Does Tra-Deon Hollins have draft stock?

It’s a question that had been in my mind during months of not being able to watch college basketball.  Time I tried to fill a void with watching NBA Summer League, which is fine.  It’s wasn’t that fine really, I worked out a lot in that time and lost 20 pounds.  I also created my My Career player to be Tra-Deon Hollins

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Anyway, Tra-Deon Hollins might be the most complete players that the Mavericks have ever had, and the first legitimate guy that the Mavericks have had to with a chance to at least make a NBA or NBDL roster some day.  Looking around at the three division one programs in the state of Nebraska, he may have the best shot at the NBA or NBDL out of players that would be eligible for the 2017 NBA draft.

Mock drafts do have Creighton’s Marcus Foster as a potential 2nd round draft pick at this point, but he is still a junior, so we’ll see if he wants to leave Creighton early.  The city is getting robbed out of Foster and/or Maurice Watson versus Tra-Deon Hollins.  It’s like Greg McDermott and staff stole candy from a baby and then threw it in a dumpster.

With Hollins’ talent, he brings some excitement to a college basketball team that is already a fun product to watch.  I’ve had friends that poked fun at Omaha even trying to become division one that have asked “who is that guy at UNO who leads the whole nation in steals?  I need to get out and see that guy.  That’s awesome!”

Is there a more complete player that you have seen around the Omaha area recently?  Some writers have actually referred to him as the most all around player in the country.  Kerry Mill of Bleacher Report named Hollins as one of the top 25 seniors in college basketball for 2016-2017.

After averaging 12.5 points per game, 4.8 rpg, 6.1 apg, and leading the nation in steals per game as a junior; it’s hard to find another player of recent memory that do the things that Hollins can. Hollins might be the most likely player in the entire country that would be capable of getting a quadruple-double in a game.

I guess one could claim that his 28% three point field goal shooting would never cut it at the next level, and Rajon Rondo would disagree, but in the second half of the season Hollins was able to shoot threes at nearly 40%.

Maybe the 12.5 points per game is not incredibly attractive, especially on a team that plays at such a fast pace.  It takes some time for junior college transfers to get into the groove at the division one level.  For Hollins, that offensive groove maybe started coordinating itself in late December, maybe?

From December 22nd and on, Hollins averaged 14.4 points per game, and had slower teams in that statistical stretch like Denver and Western Illinois in there.  This season Hollins could be the 2nd or 3rd scoring option in most games after Marcus Tyus and Tre’Shawn Thurman, and will also be the team’s primary ball handler.  The points and the assists are going to be on the rise.


Fun Fact: 4 of the last 5 players to lead the NCAA in steals per game all at least made the NBDL in some capacity.  The 5th, is Tra-Deon Hollins who still has one more year of eligibility.

2015-2016: Tra-Deon Hollins

2014-2015: Corey Walden (3.1 spg) played for the Maine Red Claws, and appeared in four NBA preseason games for the Boston Celtics.

2013-2014: Briante Weber (3.46) played for the Sioux Falls Sky Force in 2015, and the Memphis Grizzlies and Miami Heat in the 2015-2016 season.  He even played in 2 playoff games for the Heat.

2012-2013: Duke Monday (3.1) was drafted to play in the NBDL but never made an official team roster.

2011-2012: Fuquan Edwin: (2.7) played for the Sioux Falls Sky Force, and has played on the Oklahoma City Thunder and New Orleans Pelicans Summer League teams in the past.

One may want to argue that Hollins’ 4 steals per game is inflated because of the high pace of the Mavericks and the fact that they have a higher quantity of possessions as compared to other teams.  I doubt Hollins is going to send an apology letter to anyone anytime soon for being responsible for creating 4 more possessions a game for the Mavericks, with his steals alone.


Maybe a pessimist would want to take a minute to claim that Hollins only looks good because of the weak competition he faces.  You know who else had to face that criticism?  Steph Curry and Damian Lillard.  I am not comparing Hollins to Curry or Lillard, just saying that it might be possible that some of the best guys out there get overlooked.

I did sit there at Weber State and watch Damian Lillard take on the Big Sky and think that I was watching a NBA point guard, while all of my wife’s Portland friends and family thought Lillard was too small for the NBA and a waste of a draft pick.  I’m just going to set a little nugget it out there: Hollins would be a better back up to Lillard than Shabazz Napier.  Okay, I’ve officially reached full out homer biased mode.

While Hollins has a small sample size so far, since he has only played in one division one season, he has played well against NCAA tournament teams.  In three games last season, two against South Dakota State and one against Colorado, Hollins averaged 17.7 points, 7.3 rebounds, 7 assists, 3.7 steals, and shot 58 percent from the field.  With a tough schedule this season, Hollins should be able to showcase his talents against four to five point guards that should be in the NBA or NBDL at some point.

Hollins has mentioned before that he loves the big games, and loves going up against the bigger competition.  If one wants to knock that he doesn’t go up against the best competition, can you imagine how much better he may get against even better competition?

Hollins will definitely have his day to showcase his skills on the court to professional basketball teams.  The small market teams love bringing in players from mid-major programs with maturity and confidence to play at the next level.  The Utah Jazz invited over 100 players to work out so the Jazz could analyze their talents.

If you don’t think Hollins is booming with confidence, take a look…

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Derrin Hansen also stated in a radio interview that the coaching staff was able to analyze that defenses were figuring out that Hollins would either take a three point shot or drive the ball to the inside and expected it by the end of the season.  So over the summer, Hollins worked to improve his mid range jumper as it was a weakness of his.  If the most all around player in college basketball fixed his biggest offensive weakness to become an even more all around player, he could become the deadliest player in college basketball.

Hollins was the most improved player for the Mavericks, and maybe the Summit League, as the season went on.  With his current skill set, maturity, work ethic, and confidence, he is only going to get better and better.

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So the Omaha Chargers are a thing

The Omaha Chargers played their first game Tuesday night at the Ralston Arena, and I feel like you did not even notice.  They won 143-97, by the way.

Probably unlike you, I have fantasized about a professional basketball team calling Omaha its home ever since I started watching basketball.  So, basically since I was five years old.  I created my own team on NBA Live 2000 called…you guessed it…The Omaha Racers.

I think we took over the Atlanta Hawks schedule, because I did not recognize them as a NBA team while I was in middle school.  I had to create Mikki Moore to be my center since the game did not believe that he was in the NBA.  I also had to create Rodney Buford as the team’s shooting guard, because again…EA Sports refused to acknowledge him as a real person.

I also created Venson Hamilton, who I don’t think ever actually made a NBA regular season team, but did play on some preseason rosters, if I remember correctly.  Then I did the obvious next move which was signing Erick Strickland, Eric Piatkowski, and Tyronn Lue.

We were terrible.  Anyway, now that you know a little more about me…

I have had a number of arguments that a NBA team would not work out in Omaha.  I know it’s fun to think it would since Creighton men’s basketball averages a better attendance than one-third of the NBA each season, but selling out 41 games is a tougher accomplishment than selling out 17 or 18 college basketball games.  With 41 games, you still get the Philadelphia 76ers coming to town as one or two of the 41 games.

I often think that a NBDL team would work out in Omaha.  Hell, if it can work out in Des Moines and Sioux Falls, why cant it work out in Omaha?  The Omaha Storm Chasers have been pretty successful since moving to Werner Park.  The Lancers seem to do alright.  The Beef, I guess are okay?

That last paragraph was sponsored by the Omaha Vipers.

So why did you not notice anything about the Omaha Chargers?  If you’re like me, you got some interest when the announcement came in April that the team was being formed.  Then you checked their website for information, and probably checked it a few more times over the span of a few months noticing that it was never being updated.  Then all of a sudden, I guess they were having a basketball game?

If my imaginary Omaha Racers team was a real thing, I would think the first step would be to raise awareness that this community actually has a basketball team.  So I did as much deep diving as I possibly could into this thing to see what could be found out about the Omaha Chargers.


I guess this is their home schedule?  Just show up to the Ralston Arena at any time on those dates and hope for the best.

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This basketball team is ran by a man named Darryl Greene.  Greene is apparently also the president of the NBLA.

Which is actually kind of confusing, because Darryl Greene is also the president of the Dakota Magic, another team in the NBLA that you are not aware of.  Is this the same Darryl Greene?  Did he Multiplicity this thing and did Omaha get the # 4 clone?  This is a social experiment, right?

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The Chargers either have no Vice President or an Assistant GM, so Greene might be taking on those responsibilities as well at the moment.  Or their website just sucks, both are possible scenarios.  Spoiler alert: If you click on the LinkedIn link, it does not take you to an Omaha Chargers LinkedIn account, just to Wix.com’s account.

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The Chargers have no Twitter account.  It’s not like they have to necessarily have a Twitter account, but they have a Facebook page that barely gives any information about the team.  Facebook right now is the place to go when you want to get really upset with your uncle’s political memes, not a place you go to see what sports franchises are up to.  That’s what Twitter is for.  In fact, the only reason I was reminded there was a game on Tuesday night was because I saw Mike Rostampour tweet to CJ Carter something about the game.

There is an unofficial Twitter account, set up by a fan, but that fan gave up on that thing pretty quickly.

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This is all great, because the NBLA is totally utilizing social media platforms.  Actually if you go to the Dakota Magic’s website, their social media links take you to actual social media accounts of theirs.


WOWT pretended to care with the San Diego Chargers logo.

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And does that say Iowa?

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Their Fan Page on their website will inform you that there was a NBLA Prospect game that would have been nice to hear about.  I would’ve have loved to hear how locals did in the game.

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You can even click on a link to let the Chargers know what you think.  Which provides no real information on how to contact them.  Just this logo.  Staring right into your confused brain.

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Want to play in the NBLA?  It’s just that easy.

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You can contact the NBLA.  You do all the leg work.

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This is an advertisement from the Dakota Magic for tonight’s away game for the Chargers.  The Magic’s Facebook page provides you with more information on the Omaha Chargers than the Omaha Chargers do.

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Do the Chargers and Ralston Arena have a deal like this?  We don’t even know if Ralston Arena has the concession stands open during games. I know that CJ Carter, Deverell Biggs, or James Parrot could get me a $1 hot dog by 7:15pm with a deal like this.


The Chargers were able to update their season tickets to only being 9 games left, and that there is a 2 for 1 offer apparently. There, I just did more advertising for the Omaha Chargers than the Chargers have actually done.

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A NBDL team could actually have some potential in Omaha.  Even professional basketball like this can be successful  One could even argue that a WNBA team would actually do pretty well in Omaha (or Lincoln).  The organization has to at least make an attempt to get the community excited about it.

Hey, look, I want this thing to work out just like you probably do.  But how are you supposed to get interested in this team if the only data you have is that they play at the Ralston Arena?

 

OT: My thoughts, hopes, and fears of the 2016 NBA Draft

Every year I tell myself that I am not going to watch the NBA Draft because it is so stupid, yet every year I find myself tuning in to see the first three picks and then I am just stuck on it for the entire evening.  I watched the 2000 NBA Draft while hanging out with a girl in my basement.  I have no idea what this girl’s intentions were with the 14 year old me, but I am absolutely positive she was disappointed to hang out in an air conditioned basement for several hours alone with me while I threw a fit for some time on how Marcus Fizer was going to have no business in the NBA, and I couldn’t truthfully make words come out of my mouth after the Celtics picked someone named Jerome Moiso at number 11.  That was one of the worst drafts, and that girl was just set up with disappointment from the beginning of inviting herself over to my house.

I do not get excited at all for the actual order of players picked.  Teams make terrible decisions based on fruitless data like: this guy is one inch too short.  I get more pumped up for the trades, and this 2016 NBA draft appears to be loaded with potential trades.  All top 5 teams have set out their intentions to make some deals on draft night.  I think the Sixers may be entertaining trades because they realize they want to take the high road and be thoughtful enough to not ruin just one more person’s life.

I’d love to be the guy that just yells into Mitch Kupchak’s ear that the Lakers should trade the number 2 pick for General Manager that knows what he is doing.  Most people day dream about living the lifestyle of a NBA player, but I fantasize about telling Steve Kerr that trading for Shaq was his worst decision as a General Manager; or telling David Kahn that he was the General Manager of the Minnesota Timberwolves basketball team and not the General Manager of the Target Center concession stands when he drafted Johnny Flynn.  Don’t forget, on top of drafting Flynn and Ricky Rubio over Steph Curry, the Timberwolves picked Ty Lawson at 18 but traded him for a future draft pick – which they ended up using to pick Luke Babbitt the following season.  They also took Wesley Johnson over DeMarcus Cousins in the 2010 draft.  Seriously, David Kahn…

Anyway, I am a lifelong Celtics fan, and the Celtics have a pretty bad history of drafting picks.  JEROME MOISO.  Sorry, I just randomly scream-type his names.  It’s a condition. Thanks a lot Rick Pitino, you’re a threat more serious than the Emperor to me. So, yeah, terrible draft history, but Danny Ainge has a done a solid job to make draft trades happen to get the best out of what he can.  This is probably a condition of his full intentions in the past of wanting the team to tank as much as possible, but Paul Pierce willing terrible rosters to be 7 or 8 seeds in the East.  As a Celtics fan, I clearly hate that the 76ers and the Lakers are picking in front of them…and I even have reasons for taking interest in what the Suns and Timberwolves will do at 4 and 5.  Here are some random fears, thoughts, and hopes for the NBA draft.

Philadelphia 76ers

The 76ers have been one of my least favorite times for as long as I can remember.  I’m not an overly religious person, but I used to pray a lot over a four year period that Kyle Korver would get traded to anyone else (but mainly the Celtics).  This was after I spent some time thinking that Rodney Buford just belonged there.  I have no idea what that comment is supposed to mean, so I welcome your suggestions.  Either way, we need to update Buford’s wikipedia page to reflect his new coaching position with the Omaha Chargers.

Even though I hate the 76ers, I fully understand how pivotal this draft is for the franchise and how huge of an opportunity Bryan Colangelo has in front of himself to instantly turn this franchise around.

The Sixers are taking Ben Simmons with the number one pick, and will have nearly 60 million dollars of cap space to play with.  With a front court of Jahlil Okafor, Nerlens Noel, and Joel Embiid – who has still yet to play an NBA game, and now Ben Simmons, the Sixers should be looking into trading one of these post players for an actual adult.

The Hawks are consistently in the rumor mill to trade one of their point guards.  Could a Jahlil Okafor or Nerlens Noel for Jeff Teague be likely?  Or even throw something similar, yet more far fetched, to the Chicago Bulls for Derrick Rose.  Either of these two alone, with the addition Simmons, could improve Philadelphia from 10 wins to at least 20 in one year.

It’s not like one of these trades are the only options for the Sixers to get a point guard and some experience on their roster.  They could throw some money at Rajon Rondo, who almost no one else wants; Lance Stephenson, who I doubt the Grizzlies want back; Dion Waiters, who the Thunder probably wont be able to match qualifying offers for; Eric Gordon, who could probably be pretty cheap to prove that he can be healthy enough to be a contributor; Mario Chalmers, who is somehow an upgrade at point guard for the Sixers; and really just some NBA veteran who might seem like a risk, but could benefit the Sixers in the short term of their rebuild.

I’m not very fearful of the Sixers for the 2016-2017 season at this point, but this draft could really be a turning point for the organization to be back in the playoffs and be a competitor in the East again in a few years.

Los Angeles Lakers

The Lakers have stated that they do not want to be on a long term rebuilding plan, but the Lakers say a lot of things so who the hell knows.  Still, the Lakers do not want to be what the Clippers used to be in Los Angeles.  Almost every mock draft has the Lakers selecting Brandon Ingram, but there still has been a high degree of uncertainty around this.  Not so much that they will not pick him, but more uncertainty that they will actually want to keep him on the roster, or that he will even turn out to be a decent enough NBA player.  He appears like he would have a similar career to Charlotte Hornets’ player Marvin Williams, who was also picked number at number 2.  The Lakers have been rumored so far to trade away the number 2 pick, or De’Angelo Russell, Nick Young, and Julius Randle.  Okay, so they’ve been rumored to trade their entire roster.  Man, that Kobe Bryant was all about the team and organization!

The Lakers want to be a part of the run for Kevin Durant, they want to have their name out there for DeMar DeRozan, and really just every big time free agent.  The fear for the Lakers may not be who they pick in the NBA draft, but if they can actually pull off a blockbuster trade, which they have a history of pulling off.  I completely feel like I will be watching what the Lakers do in the 2016 NBA draft with the same level of shock in the 2007 draft when the Celtics put together what were pieces for the eventual moves to acquire Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen.  Those to moves eventually helped them quickly turn their team around with additionally signing veteran free agents James Posey, Eddie House, PJ Brown, and eventually Sam Cassell for one of the best put together rosters since 1990.

Boston Celtics

As much as I love the Celtics, I always have to turn away whenever they’re on the clock to make a pick.  I live in fear that I will damage my own property when I hear the stupid pick they have made.  What the hell am I supposed to do with my Joe Johnson Boston Celtics jersey?  I just made my dog wear my dog wear it for humorous photo opportunities.  Say the name Kedrick Brown to me in public, I dare you…I dare you… We’re not going to get in a fight or anything, you’re just going to be able to tell your children about the most ridiculous time you made a grown man cry in a public.  I still run into a panic attack when I hear Jerome Moiso’s name.

My only friends who actively engage in shit talking about the NBA with me are Suns fans, and we’ve had our fair share of THE RAJON RONDO TRADE WORKED OUT BETTER FOR US THAN YOU arguments, so the Celtics and Suns picking 3rd and 4th will most likely begin many years of frustrations.  The Celtics have discussed either trading the 3rd pick, or drafting Dragan Bender, Buddy Hield, Jamal Murray, Jaylen Brown, Marquese Criss, or Kris Dunn.  My fear of Bender is that this is one of those Well it Worked Out for the Knicks type of draft picks because of Kristaps Porzingis.  It reminds me of the late 90s to mid 2000s when NBA teams were rashly picking high school kids because they might be the next Kevin Garnett or Kobe Bryant.  The NBA was so fun back then just watching a bunch of 18 year old uncoordinated kids flush out like a group of terrible child actors from the movie industry.

It seems to be concluded already that either the Celtics or the Suns are taking Bender, and I am pretty excited to make fun of my friends for it either really working out for the Celtics or it not working out for the Suns.  This is a completely illogical statement, but it also, like, completely makes sense.  Am I right?

The Celtics still have a lot to figure out as far as who they are actually going to keep on their roster with Jared Sullinger, Evan Turner, and Tyler Zeller all as free agents; and several young assets on the roster that are tradeable.  This is why a draft day trade makes an incredible amount of sense for the Celtics.  Someone just take Marcus Smart, please!

I can’t imagine who the Celtics will actually take.  I cannot even put anything in the suggestion box.  The roster is weird at the moment, and it does not really seem like anyone available at number 3 would be an immediate impact to the team so my hope is just that they trade the pick with Marcus Smart for a veteran and 2017 2nd round draft pick that will eventually land a lesser known Tra-Deon Hollins…

Phoenix Suns

I am fully confident to say that I think the Suns are the worst ran team in the NBA (after the Sixers), and still have a Suns fan not argue it too heavily.  It’s not so much that the Suns are historically bad at picking players, but they do have a steady and miserable history of trading away guys right before they become stars; or signing average free agents to huge bloated long term contracts.  Just try and play the NBA Trade Machine with their roster, it’s almost impossible to make anything work out.

I thought of a hypothetical trade to get some blood flowing for my Suns fan friends.  Brandon Knight, some throw in to make the contacts work out, and the number 4 pick to Toronto in a sign and trade deal for DeMar DeRozan – which I think they would have to wait for free agents to officially be able sign to make the deal legitimate.  A back court of Derozan and Eric Bledsoe with Devin Booker off the bench to create a little new aged Durant, Westbrook, and Harden type of roster.  I doubt Robert Sarver even entertains this as an idea for his organization.  I mean, Joakim Noah is out there for them to throw everything they’ve got for 48 minutes a night of Noah and Tyson Chandler at center.  That’s pretty hard to pass up for a guy who apparently hates the citizens of Phoenix.

I know NBA teams are recommended to go after the best overall player and not most needed position, but should they take a guard to lump together with Bledsoe, Booker, and Knight if the top guy is a guard at number 4?  Would Hield or Dunn even be playable on the Suns roster?  Am I psychotic for thinking it would be in the Suns best interest to take Henry Ellenson or Marquese Criss at the 4th pick?  Though, I really don’t think Suns management can pass up on a guy named Dragan Bender.  It’s just too fun of a name to not have on your roster.

Minnesota Timberwolves

I have never hated or loved the Timberwolves.  They are the closest NBA team to where I live, so I have always felt a little desire for them to be decent enough to make for a reason to drive to Minneapolis for a game.  With that in mind, it seems to be getting closer and closer to the day that the Timberwolves are in the post season again, right?

The organization seems serious about getting to the playoffs with exceptionally good young basketball players, mixed with a few veterans, and now Tom Thibodeau as their head coach.  Think about that: The Minnesota Timberwolves got the head coach that was at the top of the list of every team with a vacancy this off season.  This could be huge, or it could all come crumbling apart dramatically…we’ll see.

The team does not necessarily have a lot of room to attract some top free agents this summer, and they have made it clear that they are incredibly open to the thought of trading the 5th pick.  That’s when you know it’s going to be a terrible draft, when 4 of the top 5 teams are trying pretty hard to get rid of their picks.  The team’s highest paid player, Ricky Rubio has even stated that he would be cool if they traded him.  Someone will take Rubio, like the Sacramento Kings who seem desperate at the moment and have a voice mail greeting of “This is the Sacramento Kings General Management office.  Press 1 for us to accept your trade.  Press 2 for Lost and Found.”

If they cannot work out a trade on draft day, it almost makes sense for the Timberwolves to take Buddy Hield as they are in desperate need for a shooter after finishing 25th on the season in three point field goal percentage.  But, cheap shooters are out there in free agency, and having Hield and Andrew Wiggins on the court at the same time seems like a defensive risk.


Other random stuff –

It doesn’t appear that Nebraska’s Shavon Shields will get selected in the 2nd round.  He is a likely candidate to get onto a Summer League team and work his way into the league.  A frequent knock at him is that he’s not quick enough to play the 3 in the NBA.  There is a spot somewhere with the right team for Shields in the NBA, maybe not big minutes, but Hornets, Nuggets, and Rockets come to mind as places for him to at least just make the roster…or at least on their NBDL teams.

As much as this may shock you, there will be no one picked from the Summit League.  Max Landis and Obi Emegano could be guys that make Summer League rosters and try and work their way into the NBA or NBDL