22 July 2013

Wilson and Baclao Are No Diamonds

Coach Ryan Gregorio may be busy right now helping the Philippine Team prepare for the 27th FIBA Asia Championship when it tips off on 1 August 2013, but this does not mean he is doing a pretty good job as a Meralco Bolts head tactician.

Based on the latest trade deal that the Bolts entered with Air21, it appears that Gregorio is thinking more of the present that in the future. How can we say that? Let us us take a closer look at the potential gains and losses from the Vic Manuel, Carlo Sharma and second round pick in 2015 trade for Noy Baclao and John Wilson.

Manuel's potential is still far from known. The kid’s total playing in his combined rookie season and D-League games is less than 2000 minutes. Around 40 PBA players played more than 2000 minutes just last year, a few over 3000. He did well in a very structured defence at GlobalPort before he was sent to Meralco for Sol Mercado, but the Bolt’s defence was often made up on the fly last year.

It would have been more interesting to see how Bolts’ Assistant Coach Boyet Fernandez, a former Sta. Lucia Realtors defensive minded coach, approaches the game with Manuel if only given a chance. Everyone might see an improved Manuel this year with Air21, but Meralco management will definitely try to downplay its significance so as not to appear idiots.

Baclao may be a former number one draft pick, but he is really just one of those blue-collar big men. Typically, they give you some good hard minutes but do not have a high ceiling on what they're going to be able to do for you. But once in a while one of them develops a nice shooting touch or a couple of good inside moves and you've got a very functional (but not all-star) undersize center.

The Bolts did not really improve much when they decided to replace the veteran Sharma with a younger Baclao because they play almost similarly. However, we expect Baclao to either stick around at least half of the season this year or be stashed in the D-League.

Wilson is definitely a likeable player. He can give some good minutes and crashes the boards well as a guard, but he's already had a few years to showcase what he can do when he played with Barangay Ginebra. He has that "wow" potential but has never brought it except when playing against vastly underwhelming competition.

Right now, Wilson is a sort of a "what you see is what you get" player. If the Bolts is trying to make a push right now for a title and needed the extra quality minutes off the bench, then he'd be the choice over the others. However, when you're planning for the future he's probably not the guy. Ronjay Buenafe might have been a better fit for the Bolts if only they did not trade him for the injured Jared Dillinger.

Bottom line is that Wilson is a known commodity and Baclao is a good third option at the center. When you're looking for diamonds-in-the-rough you don't pick up the topaz.

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