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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Mock Draft 1.0 (Post-Unibrow Sweepstakes Edition)

1. New Orleans Hornets - Anthony Davis
Move over Miami, there's a new Big Three in town: Eric Gordon, Anthony Davis, and The Unibrow. Is The Big Easy ready for the NBA's newest triumvirate? (Nickname suggestion: The Big Threesy?)

2. Charlotte Bobcats - Harrison Barnes
Though Barnes has been slipping on draft boards, Michael Jordan isn't shy about taking fellow Tar Heels and this is his opportunity. Luckily for Jordan and his less-than-impressive track record, Barnes should be a solid pro even if it is a reach to take him at #2.

3. Washington Wizards - Bradley Beal
The Wiz could definitely use a big man here. But drafting the high-upside Andre Drummond and putting him with one of the league's foremost models of inconsistency and lack of focus (Andray Blatche) is a pretty good way to ensure he'll be a bust. A backcourt-mate to pair with John Wall is also a high priority and Beal's shooting ability makes him the best candidate.

4. Cleveland Cavaliers - Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
Alonzo Gee was the Cavs' starting small forward last year. You don't win championships with Alonzo Gee starting at small forward. If Dan Gilbert wants to make good on his guarantee to win a championship before LeBron James, he needs to not start Alonzo Gee at small forward. MKG can fix this.

5. Sacramento Kings - Thomas Robinson
As with many of the teams at the top of the lottery, they could afford to upgrade at a few different spots.  Another big man to play alongside DeMarcus Cousins could be useful with the backcourt of Tyreke Evans and Isaiah Thomas seemingly set.

6. Portland Trailblazers - Andre Drummond
A player with an NBA body and athleticism but questionable skills and determination, Drummond is the biggest enigma of the draft. Then again, Oden was supposed to be a sure thing and we all know how that turned out. Maybe this time the Blazers score big with their lottery center. Hasheem Thabeet is on the roster, so at least Drummond is guaranteed to avoid the title of worst center in Portland.

7. Golden State Warriors - John Henson
The Warriors were willing to take Ekpe Udoh with the 6th pick two years ago to provide a defensive presence inside. After sending him off to Milwaukee with Monta Ellis they should have no problem taking Henson, a player with the same shot blocking prowess but a higher offensive ceiling. Though he struggled to put on much-needed weight while at North Carolina, I see one exquisitely tasty reason why that won't be a problem for him in California.

8. Toronto Raptors - Damian Lillard
The Jose Calderon era in Toronto seems to be winding to a close. By all accounts Lillard has impressed  in workouts, and his elite ability to score the rock is unique among the point guards in the draft. (Irrelevant factoid: Lillard will become the first Weber State player in the league since Willard Sojourner in 1975.)

9. Detroit Pistons - Perry Jones III
Joe Dumars has both been hailed as a genius and ridiculed as a buffoon in his time as Pistons' GM. Perry Jones is a selection that will certainly reinforce one of those schools of thought. He's got the size and skill to be the best player in the draft, but his lack of heart and assertiveness have made him a major question mark.

10. New Orleans Hornets - Jeremy Lamb 
After taking Davis with the top pick, the Hornets will want to improve at point guard in particular. But if Jeremy Lamb is available at 10, he is too talented to pass up, especially with Eric Gordon's health always in question.

11. Portland Trailblazers - Kendall Marshall
With all the mystery surrounding Andre Drummond, the one thing we know is that he can finish alley-oops. Portland would be wise to take college basketball's best passer, a player who can get Drummond the ball in position to score. As is, the three-headed monster of Raymond Felton, Nolan Smith, and Jonny Flynn doesn't exactly strike fear in the hearts of opponents, so Marshall's presence would be welcomed with open arms.

12. Milwaukee Bucks - Tyler Zeller
For three painful months since the Andrew Bogut trade, there has been a white, 7-foot, somewhat athletic, fairly offensively-skilled void in Milwaukee. Tyler Zeller simply  has all the requisites to fill that void.

13. Phoenix Suns - Terrence Ross
It remains to be seen whether Steve Nash will return to the Suns, and they would probably prefer to bring in his protegĂ©, but both point guards worth selecting at 13 will likely be off the board. Grant Hill won't be able to play forever (unless he is the next Kobe robo-knee surgery recipient) so they'll need help on the wing. Ross is an excellent shooter and slasher and should fit well in an uptempo system.

14. Houston Rockets - Austin Rivers
Kyle Lowry appears to be on his way out of Houston, and there is no guarantee Goran Dragic will be re-sign in free agency. Rivers isn't a prototypical point guard -- if he can even be considered a point -- but he's got a rare ability to get to the hoop and has good potential for a #14 pick.

More mock drafts to come as the draft approaches.

Court adjourned.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Old School Pic of the Week 5.29

You thought Doc Rivers was getting a bit testy on the sidelines Monday night as his Celtics took on the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals? He begs to differ. The technical he received early on in Game 1 "has to rank as the worst I’ve ever had" according to Rivers.

Not sure if Doc got T'd up for the above incident, but in this installment of the Old School Pic of the Week we harken back to a time when Doc was undoubtedly deserving (against his future team, no less.) His Celtics will need adopt the mean streak Rivers displayed in this photo during their Game 2 matchup to have any hope of beating a Miami team that is, as the name would suggest, heating up at the right time.

Monday, May 28, 2012

The Delonte West Twitpic Chronicles

From Kim Jong-Il Looking At Things to Boohbah Zone, the internet holds many wonderful hidden joys. One recent gem that I recently discovered is Twitpic feed of the Dallas Mavericks' Delonte West (@charleeredz13). For a player that historically gives his team 9.6 points and 3.6 assists per game, I had no idea that Delonte offers so much more to the general internet community.

This is Delonte West, and these are apparently his exploits.

Delonte writes: "No introducin.....Alex the lion...and...Meman...."                                                         
Maybe I'm missing something, but I'm pretty sure there are no lions anywhere in this photo. But maybe the joke's on me and Delonte was just being ironic and edgy when naming these captive giraffes. At least he was nice enough to take some time away from some of his other activities to feed these little fellas. I can respect that.

"Me and @VerneTroyer.... OCEANS 11 BOSS Sh#t!!"

This photo of Delonte and Verne posted in the club raises a couple pressing questions:

1) What was the topic of conversation between these two polar opposite gentlemen?

2) Why wasn't I invited?

"Got my fruit and maple oatmeal...if ya look closely...she put the 'HOT SAUCE n MY BAG...HOT SAUCE n MY BAG'....."

Can't tell if West was really amped or appalled that the drive-thru lady put the hot sauce in his bag. McDonald's employees beware about where you choose to place Delonte's hot sauce. He will feel passionately about it.

"For real ... that's how ya gon do me jo.imma get a pet bear this summer..tie him to the front porch. call um tony montana"

It's pretty frightening that the tires got ripped from Delonte's Caddy in his front yard. But even in the face of danger, there goes Delonte with the animal names again. Don't know if a bear named Tony Montana would be the model of professionalism though.

"Few people recognize me befor I walked in bathroom ..I think dey want an autograph..dey gon miss der flight waitin on me"

I give up.

Court adjourned.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Jam of the Week 5/26

This will mark Iggy's second time on the exclusive Jam of the Week chronicles, but this time his dunk came in the biggest game of his life. Iggy's Sixers forced a Game 7 on Wednesday, and will take on the Celtics Saturday for a spot in the Eastern Conference Finals. Behind the leadership of Andre Iguodala, the Sixers have made an unheralded playoff run after nearly falling out of playoff contention late in the season. I think an inspired performance in game 6 will trickle over into game 7,  landing Coach Doug Collins and his young Philly squad in the ECF.

"What an Attack!"

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Early Bird Gets the Worm: Premature NBA Free Agency Predications

We here at Court of Appeals love to speculate about new faces in new places. With the playoffs yet to unfold, we still couldn't help but get a head start on where the top free agents next year will land. Without a champion yet crowned, here are the predictions for next year's free agents.

Deron Williams PG, UFA (P) - Dallas Mavericks

The Brooklyn Nets only have themselves to blame for having Williams slip through their fingers. Not being able to land any other assets, mainly Dwight Howard, has rendered D-Will with no other options but to skip town. Attaining Gerald Wallace at the deadline was the last desperate attempt from the Nets to retain Williams, but was not nearly enough. Williams is a Dallas native, and has the opportunity to be the new face of an aging franchise. Mark Cuban isn't stingy with his money, and will happily shell out the big bucks to land, and probably overpay the superstar point guard

Andrew Bynum C, (P) - Los Angeles Lakers

Not exactly a free agent, but we're going to count it with all the options LA has with their two big men. With all the childish antics Bynum has put the Lakers through, he is still their project. With Kobe probably trying to stick around a few more years, I see the Lakers swapping Gasol for somebody like Kevin Martin, or the like to relieve scoring pressure. Big guys are a luxury and Bynum has the potential to be one of the best, even if he never grows up. His option will get picked up by LA.

Kevin Garnett PF/C, (UFA)- Boston Celtics

KG made 21.2 Million dollars last year in the final year of a loaded contract. While KG is one of the older guys in the league, he's still probably the most fiery competitor. With scoring and coming up big rebounding, he carried the Celtics through the late part of the season and in the playoffs. The Celtics will probably give him a couple more years with an an option. Garnett will be willing to take the pay cut considering his age, and having the opportunity to play a few more seasons with an elite distributing point guard.

Steve Nash PG, (UFA) - Phoenix Suns

Steve is probably the biggest question mark going into free agency. He's old, but still has it. He's loyal, but still has Championship ambitions. Nash has been mentioned in the same sentences as Miami, LA, NY, Utah, Orlando, and Toronto. In short, nobody knows. Steve is a guy who has garnered success on and off the court in Phoenix, and at this point in his career it wouldn't make sense for him to move his life away from Arizona. Steve will either go big, as in market, or play it safe and stay in Phoenix and finish out his career with the city and team he loves.

Goran Dragic PG, (UFA) - Utah Jazz

When teams start to contact "The Dragon," the talk will be about paying him the big bucks, the big bucks that Houston can't afford to match. When these whisperings start becoming more and more real, the Rockets will look for the perfect match to sign and trade. The Jazz are that match. The Jazz can offer them Devin Harris, trade picks, and a young talent in the form of Paul Millsap or Derrick Favors. They can also afford to take on another player to relieve Houston of some monetary obligations. Dragic fits everything Utah needs: a play making point guard, three point threat, and a solid on-ball defender.

Ray Allen SG, (UFA) - Atlanta Hawks

Allen will finally be 1/3 of the big three to leave the biblical Boston Three-Party. The Hawks are looking down the barrel of 8 unrestricted contracts for 2012, and will look outside their talent pool to get them over the second round hump. Allen makes sense for this team. He's a veteran, a leader and a scorer. He'll give Joe Johnson, Teague and Horford guidance, as well as relieve scoring pressures from Johnson. He still has a couple good years in him left, and the Hawks would be the perfect fit for Allen.  

Eric Gordon, SG (RFA) - New Orleans Hornets

No way do the Hornets let the key piece to the Chris Paul trade get away. They will match any offer that comes Gordon's way. And the potential of Air Gordon will be stymied by the basketball wasteland that is the New Orleans Hornets.

Chris Kaman C, (UFA) - Portland Trail-Blazers

Kaman made it no secret that he could care less about his future with New Orleans. With the ever-injured Greg Oden, Portland lacks a big guy. If the Blazers want to be contenders in the West, they're going to need to have a more solid center than Hasheem Thabeet, or Joel Pryzbilla. Imagine the mid-range majesty that a Kaman-Aldridge lineup would have. If Kaman were smart he'd take a pay cut and head northwest. The Blazers don't have a whole lot of cash to spend, but if they spend it wisely, they'll spend it on Kaman.

Jason Terry SG, (UFA) - Miami Heat

The Heat's blaring deficiency is their lack of depth. With a proficient scorer like Jason Terry coming off the bench, the heat could be even more of a contender. Terry is a cerebral player, who likes to be an emotional leader. I think he'll roll the dice, move to the dark side and join the Heat in the quest of another championship trophy. Who knows, he might even tat up his other bicep.

OJ Mayo SG, (RFA) - Brooklyn Nets

Mayo is ready to step into the spotlight for an NBA team, and begin his legacy. With Rudy Gay, Marc Gasol, and Zach Randolph in the picture in Memphis, there is just no room for Mayo to blossom into a superstar. Memphis GM Chris Wallace tried to send Mayo to the Pacers at the deadline, but maybe his Rolex was running a little slow that day. Mayo can finally make his departure from Memphis, and join a team where he can start and turn himself into an all-star caliber player.

Nicolas Batum SG, (RFA) - Boston Celtics

The Celtics need to be on a mission to recruit elite young talent as the big three continue to count their days. The Flying Frenchman is a great scorer, lanky defender and lights out three point shooter. Portland has the #4 highest salary, and Boston has the #2. Unfortunately for Portland, Boston has the ability to spend the money that the small market Portland doesn't have. Batum would be a great fit with Rondo.

Tim Duncan C, (UFA) - San Antonio Spurs

The dude bleeds silver and black

Ersan Ilyasova SF, (UFA) - Toronto Raptors

With Ersan, there's no beating around the bush. Recently, he made the candid comment that, "Financially, whoever pays me more will be the team that I decide to sign with." There's only a few teams underneath the cap that would be willing to cut Ilyasova a giant check. Toronto's penchant for over payed mediocre foreign players makes them the prime candidate. Ilyasova's comment shows that he has no interest in winning, but is merely in it for the cash. Some guys are like that. Either way, the guy is a great rebounder and scorer. But his disinterest in winning leaves something to be desired. Get ready for Turkoglu 2.0 Canada.

Michael Beasley SF, (RFA) - Brooklyn Nets

The Minnesota Timberwolves will be happy to finally get themselves out of the Beasley era, finally opening the door for Derrick Williams to blossom. I don't think Beasley will be able to pass up the allure of playing in Brooklyn for rap mogul Jay-Z. The Wolves will have no problem not matching any offer, and Beasley could be up for a nice bidding war between a few teams including the LA Lakers, Boston Celtics and Orlando Magic.

Court Adjourned. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Amnesty Alert

As the season comes to an end for team after team, the front offices have to make the call on which players have a future with the team and which need to be sent packing. Following last year's lockout, the NBA implemented a provision that allows teams to cut players and not have their remaining salary count against the salary cap. These big-money players have been underperforming for their fat contracts  and have landed themselves on Court of Appeals' Amnesty Alert.

Chicago Bulls - Carlos Boozer

He was brought in to Chicago as a post threat to pair with Derrick Rose because of his offensive versatility, but he has hurt the team so much defensively that he can't be left on the floor in tight contests. Typically his ability to hit open shots and create his own offense would be enough to make up for his defensive shortcomings, but he has not been producing at the all-star level we are accustomed to seeing. Don't get us wrong, we love Carlos Boozer at Court of Appeals but he's going to need to do more than spraypaint his head and put out the occasional dismal hip-hop song to earn the $47 million remaining on his contract. Taj Gibson, though not the same scorer, makes peanuts in comparison ($3.2 million in 2012-13) and provides comparable stats per 36 minutes plus a definite defensive edge. For 15 million per season, he can't expect put up 3 points in an elimination game and feel any sense of job security. If Boozer is in fact amnestied, I only pray that he pairs up with the newly-unemployed Stan Van Gundy to form a duo with unmatched yelling capabilities.

New York Knicks - Amar'e Stoudemire

Speaking of underperforming power forwards with lackluster defensive skills... Stoudemire was worse in nearly every statistical category in his first full season alongside Carmelo Anthony. With the Mike D'Antoni era in the Big Apple ending only a tad more respectably than Isiah Thomas', the Knicks must be wondering if the Carmelo/Amar'e/Chandler trio is the right core to move forward with. They owe Stoudemire $65 million over three more seasons, a steep price to pay especially when that money might have to cover punitive damages to Amar'e's poor fire extinguisher or Jeremy Lin for his impressive performance in an incredibly small body of work. This is the same team that gave Jerome James $30 million based on one impressive playoff series after a season in which he averaged 5 points and 3 boards after all.

Los Angeles Clippers - Mo Williams

Mo was probably happy to escape the Post-Decision Cavaliers for the greener pastures of Los Angeles. Throwing lobs to Blake Griffin and popping trey balls in SoCal is quite a bit more enticing than running the pick and roll with Antawn Jamison in Northern Ohio. But in the offseason the Clips added Chris Paul and Chauncey Billups, bumping Mo Williams down the bench. Throughout the season Eric Bledsoe even managed to leapfrog Williams and now the Clips find themselves paying their fourth string PG $8.5 million. That doesn't bode too well for a team looking to become a legitimate contender in the Western Conference. Though Williams' days in L.A. are probably numbered, he's no lock to be amnestied because he's entering the last year and a team might look to trade for his expiring contract.

Miami Heat - Mike Miller

Mike Miller should probably be amnestied for his haircut and awkward tattoo placement alone, but in seriousness if the Heat come up short again this year Miller will likely be on the way out. He was signed to the Heat to be their fourth option but he hasn't met expectations in his limited time on the court due to injuries. Miami doesn't need Miller to make the playoffs, but they need his production in the postseason if they hope to win not 2... not 3... not 4... not 5... not 6... not 7 championships. 4.6 points per game in the playoffs is not cutting it, and the Heat may well cut the $18.6 million left on his deal.

Court adjourned.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Jam of the Week 5/18

The talk about town is how the San Antonio Spurs are getting it done quietly in the West with experience, efficiency and coaching. There's no doubt we can see the aging spurs before our eyes. Heck, I wouldn't be surprised to see Tony, Manu and Duncan lined up at the all you can eat buffet Early Bird Special together. But Ol' Timmy showed us last series against the Jazz that while he's no spring chicken, he's still got a little giddy up n' go in his game yet. I would love to see Timmy put one of these on Blake Griffin's head. Here's to 36 years young.

"Great Show and Go!"

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Old School Pic of the Week 5.15

Lost behind the headlines about Chris Bosh's injury, the 76ers' and Pacers' improbable wins, and OKC's blowout against the Lakers, was Jeff Green's graduation. Green is set to graduate this weekend from Georgetown after leaving school early in 2007.

Speaking of which, Lew Alcindor AKA Kareem Abdul-Jabbar walked at his UCLA commencement. See if you can manage to spot him in the photo. Hint: not the shorter white lady with the yellow cord.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Old School Pic of the Week 5.8

Rough, tough, and terrific probably aren't the first words that come to mind when thinking of the Charlotte Bobcats, who just finished their season with a 7-59 record. With the firing of head coach Paul Silas, Patrick Ewing has emerged as a primary candidate for the vacant coaching position. All the X's and O's in the world couldn't have made the Bobcats a winning time this year, as they sported far and away the league's weakest roster. Ewing may not immediately be able to fix the Bobcat's utter lack of talent immediately... or can he? If he is as good at manipulating the draft lottery as David Stern was the year Ewing himself was drafted then Charlotte fans can get a head start on buying their foam unibrows in anticipation of Anthony Davis.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

2012 NBA Should-Be Awards

It's that time of year again. With the conclusion of the regular season, the time to present the annual awards is upon us. Already, Gregg Popovich has been named the Coach of the Year and LeBron is a near lock to take home the MVP for the third time in the last four seasons. But since that debate has been all but settled, we are looking to decide the the awards that the people really care about. No, not the Defensive Player, 6th Man, or Rookie of the Year. I'm talking about the 2nd annual NBA Should-Be Awards, the obscure honors that the NBA does not recognize but we at Court of Appeals are proud to hand out.