Tuesday, June 30, 2009

NBA Free Agency Primer

In a couple hours, the free agency period will open in the NBA. Instead of providing a laundry list of free agents and their possible destinations, I'll be offering a serious of useful resources.

It's important to know that the 2009-10 salary cap figure is $57.3M. This is a soft cap. I have been unable to find the numbers for the luxury tax threshold for the upcoming season. In past years, the luxury tax threshold has been approximately 125% of the salary cap figure. The significance is that teams exceeding the threshold must pay a dollar-for-dollar luxury tax.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Mid-Majors Matter Too!!!

Be sure to check in here at PHSports and the Twitter site (Tweet Tweet) for plenty of post-NBA draft analysis.

If you're looking for retrospect on some BUSTS (and booms) of the past 10 NBA draft, check out my latest offering...until this.

Now for a little love-fest, VCU, CAA, & mid-major style...

Eric Maynor didn't have to play in a power conference to get drafted -- in the first round at that. He didn't need face time on the tube. It just proves that if you have talent, the NBA will find you, Gary Parrish says.
If you want to play for a national title, go to North Carolina.
That's a good way to get a championship.

If you want to play on national television, go to Kentucky.

That's a good way to get on TV.

But what Thursday night's NBA Draft proved -- once again -- is that the best and quickest way to David Stern's league isn't necessarily through the best and biggest conferences. Oh sure, that's one of the recruiting pitches BCS-affiliated coaches use, and I'd probably use it too if I were them. But whether it was Stephen Curry (from the Southern Conference) or Eric Maynor (from the Colonial) or some dude from another country few of us have ever seen, the reminder from Madison Square Garden was that the NBA will find you if you can play, and it doesn't really matter where you play.

It's not all a love fest though, although you have to wonder if the grade is more about the selection than the player.

Fortunately, Utah doesn’t seem shy about their positive reaction towards their selection at #20.

Although this is somewhat humorous...

During the interview, Maynor passed along a "hello" to coach Jerry Sloan from his father, George, a former East Carolina player who was cut in training camp by the Chicago Bulls -- when they were coached by Sloan. Sloan didn't make the connection until the younger Maynor told him.
"Let's not talk about that," Sloan chuckled during the news conference. "I guess I cut his dad when I was coaching in Chicago."

A 6-foot-3, 164 pound pure point guard, Maynor played all four years of college ball. ESPN's Jay Bilas says Maynor is "a true point guard … has a great feel for the game. Superior change of pace and change of direction, a great leader, runs the pick and roll to perfection. Very old-school." Credit: KSL.com

ESPN's expert Chad Ford says, "I thought they might go with Sam Young here, but I have to admit that I love this pick for the Jazz. They needed a backup for Deron Williams, and Maynor is perfect for Utah as one of the most NBA-ready players in the draft. He has a high basketball IQ and great leadership qualities. The Jazz fill a need and get a guy that I think is the most underrated player in the draft."

Don't worry Pay, GMU gets some pub in this article...
Just consider the scouting report on the Jazz's newest draft pick from George Mason coach Jim Larranaga, who had a spot in the NCAA Tournament swiped by Maynor in the last two minutes of the 2007 CAA Championship Game.

"A player like Eric has the ability at both ends of the floor to do things that I don't think a lot of players even think about," Larranaga said. "When I talk about Eric, I often say he's like a magician ... and he made us disappear."

Well said. Well said.

Friday, June 26, 2009

10 Infamous NBA Draft Busts of the past 10 Years

Be sure to check in here at PHSports and the Twitter site (Tweet Tweet) for plenty of post-NBA draft analysis.

Now that the NBA Draft is o-v-a, let’s critique the past before we venture into the future.

What a much better title to a (classic?) movie trilogy!!!
Venture to the Future!!!
Okay, not so much.

There are EASY busts to find, as you’ll see below, but I want to change things up a little bit. It’s just my style…

Here are the “guidelines”:
A) I’ll display the EASY pick (or picks) after my own selection.
B) Only one sentence of justification (I hope).
C) I’ll share a BUST I predicted correctly and a BOOM I didn’t see coming.
D) I’ll try and eliminate bias. Key word: try.

2008 – #6. Danilo Gallinari (New York via Italy)
I may chew on these words in the coming years (hope I do!), yet I wonder far too often if passing up on Brook Lopez, Eric Gordon, or even Jerryd Bayless may haunt Donnie Walsh from his first season as Knicks GM.

Easy Pick: #8 Joe Alexander (Milwaukee via West Virginia)
BUST: Tougher thank you think to isolate…
BOOM: #22 Courtney Lee (Orlando via Western Kentucky)

2007 – #1. Greg Oden [Portland via Ohio State]
Nobody hopes I’m wrong more than me; HOWEVER, as of now (AS OF NOW), he’s a BUST. As of now…

Easy Pick: #7 Corey Brewer (Minnesota via Florida)
BUST: #20 Jason Smith (Philadelphia via Colorado State)
BOOM: #26 Aaron Brooks (Houston via Oregon)

2006 – #3. Adam Morrison [Charlotte via Gonzaga]

As sloppy an early 1st round (save teammates Brandon Roy & LaMarcus Aldridge thus far) you’re likely to see in recent memory, this first round was a mess altogether; made no better by another somewhat baffling selection by the GM known as MJ.

Easy Pick: #10 Mouhammed Sene (Seattle via Belgium)
BUST: #9 Patrick O’Bryant (Golden State via Bradley)
BOOM: #21 Rajon Rondo (Boston via Kentucky)

2005 – #6. Martell Webster [Portland via Seattle Prep School]
While many of the names after him didn’t far any better, Webster was a high schooler who was chosen specifically because of how he shot the deep ball, which still makes no sense to me at all.

Easy Pick: #11 Fran Vazquez (Orlando via Spain)
BUST: #12 Yaroslav Korolev [LA Clippers via Russia]

BOOM: #30 David Lee [New York via Florida]

2004 – #10. Luke Jackson [Cleveland via Oregon]
A personal favorite of mine, the former Duck was a sensational college scorer who fell flat on his face in a far-too-athletic NBA.

Easy Pick: #8 Rafael Araujo (Toronto via BYU)
BUST: #13 Sebastian Telfair (Boston via Mean Streets of Brooklyn)
BOOM: #26 Kevin Martin (Sacremento via Western Carolina)

2003 – #2. Darko Milicic [Detroit via Serbia]
Perhaps the “too easy pick”, Milicic went to a STACKED Detroit roster after a guy named LeBron and before guys named Carmelo, Bosh, and Wade.

Easy Pick: #9 Michael Sweetney [New York via Georgetown]
BUST: #10 Jarvis Hayes [Washington via Georgia]
BOOM: #18 David West [New Orleans via Xavier]

2002 – #2. Jay Williams [Chicago via DOOK]
A motorcycle crash, nearly fatal, in 2003 rocked the career of the former collegiate standout; nevertheless, questions had remained concerning Williams’ size and decision making abilities.

Easy Picks: #5 Nikoloz Tskitishvili [Denver via Italy] & #6 Dejuan Wagner [Cleveland via Memphis]
BUST: #12 Melvin Ely (LA Clippers via Fresno State)
BOOM: #34 Carlos Boozer (Cleveland via DOOK)

2001 – #9. Rodney White [Detroit via Charlotte]
Whenever you mention 2001, you think Kwame Brown; however, White – the National Freshman of the Year – left the NBA in 2005 with little to nothing to show for his career.

Easy Pick: #11 Kedrick Brown (Boston via Okaloosa-Walton Community College)
Too Easy Pick: #1 Kwame Brown (Washington via Michael Jordan’s machinations)
BUST: #17 Michael Bradley (Toronto via Villanova)

BOOM: #10 Joe Johnson (Boston via Arkansas Southern)

2000 – #6. DeMarr Johnson [Atlanta via Cincinnati]
58 selections and only 3 All-Stars (Kenyon Martin, Jamaal Magloire, & Michael Redd) emerged, none more telling a sign than the journeyman Johnson, who may have rode the coattails of fellow first-round pick Kenyon Martin to far too high of a selection.

Easy Pick: #4 Marcus Fizer [Chicago Bulls via Iowa State]
BUSTED: #7 Chris Mihm [Cleveland via Texas]
BOOM: #37 Eddie House [Miami via Arizona State]

Note: This draft was an absolute blood bath. God bless Michael Redd for making something of this train wreck of "talent".

1999 – #15. Frederic Weis [New York Knicks via France]
Perhaps best known as the ultimate “poster” for Vince Carter, Weis was taken over Queens’ own Ron Artest and never signed with the Knicks to play a single game in the NBA.

Easy Pick: #5 Jonathan Bender [Indiana Pacers via Picuyane High School]
BUSTED: #11 Trajan Langdon [Cleveland via DOOK]
BOOM: #9 Shawn Marion [Phoenix via UNLV]

Now it’s YOUR turn to bring out your disappointments and surprises.
Well come on!!!

Check out the new poll (top right) and don't let the NBA Draft leave you just left. Instant analysis is what you crave and that's what you get. Especially HERE.

Draft Analysis Arrives Shortly...

Be sure to check in here at PHSports and the Twitter site (Tweet Tweet) for plenty of post-NBA draft analysis.

Sorry Patty Mills. I couldn't create enough mojo to get you into the 1st round.
Credit: NBADraft.net

While it's too early to dictate exactly what's coming, I do know there will be plenty o' things to talk about.

For example, who had a better second round: Spurs or Blazers???
Spurs drafted...DeJuan Blair, Jack McClinton, and Nando De Colo (who?)
Blazers drafted...Dante Cunningham, Jon Brockman, and Patrick Mills.

You tell ME!!!

That photo-op didn't take long.
Credit: Yahoo! Sports

In case you wannna critique the critics, check out my and Pay's final mock drafts AND some of my early 1st round analysis (yes, I quit out after Maynor was drafted...so sue me).

Check out the new poll (top right) and don't let the NBA Draft leave you just left. Instant analysis is what you crave and that's what you get. Especially HERE.

Remember, the NFL is less than 3 months away!!!
Credit: MVN.com

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Running Blog: NBA Draft

Update #5: 9:30 pm
I'll be checking in and out tonight with a few thoughts on tonight's NBA Draft.
Tweet tweet!
Top 10 Thoughts are B-E-L-O-W.

VCU Ram Eric Maynor (MAYNOR!) goes #20 to Utah. A talented kid buried behind Deron Williams for the forseeable future. There could be worse things though. He's an uber-talented kid who will excel alongside the talented Williams and Jerry Sloan. He'll do just fine. Now when can I order my jersey???

I won't lie, Maynor in Utah and Flynn in Minnesota is worst-case scenario stuff television-wise for me.
Not good. Not good.

The selection of Austin Daye at #15 is beyond ridiculous, as I said before. It's the worst decision I've seen in some time. Good luck selling this pick to Piston fans. It'll be a harder sell than these (below)...

Update #4: 9:25 pm
I'll be checking in and out tonight with a few thoughts on tonight's NBA Draft.
Tweet tweet!
Top 10 Thoughts are B-E-L-O-W.

Ty Lawson going to Denver - not Minnesota - is a fantastic move for the Nuggets. Alongside San Antonio and Houston, they are part of the second-tier of the West (chasing the Lakers). Chauncey Billups will be a great role model for this guy and Lawson will benefit greatly getting solid minutes off of the bench. Still waiting for my boy Maynor, who might be a runner-up to Teague shortly. As expected, Jeff Teague goes #19, ahead of Maynor, who he worked out with side-by-side quite a bit. I don't think Teague is the right guy in the Atlanta offense, because he demands the ball in his hands a little too much. His scorer's mentality is great, but Maynor would've facilitated a roster with Joe Johnson, Josh Smith, and Al Horford a little more than Teague. Jay Bilas called it. Does this kid care about defense?

Knicks fans have every right to boo Larry Brown, too.

Another update shortly. Still waiting, impatiently, for Maynor. I cringe at him going #20 or #21. NBADraft.net should be ashamed of their server limitations over the past 48 hours. Embarassing.

Update #3: 9:15 pm
I'll be checking in and out tonight with a few thoughts on tonight's NBA Draft.
Tweet tweet!
Top 10 Thoughts are B-E-L-O-W.

Unfortunately, technical difficulties messed up my last two updates. I'm not gonna lie, I'm furious. Let's see if I can "catch up"...

Holiday may join names like Pierce, Granger, and Arenas who benefited by going later than expected.
Credit: Yahoo! Sports

Austin Daye at #15 is a moronic pick. He's 6'10, 190 lbs, and shoots from the outside far too much. Detroit can't envision a future backcourt of Stuckey (who I like a lot) and Bynum, can they? Dumars doesn't know what he's doing. Terrible pick. Chicago was an unknown to me, so the James Johnson selection doesn't surprise me. I am not high on the guy and wonder how many minutes there are for him on this roster, especially if Tyrus Thomas remains with the team. Jrue Holiday was the last man in the green room and might be one of the night's biggest winners. Why? He's Philly bound. He played one of his best games as a freshman in Philly against VCU to open up the NCAA Tournament next year. This guy had top 6 talent and went 17. He won't instantly impact the Sixers, like Danny Granger did in a similar draft position, but he will be an outstanding defender and a competent point guard for the future. Rock solid pick for the Sixers. Minnesota is now on the clock for the third time in less than 2 hours. Please don't take another guard.

More to come shortly...

Update #2: 9:00 pm
I'll be checking in and out tonight with a few thoughts on tonight's NBA Draft.
Tweet tweet!
Top 10 Thoughts are B-E-L-O-W.

After the Vince Carter trade, it seemed very wise for the Nets to target someone like Terrence Williams. First senior to go, at #11. In a few years, it might be in the 20s before you see a senior go. Not good. I like the selection, even if I'm iffy about TWill. At #12 goes Gerald Henderson to the Bobcats. It's an unimaginative pick that I come to expect from any front office led by MJ. At #13, somewhat fittingly, goes Psycho T. He was never considered a lottery pick until recent weeks; however, he's laughing last. Actually, he's classy enough to not laugh, so I retract my last comment. Lame move by (what I assume are) Knick fans who chanted "overrated". His body of work, which I hate to agree with Mark Jackson, is as good as it gets for a four-year college prospect in recent memory. Earl Clark at #14 surprised me just a little, but not as much as Brandon Jennings coming out - awkwardly thanks to timing and the commish - shortly after. Don't be late to have your moment, son. Did the connecting flight on PanAm come in late? Ouch. As for Clark, I am hesitant, but perhaps he has a Shawn Marion type role on this team. You tell me.

Can he truly be excited about possibly being moved to Golden State (Oakland)???
Credit: Yahoo! Sports

The proposed Amare deal is HUGE. I'd take it in a heartbeat if I were Phoenix; however, I wonder if Golden State assumes Amare will sign a new contract with them. They aren't exactly dumping salaries there. By the way, SacTown picked up Sergio Rodriguez on the cheap. He might be splitting point guard duties with Tyreke Evans (Tariq, according to Mark Jackson) from Day One. Sorry Beno.

See you in a few...as the lottery selections are over.
I fear Maynor may be in for a large wait. Kinda surprised Daye is in the green room. Did he get a gurantee? Oh yeah, I already hate BJ Mullens. H-A-T-E.

Update #1: 8:30 pm
I'll be checking in and out tonight with a few thoughts on tonight's NBA Draft.
Tweet tweet!

Hey Blake, get a better Clipper-oriented suit!
Credit: Yahoo! Sports

LA Clippers select Blake Griffin with the #1 pick.
Instant Analysis: It should come as no surprise. I wonder who would be taken between Griffin and last year's #2 selection, Michael Beasley. It's not as easy as you think.

Memphis Grizzlies select Hasheem Thabeet 2nd overall.
Despite skipping out on a late workout, Thabeet is Memphis-bound. With a young nucleus of Gay, Mayo, Conley, and "the other" Gasol (don't forget my boy Warrick), the Grizzlies were wise to take a chance on the 7'2+ big man.

Oklahoma City selects James Harden with the #3 pick.
This should not have been such a surprise to the "crew" from ESPN. He has LeBron's neckbeard and a smooth game that will work around Kevin Durant. He should slide in well to the 2-guard slot next to Russell Westbrook.
I loved the bow tie by the way.

Sacremento selects freshman Tyreke Evans with the fourth selection.
They weren't drinking the Ricky Rubio-juice and I can't blame them. I've been on the record stating that Evans is the most talented kid in this draft, NBA-wise, including Mr. Blake Griffin. Whether or not I'm right...time will tell.

Minnesota drafts two points guards, Ricky Rubio and Jonny Flynn, with the 5th and 6th picks respectively.
I'm going to wait and see if these two guys remain on the Timberwolves from the next 48 hours before I react. Nevertheless, you know as a Cuse and Knick fan that I'm a little weepy that Flynn isn't MSG bound for good.

Golden State drives a nail into the heart of Knick-nation by selecting Davidson guard Stephen Curry.
A wise pick considering who was left on the board. They shipped out Jamal "Shoot till I Drop" Crawford and can now pair Curry alongside Monta Ellis at the 1-spot for dynamic scoring at that position.

Oh goodie, the Knicks select him.
Credit: Yahoo! Sports

New York Knick fans rejoice (BOO!) as Jordan Hill is the 8th selection in the 1st round.
Pay questions whether he will be dealt, while I question the pick altogether. I'm not a huge fan of Hill, but also wonder how this team will deal with David Lee, Nate Robinson, and the upcoming free agent-palooza in 2010.

Toronto selects USC freshman Demar Derozan with the 9th pick.
I didn't see much of Derozan last season, but now it looks like Jrue "VCU Killer" Holliday may start to slip a little more than he might've expected. #10 is very very intriguing to me. Do you think Chris Bosh is a Raptor in 2011.

The top ten finishes out with Milwaukee selecting European-bound (for a year, at least) Brandon Jennings.
We'll never truly know how Jennings might've fared if he played college basketball last season; however, you can't cry about being a top 10 pick. This makes Ramon Sessions that much more expendable (he is a restricted free agent), although Jennings needs another year or two before he's NBA ready.

This guy is likely heavily targeted by the next 3 or 4 teams. That's why he's going #11, we think.
Credit: Yahoo! Sports

...waiting for the Maynor selection, more to come shortly...

Griffin's selection is the wisest decision by any consumer since these...

NBA Mock Draft: Version 5.0 (FINAL) -- June 26, 2009

* Memphis trades the 2nd pick to Minnesota for the 6th and 18th picks
* Sacramento trades the 23rd pick to Detroit for the 44th pick and cash considerations
* Oklahoma City trades the 25th pick to Houston for cash considerations
* Memphis trades the 27th pick to San Antonio for the 51st pick and cash considerations
* Portland trades the 33rd pick to Houston for cash considerations
* Minnesota trades the 47th pick to Orlando for two 2nd-round picks and cash considerations
* Indiana trades the 52nd pick to Boston for cash considerations
* Dallas trades the 56th pick to New York for future 2nd-round pick (top 40 protection)

* Kirk Hinrich
* Travis Outlaw
* Luke Ridnour
* Mike Miller
* DeShawn Stevenson

1. LA Clippers - Blake Griffin, PF, Oklahoma. Griffin is their man. Expect the Clippers to shop at least one of their veteran bigs on the cheap to make space for the franchise forward.

2. Memphis – Ricky Rubio, PG, DKV Joventut. Uh oh. The Grizzlies went there, taking the much-maligned point guard from Spain. I smell a trade brewing …

3. Oklahoma City - James Harden, SG, Arizona State. Truly a combo guard, Harden is arguably the second-most skilled player in the draft after Rubio. Rumor has it that Thabeet could go here, but a combination of Westbrook, Durant and Harden sounds too lethal to pass up.

4. Sacramento – Tyreke Evans, SG/PG, Memphis. Evans is one of the high risers as a result of workouts. That said, he performed on the court all season and demonstrated that he can be a combo guard at the next level.

5. Minnesota (from Washington) - Hasheem Thabeet, C, UConn. Thabeet needs few shots to make an impact and his defensive prowess is documented. That said, I have more doubts than most about Thabeet’s durability and aptitude for playing without the benefit of the zone defense.

6. Minnesota – Stephen Curry, PG/SG, Davidson. The sharpshooter is a great fit for any team, because he demonstrated solid ball-handling skills this past season. And he might change hats multiple times before the night is over.

7. Golden State - Jordan Hill, PF, Arizona. One of the highest risers in this year’s class, Hill is still getting better in all facets of the game (physical, mental, skill). If Monta Ellis does not end up running the point, the Warriors may select either Jonny Flynn or Brandon Jennings.

8. New York - Jonny Flynn, PG, Syracuse. Speedy, strong and smart – Flynn is the type of leader who Mike D’Antoni needs. It is rumored that the Knicks will decide between Curry, Evans and Jrue Holiday, but I think they take Flynn over Holiday.

9. Toronto - DeMar DeRozan, SG/SF, USC. No one questions DeRozan’s athleticism and skill. If he can become consistent and let his defensive efforts feed his offensive game, he could be the aggressive swingman who can get to the line consistently. If DeRozan shows resistance to playing north of the border, the Raptors could select Gerald Henderson or Terrence Williams

10. Milwaukee – Jrue Holiday, PG/SG, UCLA. Resigned to losing Ramon Sessions, it seems more and more like the Bucks are selecting a point guard. I really see the Bucks trading down a few picks and taking Jeff Teague. If they hang onto the pick, Holiday is the type of defender who can grow into the point guard role that Scott Skiles likes.

11. New Jersey – Terrence Williams, SG/SF, Louisville. A surprising pick at #11, coaches have fallen in love with Williams’s will to win and multi-faceted game. Yes, he has glaring holes, but he displays the one thing that will ensure he gets court time as a rookie – lockdown defense.

12. Charlotte – Gerald Henderson, SG, Duke. As a result of the Vince Carter trade, Henderson benefits at least monetarily. Henderson is a different type of shooting type of guard and will not sit on the bench for very long if healthy.

13. Indiana - Brandon Jennings, PG, Lottomatica Roma. Teams love Jennings’s upside, a word I’ve grown to hate. Perhaps, that’s why I have him going this late. Or, it’s because he averaged 5 points per game. Rumor has it that DeJuan Blair may go here. If he does not go here, I do not expect him to go until the early 20s.

14. Phoenix – James Johnson, PF, Wake Forest. Johnson is a talented player who flourishes in an up-tempo system because of his athleticism and length. He has a nice jump shot, but does he have the demeanor of a winner?

15. Detroit – BJ Mullens, C, Ohio State. Worst kept secret. Even worse pick if it's true. I really do not get what Joe Dumars is playing at with this pick, but this is who they want. If I were them and had this position, I’d jump at Eric Maynor or Ty Lawson. Quickly.

16. Chicago – Earl Clark, SF/PF, Louisville. Clark’s skill, length and tenacity makes him a good fit for any team that wants to win in this league. His ability to run the floor well is an added bonus.

17. Philadelphia – Eric Maynor, PG, Virginia Commonwealth. Needing a floor general who does not need to learn on the fly, the Sixers get just that. Maynor can do it all and has one of the nicest floaters from 8 to 14 feet out that you’ll ever see.

18. Minnesota – Tyler Hansbrough, PF, North Carolina. Kind of a flyer here for the T-Wolves who are drafting for a need of the Grizzlies for a projected trade that may not happen. Another year, another Carolina player in the lottery that we did not expect come draft night. The Nets are also said to be enamored with the 6’9” forward from Poplar Bluff, Missouri.

19. Atlanta – Ty Lawson, PG, North Carolina. Lawson strikes the balance between being cat quick and disciplined. Is that the reason why some GMs may think he has reached his plateau? Lawson immediately becomes the backup point guard.

20. Utah - Austin Daye, SF, Gonzaga. Daye may have a promise in the teens, but he slips here. Daye is a very good shooter and has a good feel for the game. Questions about his ability to be physical has him slipping for me. His addition may prepare the team for life without Kyle Rock n’ Roll Korver.

21. New Orleans - DeJuan Blair, PF, Pittsburgh. Every draft needs a fall guy. He’s ours. I love him and his 12+ rebounds per game, but every day, I read columns concerning his questionable knees.

22. Portland (from Dallas) – Chase Budinger, SG/SF, Arizona. Budinger is a lights-out offensive player who has improved slightly as a defender, but not enough to warrant clear lottery status. Needless to say, he is great value at the 22nd pick and will vie for playing time immediately.

23. Sacramento (from Houston) - Omri Casspi, SF, Maccabi Tel Aviv. One of the most talented young players in Europe over the last two years, Casspi has an inside/outside game that’s more of the finesse and flair style. Rumors were flying last week that this pick may be dealt. To whom?

24. Dallas (from Portland) - Jeff Teague, PG, Wake Forest. I’d be shocked to see Teague fall this far. Ultimately, this drop came down to two factors. NBA teams have enough score-first point guards. Jerryd Bayless dropped in last year’s draft. All it takes though is a single GM to avoid the numbers and put his faith in Teague to be a distributor / scorer.

25. Oklahoma City (from San Antonio) – Victor Claver, SF, Pamesa Valencia. Claver does not fit the Charmin stereotype that most Spanish players fall into for being soft. He’s also a very polished player, but needs to improve his lateral quickness. Rumors last week discussed OKC possibly jettisoning this pick.

26. Chicago (from Denver through Oklahoma City) – Marcus Thornton, SG, LSU. Thornton is a multifaceted shooting guard who can break down defenses, connect from deep, and guard on the ball.

27. Memphis (from Orlando) – Jonas Jerebko, SF/PF, Angelico Biella. Jerebko dominated at the EuroCamp and caught the eye of NBA scouts. He’s really a 3, but can play the 4 in some systems.

28. Minnesota (from Boston) – Wayne Ellington, SG, North Carolina. Ellington is a smooth shooter with a silky stroke and improved steadily at the defensive end. Not to mention, he can take it to the hoop if the need arises.

29. New York (from LA Lakers) – Jack McClinton, PG/SG, Miami. Here’s a reach that’s been widely rumored. But, Mike D’Antoni, like many good NBA coaches, loves specialists. McClinton is a dead-eye shooter who will flourish in an open system.

30. Cleveland – Derrick Brown, SF, Xavier. Another explosive forward, Brown doesn’t mind mixing it up in the paint or stepping back for a trifecta. He adds a wing presence that the Cavs sorely needed against the Magic. DaJuan Summers is a decent fit at this pick too, but Brown is more consistent.

31. Sacramento - Darren Collison, PG, UCLA. Collison struggles mightily against taller guards and the NBA consists of those. That said, Collison can easily make a roster, because he’s a hard worker, has great quickness, makes good decisions on and off the ball, and has a mid- and long-range jumper. Toney Douglas would also look really good in a Kings uniform.

32. Washington - Taj Gibson, PF, USC. Gibson adds depth to the Wizards frontline and makes them even younger. His mid-range jumper and wingspan - which results in blocked shots - adds value.

33. Portland (from LA Clippers) – Sam Young, SF, Pittsburgh. Agile and talented, Young made the most of his abilities while playing in the Big East. Young is also a high character guy which any coach has to like.

34. Denver (from Oklahoma City) - Toney Douglas, PG/SG, Florida State. Douglas provided scoring punch in the backcourt that other guards may not bring to the table. He can step in and assume the backup PG role immediately.

35. Detroit (from Minnesota) - Patrick Mills, PG, St. Mary’s. Mills hasn’t impressed too much in workouts, but he was a sure-fire first-round pick before his injury. This is the type of point guard that the Detroit wants.

36. Memphis – DaJuan Summers, SF, Georgetown. After making a horrible decision to leave school, Summers’s athleticism makes him a very viable option early in round 2. One of the better values thus far.

37. San Antonio (from Golden State) - Josh Heytvelt, PF/C, Gonzaga. A rebounding forward with a deft shooting touch. Heytvelt will be able to make an impact if he keeps his head on straight and works hard.

38. Portland (from New York) - Nick Calathes, PG/SG, Panathinaikos. Stash pick here for next year or another suitor. Calathes will be in Greece for up to three seasons, but he can become a Blazer after one. He can score, rebound and dish it, but does he have the will to win?

39. Detroit (from Toronto) - Jeff Pendergraph, PF, Arizona State. Serviceable big man who never quits and is crafty like an NBA vet.

40. Charlotte (from New Jersey) - Jeff Adrien, PF, UConn. For a team that wants to get physical immediately, Adrien is a great pick. If effective, it will be as a garbage man on the offensive end and as a physical defender.

41. Milwaukee – Danny Green, SF, North Carolina. A 94-foot player, Green spent last summer adding muscle to his frame to prepare for the rigors of the NBA. To be successful, Green must become more consistent at the offensive end and not let his slumps at one end affect effort at the other.

42. LA Lakers – DerMarre Carroll, SF/PF, Missouri. Carroll has plenty of potential. He can instantly become an energy player off of the bench and provide 10 minutes of quality play per game.

43. Miami (from Indiana) - Tyrese Rice, PG, Boston College. Underrated (largely because of his height), Rice has a great first step that made him a regular guest in the opponent’s paint.

44. Detroit - Leo Lyons, PF, Missouri. Lyons provides some much-needed energy and skill.

45. Minnesota (from Philadelphia via Miami) – Sergey Gladyr, SG, MBC Mykolaiv. A relative unknown in Europe, Gladyr excelled at the EuroCamp, demonstrating strong mechanics and good bounce. He’s still young (19) and has plenty to learn.

46. Phoenix (from Chicago via Cleveland) – Jermaine Taylor, SG, Central Florida. Taylor is one of the best pure shooters in the draft and an asset to anyone who may acquire this pick.

47. Minnesota (from Miami) – Jody Meeks, SG, Kentucky. If you watched any SEC basketball last year, you’ll know that Meeks is a prolific scorer who’s unselfish and is a very underrated on-the-ball defender.

48. Phoenix - Ahmad Nivins, PF, St. Joseph’s. Wiry power forward with an inside / outside game, and averaged a double-double.

49. Atlanta - Robert Dozier, PF, Memphis. Tenacious defender whose wiry frame allows him to defend multiple positions.

50. Utah - Rodrigue Beaubois, PG, Cholet. Beaubois slips due to tweener status. Teams have to love Beaubois’s speed and wingspan, and some hold out hope that he can grow into a playmaking role.

51. San Antonio (from New Orleans via Toronto) – Dionte Christmas, SG, Temple. This pick reeks of BPA – best player available – plus trade. Christmas may not be the best player, but no team can have enough shooters or scorers.

52. Indiana (from Dallas) – Jon Brockman, PF, Washington. Gritty forward who can flat-out rebound … and score.

53. San Antonio (from Houston) – Jerel McNeal, SG, Marquette. Though undersized at the 2, McNeal is athletic and skilled. He can easily go in the late 30s or 40s.

54. Charlotte (from San Antonio) – Dante Cunningham, SF, Villanova. One of my favorite players, Cunningham is a coach’s dream. He always works hard, never gives up on a loose ball, plays textbook defense, and plays within himself on offense.

55. Portland – Vyacheslav Kravtsov, C, BC Kyiv. Built like a brick wall, Kravtsov can turn into a defensive specialist.

56. Dallas (from Denver through Portland) – Emir Preldzic, SF, Fenerbahce Ulker. A point forward with a high basketball IQ, Preldzic is a skilled player whose responsibility increased this year in the Euroleague.

57. Phoenix (from Orlando) – AJ Price, PG, UConn. A crafty point guard who’s battle-tested and mature.

58. Boston - Sergio Llull, PG/SG, Real Madrid. Aggressive decision maker who may be a defensive liability at times.

59. LA Lakers - Curtis Jerrells, PG, Baylor. Speedy guard who can but must improve his decision making to avoid being only a D-league all-star.

60. Miami (from Cleveland) – Chris Johnson, PF, LSU. Thin yet athletic forward who needs to get stronger to make imprint on league.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

NBA Mock Draft: Version C-L-E-M-E-N-T 2.0

Tweet tweet. Pay's most recent 2-round mock is HERE. I plan on having my final mock tonight or early tomorrow. Tweet tweet.

I love when big deals go down in the middle of my mock. Shaq to join Bron Bron.

I could predict trade after trade…but I won’t.

I could tell you how Minnesota won’t take four 1st-round picks…but I won’t.

I could tell you that I did hours upon hours of research…but I won’t.

I could tell you I’m playing favorites for Flynn and Maynor (my boys)…but I won’t.

What I will do is give you a gutshot-straight interpretation, aka mock draft, of the first round of tomorrow night’s draft.


Sorry Kwame, but you only get to go #1 once.
Credit: SportsFriendChronicles.com

1. LA Clippers - Blake Griffin, PF, Oklahoma

It’s all but 100% right now. I know Pay may kill me for this, but I wonder if this guy is going to be a star (no less superstar) in the NBA. His raw athleticism and out-of-the-gym hops will be limited until he develops a respectable jump shot or back to the basket game. I see this guy potentially shooting 95% inside 5 feet and 25% outside of it.

2. Memphis - Hasheem Thabeet, C, UConn

If I were allowed to play “virtual GM”, I’d probably predict that Rubio goes here and is dealt to another team (likely Minnesota). In the end, Thabeet’s size and shotblocking ability are sorely needed in Memphis and won’t be passed up.

3. Oklahoma City - James Harden, SG, Arizona State
Rubio here is enticing, but Westbrook works well with Durant and seems a solid fit that doesn’t need to gel alongside another point guard in the starting lineup. Harden is as unselfish a shoot-first guard can be. He’ll fit in nicely alongside this team’s young nucleus.

4. Sacramento – Tyreke Evans, PG/SG, Memphis
He’ll eeek out Rubio as the 19-year old coveted by SacTown. Selling tickets for a season or two is one thing, the potential this kid (Evans) has is another. He is committed, even at a young age, to playing tough on both sides of the ball. Good luck finding that at any age on the basketball court.

5. Minnesota – Ricky Rubio, PG, DKV Joventut
Just take the best two guys available. Of course, it’s highly unlikely Minnesota makes four 1st-round selections, but I’ll go with it. Rubio should be lucky to be playing alongside an unselfish, skilled big like Kevin Love. Not to mention the force in the paint that has become Al Jefferson (who the Timberwolves would be quite foolish to trade).

Stephen Curry would do quite well if his career ended up like his father's, Dell.
Credit: Blox.pl

6. Minnesota – Stephen Curry, PG/SG, Davidson
Both the Warriors and Knicks would like to move up for Curry, but either won’t (Warriors) or can’t (Knicks) pay the steep price. Curry would do well in a smaller market and could eventually blossom into a lights-out shooter from all over the court.

7. Golden State – Jrue Holliday, PG/SG, UCLA
Combo him with Monta Ellis, especially with Jamal Crawford potentially on the way out, and allow Holliday’s game time to grow. He’ll fit in well on a roster that already has several guys of that ilk. With that being said, this pick might be the equivalent of the Raiders at 7 in the NFL Draft. Outside of (maybe) Curry, this team is my biggest unknown.

At least D'Antoni knows the kid can play 40+ minutes a night.
Credit: Syracuse.com

8. New York – Jonny Flynn, PG, Syracuse
No Curry, Evans, or even Thabeet has to make the Knicks cringe, but should be expected. Fortunately, there point guard for the future is found. Flynn likes the bright lights, has stamina galore for the offense he’d be walking into, and doesn’t mind putting up double digit assists before double digit points.

9. Toronto – Jordan Hill, PF, Arizona
I’ve had this for nearly a month. Bosh is going to end up being potentially the biggest free agent of 2010. Why? LeBron and Wade are re-signing and I still firmly believe Amare will be signed and traded at some point before next season’s trade deadline. Toronto can invest in Hill’s emerging talent, as a likely replacement for Mr. Bosh.

10. Milwaukee – Demar Derozan, SG/SF, UCLA
With the Richard Jefferson experiment over, Milwaukee has to decide what its point guard (particularly Ramon Sessions) situation looks like. While Holliday would be nice, Derozan offers versatility and – give or take 2-3 years – a lot of what they had to have seen in Jefferson.

11. New Jersey – Gerald Henderson, SG, Duke
I scratched my head a little about this after I typed it, but decided that Henderson – who won’t go #8 to the Knicks – is tough, physical, and the type of attack the basket player that will soon be in the lineup next to Devin Harris.

12. Charlotte – Tyler Hansbrough, PF, North Carolina
Doesn’t this sound like an MJ pick? Unlike the questionable Sean May selection, Hansbrough is tough enough for the NBA game and would bring heart and hustle to a team that lacks any star credibility whatsoever. Funny how he worked his way into the lottery. Doesn’t surprise me one bit. Pay, please never post that picture again though.

13. Indiana – Brandon Jennings, PG, Lottomatica Roma
TJ Ford must hate all the love for the point guard position in most mock drafts for the Pacers. Jennings is a little too raw right now; however, he can be given plenty of time to develop. I still have a feeling this guy isn’t the next Sebastian Telfair.

This kid impresses me more and more daily. He might be the gem of this draft class. Seriously.
Credit: Wordpress.com

14. Phoenix – Ty Lawson, PG, North Carolina
What Phoenix does with Amare over the next 12 months, or even 12 days (hours?), is going to dictate the future of this franchise potentially for the next 5-10 years. While Steve Nash isn’t likely to be let go, the Suns need backcourt depth and Lawson is as about as good as it gets. His defense is underrated and he will adjust to the half court much better than most critics are willing to accept.

15. Detroit – BJ Mullens, C, Ohio State
I’ll drink the Kool-Aid on the “guarantee”, which means it ain’t happening. Mullens is a bonafide BUST. There, I called it.

Am I cray to make a comparison between Blair and JR Reid? Am I!?!?
Credit: SI.com

16. Chicago – DeJuan Blair, PF/C, Pittsburgh
The knee issues shouldn’t be ignored for a guy with such a physical game. Tyrus Thomas may not be in Chicago past draft night, either way Blair offers physicality that is vital for this team.

17. Philadelphia – Jeff Teague, PG, Wake Forest
Edges out my boy Maynor for his “instant offense” ability. Will there be enough shots though if he and Louis Williams form a future backcourt? Not likely.

18. Minnesota (from Miami) – Terrence Williams, SG/SF, Louisville
Corey Brewer isn’t going to work out in the NBA. Williams should study the maturation of Chris Bosh from college (albeit one season) to the NBA. Add in some defensive toughness and this guy might make a lot of teams regret letting him slip out of the lottery.

19. Atlanta – Eric Maynor, PG, Virginia Commonwealth
Acie Law and Speedy Claxton may be going to Golden State for Jamal Crawford. That tells me this team needs a pass-first point guard for the future. Enter perhaps the top pick-and-roll guard in this draft, who could start and produce very early for this talented up-and-coming team. Sorry Mike Bibby.

20. Utah – James Johnson, SF/PF, Wake Forest
You know they want Hansbrough, but Johnson is young and can develop nicely under Jerry Sloan and company. Although let it be stated again, I don’t like this kid’s NBA potential at all.

21. New Orleans – Earl Clark, SF/PF, Louisville
If he falls/plummets to 21, I’d trade up to get him. Portland is furious right now as Clark would’ve been an intriguing fit, sorry Channing Frye, in their young nucleus.

If Young's shot fake can work in the NBA, that's 8-10 more points a game for him.
Credit: CNNSI.com

22. Portland – Sam Young, SF/PF, Pittsburgh
This team needs to draft a mature, responsible, and multi-versatile player this late in the 1st round. Couldn’t ask for a much better option honestly.

23. Sacramento (from Houston) – Omri Casspi, SF, Maccabi Tel Aviv
Here’s the import who might be able to help this team more than you expect, just not immediately. In a relatively tiny international crop, he might be the clear-cut #2 option (although well behind Rubio).

24. Dallas – Austin Daye, SF, Gonzaga
I don’t expect Josh Howard to be going anywhere…yet. Nevertheless, Dallas will take Daye, despite the interesting physicality issues that Pay – and a few others – have noticed recently, to add depth to the position.

25. Oklahoma City (from San Antonio) – Taj Gibson, PF, USC
Oklahoma City needs a body who can fill the paint. While his offensive game might need minor retooling, I think Gibson’s blend of physicality and an impressive wingspan would work well for the Thunder (what a stupid team name, by the way).

26. Chicago (from Denver through Oklahoma City) – Wayne Ellington, SG, North Carolina
I’ve seen him as high as the late lottery to the early-half of the second round. He’s a smooth shooter who could develop into a talented first-tier reserve in the NBA. What Pay and I disagree somewhat about is his ability, at least in the NBA, to attack the hoop and create his own shot.

Still room on the "Patt Mills in the 1st Round" bandwagon. Hope on!!!!
Credit: SQPN.com

27. Memphis (from Orlando) – Patrick Mills, PG, St. Mary’s

I was stubborn that somehow Darius Hayward-Bay would be taken before Michael Crabtree in the NFL Draft. Fortunately, Al Davis bailed me out. Meanwhile, I still stick to my guns that Mills finds a way to go in the 1st round. It’s just me sitting out here. It’s lonely and cold.

28. Minnesota (from Boston) – Nick Calathes, SG, Florida
Let him play overseas for a year or two and then come to the NBA. With four first round picks, which as you know I have them all keeping, it doesn’t hurt to let an investment accrue interest for a short while.

29. LA Lakers – Darren Collison, PG, UCLA
Derek Fisher isn’t getting any younger, Farmar could be interesting trade bait if an injury arose for the Lakers, and Collison plays enough defense to be a backup point guard in the NBA.

30. Cleveland – Chase Budinger, SF, Arizona

He has lottery talent and likely will prove critics and detractors wrong and go much much earlier than this. However, there are a lot of things worse than going to play with LeBron James. Just ask Luke Jackson. I mean, don’t ask him. Nevermind…

Here's a few of the reasons why I think Eric Maynor is lottery potential, despite a ton of depth at the position.

5 Questions to the Editor

Tweet tweet. Pay's most recent 2-round mock is HERE. I plan on having my final mock tonight or early tomorrow. Tweet tweet.

I threw out a dozen-or-so draft-related questions to the editor (aka Pay) and let him decide which ones he'd address. Also a few random thoughts of my own (shocker!) might sneak their way in.

Question #1: Which Louisville prospect is most likely lottery bound: Terrence Williams or Earl Clark?
Pay: Two months ago, I would have said Earl Clark. After workouts, Williams' stock has risen because teams love his versatility. He may also be the best defender in this draft class, and he won't last past the 12th pick.
Clement: It's just as likely both slip into the late lottery, potentially even back-to-back, as they both slip into the late teens. Personally, I question what position and what type of shooting range either possesses on the NBA level. Nevertheless, I agree with Pay about Williams (slightly) over Clark. He seems more equipped to be a leader, a scorer, and a defender.

Question #2: Which second round prospect most intrigues you?
Pay: Danny Green. On the right team and in the right situation with the right coaching, he will be an All-Star. If you watched him at Carolina like I did, he's not short of desire and concentrated power of will. Unlike most other second-round talents, Green is a 94-foot player, and he has steadily improved his jump shot, defense, and demeanor in the last four years.
Clement: A lot of teams are desperate for a point guard, or depth at the position, and the first round offers tons of depth at the position. However, if you're willing to sweat it out in the second round, FSU's Toney Douglas (admittedly a combo guard) might be the Mario Chalmers of this draft. He has a knack for scoring but also distributes well and can continue to improve on defense.

Question #3: Who is the "safest" selection outside the top 5?
Pay: Tyler Hansbrough. According to NBA GMs and anyone with a pulse, he's a known quantity who will work hard and never quit.
Clement: Ty Lawson. While I'm not sure if he can be an elite point guard in the NBA, his speed, quickness, clutch shooting, and overall work effort (especially fighting through injuries) will keep him in this league for 10+ years.

Question #4: Which team has been the most difficult to analyze and predict in the top 10?
Pay: Memphis. What will they do at #2? They have a major need at the center position, but they do not seem enamored with Hasheem Thabeet who skipped out on a workout. Increasingly, I believe that they will select the best player available (Ricky Rubio) and trade him to the highest bidder (Minnesota).
Clement: Golden State. At #7, they are Donnie Walsh's biggest nemesis right now (if the affection for Curry is legit, which it clearly appears to be). The Warriors and their front office perplex me more and more, especially since Don Nelson is still calling most of the shots, with a roster that needs to downsize rather than adding another lottery selection. Filled with tweeners galore, I don't believe Stephen Curry would fall past them at 7. However, assuming he's already gone (likely to Minnesota), I have no idea what this team is thinking. NONE.

Question #5: Is Milwaukee better off drafting a rookie point guard (i.e. Johnny Flynn or Ty Lawson) or resigning Ramon Sessions?
Pay: From a dollars and sense perspective, you draft a point guard in the 1st round. But, Scott Skiles seems to really like Sessions, so I expect the Bucks to make every effort to re-sign him. Do not be shocked if the Bucks draft a point guard with the 10th pick and sign Sessions, only to trade Sessions, Ridnour, or the point guard taken with the 10th pick.
Clement: I have always felt Sessions could be a very very good point guard in this league. No, he isn't going to be CP3, Deron Williams, or Derrick Rose; however, I grade him higher than any point guard in this draft (even on their potential). With that being said, Milwaukee has made a mess of their cap and the trade market for the underrated Sessions may not be too strong. With a nucleus of Bogut, Redd, and Villenueva, I'd re-sign Sessions and trade down in this draft (targeting perhaps the aformetioned Terrence Williams or even Gerald Henderson).

Random Thought
After dealing players and picks with the Wizards (notably Randy Foye and Mike Miller), the Minnesota Timberwolves have the 5th and 6th overall picks in tomorrow night's draft. Question now becomess, is Minnesota looking for the best two players available? The best guard and best forward? What if Thabeet slips to them? Do they envision a Thabeet/Jefferson/Love front line? Are they going with the best two guards, regardless of position? Do they really expect to draft four guys in the 1st round? Might they be the team who deals up to #2 with Memphis for Ricky Rubio? If I were the GM in Memphis, I'd get whatever I could from Minnesota (as long as I liked someone enough at #5), take Rubio, and then deal the Spanish phenom to the land of a thousand lakes.

As for the rest of the day, check out the Twitter feed (don't you always?), as I'm off to Transformers 2 right now. And no critics, I'm not expecting the next Godfather, Citizen Kane, or even Terminator 2. Instead, I'm anticipating quite a bit of this...

In a word...HELLO!!!!
Credit: Megan-Fox.net

I know, I'm a sexist pig. I'll listen to the lecture from Jessie Spano later.
Although, she has a checkered past herself, you know.