The Van Buren Boys

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commentary from the world of Georgetown Hoyas basketball.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

What Do You Want First?

The good news? Or the bad news? On the Sports Guy's blog on, Bill Simmons provided a collection of thoughts going into last night's NCAA championship game (congrats to Florida). If his musings are a bellwether they provide some good news and bad news for Hoyas fans.

Bad News

The bad news is that he sees Roy Hibbert as a top-1o pick in this year's draft. In his mind, Roy may be one of the most underrated players out there.

Roy Hibbert is looming as the most divisive lottery pick this June -- some believe his lack of athletic ability makes him a backup center at best, while others see him as a potential All-Star. I'm closer to the latter camp because he reminds me a little of Rik Smits, who was unequivocally one of the most underappreciated players of the past 20 years.

Maybe Reggie Miller received the most attention on those contending Indiana teams in the mid-'90s, but Smits was their most valuable player -- he gave them a low-post offense and always commanded a double team, which opened the floor for Reggie. In his prime (a four-year stretch from '95 to '98), Smits averaged 18 points and 7 rebounds a game, shot 52 percent from the field and 78 percent from the free-throw line and shined during the '95 playoffs (averaging a 20-7 over 17 games and outplaying Ewing). Unfortunately, he couldn't crack an All-Star team until the tail end of his prime ('98) because Mourning, Ewing and Dikembe Mutombo were always blocking the way. But that Pacers team made three runs at the title ('94, '95 and '98) with Smits providing the entire low-post offense.

And if that's not enough, he had a great nickname (The Dunking Dutchman), he kept the middle-part hairdo going for about eight years after it became taboo, he made one of the most underrated playoff game-winners ever (a buzzer-beater in the '95 playoffs against Orlando in a game in which the lead changed hands four times in the last 15 seconds), and he delighted NBA fans to no end when he shaved his head during the '98 playoffs (became the all-time answer to the trivia question, "Which NBA player looked the worst with a shaved head?").

Needless to say, I enjoyed the Smits Era and he's the center on my All-Underrated Team from the past 20 years, along with Tom Chambers, Detlef Schrempf, Nick Anderson and Mark Price, as well as Ricky Pierce and Eddie Johnson coming off the bench. (Note: Big Shot Brob would have been the starting power forward as recently as three years ago, but everyone appreciates him now so he's fairly rated.) Hibbert won't be as good offensively unless he can develop Smits' deadly 17-footer, but he's a better shotblocker and rebounder, as well as someone who could take advantage down low against smaller players in the pros. He's also a legitimate 7-foot-2, which gives him something in common with only 5-6 players in the NBA right now. I like him. He's a top-eight pick in my mind. Unquestionably.

Good News

The good news is that Simmons, who has been high on Jeff Green all tourney, thought his draft stock plummeted with his performance Saturday evening.

As for teammate Jeff Green, I had him pencilled into my top six until Saturday's ghastly performance against OSU, when he reverted back to pre-February "maybe I'll let the game come to me instead of taking it over" mode. Bad move. Was he nervous? Was he intimidated by OSU's big guys? Impossible to say. But when somebody's major draft-day gimmick is, "I come through when it matters," and then he disappears in a Final Four game ... well, that's not good.

All I can say is: "One more year! One more year! One more year! One more year! One more year! One more year!"

1 comment:

IPB said...

Remember Simmons is a huge Celtics fan. If Boston winds up missing out on Oden or Durant, it would not surprise me to see a future column counseliing Boston to draft Hibbert.

I can't help but agree with Simmons' conclusion that Green's draft stock had to have dropped some for now with his huge Ohio St. stinker. I still think he's got a great chance at being a lottery pick but his great disappearing act is still a mind-boggler. Truly great players want the ball in big games.