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

Playing in OKC is no longer a big deal for Durant: 'Just a regular game'


Playing in OKC is no longer a big deal for Durant: 'Just a regular game'

Kevin Durant in his first season with the Warriors faced three benchmark games, two of which were against the Cavaliers and, specifically, LeBron James. The third was his return to Oklahoma City, where Durant created his NBA legend.

With all eyes on him, Durant aced all three exams. He was individually better than LeBron, twice, and when he arrived in Oklahoma City last February, with thousands of emotionally wounded fans targeting him for ridicule, he ravaged his former team.

Durant totaled a team-high 34 points (12-of-21 shooting, including 3-of-6 from deep, 7-of-7 from the line), nine rebounds and three assists in a 130-114 rout.

So there will be no such dramatic backdrop Wednesday when Durant takes the floor at Chesapeake Energy Arena, and it is anticipated his sprained left ankle will have healed sufficiently enough to allow him to play. Regardless of whether he plays, hHs return this time simply will not generate the tremendous local turbulence it did last season.

“It was a pretty fun moment to be a part of,” Durant told reporters at practice Tuesday. “You always respect the players on the court. And the people that have stuff to say about what’s going on on the court, they really don’t matter.

“So I just tried to go out there and think about that. Just realize that the players on the court are the most important and I know if I don’t focus and lock in, I won’t play to the best of my ability. I tried to block out all the nonsense and the BS and just go out there and play.”

There should be considerably less BS and nonsense this time around, for this is a more evolved Durant and this is not the OKC team he left behind, shattered in a dozen little pieces scattered around a new solo act that was Russell Westbrook.

Westbrook now has two fellow All-Stars at his side. OKC general manager Sam Presti navigated offseason deals to acquire both Carmelo Anthony and Paul George. There is a sense that the reloaded Thunder can make some playoff noise, and that matters in the wake of a steep drop last postseason.

Having spent most of a day interviewing locals in advance of the Warriors-Thunder game last season, it was apparent those folks were heartbroken by KD’s departure but perhaps more crestfallen about what little was left of their beloved team.

Durant, who remains connected to some of his personal causes in OKC, seems to recognize that. It’s enough to assuage any unease he may have felt for the fans that once adored him.

Asked Tuesday if there was any lingering sentiment about returning to the place where he spent eight seasons, Durant barely hesitated.

“No, it’s just a regular game for me now,” he said. “I learned how to tune out the crowd. I learned how to tune out the b------t and just play. Just keep it at basketball and I’ll be all right.”

It has been 16 months since Durant woke up on the morning of July 4 and announced his decision to sign with the Warriors. Durant has adapted to the Bay Area. He drives the local streets, rides BART every so often and has his favorite spots. He has his hands all over the high-tech industry that drives so much of the energy here.

Durant has moved deeply into the next phase of his career and has his eyes on his post-career options. OKC was home for most of his NBA life, but he now lives elsewhere.

Kevin Durant is in a good place, in most every way, and he likes it.

“I’ve been in the league for this long and been in every situation as a basketball player: losing games, winning games, overtime games, winning a championship, losing a championship, MVP, coming in second in the MVP,” he said. “I feel like I’ve been through everything in the league as an individual player. All those experiences have given me knowledge and given me insight on the game and what it’s about.

“It’s pretty simple when you think about it. You work, you work, you work. You gain experience, you gain knowledge and when it’s time to give it to somebody else you do it. When it’s time to apply it to your game, you just apply it when you play. “

When KD steps on the floor Wednesday and sees George and Anthony behind Westbrook, he can’t help but feel the difference. He has moved on and so have the Thunder.

There is reason, good reason, to believe the man when he says going back this time is just another game.

JaVale McGee wins fun bet with Steph Curry over Nevada-Davidson game


JaVale McGee wins fun bet with Steph Curry over Nevada-Davidson game

UPDATE (9:01pm PT): It's fanny pack time for Steph Curry.

His Davidson Wildcats lost to JaVale McGee's Nevada Wolf Pack 81-68 on Tuesday night, meaning the Warriors' point guard will have to wear a fanny pack to at least three games.

McGee and his alma mater wasted no time celebrating their big victory.

No response from Curry yet. We'll find out Wednesday if he makes good on his obligation to wear the fanny pack.


When your alma mater plays the alma mater of your teammate, you have to put a wager on the outcome of the game.

That's exactly what Steph Curry and JaVale McGee have done for Tuesday night's clash between the Davidson Wildcats and Nevada Wolf Pack.

But money isn't on the line. Public embarrassment is, though.

Curry and McGee shared the wager on Twitter ahead of the 7pm PT tip-off.

If Curry's Wildcats win, McGee has to serve as his caddie for one round of golf and the Warriors center can't use a golf cart. He has to walk and carry Curry's clubs. Curry originally suggested three rounds, but lowered the number to one,

If McGee's Wolf Pack win, Curry has to wear a fanny pack to at least three games. McGee is famous for always having a fanny pack around his waist.