Thursday, May 16, 2019

NBA Christmas Preview

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,

Well... the NBA Draft Lottery has happened... and I had a few minutes... so here's a look into my crystal ball at what's going to happen at the draft in a few weeks... and I'm not even going to talk about the lottery process again because I'm sure it's rigged & I don't care... let the drama begin...

1)      New Orleans – Zion Williamson – Forward from Duke

This pick is the easy part of this draft. Zion Williamson has been an amazing specimen of a player as a freshman at Duke… despite kind of looking like a bumblebee. Really, it’s impressive. If you did a silhouette of him and say… Glen “Big Baby” Davis, you’ve got a body type match. Yet Big Baby was never able to levitate like Zion! He also didn’t have the repertoire of post moves & pretty spectacular help defense. With all of the drama this past year with Anthony Davis & New Orleans’ falling out, I’m REALLY happy to the Big Easy won this lottery with a 6% chance! They deserve it! They won the pick & hopefully he sticks around for a long, long time as the face of their franchise… or at least until he decides to go to New York or something. As for Anthony Davis… more on him later…

2)      Memphis – Ja Morant – Guard from Murray State

With the new lottery pick rules, Memphis jumped up quite a bit too… and again, I love that they get to pick the consensus top point guard in Ja Morant to essentially replace franchise icon Mike Conley jr down the road. I don’t see Memphis (conceivably) trading Mike Conley (and his contract) away without giving up a bunch in return like draft picks and such… but he’ll be a great mentor to Ja so that should pay off well. Ja himself is a great scorer, passer & offensive superstar… but with limited range at this point. He’s more of a slasher, but is still super young & can adjust his game to maximize his athletic ability AND outside shot hopefully. Then again, with a stretch four like Jaren Jackson to work with, it may not be a huge issue. By the way… Jaren Jackson + Ja Morant = JaJaJaMo?!? Help me out here, Memphis Marketing!!!

Okay, this is where the draft will start to get REALLY interesting with regards to Anthony Davis. For those who don’t know, AD has mentioned that he wants out of New Orleans… and being one of the greatest players of his generation, he’ll basically get what he wants simply by voicing it. With that in mind, there are three MAJOR players in trying to trade for Davis… The Knicks, the LA Lakers & the Boston Celtics. Needless to say that every other team will try to get this player somehow… but it’s kind of like when LeBron or Kevin Durant wanted to move… everybody has a chance… but not everybody has a real chance… and nobody really knows what’s going on in their heads. The twist is… Davis isn’t a free agent. He’s still under contract with New Orleans for another year… and they just got the #1 pick. Will he want to stay now? As The Rock would say “IT DOESN’T MATTER” because he’s basically burnt that bridge I think. Oh well… so here are probably the best pitches the three major players can offer for AD:

NY Knicks – #3 overall pick, a few future first round picks (Dallas trade for Porzingis included), a few young players from past drafts like Dennis Smith jr, Kevin Knox, Mitchell Robinson & Frank Ntilikina
LA Lakers – #4 overall pick & young players on rookie deals like Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, Lonzo Ball & Kyle Kuzma
Boston – #14, #20 & #22 in this year’s draft, a few future picks, Jayson Tatum, Gordon Hayward, basically anybody else they have on contract
Atlanta – Sleeper pick for me as depending on how New Orleans views this year’s draft… Atlanta has picks #8 & #10 this year, high 2nd rounders, future picks and young guys on rookie deals like John Collins though they probably want to build around Trae Young, Collins & AD in this scenario.

So what do I think happens?!? I’m glad that you asked. The Lakers provide probably the best package of players & picks above especially with that #4 this year… but there are two things holding them back. Nobody wants to deal with LeBron, AD & (random max contract player like Kyrie) joining forces… and New Orleans is in the Western Conference too so they don’t want to play Davis four times a year unless it’s in the NBA Finals. So that tilts to New York or Boston… and it just seems that Boston might be the way to go IF they include Jayson Tatum and a bunch of picks into the package that they offer. That puts AD into the Eastern Conference (on an already good team), gives New Orleans a good return & provides for the future in terms of bench depth as well. The picks at 3 & 4 are much better than at 14 & 20 including Zion’s teammates at Duke… but again, who really knows what’s going to happen until it happens? Just my thoughts… AD goes to Boston, New Orleans gets some security for the future to pair with its young crew.

3)      NY Knicks – R.J. Barrett – Guard from Duke

In consolation, New York still gets a pretty darn good player in Zion’s college teammate RJ Barrett. He’s a lot like Kyrie Irving in his own right… and with the Knicks able to sign two max-level contracts for anybody from Kevin Durant to Kyrie Irving to Jimmy Butler to Kawhi Leonard to Klay Thompson to Rudy Gay (tell me you couldn’t see the Knicks dropping that kind of money on him). However, what if I were to propose this? They draft RJ to run the point… and are able to sign Kevin Durant & Jimmy Butler THEN… also get DeMarcus Cousins on a low-low contract since he’s been injured the past few years? Those four newcomers… plus the guys mentioned before like Kevin Knox, Frank Nkitilina, Dennis Smith & Mitchell Robinson… now we might be talking, right? Yup, that’s why it’s not going to happen… sorry, New York… but you’ve got RJ now.

4)      LA Lakers – Jarrett Culver – Guard from Texas Tech

I really like the idea of Jarett with the Lakers. He’s a decent two-guard with great size, athleticism & all that stuff… but he’ll be joining a team with a lot of those including LeBron James. Could the Lakers make some moves with this #4 pick? Of course! It might actually be in their best interest with a win-now situation & I think they had cap space for a max-level contract too, right? That’s why they’re trying to get AD with this #4 and some of their dearth of young middling talent, and that very well may happen… and sign somebody like Kawhi (though he seems to like Toronto, he’s from LA). Who knows? But if they pick, then I see Culver as a good fit. He’ll have to work on his three-ball though. The Lakers could really use that & may even trade down. Oooh… do you think the Hawks might call about giving them the 8th & 10th pick for somebody they really like at #4?!?

5)      Cleveland – De’Andre Hunter – Forward from Virginia

The Cavaliers need a lot… but I really like Hunter as their swingman because he’s an incredible defender AND can shoot when defenses collapse on point guard Collin Sexton or Kevin Love in the post or something. He would have been a lottery pick last year, and this year kept him about the same only a year older… but I really like his game. He’s got the potential for a Kawhi Leonard mold kind of style, but it’ll take a LOT of hard work. He’s like 20 though… his best years are ahead of him.

6)      Phoenix – Darius Garland – Guard from Vanderbilt

Now, I really see this as a possibility for New Orleans to pick up the 6th pick in the draft in exchange for Jrue Holiday to go full youth rebuild mode… as the Suns REALLY need a point guard… but I think they’ll also see this young’un as a better (and more cost effective) prospect for the future and their SUPER young team than Jrue. He had limited time in his freshman year due to some injuries but was able to show that he’s a scorer & facilitator and the Suns could use plenty of both talents.

7)      Chicago – Coby White – Guard from North Carolina

The Bulls also need a point guard to help out Kris Dunn, so again, New Orleans may come calling with Jrue (which would actually be a nice fit now that I think about it) but if they end up keeping the pick then Coby White is a great point guard in the Ty Lawson mold… but with a little more size at 6-4. I’d be curious to see if he blossoms in the NBA game and becomes one of those point guards that average 15 points & 15 assists a game like John Stockton used to do. He’ll need a few more shooters around him for that but the Bulls have a few bright young stars on the verge.

8)      New Orleans (AD trade with Atlanta) – Cam Reddish – Guard/Forward from Duke

SURPRISE, MUFUKAS!!! Remember when I said New Orleans was going to trade with Boston?!? PSYCH!!! They’ve officially changed their minds and are going full youth rebuild since a few other draftees are still on the board. Let’s say the deal includes the 8th & 10th picks, their 1st round pick in 2020 (or Cavs top 10 protected, or their 2022 pick, or all of them forever?), John Collins, Dewayne Dedmon, and whoever else they must to get the job done… and then Anthony Davis is in Atlanta!!! YAY!!! What could possibly (Dwight Howard) go wrong?!? New Orleans on the other hand, they still get those future picks a la Boston… but now can also use the 8th pick on Zion’s college buddy Cam Reddish to play the two or three… and maybe even the four in today’s NBA if Zion wasn’t already there too. Reddish has really slid since earlier in the year when he was considered a 2nd or 3rd overall pick… but hey, if he’s still around at 8, that phone may be ringing in Atlanta… that’s all I’m saying.

9)      Washington – Jaxson Hayes – Center from Texas

The current centers on the Wizards roster are Dwight Howard, Thomas Bryant & Ian Mahinmi. John Wall may miss most to all of next year with his Achilles injury & who knows if he’ll return as productive as before (history says probably not). Bradley Beal is currently paired with guys like Jabari Parker, Jeff Green & Trevor Ariza for major minutes. Sadly, they need a LOT and with Wall’s super-max titanium deal… they’re kind of buried for a while. HOWEVER!!! I really like the game that Jaxson Hayes bring. He’s big, tough, basically a DeAndre Jordan kind of player… and that can go far in the right system. Am I saying run the post offense through him? Absolutely not… at least until he can prove it in practice… but with the right parts around him in today’s three-jacking NBA, he can play clean up with the best of them already. I could also see the Wizards doing something with picking Bol Bol here since they picked his father 34 years earlier to start his amazing career… but his game’s not a good fit for them right now. All the Wizards have are three-jackers. They need some roughnecks.

10)   New Orleans (AD trade with Atlanta) – Bol Bol – Center from Oregon

Okay… so I’m going to paint you a picture of what the Pelicans team would look like in my world. A starting lineup with Jrue Holiday at the point guard (or one of the young guys mentioned earlier in a proposed trade), Cam Reddish at the two-guard, Zion Williamson as the swingman/LeBron spot, John Collins at power forward, and Bol Bol as the ultimate STREEEEEEETCH FIVE!!! This guy is ridiculously tall, long and thin… just like his amazing father Manute Bol… but he’s been raised in basketball whereas his father was kind of given a basketball at an age older than Bol is now… and he still set records. Bol has been groomed to be tall, block shots, and pop out for three-pointers with incredible accuracy. Are there ways to reduce that effectiveness in the NBA? Of course!!! The guy weighs like 200 pounds soaking wet and can be pushed around… and might be frail… but who’s going to block him on the three-point line?!? Especially when you have somebody getting manhandled by Zion on the block, or Jrue just blew past somebody, or the bench squad of Dewayne Dedmon, Julius Randle, E’Twaun Moore, Cheick Diallo, Frank Jackson, Solomon Hill, Stanley Johnson and whoever else you can get from exchanging some of those guys or including them in packages… this is an EXCITING team to mess around with!!! May not be playoff bound immediately… but don’t tell me they’re like a year away from competing in the right circumstances.

11)   Minnesota – Romeo Langford – Guard from Indiana

Romeo was high on everybody’s draft board before the season started, like top 5 pick. Unfortunately his season wasn’t as great as many had hoped… but he’s still young, 6-6, athletic, and that’s all you really need to be a lottery pick in today’s NBA, right? He may end up being the steal of the draft in Minnesota alongside Karl Anthony-Towns & Andrew Wiggins. I think he originally was supposed to be a super sized point guard so that may still be the goal… or he’s a decent sized swingman… but he needs to grow a bit. Luckily… like most people in this draft… he’s 19 years old.

12)   Charlotte – Nassir Little – Guard/Forward from North Carolina

Nassir was also supposed to be a top 5 pick too… 9 years old… 6-6… athletic… scorer… slasher… sound familiar? Apparently playing on a UNC team with a lot of junior & senior former All-American leadership led to him getting lost in the lineup a bit… but he could definitely thrive in the right tutelage in the pros. He has the raw talent… and why not stay in North Carolina in a franchise that may be looking for a newer, taller Kemba Walker?

13)   Miami – Keldon Johnson – Guard from Kentucky

Miami needs a lot… and I really liked Keldon Johnson’s game… it’s a poor man’s Klay Thompson but again… he’s 19. He has range in his shot & size in his game. They could do a lot worse.

14)   Boston – Sekou Doumbouya – Forward from France

Since Boston lost out on Anthony Davis (in my world), they can focus back on trying to resign Kyrie Irving or Terry Rozier or whoever they want… and they still have a dearth of draft picks to play with. I could absolutely see Sekou going a lot higher too, especially since he’s a tall gangly foreign mystery man in the mold of Giannis Antekoumpo & Pascal Siakim who took MAJOR steps this year… but at worst, he’s a raw 18 year old who’s already 6-9 or so & probably still growing in every direction. He won’t need to be a starter for Boston immediately, so he can grow organically, learn the game, and by year three… he might be the next Giannis, but in Beantown! Why not?!? Who needs Anthony Davis anyway?!?

15)   Detroit – Carsen Edwards – Guard/Forward from Purdue

I really like Carsen’s game. I did last year too. I could see him as a Draymond Green kind of player. Obviously for that he’ll have to get a little stronger & excel at defense… but he’s had some incredible games in college & can hit those three pointers as well as slash & pass… just a great all-around ball player, but often times in the NBA system, you have to have a NICHE or EXCEL at one or two things in the top percentile rather than be top 20% in everything. Regardless, he’s hard working, can pop the three, and can hopefully help spread out the floor for Andre Drummond & Blake Griffin there in Detroit.

16)   Orlando – Kevin Porter jr – Guard from USC

I’ll admit that I don’t know much about him other than if he’s half as good as his father was… he’ll be around for a long time. Orlando could use some good guards & he’s probably the best one left with regards to scoring so I say they pick him.

17)   Brooklyn – Rui Hachimura – Forward from Gonzaga

A decent compliment to Jarrett Allen in the frontcourt, was originally supposed to be a lottery pick until the tournament started and I guess he kinda played in the background… but he’s another great all-around player who may need to excel in a few traits to stick around a while. I’m also really hoping that he represents the Asian community well in the sport. I’m not putting that kind of pressure on him though… at worst he could be a decent role player like fellow Gonzaga alums Kelly Olynyk & Zach Collins… or those Lopez twins.

18)   Indiana – PJ Washington – Forward from Kentucky

He’s one of those tweener position players in the pros… but he can step out and hit the three, so potentially a stretch four if he can put some beef on himself too. Might be a good way to help out the team in Indiana to spread the floor for Myles Turner & others.

19)   San Antonio – Grant Williams – Forward from Tennessee

You know what time it is?!? Steve’s annual “STEAL OF THE DRAFT BY THE SAN ANTONIO SPURS” time!!! I’ve claimed this just about every year since DeJuan Blair when it’s a player I’ve actually heard of (and to some incredible success with the likes of Kawhi Leonard, Dejounte Murray, Derek White, etc) but I really like Grant Williams game. He’s like Montrezl Harrell where he’s tough, physical, has a shooter’s touch, and just puts in the work… so I really hope that the Spurs end up with him to help in the frontcourt. I don’t like the idea of a rebuilding team under Coach Pop.

20)   Boston – Matisse Thybulle – Guard from Washington

He’s a 6-5 guard who has a specialty for defense… I think he was breaking records for steals AND blocks in Washington… and I can always use one of those on my team… and I’m sure that Brad Stevens agrees. He could step right in for guys like Marcus Smart and/or Terry Rozier and/or Kyrie Irving if they’re all lost or dealt. He’s not a huge threat yet… but I’m sure with focus in the pros & practice he can become a GREAT 3&D player for a team that could use him.

21)   Oklahoma City – Brandon Clarke – Center from Gonzaga

A big guy who can take some weight off Steven Adams’ shoulders in grabbing boards to put it back on the offensive boards and at the very least… six extra fouls with some decent defense & post moves that worked in college. There’s reportedly not a huge upside… but then again what really matters is the kind of work that a player can put in… and OKC may be a good fit for this guy.

22)   Boston – Goga Bitadze – Center from Republic of Georgia

I know nothing about this guy other than he’s the latest Eastern European big guy who could set the world on fire in a few years (Jokic, Nurkic, Vucevic, Nowitzki) or be out of the league in two years (like everybody else). I think a team like Boston could really help to develop him though (alongside Sekou & Thybulle in my world, remember?) in being the super young bench mob to go with their starters… but only time & who resigns will tell the true story for the Celtics.

Basically from here, I’m only guessing like everybody else… so yeah, just a few thoughts. Enjoy!

Monday, December 25, 2017

Japan - Part Two

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,

Now… for the thrilling conclusion of our trip to Japan…

Day 5 – Bullet Train to Kyoto

It’s this year’s summer blockbuster… starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Jackie Chan, Ken Watanabe & Donnie Yen… it’s.. Bullet Train to Kyoto! Okay, not so much… but this day starts with us going to the Sumo Wrestling Museum near our hotel… only to find out that despite their website’s full operation & list of things to do… the museum & surrounding area is closed for construction due to the forthcoming 2020 Olympics. Sum’bich…
Oh well, meant an earlier Shinkansen (bullet train) ride to Kyoto… and some sushi for breakfast while we wait…
The train ride… was AWESOME!!! It was just under three hours with a few stops along the way… but there was definitely a point in the middle where it was over an hour of going 150+ MPH and it was so f**king comfortable & quite! Truly an amazing experience to see the Japanese countryside going along out the window, right along the ocean, and also going through hill after hill after hill in tunnels. HIGHEST of recommendations if you get the chance!!!
We pulled into the Kyoto Station around 2 PM, so we checked into the nearby Matsubaya Ryokan, which is a tradition Japanese dwelling where they have the straw mat floors, basically a futon on the ground to sleep, a sweet tea ceremony table & chairs, again about 100 square feet… but also a bathroom similar to APA. Here are a few pictures for size relationships though…

The service there was exceptional… and that night had a wonderful night in our kimonos drinking beer… but that’s not what you want to hear about… before the night falls, we had sights to see…

Namely the Golden Temple!!! We took an hour-long bus ride out to the Golden Temple… and got there just as the sun was setting during the Golden Hour… PERFECT!!! Here are some pictures…

After the temple, we stopped by a nice Bento meal please (called something Japanese NOW!) for dinner, then back to the ryokan for a relaxing evening together. I highly recommend trying a ryokan… it’s not the kind of thing that you’re used to… but it’s incredibly calming once you give in.
Day 6 – Kyoto & back to Tokyo
The next morning, we checked out a temple that was a few blocks from the ryokan…

Then we dumped our backpacks in a locker at the Train Station so that we didn’t have to carry them… and went to Nijo Castle, which was an incredible castle from 1610 (I believe) that was home to the Shogun!!! It was awesome… as you can see here…

Then we took the train to what has been voted by TripAdvisor as the #1 Tourist Attraction in Japan for several years now (and they have it up EVERYWHERE there), the Red Temple a.k.a. Fashimi Inari Taisha!!! The pictures will refresh your memory as to what it is… but essentially it’s a Buddhist temple with paths of cool red gates that lead their way up to the peak of Mount Inari. Here are the pictures…

After the temple, we hoped on the Shinkansen (BULLET TRAIN) back to Tokyo… and as luck would have it… we were able to catch a glimpse of Mount Fuji… through the window… across the train car… in the distance… STILL AWESOME!!!

We basically spent the last night going to bed early due to an early start for our flights back home… but yeah, Japan was amazing!!! I know that I’ve said it dozens of times the past two posts… but it’s incredible. The people were great, the food was great, the sights were marvelous, the total package.

Thank you Izzy for forcing me into going… okay, not really… but you were definitely the driving force in going to the Land of the Rising Sun & it was even better than I had imagined. Thank you very much! So yeah… keep tabs on us by listening to our little podcast, Everything I Learned From Movies at and again, our Patreon page is and we appreciate anything that you can do to help us keep this thing posted. So until next time, have a great day everybody!!!

Where Should I Go Next?