Sunday, June 28, 2015
Basketball Christmas 2015
That’s right boys & girls!!! It’s a basketball nerd’s favorite day!!! Where the world of “amateurs” meets the world of “getting’ f**king PAID”!!! Or at least the opportunity is presented to get paid… but yeah, the NBA Draft in this year of our Lord 2015… and I was a little excited about this one (as I usually am). I had actually watched a handful of NCAA tournament games (ok, like 5 from the Elite 8 on) and even some NBA playoffs but… just in general, I’m excited to see how team organizations work themselves from doormats to perennial championship contenders with a fairly even playing field (salary cap, profit sharing, draft setup, etc) versus other issues (income tax-free Texas, lottery draft rigging, free agency to go to Miami rather than Minnesota, etc) and the Draft is kind of the antithesis of every team trying to maneuver to get that one potential star that can turn their team around… or take a gamble on a foreign guy & have it blow up in your face and alienate your fan base. Anyway, here’s what happened Thursday night:
1. Minnesota – Karl-Anthony Towns – Center from Kentucky – Everybody kinda knew this was going to happen… and it makes perfect sense… and makes the Timberwolves like the new Pelicans… where they’ll be exciting to watch, probably good enough to juuuust miss the playoffs the next few years… but then could be REALLY good if they stay healthy& work together. Towns & last year’s rookie of the year Andrew Wiggins lead the team into the future… and they even picked up the fellow freshman, hometown hero, Minnesota native & Most Outstanding Player of this year’s Final Four, Duke point guard Tyus Jones later in this round… good for them.
2. L.A. Lakers – D’Angelo Russell – Guard from The Ohio State – Not going to lie… I’ve never seen D’Angelo play except for a few highlights… but I hope for his sake that he’s half as good as the Lakers think that he is, because he’ll always be compared to the next pick, Magic Johnson & James Worthy since that was the last time that this team picked this high back in the early 80’s. He’s probably the best guard in the draft, good size, good killer instinct, a little bit of D-Wade in his highlights… but there’s also a lot of rumors that the Lakers are trying to trade to get Kings center DeMarcus Cousins and D’Angelo may be a bit of a bargaining chip… and then the Lakers sign Rajon Rondo & Kevin Love in free agency. It must be good to be the Lakers organization. Oh, they also picked up Wyoming forward Larry Nance jr & Stanford guard Anthony Brown a little later in the draft but… they might not get roster spots when it’s all said & done in free agency.
3. Philadelphia – Jahlil Okafur – Center from Duke – With last year’s lottery pick Joel Embiid’s recovery in serious Greg Oden potential, this pick kinda fell into the Sixers laps after the Lakers picked D’Angelo. I can totally see this guy as a cornerstone for this team… when & if they decide to really kick things into gear with all of their assets. They also had a sh*t ton of 2nd round picks that probably won’t amount to anything like last year’s plethora but… trust the process is their mantra… but it’s GOTTA be frustrating for their fan base.
4. New York – Kristaps Porzingis – Center from Latvia – Still don’t really know this guy’s dimensions… or if he can play against actual people with skills… but hey, he’s on the world’s biggest stage now teamed up with potential the league’s most overrated superstar… and alleged basketball mastermind Phil Jackson running the whole show… so I hope he’s HALF as good as everybody thinks he could be… and not like famous poster co-star Frederic Weis. I like the attitude. He’s only 19 so he’ll grow… but what will he grow into? Who knows? Although, I really like that later in the first round, the Knicks were able to get tournament darling Notre Dame guard Jerian Grant to potentially run the point from day one. That pick feels like a much safer bet than Porzingis… but time will tell.
5. Orlando – Mario Hezonja – Guard from Croatia – One thing that Orlando really didn’t have was a guy who will throw out Kobe’s patented no-pass look as opposed to the no-look pass… and now they have it. Based on reports, this guy has decent size & skills for a guard… but more importantly, some f**king attitude… and let’s face it, what takes a person from a role player to a potential max contract & marketable player or fan favorite… is incredible skill… and then a little mean muggin’ to back it up. Not crazy Ron Artest BS or Rodman’s legendary theatrics… but just when you see Westbrook or Steph Curry hit that fadeaway three after crossing over somebody… and then pose for the slow motion timeout commercial break. I like it… but have no idea how good this guy really is… I’m willing to watch the highlights (and lowlights).
6. Sacramento – Willie Cauley-Stein – Center from Kentucky – Great defensive presence, VERY raw on offense… it’s going to be really interesting what happens with this DeMarcus Cousins to the Lakers rumor… but if that does go through, at least they have somebody to get posterized under the three-point line. He’s not a stretch guy like all the critics are saying the league needs… but he’s a decent big. I like this pick but… the Kings need a LOT of help at just about every position EXCEPT center… but then again, they know more about the situation than I do.
7. Denver - Emmanuel Mudiay – Guard from Congo/High School/China – He will step in from day one, especially if the Nuggets end up trading Ty Lawson for another player… but I’ve never seen this guy play… but he’s got the build of a future superstar. Tall, athletic guard… stern attitude… and a year of some humility in China for reference. Everybody compares him to Brandon Jennings for obvious reasons (circumstances, features & path to the pros) but we’ll really see how it turns out soon… because he may be the best player on that team right now. Maybe Jusuf Nurkic is better…
8. Detroit - Stanley Johnson – Forward from Arizona – Bit of a head-scratcher as JUSTISE was still on the board… but he’s a decent all-around player… and with fellow Arizona alum Andre Iguodala winning the Finals MVP there’s a lot of need for that grit in Detroit… and Johnson’s a little bigger than Winslow, so this pick can make some sense. I haven’t seen him play more than highlights though so… we’ll see.
9. Charlotte – Frank Kaminsky – Center from Wisconsin – Great pick for the Hornets in my opinion! I had him going higher with the Kings instead of “Willie Trill” but he’d work good with this team too in helping to stretch out the offense & execute great passing. Pleeeeease just don’t let him turn into Cody Zeller… who I still think can be a decent pro… but time will tell.
10. Miami – Justise Winslow – Forward from Duke – GOD DAMN IT!!! How did this guy fall to Miami with the 10th pick??? Shenanigans!!! Sigh… okay, so Miami basically got this generation’s Paul Pierce with the late lottery pick & he’ll go on to a Hall of Fame career and become a South Beach icon. Meanwhile, at least four teams earlier in the draft are going to have general managers fall on their f**king swords within the next five years & be completely disappointed that they didn’t go with their gut instinct & choose… JUSTISE!!! Steal of the draft… write it down.
11. Indiana – Myles Turner – Center from Texas – I like this pick, especially since Roy Hibbert unfortunately seems on his way out of the league due to injuries (tall man’s burden). Turner is young, versatile & seven feet tall… he had #1 overall pick hype before people actually watched him play at Texas, but he could be a potential steal, especially if he beefs up (with muscle, not fat).
12. Utah – Trey Lyles – Forward from Kentucky – Good passing big who can spread out the floor on the offensive side for the Jazz since they have questionable shooting backcourt, a few slashers like Hayward & then the Stifel Tower in Rudy Gobert. I really like this pick.
13. Phoenix – Devin Booker – Guard from Kentucky – One might say that the Suns are kind of going into the same situation that they did last year where they had far too many undersized point guards on their roster (before the busy trade deadline) after drafting this 3-point sharpshooter & then following it up with drafting his Kentucky teammate point guard Andrew Harrison in the 2nd round… but I like it. It fits this team who’s on the run & gun, spread-em offense with bigs that can run for the most part… so yeah, shoot em up! Also, I expect
14. Oklahoma City – Cameron Payne – Guard from Murray State – I’ve never seen this guy play… but I liked his confidence in the post-pick interview… and people tell me good things… so yeah, he’s probably an upgrade from Dion Waiters (whose pick I’ve criticized & feel completely vindicated since he entered the league). I also like that they picked up seldom-used Kentucky backup center Dakari Johnson in the 2nd round. He could either be Daniel Orton… or Kendrick Perkins… or he could be groomed into something far better than Steven Adams… not a horrible gamble for a 2nd round pick at all. I like it very much.
15. Atlanta (to Washington) – Kelly Oubre – Forward from Kansas – Great fit for this wing player with the Wizards who had an abundance of big guys low & John Wall / Brandon Beal for the backcourt… so potential upgrade from former lottery pick Otto Porter.
16. Boston – Terry Rozier – Guard from Louisville – I guess they have to replace Rondo but… this was really the most questionable pick for me… but hey, coach Brad Stevens is well on his way to turning this franchise back around, so what do I know? They also picked up Georgia State guard R.J. Hunter later in the 1st& LSU forward Jordan Mickey a few picks later. Not a bad haul for them… but I’m sure there are some trades in the works.
18. Houston – Sam Dekker – Forward from Wisconsin – “The Second Coming of Larry Bird” from my pre-draft post could work out very well as a Trevor Ariza type with Houston. Basically he may be the 2nd coming of Chandler Parsons at a quarter the salary. Louisville forward Montrezl Harrell had a lot of lottery hype last year before deciding to go back to school, but is a potential beast for an early 2nd round pick for the Rockets. Great draft by the Rockets in my opinion.
20. Toronto – Delon Wright – Guard from Utah – Great pick for the Raptors… Ute goes to the Raptors… I love it!!! Just sad that the Spurs didn’t get him…
21. Dallas – Justin Anderson – Guard from Virginia – F**K!!! I was so sure the Spurs were going to be able to pick up this guy. I really like Justin’s game. Hopefully it carries over to the pros… and Dallas also drafted the first Indian-born draft pick in Satnam Singh Bhamara, but we’ll see how he pans out… my money’s on fade away…
22. Chicago – Bobby Portis – Forward from Arkansas – DOUBLE F**K!!! I was REALLY hoping he’d fall to the Spurs… lottery potential dropping into a perfect situation for him in Chicago. Great post scorer, decent defender, can learn from seasoned frontcourt veterans the first year or two like Pau Gasol, Taj Gibson & Joakim Noah. Sh*t… this is a good pick for the Bulls. Like… TOO good. Something tragic must be coming… (queue Derrick Rose’s retirement?)
23. Portland (to Brooklyn) – Rondae Hollis-Jefferson – Forward from Arizona – TRIPLE F**K!!! A third straight Spurs gut punch! Okay… it doesn’t matter who the Spurs pick at this point. This guy is pretty good too in the highlights that I’ve seen… a lot like Stanley Johnson’s game, but they were on the same team. Good pick for the Nets… and they also took a good late 1st round gamble on Syracuse forward Chris McCullough too.
26. San Antonio – Nikola Milutinov – Center from Serbia – Sigh… it must be an odd year… because the Spurs drafted an obscure foreigner who nobody has seen play… but yeah, he’ll probably be another f**king superstar in the greatest system in sports. GO SPURS!!! Wait… who’s still on the board?
30. Golden State – Kevin Looney – Forward from UCLA – Okay… so this guy might be the real Steal of the Draft. Winslow in Miami is ridiculously fortuitous, but this guy had lottery potential and lasted all the way to the last pick of the first round… to go to the defending World Champions… and basically replace a key player in their championship run who hits free agency in the next few weeks. Draymond Green is probably going to cash in this summer… and he’s a gritty, all-around great player whose a versatile quick power forward build. He passes, he rebounds, he plays defense, he chips in on offense… and that will get him hella cash. Kevin Looney led the NCAA in double-doubles (games 10+ points & 10+rebounds) including those at the top of the draft board… and he’ll come in on a rookie contract. Also, if the Warriors can somehow unload David Lee’s contract, they can make a play for Green. Worst case, Looney is basically what Lee was… and fills that Green void a bit… perfect pick for them… and he’s 19 years old and about a tenth the cost to the salary cap.
56. New Orleans (to LA Clippers) – Branden Dawson – Forward from Michigan State – Speaking of Draymond Green, I see a LOT of his game in this guy whose going to the Clippers with a later 2nd round pick… just keep an eye on him. Great gritty defender & boards guy who will play well with everybody else taking shots, especially since DeAndre Jordan may be leaving in free agency.
Guys who didn’t get drafted but you’ll probably see in the league:
Cliff Alexander – Forward from Kansas – This guy was going to be a lottery pick and then some character things came into play… and he didn’t get a lot of play with the Jayhawks so… not even drafted… but if I’m the Spurs, give him a spot on the summer league team & make it work.
Robert Upshaw – Center from Washington – You can’t teach big… so don’t be surprised if this guy pops up as an undrafted role player somewhere.
Christian Wood – Forward from UNLV – I blame Anthony Bennett for this guy not getting drafted. He has a very similar game, nearly identical stats & same school as the former #1 overall pick… but can’t even get drafted while his teammate guard Rashad Vaughn went in the first round. It’s weird… but I wasn’t at the combine & have never really seen him play.
Aaron Harrison – Guard from Kentucky – I totally expect Phoenix to sign him as a free agent so he can join his twin brother on the team… and the Morris twins. Why? Why the hell not? Make it happen, Phoenix!!!
Terran Petteway - Guard from Nebraska – I was really surprised by this one. He’s a tall point guard who was the leading scorer on his Big-10 Team… but he had the unfortunate events of his mom dying from cancer & apparently it through him a little out of whack on the PR side. Hopefully he gets the opportunity to prove himself & make his mama proud... can't hate on that.
Anyway, thank you for listening to some of my ramblings. Have a great weekend everybody!!!