Odds & Ends: Dwight, Bulls, Deron

Amidst the buzz surrounding the 2013 Basketball Hall of Fame induction a little over a week ago, you may have heard legendary Brazilian basketball player Oscar Schmidt proclaim that he could have been one of the best 10 players ever if he had joined the NBA. In hindsight, it's interesting to ponder some of the 'what ifs' and how they may have altered the landscape and history of the league.

One could think about how the NBA would have been different if Larry Bird didn't fall five spots to the Celtics during the 1978 draft, if Kobe Bryant hadn't fallen to number 13 in 1996, or if Michael Jordan hadn't retired before the 1993/94 season to name a few. Regardless, there are plenty of other possibilities to consider.

Jonathan Abrams of Grantland sheds light on one particular what-could-have-been, chronicling the rise and fall of Korleone Young, a promising 6'7" small forward who like Kobe, Tracy McGrady, and Kevin Garnett before him attempted to make the jump from high school to the NBA in 1998. In his comprehensive piece, Abrams supplements Young's story with commentary from several people who had crossed paths with him along his journey, including Young's prep-school rival Al Harrington, former Pistons head coach Alvin Gentry, and former Pistons assistant (and current Bucks GM) John Hammond, who had this to share based on what he'd seen in practices: 

"We used to talk about the way in which (Young) defended (then-star) Grant Hill on a daily basis. We used to say it tongue-in-cheek but [also] somewhat seriously: 'No one defended Grant Hill in this league as well as Korleone Young."

With that aside, let's round up the rest of tonight's miscellaneous links from the NBA:

  • Sam Amick of USA Today writes about how Dwight Howard has found greener pastures in Houston and why the rest of the NBA will have to lament the reality that another Western Conference contender has been born. 
  • A handful of HoopsWorld panelists put together a season preview of the Bulls for 2013/14. With much of the team's success hinging on how much Derrick Rose can return to form, three writers pick Chicago to finish second in the Central Division, while two have them running away with the division title. 
  • Nets guard Deron Williams was spotted at his charity dodgeball event earlier today with a walking boot over the same ankle that had been giving him problems last season, though he insisted that the boot was just precautionary: “As long as I’m ready (for the season opener), that’s all that matters to me…If it was up to me, I would be playing right now. I can walk fine. It doesn’t hurt. It’s just protecting me from myself” (Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News). 
  • Eddie Sefko of SportsDayDFW says that with Dirk Nowitzki healthy, the Mavericks won't take a backseat to anybody in the league in terms of talent at the power forward position. 
  • Tommy Dee of Ridiculous Upside presents a scouting report of free agent big man Hassan Whiteside, who had recently drawn reported interest from the Knicks, Heat, and Bucks
  • Keith Schlosser of Ridiculous Upside explains why the NBDL will continue to develop front office executives at a much more efficient rate than players at this point, mentioning that while prospective staffers can work to rise up the ranks while committed to a specific NBA franchise, the players can be called up at anytime and by any NBA team regardless of D-League affiliation. 
  • HoopsWorld's Moke Hamilton held his weekly chat with readers earlier this evening, offering his thoughts on why he thinks the Knicks will repeat as Atlantic Division champions, why teams might be shying away from Renaldo Balkman, the Western Conference playoff race, and the Warriors' ceiling among other topics.  
  • Jim Eichenhofer of Pelicans.com continues his countdown of reasons why New Orleans fans should be excited about training camp, placing the offseason progress made by the team's quartet of sophomores – namely Anthony Davis, Austin Rivers, Brian Roberts, and Darius Miller – at number 13. 

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