by Micah Hart
It’s Monday, which means it’s time to start the week off right with a little hoops arguing. Today’s episode of extend, trade, or cut is brought to you by the Prime Minister (familiar to anyone who reads the Hang Time Blog) who had a good suggestion for today’s discussion — a trio of the NBA’s best young pivotmen in the Hawks’ Al Horford, the Lakers’ Andrew Bynum, and Grizzlies big man Marc Gasol.
Just to refresh you on the rules, picture yourself as the GM of a mythical NBA franchise, and pretend that you have to choose between three players. One player you can extend with a new contract, one player you can trade for some mythical asset(s), and one player you must cut from your roster for eternity (it’s a harsh world). You may choose each option only once.
Let’s take a look at the candidates:
Al Horford: I’m not saying which way I will vote on Big Al, but I must admit upfront a healthy bias towards him from my days covering the Hawks. Here is a comment you often hear about the Hawks: “They’d be good if they had a legit center instead of having to play Horford there rather than his natural power forward position.” This statement is a crock o’ something. Here’s a little stat I just made up — Horford is better than 90 percent of the centers in the league. I’d actually have to do some research to decide exactly where he fits in, but just because he struggles to check Dwight Howard and Yao Ming doesn’t mean he’s out of his depth in the post. You know who else has trouble checking Dwight and Yao? Everyone.
Andrew Bynum: The Lakers big man is brimming with talent, and when he’s been healthy he’s established that he is capable of being a perennial All-Star. Alas, that health just hasn’t been a constant. In fact, being injured has been the constant, as he has only played 82 games once in his five-year career. Still, Bynum is only 22 (he turns 23 next week), and if the injuries get under control, he could be the best center in the league.
Marc Gasol: Is he as good as his brother Pau? Maybe not. But for as much grief as the Grizzlies get for trading Gasol the Elder to L.A. (and believe me, I’m with you), I don’t know if they get enough credit for getting Gasol the Younger in return. Marc is pretty much exactly what you want in an NBA center – he rebounds, he protects the rim, and he has the traditional Euro-style abilities to be a good passer and solid face-up shooter. If anything, I still wonder why Memphis (with Gasol in the fold) would draft Hasheem Thabeet instead of homegrown hero Tyreke Evans.
Them’s your choices. Now it’s your turn to weigh in – what’s your poison?