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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Mock Drafts For Fun Part 2 of 2

This man has since been fired. Don't mess with the NBA Draft

Way back on May 20, the night of the lottery, I did a mock draft. I will now stick to my promise of doing another just before the draft. Obviously things have changed since then. Davon Jefferson, for instance, who I had at No. 24, has apparently gained roughly 65 pounds. And for some reason everyone still hates Chris Douglas-Roberts (I had him No. 14).

I want to do a mock of who I think each team should take but that will be of no help to the poor saps that actually read mock drafts because they think it will tell them who their favorite team will pick. So I'm gonna stick to the rumors I've read and exercise a little of my own judgment where uncertainty lies.

Here we go:

1. Chicago Bulls- Derrick Rose
They will take Rose (probably), although they should not. He will be a very good player, probably an All Star, maybe the PG on a title winner (probably not in Chicago though), but he still doesn't have the potential to be a dominant go-to scorer like Beasley. But he is a professional apparently. He's gonna really add some awesome three-piece suits and sound investment advice to the Bulls.

2. Miami Heat- Michael Beasley
He will more than likely be picked here, but almost certainly not stay in Miami. It appears Riles and Co. have burned too many bridges with this dangerous, SpongeBob-loving, graffiti-proficient, likely-rapist renegade to keep him. From Chicago to Miami to... Minnesota or Memphis or Oklahoma City. He will average and 30 and 15 within 36 months.

3. Minnesota T'Wolves- OJ Mayo
Apparently everyone wants Mayo all of a sudden, which is fine, because he is going to be really good. He should be a top-notch defender and has a chance to be a franchise player. Minnesota should be happy sitting here and taking him. A young core of Mayo, Foye, Brewer, McCants and Jefferson is a really versatile, well-rounded group for the future.

4. Seattle Supersonics- Jerryd Bayless
This is where things get interesting. Seattle should do everything short of trading Jeff Green to get their hands on Mayo or Beasley, but it's probably not going to happen. Chris Wilcox just isn't as attractive as he used to be. If they pick here, it's going to be Bayless, Robin Lopez or Russell Westbrook. The Sonics desperately need backcourt help and even though they should, probably won't draft big and give up on past lotto picks, Nick Collison, Saer Sene, Robert Swift, Johan Petro and the ghost of Shawn Kemp. You could basically flip a coin on Bayless and Westbrook but Bayless would help take the massive scoring load off Kevin Durant's noodle-benching shoulders.

5. Memphis Grizzlies- Brook Lopez
This one is looking like it could go anywhere. The Grizzlies are trying to use this pick, Mike Miller and possibly Mike Conley to move up or trying to pawn off Brian Cardinal's ridiculous, capitalism-hating contract to move down or possibly out of the draft altogether, if the Knicks part with the only player on their team that everyone doesn't hate, David Lee. If they keep it, I've read Lopez or Gordon. For a team utilizing the likes of Lorenzen Wright and Jake Tsakilidis at center in past years, Lopez should work.

More Picks This Way...

6. New York Knicks- Russell Westbrook
I would hate to see Russ go here because I have been touting him since this whole thing started as a top 5 five guy, but apparently the Knicks really like him. Russ is going to be a top-notch on the ball defender in the NBA and if he develops a mid-range jumper will be Monta Ellis-esque (coming from someone who thinks Monta is one of the best 30 players in the L). The Clippers at No. 7 would be a much better fit. In NY, they will make Westbrook play point, rather than have him slashing and beating guys off the dribble. And dunking. Oh how I love it when he dunks.

7. Los Angeles Clippers- Eric Gordon
It would be a worst-case scenario for the Clips if they couldn't swing that Brand for Marion and pick-swap with Miami and Westbrook and Bayless are gone. Especially if Miami pulls the thing where they just take Beasley and see how the rest of the top 7 goes before trying to trade. Under this scenario, Gordon isn't a bad consolation prize. If they can get Shaun Livingston back, Gordon slides in nicely next to him and might not have as many defensive problems. I'm starting to warm on Gordon, the wrist thing and the Sampson thing made it easy to forget he was just as hyped as Love, Beasley and Rose during most of last year.

8. Milwaukee Bucks- Joe Alexander
For whatever reason, everyone has Alexander going here and the Bucks are just the type of team that would take him because it's the easy thing to do. Who cares if they have other mediocre shooting forwards (Villanueva, Jianlian, Redd)? It's Milwaukee, nobody cares! I'm not sold on Alexander, I question how he will be able to score on stronger, faster defenders without great range yet. But the Bucks are the least interesting team in the league...

9. Charlotte Bobcats- Kevin Love
... Barely beating out this team. Apparently the Cats want Lopez or Westbrook, but Love would still fit Larry Brown's desire for "right way" type guys, even if it means shaving his chinstrap. I truly think Love will be a 12 year starter in this league, but Bobcats fans (if they exist) shouldn't expect him to be more than an NBA team's 3rd or 4th best player.

10. New Jersey Nets- Danilo Gallinari
Andy Katz says he heard Gallinari doesn't get past the Nets, and I believe him. Gallinari only wants to play for the Knicks or the Nets, so this appears to be our last chance at seeing a European temper tantrum in the green room. If they don't take him, he at least has this going for him.

11. Indiana Pacers- Brandon Rush
Those 10 seem to be the consensus top 10, in some order. It was a certainty that the Pacers would take either DJ Augustin or Mario Chalmers at 11, until they traded for TJ Ford. Now, who knows? Like Seattle's pick, a lot depends on this one. They almost have to use the No. 17 pick they now have on one of those young bigs that will probably suck (McGee, Jordan, Randolph, Arthur, Speights, Koufos) so filling a need at 2-guard works, especially when it's a guy that can actually defend someone. Rush isn't going to be a franchise guy, but with Ford, Granger, Dunleavy, Rush, Murphy and No. 17 overall, Indiana can at least creep toward .500 this year. Plus, he probably doesn't own any guns!

12. Sacramento Kings- DJ Augustin
The Kings have to love that O'Neal trade, because now Augustin almost definitely is available here. John Salmons and Francisco Garcia are not point guard and Beno Udrih is Beno Udrih. With Kevin Martin and some other hoisters on this team, Augustin can focus on distributing, which is good, because I doubt he can even get a shot off in the NBA.

13. Portland Trailblazers- Darrell Arthur
Now that the Blazers have the No. 27 pick, it seems like this one is more likely to be dealt. They could just take Mario Chalmers here, but he is pretty Jarret Jack-ian. They could also take something called Alexis Ajinca and store him overseas because they have a solid rotation already, but I don't want them to do that. I want them to take Darrell Arthur, who can be their first or second big off the bench.

14. Golden State Warriors- Jason Thompson
Everyone seems to think Thompson is going here and while it's too high for him, I do like him and it would be a good fit. He is ready to contribute and actually has a semblance of a post-game, which is something Golden State needs desperately. Plus he can run decently with this squad, whoever is on the roster next year.

15. Phoenix Suns- Robin Lopez
I guess Phoenix is trying to trade up and are dangling Leandro Barbosa to do so, which means they are serious. If they don't and Brandon Rush isn't available, they should take Lopez who could be a 20-minute guy next year because of Shaq and Amare's defensive woes.

16. Philadelphia 76ers- Marrese Speights
The Sixers are going to go big and as a fan of their up-and-coming team I hope Arthur is the man. But in this scenario he's gone. They will then pick between DeAndre Jordan, Anthony Randolph, Kosta Koufos, Something Called Alexis Ajinca and Speights. Apparently they like Jordan and Ajinca but I like Speights, even though he could be the next Mike Sweetney or the next Elton Brand.

17. Indiana Pacers- DeAndre Jordan
This might be the perfect spot for Jordan, because he would be the only true post scorer for Indiana and could play decent minutes right away. They don't need Koufos or Randolph because they already have a few doughy-soft forwards.

18. Washington Wizards- Kosta Koufos
This is a tough one. Chalmers is a possibility here, as is JJ Hickson who apparently had a good workout there, but you've got to think they go big to possibly replace Antawn Jamison. Koufos doesn't give them the toughness they need down low but the Wizards haven't been tough (besides of course, Tough Juice) for years and everyone else left is pretty soft. I like Koufos a lot offensively and at the very least he could provide scoring off the bench.

19. Cleveland Cavaliers- Donte Greene
Anyone who watched the Celtics-Cavs series last year cringed at how many open shots the Lebronettes missed. Greene, from my beloved Orange, can't really do anything besides shoot right now. Which is fine. They have Lebron James to do all those other things.

20. Charlotte Bobcats- Roy Hibbert
In a sick, twisted way, this works out well for Charlotte. They get the guy they want even though they shouldn't want him. This is going to be a half-court team under Larry Brown so it's actually not a bad fit.

21. New Jersey Nets- Anthony Randolph
The Randolph Green Room Soap Opera ends here. I don't like Randolph and I'm starting to feel bad for him because after his workouts, not many people do either. But he can be a scorer in the league and a shot-blocker if they work with him. Maybe you try to sell Randolph and Sean Williams as the front line of the future. I don't know. The Nets suck.

22. Orlando Magic- Courtney Lee
This team really needs a real two-guard and really needs a real power forward. They also have a chance to compete in the East next year, so they can't just take a spin on the Big Man Wheel of Doom. Lee has had great workouts and the Magic apparently like him (scroll down a bit, Magic fans). Plus he can contribute right away. Well, if the indomitable force that is the Greatest Shooter of All-Time, JJ Redick doesn't eviscerate him in training camp.

23. Utah Jazz- Alexis Ajinca
The Jazz are devastated that the soul-crushing boredom of Roy Hibbert is off the board, so they take a big man with actual athleticism, Something Called Alexis Ajinca. The only reason this guy is being considered up top is apparently because he has long arms (7-foot-9 wingspan). They worked out Serge Ibaka as well, who might not have ever played basketball before. Both worked out this weekend with Utah. The Jazz are already really good so it's tough for them. Do they try to add another rotation player (McGee? CDR?) or do they plan for the future?

24. Seattle Sonics- JaVale McGee
I really don't like McGee. I'm not really sure why anyone would. But a big man must be picked here.

25. Houston Rockets- JJ Hickson
This would work pretty well for both Hickson and the Rockets. Houston is pretty good and have Luis Scola and Carl Landry ahead of Hickson so he can ease his way in. But the Rockets can't advance too far with Scola and Landry as their only power forwards. Hickson is a complete enigma. Lots of talent on a terrible team last year. With good post moves and some range on his jumper, he is exactly what Houston needs... if he's still in the league in three years.

26. San Antonio Spurs- Ryan Anderson
This one is apparently a done deal (go down to the Spurs pick). Another outstanding role player for the Spurs who seem to realize that fitting a need (the outside shooting that will be lost when Horry/Barry/Bowen retire/die) in the draft is a lot more helpful than going for the home run. But then again, what do they know?

27. Portland Trailblazers- Ante Tomic
I have no idea who this guy is but I guess the Blazers like him a lot. This pick, which was acquired from New Orleans for cash, could turn around and be packaged with the No. 13 to move up or get a vet though. Kevin Pritchard is a mad man. Mr. Chad thinks Nicolas Batum and CDR are possibilities too.

28. Memphis Grizzlies- Chris Douglas-Roberts
I think CDR should go much higher, but none of the draftniks agree. Something tells me he actually will go higher than this when all is said and done. The guy can be a great defender, great in transition and should at least be able to get to the foul line in the half-court. Should be a great role player that's drafted way too low.

29. Detroit Pistons- Nicolas Batum
Batum had some heart concerns cleared up, which means this is probably too low for him. He was lottery-projected before the season. Front what I have seen of the guy, he has extreme talent but is raw and still doesn't have complete confidence in his game, which in the NBA Draft is, you know, extremely rare. Detroit can let him develop and then join Rodney Stuckey, Amir Johnson and BabyEater Maxiell in the line-up of the future.

30. Boston Celtics- Mario Chalmers
I don't actually think Chalmers drops this low, especially because he could go as high as No. 12. But he could slip, because as you go further down the draft the teams get better. And, shockingly, better teams generally have good point guards. The Celtics don't have a back-up point guard and would cream their jeans if Chalmers lands here. If so, fuck Boston.

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Unsubstantiated Speculation: NBA Draft Links June 25

Awww, how nice of those guys to let Ammo feel like he's actually in the NBA

Nothing about the NBA Draft makes any sense. GMs intentionally lie about who they want to confuse the rest of the league, agents pull players out of workouts to manipulate their value and the Milwaukee Bucks continue to pretend they are trying to win. Mock drafts are always way off, the rumored trades never go down and the ones that do are always out of left field. There is no rhyme. There is no reason. And that is exactly why it is so great. Sports fans love to speculate, and the NBA Draft is 90 percent speculatastic. So in an exercise of almost certain futility, I bring you Unsubstantiated Speculation, a column containing all the relevant, completely false draft news links from around the Intertubes. Look for this once or twice a week leading up to the draft. Believe nothing.

And if you are a blog that covers the draft and feel you deserve to be on the Links, click the e-mail link on the right sidebar.

Gonna do a short links thing because the ish is going down, as the kids say. GO!

- Jermaine O'Neal has apparently been traded to Toronto about 12 seconds ago. It's JO for TJ Ford, Rasho Nesterovic and the No. 17 pick. Indiana now has No. 11 and No. 17. My man Jose Calderon is the Raps full-time starter and according to Draft Express, the Pacers will take Robin Lopez or Kosta Koufos, who would join Mike Dunleavy and Troy Murphy to give Indiana the coveted "NBA Front Line that Likes Fall Out Boy The Most" title. This can't be good for DJ Augustin who looked like a likely choice at No. 11 before the Pacers landed Ford. By the way, this one can't be completed until July 9 due to contract-related things I cannot understand.

- The Nuggets traded the No. 20 pick to the Bobcats for a future No. 1. This gives the Bobcats the No. 9 and No. 20 pick. Apparently Charlotte wants Roy Hibbert which makes perfect sense, because Larry Brown thinks this is still 1968. Denver is out of the first round completely for now, which is smart, even though I am sure they would've liked to know Indiana was trading for TJ Ford and Augustin or Chalmers could drop to them. But anyway, they needed a point guard and chances were Augustin and Chalmers wouldn't be there or (more likely) wouldn't be any good. Anthony Carter sleeps easy one more night.

- In case you are late to the party, the Hornets sold the No. 27 pick to the Blazers, who used the money Paul Allen keeps in the cupholder of his car. The Blazers now have No. 13 and No. 27, although NOLA GM Jeff Bower says the deal ain't done. Apparently the Blazers like Ante Tomic, who is not from this country.

- It's looking almost certain that Michael Beasley will not be a member of the Miami Heat next year, which has to piss him right off. According to Andy Katz and Chad "The Lyin' Hawaiian" Ford (I think Ford is great by the way, couldn't resist using that nickname), the Heat worked out Jerryd Bayless and OJ Mayo over the weekend and will either take Mayo at No. 2 or entertain a number of potential trades. As much as I think Mayo will be a stud in this league, I cannot believe Pat Riley would pass up on the best player in the draft because he smiles too much and his eyes are naturally half-shut. Sure Dwyane Wade is a serious player, but all that got him last year was this.

- Speaking of Beasley, Episode 3 of his ESPN Digital thing, "The Rookie" is up. I'll just embed the damn thing. Thanks ESPN, you're the best!

- Also speaking of Beasley, FreeDarko continues to be very awesome with this analysis of Beasley's personality how it relates to his style of play and how all this naysaying and turmoil might actually help his legacy. The guy will have a massive chip on his shoulder and if he dominates can squash the myth of the goofy, underachiever Agent Zero-style. Just read the thing, it's hard to describe in a paragraph (and hard to understand if you are not smart.)

- Hilarity: Fun with Italian translation and Danilo Gallinari's rising (no pun intended) stock.

- Awesomeness: The NBA Draft Vocab Fantasy Draft. Yes. A Thousand Times Yes.

- Checking out Mr. Chad's latest mock draft, I see that the Spurs have apparently promised Ryan Anderson the No. 26 pick. Another outstanding role player for the Spurs who seem to realize that fitting a need (the outside shooting that will be lost when Horry/Barry/Bowen retire/die) in the draft is a lot more helpful than going for the home run. But then again, what do they know?

- Lots of interesting bits in this Andy Katz rumors post. (By the way, for a college guy, Katz has done an outstanding job covering the Draft and getting inside info from NBA sources. Well, I suppose we will see just how good a job he's done tomorrow, but whatever. Good work.) Within: It looks like Rose, Beasley, Mayo are a pretty safe top 3, in that order. Seattle is still deciding on Bayless/Lopez though. The Bucks better pick Joe Alexander or every draft writer in the world will look like an idiot. Jason Thompson appears to have the inside track at the Warriors pick at No. 14. The Sixers might take DeAndre Jordan at No. 16, which would ruin my life.

- Henry Abbott at the amazing TrueHoop did a chat with Mayo, Gordon, Bayless, Rose and Love today. Since Beasley was not involved, it was very bland and safe.

- And over at College Hoops Net, we've got our consensus draft ranking. And CHN Editor Shawn Siegel and I talked the draft through that great bastion of American communication, gChat.

- Oh and I got two press releases from ESPN (somehow). One is this one, which outlines Thursday night's coverage. It will be hosted by Stu Scott with analysis from Jay Bilas, Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy, which sounds awful because none of those guys knows anything about the players besides Bilas, who knows nothing about the NBA. Stephen A. Smith will be there, which means another installment from the Stephen A. Smith Heckling Society of Gentlemen (2007, 2006) is possible. Thank freaking God.

Also, I got this one, which is actually pretty cool. ESPNU will be broadcasting games all day today and tomorrow of this year's prospects. And not just like college games but Oak Hill vs Simeon (Rose) from two years ago and DeMatha vs. Huntington (Mayo) last year. So check that out, I suppose.

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Monday, June 23, 2008

Unsubstantiated Draft Links: Draft Links June 24

Nothing about the NBA Draft makes any sense. GMs intentionally lie about who they want to confuse the rest of the league, agents pull players out of workouts to manipulate their value and the Milwaukee Bucks continue to pretend they are trying to win. Mock drafts are always way off, the rumored trades never go down and the ones that do are always out of left field. There is no rhyme. There is no reason. And that is exactly why it is so great. Sports fans love to speculate, and the NBA Draft is 90 percent speculatastic. So in an exercise of almost certain futility, I bring you Unsubstantiated Speculation, a column containing all the relevant, completely false draft news links from around the Intertubes. Look for this once or twice a week leading up to the draft. Believe nothing.

And if you are a blog that covers the draft and feel you deserve to be on the Links, click the e-mail link on the right sidebar.

I haven't been able to post on here nearly as much but with the Draft fast approaching, I gotta get my act together. For today's links, I'll be going pick by pick in the lottery and linking whatever the Internets say each team will do that they inevitably will not do.

I'll be back later this week with another links thing (hopefully) and a final mock draft.

Oh and because it is so bizarre and awesome that it cannot be bound by one pick, here is a link to the utterly amazing Free Darko Draft Previews. Part 1, Part 2.

1. Chicago Bulls
It's becoming more and more apparent that Chicago will take Rose, even though I don't think they should. Although those ready to put Miami on the clock already should be wary that Rose is openly politicking for his hometown team to pick him just a week before the draft. Not the sound of certainty. The one thing I don't like is this idea that Rose is a better pick because he acts serious and professional in interviews and Beasley does not. These kids are 19, neither of them are professional. Rose is shy, Beasley is not. Can Rose do his taxes better than Beasley or something? Is Rose more proficient in Excel? No. They are both really good at basketball but happen to have different personalities. Derrick Rose is going to be freaking great but give me Beasley this year. That is all. Now, the idea that Rose should be the pick because he is by far the best true point guard for a league that covets them more than ever -- that makes a bit more sense.

2. Miami Heat
This is probably where Beasley is going to go, whether it's to Miami or not, so let's talk about him. First, ESPN is cashing in on this whole, "The Next Arenas" thing by capitalizing on Beasley's personality even while its writers bash his draft prospects. They have him blogging. They have an "in-depth" feature on him, which tries to overtake that old Wash Post feature as the "link all Internet writers must provide when discussing Beasley's character issues." They have some ESPN Digital Video things (part 1, part 2) of him, which are pretty tame but awesome for a Philly native like me because he hangs out in the city all day. For the record, he does not stab anyone in the videos nor does he give anyone a wedgie. Rose did work out for Miami so if you're the type of person that likes to make blind leaps of faith (and as someone writing about the Draft, I am), that's another sign that Chicago hasn't made up its mind.

3. Minnesota Timberwolves
They hold the key to the rest of the Draft. Not only does their pick affect those after it but it apparently affects those in front of it. If Miami thinks they can get Mayo at No. 4 or No. 5, they may be inclined to trade the No. 2. The T'Wolves seem to be all over the board. Mayo should be the pick but they have brought in Eric Gordon and Jerryd Bayless recently. Brook Lopez and Danilo Gallinari were in there too. As Ian Thomsen at Sports Illustrated writes, this is one of the toughest drafts to predict in recent memory and a lot of it rests on Miami and Minnesota's uncertainty. Thomson says it's down to Mayo and Love for the Wolves. Mayo has been neglecting small markets (although given that he worked out in Minny, his tune may have changed), and Love is a white person. You do the math.

4. Seattle Supersonics
Another team that long seemed to be locked in on a player (Jerryd Bayless), but now could go any number of directions. It appears Brook Lopez and Russell Westbrook (who Chad Ford has the Sonics taking -- now who is the one with the crazy man crush on Russ?), are very real possibilities. Apparently my man Westbrook has shut down workouts and according to Ford, has a promise in the mid-lottery, possibly at No. 4.

5. Memphis Grizzlies
Many reports have the Grizz trading this pick along with Mike Miller (good) and Brian Cardinal (franchise crushing contract). It seems like the Grizzlies best bet is if Mayo falls to them so Miami or other teams that want him will come calling. Otherwise they will probably take Kevin Love. Some are reporting Eric "Chubby Bryce Drew" Gordon is high up there, but others are reporting he doesn't want to play there. Also, this made me laugh out loud, although I'm sure that wasn't the writer, or Chris Wallace's, intention.

6. New York Knicks
Another pick that seems to be way up in the air and also seems to affect all that comes after it. Danilo Gallinari worked out there recently and supposedly balled, which is good because he said he won't play anywhere besides the Knicks or the Nets. Obviously with Donnie Walsh at the helm, who is very much unlike Isiah Thomas, trades are distinct possibilities if the right vet is available.

7. Los Angeles Clippers
It's highly possible that none of the current Clippers besides Al Thornton and Chris Kaman will be on the team next year. It looks like they will be going small with the pick, which assumes they are for some reason optimistic that Thornton, Brand, Kaman will be their front line for more than another month or so. All that being said, if they get Livingston healthy, keep those guys and don't screw up this pick, they could win some games next year.
/places foot in mouth

8. Milwaukee Bucks
Another team that will likely look far different next season. With Scott Skiles now at the helm you can be certain that the pick will be boring. Joe Alexander seems about right. I'm not entirely sure why DJ Augustin isn't an option here, seeing as how Mo Williams stinks and is a shoot-first PG on a team with a glut of shot-hoisting forwards, but then again, it's the Bucks so I guess I should be surprised they won't be taking Sasha Kaun.

9. Charlotte Bobcats
If it was up to Larry Brown he would try to take Aaron McKie, but alas, there is no such option. I haven't read much about the Cats trading this pick like last year, which means they most certainly will. But if they do pick, it might be someone that hasn't worked out for them, because no one wants to. I suppose playing for Michael Jordan and Larry Brown has lost its luster. Besides you can wait one more spot and play for Jay-Z!

10. New Jersey Nets
Speaking of Hov, he is about to make a new friend. Who that friend could be is completely impossible to predict however. Logic says another big man for NJ, but then again logic has no place in the Meadowlands. Gallinari seems to be a lock if he is available because, you know, he doesn't want to play anywhere else, but a "rich man's Bostjan Nachbar" probably isn't too appealing to a future Brooklyn fanbase. They can barely understand the dude who sells Gyros on the corner.

11. Indiana Pacers
With the rumors surrounding a makes-too-much-sense deal involving TJ Ford and Jermaine O'Neal, DJ Augustin might not be the surefire pick here anymore. I guess Danny Granger and Mike Dunleavy are long-term options so one of those wacky, athletic bigs will probably go here if Augustin does not.

12. Sacramento Kings
Not a lot of action on this pick. It seems like they will just keep it and probably take Augustin if he's available. Otherwise a Wheel O' Big Man will be spun and any of the Speights/McGee/Jordan mess will be chosen.

13. Portland Trailblazers
Some have them trading this thing for sure, others have them keeping it and taking something called Alexis Ajinca. One thing is for sure, the Blazers have options and probably don't need to get any younger.

14. Golden State Warriors
The Warriors are the team that every prospect seems tailor-made for, which is funny because Don Nelson hates youth. Apparently Jason Thompson, a guy who has been underrated throughout this process, is in play. A 7-footer who can run and shoot? Doesn't sound like something thing that would interest Nellie at all. Initially an upside big man like Koufos, McGee or Randolph would seem to make sense, but don't they already have Brandan Wright and Patrick O'Bryant? (Yes, they do).

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Monday, June 2, 2008

Unsubstantiated Speculation: NBA Draft Links June 2

Nothing about the NBA Draft makes any sense. GMs intentionally lie about who they want to confuse the rest of the league, agents pull players out of workouts to manipulate their value and the Milwaukee Bucks continue to pretend they are trying to win. Mock drafts are always way off, the rumored trades never go down and the ones that do are always out of left field. There is no rhyme. There is no reason. And that is exactly why it is so great. Sports fans love to speculate, and the NBA Draft is 90 percent speculatastic. So in an exercise of almost certain futility, I bring you Unsubstantiated Speculation, a column containing all the relevant, completely false draft news links from around the Intertubes. Look for this once or twice a week leading up to the draft. Believe nothing.

And if you are a blog that covers the draft and feel you deserve to be on the Links, click the e-mail link on the right sidebar.

Even with the Finals starting (as you might have heard, there are quite a few storylines with the match-up this year), there has been tons of draft links lately. Let's sift!

(I'm holding to my promise to myself of not getting into the OJ Mayo thing. All I will say is there some weird, completely nonsensical double-standard going on here where Beasley is somehow seen as equally or more of a character risk than OJ, whose bad character is overrated in its own right. I hate the media sometimes, hopefully GMs can see through the fog... riigggghhhht.)

Orlando Pre-Draft Camp
- I really can't say this enough, but DraftExpress has really pulled out all the stops this year. They have their usual scouting reports and interviews but this year have added video, player blogs, extensive team need evaluations and even ventured deep into the underground of the Interwebs with podcasts. On the down side, they are making this column mildly irrelevant. Rush the Court has also done a very nice job, albeit without the access.

- This draft notes column by Chad Ford was interesting for a couple reasons. One, Seattle is fending off rumors they will take Jerryd Bayless No. 4 and Phoenix is doing the same about Brandon Rush at No. 15 (which I had merely minutes after the draft order was set... toot toot). But the main reason this was interesting was to hear that Lester Hudson played his ass off in Orlando and could be rising up draft boards. I always liked Hudson because he can get to the rim and is a decent shooter. Kind of like a lower middle class man's Rodney Stuckey. One thing that concerns me: Here is Ford's recap of day 2 of the camp. Notice the common connection between all the players featured as "standouts:" Gary Forbes, Wayne Ellington, Malik Hairston, Josh Duncan. All of them are between positions for the NBA. I'd like to think that's a product of the small-ball trends in the NBA but it's probably more of a product of playing against a bunch of other mediocre, second-round tweeners.

- This might be your best Orlando recap, from one Chad Ford, Draftmaster. Some speculative tidbits: Chad Ford is getting sucked into the Anthony Randolph workout wonder thing, WHO CAN HE GUARD IN THE NBA, CHAD?; Michael Beasley made lots of threes, but may have picked his nose and ate it, devastating his stock; Russell Westbrook apparently looked good and yet for some reason Ford still thinks everyone wants him to be a point guard; Kevin Love might really be picked No. 3; Darrell Arthur looked great, which is no surprise, Memphis really should consider him at No. 5 (like I said); Joe Alexander is apparently LeBron James or something; Davon Jefferson, who I, like an idiot, said could be a lottery pick if he gets his shit together. Well, he didn't, and apparently got fat and stuff. Ford thinks he might be undrafted. Let me know when you are going to go on a donut binge Davon, before I say you are lottery material. Thanks.

- If you want to know everyone that played in Orlando and what it means for them and their respective college teams, Andy Katz obliges. And within this notes column by Katz, my suspicions that Kevin Love would be flying up draft boards due to a lack of girth was correct. And sadly for George Hill, Pride of Ooey Pooey, the dream is over. And finally, this feature by Katz on Jeremy Pargo was great. It's interesting that his brother Jannero, who was less talented than Jeremy coming out of college but is one of the better reserves in the NBA, has advised his brother to consider going back to school (he will oblige if he isn't a first-rounder apparently). I still think Pargo has a decent career.

- Apparently former Iowa State guard Mike Taylor played really well and could be the first D-League player to get drafted. Taylor instead of Rod Benson?! Boom tho?

- Posts like this from the Atlanta-Journal Constitution's Sekou Smith on new Hawks GM Rick Sund are proof that Atlanta should always have a first-round pick so this man has something to cover come draft time. He is a boss.

- Good mini-feature from Michael Lewis (go Blue Hens?) on Keith Brumbaugh, even though it doesn't explain his amazing, troubled story to those who don't know it. This helps, however. I still think he must be better than Ndubi Ebi. Speaking of washed up former HS stars (sorry Keith), whatever happened to Lenny Cooke? Seriously, that's a legitimate question. I would like to know.

Michael Beasley is an enigma
- Actually, no he's not. But everyone in the media sure likes to write like he is. There is this, which contains a quote from Beasley that I was thrilled about.
"I just turned 19 years old in January," Beasley said. "How mature do you want me to be? I’m still a kid. I’m not 20 yet. I’m not legal. I can vote, but that’s about it. On the basketball side of things, I’m 30 years old. Off the court, I don’t know how old y’all want me to be. Do you want me to act 25? 30? 40?. I’m 19. I’m a kid. I’m going to live my life. I’m going to mess up. I don’t know as much as you do or him. I’m learning day by day. I hear a lot about character issues. But I’ve yet to hear what those character issues are. Until I hear somebody tell me, I don’t feel the need to change."

I still fail to see what he has done that is so horribly wrong. He went to many high schools and some coaches piggybacked his ability to better themselves. This happens to every single big-time basketball recruit. How is a teenager who knows he will be in the NBA in the near future supposed to just ignore all these people with power showing him how to get there? And how is Rose any different? Ugh. Hopefully the media treats him as the quirky, outspoken Gilbert Arenas-type rather than the Josh Howard-type who gets blasted whenever he's honest about something. He's probably somewhere in between (in both personality and ability). Oh and any Beasley item on the Internet must link to this article in the WashPost, as required by federal Intertubes laws.

- TrueHoop, which is also very outstanding, approached this fairly. Thank you Mr. Abbott.

- Linked in the TrueHoop item, this piece, which in true NBA Draft form, makes insane speculation that Beasley "is not Pat Riley's type of player." (the same guy writes the same thing in another piece here). Suddenly nothing can be written about this man without the words, "immature," "playful," "candid" and the like being bandied around. I think Chad Ford started all this. Seriously people, let's come up with something new....

- ... Not quite, but getting warmer...

- ... OK, this will have to do.

Things of Different Persuasion
- I was none too pleased to see Donte Greene hire an agent. The only logical explanation for this was that he got one of the 16 "physical only" invites to Orlando, which means he thinks he's like, a top 16 player. This is bad news for my Orange and could be worse news for Donte Greene. NBA GMs love tall shooters but the guy didn't show an ability to do much else in college. And I loved Donte Greene. But who can he guard? Who can he beat off the dribble? Who can he box out? Perhaps the more important question is: Who can he fool into taking him in the top 15?

- Every year Andy Katz is good for a few of those, "How is this college coach handling his players testing the draft waters?" features. This one is on Richard Hendrix and Ronald Steele at Alabama. (I wouldn't be losing sleep Coach Gottfried, Steele is already coming back.)

- I really love the Ball Don't Lie blog over at Yahoo!, even if they are a bit light on draft stuff. The incomparable Kelly Dwyer does well with this rant on mock drafts. Couldn't have put it better myself. (This may prompt another mock draft before draft day where I oblige Mr. Dwyer with his dream mock draft. Or something.)

- Gary Parrish, a true college basketball Internet writer, continues to churn out columns in this offseason. This one is a nice look at how batshit insane some North Carolina fans are. Oh and leave it up to Parrish to actually look at the Mayo thing will a tinge of rationality.

- Fran Frischilla speaks, a New York Post writer listens.

- Lang Whitaker over at Slam Online with an entertaining second-person perspective thingy on being John Paxson (not a working screenplay by Charlie Kauffman). I'm not so sure about the Doug Collins hiring but I still think it's better than Avery Johnson. He's just as likely to want Rose as Avery, but at least he won't try to turn him into Anthony Carter.

- Looks like Jamont Gordon is leaning toward staying in the draft, which I pleased about. He should be a late first-rounder as an impact reserve for a playoff contender.

- Way to strike when the iron is hot, Mike DeCourcy. Will your next column be about how great it is that the draft is two rounds now?

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Sunday, May 25, 2008

Unsubstantiated Speculation: NBA Draft Links May 26

Nothing about the NBA Draft makes any sense. GMs intentionally lie about who they want to confuse the rest of the league, agents pull players out of workouts to manipulate their value and the Milwaukee Bucks continue to pretend they are trying to win. Mock drafts are always way off, the rumored trades never go down and the ones that do are always out of left field. There is no rhyme. There is no reason. And that is exactly why it is so great. Sports fans love to speculate, and the NBA Draft is 90 percent speculatastic. So in an exercise of almost certain futility, I bring you Unsubstantiated Speculation, a column containing all the relevant, completely false draft news links from around the Intertubes. Look for this once or twice a week leading up to the draft. Believe nothing.

And if you are a blog that covers the draft and feel you deserve to be on the Links, click the e-mail link on the right sidebar.


- Chad Ford looks at the Rose/Beasley pick, which is somewhat uninforming. I think Ford is great but I have a BIG problem with him continuously questioning Beasley's character and depicting Rose as squeaky clean. He has never backed up his questioning of Beasley besides that "he ran into trouble from time to time with practical jokes, pranks and general troublemaking," which is wildly vague and mildly defamatory. Both Rose and Beasley had very shady recruitments (Beasley with the Huggins thing, Rose with the Worldwide Wes thing) but neither had academic or legal troubles in college or high school. So based on, you know, actually important factors, it still remains a difficult decision. I think as a player Beasley should be the pick, but maybe there is a vagrant he killed that only Chad Ford knows about.

- For what it's worth, Bulls GM John Paxson has said it will be Rose or Beasley. Obviously not a surprise.

-This guy, who might be an idiot, thinks Rose.

- This was a pretty interesting piece from the Chicago Tribune where the reporter, KC Johnson, spoke with Blazers GM Kevin Pritchard and Magic GM Otis Smith about selecting first. There's a very good chance Smith only still has his job because he picked Dwight Howard over Emeka Okafor (the guy did pay Rashard Lewis 8 gillion dollars) and Pritchard still gets an "incomplete" on his. Obviously Paxson cannot blow this (and it's going to be very difficult to blow it). By the way, this KC Johnson fella appears to be the go-to reporter for the draft this year, much like John Canzano of The Oregonian was last year. In this notes column, he has the scoop on Avery Johnson possibly being the next Bulls' coach. Let me go on record and say that would be a disaster for both Chicago and Derrick Rose, who I bet Avery would pick. Avery is exactly like Scott Skiles, except more Katt Williams-ish.

- NBADraft.net's Aran Smith has Rose No. 1 in this mock draft but that's not the real news. No, the real news is that -- and I'm not sure how this is relevant to anything ever -- that Michael Jordan's son Marcus and Rose are dating Chicago-area twins. I do not want to know how Smith obtained this info, but man that guy is good at his job.

- Everyone in Chicago has an opinion on this, including this Sun Times blogger, who is promptly assaulted in the comments section.

ESPN Coverage
- Let's knock out all the ESPN.com items now because ESPN has already done a great job covering the draft this year (yes, I said it).

Within the same Chad Ford Beasley/Rose thing from before, he suspects DeAndre Jordan has received a top five promise because his agent has declined some workouts or something. This is exactly the type of blind speculation I live for. And drafting DeAndre Jordan in the top five is exactly the type of thing that gets a GM fired. Which is coincidentally exactly the type of thing Grizzlies GM Chris Wallace thrives at.

- Here are a bunch of draft-related videos they have up there. Important things within: Kevin Love is no longer fat and has been hitting NBA threes and should be moving up draft boards; Bill Walker will stay in the draft is he thinks he is a first-rounder; Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni played with Danilo Gallinari's dad, meanwhile, Isiah Thomas likes spaghetti; OJ Mayo will never say anything interesting again; Marrese Speights and Joe Alexander look much better in workouts than in college.

- Ford takes a look at Walker, Brandon Rush, CDR and Jeremy Pargo at the A.T.T.A.C.K. gym in Chicago. He also loves Joe Alexander, which concerns me. Alexander seems exactly like the type of guy that looks way too good in individual workouts. And he thinks Chase Budinger is a lottery pick, which concerns me for many of the same reasons. (by the way, Chad Ford has roughly 36 players in his lottery.)

- JaVale McGee is the son of a WNBA player, which could not be more perfect. NEVER draft a skinny big man who was birthed from a WNBA player. I believe Red Auerbach first formed that rule.

- Gene Wojciechowski continues to write about controversial topics and a nation continues to be indifferent.

- Good to see Dana O'Neill is still writing even with the college hoops season over. She turns in another good piece on one-and-doners for next year.

Other Things Besides The Already-Redundant No. 1 Pick Debate
- Here is the first list of guys who will be at the Orlando Pre-Draft camp next week... but only to be interviewed.

- Memphis' Antonio Anderson has decided to go back to school, before participating in the draft process at all. I'm pretty convinced Anderson just declared for the draft to get out of Coach Cal's spring practice, headed to Cancun and then withdrew when he got back. Genius.

- Jerel McNeal is going back to Marquette, which is smart, but disappointing. I think McNeal can be a pro with his defense and athleticism. So what if he is a bit undersized and can't shoot, you only need to do one thing well to find a spot as a role player in the NBA (see: Varejao, Anderson).

- Josh Carter going back to Texas A&M, Alonzo Gee back to Alabama. That didn't take long.

- It appears Marrese Speights will stick in the draft, which is good news for teams in the 10-20 range who need a really good power forward. Apparently Speights has slimmed down and is routinely knocking down 18-foot jumpers. I think I'd rather have him than Joakim Noah at this point. Although Noah does bring other qualities to the table.

- Here's a good feature on Ryan Anderson, who I feel is being underrated by all the draft pundits. The guy is 6-10 and can score like crazy. And while he cannot guard anybody, neither can many NBA forwards. Again, the way role players work in the NBA (and all but about 6 or 7 players in this draft will basically be role players) is you fill a certain need for a team. Look athe Lakers, Jordan Farmar plays defense and hits open shots, VladRad shoots, Turiaf rebounds and acts like a crazy person, Vujacic shoots, defends and annoys people, Luke Walton passes and shoots. All of those guys were late picks that are incredibly effective in their specific role. And since there aren't going to be all-around studs around in the 20s, you might as well take a guy who can score off the bench and spot up on the perimeter like Anderson, defense be damned. He's only gonna play 20 minutes a game, tops, anyway... OR, just take Bill Walker or something.

- Speaking of Anderson, the blogger at BMac's Blog (presumably BMac himself) agrees with me, writing that Anderson's biggest draft flaw is not being European.

- Great interview from the great DraftExpress with CDR, who doesn't appear to be entertaining any idea of going back to school. (by the way, for everything you need on the draft, just go to DraftExpress, they are outstanding... but, uh, still read this site! hehe). With his handling, size and defensive ability, the first up-tempo team outside the top 10 should really consider taking CDR. Golden State at No. 14 would be crazy to pass on him.

- This Portland Tribune writer thinks the Blazers should trade the No. 13 pick (and so do I). With Oden coming in and Spaniard Rudy Fernandez coming over, Portland already has a full rotation of promising young guys. If they can turn the pick and one of the young guys for a solid point guard (Andre Miller, TJ Ford/Jose Calderon, Andre Miller), they should be a legit playoff team next year. Although, this guy thinks with a good number of lottery teams looking to trade (he cites "reports" on this, but that's a bit vague), the Blazers might get more talent by just keeping the pick. They need a shooter and unless Eric Gordon falls to No.13, there are really any shooters worth taking there.

- Some guy in Minnesota wants the T'Wolves to trade the pick because they suck at drafting players. Little does this man know, the Wolves are also very bad at trading for players. He claims there are no stars at No. 3, to which I ask: Why would a team trade you a star for a pick that cannot be used on one? Ugh, just take Mayo or Lopez.

- Here's a decent scouting report on Kosta Koufos except the writer says Koufos is soft because he is polite to people and that Daequan Cook is a prime example of self-assurance. I realize Cook was decent for Miami last year, but that comparison is completely insane. He also questions Koufos perimeter game, which we all know is nuts. I actually think Koufos' best skill is his ballhandling for a 7-footer, which he didn't get to show in college.
I'd take him top 20. There's also a possibility he will play for Greece in the Olympics.

- And finally, George Hill, Pride of Ooey Pooey, is going to Disney World.

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Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Gary Parrish Is A Boss

I don't do link dumps on this blog and rarely will post about articles I've read because I started this as a place to write my own thoughts and ramblings on college basketball. But sometimes other people(read: professionals) come along and articulate an opinion better than you could ever hope to. Gary Parrish's column on Derrick Rose and OJ Mayo today at CBS Sportsline is terrific, maybe the best college hoops piece I've read this year and comes from a guy who is, in my opinion, the best college hoops writer on the Web. Obviously those two face off tonight in what could be a poor man's Bird v. Magic in 1979, the first meeting of a rivalry that will hopefully still be playing out 15 years from now (well second, as Parrish points out, they faced off in some summer game a couple years ago with Mayo converting a four-point play to win by one... seriously). And while what happens on the court will be breathtaking, what has happened off the court to produce this match-up should inspire apathy, not awe.

I'm not going to go over the whole column because everyone should really read the whole thing, but just be skeptical of what you hear about the two tonight. They are both ridiculously great players but, as I wrote today at CHN in my Freshman 10 column, don't think for a second that the "Memphis" or "USC" on the front of the jersey is more important than the "Mayo" or "Rose" on the back. And it appears that as we usher in the era of the one-and-done super-duper-star college players and the crazy recruiting protocol that comes with them, the name on the back must be more important. I don't think Rose and Mayo are conceited but these two freshmen are already bigger than the game and -- for better or worse -- they know it.

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