NBA Draft > They Are Who We Thought They Were … Right? (Draft Recap)

~ I’m not really sure what to make of how the 2011 NBA Draft panned out for all of the teams. Overall, this is going to be a very tough draft class to grade over the next couple of seasons. There was no clear-cut no brainers for selections. The case can be made that the number 1 pick could have been someone different.

 The draft board held up to form for the first 3 picks and then it became a matter of who’s the best available and what trades can be made. A handful of teams drafted pretty well, just not who many expected.

 The Top 3

 Kyrie Irving, Derrick Williams, and Enes Kanter were the top 3 on the board and respectively went in that order. Cleveland gets their point guard of the future in Irving. Minnesota gets a talented scorer to pair with Ricky Rubio, and Utah gets the top big man on the board in Kanter.

 Any one of these 3 could have went number 1 in the draft so the Cav’s, T-Wolves, and Jazz should feel good about their choices.

 Kanter was the wild card on the board, his stock rose leading up to the draft. Once he was selected, that’s when the complexion of the draft began to change.

 Cleveland not only had the number 1 pick, they had the number 4 pick as well. Two picks in the top 5 normally has a pretty good outcome. However this was not a strong draft class and that made for slim pickings, even at the top of the board.

 The Cav’s took Tristan Thompson at 4 and that was a bit of a surprise and maybe even a reach. I would’ve liked to have seen the Cav’s make a strong push to use their 4th pick to move up 1 or 2 more spots to grab Kanter or Williams to go along with Irving. That by far would’ve made for a great draft night. However, Irving is still a great pick at 1 and will be marketed big time by the team.

 Minnesota took Derrick Williams at 2 and then the rest of their picks (mostly foreign players who may or may not make it to the league) left plenty of room for criticism. The Timberwolves need a lot of work and it’s safe to say that they may need more than Cleveland at this point. (at least the Cav’s have stability at their head coaching spot) Focus on the good though … Derrick Williams and Ricky Rubio are in place, now we get to see if Minnesota can properly build around them.

 Utah had a pretty good draft, addressing needs in the backcourt and frontcourt. Kanter was a great pick for them, and Alec Burks at number 12 will help with depth at the guard position.

 All 3 of these teams addressed needs they had and took advantage of their positioning.

 Kemba, Jimmer, and … Brandon Knight

 Once the top 3 were off the board, there really wasn’t much juice left in this draft with the exception of where Kemba Walker and Jimmer Fredette were going to end up. It took for Brandon Knight to be taken by Detroit to help set the wheels in motion.

 The talk on the board was that if Knight slipped out of the top 5, it would push both Walker and Fredette down as well. Knight ended up slipping and Detroit was smart to take him. He’s a solid point guard that will help trigger the Pistons rebuilding job. There is a logjam in their backcourt with Ben Gordon, Rodney Stuckey, and Rip Hamilton. Two of those three are most likely going to be moved.

Walker ends up in Charlotte and he’ll get his chance to be the man there. Michael Jordan’s executive moves have always been up for debate, this year he drafted pretty well. Walker has floor general written all over him.

Jimmer Time goes to Sacramento and I think that’s the perfect landing spot for Fredette. The Kings are offensive team that is going to put points up. It’s also the only way they are going to draw attendance next season at a time where they are trying to keep from relocating the franchise. Fredette does not have to focus on being a full time point guard there. He’ll need to defend more than he ever did in college. However let’s be clear here, Fredette will be on the court to shoot the ball and score. Anything else that comes along with that is a huge bonus for Sacramento.



Trade Central 

The trade rumors had as strong a buzz as the draft prospects, arguably stronger. Indiana and San Antonio used the draft to trade for opposite reasons. The Spurs picked up prospects that may help with their pending rebuilding project. Tony Parker is currently still a Spur. However, George Hill is on his way to Indiana. The Pacers were a playoff team last season, so this move made more sense for them.

Jimmer and Kemba were acquired through the help of draft day trades. Charlotte picked up Walker and Big Man project Bismack Biyombo (coolest name in draft). It cost them Stephen Jackson and Shaun Livingston, who now head to Milwaukee. The same deal also involved Sacramento which helped them land Jimmer and reacquire John Salmons from the Bucks.

The trade I liked the most involved the new world champion Dallas Mavericks in a 3 team deal with Portland and Denver. The Mav’s came away with point guard Rudy Fernandez from Portland. He’s a great fit for a team that is built to win more in the short term. Portland also swapped Andre Miller to Denver for Raymond Felton. All 3 teams also came away with potential players from the draft as well.

Overall, this draft class is not expected to be one of the more memorable ones. However, that’s the beauty of sports. Projections and Predictions at the end of the day are just exactly that.

Hiring Mike Brown Is The Right Move For The Lakers


~ The Lakers are reportedly ready to bring in their 22nd head coach in team history. For Mike Brown, what a difference a year makes. For fans of The Los Angeles Lakers, when Phil Jackson stepped away as head coach, how many of them could have possibly seen this coming? Coming out of nowhere to emerge as the leading canidate for the job, Brown is expected to be offically named the new head coach of the Lakers. This is indeed a stunning move, however it is also the right move.

 Mike Brown isn’t going to be another Phil Jackson. He is not flashy or smooth like a Pat Riley. He does not teach the game like a Larry Brown or even a Hubie Brown for that matter. What Brown does bring to the Lakers is intangibles that none of the other canidates the Lakers targeted could bring at this time.

The 41 year old Brown led the Cleveland Cavaliers to two 60-win seasons and the NBA finals one time. Those teams were led by a superstar and elite player, LeBron James. He inherits a Lakers team that is led by a superstar and elite player, Kobe Bryant.

The Lakers are a team that’s defense was badly exposed in this year’s playoffs. They couldn’t rotate at all and at times looked completely lost while being swept out of the playoffs by Dallas. Brown is a defense-first coach.

The isssue being argued by many fans of the Lakers is that it’s Mike Brown replacing the great Phil Jackson. The saying goes that you’re only as good as your last performance. For Brown, it was a year ago that his Cav’s were bounced from the playoffs and set off 12 months of change with LeBron James leaving for Miami and Brown losing his job almost as soon as he got off the team plane back from Boston.

First of all, no one is going to replace what Phil Jackson has done. It didn’t work with the Bulls in the 90’s and Tim Floyd. It didn’t work for the Lakers either with Rudy Tomjanovich. At some point, the time comes when you have to reinvent yourself. It’s no different for a professional basketball team.

 For all the criticism that Mike Brown will get during his transition into taking this job, Brown is a good basketball coach. He went to the playoffs in every year he coached the Cav’s. (5 seasons)

Did he have an elite basketball player? Yes. He also didn’t have very much else to work with either.

In Brown’s 5 seasons as Cav’s coach, the organization didn’t exactly surround LeBron James with many 2nd or 3rd options like Kobe Bryant has had with Paul Gasol, Lamar Odom, and Andrew Bynum. An aging Shaquille O’Neal and an inconsistent Mo Williams don’t count.

 Brown made mistakes as Cav’s coach and his rotation moves were questionable. However, he did what he could with what he had and wisely ran everything through his one star player.  He now gets a clean start, just like the Lakers get a chance at a clean start.

Brown reportedly will sign a contract for four years and $18.2 million dollars. As good a track record as Brown has a defensive minded coach, he’ll need to establish quickly what his offensive gameplan will be for the Lakers.

 This is a team that definitely wants to get back to running up and down the court and entertaining the fans. A lot will depend on what the Lakers do this summer to rebuild around Bryant. Does Gasol, Odom, and Bynum stay with the team? Do they begin to make plans to go after Dwight Howard?

 This Laker team needed to turn the page after bowing out to Dallas this year. The team needed a facelift and Mike Brown will help provide them a new idenity on defense as well. For both sides, it’s the right move at the right time.

NBA Draft > Cleveland Wins No. 1 Pick, Irving On The Radar


~ The Cleveland Cavaliers had just about as good a night as a team can possibly have that didn’t make the playoffs. The Cav’s came away from the NBA Draft Lottery with the number one pick. To add icing on the cake, the Cav’s also have the number four pick in the draft. The team that within the last 12 months lost LeBron James to South Beach and endured a nightmare season with one loss after another, has finally come across some good fortune. The number one pick came from the Los Angeles Clippers in the Baron Davis trade. The pick only had a 2.8 percent chance of winning and it wasn’t protected. It ends up turning into the top pick in the draft. Cleveland is most likely to take Kyrie Irving of Duke with the number 1 pick to jumpstart the rebuilding process they are currently going through.

The draft class this year is not a deep one by any means. Teams are going to have to dig deep with their scouting departments in finding a gem in this year’s draft. That’s why having 2 of the top 5 picks in the draft is such a big win for the Cav’s. The Minnesota Timberwolves will draft second and it’s expected they will take Derrick Williams of Arizona. Once Irving and Williams are off the board, that is where the draft is expected to take a turn for the unexpected. The Clippers can now only imagine what a lineup with Irving and Blake Griffin could have done for their franchise.

The Utah Jazz came out ahead as well by securing the number 3 and number 12 picks in the draft. The number 3 pick came from the New Jersey Nets courtesy of the Deron Williams trade. There is a sub plot here to keep an eye on. It remains to be seen if Williams will sign his contract extension with the Nets. If he decides not to sign, the Nets could possibly come away from the trade with Utah empty-handed. To acquire Williams, the Nets also gave up Derrick Favors who was their 1st round pick last year and they also gave up their 1st round pick for next year. This would be a major setback for their rebuilding plans.

Here Is A Look At The Draft Order

1. Cleveland Cavaliers (from L.A. Clippers)
2. Minnesota Timberwolves
3. Utah Jazz
4. Cleveland Cavaliers
5. Toronto Raptors,
6. Washington Wizards
7. Sacramento Kings
8. Detroit Pistons
9. Charlotte Bobcats
10. Milwaukee Bucks
11. Golden State Warriors
12. Utah Jazz
13. Phoenix Suns
14. Houston Rockets
15. Indiana Pacers
16. Philadelphia 76ers
17. New York Knicks
18. Washington Wizards (from Atlanta)
19. Charlotte Bobcats (from New Orleans via Portland)
20. Minnesota Timberwolves (from Memphis via Utah)
21. Portland Trailblazers
22. Denver Nuggets
23. Houston Rockets (from Orlando via Phoenix)
24. Oklahoma City Thunder
25. Boston Celtics
26. Dallas Mavericks
27. New Jersey Nets (from Los Angeles Lakers)
28. Chicago Bulls (from Miami via Toronto)
29. San Antonio Spurs
30. Chicago Bulls

Additional Info: Pro Basketball Talk

Photo: Getty Images

Cavs Get Destroyed vs Lakers & The Lebron Twitter Response


~ December 2nd, 2010 wasn’t exactly a memorable day for me personally. I got up, went to work, came home, and went to bed. For the most part, a normal Thursday for me. I did however watch a basketball game that night after coming home. When I look back at the Cleveland Cav’s and Miami Heat, I think of December 2nd.

The Miami Heat were expected to start the season at least 19-0  with the way the team was promoted going into the season … they didn’t. 19 games into the season Miami was 11-8 heading into the month of December and a game which would serve as Lebron James first time back in Cleveland since “the decision”. The signs were beginning to show that the Heat were beginning to crack under the pressure at that time. The game was played and the result would send both teams into completely different directions. The 118-90 Miami win over Cleveland ignited Lebron and his two superstar teammates Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, they learned how to play together all of sudden. The tweets on twitter all of sudden supported it’s young head coach Eric Spolestra and called off the Pat Riley watch. The Heat went on to win 13 of it’s next 14 games to close out the month. The winning has carried over into the new year, winning it’s first 5 games of January and currently have a  9 game winning streak.

The Cleveland Cavs have not been the same since that December 2nd loss to Miami. Every now and then watching sports you can see when the confidence clearly leaves a team. Before that game, Cleveland was playing decent basketball.The regular season started and surprisingly, without James the Cav’s were playing like a team that you could actually sit down and watch without your hand on the remote control. That loss on December 2nd however clearly looked like  a 20 point loss reality check instead of a bump on the road. The Cav’s are no longer Lebron James and the Cleveland Cav’s. They are now just the Cav’s. In a league where the top teams are considered superpowers, the Cav’s were back to being … ordinary. Cleveland went on to lose 13 of it’s next 14 games to close out the month. The losing has carried over into the new year, losing it’s first 6 games of January. It can’t get any lower than the most recent loss in Los Angeles to the defending champion Lakers.

I’m sitting on my sofa at home reading my Twitter timeline and remember that the Lakers game is on. I’m not exactly in a hurry to watch any of this game, however I decide to check on the score … it’s the start of the third quarter and all anyone would need to know is that the Cav’s only had 25 points by that point. In case you’re not too caught up in NBA 101 … if your team has 25 points after 2 quarters of basketball then most likely you’re team isn’t very good. Cleveland went on to lose this game obviously, 112-57.  The reason I mentioned my Twitter timeline is because that is where I go to see some of the funniest comments and feedback from others and of course I figured an NBA team scoring only 57 points in a game might fit that profile.

Twitter can be many things during the course of a day. It can be entertaining, it can be informative, it can also be annoying & become someone’s credibility killer. Lebron James has been a subject of focus on Twitter since news first broke that he was joining the social network site. James rightfully deserves that attention. We all watched last summer as James was the main topic in sports for his free agent move from Cleveland to South Beach. Some (myself included) were highly critical of this move as James aligned himself with two NBA  premier superstars to pursue an NBA championship. Whenever something happens involving a high profile celebrity, it manages to find it’s way to Twitter.

The downfall of the Cleveland Cav’s always is going to be linked to Lebron James. After the loss to the Lakers, a tweet was posted from James twitter page  …

        “Crazy. Karma is a b****.. Gets you every time. Its not good to wish bad on anybody. God sees everything!”

Who is Lebron tweeting about? Alright thats not exactly a good question. Not when you consider the last 6 months between Lebron James, the Cleveland Cav’s, it’s fans, and the team owner Dan Gilbert. It was Gilbert who responded to James ESPN promoted “decision” to announce he was leaving for Miami, by nationally thanking James for nothing. I didn’t agree with Gilbert for that move and the way he did it. He was right to be upset and frustrated at losing the main piece of his franchise. Dan Gilbert didn’t win any fans over by boasting his team would win an NBA title before James does. It came off as childish, inmature, bitter and put a spotlight on a team that is nowhere near the team it was when James was a member of it. However, he is still an owner of a professional basketball team. Maybe you can make the case that if the belief in Karma is involved, then Gilbert and his team had it coming. The case can also be made that Lebron James and Dan Gilbert both are on a two-way street built on Karma.

I look back at the Lebron James tweet and I can’t help but think that if this is about Karma … Miami is gonna have a short stay in the playoffs.James is arguably the best NBA player in the world. I use the word arguably because of his choice to align with two superstars in Miami. I use the word arguably because James didn’t show up in those last two games he wore a Cav’s uniform. He didn’t show up to be the best that night. Possibly one foot already out the door and pointed towards South Beach. I say arguably the best in the world because reportedly he didn’t even give the Cav’s a goodbye phone call to let them know he was leaving and that his mind was made up. The team that drafted him, the team he grew up watching not far away in his hometown of Akron, Ohio. The Cav’s might as well got a gold watch from Lebron and a pat on the back thanking them for there services. The saying goes perception is reality, and how did it look to Cleveland fans to see James not only go to Miami but then go on tv posing for pictures in his new uniform with Wade and Bosh. How about those Cleveland fans who have Twitter and read his tweets celebrating the move?  James is quick now to let everyone know now he does not mind being the villain or the bad guy. It’s easy though to do that when your new team is 30-9 and dominating the league as expected. Dan Gilbert is paying for his mistakes last summer. The Cav’s are paying for his mistakes as well. Lebron James might want to be careful with his words going forward or we could be saying the same thing in June about the Miami Heat … “Karma is a B*tch”.

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