Saturday, June 27, 2009

10 Undrafted Players to keep an eye on

In no order:

Alade Aminu - defensive minded big man
Kevin Rogers - Athletic Combo Forward
Luke Nevill - 7-2, skilled center
Lee Cummard - lengthy small forward who can do it all
Dionte Christmas - natural scorer and lethal from long range
Tyrese Rice - undersized guard who can score in bunches
Micah Downs - uber-athletic wing who has potential
Jerel McNeal - combo guard who is a vicious defender
Paul Harris - PF in a SG's body, lumberjack body & solid defender
AJ Abrams - dead eye shooter, possibly best shooter that was draft eligible

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Kid Chocolate's 5x5

5 players who will be taken too low:
1) Brandon Jennings
2) Ty Lawson
3) Sam Young
4) Victor Claver
5) Derrick Brown

5 players who will be taken too high:
1) Jordan Hill
2) Jonny Flynn
3) BJ Mullens
4) Omri Casspi
5) Toney Douglas

5 second round sleepers:
1) Ahmad Nivins
2) Jermaine Taylor
3) Patrick Beverly
4) Nando de Colo
5) Dionte Christmas

5 International Players you've never heard of who will be drafted:
1) Vyacheslav (Slava) Kravtsov
2) Sergey Gladyr
3) Christian Eyenga
4) Emir Preldzic
5) Sergio Llull

5 NCAA Seniors who will fly under the radar:
1) Kevin Rogers
2) Lee Cummard
3) Alade Aminu
4) Micah Downs
5) Luke Nevill

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

WRG Mock Draft #30: Cleveland Cavaliers

There is no Cavaliers anymore. There is only LeBron.

He ate our franchise. Every decision we make, every second we waste, every dollar we commit relates directly to our ultimate ability to remain daily Witnesses.

So there are two roads to take here. We can take a young guy with potential and hedge a little so we still have some players on our team under thirty if LeBron bolts. That's risky because it's money we are spending that has nothing to do with getting the King to his rightful place above all others, ruling the world.

Or we could stash or trade the pick so we can focus every resource on bringing people in here that can get help our guy get where he is bent on going. The problem with that is that we don't want to be paying tax on an old, expensive losing team with no hope of improving should LeBron leave.

What we are going to do is get a player here that we think can turn into a decent scorer - both down low and on the perimeter. A young, hard-working, versitile big man that - unlike others we were considering with this pick - has legitimate size for the PF position. We believe he can give our team an added dimension we are seriously lacking.

Our pick is Jeff Pendergraph, who would have to lock LeBron in his trunk to be any factor in keeping him in town, but we feel is a step in the direction of reclaiming our franchise from the ravaging monster that has all but consumed it.

And if we and do that, we like our chances of keeping that big, bad all-consuming meanie in town.

"Number 4 sucks! I demand number 23!"

That concludes the first round of the draft.

I'd like to introduce Ru--

Huh? Who the hell is ADAM SILVER??!!

WRG Mock Draft #29: Los Angeles Lakers

Fresh off a championship, we are still in coast mode. We haven't been focusing on the draft, because we were too busy admiring our championship trophy.

We have a couple off-season questions. Lamar Odom and Trevor Ariza are free agents. Derek Fisher is getting old. We could use some frontcourt depth. But who cares, we are the Lakers, dammit, and we just won the championship!

We aren't sure if we are going to be able to keep both LO and Ariza, so we are going to draft a player that we think has great potential, a team first attitude, an outstanding motor, and great hair.

The Los Angeles Lakers select:
Shake ya dreads!

DeMarre Carroll, F, Missouri

Kurt Rambis, meet DeMarre Carroll.

WRG Mock Draft #28: Minnesota Timberwolves

Skippy the T-Wolves intern, here. stage...with...these...damn...envelopes.

Alright, I've got my breath now. Gotta cut back on those cancer sticks. Let me take a peek in here. Who's gonna know? That loud guy over there eating Cheez Doodles? He's too busy rolling his eyes at the bald dude on TV yelling in front of a palm tree and a poster of JJ Redick.

Slllloooowwwwly. Not too oooooobvious, now.

O-M-R-I C-A-S-S-P-I. Never heard of him. Sounds French. I dunno. Should I go back and make sure this isn't somebody's lunch order? Uh-oh. Too late. That little bossy guy just ripped the thing right out of my hand! He sure is impatient.

I heard somebody smart say we have too many rookies and we could use a tough player who has a 'stache overseas for a few years. I don't know too many tough French guys, especially with 'staches. Maybe I'm the smart one and that guy was a tool. Whatever. I need to rest for the second round. Man, I miss that second round pick reader dude that used to work here. Wonder where he is?

Eh. Peace, suckas. Skippy out.

Coming to the Hennepin County Gun Show, 2011.

The Los Angeles Lakers are on the clock.

WRG Mock Draft #27: Memphis Grizzlies

We snagged an incredibly talented 2 guard with our first pick. Now we need to address a specific need. An athletic, shot blocking power forward.

We need a power forward in the worst way, and there are a couple guys we like that can play next to Marc Gasol. As aforementioned, we prefer someone athletic and that can block shots. We want someone with a track record. We know who we want, and we've zeroed in on him.

With the 27th pick the Memphis Grizzlies select:
Don't bring that weak tot action!

Taj Gibson, PF, USC

Taj is 24 years old, but we aren't drafting for upside this late. He can come in and fill a specific need that we have. He has a proven record of being an above average shot blocker while at USC. It's also a bonus that he played with OJ Mayo at USC, so they will have some previous experience playing with each other.

The Minnesota Timberwolves are on the clock.

WRG Mock Draft #26: Chicago Bulls

With our last pick, we bolstered our frontcourt by adding some toughness and bulk. We love how active we are up front.

Now we have to face a hard reality. We have been dancing with Ben Gordon for years. We offered him a huge contract that he (unwisely, it turns out) rejected, and ever since our relationship has been a bit - um - uncomfortable.

We have a pretty nice roster, and, frankly there are some players we would like to draft and stash in Europe for a while.

But what has happened here is that a player we were prepared to draft at #16 has fallen to us here, and he is such a nice fit for us that we think he could equal a few wins this season - with lots of room for future development. We think it would be positively irresponsible to let this opportunity go. We would love to save some bucks in the short term, but passing up an inexpensive player we can control for several years who we feel will be starter quality is something we think is just bad business.

So we hedge our bets and take our gift - a sweet-shooting, big-time combo guard that could either compliment or be a natural replacement for Ben Gordon.

The Chicago Bulls select Jeff Teague. We know it would cost us if we didn't.

Is the zero for gravity - or players with him in the green room?

The Memphis Grizzlies are on the clock.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

WRG Mock Draft #25: Oklahoma City Thunder

We addressed our inside needs already with Hasheem Thabeet.

We still have one other major need. Someone who can shoot and spread the ball from the shooting guard position. We want someone who can spread the ball and stroke it from downtown, while being unselfish enough to play within our system. This shooter can open up the floor for Kevin Durant, as well as Russell Westbrook's driving skills. Thabo Sefolosha is defensively minded, and Desmond Mason is a free agent, so this need is fairly obvious and simple.

With the 25th pick, the Oklahoma City Thunder select:
Hands off! Only I can stroke it!

Wayne Ellington, SG, UNC

This pick was very easy for us. He's arguably one of the best shooters in the draft (after Stephen Curry, maybe) and played on a championship team, where he didn't let his ego get the best of him and played within the team concept. We like this and know that Wayne can open up the floor for our other scorers, while not complaining about touches.

The Bulls are on the clock.

Monday, June 22, 2009

WRG Mock Draft #24: Portland Trail Blazers

No need to overthink this pick.

We need a point guard. He has to play meaningful minutes right away. We plan to be deep into the playoffs this year, so he has to be the kind of guy who won't be phased by that atmosphere. We need him to play great defense and make the other team's point guard work hard. He has to be able to run our offense and fit seamlessly with our many different lineups.

We also have a lot of young star players, so he can't have a big ego and he has to be used to playing with bigger stars and making them better. And he has to be a good enough shooter to draw a committed defensive assignment.

Oh, yeah. We'd also like it if he could shoot about 90% from the line.

Sound like we are asking too much from the 24th pick? Sound like we should have moved up? Well, it turns out we didn't have to.

The Portland Trail Blazers select Darren Collison - our made to order PG delivered hot and fresh to us right here at the bottom of the first round.

"OK, we'll take #2. That means the nerd in the mask is the rotten egg!"

The Oklahoma City Thunder are on the clock.

WRG Mock Draft #23: Sacramento Kings

With our first pick of the night, we got our point guard of the future in Ricky Rubio. Now we can look to fill in the blanks and other needs.

We have young developing big men that we've recently drafted (Jason Thompson, Spencer Hawes). We don't feel that it's a pressing need to add more youth to our frontcout. We can only spend so much on diapers.

We want to take a player who can give us minutes and fit in with our uptempo style that Paul Westphal will surely implement.

With the 22nd pick, the Sacramento Kings select:
From G-Town to Paul Westphal? WOOOOO!

DaJuan Summers, F, Georgetown

We believe DaJuan Summers is an absolute steal at this point, especially as a fit to our team. Playing in Georgetowns methodical offense, his talents were masked, and he's shown in workouts that he will be fantastic in a more uptempo setting. He has a great body and can play the PF position, while spreading the floor, as well as the SF spot.

The Portland Trailblazers are on the clock.

WRG Mock Draft #22: Dallas Mavericks

This offseason is generally regarded as the expiration date of our title run.

We spent more money than anyone and took more risks than anyone to keep our window open, but now it appears to be slammed shut.

However, it's tough to just give up and retreat into lottery-land when we have a couple of real advantages over other franchises.

1. Our franchise player is playing some of his best basketball. If we can get him back to the playoffs, we feel like we have a chance to beat anyone.

2. The cap is going down, salaries are tight, and we are one of the very few teams that will even consider paying the luxury tax. We will pay players that other teams won't, and we think the lack of buyers in the market can keep our roster competitive.

That means regardless of whether we sign our own free agents or make deals to acquire players to replace them, we think we will have a very good starting lineup.

So we aren't looking at the draft as the main tool to fill our roster. We just want a quality player who we think will help us this season and is young enough to grow with us when we eventually rebuild. The top player left on our board is the the strongest, toughest guy available. Regardless of position, that feeds our need.

The Dallas Mavericks select DeJuan Blair, who we thought would be long gone by now - sort of the same way the rest of the league feels about us.

You don't need knee ligaments when you have balls.

The Sacramento Kings are on the clock.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

WRG Mock Draft #21: New Orleans Hornets

Depth is an issue for us. We have issues at almost every position. CP3 needs help. David West and Tyson Chandler are our starting front-court, but they are injury prone, and we don't really have any quality backups on the front-line.

James Posey is the only quality backup we have, and one of the best bench players in the league, but the player who starts in front of him is also aging and injury prone (Peja Stojakovic). Antonio Daniels is an adequate backup at the point, especially since we don't need him to run the show for long, as Chris Paul is one of, if not THE best point guard in the league.

We could go with a number of players in this position, but we are in a position of drafting the best player available, as we need general depth help at every position.

We could look for a long term replacement at the shooting guard position, but in a generally weak draft, the 21st pick isn't going to net us anyone that we like THAT much, so instead we are going to take a little bit of a chance on someone with potential.

With the 21st pick the New Orleans select:
Being 7 foot just made me millions of dollars!

BJ Mullens, C, Ohio State

BJ Mullens addresses help in the frontcourt, and although many people fear that he's years away, we love grabbing someone with his potential at the 21st pick. We are confident that Chris Paul will speed up his development, as well as supply him with easy dunks, especially with Mullens' combination of height and athleticism, at the rim. If Chris Paul and Tyson Chandler can regularly connect on a gazillion alley oops every year, we are foaming at the mouth to see how many this athletic mustachioed man can.

The Dallas Mavericks are on the clock.

WRG Mock Draft: #20, Utah Jazz

Well, we know who our coach is going to be next season, but that's about it.

We have no idea what our roster will look like on opening day. We are talking to every team in the league every day about trades, we have several guys who may or may not opt out of their contracts, and the players we know will be here have had injury concerns.

However, our coach? He is a constant. We know what we need to give him for him to be successful. He needs guards and forwards who live to run the pick and roll, good spot up shooters, a few hustle guys who play physical and are aggressive help defenders, and smart, coachable players who can pick up what he's laying down quickly.

Right now, we need help in all those areas. Our frontcourt is basically non-existent (but we do have a young star we are going to do everything in our power to re-sign). We have a superstar guard and a decent up-and-comer - but not much else in the backcourt. Our wings are solid but unspectacular - and we are thin there as well.

So we feel like we have to improve everywhere, but we won't know the most important area to attack until after the draft (Thanks to the geniuses in the NBA office who made the opt-out deadline June 30. Really. Thanks.).

That means we have to take a guy here who can play right away, shores us up in more than one area, and will enthusiastically play Jerry Sloan basketball without any fuss.

There are a few guards we love at this pick. Deron Williams is our greatest asset and a long-term backup for him is a priority. He is also very good playing off the ball and we like to have him out there without running him ragged for the whole game. However, we think we can address our backcourt through other means. We'd like a veteran in that spot for now, and we think we have the assets to find one.

That allows us to bring in a guy who we feel is a perfect fit for us. He can play all over the court, he is tough as nails and strong enough to be a pick-and-roll monster, he's a great shooter who can drive defenders nuts by drifting out and nailing a mid-range shot instead of rolling to the rim, he can very effectively spot up from three point range, he can defend three positions, and he brings a terrific veteran (he is only a year younger than Deron, after all) presence and attitude that we traditionally look for in our players.

The Utah Jazz select Sam Young.

Is it irony that the oldest player in this draft is named Young? We don't know, because we are unclear about what irony exactly is. What we do know is Utah Jazz basketball, and this guy has it in his DNA.

These questions were all about time travel.

The New Orleans Hornets are on the clock

WRG Mock Draft, #19: Atlanta Hawks

We have a lot of question marks this off-season. Mike Bibby, Zaza Pachulia, Flip Murray, and Marvin Williams are all free agents. We drafted Acie Law a couple years ago, after passing on Deron Williams and Chris Paul, but aren't thrilled with the progress (saying he's made progress is being nice) he's made. We still have a glaring hole at point guard. Mike Bibby has been a nice stopgap fix, but he's 31 years old, and we don't have any other point guards that we feel comfortable trusting.

Center is also a position we could use help at. If Pachulia leaves, we are in a big bind. Al Horford can play some minutes, but he's more of a 4. We aren't really thrilled at any of the center options in this guard heavy draft, so we don't want to go this direction with the 19th pick. BJ Mullens is on our board, but after the major screw ups we've pulled in past drafts, we don't want to take that risk.

We look to the point guards, and one point guard on our list is above the others at this pick. We lightly considered Jeff Teague, but we want more of a sure thing in someone who has produced over a period of time, and hasn't just had one big year.

With the 19th pick, the Atlanta Hawks select:
Get Low, Get Low!

Eric Maynor, PG, VCU

Maynor has improved his game throughout his time at VCU, and is remembered for making a huge shot to sink Duke in the NCAA tournament as a sophomore. We feel that we FINALLY found our point guard of the future, and view Maynor as a solid guard, who will have a long career and knows how to run a team.

The Utah Jazz are on the clock.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

WRG Mock Draft: #18, Minnesota Timberwolves

Jefferson, Love, Gomes, Foye, Brewer and (probably) Telfair. That's our entire roster going into 2010-11.

Here are the first five things you don't see on that list --

1. A Center
2. A starting PG
3. Size in the backcourt
4. Size in the frontcourt
5. Some kind of plan if Foye is injured

So we have a lot of work to do. We don't see a lot of free agents lining up to play in Minneapolis, so the way we improve is through trades and the draft.

Lucky for us, there are a lot of teams out there who covet expiring contracts, which we are in a position to offer in trade. We think we are on the right side of this market as there seem to be a lot more sellers out there than buyers.

We also have a bunch of draft picks - and we addressed a huge need with our first pick, landing a nice young PG with size.

So we have options when it comes to plugging our holes, but we don't see a lot of great options for doing so with this pick. We would love to have an above-the-rim athlete for our frontcourt or a legit big man, but our board has none of the former at this point in the draft and only one of the latter - and we consider him a huge project that is so far away from contributing that we would need to acquire a mediocre player to bridge the time gap so we don't have to actually play him. For us, that's hardly ideal.

So we go to the top of our board and take a guy who is a good prospect with skills we can use right now. We don't think we can get a young guy with this much potential any other way, and we think that his top-tier height at SF will help our vertically-challenged frontcourt rotation with matchups.

The Minnesota Timberwolves select Austin Daye.

"Eat it, Morris. I'm moving to Minnesota!"

The Atlanta Hawks are on the clock.

WRG Mock Draft #17: Philadelphia 76ers

With Andre Miller an unrestricted free agent, we aren't really sure what he's going to do. If he leaves, our starting point guard would have to be Lou Williams. We don't even really view Lou Williams as a point guard, so that puts us in a quandry. Point Guard is an obvious need. The frontcourt is also a need after trading Reggie Evans, but we've drafted big men in the past 2 drafts (Jason Smith, Marreese Speights).

We finally figured out last year that we can have a lot of success as an uptempo team. Even though we are stuck with Elton Brand's enormous contract, we know how we can win games: by playing at a very fast pace. We primarily want a point guard who can come in and team with our new coach (Eddie Jordan) to take the reigns. We want a winner and someone who can play in an up-tempo system. Our choice here is simple.

How many cheese steaks could he fit in there?

Ty Lawson, PG, UNC

If Andre Miller decides Philly isn't the place for him, we are confident that Ty can come in and have an immediate impact. With Andre Iguodola, Lou Williams, and Thaddeus Young, he'll have some running mates and won't be counted on as a primary scoring option, just as he wasn't at UNC. He's shown that he can run a successful uptempo team and is a winner, and we love that.

Even if Andre Miller stays, we love the potential of Ty Lawson to eventually take over as our point guard of the future. His value is too good to pass here.

Minnesota is on the clock.

Friday, June 19, 2009

WRG Mock Draft: #16, Chicago Bulls

It was a good year for the Chicago Bulls. We hit it big in the draft with Derrick Rose, who was the top rookie in a stellar class. We made the playoffs despite a lot of injuries and a novice head coach - and when we got there, our team competed hard and played a tough, memorable series with the defending champs. And now we can finally start planning for our future because there will be a resolution to the Ben Gordon situation that's plagued us for years.

Even if we have to replace Gordon, our team has a glaring weakness - toughness up front - that we feel must be addressed in this draft. We have a lot of athletic, active forwards, but none of them can operate in the paint. We need some bulk inside.

At this point, there are two choices we feel are worthy of this selection. We like DeJuan Blair. He is an extremely strong rebounder and defensive presence who compliments our frontcourt players nicely. He is shorter than we'd like, but it isn't a dealbreaker for us. We feel his incredible standing reach and his brute strength will allow him to do the job just fine. We feel the drawbacks with him are the long-term health of his knees and his conditioning. We don't think he can play the kind of minutes we need at full effectiveness, even though he has slimmed down in the last few months. We also can't find his ACLs on the scans we have of his knees, and that is a dealbreaker for us.

That leaves our board with only one name, and it's not a coincidence he played for the country's most successful college program. We love drafting winners, and this guy it's virtually impossible to find a bigger one than this guy. We also feel he is an underrated athlete and like that he has a decent offensive game. The Bulls haven't had anyone for years that could score inside, and we think he can take advantage of some matchups we can create for him down there. He isn't the rebounder or defender Blair is, but he isn't bad in those areas, either. In our view, the tradeoff for the better offense and durability is worth it.

The Bulls select "Psycho T", Tyler Hansbrough - the only guy we know of in this draft who had his jersey hanging from the rafters of his college gym last season.

You should see the other guy.

The Philadelphia 76ers are on the clock.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

WRG Mock Draft, #15: Detroit Pistons

Our team is getting old. We have too many free agents. We have needs everywhere. We are truly in a position to go with the best player available.

We are going to throw a lot of money this offseason at Paul Millsap. With Jason Maxiell already on board, and the pursuit of Millsap set to begin, we don't have a need for anymore undersized power forwards. Sorry DeJuan Blair.

Allen Iverson and Rasheed Wallace are free agents. Antonio McDyess, as well. We have a lot of question marks. We are electing to go with the best available player approach, as we have needs bascially everywhere and need to inject our roster with youth. We want to get back to our championship style roots of a few years ago: players who play tough defense and give our team a defensive core for the future to fit in with Tayshaun Prince and Rodney Stuckey. Clearly one player fits this mold.

With the 15th pick, the Detroit Pistons select:
Detroit wants me!

Gerald Henderson, SG, Duke

We look to the future with a perimeter trio of Tayshaun Prince, Rodney Stuckey, and Gerald Henderson. Henderson can come in immediately and give us solid minutes off the bench spelling our wing players. Richard Hamilton isn't getting younger, and to maximize his abilities, we need to decrease his minutes, and Henderson is quite capable of playing from day 1.

WRG Mock Draft: #14, Phoenix Suns

Excuse us if we are in an ornery mood, but the Suns are in a real jam right now.

We saw the window closing two years ago and we got rid of the pebble in our shoe that was Shawn Marion. Instead of taking back an expiring deal and some future picks, we felt we had one last good try in us and acquired Shaq and about $65M of his salary instead.

It didn't work. We have no regrets.

We then tried to transition into a more traditional style of play with a new coach last year. That alienated our players - and to head off a revolt, we had to back down and bring back our old, turbo-paced, stat-bloating system they loved so much.

So right now we have a lot of expensive players we don't want and can't afford, a group of young players playing a system we really don't want them to get comfortable with, and no idea who will be on our team when the season starts - never mind what our long-term identity will be.

So yeah, we are grumpy.

This situation calls for us to simplify, so here's what we're thinking.

Richardson, Barbosa, Dragic and Lopez are our core right now. We have the assets to add a few nice pieces. We believe that will include at least one All-Star quality player.

So we need a guy that can play up front in a high-tempo system, yet be able to adjust to a slower pace in the future. We like Dragic, but we could also use another point guard to potentially replace the cornerstone of our franchise - who may or may not be here, but either way is winding down his career.

So we go to the board, and we see some nice guards, but everyone we wanted this high is gone.

That's fine with us, because a big man with potential to grow is a more urgent need for us, and there is one remaining that we think - in time - can be a star.

And since we have no idea how everything will turn out, we can afford to be patient.

The Phoenix Suns select James Johnson, a big combo forward who is a great fit for us right now - and is versatile enough to grow with us no matter what we become.

Out came the Suuuns and dried up all the rain...

The Detroit Pistons are on the clock.

WRG Mock Draft, #13: Indiana Pacers

Many people look at us and say "The Pacers need a point guard". Jarret Jack is hitting free agency, TJ Ford is injury prone, and we've banished Jamaal Tinsley to Elba. Travis Diener is nothing more than a backup at best. In a point guard heavy draft, we obviously are going to take a point guard, right? WRONG.

We would have happily snatched up Jrue, Brandon, Jonny, Ricky, Tyreke, or Stephen if they somehow fell to us...but they didn't. After these guys, we feel there is a dropoff on our draft board in point guards. TJ Ford is small and has injury problems, and Ty Lawson is shorter than him (he also has a couple injury concerns of his own). Eric Maynor only weighs 2 pounds heavier than TJ Ford. We don't want to take a chance with that. None of these available point guards tickle our fancy enough to "reach" for them right here.

We would like get some toughness and height inside, and while we like DeJuan Blair, we are frightened by his knee issues more than we let on. Mike Dunleavy has knee issues. Danny Granger reportedly had knee issues. Marquis Daniels had knee issues. If we take Blair, we will take a huge cap hit and have to sign on Dr. James Andrews as our trainer.

With the 13th pick, the Indiana Pacers select:

I'm gonna take advantage of the mismashes.

Earl Clark, F, Louisville

While we weren't thrilled with Earl Clark's interviews (who was?), we do like his versatility and athleticism. He can come in and play the 3 and 4, as well as be a player who can orchestrate offense. With Mike Dunleavy, Earl Clark, and Roy Hibbert, we can put a lineup out there with 3 outstanding passers who aren't point guards, and get the ball to Danny Granger, an elite scorer. Clark also has shown he can run the floor, and we want to make sure our pick can run, as we play at one of the fastest paces in the league.

WRG Mock Draft: #12, Charlotte Bobcats

It's not saying much, but last year was the Bobcats' best season ever. During the season, we felt like we had some real momentum. After all, it took us five long years to get to those 35 wins, and we've always won more games than the year before. When it was over, we were sure we were on the doorstep of the playoffs.

But after the season, when we evaluated our roster, we started feeling a little less optimistic. We have a hard-nosed, versatile wing who we think is an All-Star, and we have some guys who do a great job playing the roles we ask them to play, but what we don't have is a real star player.

Plus, our roster is unbalanced. We have too many small PGs and backup types, not enough size up front, and we have virtually no wing players.

Add that to our very real durability concerns about almost every player on our team and our lack of financial flexibility, and - Hey! What happened to that momentum? Ugh. We aren't better!

Man, why are we so bad at tanking? We keep ending up in the low lottery. We need a potential superstar wing to sell tickets. He needs to be exciting, built for the NBA, a prime-time scorer and elite athlete who can play in our system and make enough of an impact to give our franchise a face.

And you just can't get a player like that picking 12th, unless you are incredibly, unbelievably lucky.

The incredibly, unbelievably lucky Bobcats buck the odds and select DeMar DeRozan. (Who we would have taken much higher if we were one of those cheating tankers up at the top of this draft. We consider this our karmic reward.)

This shot probably didn't go in, or I would have been gone by now.

The Indiana Pacers are on the clock.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

WRG Mock Draft #11: New Jersey Nets

After hitting a home run with last year's pick, Brook Lopez, we hope that these types of picks become the norm and not the exception. With no big men falling to us, we don't want to take someone who will be stuck in a rotation with the other youngsters that we have playing the 4, Yi Jianlian and Ryan Anderson.

We need to look at positional needs as well as players who can do certain things. We'd like to have someone who can initiate offense and take some of the pressure off Vince Carter. This screams point guard. With all the top point guards on our board being gobbled up before our pick, we are disappointed one didn't fall to us, but we do have other positions to look for.

We look to the wing positions and see that DeMar Derozan has slipped into our lap, but while we've had a track record of drafting from the Pac-10 (Ryan Anderson, Brook Lopez, Jason Collins, Brian Scalabrine), we see him as a long ways away and may never live up to his potential. There's one option that we like at this pick, someone who can play multiple positions, give us some back court toughness and initiate offense.

With the 11th pick the New Jersey Nets select:

Thumbs up for being a lottery pick.

Terrence Williams, GF, Louisville

Terrence Williams can give us minutes at the 1, 2, AND 3. We love his versatility, athleticism, and rebounding abilities. He's a hard nosed player who we can run an offense with and can take pressure off of Devin Harris and especially Vince Carter. He also can run like a gazelle and will thrive on the fast break with Devin Harris.

The Charlotte Bobcats are on the clock.

WRG Mock Draft: #10, Milwaukee Bucks

No organization is perfect. We gather the information, assess the situation, and make the decision we think is best for us at the time.

Even the best of us don't always make the right calls. You can research and dig and be as diligent as you can - but sometimes you need a little luck to carry you through. In the last few years, our organization has had precious little of that.

We are in a slump. We paid too much money to players we thought would help us, and now we can't pay the ones that are. We drafted guys we really loved and thought would help us, but they just haven't worked out the way we planned. (But, hey! We did get a few things right. We drafted a kid with a low pick that won us some games, and we are very happy with our coach and the way he gets our guys to fight!)

So now we are in a bit of a mess. We can't afford to keep our starting PF and our backcourt has been decimated. We need help.

We had our eye on the 6th best PG on our board. We interviewed him, watched his tape, got a feel for his game. We got a great vibe from him. Honestly, we sort of settled on him before the draft. But... we didn't give him a promise. After all, he was our sixth ranked guy at his position - heck, the last six picks are at his position - and there have only been nine picks.

What's happened here is kind of a mitzvah for us. We don't have to make the tough decision. The draft has done the work for us. We can break free of the shackles of our instincts, make a sudden stop and send this monkey on our backs hurling headlong into a vat of golden, delicious, foamy Genuine Draft.

And we address a huge need for our team in the process.

So we forgo taking our sixth ranked point guard and select the second power forward on our board.

The Milwaukee Bucks knock wood, cross our fingers, sink our teeth into the big, juicy brat of life and select Jordan Hill. Thanks, lottery teams, for all but forcing us to do it.

Look! Snow!

The New Jersey Nets are on the clock.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

WRG Mock Draft, #9: Toronto Raptors

With the trade of Kapono for Reggie Evans, the Raptors secured a quality backup in Reggie Evans to give them some toughness, hustle, and a dirty worker inside. Trading Kapono gives the team from the Great White North a dearth of players who can play the 2 and the 3.

With Jordan Hill dropping, we strongly consider him here to shore up our frontcourt and possibly groom him as a future cog if Chris Bosh bolts after the season. DeMar Derozan is also an option, as he can slide right into a need position, but we fear that he's a little ways from contributing, and we want someone to come in and help us compete for a playoff spot, as well as show Chris Bosh that we can compete with the hopes of keeping him around. Taking a player who plays the same positoin as CB4 will probably accomplish the complete opposite, so Hill is out of the equation.

With the 9th pick, the Toronto Raptors select:
Tyreke Evans, G, Memphis

Tyreke is mature enough physically to handle the rigors of the NBA, and can play both guard positions. Not only can he play the 2-guard next to Calderon, but he's a significant upgrade at the point guard position for spot minutes, as he'll come in and instantly be our second best PG. Hopefully he can add some excitement and scoring to help convince Chris Bosh to stick around past this season.

WRG Mock Draft: #8, New York Knicks

The Knicks have one simple goal - year two of the Mike D'Antoni era will not also be year two of the Chris Duhon era.

It's impossible to think of this coach without thinking immediately of the player who helped him to 232 wins in his four full seasons in the desert - and it's impossible to think of Steve Nash without your mind's spotlight shining on the man who made him a two-time MVP.

Well, this is a deep draft for point guards - but even if we had the first pick, there is no Steve Nash waiting here for us.

But, hey! We aren't upset. The teams in front of us have snapped up the immediate contributors, and they have left us with the guys who need some time to develop. We have a very young core, and our management staff is as secure as any in the league (Even Isiah couldn't get canned from this gig!). We need a guy with talent. Lots of it. We'll show him how to use it.

So we have a choice. Do we take a smaller, flashier guy with tons of talent and a pass-first attitude or a stronger, bigger scorer who has the potential to make everyone on our team better if we can get him to pass the ball?

Neither of them have the jumper we prefer, but we aren't going one more minute without our franchise PG.

All things being equal, we like the tougher, more durable defender - but defense isn't our first priority and we don't think all things are equal. What it boils down to is that we are taking the guy with the instinct to run the show over the guy whose instinct is to be the show.

The New York Knicks select Brandon Jennings - the best raw material we can get. Now let's see our master sculpter earn his money.

Brandon Jennings shows he prefers Euros to Lira.

The Toronto Raptors are on the clock.

WRG Mock Draft #7: Golden State Warriors

The Warriors immediately look to fill a pressing need at the #7 pick: a pure point guard.

With Monta Ellis and Jamal Crawford in the current guard rotation, we're looking for a true point guard who can initiate our offense, run in the full court and be a leader on the floor. Our coach doesn't like to play young rookies much, so we want someone who can immediately come in and take the reigns of this team and be a leader on the floor.

With our GM on a mission to improve the team as quickly as possible in order to save his own job, we want someone who can contribute from day 1. Brandon Jennings has the talent to be considered here, but we don't think he can be the guy to come in and be that leader right away.

Tyreke Evans also has good value here, but we fear he'd clash with Monta Ellis and isn't that pure point that we covet.

One guy sticks out in this area like a sore thumb and is the obvious pick.

With the #7 pick the Warriors select:
Jonny Flynn, PG, Syracuse

We feel that Jonny Flynn can come in, and allow Monta Ellis to play his more natural off the ball position, as well as be that vocal leader we want. He can come in and make an immediate impact in the half court, as well as showcase his athleticism in the full cout. We are thrilled to take a natural leader with this pick.

The New York Knicks are on the clock.

WRG Mock Draft: #6, Minnesota Timberwolves

The Timberwolves are not thrilled with how this draft has gone.

We need a center to make our franchise player's life a little easier, but we only liked one in the whole draft - and he's predictably gone.

There was a flashy guard we thought would be perfect alongside Randy Foye. Maybe we even tried to trade up to get him. We don't want to make our pick feel unwelcome, though - so we'll deny that if you ask.

Then we decided that a versatile guard with a killer jump shot would be a great fit for us and a very nice compliment to the inside attack of Jefferson and the strong driving game of Foye.

Eh. That last pick threw us a bit.

So we have the sixth pick and now are working on our fourth choice.

But all is not lost! We liked Stephen Curry because of his maturity and his jumper - but there were also things we didn't like. He and Foye would make a small backcourt. We had durability concerns with him. More importantly, though, we thought he was the safe choice. We believed he would be good for us, but we had a lingering feeling that we could regret not taking a player with the potential to be better.

So we now look to a versatile guard who has ideal size, the smarts to play in any system, and can handle the ball and run our offense. We don't think of him as a combo guard like the other choices. We think he's a pure point that can also be effective playing off the ball when Foye is drawing fouls at the end of quarters. We also feel he is a plus defender and rebounder, which we need. We see signs his jumper can come around. We hope it does.

The Minnesota Timberwolves enthusiastically select Jrue Holiday. We're sure this will work out just fine.

That's right. You're number six!

The Golden State Warriors are on the clock.

Monday, June 15, 2009

WRG Mock Draft #5: Washington Wizards

The Wizards are an interesting case. Gilbert Arenas is coming back from injury, and with Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler, they have a solid core of veteran players. This pick will be shopped heavily, and it might not wind up as the Wizards pick on draft night, as they've reportedly said they want to add a veteran to make a run NOW, and not bring in a rookie.

Alas, there won't be any trading this pick here. The Wizards need some front line depth and help, and could also use a point guard. With the front line candidates being very thin in this draft, especially at the top, no one tickles our fancy enough to justify taking them with the 5th pick, so we look to another need: point guard. This works out, especially with all of the point guard prospects available.

Brandon Jennings is in play here, but we want someone who can come in NOW and help contribute to a playoff run, so we don't think taking him would be the best idea.

We do see one player who we feel can come in and help our team right now, as well as fill a need, so the Washington Wizards select:
Stephen Curry, G, Davidson

With Arenas able to play the 1 or 2, we add another player who needs to prove he can play the point guard spot, but won't be counted on full time to play the 1, as him and Gilbert are interchangeable in the back court. With Curry being high in demand, this selection also does not throw out the possibility of a trade. Curry is a proven talent at the collegiate level, albeit at a small school, but did show the poise to produce on the grandest stage. We feel that he can come in, play right away, and fill a need.

The Minnesota Timberwolves are on the clock.

WRG Mock Draft: #4, Sacramento Kings

The Kings are jumping up and down because we need a PG and now we have our choice of all of them.

PG is the strongest and deepest position in this draft. There are several to choose from and they come in many different flavors. There are flashy distributors, bull-strong scorers, solid all-arounders and guys representing every color in the intangibles rainbow - good and bad.

The player we want, though, is the one most likely to make our guys better. We have a talent deficit. We have solid developing bigs and a big-time scorer, but we go into almost every game with less talent than the other team. That's tough.

So we are swinging for the fences and taking the player that has the most star potential of the remaining players - maybe all of the players - in this draft.

And we are happy he's at the position we need and that he wants to play for us.

The Kings select Ricky Rubio.

Rubio is hungry to play for the Kings.

The Washington Wizards are on the clock.

WRG Mock Draft: #3, Oklahoma City Thunder

With the Grizzlies taking Harden, the Thunder are very disappointed that they couldn't get the player they were targeting. Drafting a PG who struggles with his outside shot was SO last year with Russell Westbrook, so I wouldn't draft Ricky Rubio.

The Thunder could use a 2 guard, or some help on the front line, especially at the center position, especially after their trade for Tyson Chandler fell through. With no real shot blocking threats down low, a defensive shot blocking center is a huge need, especially next to an undersized Jeff Green.

If Harden is off the board, the Thunder select:

Hasheem Thabeet, C, UConn

Trotting out a lineup with the trio of Westbrook, Durant, and Green, scoring isn't an immediate need. Thabeet will man the center position and help be an eraser on the defensive end, which is something that the Thunder need. Nenad Krstic is the only other center on the roster, and he's more of a jumpshooting big man who doesn't like to get dirty inside, so Thabeet is the pick. He'll add a defensive presence down low and with the defenses constantly focusing on the perimeter scorers, it'll open up some easy dunks for him inside.

The Sacramento Kings are on the clock.

WRG Mock Draft: #2, Memphis Grizzlies

The Grizz got a little bit hosed by moving up in the lottery. They have to pay more for whoever they take, and there really isn't a great fit for them at the top of this draft.

As a matter of fact, what they really need is some steady veteran leadership to mix in with their extremely young and inconsistent core.

If I'm using the pick, however, I think the best things I could accomplish is to make the frontcourt tougher defensively or to take a complimentary guard to pair with our best player, OJ Mayo.

Since I would not spend a pick this high on Hasheem Thabeet (who I consider a mid-first round project), frontcourt toughness will have to be addressed another way.

That leaves me with a choice of guards to play with Mayo. Mayo can play off the ball, but he is a playmaker and we want him to be an offensive initiator. That eliminates all the guards who need the ball to be effective. Take those away, and you are effectively left with one choice this high in the draft.

The Grizzlies select James Harden.

He's not a perfect fit, and honestly he could be taken lower, but he has almost no bust potential and I feel very good about our guard rotation going forward. Now I can focus on the other huge holes in the team.

The Oklahoma City Thunder is on the clock.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

WRG Mock Draft: #1, Los Angeles Clippers

ghoti and myself will be conducting a mock draft, taking turns picking for teams. To be clear, this is not how we predict the draft to go, but rather we will be taking the approach that we are the GM for that team, and if we were in that position, this is who we would draft, as if we are in charge.
Without further ado, I'll start it off with the Los Angeles Clippers and the first overall pick.

With the first overall pick, the Los Angeles Clippers select:

Blake Griffin, PF, Oklahoma

If you have the #1 pick, you take the best player, period. Blake Griffin is far and away the best prospect in this draft. With a stunning combination of power and athleticism, he looks like a perennial all-star for years to come. Easy choice.

The Memphis Grizzlies are on the clock.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Myth of the Hypothetical “Best Available Player”

During the weeks immediately preceding the NBA draft, we often hear General Managers of NBA teams discuss their intent to draft the “best available player.” Usually this pronouncement comes in the context of whether that team plans to draft a player based on an obvious current need, instead of one that is considered to have more long-term “potential.” I have no idea where the phrase “best available player” originated, but it has since been picked up by columnists, experts, and even fans. It’s not uncommon to see entire threads on internet discussion forums devoted to whether their favorite team should select the “best available player” over a glaring need. Invariably, “best available player” wins.

Here’s the problem: Outside of the top two or three picks, there ain’t no such thing.

The phrase “best available player” has no independent meaning. There is no single metric that will crunch data and spit out an ordinal ranking of all players eligible to be drafted. Whether a particular player is “best” depends on each team’s evaluation and valuation of what qualities are most important as a predictor of future success, and how well a particular player may fit into the identity and style of play of the team. There is no consensus; it is completely subjective. I’ve concluded that GMs use this phrase for a post hoc rationalization of every pick that they make. It is a crutch.

What, you think that a GM of a pro team will say, “we took Player X even though he wasn’t the best player left on the board”? I can hardly think of a quicker way to get fired.

So don’t be surprised if the GM of your favorite team goes on your local radio station after the draft and gleefully announces that they were looking to draft the “best available player” . . . and he just happened to fill a glaring need at the same time. Imagine that.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Center Spectrum

Hasheem Thabeet, University of Connecticut: 7 foot 3, 263 lbs. 13.6 ppg, 10.8 rpg, 4.2 bpg. 64% from the field, 62.7% from the line.

Luke Nevill, University of Utah: 7 foot 2, 265 lbs. 16.8 ppg, 9 rpg, 2.7 bpg. 60.7% from the field, 78.6% from the line.

Thabeet, co-Big East Player of the Year, is a work in progress on the offensive end, scoring single digit points in 30% of his teams games in 08-09, and is also a below average free throw shooter, but what he lacks in offense is more than made up for with his defense, evidenced by his National Defensive Player of the Year award. Thabeet had his share of big games, but also had a couple of games where his impact wasn't felt, due to foul trouble. Playing in a big conference on the East Coast on a Final Four team, everyone knows about the second team All-American.

Nevill, Mountain West Conference Player of the Year & honorable mention All-American, is a skilled offensive player. He has shown that you can run an offense through him, as the Runnnin' Utes' offense was run primarily inside-out, through the big Aussie. Showing a deft touch inside for a man of his size, and good passing skills, Nevill is not your typical lumbering big man, but rather a very skilled center. No slouch on the defensive end, Nevill was also named the Mountain West Conference Defensive Player of the Year. Nevill did not have much exposure this year, playing in the West, and in a non BCS conference, despite the MWC's ranking as the 7th best conference.

Hasheem Thabeet is currently projected to be a top 3 selection.

Luke Nevill is projected to be taken in the 2nd round to un-drafted.


Age is not a factor, as Thabeet is almost exactly one year younger. Aesthetic minutia isn't a factor, as Nevill looks like Gary Busey, and Thabeet looks as though he wears a diaper on the court. Thabeet is the superior defensive player, but Nevill is better on the offensive end.

You won't find anyone arguing that Nevill is a better prospect than Thabeet, but I find it hard to believe that the difference between these two gargantuans is in the 60 pick range.

Update: Accounts say that Mr. Nevill dominated BJ Mullens at the Minnesota workout.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Height, Length, Width

The annual list of pre-draft measurements were released this week, and of course there were numbers that came out that weren't expected. Some of the surprises were positive, and some were negative. Many prospects' stocks rose and dipped because of these measurements, which leads me to think, how much do these measurements really matter, and how much should they matter.

Power Forward DeJuan Blair measured just over 6-5 without shoes. This was a guy who we saw have a great year at Pittsburgh, but now that the news that he's only 6-5 come out, many people want to discount him. Others want to say, it's ok, because he has a wingspan of a player who is a few inches taller, or his standing reach is better than average.
This is the same 6 foot 5 inch DeJuan Blair who outmuscled and dominated the 7 foot 1 inch Hasheem Thabeet during a meeting between Pitt and UConn this year. Apparently his lack of height didn't hurt him in that game, but now that the news is out, I guess we should all expect DeJuan Blair to have no shot to compete in the NBA, since he's, you know, only 6 foot 5.

Blake Griffin is the conensus best player in the draft, and expected to go #1 overall, but he only has an average wingspan for his height. Surely that makes the Clippers feel less confident about selecting him with the #1 pick. Forget that he won 4 different national player of the year awards, he has average sized arms.

We also found out that Ty Lawson has alligator arms. While Lawson and Jonny Flynn are the same exact height, surely Flynn is the better prospect since he has a wingspan of over 3 inches more. Forget that Ty Lawson ran the best team in college basketball last year, and improved across the board from his sophomore to junior year. His tiny arms definitely are a hinderance to his pro career.

Speaking of wingspan, DeJuan Blair has a huge wingspan. So he's short, but has a wingspan of a player a half foot taller. Does his wingspan cancel out his lack of ideal height for the power forward spot? His wingspan is a positive, but his height is a negative, so I guess we're back to square one. Blair's wingspan is a half an inch bigger than Jordan Hill's wingspan, and Hill is 4 inches taller. What do you make of that? I don't know what to make of it, I'll tell you that much, but what I can make of all of this is that this list sends the masses of draftniks and fans into a frenzy about how players are rising and falling, based on black and white numbers, while their skill-sets and accomplishments throughout the season are momentarily forgotten.

Just ask Saer Sene. >>

Friday, May 22, 2009

Tracking the Reshuffle - Part One

Every draft has its own flavor.

Some are headlined by a can't-miss franchise changing superstar (LeBron, Yao, Duncan) or by a popular debate (Oden or Durant? Howard or Okafor?).

Sometimes, though, a draft doesn't acquire a theme or personality until years after the event. The 2001 draft wasn't one of the more anticipated, but became significant for having more All-Stars taken after pick #25 than in the lottery.

By all accounts, 2009 is not a particularly strong draft, nor is it really suited for capturing the public's attention. So I've decided to focus on what I believe will be most fun part of following this draft - the reshuffling of the deck.

Here's why I think this will be the draft where workouts will shake up the board more than any other.

1. I believe there is a trend developing away from raw athletic talent and objective measurements and towards productivity and basketball skills. A combination of development time and money constraints in combination with recent success of undersized and less explosive players marks the trend. Teams can get premium role players at bargain prices. This draft is chock full of these players.

2. GMs and Coaches want more team-oriented players. Adding that great potential talent without the character to match is out. Nobody can afford it. Teams want guys who will fit in. Every team has players they can't trade because nobody wants to deal with them. There are already too many obstacles when trying to improve the roster - nobody wants to risk adding more.

3. Mistakes can't be covered up. There is no money to sign that expensive free agent because your draft pick is a bust. You better be sure the guy you take can play. Nobody can afford to screw up. If there is a guy who is now projected to go in the second round and he shows in your workout he can do what you need, you are taking him in the first and not looking back.

4. I think there is less difference between the 15th and 40th best players in this draft than in any I can remember. I don't see a lot of media or fan backlash for a GM that takes - say - Toney Douglas over Nick Calathes or Tyler Smith over Austin Daye.

Any thoughts on 2009 being the "Year of the Reshuffle"? Comment below!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Blake Griffin, Welcome to the Black Hole

And with the first pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, the Los Angeles Clippers select...Blake Griffin!

"Clearly, we're taking Blake Griffin," Clippers General Manager and Coach Mike Dunleavy said in a telephone interview from Barcelona, Spain.

"This guy is the No. 1 pick. We're extremely excited. He's the guy."

Could a worse situation have presented itself for Blake? The Clippers have a log jam in the front court, with Zach Randolph, Chris Kaman, and Marcus Camby as three of the Clippers four highest paid players. Zach Randolph, exclusively a PF, like Blake, is the highest paid player on the Clips roster. Obvious wisdom says trade Randolph, but with Randolph being owed over $33 million over the next 2 years, that's not an easy task. Add in Randolph's persistent run-in's with the law, a malcontent attitude, and lack of defensive prowess, and it's almost impossible to find a team that would be willing to take him at that cost.

The second problem for's the Clippers. One of the most inept basketball franchises in the NBA. Mike Dunleavy, coach and GM, good at neither. Donald Sterling, notoriously thrifty owner. Second fiddle in their own city. One playoff series win since 1978. Is there a more depressing franchise?

Congratulations Mr. Griffin, you're going to be a Los Angeles Clipper!