NBA: Week in Review

    
October 19th, 2008

 By: Travis Heath

 

 

 

It's Sunday which means it's time to take a look at what the wonderful world of the NBA taught us this week. 

D-Rose the Next D-Will?

Watching Chicago Bulls' rookie Derrick Rose play this preseason I was reminded of .  Rose's size and strength made me think of Williams almost immediately.  There was never any doubt in my mind Rose was quicker and Williams was stronger, but the two seemed to have a similar game.

I had a chance to catch up with Deron earlier this week and asked him about this comparison.

"I've seen him play," Williams said.  "I don't think we're really similar.  He's more just a speed guard.  He's definitely a talented kid, definitely one of the most athletic people I've seen.  When he gets that ball on the break it's tough to stop him if he gets a full head of steam coming at you.  We're different.  I think right now he still needs to learn how to distribute a little bit better.  He has the tools to become a great point guard in this league."

Interesting commentary to be sure.  Williams might be the strongest point guard in the league, and from his comments you can tell he really doesn't believe Rose is as strong as he is.  You can also tell Williams has an understanding of how hard it is to become a complete point guard in the NBA.

Rose will go through his ups and downs this season just as Deron did as a rookie.  However, I still see the two as very similar guards.  The difference is D-Will has already arrived, while D-Rose is just starting his baptism by fire in the Association.

Foye's Time in Minny?

Minnesota Timberwolves' point guard Randy Foye has a ton of potential.  However, he hasn't realized that potential for various reasons during his first three seasons in the league.  With young players like Deron Williams, Chris Paul and the man he was traded for on Draft Night in 2006, Brandon Roy, having busted onto the scene, Foye is feeling more pressure than ever to produce.

In fairness to Foye, he hasn't exactly had the supporting cast during his first two seasons in the league the aforementioned names have.  In talking to Foye, though, the fact he isn't mentioned in the same breath with some of the top young points guards clearly has him irked a bit.

"It definitely does motivate me," Foye told HOOPSWORLD.  "I think the team we have this year is similar to the team (Chris Paul) has had.  They have shooters that open up the floor and post players.  They got the shooter in Peja Stojakovic and we've got a shooter now in Mike Miller.  They've got a post player in David West and we have one in Al Jefferson.  It's just time for us to put things together and try and win some games."

No one, not even Foye, is saying the Wolves will be as good as the Hornets next season.  In fact, he told me 40 wins would be a good season.  What he is saying, though, is the pieces are now in place for Minnesota to start moving in the right direction.  The result is a very motivated Foye, who believes his time is now.

"I feel as though I can do better," Foye said.  "I came off the injury last year averaging 13 points and four assists on half a leg, basically.  This year I'm looking to do big things.  This year you're going to see a lot of me, man.  Just write that.  I know deep down inside the way I am when there's a lot of controversy or when my back is against the wall.  I'm going to look competition right in the face, I'm not going to run from it.  You're going to see a lot of me this year."

As for those who have attached the "injury-prone" label to Foye, he wanted to set the record straight.

"I had one injury.  I had one injury on my kneecap, and I'm doing good now.  I came back the second-half of the season last year and we won a lot more games.  I'm feeling good."

Strong words from Foye, but also the kind of confidence a young team needs from its floor leader.  It should be an interesting season in Minnesota.

The Real Carlos Boozer

If you talk to most NBA fans about Carlos Boozer, the first thing that often pops into their heads is the summer of 2003.  It was during that summer when Boozer was accused of reneging on an agreement he had to re-sign in Cleveland opting instead to depart for Utah as a result of a chance to earn substantially more money.  Since that summer, no one is exactly sure what happened, and the whole thing became a he said, he said fiasco.

The unfortunate part of this is that people make assumptions about Boozer and his character.  Let me set the record straight on this one: Boozer is one of the best people in the NBA.  He's a pleasure to have a conversation with and never exhibits that "too cool for school" kind of attitude so many superstars in pro sports do these days.

In talking to Carlos last week about his Olympic experience, his honesty and selflessness was on full-display.  You see, there's been this idea floating around that Boozer was okay with his role on Team USA.  Truth be told, he wanted a bigger role.  But that's the very reason why what he did this summer in taking a backseat to others at Team USA was all the more remarkable.

"Don't get me wrong, I definitely wanted a bigger role and wanted to play more," Boozer told HOOPSWORLD.  "But the ultimate goal was to win a gold medal no matter what our roles were.  Our team, collectively, wanted to win a gold medal and bring pride back to USA basketball to be on top of basketball.  So ultimately, you throw your ego to the side."

Athletes are famous for giving lip-service to this sort of thing ahead of time.  However, when the rubber hits the road, their rhetoric rarely translates into action.  This was not the case for Boozer this past summer.

"Throwing ego's to the side was one of the problems that we did have in Athens," Boozer continued.  "You had guys that wanted to play more and voiced that more, and that messed up our team chemistry.  But this team, we knew we were all All-Stars, we're all superstars, we're all great players.  Let's put our best collective foot forward and have one big ego as Team USA.  No matter who gets to shine, who gets the bucket, who gets the rebound, the assist, the headlines... we win.  Team USA wins.  We talked about that in our first meeting.  For me, I embraced that whole-heartedly because I was part of that team where we didn't win it, and it sucked.  You know, we were embarrassed.  I didn't want to come home again embarrassed."

Selfish?  Hardly. 

For those who keep hammering Boozer about what happened in 2003, they would probably change their opinions if they actually had the chance to sit down with him and got to know him a little bit.  Boozer is first-class all the way.

I understand why fans in Cleveland might harbor some resentment, but the decision Boozer made in 2003 was a business decision.  And it's a decision most any other person in his shoes would have made, too.

Should Laker Fans Be Worried?

Fans in Los Angeles have become a little worried about what they've seen from their beloved Lakers in the preseason.  The team has looked lethargic and has not impressed.  Of course, this is only the preseason.

Last week, though, head coach Phil Jackson voiced some concern about the one guy the Lakers need to be firing on all cylinders at the end of this month when the regular season tips off.

"Kobe still looks to me like his legs might be a little bit tired," Jackson told the Los Angeles Times.  "So I constantly ask him if he wants to take a day off or if he needs a day off. I check in with him."

Bryant should be tired.  Dude played deep into June during the NBA season and then took a short break before heading off to Las Vegas to begin training for the Olympics.

Jackson and the Lakers need to take a page out of Gregg Popovich's playbook in San Antonio and make sure not to overextend Bryant and Pau Gasol early in the season.  If the Lakers start off the season 5-5, it really means nothing.  The goal is to be in the most advantageous position come April when the playoffs commence.

I expect a slow start from LA, but I also expect the Lakers to be in the top-four in the conference come April.  In the end, that's all that really matters.

The Courage of Delonte

As a psychologist in my other life, I was quite touched and also inspired after reading about the struggles of Cleveland Cavaliers' guard Delonte West.  West recently took an 11-day leave of absence from the team and returned on October 15th.  While he was away, the team gave no official explanation for his absence.

Once he returned, he addressed the reason he left with members of the media revealing he was receiving treatment for depression.  West also revealed this is something he has been struggling with for most of his life.

"I felt a feeling of anger and I just wanted to throw it all away and quit the team," West told the media.

"In a sense, you feel like a weaker man because you have to raise your hand and ask for help," West continued.  "But I found out over the last week that it made me a stronger person.  I came back focused, and with the help of some medicine and talking with people on a regular basis, I'm back in good spirits."

First and foremost, thank goodness Delonte is feeling better.  Second, it's a shame getting treatment for one's mental health still has such a stigma attached to it.  Players routinely get treatment for physical healthy problems without anyone thinking twice about it.

It took great courage for West to be so honest about his struggles, and let me be the first member of the HOOPSWORLD community to say that we're all pulling for you, Delonte.  Welcome back.