Thursday, May 26, 2011

Potential Steals of the NBA Draft

Every year there are players that fall through the draft and end up getting picked in the late first round or second round.  A lot of the players that are picked this late don't pan out but some of these players turn into all stars, sixth men of the year, or even just better than average role players.  Players like Paul Millsap, Carl Landry, Glenn Davis, Marc Gasol, DeAndre Jordan, Mario Chalmers, Omer Asik, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Sam Yound, Dejuan Blair, Marcus Thornton, Landry Fields have all been picked in the second round of the draft only to defy scouting reports and make huge impacts on their teams.  This year's draft is said to be a weak draft, but I believe that it is full of solid role players who will be able to step in and make a difference either immediately or down the road.  Here is my list of 10 potential steals in the second round.  Some of these players could go in the first round when all said and done, but at this point the jury is still out and question marks remain for each of these guys.  Some of these guys could also go undrafted and make a roster in the offseason or spend some time in the NBDL.

1. Travis Leslie, SG, Georgia- Leslie has great athletic ability, he is a decent slasher to the basket and is a top tier defender.  He could turn into a Tony Allen type impact player for a good team because of his hard nosed defense and commitment on the boards.  As a junior Leslie averaged 7 rebounds per game as a shooting guard, one thing that all scouts have been saying during this draft process (mostly in regards to Kenneth Faried) is rebounding is one thing that transfers to the NBA game.  That bodes well for Leslie, I think the Heat are a potential option.  They could start him at the point to lock down smaller point guards, and let LeBron handle more of the point guard responsibilities on offense.  He will have to improve his shaky jump shot in that situation.

2. Jeremy Tyler, PF, Japan- After Tyler interviewed and measured well in Chicago it is possible he could land in the first round and possibly even the lottery, but for as many positives there are about this kid there are questions.  He had two disastrous seasons overseas and concerns about character and work ethic have been following ever since.  He has shown improved maturity, a nice skill set, and incredible measurements since the draft process began.  Tyler could easily fall in the draft and if he does look for someone to grab him at the end of the first or early second. It will be a few years before this pick pays off but it has the potential to be a huge addition.

3. Jereme Richmond, SF, Syracuse- Richmond surprised a lot of people by declaring for the draft after his freshman season.  He showcased his length and athleticism all season, but is still rough around the edges offensively.  If Richmond puts in the work his athleticism could allow him to be a defensive stopper and a dynamic offensive player.  He has a poor jump shot and has mediocre ball handling, so he will spend most of his first year in the NBDL or the end of the bench. The reward is definitely worth the risk with Richmond, and I think he could be one of the top players of the draft in a few years.

4. Darius Morris, PG, Michigan- Darius Morris' draft stock has been up and down, with most scouts believing he should have stayed in Ann Arbor for one more year. He chose to declare and is a fringe first rounder who many compare to a second coming of Andre Miller.  Morris is a big guard who is great at setting up teammates and finishing at the hoop, but lacks a solid jump shot.  It will be interesting to see where he lands, Darius has the potential to turn into a productive back up on a playoff team right away.

5. Nolan Smith, PG, Duke- It surprises me how little people are talking about Nolan Smith, who had a great senior campaign.  He proved he can create his own shot by slashing to the basket and he is an above average 3 point shooter.  He also has heart and great leadership qualities that the winning teams always seem to have.  I think he could be awesome on a team like Chicago or Miami and I expect him to be drafted in the last 3 picks of the first round or by Miami with the first pick of the second. I think he will be a productive pro and will be in the league a long time.

6. Kyle Singler, SF, Duke- Singler should have come out last year when he was projected to be a mid to late first round pick.  He could still land in the first 30 picks, but his stock is way down after a senior season that did not see much improvement from past years.  The good news is he is still a heady, hardworking and productive player (not to mention all of his trick shots)  that any team would like to have on their roster.  I think he will be a Mike Dunleavy player off the bench, averaging about 10 points per game and stretching the defense.  I think he could be a real option at 24 for Oklahoma City, but if he falls to the second round he might be able to bring some security to the Clippers small forward position as a nice rotation player.

7.JaJuan Johnson, PF, Purdue- Johnson has improved each year of college and was one of the top shot blockers in all of the NCAA last year.  His slender frame and older age may have him falling down draft boards, but I think he could contribute in the future.  Johnson improved his mid range jumper and now can drain a 10-15 footer.  Weak side defense is his best skill, swooping over to reject shots with his long arms and leaping ability.  I think he will surprise a lot of people.

8. Keith Benson, C, Oakland- Benson played against subpar competition for most of his collegiate career, but at times when he played against top tier teams he showed up and was able to play well.  He has legitimate size to be a center in the NBA and has some nice offensive moves to go along with his shot blocking.  He is a little skinny and will need to bulk up to compete daily at the next level.  Benson will also have to improve his offensive game and footwork.  Overall I think he will be a nice addition to whichever team decides to draft Benson.

9.LaceDarius Dunn, SG, Baylor- Dunn is a streaky shooter who reminds me a lot of Marcus Thornton.  When he gets his shot to fall opposing teams better watch out.  He would be perfect on a team such as the Suns or other teams who don't mind jacking up some threes. Dunn is a little undersized for the shooting guard, but he has an NBA type build and can definitely score at the next level. Size and defense are deterring teams at the moment, but at some point in the second round someone should take a chance on him.

10. Ben Hansbrough, PG, Notre Dame- After his big brother Tyler proved many of his critics wrong it is hard not to believe his younger brother will do the same.  Like Tyler, Ben plays with passion and enough heart for the whole team.  He would be a nice addition as a bench player that you could count on in tough situations, and he proved that he can shoot the ball as well.  I expect him to be taken at the bottom of the second round or go undrafted, but I think he is such a tough competitor and hard worker that he will find his way onto a roster and make a name for himself.  

Ducks Land Forward Olu Ashaolu

The Ducks have landed the Louisiana Tech transfer Olu Ashaolu who will be looked on to bolster the front line of Oregon next season.  Click the link above to see one of Ashaolu's explosive dunks.  He showed a real talent for rebounding and he is an explosive athlete.  He will make up for the loss of Jovan Catron and may even be an improvement over the beloved Duck big man.  Olu averaged 14 points and almost 10 boards last season for the Louisiana Tech, and should form a formidable pair with fellow new addition 6'7 forward Carlos Emory and the incumbent 6'8 Jeremy Jacob.  Although Ashaolu is still a  bit undersized for a post player he has long arms and the leaping ability to go up against larger players.  He is eligible immediately and should crack the starting line up on day one.  

Sunday, May 22, 2011

NBA Draft: Cleveland Wins Lottery

The draft order is finally set and the Cavs look to be the big winner with 2 picks in the top 4.  There have been rumors that the Timberwolves will try and move down to add a veteran player and there have been rumblings that  teams such as the Blazers will target a player and try to move up to get them.  The players also just finished up at the Chicago combine and a few players such as Kanter and Marshon Brooks may have improved their stocks.  

1. Cleveland Cavaliers-Kyrie Irving, PG, Duke- Cleveland takes the best prospect in the draft by choosing Irving.  He may not have the immediate impact as some recent first overall picks, but as the year goes on I think his game will improve.  

2. Minnesota Timberwolves- Enes Kanter, C, Turkey- Kanter had a good showing in Chicago and showed off his athleticism.  He would take over for Darko as the starting center and would be a nice fit next to Beasley, Love, and Randolph.  

3. Utah Jazz- Derrick Williams, SF, Arizona- Utah lucks out and gets the player who may be the best in the draft.  He also fills a need at the small forward position and as a potent scorer.  He would be a great fit for the Jazz.

4. Cleveland Cavaliers-Kawahi Leonard, SF, San Diego State- Leonard is shooting up the draft board because of his freaky wingspan, improved shooting, and awesome defense.  He reminds me a lot of Gerald Wallace, and it looks like he still has room to improve his offensive game.  

5. Toronto Raptors- Brandon Knight, PG, Kentucky- Knight has the ability to shoot the lights out at the next level.  He would be a nice fit next to DeRozan and may finally force Calderon out of Toronto.

6. Washington Wizards- Jonas Valanciunas, PF, Lithuania- Jonas is widely considered the best foreign prospect in the draft, but contract concerns may cause him to fall in the draft.  Washington could take a chance on him as Andre Blatche is consistently inconsistent.  Jonas could be a nice fit next to McGee.

7. Sacramento Kings- Kemba Walker, PG, Connecticut- Walker has been able to fit in to the various needs of team during his college career.  He has shown the ability to be a solid defender, a brilliant scorer, and a distributor at different points of his time at Uconn.  Kemba would be a nice fit at the point guard and wouldn't have to be the main scorer with Evans and Cousins already on the team.

8. Detroit Pistons- Jan Vesely, PF, Czech Republic- Vesely is a tough scrappy player that isn't afraid to get on the boards.  He would be a nice fit next to Monroe and his ruggedness would be a perfect fit on this Detroit team.

9. Charlotte Bobcats-Tristian Thompson, PF, Texas- Tristian Thompson is a player who could jump up the boards before the draft.  He is athletically gifted with extremely long arms which allow him to be a scary shot blocker.  He will need to improve offensively but has the work ethic to make the transition.

10. Milwaukee Bucks-Bismack Biyombo, PF, Congo- Biyombo has elite athletic ability.  He can jump out of the gym and has extremely long arms.  He reminds a lot of people of Serge Ibaka.  There are questions concerning his age and reports saying he could be as old as 26.  

11. Golden State Warriors-Jordan Hamilton, SF, Texas- The Warriors have a lot of needs, Jordan Hamilton could fill the need at SF.  Dorrell Wright had a coming out party last season, but the Hamilton has the potential to be a better all around player.

12. Utah Jazz- Alec Burks, SG, Colorado- Alec Burks is the most talented 2 guard in the draft and if a team falls in love with his slashing ability he could be taken in the top 10, possibly to the Bobcats or Bucks.  If the Jazz land him their offensive potency will be incredibly improved by the draft.  

13. Phoenix Suns-  Marcus Morris, PF, Kansas-  Marcus is believed to be the more talented of the twins, but just barely.  He can step out and consistently drill the mid range jumper and he has great basketball IQ. 

14. Houston Rockets-Chris Singleton, SF, Florida State- Singleton is a physical defender at the three position and will add another solid roll player to the deep Rocket's bench.

15. Indiana Pacers-Marshon Brooks, SG, Providence- Brooks had a great combine in Chicago and measured very well.  He has explosiveness and is a great shooter from the perimeter.  He could be the dynamic scorer that the Pacers need at the shooting guard position.  

16. Philadelphia 76ers- Tobias Harris, SF, Tennessee- Tobias Harris could make up for the potential loss of Thaddeus Young and play the same type of role off the bench.  Harris has a lot of potential and he showed a lot of room to improve during his only season at Tennessee.

17. New York Knicks- Donatas Montiejunas, PF, Lithuania- The Knicks need a big man and Montejunas could fill that need.  Ideally the Knicks would get a center, but Donatas is more of a stretch power forward.  He is has a great outside shot and is talented around the basket.  This would move Amare to the center position, which he has been successful playing in the past.

18. Washington Wizards- Jimmer Freddette, PG, BYU- Jimmer would be a nice back up for John Wall.  He could come off the bench and be a lethal scorer for 15 minutes per game.  He has amazing range on his jump shot and he has proved he is not outmatched athletically.

19. Charlotte Bobcats- Klay Thompson, SG, Washington State- The Bobcats need a legitimate shooting guard, Thompson is the best available.  Klay had a very productive season in Pullman last season and should go around this area on draft day.  

20. Minnesota Timberwolves-Reggie Jackson, PG, Boston College- It wouldn't be a draft if the Wolves didn't take a point guard, but at least Jackson can double as a scoring guard at the next level.  Jackson has a huge wingspan and has been compared to Russell Westbrook.  

21. Portland Trail Blazers- Kenneth Faried, PF, Moorehead State- Faried could be drafted much higher, possibly by the Knicks, because of his relentless rebounding.  Rebounding is one skill that is easily translatable to the NBA game, and he is the best.  

22. Denver Nuggets-Markieff Morris, PF, Kansas- Markieff Morris would be a perfect replacement for Kenyon Martin if they decide to let the veteran go.  Morris is the bigger of the twins, and is a very good rebounder and shot blocker.  

23. Houston Rockets-Josh Selby, PG, Kansas- Selby who is a player that did not live up to his hype this past season.  He is athletic and has a nice shooting stroke, but is very inconsistent and did not show he is ready to be the leader of a team yet.

24. Oklahoma City Thunder- Tyler Honeycutt, SF, UCLA- Honeycutt is a unselfish, high IQ player that would be perfect off the bench for the Thunder.  He needs to improve his jump shot, but his defense and length would help immediately.

25. Boston Celtics- Jordan Williams, C, Maryland- Williams is said to have lost about 15 pounds since the season ended.  He has a lot of room to improve, but he is a big body in the middle which the Celtics missed this post season.

26. Dallas Mavericks- Nikola Mirotic, SF, Serbia- Mirotic is compared to a young Peja Stojakavic because of his pure shooting stroke.  He still needs a few years to improve but he could be a steal in a year or two.

27. New Jersey Nets- Justin Harper, PF, Richmond- Harper is a stretch 4 with NBA dna.  He would be a nice complement to Brook Lopez.

28. Chicago Bulls- Charles Jenkins, SG, Hofstra- Jenkins can flat out score.  He is a little undersized for a NBA shooting guard but he is fast enough to get to the basket off the dribble and finish at the hoop.

29. San Antonio Spurs- Lucas Nogueira, C, Brazil- Nogueira is a raw defensive minded and athletically gifted center.  He will most likely head to Europe for a year or two before he is ready.

30. Chicago Bulls-Jereme Richmond, SF, Illinois- The Bulls could use a back up at the small forward, Jereme Richmond will not be able to fill that need immediately.  He will, however, be in a perfect situation to grow and work on his game to go along with his elite athleticism.  This would be a perfect place for Richmond to grow into a great player along side Rose.

Second Round
31. Miami Heat- Nolan Smith, PG, Duke
32. Cleveland Cavaliers- Trey Thompkins, PF, Georgia
33. Detroit Pistons- Darius Morris, PG, Michigan 
34. Washington Wizards- Davis Bertans, SF, Latvia
35. Sacramento Kings- Norris Cole, PG, Cleveland State
36. New Jersey Nets- Travis Leslie, SG, Georgia
37. Los Angeles Clippers-Kyle Singler, SF, Duke
38. Houston Rockets- Keith Benson, C, Oakland
39. Charlotte Bobcats- Malcolm Lee, PG, UCLA
40. Milwaukee Bucks- Chandler Parsons, SF, Florida
41. Los Angeles Lakers-Bojan Bagdonavic, SF, Serbia
42. Indiana Pacers- JaJuan Johnson, PF, Purdue
43. Chicago Bulls- Nikola Vucevic, PF, USC
44. Golden State Warriors- E'Twaun Moore, SG, Purdue
45. New Orleans Hornets-Jon Leur, PF, Wisconsin
46. Los Angeles Lakers- Jeremy Tyler, PF, Japan
47. Los Angeles Clippers- Scotty Hopson, SG, Tennessee
48. Atlanta Hawks- Shelvin Mack, PG, Butler
49. Memphis Grizzlies- Justin Holiday, SF, Washington
50. Philadelphia 76ers- Isaiah Thomas, PG, Washington
51. Portland Trail Blazers-Corey Joseph, PG, Texas
52. Denver Nuggets- Jamine Peterson, SF, NBDL
53. Orlando Magic- Vernon Macklin, PF, Florida
54. Cleveland Cavaliers- Michael Dunigan, C, Oregon
55. Boston Celtics- Jimmy Butler, SF, Marquette
56. Los Angeles Lakers- Demetri McCamey, PG, Illinois
57. Dallas Mavericks- Jacob Pullen, PG, Kansas State
58. Los Angeles Lakers-LaceDarius Dunn, SG, Baylor
59. San Antonio Spurs-Joffrey Lauvergne, PF, France
60. Sacramento Kings- Ben Hansbrough, PG, Notre Dame

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

What Oregon's Spring Game Showed

Darron Thomas will look to take on more
of a leadership role this upcoming season.
In the Oregon Ducks spring game a few things became apparent that coach Kelly needs to figure out.  First it was clear that the Oregon Ducks will have some fresh faces at the wide receiver position this up coming up season because of the departure of Maehl and Davis' departure.  This will be a very raw and inexperienced group that will be led by Tuinei, the only senior in the group.  Josh Huff, who has been injured during most of spring practice, will be the field stretcher for Darron Thomas and looks to be on the verge of having a huge season and breaking out on the national scene. Besides these two receivers the group gets a bit foggy.

Vaughn could be the new comer who makes
an early impact for the Ducks in 2011.
So far this spring Nick Cole has had a coming out party, and multiple coaches have praised his incredible improvement.  One coach said he could be the surprise of the year.  Blake Stanton, a red shirt freshmen, has started to become a consistent pass catcher and Justin Hoffman is also proving himself as the spring moves forward.  There is also the foursome of highly touted freshmen that will be arriving next season.  Tacoi Sumler, B.J. Kelley, Rashaan Vaughn and Devon Blackmon are all speedsters who have track like speed.  Sumler is the fastest of the bunch recording a blazing 4.24 forty yard dash.  Vaughn seems to have the best  shot of seeing the field next season, as Chip Kelly has called him possibly the best junior college  wide out in the nation.

Colt Lyerla had a big game, repeatedly catching balls in traffic on route to 9 catches and 37 yards.  Lyerla looks like he will play the h-back position, and it is hard to believe he was in high school only a few months ago. David Paulson also had a good showing, making a few nice runs after the catch.  If the wide receivers are a little slow out of the gate, it looks like these two could help out Thomas out a lot.

Forde surprised and impressed coaches at the spring game.
Kelly will have to decide who will be the 3rd back behind the Heisman candidate James and his star back up Barner.  Lache Seastrunk, Oregon's 2010 star recruit, had his share of struggles while competing for the third string position and was out played by fellow redshirt freshman Ayele Forde.  I expect Seastrunk to fill the position when all is said and done, but it is good to know that the backfield is secure for many seasons to come with Seastrunk, Forde, and newcomer De'Anthony Thomas.

The offensive line also needs to work on their consistency. Thankfully, there is still a whole summer ahead for Chip Kelly to work this group into shape.  They did however look very good on LaMichael Jame's 67 yard touchdown run.  Overall, the offense looked alright, but the defense took the show.

Dion Jordan looks like he is
ready to become the next defensive
star for the Ducks.
On the defensive side there were a lot of positives and not many negatives.  Two young corners had interceptions, Terrence Mitchell and Erick Dargan.  The young defensive line also looked very capable of becoming play makers.  Cliff Harris and John Boyett are the two stars of the secondary while the front seven is still up for grabs.  Dion Jordan is a physical beast who looks to be on the rise.  Kelly will have to do some work replacing Kiko Alonso after his arrest late Saturday night.  Overall this group looked like it will be stronger than last year.  

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Potential Ducks Starting LB Alonso Suspended Indefinitely

Kiko's mugshot
The night after Oregon's successful spring game entertained 43,000 Ducks fans was marred by the arrest of Kristian 'Kiko' Alonso, a linebacker who was poised to take the place of Casey Matthews.  This marks the second straight off season that the Ducks have been in the news for the wrong reasons.

Alonso, a 20 year old from Los Gatos, California,  was coming back from a season long suspension after he was cited for drinking and driving in February 2010.  Apparently Alonso is being charged for burglar, trespassing and criminal mischief after a Eugene woman called the police and explained that Kiko was banging on her front door and demanding to be let in.

Coach Kelly has suspended Kiko from the team indefinitely, and has been quoted as saying he is very disappointed by the actions of his linebacker.  There has been no comment on his status moving forward, or if he will be given a third chance to prove himself.  

Potential Offseason Moves For the Blazers

The Blazers should show Chandler some love this offseason
Which players could take the Blazers over the top next season?

The Blazers had a great run this season while battling through tough injury problems.  Their main scoring threat, Brandon Roy, is now hobbled by knee injuries and looks like he will be for the remainder of his career.  This year saw the Blazers' Lamarcus Aldridge grow into the new face of the franchise and a perennial all star candidate.  They also saw the emergence of Wesley Matthews as a starting two guard, acquired Gerald 'Crash' Wallace, saw Batum's continued improvement, and Miller's solid play once again.  One thing is certain, the Blazers have a good core of players but a few holes still remain on the roster.  I believe their biggest need is a go to perimeter scorer to play off of Aldridge, and that take over when Lamarcus is on the bench.  Another need is a tough defensive minded center to patrol the paint, and finally they need to find the point guard of the future.

Rich Cho, the Blazers GM,  now needs to find a perimeter scorer who can get to the hoop and create their own shot.  Cho may not have to look outside the current roster to fill that void.  Roy used to fill this need, but because of his injury he is and will continue to be mainly a perimeter threat.  Roy has said that he wants to battle for the starting position after a few great performances in the playoffs where he showed the ability to finish at the basket, but it is not something I think he can consistently excel at in future years.  The Blazers hope Matthews can make even more headway in a promising career and have the same kind of improvement he showed this year.  After the season Matthews admitted that he has a lingering ankle problem that plagued him throughout the playoffs.  The Blazers need to make sure that he heals correctly and does not over stress the injury this summer,  if he comes back healthy, and can work on his game a little, he could potentially be that go to guard that the Blazers need.  If either Roy or Matthews can assert themselves in that 2 guard position Cho can turn his attention elsewhere.

Nene could add the powerful
inside presence the Blazers need
next to Aldridge
Batum is also a player that needs to assert himself more and really work to get stronger in the weight room.  In the Dallas series he was repeatidly over matched, by a bigger player in Dirk Nowitzki.  I think if he really took an off season and committed himself to developing his body he could take his overall game to the next level.  He is already a defensive stopper because of his long rangy frame, and he has proven he can be a solid perimeter shooter and has the confidence to make some big shots at the end of games.  He needs to work on his ball handling and look to attack the hoop more.  If Batum can make some of these improvements he could become that perimeter threat instead of one of the two guards.

Gerald Wallace is one player that is already primed to have a huge season next year.  With a whole off season under his belt to fine tune the offense and to try and imiprove his perimeter shot he should be an even more potent part of the offense.  He turned around the attitude of the team with his arrival.  His hard play and tough demeanor worked great with this team, and you could see a huge improvement in other players such as Batum.  It is very exciting to see an all star player such as Wallace in a Blazers uniform.

Camby did very well last season, but his career is almost over and ideally he should only play about 25 minutes a game next year to try and save him for the playoffs and possibly extend his career by a year.  That means the Blazers need to get a center in the draft or free agency.  A possible free agent fit could be Tyson Chandler.  Chandler is the defensive stopper that they need and he has proven he is a smart player and is just getting through a season that saw him injury free.  They could make a bid for Deandre Jordan or Marc Gasol, both of whom could shore up the front line.  Another very intriguing name is Nene.  There are rumors that Nene will opt out of his contract with the Nuggets and become a restricted free agent next season.  He provides a huge body down low who can provide both offense and defense.  Of course, if they made a successful offer to any of these players it means the end of the Greg Oden era.

Oden continues to rehab, but all hope
 is not lost as rumors are circulating of a
possible 4 year $40 million deal.
I think that at this point in Greg's career it may be time to cut their losses.  I feel bad for Greg and its not his fault he has been constantly injured, but it does not make sense for the Blazers to shell out $8 million for a one year tender on a player that has played only 82 games his whole career.  There have been rumors of the Blazers offering Greg a longer term contract, 4 years for 40 million.  Given, he has shown signs of being the player they need down low, and they spent millions making him the face of the franchise when they drafted him number one overall,  that is why it is so hard for them to give up on him. I think it is, unfortunately,  time  for the Blazers to cut their losses and give Oden a chance somewhere else.

The Blazers' have had a lot of issues with Andre Miller since his addition two seasons ago, and there were a lot of rumors at the trade deadline of acquiring Devon Harris at the trade deadline.  Now he is on a rebuilding utah team, and I think that the Blazers may be able to pry him away from them.  They could offer some combination of Miller's expiring contract, Rudy Fernandez, Luke Babbit, the rights to Victor Clavor, and two picks in this years draft.  That would give Utah a couple of nice young players along with another draft pick and the expiring contract of Miller, who could tutor any young point guard that the Jazz draft.

I think that Harris would look much better in a Blazer uniform
next season.
If the Blazers stand pat and retain their current roster they will still have a very good team next year, and if they do bring Oden back and he can play at least 40 games and in the playoffs the Blazers will be at the top of the defensive rankings and a big threat to any team in the playoffs.  They could find a solid rotation player in this years draft, but they probably won't find anyone who will be a star.  I would love to see a player like Faried drop to them, although with the lack of talent in this years draft it looks doubtful.  I think the Blazers should take a shot at a player like Lucas Noguiera, who can step in immediately and help out on defense despite his raw offensive skills and young age.

Overall, I think that the Blazers have a lot of potential if they can stay healthy (which has been a universal feeling for the past 3 years), and they have the assets to make a real splash in a turbulent offseason. It will be very interesting, and I am excited to see what moves Cho decides to make and which players on the current roster can take their game to the next level.   

Monday, April 25, 2011

NBA Draft 6.0, Underclassmen Deadline

Derrick Williams has solidified
his position in the top 3.
The deadline for underclassmen to enter the draft has passed, but underclassmen who have not hired an agent have retained their NCAA eligibility and can return to school.  Many of the top prospects have already decided to stay in school  and that has weakened an already weak draft class.  Because a lot of top prospects from college are out of the draft I expect scouts to turn their attention to Europe and bring over a lot more prospects than in recent years.

For more mock drafts here is a link to my Mock Draft Database.

Round 1
1. Minnesota-Kyrie Irving, PG, Duke-Drafting Irving gives them a trade asset in either Irving himself if Rubio comes over, or in the rights to Rubio.  The won't have 2 rookie point guards next year, that is for sure.  If they get a certain decision from Rubio it will greatly impact their choice.  If he does come this pick is Derrick Williams all the way, if not then I think Irving is a good pick.

2.  Cleveland-Derrick Williams, SF, Arizona- With a lot of the top tier players in this draft dropping out Derrick Williams' status as a top three pick is all but set in stone.  He most likely would have been a top pick anyway, but now there is no chance of him slipping past the 2nd spot in the draft.  

Kanter is still in the running for
the number one overall pick.
3. Toronto- Enes Kanter, C, Turkey-Enes Kanter has been projected as a top pick all season, but being ruled ineligible could have hurt his stock.  He will benefit the same way that Williams will and is pretty much assured a top 3 pick.  He would add a lot of toughness to Toronto's front line and would add more skill around the basket then Reggie Evans or Ed Davis.  

4. Washington- Bismack Biombo, PF, Congo- Biombo has soared up the draft charts after a few good showings at Nike camps.  Bimombo is being compared to an Ibaka like player who has freaky long arms and amazing athleticism.  There are a lot of questions about his age, I've read that he could be anywhere from 17 to 26.  Even if he is around 22 or 23 he still has the potential and natural ability to make a difference.  He wouldn't be a perfect fit for Washington, but his upside is tremendous and he could develop nicely next to McGee.

5. Sacramento- Brandon Knight, PG, Kentucky- Brandon Knight had a good tournament which has improved his draft stock.  He is a gifted athlete and would form a large back court with Evans.  The problem may be that he likes the ball in his hand, which Evans also does not to mention Thornton. If he develops he could be a nice piece in the young, but immature, Kings franchise.

6. Utah- From New Jersey-Terrence Jones, SF, Kentucky- Terrence Jones would give the Jazz a huge front 3 with Favors, Jefferson and Jones.  The multi talented forward would also give the team a lot of versatility with their line ups.

Valanciunas is one of the top Euro players
because of his size and skill around the basket.
7. Detroit- Jonas Valanciunas, PF, Lithuania- Valanciunas is a skilled scorer around the hoop and would complement Monroe very well.  They could be a good high low option because both are good passers. If he clears up contract issues with his current Euro league team he will be drafted much higher.

8. Cleveland- From LA Clippers-Kemba Walker, PG, Connecticut- Kemba showed that he can carry a team on his back all year.  Despite his size he is a dynamite scorer who can finish at the hoop and has a lethal long range shot.  He may never be an all star but he will be a very good player and has a knack to show up in crunch time.

9. Charlotte- Tristian Thompson, PF, Texas- Thompson added his name close to the deadline and could retract it if he isn't assured a lottery pick.  He is a bit undersized for the power forward position, but he makes up for it with long arms, a great motor, and good overall IQ.  He needs to work on his raw offensive game, but he is definitely a talented basketball player.  

10. Milwaukee- Jan Vesely, PF, Czech Republic- Vesely is a physical defender and an active rebounder.  He needs to improve his offensive game but his hustle and gritty play would be a good combination with Bogut on the front line of a young Bucks team. 

11. Golden State- Kawhi Leonard, SF, San Diego St- Leonard would give the Warriors a player that does all the dirty work.  Leonard is a great defender and rebounds very well for his position. He often gets compared to a Shawn Marion type player, but he reminds me a lot of Gerald Wallace.  He may struggle his first year or two, but he could develop into a great player.  I think he could be one guy that surprises people and turns into a player who makes an all star team at least once.

Alec Burks repeatedly showed the ability
to get to the hoop and finish against
any competition.
12. Utah-Alec Burks, SG, Colorado- Utah needs a shooting guard that can create his own shot and Burks is the best available.  He is fearless driving to the basket and is great at taking his man off the dribble, but Burks really needs to improve his jumper to make a difference on this current Jazz squad.

13. Phoenix-Jordan Hamilton, SF, Texas- Hamilton would be a nice fit in Phoenix's run and gun system.  He can be a great scorer and his game resembles Rashard Lewis'.  His main problem is shot selection as he sometimes gets a little shot happy and jacks them up from anywhere.  

14. Houston- From New York- Lucas Nogueira- In a draft void of many big men Nogueira could go around here.  He is a young, raw, 7 footer who is a defensive presence.  Houston needs a defensive presence and might be tempted by his potential, although their roster already contains a few project big men in Thabeet and Jordan Hill.

15. Indiana- Donatas Motiejunas, PF, Lithuania- Motiejunas could have been a high pick last year but decided to withdraw his name.  He is compared to Nowitzki because he has a sweet stroke for a 7 footer.   He would be a nice fit for an Indiana team that is rapidly improving.

16. Philadelphia- Marcus Morris, PF, Kansas- Marcus Morris could be a nice stretch 4 for the 76ers.  He showed that he can nail an outside jumper consistently, but will still need to improve.  He is a tough, versatile player who could take the place of Thaddeus Young if he leaves via free agency.

17. New York- From Houston- Jimmer Freddette, PG, BYU- Freddette could be great in New York.  He is a natural scorer from the point guard position who has incredibly deep range on his jumper.  He is tough as nails, which anyone playing in New York needs to be.  He will have to learn to play off the ball if he wants to play with Melo and Stoudamire.

Jackson's athletic ability and size
 for a point guard could make him the steal of the draft.
18. Washington- From Atlanta-Reggie Jackson, PG, Boston College- Jackson has been compared to Russell Westbrook and he could be a steal.  He would have to come off the bench as a combo guard, but he could be a difference maker with his athleticism.  Jackson could play with Wall or back him up.

19. Charlotte-From Portland, Via New Orleans-Tobias Harris, SF, Tennessee- Harris is a 3/4 tweener, but he is a very cerebral player for someone his age and because of that I think he will make it.  He has to define his position either playing down low and improving his strength or playing on the wing and improve his shooting and quickness.

20. Minnesota- From Memphis-  Tyler Honeycutt, SF, UCLA- Honeycutt is a long lanky player in the mold of Matt Barnes.  He is a scrappy player who has the skill set to positively effect a game in many ways.  He needs to improve his shooting if he wants to stick around.  If he goes to Minnesota I expect him to spend time in the D-league because they are stacked with wing players.

21. Portland-  Kenneth Faried, PF, Morehead State- Faried showed how good of a rebounder he is in the first 2 rounds of the tournament.  He seemed to get the ball anytime he was near it.  His hustle and great defense would be a great addition to a Blazers team who has continued to grow during adversity.

22. Denver- Markieff Morris, PF, Kansas- Markieff is the better rebounder and shot blocker of the Morris twins, and he would help out Denver's front line. He would add more youth to the team and would bring the toughness that you might not get if you played Gallinari at the 4 position.

23.  Houston- From Phoenix- Josh Selby, PG, Kansas-Selby had a tough year but at one point was considered a lottery pick.  I think if he decides to enter the draft his stock will rise when the work outs start.  Teams will remember what they liked before and he will go in the mid first round.  He could turn into the answer at point guard, but he will have to compete with Lowry and Dragic for playing time.

Singler had a great college career and will
turn that success into being a
 great role player in the NBA.
24. Oklahoma City- Kyle Singler, SF, Duke- Oklahoma has an incredibly deep team with quality back ups at every position except for sf.  Singler would come in, much like Collison does, and be the fundamentally sound player that the Thunder need.  I think of him as a Mike Dunleavy clone, a solid player with a nice shooting touch.  He would be player who is smart enough to identify his roll, and fill it immediately.

25. Boston- Augusto Lima, PF, Brazil- Is a long and lanky forward who can run the floor.  He has crazy athleticism, but like a lot of young foreign players is very raw on the offensive end.  He is a project pick that could turn into a steal for the Celtics.

26. Dallas- Davis Bertans, SF, Latvia- Dallas needs help at the small forward position.  Davis Bertans is a big small forward who has a great shot and a lightning fast release.  He needs to add weight to compete against the more physical NBA style of play, but he is a project that could pay off in a few years.

27. New Jersey- From LA Lakers- Chris Singleton, SF, Florida State-  Damion James played well when he was on the court for the Nets last  year, but he was often injured and it is still yet to be seen if he is the small forward of the future for the team or just a very good reserve.  Chris Singleton could help solidify that position and even play spot minutes at the 4.  Singleton has the ability to be a lock down defender at the next level.

28. Chicago- From Toronto, Via Miami-Klay Thompson, SG, Washington State- Chicago fills the hole at shooting guard with the sharp shooting Thompson.  Thompson had some off the court troubles last season, but you can't deny his talent as a shooter.  

29. San Antonio-JaJuan Johnson, PF, Purdue- JaJuan is a multi talented forward who has improved each year at Purdue.  He is also a great shot blocker and has a huge wing span.  The problem with Johnson is he is rail thin and doesn't have the strength to play in the post yet.  

Jereme Richmond will need to grow as a player,
but his supreme athletic ability puts him
in the position to be great.
30. Chicago-Jereme Richmond, SF, Illinois- Jereme Richmond is extremely raw but he could go much higher in the middle of the first round.  Richmond has elite athletic ability and has shown signs of becoming a great player.  He could turn into an amazing addition for the Bulls.

Round 2

31. Miami- From Minnesota- Nolan Smith, PG, Duke

32. Cleveland- Marshon Brooks, SG, Providence

33. Detroit- From Toronto-Trey Thompkins, PF, Georgia

34. Washington- Bojan Bogdanovic, SF, Serbia

Kieth Benson has shown the ability
to compete on defense against anyone
 on the college level.
35. New Jersey- Justin Harper, PF, Richmond

36. Sacramento- Nikola Mirotic, SF, Serbia

37. LA Clippers- From Detroit-Keith Benson, C, Oakland

38. Houston- From LA Clippers-Darius Morris, PG, Michigan

39. Charlotte- Travis Leslie, SG, Georgia

40. Milwaukee- E'twaun Moore, SG, Purdue

41. LA Lakers- From Golden State- Shelvin Mack, PG, Butler

42. Indiana- Charles Jenkins, SG, Hofstra

43. Chicago- From Utah-  John Leur, PF, Wisconsin

44. Golden State- From Chicago, Via Phoenix- Orlando Johnson, F, UC Santa Barbra

Orlando Johnson is a do it
all guard who could be a steal
in the second round.
45. New Orleans- From Philadelphia- Robin Benzing, PF, Germany 

46. LA Lakers- From New York-  Jordan Williams, C, Maryland

47. LA Clippers- From Houston- Justin Holiday, SF, Washington

48. Atlanta- Norris Cole, PG, Cleveland St.

49. Philadelphia- From New Orleans- Mamadou Diarra, C, Chaminade

50. Memphis- Jamine Peterson, SF, D-league

51. Portland- Demetri McCamey, PG, Illinois

52. Detroit- From Denver-  Scotty Hopson, SG, Tennessee

While at Oregon Dunigan didn't always
 play to his size, he will have to
 show that he can compete against
bigger players to have a chance
in the NBA.
53. Orlando-Michael Dunigan, C, Oregon

54. Cleveland- From Oklahoma City- Furkan Aldemir, PF, Turkey

55. Boston- Ben Hansbrough, PG, Notre Dame

56.LA Lakers-Lacedarius Dunn, SG, Baylor

57. Dallas- Giorgi Shermadini, C, Greece

58. LA Lakers- From Miami- Jeremy Tyler, PF, Japan

59. San Antonio-Chandler Parsons, SF, Florida

60. Sacramento- From Milwaukee, Via Chicago- DeAndre Liggins, SF, Kentucky