Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Monday, June 27, 2011
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
1. Cleveland Cavaliers - Kyrie Irving (PG - Duke) At some point since the end of the tourney, Irving and Derrick Williams have both been favorites to go first to Cleveland, with Enes Kanter even getting some consideration. Over the past 72 hours it grew more likely that Irving would be the top pick, with Cleveland recently stating their intention to take Irving. My hope -- just for the sake of the drama -- is that the Cavs have been bluffing about Irving all along and end up taking Williams here, thus spurring this draft's greatest story line:
Notoriously illogical Minnesota GM David Kahn finally lured his 2009 selection, Ricky Rubio, to the States, creating a logjam at point with Jonny Flynn and Luke Ridnour already on the roster. Then, with Irving falling to him at #2, he is faced with the dilemma of drafting the team's fourth point guard or overlooking him to make a reach for Enes Kanter, Jonas Valanciunas, or Bismack Biyombo.
2. Minnesota Timberwolves - Derrick Williams (SF/PF - Arizona) Though Enes Kanter hasn't been tied to the T-Wolves hardly at all, today the NBA world has been buzzing about Minnesota's stated intention to take him at the #2 slot. When Derrick Williams worked out for Wolves' staff he was described as a "monster," so the recent news that Kanter would be the guy here is somewhat surprising. While Kanter would not be a bad pick for Minny, the chatter surrounding him is more likely an attempt to garner more interest from teams looking to trade up to the #2 pick. But, if Minnesota keeps the second pick, Derrick Williams has the slight edge.
3. Utah Jazz - Enes Kanter (PF/C - Kentucky) No team would be happier than the Utah Jazz if the Timberwolves' interest in Kanter is genuine. Derrick Williams would give the Jazz just what they need in an hard-nosed, athletic combo forward who can step outside at shoot also. That being said, if he is off the board, the debate at #3 becomes Enes Kanter vs. Brandon Knight. While Knight fills more of a need for the Jazz, the reports are that they plan to take the best player available regardless of position, which is Kanter in this case.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers - Jonas Valanciunas (C - Lithuania) The Cavs would like to see Kanter available here, but that seems unlikely at this stage of the game. Cleveland reportedly likes Valanciunas' game, but is hesitant about waiting one or more years for him to play in the NBA because of the contract situation with his Lithuanian club team. In a perfect world, the Cavs would have their franchise point guard (Irving) and their fourth pick playing immediately and developing alongside one another. For that reason, Cleveland is reportedly also considering Tristan Thompson at this pick. In the end, I believe they will make the sacrifice of waiting in order to get the better prospect in Valanciunas.
5. Toronto Raptors - Brandon Knight (PG - Kentucky) Jose Calderón has had some success in Toronto, at least in terms of his own statistics, but at 30 years of age he does not appear to be in the team's future plans. Knight displayed considerable talents throughout his freshman campaign at Kentucky, highlighted by a series of clutch performances in the postseason, and the Raptors believe that his length, skills, and defense will allow him to be a part of the team's core moving forward.
6. Washington Wizards - Jan Vesely (SF/PF - Czech Republic) Tristan Thompson is also getting consideration at #6, but the consensus seems to be that the Wiz will take Vesely here. He is known for being a high-flyer who likes to get out in transition, which is music to the ears of the Wizards management as long as John Wall is at the helm. If we learned anything from Tyson Chandler's tenure playing with Chris Paul, any athletic player can be dominant when his point guard knows where to get him the rock. Let's just hope for the Wizard's sake that this pick doesn't turn out like their last Eastern European project.
7. Sacramento Kings - Kemba Walker (PG - Connecticut) Sacramento has a lot of options with this pick including Jimmer, Kawhi Leonard, Tristan Thompson and Kemba. The Kings have been relegated to the lottery each of the past five seasons and in order to prevent this team from relocating they could use a player that could help them win immediately. The Tyreke Evans experiment at point guard has seemingly failed and Kemba could be just the solution. There are questions about Walker's ability as a pure point, much like Evans, but the Kings would have the luxury of putting them both on the floor to play point guard by committee.
8. Detroit Pistons - Tristan Thompson (PF - Texas) The Pistons would prefer to add a point guard, as they are not committed to Rodney Stuckey as a part of this team's core. However, at the #8 pick three top PGs (Irving, Knight, and Walker) will likely be unavailable. There is also a need and power forward and the accepted theory is that the PFs available at 8 are more valuable than the point guard they might be able to select (perhaps the fabled Jimmer.) Marcus Morris is also in the mix here, but Tristan Thompson's upside is enough to entice the Pistons to take him instead.
9. Charlotte Bobcats - Marcus Morris (PF - Kansas) Supposedly, the Bobcats are targeting one particular player with the #9 selection, and if he is unavailable they will look to move the pick. Though the have kept quiet just who it is that they seek, Marcus Morris is a distinct possibility. Morris' game is similar to current Charlotte forward Tyrus Thomas, but his versatility and ability to play on the wing could fill the void left in the aftermath of the mid-season Gerald Wallace trade.
10. Milwaukee Bucks - Alec Burks (SG - Colorado) Milwaukee is looking for a player to replace Michael Redd, as it appears his career --at least with the Bucks -- is over. The Bucks will eye sharpshooter Klay Thompson as well, but it is Burks' ceiling that makes him more enticing. Burks already proved he is a great scorer (over 20 PPG in the Big XII) that needs to add strength, but his skill set could allow him to be one of the best NBA players from this draft class a few years down the road.
11. Golden State Warriors - Klay Thompson (SG - Washington State) It is no secret that the Warriors covet Thompson at #11, and assuming he is still on the board they should waste no time selecting him. In college, Thompson faced tight defense and double teams as WSU's primary ball handler/scorer, but in Golden State's system, Thompson should get better looks as scorers Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry force the defense to collapse.
12. Utah Jazz - Jimmer Fredette (PG/SG - BYU) Utah's fan base already had the pleasure of experiencing "Jimmer-mania" throughout BYU's 2010-11 run, but in this case the rich get richer and Jimmer stays in town. He fulfills a few separate needs for the Jazz: a point guard, a shooter, and a jersey-selling machine.
13. Phoenix Suns - Chris Singleton (SF/PF - Florida State) On a team that could use some toughness on the wing and in the frontcourt (sorry, Vince Carter and Channing Frye) Singleton provides just that. Grant Hill won't keep playing forever (we think) and Chris Singleton could be a serviceable backup until he is ready to take the reins. Markieff Morris is another tough forward that could be in play with this pick.
14. Houston Rockets - Bismack Biyombo (PF - Congo) Houston is not without depth on their roster, but they lack a true star. All signs point Rockets' trading this pick for more established veterans, however if they do retain #14, Biyombo is an an option that immediately provides defense, rebounding, and hustle. With Hasheem Thabeet and Biyombo out on the floor, they should theoretically be able to block every shot in sight (though the Rockets would probably have to be down by 30 to put those two on the court together.)
15. Indiana Pacers - Kawhi Leonard (SF - San Diego State) Because of his versatility, athleticism, and size, Leonard will get looks as high as Toronto at 5. However, he is a player that I have slipping out of the lottery because of his perceived lack of offensive potential. Teams don't doubt his ability to be a contributor to in the NBA for seasons to come, but with a top selection most GMs would like to take a player with a higher ceiling.
16. Philadelphia 76ers - Donatas Motiejunas (PF/C - Lithuania) In contrast to Kawhi Leonard, Donatas Motiejunas is a player with one of the highest ceilings in the whole draft. He is a 7-foot tall player with an advanced skill set, but his intensity and strength remain big question marks. Motiejunas likely suffers from the fact that he has been on scouts' radars for much longer than other Euro prospects (Biyombo, Vesely, Valanciunas) and thus has had his weaknesses picked apart. He would still be a great value pick for the Sixers at #16, especially after being in the top 5 conversation before pulling out of the draft last year.
17. New York Knicks - Markieff Morris (PF - Kansas) The Knicks are lucky enough to have Amar'e Stoudemire under contract. But beyond that, their front line is as follows: Jared Jeffries, Shelden Williams, and Ronny Turiaf. Needless to say, they need to improve in the post. The elder Morris twin (by 7 minutes) can step in and provide intensity, rebounding, and the occasional bucket without taking shots from more offensively-adept teammates Amar'e, Carmelo, and Billups.
18. Washington Wizards - Tobias Harris (SF/PF - Tennessee) For a team looking to rebuild with youth in the post-Agent Zero era, they may be inclined to take the 18-year-old combo forward out of Tennessee. In his one season in Knoxville, Harris showed a variety of skills that make him intriguing to teams picking in the latter half of the first round. His basketball IQ is a strength that will be needed in Washington.
19. Charlotte Bobcats - Iman Shumpert (PG - Georgia Tech) After letting Raymond Felton go in favor of his protegé, D.J. Augustin, the Bobcats have seemingly soured to the idea of him as the lead guard of the future. Iman Shumpert has tested incredibly well athletically leading up to the draft and there is no doubt he can handle the rock, but his decision making has been the main slight on his game. With hyper-athletic points such as Rose and Westbrook taking over the sport, Charlotte can they will turn Shumpert's strengths into on-court production.
20. Minnesota Timberwolves - Nikola Vucevic (PF/C - USC) Like Iman Shumpert, Vucevic was another player who benefitted tremendously from the draft combine. In his case, it was the measurements, not the athleticism testing, that played to the Serbian big man's advantage. He measured in at 6'11.75" in shoes, with a 7'4.5" wingspan and 9'4.5" standing reach. For a team that already has Kevin Love controlling the boards down low, they do not need another traditional banger in the post. Vucevic can stretch the defense with his shot and also has the ability to create with his back to the basket.
21. Portland Trailblazers - Kenneth Faried (PF - Morehead State) Portland has no shortage of players that can put the ball in the hoop, but they could certainly use a player like Faried whose sole purpose on the court is to defend and rebound. I'm sure Portland wishes they had Greg Oden to do just that, but as he heads into free agency they will look to find a player that can contribute on the glass to complement budding star LaMarcus Aldridge.
22. Denver Nuggets - Jordan Hamilton (SF - Texas) With J.R. Smith likely leaving Denver in free agency, they will look to replace his offensive productivity. Smith brought size and outside shooting to the table and for the most part that is what they would be receiving in Hamilton. For a team looking for another scoring threat Marshon Brooks and Jordan Hamilton are in the picture here, with Hamilton ultimately winning out based on his future potential.
23. Houston Rockets - Marshon Brooks (SG - Providence) One thing is certain about Marshon Brooks: he can score the basketball. After being the sole focus of opposing Big East defenses on a weak Providence team, he still managed to lead the conference in scoring, ahead of Kemba Walker and Ben Hansbrough. For a team like the Rockets with no glaring holes to fill, Brooks could get picked simply as the best player still on the board.
24. Oklahoma City Thunder - Reggie Jackson (PG - Boston College) The Thunder could use an offensive-minded post to alleviate the pressure on Westbrook, Harden, and Durant to score, but it appears the Thunder plan to address another area. Rumor has it that the Thunder have made a promise to draft Jackson if he is available at #24. OKC is apparently shopping backup PG Eric Maynor (perhaps for another big) and Jackson could fill Maynor's role behind Westbrook.
25. Boston Celtics - Tyler Honeycutt (SG/SF - UCLA) With this pick, the Celtics have the choice of either addressing their need at power forward and center or on wing. Ray Allen and Paul Pierce aren't getting any younger, and it became clear with the Jeff Green trade that GM Danny Ainge is looking to add more youth to the wings to succeed Allen and Pierce. Unlike Green, Honeycutt has shown the ability to be an explosive scorer at times, though he lacked consistency throughout his two years at UCLA. He is a player with high upside though, and could be worth the risk so late in the first round.
26. Dallas Mavericks - Jeremy Tyler (PF - USA) Jeremy Tyler has had quite the circuitous road to the NBA draft after skipping his senior year of high school to play in Israel and then Japan. Despite concerns about his attitude, the fact remains that he has one of the best packages of size and skill of any big man in the in the draft, especially from a player his age. As reigning champions, the Mavericks can afford to take a chance on Tyler though he may need to step in earlier on if they are unable to sign Tyson Chandler (very unlikely.)
27. New Jersey Nets - Justin Harper (PF - Richmond) New Jersey has one more season with Deron Williams to convince him that he should remain with the Nets. For that to happen they will have to make substantial progress towards becoming a contender in the Eastern Conference, and the first step is drafting a player ready to contribute. At #27 there are plenty of projects available (Nikola Mirotic and Davis Bertans, to name a few) but the Nets will want to take a proven college player like Harper with NBA shooting ability to provide immediate help.
28. Chicago Bulls - Davis Bertans (SF/PF - Latvia) If there is anything that the Bulls learned from watching the Finals, it is that they need some shooters to spread the floor. They will surely address that in free agency, but may also choose to do so with one or both of their first round selections. Bertans is only 18 and will need time to develop overseas, but scouts recognize that his shooting ability is elite and therefore believe he is worth the wait.
29. San Antonio Spurs - JaJuan Johnson (PF - Purdue) Tim Duncan's run as an elite power forward is coming to a close, and he needs a successor in San Antonio. JaJuan Johnson is already a polished post player who was able to leader Purdue to considerable success throughout his four seasons in West Lafayette. With a few years playing understudy to Duncan and Tiago Splitter, Johnson could be the next great find for general manager R.C. Buford and the Spurs.
30. Chicago Bulls - Nolan Smith (PG - Duke) Should Darius Morris fall to #30, he and Norris Cole are options here, but I see Chicago going with a more versatile player with the final pick of the first round. Nolan Smith is a fierce competitor that has also shown the ability to play off the ball, which could be a positive for the Bulls, who have a surefire star already at point in MVP Derrick Rose.
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Sorry, Court of Appeals devotees, I was locked out of the blog yesterday and wasn't able to get the Old School Pic of the Week up. But that may just have been a sign that I should instead post a photo today, on the first day of summer. So without further adieu, I present to you the summer solstice edition of the Old School Pic of the Week.
From Rambis' fish to Magic's rod to the inflatable dinosaur on the upper deck, so many great questions come to mind when viewing this shot. But chief among all of them: does Kareem use the skyhook method when casting out his fishing line?
Monday, June 20, 2011
Sunday, June 19, 2011
Well sports fans, this is the week. With one of the most intriguing draft classes in recent memory, it's anyone's guess as to what's in store. With limited time for speculation, here is my final prediction of where these young talents are going to land.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers---- Kyrie Irving, PG Duke University
I had Derrick Williams here first, but now I see that the Cavs are going to try and build around a solid point guard. I think in any other draft class Irving is a mid lottery pick, but you work with what you got. With an aging Baron Davis, the Cavs are going to opt around this high IQ, high character point guard. The biggest question mark for Irving, can he stay healthy?
2. Minnesota Timberwolves---- Derrick WIlliams, SF/PF University of Arizona
Williams insists he's an NBA Small Forward, but only time will tell. The Timberwolves already have their draft pick, with the Spanish enigma Ricky Rubio agreeing to join the 2011/2012 campaign. The Wolves will have to go for best available here, and Williams is big and athletic, two things you can never have enough of. Also look for the Wolves to deal this pick in search of some veteran leadership.
3. Utah Jazz---- Enes Kanter, PF/C University of Kentucky
Most mock drafts have the Jazz taking Brandon Knight here, but I think with a number 3 pick the Jazz won't draft by need, but by best available. In the Jazz's offense the point guard needs to be a passer, Knight is not a passer, averaging under 5 assists per game. They can utilize that 12th pick to address the need of a potential future point guard. The Jazz are stacked at the frontcourt with Millsap, Favors and Jefferson. Look for them to deal one of these guys for a scoring wing, and take Kanter as the center of their future.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers---- Jonas Valanciunas, C Lietuvos Rytas (Lithuania)
One of the only true centers in this draft, the Cavaliers already bagged their guy in Kyrie Irving and with this pick will just look to get bigger. They can afford to roll the dice on Valanciunas because of his high ceiling. He's young tall and has seemingly blossoming post skills. Under the tutelage of NBA hustleman and fellow international, Anderson Varejao. Valanciunas has the potential to be a solid center or another classic international bust.
5. Toronto Raptors---- Brandon Knight, PG University of Kentucky
The Raptors have probably realized at this point that Jose Calderon is not going to get this ever-struggling team to the Eastern Conference Playoffs, a feat that constitutes a .500 winning percentage. The Raptors will take the talented scoring point guard from Kentucky, Brandon Knight. Kemba Walker from Connecticut is also an option here, but Knight is a 6'4" point guard who has the ability to defend. Walker falls short in both of these categories (pun intended), he is only 6'0" and a slouch on defense.
6. Washington Wizards---- Jan Vesely, SF KK Paritzan Belgrade (Serbia)
The Czech International is a special kind of athlete, who said white men can't jump? He stands at 6'11", pretty big for a small forward, but his freak athleticism allows him to be a forward. With two solid young pieces, in point guard John Wall and center JaVale McGee, Vesely provides a new young solid prospect at forward. He also runs the floor well, which makes him an intriguing running mate for the looking-to-fast-break John Wall. He is going to be Andrei Kirilenko 2.0.
7. Sacramento Kings---- Kemba Walker, PG University of Connecticut
Tyreke Evans is not a point guard. You know it and I know it, and apparently the
8. Detroit Pistons---- Kawhi Leonard, SF San Diego State University
With Tayshaun Prince and Rip Hamilton inevitably skipping town, the Motor City needs a good solid wing. Leonard is not going to be a superstar, but the guy is a great athlete and a hard worker, who is willing to play hard-nosed defense. He's a slasher who has the potential to develop a solid offensive game in the NBA with the right guidance.
9. Charlotte Bobcats---- Marcus Morris, PF Kansas University
After taking some draft risks in the past, Michael Jordan and the Bobcats will look to get a "what you see is what you get," type of guy. The better of the Morris twins fits this mold. He's a solid physical athlete, that will rebound and score around the basket. I'm predicting he'll be a 10 ppg guy off the bench. In a heralded, "weak draft," the Bobcats won't be looking to knock this pick outta the park, instead they'll settle for a good role guy.
10. Milwaukee Bucks---- Klay Thompson, SG Washington State University
Thompson's participation in the NBA Draft Combine helped his draft stock immensely. The biggest hole in the Bucks' roster is at the 2-guard position and there will be two shooting guards available at this point in the draft: Alec Burks and Klay Thompson. With slashing point guard Brandon Jennings, I think Thompson being able to really stroke the pumpkin from deep complements Jennings style rather than fellow slasher Alec Burks. Thompson is a big (6'7") capable shooter with an NBA pedigree.
11. Golden State Warriors---- Bismack Biyombo, PF/C Baloncesto Fuenlabrada (Spain)
Biyombo is a 6'9" athlete who will bring defense, rebounding and athletcism to the table right off the bat. The Warriors are notoriously lousy on defense and in the rebounding category, so Biyombo fills those needs. The biggest question mark is how Biyombo will develop. Is his ceiling high? Can he score? He's definitely going to be a project, but the Warriors are known draft day gamblers and this is a high risk high reward situation.
12. Utah Jazz---- Jimmer Fredette, PG Brigham Young University
Devin Harris is going to be the Jazz point guard next season, he's too much of a talent for the Jazz not to give him another shot. But the Jazz don't see him as their future point guard. The Jimmer is the best available point guard and now the Jazz will draft by need. He's not going to be a dominant force, but will be a guy who can spread the floor with his "Jimmer Range", and you can never have enough shooters. He has impressed scouts so far and claims he has better defensive ability than given credit for. Do the Jazz take the hometown favorite? Fredette about it.
13. Phoenix Suns---- Kenneth Faried, PF Morehead State University
This is my "shocker" of this year's draft. At 13 the Suns are looking to get better defensively and on the boards. Faried has been dubbed a monster on the glass and defends like his life depended on it. Though it may be a stretch, Faried is the best available big defender, besides Chris Singleton who is also an option here. But Mickael Pietrus just exercised his player option and the Suns have Childress and Carter already lined up where Singleton would fit. I think the suns reach for the Faried. Plus, if Josh Childress gets his fro back paired with the dreads of Faried, the Suns would win the "Best Hair in the League Award." #swag
14. Houston Rockets---- Chris Singleton, SF/PF Florida State University
The Rockets will go for the best defensive player in the draft. At 14, Singleton is a steal for a Western Conference team that needs to bolster their defense to deal with superstars like Kevin Durant and Kobe Bryant. Scouts criticize Singleton for his lack of an offensive game, but many defensive minded pure athletes often develop some offense as they continue to play with higher skill, think Andrei Kirilenko.
15. Indiana Pacers---- Tristan Thompson, PF University of Texas
Thompson provides some height for the often bullied down low Pacers. Thompson is a bit of a question mark, but has the tools to be a big time NBA player. Many mocks have him going pretty low in the lottery. Thompson could also be the steal of the draft.
16. Philadelphia 76ers---- Donatas Motiejunas, PF/C Benetton Treviso (Italy)
I think Motiejunas provides another scoring option for the Sixers. He's a big shooter who I would compare to a thinner more athletic Mehmet Okur. Motiejunas is young and probably going to need a few years to get good, but at 16 the Sixers are willing to invest this time.
17. New York Knicks---- Alec Burks, SG University of Colorado-Boulder
Burks is the best slasher in the draft, and alongside Carmelo Anthony could become a real impact player for the Knicks. The biggest knock on Burks is his lack of a deep jumper, but under the tutelage of sharp shooters Carmelo Anthony and Chauncy Billups, this is something that Burks can develop. I also think he fits well in the fast pace D'Antoni system.
18. Washington Wizards---- Markieff Morris, PF Kansas University
The Wizards got their guy at 6 with Jan Vesely and will take the other Morris twin. It is a safe pick and at this point the Wizards don't need to take any more risks. Morris is a big body who will board and complement McGee and Blatche coming off the bench.
19. Charlotte Bobcats---- Marshon Brooks, SG Providence
Passing on Burks and Thompson with their earlier pick, the Bobcats have the oppurtunity to pick the best scorer of the three. Brooks tore up the Big East at Providence. He hits shots with the D draped all over, he's an NBA scorer. I would compare him to Jamal Crawford if he fulfills his potential.
20. Minnesota Timberwolves---- Justin Harper, PF Richmond
Like I said earlier, you can never have enough shooters. Harper proved in the NCAA tournament that he can straight rip triples. The Timberwolves will take him knowing that he's a guy that can come off the bench and light it up from three point land.
21. Portland Trailblazers---- Nikola Vucevic, C USC
With Greg Oden a consistent question mark because of injury, the Blazers will go with height in order to help LaMarcus Aldridge down low. We saw the defensive weakness in the frontcourt exploited in the playoffs. Dealing Joel Pryzbilla left the Blazers substantially smaller, and Vucevic is the height they're looking for.
22. Denver Nuggets---- Tobias Harris, SF/PF University of Tennessee
The Nuggets will draft the best available guy. Harris is well-rounded and is set to be a solid role player off the bench if he continues to get better. Harris provides the Nuggets a little more depth of the bench.
23. Houston Rockets---- Jordan Hamilton, SF University of Texas
One of the best scorers in the draft, Jordan Hamilton is an intriguing prospect. He falls this low because he doesn't have the ability to create his own shot. If he's put in a system offense he can be really effective coming off of screen and hitting triples. He stays instate with Houston at # 23.
24. Oklahoma City Thunder---- Tyler Honeycutt, SF UCLA
We saw in the 2011 playoffs, that when Durant is shut off, the Thunder had a hard time getting any offense going. While Harden does provide some scoring relief off the bench, it is just too much for one guy to shoulder. With Jeff Green gone, Honeycutt can provide the scoring relief that Durant needs off the bench.
25. Boston Celtics---- Darius Morris, PG University of Michigan
Who is the Celtics backup point guard? Delonte West? Von Wafer? Carlos Arroyo? They need somebody that can come off of the bench and distribute while Rondo catches his breath. Morris is a true point guard that can provide that relief.
26. Dallas Mavericks---- Jeremy Tyler, C Tokyo Apache
With Tyson Chandler being a free agent, the Mavericks will opt to draft height. Tyler is tall and athletic but still raw. If Tyson Chandler does re-sign with the Mavericks, he can teach Tyler to replicate his game and be their center of the future.
27. New Jersey Nets---- Josh Selby, PG University of Kansas
The unproven Selby will get a shot to back up All-Star point guard Deron Williams. If he plays his cards right he can learn a lot from the crafty Williams. Selby is a different type of point guard than Williams and can provide a different look for New Jersey off of the bench. The lightning to Deron's thunder.
28. Chicago Bulls---- Shelvin Mack, PG Butler University
I like Mack over Reggie Jackson here because Mack is a straight up winner. He can back Derrick Rose and use his big body to get to the basket and distribute to big guys Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah when Rose is on the pine.
29. San Antonio Spurs---- JaJuan Johnson, PF/C Purdue
The aging Spurs are going to look to get a young talented power forward, as an aging Tim Duncan continues to slow down. Johnson is a wiry shooter as well as a guy who can be effective around the basket. He was the Big-Ten player of the year and I think the Spurs could use a guy like Johnson.
30. Chicago Bulls---- Davis Bertans, SF/PF Latvia
The Bulls like to stretch the floor and Bertans is a guy that can add to the lengthy list of Bulls shooters: Deng, Korver and Bogans. He's a question mark, but can light it up from beyond the arc and with the last pick of the first round, you might as well take a shooter.
Saturday, June 18, 2011
During the course of the 2011 NBA Finals, I began to observe a unique and distinct behavioral pattern of LeBron James. I’m sure you noticed it too. When a play occurred in which LeBron was in the proverbial mix, as soon as the referee blew the whistle to indicate a violation, LeBron’s shoulders would inevitably slam against his ears in an aggressive shrug of disdain and disbelief. This “whistle-shrug” relationship began to take on an almost Pavlovian association. I consciously began to try and count the number of times that LeBron shrugged and pleadingly looked towards the officials. As I watched, I began to think, “his shoulders must be getting tired,” “he’s gonna pull a muscle," “he’s going to bruise his ears if he keeps this up” and "that's how not get back on defense." After counting for a few games, the number of shrugs became obsolete due to the shear number of shrugs occurring in a single quarter. What started to become intriguing were the various types of shrugs LeBron was packing in his repertoire. I began to break down the various ways in which King James turned the seemingly simple shrug into an art form. The way he pleaded with Joey Crawford after a no call, the way he would power-walk down court, mouth agape and arms open, in disbelief of a 4th foul called. I categorized these shrugs so next season, you can impress your friends at parties with your knowledge of LeBron’s hidden talent, the shrug. I have graciously broken them down for you here:
- The “OH NO YOU DIDN’T!”
This shrug was usually seen after a foul called on the King, often times where the call in LeBron’s defense, could have gone either way. The “OH NO YOU DIDN’T was defined by LeBron’s eyebrows drastically lifted, flirting with his headband, mouth devastatingly ajar (I would be interested to take the diameter of that mouth, good lord.) with about a 5-second stand and stare. The usual post action to this shrug was a slow trudge towards the Miami Heat’s Head
puppet Coach Erik Spoelstra and a seat at his royal throne. Unlike superstar counterpart Kobe Bryant, LeBron had the good grace to not casually whip a homosexual slur toward the official (at least not on National television).
- The “DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM!?”
Probably the most reoccurring shrug, the “DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM!?” was the King's direct response to the audacity the refs had not call a foul for his highness. After LeBron would go hard to the hoop accompanied by some contact from a Dallas defender, whether the shot was made or missed, LeBron’s brow would furrow, eyebrows scurrying away from headband, his lips would become pursed and the key component to the shurg, a strong power-walk down court. This power walk would frequently lead to a Dallas 5 on 4 cue, a Jason Terry triple, a Dirk elbow jumper or a Kidd dish to Chandler for a hammer dunk. The King’s whole demeanor screamed, “You son of a bitch! Do you know who I am!? I’m the King! Off with your head!”
- The “…………….”
Are you ever so pissed. That you speak. In a very soft. Slow. Disconnected way. Because you can’t. even. Believe. how. Pissed you are. While your body. Shakes in. violent. anger? “The “…………….” encapsulates this feeling. The facial expression is one of blank and austere demeanor, though you can see the anger boiling just below the surface. This shrug was not unleashed until the latter end of the series, as the Mavericks began to look more dominant. It took a trained eye to really see it in action, but I witnessed it a couple times when LeBron was on the bench or coming into a timeout. If I were to speculate, I think this shrug was concocted during the series.
- The “WHO THE HELL IS GOING TO STOP DIRK?”
This shrug was often let loose after a 7’ German assault of fade away, one footed enigmas of the human mind. This shrug needs no further description, because, lets be honest, we all saw it.
If the King hopes his legacy is one day compared to that of Michael Jordan, I suggest he cut back on the shrugging and complaining, and maybe get back on defense. All this belligerent arguing implies a weak will. I’m just saying, the only memorable shrug of Jordan’s was this one:
Thursday, June 16, 2011
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Last week, former 17 year NBA vetern and current ESPN analyst Mark Jackson was appointed new head coach of the Golden State Warriors. It seems like just yesterday I was watching this crafty vet lace up the kicks and share the sugar as a player. Now Mark Jackson will be prowling the sidelines in hopes of guiding the struggling Warriors back to the playoff hunt. The Mark Jackson hire spurred me to speculate what current NBA players are destined to be scribbling X's and O's in the near future.
1. Grant Hill, SF Phoenix Suns
The ageless wonder Grant Hill, now 38 years old, is a guy that is probably going to find himself suited up at the end of the bench someday. Hill is a guy that always remains composed and calm under pressure. He's an articulate, high IQ guy of Duke pedigree and I think that's what makes him a solid potential head coach. He knows the game, he's playing chess while everyone else is playing checkers.
2. Derek Fisher, PG Los Angeles LakersDerek Fisher already serves a role for the Lakers as player/coach, a lá Michael Jordan in Space Jam. Fisher exemplifies the term floor general and is the unsung leader of the Lakers dynasty. He's a guy that directs traffic on the court and I can see him directing traffic from the sidelines, alongside Brian Shaw, in the next 5-10 years.
3. Brian Cardinal, SF/PF Dallas MavericksA bit of a sexy pick, but bear with me for a second. Cardinal wouldn't even been on the radar until I watched him play in Game 5 of the NBA Finals. Mark Jackson commented that though Cardinal wasn't the most athletic guy on the floor, he was making all the right plays; boxing out, taking charges, and showing real moxie in his limited minutes. Remind you of any former player/current head coach? In the mold of Kurt Rambis, Cardinal is a fundamental, hard working and heady player, all attributes that the current NBA game desperately needs. I think Cardinal could bestow these skills someday to some lucky team.
4. Brandon Roy, SG/SF Portland Trailblazers
This guy straight up loves the game of basketball. After struggling his entire career with two bum knees, I think it is only inevitable that Roy is going to have to call it quits early in his career. But I can't see this guy not wanting to be around the game for years to come as a coach. His passion for the game is unmatched in a league where many players' motto is, "if it don't make dollars it don't make cents (sense)." Roy will stick around as a role player with limited minutes for a couple more years, but because of his injuries, look to see him take his high basketball IQ to the bench as a coach.
5. Shane Battier, SG Memphis GrizzliesKnown for his class and professionalism around the league, Shane Battier has head coach written all over him. He's a defensive minded guy and I could see him as a Tom Thibodeau, "defense first," kind of coach. Like Grant Hill, he is a Duke alumn, a program noted for producing heady and tenacious winners.
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Friday, June 10, 2011
I cannot say for certain what inspired Charles Dickens' inspiration to write A Tale of Two Cities, but recently I've hatched quite the theory. Since its release in 1859, we have been misinterpreting Dickens' famed novel. This whole time we've falsely believed that the novel was really about the French Revolution and other 18th century European mumbo jumbo. But no! The secret metaphor has been hiding in plain sight for over 150 years now, in the often quoted but rarely understood introductory phrase.
Monday, June 6, 2011
Friday, June 3, 2011
Dwyane Wade's emphatic three pointer in front of the Dallas bench to put Miami up 15 with 7:14 to play was supposed to be the nail in the Mavericks' coffin. As we watched the ball sink through the twine, my friend and fellow Court of Appeals writer Danny Franks yelled "That's game!" to make it official that the Mavs no longer had any glimmer of hope. All of us watching the game in Danny's living room had no reason to disagree; even the lone Mavericks die hard in attendance had written his team off.
The only problem: when Wade hit that corner three pointer, he and his cohort LeBron James decided the game was over as well. However, as Dwyane Wade triumphantly held his follow through, the Dallas players forced to look on at his pose had other plans. This veteran Mavericks team had not made it to the Finals by rolling over in the closing minutes of games (just ask the Thunder) and Game 2 proved to be no different.
After spending much of the game staring upwards as witnesses to the aerial assault of the rim provided by LeBron, Wade, and Bosh, Dallas ratcheted up their defensive intensity, forcing James and Wade into contested threes at the end of the shot clock. On offense, clutch shots from Jason Terry and Dirk Nowitzki put the Mavs ahead in the final minute, only to have Mario Chalmers tie the game with 24.5 seconds to play. Unless you've been under a rock for the past day, you know the rest of the story: Dirk drives past Chris Bosh and finishes with his supposedly incapacitated left hand.
(Sidenote: the coverage surrounding the middle finger of Dirk's non-shooting hand was so incredibly overblown. Comparisons of Dirk's shooting from Game 1 to Game 2 showed no visible differences, yet ABC continued to harp on the issue throughout the game. At no point during the game did the "injury" appear to impact his play, and I suppressed the urge to vomit when Doris Burke came out wearing a replica of Nowitzki's finger splint during one report.)
Though Thursday's performance was a
When Dwyane Wade's three pointer fell through the cylinder with seven minutes left and LeBron greeted Wade with a series of playful jabs as they headed into the timeout, it became apparent that Miami's two superstars believed they had the game and the series in hand. After the dominance the Heat displayed throughout the third period, I couldn't blame them either. This was why LeBron took his talents to South Beach in the first place, to know that even when he wasn't taking over games he had an sidekick capable of similar heroics. Miami began to think that their championship run would be one highlight after another as opposing players watched helplessly, left to marvel at the spectacle taking place. Seven minutes and fourteen seconds later when Wade's desperation three point attempt struck back iron and the final horn sounded, Miami felt much differently.
Over the last few minutes of the game Miami failed to find any offensive rhythm and their defense could not match the dominance we saw in Game 1. It was just the type of failure the Heat needed. Miami needed to be reminded that it will not be handed a ring just because every night it is most talented team in the gym. Miami needed to be reminded that it is mortal.
Looking forward, I expect that the final seven minutes of Game 2 will give a greater boost to the Heat's play than Mavs'. Sure, American Airlines Center (not to be confused with Miami's American Airlines Arena) will be rocking at the Sunday tipoff, given the momentum coming off Dallas win. But more important than the atmosphere at tip will be each team's mindset in the game's final minutes. Miami has faced hostility on the road all season, and they come into Game 3 with the added motivation to avenge their heartbreaking loss. Wade and LeBron both put on tremendous shows in Thursday's Game 2, but they quickly learned from Dallas' comeback that putting on a great show doesn't necessary lead to W's. Don't expect Miami to necessarily change their intensity for Sunday's game in Dallas, but watch for them to improve their focus, and turn up the heat (pun intended) down the stretch.
Thursday, June 2, 2011
If you're like me, tonight you will mute your television as you watch the 2011 NBA Finals in order to spare yourself from the color commentary of Jeff Van Gundy. I've never really been a fan of Van Gundy's commentating over they years, whether it be the anecdotal rants about him and his brother Stan, his ignorance of NBA rules, or the immature way he insists on upstaging and arguing with co-commentator Mark Jackson. Game 1 of the NBA Finals made it official, Van Gundy is my least favorite commentator of all time. While van Gundy is, to say the least, annoying, what infuriates me the most is the way he turns the focus from the game to himself. The arrogance and unprofessionalism of his commentary diverts viewers away from what is important, basketball. I never thought he could get worse than than last year's Celtics-Lakers Final but he is on pace to out do himself this series. What happened to the class and professionalism of Bob Costas and Ahmad Rashad? This year makes me miss the NBA on NBC more than ever. So please, join me in personal protest against a man trying to be bigger than the game at hand.
I'd like to end with a quote from a classic masterpiece of cinema, Billy Madison:
"...what you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul."