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Garbage Time: Marcus and The Fix

February 17, 2010


In this weeks edition of Garbage Time, Teach reviews the trade between Dallas and Washington while Langston gives you his take on the NBA draft...





Teach: We've seen Marcus Camby sent to the rainy confines of Portland, Oregon, and we've seen Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood, and DeShawn Stevenson swapped for Josh Howard and Drew Gooden; and the NBA trade deadline is still 48 hours away with Amare Stoudamire rumored to be headed everywhere.  But after the convo I had with Langston on Tuesday, I want to revisit the Dallas-Washington trade.

Most of the talk from this trade centers around Caron Butler and Josh Howard, with what seems like the majority of experts concluding that Butler is overwhelmingly better than Howard.  While Howard may be mercurial and have overstayed his welcome in Dallas, Butler is not overwhelmingly better than Howard statistically.  Howard's PER is 12.2; Butler's is 13.7.  Howard averages 12.5 ppg, on 40% shooting, and 6.0 rpg.  Butler averages 16.9 ppg, on 42% shooting, and 6.7 rpg.  Both are shooting around 27% from behind the arc, with Howard holding a slight advantage.  But what really deflates the argument that Butler is a huge difference over Howard for me is that Howard plays 13 minutes per game less than Butler, which led Langston to pondering whether Howard, in a contract year, just needs more minutes to produce at the level he did in 2007 when he was an All-Star  averaging close to 19 ppg and had his career best PER of 20.0.  One could argue that Caron Butler isn't an upgrade over the 2009-10 Josh Howard, but that Howard just can't escape his own, much more efficient past.

In fact, the biggest reason for Josh Howard's decreased production is probably the Mavs' offseason acquisition of Shawn Marion, who's getting 31.9 mpg compared to Howard's 26.7.  It's also worth noting that Marion's PER is 15.1, which is better than Howard's this year, but not better than Howard at his peak.  When looking at the numbers, Dallas appears to be choosing between three swing players who have all had better years.


The big difference maker in Dallas' trade with Washington is not Caron Butler but Brendan Haywood.  The Mavs view themselves as contenders in the West, along with the Lakers and Nuggets, but that's only true because of Haywood, not Butler.  Haywood, rather than Drew Gooden, gives the Mavs a body big enough to play with the front lines of Denver and LA, especially since Denver missed out on Camby.  Now, the Mavs have what they lost when they traded Diop away as part of the Devin Harris package that landed them Jason Kidd, which is an efficient seven footer who can block shots.  Also, remember that it was the combo of Diop and Dampier that put Dallas over the top out West, in 2006, when they made their one and only run to the NBA Finals.

And, if they make any big noise in this year's Playoffs, it'll be because they found the sequel to their B-rated version of the Twin Towers.  Keep all hands and feet inside the vehicle at all times, and enjoy the ride, just don't be surprised if it's shorter than one might have hoped.    




Langston:
The NBA needs to re-evaluate the draft.

This was a common statement before they updated the age limit and began barring individuals from jumping straight from high school to the pros. But for me, it's a comment that still rings true. The system that is in place right now works for the NBA, as they get better known /more polished talent. And it works for some college programs, allowing them to go from also-rans to contenders with just one year from the right player.  And it's working for some athletes, namely the ones that realize they just aren't ready for the bright lights of the big leagues.


But it's not perfect by any means.  The current system makes a mockery of the educational system these colleges and athletic programs are expected to endorse. Quoting Kansas head coach, Bill Self, “They could take six hours in the fall and not go to school in the spring, and the next thing you know they are still eligible to play the full year.” A one-and-done player is nothing more than a year-long NBA tryout and a waste of a scholarship. It's also un-American. Barring individuals who are skilled enough to exceed at a profession where a degree is not a requirement is against everything this country stands for; most notably, free enterprise and the ability to capitalize on your talents. We are essentially forcing athletes, with millions waiting on them, to pretend to be students for a year.

I understand that this system was put in place to protect our youth from repeating the same mistakes of Lenny Cooke and Oumane Cisse. But college doesn't guarantee players won't leave too early or teams won't draft busts. Busts are going to happen no matter what system is in place.

If there is a way to improve a systems imperfections, shouldn't we do everything in our power to do so?

Mold the draft after MLB's while retaining the NBA salary structure. Obviously a lot would need to change to make this a realistic possibility; a rewriting of college eligibility rules, expansion of the draft  /NBDL, and a minimum placed on the length of a college commitment. But with the rookie salary limits in place, the basics of the system would be great for the NBA.

By allowing teams to draft high school seniors, it erases the regrets of players who forgo the draft for college as they would already know the outcome. It gives the athletes choices. If they get drafted and are ready for the pros, great. If not, they can sign and play in the NBDL or go to college. Either way they are improving. With a three year commitment for all that decide to go to college, the athletic programs gain some much needed consistency that would allow them to plan in the long term while placing an emphasis on their student-athlete's academics. The NBA receives a deeper talent pool and a clear league wide purpose for the NBDL. All-in-all, I believe this is a win-win scenario for all parties involved. That being the case, I'll leave you by answering my earlier question on improving a systems imperfections, with the following quote.
"There is nothing wrong with change, as long as it's in the right direction." 
-Winston Churchill

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