NBA Mock Draft 2019

(Image courtesy of Clutch Points).

No trades! This is based on my big board found here.

I wrote this prior to the draft, but am publishing afterwards. I can’t be bothered doing the rest of the second round – besides, any player worth $5 mil or less (who would be taken in the mid to late second round in my mock) will need dramatic improvement to have a lasting place in the league, so it’s not as interesting to figure out where they would be drafted.

1. New Orleans Pelicans – Nassir Little. Yep, no Zion. Nasty Nas can guard 1-5, shoot the ball and attack closeouts.

2. Memphis Grizzlies – Sekou Doumbaya.

3. New York Knicks – Darius Bazley. The Knicks need playmakers – Bazley is the best in the draft in terms of handles and passing, and at his height, he’s worthy of that top 3 pick.

4. New Orleans Pelicans – Naz Reid. They already have big Jahlil Okafor at the 5, but Reid can guard 4s, which would create huge mismatches in this wing-as-a-four era due to rebounding and interior sealing opportunities.

5. Cleveland Cavaliers – Jarrey Foster. The Cavs already have ball handlers in Jordan Clarkson and Collin Sexton, and have shooting wings and bigs in Cedi Osman and Kevin Love, so taking Cam Reddish or Luka Saminic here makes little sense. That’s why Jarrey Foster, who has similar value to those guys, is a great fit. He can be the defensive stopper the Cavs need, and can set the tone offensively with team-first play including spacing the floor and cutting backdoor for lobs and dunks.

6. Phoenix Suns – Cameron Reddish. The Suns pick another 6’7″ wing who can defend multiple spots.

7. Chicago Bulls – Luka Saminic. Saminic has a similar game to Bull Lauri Markennen, but he is the best player on the board.

8. Atlanta Hawks – Bol Bol. They need a center, and Bol is the best available. He can perfectly complement John Collins’ effectiveness on the glass, as Bol can play on the perimeter where he causes huge mismatches as a shooter who can put the ball on the deck. He’ll block a ton of shots too.

9. Washington Wizards – Brandon Clarke. They have a need at the four if Jabari or Portis aren’t brought back.

10. Atlanta Hawks – Romeo Langford. They need good distributors, and guys who are physically capable of defending more than one position..

11. Minnesota Timberwolves – Tyler Cook. This is a tough one, the preceding few guys all fit needs for the Wolves. But Cook gets the edge as a bruising rebounder and shot blocker who can be in the mold of Ben Wallace, while Karl Anthony Towns can go to work offensively and not worry so much about impacting the glass.

12. Charlotte Hornets – Justin Wright-Foreman. I think Kemba is a lock to sign elsewhere, as he’ll command a big contract and the Hornets have limited space, and have little room for improvement due to the contracts of Nic Batum and Marvin Williams. Taking Wright-Foreman eases the blow of losing Kemba however, as he too is a dynamite scorer who can knock down threes over you and provide Rucker-style entertainment with slick passing and short-guy dunks.

13. Miami Heat – Darius Garland. The Heat have solid wings and bigs who can score, but they need setting up. Garland is a perfect fit for them in that regard, and provides some spacing if Justice Winslow and James Johnson are given some point forward duties.

14. Boston Celtics – Kerwin Roach. A splitting image of Terry Rozier stylistically, Roach is a freak athlete who can play with and without the ball. Regardless of what happens in free agency with Kyrie Irving and Rozier’s willingness to re-sign in doubt, Roach provides good depth at the one and two.

15. Detroit Pistons – Kyle Guy. The Pistons need shooters to give their stud front two of Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond space. Guy brings that, as well as athleticism to get easy fast break buckets. Reggie Jackson can ease the load of defending the bigger shooting guards.

16. Orlando Magic – Jah Morant. They already have Markelle Fultz who is a similar player, but it doesn’t hurt to have depth behind him. Morant would bring some star power to the oft-neglected Magic, who had one of the quietest playoff-drought breaks in NBA history, I would gather.

17. Atlanta Hawks – Kris Wilkes. Can be a Swiss army knife as a wing defender who can shoot a bit and bring energy as a fast break threat.

18. Indiana Pacers – Jared Harper. A backcourt of Harper and Oladipo would be intimidating to dribble against, as both are fierce defenders. Harper is well suited to getting the ball to Oladipo in the right spots.

19. San Antonio Spurs – Bruno Fernando. The Spurs need big bodies, and Fernando fits the bill. He is mobile enough and sound enough in decision making to fit the Spurs system too.

20. Boston Celtics – Deandre Hunter. They need a big presence with the threat of losing Al Horford, and Hunter can switch onto smaller guys, which the Celtics love. Imagine a starting five of (mystery point guard,) Jayson Tatum, Gordon Hayward, DeAndre Hunter and Jaylen Brown. That is some versatility!

21. Oklahoma City Thunder – Deividis Survydis. The Thunder could use some rebounding help behind Steven Adams, but Survydis is better than anyone else available who fits that bill.

22. Boston Celtics – Keldon Johnson. Another 6’7″ wing who can shoot? The Celtics love ’em.

23. Memphis Grizzlies – Myles Powell. The Grizz acquired this pick in the Mike Conley trade (which was an absolute steal for them – Jae Crowder and Grayson Allen alone are worth more than Conley, and his contract is a liability! The Grizz get a hardy wing scorer. (NOTE: Powell returned for his senior year at Seton Hall, but changing the mock now would be too hard).

24. Philadelphia 76ers – Armoni Brooks. The relative unknown out of Houston, Brooks is a lights out shooter who has solid size to defend wings. He is insurance as an off ball shooter if JJ Redick leaves.

25. Portland Trail Blazers – Mfiondu Kabangele. Fits the Blazers scheme well as a pick and pop big. Compares to Al Farouq Aminu, who could leave in free agency.

26. Cleveland Cavaliers – Zion Williamson. The Cavs need more athleticism on the wing and he could fit nicely at shooting guard as a ball handler and passer next to the shooting and cutting Jarrey Foster.

27. Brooklyn Nets – Jordon Varnado. They need a banger inside to complement Jarrett Allen and Varnado can do that, and the Nets will be stacked at guard assuming that DeAngelo Russell is brought back.

28. Golden State Warriors – Luke Maye.

29. San Antonio Spurs – Tako Fall.

30. Milwaukee Bucks – Goga Bitazde

Round two.

31. Brooklyn Nets – Daniel Gafford. Need more depth at center.

32. Phoenix Suns – Jordan Bone.

33. Philadelphia 76ers – Lagerald Vick.

34. Philadelphia 76ers – Tremont Waters

35. Atlanta Hawks – Matt Coleman

36. Charlotte Hornets – RJ Barrett

37. Dallas Mavericks – Killian Tillie. They badly need perimeter scoring, and Tillie is big enough to guard the forward spots and spell Maxi Kleber.

38. Chicago Bulls – Kenny Wooten.

39. New Orleans Pelicans – Mike Parks

Where my top valued NBA free agents will sign in 2019

Here’s some prediction of where my top-valued upcoming NBA free agents will sign in the 2019 offseason. PO represents Player Option and RFA represents restricted free agent. The $ value represents how much I’d be willing to pay the player per year.

$37 million /year

  • Kevin Durant – Los Angeles Lakers

The Warriors will struggle to keep him without paying absurdly high luxury and repeater taxes, and KD might look for a different challenge. Teaming up with Nike co-star LeBron James in LA makes sense from a basketball point of view – he could play in an ultra-switching lineup with fellow forwards LBJ, Kuzma and Ingram, and they’d immediately create an epic showdown with the Warriors. The Lakers can afford him, with over $60 mil in cap space. And, despite the Lakers front office problems of late, they’re still the Lakers.

$26 million/year

  • Demarcus Cousins – Washington Wizards

Boogie will surely seek a big payday after going ring chasing this year. The Wizards provide a viable option to continue that goal, while getting paid and playing with old Kentucky teammate John Wall. The Otto Porter trade freed up cap space for the Wiz, so they can sign him to a near max deal. The East is weak, so Boogie can make them weep. He’s been injury-prone of late and has had some disciplinary issues, so he might even come cheap.

$23 million/year

  • Harrison Barnes – Sacramento Kings

The Kings are on the rise, and while they traded away potential stud Skal Labissiere, they still have an upward trajectory. Barnes has had some instability of late, so re-signing with his current club, who can easily afford him, would be wise. He fills a big hole at the small forward spot for the Kings, and he’s still young enough to fit that young core.

  • Klay Thompson – Golden State Warriors

He’s a splash bro. Unless the Warriors prioritise bringing back KD or Boogie, which would alienate Klay’s numerous fans away from the Dubs and completely change the dynamic of the most successful team in generations, Klay is their guy.

$19 million/year

  • Kristaps Porzingis (RFA) – Dallas Mavericks

There’s two options for Kristaps – take a petty $5 mil for the 2019-2020 season as a qualifying offer and be an unrestricted free agent in 2020, or sign a deal with the Mavs (or a competing deal from another team) and, if he’s unhappy with the progress the Mavs are making, he can just demand a trade Kyrie Irving style. That way, he still gets paid.

$18 million/year

  • Kemba Walker – Milwaukee Bucks

A dynamite scorer who has been carrying the Hornets for a while now. The Hornets appear to want to break the bank to keep him, but with terrible contracts like Nic Batum’s around, it will require a hefty luxury tax bill to keep him. They haven’t shown they can build a contender around him, so he might look elsewhere. The West is stacked, so teaming with Giannis and the Bucks makes sense. He can be an effective off-ball scorer as a shooter and slasher, so the fit is good also.

$17m per year

  • Nikola Vucevic – Dallas Mavericks

Has been getting some love recently for his awesome numbers. The Magic would be true cellar dweller without him since the Dwight trade. The Magic have had a love hate relationship with him – there’s been trade rumours, and he might go for greener pastures, despite some surprising success in the playoffs. The Mavs are on the rise with Kristaps in the midst and Luka, so he might join his fellow Euros and create a formidable frontcourt there.

  • Tyson Chandler – Denver Nuggets

I still value Chandler highly – ridiculous athlete for his size, and knows subtle techniques like rim protection positioning and screen and rolls to be effective. The Nuggets are a real contender in the West with their young core, and they’ve shown they’re fine with playing a two big lineup. He goes for another ring there.

  • DeAngelo Russell RFA – San Antonio Spurs.

He’s the new face of the Nets, leading them to the playoffs, but I think D’Angelo might want to learn from the best coach there is, Coach Pop. They have the space, and some young pieces to have a bright future (like Dejounte Murray, Davis Bertans, Jakob Poeltl and Derrick White).

$16 mil/year

  • Kawhi Leonard – Houston Rockets

He’s lower down on my board as he evidently has reliability issues, and I’m still not convinced he’s a great facilitator of the ball. He can be a great three and D player the Rockets covet, and can score a bit when the shot clock is winding down to relieve Harden of his huge offensive workload. The Rockets could only afford him for the mid level exception, which Boogie signed with on the Warriors, but Kawhi might go ring chasing, and the Rockets are the closest thing to challenging the Warriors.

  • Kyrie Irving PO – Boston Celtics

If Kristaps was in New York, I think they could’ve nabbed Kyrie. But with limited talent there, I think Kyrie re-signs in Boston. They’ll be contenders in the East for years with the draft capital they accumulated and the players they picked, and he’s young enough to ride with them.

  • Derrick Rose – Golden State Warriors

The Warriors are like a hot tub – your worries melt away when you’re in one. D Rose is still ringless, and while he hasn’t been making bank lately, I think he’d still want to win a ring and be a part of a true contender again. He can play off the ball with Curry off the bench.

$15 mil/year

  • Khris Middleton – Memphis Grizzlies

The Bucks have the space to sign Middleton to a deal around the $20 mil mark, but I get the feeling they might want to add Kemba instead – Middleton ideally plays the same position as Giannis. The Grizzlies need a wing shooter that they thought Chandler Parsons would be, and Middleton fits the bill.

  • Jonas Valancuinas – New York Knicks.

Big V will want that money. He’s a bit undervalued as he’s been benched at times to favour more fleet footed bigs, but he is such an imposing rebounder and finisher inside that he deserves a hefty contract. I think the Knicks will become desperate to spend some money on a free agent and might offer Big V, who is still young, a solid deal.

  • Carmelo Anthony – Minnesota Timberwolves

He’s not that bad. Who else in the league can drop threes even when guarded tightly, out-rebound most small forwards, and is still nimble enough to keep up with the James Hardens of the world? Sure, he has lapses of concentration on D, but he can still be your third best player in a championship team. The Wolves are on the verge of breaking into Western Conference contention and can always use some outside shooting. Melo would probably sign for a veteran minimum.

  • Jahlil Okafor – New Orleans Pelicans.

Considered a bust, but he has great skill for a guy of his immense size, is somehow nimble on his feet, and can punish you on the offensive boards. Not to mention he’s got the Al Jefferson type post moves to get buckets at will. NOLA are talent starved and will likely throw a reasonable contract at him.

$14m/year

  • Enes Kanter – San Antonio Spurs.

Another Euro big who dominates on the glass like Vucevic and Valancuinas, Kanter will likely be underpaid next season, as he will suffer from a “good numbers on bad team” reputation, as well as being a magnet for controversy regarding his issues with the Turkish government, as well as his beef with King James. I still believe he can be a top 50 player in the league with his incredible rebounding g prowess, solid jumper, and some nimbleness to guard both fours and fives. The Spurs have some cap space for the first time in a while with Gasol being traded to the Bucks, and who wouldn’t want to play for Coach Pop? They have an up and coming team but can contend as well with Aldridge and DeRozan.

  • Trevor Ariza – Boston Celtics

Still one of the best 3 and D players in the game. I think he’ll go ring chasing after making bank with the Sun’s, and the Celtics are a top team in the East. The Celtics love their switchable wings, so he’d fit right in.

  • Willie Cauley-Stein – Philadelphia 76ers.

Another King who should be extended ASAP. He’ll hit restricted free agency though, where a team like the Sixers, who want to play fast with Simmons etc, would love a rim runner. He can play alongside Embiid too as a hustling rebounder, while Embiid can space the floor and go to work in the post.

  • Kevin Looney – New Orleans Pelicans

I think Looney will want a big pay day, and I think he’s proven his worth having filled in for Boogie as a starter for the Dubs this season. He’s like Draymond with his wingspan, agility, finishing at rim and passing. The Pels will be starved of talent and will be attracted by Looney talent, age and, frankly, that Warriors zeal (see Ian Clark).

  • Marcin Gortat – Houston Rockets

One of the best pick and roll finishers as a big in the league. Is aging but can still contribute as a rebounder, rim protector and can shuffle those feet on perimeter. Has a little mid range game too. The Rockets need a backup big with Nene aging and Goetat fits the bill. I think he can also play at the four alongside Capela. He’d have to sign on a salary cap exception or veteran minimum but he might go ring chasing. Who doesn’t want to be around success?

  • Dwight Howard – Golden State Warriors

Still a dominant physical force who can finish over either shoulder. He hasn’t won a ring so he might replace Boogie as the starting centre on the Dubs. Would have to sign a small one year deal but I think he has earnt aplenty in his career, and would want some peace having been through a lot of turmoil the last few years. The Dubs wanted Dwight badly before he signed with the Lakers years back, so that desire might still be there.

  • Jonas Jerebko – Denver Nuggets

Great stretch big who does all the little things to win. The Nuggets are in win-now mode with so much cheap talent on the books, and Jerebko can help right away at the forward spots. He’d be a great match with Jokic as a good cutter, floor spacer and rim protector.

  • Boban Marjanovic – Memphis Grizzlies

Dominant post presence and rebounder, obviously a good rim protector at that size. There’s mobility concerns but just don’t switch him onto smalls. He’d be a great fit in Memphis – he can do the dirty work inside while Jaren Jackson Jr shows his finesse game. The Grizz will be left without a starting centre once Valanciunas leaves so they’ll need to fill that spot, and Boban deserves the chance. Plus, he’s a fan favourite. I think Jerry West and co will be smart enough to go after him.

$13m/yr

  • Al Horford (PO) – Boston Celtics

Almost $30 mil for one more year with a title contender? I think Big Al will accept that player option.

  • Marc Gasol (PO) – Toronto Raptors

I think he’ll take the massive player option.

  • Isaiah Thomas – Cleveland Cavaliers

Still a dynamite scorer and great leader. Will want a big payday having been underpaid for years, and the Cavs will be desperate to throw money at anyone with ability, so I think they’ll partake. And aren’t K Love and IT friends from way back? I know the Cavs had IT when LeBron was around but I think a reunion is in order there. Signing Love to that fat contract also means they mightn’t necessarily be tanking either.

  • Rudy Gay – New York Knicks

Great athlete with a solid jumper. I think he’s young enough still to seek a big payday and go ring chasing later. The Spurs will go younger I think, and Bertans can fit his role. So New York will be attractive – the bright lights, big Valancuinas (from his time in Toronto), some solid young pieces in Ntilikana and whoever they pick (unless they screw it up). Plus the Knicks need some talented wings – I’m not sure Kevin Knox and Tim Hardaway Jr are the answers there.

  • Bobby Portis (RFA) – New York Knicks

A bit stiff physically but can still block shots, rebound and shoot a bit. Can finish either hand. The Knicks have a ton of space and could fill out a handy frontcourt with JV and Rudy Gay there. The Wizards might go Boogie hunting so won’t have the space to match a deal the Knicks can afford.

$12 mil/year

  • Goran Dragic (PO) – Los Angeles Lakers.

I think, at age 33, he’ll take one last crack at a big contract or a ring, despite his large player option for the ‘19-20 season. Miami are too swamped with large contracts to guys like Dion Waiters and Tyler Johnson to contend. So he’ll sign with the Lakers, who would now boast Dragic, Durant, LeBron, Kuzma and Ingram. Finally, the Warriors aren’t a shoe-in for the chip.

  • Al-Farouq Aminu – Portland Trail Blazers

I see no reason why he’d leave. The Blazers are short on cap space but they can re-sign him anyway with bird rights. He’s quite undervalued so I don’t expect any team to outbid them. He’s a great stretch four who can switch onto wings defensively while defending the rim.

  • Timothe Luwawu – Portland Trail Blazers

Maybe the most underrated player in the league. No-one keeps him on their roster, but he’s an epic 3 and D player. The Blazers love his type – they haven’t had one like him since Allen Crabbe was traded.

  • Greg Monroe – Orlando Magic

The Magic will have a hole at center after Vucevic leaves (which is a bit up in the air with their surprising postseason success so far). Monroe is a similar player who is a bit ground bound but a great rebounder, finisher inside who can move his feet a bit.

  • Jabari Parker (if $20 mil TO is declined, which is likely) – Brooklyn Nets

He’ll be chasing a big contract and I think the Nets will oblige. They’ll have lost DeAngelo (in my crystal ball prediction) so they’ll need more young talent.

  • TJ McConnell – Toronto Raptors

The Sixers have proven to be a crap front office – trading away cornerstones in Robert Covington and Dario Saric for one guaranteed year of Jimmy Butler is the prime example. I think McConnell bolts for an atlantic rival. The Raps plove two-point guard lineups, so he can fit well with Lowry. They’ve also got good young pieces in Anunoby and Siakam to build around, so there’s optimism there, while still winning now.

 

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Warriors wreck Cavs in Game 2; Green 28 pts on five threes, Bogut five blks

With crucial contributions from forward Draymond Green and Australian center Andrew Bogut, the Golden State Warriors thrashed the Cleveland Cavaliers by 33 points to take a 2-0 lead in the 2016 NBA Finals.

Bogut finished with five blocks, including 4 in the first quarter, including this swat that led to a three from two-time reigning MVP Stephen Curry, who had 19 points and nine rebounds in only 25 minutes of action:

Bogut also had six rebounds and two steals in just 15 minutes of action, having been rested for much of the game due his team’s dominance. His immovable screens, running of the floor to defend the fast break, box outs and offensive rebounding (three for the game) shows that the 7 footer from Melbourne is a model team-oriented player for any young big man to watch.

The Warriors’ defense was superb, forcing the Cavs into 17 turnovers, 35% on field goals and 22% from three. Cleveland’s top 3 players of LeBron James, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving combined for just 34 points on 14-38 from the floor.

Love (five points, three rebounds in 21 minutes) left the game early in the third quarter after receiving an accidental elbow to the head from Warriors forward Harrison Barnes (who had five points and rebounds respectively), and has been diagnosed with a concussion that might keep him from Game 3 in Cleveland in three days time:

The Cavs’ Australian guard Matthew Dellavedova played just under 17 minutes, most of which were in “garbage time” (when the starters are rested during a huge deficit in score). “Delly” had seven points on a poor 2-9 shooting, but had a better “plus-minus” (a measure of contribution to the team) than his superior at point guard, Irving (10 points on 5-14 shooting), and had this great assist to James for the jam:

The Warriors’ best player on the floor (and in the series so far) was second team All-NBA forward Draymond Green, who scored 28 points on five threes, including this fadeaway that sent his team and the packed Oracle Arena into a frenzy:

Green’s all-round performance showed the versatility and depth of the Warriors team that won a record 73 games in the regular season. Green had seven rebounds and five assists, including this dime to Bogut:

Shaun Livingston had 20 points in Game 1, and backed it up with seven points and five assists in Game 2. Brazilian Leandro Barbosa, who was supported by fellow countrymen and soccer star Neymar as evidence of basketball’s growth around the world, had 10 points. Forward Andre Igoudala led the team with a plus-minus of 28 and this putback slam:

The Warriors’ best player of their playoff run, Klay Thompson, had 17 points with four threes, and his fellow ‘Splash Brother” Curry chipped in with four threes also:

As the Cavs’ best player,  James carried his team for much of the game, finishing with 19 points, nine assists and eight rebounds, with this dunk:

..but he had seven turnovers and could only do so much for a team that was outmatched by the Warriors combination of stifling defense, shooting (54% total, 45.5% from three) and teamwork (26 assists, with all seven bench players getting minutes).

The series moves on to Cleveland, where the Cavs will try to turn the series around after being defeated by 48 points total in the first two games, an NBA record differential for that span. Only three teams in NBA history have won the Finals after losing the first two games.

 

 

 

1 year plan: Phoenix Suns

The Phoenix Suns are rebuilding. They’re six  years from reaching the Western Conference Finals, led by Steve Nash and Amar’e Stoudemire. They let the latter leave for the Knicks, in what proved to be a mistake – the club has been on the decline ever since. They finished with a 23-59 record last season, despite having experienced players such as Eric Bledsoe and Tyson Chandler, and a disruptive Markieff Morris after the Suns traded his brother.

With little chance of truly competing with the current roster, and due to a mediocre #4 pick on a draft weak on All-Star talent and little growth from the season before, I think it’s time for Phoenix to trade away the assets that will let them win games, and look to the future.

They have young guard in Brandon Knight, age 24, and Devin Booker, age just 20 by the time the new season starts. The former averaged almost 20 points with 2.3 three pointers, and five assists despite sharing the ball with Bledsoe in the backcourt. Booker averaged almost 14 points and two and a half rebounds and steals per game, as the youngest player in the league, and has sky-high potential. They also have 2013 #5 pick Alex Len, a mobile 7’1″ center whose minutes have been stolen away once veteran center Chandler was signed last offseason.

booker len knight.jpg
Franchise cornerstones Booker and Len high-five, with point guard Knight in the background. Photo: gettyimages

Bledsoe and Chandler started in front of these aforementioned players last season, and that is unacceptable from a long-term point of view.

What can the Suns get for Bledsoe?

Most teams have their starting point guard in place – however, there is a suitor that can offer young assets to join Phoenix’s core. Sacramento has the #8 pick in the draft, and since they have the best center in the competiton in Demarcus Cousins reaching his prime, they should think win-now. therefore, trading the pick for Eric Bledsoe reunites Cousins with his old Kentucky teammate, and finally gives them a long-term option at guard. The Suns would also trade PJ Tucker, to shed salary and to give more minutes to 22 year old forward TJ Warren and their new draft picks.

With the #4 pick, forward Jaylen Brown is the best option (assuming that Simmons, Ingram and Bender are gone as I predict). He is difficult to stay in front of when he has the ball and has great defensive potential, at 6’7″, 220 pounds and a 7 foot wingspan at age 19. He can’t shoot consistently yet, but he can come in and defend the opponent’s top player from day one.

brown.jpg
Potential #4 pick Jaylen Brown soars for the dunk. Photo: bleacherreport.com

With the #8 pick, the Suns should go with a  power forward to complete the young starting lineup. Since Len is a finesse big that can defend the rim and block shots without pushing anyone around, Phoenix needs a bruiser. Domantas Sabonis fits the bill – a 6’10” post player who averaged almost 18 points, 12 rebounds and over 2 assists per game last season for Gonzaga. If given proper minutes, he could average a double double in his first season in the NBA.

sabonis.jpg
#11 Domantas Sabonis battles for a rebound, which he reigned in at an 11.8 clip last season for Gonzaga. Photo: gettyimages

At #13, the Suns should go with a backup point guard to replace Bledsoe. Demetrius Jackson, who averaged almost 16 points and five assists for Notre Dame last season, had an insane 43.5 vertical at the recent draft combine. He reminds me of Kemba Walker – shifty with the ball, and super fast. He can play alongside Booker or Knight, as the latter has seen minutes off the ball in the past, so he can get over 20 minutes a game from day one.

jackson.jpg
#11 point guard Demetrius Jackson shows off his insanely low centre of gravity on the pump fake. Photo: thepitse.com

To get rid of Chandler and free up minutes for Len, they need to find a team looking for a veteran rim protector and rebounder that can start. That team is Minnesota – with a young core in place, Chandler could start alongside reigning Rookie of the Year Karl Anthony Towns, doing the dirty work while Towns develops. The Suns would get Nikola Pekovic, who has a large contract but one less year than Chandler, and would provide strong minutes and mentor fellow Euro Len, and Adreian Payne, an athletic stretch four who could back up Sabonis.

To fill out the roster the 28th pick can be used on another foreign big man like center Ante Zizic, and the 34th pick on tough rebounding power forward Guerschon Yabusele. Veteran point guard Ronnie Price can be retained to help teach the young point guards, the team option on shooting guard John Jenkins can be picked up, while champion Tayshaun Prince can play 10 minutes a game while providing further veteran leadership (assuming he doesn’t retire).

Thus, the depth chart would look like this:

PG: B.Knight, D.Jackson, R.Price

SG: D.Booker, A.Goodwin, J.Jenkins

SF: J.Brown, T.Warren, T.Prince

PF: D.Sabonis, A.Payne, Yabusele.

C: A.Len, N.Pekovic, A.Zizic

This team is in tank mode, but with the starting lineup at an average age around 22, they have high upside, and will likely be bolstered by a high pick in the stacked 2017 draft.

Prediction: 21-61.

Hawks 93 @ Cavaliers 104 (Gm1, East semis, 05/02/15)

 

The Atlanta Hawks’ key players came up short on Sunday night, as the Cleveland Cavaliers cruised through the game to lead 1-0 in the Eastern Conference semis.

While the Hawks made an admirable effort coming from 18 points down to lead in the 4th quarter with eight minutes remaining, the Cavaliers were seemingly on cruise control throughout the game.

1. lebron block.JPG
The Cavs’ Lebron James blocks the Hawks’ struggling Horford

LeBron James had 25 points, 9 assists and 7 rebounds, yet was content with distributing from the perimeter until the final stages. He rarely drove unless on fast breaks,and didn’t bully the 200 pound Kent Bazemore in the post regularlyas he did on one occasion (see the 50 second mark ). I’m a huge Lebron fan, but I can’t help but think he could play from the post just as Jordan did in his later years (except the former is 250 plus pounds!).

Bazemore had 15 points and 8 rebounds, but missed all 4 threes that he took in the final quarter as well as turning it over twice in that period. I think he’d be more valuable as a 2 guard, who can defend, shoot threes sparingly and have less responsibility.

The Hawks’ All-Star frontcourt of Paul Millsap and Al Horford combined for just 27 points on 32 shots, while Kyle Korver couldn’t get the ball, with just 3 points and only one field goal attempt.

The lone bright spot for Atlanta was their backup point guard Dennis Schroder, who had 27 points, 15 of which came in the second half which contributed to the Hawk’s late run. He sped past most defenders on drives, and finished at the rim with his long arms (6’7″wingspan) although Kyrie had a nice block on him. Schroder also hit 5/10 three pointers, and had six assists.

schroder lebron
The Cavs’ James battles with the Hawks’ young gun Dennis Schroder.

For the Cavaliers, Kevin Love hit big 3’s but shot inefficently overall. I miss the tubby Love that dominated on the interior and in the post for the Timberwolves early in his career, instead of the modern skinny Love that is primarily a shooter and defensive rebounder.

Kyrie Irving had a solid day for the Cavs, scoring 21 points, including 9 in the 4th quarter, while his understudy Matthew Dellavedova had a few beautiful assists (being an Aussie, I have some Delly bias, as I think he deserves a big payday this summer as a defensive playmaker who can shoot).

Tristan Thompson was a beast, pulling in 14 rebounds, with 7 on the offensive end, an impressive feat considering he was going against premier rebounders in Millsap and Horford. The Hawks could really do with the big body of Tiago Splitter, who is out injured after hip surgery, to keep guys like Thompson and Love off the boards.

The Hawks made a late run based on Schroder’s play, but in the end the Cavs barely broke a sweat. The series remains in Cleveland for Game 2, and unless the Hawks’ All-Stars are more assertive and feed off of Schroder’s success, Celeveland are in for another breezy evening.

cavs help
Irving (21 pts, 8 asts), JR Smith (12 pts, 5 rbnds) and Love (17 pts, 11 rbnds) help James up.

Highlights

Box score