Now honestly, I do not care for the NBA in any sense after the disturbing exit of the Sonics from Seattle. Even before the exit of my hometown team I was growing frustrated with the lack of effort, style of play, incredibly overdone entertainment aspects, and many other things. I will stop short just because I could go on forever about my frustrations with what could be the greatest in the world.
One of the few things that the NBA has made positive change to was their draft requirement change, essentially forcing prospects to attend college for a year. While the likes of Brandon Jennings and Jeremy Tyler have earned attention for going to Europe to avoid college and play professionally, overall the college game is receiving prospects such as Kevin Durant, Greg Oden, Derrick Rose to come for a year and making the college basketball season that much more incredible as opposed to never coming.
It can be said that the one year removed rule caused for Jrue Holiday to attend UCLA for a season as opposed to heading straight to the NBA. While normally I would not update on the status of a UCLA player, the decision of Holiday to stay or opt out of the draft has a major effect on the Huskies.
For one, Holiday chose UCLA over Washington. His older brother, Justin, is obviously a player for the Dawgs and is revered as the premiere perimeter defender for the Huskies. Because of his recruitment I have followed Holiday specifically close because I have never wanted a player to come to Washington more than I wanted Jrue Holiday. I saw him as the perfect player for Lorenzo Romar’s offense as his transition game would have been the most exciting thing to watch since Griffey sprinted home in ’95 against the Yankees. His passing skills were some of the best I’ve seen, so my disappointment led me to follow him more closely than most other premiere Pac-10 freshman.
Second, losing Holiday obviously allows for the Pac-10 race to be a bit easier as the Bruins will lose arguably their best player. Losing Darren Collison, Josh Shipp, and Alfred Aboya will obviously put a dent in their production, losing the player they expected the most improvement from could devastate them at times. While Holiday was not near the kind of fit for Ben Howland’s system as Romar’s, I have little doubts he would have adapted and become one of the stellar players in the league.
UCLA is bringing in no guards in their 2009 class, which would cause for an immediate advantage for both Washington and Cal as they have two of the best backcourts in the country. Without Holiday the Bruins will probably be forced to start Malcolm Lee and Jerime Anderson for their guard spots. Combined those two averaged about 19 minutes, 5.5 points, 2 assists, and 30.5% from the three point line. Since Washington, Cal, and UCLA were the three expected to challenge for the Pac-10 title next year, having that type of production go against the likes of Abdul Gaddy and Isaiah Thomas would be almost unfair.
While I think Malcolm Lee could develop into a nice player; both he and Anderson will need time to develop. Neither were expected to be immediate impact guys, rather seen as great four year players.
Look at how Gaddy choosing Arizona over UCLA initially and then Washington over UCLA effected next season. Instead of having the premiere “true” point guard come in and take over for Collison, Ben Howland will have to game plan against Gaddy with a sophomore in Anderson who averaged 8 minutes a game and shot 37% from the field.
All Washington will have to do against UCLA is find a way to control the post so Drew Gordon doesn’t establish position, taking pressure off the guards to force plays. I can already picture Darnell Gant forcing Gordon off the block and out of position of a feed, enabling Gaddy to play up close on Anderson and forcing a turnover.
Winning two games against the Bruins next year will go a long way to defending the Pac-10 title. With the conference appearing to take another dip in talent, now is the time for the Huskies to establish itself as one of the top programs to ensure long term stability and the chances for a National Title.
“In college, it’s all about defense,” Holiday said. The NBA “seems like it’s more fun. You can be you.”
While that quote pretty much sums up my opinion on the NBA, it also is an indication Holiday is leaning towards the draft. Here’s to hoping that Jrue Holiday is having fun next winter (although he would have been having fun had he been a Husky… I will never get over that…)