Just as I was introducing BayHawks fans to the affiliates' draft picks, the D-League has announced the new lineup of NBA affiliates for the 2009-10 season, which includes a change for the Erie BayHawks.
Gone is the BayHawks' connection with cross-state Philadelphia. Instead, Erie is going north of the border in affiliaton with the Toronto Raptors. The 76ers will be affiliated with the D-League expansion franchise in Springfield, Mass., along with the Knicks and Nets.
Geographically the move makes sense. Even though Erie shares Pennsylvania with Philadelphia, Erie is actually more than 200 miles closer to Toronto than Philly. Hopefully that proximity will mean the Raptors will take advantage of the opportunity the way the Cavaliers organization did with Cleveland last year.
For a complete look at the new affiliates around the league, check out the breakdown from the D-League's official site.
This week I'm going to examine the three BayHawks-affiliate picks from last Thursday's NBA Draft: Philadelphia's 17th overall selection, and Cleveland's 30th and 46th overall selections. Up first, I'll look at the 76ers' lone draft choice, UCLA guard Jrue Holiday.
This pick was a no-brainer from Philadelphia's perspective. Many experts had Holiday pegged as a lottery pick, and talent-wise that seemed about right. Apparently some concerns about a shoulder injury were enough to keep some teams at bay, enabling the one-and-done UCLA Bruin to slide to the Sixers at pick 17.
Holiday views himself as a point guard, which may explain his less-than-stellar freshman year performance playing off the ball due to the presence of UCLA's senior point guard Darren Collison, who was selected four picks after Holiday. To see the best of Holiday's game, you have to look back to high school where Holiday's game earned him status as a consensus top-five recruit.
From Philadelphia's perspective, Holiday is the point guard of the future. With Andre Miller as a free agent, the Sixers needed some insurance at the position, and Holiday gives them that.
The Sixers are a team that's made the playoffs two straight seasons with Andre Miller as a key cog. Holiday has the talent to become a solid NBA point guard, but his potential may take a few years to develop, especially since his creativity and playmaking ability was somewhat stifled by circumstances beyond his control at UCLA.
Philadelphia has taken a series lead in each of the past two first rounds only to see it disappear disappointingly. It's hard to imagine a rookie point guard bringing the necessary poise to the position this year to change this season's outcome.
Having played just one year in college, there are a lot of question marks about Holiday's game. His college numbers are mediocre: 8.5 points, 45 percent shooting, 3.7 assists, 2.1 turnovers per game. But the biggest unknown is his leadership ability, his ability to take command of the team. In the NBA, that's an essential element from a point guard, and playing in Collison's shadow at UCLA, Holiday was never really asked to do that in his short college career.
The chances he'll see playing time for the Erie BayHawks
5 percent: The Sixers didn't make much use of the D-League last year, and given Holiday's stature, he'll likely be expected to fill a role on the team immediately, especially if Miller is allowed to leave via free agency.
This was a quality pick by the 76ers. While it's true that they don't totally know what to expect out of Holiday as a pro, he fit their need for a young point guard, and he was also one of the best overall talents left on the board when they made the pick.
In the world of instant feedback, I'm going to buck the trend and hold off on my full Cavs/Sixers draft reactions until next week. Although, you can check out my immediate responses and other quick tidbit thoughts by scrolling through my Twitter feed, which contains more than 100 tweets from last night's draft. Below are some draft and other BayHawks-related links to check out in the meantime.
- For the reactions of my recent interview subjects, check out John Krolik's post on Cavs the BlogJordan Sams at Liberty Ballers.
- Bill Simmons chimes in as usual with his 13th annual NBA Draft Diary.
- In non-draft news, ErieBlogs reports that the Erie BayHawks organization is assisting the efforts of Extreme Makeover Home Edition in Erie:
“We are excited that the BayHawks, along with the NBA Development League and our partners at Spalding, will be able to play a part in making the Erie project a dream come true for this family,” said Matt Bresee, president of the BayHawks. “We can’t reveal too much, but are happy to say that basketball will play a part in this Extreme Makeover.”
For at least the next 12 months, Cleveland is the center of the basketball universe. You read that correctly: Cleveland.
Yes, the Lakers have Kobe, a coach with a record 10 championships who may or may not be back, and they're coming off a championship season.
Yes, the Celtics still have more titles than any team in history, and they'll be looking to contend with the return of Kevin Garnett to the lineup.
Yes, Orlando, the team that ended Cleveland's dream season, will be back with the best big man and reigning Defensive Player of the Year, Dwight Howard.
All of this is true, but no team is going to have a 2009-2010 season under more scrutiny and intense media attention than the Erie BayHawks' closest affiliate, the Cleveland Cavaliers, especially after they finally pulled the trigger on the deal for Shaquille O'Neal.
LeBron James is the reigning MVP. Shaquille O'Neal is the NBA's unofficial ambassador, perhaps the only player in the league more iconic than his new teammate, and the man who has already teamed to win titles with Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade.
O'Neal's arrival in Cleveland cements the Cavs' status as THE team to watch next season much as the 2003-04 Lakers one-year experiment with Karl Malon and Gary Payton did for Los Angeles. The 37-year-old O'Neal is coming off his best season since the 2004-05 campaign in Miami—the year before the Heat won the title. And his 75 games played last season were the most he's played since his MVP season of 1999-2000 with the Lakers. In fact, he's only had seven seasons in his career when he's managed to play in at least 70 games.
But that doesn't make this a bad trade for Cleveland. How could it? They gave up nothing in the deal. Sasha Pavlovic was a minimal contributor, and O'Neal makes up for whatever Wallace provided in terms of defense and rebounding while also giving the Cavs what they missed most last season—a low post scoring option.
Even at this stage in his career, O'Neal still commands on double-team on the post, which will open things up for the Cavs' shooters and give the team an offensive option other than stare at LeBron and watch him go to work.
So yes, this is a good trade for the Cavaliers, but let's call it what it is: a desperation move. Cleveland thought it was destined for the NBA title last year, so much so that they passed on making this exact trade at the all-star break last season when they had the chance. That gaffe may very well have cost them the championship. Now they get O'Neal a year older and LeBron a year closer to free agency—not to mention Dwight Howard a year better with NBA Finals experience under his belt and a re-focused Celtics team with Kevin Garnett.
The city of Cleveland is holding their breath. At the end of this season, LeBronm James becomes a free agent. If he signs anywhere else, you might as well move the Cavaliers franchise to Seattle because no one is going to want 2010-11 Cavs tickets sans-LeBron.
If Cleveland wins the title next season, it would be nearly impossible for LeBron to leave as it would be a huge hit to his credibility and likability. But if they fall short, what pieces do they have in place to lure his return? Mo Williams proved this postseason that he is not capable od being the second banana on a championship team. O'Neal's $20 million contract expires at the end of the year, which gives them cap space, and maybe they could offer to pair LeBron with former Olympic teammate Chris Bosh, but would that be enough?
Surely other teams have counter offers in mind as signing LeBron would instantly turn any franchise into a title contender and must-see attraction. In fact, you could argue that LeBron leaving Cleveland as a free agent next summer would be the biggest free agent departure since...you guessed it, Shaq, when he bolted Orlando to join the Lakers in 1996.
Maybe this story ends with a title. O'Neal wins his fifth title, breaking the tie with Tim Duncan for most titles by a big man in this era. And LeBron finally delivers Cleveland its first champion since the 60s. Or maybe it ends in disappointment with another loss to Orlando or Boston or, imagine the drama potential here...against Kobe, Phil and the Lakers. No matter what happens, the 2009-10 Cavs are going to be the hottest ticket in town. LeBron and Shaq in contract years. The city sitting on eggshells with the prospect that both may flee at the end of the year for greener or golden pastures.
Maybe Cleveland is where amazing happens next year, but it's guaranteed to be where entertainment happens. Buckle up and enjoy the ride!
It was this past weekend in Los Angeles, though, that I realized what it means to be truly hungry. The D-League was holding it’s own pre-draft camp at the same facility all weekend as well. Everyday before the Elite campers took the court, 200 guys were battling it out for the right to be drafted to the D-League. That is the ULTIMATE hunger. Why? Let me explain.
For more on the D-League pre-draft mini-camp, check out this post at Ridiculous Upside, which includes a listing of involved players.
The 2009 NBA Draft is tomorrow night. And there is plenty to be interested in from a D-League standpoint. Be sure to follow @BlogTalkBayHawk on Twitter for live tweets throughout the draft. We'll be especially interested to learn of the selections of the Sixers and Cavaliers as they could become future BayHawks.
It'll also be interesting to see whether anyone can follow in the footsteps of the Clippers' Mike Taylor—the first D-League player to be selected in the NBA draft. In what is being deemed a weak draft year, it is certainly within the realm of possibility.
I'm sure I'm not the first or the only one to announce this, but I'll be providing my thoughts on the NBA Draft live via Twitter on Thursday night starting roughly at 7:30 p.m. Eastern through the end of the draft. Follow @blogtalkbayhawk to get all of my tweets. Trust me, this is an idea with tremendous upside potential that you don't want to miss!
Liberty Ballers, part of SBNation, is one of the best places on the Web for fans of the Philadelphia 76ers. Liberty Ballers blogger Jordan Sams resides in Las Vegas, and clarifies that "no, I don't gamble and hang out with prostitutes every night." He's been running his own Sixers blog for a little over a year now. He started out at Sixersoul.com, and more recently began running Liberty Ballers. "Even after a year of writing, some Sixers fans hate me because I'm also a Cowboys fan," he laments.
But football fandom doesn't skew our view or opinion of the good work he does at Liberty Ballers. Recently Sams was kind enough to respond to a few questions I had for him about the Sixers, their connection with the BayHawks, and the upcoming NBA Draft.
For two straight seasons, Philadelphia has made the playoffs and threatened an upset before bowing out in the first round, including this year when they held a 2-1 series lead on the eventual Eastern Conference Champion Orlando Magic. With Elton Brand coming back from injury, do you think the current roster has championship-level talent? If not, who or what are they missing to get over the hump?
Interesting question. I think if everyone stays healthy AND Andre Miller returns to play point guard, then yes, the Sixers have a borderline championship roster. That said, the chances that Andre Miller returns are slim to none. He's missed numerous mandatory meetings. He hasn't been seen or heard all summer, and rumor has it that he dislikes complicated offenses. This might be a problem considering the Sixers will be operating the Princeton Offense next season.
Other important variables in the Sixers chances for success are the health of Elton Brand and the development of future all-star Thaddeus Young.
Are there any current 76ers that could benefit by spending part of next season fine-tuning their game in the D-League?
Unfortunately, no. I'm a little shocked more NBA teams don't use the D-League more often. The one player on the Sixers roster who you could make a case for is Marreese Speights. If he's ever going to evolve into the NBA player Sixers fans think he will, he needs to improve his defense—but defense isn't the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of the D-League. (This might be a completely ignorant assumption, but I don't follow the D-League at all.)
Philadelphia has the 17th pick in the upcoming NBA Draft. What should Sixers fans expect out of this selection?
Ed Stefanski and Eddie Jordan have publicly said that the Sixers plan on drafting the "best guard available". I would be shocked if they drafted otherwise. Ninety percent of Sixers fans want them to draft the point guard of the future—and I think they'll do just that.
Is there a rookie on the board who might fall to number 17 that you would really like to see in a SIxers uniform next season? If so, who?
Brandon Jennings, Johnny Flynn or Stephen Curry—wishful thinking, I know. Odds that any of the three fall to 17 are .06 percent.
Last season, Philadelphia did not assign any of its players to a stint in the D-League. Would you like to see the organization become more involved in using this developmental opportunity?
I would love to see the Sixers be more involved in the D-League. I think it can be an extremely valuable tool if used properly. That said, the Sixers have no D-League caliber players on their roster. Best case scenario would be if they bought their way into the second round and threw whoever they draft into the D-League.
How do you expect new coach Eddie Jordan to impact the team, specifically in regards to the development of the young nucleus of talent within the Sixers organization?
I expect the Sixers to finally have an organized half court offensesomething they haven't had in years. As far as the young nucleus goes, I wish I could tell you how Eddie will help their development. I honestly have no clue. Two players I think will benefit from Eddie Jordan are Thaddeus Young and Lou Williams. Watch out for Thaddeus Young folks. I fully expect this season to be Thaddeus Young's coming out party, partly because of Eddie Jordan's offense.
As a Sixers fan, and someone who writes for an audience that certainly includes a lot of Sixers fans, I'm interested to hear your perception of the D-League. What do you see as strengths and weaknesses of the BayHawks-76ers affiliation heading into year two?
Man, I wish I could tell you. I know nothing about the D-League. I'm going to have to use this question to plug my boy, and fellow SBNation blogger, Scott from Ridiculous Upside. This is the website I check out for all my D-League needs.
***And speaking of Ridiculous Upside, click here to find out who Liberty Ballers selected on behalf of the Sixers with the 17th selection in the SBNation mock draft.
The Erie BayHawks announced today that Matt Bresee has been elevated to the role of team president. Bresee had previously worked as the vice president of business operations.
Steve Demetriou, BayHawks majority owner, was quoted in the full press release issued on the BayHawks' Web site:
“We are extremely pleased with the Erie BayHawks’ first year as an NBA Development League franchise. Ron Sertz provided the experience and leadership to successfully launch the BayHawks and he has hired and mentored a high performing business team along the way,” said Demetriou. “Matt Bresee, who was one of Ron's first hires and handpicked to run the team, is a strong leader and shown us that he is ready to assume the team president responsibilities. On behalf of the ownership group, we want to thank Ron Sertz and we look forward to Matt Bresee taking the Erie BayHawks to the next level.”Bresee added:
“I’m fortunate to have been part of this organization from the early stages and to be able to serve in this capacity for a team of this caliber in my hometown is a great opportunity for me and my family,” said Bresee. “We have a great ownership group and a fantastic staff in place that are committed to building on the success of our first season. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to make this franchise something that the Erie community will be proud of for many years to come.”
There's also a story on Bresee's promotion by Duane Rankin on GoErie.com:
Bresee said the franchise began discussing the transition about a month ago.
Although he's learned a great deal from Sertz, Bresee said he's looking forward to putting his own spin on the BayHawks.
"Behind the scenes within our organization, there are certainly going to be some changes day to day in terms of the way we conduct meetings to how we brainstorm new ideas," Bresee said.
Bresee also wants to make it a priority to further involve the BayHawks with the Erie community.
"We know there is a great base of basketball fans here," Bresee said. "It's one thing to say that we're committed to the area, but I think it's another thing to show we're committed.
"By doing that, spending more time at schools, out with kids. ... How do we actually make a difference and make an impact within the community."
Blog Talk BayHawk had the privlige to interview Bresee just a few weeks ago. Click here to read the full interview.
Thanks again to everyone who voted in the last poll. The results were indecisive with several players earning some support that they ought to be considered a threat to make an NBA roster next season. Consider that a tribute to the balanced play of the 2008-09 Erie BayHawks.
This week's poll question looks back at some of the best moments from the team's first year.
It looks like the Frisco team will not be an expansion team. Ridiculous Upside linked to story in the Denver Post today that the Colorado 14ers, the reigning D-League champions, have been purchased by the Dallas Mavericks and will move to the Dallas area by 2010.
The BayHawks know all about expansion in the D-League after they debuted just last season. Next year, Springfield is already in the mix, knocking Erie from newest-team status. And now it looks like the D-League may be adding another new team in Frisco, Texas. There are no more details to add at this point whether this team will begin play next year or the year after, but it does look like the league is continuing its effort to grow.
Cavs the Blog, part of ESPN's TrueHoop Network, is one of the best places to go for fans of the Cleveland Cavaliers. And just like Cavs the Basketball Team, Cavs the Blog subscribes to the notion that a child shall lead them.
OK, OK. Truth be told, LeBron James is no child basketballer and similarly John Krolik is no child blogger. At 20 years old, Krolik has just completed his sophomore year studying creative writing at USC, but as Aaliyah once sang, "Age ain't nothin' but a number." In addition to covering the team he loves at Cavs the Blog since December 2008, Krolik also writes for SLAM Online and is an occasional contributor to FreeDarko.com.
Whether you view the NBA Drafft as the end of the season or the start of the long offseason, it's right around the corner, and it definitely has implications for both the Cavaliers and BayHawks. Krolik was nice enough to lend his Cavalier perspective to answer a few questions I had about the draft and the Cavs-BayHawks relationship.
Many expected the Cavs to win the title this year. Is the team, as its currently composed, capable of improving to championship level next year. If not, what or who are the missing pieces they need to put around LeBron?
I definitely think the Cavaliers were at the championship level this year—sometimes it just comes down to winning those few games, and the Cavs weren't able to pull that off against the Magic. If they can re-sign Varejao and keep the fountain of youth going for Z, I think they could win a championship with their current roster. That's not to say there aren't areas they could improve in—a big man who can create shots and make plays, a post defender, and a bona fide playmaker in the backcourt spring to mind, as well as another swingman off the bench.
Are there any current Cavaliers that could benefit by spending part of next season fine-tuning their game in the D-League?
I thought Tarence Kinsey was a better player than Wally Z and Sasha Pavlovic, and even Boobie Gibson, in the limited minutes I saw from him this season. He could use some time in the D-League to streamline his offensive game a little bit, and Hickson could use the time to develop some post moves, but ultimately I feel like the D-league is a double-edged sword when you're talking about a team as good as the Cavs are and how strict the roles have to be. Letting J.J. go to work on the block might be a good idea in a D-League game, but on the big club he should be focusing on getting energy baskets and playing pick-and-roll basketball, things like that.
The Cavs have picks #30 and #46 in the upcoming NBA Draft. What should Cavs fans expect out of these selections?
I would say guards. Hickson's going to be treated like a first-round pick in the frontcourt, Jackson's going to get run, and that's a fairly crowded situation as is. You're just not going to find a starting-quality big man at #30, and the Cavs have enough rotation bigs. They'd love a true point guard to back up Mo because Boobie and Delonte aren't really born PGs, but they'll see what's there, I'd imagine.
Is there a rookie on the board who might fall to number 30 that you would really like to see in a Cavs uniform next season? If so, who?
Darren Collison would probably be the best-case scenario for me. DraftExpress has him at 24, but he's my pipe dream because he's a pure point who can flat-out shoot. After seeing Patrick Mills go toe-to-toe with Team USA this past summer, it's hard not to get excited about him. He's not a pure point and his shooting percentages have been iffy, but as a change-of-pace guard off the bench, he can push the ball as well as anyone in this draft and create his own shot. Ever since LeBron came aboard, people have waited on a true transition point, and Mills just might be able to be that guy for 20 minutes a game.
And I could sell myself on this French kid, Rodrigue Beaubois. He's a point guard with a 6-10 wingspan who was third in the entire combine on his agility drill. He can handle the ball and could definitely be effective in a French Rondo-type way: he doesn't have Rondo's point guard skills, but his defensive ability alone could make him invaluable, and the reports say he does the little things. And he shoots 65% on two-pointers—Rondo's ability to finish around the basket is one of the things that makes him so special. Still, he's a guard who can't shoot 65% from the line, so my optimism would definitely be cautious.
In the second round, I think Greivis Vasquez can really play but hasn't put it together yet, A.J. Price would be a Boobie-like steal with less shooting but more playmaking, and Danny Green is from the type of program you want when you're drafting onto an elite team.
BayHawks guard Maureece Rice will play for the Cavs summer league team, and BayHawks players Ivan Harris and Jarvis Gunter have been invited to Cleveland's June minicamp. Do you see any of these players catching on with the Cavaliers next season?
I think Mike Brown will have an open mind, but with Jackson, Hickson, and Kinsey all really already on the squad, talented enough to play, and waiting for their crack at the rotation, I would say it's unlikely that new blood is going to get called up over those guys. But MB's surprised me before.
Darnell Jackson was sent down to Erie to play a couple of games last season. Do you think either he or J.J. Hickson has what it takes to become an impact power forward?
I think J.J. Hickson is the most offensively talented big man LeBron has ever played with. He's an absolute freak athlete who runs the court like a deer and has quick and authoritative springs. He's quick laterally, and he can stroke it out to 18 feet. He even shows nice moves around the basket. He just needs to learn how to play off the ball a little better, and, more than anything, show that he can make his defensive rotations consistently and not be a liability on that end. With DJ, I think everyone sees him as a Joe Smith-type for many years to come. If he can get that 18-footer he likes going, he'll give you good minutes.
As a Cavs fan, and someone who writes for an audience that certainly includes a lot of Cavs fans, I'm interested to hear your perception of the D-League. What do you see as strengths and weaknesses of the BayHawks-Cavaliers affiliation heading into year two?
Like I said earlier, I'm not sure if the D-League is meant to develop players for a team as good as the Cavs—MB's defensive system has a steep learning curve, playing offense with LeBron James is a system you're not going to learn in the D-League, and the team really can't afford young guys coming up who don't know their roles. But I'm ultimately a huge D-League supporter, and think it's going to do a ton of good for guys that get drafted in the long run. I think it was a forward-thinking move of [Cavs Owner Dan] Gilbert to get the share in the BayHawks.
Last night the Los Angeles Lakers won their 15th NBA championship. I'll let you read pretty much every other basketball blog out there for the breakdown and analysis. As a Lakers fan, I'm just soaking it all in and enjoying it.
Of course, as a Lakers fan, I'm ecstatic right now. But as a basketball fan, I'm torn. It's ideal that the end of the season comes with a championship for my favorite team, but it's still the end of the season.
Thankfully, the business of basketball makes it possible to follow year-round. Up next: the NBA Draft, Summer League, minicamps, etc.
So while it's true that the basketball season is over, all that really means is that it's time for the next year to start anew. For the BayHawks and the D-League that means a new crop of faces mixing in with some familiar ones. I'm looking forward to paying a bit closer attention to the behind-the-scenes basketball of July, August, and September. These months don't grab the headlines, but they are where teams are built and champions are born.
In less than two weeks, several dozen players will have their names called in the draft. Some will go on to star in the NBA. Others will be asked to take the less-glamorous route to the big league, starting in the D-League. And a few of them may even learn to call Erie home for the 2009-10 season.
As the draft draws nearer, I'll continue to look at potential picks for the BayHawks' affiliates in Cleveland and Philadelphia as well as prospects around the league who may draw interest from the BayHawks next season.
Truth be told, Blog Talk BayHawk is but one man. That would be me, Matt Hubert. So, it can be a bit of a daunting task trying to hunt down content, write, and promote the site. But I love a good challenge, and I'm persistent, so I'm not planning on stopping anytime soon.
Avid followers of the blog, and I'm thankful to notice from my site traffic that there are at least a few, here's a chance for you to help me grow the blog a bit.
The more readers I get, the bigger the blog's profile becomes, the more willing people are to be interviewed for the blog, which allows for me to produce better quality content on a regular basis. It's a pretty logical chain.
And one of the ways I'm looking to grow the blog is through social media. The blog itself is, of course, part of the social media universe, but the number of people coming here every day obviously doesn't compare to the number of people logging onto sites like Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter. So, I'm working to expand the Blog Talk BayHawk brand by creating a home in these various arenas. As I said before, I am only one man, so I can't be constantly monitoring all of these pages, but I'll keep tabs on them as best as possible.
The main point of them, however, is to attract new readers from Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace. And the best way to make that happen is by recommendations and suggestions from you to your friends. So, if you see something here that you like, and you know someone else out there who might be interested in reading it, I'd be ever-so-grateful of you to pass it along.
In the meantime, you can follow Blog Talk BayHawk on Twitter, become a fan on Facebook, and friend BTB on MySpace.
Enjoy the weekend, and I'll be back next week with some fresh new content.
It's been a bit of a hectic week for me personally, and I've been trying to pull together some freelance work on the side. Anyway, here are some more quality D-League links for your reading pleasure:
- Over at Ridiculous Upside, IcemanCometh writes about the production of D-League players in the NBA:
"When it comes to the NBA Developmental League, the question on every GM's mind is: "How do I know the player I see in the D-League is the player I get in my locker room (or at the end of my bench, as the case may be)?" Scott and I have been kicking around this question as well, namely, how do you evaluate players to ensure that the guy you saw windmill dunking on scrubs isn't the same guy turning the ball over every other possession once he hits the NBA?"
- Speaking of D-Leaguers in the NBA, NBA.com has a nice look at the former D-League players competing in the 2009 NBA Finals. Eight players in all have D-League experience, a record for NBA Finals participants.
- I'm always on the lookout for other D-League blogs out there. Dee-Jay runs a Utah Flash blog that you can read here. If you know of any others, please pass them along.
- Masslive.com has the latest on the new Springfield D-League franchise. In short, we should know the team logo, nickname, affiliate, and coach within the next month.
- Finally, in BayHawks news, Erie Times-News reporter Duane Rankin writes about the team's ticket prices for the upcoming season:
"As of Tuesday afternoon, the BayHawks had 484 season-ticket renewals, which ranks fourth in the D-League."
In my recent interview with Erie BayHawks Vice President of Business Operations Matt Bresee, he spoke briefly about what the organization learned during its first year of operation and what it has planned for year two.
Duane Rankin of the Erie Times-News caught up with some other key figures, including BayHawks majority owner Steve Demetriou to get some additional insight into year two for the D-League franchise:
Erie's ownership and business management teams, along with the NBA and D-League representatives, met in Erie this past week to discuss ways to improve the franchise.
As Demetriou drove home to Cleveland on Wednesday, he felt good about the direction the BayHawks are headed.
"I was very pleased with the goals being set," he said Thursday. "Realistic goals, but very creative goals on increasing attendance."
Those who know Demetriou say the BayHawks are in good hands with him as their majority owner.
Previously I looked at some mock draft projections for the Philadelphia 76ers. Now that the Cleveland Cavaliers have also been eliminated from the NBA playoffs, I'd like to look at what some people out there are forecasting for the Erie BayHawks' other NBA affiliate.
Ths Cavs, by virtue of their NBA-best 66-16 regular season record, own the rights to the last pick of the first round (pick number 30 overall). They also received the Bulls second-round pick (number 46 overall) from the Ben Wallace trade and gave up their other second-round pick to Miami (number 60 overall) as part of the Darnell Jackson deal. Speaking of Jackson, last year the Cavs sent Jackson down to Erie as a rookie on two separate occasions, so it's certainly within reason to think that one or both of the Cavs' picks in the upcoming draft may spend at least a little time with the BayHawks next season.
Below you'll see four draft sites and their projections for the Cavs' two selections in this year's draft, which will take place June 25:
#30: Rodrigue Beaubois, PG, Cholet, International
#46: Damion James, PF, Texas
#30: Taj Gibson, PF, USC
#46: Robert Dozier, PF, Memphis
#30: DaJuan Summers, F, Georgetown
#30: Derrick Brown, F, Xavier
Interestingly, three of the four sites have the Cavs taking a forward to bolster their frontcourt in the first round with the lone exception being Draft Express, which goes off the board a bit with a foreign point guard prospect. The underlying message here is clear: the Cavs need frontcourt scoring, specifically in the low post. And this became painfully obvious to anyone who watched them against Orlando.
Both Joe Smith and Zydrunas Ilgauskas are nothing more than pick-and-pop, standstill jump shooters at this stage of their careers. Neither Ben Wallace nor Anderson Varejao is an offensive threat. So, that begs the question: how do the Cavs feel about the development potential of J.J. Hickson and/or Darnell Jackson?
Neither got much run as rookies for a Cavs team that was supposed to contend for a championship last season. In 51 games this season, Jackson averaged less than 1.9 points and 1.7 rebounds in 8.4 minutes per game. Similarly, Hickson played in just 62 games, averaging 4 points and 2.7 rebounds in 11.4 minutes per game.
If the Cavs do draft another forward, someone's got to go. There's no room to be developing three young power forwards at the same time, especially when you're a franchise that wants to win now in an effort to keep LeBron James happy and home in Cleveland.
In fact, it is because of the LeBron's impending free agency and fans' nervous concern over losing the MVP after next season, that they may very well have the most heavily scrutinized number 30 pick I can ever remember.
For a look at the Cavaliers' draft history, check out this page from ESPN Insider.
One of the big issues as we near the draft is the NBA’s age limit, which went into effect in 2006, forcing players to be at least 19 years old and a year removed from their class graduating high school before they can be drafted into the NBA.
NBA Commissioner David Stern is strongly in favor of an age limit, and he would probably raise the limit to 20 or 21 if he could get everyone to agree on it. Many others, including me, don’t think there should be an age limit in place.
TrueHoop’s Henry Abbott blogged about the age limit earlier today, which included the following line:
As Tim Varner of 48 Minutes of Hell points out by e-mail, the biggest names on the court -- Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, Andrew Bynum and Rashard Lewis -- were all drafted straight out of high school. Of the two team's starters, only four went to college at all, as two more began professional careers at young ages overseas. Of the starters, only Rafer Alston, Derek Fisher, Trevor Ariza and Courtney Lee arrived in the NBA with any college experience.
The point is clear. There are plenty of examples of players who went straight from high school to the pros successfully. And yes, while there may be a Korleone Young for every LeBron James, that shouldn’t punish the LeBron James’ of the world. If someone is ready for life in the NBA at age 18 or 17 or 16—and they want to turn pro—I don’t see what the big problem is.Basketball players turn pro in their mid teens in Europe on a regular basis. Or, if you want to look at youth in America, why not look at tennis or gymnastics?
I don’t think that many high school kids are prepared for life in the NBA, but they aren’t always meant for college either. The way the NBA's rule is set up now, players are essentially relegated to a year playing college basketball even if they have no intention of being in college. Brandon Jennings tried the path less traveled last season by opting to play in Europe for a year straight out of high school, and he’s a projected lottery pick. Still, most high school seniors see no option other than what turns out to be little more than a one year basketball internship at a big-name university whether they want to go to school or not. And that’s not right.
I like the idea proposed by Scott Schroeder over at Ridiculous Upside. (What else is new?)
Let's make the NBA's age limit even more complex, similar to MLB's complexities regarding the topic. Expand the NBA's draft to four rounds and allow everyone to be drafted - regardless of age. If you'd like to draft the rights to the Candace Parker-Shelden Williams lovechild, ahead of BJ Mullens in a few weeks, it's your call. However, if a player wants to/is good enough to play in the NBA the season after high school, he has to start in the D-League, at least until the D-League Showcase, held in early January. This would benefit the D-League (don't tell me you wouldn't watch a Brandon Jennings-Mateen Cleaves matchup), the player (getting him acclimated to the pro-game) and the NBA. If nothing else, it'll at least build the D-League up to the point of it being able to be profitable, helping it become a more "true" minor league.As Scott writes, this is a multi-party solution. Not only does it give the player another option besides becoming a nonstudent-athlete, it also allows the NBA to train and develop its players while simultaneously bolstering the competition level and, thus, fan interest in the D-League.
Imagine if the next Kobe Bryant or Dwight Howard or even the next Andrew Bynum or Rashard Lewis suited up 20+ games for the Erie BayHawks. How much more buzz would that generate for the team? The future of the D-League is intricately linked to the future of the NBA Draft and the NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement. There’s so much potential there, but the league and the players union need to compromise to make it come to fruition. Let’s hope they have the foresight to develop the Development League and the NBA as a whole by putting the age limit to rest sometime in the very near future.
Almost every NBA expert, analyst, writer, blogger, and fan had the Cleveland Cavaliers penciled in for at least a trip to the NBA Finals. When LeBron James and company were knocked out in the Eastern Conference Finals, the city of Cleveland was stunned, crushed, and confused.
There are probably hundreds of articles out there detailing the fallout of the Cavs and the disappointment of their banner season not ending with a championship banner, but very few articles, I’m sure, that covered the ramifications of the Cavs’ early departure on the Erie BayHawks.
Let’s face it. This loss makes things much more interesting in Erie heading into next season. All of a sudden, LeBron James is one year away from unrestricted free agency, which means the Cavs have exactly one season to make the pieces around him fit or risk losing him to another team. And where might some of those pieces be developed? With Cleveland’s D-League affiliate, the Erie BayHawks.
With the best record in the league, the Cavs’ draft choices are nothing to rave about. They’ll select last in each round (30th and 60th overall), but that doesn’t mean they’re incapable of adding valuable pieces. Let’s face it. As good as this team played during the regular season, they did not know up when faced with the pressure of a tough playoff series. They could use upgrades at several positions as well as a deeper bench, and an infusion of young talent wouldn’t hurt, so long as they’re ready to play right away. LeBron isn’t going to accept any signs of a rebuilding phase. They’ll have to retool on the fly.
It’s not like it’s impossible to get a quality player at pick 30. In 2008, Mario Chalmers went 34th. In 2007, Carl Landry went 31st and Glen “Big Baby” Davis went 35th. In 2006, the Cavs made a quality late pick, nabbing Daniel Gibson with the 42nd selection. In 2005, the Knicks grabbed David Lee with the 30th pick. And in 2004, Cavs forward Anderson Varejao went 30th to Orlando before being traded to Cleveland.
The pressure is on the Cavaliers front office and scouting department to get it right. Whoever the pick is, they’re going to be expected to contribute, and the same may hold true for pick 60. Each player may get a chance to hone his skills for a few games with the BayHawks, and if so, it’ll be a treat for the Erie fans because these potential future BayHawks could also wind up as teammates on the do-or-die 2009-10 Cavaliers. The pressure on next year’s Cavaliers team is going to be immense. Many feel it is championship or bust.
If LeBron James is fresh off winning a title, it’ll be very tough for him to sign elsewhere. But if the Cavs fall short again next year, the BayHawks may suddenly become breeding ground for a whole new brand of Cavaliers—the post LeBron era Cavs. That’s a prospect Cleveland doesn’t want to think about. If they’re to avoid it, they may need to lean on some quick, quality development of players in Erie this coming season.
With the NBA Finals upon us, it's a bit of a slow news week in the D-League, but I do have a link to pass along for your reading enjoyment.
The Middletown Journal writes about what the D-League meant for Erie BayHawk Ivan Harris:
It's worth reading the full article as it gives some insight into the mind of one of the BayHawks players as to what they're mindset is playing in the D-League.
Last season, Harris played for Lappeenranta of the Korisliiga in Finland. After averaging 15 points and five rebounds per game, he decided he wanted more exposure from NBA scouts, taking his chances with the D-League even though he would be playing for less money.
Each player signs a contract with the league and is allocated to a team. The D-League pay scale is broken down into three different levels. A-level players make between $24,000 and $26,000, B-level players make between $18,000 and $20,000 and C-level players make between $12,500 and $14,000.
Harris admits the money isn’t great, but it’s all about experience and exposure.
Thanks to everyone who voted in the first Blog Talk BayHawk poll, which asked you to select the team MVP for the 2008-09 season. Congratulations to Erik Daniels for earning the most votes.
For the next poll, I've decided to broaden the horizons to poll fans more generally about pro sports in Erie. We are fortunate enough to live in a city that has minor league teams in basketball, baseball, indoor football, women's football, and hockey. Let your voice be heard by casting your vote for your favorite Erie sports team.
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- New Poll: Raptors or Sixers?
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- The D-League and the NBA Draft
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- Rankin Looks Ahead at BayHawks in Year Two
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- What LeBron's Loss Means for the BayHawks
- Why Ivan Harris Chose the D-League
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About this blog/blogger
Matt Hubert is a 25-year-old writer and basketball fanatic born and raised in Erie, Pa. He graduated from Mercyhurst College in 2007 with a bachelor's degree in English and a dual concentration in writing and creative writing. Matt's not wavering from his stance as a lifelong Los Angeles Lakers fan, but he will cover the BayHawks' NBA affiliates in Cleveland and Toronto when it makes sense to do so throughout the year.