With the playoffs underway, TSN's Jack Armstrong offers his thoughts on the defensive abilities of Marc Gasol, Mike Brown returning to Cleveland, Derrick Rose's decision to not play, the play of Harrison Barnes and the situation with the Charlotte Bobcats.
1. MARC GASOL (Grizzlies): NBA Defensive Player of the Year. For someone who is slow-footed and not the most athletic guy, that's quite an accomplishment in a league of high flyers, quickness and tenacity. He's just so sound in every sense fundamentally. The long and short of it - he's in the right place at the right time. Great/tough competitor who has incredible alertness to sniff out the opponent's plans and disrupt them. Can change shots and rebounds with consistency. He is a guy you can always count on to show up and give his all and be vocal doing it. Leads by example and is a coach's delight. He's earned it.
2. MIKE BROWN (Cavs): I thought he did a pretty good job the last time around, particularly at the defensive end. Of course, he had LeBron James and that guy would make any coach look pretty smart. For a young/improving team, he will bring defensive and overall accountability on a daily basis. Guys will play hard for him and respect him. I get the hire completely with one reservation - I've said this before and I'll say it again - his offensive approach has to become a little more creative and bring a lot more flow and tempo to the table. Hopefully, the last Cleveland experience and the Lakers stint have allowed him the opportunity to grown/improve as a coach. I like him and I think he'll be a nice fit.
3. DERRICK ROSE (Bulls): Getting regularly bashed for not playing in the playoffs. Watched him work out a few weeks ago and he looked pretty good to me. He did look a bit hesitant on certain cuts/pivots while he was working out. Would I describe him as 100%? No. I understand that he's got banged up teammates playing right now and respect calls for him to play but he's the only one that truly knows his body and game completely. I trust him - he strikes me as a good person who loves the game and loves to compete and this has to be killing him. When I watch him play, he always leaves it ALL out there. I think this is a case of a young man who's had the good fortune of never being seriously hurt before and is still trying to figure out how to handle it and he's unsure of himself. I don't think he's sitting there saying to himself 'I'm getting over on everybody - they're paying me big money to chill and watch.' I don't see that. He'll play when he's ready and when he does, he'll be awesome again. I give him the benefit of the doubt. Lots of other guys I don't, they're too much into the 'NBA life' instead of being a dedicated professional athlete. I see Rose as a hungry gym rat who loves the game. He'll be back and when he does, watch out.
4. HARRISON BARNES (Warriors): That loud noise of screaming that you heard Tuesday night was from Raptors 'Tank Nation' fans saying, 'why didn't the Raps drop a game or two or even more last season and have a shot at Barnes or even Damian Lillard (Blazers). He would have looked awesome in a Raps uniform instead of the inconsistency of Terrence Ross. He looked really good Tuesday night in Game 2 of the playoffs on the big stage vs. the Nuggets, going off for 24 and 6. Only time will tell if those folks are right. Drafts have a way of unfolding over the long haul and truly allowing us to evaluate with the true perspective of time. Ross will develop into a good player. Better than Barnes or Lillard? No Idea yet. I hope Ross is watching and committing his off-season to the gym and the weight room to be a legit NBA player. Whatever motivates you but somehow, some way find a way to make the next step. Can't wait for early October at training camp to see if he's paid the price.
5. MIKE DUNLAP (Bobcats): Fired after one year as head coach in Charlotte. This is a mess. Can someone tell me when president Rod Higgins is going to resign? Did GM Rich Cho recommend this hire? Michael Jordan better look in the mirror and decide if he's truly in for the long haul and going to run this organization in a first-class way. Time to get rid of folks other than just coaches who are part of the problem. If you don't have the stomach to do that, do yourself a favor and sell. The only thing you should be loyal to is winning and the folks who are leading you on a path that take you there. Time to find some solutions. One of the many dysfunctional teams in the NBA as well as pro sports in general. You can do a study on this situation like many other messed up situations and it usually starts at the top with the owner, president, GM and then work your way down. Usually the coach is the one who takes the bullet and I understand that (Mike Dunlap had his faults, every coach does but one year?) because he's an easy target with a lousy W-L record but fans that truly have a clue know that's just the tip of the iceberg of what the real issues are. It's a shame that this song and dance continues.