March 18, 2009
We’ve entered the final month of the season. It’s a time of great anticipation for the fans of one third of the NBA’s teams that can convince themselves they’re in the title hunt. For the rest of us, it’s waiting to be playoffs spectators and waiting for next year. What better time to let the young kids off the bench and see what they can do against real NBA competition? Giving young talent a chance is the very slogan and namesake of this blog: The season’s over, empty the bench. And while it may be a tad more difficult to name them, even those elite teams have some youngsters I’d like to see get some more run over the next few weeks.
And so, as we embark on this final month, I’m going to take some time to name one player from all 30 NBA teams that I want to see more of down the stretch run. They’re all youngsters with the potential for more than we’ve seen. I’m going to tackle it in alphabetical order by team name in three installments. Today we’ll start with the Atlanta Hawks and work our way down to the Houston Rockets.
As always, reader recommendations are more than welcome. Enjoy.
Atlanta Hawks – Acie Law IV, PG: It’s been a long time since we’ve seen the kid nicknamed “Captain Clutch” for his late-game heroics back at Texas A&M University. Atlanta was desperate for a point after letting Chris Paul and Deron Williams slip through their fingers, which may have caused them to reach a bit in selecting Law 11th overall in 2007. Since the Mike Bibby trade he’s been a forgotten man, scoring just 3 points and dishing 1.6 dimes in 10 minutes a game on the season.
You can hardly blame Mike Woodson for the limited minutes as Law hasn’t shown much in his opportunities. And while I’m no longer sold on Law’s potential as an impact point, the guy is still just 24. Bibby can’t last forever and Hawks fans have to be wondering what they have in Acie. It’s time to see this kid for more than 10 minutes a night.
Boston Celtics – Tony Allen, SG: Allen is set to have the cast removed on his thumb this Friday and the Celts should welcome him back with open arms. He’s absolutely a player who can make a difference in this year’s postseason and beyond. This season Allen has shown some quality defense and put his scoring on the back burner, but this is still the guy who was a revelation filling in for the injured Pierce two seasons ago, averaging 20.8 points, 5.2 boards and 3.4 assists on 50+% FGs in that fateful January when he shredded his knee.
Charlotte Bobcats – D.J. Augustin, PG: Augustin showed what he can do in Vegas last summer, and despite being woefully undersized he showed flashes of offensive brilliance against real NBA competition this year. The 5-8 former Texas Longhorn and 9th pick in the 2008 Draft has averaged 20 points, 6 assists, 3 boards, 3 threes and over a steal per game on 49% FGs and 88% FTs in 9 starts this season. There’s absolutely no way the little man can keep that up long-term, but let’s hope that abdominal strain finally heals so he can get back to trying – it’s fun to watch.
Chicago Bulls – Tyrus Thomas, F: It’s not that we blame Vinny del Negro for not giving Thomas a chance, he has. And it’s not that we think he’ll ever be a star on both ends. And it’s certainly not that we’re enamored with Thomas as a person. But the man with pogo sticks for legs just drops some jaw-dropping lines from time to time, and we can’t help but think he could have a Ben Wallace-like impact if he ever got his head on straight and earned 35 minutes a game.
Cleveland Cavaliers – Tarence Kinsey, F: It’s been a while since we’ve written about Kinsey, but way back in the spring of 2007 the undrafted rookie out of the University of South Carolina was the hottest pickup in fantasy basketball. He started 12 games for the Grizzlies down the stretch, averaging 18.8 points, 4.4 rebounds, 2.4 steals and 2.1 assists per night on a respectable 49% FGs and 84% FTs. We’ve been thirsting for a taste of that production ever since.
Dallas through Houston, after the jump…