NBA Draft Unknowns

With the conclusion of the NHL Playoffs last night, we have but one event left before we descend into the deep, dark abyss that is summer sports.  Our one last hurrah before we are subject to two-hour Baseball Tonight nightmares every night is the NBA draft.   It is an event that can change a franchise’s fortunes for decades unlike any other in sports.  Basketball is so unique in the sense that a single player can change a team from a doormat to a contender.

Enjoy the Draft because after that, we are all subject to Baseball Tonight, otherwise known as the Summer Sports Nightmare.

You don’t want to see these three guys after midnight on a summer night.

With the success of the Spurs this year, it has never been clearer that these franchise-altering players can come from anywhere in the draft.  They may be college superstars like Tim Duncan, virtual unknowns such as Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli, or somewhere in between like Kawhi Leonard.  By far the most intriguing of these categories is the second because it is the one ever fan dreads the most.  No one wants to hear their team pick that mid-major kid who has barely been mentioned by analysts and never played on national TV.  Even worse is the completely unknown EuroLeague player. In fact, the only time drafting a EuroLeaguer was when the Wizards drafted Jan Vesely started making out with his smokeshow girlfriend and claimed Blake Griffin was the “American Jan Vesely.” We all know how that turned out.

Not many from either category have a long shelf-life in the NBA these day but each team is still willing to take a gamble on the off chance that they find that player that is the missing link between them and a championship.  Here are a few of these unknowns that have made it onto mock drafts:

Continue reading

NBA Mock Draft

The day is here! Numerous NBA teams are going to go out of their way to expose their incompetence tonight! We’re going to see picks that cost teams for years to come. We’ll see Michael Jordan pick someone he destroyed in 1 on 1, and maybe even called “a flaming f*ggot.” We probably will not see a franchise player drafted. We could see each of the top 3 picks traded on draft night. Whatever happens tonight, we will be ready. This is “the most unpredictable draft” Chad Ford has ever seen, and we still don’t even know who’s going number one. Tonight is sure to confuse many, and predicting the order of the draft this year is pretty much impossible. We will give our best shot here at a mock draft, but it will be based on who teams should select, combined with what we think will happen.

i1. Nerlens Noel
Despite all of the trade rumors, the Cavs will be forced to keep the pick and take Noel. Noel is not a bad prospect, but in most drafts, a 206 pound center with a torn ACL would not be selected first. The Cavs have talked about taking Noel, Len, and trading the pick, so it’s anyone’s guess what they’ll do with the pick. They should take Victor Oladipo, but they’ll most likely go with a big man here.

i2. Victor Oladipo
Oladipo was dubbed the safest prospect by the GMs in the league, and for good reason. At the very least, he will be an elite defender in the NBA. If he continues to develop his offense, namely his perimeter shooting, then he could be an all star. The Magic could be tempted to take McLemore here, but Oladipo is a far safer prospect with little chance of failing in the NBA.

Continue reading

Rating NBA Draft Prospects’ Bust Potential

Kwame Brown. Darko Milicic. Adam Morrison. What do these guys all have in common? Well, besides the fact that two of them were drafted by Michael Jordan. They’re some of the biggest busts in NBA history, of course! Sometimes it’s easy to spot a potential bust, but other times they come completely out of left field. Take Adam Morrison for example. No disrespect to the WCC, but he was not exactly facing stiff competition. He dominated the NCAA his junior year, putting up over 28 points per game, but came up very small in the tournament. And then tried to spin that in a positive light. All of the comparisons to Larry Bird were based solely on Morrison being a far from athletic, white jump shooter. In retrospect, it’s absurd that Morrison was the #5 pick in the draft, just another one of MJ’s brilliant personnel decisions over the years. Hindsight is 20/20, but the Morrison pick should’ve been more obvious. He was a one tool player. He was a scorer, but he was used to touching the ball every possession and being the go-to-guy, a role he would clearly never have in the pros. Morrison couldn’t handle the ball, couldn’t rebound, couldn’t play ANY defense, and didn’t come close to making his teammates better.

Was it really a surprise that this guy was a bust?
Was it really a surprise that this guy was a bust?

And yet what makes the Morrison case so frightening was that he wasn’t even drafted on that dreaded word that gets GMs fired: potential. More often than not, GMs will salivate over super athletic players who’ve yet to completely translate their athleticism onto the court. In other words, they’ve underachieved and often look like they’ve never played Basketball before, yet teams still believe it’s just a matter of time before these guys figure it out. This is not to knock athleticism as a guiding principle of drafting players, but sometimes actual college production and talent are overlooked at the expense of athleticism. How do you know you’re dealing with one of these guys? Well, there’s a few key phrases are sure-fire signs. If you hear phrases like “he has an NBA body,” “he hasn’t figured it out yet,” “he’s a tweener,” or “he needs to improve his motor” then stop whatever you’re doing, cover your eyes, and run. Sometimes these guys pan out, but more often than not, their potential is nothing but a pipe dream.

Marvin Williams had no business being a top 3 pick, but his ideal athletic 6'9 frame was too enticing for scouts to ignore.
Marvin Williams had no business being a top 3 pick, but his ideal athletic 6’9 frame was too enticing for scouts to ignore.

 

This year’s draft has been called perhaps the worst ever. There are no obvious franchise players or even future perennial all-stars like most years. Most scouts though believe there are many rotation guys in this draft and that the 30th pick may not be much different from the 3rd pick. Let’s take a look at the some of the players projected to go in the first round to see who some of the safest picks are, as well as the most likely busts. We will evaluate each player’s bust potential on a scale from 0-10, with 10 being a definite bust.

Continue reading

Lottery Breakdown

Ahh, it’s that time of the year again. The time of the year when the most incompetent franchises in the NBA pray that they’ll be gifted the absolutely unearned right to draft a great player. The draft is supposed to be a plac

e to get promising players who are very cheap. Unfortunately, many of the same teams find themselves in the lottery year after year, and are either hindered by bad luck or by delusional incompetence. (See: 2008-2009 Washington Wizards) This a useful example, if only because it is so absurdly idiotic and illustrates why every Wizards fan feels like this whenever Ernie Grunfeld is about to make a decision. It would not surprise me if some fans have in fact “lost their eyes,” being forced to watch the likes of Oleksiy Pecherov and Jan Vesely in the past few years. Anyway, the 2008-2009 Wiz give us a textbook example of a GM and team that are impatient and ridiculously delusional. We’re talking about a team coming off a 19-63 campaign. What does a 19 win team look like you ask? Well, we’re talking about a team 1) whose best player was bringing guns into the locker-room, 2) had a soon-to-be convicted murderer, and perhaps the worst indictment of all, 3) started Darius Songaila.  We’re looking at a historically dysfunctional team that needed to be dismantled ASAP. So what did manageme

nt do when it had the 5th pick in the draft and the chance to draft Stephen Curry? They did what any competent team would do: they traded the pick for two mediocre role players, Randy Foye and Mike Miller! The Wizards may have been 19-63 and the punchline of the NBA, but they were going all-in next season! What’s the point of this example? The point is that patience is key and trading away top picks is rarely worth it, unless it’s possible to acquire a franchise player in return. Sort of like how the Wizards had a chance last year to trade the #3 pick used on Brad Beal for JAMES HARDEN, one of the ten best players on earth. This year’s draft has been called one of the weakest of all time, and while that may be true, there will inevitably be very good NBA players somewhere in this draft. Let’s look at the best and worst case scenarios for each of the lottery teams in this draft whose top prospect is a 206 pound center with a torn ACL!

e4701g88mmn7ehz2baynbs6e0 

1. Cleveland Cavaliers

Best-Case Scenario: Victor Oladipo
Worst-Case Scenario: Nerlens Noel

Continue reading

Who would you build an NBA Franchise around? (Part 2)

If you missed it, Click here for Part 1.

Group 7a: Dinosaurs That Somehow Aren’t Extinct 

35. Kevin Garnett
34. Paul Pierce
33. Kobe Bryant
32. Tim Duncan
Despite KG’s injuries this year, he’s still one of the most reliable defensive anchors in all of Basketball. With KG, anything short of beating the Heat seems possible for the Celtics in the playoffs. Without KG? We’re talking about a five or six game series in favor of the Knicks. As far as Pierce is concerned, I’ll let Bill Simmons do the talking. Want to know how good Kobe was this year? Before getting hurt, even being owed $30 million as a 36 year old next year, it would have been hard to put outside the top 20. Kobe was on everyone’s MVP ballot until the day he got injured. And Duncan is one of the most remarkable players in NBA history. This guy just doesn’t wear down. He’s 36 years old and has a PER over 24. He’s putting up 18-10-3 in just 30 minutes per game. Would anyone really be shocked if three of these four guys were using deer antler spray?

Continue reading

Who would you build an NBA Franchise around?

Here’s the situation: you’re an NBA GM and you’re trying to draft from entire pool of NBA players to make your team as successful as possible. This obviously slightly rates how players are valued. Would you rather select Kobe Bryant at age 34 with a $30 million salary coming off of a torn achilles, or 24 year old James Harden, set to make $15 million next year? Would you rather have Dwyane Wade at age 31, making nearly $19 million, or 20 year old Kyrie Irving who’s still on his rookie deal? Further, would you rather have Russell Westbrook or Derrick Rose, coming off a torn ACL? Age, contract size, injury history, and potential all factor into your decision. Position matters too. Point guard is a very deep position, but center is not. But as the Heat showed us last season, small ball can work fine. If you have Lebron James, at least.

Running a successful NBA franchise isn’t easy. Well, it might be, but we’ll never know, when teams are run by people like this. After all, only nine different franchises have the title in the past 32 years. Going into each season, there’s usually only 3 or 4 teams that have a realistic shot at winning the title. Underdogs stand little chance when they have to beat a team four times out of seven. Usually the better team will advance in the playoffs. The league today is very top heavy– so much, that LeBron recently advocated contracting the league. The league wouldn’t be so uneven if not for teams habitually overpaying bad players (looking at you, Wizards), teams having to deal with whining superstars (sorry, Magic), and teams trading all their young assets for injured players (we know how you feel, 76ers). That’s why the size of contract, character of the player, and the injury history are all important in deciding who to build an NBA franchise around. Without further ado…

Continue reading

Four Prospects who should Go back to School

Every year a few college players declare for the draft and end up regretting their decision. Often, young players who aren’t ready will slip to the second round and be forced to fight an uphill battle of ever having a successful NBA career. However, other times it is harder to measure how poor the decision is when a player is drafted in the first round, receiving a guaranteed contract. When college prospects are gaging whether they want to declare for the draft though, they should focus on the chances they will receive a second contract, not a first. Last year, Austin Rivers was selected tenth overall, but hardly anyone would argue it was a good decision. He has had the worst NBA season ever.

Austin Rivers has been a bust so far.
Austin Rivers has been a bust so far.

Rivers has dodged criticism without a doubt, out of respect for Doc, who is among the most respected figures in the league. While Rivers managed to be a top ten pick, he has already been replaced by Greivis Vasquez, who has seized the opportunity, ranking third in the league in assists. Meanwhile, another player who managed to be drafted in the lottery, Kendall Marshall is also struggling to see the floor. Marshall was the most mature floor leader in the the country as a Sophomore at North Carolina, partly because he was surrounded by three other first round picks, but the Suns are a far cry from a competent NBA team. Running any offense through two borderline washed up big men in Luis Scola and Marcin Gortat, with absolutely insane Mike Beasley is never a good idea. This is the risk of declaring for the draft though. Being drafted by the right team is everything. No one expected Kawhi Leonard to be knockdown 3-point shooter this quickly in the NBA, but that’s what getting drafted by the Spurs will do. While every prospect would love to be drafted by the Spurs, unfortunately such teams as the Wizards and Bobcats exist and exist for the sole purpose of ruining players’ careers. Here are four prospects who would benefit from spending another year at college, despite possibly already being projected as lottery picks.

Continue reading