Friday, June 24, 2011

Post NBA Draft Breakdown

First things first, Cleveland marked a line in the sand by drafting Kyrie Irving with the 1st overall pick.  They clearly wanted a point guard for the next 10 years, and he fits that bill.  The Cavs threw the first major curve ball of the draft by selecting Tristan Thompson.  I'm not sure what Cavs GM Chris Grant was thinking with this pick. I like Thompson as a lottery pick, but at least 4 picks later.

Minnesota may not be the league's doormat forever.  I really like their 3s and 4s with Love, 2nd pick overall Derrick Williams, and Michael Beasley (who I think should be traded).  They also have a lot of talent in the pipeline.  They were also very strategic about their selections, and could be a force to be reckoned with if they can improve by 10 wins each of the next two years and can retain talent.  Bogdanovic could be a steal, though trading away the rights to Mirotic and Cole (best rebounding guard in the draft, who can also fill it up and pass) could be moves that GM David Kahn could live to regret.

Though I am a slightly-biased resident of the DC area, I love the Wizards' draft and their new hats.  If Jan Vesely can play basketball anything like he kisses, the Wiz kids will be borderline watchable as the next season we have basketball.  He's a high-motor PF, which the Wizards badly need, and provides competition for the ever-lazy and pouting Andray Blatche.  When the Knicks were picking at 17, I was hoping "Please don't pick Singleton!  Please don't pick Singleton!"  When they took Shumpert, the Wizards landed the best defender in the draft class.  Players in the mold of Singleton and 2010 1st-round pick Trevor Booker are exactly what the Wizards need.  At pick 34, the Wizards needed a shooting guard who can back up John Wall at the point, and selected Shelvin Mack from Butler.  It's easy to get hung up on him being 6"2" (or his lack of foot speed, which is why he's not a lottery pick), which is too short to play the 2 or create his own shot.  But, if you watch the game tape, he had no problems hoisting and knocking down deep shots against guys who are 5 and 6 inches taller than him.  Great picks all around.

The Spurs are the New England Patriots of the NBA.  They scalp everyone, and know the board better than everyone.  When they drafted George Hill, I thought it was a horrible pick, as did nearly everyone else.  Well, not only were they right, but they shipped Hill to Indiana for Kawhi Leonard, who will be part of the nucleus of the new Spurs, as well as Davis Bertans, who will provide reinforcements in 2-3 seasons.

Overall High Point:  Booing of David Stern and cheering for Adam Silver.

Overall Low Point:  Picks 56- 59.  These were major reaches by teams trying to outsmart themselves, and just painful to watch, as there were some good prospects on the board (Hansbrough, Delaney, Skeen).

Who do I miss?  Former Blazers GM Kevin Pritchard.  David Kahn did everything in his power to make the draft exciting.  And to demonstrate his undying love for point guards.

Best value:  Charles Jenkins, G - selected 44th by Golden State.  Watch this space in 2 years.  Jenkins could be a starter and a top line guard somewhere in the NBA.

Forehead scratcher:  Cory Joseph, G - selected 29th by San Antonio.  From the times I watched Texas, Joseph did not demonstrate the quality required for the 1:  leadership.  He will learn a lot from watching Parker and Ginobili.  Pop must've seen something in him.

Burning question:  Why does Enes Kanter speak like a valley girl?  

Thursday, June 23, 2011

2011 NBA Draft - Pre-Draft Questions

We are less than seven hours from the 2011 NBA Draft.  According to the experts and anyone with a pulse, this is the weakest draft class and may also be a record-setting draft for international players who hope to be selected in the 1st round.

Here are my thoughts on some hot-button topics pertinent to the draft.

Q:  Who are your top 5 prospects irrespective of position?
A:  Kyrie Irving, Derrick Williams, Brandon Knight, Enes Kanter, Kemba Walker

Q:  If you're Cleveland and the draft order among the top 4 stays the same, who do you take with the first pick? Why?
A:  Derrick Williams.  He is a proven leader, and can score from anywhere on the court.  He is also far and away the best player at his position.  While I like Irving as a prospect and believe he has the highest upside, Knight's potential is not far behind (and recall how much he improved as a floor general from November to March), and Walker may make the most immediate impact depending on where he lands.  At worst, Cleveland would be able to obtain one of the top 3 point guards at pick #4.

Q:  Who's your flop prediction?
A:  Jonas Valanciunas.  From his clips, he looks closer to 215 pounds than what he is listed (240).  Not everyone can add the weight.  He is highly skilled, but he looks very susceptible to being pushed around.

Q:  How far will Kemba slide?
A:  I don't buy Kemba sliding out of the lottery.  He was top 7 on everyone's draft board less than a week ago .  If he does not get drafted in the top 7 (especially if Sacramento trades their pick for Tony Parker), some team between 9 and 13 will

Q:  If you're a playoff team that wants to get over the hump, which player who is outside the lottery would you take?
A:  Kenneth Faried.  The man can rebound, play defense, and doesn't require a lot of shots to make his presence felt.  That is a coach's dream.

Q:  Which team has the most to gain tonight?
A:  Cleveland.  The last month has been Christmas for the Cavs.  First, they win the lottery with a pick from the Clippers.  Second, LeBron plays a key role in the Heat losing the Finals.  Third, they can add 3 players to their rotation tonight.

Q:  Who'll be dealing?
A:  We know Michael Jordan will be, because he announced it (Jordan didn't get the memo that this is not the draft to announce such a thing).  Milwaukee too.  Cleveland and New York may be buying a pick, as may Miami.  I wouldn't be shocked if the Lakers jump into the 1st round - completely unsubstantiated, but they need young legs.  They may want to package one or more of their 2nd-round picks and cash for a shot at the top 30.

Q:  Which top tier playoff team needs to make an impact tonight?
A:  The Heat were already mentioned.  They have several players out of contract, but by and large, they will replenish their ranks with veterans, and the guys they drafted last year.  The Lakers were clearly exploited, and need young legs at every position.

Q:  Who's the most intriguing player?
A:  Bismack Biyombo.  Check out his YouTube.  He's raw, but extremely talented.  He could be the next Mutombo ... or the next Yinka Dare.

Q:  Who are your top 3 sleepers?
A:  JaJuan Johnson, Charles Jenkins, Jordan Williams