Friday, June 25, 2010

Basketball's Christmas 2010

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,

Well, first & foremost, Zepparella was amazing last night. After a few coworkers decided not to go at the last minute, I decided to just go by myself…because it was going to be awesome…and I’m sure I’d meet a few ladies there…or at least some drunken gentlemen. Well, I was right on both counts. There was a wedding reception going on at the River Ranch Lodge, so the ladies were all dolled up & tipsy…but they also had their respective men by their sides constantly. Still not bad eye candy at all. I also found that my work buddy Pork Chop had also decided to go to the concert alone, so we hung out, had a few drinks (I only had a few early…but more on that later) and just had a great time at the concert. The venue was also the patio of the River Ranch Lodge, so it basically was just along the gorgeous Truckee River just after sunset. You know what? I’m just going to show you the pictures…

Zepparella came out and rocked our socks off for a few hours…and by the end of the concert, Pork Chop was pretty trashed. He had been there about six hours and drank the whole time. He’s a good guy from Brooklyn and a fellow Eagles fan, so it was all good. He’s also lived here in the area for about 18 years…and after last night, he’s drunkenly promised to show me all the great places to meet girls and have fun here. Not bad, right? So the concert’s over, I hadn’t had a drink since 10 PM and I give him a ride home because he lives right by my grocery store on the way back anyway (this was decided a few hours earlier). We’re driving back and I’m following this other car on the highway, just kinda going with the flow of traffic as there was a truck on my ass too. We were speeding a little…which was dumb…but hey, flow of traffic, right? Well, after a few miles, the truck that was on my ass flips on his lights. It was the highway patrol. To be fair, another truck pulled over the car that I was following too. They did it real coordinated like…because hey, I do live in the DUI capital of California as was mentioned to me several times the first night I was here. Sigh… so the fun begins…

I roll down the window, get the license & registration out, Pork Chop’s telling me it’s going to be okay, “Dude, I know. I’m not drunk.” The officer comes up, asks for the info, makes a comment about it smelling like a bar, “Yeah, I’m driving my buddy home here from the concert.” He asks me to step out of the car, quizzes me about what I’ve had to drink & when, writes it all down on a notepad, Pork Chop is talking to another cop…and he’s obviously drunk, then I kid you not, the officer puts me through EIGHT sobriety tests…and I pass them all. How do I know that I passed them? Because he kept giving them to me. Obviously if I failed ONE, I would’ve been thrown in the truck and taken somewhere or given a ticket. He kept giving me these tests…and after about ten minutes, I was just getting frustrated…because I had to pee something fierce, it was brisk, trickling a bit, and I didn’t have a coat on because it’s always warm inside of Gretchen. Then came the big test, which probably should’ve just been pulled out to begin with…but because DUI’s are so disputed in court, they like to have other tests to show impairment. Oh yeah, I’m talking about… “the Breathalyzer” (starring Jean Claude Van Damme). He gives me some speech about how I don’t have to consent to it…but then he basically just puts it in my face and says blow hard. I back up a bit because…hell, I don’t know where it’s been. “Just so you’re aware, telling somebody they don’t have to do it…and then putting it in their face like that, could be construed as misleading.” I know I have nothing to worry about…or do I? So I take the test. He looks at it. Gives me a look and says “You know the legal limit in California is 0.08, which is like having four beer in an hour…and anything over that I have to give you a citation.” “I shouldn’t even be CLOSE to that.” He looks at the Breathalyzer again, then shows me the reading – 0.045, like I said, nothing to worry about…but it doesn’t stop ya from being a little worried. He told me to watch my speed, get my friend home safe (seriously less than half a mile from where we were), and drive safe. I did. Slept like a log for…about four hours until I had to get up for work again. Good times. Please don’t drink & drive, ladies & gentlemen.

Now for the big impersonal news of yesterday, which was the 2010 NBA Draft a.k.a. Basketball’s Christmas. I think this is my 4th edition of reviewing the draft…and I’ve been fairly good with my predictions thus far. DeJuan Blair was the steal of last year’s draft by the Spurs, Greg Oden & Hasheem Thabeet were overrated as all hell, and the list goes on and on…but hey, it’s not an exact science. The draft is all about potential anymore. You can get a college senior who’s about as refined as he’s going to get…or some 19-year old kid who spent about six months on a college campus and can barely communicate thought…but he’s big and can put the ball in the hole sometimes (more on them later). There was also a lot of trades and stuff done to clear salary cap space so that teams could go after a bunch of free agents…so who knows if any of these guys will actually play for the team that drafted them or anything. It was just a weird draft to watch…but luckily after the first round, I had a concert to go to.

I actually read a little article earlier today that kinda tickled me. An ESPN columnist was talking about having watched Robert Pattinson (of “Twilight” fame) in his first real acting gig that was just released on DVD, “Remember Me.” You remember the cheesy romance story one from a few months back? Anyway, he said that Robert Pattinson was a HORRIBLE actor…like laughably bad…and I’ve seen “Twilight” so I obviously believe him. I think he compared it to a hybrid of Keanu Reeves & any athlete cameo on “Entourage” based on his performance. That being said, his wife said something like “At least he’s trying…and he has so much potential.” That’s kinda what the draft has turned into. Picking some guy that you haven’t really seen do much…and giving them millions of dollars based on what they could be if they really try and their work ethic matches their talents. By the way, my prediction, Robert Pattinson is never heard from again after they drag out the “Twilight” movies as long as humanly (vampirely) possible. I mean, they’ve already split the last book into two movies to prolong it. Just like my former doppelganger Daniel Radcliffe with the Harry Potter franchise. Anyway, back to basketball. Here are my thoughts on some key players in the draft…

NBA Draft 2010

1. Washington – John Wall – Guard from Kentucky – The kid’s alright. He’s got all the physical gifts and skills necessary to be a great point guard in this league (even though the Wizards are kind of gutted out since the ridiculous PR scenarios this past year). He’s been under tremendous media scrutiny for years and has handled it pretty well. What I like most about him…is that he’s apparently a pretty smart dude too, went to class & got good grades (granted he was only in college for a few months). I have no problem with him going as the number one pick, especially to a team like the Wizards who could really use somebody with half a noggin. I had my reservations about Derrick Rose when he came out after one year a few years back…and this looks like the exact same thing. We shall see how he does…but yeah, I like this kid.

2. Philadelphia – Evan Turner – Guard from Ohio State – I like this kid too…and after having a back surgery midseason last year…and only missing 6 games or something like that…and went on to be the National Player of the Year, that can only give you more street cred in the hard-nosed city of Philly. He’s versatile, pretty good jumper, decent defender, the only question I have…is he’s pretty much the same kind of player that Andre Igoudala is, right? Maybe a little smaller? So…are they expecting to get rid of him soon? Either way, I think the 76ers are covered at the swingman position. Two are always better than one (unless they start bickering like schoolchildren).

3. New Jersey – Derrick Favors – Forward from Georgia Tech – This guy has been hyped for years, since his high school days in Atlanta. I get it, he’s a physical specimen and can learn to be a dominating post player. However, I thought his teammate Gani Lawal was actually a better player than he was…but Gani fell to the 2nd round where the Suns picked him up (not a bad snag). He just didn’t blow me away at all. I’m sure with the right tutoring (Georgia Tech was kind of a bad program for him…but it was in his hometown and he knew he was only going to be there as long as he absolutely had to) I’m sure he could blossom…and with the Nets willing to do whatever it takes to make a winner & Avery Johnson’s a great coach (and he speaks Favors first language of Southern Gibberish too) he could be a great player…or not. We shall see. The Nets also ended up getting a solid player like Damion James out of Texas in exchange for drafted guard Jordan Crawford out of Xavier with the 27th pick. Who’s he? Remember a few years back the video of some teenager dunking on LeBron at a basketball camp? This is the guy. Other than that, I’ve only seen him play once…and it wasn’t too impressive. Damion though is a great defender, rebounder and had flashes of greatness for the Longhorns. If he makes the team, at least they can say that they did sign a James this off-season if LeBron goes elsewhere. Very good PR move.

4. Minnesota – Wesley Johnson – Forward from Syracuse – After getting a bunch of point guards last year, and facing the challenge of having like 18 players under contract & they want to get the hell outta there, the T-Wolves had an awkward situation going into draft day. The one thing they did have was a couple young big guys (Al Jefferson & my brother from another mother Kevin Love) so they went with a lanky swingman who can pop the three and rebound pretty well. The few Syracuse games I saw, he didn’t really impress me as much as everybody seemed to think about him…but he does have some seasoned skills and should help immediately. I see him as the same kind of player that Corey Brewer was though…without the defensive stopping ability, so I’m skeptical at best. I hope he proves me wrong. My favorite pick by the Wolves though, was Reno-born & bred forward Luke Babbitt at number 16. He’s the best shooting forward in the draft and in his two years at Nevada-Reno, he was the WAC player of the year. Granted that’s not incredibly impressive per se…but he shot something like 55% from the field, 40% from threes & mid-90’s on free throws. I like fundamentals. Sue me.

5. Sacramento – DeMarcus Cousins – Center from Kentucky – I think the Kings made a GREAT pick with Cousins. I really liked his game…and he really can only improve. I also believe that he believes he can handle the pressures of being the face of a franchise (in time). Tyreke Evans at guard, Cousins at the power forward spot & recently acquired Samuel Dalembert as a shot-swatting center with other decent role players make the Kings a theoretically good team of the future. I’m a little confused why they also drafted center Hassan Whiteside out of Marshall at number 33 but as the Lakers have taught us, you can never be too big in the NBA. So really they drafted two high potential projects that could really pay off…but there’s no pressure because they’re the Kings in the they’re the only game in Sac Town. “Oh you don’t like it. Why don’t you take your ass to Oakland and be a Warriors fan?” I like the picks…and am eager to see how they grow.

6. Golden State – Epke Udoh – Center from Baylor – As you may know, I LOVED watching Baylor in the tournament. Udoh was blocking shots and making big buckets, that reserve Acie was shooting nothing but dunks and getting 5-6 a game, and you just have to root for an underdog team that hasn’t won anything since they were shooting at peach baskets pretty much. I’m a big fan of the shot blockers…and Udoh is one of the best in this class…and a great rebounder too, which is exactly what the Warriors need – somebody to grab all those missed shots and provide something that resembles a defense…and luckily he can run the floor pretty well too. It’s really a great fit given that one of his drawbacks is a fairly light frame for a big guy…and he’s undersized at 6-9 to match up with most centers. I really liked this pick and the more I think about it, the more it makes sense. Are the Warriors still going to suck? Probably…but I don’t think anybody else would’ve really helped them out more in that aspect.

7. Detroit – Greg Monroe – Forward from Georgetown – I was really hoping he’d slip to Utah…but he’s a great fit for Detroit and the kind of inside presence that they desperately need. I kinda see him as a Ben Wallace who can score, which is what everybody wants, right? He’s a good physical player who can really blossom in a fitting system…and that’s really what the draft is about after pick number five, finding the best player for your system (why teams like the Jazz & Spurs have been so good for decades). I also liked their 2nd round pick, point guard Terrico White out of Ole Miss with number 36. He’s a little ball of energy that could work really well in Detroit too.

8. L.A. Clippers – Al-Farouq Aminu – Forward from Wake Forest – The Clippers just seem to be cursed. Period. Last year’s number one overall pick Blake Griffin…will hopefully play his first NBA game in October after having a patella injury sideline him all of last year. That being said, they have the players to at least appear to be a decent team with Baron Davis, young guys like Griffin & Al Thornton, and an All-Star center in Chris Kaman. Why do they still suck? Cursed. Well, new to the curse is a man who is a decent rebounder and scorer at Wake Forest…and I just kinda like saying his name. Another funny thing from that article earlier, is that his name translated to “The Chief has Arrived” which his buddy said “I’m going to scream that name during my next 25 orgasms.” I have to agree. Al FAROOK A-ME-NOOOoooo… Given the curse though, he may be working for Al Qaeda and blow up the Staples Center with Kobe inside and afterwards we’ll all be like “How could we have possibly known?” Granted, I don’t really see that happening…but then again, I wouldn’t be surprised. I hope the Clippers get good. Just so people can realize that there IS another team in LA that plays at the Staples Center in the same league. I think parking is free if you go to a Clippers game whereas it’s standing room only when Kobe’s in town. Oh…and their other pick Willie Warren out of Oklahoma is a pretty good player…but needs a good institution to develop him. He’s probably not going to find it here.

9. Utah – Gordon Hayward – Forward from Butler – Sigh… I saw it fatidic that Gordon would go one pick later. Born & raised in Indiana, college in Indianapolis, JUST lost national championship there, and then drafted by the Indiana Pacers. Seriously, if you would’ve told ANYBODY, even his mother, at the end of the Horizon League championship…that four months from now, Gordon Hayward would be a top-10 pick in the NBA Draft, you would’ve been committed to an institution. But…after a magical three week run in March Madness, an apparently great workout, and finding the right system, voila. Gordon’s going to Slick City to fill a niche on an already good team under the tutelage of coach Jerry Sloan. This kid is living MY f**king dream (granted almost a decade later). Oh well, I’m sure he’ll be great. Then again, I was going to bring this up with Udoh earlier. There’ve been a LOT of players who had great runs in the tournament, were drafted high because of it, and then just sucked in the pros. Miles Simon comes to mind. What? You don’t remember him. Don’t feel bad. Anyway, hope this guys does okay. One thing’s for sure though, the ladies in Slick City are going to love this kid. If somebody like Kyle Korver (aka Ashton Kutcher with down syndrome) can be considered sexy there, this guy’s got it made…and a note of advice, if somebody asks you were you served your mission, just say Indiana. Who cares if your mission was to make it to the NBA and they think you were riding a bike & talking about Joseph Smith for two years?

11. New Orleans (to OKC) – Cole Aldrich – Center from Kansas – Every time I look at this guy, I just think of Greg Ostertag. I know that he can make a shot or two and that was something that Greg could never do…but yeah, it may just be me. Anyway, the Thunder needed some size and they sure got it with this guy. He was drafted by the Hornets then traded to the Thunder in exchange for forward Craig Brackins, pick #21 out of Iowa State and the 26th pick, Quincy Pondexter out of Washington…who I think will be one of the best players to come out of this draft honestly. I like his game. We’ll see how it goes in the Big Easy for him. Anyway, back to Cole. I see him as a decent big guy, not a go-to or anything…and I like that the Thunder also picked up a guard like Eric Bledsoe out of Kentucky with the 18th pick and in the 2nd round, I had never heard of this guy…but he has my favorite name of this year’s draft – “With the 51st pick, the Oklahoma City Thunder select…Magnum Rolle.” That sounds like a street-wise detective who don’t take no guff off’n nobody, Jack!!!

20. San Antonio – James Anderson – Guard from Oklahoma State (not the famous cricketer) – SOOOO glad the Spurs picked up this guy. He’s EXACTLY what they needed (given what was available). He’s a shooter. Pure & simple. You need a three? Bombs away. Somebody to hit those clutch free throws? This guy. He was the Big 12 player of the year…and I think he may turn out to be one of the steals of the draft for the Spurs yet again this year. I don’t care if this guy was picked up by the Clippers or T-Wolves or anything, he can play. Oh…and of course with their other pick, they kept up the international tradition by going for some seven-foot guy named Ryan Richards out of England with the 49th pick. Hope he’s awesome. Never heard of him…but I said the same thing about guys like Emmanuel Ginobili and this one French point guard named Tony Parker when they were drafted…and they turned out pretty good.

29. Orlando – Daniel Orton – Center from Kentucky – Sigh… this is the Robert Pattinson Theory from earlier personified. I’m just going to drop a little nugget on you guys…and tell me if you think this is right. Scottie Reynolds of Villanova was an All-American 1st Team guard this year. He has been a distinguished leader of a few squads that made major tournament runs…and holds a bunch of school records because he stayed for four years and earned a degree. Oh…and the All-American 1st team thing, means that he is one of the 5 BEST players in the country. There are sixty players drafted each year. Yet he was not drafted. Daniel Orton averaged 3 points & 3 rebounds per game, coming off the bench during his one year at Kentucky. One of the greatest moments of my draft viewing yesterday…was when they showed that the man couldn’t even say his own f**king name while trying to introduce himself during a commercial segway shot. Seriously. I’m not making it up. Well, scouts must’ve loved the way that he cheered on his teammates from the bench because he was drafted in the 1st round as a project for possibly backing up Dwight Howard…and Marcin Gortat…so a third-string center…but will be tutored by Patrick Ewing. Why? Does that seem right? Well, like I’ve said for years. You can’t teach height…and he’s a 7-foot, 300-pound man-child with obviously only one way to go. Nothing against Daniel…but I hope he flops. He should’ve stayed in school and gotten himself an edumacation. Who am I kidding? I’d take the money too & never look back. Orlando got back on my good side by drafting a senior forward from UConn in Stanley Robinson with the 59th pick. He had flashes of greatness too…but should make for a great role player in the league.

32. Miami – Dexter Pittman – Center from Texas – The Heat made a few picks that I really liked given that they’ve just been trying to unload contracts so that they could resign Dwyane Wade and get a few new big time free agents, then just fill in the roster after that. Pittman was f**king HUGE when he came into Texas as a freshman. Like…I feared for his life huge. He had some skills though…and has trimmed down to 300 pounds or whatever (yes, that IS trimmed down) so he could be a presence in the paint. I also like the shot-blockers, which is why I like their pick of Mississippi State center Jarvis Varnado at #41. He holds the NCAA career blocked shots record at over five a game for his four years there. Yeah, he’s not the best player…but he’s really just as good as Hasheem Thabeet is…only about six inches shorter. So with a 2nd round pick, you can’t really go wrong, right? Also, I like that they picked up Da’Sean Butler out of West Virginia. Hopefully he recovers completely from that injury during the tournament. Good luck with the free agents!!!

43. L.A. Lakers - Devin Ebanks – Forward from West Virginia – Sigh… I hate to say it…but the Lakers got a good pick with this guy. He plays a lot like Trevor Ariza did for them during their championship run two years ago…and he’s still growing as a player. Son of a b**ch!!!

52. Boston – Luke Harangody – Forward from Notre Dame – If there’s ever a redheaded center (Brian Scalabrine) or an underrated white guy who had a great career at a college whose mascot was Irish…then you can bet that the Boston Celtics are going to draft them. Harangody can score, rebound, play the post as good as anybody out there in the draft field really. However, I don’t wanna be that guy, but there is a bit of a stigma when it comes to taking Caucasian males in the first round. Don’t give me that look. It’s founded on tradition from guys like Todd Fuller, Keith Van Horn, Mark Madsen, Spencer Hawes, Adam Keefe, Adam Morrison, Shawn Bradley, Darko Milicic, Sam Bowie, Eric Montross, Nikolai Tschizvili (or however you spell that guy Denver drafted a few years back), the list goes on & on. Who knows? Maybe Luke will suck in the pros…but I think Boston’s the perfect place for his physical nature and multitude of skills to thrive. In fact, I see him as an All-Rookie 2nd team player next year since Rasheed Wallace is retiring & injuries are always a problem with the Celtics. There. I said it. And don’t think that I won’t bring it up in the future when it comes true. Oh…and their first round pickup of Texas guard Avery Bradley could prove to be huge too…but I honestly didn’t seem him play much his one year. Note: My observations of previous Texas picks like Damion James & Dexter Pittman were off their four-year careers with the program (like back when Kevin Durant was on the team & they were relevant).

A new twist this year! In my hopes of keeping this blog ever-fresh and growing, I’m going to make a prediction for the All-Rookie 1st team based on what I know now…and I’ll compare it at the end of next season to see if I was even close. So here it goes…

Guard – John Wall
Guard – James Anderson
Forward – Evan Turner
Forward – Greg Monroe
Center – DeMarcus Cousins

Wish me luck!!! Oh…and I’m pretty sure John Wall gets Rookie of the Year though I’m not sure how they’re planning on the whole him & Devin Harris being on the same team thing. Well, that’ll do it for today. Had a b**ching concert & Christmas all on the same post…so now I just have to figure out how I’m going to spend my weekend. Maybe I can find something non-alcoholic to do…but it’s always nice to have options. Have a great day everybody!!!

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