Welcome To The 2011 NBA Draft: The REAL NBA Trade Deadline

 ~ This year’s NBA Draft does not have the potential star power of the 1996 class that brought in Iverson, Kobe, Marbury, and Allen. There is no LeBron, Melo or D. Wade coming out of this class. It’s low on star power, lower on overall potential talent and despite all of that, the 2011 NBA Draft is shaping up to be one of the more intriguing drafts of recent memory.

 The reasoning behind all of that may have to do with the legal troubles surrounding the NBA which could eventually lead to a lockout. A work stoppage is the last thing the league wants. However much like the NFL lockout, it’s looking inevitable.

 With a pending lockout overshadowing the league, this year’s draft has become more of a spotlight for NBA players who could be put on the market to be traded. The teams need to get their salary cap situations under control now as much as they can before a lockout happens.

 Operating under that kind of thought process has opened the door to enough trade rumors to almost drown out any buzz surrounding this year’s draft.

 Look at some of the names that potentially could be relocating:

* Tony Parker was reportedly on the trade market in 2010 and he’s back on it now apparently. Toronto and Sacramento have both inquired about his availability. They also have the numbers 5 and 7 picks respectively. 

 The Spurs are clearly in a position now where they have to rebuild an aging team. Parker is the one out of their core 3 that has the most trade value. San Antonio is said to be looking to get a top 10 draft pick in return. Perhaps to get a shot at Washington State’s sharpshooter guard Klay Thompson.

 

* Andre Iguodala, Josh Smith, Jameer Nelson, Lamar Odom, and Monta Ellis have all been thrown into the mix as players who could be on the move. Their respective teams have all been preparing trade scenarios that include picks from this year’s draft.

 

This past season reflected a transition in the league. Oklahoma City and Chicago took big steps forward and even though Miami came up two games short of a NBA title, they’ll be back next season perhaps even stronger. This year teams are not only looking to get into a better position financially with this draft, they are also looking to get younger and more athletic.

 

 

 The draft this year does have potential storylines that involve the players who are eligible.

 Kyrie Irving and Derrick Williams are expected to go numbers 1 and 2. Minnesota has been apparently listening to trade offers for the number 2 pick and while Cleveland is expected to take Irving at number 1, what they do with their number 4 pick is just as much a mystery and could impact their decision to take Irving.

 The true drama (if there is any) starts at the number 3 spot with the Utah Jazz. If they take the top big man Enes Kanter or point guard Brandon Knight. Teams are trying to get high enough in the draft through trades to perhaps grab Kanter. Once he comes off the board, it could open the door to an array of trades and surprise picks.

 

What started out as a draft class projected to be one of the weaker ones in recent history has now turned into must see television all of a sudden.

 One thing is for certain is that with a lockout about to happen that could put off free agency over the summer, teams are going the trade route to help shape their rosters. What better platform is left than the NBA Draft to serve as the newest trade deadline.

Memphis-OKC / NBA Playoffs > Why The Memphis Grizzlies Could Win The West

 

~ While watching Game 1 of the 2nd round series between the Memphis Grizzlies and the Oklahoma City Thunder, I came away with this conclusion… the Grizzlies are the real deal. This isn’t exactly news anymore to basketball fans. They took it to the top seeded San Antonio Spurs in round 1, taking them out in 6 games. This is the 8th seeded team in the west doing this. Every now and then in the NBA Playoffs, a low seeded team will come along and steal a 1st round series and some headlines. I’m always curious to see how they come out to play in the next round. I look to see if that team comes out flat after riding the high of a 1st round victory that some didn’t think they’d get. Quite frankly, the Grizzlies came out against the Thunder ready to play and  punched them right in the mouth. This isn’t just a 8th seeded team that is making a little noise in the playoffs. The way things are shaping up this year, Memphis could find themselves playing in June for an NBA Championship.

 Many considered what the Grizzlies did to the Spurs as an upset. I didn’t share that same thought process. Memphis wanted the Spurs in the 1st round, they knew how well they matched up with them. The Spurs were just an example of why you can’t really hold stock in regular season win-loss records. What we are also seeing right now is that if you look at the Grizzlies as a team, they are built for a strong playoff run. They matched up well with the Spurs and they match up just as well with the Thunder. It’s an old school Eastern Conference Playoff team playing in the west. Defense and big time play from the go-to guys wins championships. They beat you with big time play in the frontcourt with Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol. They get leadership from players like Tony Allen and Shane Battier. OJ Mayo is maturing before our eyes and they almost traded him away this year. This is not the team you want to lose Game 1 to on your home court.

A sub plot has emerged in the playoff run of the Thunder and that is the inconsistent play of Russell Westbrook at the point guard position. His shot selection and decision making throughout the post season so far has been borderline at best. What is even more troublesome is Westbrook’s dominating of the ball has come at the expense of more shots for Kevin Durant. Westbrook is an explosive offensive weapon for OKC and the 1-2 punch with Durant is why the Thunder are strong contenders for the Finals this year. However Westbrook is also the point guard. Durant is the franchise player and Westbrook has to do a better job of making that clear on the court. The reality is that if Durant is option 1, Westbrook is option 1A, and it remains to be seen if Westbrook is really okay with that. While the Thunder continue to build their playoff resume’s, it will be a point of interest to see if the Durant-Westbrook combo becomes just as good or better as Stocton-Malone of Utah. It has the potential to also become Marbury-Garnett of Minnesota. That would be a major problem for the Thunder.

 Charles Barkley recently made a great point on the overall outlook of the Grizzlies. They are a deep team. Denver became a deep team after the Carmelo Anthony trade. However they didn’t have a go-to closer and that cost them in the playoffs. The Grizzlies are a deep team … with a closer. Randolph is playing the best ball of his career right now and the Gizzlies in the frontcourt are having their way in these games.

 It’s also hurting the Thunder that they don’t have that third scorer right now. There is no Jeff Green this year and maybe that has contributed to the Westbrook’s poor shot selection at times. It might be a good time to get Nate Robinson involved in this series. Robinson may provide that extra shot of energy that might be missing from the Thunder right now. What is apparent right now though is that major adjustments will have to be made by OKC to beat the Grizzlies in Game 2. It’s a statement game in every sense of the word for the Thunder if they want to win this series. 

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