Friday, June 28, 2013

Basketball Christmas 2013

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,
It’s that time of year again… basically my half-Christmas every year… when all the GMs, coaches, fans & everybody else involved with the NBA get to see what presents their teams can pick from under the tree of amateur ballers. The big thing that I keep hearing about this draft is that there are “no superstars” where next year they expect a whole bunch… though I only know about Andrew Wiggins whose supposed to be the next LeBron & Marcus Smart who’d probably be the 2nd pick in this year’s draft if he didn’t like Stillwater, Oklahoma so much… so he’ll probably be #2 next year pending injuries. Apparently there are more… but we shall see.
The thing about team sports is that you may LOVE to have a superstar… but there are four other people out there on the court with you in basketball. Michael Jordan wasn’t winning championships by himself. He had guys like Scottie Pippen who nobody expected to be a Hall of Famer when he was drafted… and Horace Grant to grab rebounds… and John Paxson to hit those open threes when MJ was double teamed… and Bill Cartwright to be the defensive anchor… and Ron Harper or B.J. Armstrong to bring the ball up the court… and other bench players like Cliff Levingston & Luc Longley to provide some rest for the starters so they’re fresh in crunch time. It’s a team sport with lots of role players… and this year’s draft could have some fantastic role players that could easily be starters for the next decade or so. Anyway, as you know, I didn’t get to see a whole lot of games until March Madness this year… but here’s what went down Thursday night & what I think about the decision making done… in my humble expert opinion.
NBA Draft 2013
1. Cleveland Cavaliers – Anthony Bennett – Forward from UNLV – This pick was a curveball to me. Now, I never got to see Anthony play… but from what I understand, he’s a great physical specimen for a power forward & has some great offensive skills. Combined with quick guards like Kyrie Irving & Dion Waiters… and another large Canadian specimen like Tristan Thompson & a seven-foot sideshow Bob that is Anderson Varajeo, the Cavs have a good young core to go with. They also picked up a guy that I heard a lot about going into the draft later in the round with Sergey Karasev (#19 forward from Russia). Good solid pick, though a bit surprising.

2. Orlando Magic – Victor Oladipo – Forward from Indiana – I saw a few bits of Indiana games early last year when they were preseason #1 and all that… and I really liked Mr. Oladipo’s game. I’ve heard people compare him to D-Wade & all that… but that sh*t needs to stop for a few years. He plays solid defense which is always good, he put up about 15 points in college & he may be a start in Orlando, but that’s because everybody there kinda sucks right now. Well, you know, by NBA standards. Don’t look at me like that. That’s why they have the #2 pick. It wasn’t a fluke. Anyway, it should be a good solid pick… even though, I don’t know… yeah, I’ll just agree with the pick. I wasn’t there for the workouts. He plays D. Gotta love it.
3. Washington Wizards – Otto Porter – Forward from Georgetown – I like this as the hometown pick & he really is the best fit for the Wizards too. They already have the guard spots taken care of with John Wall & Bradley Beal… and the post spots with Nene & Emeka Okafor… so the best small forward in the draft was a good solid pick. I also like them picking up Glen Rice jr (#35 guard from NBDL) in the 2nd round. He has a few character issues that got him out of college & into the NBDL, but hey, as long as he can overcome all that… if he’s HALF what his daddy was, then he’ll be a steal in the 2nd round.
4. Charlotte Bobcats – Cody Zeller – Center from Indiana – Reading the blogs, everybody thinks that this was a ridiculous pick for the Bobcats… who seem to have a habit of ridiculous picks… and that’s part of why they’re HISTORICALLY HORRIBLE the past few years. However, if the only knock on this guy is that he scores, plays defense, wins… but he’s a little skinny & Caucasian aka non-athletic? Then by all means get that guy in the gym, put some meat on his bones & let him continue to score, play defense & win. Seriously, what was his competition? Another tall skinny 20 year old? Prove ‘em wrong, Cody!!!

5. Phoenix Suns – Alex Len – Center from Maryland – You can’t teach big. I’ve said it at least once every time I’ve reviewed a draft. Many thought that Alex would go #1 because of it… well, I kinda did. However, he has some injury issues, didn’t show a lot of certain skills while playing, but definitely among the best bigs in the draft crop this year. I think that he’ll actually fit in very well in Phoenix & can learn offensive moves from current center Martin Gortat in his development before doing the twin towers kind of thing. Phoenix also picked a guy that I really like with Archie Goodwin (#29 guard from Kentucky). Now… I was forced to watch a few Kentucky games this year… and this guy reminded me a lot of a guy that I saw in UCLA a few years back… who just had a solid all-around game & really athletic… but not really like a superstar kind of demeanor. Well, today that guy is Russell Westbrook… and Archie Goodwin reminded me of him. Basically what I’m saying is… I kinda hoped that the Spurs were gonna pick him up with their #28 pick… but more on that later. Good job, Suns!
6. Philadelphia 76ers (from New Orleans) – Nerlens Noel – Center from Kentucky – Most people had Nerlens Noel as the first pick, even though he tore his ACL earlier this year. The knocks against him were the injury concerns (I’m not a doctor, but I know knees can be tricky, especially when there’s not a lot of muscle helping out), he was “unpolished” on the offensive end… but he’s a shot-blocking fool, 20 years old, a little skinny, but he tore his ACL chasing down a guard on a fast break… so he has hustle & a win-first mentality, right? My suggestion: Grow the high top fade to EPIC proportions and/or pick it out like Ben Wallace used to do… and dominate the defense end… and then clean up the glass on offense putting back misses from the quick perimeter players if they deny the entry pass. Well, we shall see. He gets a chance to be a focal point in Philly, which can be good or bad for a 20-year old… but at least he doesn’t have to deal with being the #1 pick. The 76ers also did a great job in picking up a tall point guard Michael Carter-Williams (#11 guard from Syracuse) or soon to be called MCW or MC-Dub or something like that, probably the best point guard prospect in the draft… but then they also got point guard Pierre Jackson (#42 guard from Baylor) in the 2nd round. Maybe for a backup just in case? Trade bait? We shall see.
7. Sacramento Kings – Ben McLemore – Guard from Kansas –I think this guy could be the steal of the Top 10 picks. A lot of people had him going as high as #2 in the draft… but he fell to Sacramento at #7 and they couldn’t be happier. He has amazing skills all around & a very good athlete… and he goes to a team that could really use him. With their current star Tyreke Evans (very similar game play) probably on his way out to a larger market, they really couldn’t ask for more. I LOVE this pick… and hope nothing but the best for them. Ben grew up in adverse poverty… and I’m not sure whether that has led to good traits like humility & perspective or bad traits like hanging with the wrong crowd & lack of discipline… but I’m pulling for ya. Best of luck!
8. Detroit Pistons – Kentavious Caldwell-Pope – Guard from Georgia – Never seen him play… but he’s a pretty prototypical two guard, tall, shoots well, decent ball handling skills, might even play some defense from the report. If he works hard & plays well with the other young core there in Detroit, he would be a fan favorite in no time… and I just like his name – Kentavious. Though I’m sure he will also fall victim to the initial nickname game. Welcome KCP!!! I like that Detroit also picked up Peyton Siva (#56 guard from Louisville) because I really liked his game during the tournament this last year. He seems like a good Greivas Vasquez kind of player & should work well for them.
9. Utah Jazz (from Minnesota) – Trey Burke – Guard from Michigan – The National Player of the Year is going to Utah. Skeptics have said that he’s undersized for the big leagues… but the Jazz could sure use a pick & roll playmaker like him to go with their abundance of young bigs. I’m also excited that they picked up the biggest of the bigs later in the first round with Rudy Gobert (#27 center from France). He’s a fairly skinny 7’3” Frenchman with the wingspan of a f**king condor… so he just puts his hand up… and he’s five inches from the rim. F**king ridiculous. Does that mean that he’s going to be a superstar? Of course not. Can you teach big? You sure the f**k can’t. Is he the 2nd coming of Mark Eaton? Only if he puts on another hundred points & a badass Viking beard. He seems more like a Shawn Bradley kind of player… or even a Manute Bol if he can bomb threes… but yeah, obviously a project. He’s not gonna Yao Ming anybody this year. Yes, I was bummed that he didn’t last until the next pick for the Spurs as well. You know how they do with the foreign players. Instead they got another Frenchie… but again, more on that later. Seriously though... look... it's f**king ridiculous how big this guy is...
10. Portland Trailblazers – C.J. McCollum – Guard from Lehigh – After drafting the high scoring playmaker from a college nobody heard of last year with Rookie of the Year & WEBER STATE ALUM Damian Lillard, they picked almost the exact same thing this year. He really was the best talent at the spot though… so maybe it’ll be a good backcourt tandem for years to come. Obviously I never saw the guy play last year (apparently he was hurt for most of it anyway… and I don’t even know where the f**k Lehigh College is). The Blazers also picked up sharpshooter Allen Crabbe (#31 guard from Cal) & another guy that I think could be a great 2nd round steal, Jeff Withey (#39 Center from Kansas). I saw Jeff in a few games… and I didn’t really understand why he wasn’t a big deal leading up to the draft. I could say racism… but nobody would listen.
12. Oklahoma City - Steven Adams – Center from Pittsburgh – Never saw him play, all I heard was “raw” but again, you can’t teach height. The Thunder can pick him up & develop him though because they’re already set for a while at center with Serge Ibaka. That’s really all I have to say on this pick.
13. Boston Celtics (from Dallas) – Kelly Olynyk – Center from Gonzaga – I saw Mr. Olynyk in a few games… and he’s got some skills. Unfortunately it seems that the Celtics have decided to pack it in for a few years after they traded away their stars Kevin Garnett & Paul Pierce earlier in the day… but Olynyk is a tall, hard-working big with some offensive skills. As long as he picks up the defense a little bit, he could be a fan favorite during the rebuilding process & set himself up nicely in Beantown. Also... I do love the hair. Players in the WNBA can't rock the locks like this guy can...
14. Minnesota Timberwolves (from Utah) – Shabazz Muhammed – Guard from UCLA – For the first time in recent memory, former GM David Kahn didn’t do silly as things on draft day for the T’Wolves. The new guy stepped in & took a bit of a gamble by drafting Shabazz. Seen him play a bit, he’s a scorer… but needs to handle his defense, otherwise he may be a flash in the pan kind of player. The thing is… everybody says he has character issues or doesn’t play hard… but when you’re playing for free when you know you should be getting paid for it… sometimes you take that attitude. That’s just how it is. Now that he’s getting paid… dare I say it… possibly Harrison Barnes type player? I also like that they drafted Gorgui Dieng (# 21 Center from Louisville) who is a defensive BEAST!!! They really needed one in Minneapolis. Just grab boards & play defense… he could be the next Adonal Foyle kind of player… and you know I like those kind of role players.
16. Atlanta Hawks (from Boston) – Lucas Nogueira – Center from Brazil – The Hawks are looking to make some major moves this offseason with free agents in a few weeks… but they started Thursday by drafting a project big from Brazil. He has the Sideshow Bob hair like Anderson Varajeo but other than that, I have no idea what his skills are. They also picked up one of the top points guards in Dennis Schroeder (#17 guard from Germany) who I never heard of before, but I also REALLY like them getting Mike Muscala (#44 Center from Bucknell) in the 2nd round. He’s a big solid guy who was the focal point of his team in college, but not really against he best competition (Patriot League). He seems like one of those mid-major guys who might do well at the next level though.
22. Brooklyn Nets – Mason Plumlee (center from Duke) – I’m just gonna say it… Brooklyn looks f**king FIERCE for next year now. They had a very good core with point guard Deron Williams, two-guard Joe Johnson & center Brook Lopez… then they pulled trading most of their bench to get Kevin Garnett & Paul Pierce to fill the forward positions… so their whole lineup has multiple All-Star games appearances… and they solidify their front court by picking a player that I thought didn’t get a lot of respect in Mason Plumlee from Duke. He’s big, physical, skilled on offense & defense, he should be a great fit coming off the bench for the next few years. Maybe even an upgrade from Kris Humphries who they traded away for Garnett & Pierce. I like it. Big ups to Brooklyn! THE ROC IS THE BUILDING!!!
24. New York Knicks – Tim Hardaway jr – Guard from Michigan – Another one of those “If he’s HALF as good as his dad was…” players but Tim Bug Junior should be able to step in as the backup point guard for the Knicks right from the get-go since Jason Kidd retired & Raymond Felton could give him some good veteran tips. I like the pick… but being the son of a Hall of Famer in the Big Apple could be a lot of pressure too. I’m sure he’ll handle it well.
28. San Antonio Spurs - Livio Jean-Charles – Forward from France – My exact response: “Who the f**k is Livio Jean-Charles?” Not the first time that I’ve had that reaction to a Spurs pick (don’t watch a lot of international 19-and-under basketball) but hey, I’ve also reacted to some of their picks like “Who the f**k is Tony Parker? A FRENCH GUY?” or “Who the f**k is Emmanuel Ginobili? Are they drafting a soccer team?” Continue to prove me wrong, Spurs. Continue to prove me wrong. I also like the pick of Deshaun Thomas (#58 forward from Ohio State) late in the 2nd round. He could be a solid bench performer.
Aside from that, not a whole lot more to say about the draft other than I’m excited for basketball to start again… and they’ve been really building up the draft for 2014 already. Fun fact: Anthony Bennett, this year’s #1 pick, is Canadian (along with #13 pick Kelly Olynyk). Yup… and next year’s consensus #1 pick & the “next LeBron” Andrew Wiggins… also hails from Canada. Could there be a Canadian invasion in the NBA? We shall see…
NBA 2K13 Update: So… we swept the Nuggets in the NBA Finals… even though I’m still learning the controls of the game for the most part. I see opponents doing certain moves & I’m like “I wanna do that… how do I do that? Where do I go to learn these things?” They have little tutorials from Hall of Famers during the career that you can purchase… and I’ve used them… but I feel like I’m more like “what does the circle button really do?” and there are helpful (yet often confusing) tips throughout game play sometimes… but it’s the same 5-6 over & over with tips like “To box out, hold L2 and blah blah blah” to which I reply “Yeah, I’ve been doing it. Now why are my layups not going in? How do I do a spin move? How about some post plays?” Still, I’m learning… and the game is still real fun & exciting… at least to me. After my 2nd second… comes contract negotiations for my REAL contract. Also, I have to figure out how I get Monta Ellis & Brandon Jennings to pass AT LEAST once on offense before they throw their fade away corner shots. Not without its flaws… but still a solid game.
Have a great day everybody!!!

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