Monday, May 13, 2013

NBA Playoff Storylines - Youth is Served

I am sick and tired of talking about Derrick Rose.

Instead, let's talk about my favorite trend from this year's playoffs - the remarkable number of first and second year players getting extended run and making an impact for their teams in April and May.

Jimmy Butler:  When the Bulls took Butler at the end of Round One last year, I basically shrugged.  He had one good year with Marquette and that was it.  I think I wanted Shelvin Mack from Butler instead.  Shows what I know.

Gar Forman/Pax, I apologize.  You guys were right and I was wrong.  Butler has been a rock for the Bulls in this insane year, especially in the playoffs.  Check out these numbers:

2011: 8.5mpg, 2.6ppg, played FOUR MINUTES in the playoffs.
2012: 26mpg, 8.6ppg.  He more than tripled every one of his stats from the past year.

Get this... In the playoffs so far, Jimmy is averaging almost 40 minutes a game, his scoring is up to 12.9ppg, not to mention he guards freakin' LeBron James every game.  At least three times, he has played every single second of a Bulls playoff game.  That's incredible.  Is he the two-guard of the future, or Luol Deng's successor at small forward?  Either way, he's gained a ton of cred in these two playoff series.

There's a couple of other guys from the 2011 draft that have also emerged this year and in the playoffs.

Chandler Parsons had a great regular season.  Then he went and put a huge exclamation point on it in a MONSTER 27-10-8 near-triple-double against Oklahoma City as the Rockets fought to stave off elimination in Round One. He was the 38th pick in 2011, and is now looking like the steal of that draft. He's also got crazy hops for a white dude, as Serge Ibaka learned.

Norris Cole also waited a while to get his name called by the Heat with the 28th pick, and he was huge in beating the Bulls in Game Three.  Let the record show he also has a stupid flat-top.

A couple 2011 lottery players have also continued their breakout seasons in the badass Spurs-Warriors series.  Klay Thompson (11th pick), known in college for a killer stroke and a fondness for marijuana, has proven why those two attributes translate well to the NBA, pairing with Steph Curry in one of the best three-point shooting tandems I've ever seen.  Thompson is shooting 43% from outside the arc and averaging 17.6 points a game in the playoffs.

Curry is only 25, so he's not exactly a senior citizen himself.  More on the Warriors in a bit.

Kawhi Leonard looks like the future centerpiece for the Spurs as they transition out of the Duncan/Ginobli/Parker era.  Though the way those guys are playing, that transition could still be ten years off.

A few other 2011 players making names for themselves: Reggie Jackson, OKC; Kenneth Faried, DEN;  Iman Shumpert, NYK.

On to the rookies, and if you know me you know who I'm shouting out from the Class of 2012...

Draymond Green, COME ON DOWN!  He's a tweener, they said.  He can't guard the two or the three, they said.  Golden State got Day Day in the second round with the 35th pick, after getting Harrison Barnes at #7.  Yeah, I'd say that worked out all right for the Warriors.  I'm really starting to like this team.

While the more highly touted guys (Lillard, The Unibrow, MKG) are sitting on a beach somewhere watching Jalen, Simmons, and Wilbon talk, Barnes and Green are earning themselves some serious paydays.

Draymond went from playing 13mpg in the regular season to averaging over 20 in the playoffs.  His numbers don't jump out at you (scoring average up from 2.9 to 7.2, rebounding up 50%, assists more than doubled), but coach Mark Jackson has him on the floor in crunch time, has him guarding Tony Parker and a host of other guys and taking big shots.  Just like in college, Green is clutch.  His shooting average isn't good, but he's doing all the little things a glue player should.

Barnes, who struggled as the go-to guy at North Carolina, has finally found his niche as a dangerous third option.  He's playing starter's minutes and averaging almost 15ppg, up from 9.2 during the season.  This Warriors team is a blast to watch, and its youth has got to have fans excited in the Bay Area.  Oh, and backup center Festus Ezeli?  Also a rookie.

Other rookies:  Marquis Teague hasn't been terrible for the Bulls, which is certainly an improvement for him.  Can we count Pablo Prigioni, even though he was a free agent and 35?  Sure, why not?  He's played decently for the Knicks.

Anyway, it's always great to see a rising generation of young players come into the league (and Prigioni).  The 2011 draft in particular is looking like it could have been a treasure trove, while the Warriors front office should be patting itself on the back for both of the last two years.

I'm sure I missed somebody, so please feel free to add thoughts in the comments section.



  1. Welcome back to the ACSS

    I couldn't agree with you more about Day Day. I was shocked he slipped so far and I'm glad it's working out for him. He always seemed like a super cool guy on the Big Ten Journey Shows. That dude has torn it up in the playoffs.

    I likes the GSW story, but I think the Spurs are too good for them.

    Butler is the future. He played every minute of Game 6 & 7 of round 1 and Game 1 of round 2. I don't think the Bulls have enough to beat the Heat, but I am happy with how they are playing. I'd love to see the Bulls get 1 more before they exit the playoffs.

    On another note feature a Chicago Team

  2. If I was a hockey fan, I would be covering the shit out of the Blackhawks right now.

    The Sox are terrible this year except for Sale, Peavy, Rios, and Reed.

    Really happy for Draymond, but also Harrison Barnes had a career game the other night... and then GSW got smoked tonight.