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  1. #1
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    Arsalan Kazemi: The 2013 NBA Draft's Ready-Made, Overlooked Rebounding Machine

    Arsalan Kazemi: The 2013 NBA Draft's Ready-Made, Overlooked Rebounding Machine


    By Brett Koremenos on June 27, 2013 4:00 PM ET

    http://www.grantland.com/blog/the-tr...unding-machine

    NBA teams are going to wish they had drafted Arsalan Kazemi. Now, since some of you might be muttering "Who?" right now, that might seem hard to believe, which means it’s probably a good time to introduce the player destined to make a number of organizations across the league feel pangs of regret by this time next year.

    After receiving a hardship waiver to transfer from Rice University — where the Iranian-born forward was allegedly the target of racial abuse from the school’s athletic director — Kazemi moved from a school languishing at the bottom of Conference USA to Oregon for his final season of eligibility. When he became a Duck, the country finally got a glimpse of the 6-foot-7 rebounding machine who had been hidden away in Texas the previous three seasons. Kazemi went on to lead the country in defensive rebounding percentage (in a BCS conference, no less) while being a catalyst for an Oregon team that made its first Sweet 16 since 2007. Yet despite collecting 45 rebounds in three games on college basketball’s biggest stage, Kazemi still finds himself on the NBA fringes.

    Two of the most reliable mock drafts — by ESPN.com and DraftExpress — don’t even have the forward slated as a late second-round pick (through DraftExpress wisely has him ranked as its 46th overall prospect). It’s odd to think that a league that has seen Reggie Evans and Kenneth Faried start for playoff teams has no need for a player who is a nightmare to keep off the glass, especially when rebounding has proven to typically be one of the most translatable skills from the college to professional levels.

    Tim Miles, the head coach at Nebraska, witnessed firsthand what a destructive force Kazemi can be during an epic 17-rebound performance in a non-conference tilt at Eugene. Needless to say, the coach came away impressed.

    “You have to keep an eye on him in so many facets in terms of the way he rebounds the ball,” says Miles. “It’s not just an athleticism thing, it’s more of an intuitive thing. He plays on mistakes. You lean left, he goes right and it’s over, he’s got the ball.”

    As impressive as Kazemi’s ability to clean the glass is, it’s hard to peg exactly how much value it holds to NBA teams. Evans had to fight his way onto NBA rosters before working himself into Brooklyn’s starting lineup this past season. Faried, on the other hand, was the 22nd overall pick in the 2011 draft. Of the two, Kazemi has far more in common with Faried. While he isn’t on the same level as a collegiate scorer, Kazemi has the exact same wingspan as the Manimal, and the two produced virtually identical results in their pre-draft athletic testing. And like the blue-collar Faried, there is little to worry about when it comes to Kazemi’s attitude and effort.

    “There’s absolutely no doubt about his character,” says Kazemi’s head coach at Oregon, Dana Altman. “He graduated right on time. He’s a bright, articulate young man. Very good work ethic. He’s not afraid to put the hours in.”

    Another interesting twist in this draft mystery is that unlike Evans and Faried, Kazemi won’t be a liability on defense. The Oregon forward was such a devastating pick-and-roll defender at the college level that he could single-handedly disrupt an opposing offense. “He’s one of those guys you game-plan around,” says Miles. Both Miles and Altman also pointed out how well Kazemi moves his feet — a huge plus for NBA teams hoping to use aggressive pick-and-roll defenses like the one Miami employs. Each coach also firmly believes Kazemi can routinely switch onto, and contain, smaller guards out of that same action when the situation calls for it.

    There are reasons, though, why Kazemi remains on the periphery. He’s a middling offensive threat, lacks a reliable jumper, and is not nearly the elite finisher Faried is. He also turned 23 immediately following his senior season, bringing up concerns that part of his dominance was because of his age. Still, it’s hard to peg exactly why NBA teams appear unwilling to use at least a low second-round draft pick to bring Kazemi into the fold. What it may boil down to is one of the more common words you will hear on draft night: upside.

    Quite a few players drafted in the late first or second round still offer a ceiling of a player that can one day start. Kazemi, on the other hand, doesn’t have the same rosey outlook. He’s a one-position player (power forward) without the size or bulk to probably ever be a full-time starter on a good team. Even if he develops a reliable jumper, Kazemi is likely still only a 20-minute-a-night backup. And should his contributions on offense always be minimal, Kazemi will be relegated to the fate of energy guy who thrives in small stretches while grabbing rebounds and playing pick-and-roll defense. It’s not the eye-popping choice, but drafting a player virtually guaranteed to excel in that role would offer a much better return than most teams typically receive from those spots in the draft.

    But as the names are rattled off tonight, there’s a good chance Kazemi doesn’t hear his, and, like Evans, will have to play his way onto an NBA roster to get his start. The others drafted in front of him, most of whom are destined to be forgotten, will charm teams with their potential while a ready-made role player goes unnoticed.

  2. #2
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    In all the hoopla of the Jrue Holiday trade for Nerlens Noel, I wanted to get some of the spotlight on Kazemi.

    Basically, the dude is a machine. He led the nation in defensive rebounding percentage last year. He had 45 boards in the three tournament games during Oregon's Sweet 16 run. He draws a lot of comparisons to Kenneth Faried and Reggie Evans, two guys who get a ton of love in this forum, so I think we're going to like this guy. He seems to compare much closer to Faried, with nearly identical measurements and athletic test numbers. He's a tough, high-energy, high-motor guy. He's not as good of a scorer as Faried, but he is a better defender.

    We should love this kid. He seems like he could be a great role player. Has Hinkie found a diamond in the rough? I can't wait to see what he can do.

  3. #3
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    Bholly posted this article in the draft thread, definitely a good read. And yes, this guy has a chance to be a really solid contributor for years and I'm looking forward to seeing him play.
    Quote Originally Posted by Sam Hinkie
    "I'm probably pretty boring to watch a game with because I''m all about expected values. I don''t even care if it goes in or not, I'm all about, '‘Should it go in?'' I can live with randomness. I mean, if it''s a close game in the end, yeah, I''m just like anyone else. But I just want us to play the odds all the time."
    TerminH1NK13


  4. #4
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    Every team needs a player like this...bangers...rebounders...defenders..go getters...a poor man's dennis rodman...I like the pick after reading up on this fella....
    Big ups to Phins1983 for the Sig!!!


  5. #5
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    Good read. Fnm I know this got you drooling a bit.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by myleskong View Post
    good read. Fnm i know this got you drooling a bit.
    lol..yeah i like these types of players...go hard or go home...
    Last edited by FNM BOY; 06-28-2013 at 03:20 PM.
    Big ups to Phins1983 for the Sig!!!


  7. #7
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    I like him and I like his story but i think he is gonna have trouble defending in the post with his small size.. also needs to work on athleticism.

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    Couldn't like a 50-plus pick more than this. Like I've said in the other parts of the forum, I'm partially weary on Noel because of the injury and MCW because the two guys taken ahead of him I thought were better (I'm pretty confident the Sixers would take Burke and McCollum ahead of Carter-Williams if either were available). But Kazemi gets me pretty hyped.
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  9. #9
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    Yeah I was hopin Portland would go big...but they took who I wanted in McCollum...but MCW is good with me...unfortunately for McCollum I dont think he will get to shine as much as he will be under the shadow of Lillard...
    Big ups to Phins1983 for the Sig!!!


  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by FNM BOY View Post
    Yeah I was hopin Portland would go big...but they took who I wanted in McCollum...but MCW is good with me...unfortunately for McCollum I dont think he will get to shine as much as he will be under the shadow of Lillard...
    I would've been ecstatic with Burke. Like, no regard for rationale ecstatic.
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  11. #11
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    just to have a bit of fun:

    arsalan kazemi was mentioned 3 times on this board prior to being drafted by the sixers.
    all 3 mentions were made by ME
    and the last time i posted about him, i said this:
    i think kazemi is really worth keeping an eye on. he's old, and also a bit small for the NBA, but he would add an element to the sixers frontcourt that is not currently present - namely a high-energy rebounder. i'm not a huge fan, but i think there'd be some appeal to adding him to the roster.

  12. #12
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    I know I'm the "racist" one in this forum but I can't help but think Kazemi would have been a 1st round pick if he were American (black or white) instead of Iranian (and the stigma that's attached to it, he left his first school because the coach was racist; that's been confirmed)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xZh8XOfnG4U

    The guy is a menace/uber-role player. Rebounds extremely well, tough, surprisingly athletic, anticipates steals well.

    We won't need him to score, but he can play that Reggie Evans type role for us an frustrate the other team.

    Very happy with this late round steal.

  13. #13
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    I actually think is better/more athletic than evans. His background definitely may have gone against him. Its players like him, who aren't top talents, but good ones, who would feel the effects of his background.

    That said, he also is undersized, could use more development on offense, and is not a super athlete. Guys like that have a tendency to be undervalued.

    I think he was a steal too. I see him as projecting something like kenneth faried. If he can add jumpshot, it would really expand his game.
    Quote Originally Posted by Sam Hinkie
    "I'm probably pretty boring to watch a game with because I''m all about expected values. I don''t even care if it goes in or not, I'm all about, '‘Should it go in?'' I can live with randomness. I mean, if it''s a close game in the end, yeah, I''m just like anyone else. But I just want us to play the odds all the time."
    TerminH1NK13


  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by SeoulBeatz View Post
    I know I'm the "racist" one in this forum but I can't help but think Kazemi would have been a 1st round pick if he were American (black or white) instead of Iranian (and the stigma that's attached to it, he left his first school because the coach was racist; that's been confirmed)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xZh8XOfnG4U

    The guy is a menace/uber-role player. Rebounds extremely well, tough, surprisingly athletic, anticipates steals well.

    We won't need him to score, but he can play that Reggie Evans type role for us an frustrate the other team.

    Very happy with this late round steal.
    I don't agree that the stigma held him out of the first round. A highly hyped and arguably best rebounder in NCAA history in Kenneth Faried dropped to the 20's despite having better measureables, athleticism, and stats.
    Maybe at best the stigma dropped him 10 picks in the 2nd round...but I find even that doubtful.

    Of course, I will couch my statements with revealing that I definitely disagree with this pick. So take it for what it's worth.

  15. #15
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    I've watched him single handily take over games. I liked Ledo though.

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