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HoopsOnHoops.com is now it's own entity, and has launched! All future blog posts will be hosted there!
Thanks for your loyalty!
With the NBA Trade Deadline approaching in just over a month, many potential buyers and sellers are itching at the opportunity to swing some cash, players, picks, and wins. For every deadline brilliant move (Wallace, R. in 2004), there is a astoundingly moronic move (Wallace, G. in 2012), and for every one of the others, there is a move that doesn't move the needle in the slightest (Wallace, J. in 1996).
Not all big moves are trades at the deadlines, but because of these trades, there are often contract buyouts that lead to talented players being cut from bad teams, only interested in the player's expiring contract (like Troy Murphy last year). It seems that every year, one team makes a brilliant move that leads to a championship within a year or two.
We're going to evaluate the move that every eventual champion over the last ten Finals made near or around the deadline that pushed them over the championship edge, and occasionally, a move that set the runner up back a bit, costing them a potential Larry O'Brien Trophy Parade.
2012: Miami Heat over Oklahoma City Thunder
Key Piece: Shane Battier
The Heat were pretty much set on a Championship run after two summers prior, when all hell broke loose and somehow three of the game's biggest stars aligned in one of the most apathetic sports cities on earth.
Had it not been for Shane Battier shooting an insane 73.3% from three point land during the Heat's 4-1 series win over Kevin Durant's Thunder, Bron Bron and the boys may not have secured the series.
Though not at the deadline, but just previous in December, as the lockout had just ended, Shane Battier signed on to be the last piece of the Heat's championship puzzle. Does it count as a deadline move? No, probably not, seeing as Battier played all 65 games of the shortened season.
The reason I count it is because of the deadline deal that sent Battier and Ish Smith to the Grizzlies for Hasheem Thabeet (stop number two on the former #2 pick's parade through the NBA) and DeMarre Carroll; when he arrived back in Memphis, things didn't go well for either party, leading to the Grizz letting Battier walk the long, lockout laden path to Miami. And a title. Who cares...(editor's note: uncontrollable sobbing ensues).
Also, can we please note that his charity is called the "Take Charge Foundation"? I can only imagine that they take a $20 donation and try to send kids to Oxford for a Doctorate.
2011: Dallas Mavericks over Miami Heat
Key Piece: Peja Stojakovic
On November 20, 2010, the Toronto Raptors traded David Andersen, Marcus Banks and Jarrett Jack to the New Orleans Hornets for Jerryd Bayless and Peja Stojakovic. On January 13th, 2011 the Raptors decide to sign Sundiata Gaines to a 10-day contract, and within the week, he works his way into the rotation, leaving Peja on the outside looking in for minutes.
Exactly two months after getting traded, and a week after Gaines joining the team, Stojakovic is waived by the Raptors. In just four days, he signs with the Dallas Mavericks, starts 13 of his 25 regular season games with the team, and provides another great shooter to a playoff team who needed it.
I use the word "need" loosely, as other Mavericks Jason Terry, Brian Cardinal, Steve Novak, DeShawn Stevenson, Caron Butler, Jason Kidd, and oh yeah, Dirk Nowitzki were pretty adept from downtown as well.
All kidding aside, Stojakovic provided a serious threat from three, shooting 38% from deep in 20 minutes a game in the playoffs. With their thin center position (Joel Anthony, 35-year old Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Jamaal Magloire anyone?) and lack of solid point guard play (Mike Bibby? No?), a solid shooting three point team balanced out the Heat's perimeter defense they relied on from Wade and LeBron.
Didn't move the needle much, but 20 minutes out of a dude who made a difference is what makes championships in a league with a lot of parity at the top.
2010/2009: Los Angeles Lakers over Boston Celtics (2010)/Orlando Magic (2009)
Key Piece: Shannon Brown
Listen, no one said that the player traded for had to be a superstar.
The trade deadline move that traded Gasol for Gasol (in essence) from La la land to Graceland was obviously the one that won the Lakers two (almost three) championships, as well as ridding the Lakeshow of gun-toting point guard Javaris Crittenton. As far as moving the needle goes, the Gasol trade may go down as one of the biggest deadline deals of all time, along with that of Rasheed Wallace to the Pistons.
That being said, on February 7th, 2009 (two weeks to the deadline), the Lakers made a little deal with the Charlotte Bobcats, sending Vladamir Radmonovic away in exchange for two former first round failures, Shannon Brown and Adam Morrison.
The move was made to subtract a big, which the Lakers had plenty of between Vlad-Rad, Gasol, Bynum, Walton (kinda), Josh Paul and DJ Mbenga; in order to add another guard option.
Brown emerged in the playoffs, coming off the bench as the first/second guard with Jordan Farmar for both the 2008/2009 and 2009/2010 Finals, while averaging five points in over thirteen minutes a game. When you consider that Kobe was eating up 40 mpg at the shooting guard position, leaving all but eight minutes on the board for Brown, an extra five points is a pretty big deal in such a limited role.
Again, not an earth shaking move by any regard, but with the Lakers' roster situation, those points would not have been had.
2008: Boston Celtics over LA Lakers
Key Piece: Sam Cassell and PJ Brown
Like the Heat in 2012, but quite a bit more likeable, the Celtics had already made their big transactions at once, bringing the big three together to Beantown to make a run. Who knew that two 38 year old veterans could make a difference?
Savvy point guard and world class looker, Sam Cassell, started the season with the lowly Los Angeles Clippers who waived him a day after deciding the Nick Fazekas(???) was the guy they wanted in his spot for the rest of the year. Five days later, Cassell becomes a Celtic.
A day prior to Cassell being waived from Clipperland, the Celtics had signed the Big Cat, P.J. Brown out of what seemed like retirement. I mean, what else do you call a 38 year old, mostly broken down Center, out of the league for almost a whole season?
The Celtics call it 2008 Executive of the Year, Danny Ainge's under the radar super-move.
Okay, just I call it that.
Prior to entering the 2007/2008 playoff run, the big three of Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett only had 131 games of playoff experience between the three. All three had made runs of 16 games or better, but only one each. Despite being extremely talented, none knew what it really took to make a long playoff run, and the three were 32, 30, and 31 years old, respectively.
Cassell had made two NBA Finals runs in his first two seasons in the league, with a win in his sophomore campaign, as well as being on the same 2000/2001 Bucks team with Allen that took the 76ers to a Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Brown had been to the playoffs 10 times in his career to that point, though all stints were considerably short.
Both Cassell and Brown filled in well as the first point guard and center off the bench, respectively, as well as providing the kind of veteran leadership that championship teams thrive off. After closing out the Lakers, both of the wily vets rode off into the sunset.
2007, 2005, 2003: San Antonio Spurs over Cleveland Cavaliers (2007)/Detroit Pistons (2005)/New Jersey Nets (2003)
Key Piece: No one
The Spurs won their championships by landing Tim Duncan in the Lottery, smartly drafting/stashing Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, and making off-season tweaks through free agency in trades. The closest thing to a big deadline deal that the Spurs made in this stretch that also included another Finals appearance, was dealing for Nazr Muhammed, the token fifth body (AKA Center) in the Spurs revolving door up front. The problem was, the Spurs surrendered two first round picks, but hell, they didn't need them.
This is how a Franchise is built. Kudos to Gregg Popovich and R.C. Buford, who will both be remembered as modern day basketball geniuses.
2006: Miami Heat over Dallas Mavericks
Key Piece: Alonzo Mourning
After being swapped from the Nets to the Raptors in the epic Vince Carter quit-gate episode of 2005, the Raps gave Alonzo Mourning the ol' college try, gave up on the experiment, took their first round picks from NJ, waived 'Zo, paid him a boatload of money not to play for them, and went home.
Got all that?
Oh yeah, those picks turned into Joey Graham and Antonio Davis. Way to go, Raps.
Regardless, Mourning soon signed with the team he had made his name with in South Beach, to be the back up to Shaquille O'Neal, or as I assume the Diesel called it, "the Shaq-up." Though playing only 10 minutes a game in their championship run (16 in the playoff run in 2005), 'Zo shot 70% from the field in those minutes, as well as providing the tremendous post-defense that he was known for. Not a bad pickup for next to nothing, in a league where big men rule(d).
2004: Detroit Pistons over Los Angeles Lakers
Key Piece: Rasheed Wallace
On February 19th, 2004, as part of a 3-team trade, the Detroit Pistons traded Chucky Atkins, Lindsey Hunter and a 2004 1st round draft pick that turned into Tony Allen to the Boston Celtics while trading Zeljko Rebraca, Bob Sura and a 2004 1st round draft pick that turned into Josh Smith to the Atlanta Hawks. The Hawks in turn traded Rasheed Wallace to the Pistons, while the Celtics traded Chris Mills to the Atlanta Hawks and the Celtics traded Mike James to the Detroit Pistons.
95% of that trade is irrelevant to this article, though the Josh Smith pickup added quite a few wins to the Hawks' plus column over the years, while the biggest pickup was 'Sheed to the Pistons.
The final ingredient to the Detroit championship, Rasheed had pissed the Portland Jail-Blazers era brass off so much that they shipped he and Wes Person to Atlanta for Dan Dickau, Shareef Abdul-Rahim and Theo Ratliff (a great trade for Portland on paper). 'Sheed lasted one (20 pt., 6 reb., 5 blk.) game in Atlanta before being shipped to the Motor City.
All Wallace did from there is become the team's third leading scorer, second best rebounder behind big-afro'ed banger, Ben Wallace, and get the team a ring after destroying the Lakers - all before making another finals appearance and three more consecutive Eastern Conference Finals.
The Mid-2000's Pistons made six consecutive appearances in the Eastern Conference Finals, and the last 5 would not have happened in all likelihood, without Rasheed Wallace.
It's not a law of nature, by any means, but in most cases, championship teams often make championship moves at the deadline, or soon thereafter. They don't often shake the world up, but they're usually always necessary. Some are quick working fixes for already good teams like the Pistons and Wallace, and some are long burns for teams like the Lakers and Gasol.
Some teams have made big time trade deadline moves that have not led to a championship yet, but have led to building block point guards. The Cavs acquired the pick that would be Kyrie Irving from the Clippers for Baron Davis (and Jamario Moon, duh), and the Blazers acquired the pick that turned into Damian Lillard from the Nets for Gerald Wallace - both trade deadline moves in 2011 and 2012.
Don't expect any blockbusters ever in a trade deadline, especially this one, but do plan on a few players changing teams that will shape the 2013 playoffs.
Go Lakers. For now.
Let me explain. I don't update this blog often, and this will be a short one, but when I do, it's to alert my beloved Cavs fans of things beneath the surface.
If you are an NBA junkie like myself, go ahead and turn the page/change the channel, because you already know all this. If not, know this: I love the NBA Draft, and I love scenarios.
The Cleveland Cavaliers seem to have one of the more interesting draft scenarios in probably all of my years covering (a ramped up version of "watching") the league. Their picks are as follows:
1. Their own pick, which currently sits at #2 pre-lottery. If the season ended today, the Cavs' pick would be as high as #1, and as low as #6.
2. The Sacramento Kings' Top-13 protected pick from the blockbuster trade that sent J.J. Hickson to Sacramento for enough time to grab lunch and a plane to Portland; and Omri Casspi (now requesting a trade) to the Cavaliers. This pick will almost certainly be shelved another year and become Top-12(!) protected next year, barring a miracle at the Maloof's house.
3. The Miami Heat's first round pick, destined to be around #27-30, thanks to the LeBron James "Trade". I am yet to figure out why that needed to be a trade, when LeBron was an unrestricted free-agent. Bosh and the Raptors did the same.
4. The kicker. The ability to swap picks with the Lakers that the Cavs picked up through renting Ramon Sessions to LA and agreeing to deal with Luke Walton for a year. The pick given to the Lakers, which can include Cleveland, Sacramento or Miami's first rounder will be conveyed to the Suns because of the sign-and-trade for Steve Nash.
Some of you may be able to figure out what this means for the Cavs just by looking at it, but for those who don't, I'll save you the time you'd have to think about it.
The Cavs first pick is not going anywhere unless they trade back on Draft Day or make a move to package it and Anderson Varejao for someone like Rudy Gay, which is probably too steep a price for the Cavs' liking, and the Grizzlies really have no use for the deal. Sacramento, again, will retain their pick for another year, and probably long enough for it to eventually turn into an unconditional 2nd round pick in 2017. We'll cross that bridge when we come to it.
However, with the Cavs possessing the Heat's pick, that will most likely be one of the last in the first round, it will be going to Phoenix for the Lakers' pick, which right now is slotted at #12 in the lottery. So why would we root for the Lakers and their pick to become worse? The ability to swap picks, like most things in life, is lottery protected.
As the Lakers sit out of the playoff picture just over one-third through the season, the ability of the Cavaliers to swap picks hangs in the balance, meaning that if the season ended today, their second pick in round one would go from somewhere in the teens to the late 20's or #30.
Oh yeah, Cleveland also has it's second round pick, as well as the Magic's next two second rounders, for gifting them Justin Harper from Richmond in the Kyrie Irving draft. I bet they'd rather have Chandler Parsons than two second rounders, but that's the fun of the draft.
Pray for an 8 seed, Cavs fans. But, for the Lakers...you get it.
Imagine a world where Vince Carter was just a slasher with a slightly above average jumpshooter, and where Dr. J was known for his up and under layup - and nothing else. In this world, Dwight Howard's athleticism would provide him an advantage on the defensive end only, and his dunk titles would have been traded in for numerous more 30+ rebound games.
"But chicks dig rebounds, Hoops! What's wrong with that?"
Find me a chick who digs rebounds, and if she's pretty, she wouldn't be open for long. As long as we're talking the same kind of rebound. Also, yes, I just referred to myself as Hoops. Nothing wrong with a little shameless branding, right?
If you thought a little bit about the title of this entry, your first thought was probably that it was going to go down the lines of "White Men Can't Jump." Well, while a viable conclusion, and an easy thing to defer, the NCAA's ban on dunking from 1967-1976 was not incredibly white only because of the notion that (brace yourself if you're not a realist) white athletes in the NBA dunk significantly less than the majority African-American population of the league. Or because White People get dunked on more than they do the posterization.
The proof is in the pudding, white people. It ain't a good look.
Slam Dunk Prohibition was the Whitest Thing Of All-Time because only white people would take the most logical solution to a problem and ban it out of the sake of sportsmanship or gamesmanship.
Think about it. The quickest way from one point to another is a straight line. If your goal is to put a ball through a cylinder, would you rather loft it through from 18 ft. away, or throw it straight through the darn thing? Pretty mindless, right?
Not for white people!
Lew Alcindor had to be stopped. He was making the game too easy, because God had given him the physical gifts to make the game as such. What a monster.
Whatever, Wooden. Give me Shaq in a 3rd Grade Rec. League and I'll win, too.
Concentrating on the whiteness of it all, let's take a look at similar moments in Caucasian history that also took simple solutions and threw them out the window:
Freezing Bread - This is a light issue that hits close to home, but something I know white people do, which drives me crazy. What is the point of buying mass amounts of bread, or anything, so you can freeze it and save a trip to the store that is a few miles away? Or just because it's on sale? This is a logical solution if you live in Siberia or boarded Oceanic Airlines Flight 815 and have the means to, but it seems rather pointless if you live in a populated suburb with a car and a Wal-Mart within 5 minutes. Just go pick up the bread, mom! The crust gets hard when it thaws! Jeeze.
All Civil Rights Issues Ever - Wouldn't it just be easier to let every person do everything that other normal people do when they're of the age of proper maturity? Like the dunk, white people simply didn't care for the idea of equality, and still don't across the board. That was enough for them to ban both because they were in the majority and they wanted to have their way.
Holy Wars - Like the above case, white people have fought battles, literally killing one another because of differences in beliefs about where they go when...they die. Sure, that's oversimplifying the issue (though, that has been out the window for some time now), but like before, acceptance has always been easier and more logical. Accept the dunk with grace!
"Let me know when a dunk is worth three points" - Every Nonathletic White Guy Ever
The Electoral College - Though I'm a hypocrite and kind of still see the Electoral College as a logical solution, I'm not unreasonable to the point of realizing that in a nation that says it focuses on the freedom of individuals, recognizing the popular vote makes a wee bit more sense. If you give everyone a say, and take all of their "says" for what they're worth, that seems like the easiest solution. White people have other ideas.
For the sake of this becoming a political blog, I'll stop there, but you get it. If white people don't like to do something, all reasonable steps go out the window and jackassery ensues. Now THAT is a foolproof plan.
And it's okay, I can say this, I have white friends.
Like certain less-than-important political issues, "flopping" has been force-fed into the basketball fan's vocabulary, making it a hot-button topic that takes away from the more important topics of concern in basketball.
There are places where some political issues are more of a priority, and there are places where flopping is more of an issue, i.e. South Beach, anywhere Derek Fisher or Manu Ginobli play, or College Basketball. Specifically the ACC. Specifically North Carolina. Specifically the part between Rt. 70 and Rt. 85.
Sorry, sometimes I get off-topic.
Let's get this straight - I HATE flopping. I hate anything that takes away from the legitimacy of the most athletic sport in the world, and places a game that is revolved around being a versatile mix of speed, hops, technique, co-ordination and intelligence in the hands of a winded 60's something year-old man who may have gotten to the spot a half second late, or does not understand the laws of physics.
Flop-fest at the Rim!
Usually within the problem, you find the root of the issue. The problem with basketball is not flopping, it's the referees that call them.
I have refereed before, and it's one of the toughest things I have ever done. When you have a bunch of parents living vicariously through their child who can hardly read, you tend to have a whole mish-mosh of misunderstandings. Anyone who has ever had a "misunderstanding" knows that everybody ever is right, and you are wrong 100% of the time.
The problem with offensive fouls is that legit charges only come around once in a blue moon, and basketball culture has become so obsessed with the notion of flopping, that they spot that elusive UFO more so than actually exists.
It takes a tremendous amount of speed and force to knock down a 6'8", 260 lb. man, so why would a referee believe that a slight bit of contact could get that done? The same way a 14 or 15 year old kid could believe they are in love. They want it to.
By penalizing players for flopping, you again entrust too much faith in some form of a judge or jury to make the call. When you fine players for doing their job, they struggle to play at the same level for the fear of losing money (see: Harrison, James). When you find a racist juror in a potential pool of a hate crime trial, what do you do? You dismiss the juror.
Instead of fining the players, fine and dismiss referees who fall for laughable "pull out the chair" acts. Because, let's face it, their job is to make the correct call. If they can't, they're not suited.
Obviously, I know that there is a logical fallacy in the fact that I want to fine referees without any regard to their performance suffering like that in which I mentioned with the players. The difference is that it is not the players' jobs to police the games, whereas it is the referees' only job.
I legitimately believe that the offensive foul is one of the most exciting plays in basketball. It takes points off of the board like a blocked shot, and has the ability to change the momentum of the game like a deep three.
By disciplining referees for calling flops, the calls will decline, and easy buckets will ensue from defenders providing a swinging-gate for ball-handlers to reach the rim. As calls decline, and scoring increases, players will play legitimate defense to defend this (over time). As the flops phase out, referees will regain confidence in being able to call the offensive foul again, when players are set, and take enough of a blow to knock them over.
Of course, being set will always be an issue, and calls will continue to be missed based on that and "was he outside the circle?" There is something said for placing more doubt in a referee's judgment call when, in fact, officials should have to make as few judgment calls as humanly possible.
Sometimes, like with many issues, you have to take a step back before you can take a step forward.
When you have an issue you want to eradicate, you have to kill the head (or of course, aim for the outside ACL). The fact of the matter is, flops do not exist if referees don't call them.
If you didn't read my last entry, I'll get it out of the way for you right now. The NBA Draft Lottery is rigged. Not always, necessarily, but when it needs to be.
That brings us to this year.
Will this year be rigged? Is Anthony Davis as big of a prize as Ewing, Shaq, LeBron, Rose and company? Maybe, and probably not, respectively.
That being said, as the newly self-proclaimed leader of the "NBA Draft Lottery is Rigged" movement, I am obligated to present you with my oddsmakers' take on who will "win" the 2012 NBA Draft Lottery, AKA the Anthony Davis Sweepstakes, AKA the David Stern Trust Fund Telethon.
(Side Note: Notice how Stern is never operating the draft lottery anymore? He's meeting with his accountant.)
(Side Note #2: In case my last blog didn't do it for you, you think this thing isn't fixed? Notice how many times the Vancouver/Memphis Grizzlies get the #2 pick, but never #1. Market power...)
You're on the way, kid.
Alright, let's get right down to it. First, here are the actual "odds" for the lottery.
Charlotte Bobcats - 25%
Washington Wizards - 19.9%
Cleveland Cavaliers - 13.8%
New Orleans Hornets - 13.7%
Sacramento Kings - 7.6%
Brooklyn Nets - 7.5% (Anything outside top 3 is conveyed to Portland)
Golden State Warriors - 3.6% (Anything outside top 7 is conveyed to Utah)
Toronto Raptors - 3.5%
Detroit Pistons - 1.7%
New Orleans Hornets - 1.1%
Portland Trail Blazers - .8%
Milwaukee Bucks - .7%
Phoenix Suns - .6%
Houston Rockets - .5%
Here are my odds in order of likeliness from least likely to most likely (with the exception of the field):
The Field: +300
Of course there is an above average chance of the five teams I see as likely to win actually coming out on the wrong side of the lottery. 4/14 isn't certain. That being said, there is also a very high chance that the lottery is NOT actually rigged.
Or that's at least what Stern told me I had to say in order to keep operating this blog.
If you take the field, that presents you with a 46.4% chance of winning by the NBA's odds that they give you. That is a low odd for the field, so you can say that I'm not exactly going out on a limb. It all just depends on who you believe.
Just know this, there are two teams who have a zero percent chance of winning this thing in my realistic odds. The Houston Rockets who own the 14th pick from now until eternity, and the Memphis Grizzlies. Obviously the Grizzlies aren't in the lottery, but just so you know, they'll never win it. Ever.
Unless Adam Silver is a Jerry West-appointed spy that infiltrated the NBA Offices to eventually take over for Stern and give the Grizz the #1 pick forever more.
Anywho, let's see who actually will win it. Keep in mind, the NBA's "odds" are the team's number of ping-pong balls, while my odds are the odds based on this team being fixed to win the lottery.
The Good - This is an obvious choice to include as one of the four most likely teams, because the non-conspiracy theorist in me believes that the 25% chance the Bobcats have to win a non-rigged lottery are the best odds in the thing. That's what Stern wants me to believe, at least.
Also, the whole Michael Jordan being the owner thing creates a decent storyline. With Jordan's image being at least 30% of why the NBA is still profitable, Stern might want to throw him a bone, and also profit off of the way that anything MJ brings in greenbacks. If he can sell fans on MJ's team, he can sell tickets. MJ also bought the Bobcats out of debt, and according to my theory, that's why the Wiz won the John Wall sweeps.
The Bad - There aren't a ton of my classic ingredients for lottery fraud within the Bobcats organization. The market isn't big, which is a huge deterrent from Stern wanting Anthony Davis to go there. Michael Jordan taking over as owner isn't exactly fresh, though it was recent. Finally, Anthony Davis isn't from Charlotte, or even remotely close.
The Odd - (-250) This isn't exactly a year that has the makings for a classic Stern Lottery Heist. Davis is a very good player, but he is not a huge draw yet. He makes his name on defense, has an underdeveloped offensive game, and has the marketability of Sam Cassell at this point. However, the "odds" are in their favor, while my fixing odds may not be. That's enough to at least include them on the list. I don't see it happening.
The Good - David Stern wants the NBA to globalize as much as possible, and Mikhail Prokhorov's ownership makes that easier. Also, I hear the kids love this Jay-Z character. Brooklyn is a pretty decent market, and the team just invested quite a bit in the move, which makes a pretty decent storyline (the move, not the money). I also find it hard to believe that, if the fix is in, David Stern will want Prokhorov to get boned by his brilliant plan of shipping a potential superstar player for an aging B-Lister in Gerald Wallace.
The Bad - Maybe the Nets are just a lost cause. They have perpetually sucked since they shipped away Jason Kidd, Deron Williams will probably jump ship, and Prokhorov obviously made a giant mistake in his deal for Wallace at last year's deadline. Maybe the Knicks are the team that Stern prefers to win in New York. Maybe the Nets are the NBA's Islanders.
The Odd - (-150) I don't think that Stern really profits off of this one, but there are also a few ways that he could. If Williams stays, Dwight Howard comes, and Anthony Davis joins them, you have a new Big 3 in a pretty good market with a global owner and a fresh move. That sounds like sell-outs abound. That Big 3 could combine for one of the best defensive teams in the history of the league, but it would require a ton of other things to happen. It all depends on the power of Stern. I don't see the Nets falling out of the top 3, either way.
Good for you!
The Good - #1 overall picks have only happened back-to-back one time, for the 92-93 Magic. I have a feeling that Stern has noticed the negative PR from "the Decision", and wants a solid, heartwarming storyline to bring people back. Stern knows that Cleveland Fan will return to the arena, and bring all of his buddies, so long as his team is competing. He saw the way Clevelanders flocked to their TV's during the LeBron era, and he knows that they'll make him a quick buck through their loyalty.
Kyrie Irving has the potential to be a superstar in the league, and by adding Anthony Davis, the Cavaliers would have a Big 2, both under 20 years old. We've seen Boston's Big 3 unite in their twilight, and Miami's Big 3 unite in their prime, but we've never seen powers like this come together before they can drink alcohol.
This creates many storylines down the line. Will they win championships at a young age? Are they the next Thunder? Will they win a ring before the Heat (granted the Heat don't win this year)? Will they break up?
Finally, at least for draft lottery night, Nick Gilbert is a story.
What's not to like?
The Bad - Cleveland is not a huge market, by any stretch of the imagination, and Irving/Davis still do not equal the marketing power of the hometown hype and talent of LeBron James. While it would be a good start, the talent between the two still wouldn't mean they'd win. This might take a while to develop, especially if Cleveland doesn't mold the rest of their roster.
The Odd - (+100) I'm putting this bet at an even split. Everything works out. There are many reasons to justify fixing this thing in favor of C-Town, but there are also some other options. I wouldn't at all be shocked if they won this thing, but if not, they'll still build well with a top 3 pick. I don't see them slipping out of the top 3, unless this thing really isn't rigged. Yeah right...
Gilbert & Gilbert & Gilbert hope that a repeat is Stern's "Decision"
New Orleans Hornets
The Good - Everything. This is pretty much a foolproof fixin'. New Orleans still feels the effects of Katrina, but they're rebuilding with an emphasis on Louisiana culture. NOLA is in the US spotlight, and with the way that the Saints have been able to be spun into stories, for better or for worse, I see no reason why the Hornets couldn't provide the same for the NBA.
The Hornets just underwent an ownership change, with the Saints' owner, Tom Benson, purchasing the team, as well as the two first-rounders they possessed (their own and that from MIN by way of LAC and the CP3 trade). Who did Benson buy the team from? David Stern.
Now, I insinuated that ownership changes usually aid teams in their attempts to have the lottery fixed (See: DeVos, Richard), but none of them more than this one. Benson actually bought the team from the one who dun' the fixin'. Absolutely no one wanted to buy the Hornets, even before they shipped away their franchise Point Guard for a pick, an injury-laden SG prospect, a 7' actor from the Goonies and Al-Farouq Aminu; but once they did, the sale went in the tank.
Seeing as Benson's past ownership venture is marred in ethical dilemma, I see no reason why two crooks didn't go in on this particular deal. With the NBA desperately trying to sell the team, it is my own personal belief that either Stern or Benson decided that the #1 overall pick would be included in the sale of the team, at least for a price.
The perfect crime.
The Bad - The market is the only reason not to fix this thing, but it's growing, so it may not even be a concern. The only other reason not to fix this thing to NOLA is because it's simply too obvious.
The Odd - (+500) If I were a gambling man, I'd put some money on this one. I truly think this thing is fixed, and I see no reason as to why, if it were, New Orleans would not be pick. I forsee Anthony Davis and a name change in the Hornets' future. I'm saying 5/1 odds.
Now, last year, I told everyone I knew that if the Cavs won the lottery, the fix was in. Now that I truly believe it, there is only one thing to do. If I hit this on the head, there is no way the NBA Draft Lottery isn't fixed, and you remember where you heard it. If it doesn't happen this way, I'm sure Stern has a reason for it. Here is my projected NBA Draft order:
1. New Orleans Hornets
2. Cleveland Cavaliers/Brooklyn Nets
3. Brooklyn Nets/Cleveland Cavaliers
4. Charlotte Bobcats
5. Washington Wizards
6. Sacramento Kings
7. Golden State Warriors
8. Toronto Raptors
9. Detroit Pistons
10. New Orleans Hornets (From MIN via LAC)
11. Portland Trail Blazers
12. Milwaukee Bucks
13. Phoenix Suns
14. Houston Rockets
If Stern really wants to get tricky:
1. New Orleans Hornets (From MIN via LAC)
2. Cleveland Cavaliers/Brooklyn Nets
3. Brooklyn Nets/Cleveland Cavaliers
4. Charlotte Bobcats
5. Washington Wizards
6. New Orleans Hornets
7. Sacramento Kings
8. Utah Jazz (via GSW)
9. Toronto Raptors
10. Detroit Pistons
11. Portland Trail Blazers
12. Milwaukee Bucks
13. Phoenix Suns
14. Houston Rockets
The party's already started in NOLA
See ya'll Wednesday.
I'm not a conspiracy theorist. I don't believe that 9/11 was faked by the government. I don't believe that the moon landing was Hollywood produced. I don't believe in Bigfoot, Nessie, or Shaquille O'Neal's rap career.
All of these things are lore, either completely fabricated or vastly embellished by word of mouth. Seventy-five percent of anything people tell you, that you don't already know, is wrong in some way, shape, or form. Unless you're Vinny Gambino, in which case, it's a higher percentage.
There are, however, a few widely-discussed conspiracies that I believe in. One, Tupac isn't dead. That one, I believe because I want to. It is something completely insane that I can willingly convince myself of without any real effort, and it sure as hell makes believing in God a lot easier if you think the former.
I guess I shouldn't say hell in the same sentence as God, should I? But, I digress.
Speaking of God, there is one other conspiracy that I believe in, and it involves a man playing God. That man is David Stern, and the conspiracy is that the NBA Draft Lottery is fixed and a fraud.
"Who's gonna win the lottery? I dunno!"
There is plenty of evidence to support my claim (at least in my mind). Then again, if you see my first entry on this page, you'll see that I'm wrong about some things.
Now, I am a believer in David Stern. I hated the dress code when he instituted it, because I was a kid and wanted to see throwbacks. Now, as I am in my twenties and have learned that girls don't give a darn about your Wes Unseld throwback, I enjoy that these young men (sometimes younger than I) are forced to dress like CEOs, or business casual hipsters. Their choice.
I also think that Stern is completely correct on the heightening of the age limit.
But if there's one thing that David Stern loves, it's a good storyline. He loved the attention of "the Decision" and the team of superstars that resulted. Storylines equal attention, attention equals money. It's that simple.
Think of the storylines of NBA Draft Lotteries passed:
1985 - The first year of the lottery (and most prone to rigging without any suspicion), a struggling, top market team; the New York Knicks, win one of the biggest draft prizes ever in Georgetown Center, and now hall-of-famer, Patrick Ewing. There's your storyline. Big player, big market. The Knicks were the third-worst team in the league at the time, and when New York gets paid, Stern gets paid. Done deal.
"1, 2, 3, say 'jackpot'!"
1992/1993 - The Orlando Magic are a hot new expansion team right near Disney World, and are a big attraction waiting to happen. If they can win. The biggest prize in the draft since Ewing is the 7'1", athletic freak from LSU, Shaquille O'Neal. Rich DeVos purchased the team just prior, and he's gotta win (see Part II for another ownership conspiracy). Not only does DeVos get his guy in O'Neal, he also gets the 1993 lottery, takes Chris Webber, and flips him for a better guard pairing in Penny Hardaway of Memphis. Shaq & Penny equals storyline. Sold. (That'll be punny in Part II)
1999 - Jordan leaves. Bulls win the lottery. Big market, big history, big story.
2000 - Wentworth, Gale, and Chambers buy the Nets in 1998. Ownership change, big market, big story. (I realize that ownership changes usually occur when the team is losing, hence losing money and having a better chance to win the lottery, not in that order.)
2003 - The greatest amateur player in the history of basketball, or at least the most hyped, is LeBron James, a high schooler from Ohio. The Cavaliers are marred in mediocrity rivaling many teams in many sports. They need their savior. They need their chosen one. LeBron going anywhere would have been a big story. LeBron in his hometown? THAT is a story.
"Thanks, Stern! Now I can sell this half-wit organization!"
2008 - See above, then consider that the Bulls are on the cusp of recovering from their savior leaving, now a decade later. Big market. They're a long-shot (a 1.7% longshot), but it's unprecedented. Go for it, says Stern. Derrick Rose goes back home.
2010 - Leonsis bails the Wiz out of debt. League makes money that way. Give 'em John Wall. Thanks, Ted.
2011 - Goodbye LeBron, hello Kyrie. "But use the Clippers' pick, so it's less obvious."
Now, there are many reasons as to why all of this reasoning is coincidence. As is a good controversy/conspiracy. But it's definitely something worth considering.
"Commissioner Stern said to look for real estate in..."
I'll produce my odds on favorites to win the rigged 2012 NBA Draft Lottery before the official thing kicks off Wednesday, May 30th. Here's a hint: I'm guessing it's going to be won by a team whose city has been in many storylines in the last few years and just had an owner change. Stay tuned.
What should I do? Should we just clear the decks and start again? Allow me.
You can tell a lot from an advertising campaign. Who is this person? What are they like? Most of all, you can tell what a person stands for and what represents them. Barkley was not a role model, he was a badass. That was his schtick. Penny Hardaway was the 90's. D-Wade was smooth and quick.
Michael Jordan was everything you weren't and wanted to be.
Michael Jordan was the reason that Barkley, Penny, Wade, Kobe, LeBron or anyone else had a commercial that sold kicks. Hell, "kicks" wouldn't even be slang if Michael Jordan hadn't made $100 shoes worth buying.
The more important thing is that no shoe commercial has never captivated you quite like anything that His Airness touched. Were the shoes better? No, probably worse by today's standards. Were the writers better? Maybe. But, what was the driving force between how Jordan did it?
6 rings help.
But Michael Jordan sold shoes because no one disliked him. He was cool, he was reserved, he was modest, all while being the cockiest S.O.B. in basketball. And rightfully so. He probably murdered your team or stabbed you in the heart a few times, and you probably hated him for it. But dammit, you respected him.
No rape charges, no rap videos, no nationally televised team changes.
What should you do? Be like Mike.
And people have tried. Everyone wants to be their own brand like Jordan. Everyone wants to be make that kind of money, but no one has had to work for their shoe deals like Jordan did. Everyone wants a free pass.
The difference between Michael Jordan's shoe commercials and those of others simply comes in their slogans. LeBron says, "Rise." What has LeBron ever overcome? Being the best athlete on the planet? D-Wade says to "dominate another day." What does that even mean? While these modern day moguls turn cute little sayings into their pitch, Jordan scares it into you.
If you're not legendary, you're not Mike. If you're not Mike, you're nothing.
While you're taking time trying to "accept being the villain," you should probably accept the fact that you haven't won anything and that no one truly cares about what you stand for until you win. You "ARE NOT A ROLE MODEL" until you prove you know how to win. You are not a star because you talk a big game or because the media knows your name. That's never what Michael stood for. There is one thing that Michael did that has become lost on today's generation of stars.
If you asked Michael Jordan how to sell shoes, how to sell cologne, how to get paid or how to become the greatest; it's not about the shoes. It's not about the secret stuff. Michael Jordan doesn't even have to be in his own commercials anymore. There's only one thing that he'd tell you:
LET YOUR GAME SPEAK
Bonus video: I found this while searching the Barkley commercial, and I had to share it. There is something that is also lost on my generation, and that's the greatness of Charles Barkley. All people remember now adays is his mouth. Charles Barkley wasn't just a big people-mover. Dude could play. Watch here.
About 30 hours remain, and with many trades looming, I'll do my best to give you a nice little idea of how I think this thing will pan out.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers (via LA Clippers) - Kyrie Irving, PG, Dook
I've been laboring to convince everyone of why the Cavs should take Derrick Williams at #1, not because he is the better player, but pairing him with Brandon Knight, who would most likely fall to #4, would be the best overall talent.
Now that it seems apparent that Knight will most likely go #3 to the Jazz, no matter who goes first, the obvious decision is to take the best player in the draft, and that is undoubtedly Irving. People question his foot injury and how few games he played in college, but it doesn't matter. Not this year, not for this team.
2. Minnesota Timberwolves - Derrick Williams, F, Arizona
The T'Wolves are dangling this pick to the Wizards, who want Enes Kanter, for JaVale McGee, who the Wolves covet. Now the Wolves camp is leaking that they may just take Kanter at #2. Likely story, Kahn.
3. Utah Jazz (via NJ Nets) - Brandon Knight, PG, Kentucky
The Jazz need a franchise PG and they do not believe that Devin Harris is it. Picking Knight allows them to pair a great, young guard with Derrick Favors and deal Devin Harris for something of more worth, putting an already decent team in a solid position to make a playoff run.
Knight will replace Deron Williams at the lead guard for the Jazz and what they get in return for Harris could make something happen.
4. Washington Wizards (via Cleveland) - Enes Kanter, C, Kentucky
In my first anticipated trade, the Wizards deal #6 and #18 to the Cavaliers for #4 so they can get their man Kanter. The Cavs are still able to move out and get whoever they want at #6 and gain another pick.
5. Toronto Raptors - Jan Vesely, F, Czech Republic
This is the first pick in the draft where I have absolutely no idea what will happen. The majority of people think that Kemba Walker will be the pick here and many others think it will be Kawhi Leonard, but word is that the Raptors love Vesely. They generally like foreigners, so it makes sense, but it also fits a need for this team.
6. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Washington Wizards) - Kawhi Leonard, F, SDSU
The Cavs will seriously think about snagging Jonas Valanciunas here, contract issues or none. In a Cavs' fan's mind, I like the idea of taking Jonas here because he won't impact the team, hopefully they'll suck again, then they can hopefully have Valanciunas and Harrison Barnes in 2012. It's a long shot, so that's why I'm not going to go out on that much of a limb.
The earliest of reports had the Cavs going Leonard at #4, but since the lottery, that has obviously been debunked. That being said, if he is there at #6, the debate will be on between he and Valanciunas. In this case, I think the Cavs will be hard pressed to gamble on when they get Valanciunas this year, but they very well may.
7. Sacramento Kings - Jimmer Fredette, G, BYU
If you read my stock watch, you know how I feel about Jimmer. The Kings seemingly disagree with me. I feel as if the only upside to them taking Fredette here is that they can swing a deal with the Knicks, but I have no idea what the Knicks have to offer.
James Dolan, one of the worst owners in sports, would probably give up a key piece on a playoff team to get an offensive enigma. The Maloof Brothers, the worst brothers who own the same team in sports, would make such a ridiculous decision as to take Fredette at #7. So, we'll see.
8. Detroit Pistons - Tristan Thompson, F, Texas
There is a LOT of talk about the Pistons taking Bismack Biyombo here, and my projection is based on the fact that I don't think Pistons brass is that absurd. Walker is my favorite player in this draft (not necessarily the best), probably the best player available, but I feel like Detroit is a horrible destination for him. The pick SHOULD be Tristan Thompson
9. Charlotte Bobcats - Kemba Walker, G, UConn
While a scoring guard is not what the Bobcats need, the talent level at this pick makes the Walker pick a lot more believable. If not Walker, the pick would certainly be Marcus Morris or Chris Singleton, I'd think.
10. Milwaukee Bucks - Alec Burks, SG, Colorado
Burks makes a ton of sense for the Bucks and I don't know how they wouldn't take him, given the chance. Maybe it could be Klay Thompson or Chris Singleton, but I think it's Burks.
11. Golden State Warriors - Klay Thompson, G, Washington St.
Jerry West loves him some Klay Thompson. I am not too fond of him, but the Warriors are nutty, so it makes sense to me in that regard. He could thrive in this system, but where does he fit in with Ellis and Curry?
12. Utah Jazz - Chris Singleton, SF, Florida St.
I don't know the order, but I am fairly certain that 10-11-12 will be some combination of Burks-Thompson-Singleton. Singleton is a fantastic defensive player, and if he goes to the Jazz at 12, I think they will be very happy with their draft, and trading Deron Williams will be a success.
13. Phoenix Suns - Iman Shumpert, G, Georgia Tech
Shumpert was a highly touted player coming out of high school, and it is my belief that Paul Hewitt ruined him at Tech. Iman's meteoric rise and defensive mentality, I believe will land him to the Suns at 13, who really seem to be running out of talent at this point, along with the draft. Might as well take a gamble.
14. Houston Rockets - Jonas Valanciunas, C, Lithuania
Two GIANT variables here: 1. Does Jonas' contract negotiations scare the rest of the lottery away? 2. Are the Spurs able to trade into the lottery and grab him? From what I understand, the answers are yes and no, respectively. That being the case, no way Jonas slips past 14.
15. Indiana Pacers - Marcus Morris, PF, Kansas
The Pacers were really, really, really, really, really hoping for Jimmer here. It's now become apparent that it's not going to happen. Marcus Morris seems as if he is a great consolation prize, and most don't think he'll fall this far.
16. Philadelphia 76ers - Jordan Hamilton, SF, Texas
Out with Iggy, in with Hamilton. Could be a size guy here like Markieff Morris, but if Iguodala is leaving, the Sixers may not be able to count on Evan Turner and may need to get him some help.
17. New York Knicks - Marshon Brooks, SG, Providence
The Knicks make crazy picks all the time. Don't think this is crazy, but it still just seems a little "Knicky".
18. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Washington Wizards) - Donatas Montiejunas, PF/C, Lithuania
The Cavs get their big from Lithuania, but it's not Big Z or Valanciunas. This of course is all based upon the notion that they get both Washington's picks. If not, for the record, I think the Cavs still trade out of #4, the Wiz grab Leonard at #6 and Nikola Vucevic here.
19. Charlotte Bobcats - Nikola Vucevic, C, USC
There's that size I was talking about. 7', 260. That'll do, pig. That'll do.
20. Minnesota Timberwolves - Malcolm Lee, SG, UCLA
Hell, I don't know. I don't think the T'Wolves will be making this pick, but it can't be another SF/PF tweener, so it has to be Lee or Reggie Jackson, right?
21. Portland Trailblazers - Kenneth Faried, PF, Morehead St.
This is a no brainer. Dude shouldn't even be on the board here. I'm taking him at 15, 17 or 19 if I'm any of those teams. Portland has been tied to Faried for a while, so I don't see him falling here.
22. Denver Nuggets - Tobias Harris, F, Tennessee
The Nuggets really like him and the talent down this way is not that good. Just take a stab.
23. Houston Rockets - Bismack Biyombo, C, Congo
Hell, why not. I just need to get him off my draft board. I wouldn't draft him. He's going to screw up my whole mock draft when someone decides they want to destroy their franchise by blowing a first rounder.
24. Oklahoma City Thunder - Kyle Singler, F, Dook
See pick #22.
25. Boston Celtics - Jeremy Tyler, F/C, USA
Now with Perkins and Shaq out of the picture, the Celtics need a big with an eclectic personality. If that is the case, Jeremy Tyler may fit a need better than anyone in the draft.
26. Dallas Mavericks - Nikola Mirotic, SF, Serbia
Never seen the dude play, and I won't pretend to have, but word from ESPN's Chad Ford is that he is a perfect fit in Dallas. Good enough for me.
27. New Jersey Nets - Norris Cole, PG, Cleveland St.
I didn't include him in my stock watch piece because I didn't want it to seem like I was overhyping all of the Ohio guys, but I think Norris Cole is the most undervalued player in this draft. I think he could be one of the best pure PG's in the draft and he can score like crazy. If Deron Williams leaves NJ after 2011, Cole could be their starter.
28. Chicago Bulls - Tyler Honeycutt, SF, UCLA
The Bulls want to move this pick and #30 to move up, but if Honeycutt falls here, they'll be happy taking he and Nolan Smith (sorry to ruin the surprise). The Bulls need another bench scorer and they could win an NBA title with that and the maturation of Derrick Rose.
29. San Antonio Spurs - David Bertans, SF, Latvia
Never seen the dude play, and I won't pretend to have, but word from ESPN's Chad Ford is that he is a perfect fit in San Antonio. Good enough for me. (My dropoff in effort since pick 20 has fallen off considerably.)
30. Chicago Bulls - Nolan Smith, G, Dook
I respect the hell out of Nolan Smith. He could serve as a backup to D-Rose and a good scorer off the bench. Gotta love it if you're a Bulls fan.
I'm not going to mock the second round, and I will update the first as time goes on, but I think that 31 to the Heat and 32 to the Cavaliers will go Shelvin Mack and Chandler Parsons, respectively. Though, the Cavs may not have that pick.
With the 2011 NBA Draft less than three days away, the potential worth of every prospect is being disputed by almost every pundit who has a say. While the 2011 draft already become notorious for being one of the worst in the history of the institution, there are some gems lying in the rough somewhere in this draft. There have to be.
Here's my idea on how all of these new assets of the NBA will pan out.
Undervalued: Nolan Smith, Guard, Duke
A Dookie guard is going to go #1 overall to the Cavaliers, but it's not going to be the team's 2010-2011 MVP aka ACC player of the year Nolan Smith. As an admitted Tar Heel fanatic, I got to see plenty of Nolan Smith in his four years at the school that serves as the bane of my existence. The dude is good.
The problem with Smith is that he lacks explosive athleticism and does not possess an outstanding outside shot. Many higher-ups believe that Smith will not be able to guard quicker 2's in the league, and cannot hit three-balls often enough to have a niche that will keep him in the league. Another concern with Smith is that his lack of athleticism will limit his shot-creation for his self, possibly rendering him useless offensively.
The thing about Nolan Smith that sticks out to me is his basketball IQ. I don't think Smith will ever be a guy to score 20 points a game, but the way he knows the game in and out will allow him to take effective shots in small doses all while holding his own on defense, which I always felt was an underrated part of his game.
Verdict: Smith will most likely fall to the second round unless a contender falls in love with him at the tail end of round one. While I don't think he will, I feel Smith should be a mid to late first round pick, and anyone with a need at guard will find a solid bench player if he falls to round two. Buy low.
Overvalued: Bismack Biyombo, PF/C, Congo
When explaining Bismack Biyombo's game, I would just say that if you take Nolan Smith and find the polar opposite if every aspect, you got your man. Biyombo is a tall, explosive player with a knack for defense and a lack of offense.
There were discussions at one point of the African big going as high as #4 to the Cavaliers or #2 to the Timberwolves. Maybe that speaks of how poor this draft class is, maybe this notion was just a straight up guess, or maybe it is an explanation of why these organizations are constantly picking in their current positions. Luckily, this notion has been dispelled, with BBC's stock being restrained since those reports were broken.
Biyombo follows a poor class of African-born players before him to come to the NBA and fail, and to me, Biyombo is no exception. While he is great in many regards on the defensive end, he has almost zero basketball IQ, and if you haven't noticed, defensive prowess holds no weight if a player does not know how to use it (See the first eight years of Tyson Chandler's career). BBC is abysmal on the offensive side of the ball and is a complete and utter project in every regard. You can't teach tall or fast, but other than that, Biyombo has everything to learn.
Verdict: No one really knows where Bismack Biyombo will land in this draft, but even though I say he is overvalued, his stock is plummeting like a hell-bound missile. If it were me, I would grade a player like Biyombo as undraftable, but I'm not an NBA GM. If you're a team like Dallas at 26 or San Antonio at 28, who can afford to store a player like this and don't have a hole that can be filled immediately by a player in this draft, then you take a flier. Biyombo is a mid-second rounder in most drafts, and if he is selected before Kenneth Faried, that team will be making a HUGE, Africa-sized mistake.
Undervalued: Kemba Walker, Guard, UConn
Winners win. This is an adage that I've always believed in, and it's the story of Kemba Walker as far as I'm concerned. Players go to the NBA Draft Combine and measure for strength, quickness and size; but there is no measurement for heart, something that Kemba Walker has above everyone else in this whole draft.
I hear the knocks on Walker as a NBA Player, and I completely understand them, but Winners win. The one thing that I do not buy is that Walker will not be able to create his own shot in the league, as he is incredibly quick, probably enough so to make up for his lack of height at 6'1" on a good day.
Walker is not going to go any later than the middle of the lottery, and that is obviously not my reasoning for saying that he is undervalued. Kemba is undervalued because of the ceiling that has been capped on his potential, something I see as a huge mistake.
Walker plays with enough emotion to where he can find ways to become a solid contribute at the next level, so long as he cuts down on his erratic style at some point. He is a long way from a hall of famer, but if there is anyone in this draft who can adapt to what he will find at the next level just by pure power of will, it's the scrappy PG from Connecticut.
Verdict: Walker has the ability to be a key piece for any franchise in the NBA from here to come, but size and upside limitations have GM's placing him lower on the totem pole. If Walker is taken any later than being the third guard taken after Irving and Knight, he instantly becomes a steal.
Overvalued: Jimmer Fredette, Guard, BYU
If there was one player in all of sports that I was entirely tired of hearing about over the past year, it was probably Jimmer Fredette. Don't get me wrong, he's a great shooter and can hit from anywhere in the gym, but he really was a one dimensional player then and will be even less of a threat at the NBA level.
We know all about Jimmer-Range and the absurd shots he would hit to keep his BYU Cougars in games, but there are so many glaring holes in his game that he will be an Eddie House clone in his best case scenario. Fredette's defense is close to what Bismack Biyombo's offense is, and that is slightly on par with worthless. If you can't defend other kids in the Mountain West Conference, there is no way that Fredette will be able to D-Up NBA Point Guards.
I understand that Fredette was BYU's first, second and third offensive option, but Jimmer's assist to turnover ratio was 4.3/3.5, which is unacceptable at any level for your star PG. I understand that he won't be looked at as a star, but for the time that he is in, the defensive and turnover liabilities will most likely overshadow his shooting prowess.
Jimmer's shooting will make you shout, but his D will make you scream.
Verdict: Jimmy Free will almost undoubtedly go in the lottery, with teams like the Knicks trying to trade up to get the guy, but his "Jimmer Range" in regards to his deserved spot should be mid to late first.
Undervalued: Kenneth Faried, Forward, Morehead St.
What have we learned from undersized rebounding studs like Sir Charles, Paul Millsap and Chuck Hayes? Apparently nothing, seeing as a smaller Windex-Team All-Star like Kenneth Faried is looking to be swiped up in the later first round in such a weak draft class. At only 6'7", Faried's game doesn't quite compare to Barkley or Millsap, but his ability to crash the boards and get garbage buckets are on par.
Faried is a guy who will not step back and hit jumpers while hitting the board, and pretty much anything that doesn't involve fingers on the inside of the rim is about a 50% chance of falling. Including free-throws which come at about a 60% clip for the little-big man from Morehead. But, let's face it, the NBA is a league where many offensive rebounds turn into uncontested dunks anyway.
Because of the talent pool, Faried should probably be picked way ahead of the later first, seeing as he actually has a part of his game that he truly excels at without being an extreme liability at any other spot. Unlike many high risk/reward guys, Kenneth Faried is a player who will go out, bang bodies and make hustle plays and rebounds for your team. You may not get an all-star here, but Faried would serve as a solid piece for a team like Philly at 16 or New Yahk at 17. Maybe that's because he reminds me of Renaldo Balkman, physically.
Verdict: Faried is the only player who I feel is being slotted as if this were a normal draft. In this draft, I feel like someone would be crazy to pass on him anywhere between 15-22, possibly a lottery pick.
Undervalued: David Lighty, Guard/Forward, Ohio St.
David Lighty is Ron Artest, minus the headaches off the court and fewer on the court. Lighty is not yet as polished as Artest, but he is a highly athletic, 6'6" guard/forward combo who can play defense with the best of them. Everyone says that if you can shoot and play defense, there is a spot for you in the NBA. David Lighty can do both.
While he doesn't possess too much upside, seeing as he is about 39 years old, Lighty will have to make due with the skills he already has once an NBA team brings him in. I am very confident that he can make a roster if he comes in to every practice and locks down the team's best wing player.
Sometimes his thought process is a bit erratic, attacking the big men down low and jacking up shots late in the shot clock that he has no business taking (see Kemba Walker), but for the most part, he has a very high basketball IQ (and he should given all his time in college). Either way, Lighty is a strong, quick, athletic kid with a good head on his shoulders and could eat some valuable minutes for a team. Don't be surprised to see David Lighty make an NBA roster, find a way to the rookie/sophomore challenge in one or both of his first two years, and then begin to be passed by some of his draft class buddies.
David Lighty and his teammates back in 1985.
Verdict: I doubt Lighty will go in the first round, highly doubt it. However, I don't see him being around in the fourth quarter of the draft. Of any of the role player ceiling guys, I think Lighty has the most chance to stick. Look for him between 30-45.
I have never been one to drool over guards, and when you look at the NBA Draft, it seems like more can't miss guards end up missing than can't miss bigs (unless you count injuries to "missing"). That being said, Barnes, Perry Jones, Terrance Jones, Jared Sullinger, John Henson, Tyler Zeller, CJ Leslie, Kris Joseph and Mason Plumlee all stayed in college for the next season; the 3, 4 and 5 position is a little watered down. The guard positions (including your 2/3 guys) have the most depth this year because it's the only position with any hint of it. Look for this year to be one of the worst overall draft classes, and don't be surprised if the 2012 draft is right there with 1996 and 1984.
See you Thursday.