Tuesday , Apr , 10 , 2007 Oly Sandor

NBA Wrap-up for April 09

Breaking down the days top NBA stories. Specifically, the Josh Smith suspension: “The Hawks suddenly have standards of conduct? When did this happen? What happened to the days of spontaneous J.R. Rider temper tantrums and free Hammer concerts for all 8 fans in the arena?”

Top 3 Stories:

1) Hi-Flyer Josh Smith grounded for two games by Hawks
2) Oly Sandor’s preliminary top 10 NBA prospects
3) Another strange twist in the career of Bonzi Wells

1) Hi-Flyer Josh Smith grounded for two games by Hawks

What Happened:
Atlanta Hawks forward Josh Smith was suspended for two games after getting into a confrontation with Coach Mike Woodson at the end of a loss against Philadelphia.

Smith, who recently strung together a series of excellent games, cursed out his coach at the end of the fourth quarter and the beginning of overtime.

The Hawks forward, recognized around the league for his athleticism, is averaging 16 points, 9 rebounds, and 3 blocks per game.

Smith is a restricted free agent at season’s end, meaning the Hawks can match any offer he gets.

Reaction of Atlanta Coach Mike Woodson on sending Smith to the locker room for his tirade:
“It’s something that will be addressed (Monday). I sent him in because of conduct, but I’ll address it (Monday) in Atlanta.” (ESPN)

 “I’ve been around this league for a long time as a player and a coach," I’ve seen the league at its worst and at its best. What happened Sunday night was one of those incidents no one wants to see happen, but it did. But this league thrives on the players that take this profession seriously, and the teams that live by a code that says there are things that can and cannot be done. And when a guy crosses that line, regardless of who he is, there have to be consequences for that action.”  (Atlanta Journal)

Reaction of Atlanta forward Josh Smith on accepting the suspension:
"I said what I said, and now I have to step up and take the punishment like a man. I know I was wrong, but my heart was in the right place. I wanted to win, and I let that get the best of me in a heated moment. I apologized to my teammates and to all of our coaches for what I did. All I can do now is spend the next few days clearing my head and getting ready for those last three games, because I’ll come back from this and give everything I’ve got in those last three games."(Atlanta Journal)

Reaction of
Billy Knight Atlanta front office exec.:
"I wasn’t there and wasn’t involved in it. But this suspension] is something that we think is necessary for not only Josh Smith’s long- term benefit, but also the long- term benefit of our team. Let me also say that I think Josh Smith is a good young man. He’s a young guy with so many good qualities, and he just made a mistake. He apologized for it. He apologized to the team, and he’s apologized to his coach, because he knows he was wrong.” (CBS Sports)

Reaction of John Hollinger, ESPN analyst:
“Josh Smith is one of the game’s up-and-coming stars, but concerns about his mental approach may give the Hawks pause when it’s time to give him an extension.”

My take:
“The Hawks have standards of conduct?” When did this happen? What happened to the days of spontaneous J.R. Rider temper tantrums and free Hammer concerts for all 8 fans in the arena? What happened to the Hawks having little or no standards because nobody in Atlanta, including the organization, cared? This team’s owners couldn’t even make a collective decision on signing Joe Johnson. The whole thing got dragged to court.”

“Okay, seriously, the suspension of Smith is a positive. First off, the Hawks are a young and highly impressionable team. They can not allow this sort of behavior from a rising star to go unpunished and expect to have a functioning team. Second, the suspension demonstrates to the rest of the league that the days of apathy in The ATL are over.”

“This clash could alter the market for Smith in the off-season. The forward is a restricted free agent at season’s end, giving the Hawks first crack at signing him to a lucrative extension. After this outburst, Atlanta must consider if they want to invest a ton of money in this kid.”

2) Oly Sandor’s preliminary top 10 NBA prospects

 What Happened:
Right now, every prospect is weighing his options and considering declaring for the draft. With the draft on everyone’s mind, I decided to officially release my preliminary top 10 NBA prospects.

The List:
1) Greg Oden C Ohio State
2) Kevin Durant F Texas
3) Brandon Wright F North Carolina
4) Al Horford F Florida
5) Roy Hibbert C Georgetown
6) Spencer Hawes C Washington
7) Tiago Splitter C Europe
8) Mike Connelly G Ohio State
9) Acie Law G Texas A&M
10) Yi Jianlian Guandong Tigers

My take: 
“I see this as a center heavy draft with two unbelievable prospects in Greg Oden and Kevin Durant. Oden is your classic back-to-the basket center, while Durant is a hi-flyer with the capability to bolster somebody’s line-up.“

"I really like Tiago Splitter, too. I’ve watched him play in international competitions and at twenty two years old, he’s a little more mature than most players. I also excluded Florida’s Noah. Like our draft expert, Lance Walton, I’m not a fan. Noah’s too slight and quite inconsistent.”

3) Another strange twist in the career of Bonzi Wells

What Happened:
Bonzi Wells’ bizarre career got even more bizarre on Monday when he did not meet up with his team for a game against the Seattle Supersonics.

Wells, through a voice message left on the trainers’ answering machine, said he would not join the team because he was upsetting the chemistry of the group.

Wells’ career has been marred by suspensions and clashes with coaches.

Reaction of coach Jeff Van Gundy on Wells’ disappearance:
“He’s not here tonight. I don’t know where he’s at. I haven’t talked to him. I want to make sure he’s safe first. Once I know he’s all right, then we’ll take whatever the next step is. We want to make sure he’s all right first."

Reaction of  Tracy McGrady
on Wells’ disappearance:
“Nah, it’s not a distraction because we don’t know what’s going on.”

My take:
“First off, I hope Wells is okay. But he is an enigma, an absolute and complete enigma. He’s clashed with coaches, teammates, and the media. But he’s also extremely talented. Last year, he was the Kings’ best player in their playoff series against the Spurs.”

Come back tomorrow morning for another edition of the NBA Wrap-up, featuring Oly Sandor’s cutting-edge analysis. Got a comment or question? Use the comment box or email Oly at [email protected]