Wednesday, June 23, 2010

2010 NBA Draft Eve

I lied about doing all 30 teams. It was fun, but ultimately pointless since I don't speak to the teams/players and I after the top 30-or-so American players and a few more down the list, I don't know enough about these guys to make proper evaluations. So I'm gonna run through each team that could potentially make a move or two that I'd love to see happen.

Atlanta - CHRIS PAUL. Trade Al Horford, Marvin Williams and your next 10 first rounders. Now is your chance to make up for that debacle of a decision!
Chicago - I've convinced myself that LeBron would be a mistake in tandem with Derrick Rose. It wouldn't. But I still want him to go somewhere to play point guard. Chris Bosh, on the other hand, would be ideal. Add in Joe Johnson or Rudy Gay, and you have a dynasty-in-the-making.
Detroit - DeMarcus Cousins and the Detroit Pistons deserve each other. I'll be pissed if Cousins' potential goes down the drain thanks to a poor fit for him (like Golden State, for instance).
Indiana - Kevin Love. Seriously, wouldn't this be awesome? And a pretty good fit at that. Larry Bird likes this idea.
Miami - I hope Wade and Amar'e could work out. I don't think it will, but who knows. They'll need more than that, though. Solomon Alabi could be there at 18 and would help with Amar'e's defensive deficiencies.
Milwaukee - Xavier Henry and Patrick Patterson would both be great fits. I say, go after both.
New Jersey - LeBron James and Carlos Boozer. The pairing that wasn't meant to be in Cleveland is meant to be in New Jersey. That's just how I feel. Deal with it.
New York - James Dolan was once called the Donald Sterling of the east. So as much as I'd love to see the Knicks become relevant again, I dunno if I'd wish mediocrity on anyone signing there. However there's one exception: Chris Paul. If Steve Nash was Mike 'Antoni's dream come true, Paul is his messiah. Too bad it could never happen.
Phoenix - DIRK NOWITZKI. I'm rooting harder for this to happen than maybe any one single move this offseason (outside of John Wall, of course). Dirk and Nash (and Grant Hill) deserve a ring and this would get 'em all closer.
Utah - Cole Aldrich.
Washington - John Wall. Obviously. But you know what I'd really love? If we could somehow use Andray Blatche to draft Greg Monroe, too. Finding a way to nab Dominique Jones as well would be sublime.

P.S. America: FUCK YEA

Monday, June 21, 2010

2010 NBA Draft & Offseason Preview - Indiana Pacers

The Pacers have Danny Granger, Troy Murphy and Roy Hibbert, and nobody else who belongs in an NBA rotation. What they do have is a bunch of players in their last year of their deals. Bill Simmons is wetting himself as we speak over the chance to write about Murphy's expiring deal. Mike Dunleavy Jr, too. I'm shaking with anticipation.

-Round 1 Pick 10 (10) - By the sounds of it, this pick will be moved for a point guard, whether it's Devin Harris, Ty Lawson, Darren Collison, or someone else. If the pick does stay here I'm taking Patrick Patterson. I've been on his bandwagon since he came out of high school, and I think he's criminally underrated now. If not Patterson, then Avery Bradley, who impressed me early in the season (then fell off when Texas did). He'll be a decent fit at PG, or at least be a great combo-guard off the bench.
-Round 2 Pick 10 (40) - This really could be anyone, as I said this team has holes everywhere. Possibly Jerome Jordan, to provide some depth at center.
-Round 2 Pick 27 (57) - Best available.

Free Agency
No money, but who would want to sign here?

2010-2011 Season Outlook
I don't see this team getting much better, unless they make some major trades with all their expiring deals. I feel bad for Danny Granger, he deserves better.

2010 NBA Draft & Offseason Preview - New York Knicks

We run into the first team who doesn't have their first rounder. Hope it was worth it, James Dolan

-Round 2 Pick 8 (38) - If Lance Stephenson is here I'm taking him. Relatively easy pick.
-Round 2 Pick 9 (39) - Charles Garcia, another high risk/high reward prospect, would be served well playing in Mike 'Antoni's offense. Could be a home run.

Free Agency
Well, I'd like to sign LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Amare Stoudemire, Joe Johnson, Rudy Gay, Dirk Nowitzki... anyone who can play, I want. This is the summer this franchise has been planning for, seemingly since the dawn of time. Better make the most of it.

2010-2011 Season Outlook
Magic 8-ball sez: Ask again later (in a couple weeks).

Sunday, June 20, 2010

2010 NBA Draft & Offseason Preview - Los Angeles Clippers

There's very little point in playing GM for the Clips, they defy basketball logic at every turn. Applying said logic will only result in headache. But here goes anyway.

-Round 1 Pick 8 (8) - This is actually a pretty easy pick at this point: Paul George. Who? Watch this video! From everything I've read he's got the potential to be somewhere between Tracy McGrady and Rudy Gay. The Clippers are built to run and need a 3. Seems perfect to me.
-Round 2 Pick 24 (54) - They could use depth at PG and C, and that can be found here. Sherron Collins or Jerome Randle could work at point guard or Jerome Jordan at center.

Free Agency
They have the cap space to work with, but does anyone really want to go to the Clippers? And I doubt Donald Sterling is gonna shell out too much money for someone who won't help fill seats, which means over-paying for Joe Johnson or Rudy Gay probably won't be allowed. Tracy McGrady might be a possibility for me, he could help with the development of my new draft pick Paul George.

2010-2011 Season Outlook
My initial reaction is, it's the Clippers. But fans have Blake Griffin to look forward to, and if he lives up to potential, and Chris Kaman somehow doesn't get hurt, look out.

2010 NBA Draft & Offseason Preview - Detroit Pistons

I subscribe to the theory that the great teams take on the persona of their city, and while Joe Dumars did a great job of building a blue-collar, defensive-minded championship team around Ben Wallace and Chauncey Billups, he all but sealed his fate when he gave nearly $100 million to Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva. He has this season to right the ship and while it's a largely uphill climb, anything is possible.

-Round 1 Pick 7 (7) - By my picks, DeMarcus Cousins is here; if that's the case you thank your lucky stars he fell. Otherwise I'm looking at Ekpe Udoh, or maybe even Cole Aldrich.
-Round 2 Pick 6 (36) - Trevor Booker. Maybe Gani Lawal. Maybe reach for Derrick Caracter (who has apparently impressed some people in workouts) or Samardo Samuels. See where I'm going here?

Free Agency
Nothing to be done. I like the teams with no cap space, nothing to write about. They could trade Richard Hamilton (very undesirable) or Tayshaun Prince (who isn't available for some reason).

2010-2011 Season Outlook
Maybe this is the year Rodney Stuckey finds some consistency in his game. Maybe Hamilton and Prince will find the fountain of youth, and maybe Gordon will learn how to defend and Villanueva will learn to be tough. Maybe I'll take Dumars' job.

2010 NBA Draft & Offseason Preview - Golden State Warriors

I'd be doing all I can to trade Monta Ellis, but that's just me. He's got a ton of talent, I'm just not really sure who would want him, unless he's fine coming off the bench (which he's not). There's no cap space to work with and no desirable contracts to trade with. At least they have a good draft pick.

-Round 1 Pick 6 (6) - People seem to be saying whichever one of DeMarcus Cousins or Greg Moroe falls is the pick. This team may be bad, but it has an identity: RUN RUN RUN. Neither Cousins nor Monroe really fits here. Al-Farouq Aminu does, however. He's the selection.
-Round 2 Pick 4 (34) - I don't know what to do with this roster. I guess take Trevor Booker or Jarvis Varnado and run. No pun intended. Or possibly take a look at Lance Stephenson. He'd provide toughness and the size to actually defend at the 2.

Free Agency
No money. No hope.

2010-2011 Season Outlook
Not great, but who knows. Stephen Curry is the real deal, and if you give him Aminu along with healthy Kelenna Azubuiki and Andris Biedrins to run with, he could do some damage. And as far away from conducive-to-winning as I feel having Monta Ellis in your starting lineup is, he's still very talented. So they'll be exciting to watch, definitely.

2010 NBA Draft & Offseason Preview - Sacramento Kings

The Kings have pretty much a blank slate to work with, outside of reigning Rookie of the Year Tyreke Evans and newly acquired Samuel Dalembert. Which is a good thing when your glass is half full.

-Round 1 Pick 5 (5) - It's pretty safe to say that Wall, Turner, Favors and Johnson will all be gone at this point, so my choice basically comes down to either Greg Monroe or DeMarcus Cousins. People will argue that Cousins has too much upside to pass on, or that Cousins has too many red flags to gamble on; I just think Monroe is a better player.
-Round 2 Pick 3 (33) - I'm just taking the best player available here. Wouldn't it be interesting to take Lance Stephenson? Unthinkable, sure, but definitely interesting. More likely go with someone like Stanley Robinson if he's available, Devin Ebanks, or maybe the best fit, Darrington Hobson.

Free Agency
Nobody's coming to Sacramento. Then again, would it hurt to make offers to Rudy Gay, or David Lee, or throw a curve and go after Chris Bosh?

2010-2011 Season Outlook
If you like watching young talent grow, you could be in for a fun season. Otherwise...

Saturday, June 19, 2010

2010 NBA Draft & Offseason Preview - Minnesota Timberwolves

I'm not sure where Al Jefferson went this year. Maybe he went to Spain to watch his theoretical teammate Ricky Rubio, I dunno. What I do know is that this team is really bad, even with the few talented players they have. So what to do?

-Round 1 Pick 4 (4) - DeMarcus Cousins is out, unless I want another hefty big man who doesn't dare challenge the laws of gravity. The ideal pick is Wes Johnson, so if he's here, he's the guy.
-Round 1 Pick 16 (16) - I'm looking for a shot-blocker here, so Larry Sanders or Hassan Whiteside would be fine for me.
-Round 1 Pick 23 (23) - I need some scoring, so possibly Dominique Jones, Jordan Crawford, Elliot Williams. Or Stanley Robinson, who would provide great value here, as he's one of the most undervalued players in this draft.
-Round 2 Pick 15 (45) - Unless someone takes a DeJuan Blair-esque fall, it's time to take someone to stash overseas. I don't know anything about the foreigners, however.
-Round 2 Pick 26 (56) - Take a flyer on an underwhelming college player or stash another foreigner. Decisions, decisions.

Free Agency
Good luck trying to convince anyone to come to Minnesota. One caveat being the near-necessity of trading either Al Jefferson or Kevin Love, which could make things very interesting either during the draft (he'd be an interesting fit in New Jersey) or after.

2010-2011 Season Outlook
This team will have a lot more talent than it seems. I just don't see it coming together.

2010 NBA Draft & Offseason Preview - New Jersey Nets

Outside of (maybe overly) optimistic Bullets fans such as myself, Nets supporters arguably have the most to be excited about, at least right now. One of the best young big men in the league in Brook Lopez, the reigning Rookie of the Month in Terrence Williams, a good trade chip in Devin Harris, tons of cap space for free agents and a brand new owner with extraordinarily deep pockets and a desire to globalize the New Jersey Nets brand. And the 3rd pick in the draft.

-Round 1 Pick 3 (3) - A Lopez/Cousins frontcourt is too unathletic for my liking. For my money I'm prioritizing Derrick Favors (great compliment to Lopez), then Wes Johnson (who can shoot), then Evan Turner (who can't). I don't think Turner and Williams fit well, but I do like Williams and Johnson, especially with LeBron (who should be looked at as a point guard). There's one stipulation: the Pacers are looking for a point guard, and I read a while back that they like Devin Harris. It's also being reported that they're looking to move their first pick (10th overall) for a point guard, and I'm sure they'd take Harris over Ty Lawson of Darren Collison. In that case, take Johnson here and Patrick Patterson at 10.
-Round 1 Pick 27 (27) - I'm targeting depth at guard. Dominique Jones is one of my favorites, but they could use a shooter, so Jordan Crawford is choice #1 here, or maybe Elliot Williams.
-Round 1 Pick 1 (31) - Best player available. So maybe Stanley Robinson? He'd be a steal here.

Free Agency
Obviously LeBron is priority number one. It'd be interesting if they took Favors and then had Chris Bosh interested in signing. Or if they took Turner and Patterson and then Wade and Boozer came along. But they can't worry about that, obviously. They do need shooters, so go after Mike Miller or Kyle Korver.

2010-2011 Season Outlook
If they have a roster of LeBron James, Terrence Williams, Wes Johnson, Patrick Patterson, Brook Lopez, Yi Jianlian, Mike Miller, Jordan Crawford, Courtney Lee, Stanley Robinson and whoever else... that ain't bad.

2010 NBA Draft & Offseason Preview - Philadelphia 76ers

The rest of these will be quick. Philly has put themselves in awful position to do anything for a while, and they're doomed to mediocrity, assuming they play their cards right.

Round 1 Pick 2 - Evan Turner, Derrick Favors, DeMarcus Cousins, Wes Johnson. I know the assumption has always been Turner, I know new head coach Doug Collins reportedly likes Favors, I know Cousins has the most enigmatic future of the bunch, and I know Johnson is probably the most overlooked. I'm doing whatever I can to package the pick with Elton Brand so I can move down and take any of the mentioned four, or more likely one of any number of the lesser prospects.

Free Agency
Nothing. Sorry, Philly fans. By the way, do they exist, outside of Philly and since Allen Iverson, I mean.

2010-2011 Season Outlook
Pretty bad. At least they'll be in the running for Harrison Barnes next year.

Friday, June 18, 2010

2010 NBA Draft & Offseason Preview - Washington Bullets

With the first pick in the 2010 NBA Draft, the Washington {Bullets} select... JOHN WALL, guard, University of Kentucky.

In 1968 the team drafted Wes Unseld - who coincidentally wore Wall's #11. He would go on to win both Rookie of the Year and MVP in his first season. And with the above words, the start of the franchise's most prosperous offseason in over 40 years officially begins. The team also has two more draft picks in the top 35 and a ton of cap space to work with. So without further ado, here is the first team I'll be playing GM for.

-Round 1 Pick 1 (1) - John Wall. A city rejoices in dance.
-Round 1 Pick 30 (30) - I'm looking for either a combo guard or a big body down low (Andray Blatche and JaVale McGee make up the softest frontcourt in the NBA). There are a number of middling big-men available, and none of them really warrant being selected this high as every single one has too many red flags to count. The guy I'm praying for is Dominique Jones, a 6'4" guard out of South Florida who can play and guard both positions at a very high level, but he shouldn't last this long. I also wouldn't mind taking a flyer on Lance Stephenson, who showed up to the combine in great shape and could EASILY be a great value (if he falls).
-Round 2 Pick 5 (35) - Best player available. The team needs to be upgraded virtually everywhere. Maybe one of those middling big-men. Or if a guard wasn't selected at 30, look at a guy like Willie Warren.

Free Agency
Honestly? I'd say do nothing. Nobody willing to come to DC this year will be worth the money, so I see no reason to waste any. John Wall should be enough to sell tickets so there's no need to overspend on Rudy Gay or David Lee, and anyone expecting an immediate winner is a fool. I have a feeling Larry Hughes will be back, and I won't mind, even if he shouldn't see the court for more than 5 minutes every few games. Maybe even go ahead and exercise Josh Howard's team option and either keep him for the year or use his contract as trade bate if the right deal comes along. And both Kevin Durant (a DC native) and Carmelo Anthony (Baltimore) could both theoretically hit the market next year. Hmmm...

2010-2011 Season Outlook
Exciting to say the least. John Wall and Gilbert Arenas in the same backcourt is a dream come true. Who cares if it doesn't work? I don't. Wall is a lock to tear the league to shreds, and it only gets better for Gil. Sure, Blatche is a child, and McGee has the toughness of one, and none of the top free agents want to play here. JOHN WALL IS GOING TO BE A {BULLET} AND GILBERT ARENAS IS HEALTHY (*knock on wood*).

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

NBA 2009-2010 Season Awards

If it seems like every one of these posts begins with "it's been a while," it's because they do. Sue me. I'm gonna do a quick rundown of these awards because I'll go in depth on every team in the coming week, leading up to the draft.

MVP - LeBron James
This is a no brainer. People talk a lot about all these awards getting pushed back until after the playoffs, but that would inevitably place an unfair weight upon whoever wins the championship; and it's also why the Finals MVP award exists. And for regular season purposes, LeBron was far-and-away the class of the league. I still won't even say Kobe is unquestionably better than LeBron (yes I will); though it's tough (for me, at least) to differentiate between the "killers" who can take games over when necessary and the facilitators who you can run offenses through and who get teammates easy looks. Generally you need both in order to be successful in the playoffs. I will say however that Kobe IS THE KING OF THE NBA. The fact that LeBron has this title is offensive.
Other Candidates: For this award 'candidates' is the wrong word, but a few names do deserve mention. Kevin Durant is obvious. Dwyane Wade is as well (people try to make excuses about LeBron's supporting cast, but that Miami team is a joke). I suppose Dwight Howard belongs here, too. Rounding this list out, however is Steve Nash, who showed yet again why the Suns owe whatever success they've had over the last six years to him over anyone else. His playoff performance only validates this. As for Kobe? I just feel like the success of the listed players' teams relies on those players a little more.

Defensive Player of the Year - Dwight Howard
It'd be pretty ridiculous to put a perimeter defender here, because their value is a lot more significant in the playoffs. With that said, Rajon Rondo could be close; he makes so many plays both on and off the ball AND on the glass that I really wanted to put him here.
Other Candidates: Obviously Rondo. Josh Smith returned to form and then some, easily had his best year offensively but also improved his post defense to go along with continuing his path to being known as one of the best weak-side shot-blockers of all time. Gerald Wallace had a helluva season. Last but certainly not least, old man Marcus Camby, who is EVERYWHERE on the defensive end.

Sixth Man Award - Jamal Crawford
This was even more of a runaway than MVP. Crawford defined the 6th man role this year, providing a (surprisingly efficient) spark off the bench, and even acting as the Hawks' most effective go-to guy in the 4th quarter.
Other Candidates: None.

Rookie of the Year - Brandon Jennings/Tyreke Evans
First step in coming to this conclusion: Eliminate Stephen Curry. He looked like he could wind up the best player of the bunch, but there are two major reasons why he's out: he started slow and most importantly, he plays for the Warriors. I shouldn't need to go much further than that.
Tyreke Evans - In November he averaged 20.3 points, 5.5 rebounds and 5.1 assists. In April he averaged 19.5 points, 5.8 rebounds and 5.3 assists. On the year he averaged 20.1 points, 5.3 rebounds and 5.8 assists. Consistency, consistency, consistency. And he's a willing defender, a notable attribute given his physical numbers.
Brandon Jennings - If you're deciding by numbers, Jennings isn't on the same radar as Evans, or even Curry (who averaged 26.4 points, 8.1 assists, 6.4 rebounds and 2.6 steals in April). But some people actually watch basketball, and they see that while Curry and Evans play in pressure free situations on losers, Jennings was quarterbacking - very deftly, might I add - a playoff bound Bucks team. And remember that whole 'watching basketball' thing? Jennings is already one of the better defensive PGs in the league.
Other Candidates: Too many to count beyond Curry. As I said I'm going in depth on every team in the coming days, so they'll be documented then. As for the split decision, I felt it necessary because while it's true Evans didn't have the same type of pressure Jennings did, not only did I witness an absolute beast on the court, but also a guy who came up big on more than one occasion at the end of close games.

Most Improved Player - Josh Smith
This is the worst award in existence. Aaron Brooks won because circumstances dictated that he have a significantly bigger role in the offense. So the circumstances deserve an award, not the player. Meanwhile, Josh Smith underwent a major transformation, ending his infatuation with his terrible jumper and developing a very nice post game, becoming a markedly better offensive player (he also posted a career high in assists).
Other Candidates: Andrew Bogut is the only other guy really (this award is all-inclusive, yet excludes everyone). But he only played 69 games, and he simply progressed naturally this year, from previous seasons.

Coach of the Year - Doc Rivers
THIS is the award that should be pushed back to after the playoffs. What's better, wearing your aging roster thin and winning an extra 10 games in the regular season, or keeping those same players fresh, and leading them to a Game 7 in the NBA Finals? The Celtics playoff success is a direct result of Doc Rivers coaching decisions in the regular season.
Other Candidates: Oklahoma City's Scott Brooks won the award, and I guess I can't complain too much. But while Brooks won this award and the Bucks GM won Executive of the Year, I feel like OKC's GM should've won that for putting together that amazing roster and Scott Skiles take the Coach award for his job with the surprising Bucks.

Well that's it. Hopefully I get through all 30 teams in the next 7 days.