Review: What We Already Knew

While every year has its own host of surprises, there are always those stories that simply fit the trend. Sure, it can get repetitive, but if we don’t look back at history aren’t we only doomed to repeat it? Every year has its fair share of stories that fell into this category, and 2008 was no different.

Our list of things we already knew this year includes the BCS’ continued suckiness (Texas-Oklahoma), how teamwork wins championships (KG, Pierce and Ray-Ray), and the #1 rule for carrying a handgun into a nightclub – don’t use your sweatpants as a holster. (Come on, Plax. Really? Sweatpants?)

Don’t miss the other two parts of our 2008 Year-End Sports Review: “What We Learned” and “What We Think Might Happen.”

Brett Favre can’t make up his mind.

The biggest story of the summer was all the drama surrounding Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers. This saga has been covered to death, but there’s one detail that never seemed to get that much play. At the start, it looked like the Packers were making a bad decision by moving on so quickly even when Favre decided he wanted to return. But when the news broke about Favre’s near-unretirement in March, the Packers stance became much more clear. They were ready to take him back after the owners’ meetings, but he called it off at the last minute. At that point, the Packer brass was understandably finished with Brett Favre, much to the chagrin of a good portion of the Packer faithful. – John Paulsen

The Chicago Cubs’ title drought is not a fans-only phenomenon.

The 2008 Cubs were easily the best team the franchise has assembled in decades, but they still couldn’t win a single game in the playoffs, and the reason is simple: the pressure finally got to them. Sure, they said the right things to the press about how they didn’t care about what had happened in the past, but don’t believe a word of it; there wasn’t a single person in that dugout that wasn’t fantasizing about being part of the team that finally, mercifully, ended the longest title drought in sports history. Once ESPN picked them to win it all, however, they were doomed. Ryan Dempster walked seven batters in Game 1, which matched his total for the month of September. The entire infield, including the sure-handed Derrek Lee, committed errors in Game 2. Alfonso Soriano went 1-14 with four strikeouts in the leadoff spot, while the team as a whole drew six walks and struck out 24 times. The team with so much balance in the regular season suddenly became the most one-dimensional team in baseball; take Game 1 from them, then sit back and watch them choke. And now that this group has lost six straight playoff games (the team has lost nine straight dating back to 2003), it isn’t about to get any easier. Get a helmet, Cubs fans. – David Medsker

If you’re going to wear sweatpants to a nightclub, leave the gun at home.

If winning a Super Bowl is the pinnacle of an NFL player’s career, than shooting yourself with your own gun in a nightclub has to be rock bottom. Case in point: Plaxico Antonio Burress. Just 10 months after helping the New York Giants beat the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII, Burress accidentally shot himself in the leg while at a nightclub. Apparently the (unregistered) gun was slipping down his leg and when he tried to grab it to keep it from falling, the lucky bastard wound up pulling the trigger and shooting himself. And that wasn’t the worst of it because as Plaxico found out, New York has some of the toughest gun laws in the nation. He was arrested, but posted bail of $100,000 and is scheduled to return to court on March 31, 2009. If convicted of carrying a weapon without a license, he faces up to three and a half years in jail. He shouldn’t expect special treatment, either. The mayor of New York wants to be sure that Burress is prosecuted just like any other resident of NYC. The Giants, meanwhile, placed him on their reserve/non-football injury list and effectively ended his season. While “Plax” definitely deserves “Boner of the Week” consideration for his stupidity, what’s sad is that in the wake of Washington Redskins’ safety Sean Taylor’s death, most NFL players feel the need to arm themselves when they go out. Maybe players can learn from not only Taylor’s death, but also Burress’s accident so further incidents can be avoided. – Anthony Stalter

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2008 NBA Preview: #12 Miami Heat

Offseason Movement: The team acquired two big names via the draft. Michael Beasley should play a ton of minutes right away and Mario Chalmers is a nice point guard prospect. The Heat also signed three-point specialist James Jones and signed Shaun Livingston to a two-year deal.
Keep Your Eye On: Michael Beasley, F
In many ways, the Heat’s playoff chances rely heavily on how quickly the talented scoring forward can adjust to the NBA game. He is averaging over 15 points and 48% shooting in preseason, so all signs point to a ROY-type season. Beasley can score from just about anywhere on the court and he and Dwyane Wade should provide a formidable one-two punch.
The Big Question: Can Shawn Marion and Michael Beasley co-exist?
Conventional wisdom states that Marion and Beasley play the same position so therefore one of them (Marion) has to go. But in today’s NBA, I see no reason why the two can’t play together on Miami’s frontline. Beasley is a player that has to have the ball in his hands. You run plays for him, you throw it to him in the post, whatever. Conversely, Marion is an energy player who gets most of his points on the break, on offensive rebounds or spotting up in the corner for a three-point shot. The Marion trade talk is already hot and heavy, and there are two things working against the Matrix sticking around in Miami – his age and his asking price. He’s 30, so does he really fit into Miami’s rebuilding plan? Is Miami really rebuilding or could they contend in the next 1-3 seasons? If so, it might be wise to hold onto Marion if the trio gels. If not, the Heat will almost certainly trade Marion, though finding a taker might be tough considering his asking price. A Marion for Lamar Odom swap makes a lot of sense for both teams. The other option is to let Marion go, which will free up a ton of cap space next summer.
Outlook: With Wade, Beasley and Shawn Marion, the Heat have a very scary lineup at the 2-3-4. If all three – but especially Wade – can stay healthy, and they can get decent play at center ant point guard, Miami will make some noise. I’m sure I will take some flack for picking the Heat to finish ahead of the Cavs, but I just like Wade’s supporting cast a lot more. It’s not that Miami is deeper, it’s just that Marion and Beasley are probably better than the next two guys on Cleveland’s roster. Honestly, things are so tight in the middle third of the league that it doesn’t really matter.

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