Thursday, June 25, 2009

ESPN's Draft Preview:Full Summary

Wednesday’s preview was a bigger production than Monday’s and Tuesday’s shows, but there was little to no new info brought to the table. ESPN just combined the two shows, summarized it, and polished it. Experts keep stating the draft is weak, but there are some gems in there. So the nice draft preview just cleaned up a piece of shit, but inside that piece of shit there may be a nice shiny quarter. Here is the summary of the polished draft preview summary, let’s see who is worth 25 cents.

Have you read anywhere that this draft is weak? No? Well I’m told it is. There are too many unsure commodities. The draft is deep, but in a way where there are plenty of role players and bench warmers. With so many players and only a few standing out beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Teams are jockeying for position trying to get that player that’s caught their attention. While some teams are seeing beauty where others don’t the Washington Wizards put a paper bag over this draft’s head by trading out of it. Receiving the Wizards’ pick is the Minnesota Timberwolves; I guess you could say that the Timberwolves are chubby chasers by obtaining four 1st rounds in this ugly draft.

The difference in philosophies with the Wizards and the Timberwolves show there are many ways to build a team. Washington is playing for “the now” by trading for Randy Foye and Mike Miller. In contrast Minnesota is playing for “down the road” hoping that the pick they received will turn out to be a part of Timberwolves’ success for years to come. Now there isn’t a right or wrong in either situation; Washington could easily not win a championship with the additions of Foye and Miller and maybe Minnesota will botch the pick like their history says they might. Point is, you have to have a plan leaning toward one or the other.

Obtaining the #5 pick in the draft might only be the tip of the iceberg for Minnesota deals. David Kahn is said to be interested in Memphis’ #2 pick. Easier said than done, Memphis is pegged as wanting either both the 5th and the 6th pick or 5/6 and Kevin Love. Minnesota reportedly countered with 5/6 and Craig Smith which I assume Memphis laughed a little at;

Which reminds me of the BS Report I listened to today with Chad Ford. Ford convinced Bill Simmons (and me) that after taking so much of a beating for trading Pau Gasol, Chris Wallace might be hesitant to even make a deal unless he is the hands down winner like getting the 5th and 6th pick for the 2nd.

· Top prospects

o Blake Girffin

o Hasheem Thabeet

o Tyreke Evans

o James Harden

o Ricky Rubio

o Jordan Hill

o Stephen Curry

o Jonny Flynn

o Jrue Holliday

o Dermar Derozen

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

ESPN's Draft Preview:Backcourt Summary

Tuesday night ESPN dove into the backcourt for a draft preview. Although there are many Guards in this year’s draft none really stand out as a safe pick. Thursday’s draft will have plenty of high risk/high reward players; like Ricky Rubio, Sthepen Curry, Brandon Jennings, and Jrue Holiday. With a cluster-fuck of PGs and SGs I do not envy GMs have to sift through the stats, film, and measurements, they could still easily pass on the right player. The backcourt positions are such a gamble this year, will be interesting to see who pans out and who doesn’t.

The coverage wasn’t as concentrated on one player as much as it was Monday, with Blake Griffin. To start things off they led with the top point guard prospects;

o Ricky Rubio—6’5 out of Spain. Draws comparisons to Pistol Pete in terms of his passing ability.

o Stephen Curry—6’3 out of Davidson. Lights out scorer each of his two years in college.

o Brandon Jennings—6’1 out of Rome. Playing pro in Europe may help the NBA transition.

o Jonny Flynn—6’0 out of Syracuse. Good leadership and defense. Also has the max vertical in the class with a 40’ jump.

o Ty Lawson—6’0 out of North Carolina. Another leader, won a championship. One of the fastest PGs in the draft.

o Jrue Holliday—6’4 out of UCLA. Didn’t do much in college, but he could easily follow in Russell Westbrook’s footsteps

o Darren Collison—6’1 out of UCLA. Mature player, 3 seasons at UCLA all including Pac-10 titles.

o Eric Maynor—6’3 out of VCU. Well rounded point guard from a small program. In his senior year he averaged 22 PPG and 6 APG.

o Jeff Teague—6’1 out of Wake Forest. Led a very streaky Wake team while shooting well from the 3. Shoots a high percentage and could turn out to be one of the best guards from this class

o Patty Mills—6’0 out of Saint Mary’s. An injury derailed his sophomore season, but he is a great scorer perhaps only 2nd to Curry.

Only looking at the college players Stephen Curry seems to be the most intriguing. Curry has only played point guard for 1 season, his last at Davidson. He is a pure shooter and has a quick release to get his shot off. Also helping him score is his movement without the ball. Curry sees the PG position as the “anchor of the team” and that being a PG means being a leader, both qualities he seems to possess. His high octane offensive game would fit D’Antoni’s New York Knick offense, at 8, that will give him plenty of opportunities to score and set-up other players. Some mock drafts have Curry going earlier at 6 to the T-Wolves. Where ever he winds up he is sure to come in shooting.

Two of the top prospects hail from Europe, sort of. Ricky Rubio is a very high risk/high reward player that could go anywhere from 2nd to 6th. This guard is a team player that loves to pass and loves to please teammates. Rubio prefers to run and gun and try to make plays. That style is sort of a concern for GMs because it leads to too many turnovers. A contract buy-out may be necessary to retrieve Rubio from Spain, could be a max of 6 million. An NBA team is only allowed to put $500,000 toward a buy-out the rest is out of the player’s pocket. Even with the concerns Rubio is set to be the first PG taken and he’ll come to play and play hard, Ricky says, “I love to win, hate to lose.” He’ll do his best to keep winning. Another concern is of a physical aspect whether his body can hold up in the NBA. The other “Euro” player is Brandon Jennings who skipped playing college in order to playing professionally in Rome. The Brandon Jennings experiment had its ups and downs. For one he was able to play against top PG prospect Ricky Rubio and in his opinion outplayed him. After a year in Europe Jennings feels he can lead a team better now than he could a year earlier. The ordeal didn’t totally hurt Jennings, but he didn’t help his draft status all that much. Experts believe the move from high school/college to Professional Europe is too tough and Jennings should be looked at as an exception not the rule. Jennings claims Rubio is all hype, we’ll get to see if he is right in their rookie seasons.

Onto the top shooting guard prospects;

o James Harden—6’5 out of Arizona State. Harden would have been a lottery pick last year, but choose to comeback for a sophomore season. Jalen Rose labels him as a “Poor Man’s Manu Ginobili” not too bad of a compliment.

o Tyreke Evans—6’5 out of Memphis. A year after a high ceiling guard, Derek Rose, left Memphis Tyreke Evans filled the void. A score-first guard with an NBA body and ball handling skills

o Demar DeRozen—6’6 out of USC. Started off slow, but really morphed into a leader as the season progressed. He has great length and athleticism

o Gerald Henderson—6’5 out of Duke. Evolved into a great perimeter player for the Blue Devils. Like DeRozen improved greatly as the season went on.

o Terrence Williams—6’6 out of Louisville. A player that can do it all. Has caught the eye of his airness. Michael Jordan made a trip to watch Williams in person.

o Wayne Ellington—6’5 out of UNC. Ellington has been a sniper from long range since his freshman year. The skill should carry over into the NBA.

o Toney Douglas—6’2 out of Florida State. Another standout from the ACC. Douglas is a 5 year senior and should bring that maturity with him to his team.

o Jodie Meeks—6’4 out of Kentucky. 54 points ‘nuff said.

ESPN told us Monday night to not be surprised if the Timberwolves make a deal and Tuesday they were proven right. Minnesota obtained the #5 pick in the draft Thursday by sending Mike Miller and Randy Foye to Washington. Heading to Minnesota along with the 5th pick are big men Etan Thomas and Darius Songaila. This trade gives Minnesota 4, count them! 4 draft picks. Even in a weak draft you have to hope to hit on one of those picks.

Another player packing his bags is Richard Jefferson. The Bucks sent him to the Spurs for a shit on a tray’s worth of expiring contracts; Bruce Bowen, Fabricio Oberto, and Kurt Thomas. Milwaukee gets some salary relief and tradable assets. San Antonio receives an elite wing scorer and somehow got younger by obtaining a 29 year old. I guess both teams came out with what they wanted. Richard Jefferson definitely got his wish even if it wasn’t publically announced he has to be happy leaving Milwaukee for San Antonio.

The experts seem less thrilled about the Guards. There may be a great number of them, but they just can’t tell who will emerge as players and who will be Williams Avery, go ahead and google him, take it in. Again it has been fed to us like Hollywood feeding us Shia Labeouf as a lead in an action movie, this is a weak draft. Does that mean that Transformers won’t be interesting? Does that mean this draft won’t be interesting?

Monday, June 22, 2009

ESPN's Draft Preview:Big Guys Summary

ESPN previewed the draft’s big men Monday night. No surprises that most of the special revolved around the most likely #1 pick, Blake Griffin. Been awhile since I’ve seen highlights of him, I forgot how friggin foolish he makes defenders look, a quick spin move to the baseline and exploding above the rest to score. While Griffin was the centerpiece ESPN went into many big prospects; other lottery picks, late round picks, and sleepers. ESPN also dove into possible trade situations too including salary dumps, pick accumulations, and just trading out of the draft entirely to avoid the guaranteed contract for such raw talent.

As previously mentioned the special was Griffin heavy. Definitely not complaining he is the first clear cut #1 pick since LeBron. Griffin(30) is 2nd in NCAA double-doubles for a season only to the Admiral David Robinson(31). Really impressive since Blake missed a majority of a February game against Texas and didn’t play in the next game against Kansas due to a concussion, easily could have added two more to his season’s total there. Analysts’ pros and cons for Griffin:

· Griffin Pros

o Very explosive for a big man. Ability to rise above defenders.

o Even as the best player for Oklahoma he wasn’t a prima-donna. Griffin hustled and made multiple efforts to make a play for his team.

o Great player-NBA ready.

o Blake Griffin is marketable. Nice guy that says all the right things and plays hard. Could be the face of a franchise if need be.

o Trains hard with his crazy-ass trainer, guy won’t even show his identity, the crazy-ass trainer states that Griffin is a mental and physical beast.

· Griffin Cons

o Experts want Blake to add more of a face-up aspect to his game. Being able to hit that mid-range jumper will open up his game even more. Griffin would be unstoppable from the triple-threat position. Jab step here and there to create space and hit the jumper.

o Griffin also needs to improve his free-throw shooting. Only shot 59% from the line last season. If he doesn’t improve on his free throws he may become a liability toward the end of close games, which would cut into his playing time and value

Now onto those teams not lucky enough to have the first pick and need a forward or big man, who do they look to? The next big man projected to be taken off the board is Hasheem Thabeet. Thabeet should go #2 or #3 to either Memphis or Oklahoma City, but there are questions surrounding whether he’d play for Memphis [article here]. Hasheem could come to a team and contribute immediately with his defensive presence and eventually for the team’s sake his offense will come around. Offensively Thabeet needs to improve his footwork and his strength, Thabeet sometimes gets out-leveraged by stronger players (DeJuan Blair). Early on, his play should mimic Dikembe Mutumbo; play defense, hustle, rebound, and only take high percentage shots. You have to love Thabeet’s basic defensive mentality, “If you don’t let me score on your end then I’m not going to let you score on my end.” So there are two good big men that will go in the top 3, now onto more uncertain players;

o Jordan Hill—6’10 PF out of Arizona. Averaged a double-double in college and can hit short jumpers to keep defenses honest.

o DeJuan Blair—6’6 PF out of Pittsburgh. Also averaged a double-double. An offensive beast, though undersized he can get his shot off by creating space with his big build. Blair has great hands and is a decent shot blocker for his height because of his 7’2 wingspan.

o Tyler Hansbrough—6’9 PF out of North Carolina. The ACC’s career leading scorer. Proven winner and a known commodity. Not afraid of hitting the gym to throw a new wrinkle into his game. A very underrated overrated player. He isn’t going to light it up, but at the same time it is not like he’s Mark Madsen

o B.J. Mullens—7’1 C out of Ohio State. Raw talent and you cannot teach height. Even though he wasn’t a key offensive player shooting 63.8% from the field.

There is a good chance with such raw unknown talent the 2nd best big man, next to Griffin, could be picked outside the lottery. In the past there have been gems in the late parts of the draft like; Tayshaun Prince, Josh Howard, Rashard Lewis, and Carlos Boozer. These overlooked players all have the tools needed to be good forwards. To be a good forward you need to have height, be freak athlete, and have 1 certain specialty that you bring to the table. Players that could be sleepers in this class and what they bring to the table;

· Austin Daye—6’10 out of Gonzaga. Versatility, height at the SF and the ability to hit the 3-ball.

· Earl Clark—6’10 out of Louisville. Hustle, can rebound from any position he plays at Guard through Power Forward.

· DaJuan Summers—6’8 out of Georgetown. A little of everything, DaJuan is a well rounded forward with decent size and an average offensive game.

· Sam Young—6’6 out of Pittsburgh. Offense, Sam Young is ready for the jump to the NBA and has a solid array of moves including a good ball fake.

· Chase Budinger—6’7 out of Arizona. Pedal to the metal, made for the up and down game. Can run in transition and hit the 3 point shot.

Trades are a huge part of draft day. The Charlotte Bobcats were said to be interested in acquiring a veteran like Allen Iverson or Samuel Dalembert for their lottery pick to try to finally breakthrough into the playoffs. Other teams maybe looking to add veteran leadership instead of another rookie include the Trailblazers and the Wizards. With so many trading phone calls being made they all don’t have to include draft picks. If the Phoenix Suns don’t think they can contend they may look to dump Shaq’s 20 million dollar salary and the Cleveland Cavaliers seem to be a perfect fit for the big man. Chicago may also be looking to avoid the luxury tax and try to trade Kirk Hinrich, experts see Kirk possibly winding up in Portland, Oklahoma City, or Minnesota. Speaking of Minnesota, David Kahn has been on the phones nonstop hoping to make a splash this week, do not be surprised if they make a deal.

Even though the draft may be weak this year doesn’t mean it won’t be interesting. With picks 4 and on being such a crapshoot no team can know who will slide to them. Outside of Griffin and Thabeet I think the best big man from this class will be Austin Daye. He’ll be a project for a season or two but he has the tools to be something great at SF. Enjoyed ESPN’s special and look forward to watching the guard’s special tomorrow night.

Something Wrong With Memphis?

ESPN reported Monday that Hasheem Thabeet canceled a workout with the Memphis Grizzlies in order to convince Sam Presti, Oklahoma City’s GM, to take him with the 3rd pick. The big man is worried about Memphis’ commitment to building a winning team. Should the Grizzlies give in to Thabeet’s wishes or should they take the Center, if they want Thabeet? This isn’t the first time a player has objected to play for the Grizzlies and unless they don’t give in to Thabeet it won’t be the last.
Hasheem Thabeet is a defensive presence in the making, but he didn’t start playing basketball until he was 15 so he is a little unpolished on the offensive end. His freshmen year he tied a UConn game record in blocks with 10 and was named to the Big East All-Rookie Team. His sophomore season we saw Thabeet improve with his increased minutes. He was named the Big East Defensive Player of the Year. Now after his Junior he is projected to be a top 5 pick.
Thabeet isn’t the first incoming rookie to make his displeasure with the Grizzlies known. After the 1999 draft Guard Steve Francis announced he wouldn’t play for the then Vancouver Grizzlies citing God’s will as one of the many reasons. Francis was traded prior to the season for Michael Dickerson, Othella Harrington, Antoine Carr, Brent Price, and draft picks that resulted in Troy Bell and Dahnty Jones, Not exactly a group to make a team a contender, with only 1 of those players still in the league. Steve Francis went on to share the Rookie of the Year award with Elton Brand and the Grizzlies went on to go 22-60. To this day the Grizzlies have nothing to show for losing Francis who had 7 decent seasons before disappearing from the league. Memphis should look elsewhere in the draft or if they take Thabeet, keep Thabeet.
Memphis is being questioned for their commitment to winning. No sports agent wants to send their player to a wasteland. I don’t think it is as bad of a situation as people make it out to be. In the 2007 offseason the Grizzlies offered a 3 year $21,000,000 dollar deal to Darko Milicic. If Memphis weren’t planning on contending then why offer any contract over the Mid-Level Salary Exception? Memphis is in a rebuilding stage blowing up a team that wasn’t that good to begin with. They traded their cornerstone player and handed the keys of the team over to Rudy Gay, O.J. Mayo, and the youth of the Grizzlies. Now then once Gay’s contract is up and the management doesn’t even whisper the words “extension” or “contract” to him then incoming rookies have a case against the Grizzlies. Until then show up and play.
The Grizzlies shouldn’t give into an unproven commodity. Should they draft Thabeet and he refuse to play the situation only truly hurts Thabeet. Memphis could improve without the big man; Gay, Mayo, and Gasol will be a year older, a year more equipped for the NBA game. The season may not be their breakthrough back into the playoffs, but to give into Thabeet paves the road for other draftees to spurn the Grizzlies in the future. Francis got his wish out of the Grizzlies and the team has nothing to show for it. Best case scenario Thabeet eventually caves in and plays out his rookie contract. Worst case Memphis sends a message to future draft classes that they can play for Memphis or watch them play from afar. Either way I don’t think that Memphis should listen to Thabeet’s demands. Besides if I had the #2 pick I’d take Rubio.
--Also what about the pride of these players? I’m sure it is tough to come into a bad team, but doesn’t that add into the intrigue. Thabeet could be a piece of the puzzle to help turn the Grizzlies around. Years from now they could be in the playoffs with a nucleus of Gay, Mayo, and Thabeet and just laugh about their early lottery years together. Hasheem could be part of a process and get to see his hard work pay off… But no he wants to come into a cushy situation with one of the best young teams in the league. What would you rather be a savior or a center?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Wolves On The Prowl For A Top 3 Pick

The David Kahn era has started with plenty of buzz. First off the Kevin McHale firing that was broken to the public by Kevin Love on Twitter. Then the Boston Globe mentioned a rumor of a trade between Minnesota and the Phoenix Suns; Al Jefferson and the 6th pick in Thursday’s draft for Amare Stoudemire, this report was quickly put to rest. Now the most recent activity revolves around the Wolves acquiring the Wizard’s 5th pick for a package of expiring contracts possibly including Mike Miller and one or both of the T-Wolves late round selections. Then Minnesota would package Washington’s 5th and their 6th pick for either Memphis’ 2nd pick or Oklahoma City’s 3rd pick for the chance to get either PG Ricky Rubio (Spain) or C Hasheem Thabeet (Connecticut). Kahn’s activity must be very refreshing for Wolves’ fans, now they can only hope he isn’t only chatter.

Minnesota needs a big man to allow Jefferson to move to his more natural power forward position. Hasheem Thabeet could be a great game changer on the defensive end by blocking and altering shots with his 7’3 body. Last season was derailed for the Wolves when Al Jefferson landed awkwardly and completely tearing his ACL after challenging a Sean Marks lay-up. Let’s say Minnesota had a defensive anchor in the middle ala Thabeet instead of the center piece of their current team. This scenario allows Jefferson to only have to carry the team on the offensive end and let a true center protect the rim. Even though Minnesota didn’t have much of a season to salvage no fans should have to watch their team’s progress get flushed to shit because their best player challenged a Sean “I’m surprised I’m still in the league too” Marks.

Spaniard Ricky Rubio is a player that could turn the recent bad fortune of the Wolves around. The point guard has been playing professionally since he was 15 and the youngest player to start in an Olympic Gold Medal game this past summer. Known for his flashy passes and ball control, Rubio brings something to the table that Minnesota doesn’t have… a point guard. Coming into his rookie season Ricky would be heads and tails above Sebastian Telfair and|

Randy Foye, an NBA “point guard” that can’t go left, made it through high school, college, and multiple seasons in the NBA without developing that crucial skill. Maybe it has to do with Foye’s strange condition where his organs are inverted compared to the average person’s organs. I wonder how many times in elementary school he was able to be a smart ass during the national anthem, “Randy put your hand over your heart”

“But I am!” he snickers as he turns right and takes the long way around the rest of the classroom’s desks to confront his teacher, because even then he couldn’t go left.

with his size and offensive ability. Rubio would just run wild with the Wolves.

Perhaps David Kahn won’t be able to pull off the series of deals to put the Wolves in position to take Rubio or Thabeet. This would be unfortunate for Timberwolves’ fans to miss out on those 2nd tier players|

Tier 1-Blake Griffin

Tier 2-Ricky Rubio & Hasheem Thabeet

Tier3-All other lottery projected players

In the situation where the wolves stay at 6 this is my draft board for them:

1. Stephen Curry-A guard that could stretch the floor for the Wolves. Think if Minnesota follows Orlando’s blueprint and puts a bunch of shooters around Jefferson. Big Al is light years ahead of Dwight Howard’s offensive game of turn to the middle of the lane and throw a line drive hook-shot. Curry gives Minnesota a reliable shooter for Jefferson to pass to out of double teams.

2. Tyreke Evans-A SG with a high ceiling that could control the backcourt for the Wolves. Evans has average height at the 2, but he has a sick 6’11.25 wingspan (same as Blake Griffin), an overhead reach comparable Small and Power Forwards, and ranked 12th in the draft class’ sprint with a time of 3.17 seconds. Evans physical gifts would be a great asset for Minnesota.

3. Jonny Flynn-One of the purest PGs in the draft. Led Syracuse in last season’s thrilling Big East tournament. Along with the leadership Flynn is a superb athlete; 40in max vertical (highest in the class) and decent speed. Flynn would probably come into Minnesota as the expected starter at PG, ending the Foye PG experiment once and for all if there was still any question about that.

As a Dutchman I’m stereotypically cheap, but I won’t be stingy with my sports’ opinions.