Two teams began this series looking for a clean win over lower-seeded teams that had struggled to close out the regular season. But that's not how it turned out for the favored New Jersey Nets and Denver Nuggets.
The Chicago Bulls and Golden State Warriors did themselves no favors at the end of the season, but once the playoffs started they pulled it all together. Both the Bulls and Warriors jumped out to a 3-1 series lead before their opponent knew what hit them.
Both the Bulls and Warriors lost game 5 (on the road) to keep the series alive and hit their home floor with a chance to close out the series.
Now they try to close out upset series wins and move on to the second round without any more injury.
The Nets' Joe Johnson also has plantar fasciitis, but Brooklyn's biggest problem is finding a way to win in Chicago. The Nets are 0-4 there this season (two regular season, two playoff games).
There's been a lot of verbal jabbing and physical play recently, but now the Warriors are back on their home court and the Nuggets are terrible on the road.
The big key in this game is keeping cool. The team that keeps coolest has a better chance to win. If the Warriors play their game, it will be tough for the Nuggets to win. But if the Nuggets can bully the Warriors a little bit while keeping their own heads about them, then anything can happen.
First things first the Phoenix Suns need to hire a general manager to set a philosophy and a gameplan for the NBA Draft as well as this summer. The off-season has begun for the teams Suns and teams alike meaning once the hire is made, the team needs to hit the ground running.
The Early Entrant List provides all the freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and draft eligible international prospects that are officially in the NBA Draft. This year there are 77 total.
With a number of prospects coming back to school, including four potential lottery picks, the draft got a little thinner on the back end where the Suns have the No. 30 pick via the Cleveland Cavaliers from the Miami Heat. The top of the draft remains largely unscathed where the team will have the 4th highest odds to win the NBA Draft Lottery and draft a potential franchise cornerstone.
Having a first round pick in the lottery and towards the back end means the team (and the fans) need to know the entire class. More homework needs to be done to get a feel for who the team should target in June.
All the prospects have been broken down by class and alphabetically so there are no specific rankings made:
Steven Adams, C, Pittsburgh
Anthony Bennett, PF, UNLV
Archie Goodwin, SG, Kentucky
Grant Jerrett, PF, Arizona
Ricardo Ledo, SG, Providence
Ben McLemore, SG, Kansas
Shabazz Muhammad, SF, UCLA
Nerlens Noel, C, Kentucky
Norvel Pelle, PF, St. John's (through LA City Prep)
Joshua Simmons, SG, Spartanburg Methodist (JC)
Compared to previous freshmen classes this one may appear to be lacking. There are four potential lottery picks in Bennett, McLemore, Muhammad, and Noel, but after the ranges for the remaining freshmen stretch into the second round.
Trey Burke, PG, Michigan
Michael Carter-Williams, PG, Syracuse
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG, Georgia
Myck Kabongo, PG, Texas
Shane Larkin, PG, Miami
Alex Len, C, Maryland
Christian Kabongo, SG, New Mexico State
Tony Mitchell, F, North Texas
Otto Porter Jr, SF, Georgetown
Tahj Tate, SG, Delaware State
Adonis Thomas, F, Memphis
B.J. Young, G, Arkansas
Cody Zeller, C, Indiana
This a deep sophomore class with Burke, Carter-Williams, Caldwell-Pope, Len, Porter Jr, and Zeller as likely lottery picks. There are some enigmatic talents in this class that could be great, but seem to hold themselves back for a variety of different reasons. The sophomores will be very well represented in the 2013 Draft.
C.J. Aiken, PF, St. Joseph's
Vander Blue, SG, Marquette
Reggie Bullock, SG, North Carolina
Adrien Coleman, SG, Bethune-Cookman
Allen Crabbe, SG, California
Dewayne Dedmon, C, USC
Gorgui Dieng, C, Louisville
Jamaal Franklin, SG, San Diego State
Tim Hardaway Jr, SG, Michigan
C.J. Leslie, PF, N.C. State
Nurideen Lindsey, PG, Rider
Amath M'Baye, SF, Oklahoma
Ray McCallum, PG, Detroit Mercy
Victor Oladipo, SG, Indiana
Kelly Olynyk, C, Gonzaga
Marshawn Powell, F, Arkansas
Phil Pressey, PG, Missouri
Andre Roberson, F, Colorado
Trevis Simpson, SG, UNC-Greensboro
Tony Snell, SF, New Mexico
Deshaun Thomas, SF, Ohio State
John Taylor, Fresno Pacific, PG
Every year the junior class shows well with some players taking a little longer than others to develop. Playing behind upperclassmen doesn't help for some, but this group has the most depth and could see 19 players drafted this summer. Potential lottery picks include Dieng, Franklin, Oladipo, and Olynyk.
Alex Abrines, SG, Spain
Giannis Adetokunbo, SF, Greece
Francois Affia, PF, Slovenia
Nemanja Besovic, C, Serbia
Bogdan Bogdanovic, SF, Serbia
Matias Bortolin, PF, Austria
Linos Chrysikopoulos, SF, Greece
Laszlo Dobos, C, Spain
Djorde Drenovac, PF Italy
Viktor Gaddefors, SF, Italy
Rudy Gobert, C, France
Mouhammadou Jaiteh, PF, France
Livio Jean-Charles, PF, France
Sergey Karasev, SF, Russia
Louis Labeyrie, PF, France
Raul Neto, PG, Brazil
Philipp Neumann, PF, Germany
Lucas Nogueira, C, Brazil
Alexandre Paranhos, PF, Brazil
Artem Pustovyi, C, Ukraine
Bogdan Radosavljevic, SF, Germany
Marko Ramljak, SF, Croatia
Dario Saric, F, Croatia
Dennis Schroeder, PG, Germany
Strahinja Stojacic, SG, Serbia
Walter Tavares, C, Spain
Daniel Theis, PF, Germany
Janis Timma, SF, Latvia
Marko Todorovic, PF, Spain
Axel Toupane, SF, France
Adin Vrabac, SF, Bosnia
Due to the defections from the underclassmen this year the International prospects will get a boost in the first round especially. About two months ago only Gobert, Karasev, and Saric were considered first round prospects. Now the likes of Adetokunbo, Jaiteh, Livio-Charles, Nogueira, and Schroder are in the mix. Close to half of the first round could come from outside the country when you factor in Steven Adams (New Zealand), Anthony Bennett (Canada), Gorgui Dieng (Senegal), Alex Len (Ukraine), and Kelly Olynyk (Canada).
Stay tuned in all week here on Bright Side as there will be daily draft coverage starting today
Judging Kendall with respect to his peers.
I think these statistical categories provide a a fairly comprehensive analytical tool.
Ranking Marshall against players taken in his propinquity, Marshall is near the bottom. Austin Rivers is the base of the totem pole, but Kendall appears to be just above him. The big men rated out most favorably, while the three guards struggled. Lamb doesn't really have enough of a sample size to draw comparisons. Marshall's total minutes were also near the pyramid's base, which doesn't adumbrate auspiciously, but part of that was depth chart problems and playing behind Goran Dragic (who logged heavy minutes).
When looking at a comparison between point guards drafted in the first round Marshall is right in line with where he should be. He is behind the phenom Lillard and ahead of Wroten and Teague, who also may have had truncated playing time due to playing on better teams. The fact that Kendall was drafted closer to Lillard than the other two does make his overall performance somewhat lackluster.
Judging Kendall based on his improvement.
Perusing Kendall's game logs, which you can view for yourself here, there are a couple positive trends.
After only recording one game score above 5.2 in his first 24 appearances, Marshall had eight above that watermark in his last 24 appearances.
On the season Marshall averaged 7.3 assists per 36, but that was bolstered by 8.1 assists per 36 for the second half of the season.
Unfortunately, other aspects of Marshall's game, such as shooting and scoring, saw imperceptible improvement at best... e.g. Kendall only had three double digit scoring games all season, but reached double digit assists in all three of his starts.
Marshall did close out the season with an impressive 14 assist, zero turnover performance, but only scored two points... which further supports the fairly salient trends I've mentioned.
Judging Kendall based on expectations.
Going back to pre-draft discussions leading up to the June 28, 2012 festivities many people had a roseate opinion of Kendall's ability at the next level. In this draft preview of Damian Lillard, Marshall was seen as better than Lillard by 18% of respondents. Another 27% felt that they were fairly equal. That's 45% of people that felt that Kendall was close to or better than Lillard in terms of skill level/potential.
Going into the season with those types of assumptions, it is no wonder why Marshall disappointed many Suns' fans. But is that Marshall's fault? The Suns are the ones that drafted him #13. They were the ones talking him up, but even they propounded that Marshall may be a little bit of a project and might need a little seasoning to reach his potential. Most scouts had him anywhere from where he was picked to later teens; it wasn't a stretch pick according to the pundits. As fans some of us chose to put him in an echelon with Lillard. So was Marshall an abject failure or were the lofty expectations unrealistic?
Even our staff mock draft had Marshall in the 13-19 range, which means we didn't think the Suns were reaching either. Sean and I even accurately predicted that the Suns would take Marshall at 13, but I mentioned there were guys I preferred. I also had John Henson higher, so maybe that would have been a better pick when he fell.
I'm not going to hold lofty expectations against Kendall. There was definitely talk that he would need some learning curve time and I think that was a justified foretoken.
In my final analysis I will use an amalgamation of the three grades as a weather vane for Kendall's rookie season. He obviously has a lot of work to do, but I also felt he showed at least a few glimmers of hope. He didn't blow me away, but he didn't completely blow.
Overall Grade: C-
So how do you think Marshall grades out?