I managed to look at the roster today for the 2008 T-Mobile Rookie Challenge & Youth Jam (real catchy name, guys) to see if it was excusable to watch the event. I haven't yet come up with a verdict, and honestly I'm more interested in pondering Kidd in Dallas, but it did make me think about two of the sophomores who will be missing from the game. Tyrus Thomas and Shelden Williams were the fourth and fifth picks in the 2006 draft. They were the two highest rated players on Hollinger's board, respectively. And both have found themselves glued to the bench for most of the season.
I don't know why this stands out so much to me, but it does. Both Thomas and Williams play on highly adequate teams that are fighting to get into the (L)eastern Playoffs - where they will promptly be dispatched by Boston or Detroit. But despite turmoil on both teams, neither Ty or Shelden have ever been consistently in the rotation. I know there are reasons for this, and perhaps other reasons I will never know, but nonetheless both situations are vexing.
Particularly in Thomas' case. Chicago has been searching for something the whole year, but Thomas has never gotten consistent minutes, although he very well could help the Bulls' cause. Last Thursday Thomas was the spark plug that triggered a rousing win against the Warriors. He once again showed the tantalizing athleticism that could make him a star in the league. Yet he played a combined 19 minutes the next two games. The Bulls lost both. Chicago's handling of Thomas and Joakim Noah this season has been at best perplexing, and it is easy to draw much worse conclusions about it.
Shelden Williams' situation is on the surface more understandable - or maybe it is not. He had a perfectly acceptable rookie season, even winning Rookie of the Month honors in April. Supposedly he looked good in Summer League. And all of that has led to...393 minutes played for the entire season. It would be one thing if Al Horford and Zaza were absolutely ripping it up for the Hawks, but they are not. Zaza has had a disappointing and injury-ridden year. Horford has been nice so far, but that's it - he's played like the good rookie that he is. And Williams has sat. And he has no idea why - Williams has not been injured, and he has not been given the minutes necessary to prove himself.
So why was Williams ever taken fifth overall if DNP-CD would so quickly be his fate? Talk about a disconnect between Billy Knight and Mike Woodson. Knight is going to look like a fool if things don't quickly change. And as much as I hate to defend Billy, I have to say that you have to at least give Williams a chance at succeeding. The same goes for Thomas in Chicago, who so blatantly is talented that it is a shame we don't see him play with regularity. Anyway, T-Mobile Youth Jam doesn't know what it is missing...