Originally published January 6, 2009 at 12:00a.m., updated January 6, 2009 at 09:01a.m.


Reveling in being right


Six months or so ago, I ranted about the NBA Draft, pontificating that the annual pro basketball meat market was a joke.

You may remember I was particularly peeved about the Boston Celtics selecting J.R. Giddens with the last pick in the first round when the reigning NBA champs could have tapped Mario Chalmers.

Well, now I’m here to say, with a smug grin, I told you so.

Chalmers, a couple of months removed from the immortal three-point basket that had spurred Kansas to the NCAA championship, was chosen four picks into the second round by the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Meanwhile, the Miami Heat were lurking in the wings and when the Heat offered a couple of 2009 second-round draft choices and cash considerations — whatever that means — for Chalmers, the Wolves opted for the deal without consulting Howie Mandel.

Less than a month later, the Heat were so impressed with Chalmers they awarded him a three-year $2.3 million contract with two years guaranteed. That’s news. Second-rounders rarely command a pact, much less a guarantee.

So how has Chalmers fared with the Heat?

Just this week the Miami Herald newspaper dubbed him “the steal of June’s draft.”

Chalmers has started every Heat game at point guard. He’s averaging 10.0 points, 4.6 assists and 1.94 steals a game. Only superstar Dwyane Wade has higher assist and steal numbers among the Miami players.

In a game against Cleveland, Chalmers tied a team rookie record with six three-pointers and finished with 21 points, eight assists, three steals and not a single turnover in 40 minutes of floor time.

Now Heat officials are talking about giving Chalmers more free-lance opportunities in an attempt to take some of the scoring load off Wade. ranks Chalmers as the fifth best rookie in the league behind Derrick Rose, O.J. Mayo, Russell Westbrook and Heat teammate Michael Beasley, and that quartet went 1-3-4-2 respectively in the June draft.

Who would have believed the fourth pick in the second round would be ranked behind the first four choices in the first round?

So what about Giddens?

You won’t find him in the Celtics’ box scores. You’ll have to go to the NBA Developmental League Web site to find the 6-6 tweener who began his career at KU, then finished at New Mexico after that over-publicized knifing incident at a Lawrence watering hole.

Yes, J.R. Giddens is now playing for the Utah Flash and averaging 17.4 points a game. Interestingly, one of Giddens’ Utah teammates is Bill Walker, the former Kansas State player who declared for the NBA Draft after his sophomore year in Manhattan, then tumbled deep into the second round.

C.J. Giles, another former KU player who tested the bounds of citizenship while with the Jayhawks, is also in the NBADL. Giles was recently signed as a free agent by the Los Angeles D-Fenders.

I’ll grant that Chalmers’ instant success in the NBA has had a lot to do with being in the right place at the right time, but I’ll be surprised if Giddens ever becomes the NBA player Chalmers already is.


JBurtin 11 years ago

I do find situations like this bizarre. The kid proves he's a stud by making the defining shot of the entire NCAA tournament. Then promptly falls to the second round of the NBA draft for no apparent reason. It's as if the media jumped off his bandwagon and NBA teams for whatever reason followed.More proof that the NBA simply isn't worth watching. They would rather have a flashy 3 point shooter and dunker like Giddens than a better all around player like Chalmers. When exactly did all of the professional sports leagues start following the formula of pro wrestling. Winning the game has completely taken a back seat to drawing crowds for a spectacle.

joedavis 11 years ago

Giddens has more upside. I think you're confusing being in the right place (on a much less talented team) than not having a place for a player on the the roster (The Celtics are arguably the first or second best team in the NBA). Chalmers wouldn't have his opportunities with the Celtics. Giddens will get his share of playing time in the future. You can't say he is a bust right now.

mojayhawk 11 years ago

Chalmers is a Rock, solid and dependable on both ends of the floor. Giddens is a wild card, at best a streaky sharpshooter. Always has been. I'd take Mario any day of the week!

JBurtin 11 years ago

If by upside you mean sportscenter highlights then you might be right. Other than that Gidden's defense was never very strong, he had no mid range game, and he couldn't take a defender off the dribble. All he could do was catch and shoot, or make flashy dunks.There's no way that Giddens has more upside than Chalmers. The only upside he has is that flashy dunks draw crowds.

Rick Arnoldy 11 years ago

oregon - probably just an "auto correct" issue with MS Word. I hate that.You can't base pro potential based on one shot in the championship game. Most of the people on this board were saying Mario needed to come back for another year. It just goes to show the NBA is a different game and there's no such thing as a sure thing and there's always hidden jewels. That said, the Giddens pick still baffles me. He's one dimensional and immature (still). I also disagree with Chuck that the knifing was over publicized. I (and most people) know enough to not even be in a situation where such a possibility even exists.

kranny 11 years ago

I agree JBurtin, Giddens has no upside. Not that they really need anybody but I'll bet the Celtics are wishing they would have got Chalmers instead of trying to deal for an overpriced Stephon Marbury of late.

Jonathan Allison 11 years ago

Beasley has been very average of late. Right now, Chalmers is better than Beasley. Just weeks before the draft many of the so called "experts" had Mario as a late lottery pick. That he fell into the second round was a joke. Certainly all of us KU fans knew that.He certainly has made the most of his opportunity though. We would have liked to have him back at KU, but unlike some other early entries, he's definitely earning his keep.

justanotherfan 11 years ago

If Chalmers were a Celtic instead of with the Heat, he would currently be sitting behind Rajon Rondo, Eddie House and maybe Sam Cassell. He would be getting NO MINUTES. So Mario actually benefitted from not being taken by the C's because they have several experienced PGs already, whereas the Heat wanted to start over at the point, giving him a chance to start. Add to that the fact that he gets to play alongside one of the premier scorers in the league, and you have a perfect situation to come into as a rookie PG. The NBA is all about situations for rookies. Get in the right one and you could have a huge career ahead of you. End up in the wrong one, you may disappear forever. Tyson Chandler was in a bad situation in Chicago, hooked up with Chris Paul in NO, now he's an All-Star. Jermaine O'Neal was a nobody in Portland, then became an All-Star when he got off the bench in Indiana. No one has heard a word from JJ Redick or Adam Morrison since they entered the League. Meanwhile, Rodney Stuckey, a guy most people had never heard of, starts for the Detroit Pistons.I had no doubt that Mario would be successful, but I was worried that he would end up buried on a roster for a couple of years if he went to the wrong team - Dallas, Detroit, Chicago, Lakers, Phoenix - and had to ride the pine.

Joe Ross 11 years ago

joedavis...I dont agree with a single word in that post.

geniusmannumber1 11 years ago

joedavis...I agree with almost every word in that post. It's fairly clear which of these commenters follow the NBA.

biggbear 11 years ago

justanotherfan...I agree with your post completely. If Mario had gone to the Celtics, he would not be playing. This article is pretty pointless. Chuck probably only wanted Mario to go to the C's so he would be on the same team as another former Jayhawk. The only reason you can say the Celtics should have drafted Mario is so they could have traded him to the Heat for the picks and money.

BigGuyDon 11 years ago

I have to disagree with those that say Chalmers wouldn't be playing if he had been drafted by the Celts. Rondo is a drive first, no shot, me-me-me guy. His play is jarring, given the talented players on the floor with him who should absolutely be the focus of the offense, not Rondo throwing up crazy shots. Rondo might be the most overrated player in the NBA; mostly, he just benefits from the fact that he's completely unguarded on the offensive end of the floor.Mario would be a perfect complement to Pierce, Allen and Garnett. The double teams that Garnett and Pierce receive mean constantly open shots on the wings. When Rondo is on the floor, they don't have a guy who can hit the shot. With Mario they would. Mario is a better defender than Rondo. And he's a better distributor. The Celtics would have been the perfect team to draft Mario. The Giddens pick was a joke.

Ryan Wood 11 years ago

Giddens WAS one-dimensional. No longer. Anyone who saw his last season at New Mexico saw a completely different player--a much better, well-rounded player.That said, give me Chalmers any day.

zissou 11 years ago

Nodding in agreement, Rice. Anyone who wants to judge Giddens by what they saw of him as a Jayhawk should stick to what they know. By his senior year, J.R. was the best player in his conference (and don't let your Big 12 bias insist that that's not impressive) and had developed as a scorer and a teammate. I'll take Chalmers any day as well because he's versatile and was born with a coolness that most players only pretend to have. That said, people need to get past The Moon Bar and judging J.R. because of it — that's their loss.

jaybate 11 years ago

Hey, everyone. Don't forget my man Brandon Rush. He is pulling 24.5mpg and averaging 7.5 ppg overall and 13ppg in the 5 games he's started. Mario's only scoring 10ppg in 30 mpg. The Pacers suck. The Heat not. Still, Brandon is on the wood and making his way. And down the road, I'd still rather be Brandon. Phil Jackson will pick him up one day and he'll be a Brian Shaw/Ron Harper type for the Lakers for ten years. Regarding Gidden, this is the way it goes sometimes when you draft potential. Nowhere, but when you're drafting too far down to get help at the bigs, or a sure starter at the perimeter, you have to draft to possibly fill gaps. They already had what Mario provides. They could have used a big scoring two. They rolled the dice and lost.I don't necessarily think Gidden will make it later, though you never know. He's proven he can recover from adversity once and teams always need a shooter who can defend at the two. I wish people would look at someone like Gidden and root for him, since he appears to be a survivor who learned from his mistakes. Giles is the kind of guy that saddens me. He doesn't appear to learn from mistakes. But what I am really sad about is that no one understood Russell Robinson could make it and improve a team. Everyone say a prayer for RR that he is visited by a shooting angel and learns to can the NBA trey. If he could do that, I would rather have him than any of this year's rookies.

curlyqkm15 11 years ago

I love stories like this that update you on previous players. I've always been a big fan of Mario Chalmers. I check the stats often and am glad that he is proving to everyone that he is an NBA caliber player. All those teams who didn't draft him and let him drop into the second round probably wish they would have picked him, but it worked out great for Mario Chalmers, being guaranteed another two years with the heat and $2.3 million. Even though, he might have been disappointed to be drafted in the second round, Mario is certainly proving that he didn't deserve to be there, and I'm glad to see that he is carrying his excellent defense into the NBA and getting lots of steals. All the other NBA Teams better WATCH OUT FOR MARIO CHALMERS!!!!

Jeremy LeMaster 11 years ago

It's funny that JBurtin equated the NBA to Pro-Wrestling... I was having that exact same conversation about the NBA (and NFL) over the holidays. It is a complete spectacle and it does not entertain me.I hope we do not see Sherron and Cole jump before their senior years. We can all dream about having Arthur around for this year and next year.... Chalmers still on this squad... BRush around to lock up the defensive end of the floor and drain a few threes. The team we have now has a lot of upside.... but dreaming about having young men stay around for 4 years (and in some cases 5 years w/ red shirt).... but I digress.PS: I hope Briscoe stays around for his senior year... All he does is catch touchdowns!

Ed Fox 11 years ago

I don't mind those who say that J.R. still has upside, but those who believe it is higher than Mario's, no matter what J.R. did when he left KU, obviously didn't watch Mario that closely. The kid's a gamer and always has been.

Jonathan Andrews 11 years ago

Woodling, you made sense this time. I'm relieved.

JBurtin 11 years ago

Ohioburg,"You can't base pro potential based on one shot in the championship game"Okay, how about basing it on everything else he does on the floor. I didn't even need "the shot" to know that he would be an incredible NBA player for many years. His defense is outstanding, he always hit the three that got the lid off the basket when the team was shooting poorly, he can drive to the hoop and finish or kick out, he's unselfish. I would actually have more difficulty figuring out what he does wrong. I can't imagine what else you'd want from a player if you didn't want that.Responding to my post with something as short sighted as "You can't base pro potential based on one shot in the championship game" is absolute ignorance.The appropriate move for somebody like the Celtics. If you need a good 2 guard then pick up Chalmers and trade a couple of those overpaid points for an experienced 2. I'm pretty sure that the front office of the Celtics would agree that they dropped the ball now that they've seen what Chalmers can do. Hindsight is 20/20, but it really doesn't take a basketball genius to figure out that it's ridiculous to pick Giddens over Chalmers.P.S. To Clarify, I actually like Giddens, and I wish that he could have finished his career here. There is value in a player that can catch and shoot and nail 3's or make highlight reel plays to pump up a crowd. He may very well have a future in the NBA, I just think it's crazy to think that his NBA future would be better than a ridiculously underrated stud like Chalmers.

Lance Hobson 11 years ago

Mario did not only have one clutch shot, he had a ton of them while at KU. Anyone who ever watched KU the past few years visualized that shot going in because he had done it before. I went nuts when he made it but really I knew it would be a swish before it was halfway to the basket. We all did. The Celtics should have done their homework.BTW, Giddens did get unlucky with the Moon Bar incident. The guy who stabbed him was a total thug, was up on other charges already, and was looking for a fight. Unfortunately Giddens didn't realize that and couldn't walk away.

jaybate 11 years ago

Woodling reveling in being right is like Wrong Way Corrigan reveling in running a 36 Belly off tackle toward the right goal line. It does nothing to lessen the patina of past wrongness. He'll still always be Wrong Way Woodling to me. :-)

KGphoto 11 years ago

"justanother", "bigbear", you are stoned if you think Mario would be sitting behind Eddie House and Sam Cassell. Hell they just picked up Marbury because those guys are failing. And Mario is better than Marbury too, because he's a team player and that's how you win titles. I will stop short of saying Mario is better than Rondo though "BigGuy". Rondo may be the fastest player in the NBA and his defense is approaching stifling. He's 4th in the NBA in steals. So for now, Mario might be coming off the bench behind Rondo.But Giddens? HA! Giddens is going to be 30 years old before his upside kicks in. His shot is streaky, he can't dribble, and his dunks were never that spectacular to me. Apart from filling up the ENTIRE stat sheet with zeros in Boston, his legacy there will probably be even less impressive, if not more memorable. He is part of an NBA record. Most combined knife wounds on one team, in or on former Kansas players. I doubt that one will ever be broken.He may make it back one day, but he will never be anything more than a role player.Mario, however, just erased his alleged pre-season indiscretions (at least I haven't seen or heard anything since the season started, certainly not on this blog) with outstanding play. And has proven that he will be a starter in the NBA for a long time.

jman6294 11 years ago

I live in Boston and am a huge Celtics fan. I was watching the draft with my friend and i kept telling him that there was no way my favorite player from KU would fall to our spot. Sure enough he was. I was extremely upset at Danny Ainge for taking Giddens, especially because of our need for a true backup point guard to Rajon Rondo. Since Giddens is not NBA ready right now, only time will tell when he makes his mark on the Celtics if he was a better selection than Chalmers. All I can say is that Ainge has made mistakes before, and im pretty sure you can add this one to the list.

Joe Ross 11 years ago

if geniusmannumber1 agrees with every word of joedavis' post, it is fair to assume that genius is being sold on clearance.

sdoyel 11 years ago

Franchises are too caught up on players with "potential" and "upside".... when they should be selecting "proven" and "established" players.Prime example, Josh Freeman has said to be the 8th or 9th best QB "on paper" in the Big 12 this past season. Yet come Draft Day, some NFL franchise is going to take a gamble on him and pass up a very deserving player....I just don't get it.

wischalk 11 years ago

I love seeing Mario with the Heat. In reality, his numbers could probably be even better (as a point guard) in a different situation, just because Wade has the ball in his hands so often. Mario sets up the offense for everyone else, and does so very well - getting guys open shots and showing true point skills he never had to use at KU) - but the majority of Wade's buckets (which are most of the Heat's total) are unassisted... except when they're ridiculous 50 ft oops from Mario (loved that the other week).Mario would be playing with the Celtics. They have no point depth and are so desperate as to be after team cancer Marbury. I agree with BigGuyDon that Rondo is overrated. He is good but very inconsistent, except for the fact that he consistently isn't guarded because he can't shoot, allowing his defender to sag and roam. He's faster than Mario, but turns the ball over too much. They're both terrific defenders. Mario would not be starting for the Cs now, but he would get lots of PT and I think could overtake Rondo eventually as he got to show what he can do. Solid outside shooting combined with solid point play (fewer turnovers than Rondo) would do wonders for that team since everyone would have to play honest defense. Meanwhile, Mario would get PT now because House is a one dimensional shooter, and Cassel (who I love) is just too old. Think about what Mario did for us. It was NOT just one big shot. He hit ALL our big shots since his freshman year. Big XII champ game, NCAA champ game... etc... and when the team struggled, he was always THE guy who stepped up. They guy hits big shots. Hell, he should BE the new Cassel and start doing Sam-I-Am's "huge cajones" dance after hitting a clutch shot.

KGphoto 11 years ago

Haha wischalk. So true about Cassell and the Celtic point play. Perfect assessment of what Mario would do for Boston with a little time.sdoyal: I've been crying about this for almost a decade. By the time potential becomes reality, that player gets traded to who knows who.The other one I hate is "the next" pick. The pick that will certainly become the next Dirk Nowitzki. I've said this before, but there must be 20 "next" Dirks out there right now. It started with Jordan, and has never once provided a player even close to the original. The comparisons also usually include race or origin, i.e. the next Dirk must be white. Have you ever seen a black player compared to Dirk? Or a white player to Karl Malone? It's ridiculous fluff to fill out umpteen ESPN channels.I prefer to look at a player's style and pontificate as to what kind of unique player will blossom at the next level, based mostly on intangibles. "What did the player do to win"? Not, "What stat did the player dominate"? This philosophy is what has separated the Patriots for almost a decade now. They've stuck to their guns and found winners (subtract Moss). It's also why OKC is the worst NBA team in memory. Lots of stats, no winners. (except Collison of course). And why Giddens is a sideshow with a B team, while Mario is building toward a title.

Lance Hobson 11 years ago

Ah man, KGphoto hit on a huge point. Giddens is already old for a guy who has "potential." He did spend five years in college and probably won't get much better. Mario left after his junior year and is still developing.Giddens did improve while at NM, but one thing that was a big concern about him at KU was that he almost always had zero assists in the box score. That, combined with 0-10 on three pointers = first round exit.I can't wait to see Mario hit his first game-winner for the Heat - it won't be his last.

Rick Arnoldy 11 years ago

jburtin, you specifically said "The kid proves he's a stud by making the defining shot of the entire NCAA tournament." Think Keith Smart. Like I said, one shot doesn't make you an NBA player.Yeah, I know Mario's body of work goes beyond that (though, I'm still pleasantly surprised by his NBA success).

rockchalkjayhawk4ku11 11 years ago

I don't follow the NBA at all, unless I see a former Jayhawk playing. Watching Mario play for the heat is absolutely fabulous. I am not a big NBA fan, but when I saw Mario go in the second draft, I was pissed. Has anyone heard anything new about Russell? I haven't heard anything in awhile.

AsherFusco 11 years ago

Chalmers going to the Heat was a mixed blessing for him. Sure, the Heat have plenty of playing time to give away. But Miami is trying to make him a point guard -- something he obviously is not (his turnover rate is in the bottom third among guards). Chalmers is a defensive marvel and an outstanding shooter who would fit best as a sixth man or defensive stopper off the bench. Luckily for Miami, it has Dwyane Wade to handle the duties of point and shooting guard on his own. Chalmers has the potential to be an average NBA starter, but his inability to hold onto the ball make him pretty marginal so far. Giddens will be a quality NBA player. Can't say the same thing about Bill Walker.

justanotherfan 11 years ago

I forgot that the majority of posters on here are college fans that don't follow the NBA.

joedavis 11 years ago

Giddens has also been hurt this season....

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