RTOE: Hardwood Paroxysm’s Sophomore Crushes



Yay the NBA season is almost here! Yay we get to see new players do things! Yay we get to see previous players hopefully continue to do the same things well and maybe even do other new things well, too! The Paroxysm crew is here to talk about some of our favorite sophomores. Who made the list? What are that list’s criteria? Are there multiple lists? Has this italicized paragraph gone on for too long? Well, why don’t you just jump down to Scott R‘s, Jack‘s, Derek‘s, Caleb‘s, Ananth‘s, Emeritus’s, and Noam’s answers.

1. Who is your favorite sophomore? And define “favorite” as you would interpret it.

Scott R: I wish it was Anthony Davis, but after he didn’t sign my Charlotte Bobcats program before a game last season, I’m a little bitter, so Tony Wroten gets the honor of being my favorite sophomore. If you need some more reasons why: his shot selection leaves a lot to be desired (which is a positive in this situation), he attacks the basket with reckless abandon and he’s got some flashy handles. Basically, everything I look for in a young point guard.

Jack: Andre Drummond. I’m a sucker for players that accumulate negative perceptions – fair or unfair – in the earliest stages of their careers. Something about trial and error, getting back on the horse, and second and third chances, I guess. So as Drummond’s evolution continues on a daily basis, throwing away ill-conceived pre-draft notions that he doesn’t love the game or isn’t a hard worker in the process, I grow ever happy. Plus, it’s just awesome when someone so preternaturally gifted makes good of his potential. Go Andre!

Derek: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. I get to watch a lot of him for Rufus on Fire, and a lot of the focus gets placed on his jumpshot, but he was the league’s youngest player last season and still does several things really well. He even rebounded from hitting his rookie wall to finish the season strongly, which I thought was important to see from him. Favorite to me here probably means favorite to root for, but Kidd-Glichrist is also a talented player.

Caleb: Don’t know if I have one. Draymond Green is up there. Andre Drummond, Marquis Teague, Anthony Davis…I love the draft class of 2012, apparently. At gunpoint, I’d go with Draymond because #SpartansWill.

Ananth: I’m big fan of the reigning ROY Damian Lillard mainly because he is just a flat out stud. My definition for favorite is the same as the dictionary’s.

Emeritus: Tie between Unibrow, MGK, and John Henson. They’re all long, they’re all versatile, they all have brutal flaws, and they’re all stylistically interesting. Davis is like some sort of baby dragon that doesn’t understand how to breathe fire and keeps setting its own tail alight. MKG is just the mass of energy and length and muscle and bone and no shooting form. And Crowder just has so much ****ing swag. He’s quiet swag. Stealth Swag.

Noam: Tony Wroten, The most common knock on Wroten’s long-term NBA prospects are that he spends more time searching for fancy plays than ones that are actually conducive to winning. I’m just not sure why this is supposed to be a bad thing. Fancy passes are the best! Only one team can win it all every year, but hundreds of beautiful passes can live forever in our mind and/or streaming websites. Gamble on, Tony.

2. Which sophomore who had a pretty good rookie season will have a less-than-good sophomore campaign, and why?

Scott R: I have my doubts about Harrison Barnes, mainly because I don’t think he’s a four. While he had his way against the Nuggets and Spurs in the Playoffs, the match-ups worked in his favor, so it’s unlikely that he puts up anywhere near those kinds of numbers over the stretch of an entire season. That doesn’t mean I don’t think he’ll be an important piece for the Warriors this season. I just don’t see him making the big jump that some are expecting.

Jack: Damian Lillard. It’s not that Lillard will regress this season, but his awesome per game numbers and ironman endurance in his rookie year mean he’s bound for a relatively disappointing sophomore campaign. Not only will he play fewer minutes in 2013-2014, but our expectations are simply a bit out of whack here, too. Lillard’s a good player, but not the franchise one many seem to believe he is. That sobering fact will be reinforced soon enough.

Derek: As much as he’s a bit of an HP sweetheart, I could see Andre Drummond having a little trouble this season because of the Pistons’ addition of Josh Smith. My primary concern here is spacing, especially in the post since Smith, Drummond, and Greg Monroe are not currently capable of spreading out defenses. This could also work out well, but for now I have my concerns.

Caleb: Damian Lillard is the obvious choice. His success last year came because he played a ton of minutes and had to shoulder a lot of responsibility. This year, he has teammates that are good, so his minutes will go down and his stats won’t look nearly as impressive.

Ananth: Sadly, the Minnesota injury curse will probably affect Alexy Shved this year, not allowing him to have any real improvement.


I’ll go with Barnes. I hate this move to backup four. I don’t know why, whether it’s Jackson or management, but Golden State has been chasing a small forward forever and finally got Iguodala (which means they can move him to SG and play him as a defensive 3). Barnes is going to be in a different role and everyone’s excitement over his play at the 4 because of their plus-minus in limited games ignores his inefficiency and how God awful lost he looked. This is a disaster and I’m mad at them for doing this.

Noam: Going down the list, I’m a little worried about Andrew Nicholson. He showed some phenomenal post footwork in limited minutes last season, and a decent mid-range shot, to the point that I’ve seen hopes of him being a “David West lite” sort of guy. That said, Tobias Harris had himself a major sophomore blowup of his own, and I fear that the Magic are enamored with the mismatches he creates at power forward. There’s no reason why Harris shouldn’t get 35 minutes a night on this team – and that could easily make the Canuck somewhat of an afterthought.

3. If you could trade two sophomores straight up to make their respective situations better, who would they be, and why?

Scott R: Got to give D.J. Foster (@fosterdj) credit for this one: John Henson for Harrison Barnes. The Warriors are lacking depth in their front-court and John Henson would bring them a some much needed athleticism and defense off of their bench. The Bucks aren’t really a piece away from being good or anything, but they’re a little bare at the three, so Harrison Barnes could help on that front. Plus, Barnes and Sanders sounds like a fun, up-and-coming duo.

Jack: Austin Rivers of New Orleans and Kendall Marshall of Phoenix. There’s not enough ball to go around for Rivers on the Pelicans, and Marshall is on a team lacking the offense weapons to showcase his talents. The ol’ switcheroo solves each of those individual problems, gives the Suns an intriguing (but flawed) prospect and the Pelicans a much-needed pass-first option on the perimeter. Wins all around.

Derek: I’m trying to think of a good way to free Tony Wroten from this Sixers team but get stuck when I can’t pick a player I dislike enough to want to put in Philly.

Caleb: Marquis Teague and Jared Sullinger. The Celtics are in tank mode and need a point guard to hold things down while Rajon Rondo is out (and in the event of a trade). The Bulls need another big man, and since Tom Thibodeau seems to prefer Mike James (WHO?) to Teague for some reason, it’s probably best to get him real minutes elsewhere.

Ananth: Andrew Nicholson and Tyler Zeller, mainly so the Cavs can become Team Canada; also Tyler Zeller could use some sun.

Emeritus: MKG and Crowder. Crowder would get more time to shoot and expand his game, and with his approach could be pretty good and make himself into a longer-term vet. MKG gets to learn under Shawn Marion and play for Rick Carlisle who loves guys that love to win.

Another set of candidates would be Nando De Colo and Quincy Acy. That way Acy could be the bruiser they always wanted DeJuan Blair to be and Nando De Colo could never be heard from again.

Noam: Evan Fournier and Jae Crowder. I love how Fournier darts towards the rim, and think he could be really good in Rick Carlisle’s offense, especially if he develops the ability to run pick and rolls with Dirk. Crowder seems to fit very well with what the Nuggets used to be under George Karl, but even if Brian Shaw changes their style of play too much, we can just enjoy the Dreadlock Duo of him and Kenneth Faried on the same squad.

4. Pick a sophomore and pick a veteran on his roster whose game he should mimic. What traits would they exhibit?

Scott R: I watched way too much of Tyshawn Taylor when he was with the Springfield Armor last season and it may have made me a little delusional because I’m all in on him being the back-up point guard in Brooklyn. Right now, Shaun Livingston’s got the nod, but if Taylor can cut down the turnovers and be more consistent, he could get the promotion. And he can turn to Jason Kidd and Deron Williams for some help in both those departments.

Jack: Harrison Barnes and Andre Iguodala. Assuming Iguodala makes good on his offseason boasts of focusing on defense and playmaking, Barnes has an ideal mentor. Not in terms of specific skill-set, per se, but an overall role and general attitude. Iguodala will play something like role player supreme for Golden State this season, defending the other team’s best player, playing nominal backup point guard, and filling every gap he can. Barnes has similar defensive and positional potential, and suffers from the same lack of feel, knack and fluidity as a primary scorer that plagued Iguodala in Philly. Perfect match.

Derek: Austin Rivers and Darren Collison. It might be a good idea since Rivers and Collison are both ball-dominant guards, but only one of them was recognized as one of last year’s best point guards. Learning how an NBA point guard works in several areas from Collison would be very beneficial for Rivers. However, I’m not sure that Collison could make Rivers’ shot go in.

Caleb: Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala. They’re both kind of unconventional wings who rank defense and passing among their strengths. Iggy’s more of a 2/3 and Green’s a 3/4 and Iggy’s obviously a LOT more athletic, but he’s a wing who has a shaky outside shot and thus contributes in other ways. Draymond would do well to pick up on that.

Ananth: John Jenkins and Kyle Korver of the Atlanta Hawks. Both are great shooters and Korver has been in the league for 10 years mainly due to his shooting, the type of career longevity Jenkins should also have. Jenkins should just be a sponge around Korver and learn the ins and outs of becoming one of the top shooters in the league.

Emeritus: Draymond Green-Andre Iguodala: Iguodala just conducts his business, plays a smart brand of basketball, largely plays within himself, and focuseson versatility. You know, the opposite of Draymond Green.

<Noam: Perry Jones could really learn from Kevin Durant. I mean, sure, duh, everybody could learn from Kevin Durant. But Jones has that sort of physical freakishness that only very few were blessed with, and among current players, few rival Durant at using those gifts to his advantage as a scorer, playmaker and defender. Jones, a discouraging rookie year behind him and a murky future ahead, can solidfy his place in this league by acquiring just a sliver of one of those skills.

5. If you could redraft last year’s top 10, how would you do it?

Scott R: Anthony Davis, Andre Drummond, Bradley Beal, Harrison Barnes, Damian Lillard, Dion Waiters, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, John Henson, Terrence Ross, Jeremy Lamb.

Jack: On talent, potential and future value, irrespective of team fit: Davis, Drummond, Beal, Barnes, Lillard, MKG, Henson, Ross, Waiters, Harkless.

Derek: Off of the top of my head: Anthony Davis; Damian Lillard; Bradley Beal; Andre Drummond; Harrison Barnes; Michael Kidd-Gilchrist; Dion Waiters; Terrence Ross; Thomas Robinson; Austin Rivers.

Caleb: Davis still goes first. After that, ignoring team needs/preferences/etc., I think Beal, Drummond, Lillard, MKG, Henson, Barnes, Ross, Waiters…after that I have no idea. Jeremy Lamb, maybe? Probably Thomas Robinson.

Ananth: Drafting on talent rather than need: Anthony Davis, Damian Lillard, Bradley Beal, Harrison Barnes, Andre Drummond, John Henson, Meyers Leonard, Terrance Ross, Andrew Nicholson, and either Tyler Zeller or Jeff Taylor.

Emeritus: Davis, Lillard, Drummond, Beal,Barnes,MKG, Valanciunas,Henson, Waiters, Nicholson, Crowder, Orlando Johnson, Fournier, Harkless. This is more than ten.

Noam: Davis, Drummond, Beal, Lillard, MKG, Barnes, Henson, Waiters, Terrence Jones, Harkless.

6. OK. Who’s going to break the f*** out?

Scott R: The Brow. He showed what he is capable of in the last 25 games of his rookie season and he’s been putting on a clinic in the Pelicans’ pre-season games. Obviously anything that happens in pre-season has to be taken with a grain of salt, but everyone gets excited about potential and Anthony Davis has a ton of it. Him being healthy is key, though. If he is, I don’t see a reason why he can’t put up all-star calibre numbers in his sophomore season.

Jack: Bradley Beal. The disparity between the first and second halves of his rookie season was dramatic to say the least. A similar leap is coming this season.

Derek: Jeff f***ing Taylor.

Caleb: If you’d asked me last week, I’d have said Marquis Teague. Now, I’m less sure. I think Thomas Robinson will do really well in Portland with consistent minutes, but I don’t know if that counts as breaking the f*** out. Let’s go with Brad Beal. A full year of him and John Wall should be quite something.

Ananth: Going out on a limb and saying Dion Waiters. He’s got moxie, and Jarrett Jack will be there to provide some veteran leadership.


Noam: There is going to be so much Jeffery Taylor in the NBA this league that people won’t know what to do with themselves.

Hardwood Paroxysm