Monday, May 25, 2015

NBA Christmas Predictions

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,
That’s right… the NBA Draft “Lottery” has finally happened where a bunch of bouncing balls are placed in a lotto machine, bad teams are given more balls, and then it’s all decided in a room that nobody else is allowed into so that nobody knows what’s really decided (by David Stern/Adam Silver). What’s that? Oh! They did it in front of everybody this year? And Cleveland didn’t win it? Or New York? It was a small market team that free agents don’t want to be exiled to? Weird how that happens… but hey, kudos to the NBA for having the lottery balls drawn in an open environment. So… This draft probably isn’t as deep as last year’s where there were alleged 7-8 franchise players… and this one really boils down to maybe 3 or 4… if they luck out. It’s really down to two HUGE names… Karl-Anthony Towns of Kentucky & Jahlil Okafor of Duke… who had great freshman years in this one-and-done era… great tournaments… all that jazz… so now with the draft order determined… this is how I think the NBA teams should draft in order to turn their team around.
1.       MinnesotaKarl-Anthony Towns – Center from Kentucky – Very similar to Okafor, but MUCH better on defense. I could totally see him as the next DeMarcus Cousins but with the defensive fundamentals of somebody like Al Horford mixed in. Big shot-blocker but can also run the floor & has great post-up moves. I’d pick him as #1 for my team. My only concern… is that he had so few minutes of actual playing time… I have no idea if he can do 40+ minutes on an NBA schedule… even working up over a few years… but he’ll be the centerpiece of a franchise from Day One. Personally, as I’ve mentioned on previous draft reviews, I’d bring in Karl Malone or Hakeem Olajuwon or something… get this kid in shape to be an absolute BEAST!!! Also, everybody assumes that this means that Minnesota is going to get rid of man-beast center Nikola Pekovic to make room for him… but why? You don’t have too! Twin Towers in the Twin Cities? Wait… Kevin Garnett is back??? TRIPLE TOWERS IN THE TWIN CITIES!!! Also, a nice player to teach Towns. Andrew Wiggins becoming an elite wing in the next year or two? Ricky Rubio… hopefully staying healthy to orchestrate the offense? Get your NBA League Pass ready… I’m liking this!
2.       L.A. LakersJahlil Okafor – Center from Duke – Sigh… look they were horrible this last year… but I hate to think this pick was rigged so they’d get yet another premiere player in their storied franchise history. Anyway, whatever, they had a chance, it turned into the #2 pick. Watching Jahlil play in the final four, you can see that he has limitless potential… it just oozes out of him. Is he perfect? Of course not, he’s 19 years old. He’s big, he’s strong, and he’s really talented on the offensive end of the court… I’d say the best singularly offensive big in college this past year. Frank Kaminsky was a better team player, but straight post-up one-on-one, I’d give it to Jahlil. He reminds me of former Duke alum & #1 overall pick Elton Brand… or a current player would be like Al Jefferson, who will get his 20+ points but not exactly the best defender. Although, I’ve said it a few times before… get a guy like Karl Malone to come in & teach Jahlil how to be a power forward, work the block, pass, and enforce on defense as well. Physical specimen that he could grow into… that’s the real potential that I’d like to see. He’s got the build, just needs to work on a few things… should be a star. As for the Lakers… sigh… they’ll have last year’s lottery pick Julius Randle (who I STILL believe will be great) coming back from his leg injury that missed all of last year… Kobe Bryant will be back in whatever capacity… and yes, I think they’ll get Rajon Rondo at point guard for a discounted price because of his horrible time in Dallas… and I also believe that Kevin Love will sign with the Lakers (like I mentioned two years ago) and then you have this incredible f**king lineup of potential All-Stars… and whatever they can get for the bench (starters this year like Nick Young’s crazy ass) and the Lakers should be back & loaded for the next few years. Then again… what do I really know? Oh… and the BIG red flag with that lineup of Rondo-Bryant-Randle-Love-Okafor… is who plays defense on the low post… because those three frontcourt players, though amazing set of skills on the offensive side & rebounding… are NOT at all known for their defense in really any way. Just a thought…
3.       Philadelphia Emmanuel Mudiay – Guard from China – Shocker! I don’t get Chinese basketball league games… but I may consider it. He’s the prototypical tall 6-foot-5 point guard & athletic (because he’s 19?) but he could totally be a guy in the Victor Oladipo, Brandon Jennings, Jrue Holiday mold… he’ll be a shoot-first kind of player until he realizes that his career won’t be as long since there’s only one ball & winners share it. He can really turn a lottery team around with some leadership & skills (like Damian Lillard does) but yeah, never really seen the guy play… and playing in China is different from college… still the potential is allegedly there… as well as a bunch of questions about game, character, etc. He’ll be a top pick… but I’m not on his bandwagon just yet. I think the 76ers will pick him because… they need a point guard… or anybody that can shoot outside of the paint & he’s the best fit here in my opinion. Another added bonus: He’s playing in China so their GM Sam Hinkie can do what he’s done with so many other players and basically just let him play in China for another year or two of sucking (and he comes back drinking age) for this apparent big push that the franchise is going to do. Crazy… but hey, I hear good things about this guy… like I did with Dante Exum last year… just glad that the 76ers might fall for it instead of the Utah Jazz.
4.       New YorkWillie Cauley-Stein – Center from Kentucky – Now, I really see the Knicks trying to trade this pick… because they need a LOT of help. They have Carmelo… and then… is their 2nd best player Andrea Bargnani? Really? 3rd leading scorer is Langston Galloway? Who the f**k is that? Although I could see them trying to get a more versatile wing player as a scorer… but what I would do is try to give them a real post player… because in looking over their current roster, there’s Jason Smith, Cole Aldrich, the broken old body of Samuel Dalembert & the undersized Quincy Acy as their post players (Bargnani is a 7-footer who stands at the 3 point line). “Willie Trill” (as he’s calling himself) is a towering defender & shot blocker… but barely used on offense. Everybody compares him to Tyson Chandler & DeAndre Jordan (minus the posterizing skill) because all he does is block & put back in rebounds… which isn’t all that bad… but you know some other players that do that? Bismarck Biyombo, John Henson, Hassan Whiteside, Manute Bol, and the like. Now, I could never understand why this guy was so average in the games that I saw of him the past two years… but because the Knicks have built around ‘Melo and not have anybody who will rebound all of his misses… but yeah, they’re kind of screwed for the next few years unless they get some real big free agent signings… which I don’t see happening. Yes, this is high for drafting this guy… but you can’t teach tall. I could also see Justise Winslow going here… because I can already see the billboard set up like a Daredevil premiere – “Justise is coming…”
5.       Orlando – D’Angelo Russell – Guard from Ohio State - This guy’s a pretty good shooter… so he’s kind of in that Monta Ellis, Steph Curry mode when he’s brought up… but I see this guy as more of a Wesley Matthews type. He’s a better defender & more physical than Ellis or Curry… and Matthews is a great spot-up shooter. That being said… would you spend a top-five pick on Wesley Matthews? If you would, I’m pretty sure the Blazers GM would LOVE to talk to you right now. I haven’t seen a whole lot of this guy’s play… but I’m optimistic. I think Orlando would go for him because he’s the best talent available… then again, they have Victor Oladipo & last year’s rookie Elfrid Payton already for their backcourt of the future. Do they really wanna “Phoenix Fudge” that by getting three weird-hybrid shooting-point guards who can’t really shoot or run point? That’s why I feel like D’Angelo may focus more on popping threes & spacing the floor like a Wesley Matthews / Aaron Affolo / Danny Green kind of player & find a great niche… but also have the ability to slash to the bucket.
6.       SacramentoFrank Kaminsky – Forward/Center from Wisconsin – I see this as the first real shock of the draft. Sure, the Knicks pick of “Willie Trill” might be unexpected… but the Kings taking “Frank the Tank” at #6 seems almost too realistic… like it already happened & we’re just waiting for it. I mean… they picked Nick Stauskis last year, right? How weird would it really be to draft the National Player of the Year & two-time Tournament Darling who plays a great team basketball format… stretch-five who actually plays some defense… and a great passer out of the post surrounded by people who just want to shoot the f**king ball (DeMarcus Cousins, Stauskas, McLemore, Rudy Gay, etc). It’s a match made in heaven. Also… Vlade Divac 2.0!!! Animated big man who just does all the intangibles & will be a social media darling for the next decade. This guy would be the next Vlade, Dirk Nowitzki, Kevin McHale or Pau Gasol as a best case scenario. Worst-case, he’s more like a Christian Laettner, Sam Bowie, never really living up to his potential kind of player… and the Kings still suck like they have for almost 15 years now. There’s really only one way to go for this franchise… and I think this would be a great start.
7.       Denver Justise Winslow – Forward from Duke – I want this guy on my team. I feel REALLY bad that he made it this far down the draft board based on everybody else’s needs. He’s got skills, size for his position, totally see him as the next All-Star caliber player that nobody cares about because he’s on a horrible team like DeMar DeRozan or Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Decent shooter, can run the floor with the best of them & slasher/driver with defensive skills… and better yet, the desire to get better. That’s the kind of guy you want on your team… and he steps up for big games too. Future All-Star. Possible steal of the draft if he really makes it this far.
8.       Detroit Devin Booker – Guard from Kentucky – The Pistons need to be able to spread out the floor. Even though Greg Monroe may be bailing soon for greener pastures, they’ll still have Andre Drummond for another year or two at least… and teams are kind of honing in on him because their backcourt can’t shoot the three with consistency. Many scouts out there are saying that Booker is in the mold of Klay Thompson or Kyle Korver and the best shooter in the draft… and that may be true… but he’s not there yet… not at all. However, he does have the potential to be… and in the limited minutes we’ve seen out of him, he can run the floor and all the other guard stuff pretty well… but the key to a successful career is staying healthy & finding your niche… your special skill that is both valuable & in the top 1% of the league. That’s what turns you from just a replaceable cog in the machine into a max-contract player. This might be a bit of a reach with whose still on the board… but it could be a great pick for the Pistons. Besides… he has a great Detroit name… like I could see Devin Booker as that name of a fellow officer for Axel Foley… let’s be real.
9.       CharlotteKristaps Porzingis – Forward/center from Latvia – So there’s this Latvian guy whose height fluctuates from 6-10 to 7-2 depending on who you ask (I blame the metric system conversion) but it’s fairly certain that he’s about 208 pounds… and he allegedly has some great “point-center” skills. Sigh… now, I blame Dirk Nowitzki for everything to come out of Europe in the past 15 years. He’s great. There is no doubt. When he was drafted, everybody was like “Who the f**k is this German porn star?” He took off… and then EVER franchise wanted to find the next Dirk… so you got all the hype & some rough videos… and you got the likes of guys like Andrea Bargnani, Danilo Gallinari, Darco Milicic, Jan Vesely, Nikolai Tskhitischvili and dozens, possibly hundreds of other catastrophic flops to come out of the international game. That scares me about this guy… but you can’t teach tall… if he really is tall… but then again, he may be the next Dirk or some kind of super-skinny Arvydis Sabonis… like Arvydis’ son who played for Gonzaga & may not even be drafted this year because he played against the semi-competitive NCAA level players. Draft with caution.
10.   Miami Myles Turner – Forward from Texas – The Heat were pretty sure that they had their center of the future all locked up on a sweet contract when Hassan Whiteside blew up on the scene & finally lived up to his potential… and then they realized that he may be a self-destructive entity. Also, with Chris Bosh’s health concerns… that formerly formidable frontcourt is looking pretty sketchy at best. Insert Myles Turner who best case could be the second coming of fellow Texas alum LaMarcus Aldridge (going to the Spurs soon… just act surprised) but even as a worst-case scenario, probably something like a John Henson or Ed Davis type of player… long, lean & mediocre… but does a few things well. He really needs to step up his defense… but yeah, great potential… and I think he’ll take to the Miami lifestyle & veteran leadership with Dwayne Wade& Bosh around for the foreseeable future.
11.   IndianaStanley Johnson – Forward from Arizona – They could’ve really used a player like Johnson when Paul George missed this last year with a horrible leg injury… and so with PG-13’s health still in some question, why not go with the player with the most upside who will probably backup with quality minutes & maybe eventually replace? He’s still pretty raw like a Giannis Antokoumpo kind of player (big wingspan, unlimited athleticism) but could potentially be a Kawhi Leonard All-Star caliber player. It just won’t be easy.
12.   Utah – Kelly Oubre – Forward from Kansas – Everybody in their core is still pretty young & inexperienced… but lucking out with Rudy Gobert is a huge plus… so now they’ll try to add an athletic wing alongside Gordon Hayward and hopefully spread the floor a bit. I don’t see them running the offense through Rudy any time soon… but he’s there to rebound & put back… and occasionally posterize fools on the pick-and-roll. Oubre is the best wing available… so it makes sense… thought I wouldn’t sleep on Sam Dekker at this point either.
13.   Phoenix Mario Hezonja – Forward from Croatia – Athletic wing who can shoot and often draws comparisons to guys like Manu Ginobili, Jamal Crawford, Jason Terry, and other sparkplugs off the bench. Again though… European hype player who many people have in the top 5 of the draft… but I just don’t see it. Would you spend a Top 5 pick on Manu Ginobili? Even in his heyday? However… with the 13th pick, that makes a lot more sense… and would work well with what the Suns currently have… which is an intriguing mix of players… but could change completely before this draft rolls around.
14.   Oklahoma CityJerian Grant – Guard from Notre Dame – Great shooter as displayed during the NCAA tournament (at least the first weekend) and though he’s probably not the 2nd coming of James Harden by any stretch… he could potentially be like a Jamal Crawford or Kyle Lowry kind of off-guard. He’ll have to up his outside shooting for the big leagues… but with great slashers like Westbrook & Durant back, he may find a great niche in Oklahoma City… at least until everybody decides to leave the organization. Don’t know if that destruction will really happen… but for the time being, this might be a smart pick.
15.   AtlantaKevon Looney – Forward from UCLA – I haven’t seen a lot of this guy playing… but he’s apparently a big guy who has sort of underwhelmed at UCLA (a la Shabazz Mohammad) but could be a pretty decent post player like Al Jefferson or Paul Millsap… but I see him more like a slowly developing Jared Sullinger type of player… but that would work well with Atlanta since they already have guys like Al Horford to learn from.
16.   Boston – Sam Dekker – Forward from Wisconsin – THE SECOND COMING OF LARRY BIRD!!! Okay, that’s just f**king crazy to even see in type… but hey, if I’m the Celtics & trying to hype up somebody… why not? Oh yes… the horrible repercussions… he’s a good player though. He’ll have to change his game slightly for the pros… but I could totally see him as a taller, more athletic version of Gordon Hayward for the Celtics… and a fan favorite for years to come.
17.   MilwaukeeTyus Jones – Guard from Duke – Another tournament feel-good story not unlike Shabazz Napier last year… but could be a decent backup point guard to Michael Carter-Williams (that’s who’s there now, right? The trade deadline was f**king nuts…) but eventually, I could almost see this guy being like Isaiah Thomas (the new one, not the Hall of Famer). He’s a little undersized… but there have been some good players that are undersized. Even if he’s like a Brandon Knight or Jeff Teague kind of player… mission accomplished. Now I’m going to skip around in the draft a little bit…
Picks 18-20, we shall see… probably guys like Bobby Portis (Arkansas) and Montrezl Harrell (Louisville)
21.  Dallas – Jakob Poetl – Center from Utah – I totally see the Mavericks taking a bit of a gamble on the Austrian-born center (he & Dirk can chill and speak their native tongue) but he’s got great size (though could beef up a bit) and I’ll be honest… his offensive skills are… okay, not good or great. However, I think that he could totally be a player in the mold of Robin Lopez or like what Roy Hibbert used to be before his body suck “F**k that noise!” He may be a late second-rounder or not even drafted at all… but this is my reach… GO UTES!!!
26.  San AntonioDevon Wright – Guard from Utah – That’s right… I’m calling it now… 6-5 University of Utah point guard comes into the Spurs organization (with LaMarcus Aldridge, wink wink) to eventually take over for Tony Parker for Championship Decade take two!!! On the real though… Wright’s a good distributor and seems to understand the game pretty well… he reminds me a lot of guys like Shaun Livingston who always seem to be in demand but also has a lot of Michael Carter-Williams in his game. I don’t know… may just be hopeful & they already know of some foreign player who’s going to revolutionize the game as we know it… but we’ll see. Fingers crossed!
Anyway, that’ll do it for my random picks… like last year, trades will probably happen… injuries will even probably happen… crazy sh*t always happens… and let’s face it, I have a unique perspective… just like everybody else. Have a great weekend everybody!!!

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