Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Message to LeBron: Loyalty doesn't win championships

Message to LeBron: Get out of Ohio if you want to win.

LeBron James is the NBA's biggest superstar. At the age of 25 he already has 2 MVP awards and has scored over 15, 000 points. Ever since he came out of high school in 2003, he's been compared to former NBA superstars like Jordan and Magic. But the player in NBA history who LeBron compares best with is Oscar Robertson. The Big O, like King James, was a physical specimen who could do pretty much everything on a basketball court. Robertson is still the only player in NBA history to average a triple-double for an entire season.

The Big O was a 6-5/220 pound player who could play both guard positions and small forward. Lebron's size of 6-8/260 now is pretty comparable to 6-5/220 in the 1960's. Now 6-5/220 is average size for a shooting guard. So in many aspects Robertson was the original LeBron.

Both players have roots in the state of Ohio. LeBron grew up in Akron where he would become arguably the most celebrated high school basketball player ever. Robertson was a legend at the University of Cincinnati, where he would lead the Bearcats to two final four appearances. The Cincinnati Royals used a territorial draft pick to obtain him in 1960.

Just like King James, the Big O spent the early part of his NBA career as a superstar playing for an average team that could never get over the hump and win a title. Just like James, Robertson played in the state of Ohio. Robertson spent the the first 10 years of his NBA career playing for the the Cincinnati Royals (now the Sacramento Kings). In Cincinnati, he never made it past the Eastern Conference Finals. Mainly because the Boston Celtics were in the middle of being the greatest dynasty in NBA history.

Then in 1970 at the age of 31, the Big O was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks where he would team up with young Lew Alcindor (who later changed his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) to win his only NBA title. The Bucks were competitive for the next few years, losing in the championship to Boston in 1974. After that season the Big O retired at the age of 35 with one NBA title.

Back in the 60's, free agency didn't exist and player movement was at a minimum with a few trades here and there. Ironically, Robertson played a pivotal role in NBA history by filing an antitrust suit against the NBA. His suit helped reform restrictions on free agent signings. This led to higher salaries for players and was a the first stepping stone in the massive free agency movements were see today. Without Oscar Robertson, there is no LeBron press conference tonight to announce where he'll play next year. LeBron would be stuck in Ohio forever.

So where will King James be playing next year? My guess is as good as yours. But King James should learn from Robertson and Kevin Garnett. Both players were loyal to their average teams and then had to wait to the twilight of their careers to win one NBA title. I'm not saying LeBron has to sign with Miami to form a super trio with Wade and Bosh. But if LeBron wants to win he needs to get out of the cursed state of Ohio faster than you can say "Maurice Clarett is fat."

Wednesday, June 30, 2010


This year's free agency class is incredible. Never in the history of professional sports as their been more attention and excitement for an off-season. The top 11 free agents in my rankings have a combined 55 all-star game appearances. Three of them have won a title while two have led their team to a finals appearance. All but David Lee and Rudy Gay have led their team to the playoffs. King James is the biggest prize and Dwyane Wade is a close second. Both players would love to be playing with Chris Bosh next season who is number 3. This free agent crop is so good that Carlos Boozer is number 7. Here's my list:

The Top 10-Nine all-stars and a Gay. All of these stars will get near max money.
1. LeBron James-SF-CLV
6-8/250/Age 25
King James is the key to this years class. He is the reigning back to back MVP. He is the most dominant player in the NBA today. However the King is still searching for a ring. It all comes down to what James is looking for. If he's looking to win, then Chicago and Miami are the best options. However in Miami he would be playing in Wade's shadow and in Chicago would be playing in Jordan's shadow. If he's about loyalty and proving he can win by himself, he'll stay in Cleveland. If he's about marketing the LeBron brand he could end up in the New York Metro area. His decision will have a substantial bearing on the rest of the free agent class.
Possible destinations: Re-sign, CHI, MIA, NY, NJ

2. Dwyane Wade-SG-MIA
6-4/220/Age 28
DWade is easily one of the top 5 if not top 3 players on planet Earth. He's a dynamic scorer and shooter who can take over a game at any time. He has proven he can win a title but needs more players around him in Miami if he's going to win more. I would be shocked if he left Miami. He's made it clear to the Heat management they need to add some pieces around him.
Possible Destinations: Re-sign unless they are unable to sign anyone, if that happens, Pat Riley should be fired.

Chris Bosh-PF-TOR
6-10/230/Age 26
Bosh's ability as a shooter make him the perfect compliment to LeBron or DWade. He's also a better rebounder and defender than Amar'e. He's younger and more athletic than Boozer, Dirk and David Lee. Bosh could end up playing in Chicago or New York if LeBron were to sign there. However, he's from Texas,played college ball in Hotlanta but has spent his past seven years in Canada. Something tells me he wants to get out of the cold. Hello South Beach.
Possible Destinations: MIA, CHI, NY

Amar'e Stoudemire-PF-PHO
6-10/250/Age 27
I think the best idea would be to stay in Phoenix with Steve Nash and a great supporting cast on a team that pushed the Lakers to the edge in the playoffs. If he were to end up in New York with Joe Johnson it would be like the 2005 Phoenix Suns team without Nash. Miami and Chicago could also be possibilities, yet both of those teams are coached by defensive coaches that will demand too much out of him defensively. While his defense has improved, Amar'e is far from joining Dwight Howard on the All-NBA defensive team.
Possible Destinations: Re-sign,

5. Dirk Nowitzki-PF-DAL

7-0/245/Age 31
Dirk is only opting out to secure more money before the NBA's Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) expires next off-season. He's played his entire 12 year career in Dallas and Mavs owner Mark Cuban has treated him like a king. I'd be shocked to see Dirk playing in a different uniform next season
Possible Destinations: Re-sign, NY

Joe Johnson-G/F-ATL
6-7/240/Age 28
Johnson is the best wing not named LeBron or Dwyane in this class. He's averaged over 20 points per game every year in Atlanta but I still think he would be better as a number two guy to a superstar. He appears to be New York's backup plan but might like playing for a contender like Chicago or Miami better.
Possible Destinations: NY, CHI, MIA, Re-sign, LAC

Carlos Boozer-PF-Utah
6-9/266/Age 28
Boozer is a great rebounder and a terrific hustle player. He may look like he's 35, but he's only a year older than Amar'e. He's a 20 and 10 guy when healthy. Miami and Chicago are tops on his list, but he's the #3 power forward on there's. If Amar'e were to re-sign in Phoenix or sign with New York, Boozer would be the happiest man on earth as he would pretty much be guaranteed a deal with Miami or Chicago. If he doesn't land in one of those two spots, expect a sing and trade to another contender. Boozer doesn't fit New York's system and the Nets are a few years from contending. The best thing about Boozer is that he won't demand a max contract like Amar'e.
Possible Destinations: CHI, MIA, S&T, Re-sign

Rudy Gay-SF-MEM (Restricted)
6-8/230/Age 24
Skill + versatility+ length + youth= a lot of money this summer for Mr. Gay. He's restricted to the Grizz can match any offer. But will they match it if another team gives him near max money. I doubt it. I expect to see Rudy playing in a mega market next year.
Possible Destinations: NJ, LAC, NY, Re-sign, MIA

Paul Pierce-SF-BOS
67/235/Age 32
Doc Rivers is returning and so is Pierce. Just like Dirk, he's played for one team his entire career and is looking to end his career there and get paid handsomely before the CBA runs out.
Possible Destinations: Re-sign,

10. David Lee-C/F/NY

6-9/250/Age 27
Lee is a great example of how hustle and some skill can make you an all-star and get you a nice payday. I love what Lee brigs to floor as far as energy and basketball IQ. However the only place where he could have similar success to New York would be in a system like Golden State or Dallas. A sign and trade to the Warriors for Monta Ellis would benefit both teams. I think Lee wants to stay with the Knicks but it might be in New York's best interest to trade him or renounce his rights to sign another big name free agent.
Possible Destinations: Re-sign, S&T, NJ

JUST OUTSIDE- These 5 guys may not get max deals, but they'll get a nice payday this summer.
Ray Allen-SG-BOS
6-5/205/Age 34
Even though he'll turn 35 in July, Allen will still get a ton of attention this off-season because he's still the best sharpshooter in the NBA. He would be perfect fit alongside LeBron or Joe Johnson. Boston will do everything they can to keep Ray Ray in Beantwon another 2-3 years.
Possible Destinations: Re-sign, CHI, NY

12. John Salmons-G/F-MIL
6-6/207/Age 30
The ultimate #3 guy on a good team. The past two years he's been traded during the season and then helped the team he was traded to make the playoffs. Both performances and the fact that he won't need a huge deal make him a nice catch.
Possible Destinations: LAC, MIA, Re-sign, NY, NJ

13. Luis Scola-PF-HOU (Restricted)
6-9/245/Age 30
Tough guys who can rebound and get you 15 points a night as a #3/4 option are always good to have on your team. Scola is a hard worker and a winner. If he leaves Houston it will be to join a contender.
Possible Destinations: Re-sign, CHI, S&T to a contender

14. Brendan Haywood-C-DAL
7-0/263/Age 30
You can't teach size. The man can get you close to 10 points and 10 boards a night. More importantly he can eat up space in the middle and can play solid defense. At 30 he's still young enough to give you 4 good years but is too old to demand an overpriced deal based on his potential, sorry Andris Beidrins. Teams looking for a center will be blowing up Mr. Haywood's phone this summer.
Possible Destinations: Re-sign, S&T to a contender, MIA

15. Richard Jefferson-SF-SA
6-7/225/Age 30
Jefferson obviously wants out of San Antonio. Why else would he throw away a guaranteed 15 million for next season. It was obvious that he never really fit in the Spurs system last year. He seems like a good fit in Miami if they were to miss out on landing a third star and decided to split the rest of their free agent money on two good players above the mid-level exception. Riley loves guys who can play defense. The Clippers need a starting small forward as well. New York is a possibility too. Could he end up back in New Jersey or Milwaukee.
Possible Destinations: LAC, MIA,NY, NJ, MIL

The Rest of my rankings will be done by groups not numbers:

Garbage Men-These guys do the dirty work. These guys can give you 8 points, 8 boards and solid D. They won't get major deals but every team needs role players like them. Some are proven winners like Udonis Haslem while others haven't met expectations like Tyrus Thomas. Veteran journeymen Matt Barnes and Drew Gooden round out the list.

Udonis Haslem-PF-MIA
6-8/235/Age 30

Tyrus Thomas-PF-CHR (Restricted)
6-9/225/Age 23

Drew Gooden-F/C-LAC
6-10/250/Age 28

Matt Barnes-F-ORL
6-7/226/Age 30

Good wings that could be starters or great 6th men
-Some of these players are guys that are ready to become full time starters (J.J. Redick, Ronnie Brewer, Travis Outlaw, and Anthony Morrow). All 3 have their specialty, JJ and Morrow are incredible shooters, Ronnie and Wes Matthews are lockdown defenders and Outlaw is a slasher. Josh Childress may or may not come back from Europe this summer. Both Mike Miller and Josh Howard were less than stellar in Washington yet both could be decent role players on good teams.

Josh Childress-F/G-ATL (Restricted), played past two seasons in Greece
6-8/210/Age 26

J.J. Redick-SG-ORL (Restricted)
6-4/190/Age 26

Ronnie Brewer-G/F-MEM (Restricted)
6-7/226/Age 25

Travis Outlaw-SF-LAC
6-9/207/Age 25

Mike Miller-G/F-WAS
6-8/218/Age 30

Josh Howard-SF-WAS
6-7/210/Age 30

Anthony Morrow-SG-GS (Restricted)
6-5/210/Age 24

Wes Matthews-G/F-Utah (Restricted)
6-5/220/Age 23

Power forwards that play like guards.- The name says it all. These two players can shoot but they aren't your traditional post playing big men

Al Harrington-PF-NY
6-9/250/Age 30

Channing Frye-F/C-PHO
6-11/245/Age 27

The insanely weak point guard class-If you thought the point guard class was weak in the draft, at least they had John Wall. Ray Felton is the only free agent point guard who started consistently last season. Most of these guys will get deals based on potential that they could develop into a starting point guard.

Ray Felton-PG-CHR
6-1/198/Age 26

Luke Ridnour-PG-MIL
6-2/175/Age 29

Randy Foye-G-WAS
6-4/213/Age 27

Kyle Lowry-PG-HOU
6-0/205/Age 24

Nate Robinson-G-BOS
5-9/180/Age 26

Steve Blake-PG-LAC
6-3/175/Age 30

Jordan Farmar-PG-LAL
6-2/180/Age 23

Former stars/starters turned vet minimum players-If someone gives Shaq more than the vet minimum they should be arrested.

Shaquille O'neal-C-CLV
7-1/325/Age 38

Derrick Fisher-PG-LAL
6-1/210/Age 35

Tracy McGrady-F/G-NY
6-8/223/Age 31

Jermaine O'Neal-C-MIA
6-11/255/Age 31

10 Other Role Players:

Kyle Korver-SF-Utah
6-7/212/Age 29

Tony Allen-G/F-BOS
6-4/213/Age 28

Shannon Brown-SG-LAL
6-4/210/Age 24

Roger Mason-G-SA
6-5/212/Age 29

Amir Johnson-C/F-TOR
6-10/210/Age 23

Matt Bonner-C/F-SA
6-10/240/Age 30

Brad Miller-C-CHI
7-0/261/Age 34

Earl Watson-PG-IND
6-1/190/Age 31

Chris Duhon-PG-NY
6-1/190/Age 27

Hakim Warrick-PF
6-9/219/ Age 27

There you have it, the top 50 free agents this summer

Sunday, June 27, 2010


1. John Wall-PG
17. Kevin Seraphin-F/C
23. Trevor Booker-PF
56. Hamady Ndiaye-C
If Wall isn't one of the five best point guards in the league by 2013, it will be a major let down. That's how much talent the superstar from Kentucky has. Booker is a freak athlete and Seraphin has potential. The only problem now is that with the Kirk Hinrich trade, Washington's 3 best players are all guards and all 6-4 or shorter.

2. Evan Turner-G/F
What's not to like about taking the best player in college basketball last year? Wall and Turner were 1a and 1b in ranking as far as I'm concerned. Turner can do it all on the basketball court. They still need a lot of help up front.


3. Derrick Favors-PF
24. Damion James-SF
I like these picks. Favors will need time to develop while James is NBA ready. Favors has incredible upside and could become an all-star eventually. James is pretty much what you see is what you get. Solid draft for a young team. Unless they land a LeBron type this offseason, the Netss will be back in the lottery again next year.

4. Wes Johnson-SF
30. Lazar Hayward-SF
35. Nemanja Bjelica-SF
45. Paulo Prestes-C
I think Johnson is instantly the best player on their roster. He'll start at the 3 from day one. Last year is was point guards, this year it's small forwards. The TWolves used their top 3 selections on small forwards. If that wasn't enough, they also traded for Martell Webster from Portand. If that's still not enough, rumors have them interested in free agent small forward Rudy Gay. Expect Al Jefferson or Kevin Love along with 2 small forwards to be traded this off-season.

5. DeMarcus Cousins-C
33. Hassan Whiteside-C
Hate him or love him, Cousins can play. The Kings need length and toughness down low. The Kings now have a solid young core with Tyreke Evans, Jason Thompson and Cousins. Throw in good role players like Carl Landry and Omri Casspi and things are looking good in Sacramento. All they need now is an upgrade on the wings. Whiteside is immature like Cousins but has potential as a shot blocker. As a first rounder, he would have been a risk. In the second round he's a steal, funny how that happens.

6. Ekpe Udoh-PF
Udoh is a good fit with the Warriors but isn't a top 10 talent. He'll be a very solid role player. With a top 6 pick, you need a star or something close to it.

7. Greg Monroe-C
36. Terrico White-G
Monroe should be Detroit's starting center on opening night. His offensive skill set will add an important element to the Pistons. White is athletic and can play some point. Detroit is shifting towards a younger team so both Tayshaun Prince and Rip Hamilton could be traded this off-season.

8. Al-Faruoq Aminu-F
18. Eric Bledsoe-PG
54. Willie Warren-G
If the Clippers are able to land a starting small forward on the free agent market like Joe Johnson, Rudy Gay or even John Salmons then I would give them an A+. The reason bing is that Aminu would be better suited as a backup combo forward than a starting small forward. Aminu has talent but isn't ready to be forced into a starting role just yet. THe same can be said for Bledsoe who will have a few years to learn under Baron Davis before he's ready to be a starting point guard. Warren adds even more depth at the guard spots and has a year's experience of playing with Blake Griffin.

9. Gordon Hayward-SF
55. Jeremy Evans-F/G
Hayward is a solid player who will fit Utah's system very well. Jerry Sloan will love his high basketball IQ and work ethic. It's all but a certainty that Andrei Kirilenko will be traded some time this year.

10. Paul George-SF
40.. Lance Stephenson-SG
51. Magnum Rolle-C
Paul George has talent and may end up becoming a stud in 3-5 years but he plays the same position and has a very similar game to Danny Granger. The Pacers picked the wrong draft to need a point guard. Expect them to use their plethora of wings and Troy Murphy's expiring contract to land a point guard in a trade. Stephenson and Rolle might make the team next year.

11. Cole Aldrich-C
31. Tibor Pleiss-C
48. Latavious Williams-SF
57. Ryan Reid-PF
Aldrich could be the final piece for this young super talented team. They needed a tough defensive center with length. Aldrich is exactly that. It may take 2-3 years before they're competing for titles but the Thunder will be much better than the 8 seed next year.

12. Xavier Henry-F/G
28. Greivis Vasquez-G
Henry is insurance for Rudy Gay who is all but a goner now. Vasquez will add some size at the point and help backup Mike Conley. The Grizz will take a major step backwards if they lose Gay.

13. Ed Davis-PF
50. Soloman Alabi-C
The Raptors have accepted that Chris Bosh is gone. Davis is a poor man's Bosh. Make that an on welfare homeless man's Bosh. Davis will need time to develop. Alabi could become a steal in the second round. Athletic 7 foot shot blockers always find a way to play in the league. Both players add good depth for the young Raptors up front.

14. Patrick Patterson-PF
I just love Patterson. He's a great player and hard worker that will fit perfect in Houston. If Luis Scola leaves via free agency then Patterson will be expected to take over at power forward right away.

15. Larry Sanders-F/C
37. Darrington Hobson-SF
44. Jerome Jordan-C
47. Tiny Gallon-PF
I love Sanders playing next to Andrew Bogut down low. Sanders is a rebounder and shot blocker with a limited offensive game but a great motor. With Brandon Jennings, Cory Maggette and Bogut in the lineup Sanders doesn't need to score. Hobson, Jordan, and Gallon all have some talent. Hobson and new addition Chris Douglas-Roberts will battle for playing time behind Maggette.

16. Luke Babbit-SF
22. Elliot Williams-SG
34. Armon Johnson-PG

Considering it was his last day of work, GM Kevin Pritchard did a good job for Portland. The Trailblazers added depth everywhere on the perimeter. Babbit will be a great fit as a sharpshooter along with Brandon Roy. Babbit and Johnson also played together at Nevada so they can help each other as rookies. Pritchard also helped save Portland money by trading Martell Webster for Ryan Gomes.

19. Avery Bradley-G
52. Luke Harangody-PF
Bradley is a good defender who can play backup both guard spots, but he isn't NBA ready. For a team looking to win now they should have taken a player with more experience and size than a 180 pound 19 year old. Harangody will be a fan favorite in mop up duty.

20. James Anderson-SG
49. Ryan Richards-PF
Just like last year, the Spurs get another quality player outside the top 15. Last year is was Dejuan Blair, this year Anderson. Anderson can hit open shots and play solid defense. That's exactly what the Spurs will ask him to do next year.

21. Craig Brackins-PF
26. Quincy Pondexter-SF
The Hornets are worried more about saving money right now than winning. They were able to trade down and cut over 6 million in salary by trading Morris Peterson. Brackins and Pondexter are both solid players who should provide good depth at the forward spots in New Orleans. Expect the Hornets to make another big trade this off season to shed even more salary.

25. Dominique Jones-SG
He could become this year's Marcus Thornton, an under the radar scorer who can contribute in his first year. They may have their backcourt of the future with Jones and Rodrigue Beaubois.

27. Jordan Crawford-G
53. Pape Sy-SF
Jordan Crawford should help ease some of the pressure off of Jamal Crawford who will become the de facto star once Joe Johnson leaves via free agency. If Crawford and last year's first round pick Jeff Teague can step up, the Hawks will have good depth at guard without Johnson. Pape Sy has a cool name but I doubt I will see him in the NBA any time soon.

29. Daniel Orton-C
59. Stanley Robinson-SF
I like Robinson but can't stand Orton. Robinson could make his way into Orlando's rotation as early as next year (especially if they lose Matt Barnes). Orton will need a ton of time to develop and should have spent two more years in college where he could have improved on his 3ppg and 3 rpg average.

32. Dexter Pittman-C
41. Jarvis Varnado-F/C
42. Da'Sean Butler-SF
Solid but not spectacular. That's what you get when you have 3 second round choices. Riley see all of these guys as tough NBA ready players. They all could end up making Miami's roster next year but all have question marks. Pittman needs to lose weight. Varnado needs to gain weight and Bulter will need time to recover from a torn ACL. Riley did what was best for the Heat in this draft and that was to save money.

38. Andy Rautins-SG
39. Landry Fields-SF
Both Rautins and Fields can shoot, so if the Knicks can get Lebron this will be a good move. However, it's not looking very likely that they will be able to land King James. My C+ grade seems pretty generous.

Devin Ebanks-SF
Derrick Caracter-PF
I could see both of these guys landing on a NBA roster next year, just not with the Lakers. The Lakers went with the best players on the board instead of adding guard depth. All of their guards not named Kobe Bryant are free agents so they could use some depth there.

46. Gani Lawal-PF
60. Dwayne Collins-PF
Both players are athletic garbage men who will try to make the roster by doing all of the dirty work down low. If Amar'e leaves they will both have a decent shot to make the team.

If the Bulls are unable to land LeBron or two stud free agents this summer then I'd have to give them a F-. The fact that they could have had James Anderson could haunt them if he becomes a stud in San Antonio.




If the Cavs lose LeBron and both the Knicks and Nets get star players in free agency, are the Cavs now the worst team in the East?

Answers To My 5 Questions

Question #1: Will one of the 3 teams (MIN, MEM, OKC) with 3 first round selections trade up?

Oklahoma City made a major move by trading up with New Orleans to get Cole Aldrich at 11. The Thunder hope that he will be their center of the future for this young team with a ton of talent. None of the three teams kept all their first round picks. Minnesota traded both the 16th and 23rd picks while Memphis traded the 25th pick.

Question #2: Will the Pacers and/or Hornets trade down?

The Hornets saved some cash by trading down with the Thunder while the Pacers were unable to trade down.

Question #3: What will be the draft order of these 5 wings, Luke Babbit, Xavier Henry, Paul George, Gordan Hayward, and James Anderson?

Hayward went first at 9 to Utah, then George at 10 to Indy, Henry at 12 to Memphis, Babbit at 16 to Minnesta and was then traded to Portland while Anderson went at 20 to San Antonio.

Question #4: Will Daniel Orton or Hassan Whiteside slip out of the first round?

Orton barely made it into the first at 29 to Orlando while Whiteside slipped out of the first and went to Sacramento at 33.

Question #5: What European guy that no casual basketball fan has heard of will be selected tonight?

Kevin Seraphin was the only Euro prospect to go in the first. He went a little higher than expected at 17. German big man Tibor Pliess led off the second round at 31 and Nemanja Bjelica went at 35. Three other foreigners were picked in the second round. Don't expect to see any of them in the league any time soon.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

5 Key Questions In Tonight's Draft

Question #1: Will one of the 3 teams (MIN, MEM, OKC) with 3 first round selections trade up?

It appears the Thunder want to trade up to get a center. They could trade to #5 to get DeMarcus Cousins or trade into the top 12 to get Cole Aldrich. It would make a lot of sense for Memphis to move up to get both a power and small forward in the top 15 or trade out of #25 or #28. Minnesota has been trying but it looks like they'll stay at #4 but might trade out of 16 or 23.

Question #2: Will the Pacers and/or Hornets trade down?

Both want to, but for different reasons. The Hornets are tying to save money, while the Pacers are trying to acquire a starting point guard. If they are unable to trade down expect both to draft a wing player.

Question #3: What will be the draft order of these 5 wings, Luke Babbit, Xavier Henry, Paul George, Gordan Hayward, and James Anderson?

The difference between these five guys is very minimal. I have them ranked 11-15. However one may sneak in the top 10, while another could slip. It should be very interesting.

Question #4: Will Daniel Orton or Hassan Whiteside slip out of the first round?

Both are project big men who left after one year of college. Both are unproven yet have a lot of potential. I can see one of them falling out of the first round tonight.

Question #5: What European guy that no casual basketball fan has heard of will be selected tonight?

I expect Kevin Seraphin to go in the first. But don't be surprised if Tibor Pliess, a 7 footer out of Germany or some others are taken earlier than expected.


First Round:

1. WAS-John Wall-PG-Kentucky
No brainer #1.
2. PHL-Evan Turner-G/F-Ohio St.
No brainer #2
3. NJ-Derrick Favors-PF-Georgia Tech
It appears the Nets will take Favors over Wes Johnson here. I think Johnson is better, however Favors has more upside. The thinking was for the Nets to take Johnson as
4. MIN-Wes Johnson-SF-Syracuse
Minnesota gets a good player here without having to trade up. If Nets do in fact throw throw the first curve ball of the draft and take Johnson expect Minnesota to try to trade the pick and take either Favors or Cousins.
5. SAC-DeMarcus Cousins-C-Kentucky
COusins should be the pick here. The question is whether someone will make the Kings an offer they can't refuse. Oklahoma City has 3 first rounders and needs a top center. The Pistons and Spurs also have interest in Cousins. Either way it's a solid pick for Sacramento despite all the negative hype Cousins has received.
6. GS-Ekpe Udoh-PF-Baylor
In my first mock draft I thought that the Warriors and Udoh would be a great fit. Now it's looking like they'll take him over Greg Monroe who would also be a perfect fit. The Cory Maggette trade: shows the Warriors are cutting salary and building for the future.
7. DET-Greg Monroe-C/F-Georgetown
If the Pistons take Ed Davis over Monroe, GM Joe Dumars should be fired on the spot. Monroe is better, bigger and can play center. Davis could be a solid player one day but Monroe can become their starting center next year. There's still the possibility of trading up for Cousins.
8. LAC-Al-Farouq Aminu-SF-Wake Forest
Aminu should be a great pick here. He's never going to be a superstar. But they already have Chris Kaman, Baron Davis, Eric Gordon,and last year's to pick Blake Griffin. All Aminu needs to do is to come in and contribute. Easy choice for me.
9. Utah-Ed Davis-PF-UNC
I'm not a big Davis fan but someone will take him in the top 10. With Carlos Boozer likely leaving via free agency Davis makes sense here.
10. IND-Luke Babbit-SF-Nevada
Larry Bird likes Babbit. He can become a weapon or valuable trade bait for the Pacers who are in big need of a point guard
11. NO-Paul George-SF-Fresno St.
He would be a great fit for new coach Monty Williams, however he could also be the target of many teams looking to trade up.
12. MEM-Xavier Henry-F/G-Kansas
Henry actually showed up for his workout with the Grizzlies unlike George and Hayward.
13. TOR-Gordon Hayward
Another team that could be looking to trade down. They need a true center, but in the end I think they like Hayward's talent too much.
14. HOU-Cole Aldrich-C/F-Kansas
Aldrich may slip a little but shouldn't slide by the Rockets here. He'll provide Houston length, toughness and defense, three things the Rockets need.
15. MIL-Patrick Patterson-PF-Kentucky
All of these pre-draft moves to get wings (Cory Maggette and Chris Douglas-Roberts) have me thinking the Bucks will go with a power forward here.
16. MIN-Larry Sanders-C/F-VCU
Kevin Love and Al Jefferson are very good but the TWolves need some length up front. Sanders will help out with his 9-4 standing reach and 7-6 wingspan.
17. WAS/CHI-Damion James-SF-Texas
It's all but official that the Bulls will trade out of the first round to save cap space just like Miami did last night. I thought when the Thunder traded up to #18 it was to go after James, who was Kevin Durant's teammate in college. Now it looks like the Wizards want him at here.
18. OKC-Avery Bradley-G-Texas
If they can't move up, they'll add depth here. Bradley can come off the bench a backup both guard spots. Plus he's got the Texas connection with Durant.
19. BOS-James Anderson-SG-Oklahoma St.
I think the Celtics will do exactly what the two teams ahead of them did, trade out of the first round. Anderson is the best player available and someone should move up to take him.
20. SA-Craig Brackins-PF-Iowa St.
Brackens can come off the bench and provide the shooting tough from the outside just like Robert Horry used to. He's moving up draft boards and could find himself here at 20.
21. OKC-Hassan Whiteside-C-Marshall
Whiteside's stock is slipping but the Thunder will take him here and hope he can develop into a top shot blocker.
22. POR-Soloman Alabi-C-FSU
Portland needs some insurance in case Greg Oden gets hurt again. Alabi is already a good shot blocker, imagine how much better he can get by spending a year or two with Marcus Camby.
23. MIN-Kevin Seraphin-PF-France
With 3 first round picks, expect the TWolves to either trade one of them or take a Euro prospect and keep him overseas for a year or two.
24. Dominique Jones-SG-USF
The Hawks add some scoring in the backcourt and get the best player available. Jones will help ease the pain of Joe Johnson leaving via free agency.
25. MEM-Gani Lawal-PF-Georgia Tech
A big man who does all the dirty work. Solid choice for a young team with 3 picks in the first.
26. OKC-Daniel Orton-C-Kentucky
I wouldn't be surprised if he slipped out of the first round, but he's a decent choice here
27. NJ-Terrico White-G-Ole Miss
They take the athletic guard to add some depth. White's best asset is his versatility as can play both guard spots and even small foward at times.
28. MEM-Eric Bledsoe-PG-Kentucky
He can give Conley some competition at the point and maybe take over if Conley keep under performing in Memphis.
29. ORL-Jordan Crawford-G-Xavier
We all know he dunked on LeBron before, maybe he'll get another chance in the playoffs.
30. WAS-Devin Ebanks-SF-West Virginia
Best wing available. Has good length and should fit in nicely with Wall and Arenas.

Second Round:

31. NJ-Tiny Gallon-PF-Oklahoma
32. MIA-Armon Johnson-PG-Nevada
33. SAC-Elliot Williams-SG-Memphis
34. POR-Tabor Pliess-C-Grmany
35. WAS-Quincy Pondexter-SF-Washington
36. DET-Greivis Vasquez-G-Maryland
37. MIL-Lazar Hayward-SF-Marquette
38. NY-Lance Stephenson-SG
39. NY-Brian Zoubek-C-Duke
40. IND-Trevor Booker-PF-Clemson
41. MIA-Darrington Hobson-SF-New Mexico
42. MIA-Dwayne Collins-PF-Miami
43. LAL-Mikhail Torrance-G-Alabama
44. MIL-Stanley Robinson-SF-UConn
45. MIN-Dexter Pittman-C-Texas
46. PHO-Jarvis Varnado-F/C-Mississippi St.
47. MIL-Derrick Caracter-PF-UTEP
48. MIA-Andy Rautins-SG-Syracuse
49. SA-Ryan Thompson-SG-Rider
50. DAL-Jerome Randle-PG-California
51. OKC-Matt Bouldin-G-Gonzaga
52. BOS-Da'Sean Butler-SF-West Virginia
53. ATL-Sherron Collins-PG-Kansas
54. LAC-Tyren Johnson-PF-Lou-Lafayette
55. Utah-Vladimir Dasic-SF-Montenegro-INT.
56. MIN-Latavious Williams-PF-Tulsa 66ers-DLeague
57. IND-Alexey Shved-PG-Russia-INT.
58. LAL-Manny Harris-SG-Michigan-Jr.
59. ORL-Charles Garcia-F-Seattle
60. PHO-Luke Harangody-PF-Notre Dame

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

NBA Draft: Player Rankings and Tiers

The top 40 draft prospects can be put into 6 different tiers. I named them: The Studs, The Bigs. Solid Slashers/Shooters, Young Project Bigs, Point/Combo Guards NOT named John Wall, and Good Experienced Forwards. Here are my rankings by tier. I have the players overall ranking next to their name.

The Studs (3):

1. John Wall-PG-Kentucky-Fr.-19 years old
6-4 (height)/196 (weight)/8-6 (standing reach)
NBA Comparison: Russell Westbrook/Jason Kidd in 1994
Career Role: Star point guard with superstar potential

2. Evan Turner-G/F-Ohio St.-Jr.
NBA Comparison: Brandon Roy/Grant Hill
Career Role: Star wing/perennial all-star

3. Wes Johnson-SF-Syracuse-Jr.
NBA Comparison: Josh Howard in prime
Career Role: Starting SF, great #2 option

The Bigs (7):

4. DeMarcus Cousins-C-Kentucky-Fr.
NBA Comparison: A better Erick Dampier
Career Role: Starting center, boom/bust prospect

5. Derrick Favors-PF-Georgia Tech-Fr.
NBA Comparison: Antonio McDyess
Career Role: Starting PF with star potential

6. Greg Monroe-F/C-Georgetown-So.
NBA Comparison: David West/Al Horford
Career Role: Starting PF/C

8. Patrick Patterson-PF-Kentucky-Jr.
NBA Comparison: Udonis Haslem
Career Role: Good role playing starter at PF

9. Cole Aldrich-C/F-Kansas-Jr.
NBA Comparison: Raef LaFentz/Joel Pryzbilla
Career Role: Solid starting center, would have best success playing alongside a star PF.

10. Ekpe Udoh-PF-Baylor-Jr.
NBA Comparison: Jason Thompson
Career Role: Role playing starting PF

16. Ed Davis-PF-UNC-So.
NBA Comparison: Bigger Brendan Wright/poor man's Lamar Odom
Career Role: Starting PF or backup combo forward

Solid Slashers/Shooters (8):

7. Al-Farouq Aminu-SF-Wake Forest-So.
NBA Comparison: Shareef Abdur-Rahim
Career Role: Starting SF, good #3 option

11. Luke Babbit-SF-Nevada-So.
NBA Comparison: Toni Kukoc/Chris Mullin
Career Role: Starting SF/6th Man

12. Xavier Henry-G/F-Kansas-Fr.
NBA Comparison: Brandon Rush
Career Role: Starting wing, good #3 option

13. Paul George-SF-Fresno St.-So.
NBA Comparison: Trevor Ariza
Career Role: Starting SF/6th Man

14. Gordon Hayward-SF-Butler-So.
NBA Comparison: Mike Miller
Career Role: Starting SF/6th Man

15. James Anderson-SG-Oklahoma St.-Jr.
NBA Comparison: Antoine Wright/Michael Redd
Career Role: Starting SG, good 3/4 option

18. Damion James-SF-Texas-Sr.
NBA Comparison: Shawn Marion
Career Role: Great backup/lock down defender with ability to guard the 2-4.

19. Dominique Jones-SG-USF-Jr.
NBA Comparison: Eric Gordon
Career Role: good backup to come off the bench and get 12-15ppg

Young Project Bigs (5):

17. Larry Sanders-C/F-VCU-Jr.
NBA Comparison: Chris Anderson/Marcus Camby
Career Role: Role playing defensive center

21. Daniel Orton-C-Kentucky-Fr.
NBA Comparison: Jason Collins
Career Role: Role playing center

22. Hassan Whiteside-C-Marshall-Fr.
NBA Comparison: Tyson Chandler
Career Role: Role playing defensive center

23. Soloman Alabi-C-FSU-So.

NBA Comparison: Samuel Dalembert
Career Role: Backup defensive center

25. Kevin Seraphin-F/C-France-Int.

NBA Comparison: Serge Ibaka/Jordan Hill
Career Role: Role playing big, will need 2-4 years to develop

Point/Combo Guards NOT named John Wall (9):

20. Avery Bradley-G-Texas-Fr.
NBA Comparison: Jason Terry
Career Role: Backup combo guard with star potential

26. Armon Johnson-PG-Nevada-Jr.
NBA Comparison: Jerryd Bayless
Career Role: Solid backup guard

27. Eric Bledsoe-PG-Kentucky-Fr.
NBA Comparison: Mo Williams
Career Role: Backup PG with star potential

31. Jordan Crawford-G-Xavier-So.
NBA Comparison: Bigger Charlie Bell
Career Role: Backup combo guard

32. Terrico White-G-Ole Miss-So.
NBA Comparison: Shannon Brown
Career Role: Backup combo guard, NBA Dunk Contest Participant

35. Greivis Vasquez-G-Maryland-Sr.
NBA Comparison: Sasha Vujacic
Career Role: Solid deep bench combo guard with versatility

36. Mikhail Torrance-G-Alabama-Sr.
NBA Comparison: Shaun Livingston
Career Role: Big backup point guard, would compliment an undersized SG very well

37. Elliot Williams-G-Memphis-So.
NBA Comparison: Delonte West
Career Role: Backup combo guard with ability to be a scorer off the bench

38. Willie Warren-G-Oklahoma-So.
NBA Comparison: Rodney Stuckey
Career Role: Backup combo guard, NBA Dunk Contest Participant

Good Experienced Forwards (8):

24. Craig Brackins-PF-Iowa St.-Jr.
NBA Comparison: Channing Frye/Robert Horry
Career Role: Role playing PF that can shoot from outside

28. Devin Ebanks-SF-West Virginia-So.
NBA Comparison: Marvin Williams
Career Role: Role Playing Starting SF, good 4-5 option, not a go to guy

29. Gani Lawal-PF-Georgia Tech-Jr.
NBA Comparison: Ronnie Turiaf
Career Role: Garbage man who does all the little things in the post

30. Quincy Pondexter-SF-Washington-Sr.
NBA Comparison: Joey Graham
Career Role: Quality backup

33. Stanley Robinson-F-UConn
NBA Comparison: Jamario Moon
Career Role: Backup combo forward with great length

34. Darrington Hobson-SF-New Mexico-Jr.
NBA Comparison: Chris Douglas-Roberts
Career Role: Quality backup

39. Trevor Booker-PF-Clemson-Sr.
NBA Comparison: Brandon Bass
Career Role: Garbage man, athletic backup forward

40. Jarvis Varnado-F/C-Mississippi St.-Sr.
NBA Comparison: poor man's Joakim Noah
Career Role: Shot blocking specialist

Best of the Rest (35):

41. Lance Stephenson-SG-Cincinnati-Fr.
42. Jerome Jordan-C-Tulsa-Sr.
43. Lazar Hayward-SF-Marquette-Sr.
44. Jerome Randle-PG-California-Sr.
45. Dwayne Collins-PF-Miami-Sr.
46. Tiny Gallon-PF-Oklahoma-Sr.
47. Derrick Caracter-PF-UTEP
48. Dexter Pittman-C-Texas-Sr.
49. Tibor Pliess-C-Germany-Int.
50. Brian Zoubek-C-Duke-Sr.
51. Art Parakhouski-C-Radford-Sr.
52. Matt Bouldin-G-Gonzaga-Sr.
53. Sherron Collins-PG-Kansas-Sr.
54. Luke Harangody-PF-Notre Dame-Sr.
55. Andy Rautins-SG-Syracuse-Sr.
56. Sylven Landesberg-SG-Virginia-So.
57. Charles Garcia-PF-Seattle-Jr.
58. Aubrey Coleman-G-Houston-Sr.
59. Mac Koshwal-PF-DePaul-Jr.
60. Da'Sean Butler-SF-West Virginia-Sr.
61. Ryan Richards-PF-England-Int.
62. Latavious Williams-F-Tulsa 66ers (D-league)
63. Tyren Johnson-PF-Lou-Lafayette-Sr.
64. Samardo Samuels-PF-Loisville-So.
65. Manny Harris-SG-Michigan-Jr.
66. Alexey Shved-G-Russia-Int.
67. Namanja Bjelica-SF-Serbia-Int.
68. Vladimir Dasic-SF-Montenegro-Int.
69. John Scheyer-G-Duke-Sr.
70. Tyler Smith-SF-USA/played in Turkey last year-Int.
71. Miroslav Raduljica-C-Serbia-Int.
72. Paulo Prestes-C-Brazil-Int.
73. A.J. Ogilvy-C-Vandy-Jr.
74. Denis Clemente-PG-Kansas St.-Sr.
75. Scottie Reynolds-PG-Villanova-Sr.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Mock Draft 2.0-With Trades

First Round with comments:

1. WAS-John Wall-PG-Kentucky

Easy choice, Wall is the present and future in Washington. He'll try to have the same rookie success in the capital city as Stephen Strasburg is having in baseball with the Washington Nationals.
2. PHL-Evan Turner-G/F-Ohio St.
The best player in college last year will give Philly a new dimension to their offense. He can score, rebound and run an offense all from the small forward spot.
3. NJ-Derrick Favors-PF-Georgia Tech
Favors will take some time to develop, but he will be the perfect compliment to Brook Lopez
4. MIN-Wesley Johnson-SF-Syracuse
Johnson isn't quite Turner, but he's a pretty nice consolation prize. He should come in a start at small forward from day one.
5. DET (Trade A)-DeMarcus Cousins-C-Kentucky
The Pistons will do EVERYTHING in their power to move up to get Cousins. He is the perfect player for their system. Detroit needs a center to help get back in the playoffs and Cousins is the best center in the draft. They'll need to give up a future first rounder to get him though.
6. GS-Greg Monroe-C/F-Georgetown
Monroe can play both center and power forward. He is the best passing big man to enter the draft in years. The Warriors already have scorers with Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry. Monroe can help them on the glass and his passing ability will compliment Curry and Ellis.
7. SAC (Trade A)-Al Farouq Aminu-SF-Wake Forest
The Kings have a great situation picking at the 5 spot. They can draft Cousins or Johnson (whoever falls to them) at 5 or they can trade down two spots and be guaranteed Monroe or Aminu and a future first round pick.
8. LAC-Gordon Hayward-SF-Butler
The Clippers need a small forward. With Aminu off the board, Hayward seems like an easy choice. His greatest appeal is his versatility. He's not a boom/bust prospect. The Clippers know what they are getting with Hayward.
9. Utah-Ed Davis-PF-UNC
I'm not a big Davis fan but he could become a good role player in Utah. He has the ability to backup both forward spots.
10. OKC (Trade B)-Cole Aldrich-C/F-Kansas
If Aldrich is still on the board at #10 the Pacers will be very happy. With many teams looking to trade up to get a center it would make perfect sense. The Thunder need a tough defensive center to compliment their incredibly talented young forwards. Fellow Kansas alum Nick Collison could mentor Aldrich in his first year in Oklahoma.
11. NO-Paul George-SF-Fresno St.
George would be a perfect fit in New Orleans. He could provide new coach Monty Williams the same thing Nicolas Batum provided in Portland where Williams was an assistant. THey'd have a great young 1-3 with CP3, Marcus Thornton and George.
12. MEM-Patrick Patterson-PF-Kentucky
Patterson is the anti-Zach Randolph. He's a high character role player who can come in a do all of the little things that the Grizz need. Randolph was one of the top power forwards in the league last season but with his off the court problems and the fact that he'll be a free agent next summer getting some insurance at power forward is important.
13. TOR-Avery Bradley-G-Texas
Is Bradley a point or is he a shooting guard? If the Raptors and others feel he has what it takes to run a team, he could go in the top half of the first round. Some people compare him to Monta Ellis. I think at the very best he could be a Jason Terry. A backup combo guard with a great stroke who plays better off the ball.
14. HOU-Ekpe Udoh-PF-Baylor
The Rockets need size and toughness on the interior. Yao has health issues and center Chuck Hayes is only 6-6. Udoh may not have the upside of other "project bigs like Hassan Whiteside or Daniel Orton, but the Rockets know exactly what they'll get with him. I think in the end they go with the best post player on the board in Udoh.
15. MIL-Xavier Henry-G/F-Kansas
The Bucks would love if Henry were to fall into their lap at #15. He can shoot the ball very well 42% from 3 point land. He also has a NBA body and can come in and contribute right away.
16. MIN-Larry Sanders-C/F-VCU
They get the length they need at the center position. Sanders is still raw but he'll have time to develop in Minnesota who are years from contending.
17. CHI-James Anderson-SG-Oklahoma St.
The Bulls need someone to come in and hit open shots. Anderson was the Big 12 player of the year and is NBA ready.
18. MIA-Luke Babbit-SF-Nevada
Miami's biggest need is at point guard. However, Babbit would be too good to pass up here. He's a small forward that can shoot lights out. He'd be a great fit with DWade. The Heat could trade out of the first round to save some money for free agency this summer.
19. NY (Trade C)-Dominique Jones-SG-USF
Could Boston make a deal with their hated division rivals the New York Knicks? Jones would be a perfect fit in D'Antoni's system. He's a big combo guard who can shoots lights out and score at will.
20. SA-Damion James-SF-Texas
Length, toughness, and versatility are three things that the Spurs could use and James provides all of them.
21. IND (Trade B)-Daniel Orton-C/F-Kentucky
They like Orton but not well enough to pick him at #10. He's a solid option here to provide depth and toughness up front in Indy.
22. POR-Hassan Whiteside-C-Marshall
I could see Whiteside slipping but he won't slip out of the first round. With Bradley and Jones off the board the Blazers get some insurance for often injured center Greg Oden.
23. MIN-Kevin Seraphin-PF-France
With 3 picks in the first round I think they use one on the Euro prospect and keep him overseas for a little bit.
24. ATL-Soloman Alabi-C-FSU
The Hawks could grab a shooting guard as insurance in case Joe Johnson leaves but they already drafted Jeff Teague last year and have the best 6th man in the league in Jamal Crawford who's also a 2 guard. With Jones gone, they take Alabi and hope the raw big man can develop into a starting center top and shot blocker in a few years. This could allow Al Horford to eventually move to power forward.
25. CHR (Trade D)-Craig Brackens-PF-Iowa St.
The Grizz have three picks in the first so there's a good chance they deal at least one of them. You can never underestimate the value of a power forward who can hit shots on the perimeter. The Bobcats are interested in moving into the draft and Brackens would fit in very well. He could give Larry Brown a big tthat can stretch a defense.
26. IND (Trade B)-Eric Bledsoe-PG-Kentucky
The Pacers need a point guard. Bledsoe is a decent option if they are able to trade down.
27. NJ-Armon Johnson-PG-Nevada
They go best guard available. The Nets are looking to the future and will need an eventual successor to Devin Harris.
28. MEM-Greivis Vasquez-PG-Maryland
A big packup point to help out Mike Conley. I think he'll end up in the first round.
29. ORL-Darrington Hobson-F/G-New Mexico
Insurance on the wings in case their free agents leave O-Town.
30. WAS-Gani Lawal-PF-Georgia Tech
You can never go wrong when you go best player available.

Trade A:
DET receives #5 pick
SAC receives #7 pick and future 1st round pick

Trade B:
OKC receives #10 pick
IND receives #21 pick, #26 pick and cash considerations

Trade C:
NY receives #19 pick
BOS receives NY's $2.4 million trade exception

Trade D:
CHR receives #25 pick
MEM receives CHR's $3 million trade exception

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

NBA Draft Team Needs: Teams Outside Lottery

Needs: Wing depth, PF
Picks: 15, 37, 47
Core: C-Andrew Bogut, PG-Brandon Jennings, G/F-John Salmons, SF-Carlos Delfino, SG-Michael Redd, F-Luc Mbah a Moute, PG-Luke Ridnour, F-Ersan Ilyasova
Key Free Agents: Salmons (PO), Ridnour, G/F-Jerry Stackhouse
Options: At 15-Xavier Henry, Gordon Hayward, Luke Babbit, Ekpe Udoh
At 37 and 47-Lazar Hayward, Trevor Booker, Jordan Crawford, Luke Harangody, Latavious Williams
Synopsis: The Bucks are set for now and the future at two of the most important positions in the game. They have a top center in Bogut and a good young point in Jennings. They surprised a lot of people in cluding myself, by making the playoffs. The biggest need is a shooter on the wing. Salmons could become a free agent and Redd is always injured. They should have plenty of options at #15.

Needs: A lights out shooter on the wing, frontcourt depth
Pick: 17
Core: PG-Derrick Rose, C/F-Joakim Noah, SF-Loul Deng, G-Kirk Hinrich, PF-Taj Gibson, F-James Johnson, C-Brad Miller
Key Free Agents: Miller, G-Flip Murray
Options: James Anderson, Dominique Jones, Xavier Henry, Daniel Orton
Synopsis: The Bulls have positioned themselves very nicely for the upcoming summer. They have a young star at point guard in Rose and a good young team around him. They have plenty of cap room to get a top free agent and have the #17 pick. Conventional wisdom says they'll go with a sharpshooting 2 guard who could compliment a free agent like LeBron, Bosh or even Carlos Boozer. Last year they drafted two forwards in the first round so the likelihood of them going big at #17 is not high.

Needs: PG, Shooters to compliment Wade, C, depth everywhere
Picks: 18, 41, 42, 48
Core: SG-Dwayne Wade, F-Michael Beasley, PF-Udonis Haslem, SF-Quentin Richardson, C-Jermaine O'Neal, PG-Mario Chalmers
Key Free Agents: Wade (PO), Haslem, Richardson, O'Neal
Options: At 17-Luke Babbit, Larry Sanders, Dominique Jones, Daniel Orton
With the 3 2nd rounders Riley will probably do some wheeling and dealing on draft night. Maybe one of those picks will compete for a roster spot next year.
Synopsis: If the Heat exercise James Jones' option that will give them 4 players under contract for next year not counting DWade. Obviously keeping Wade in Miami is priority numero uno. The Heat have enough cap room to bring in another max player (Bosh, Boozer, Amar'e) and then another quality starter. The Heat are in a win now mode so I would be surprised if they took someone who isn't NBA ready (Orton) but Pat Riley is going to take the best player for the Heat now and for the future.

Needs: Wing depth
Picks: 19, 52
Core: Rajon Rondo, SF-Paul Pierce, PF-Kevin Garnett, SG-Ray Allen, C-Kendrick Perkins, F-Glenn Davis, C/F-Rasheed Wallace
Key Free Agents: R.Allen, G/F-Tony Allen, PG-Nate Robinson, G/F-Marquis Daniels
Options: At19-Damion James, James Anderson, Stanley Robinson, Devin Ebanks
Synopsis: Boston came up just short of their second title in three years. As long as the Celtics can re-sign Ray Ray and the other free agents they should be just fine next year. However the window for competing at a championship level is closing very fast so the Celtics need some other young pieces for the future. Rondo, Davis and Perkins are all 25 years or younger so they've got a nice young core but they need some youth and length on the wings.

Needs: C, SG, frontcourt depth
Picks: 20, 49
Core: PF-Tim Duncan, G/F-Maun Ginobili, PG-Tony Parker, SF-Richard Jefferson, G-George Hill, C-Antonio McDyess
Key Free Agents: C/F-Matt Bonner, G/F-Roger Mason, SG-Keith Bogans
Options: At 20-Trade up for a center, Larry Sanders, Damion James, Daniel Orton, Terrico White
At 49-best player available, the last time they picked #49 they were able to get a slasher from Argentina named Manu Ginobili in 1999.
Synopsis: The Spurs era is coming to an end. Duncan is good but no longer a superstar. Unless the Spurs can pull a blockbuster deal to get some young talent they will be in the same spot they've been for the past 3 years. They have two very good point guards so they could use one of them as trde bait to get another impact player. With the #20 pick they will try to get a player that can come in and contribute immediately.

Needs: Center
Picks: 21, 26, 32, 51
Core: SF-Kevin Durant, PG-Russell Westbrook, PF-Jeff Green, SG-Thabo Sefolosha, SG-James Harden, C/F-Nick Collison, C-Nenad Kristic
No Key Free Agents
At 21-Trade up for a center, trade out, keep pick-Daniel Orton, Larry Sanders,
At 26, 32, 51-Soloman Alabi, Craig Brackens, Trevor Booker, Terrico White, Quincy Poindexter
Synopsis: The Thunder have the best collection of young players in the NBA. They took the World Champion Lakers to 6 games in the first round and you better believe they will be among the top teams in the NBA for the next 8-10 years assuming they keep their core. Right now they are a center away from getting to the next level. If Cole Aldrich falls to number 10-12, I've got to believe they move up to get him. Is Green a true power forward? I don't think so, but he's a very important player. The Thunder have a ton of options with 3 picks in the top 32.

Needs: Youth on the frontcourt, young PG
Picks: 22, 34
Core: SG-Brandon Roy, PF-LaMarcus Aldridge, C-Greg Oden, PG-Andre Miller, C-Marcus Camby, SF-Nicolas Batum, SF-Martell Webster, G-Jerryd Bayless
Key Free Agents: F/C-Juwan Howard
Options: Avery Bradley, Larry Sanders, Armon Johnson, Damion James,
Synopsis: Portland might have the best 1-2 combination in the league not named Kobe and Pau. Roy and Aldridge are both all-star caliber players who have lifted the Trailblazers in only four short years. Camby is 36 and Howard is 37, so obviously they need some youth up front. If they could get an instant contributor at #22 then Portland will have a shot to go deep in the playoffs next year.

Needs: SG (in case Johnson leaves), PG upgrade, true center
Picks: 24, 53
Core: SG-Joe Johnson, F-Josh Smith, C/F-Al Horford, G-Jamal Crawford, SF-Marvin Williams, PG-Mike Bibby, F/G-Mo Evans
Key Free Agents:
Johnson, F/G-Josh Childress (Restricted, playing in Europe now, Atlanta has his restricted free agent rights)
Options: At 24-Dominique Jones, Avery Bradley, Willie Warren, Soloman Alabi, Gani Lawal
At 53-Best player available, maybe a center with some length
Synopsis: Losing Johnson wouldn't quite be as drastic as Cleveland losing LeBron or Miami losing DWade but don't underestimate Johnson's value to the Hawks. Atlanta has made the playoffs for the last three years and has a good young core. However, how far Atlanta would drop if they lost Johnson would remains unclear. I think they would still be the at least the 6th best team in the East, but losing your best player is never a good thing. The Hawks could move Crawford to the starting 2 guard and hope that Childress would come back to the states. It should be an interesting off-season in the ATL.

Needs: Backup PG with size, wing depth
Picks: 29, 50
Core: C-Dwight Howard, SG-Vince Carter, PG-Jameer Nelson, PF-Rashard Lewis, SF-Matt Barnes, SG-J.J. Redick, F/G-Mickeal Pietrus
Key Free Agents: Redick (Restricted), Barnes (PO), PG-Jason Williams
Options: At 29-Armon Johnson, Terrico White, Grevis Vasquez, Jordan Crawford, Quincy Poindexter, best player available at 50
Synopsis: The Magic have the best big man on earth and a very good supporting cast around him. It will be tough for the Magic to keep both Redick and Barnes happy this summer. Redick is likely to find a place to play next year where he will have a chance to start. The Magic will have plenty of options to get a big back up point but could also go with a wing at #29. They could go with a traditional power forward and move Lewis to the wing where he is much more comfortable. GM Otis Smith has plenty of work to do this off-season to keep Orlando as contenders in the East.

Needs: Pretty much everything, players that will succeed in Mike D'Antoni's uptempo system
Picks: 38, 39
Core: C/F-David Lee, F-Danilo Galinari, SF-Wilson Chandler, PF-Al Harrington PG-Chris Duhon, G-Tony Douglas, G/F-Tracy McGrady
Key Free Agents: Lee, Harrington, Duhon, McGrady
Options: At 38 and 39-Jarvis Varnado,Trevor Booker, Darrington Hobson, Lance Stephenson
Synopsis: It would have been very nice if the Knicks 1) Had a top 10 pick this year, 2) Drafted Stephen Curry or Brandon Jennings last year, 3) Were able to get Ricky Rubio by now. Maybe having just one of those things happen would land King James in the big apple via free agancey this summer. Right now the Knicks are hoping to sign a top free agent with all of the cap room they have. New York has two second round picks that they might use to move up into the first round.

Needs: Guard depth
Picks: 43, 58
Core: SG-Kobe Bryant, PF-Pau Gasol, C-Andrew Bynum,
Key Free Agents:
Best player available for both picks
Synopsis: Life is good in L.A. The Lakers will bring back the same core and try to go for the 3-peat. Kobe, Pau, Artest, and Odom show no signs of gettting worse any time soon. the Lakers do a few worries though this off-season. Bynum's knee, Fisher's age, both Farmar and Brown are free agents, this give them some concern. However at the end of the day as long as Kobe and Pau are there and healthy, the Lakers are easily the team to beat in the NBA once again.

Needs: Frontcourt Depth (especially is Amar'e leaves)
Picks: 46, 60
Core: F/C-Amar'e Stoudemire, PG-Steve Nash, SG-Jason Richardson, SF-Grant Hill, C/F-Channing Frye, SF-Jered Dudley, C-Robin Lopez, G-Leandro Barbosa, PG-Goran Dragic
Key Free Agents: Stoudemire (ETO), Frye (PO), F/C-Louis Amundson
Options: Best player available for both picks
Synopsis: Will Amar'e stay or will he go? I think it would be a wise decision for him to stay in Phoenix
As long as Amar'e is in Phoenix, they have a shot to contend. Hill already says he's coming back and Nash despite being 36, still has 3 years left in the tank. Channing Frye will demand more than the 1.99 million he earned last year but is still affordable. The main problem in Phoenix is that right now they don't have a GM after Steve Kerr abruptly quit. With the draft a few days away and free agency a few weeks away Phoenix better find someone or else they could risk losing Amar'e.

Needs: SG, C
Pick: 50
Core: PF-Dirk Nowitzki, F/G-Caron Butler, PG-Jason Kidd, G-Jason Terry, SF-Shawn Marion, C-Brendan Haywood, C-Erick Dampier, G-Rodrigues Beaubois
Key Free Agents: Nowitzki (ETO), Haywood, G-J.J. Berea
Options: Sylven Landesberg, Aubrey Coleman, Dexter Pittman, Ryan Richards
Synopsis: It's now or never in Big D. After a great regular season, Dallas lost in the first round to their hated rivals the San Antonio Spurs. Dirk will opt out, but it's mainly to show the Mavs that other teams will have interest in him so the Mavs will pay him (the whole get with another hot girl to make your girl jealous thing). Everyone in their rotation, other than Beaubois and Berea (who combined for 32 minutes per game last year), is 30 years or over. They will try to draft a player that can earn a roster spot at #50. The time to win is now.

Needs: C, PG depth
No Picks
SF-Gerald Wallace, SG-Stephen Jackson, PG-Ray Felton, PF-Boris Diaw, C-Tyson Chandler, PF-Tyrus Thomas, PG-D.J.Augustin
Key Free Agents: Felton, Chandler (ETO)
Synopsis: The good news: The Bobacts reached the playoffs for the first time in franchise history thanks to a breakout year by Wallace and the mid season trade for Jackson. Now they will look to build upon last year's success.
The bad news: Felton is an unrestricted free agent. Even though he's not even a top 15 point guard in the leagu
e, he's the top point guard in the free agent class this year. Is Augustin ready to become the starter yet? I don't think so. Chandler may opt out the guaranteed 12.6 million he's due next year. On the surface that would be a terrible decision for Chandler. However he's still only 27 years old and still over 7 feet tall so someone needing a true center (NY maybe even MIA, OKC, or MIN) will overpay for his services. The Bobcats need to keep both players to avoid going back to lottery land in the 2011 Draft.

Needs: Depth everywhere
No Picks
SF-Carmelo Anthony, PG-Chauncey Billups, C-Nene, G/F-J.R. Smith, PF-Kenyon Martin, SG-Aaron Affalo C/F-Chris Anderson, PG-Ty Lawson
No Key Free Agents
The Nuggets will have pretty much the exact same core as last year unless they make a major trade. Both Lawson and Smith have are young and have great value on their contracts. This will be a crucial year in Denver as next summer will be a very key off-season. Smith and Martin will both become free agents and Melo can opt out as well. If a team with plenty of cap room like the Knicks or the Nets were unable to sign a major free agent this summer Melo could be the big prize of next summer.

Needs: Re-sign Lebron, Shooters, Add some players under 30, Frontcourt depth
No Picks
SF-LeBron James, PF-Antawn Jamison, PG-Mo Williams, C-Shaquille O'neal, C/F-Anderson Varejao, SG-Anthony Parker, G-Delonte West
Key Free Agents: James (PO), O'Neal
s: Losing LeBron James would set back the Cavs into rebuilding mode. Luckily for the Cavs, LeBron seems very loyal and wants to stay in Cleveland. They have a veteran team around him. But they just don't have the right pieces to compliment him. Unless they could swing a major trade for another star (Chris Bosh) I don't see the Cavs getting any better then their current state. They overpaid for Varejao last summer and have too much money tied up to Jamison. Williams fades in the playoffs and West is average at best. Shaq and Parker are a combined 73 years old. So really why should LeBron stay in Cleveland?

Monday, June 14, 2010

NBA Draft Team Needs: Teams With Lottery Picks


Needs: True PG and new face of franchise, Depth up front, shooters on the wings to help John Wall.
Picks: 1, 30, 35
Core: SG-Gilbert Arenas, PF-Andray Blatche, C/F-JaVale McGhee, G/F-Nick Young, F/G-Mike Miller
Key Free Agents: Miller, PG-Randy Foye (Restricted)
Options: At 1-John Wall
At 30 and 35-Devin Ebanks, Trevor Booker, Jarvis Varnado, Quincy Poindexter, Jordan Crawford
Many expected the Wizards to be a playoff team going into the season. As soon as it became apparent that they weren't heading to the playoffs, they unloaded two of their best players and biggest salaries in Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison. Now they're a young team in complete rebuilding mode. What better way to rebuild than with the #1 pick? John Wall is a pretty easy choice there. The Wizards will hope that Gilbert Arenas can put his ego and drama aside to pair with the talented point guard to form one of the best backcourts in the NBA.

Needs: Frontcourt depth, a star to compliment Igoudala
Pick: 2
Core: G/F-Andre Igoudala, SF-Thaddeus Young, PF-Elton Brand, PG-Jrue Holiday, C-Samuel Dalembert, CG-Louis Williams
Key Free Agents: SG-Willie Green (ETO), SF-Jason Kapono (PO-not likely to exercise option)
Options: Evan Turner, trade down
Synopsis: Unless the 76ers trade down, the pick should be a no-brainer with Turner. He was the best player in college basketball last year and is ready to come in and make an impact from day one. Some wonder if his game is too similar to Igoudala. So what, Turner is substantially better than big men Derrick Favors or DeMarcus Cousins. I would be shocked if Philly took Favors or Cousins over Turner. As drafts go on teams are learning that 90% of the time it's a major mistake to take size over skill (Oden over Durant, Darko over Melo and DWade, Bowie over Jordan, you get the picture).

Needs: Everything but center, a superstar, and shooters
Picks: 3, 27, 31
Core: C-Brook Lopez, PG-Devin Harris, SG-Courtney Lee, F-Yi, F/G-Chris Douglas-Roberts, F/G-Terrence Williams
Key Free Agents: Douglas-Roberts (TO), G/F-Jarvis Hayes
Options: At 3-Derrick Favors or Evan Turner
At 27 and 31-Damion James, Gani Lawal, Jordan Crawford, Elliot Williams, Terrico White
Synopsis: When you only win 12 games, you need all of the help in the world. The Nets got screwed by the lottery and will likely miss out on getting Wall or Turner. Derrick Favors is the likely pick, but he'll need 2-4 years to develop. They should take the top players on the board with their two later picks.

Needs: star on the wing, length up front
Picks: 4, 16, 23, 45, 56
Core: C/F-Al Jefferson, PF-Kevin Love, SG-Corey Brewer, PG-Jonny Flynn, F-Ryan Gomes
Key Free Agent: C/F-Darko Milicic
Options: At 4-Trade Up to get Turner, Wes Johnson, DeMarcus Cousins
At 16-If they take Johnson, they need a center with length-Larry Sanders or Hassan Whiteside, if both are gone they should take the top wing on the board. The best player available with their other 3 picks.
Synopsis: The TWolves have 5 total picks (3 in the 1sr round). Unless they can somehow trade up to get Turner they'll stay put and take Johnson or Cousins at #4. They can use the other picks to add depth or use them as parts of trade packages to get some veteran help. Who knows what will happen with Ricky Rubio? Regardless, the TWolves are years from contending for anything but a top pick.

Needs: True Center, SG, shooters to compliment Tyreke Evans
Picks: 5, 33
Core: PG-Tyreke Evans, F/C-Jason Thompson, PF-Carl Landry, SG-Beno Udrih, SF-Omri Casspi, C-Spencer Hawes, F-Donta Greene
No Key Free Agents
Options: At 5-DeMarcus Cousins, Wes Johnson, Greg Monroe, trade down
At 33-Jordan Crawford, Elliot Williams, Jerome Jordan, Jarvis Varnado
Synopsis: The Kings actually have a pretty decent young core. The average age of the 7 players I have listed is exactly 23 years old. Evans is their key to success. His size, skill and penetration ability make him one of the best young playmakers in the league. It's only a matter of time before he's making yearly trips to the all-star game. I think the choice should easily be Cousins if he's available. I don't care about his character issues, he has everything the Kings need to get to the next level. The Kings also have some cap room and will be looking to shred even more salary in hopes of getting a good but maybe not elite free agent this summer.

Needs: Star big man, wing depth
Picks: 6, 44
Core: SG-Monta Ellis, PG-Stephen Curry, F/G-Cory Maggette, C-Andris Biedrins, PF-Anthony Tolliver, SF-Anthony Randolph
Key Free Agents: Tolliver (Restricted), SG-Anthony Morrow (Restricted)
Options: At 6-Greg Monroe, Al-Farouq Aminu, Patrick Patterson, Wes Johnson, Ekpe Udoh
At 35-Terrico White, Lance Stephenson, Jordan Crawford
Synopsis: The Warriors need a lot of help inside. I like Monroe here. He has the size to play power forward or center. Monroe's greatest asset is his passing ability and fundamental play out of the post. The Warriors have plenty of shooters and slashers. They need exactly what Monroe can provide. If Monroe is gone, Aminu would be a good fit. He has the length and skill set to play either forward spot. If Cousins drops to #6, expect Detroit to make the popular to trade up one spot for some cash.

Needs: Center, True PG
Picks: 7, 36
Core: SG-Rip Hamilton, SF-Tayshaun Prince, PG-Rodney Stuckey, SG-Ben Gordon, F-Charlie Villanueva, PF-Jonas Jerebko
Key Free Agents: C-Ben Wallace, F/C-Chris Wilcox
Options: At 7-DeMarcus Cousins, Greg Monroe, Cole Aldrich
At 36-Dexter Pittman, Jerome Jordan, Craig Brackens, Trevor Booker
Synopsis: DeMarcus Cousins just looks like he belongs on the Pistons. He's big, he's tough, and he can play. If he's not a bad boy then I don't know who is. If Detroit wants him, they'll likely need to trade up a few spots to get him. If he's gone, it should either be Monroe or Aldrich. Both players could come in a be their starting center from day one. Aldrich is longer and a little tougher, but Monroe is more skilled offensively.

Needs: SF, depth everywhere
Picks: 8, 54
Core: C-Chris Kaman, PG-Baron Davis, PF-Blake Griffin, SG-Eric Gordon,
Key Free Agents: SF-Rasual Butler, F/C-Drew Gooden, SF-Travis Outlaw
Options: At 8-Al-Farouq Aminu, Paul George, Gordan Hayward, Wes Johnson (if he were to somehow fall here), they'll take the best player available at 54
Synopsis: It's pretty easy to see what the Clippers need. They have two proven veterans with Kaman and Davis. They have two young studs in Gordan and Griffin. They need a starting small forward. The Clippers have plenty of cap room to go after a Joe Johnson or Rudy Gay but there's no guarantee they'll be able to sign one of them. So the chances are very high that they draft a wing at #8.

Needs: Depth at both forward spots, shooters
Picks: 9, 55
Core: PG-Deron Williams, PF-Carlos Boozer, PF-Paul Millsap, C-Mehmet Okur, F/G-Wesley Matthews, F/G-C.J. Miles
Key Free Agents: Boozer, Matthews (Restricted), SF-Kyle Korver
Options: At 9- Greg Monroe, Ekpe Udoh, Patrick Patterson, Luke Babbit, Xavier Henry
Best Player Available at 55
Synopsis: I think the Jazz should trade up and get Turner, but the likelihood of that happening looks very low. The Jazz will have plenty of options at #9. My guess is that they take Babbit or Henry to provide shooting on the wings. Both players would help ease a lot of pressure off of Williams. If they draft a power forward, it will be a strong signal that they are ready to let Carlos Boozer leave.

Needs: PG, defense up front
Picks: 10, 40, 57
Core: SF-Danny Granger, PF-Troy Murphy, C-Roy Hibbert, SG-Brandon Rush, PG-Earl Watson, SG-Dahntay Jones, PF-Tyler Hansborough
Key Free Agents: Watson
Options: At 10-Trade down, Hassan Whiteside, Ekpe Udoh, Ed Davis, Avery Bradley
At 40 and 57-Jordan Crawford, Andy Rautins, Jerome Jordan, Armon Bassett
Synopsis: The Pacers have been connected to many trade rumors for a new starting point guard and are willing to shop the #10 pick. Several young backup point guards have been rumored to the Pacers including Darren Collison (NO), George Hill (SA), and Ty Lawson (IND). I would be shocked if they kept this pick. If they do keep the pick they might just shock everyone and take Texas combo guard Avery Bradley. They could also use a defensive center or power forward at #10. They would love to trade down and and still get Bradley or Eric Bledsoe.

Needs: SF, Center
Pick: 11
Core: PG-Chris Paul, PF-David West, C-Emeka Okafor, SG-Marcus Thorton, G/F-Peja Stojakovic, PG-Darren Collison
No Key Free Agents unless Stojakovic opts out
Options: Paul George, Larry Sanders, Hassan Whiteside, Gordon Hayward
Synopsis: New coach Monty Williams wants to use his plethora of athletic guards to run. George would be an ideal small forward in their new uptempo system. They could also use a long athletic center to help out West and Okafor down low.

Needs: SF (in case Gay Leaves), backup PF, PG upgrade
Picks: 12, 25, 28
Core: PF-Zach Randolph, SF-Rudy Gay, SG-O.J. Mayo, C-Marc Gasol, PG-Mike Conley, C-Hasheem Thabeet
Key Free Agents: Gay (Restricted), G/F-Ronnie Brewer (Restricted)
Options: at 12-Luke Babbit, Patrick Patterson, Gordon Hayward, Xavier Henry, Ed Davis
at 25 and 28-Eric Bledsoe, Willie Warren, Greivis Vasquez, Jordan Crawford, Craig Brackens
Synopsis: The Grizzlies look to be on the verge of being a playoff team. However there's a lot of uncertainty this off-season. Rudy Gay is a free agent and Randolph has some legal issues. Even if Randolph can provide them another year like last year, he still will be a free agent in 2011. Memphis will have plenty of forward options at #12. Many top prospects have declined workouts for then including Gordan Hayward, Paul George and Ekpe Udoh. It will be interesting if the Grizzlies take one of these players.

Needs: True center, wing depth, PG
Pick: 13
Core: PF-Chris Bosh, F/C-Andrea Bargnani, SF-Hedo Turkoglu, SG-DeMar DeRozan, PG-Jarrett Jack, PG-Jose Calderon, SG-Sonny Weems
Key Free Agents: Bosh (PO)
Options: Hassan Whiteside, Larry Sanders, Ed Davis, Daniel Orton
Synopsis: It's time to rebuild in Toronto. Last year the Raptors acquired Hedo to help Bosh and they still couldn't make the playoffs. Now Bosh is practically gone,Hedo wants to be traded and Calderon doesn't figure into the teams long term plans either. Toronto GM Bryan Colangelo has his hands full to say the least. They could draft a long center and move Bargnani to his natural forward position or they could get a sharpshooting small forward to compliment the young slashing DeRozan. It should be a crazy off-season in Canada.

Needs: C/PF
Pick: 14
Core: C-Yao, PG-Aaron Brooks, PF-Luis Scola, G/F-Trevor Ariza, SG-Kevin Martin, SF-Shane Battier, SG-Cahse Budinger
Key Free Agents: Scola (Restricted), PG-Kyle Lowry (Restricted)
Options: Hassan Whiteside, Ekpe Udoh, Ed Davis
Synopsis: The Rockets are very good on the outside but need a lot of help down low with the uncertainty surrounding Yao Ming's health and with Scola being a free agent. They should have an upgrade in the low post and will have plenty of players to choose from. They would like to get Chris Bosh via sign and trade but that could be a long shot.