Evaluating Larry Riley's draft legacy


Evaluating Larry Riley's draft legacy

The NBA draft can make or break a franchise, with one pickcapable of turning a team around. For evidence of that, look how far the Oklahoma City Thunder havecome on a series of successful first round selections (Kevin Durant in 2007,Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka in 2008 and James Harden in 2009).It's no great revelation that one of the most importantdecisions a general manager makes is selecting whom to draft.CBSSports.com's Jeff Goodman has designed a formula forevaluating how successful every NBA general manager has been at drafting qualityplayers. Ignoring all other transactions such as trades and free agentsignings, Goodman looks at just the draft choices and how those players'careers developed.The formula has two dimensions. The first is obviously thequality of the player, broken down into categories ranging from"Elite" -- think Durant, LeBron James or Kobe Bryant -- to"OverseasOut of league" -- a mishmash of the Joe Alexanders orAlexlis Ajincas of draft history.Secondly, Goodman considers when the player was taken in thedraft. Although James has become a star, it was no great feat ofscouting when Cavaliers general manager Jim Paxson pulled the trigger to draftJames in 2003. A bigger steal, and therefore a sign of a better general manager,was a pick like Rajon Rondo, who went 21st in the 2006 NBA draft. Goodmanrewards those types of later picks that blossomed in great players moreheavily.Given that Bob Myers has yet to make a selection as generalmanager of the Warriors, he was not rated by Goodman. Still, it is worthconsidering how his predecessor, Larry Riley, would have been rated had heretained his title as general manager.2008: Riley's first draft at the helm was rather mediocre.The Warriors selected Anthony Randolph out of LSU with the 14th pick. Though Randolph averageddouble-digit points in 2009-10 and 2010-11, he has regressed since, and hisminutes have decreased.Randolph'scareer so far fits under Goodman's criteria of a rotation player, which Goodmanexemplifies with the careers of Ronny Turiaf, Patrick Patterson and Ryan Gomes.Given that Randolphwas the 14th overall pick, that earns Riley zero points in Goodman's system.Richard Hendrix, the Warriors' second round pick in 2008, isnow playing overseas from Olimpia Milano in Italy, a Euroleague team. Becausehe was selected 49th overall, he too earns Riley zero points.2009: Riley scored his biggest draft success by landingStephen Curry with the seventh pick in the 2009 draft. Curry has posted verystrong numbers to begin his career, and if he can stay healthy, his career istracking along with Goodman's examples of occasional All-Stars: Joe Johnson,Rudy Gay, Danny Granger and Devin Harris.This pick earns Riley six points under Goodman's scale.2010: With the sixth pick in the 2010 draft, Golden Stateopted for Ekpe Udoh out of Baylor. Though still young, Udoh has not developedas the Warriors likely hoped a sixth overall pick would, and they traded him toMilwaukee aspart of the deal to bring in Andrew Bogut.Though possibly still with the potential to improve, Udohfor now fits the criteria of a rotation player, and due to his high draft pick,Udoh costs Riley one point.2011: In Riley's final draft as general manager, theWarriors selected Klay Thompson with the 11th pick. Thompson's career got offto a decent start, averaging 12.5 points this season.Assuming Thompson builds off his promising rookie season,his career could align with Goodman's "Solid Starter" players, suchas Arron Afflalo, Luke Ridnour and Raymond Felton. With Thompson's position in the draft,he earns Riley 4.5 points.It is too early to evaluate Charles Jenkins in Goodman'ssystem. Jenkins contributed 5.8 points in 17.5 minutes in his rookie season.Though it is unlikely Jenkins will be a star, his career could develop into avariety of the middle categories -- quality reserve, rotation player, benchplayer.With Riley's five draft picks whose careers can beevaluated, he averages 1.9 points per selection. That would have been goodenough for 10th among the 21 general managers Goodman evaluated. Riley wouldhave fallen between Indiana's Larry Bird and Toronto's BryanColangelo.What do you think of Larry Riley's track recorddrafting players? Comment below.
Colin Becht is an intern with CSNBayArea.com and a senior at Northwestern University

Spurs destroy Cavs by 29, back within two of Warriors

Spurs destroy Cavs by 29, back within two of Warriors


SAN ANTONIO -- Kawhi Leonard scored 25 points and the San Antonio Spurs dismantled the ailing Cleveland Cavaliers 103-74 on Monday night in a showdown that turned into a major letdown for the defending NBA champions.

LaMarcus Aldridge and Pau Gasol added 14 points apiece for the Spurs, who won their fifth straight.

Cleveland (47-26) dropped its second in a row, set a season low for points and fell a half-game behind Boston (48-26) for the top seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Cavaliers star LeBron James was injured late in the third quarter after taking an elbow to the base of his neck. He remained on the bench for a while receiving medical attention, then headed toward the locker room and didn't return to the game.

His status was not immediately known.

Cleveland has been out of sync recently, losing three of five, and those struggles only got worse against San Antonio. The Spurs led by as many as 33 points to the delight of the sold-out crowd.

San Antonio (57-16) is two games behind Golden State (59-14) for the league's best record entering a home showdown with the Warriors on Wednesday.

Cleveland opted to play its stars rather than sit them for rest, but the trio of James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love sat out the fourth quarter of its second rout in the past two weeks.

James exited with 25 seconds remaining in the third after taking an elbow to his neck from David Lee on a rebound. James continually rubbed the area before collapsing after he crossed midcourt and remained on the floor for about a minute before walking unassisted to the bench. He left for the locker room early in the fourth quarter during a timeout.

James finished with 17 points, eight rebounds and eight assists in 29 minutes.

The Spurs held the Cavaliers scoreless for three minutes after San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich was issued a technical foul during a timeout with 6:38 remaining in the first half.

Leonard hit a right-handed runner as the second quarter closed to give the Spurs a 64-40 lead.

Cavaliers: Cleveland completed its schedule against the West, finishing 16-14. In addition to losing to the Spurs by 29 points, the Cavaliers lost by 35 to Golden State and 30 to the Los Angeles Clippers. . Cleveland F Kyle Korver missed his third straight game with a sore left foot, and the team plans to sit him for several games to see if rest and treatment helps. Korver will sit out Thursday in Chicago and Friday at home against Philadelphia before being re-evaluated, a team spokesman said. The shooting specialist missed seven games earlier this month with an inflamed tendon in his foot. . G Iman Shumpert missed his second consecutive game with a sore right knee. . James needs 24 points to pass Shaquille O'Neal for seventh overall in career scoring. O'Neal has 28,596 career points. . The Cavaliers averaged 116.3 points in their previous four games.

Spurs: San Antonio is holding its opponents to an average of less than 100 points for the 22nd straight season. . Danny Green tied his season high with four blocked shots. . Leonard has scored in double figures in 100 straight games.

Cavaliers: At the Chicago Bulls on Thursday night.

Spurs: Host the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday night.

Iguodala making loud free agency case to Warriors in Durant's absence

Iguodala making loud free agency case to Warriors in Durant's absence

OAKLAND -- It was with impeccable timing, for the Warriors and for Andre Iguodala, that he has spent recent weeks summoning all the best parts of his game.

He has been a disruptive force on defense, as usual, but at a time when the Warriors needed something extra at both ends of the court, he is providing an abundance of offensive electricity.

Iguodala came through once more on Sunday as the Warriors suffocated Memphis in the fourth quarter to take a 106-94 win at Oracle Arena. Though the team’s Sixth Man again scored at an efficient clip -- 20 points on eight shot attempts -- his ability to energize teammates from Stephen Curry to Draymond Green to Klay Thompson and beyond is no less significant.

“We feed off his energy when we see him get a rebound or get a steal, push up the court, make a crazy inside-out dribble and finish at the rim, knock down threes or play-make for other guys,” Curry said. “It’s fun to watch.”

Iguodala’s rise has coincided with the loss of Kevin Durant, the team’s leading scorer and someone who plays the same position. With Durant out, Iguodala has taken on additional playing time, which can be risky for someone in his 13th season.

“He’s been fantastic,” coach Steve Kerr said. “He looks incredibly athletic, bouncy and fresh. He’s a pro. The guy just knows how to take care of his body. He’s done a great job of stepping up in KD’s absence and recognizing what we need from him.”

The Warriors have played 13 games since Durant went down with a knee injury, and Iguodala has played in 11 of them, shooting 44 percent from deep and 61.8 percent overall. The man who shot 62.3 percent from the line in his first three seasons as a Warrior is at 70.1 percent this season. Leadership also is part of the package.

“I try to read (what’s needed) when I get into the game,” Iguodala said. “Try to bring that energy. And, more than anything, lead by example. Not say too much. Just show it.”

When Iguodala is sprinting up and down the court, rising and dunking on one end, stripping balls away on the other, the Warriors are appreciably better team. If the Curry-Durant-Green-Thompson foursome is the engine, Iguodala is the turbo boost.

“We’re a completely different team when he’s as aggressive as he’s been of late,” Green said. “When he’s moving the way he’s been moving -- he’s beating everybody down the floor -- it makes us a completely different team. “

Igoudala’s minutes have spiked, from 23 per game in November, to 26 in December, to 27 in January and February, to almost 29 in March.

“I don’t want to run his minutes up too much,” Kerr said. “But if he has to play a couple extra minutes while KD is out, then that’s fine.”

It’s fine with Iguodala and it’s paying off for the Warriors.

Iguodala hopes it pays off, literally, when he becomes a free agent in July.

Though free agents entering their 14th season don’t often command big money, he is making a very impressive audition for the Warriors or any team that might be interested in his services.

Iguodala has made it clear he’d prefer to stay in the Bay Area, and at this rate the Warriors may have to find the necessary coins to bring him back.