Sizing Up Carmelo Anthony, Alec Burks and Trey Thompkins
Cub Scouts the Daily Hoops Scene.
by Cub Buenning
With no Friday or Saturday game for the Denver Nuggets, the Carmelo Anthony rumor mill got churned up again, and things appear to be on the precipice of actual action. This time New Jersey appears to have gotten the Detroit Pistons involved. The rumored deal included packaging Chauncey Billups with his counterpoint (guard) Devin Harris coming back with Derrick Favors, two first-round draft picks and a few other “money-balancing” players of little note (aside from Anthony Morrow, who I like). Fortunately and unfortunately, it seems that CB is trying to nix the deal, stating again, his long-term wishes to not only end his career as a Nugget, but also with the hopes that he can step into the team’s front-office upon retirement. I had this exact same conversation last season (part of a feature I wrote) and his desire to become a player personnel/general manager was genuine. He is intelligent (about both business and the game), a local legend and very well respected around the league — all attributes that would serve Billups well in a front-office capacity. For the long-term health of the Nuggets, Melo NEEDS to be traded, however, on the same token, long-term, CB NEEDS to stay.
There obviously is a lot of smoke (i.e. fire) surrounding this situation, but all of the individual players’ and teams’ demands might just hold things up.
–Oh yeah, the Nuggets did get back onto the court following their brutal two-game Cali-road-trip. The New Orleans Hornets entered the town in a snowstorm, but the visitors had no trouble acclimating to an opposition that looked as listless and punch-less as they had just days earlier. The Hornets grabbed an early lead, built a sizable second-half advantage and held on for a 96-87 win. Many of those in attendance (or watching at home) thought a deal for Carmelo was being ironed out courtside at Pepsi Center. Melo had his worst game of the year and was booed pretty mercilessly during a 3rd quarter substitution. To this point, I believe this situation has been handled pretty well for all of those involved, but it was destined to get a bit sticky as the trade deadline (February 24th) approached. Right about now, though, it looks like this team is slathered in honey.
–College basketball had a crazy Saturday of upsets and “front-and-center” was a little ballgame up in Boulder. The Colorado Buffaloes hosted the No. 8-ranked Missouri Tigers and sparked by sophomore guard Alec Burks’ (who we’ve talked a lot about in this space) career high 36 points, took the Big 12 opener, winning 89-76. Please feel free to browse my notes and game recap scribbled from my courtside perch at the Coors Events Center. Several highlights can be taken from the win, but more than anything, having a legitimate Division-I team in our state will do just fine for me.
–Other ranked teams taking a weekend plunge were Kansas State (team missing key player(s) and in crisis), Michigan State (not living up to their talent level), Georgetown (three Big East losses dampen their impressive out-of-conference start), Central Florida (wait, who?), Vanderbilt (a developing team that will scare some come March), Kentucky (of course, very young and therefore prone to be upset) and Texas (just lost in overtime to an equally quality opponent). Luckily, this isn’t college football, where these teams’ new goal becomes qualifying for the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl.
–PLAYER ALERT should have naturally broken down Alec Burks based on his Saturday performance alone (with all due respect to Kemba, it was the BEST game I’ve seen from a college kid all year), but I’ve decided to save some material for later works. In his place, I will break down the play of Georgia junior forward Trey Thompkins. A double-digit scorer since he first stepped foot in Athens, Thompkins is a developing player that has become more selective with his shooting all while scoring more points. As a freshman, he was a volume shooter; now he shoots 51 percent from the floor. At 6-9 and almost 250, Thompkins is not a prototypical power forward, rather a hybrid that likes to score from the perimeter, work the midrange but also occasionally post a guy up. He reminds me a lot of former Laker (current Clipper) and Illinois graduate, Brian Cook. They both have that ability to bring their opponent out of the paint to knock down shots and each is adept enough with the ball to blow by their man off the dribble. Thompkins has scored in double-figures in every game this year and his offensive game was integral to the Bulldogs upset on Saturday over Kentucky. Thompkins considered making the jump to the NBA last year, and by all accounts, his decision to return should allow him to move up the Draft board even more come next spring.
This post was a segment of Cub’s blog at www.milehighsportsview.blogspot.com. The Mile High Five is a daily portion of his blog that covers several aspects in the world of Denver and national sports and pop culture.