The only real intrigue related to last year's team tonight at the NBA Draft will be the fate of all offense small forwardShabazz Muhammad. Once considered a top two pick, a lack of interest in defense in Ben Howland's last season and a tumultuous off season that had him dealing with the fallout of his father's indictment on federal charges has changed things and Shabazz's stock is assumed most places to have fallen precipitously. NBADraft.net believes he will fall to Cleveland at 19. DraftExpress.com has him going at 15 to Milwaukee. Perhaps NBA GMs were apprehensive about him being a year closer to the end of his career than it was originally assumed. Time will tell.
The Bruin world is still buzzing from the Baseball Bruins' epic and incredibly "lucky" 8-0 beatdown of Mississippi State and rightfully so. Those that watched the game were probably just a bit annoyed at the commentary though. ESPN's horrendous talking heads spent more time bemoaning the dimensions of TD Ameritrade Park than they did talking about the team on the verge of collecting their first baseball title in dominant and crushing fashion. Fortunately not everything ESPN does is this terrible. With the NBA Draft upon us, ESPN has put together the top 20 schools judged by the NBA prospects they have put into the league in the modern era (since 1989). For perspective, Reggie Miller went in the 1987 draft. Checking in at #7: UCLA.
Top Five NBA Draftees Since 1989
- Kevin Love (2008)
- Russell Westbrook (2008)
- Baron Davis (1999)
- Arron Afflalo (2007)
- Jrue Holiday (2009)
Sixth man: Trevor Ariza (2004)
Why they're ranked where they are: Because Ben Howland did a few things right.
Many things can be said about the Howland era at UCLA, many of them unflattering; his final season in Westwood felt like one long postmortem. After Sports Illustrated's George Dohrmann made public a litany of stories about Howland's penchant to coddle stars, it took a last-gasp recruiting class just to keep Howland around for that final 2012-13 season. For most of his UCLA tenure, he was the guy who resurrected Bruins basketball with three straight Final Four runs. At this point, he's more likely remembered as the guy who gave Reeves Nelson license to torment teammates, student managers, his roommate and pretty much everyone else.
This is the prevailing narrative of Howland's final years, and deservedly so. But it shouldn't be the only thing we remember about his tenure, because no UCLA coach since John Wooden has done more to add to the storied ranks of UCLA products in the NBA.
This sounds about right, and hats off to Eamonn Brennan on the article. There's plenty more so it's well worth a clickthrough. Conveniently, 1989 perfectly captures the UCLA tenures of Jim Harrick, Steve Lavin, and Ben Howland. Harrick brought home a title and recruited Baron Davis. The other four top draftees were Howland recruits. The Lavin era, predictably, is not as illustrious. For all his faults, and there were many, Ben Howland is still largely responsible for our rather lofty place on this list. It's too bad that's not the criteria for being a successful UCLA Head Basketball Coach. While adding to this list will not be an explicit demand of Alford, not adding to it will be a likely sign that he is not panning out, so it'll be interesting to see how this plays out in future years.
Speaking of Russell Westbrook, he's currently recovering from the injury he sustained on a ridiculous Patrick Beverley cheapshot in the playoffs. He also apparently has a little spare time to play cupid on Twitter...
Royce Young at Daily Thunder, via Pro Basketball Talk, detailed the happy news on Friday, pointing out that Thunder fan Charlie Bright took his fiancée Rachel Haycraft to an OKC game for their first date, which made a Thunder-styled proposal all the more pointed. Bright hatched the plan earlier in the week for Russell to aid in his efforts.
And this is how it went:
Congrats to the couple, and get well soon Russ!
Finally, Arron Afflalo may soon find out if you can indeed go home again, as he is at the center of trade talks between the Orlando Magic and the Los Angeles Clippers about the Clippers acquiring his services in exchange for Eric Bledsoe. Having the Bruin and Compton native on the team might actually be enough to get me to watch a Clipper game one of these days.