[...] [Zabian] Dowdell did not make the initial list, perhaps in part due to an oversight, but because his numbers thus far this season had not been overwhelming. Playing on the incredibly deep 66ers roster, Dowds averaged 14.5 points, 4.6 assists, 2.4 steals and 1.8 turnovers in 29 minutes per game, shooting 41% from the field and 31% from three, with 261 points on 230 shots. The assist to turnover ratio was nice, and the defense as present as ever, yet Dowdell's individual scoring ability has not been there. Nevertheless, Phoenix now gives a regular season look to this long-coveted player for them, who should fit in nicely with an up-tempo game, and defend better than the Nash/Dragic point guard combo (which, while awesome, only impacts one end).
Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo is the current league leader in assists, with a whopping 13.4 per game. He is likely to remain the league's assist leader for the indefinite future. Two time MVP Steve Nash is second on this season's list, yet he is a considerable distance behind Rondo, averaging 10.8 assists per game. This gap will not be overcome.
To put it into some context, assume for a moment that Nash and Rondo both play every game remaining in their respective regular seasons, and that Nash assumes his 10.8apg pace throughout. If Nash passes for exactly 10.8 apg over Phoenix's remaining 43 games, Rondo need average only 9.3 assists per game for the remainder of the season to stay ahead of him. That's still a lot, but not for Rondo.
Houston's trade of Aaron Brooks to Phoenix in exchange for Goran Dragic and a lottery protected first round pick represents quite a decent return for a man whose value has imploded this season. In freefall from his 19/5 averages last season, Brooks lost his starting job to Kyle Lowry, didn't take it well, and has crawled to a 11.8 PER. If you're a fan of win shares, note also that Brooks has thus far recorded only 0.2 of those puppies this season, quite the collapse from being a near 20 point scorer last season. The same could be said of the value of Dragic - one of the game's best backup point guards last season, Dragic has struggled mightily this season, turning the ball over at an enormous rate and rocking a true shooting percentage of only .492%. Nevertheless, Dragic has a team option on his contract this summer, which, if declined, will see him enter restricted free agency. If Houston has Dragic in their long term plans, it might be worth considering declining the team option and retaining him long term for a cheap price while his value is low, rather than having to pay him in the summer of 2012 when he may have rebuilt his value and is no longer restricted. A Carlos Boozer-type situation seems unlikely.
Cleveland finally did something with their angry owner's willingness to spend, taking on Baron Davis'sexorbitant outstanding salary, and getting a top 10 pick for their troubles. The upcoming draft is going to be truly bad - we're talking 2000 calibre bad - but nevertheless, every draft has talent in it. Even the crap ones. Cleveland, who inevitably have to build through the draft, is right to trade into it, as long as they are sure that Baron's salary proves not to be prohibitive down the road. Meanwhile, L.A. ends the entirely unproductive B-Diddy era, and opens up $6 million in 2012 cap room. Why a team with 2012 cap room aspirations decided to sign Ryan Gomes to a contract that will pay him $4 million that summer is not immediately clear, but it's too late to change that now.
Britain (and England in particular) are starting to place some good big men prospects abroad. Joel Freeland was a first round draft pick of the Blazers back in 2006, who is slowly making a name for himself in the powerhouse Spanish ACB. Another Blazers draft pick, Dante Cunningham, has also worked out for the British team, although he doesn't have the pre-requisite passport yet. Former Hornets forward Sean Banks is also eligible for a British passport, and supposedly in the process of getting one. And other British big man prospects that you may have heard of include Dan Clark (Estudiantes Madrid, ACB), Justin Robinson (Rider), Eric Boateng (just graduated from Arizona State University) and Matthew Bryan-Amaning (University of Washington).
There's some established talent out there, too. Luol Deng, you know about. One-time NBA big man Robert Archibald is also playing in the ACB to a high level, even if he is Scottish. Former NBA draft pick Andy Betts - a man able to make the CV boosting claim that he was once traded for Peja Stojakovic - is still plying his trade in the Greek first division with Aris, a Euroleague team this year. Ex-Raptors forward Pops Mensah-Bonsu is a stalwart of the national team, and finally found the NBA employment last season that he should have had for the last few years. Michael Olowokandi has a British passport (although we don't want him), as has Steve Nash (whom we sadly can't have). And worse case scenario, there's always Providence's Randall Hanke.
Note: Non-US teams that the player
has played for are, unless stated otherwise, from the top division in
that nation. If a league or division name is expressly stated, it's not
the top division. The only exceptions to this are the rare occasions where
no one league is said to be above the other, such as with the JBL/BJ League
split in Japan.