Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Who will draft Andrew Nicholson?

In about 24 hours, St. Bonaventure fans will know the answer to the question that has been on their minds for months now. What National Basketball Association team will Andrew Nicholson begin his professional career with? Nicholson is projected to be drafted in the first round anywhere between picks #15 and #25. If he is selected in the first round, he will be the first Bonnie drafted in the first round since Bob Lanier was the number one overall pick of the 1970 draft by the Detroit Pistons. Regardless, when Nicholson’s name is called, he will be the first player from St. Bonaventure to be drafted since Barry Mungar in 1986 by the Washington Bullets.
It is difficult to know exactly where Nicholson will end up, but we do have some clues of which teams are the most interested.

Nicholson was watched by NBA scouts at just about everyone of his games this past season. In fact, 27 of the 30 NBA teams, came to see him at least once. Only the Denver Nuggets, Houston Rockets, and Sacramento Kings did not attend a game. Oklahoma City led the way watching Nicholson eight times. San Antonio saw him seven times, while Memphis, Golden State, and Charlotte each attended four games.

Twelve teams brought Nicholson in for a workout. They are listed below by their draft position.
#4 and #24 Cleveland Cavaliers
#13 Phoenix Suns
#12, #16, and #18 Houston Rockets
#15 Philadelphia 76ers
#19 Orlando Magic
#20 Denver Nuggets
#21 and #22 Boston Celtics
#23 Atlanta Hawks
#26 Indiana Pacers
#27 Miami Heat
#28 Oklahoma City Thunder
#29 Chicago Bulls

According to analysts mock drafts, the most talked about destination is Boston at pick #21 or #22. Nicholson has shot up many draft boards and so many people have slotted him in at #22 to back up Kevin Garnett, but his stock continues to rise and it seems he may not even be there after pick #20 which is the Denver Nuggets.

Although it may seem to be a stretch, don’t rule out the Phoenix Suns at #13.  Don’t be shocked if Nicholson goes this high. Phoenix can use a versatile big man and Suns free agent point guard Steve Nash, who is also the GM of the Canadian National Team, has spoke highly of Nicholson telling reporters this week, "He’s a terrific player, I really like his game. If I were a GM, I would look really hard at him, even in the low-teens, he’s that good." Phoenix hopes to re-sign Nash and his endorsement may sway the Suns front office.

The focus for Nicholson will start around pick #15. He worked out in Philadelphia over the weekend and he was the most spotlighted player of the eight who attended the workout. He got high praise from the Philadelphia Daily News as well. There has also been a lot of talk of teams moving into the high teens to trump Boston or Cleveland who are both interested in the early 20’s.

While you watch the ESPN telecast, the commentators will say this regardless of who drafts him: “Andrew Nicholson is the sleeper in this draft. He has great range as a shooter for a big man and had a very productive career at St. Bonaventure. He was impressive at the draft combine and shot up a lot of team’s boards. Once he adds some bulk to his frame, he will have a solid NBA career.”

Over/under on the times he is called a sleeper on the ESPN broadcast: 4.5

Ok, so where will Andrew Nicholson’s new home be when the draft is over? Here are my three projected scenario's:

(1) Nicholson is drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers at #15. Philadelphia is a good young team in need of depth in the front court. He was one of the last players they worked out and he left Philly on a high note in the minds of the Sixers front office. If Perry Jones III of Baylor and Arnett Moultrie of Mississippi State are off the board at this point, Nicholson is the pick.

(2) The Houston Rockets trade the #18 pick to the Oklahoma City Thunder for PG Eric Maynor and the rights to OKC’s pick at #28. Then, OKC selects Nicholson at #18. OKC has coveted Nicholson for some time and have been rumored to want to move up from #28 to either take Nicholson or another big man in the mid-1st round. They came to watch him the most of any team in the league and with former Bonnie David Vanterpool a key member of the front office, this makes sense.

(3) If Philly takes Jones or Moultrie at #15 and Houston keeps the #18 pick, then Nicholson is selected by the Orlando Magic with the #19 pick. Orlando will definitely be the destination if you see a draft day trade between the Magic and the Rockets where Dwight Howard is swapped for a package of players, cash and Houston’s #12, #16, and #18 1st round draft picks. If Orlando gets multiple 1st round picks on Thursday night, start ordering your Magic Nicholson #44 jersey’s. New Orlando GM Rob Hennigan was the Thunder Assistant GM up until last week and is very high on Nicholson from his workouts in OKC. Hennigan has also fired the longtime Magic Assistant GM and all six of the team’s scouts, so Hennigan is most likely going off of his already compiled OKC draft board to use for his first draft with the Magic.

It is really anyone’s guess how any draft breaks down. Whatever happens, look for Nicholson to be gone by the time the Celtics and Cavs select. I can’t see him getting by Denver at #20 if he is still on the board at that point. Enjoy the draft!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Bonnies in the NBA

On Thursday night, St. Bonaventure’s Andrew Nicholson looks to become the 33rd player and first since 1986 in Bonnies basketball history to be drafted by a National Basketball Association franchise. Nicholson is a projected first round pick. If he is drafted in the first round, he will be the fourth Bona player to be drafted in the first round. NBA Hall of Famer, Bob Lanier, was the number one overall pick in the 1970 NBA Draft by the Detroit Pistons. Tom Stith was selected as the second overall pick in the 1961 NBA Draft by the New York Knicks and Brendan McCann was the fifth overall selection in the 1957 NBA Draft by the Knicks.

The last Bonnie to suit up in the NBA was J.R. Bremer. He was a second-team All-rookie team member in 2002-03 with the Boston Celtics as an undrafted free agent. He played in 2003-04 with both the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors. Since then, he is one of the highest paid point guards in Europe.

Prior to Bremer, David Vanterpool had a 22 game cameo with the Washington Wizards in 2000. He has been pro scout for the Oklahoma City Thunder for the last few years and is rumored to be promoted to assistant general manager of the Thunder in the coming days.

While Bob Lanier is the only St. Bonaventure alum in the Naismith Hall of Famer, he is not the only one in Springfield with a connection to the Bonnies. Hall of Fame coach Chuck Daly, who led the famous Pistons “Bad Boys” to two NBA titles and was the head coach of the Dream Team in the 1992 Olympics, played freshman basketball at St. Bonaventure in 1948-49 before transferring to Bloomsburg University.

In all, 15 Bonnies have suited up in the NBA. Here are the top five NBA players from St. Bonaventure:

Bob Lanier was one of the dominant centers of the 1970s. He averaged 20.1 points and 10.1 rebounds per game while shooting 51.4 percent from the field in his 14-year career with the Detroit Pistons (1970-80) and the Milwaukee Bucks (1980-84). He played in eight NBA All-Star Games and was named Most Valuable Player of the game in 1974.Lanier had his #16 jersey retired by both the Pistons and the Bucks.

Billy Kenville played six seasons (1953–1958; 1959–1960) with the Syracuse Nationals and Fort Wayne/Detroit Pistons. He averaged 7.1 points per game and won a league title with Syracuse in 1955.

George Carter was selected by the Detroit Pistons in 1967 and was also selected by the New Orleans Buccaneers in the 1967 American Basketball Association draft. Carter played only game for the Pistons and then joined the Washington Caps of the rival ABA. He went on to play seven seasons in the ABA, spending time with eight teams: the Caps, the Virginia Squires, the Carolina Cougars, the Pittsburgh Condors, the New York Nets, the Memphis Sounds, the Baltimore Claws, and the Utah Stars. Carter represented the Squires in the 1971 ABA All-Star Game and retired from basketball in 1976 with 8,863 combined ABA/NBA career points.

Fred Crawford spent five years in the NBA. He was drafted in the fourth round in 1964 by the New York Knicks. Previously, he had been drafted by the Knicks in the 1963 NBA Draft. He would eventually play with the Knicks in the NBA in 1967. The following year, he was sold to the Los Angeles Lakers. In 1969, he was again sold, this time to the Milwaukee Bucks. Later, Crawford was selected by the Buffalo Braves in the 1970 NBA Expansion Draft and finished his career with the Philadelphia 76ers later that year. Crawford had his best season in the NBA in 1968 with the Lakers when he averaged 10.3 points, 2.9 rebounds, and 2.5 assists per game as a part of the west's representative in the NBA Finals.

Ken Murray was the first ever NBA player from St. Bonaventure. In 1950-51, he averaged 12.9 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 3.1 assists per game as one of the NBA's top rookies for the Baltimore Bullets and Fort Wayne Pistons. He played three seasons in the league with the Bullets, Pistons and Philadelphia Warriors totaling 1,471 points, 599 rebounds, and 482 assists.

Other notable NBA Bonnies:
Tom Stith was selected by the Knicks in the 1961 NBA draft and gave him a two-year contract.  But five weeks after he was drafted, Stith had a physical examination to determine why he had lost 15 pounds during his senior season. He was found to have pulmonary tuberculosis.  Stith recuperated in a sanitarium for several months. After his hospitalization, he began working out with his brother Sam, who was in his rookie season with the Knicks. Tom made the Knicks’ 1962-63 team, coached by Eddie Donovan, who had coached him at St. Bonaventure. The crowd at Madison Square Garden gave Stith an ovation when he made his Knicks debut against the Boston Celtics in mid-November, but he played in only 25 games that season and averaged 3.1 points a game. The Knicks released him at the beginning of the next season.

Whitey Martin and Sam Stith each played one season in the NBA, both for the Knicks in 1961-62. Martin played 66 games, while Stith appeared in 32 games.

Essie Hollis played 25 games for the Pistons in 1978-79 as a teammate of Bob Lanier.

Since 1950, there have been a total of 33 NBA draft picks (32 players) to come out of St. Bonaventure. Six picks have been in the top two rounds. Note: Fred Crawford was drafted twice.

1986    Rd 4, 82nd      Barry Mungar             Washington Bullets

1983    Rd 4, 82nd      Mark Jones                New York Knicks

1981    Rd 4, 87th       Earl Belcher                San Antonio Spurs

1979    Rd 7, 141st     Tim Waterman            Atlanta Hawks

1978    Rd 2, 43rd       Glenn Hagan              Philadelphia 76ers
1978    Rd 10, 162nd   Greg Sanders            New York Knicks

1977    Rd 2, 44th       Essie Hollis                 New Orleans Jazz

1976    Rd 9, 153rd     Bob Rozyczko           Buffalo Braves

1974    Rd 8, 135th     Glenn Price                 Buffalo Braves

1973    Rd 8, 122nd    Carl Jackson               Buffalo Braves

1972    Rd 4, 59th       Matt Gantt                  Phoenix Suns
1972    Rd 15, 189th   Paul Hoffman              Buffalo Braves

1971    Rd 4, 59th       Greg Gary                  San Francisco Warriors

1970    Rd 1, 1st         Bob Lanier                 Detroit Pistons

1969    Rd 9, 115th     Jim Satalin                  Milwaukee Bucks

1968    Rd 9, 116th     Bill Butler                   Boston Celtics

1967    Rd 8, 81st       George Carter            Detroit Pistons

1965    Rd 8, 65th       Bob Bamek                Philadelphia 76ers

1964    Rd 4, 26th       Fred Crawford           New York Knicks

1963    Rd 8, 63rd       Fred Crawford           New York Knicks

1962    Rd 4, N/A       Bob McCully             Syracuse Nationals

1961    Rd 1, 2nd        Tom Stith                   New York Knicks
1961    Rd 2, 10th       Whitey Martin            New York Knicks

1960    Rd 8, 56th       Sam Stith                   Cincinnati Royals

1957    Rd 1, 5th         Brendan McCann       New York Knicks

1955    Rd 5, 39th        Mal Duffy                  Syracuse Nationals

1953    Rd 3, 25th        Billy Kenville             Syracuse Nationals
1953    Rd 5, 43rd        Mike Bodnar            Fort Wayne Pistons
1953    Rd 10, 82nd     Bob Sassone             Philadelphia Warriors
1953    Rd 11, 92nd     Bill Edwards              Rochester Royals

1952    Rd 4, 43rd        Leo Corkery             Fort Wayne Pistons

1951    Rd 3, 28th        Fred Duite                   Rochester Royals

1950    Rd 4, 41st        Ken Murray                 Chicago Stags

PART II (post on 7 p.m. Wednesday): Who will select Andrew Nicholson Thursday Night.