July 10, 2013
If you believe in the hype (or lack thereof) then you are probably expecting this year’s NBA Draft to just produce a list of draft losers because there are no great players in this draft. I’m thinking we should wait a couple years before deciding what really happened on draft night. Let’s go back in time and evaluate the 2010 NBA Draft.
The Wizards did what you have to do when you are picking first in the draft…add somebody that you can build around for the next decade. They did that with John Wall. When he’s healthy, Wall has been a very good point guard for the Wizards. For his career he’s putting up 17 points, 8 assists and 4 rebounds a night. Now he needs some help.
Indiana’s run to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2013 would not have happened without the players it picked up in the 2010 draft. It’s beginning to look as through the No. 10 pick, Paul George, will be the best player in this draft class. He became a star in the series against the Miami Heat (a series that Indiana would have won if it hadn’t blown a Game 1 lead) and should just get better. The Pacers also picked up Lance Stephenson with the No. 40 pick. He has enormous potential and has improved each season in Indiana.
Utah Jazz – Gordon Hayward
Boston Celtics – Avery Bradley
To be determined: Eric Bledsoe was drafted by the Thunder and traded to the Clippers and now traded to the Suns. Everyone thinks he’s a star but didn’t get much playing time behind Chris Paul. The Thunder could have used him in the playoffs when Russell Westbrook got hurt so does that mean they are a draft night loser? The Clippers picked up a couple pieces that could be vital to a deep playoff run when he was traded to Phoenix so does that mean they are a draft winner? Or maybe he doesn’t live up to the potential. I guess we’ll see.
Portland Trail Blazers
The Blazers started off the night by firing the general manager an hour before the draft. Probably not the best timing. He hung around to work the draft and picked Elliot Williams and Armon Johnson. If you don’t know who they are, you’re not alone.
Yep. Minnesota is on the list again. Another year…another high draft pick that doesn’t make an impact in Minnesota. This time it’s Wesley Johnson at No. 4.
These teams make the list because they were in the running for LeBron James and didn’t get him. It probably wouldn’t have mattered what these teams did on draft night when you consider that Miami didn’t do much either, but the last couple years would have been much different in these cities if they were the chosen destination for James’ talents.
Charlotte Bobcats – No picks
Cleveland Cavaliers – No picks
Denver Nuggets – No picks
June 25, 2013
Alright Miami, that’s enough celebrating. It’s time to start getting ready for next season…starting with Thursday’s draft. Many of the league experts are saying that this draft class is pretty weak and there aren’t any franchise altering players available. Maybe not. But some teams will get better. I just hope it’s mine.
The Cavs must improve their defense if they are to make the playoffs next season. At 7-1 and 255lbs, Len will help clog up the middle and improve their rebounding as well. Unless of course the Cavs are able to pull off the trade that has been rumored since they won the lottery.
What do you do when you need help at every position? Take whoever you think has the best shot to become a star.
Porter fits the biggest hole on the roster and should be a good fit to play with John Wall.
After having the most balls in the draft lottery, the Bobcats dropped to the fourth pick but they still get Noel – they guy they would have picked at No. 1.
Oladipo will be a solid all-around player for Phoenix, especially defensively, where the Suns have been awful.
I still can’t wrap my head around the switch to the Pelicans. I don’t like it. Maybe Bennett will like it. Pelicans? Really? Really?
Burke is probably my favorite player in this draft. The Kings get a steal here.
Here’s another guy I really like. Detroit looks to be set inside with Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond so they go with a guard who will be able to score.
10. Portland Trail Blazers – Cody Zeller, PF, Indiana
LaMarcus Aldridge needs some help inside. Aldridge gets what he wants.
Why not? Muhammad is one of those guys who could go just about anywhere in this draft. He is a risk/reward pick and the Sixers take a shot.
What the Thunder really need is a fully healed Russell Westbrook, so they take the best player available to give Westbrook some assistance.
Everyone knows the Mavs are looking to use this pick to acquire more cap space. We’ll say they draft pick Olynky and ship him somewhere.
Both of Utah’s starting guards are free agents. Larkin fills one of those holes.
15. Milwaukee Bucks – Dennis Schroeder, PG, Germany
There are countless ways this roster could wind up by the time the season starts. Assuming Kevin Garnett isn’t back, the Celtics will need a big defender.
17. Atlanta Hawks – Giannis Adetokunbo, SF, Greece
I’m not going to pretend like I know much about foreign players, but from what I’ve read it seems like the Hawks are interested.
18. Atlanta Hawks – Allen Crabbe, SG, California
You can never have too many shooters and the Hawks are getting one here.
19. Cleveland Cavaliers – Steven Adams, C, Pittsburgh
In a couple years Adams and Len could be a force inside for Cleveland. But the Cavs could use this pick in a trade for a veteran player to help them win now.
20. Chicago Bulls – Tim Hardaway Jr., SG, Michigan
The Bulls should have a healthy Derrick Rose back and someone like Hardaway could provide some scoring to make Rose’s life easier.
21. Utah Jazz – Tony Mitchell, PF, North Texas
22. Brooklyn Nets – Jeff Withey, C, Kansas
Another big man behind Brook Lopez.
23. Indiana Pacers – Rudy Gobert, C, France
After giving the Heat all they wanted in the Eastern Conference Finals, the Pacers should look to add depth to an already strong roster.
With Jason Kidd moving on to the coaching ranks, the Knicks get a lot younger in the backcourt.
The only thing the Clippers should worry about is getting Chris Paul back. If that doesn’t happen Canaan will take his place.
26. Minnesota Timberwolves – Sergey Karasev, SF, Russia
Andrei Kirilenko may leave so they replace a Russian with a Russian.
27. Denver Nuggets – Lucas Nogueira, C, Brazil
A big man who can run and block shots would fit right in with the high-tempo Nuggets.
This could be the guy to replace Manu Ginobili.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder – Ricky Ledo, SG, Providence
Here’s an inexperienced kid that would be able to develop behind a solid roster.
30. Phoenix Suns – Mike Muscala, C, Bucknell
The Suns walk away from the first round with help in the front and back courts.
August 10, 2011
No fan, player, coach, or front office wishes for a lockout to place. It’s counterproductive for each party, mainly because no one gets paid. But most people involved realized the NBA is not a recreational league – it’s a business. And when you’re able to come to grips with the fact you’re dealing with a company and a union, with different interests in mind, a lockout is expected from time to time. It’s the nature of the animal.
Hopefully after all is said and done, whosever interests are satisfied, the fans are included. To say we’re suffering may be an overstatement, but from an entertainment point, it certainly feels that way. To go from increasingly exciting NBA games, rising exponentially from January through June, to nearly nothing resembling organized basketball, is the equivalent of watching the Godfather, then Godfather 2, then being subjected to Godfather 3. It’s awful, frustrating, and somewhat perplexing the powers that be would allow this to happen.
But hey, it’s not all bad. Just because the NBA is on hiatus, doesn’t mean the sport of basketball has been put on pause. The NBA players we’ve come to know and love, courtesy of the very NBA they can’t cooperate with at the moment, have begun showing up in seemingly random exhibition and pick up games.
Streetball courts across the nation in Chicago, New York, Washington, DC, Los Angeles, and Baltimore have been injected with new life by understandably bored NBA players. When you grow up playing basketball, likely being touted as a hoop prodigy from early on, you get used to ballin constantly. It’s all you know. A league-wide lockout isn’t going to stop you. And for young players, you don’t want a work stoppage to get in the way of your development. So we’ve seen NBA players like Brandon Jennings, Javale McGee, James Harden and even Michael Beasley hit the public courts to put their skills on display.
The most notable NBA player to make on-court headlines this summer, though, has been Kevin Durant. In the past, the rising superstar gained notoriety due to his sweet jump shot and modest mentality. But some out there, including myself, questioned his toughness. In general, he seemed soft compared to other players. But the lockout has showed NBA fanboys, like myself, another side of KD that has only enhanced our blooming man crushes.
Once a week, Durant shows up on the sports blog of your choice in a new highlight, in a new city, on a new court. In the past week alone, he’s gone on a tour of New York City by unleashing a barrage of threes at Rucker Park to total 66 points, a 41 point outburst at the Nike Pro City game while silencing a heckler, abused Michael Beasley at the Dyckman League, and threw down this monstrous dunk at the Melo League. The dude just likes to play basketball.
Durant’s Pro-Am tour is a lead up to the epic showdown of Washington, DC’s Goodman league and Los Angeles’s Drew league on August 20th at Trinity College in DC. KD’s gone back to his childhood stomping grounds each summer to hoop it up, but this year is something different. He’s helped organize a East vs. West matchup riddled with young NBA talent, including John Wall, Ty Lawson, Tyreke Evans, Beasley, DeMarcus Cousins, Harden, Jennings, DeMar DeRozen, and McGee.
Being a DC native, I’m extremely excited for this game. I’ve never been to a street game and have always wanted to go – and this has the potential to be the best of all time. I want the NBA lockout to end, but if it were to conclude before the game, I’d be very disappointed. Goodman vs. Drew isn’t something that would happen during peace times in the NBA.
Streetball has its allure. All the flashy and visually exciting parts of basketball are magnified – fast breaks, dunking, absurd trick plays, etc. It has its place as an offseason sideshow, but it doesn’t have the same prolonged substance of organized basketball. As much as we argue for and against rules, referee calls, and player movement, it’s what turns basketball into more than a game, but a form of general entertainment. Please NBA lockout, cease to exist in the near future. But not before the ultimate showdown on August 20.
June 27, 2011
This past week’s NBA Draft wasn’t very star-studded according to most experts. Unlike the 1996 Draft, which was one of the best in recent memory producing future Hall of Famers such as Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Ray Allen, and Allen Iverson, this year’s class isn’t expected to have as many stars.
That said, as always, some teams still found a way to draft wisely while others left us scratching our heads.
Washington Wizards – I know all about Enes Kanter taken by the Utah Jazz at No. 3, but Jan Vesely could end up being the best international player in this field. Vesely is a true athlete that has an NBA-type game and will be a perfect fit for John Wall and the Wizards’ young team. At 6’11”, he has three-point range and could cause huge mismatches for opposing teams’ frontcourts. Washington also landed Chris Singleton at No. 18, a great defensive weapon, and Butler’s Shelvin Mack in the second round. Mack was listed as a late first-round pick in many mock drafts and the Wizards could have gotten a bit of a steal.
Detroit Pistons – The Pistons picked up a relative steal in getting Brandon Knight at No. 8. Knight is the second-best point guard in the draft and averaged more than 17 points a game as a true freshman – something virtually unheard of. Getting him that late (especially when there’s a premium on point guards in the NBA these days) was a big coup for General Manager Joe Dumars. The Pistons also ended up with Kyle Singler, who played a big role on some winning teams at Duke and as a second-rounder, was a smart pick. And while Vernon Macklin (No. 52) isn’t a star, he shot more than 60% during his entire collegiate career and has a chance to be a serviceable backup center.
Sacramento Kings – Sacramento reeled in the draft’s most prolific scorer in BYU’s Jimmer Fredette. Even better for the Kings is that he should be an excellent fit for their team. Fredette will fit right in alongside Tyreke Evans and give the Kings a great backcourt for years to come. He’s not a stellar defender and will need to improve if he wants to play 30 minutes a game, but he knows how to score – and that’s the primary function for a shooting guard. Tyler Honeycutt was a solid second-round selection and, unlike some other teams to be named later, the Pistons secured a good proven talent in guard Isaiah Thomas with the last pick in the draft instead of going for an unknown international player.
Los Angeles Clippers – Man, the Clippers’ just can’t catch a break. They were so desperate to unload Baron Davis’ huge contract that they traded him away with an unprotected first-round pick back at the trade deadline in February. Little did they know that pick would turn out to be the No. 1 overall selection. So to recap, the Clippers traded away Davis (a former All-Star) and the No. 1 overall pick for Jamario Moon and Mo Williams? Yeah, how’s that one working out? Look, I understand the desire to move that contract, but the fact is that Davis is still a solid NBA player. Instead of having Kyrie Irving or Derrick Williams to pair along with Blake Griffin, the Clips are still a few players away from being able to compete. The bottom line is that trading unprotected lottery picks away simply to dump large contracts is a very bad idea and this is why the Clippers are the Clippers.
Los Angeles Lakers – Even without a first-round pick, the Lakers still had a chance to make an impact in the draft. Unfortunately, even with four second-round selections, Los Angeles failed to add much substance to their team. Darius Morris and Andrew Goudelock were reasonable picks, but that’s when things got a bit crazy. With talented players like Scotty Hopson and Ben Hansbrough still on the board, L.A. somehow decided it was a good idea to draft Ater Majok (a player who averaged less than a point per game in the NBDL) and Chukwudiebere Maduabum, an international project with no discernable talent. In their defense, Maduabum was later shipped to Denver, but with some solid players still available, the Lakers had the chance to add two quality prospects instead.
Philadelphia 76ers – Philadelphia took a huge gamble by taking big man Nikola Vucevic at No. 16. Nothing about him screams superstar and the 76ers could have done much better with more of a proven commodity. At No. 50, Lavoy Allen out of Temple was a solid, but unspectacular player in college. What strikes me the most about him is that he didn’t seem to improve much during his time there. His stats over the past three seasons remained virtually unchanged and his shooting percentage actually dropped the last two. It can be sometimes hard to find real value that late in the draft, but Allen had undrafted free agent written all over him. This move reeks of drafting a hometown kid just for the sake of a nice story. And a team needing as much help as the 76ers can’t afford to make those types of picks.
May 18, 2011
Last night was the NBA Draft Lottery. Finallysomething to distract us from the incredible postseason basketball we’ve been subjected to so far (kidding). Pre-draft coverage is often over hyped, and the draft lottery is a great example. It’s not the actual drafting of players that may or may not (probably won’t) be superstars, but a random drawing of ping pong balls to decide who gets to gamble on the most recent highly touted players in hopes they can turn around a franchise. ESPN managed to drag a process that should have taken five minutes into a thirty minute “extravaganza.” But hey, it’s not as demoralizing as “The Decision,” and for those fans currently outside of the playoffs, it provides a small shred of hope.
With that in mind, rather than perform a mock draft, as most media outlets will do in an astonishingly redundant fashion, let’s take a look at different types of draft strategy and which lottery teams are likely to employ each one.
Draft for Potential
This strategy is nearly mandatory for those fortunate enough to win one of the top picks, especially when it comes to this year’s widely agreed upon weak draft. Most years, there seems to be a few players clearly above the rest, if not a single player perceived as the hands down top pick. For this year’s draft, that player is Kyrie Irving. Despite playing only a small portion of his freshman season at Duke, Irving is seen as the only sure NBA talent with potential to become a superstar. Expect the Cleveland Cavaliers, who those around the league say love Irving, to take him first.
After Irving, the draft becomes more of a mystery. And with such a shallow talent pool, I fully endorse any team taking a huge risk on an unknown like Bismack Biyombo. The likely best case scenario for a lot of these players is a strong rotational player, maybe a starter on a decent-good team. The odds are against any of this draft class leading a team to a championship, so why not take a risk? If you’re wrong, you get another high pick next year, with hopefully a better selection.
Draft Best Available
Selecting the best available in the draft is usually a strategy most commonly used by teams who need to improve in a lot of areas. Typically that includes the majority of the top end of the draft, and this year is no different. The Cavs, Minnesota Timberwolves, Toronto Raptors, and Washington Wizards all have multiple areas of glaring weakness. Where they’re slotted in the draft now, taking the most talented player is logical.
Personally, I’m a big fan of this strategy, whether or not the best available player would be redundant on the team. You can find time to play two players, even if they play identical positions. And you can’t count on one player staying with the team their entire career. They’ll either be traded or leave via free agency. So you can also use the “redundant” player as a trade asset. But with this draft, the best available is unremarkable, and this strategy may not be as strong as it would be in most years.
Draft for Need
Traditionally, you’d see teams that seem to be one piece away from a playoff appearance, or a playoff team who acquired a lottery team’s draft pick, in this position. But the team that would have fit this mold the best, the Los Angeles Clippers, traded their pick to the Cavs (a pick that defied the 2.8% odds to gain #1). The Golden State Warriors, Phoenix Suns, and the Houston Rockets could enact this strategy, but with the 11th, 13th, and 14th picks, respectively, in a poor draft doesn’t leave them with much option. The rest of the high lottery teams are in such disarray, they are likely to select either based on talent or best available.
The one team that may use need-based drafting that could shake things up is the Utah Jazz. A playoff team a year ago, the team was uprooted midseason as they sent Deron Williams to the New Jersey Netsand longtime head coach Jerry Sloan resigned shortly afterwards. Williams is a great player, but he wasn’t the entire team. There’s still talent on the team. But the front court is currently crowded with Paul Milsap, Mehmet Okur, Al Jefferson, and Derek Favors, who they received from the Nets. So despite having the third pick and the ability to select Williams or Kanter, the Jazz may go for a need and select a guard to pair with Devin Harris, such as Brandon Knight or Kemba Walker.
Wheelin’ and Dealin’
Every year, there are a few draft day trades – either before a player is drafted, or right after the player is drafted. In general, the NBA is a constantly evolving mechanism. But with the Collective Bargaining Agreement set to expire this summer, it’s going to be difficult for a team to makes any serious moves without knowing what the future holds. Also, with the lack of talent in the draft (have I said that already?), teams are even less likely to take a risk. If any of the teams with higher draft picks this year is offered a future draft pick, I think they’ll strongly consider. Having said that, the Rockets are a team that is always looking to make a move, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that holds true next month. The Wizards, looking for a sidekick to team with John Wall, may have fallen just short of being able to select a talented front court player, and may be open to a trade.
The NBA Draft is June 23rd. Until then, PLAYOFFS! It’s only getting better…