Now that it's officially the off-season for basketball, I have but one topic in mind for my boys in burnt orange. Will our most-talented team members move on to the $greener$ pastures of the NBA, or will they stick around the 40 Acres and give us a real shot at a national title?
The three prime candidates for consideration are:
- Tristan Thompson. He would be the highest pick among the trio, and for good reason. But as the last game of the season showed, he does have work to do on his offensive game. He had difficulty posting up, shooting and scoring against serious talent. Many here have cited the need for additional lower-body strength in the paint. Free throws remain a problem. The kid is extremely coachable, which means another year under the tutelage of Rick Barnes could result in a higher draft position.
- Jordan Hamilton. Folks seem to assume he is gone, no question. But make no mistake, he has a lot of improving to do. Is his shot selection better? Yes. But put him in a stressful situation, and his basketball IQ - as well as his shot - seem to fade to zero. Would another year in college help?
- Cory Joseph. Personally, I don't think Cory warrants discussion here. Clearly, he is not ready for the NBA. But I thought the same thing about Avery Bradley. Perhaps Bradley's decision to jump will give Joseph pause, since Bradley has struggled mightily in his rookie season. In my mind, the kid has star potential, but needs more work on his shot, confidence and decision-making abilities.
The reason these guys would leave early is obvious. Money, baby. Plus, the T.J. Ford syndrome - make the bucks while you can, in case you get injured down the road.
Why not leave?
- Development issues, as mentioned above for each.
- Potential NBA lockout, which could really screw the pooch for guys sitting around not playing for a year.
- Opportunity to play with Kabongo.
And one more question. Who is they keystone here? I spoke with a buddy last night who suggested that Thompson holds the keys to the kingdom. If he stays, Joseph and Hamilton are more likely to stay as well, under this theory. The end to the season left a bad taste in everyone's mouth, and they all want to play with Kabongo and take a shot at a national title.
From what I've read about Thompson, he's a kid who has his head on straight. When making important decisions, he makes pro and con lists, and he carefully weighs each factor. I wonder what that would look like ...
I'd love the insights of my fellow BONers. Do they stay and fight for a title? Or do they go and break my heart?