Monday, November 15, 2010

7 Seniors Who Will Be Missed

John Scheyer, Duke.  Any time Duke needed to end a run or put a game on ice, John Scheyer was the man.  To boot, Scheyer was an underrated defensive player who made strides between his junor and senior season.  Yes, the Blue Devils have Kyrie Irving in place now, but there's no way a freshman not named Melo can account for a senior's intangibles.
 
Scottie Reynolds, Villanova.  Hated yet respected.  That is how opponents would characterize Reynolds, who was passed over in the NBA Draft.  In all of the college basketball I watched the last year, there wasn't a team who followed a single player's lead more than Villanova, and I think it took its toll on Reynolds, who stumbled down the stretch.  The Coreys will have an opportunity to carve out their own legacy.
 
Tweety Carter, Baylor.  Sure, Epke Udoh was a lottery pick.  Sure, LaceDarius Dunn is a great scorer.  However, Carter was the steadying force for the Bears, who enjoyed two trips to the NCAA Tournament, which is no small feat.  The Bears have Perry Jones to take on some of Udoh's responsibilities down low, but production at point guard will be a question mark all season.
 
Sherron Collins, Kansas.  Another point guard.  I promise you he's the last one on this list.  Collins took nearly every important shot for the Jayhawks, and will be remembered for dominating the Big XII during his last two seasons at Kansas.
 
Roman Martinez, New Mexico.  We go out west.  Gary and Hobson earned the plaudits, deservedly so, but Martinez was the glue.  Whether it was geting a loose ball that reset the shot clock or nailing a contested jumper, he was critical to Los Lobos' revival last season.
 
Andy Rautins, Syracuse.  Wes Johnson was the Orange's best player, but Rautins was their most important player.  Known throughout colege basketball circles as a clutch shooter from deep range, but those who watched the Cuse closely will know that Rautins was indispensable to the top of the 2-3 zone.

Omar Samhan, St. Mary's.  Power conferences starve for a player of Samhan's skill, so when the lowly Gaels lose a player of Samhan's caliber, his absence will be felt immediately.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

PHSports College Basketball Preseason Top 25

  1. Duke.  It disgusts me, but they are the best team on paper.  Kyrie Irving will not be as efficient as John Scheyer was, but he's more explosive.
  2. Michigan State.  If it were not for their unexpected shuffling of the backcourt, they would be #1.  Izzo will have this team ready come March.
  3. Kansas.  This ranking relies on the availability of Josh Selby.  If so, you're hard-pressed to find a more battle-tested squad with more depth.
  4. Illinois.  The Illini returns five starters and gains two blue chip recruits.  Bruce Weber may even get the chance to use a 3-guard lineup a la 2005.
  5. Pittsburgh.  If the Panthers can adequately replace Jermaine Dixon and the core stays healthy, they will be a top 5 team. 
  6. Ohio State.  I'm not buying that the Buckeyes are better without do-everything guard Evan Turner, but they most definitely reloaded.  If Jared Sullinger is closer to Greg Oden rather than BJ Mullens, then the Buckeyes may be Final Four bound.
  7. Kansas State.  How will the Wildcats replace Denis Clemente?  Conventional wisdom suggests a 3-guard led by Jacob Pullen who will be flanked by Martavious Irving and Rodney McGruder. If the Wildcats are to contend, they'll need more depth at all positions.
  8. Gonzaga.  Despite losing Matt Bouldin, the Zags will be deeper and more experienced.  Also, you have to love their scheduling.  They face San Diego State, Illinois, Washington State, Notre Dame, Baylor, Xavier, and Oklahoma State before the new year.
  9. Baylor.  If LaceDarius Dunn is reinstated, watch out.  Perry Jones may allow Bears fans to forget about Epke Udoh. 
  10. Kentucky.  Have you ever heard of a team that's lost 5 players to the 1st round of the NBA Draft?  And been able to reload?  Neither have I.  If Enes Kanter is not cleared, then Coach Cal will not have a chance to have a Final Four taken away by the NCAA.
  11. Memphis.  Josh Pastner knows how to recruit, and for that reason, they have this rating and will be atop the Conference USA throne.
  12. Georgetown.  The Hoyas boast one of the best, most experienced backcourts.  Should they get any contribution with consistency from the frontcourt, they could win the Big East.
  13. Villanova.  I have no question that Villanova is talented and well-coached.  I just wonder where the leadership will come from without Scottie Reynolds.
  14. North Carolina.  Tempo is the name of the game.  When UNC regains their speedy tempo, they will be great again.  What leadership abilities will Harrison Barnes exhibit in his first and only year?
  15. Florida.  Billy Donovan finally has the type of squad in the mold of his championship winning teams.
  16. Butler.  Brad Stevens returns four starters and one of the most disciplined teams in D-I.  They'll be around come the second round of the tournament again.
  17. Washington.  The Huskies have adequate replacements for Quincy Pondexter, and they return one of the quickest backcourts in the nation.
  18. Syracuse.  Jim Boeheim lost some great players, but his returning core is a year older and he has Fab Melo to patrol the middle of the lane.
  19. Missouri.  40 minutes of hell returns for its latest installment, and the Tigers have added some beef to address rebounding issues.  The jury remains out on their schedule.
  20. Purdue.  Even without Robbie Hummel, Purdue is well-coached with two of the best 25 players in the nation (JaJuan Johnson and E'Twaun Moore).  If they can find a consistent third scorer, they are a top 10 team.  
  21. Temple.  The Owls lost Ryan Brooks, but Juan Fernandez slides to the point.  Lavoy Allen will bring the pain at power forward.
  22. Virginia Tech.  Tech needs to show their worth in Maui.  Otherwise, they need to win 9 or 10 to make the NCAA Tournament.  Anything is possible with Malcolm Delaney at the controls.
  23. San Diego State.  Steve Fishers returns five starters including Kawhi Leonard, a double-double machine.  The Aztecs can limit teams to one possession, and have left their best basketball for March in recent seasons.
  24. West Virginia.  The Mountaineers lost DaSean Butler and Devin Ebanks.  If Deniz Kilicli can assume some scoring responsibilities and buy into Huggins's system, then WVU will be relevant in the Big East shuffle.
  25. BYU.  Jimmer Fredette is a stat sheet stuffer and a true baller.  The roster lost some talent, including Michael Loyd Jr., who saved his best games for the end of the season.  Expect them to contend with SDSU and UNLV for the Mountain West title.
Honorable Mention 
Tennessee.  Tobias Harris makes the Vols a legit top 15 team, but Bruce Pearl's status with the NCAA will affect the psyche of this team.  For that reason, they're not in the preseason top 25.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Coming Off the Mount...

Another entertaining affair between the New York Jets and the Miami Dolphins tonight on NBC's Sunday Night Football. No surprise there, honestly.

Jets win 31-23. Believe me, it wasn't an easy victory.
Credit: Yahoo! Sports

While the Jets walked away (
despite the WORST EVER attempted shovel pass from the Sanchize) with a HUGE win on the road (more on that later); the big story surrounding this game, with just cause, was the week Braylon Edwards had.

From early Tuesday morning...


Credit: Media.NJ.com

NEW YORK -- New York Jets wide receiver Braylon Edwards was arrested Tuesday on charges of driving while intoxicated after officers pulled him over because his SUV had excessive tinting on its windows, police said.

Officers on the lookout for vehicle violations like excessive tinting or missing registration stickers pulled over Edwards' Land Rover on Manhattan's West Side at about 5:15 a.m. ET and noticed a strong smell of alcohol, chief NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said.

Edwards was given a breath test at the scene and another at a police station. His blood alcohol level was .16, twice the legal limit, officials said. There were four other people in the SUV at the time.

Note: It was announced, late in the week that Edwards would NOT be suspended for the game. There is precedent for this ruling, too. Instead, he was suspended for the first quarter. And yes, he was in the first play of the second quarter.

Credit: Media.NJ.com

From late Tuesday evening...

Jets G.M. Mike Tannenbaum said in a conversation with the Associated Press that Edwards would be active for Sunday night's game against the Dolphins, although he wouldn't start. It will be up to Rex Ryan when and if Edwards plays. Greg Aiello of the NFL points out that the CBA does not allow teams to suspend or deactivate players for DUI arrests per CBA rules.


As for Mr. Edwards' performance tonight? 2 receptions for 87 yards and 1 TD. One of them a 67 yard touchdown was on the first play of scrimmage the Jets had after trailing the Phins 17-14 mid-way into the 3rd quarter, giving them a 21-17 lead. Edwards' other catch was a key 3rd and 10 reception - inside Dolphins territory - for (do the math, Clement) 20 yards on what would be the Jets final drive of the game (a TD drive giving them an 8-point lead, their margin of victory). Edwards
also was highlighted by Michaels/Collinsworth for a key seal-block on a 20+yard LT run (remember him?) and a costly tripping penalty inside the redzone (just lazy blocking on his part, if you ask me).

As for the situation at-hand; as I see it, there are three issues I'd like to address surrounding this Edwards-situation, aside from the game's result (
which was very pleasing, but very tough to watch, for me personally).

Issue #1: What Edwards did was wrong. In fact, it was flat out dangerous.

SportsGrid.com

Not a genius statement. But one that needs to be stated.

Now, I'm not opposed to Edwards doing jail time for his DUI, no matter what the circumstances were when he was pulled over (tinted windows, not poor driving). DUI/DWI is a
very serious crime. However, I don't want to compare what he did to what Donte Stallworth did, either. Two different outcomes, fair or not, and the two crimes can't be compared fairly. Nevertheless, I also don't believe it's okay for Edwards to "get off" because "other players often get off". However, I also don't think it's fair to demonize ONLY Edwards - even if it's in the news this week - as the only NFL athlete to be guilty of DUI. He deserves as much of a backlash as anyone else who has been found guilty of the crime.

Which leads me to...

Issue #2: Should Ronnie Brown have been sat out week 1 for his DUI this past March?

Credit: TerezOwens.com

Ronnie Brown had a DUI arrest of his own this past offseason (in March). Does that mean Miami should've "sent a message" by suspending him for the first game of the season? Is a DUI more of a crime, in the eyes of an NFL team, during the season than it is during the offseason? Does it show more or less or the same amount of recklessness? You tell me.

Many question whether Braylon Edwards would've been suspended if the Jets were playing the Bills - as opposed to the 2-0 Dolphins; which is a fair question. Nevertheless, why does Ronnie Brown not see any official team discipline - in terms of quarters/halves/game(s) missed? Is it due to the "timing" of his crime? I also don't want to demonize Brown, who hasn't had any trouble with the law since the arrest, mind you.

If you ask me, both should've been suspended for at least 1 game. Although you may clearly point out to me that I have the foresight of knowing Edwards played, scored a big TD (made a nice block, too), and the Jets won.

Which leads me to...

Issue #3: It's impossible to expect a fan to leave his loyalty, right or wrong.

video

Many of you may think this post is just a ploy for me to explain why it was "okay" for Edwards to play tonight. WRONG. Instead, it's me addressing an issue that a fan struggles to address. I have to step off the mount, and realize I'm completely conflicted over the situation/suspension (and ecstatic over a big win).

I'm not much of a fan of Mike and Mike, although - since Mike Greenberg is a noted, avid Jet fan - I did seek out their opinions this week on the Edwards situation. Surprisingly, Greenberg and Golics' words spoke to me quite a bit. (Listen to the video above.)

I started to realize that I've riddled plenty of Steeler fans for their QB's recent actions in a bar bathroom with an undergrad, reminded Laker fans about Kobe's night in Denver with a certain hotel employee, and been mocked endlessly (and justifiably) for Yankee first baseman Jason Giambi's "apology" over proven-steroid use.

Is it my fault, or anyone else's, as a fan, that players we openly root for are found guilty of crimes? No. But if I choose to support them, as I did Edwards during his long TD run (which admittedly had more to do with Jason Allen s-s-slipping on his butt), then I'll take some justly deserved criticism.

But a "fan" is still a fanatic. So you take the good with the bad...and move on.
Much like how you treat ego-maniacal, yet extremely talented wide receivers.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

If Anyone Cared About Baseball Beyond the Yankees and the Saux ...

... someone would raise a stink about Jose Bautista and potential engagement with performance-enhancing drugs.  Tonight, Bautista hit his 52nd HR of the season.  When visiting Baseball Reference, you'll notice that he has surpassed his prior season high by ... 36 home runs. 

In his six prior seasons, Bautista had slugging percentage and OPS highs of .420 and .757, respectively.  Fast forward to this season where those numbers ballooned up to .622 and 1.005 entering tonight's play.

When I see these stats, I can't help but think of former Oriole stalwart Brady Anderson, who hit 26 more dongs (total: 50) and slugged 170 points higher than any other season.

But few care about baseball.  And even fewer care about PED use in sports.





Wednesday, September 15, 2010

We're Back .... and The Detroit Lions Need A Left Tackle

This spring, the Detroit Lions were wavering on whether to take sure-fire stud Ndamukong Suh or draft for need and reach for an offensive tackle.  Not only did the Lions take Suh, but they also did not select an o-tackle until the fourth round (Jason Fox).  Had I been in Martin Mayhew's position, I would have selected Suh, but my second pick would have definitely been an o-tackle.  Definitely.

 Credit: Mlive.com  
As a result, this happened.  If you're going to invest 72 million clams into a player, the smart money is on protecting his blind side.  Even the Rams protected their investment by drafting Rodger Saffold (and already had Jason Smith).  Instead, the Lions went with Jeff Backus, and Julius Peppers effectively separated Matthew Stafford's shoulder.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

LeBron in the Twitter Universe

In case you've been under a log, PHSports is on Twitter.
Worry not, we're not in it for followers (clearly). Instead, it's a place to rant and rave and react to this ever-expanding medium.

Of course, the LeBron story (now somehow titled, "The Decision") has officially trumped anything else in the sporting world as of late.

Peak-a-boo! I'm going to...Miami. To dilute my brand and always be #2 in Wade County.
Credit: DrewLiftTV



Here are a few twitter highlights (aka "top tweets) you may have missed in the last 24 hours...

The Tweet That May Have Said it ALL:
Chris Broussard Chris_Broussard Sources with knowledge of the situation indeed saying LeBron will join Wade and Bosh in Miami, barring a late change of heart

Funniest Tweet:
WaterWarren BREAKING NEWS! #Apple is releasing a special edition Lebron James iPhone. Problem is, it only vibrates b/c it doesn't have a RING.

More Desperate for Attention that even Tweeting can HELP:
chrisbosh Good morning. Waking up to more speculation. This makes tonight's show more interesting.

Seeking More and More Attention Tweet:
LeBron James KingJames Good Morning! It's your chance to ask me a question about my decision, use #lebrondecision to submit and I'll answer them tonight.

Sense from the Seemingly Senseless Tweets:
OGOchoCinco I dont even know why the **** i am talking i dont have no d@mn rings myself,i am doing the best i can with the cards i was dealt #BENGALS

OGOchoCinco nickname is #KingJames, Kings lead with the help of an army (supporting cast on team) a lead dog doesn't join supastars to make it easy

Chad Ochocinco OGOchoCinco Kobe-Magic-Jordan-Bird all created legacies on their own teams, they didn't join together to make winning a ring easy #Lebronwilldodasame

Average New York Fans Giving Up Tweets:
Brandon Tierney BrandonTierney when LBJ says "Miami" tonight, I will officially pray for a lifetime of 4th Q "back-rims" and "short" for the duration of his playoff life

NYSportzNut @KingJames if you sign with Miami tonight - you will forever become Scottie Pippen to Dwayne Wade's Jordan. Your (cont) http://tl.gd/2ci1bb

AnthonyMSG Can't he find a Boys and Girls club in Florida!

Brnyd15 @AnthonyMSG Lebron to Miami I guess. If true, I want us to be the 8th seed and them the #1 in the playoffs. The irony....

New Yorkers trying to Hold On:
knicksbuzztap Bleacher Report >> The King James Saga: Believe None Of What You See; Half Of What You Hear http://buzztap.com/-7APLbU

AnthonyMSG If LeBron comes into our backyard and says he's going to play For The Heat!!!!! Come on!!!

Living on a 3am Prayer Tweet:
jadande Part of me thinks LeBron's camp is just floating this Miami thing to gauge the reaction. And what I've seen has not been positive.

Ramblings of an Idiot Tweets:

PH Sports PHSports Peak-a-boo. http://tiny.cc/lbjcry I'm going to...Miami. To dilute my brand and always be #2 in Miami-Wade County. Call him Prince Harry. #2.


PH Sports PHSports @AnthonyMSG His "circle" hadn't let anything slip - to this degree potentially - until now. So why now? Seems somewhat likely it's a decoy.
PH Sports PHSports @AnthonyMSG I guess the "hope" in Cleveland and NYC is that LeBron had one of his inner circle put out the Miami rumor to distract people.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Scenarios Galore

Do I keep any dignity if I beg???
Credit: TonySports


LeBron James is making his announcement on Thursday at 9pm on ESPN.
He's even selling advertisements (
for charity, admittedly) for the hour potentially.
Wow. An entire hour.
Ego, much?

Question is (okay, question #14 on my list), how long do they (James & ESPN's producers) draw it out? (
over/under 9.5 minutes.)
How many people see their blood pressure spike by 150% in the opening 15 minutes?

So is that an hour focused on new beginnings (
perhaps a conference call with Amar'e???) in New York or staying in Cleveland (can he bribe Bosh with extra $$$ or an endorsement???).

Man, how
sappy could that be (Cleveland for an hour)???
Or how
sweet (New York for a lifetime)!?!?!?

Seriously, why is this guy getting so much love right now? I may take Amar'e AND Boozer over him. Seriously.
Credit: Umbrohi

In the end, I think it's down to these two teams (
NY & Cleveland, of course). I may be WAAAAY off, by I just can't see how LeBron is going to Chicago (w/ Bosh) any longer. Too many cooks in the Chicago stew. He isn't going to Miami with Wade and Bosh either. That money won't work one way or another. Not enough (basket)balls in Miami, either. Of course, if they (i.e. Bosh & Wade) showed up on-screen a mere 20 seconds after James opened his "press conference"...the world may stop spinning on its axis.

I would call for Miami to be removed from the Union, by the way.

I could speculate on and on and on (and on...), but following my Twitter feed is more fun.
And if you're a Knicks fan, this is a MANDATORY viewing every 6 1/2 minutes (or less, if you wish).

So instead of pulling out what little hair I CHOOSE to have left, I'm going hold tight to anything Knicks I can find (might be tough in this apartment in the 8-0-4) and hold out hope.

Funny thing is, I'll be in a car en route to Atlantic City this weekend when the announcement drops. I'll expect text messages and have several twitter feeds ready to update my phone (
sad, right?).

All I know is, I'm currently doing something I didn't expect to do.
I'm allowing myself to have hope.
For better or worse.

New York...it's a hell of a town.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Saturday Night Live: NBA Free Agency Tweeting

If you aren't tweeting yet, this week was the week to be introduced to it. Sure, Chris Bosh needs a little more attention than your average MTV Jersey Shore cast member; however, it's fascinating to see the myriad of opinions - from the "experts" to the fan-fueled blogs - that have been absolutely flooding the web since July 1st (and obviously beforehand).

There hasn't been this much hype about a class since these kids took over Bayside back in '93.
Credit: 123People

Which got me to thinking, in between tweets of my own, about a few things, as we approach July 5th (which I consider to be the informal D-Day of the Summer of 2010):

1) Rudy Gay
should be a Houston Rocket. Did you know that? Houston balked on keeping Gay, the 8th overall pick, and instead dealt him for Shane Battier (and picked up Stromile Swift's bad contract). It's true. While Houston has plenty of talent on its roster, isn't Gay everything they've been looking for the past few offseasons and trade deadlines? I hated that deal then and I still hate it now.

Think he's a future #1? Think again. A 1B? Think again. A solid #2. Okay, now I'm listening.
Credit: EpicMess


2)
Chris Bosh wants to get paid first and foremost. So does Joe Johnson. You can't blame either for that. Neither has a sniff of the stature of a LeBron, Wade, or even a Boozer (yeah, I said it). Nevertheless, I think Johnson (who once said: "I'm playing for whomever pays Joe Johnson the most money") is a little more likely to forgo a few bucks (just a few, mind you) for a winning situation (i.e. being one of the 3 pieces to a free agent pie). Then again, neither guy is a #1 and neither deserves anything close to #1 money. Even you, Mr. Bosh...max contract or not.

3) I like (SARCASM!) how ridiculously confident the Miami-media and reports from Dwayne Wade (from everyone who wasn't Dwayne Wade) have been the past week. While I think Wade is staying in South Beach, wouldn't it be fun - especially as a Knick fan - to see them left totally empty handed? I think so.



Think he's going somewhere unexpectedly? Think again.
Credit: BettorsEdge

4) Carmelo Anthony (aka "my boy") isn't going anywhere. Not this summer, at least. Denver isn't going to trade him. They can blow everything up, and still will keep their centerpiece. Last night, I was trying to think of who'd I'd take over Melo right now to start up my franchise. The list is short, you know. Kobe, LeBron, Wade, Durant, and ???. To be honest, the list probably ends there. I just can't elevate CP3, Deron Williams, or any current young PG over Melo. Dwight Howard vs. Melo is an interesting study. One that likely deserves some debate. Or perhaps a poll question...

5) By the way, if you asked me a gunpoint
who I would rather the Knicks have on their roster next season: LeBron or Carmelo...I'd have a tough time battling my head over my heart on that debate.

6)
The NBA will have a work stoppage in 2011. It will likely cost them an entire season or a MAJOR chunk of it. Ditto for the NFL. Memo to baseball: use this to your advantage. If you speed up the game (big time), add a sophisticated replay system, and promote young talent properly (i.e. Strasburg and Heyward)...progress shall be made in recapturing the hearts of America. More than just Yanks and Sox-love, too.

Here is where I would
LIKE to see the major free agents go (within the realm of reality):
Knicks sign LeBron, Amar'e, and trade David Lee (sign-and-trade) for Tony Parker.
Hawks retain Joe Johnson (and pay his ridiculous contract).

Heat re-sign Wade and pull a sign-and-trade for Chris Bosh.
Beasley won't like Toronto, by the way.
Chicago signs Carlos Boozer and Mike Miller.

We all know already about Pierce, Dirk, and Gay staying put. Sorry Cleveland.

Here is what I think
WILL happen.
Cleveland retains LeBron James. They sign Mike Miller, too. That's it, for now. Seriously.
Houston pulls off the sign-and-trade for Chris Bosh.

Knicks sign Amar'e and overpay Ray Allen for a 3-year deal.

Hawks keep Joe Johnson (and pay his ridiculous contract).

Heat keep Wade and sign Carlos Boozer. Wade regrets re-signing within 48 minutes, not hours.

Chicago has a MUCH quieter off-season than you think and starts developing packages for Carmelo in 2011.
David Lee takes too much money in Minnesota.
Al Jefferson gets dealt to Dallas for Dampier's expiring contract and Caron Butler.


Regardless of what happens , I'm taking LA to 3-peat (
shudder) in 2011. Same old, same old.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

2010 NBA Mock Draft (FINAL with trade predictions)

ROUND 1

1. WashingtonJohn Wall, PG, Kentucky. The last time Washington had the 1st pick, it was in a weak draft and they selected Kwame Brown. This draft is different. Barring injury, Wall will be a franchise player. Expect the Wizards to win at least 35 games this season.

2. PhiladelphiaEvan Turner, SG, Ohio State. If Wall is 1A, then Turner is 1B. Despite rumors indicating that Turner would eventually land in Minnesota for a package of picks, just look no further than the mere handful of players that the 76ers have worked out. They have their man in Turner.

3. New JerseyDerrick Favors, PF, Georgia Tech. The physical forward is an impact player at both ends of the floor and can become a 20/10 guy in three years’ time. Favors will need to learn how to stay out of foul trouble. Rumors are flying about a blockbuster trade with Indiana involving Danny Granger and Devin Harris.

4. MinnesotaWesley Johnson, SF, Syracuse. A great shooter, rebounder, and defender. Though others have not pointed this out, I question Johnson’s durability.

5. SacramentoDeMarcus Cousins, C, Kentucky. Jay Bilas (and everyone else) put it best. DeMarcus Cousins is the only thing preventing DeMarcus Cousins from being a star in this league. He’s talented, a great rebounder, with a surprising 7’5” wingspan. Cousins needs to become more skilled, but the Kings will be happy to acquire his physicality down low to abut that of Samuel Dalembert.

6. Golden StateGreg Monroe, PF, Georgetown. Monroe is the best passing big man in the draft, and perhaps the most complete frontcourt player in the draft.

7. Detroit Epke Udoh, PF, Baylor. He’s an athletic 4 who can play the 5. He’s 23, which causes concern. His athleticism fits into the scheme, but Udoh is limited in the half-court set.

8. LA ClippersAl-Farouq Aminu, SF, Wake Forest. An amazing leaper with excellent athleticism and versatility, Aminu could be the best prospect from this draft. The knocks on him are his [in]ability to create his own shot and securing the basketball.

9. UtahLuke Babbitt, SF, Nevada. There are two camps. One that Utah taking Luke Babbitt and one that has them taking Ed Davis. Babbitt is a great shooter, who excelled in two seasons at Nevada. He could the long-term replacement for Kyle Korver.

10. Indiana - Gordon Hayward, SF, Butler. Larry Bird has expressed his interest in Hayward, who like Bird, played his hoops in Indiana. Hayward is a brilliant scorer, who’s an underrated defender and rebounder. He can dominate without a lot of offensive touches, which is something that can be said about few players in this draft class.

11. New OrleansPaul George, SF, Fresno State. At 6’9”, he’s taller than the other wing prospects in this draft and is among the most skilled as well.

12. MemphisPatrick Patterson, PF, Kentucky. Patterson is an inside-outside threat who had a marked improvement at the defensive end this season. If the Grizz do not re-sign Zach Randolph, then Patterson serves as an insurance policy. Let’s just hope Randolph is not his off-court mentor.

13. TorontoEd Davis, PF, North Carolina. Davis presents a lot of upside at the power forward position. Wiry and explosive, Davis is active in the paint. Davis struggled in his sophomore season, enabling him to nearly drop out of the lottery.

TRADE: Toronto trades the 13th pick overall to Portland for the 22nd pick overall and cash considerations

14. HoustonCole Aldrich, C, Kansas. Aldrich will not a league MVP title, but he can patrol the lane at the defensive end and improve a weak Houston frontcourt.

15. MilwaukeeXavier Henry, SG, Kansas. Henry’s an upside guy who has great athleticism and a freakish wingspan. However, he’ll need to make better decisions re: shot selection and improve at the defensive end.

16. MinnesotaLarry Sanders, PF/C, VCU. A prolific shot-blocker at VCU, Sanders improved each year offensively. He’ll be a nice addition to the frontline.

17. ChicagoDamion James, SF/PF, Texas. James is a hustle player who averaged a double-double for much of his collegiate career in the Big XII thanks to a 7-foot wingspan. To get better, James will need to improve his ball-handling and passing skills.

TRADE: Chicago sends Kirk Hinrich and the 17th pick overall to Washington for future considerations

18. Oklahoma CityTibor Pleiss, C, Brose Baskets. Among the more skilled big men in this draft class, Pleiss’s weight has been listed as 210 and as high as 257 depending on your source.

19. Boston - James Anderson, SG, Oklahoma State. Boston will not hold onto this pick, so Anderson is the best player available.

TRADE: Boston trades the 19th pick overall to Cleveland for a future 1st-round pick, Leon Powe and cash considerations

20. San AntonioAvery Bradley, SG, Texas. A combo guard, Bradley may be the best backcourt defender in this year’s class. At 6’2”, Bradley may be expected to play the point, which he struggled at.

21. Oklahoma CityEric Bledsoe, PG/SG, Kentucky. Bledsoe is among the best on-the-ball defenders in the draft. While not a true point guard, he can develop into one.

TRADE: Oklahoma City trades the 21st pick overall to Indiana for cash considerations

22. Portland - Solomon Alabi, C, Florida State. Alabi is a proven shot-blocker with a limited offensive profile. He has ties to the Toronto organization, which makes this pick more believable. Not to mention, Toronto cannot spell defense.

(PICK GOES TO TORONTO per earlier listed trade)

23. MinnesotaKevin Seraphin, C/PF, Cholet. Raw in terms of offensive footwork, Seraphin can contribute defensively. Don’t be surprised if Seraphin stays in Europe for a year or two to develop.

24. Atlanta - Dominique Jones, SG, South Florida. Jones is a dynamic combo guard with an NBA body who can create shots for himself in a variety of ways and has been known to have several scoring outbursts.

25. MemphisDevin Ebanks, SF, West Virginia. Ebanks is a wiry, physical player who crashes the boards and does not give up on defense. Unless he adds muscle, he will be pushed around when asked to guard power forwards.

26. Oklahoma City - Hassan Whiteside, PF/C, Marshall. The rationale for picking Whiteside is that he presents a skill set as a specialist (shot blocking). He is unproven offensively, but that is not a bad thing if he can clean up the boards.

TRADE: Oklahoma City trades the 26th pick overall and Byron Mullens to Denver for cash considerations and a future pick

27. New JerseyJordan Crawford, SG, Xavier. When he was at Indiana, you could see the potential. You could see that Crawford could go on scoring sprees. He could easily average 20 points a game in the right situation.

28. MemphisDaniel Orton, PF, Kentucky. When a team has players who take a lot of shots, you need to surround them with role players who can contribute in other ways. Orton fits that bill as a physical defender who can also block shots. Don’t be surprised if he slips into the 2nd round.

TRADE: Memphis trades the 28th pick overall and Marko Jaric to Dallas for DeShawn Stevenson, Eduardo Najera and cash considerations

29. Orlando - Greivis Vasquez, PG, Maryland. The Magic have only worked out a few players. If they hang onto the pick, then Vasquez can immediately step in at backup point guard, which will be a position of need with Jason Williams and Anthony Johnson out of contract.

30. Washington - Quincy Pondexter, SF, Washington. A matchup nightmare. That’s what opposing coaches have called Pondexter over the years. Pondexter excels in an open game, but has improved his skills in the half-court set.

ROUND 2
31. New Jersey – Jerome Jordan, C, Tulsa
32. Miami – Gani Lawal, PF, Georgia Tech
33. Sacramento – Sherron Collins, PG, Kansas
34. Portland – Ryan Richards, PF, Gran Canaria
35. Washington – Craig Brackins, PF, Iowa State
36. Detroit – Armon Johnson, PG, Nevada
37. Milwaukee – Terrico White, PG/SG, Ole Miss
38. New York – Elliot Williams, SG, Memphis
39. New York – Stanley Robinson, SF/PF, Connecticut
40. Indiana – Willie Warren, PG/SG, Oklahoma
41. Miami – Lance Stephenson, SG, Cincinnati
42. Miami - Jon Scheyer, PG, Duke
43. LA Lakers – Alexey Shved, PG, Dynamo Moscow
44. Milwaukee – Omar Samhan, C, St. Mary’s
45. Minnesota – Trevor Booker, PF, Clemson
46. Phoenix - Darington Hobson, SF, Milwaukee
47. Milwaukee - Jarvis Varnado, PF, Mississippi State

TRADE: Milwaukee trades the 47th pick overall to New York for cash considerations

48. Miami – Lazar Hayward, SF, Marquette
49. San Antonio – Elijah Millsap, SF, UAB
50. Dallas – Dexter Pittman, C, Texas
51. Oklahoma City – Nemanja Bjelica, SF, Red Star
52. Boston – Ryan Thompson, SG, Rider
53. Atlanta – Keith “Tiny” Gallon, PF, Oklahoma

TRADE: Atlanta trades the 53rd pick overall to New Jersey for cash considerations

54. LA Clippers – Mikhail Torrence, PG/SG, Alabama
55. Utah – Thomas Huertel, PG, Strasbourg

TRADE: Utah trades the 55th pick to Toronto for cash considerations

56. Minnesota – Charles Garcia, SF, Seattle
57. Indiana – Samardo Samuels, PF, Louisville

TRADE: Indiana trades the 57th pick overall to Houston for a future 2nd-round pick and cash considerations

58. LA Lakers – Luke Harangody, PF, Notre Dame

TRADE: LA Lakers trade the 58th overall pick to Golden State for cash considerations

59. Orlando – Da’Sean Butler, SF, West Virginia
60. Phoenix – Andy Rautins, SG, Syracuse

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

2010 NBA Draft Quick Hits

A few quick tidbits to pass along ...
  • The Nets are now turning their sights to Wes Johnson with the 3rd pick.
  • Al-Farouq Aminu canceled his visit to the Detroit Pistons who hold the 7th pick. This could mean that he has a promise in the top 6. If Wes Johnson goes in the top 4, then this is very possible.
  • While Ryan Richards is rising up draft charts, Hassan Whiteside is sliding down the big board. Richards will not last after pick 33.
  • The Mavs, Cavs, and Nuggets want back in the first round. The Raptors and Wizards want to each add a pick. Possible sellers include the Clippers (8), Pacers (10; seeking a point guard in return), Chicago (17), Miami (18), Boston (19) Atlanta (24), Oklahoma City (multiple), Memphis (multiple) and Orlando (29). The rumored cost of a 1st-round pick is $3M, but that sounds like a conservative estimate.
  • Trade rumor reported by ESPN's Andy Katz: Memphis would acquire the 16th pick from Minnesota for the 25th and 28th. This would give Minnesota 4 first-round picks [that they don't need] and two second-round picks. I'm still trying to understand Michael Kahn's master plan. Clearly, he is no Sam Presti. Kahn's lack of creativity as a general manager is only matched by NBA veterans' non-desire to play in Minnesota. It may be possible that the stockpiling of picks is a precursor to acquiring Evan Turner via trade from Philadelphia, who holds only one pick but has many holes. Could the 4th, 23rd, and 25th/28th be enough to lure the Sixers?
  • Don't be shocked if Portland successfully packages the 22nd and 34th picks and possibly a player for a higher pick in the 1st round. Kevin Pritchard may be on his way out, but I'll be damned if there's a GM who's done more for draft night ratings [and shrewd evaluation of players] than he has.
  • Though Clement had mentioned CP3 trade rumors weeks ago, I'm choosing to ignore trade rumors in the mainstream media.

Monday, June 21, 2010

2010 NBA Mock Draft (1-Round)

NOTE: This edition does not include trades. In our final edition, we will make trade predictions.

1. WashingtonJohn Wall, PG, Kentucky. The last time Washington had the 1st pick, it was in a weak draft and they selected Kwame Brown. This draft is different. Barring injury, Wall will be a franchise player.

2. PhiladelphiaEvan Turner, SG, Ohio State. If Wall is 1A, then Turner is 1B. Despite making the pick, expect the 76ers to trade the rights to Turner to either New Jersey or Minnesota.

3. New JerseyDerrick Favors, PF, Georgia Tech. The physical forward is an impact player at both ends of the floor and can become a 20/10 guy in three years’ time. Favors will need to learn how to stay out of foul trouble.

4. Minnesota DeMarcus Cousins, C, Kentucky. Let’s face it. Al Jefferson is not a center. Wesley Johnson, who many have tabbed as the pick here, is not a desirable trade piece for Philadelphia. Joe Dumars is desperate to land the big man and may throw everything and the kitchen sink to land Cousins. That said, who wants their garbage?

5. SacramentoGreg Monroe, PF, Georgetown. The Kings now have Dalembert, Thompson, Landry, but their frontcourt remains their biggest weakness. Monroe is the best passing big man in the draft, and perhaps the most complete frontcourt player in the draft.

6. Golden StateWesley Johnson, SF, Syracuse. The Warriors love their wing players, and both Johnson and Al-Farouq Aminu are amazing fits. The nod goes to Johnson, who is a better defensive player.

7. DetroitEpke Udoh, PF, Baylor. Since they drafted every small forward in last year’s draft pool, the Pistons are in an unenviable position. Based on who the Pistons have worked out so far, Udoh is the pick. He’s an athletic 4 who can play 5. He’s 23, which causes concern. If Detroit decides to go in a different direction, Cole Aldrich may be the pick.

8. LA ClippersAl-Farouq Aminu, SF, Wake Forest. Aminu will not slip past this pick and the Clippers get a steal. An amazing leaper with excellent athleticism and versatility, Aminu could be the best prospect from this draft. The knocks on him are his [in]ability to create his own shot and securing the basketball.

9. UtahEd Davis, PF, North Carolina. I’m not in love with this pick, but Davis is the best prospect at a ‘need’ position with the likely departure of Carlos Boozer and the bust that is Kosta Koufos.

10. Indiana - Avery Bradley, SG, Texas. Expect the Pacers to trade down, because they are stocked with young big men and are weak in the frontcourt. If they are lazy or are forced to play their hand, Bradley, who they’d like to convert to the point, is the pick. That said, Bradley had moments when he lacked vision and made bad decisions.

11. New Orleans – Paul George, SF, Fresno State. The Hornets have made no secret that they are in love with George. At 6’9”, he’s taller than the other wing prospects in this draft and is among the most skilled as well.

12. Memphis – Patrick Patterson, PF, Kentucky. Patterson is an inside-outside threat who had a marked improvement at the defensive end this season. If the Grizz do not re-sign Zach Randolph, then Patterson serves as an insurance policy. Let’s just hope Randolph is not his off-court mentor.

13. Toronto – Cole Aldrich, C, Kansas. The Raptors need a true center. Bargnani played center, but will likely return to his natural position of power forward. Aldrich was a dominant defender at the collegiate level, and can make adjustments to the pro game quickly though it may not come in his first season.

14. HoustonGordon Hayward, SF, Butler. The Rockets brass have come up and said that they will select the best prospect, even if they are already stocked at the position. Hayward is their man because of his ability to take over a game without having to score points.

15. MilwaukeeLuke Babbitt, SF, Nevada. Babbitt may be the best pure shooter in this year’s crop, and it’s wise to surround Brandon Jennings with as many role players as possible. The jury is out on how his defense will fit into Scott Skiles’s plans.

16. MinnesotaXavier Henry, SG, Kansas. If the Wolves land Evan Turner via trade or select Wesley Johnson, then they will select Hassan Whiteside. If they do not, they cannot pass up on Henry’s upside and freakish ability. Henry will need to improve his shot selection at the next level.

17. ChicagoJames Anderson, SG, Oklahoma State. A proven scorer and defender is exactly what the Bulls need. If the Bulls trade down, they may select Gani Lawal, Jerome Jordan or Dominique Jones.

18. MiamiHassan Whiteside, PF/C, Marshall. This pick is wide open given that Miami will be affected more by free agency than any other team. The rationale for picking Whiteside is that he presents a skill set as a specialist (shot blocking). He is unproven offensively, but that is not a bad thing if he can clean up the boards.

19. BostonLarry Sanders, PF/C, VCU. With the rumored retirement of Rasheed Wallace and Kendrick Perkins being out of contract, the Celtics need to get replenished down low. Sanders is a shot blocker who’s improved as a 1-on-1 defender. If the Celtics go with Daniel Orton, it may spell the end of Perkins’s stay in Beantown.

20. San AntonioDominique Jones, SG, South Florida. Jones is a dynamic combo guard with an NBA body who can create shots for himself in a variety of ways and has been known to have several scoring outbursts. Unfortunately, the tweener label applies.

21. Oklahoma CityDaniel Orton, PF, Kentucky. When a team has two players who take a lot of shots, you need to surround them with role players who can contribute in other ways. Orton fits that bill as a physical defender who can also block shots.

22. PortlandEric Bledsoe, PG/SG, Kentucky. Portland has a knack for selecting players who other teams want in order to get their guy. I will assume that their guy will be off the board in time for their pick. Bledsoe is among the best on-the-ball defenders in the draft. While not a true point guard, he can develop into one.

23. MinnesotaSolomon Alabi, C, Florida State. Alabi is a proven shot-blocker with a limited offensive profile. Toronto may buy back into the first round to grab Alabi, who has ties with the organization.

24. AtlantaGani Lawal, PF, Georgia Tech. The Hawks need muscle and the local product may be the guy to provide it. They, however, can go in many directions. If so, Devin Ebanks may hear his name at this point.

25. MemphisElliot Williams, SG, Memphis. Rudy Gay and Ronnie Brewer may leave in free agency, so it may be good to stock up now in case one or both leave. Williams is a scorer, but is also a strong defender despite his small frame.

26. Oklahoma CityDamion James, SF, Texas. James is a hustle player who averaged a double-double for much of his collegiate career in the Big XII thanks to a 7-foot wingspan. To get better, James will need to improve his ball-handling and passing skills.

27. New JerseyDevin Ebanks, SF, West Virginia. Ebanks is a wiry, physical player who crashes the boards and does not give up on defense. Unless he adds muscle, he will be pushed around when asked to guard power forwards.

28. MemphisQuincy Pondexter, SF, Washington. A matchup nightmare. That’s what opposing coaches have called Pondexter over the years. Pondexter excels in an open game, but has improved his skills in the half-court set.

29. OrlandoGreivis Vasquez, PG, Maryland. The Magic have only worked out a few players. If they hang onto the pick, then Vasquez can immediately step in at backup point guard, which will be a position of need with Jason Williams and Anthony Johnson out of contract.

30. WashingtonJerome Jordan, C, Tulsa. Slated as a second-round pick until recent weeks, Jordan has impressed teams in workouts with his defensive prowess. His 7’5” wingspan doesn’t hurt either.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Soccer Scenarios and Stuff

After a rather thrilling USA/Slovenia matchup - especially during the last day of school - it became quite clear I needed my World Cup scenarios (for Group C) explained.

Meet Koman Coulibaly. Jim Joyce thinks he blew that call...badly.
Credit: AP


Have no fear, for CNNSI.com's Georgina Turner has us covered:

Group C is wide open after Friday's play, with three points separating all four teams. When the last two games kick off simultaneously at 10 a.m. ET next Wednesday, almost anything could happen. Here's how the various scenarios pan out for the U.S.:

If the U.S. defeats Algeria -- It will go through regardless of the other result, though its final ranking will be affected by that result. If Slovenia beats England, the U.S. will qualify second. If England beats Slovenia, it will be level on points with the U.S. and goal difference will come into play -- currently, that goes in favor of the U.S.

If the U.S. loses to Algeria -- It cannot progress to the next round, no matter the other result.

If the U.S. ties with Algeria and England loses to Slovenia -- Bob Bradley's team will qualify second behind the Slovenians.

If the U.S. ties and England wins -- England and Slovenia will qualify.

If the U.S. ties and England and Slovenia also draw -- Slovenia will top the group. England and the U.S. will be split by goal difference, but the U.S. currently has a two-goal advantage in goals scored in that category.

Be warned: If Wednesday's results mirror Friday's -- with England drawing 2-2 with Slovenia and the U.S. tying 0-0 with Algeria -- Slovenia will qualify first, and FIFA will draw lots for second place.

As for Saturday and Sunday's slates, here are 5 questions I am pondering...

1) Will the "real" Cameroon (vs. Denmark) either STAND UP or just fade away with a disappointing showing this World Cup?
2) After Germany's hiccup (or more) against Serbia earlier today, will Ghana prove to be the top dog in Group D (vs. Australia)?
3) Can Ivory Coast, with Drogba perhaps starting in Game #2, keep up with Brazil up and down the field?
4) Is Italy the next "giant" due for major disappointment in their second game?
5) How good is Paraguay?

We'll find out soon enough, right? RIGHT!?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

2010 NBA Draft: Key Themes

It’s no secret that the 2010 NBA Draft is overshadowed by not only the NBA Finals, the World Cup, and the free agency period which will follow it shortly after the draft. That said, this draft is deeper than those in recent memory, and teams that come in with a plan can see great improvement, as seen in Oklahoma City and Memphis.

The themes below encapsulate the key storylines that will dominate draft night.
  • Washington holds 3 picks among the first 35 and have only 6 players under contract. It’s a foregone conclusion that John Wall will be the first pick. If the Bullets can parlay picks 30 and 35 into bench contributors, then Ernie Grunfeld will live to see more days as the Bullets GM.
  • Philadelphia has the 2nd pick overall (their only pick), and Evan Turner would be the value pick. However, Andre Iguodala and Thaddeus Young are already on a roster that lacks inside muscle. Not to mention, Samuel Dalembert, the team's only real roster, is in the last year of his contract.
  • Minnesota owns 3 picks in the first round (pick #s 4, 16, 23) and 5 picks overall. They could use interior depth, but have a gaping hole at the shooting guard position. Could Minnesota package 3 picks into a trade with the 76ers and select Evan Turner?
  • If your roster is starving for power forwards and centers, then this is your draft. I have given 1st-round grades to 11 power forwards and centers. If I had any love for Kevin Seraphin, that number would be one higher.
  • After John Wall, there are no true point guards with a 1st-round grade. Shooting guards Avery Bradley, Eric Bledsoe, Armon Johnson (combo guard), and Terrico White may play point guard at the next level.
  • Toronto is actively attempting to acquire a pick in the 20s. Cap-starved teams like Orlando and teams with multiple first round picks (Minnesota, Oklahoma City, Memphis) are possible dance partners for the Raptors. That said, the Raptors have approximately $46M locked up in contracts next season that do not include Chris Bosh. They are in serious trouble.
  • What will Mikhail Prokhorov do in his first draft? His Nets hold picks 3, 27 and 31. They some good young pieces in Brook Lopez, Devin Harris, Courtney Lee, Yi Jianlian, Terrence Williams, and Chris Douglas-Roberts, but will be wise to add muscle to the frontcourt.
  • According to John Sheridan of ESPN.com, the current asking price for a spare 2nd-round pick has a starting price of $1.5M. Of course, picks in the early half of the 2nd round are more expensive. Last year, Houston paid Washington $2.5M in Lil' Flip albums for the 32nd pick overall.
  • The Knicks will be calling teams to possibly purchase 2nd-round picks (in addition to their two early second-round picks), who would cost them a paltry cap figure of $473,604, and effectively fill out their roster.
  • Who will fall precipitously on draft night? We don't know yet, and we won't know until draft night. All I know is that calls and texts will be prefaced by, "What were they thinking? I can't believe [insert name] is still on the board." Two years ago, it was Darrell Arthur. Last year, it was Pittsburgh's DeJuan Blair and Sam Young.

Monday, June 07, 2010

2010 PHSports Mock Draft: Would’ve Should’ve (Lottery Edition)

Pay will be dishing out the expertise in a week or two; however, I’d like to rant on who I’d take if I would draft, as a team President and/or GM (within the lottery only, mind you).

Enjoy…

Fear not Wizard fans. I won't stray you from the obvious #1-selection.
Credit: UKBigBlueNation

#1. Washington Wizards select … John Wall (G, Kentucky)
He’s offering almost everything Derrick Rose did. While point guards often take a back seat to big men with the #1 overall pick in the NBA Draft, there is NO valid reason I can see not to take Wall and build your franchise around him. Of course, this is the Wizards…

#2. Philadelphia 76ers select … DeMarcus Cousins (C, Kentucky)
Pay made an excellent case that, if the 76ers front office decides to keep Iggy, Turner isn’t the right man for Philadelphia with the #2 pick. While there is NO denying his immense all-around talents, I’d be willing to take a chance on Cousins. He has a mean streak that, if harnessed, could produce scary results (especially in a center-starved Eastern Conference). Assuming his fitness is addressed, of course.

#3. New Jersey Nets select ... Evan Turner (G/F, Ohio State)
You don’t get the #1 pick, yet you may walk away with pound-for-pound the best pure talent in this draft. He can help immediately, but shouldn’t be asked to. He is a vital cog, but not a 1A performer for a future title contender. Instead, Turner reminds me of a clone combining some of the best traits of Danny Granger (if his outside shooting improves) and Scottie Pippen (if his defense improves). Scary stuff, right?

Al Jefferson's future in Minnesota isn't set in stone, right?
If not, this pick becomes a true wild-card.

Credit: NBC Sports

#4. Minnesota Timberwolves select … Derrick Favors (PF/C, Georgia Tech)
I’m not completely sold on the guy, but he offers a lot more bulk than many of the other options at the all-too-popular PF/C position this draft. Current Minnesota-big Al Jefferson may not be a permanent fixture for the franchise, so Favors, as the very least, offers a future replacement. If Jefferson is a T-Wolf for good, I’d jump all over Wes Johnson’s athleticism as a #3 alongside Love and the aforementioned Jefferson.

#5. Sacramento Kings select … Greg Monroe (PF/C, Georgetown)
Utah has to be praying Monroe slips to #9, but he won’t. Monroe is a new-age Brad Miller, who enjoyed quite a bit of success in SacTown during his tenure. While Monroe doesn’t scream “All-Star” to me, he is a great compliment alongside Tyreke Evans and the youthful Kings.
Note: I’d love to swap at #9 with Utah and see Sacremento wait and select Kansas’ Xavier Henry, by the way.

#6. Golden State Warriors select … Cole Aldrich (C, Kansas)
I’m not nearly as high on Aldrich as this pick might entail. However, I think Biedrins (and his contract) should be moved this offseason, if possible. The last thing this team needs is another developing swingman-esque athlete on their roster (Morrow, Maggette, Randolph). I love Wes Johnson’s potential…but don’t like him sitting so much on an already youthful team.

For Johnson to truly become a superstar, he needs an envrionment (and head coach) who can nurture his potential and help enrich his skill-set. If those happen, he's the #2-overall talent in this draft, in my opinion.
Credit: Syracuse.com

#7. Detroit Pistons select … Wesley Johnson (SF/PF, Syracuse)
It’s odd to see Detroit selecting this early, isn’t it? If only they didn’t give out those two deals last year (Gordon/Villenueva especially), they’d be a much bigger player in the Summer of 2010. Johnson has a tremendous upside, but needs steady coaching and stability. He needs to learn how to find his shot off the dribble and NOT fall in love with an inconsistent outside shot. His length alone already allows Detroit to move Tayshaun Prince, as well.

#8. Los Angeles Clippers select … Ekpe Udoh (PF/C, Baylor)
I love this guy. I loved everything he did in the NCAA Tournament. The Clipper have their young nucleus…for now…with Gordon (PG) and Griffin (PF). Nevertheless, the rest of their roster (especially with veterans Baron Davis and Chris Kaman far from locked into the teams’ future), isn’t much to smile about. Udoh is a big body who can split minutes at the 4 with Griffin and bring some muscle into the paint. He also doesn’t need the ball in hands to be a productive contributor. I see a lot of Serge Ibaka in him.

#9. Utah Jazz select … Xavier Henry (SG, Kansas)
Call me crazy, but this guy might be the sleeper of the early-to-mid 1st round. Henry just scratched the surface last year and would benefit tremendously from Jerry Sloan and the veteran-laden Jazz. Imagine if he used his length to play defense. Scary. While replacing Boozer (potentially leaving this summer) may be priority #1 for the Jazz, the 2-guard position in Utah hasn’t been nearly productive enough in recent years. In fact, when has it been since Jeff Hornacek???

#10. Indiana Pacers select … Al Farouq-Aminu (SF/PF, Wake Forest)
I think he may be one of the easiest busts to predict, especially if he goes in the top 5 or 6. Nevertheless, I hope he finds a team that allows him to mature at a realistic pace. He doesn’t need to be in a place like Golden State or Los Angeles, earning minutes based on measurements. Instead, let the Pacers avoid the all-too-easy pick – Gordon Hayward – and give themselves an athletic, high-risk/high-reward piece to their young nucleus.

Are people too easily writing this guy off? I'd be guilty alongside those who already have.
Credit: NBADraft.net

#11. New Orleans Hornets select … Hassan Whiteside (C, Marshall)
CP3 is leaving. Count on it. Nevertheless, Darren Collison may be more than just a stop gap at the point guard position. Then again, is there a point worth of this slot? I doubt it, highly. I know Okafor is there, but let’s be honest…he’s not a center. Never has been in the NBA. So why not take a chance on Whiteside and see if he’s more Andrew Bynum than Saer Sene.

#12. Memphis Grizzlies select … Avery Bradley (SG, Texas)
A high-riser, maybe for only me, Bradley would allow the Grizzlies to make some tough moves on the fates of their young roster. There’s no telling where Rudy Gay ends up and Mike Coley has far from sewn up the point guard position in Memphis. Frankly, I’d be willing to build around Mayo (PG) and work from there. Selecting another untested big, alongside the already-developing Hasheem Thabeet, is a mistake. Take a 2-guard who can play with or without the ball. Zach Randolph’s legal troubles (surprise surprise) may alter this completely.

#13. Toronto Raptors select … Larry Sanders (PF/C, VCU)
Homer, right? Probably. Here come the Ed Davis-lovers. Bosh decides this pick (basically), doesn’t he? Problem is, they won’t know for sure come draft day where Bosh stands. While he’s likely gone (even if it’s a sign-and-trade), the Raptors also need to deal with Hedo and the potential of a large chunk of cap-space available with no free agent to lure. Sanders, who has done as well as any bigs in rookie camps, still has a LOT of work to do. Especially with his attitude. Nevertheless, Sanders has just as many, if not greater, physical tools equal of the BCS-conference draftees many have going before him. He is just scratching the surface, while also performing at a higher level than several bigs who have only been “projected” to perform (Whiteside, Orton, etc.).

#14. Houston Rockets select … James Anderson (SG, Oklahoma State)
He’s my Paul Pierce/Danny Graner/Rajon Rondo/DeJuan Blair of this year’s draft. A guy I know will be a solid NBA pro. Some are superstars and some are glue guys. Nevertheless, each draft has a guy or two that far too many GOOD teams passed over. Anderson could be a star, but won’t be a top 10 (or even top 20???) pick. The Rockets would be wise to get this guy on their roster, no matter if it’s “too early” or not. He’d also earn plenty of minutes, which he might not do going in the twenties.

There are more than a few absent names in this top 14, right? Patrick Patterson, Gordon Hayward, & Ed Davis (below).
Credit: JBJSports

Of course, the true story will be told soon enough. 17+ days, to be prices.