Welcome to Tom Talks, the sports talk show of the printed page. You ask, I answer. The last two Tom Talks columns opened with a gratuitous question about Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, and readership jumped. Alas, I suspect we’ll talk more this week about basketball.
Tom, Gina from Greensboro. We should talk about basketball. If Cam Newton played basketball, where would he have been selected in the NBA draft?
Good question, Gina. He’s a small forward and probably not a great outside shooter. His shots tend to come in high. But he goes to the hoop, involves his teammates, has a good time and tries to ensure that fans have one, too. Brooklyn takes him him with the 23rd pick in the 2015 NBA draft.
Tom, Rick from Raleigh. Why don’t you admit that the only reason the Charlotte Hornets refused to draft Justise Winslow is because he played for Duke and Michael Jordan is a North Carolina man.
Never miss a local story.
There are fans that get out of bed in the morning looking for reasons to dislike another school. It’s strange to me that adults do this. I mean, before a basketball game or a football game, sure. But to carry it year-round feels like a waste. Two readers said the only reason I wrote that the Hornets should have drafted Winslow and not Frank Kaminsky is because I went to Minnesota and Kaminsky played for Wisconsin. Man, I don’t care. Now if Kaminsky played for Iowa, that would be different. Jordan doesn’t care where a guy went to school. Duke’s Gerald Henderson was a Hornets captain and Duke’s Josh McRoberts resurrected his career in Charlotte.
Tom, Art from Asheville. Who do you like in the NHL draft?
I don’t keep up with it. But I’ll tell you who I keep up with, and that’s Michal Jordan, a defenseman for the Carolina Hurricanes. I met Jordan two years ago when he played for the Checkers. The other Michael Jordan had turned 50, and I was trying to get him to talk about it. When he did not, I sat down with Michal, who is from the Czech Republic. Michal brought his 4-year-old son, Michal Jr., and the kid wore Jordan Brand gear. The elder Michal was smart and friendly and interesting, and I’ve followed his career since. With luck, the Hurricanes don’t draft any defensemen.
Tom, Teri from Tarboro. Is there a player that went late in the draft – the NBA not the NHL – you think will have a good career?
Montrezl Harrell out of Tarboro and Louisville will. He’s 6-8 and relentless. Houston chose him with the second pick in the second round.
Tom, Wanda from Wilmington. If you needed to win a basketball game, and could pick 10 Panthers, who would you pick?
Start with tight end Brandon Williams, who jumps so high above the rim you lose sight of him. Georgia offered linebacker Thomas Davis a scholarship after watching him play basketball. Wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin could play for me if he’d lose weight. Wide receiver Stephen Hill has that look. I take cornerback Josh Norman because he’s Josh Norman. Defensive tackle Charles Johnson has a big-time big-money game. I like Shaq Thompson but only if he’s the first Shaq who can hit free throws. Defensive end Mario Addison has a wicked first step. Devin Funchess is young and quick. And like Kaminsky, punter Brad Nortman is from Wisconsin.
Tom, Shaq from Salisbury. What’s the feel-good story of the draft?
Duke guard Tyus Jones is from Apple Valley, Minn., a suburb so nondescript it makes Matthews seem like a compelling cauldron of commotion. Cleveland took him 24th, one pick after Brooklyn took Cam, and traded him to Minnesota. It’s pretty cool that Jones gets to stay home.
Tom, Winnie from Winston-Salem. Since you opened your column with a gratuitous Cam Newton reference, will you end it with one?