Monday, May 31, 2010

2010 NBA Mock Draft Update

Read this article on Bleacher Report

A lot has happened since my previous mock draft a month ago, most notably the NBA Draft Combine. The NBA draft combine doesn't get nearly as much coverage as the NFL draft combine, mostly because it's a much worse predictor of future success in the pros. While plenty of football players can be effective without ever needing to actually touch the football, thus making their physical abilities more important, NBA players need skills a combine cannot cover to be good pros. How fast is a player with the ball? Can he pass? Does he understand defensive rotations? Can he change speeds effectively? Can he shoot? You get the idea.

The difference between "combine" ability and basketball abilities is often pronounced. It doesn't matter how fast a player can sprint; it's how fast he can sprint while dribbling. (There is the semi-famous story of Marquis Daniels outracing Leandrinho Barbosa to corroborate this.) It's not how high a player can jump that makes a good rebounder; often, it's how quickly he can jump that matters. It's not about strength at the basket; it's the ability to concentrate after taking contact. (Kevin Durant couldn't lift the bar at the combine; he made around 70% of his shots at the rim last year.)

That being said, the results of this year's combine are in, and some of them only reinforce what we already suspected, but some players, such as Derrick Favors, Gordon Hayward, and Avery Bradley are really moving up various draft boards.

Last time, I compiled several mocks into one meta-draft. This time, I will give you my take on it, based on both team needs and player talent.

1. John Wall, G 6-4 Washington Wizards
Previous Ranking: 1
Nothing different here, Wall was brilliant as ever at the combine, sporting a ridiculous 6-9 wingspan as well as the fastest 25 yard run (3.1 seconds) and a 43 inch vertical. So yeah . . . Wall is the #1 pick, and he will be a Wizard. If anyone says differently, they are wrong.

2. Derrick Favors, F/C 6-10 Philadelphia 76ers
Previous Ranking: 3

3. Evan Turner G/F 6-7 New Jersey Nets
Previous Ranking: 2

Just about every mock on the planet has Evan Turner going #2. That's just fine, I have no problem with that, but if I am Ed Stefanski, GM of the 76ers, I'm taking Favors. Here's my logic: Turner is talented, there's no question about that. He is a phenomenal prospect as a guy who can play all three perimeter positions. However, there are many talented wings in the NBA, including Andre Iguodala, the star of the 76ers. Although Turner is a bit taller, he compares favorably to Trail Blazers star Brandon Roy in terms of his (relatively) modest athleticism (34.5 inch vertical) and build (6-8 wingspan), but shows the same kind of craftiness and smart instincts that Roy is famous for.

Turner is a great, there's no doubt about it, but how many times are you going to find a physical specimen like Derrick Favors? Physically, Favors is a combination of Dwight Howard and Al Horford. at 6 foot 10, 245 pounds and he measures almost the same as Howard at his draft combine (6-10, 240). Skill-wise, he's a long way from Evan Turner, but you draft on potential. Favors could be one of the most dominant players in the league in 2 or 3 years. He has a 7-4 wingspan and a 36 inch vertical. He will almost certainly be a double digit rebounder at some point in his career and has all the physical tools to be a dominant scorer. I think he has the potential to become the next Amar'e Stoudemire if he develops his mid range game a bit further.

Basically, it comes down to whether you want a super athletic big man or a versatile wing. Wings are a dime a dozen in the NBA. Guys like Favors come along maybe once every 3 drafts. You have to take favors. He's honestly a better prospect than Blake Griffin was last year.

The Nets have the easiest job ever, take whoever the 76ers didn't. You really can't go wrong with Turner or Favors.

4. DeMarcus Cousins, C 6-11 Minnesota Timberwolves
Previous Ranking: 4

The T-Wolves aren't really hurting for a center, but they really kind of have to take Cousins at this point. In many other drafts, Cousins might have gone #1, but there just happens to be a glut of talent at the top of this one. Similar to my argument for Favors, dominant big men just aren't that easy to find, and Cousins fits the bill in every way. He's not a world class athlete, but it really doesn't matter because he is a massive guy who will inhale rebounds and score in the post. Biggest question here is how he will respond to being on a struggling team. It was all fine a dandy winning 30+ games at UK on a loaded roster, but will he keep quiet on a 20-30 win team in Minnesota?

5. Greg Monroe, F/C 6-11 Sacramento Kings
Previous Ranking: 9

Okay, I don't care how many people disagree with me here, but to me, Greg Monroe should not go past the top 5. This guy is basically a young Lamar Odom with better passing and inferior ball handling. It is insane how much everyone is underrating this guy. HELLO . . . HE'S 6-11, AND ULTRA SKILLED. He's not an incredible athlete or a great defender, but he's a hard worker with great passion for basketball, and I think the defense will come. Monroe has the size and length to be a NBA power forward, he's super unselfish and has the ability to create shots for himself. What more do you want in a top 5 pick?

6. Wesley Johnson, F 6-8 Golden State Warriors
Previous Ranking: 5

With Johnson, the Warriors can get exactly what they need: an athletic, versatile wing who brings it on defense. Johnson is extremely productive and efficient. With players like Stephen Curry, Monta Ellis, Corey Magette, Anthony Randolph, and a healthy Andris Biedrins around him, Johnson could help transform the Warriors into a winning team.

7. Cole Aldrich, C 6-11 Detroit Pistons
Previous Ranking: 7

The Pistons need a solid big guy in the middle, and that's exactly what Aldrich gives them. I did want to put Ekpe Udoh here, but I just couldn't justify it, as Udoh is not a true center like Aldrich is. The great thing about Aldrich is that you know exactly what you are getting, and sometimes, that is a very good thing in the crap shoot that is the NBA draft.

8. Ekpe Udoh, F/C 6-10 Los Angeles Clippers
Previous Ranking: 12

I really, really like Udoh. I think he is going to be very good. He has great size, length and athleticism. He is quite versatile, with the ability to face the basket, hit the mid range jumper, and is a pretty good passer as well. Having just traded away one of the best post defenders in the league in Marcus Camby, the Clippers could pick up Udoh and not drop off too much. Udoh is a fierce shot blocker and with Blake Griffin and Chris Kaman could form one of the best front courts in the league.

9. Al-Farouq Aminu, F 6-8 Utah Jazz
Previous Ranking: 6

I like this pick for the Jazz. I tend to think Aminu is a bit overrated in most mocks, but I do agree with most that he has huge upside, and he is exactly what the Jazz need: a versatile wing who can defend and brings a variety of tools offensively that Deron Williams can utilize to great potential. He will, however need to develop more as a perimeter player with the Jazz's abundance of post options. (If Boozer sticks around)

10. Ed Davis, F 6-9 Indiana Pacers
Previous Ranking: 8
Davis continues to drop down the rankings. If only he had gone last year, he would have been a top 3 pick. But still, he offers a good skill set and defensive intensity. He has great hands and is effective on the glass.

11. Gordon Hayward, F 6-8 New Orleans Hornets
Previous Ranking: 16

Yes, I'm serious . . . Hayward is is just so skilled. He's also deceptively athletic. Find me another 6-8 guy who can handle the ball and shoot like Hayward. He would be a great weapon for Chris Paul to utilize.

12. Patrick Patterson, F 6-8 Memphis Grizzlies
Previous Ranking: 14

I like Patterson. He's big, he's athletic, he's got an NBA body, and he can shoot. If he started rebounding like he's capable of, he'd be invaluable to any NBA team out there.

13. Luke Babbitt, G/F 6-7 Toronto Raptors
Previous Ranking: 23

Babbitt is one of the biggest movers here. He's not very athletic, but he's an incredible left-handed shooter who went 89% from the free throw line and 41% from three last year in college. He's also quite skilled and has the ability to create separation for himself to get off his shot. He has the potential to become instant offense for any team, and at 6-7 could at least bother people on defense.

14. Donatas Motiejunas, F 7-0 Houston Rockets
Previous Ranking: 13

Good skilled big man who is quite athletic and can play down low in the post or face up on the perimeter. The Rockets could use him as a change of pace guy from Luis Scola and Yao Ming, bringing in a guy who can run on the break and create mismatches on offense.

15. Paul George, F 6-7, Pvs: 18
16. Avery Bradley, G 6-3 Pvs: 22
15. Daniel Orton, F/C 6-10, Pvs: 15
16. Xavier Henry, G/F 6-6, Pvs: 13
17. Eric Bledsoe, G 6-2, Pvs: 20
18. James Anderson, G 6-6 Pvs: 17
19. Hassan Whiteside, F/C 7-0 Pvs: 10
20. Solomon Alabi, C 7-1 Pvs: 21
21. Kevin Seraphin, F/C 6-9 Pvs: Unranked
22. Larry Sanders, F/C 6-9 Pvs: 19
23. Damion James, F 6-7 Pvs: 24
24. Stanley Robinson F 6-8 Pvs: 25
25. Devin Ebanks F 6-9 Pvs: 26
26. Lance Stephenson G/F 6-6 Pvs: Unranked
27. Elliot Williams G 6-4 Pvs: 28
28. Quincy Poindexter F 6-7 Pvs: 27
29. Armon Johnson G 6-3 Pvs: 30
30. Gani Lawal F 6-9 Pvs: Unranked

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Surprise . . . . NCAA Investigation at UK

Report: NCAA investigating Bledsoe

It was only a matter of time . . . but I gotta hand it to Cal, he's like a mob boss. He knows how to do stuff illegally without getting his own hands dirty. While I have absolutely no doubt that he has everything to do with this, I'm almost certain that he will never be implicated.

But you have to admit, it's starting to look pretty bad, UK fans. I mean, these investigations follow the man everywhere he goes. Although I hope UK isn't punished for this as far as sanctions, I hope Cal gets his due. I really do. He's just such a villain. If Cal gets run out UK, hopefully they will do the right thing this time instead of the desperate thing: getting a guy who everyone knows is bad news.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

2010-11 ACC Preview

Read this article on Bleacher Report

Well, the 2010 recruiting class is finally finished, so it's time to preview some college basketball. Yeah . . there's still like 6 months until the season starts, but we gotta do something while baseball is crushing our souls. First, let's take a look at the ACC, my personal favorite league. The ACC overall is probably going to be a little weaker than the the Big Ten this year, but should have enough quality teams to send 7 or maybe even 8 teams to the NCAA tournament. The Big East is slightly down this year with teams like UConn, Syracuse, and Georgetown not quite as strong as they are traditionally, so the ACC should be in contention for the 2nd most powerful conference.

1. Duke
Last Year’s Record: 35-5 (13-3)
Key Departure: Jon Scheyer
Key Recruit: Kyrie Irving

Projected Starting Line-Up:
PG: Kyrie Irving
SG: Nolan Smith
SF: Kyle Singler
PF: Miles Plumlee
C: Mason Plumlee

Not much to argue about here. Many consider my Blue Devils the preseason #1 overall. This team is absolutely loaded in the back court, and it could be justified that this is the best back court in the nation. Kyrie Irving, Nolan Smith, Seth Curry, and Andre Dawkins will form the core of the Duke perimeter rotation, and has the potential to be the highest scoring back court in the nation.

Back Court: Kyrie Irving will be a star, and the scary thing is, he's only going to improve because of the talent that surrounds him at Duke. Additionally, he is a player who will make everyone on the team better because of his ability to penetrate the defense with his great ball handling, hit the three pointer, and make plays with both his passing and scoring. Nolan Smith will join him in the starting lineup, where he flourished in his junior year as a dynamic scoring guard with the ability to create plays for himself and his teammates off the dribble. He is also a much improved shooter. Nolan's leadership will play a large part in this team's success. While he and Kyle Singler were named co-captains, there can be no doubt that Nolan is the heart and soul of this team, and their fortunes in the postseason will largely depend on his ability to foster team chemistry. Seth Curry will also surprise many people with his great ability to score. Even though he will come off the bench (at least to begin the season), Seth is one of the most talented players in the ACC. Andre Dawkins will be a year removed from the tragedy that struck his family last year, and should return as a dead-eye shooter who will stretch defenses. Freshman Tyler Thornton may also see some minutes as a defensive specialist.

Front Court: Up front, the Blue Devils aren't quite as deep as last year, when they rotated 4 guys in and out for the power positions. The losses of Lance Thomas and Brian Zoubek will hurt in terms of rebounding and interior defense, but without big slow Zoubs, Duke can really run now. Mason and Miles Plumlee are both big, athletic, and most importantly, mobile. Both of these guys are capable of running 94 feet and finishing strong on a fast break. Expect both Plumlees to have breakout years. Kyle Singler needs no introduction. As last year's Final Four MOP, Singler will be a candidate for First Team All-America honors. Ryan Kelly and Josh Hairston will both see some some minutes off the bench, most likely depending on the foul situation. Both players are more perimeter oriented forwards with good shooting touch, and both need to get stronger. Carrick Felix, the highly anticipated JUCO transfer decided to opt out of his letter of intent, so it is important that Kelly and Hairston develop quickly in to good role players.

Outlook: Duke will be a completely different team than last year, but with the addition of a pure point guard in Irving, we will see a fast, up and down style team who will have many 3 point shooters and defend opponents past the 3 point line. Mike Krzyzewski is a master of changing styles based on his personnel, so look for Duke to put up a strong bid for a title defense.

2. N.C. State
Last Year’s Record: 20-16 (5-11)
Key Departure: Farnold Degand
Key Recruit: C.J. Leslie

Projected Starting Line-Up:
PG: Ryan Harrow
SG: Javier Gonzalez
SF: Scott Wood
PF: C.J. Leslie
C: Tracy Smith

This may come as a surprise to many people, but to me, the Wolf Pack added a VERY strong recruiting class to a decent team that won 5 games in the ACC last year, including a great win at home against my Dukies. Returning senior Tracy Smith and Javier Gonzalez will provide the leadership for the 3 high impact freshman joining N.C. State. The amount of talent in the triangle area (better known as Tobacco Road) will be incredible this year. I believe this team is dangerous.

Back Court: Star freshman point guard Ryan Harrow will be given the controls from the first game. He is a dynamic athlete and will quickly become one of the best ball handlers in the league. Although he is a bit undersized at 5-11, Harrow has the hops to play much bigger. His fellow freshman Lorenzo Brown could challenge for a starting spot as well. Brown is also a very good athlete with the ability to really get up and play above the rim. Senior Javier Gonzalez will most likely start at the off guard position. Scott Wood will provide outside shooting.

Front Court: C.J. Leslie will be an instant impact player. He is a freak athlete and is a powerful finisher at the rim. I have been high on Leslie for a long time, and I believe he is the real deal. He can rebound, block shots and score equally well. Leslie has the vertical aptitude and the length to be able to affect almost every play near the basket and will be a strong candidate for All-ACC, if not national honors. Tracy Smith is a formidable interior scorer who led the Wolf Pack in scoring last year (16.5 ppg), and DeShawn Painter will provide rebounding and toughness off the bench.

Outlook: Many people will probably disagree with me that NC State is #2 here, but I think this team is fully capable of beating any team in the ACC. Ryan Harrow is extremely underrated, and C.J. Leslie is just an absolute BEAST. I fully believe that they can have the type of immediate impact that some of the freshman stars from last season did. The biggest question here is coach Sidney Lowe. If Lowe can make full use of his talent and find a way to bring out the best in his outstanding freshmen, N.C. State will be a force not only in the ACC, but in postseason play as well. However, if State somehow manages to fail to reach the NCAAs with this plethora of talent, Lowe is almost certainly out as head coach.

3. Virginia Tech
Last Year’s Record: 21-11 (9-7)
Key Departure: None
Key Recruit: Jarrell Eddie

Projected Starting Line-Up:
PG: Malcolm Delaney
SG: Dorenzo Hudson
SF: Terrell Bell
PF: Jeff Allen
C: Victor Davila

Virginia Tech's core of Malcolm Delaney,  Dorenzo Hudson, and Jeff Allen have all returned and will lead the Hokies in a strong ACC campaign. With literally the same squad as last year plus a few recruits, this team has the experience and the senior leadership to really do some damage. Seth Greenberg is, in my opinion, one of the better coaches in this league, and that's saying a lot, considering how many national title winning coaches there are in the ACC.

Back Court: Delaney will be a contender for ACC player of the year throughout the season. There are very few players who are as good as him at slashing to the paint and scoring or getting fouled. Delaney lead the ACC in free throw attempts last year, and I don't see why he can't repeat that performance. Dorenzo Hudson is a big 2 guard who can really get to the basket. Look for him to become one of the outstanding scorers in the ACC this year. However, he must improve on his perimeter shooting, as that is one of the main weaknesses of this squad. Terrell Bell and Erick Green will be solid backups at the wing positions.

Front Court: The Hokies are one of the deepest teams in the league, but they lack size. Victor Davila (6-8) and Jeff Allen (6-7) will need to work hard to defend against the taller opposition in many games, and this could prove to be a minor chink in the Hokie's defense. Fortunately, Tech does have a wealth of front court players. Cadarian Raines, who is still a project, but is 6-9, 240 lbs. could emerge as a viable option in the post, and 6-8 Allan Chaney, a transfer from Florida could also contribute immediately. Tech is known for its swarming high pressure defense, and the depth of this team could allow it to constantly throw high energy reserves into the mix to create havoc.

Outlook: With the three studs in Delaney, Hudson, and Allen, this team will have no trouble scoring. In addition, Seth Greenberg coached teams always play very good defense, and I suspect this team will follow suit. Since no key players left, this team will have played together longer than anyone. I look for Tech to have a very good year, and contend for the ACC title. Their lack of size will be offset by their incredible amount of depth at every position, and Malcolm Delaney is a bona fide star who can carry them offensively when things get tight.

4. North Carolina
Last Year’s Record: 20-17 (5-11)
Key Departure: Ed Davis
Key Recruit: Harrison Barnes

Projected Starting Line-Up:
PG: Larry Drew II
SG: Reggie Bullock
SF: Harrison Barnes
PF: John Henson
C: Tyler Zeller

Ah yes, the hated Tarholes of UNC. I'll be frank, I'm still bitter over the whole Harrison Barnes ordeal. I mean, he was a Duke lean for SUCH a long time. But now that Singler is back, it doesn't hurt quite as bad. Harrison is going to regret his decision, because with the departure of Ed Davis to the NBA draft and the transfer of the Wear sisters, UNC's lineup looks awfully thin up front, and he's going to spend a great deal of time at power forward whether he likes it or not. However, I still have them at #4 because Barnes may just be the most talented player to come to North Carolina since #23.

Back Court: The guards were certainly the greatest weakness of last year's pathetic squad that went down in flames in the NIT finals. While Larry Drew was an adequate playmaker, he often took bad shots and turned the ball over way too often for a starting point guard in the ACC. With another year under his belt, I look for him to improve his play a bit. (Although not much) Fortunately for him, he will have help this year in terms of ball handling. Freshman point Kendall Marshall will challenge him for the starting spot, and many have described Marshall as one of the best passers in the 2010 class. Reggie Bullock will immediately give Will Graves a run for his money for the starting 2 guard spot. Both players can hit the 3, but Bullock is more physically imposing and is an aggressive defender, I would give him the nod.

Front Court: A reversal of fortunes suddenly transforms last year's deepest front court in the ACC into it's thinnest. With the sudden defections of the Wear twins, UNC will have just two true post players (and that's pushing it) in the made-of-glass Tyler Zeller and the bulimic Jon Henson. Transfer Johnny Knox will be a big body who can come off the bench and spell one of the starters for a few minutes, but I don't see him contributing in any significant capacity. Zeller is a capable scorer when healthy, and has the size to compete, but how will he bounce back from two injury riddled seasons? Henson showed flashes of his defensive brilliance late last year, but will he return for his second year with a bit more bulk and a legit offensive repertoire? Obviously, the real gem of this front court has to be Barnes, the do-it-all freshman who will need to be the leader of this team from day one. How well he fares will play a large part in the fortunes of Carolina as a whole.

Outlook: No, I didn't put them at #4 because I'm a Dukie, I'm just really high on NC State, and I couldn't justify putting UNC ahead of Va. Tech. However, I could easily be wrong and the Heels could be #1 in the ACC when it's all said and done. That's the type of talent they have. The Tar Heels will be much improved over last season's forgettable campaign, but their severe lack of depth up front will hurt. A key injury could derail the entire season. However, if Tyler Zeller's shaky knees hold up, UNC will make a strong case for a #3 or #4 seed in the NCAAs, and with a transcendent star in Harrison Barnes, could make some serious noise. Will ol' Roy figure out how to cover up his weaknesses? We'll find out.

5. Miami
Last Year’s Record: 20-13 (4-12)
Key Departure: Dwayne Collins
Key Recruit: Rion Brown

Projected Starting Line-Up:
PG: Durand Scott
SG: Malcolm Grant
SF: DeQuan Jones
PF: Julian Gamble
C: Reggie Johnson

Miami started out last season strong against very questionable competition, then faded early in the ACC slate, but made a bit of a push towards the end, crushing Wake Forest, beating a very good Va. Tech squad, and then losing to Duke by just 3 in their final three games. Durand Scott and Reggie Johnson were a big factor late in the season, and both gave a glimpse of what could be in store for 2010-11.

Back Court: Scott is a marvelous athlete who resembles a running back in his build. He is a scoring machine, and is capable of taking over a game at any time. He will be an NBA point guard at some point in the future. Scott flourished towards the end of the year as he put up 29 against UNC and then 21 against Duke. Look for him to be one of the top scorers in the league this year. Malcolm Grant and Garrius Adams will provide and offensive spark with their outside shooting. Rion Brown is a high flying wing player who could be inserted for a bit more speed.

Front Court: Reggie Johnson is the major story here. Although it took him a while to develop, he became an absolute beast at the end of the year. At 6-10, 295 lbs, Johnson will not be pushed around by anyone in the country, and will form one of the best 1-2 scoring punches in the ACC with Durant Scott. Dequan Jones is a super athletic wing player who can score in double digits in the right match ups, and Julian Gamble is another big body who began to show flashes of brilliance late in the year.

Outlook: Although the loss of three seniors will hurt to an extent, this team is young and athletic and has great size and strength at every position. Scott is a star and will be able to provide playmaking and scoring in bunches. Johnson and Gamble may create a bit of jam up front since both are more true centers than power forwards, so this team will be a bit more half court oriented. Frank Haith has recruited very well for Miami, and this team will be a tough out in the NCAA tournament.

6. Boston College 
Last Year’s Record: 15-16 (6-10)
Key Departure: Al Skinner (Coach)
Key Recruit: None

PG: Reggie Jackson
SG: Biko Paris
SF: Corey Raji
PF: Joe Trapani
C: Josh Southern

While everyone else improved or lost key players, Boston College pretty much stayed the same,.minus a head coach. Thus, my prediction for them is about where they were last year, in the middle of the league. Contrary to popular belief, coaching actually matters in college basketball, and the departure of Al Skinner may offset the extra year these kids have played together. Steve Donahue, formerly of Cornell, will teach a completely different style of play, and it will take some time to adjust. Personally, I'm not a fan of Ivy League style play, but Donahue could surprise me. I just don't think it will work particularly well in the ACC, where games are physical and grueling. (Or I could just be completely wrong and he could throw out the old offense and install one that suits the ACC.)

Back Court: Reggie Jackson will be one of the better point guards in the league this year and I expect his play to improve with another year alongside the same exact team. Biko Paris will need to step up his scoring if the Eagles want to improve on their 6-10 mark in the league last year.

Front Court: The Eagles have a great player in Joe Trapani. He is a match up problem for most teams because of his size and shooting ability. Josh Southern must get in shape and become more of a factor. His size will be needed. Corey Raji and Rakim Sanders will continue to provide scoring on the wings.

Outlook: As I said before, I'm not sure how good of a fit Steve Donahue is, he may or may not work out. Therefore, I have the Eagles at #6, but they could be as good as #4 if it truly turns out to be a great match. Who knows? As it is, Boston College is a good team with a chance to make it into the NCAAs. They have a  great amount of experience, and that will definitely help them in the ultra-competitive ACC.

7. Clemson
Last Year’s Record: 21-11 (9-7)
Key Departure: Trevor Booker
Key Recruit: Cory Stanton

Projected Starting Line-Up:
PG: Tanner Smith
SG: Demontez Stitt
SF: Bryan Narcisse
PF: Jerai Grant
C: Devin Booker

Clemson took a hit when coach Oliver Purnell decided to leave for DePaul, but there shouldn't be a huge drop off with new coach Brad Brownell. Brownell will not employ the same full court press that Purnell often used, but he coaches a tough defensive style that should translate reasonably well in the ACC with this athletic team.

Back Court: Tanner Smith and Noel Johnson are capable perimeter scorers and defenders, and Demontez Stitt is an experienced senior guard. They also boast an energetic and tough sixth man in Andre Young who can also light it up from the perimeter.

Front Court:  Jerai Grant provides a formidable post presence, but if the Tigers want to challenge for a first round conference tournament bye, Devin Booker and Milton Jennings need to have breakout years. The graduation of four-year stalwart Trevor Booker will open up opportunities for these players and they must step up.

Outlook: It's always hard to tell how a team will respond to a new coach, but this particular team has the senior leadership and the athleticism to compete. The Tigers are as talented and experienced at every position as any team in the conference. They will play tough defense, and have good senior leadership. The coaching change will shake things up a bit, but with the returning upperclassmen, things should stay fairly consistent. Plus, Littlejohn is never an easy place to play a road game.

8. Florida State 
Last Year’s Record: 22-10 (10-6)
Key Departure: Solomon Alabi
Key Recruit: Okaro White

Projected Starting Line-Up:
PG: Derwin Kitchen
SG: Michael Snaer
SF: Chris Singleton
PF: Okaro White
C: Xavier Gibson

The loss of Solomon Alabi was a big hit to one of the best defensive teams in the nation, but the Seminoles may still have hope. Chris Singleton and Michael Snaer return to provide leadership, and I don't expect the defense to take a significant drop off even with the absence of Alabi's 2.3 blocks per game. Scoring however, will be more difficult to come by.

Back Court: Derwin Kitchen will have a solid senior season for the 'Noles, he has great size for the point guard position, and should use it effectively to his advantage. Michael Snaer will need to step up his offense and become a leader. Deividas Dulkys and Luke Loucks will both be valuable scorers off the bench as perimeter snipers. Both shot over 40% from three last year.

Front Court: Inside, Xavier Gibson seems ready to break out of his shell and start dominating games with his combination of size and athleticism. Okaro White will need to contribute immediately, as the Seminoles are not particularly deep up front. Singleton will need to be the do-it-all playmaker on offense and defense for this team to succeed at a high level. 

Outlook: This is a very good team that will still play super tough defense and hold opponents to low scoring totals. However, a great deal of their offense will live and die with perimeter shooting, which is never a good thing. When they are hitting the threes, I suspect Florida State will beat some good teams, but when they aren't, it could get ugly. Overall, they have a good shot to make the NCAAs and have a relatively good year.

9. Maryland
Last Year’s Record: 24-9 (13-3)
Key Departure: Greivis Vasquez
Key Recruit: Mychal Parker

PG: Adrian Bowie
SG: Sean Mosley
SF: Cliff Tucker
PF: Dino Gregory
C: Jordan Williams

Maryland lost a huge chunk of their core with the graduation of their top three scorers from last year in Greivis Vasquez, Eric Hayes, and Landon Milbourne, and will likely experience a rebuilding year in the bottom half of the ACC. However, this does not mean the Terrapins can't be good enough to make the field of 68 (lol). Anytime you have a coach like Gary Williams, you can never count Maryland out.

Back Court: Adrian Bowie will need to fill the role of Vasquez in his senior year, and it will be a tough job. Bowie played a relatively small role last year, but his assist to turnover ratio was decent. Sean Mosley will need to step in and become the leader of the squad, as he will get the majority of the shots in the back court. Mosley is a great defensive stopper, but was erratic on offense last year. Cliff Tucker will need to step it up on offense as well. Mychal Parker is an athletic wing who will come off the bench and provide engergy. Freshman Terrell Stoglin is an interesting point guard prospect who could compete for immediate minutes.

Front Court: Jordan Williams will need to be the star of this team. He was a big reason why the Terps were able to secure a share of the ACC regular season championship last year, and he will once again be a premier post player in the league. Outside of Williams, there isn't much experience up front. The Terps will need to rely on Dino Gregory and James Padgett, who both had limited roles last seasons. These players will really need to step up for Maryland to succeed. Berend Weijs is a JUCO transfer who could become the X-Factor for Maryland. He is a an outstanding shot blocker and has great size.

Outlook: Although this teams does have plenty of seniors, most of them have been role players to this point. The Terps have a good 6 man recruiting class, and will feature a star post player in Jordan Williams, but overall, with so many young and inexperienced players, I can't see them beating the top tier teams in the ACC. However, they still have a chance to make the NCAAs with a great coach like Gary Williams, and Comcast Stadium is still one of the toughest places to play in the country.

10. Georgia Tech
Last Year’s Record: 23-13 (7-9)
Key Departure: Derrick Favors
Key Recruit: Jason Morris

Projected Starting Line-Up:
PG: Iman Shumpert
SG: Glen Rice Jr.
SF: Brian Oliver
PF: Daniel Miller
C: Brad Sheehan

Tech lost a great deal of talent to the draft, but there's still enough lying around for them to make a run if their shooters can get on a roll. However, the loss of Favors and Lawal can not be understated. It is never an easy thing to replace size and rebounding. Tech will be hurting up front.

Back Court: Iman Shumpert has been a prolific scorer at times, and  Brian Oliver and Glen Rice, Jr. are both capable wings who can shoot the ball. Mfon Udofia was in the starting lineup to begin the season last year, but fell out of favor as the season progressed, look for him to improve and get back to his early season form.

Front Court: Really not much here . . . Daniel Miller was a welcome addition at the last second, and is touted as a good shot blocker, but he is just a freshman, and big men take time to develop. Seldom used Brad Sheehan will need to play extended minutes this year. Jason Morris is a good wing player, but this team has plenty of depth on the wings. I suspect they will have trouble with the ACC teams with size.

Outlook: Not great, but definitely not terrible. Tech has enough talent on the perimeter to score with the big boys, but it will be difficult for them to match up with the more talented bigs in the league. Shumpert will be in the running for All-Conference honors, but don't look for Tech to make the NCAAs.

11. Wake Forest
Last Year’s Record: 20-11 (9-7)
Key Departure: Al-Farouq Aminu
Key Recruits: J.T. Terrell

Projected Starting Line-Up:
PG: C.J. Harris
SG: J.T. Terrell
SF: Ari Stewart
PF: David Weaver
C: Tony Woods

There is perhaps no team in the NCAA that will be rebuilding like Wake Forest. This team is almost entirely new from top to bottom. Al-Farouq Aminu, Ish Smith, L.D. Williams and Chas McFarland are all gone, and so is head coach Dino Gaudio. Fortunately, Gaudio's top 10 recruiting class decided to stick around, and the future looks good for Wake. Many questioned the hiring of Jeff Bzdelik (I definitely had to look up how to spell that), but he does bring some experience in the NBA, and he did convince all the recruits to stay with Wake Forest.

Back Court: C.J. Harris is going to need to hit the ground running in his sophomore year, as he is the highest scoring returning player from last season. Harris is going to need to be the star for this team, and his questionable shot selection will need to improve. J.T. Terrell will need to step in and contribute immediately.

Front Court: Ari Stewart and Tony Woods are the only two players in the front court who saw any meaningful minutes last year, and both will need to be consistent and lead this very young team.

Outlook: In the short term, things won't be pretty in Winston-Salem. This will be a VERY young team. The incoming freshmen are very talented, however, and in a year or two, the Demon Deacons will be back in Business.

12. Virginia
Last Year’s Record: 15-16 (5-11)
Key Departure: Sylven Landesburg
Key Recruit: K.T. Harrell

Projected Starting Line-Up:
PG: Sammy Zeglinski
SG: Jeff Jones
SF: Mustapha Farrakhan
PF: Mike Scott
C: Assane Sene

Virginia is another team in the midst of a rebuilding effort. Three players decided to leave the program in the offseason, including leading scorer Sylven Landesburg. However, a great recruiting class will be joining the Cavs this year, and it will be interesting to see how they develop on the fly.

Back Court: Mustapha Farrakhan and Jeff Jones will need to provide senior leadership for this young team. Jones and Junior Sammy Zeglinski will be able to score in bunches with his outstanding perimeter shooting.K.T. Harrell is a talented wing player who could work himself into the rotation.

Front Court: Mike Scott will be a stabilizing force up front with his scoring and rebounding, but he will find help hard to come by. Assane Sene is still a work in progress, but his great size will at least help him grab some rebounds. Freshman James Johnson could step in and steal a starting spot if he plays well.

Outlook: There's a good amount of young talent here, but there's just not enough experienced post players. Virginia will have to wait a couple of years for this freshman class to develop.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Seth Curry Mix

Just one of my favorite Youtube videos out there, this kid is just a lot of fun to watch, I can't wait for him to finally suit up for the Blue Devils. He's one of the biggest reasons we won it all last year, going up against Nolan and Jon in practice. He's gonna be really good.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Not Much Happening . .

So, I know I haven't posted much lately, and its mainly because there is nothing exciting happening in sports right now. But still, when the headline of sportscenter is some guy I never heard of accusing Lance Armstrong of taking PEDs, you know its a slow news day. The NBA playoffs are officially a wash. Boringest postseason in basketball EVER. Lakers-Celtics finals  . . . . I'm soooooo excited . . . not.

Yep, it's gonna be slow around here until the NBA draft and when NBA free agency heats up. I'll probably also try to cover the World Cup, since that's pretty exciting stuff. But for the most part, baseball sucks, and I hate it. Why can't basketball season be during the summer and football season be during the winter? That way, we can have decent sports coverage year round. But no, baseball has to have a monopoly on the summer. Suck it, sports fans.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Alone in Cleveland

The sweet sound of a Ray Allen swish sounded more like the dull thud of medieval guillotine on Thursday night. The singed twine definitively executing the season of dreams of the Cleveland Cavaliers and effectively began the nightmare for Cleveland fans dubbed The Summer of Lebron. But the Boston Celtics on Thursday night did more than simply defeat the Cavaliers in round 2 of the 2010 Playoffs. They may have pushed the biggest piece in the free agency puzzle out of its believed position, thus, scrambling all the other pieces around too. The Celtics may have altered the very landscape of the NBA for the next decade or so because of the manner in which they dealt that defeat.

They did not just beat the Cavs. They demoralized the Cavs to the point where the Cavs themselves no longer believed they could compete with the Celtics. That is the ultimate defeat, not only on the court but in the mind, and I’m sure Lebron saw this. He realized his teammates were mentally defeated, that his coach couldn’t compete (panicking in Game 5 with Daniel Gibson and continually underplaying athletic bigs Hickson and Varejao) with the opposing coach, that to win this series he would have to enter a realm of super-human capability that even he was not capable of entering. And seeing all this Lebron, well, he realized he was on his own, and he gave up. He quit on his team just like they had quit believing in themselves. The symbolic moment of this cataclysmic cascade of events for Cavs fans came in the waning moments of the elimination game. As the final minute ticked down and Mike Brown was screaming at his team to foul or do anything, but nothing happened. The Cavs just stood around watching Rondo or Allen dribble away their championship aspirations. And when a team mentally checks out, and a star quits on them, and everybody loses trust in everybody else at such an important moment, well there is no turning back for that team, that is a moment which changes everything.

There is always that line, that invisible, abstract but amazingly obvious line that you know never to cross without massive repercussions. We know this line with our friends, professors, teachers, parents..etc. As in you knew never to call your mom an idiot and when you finally accidentally/purposely did, things would always be just a little bit different because in that moment something had fundamentally changed. So to with 2010 Cavs. You don’t lose trust in your teammates the way Lebron did and go back to them. Lebron, in this series, saw his team as group as what they truly are: a rag tag group of players rashly assembled and heavily dependent on him. A group of players mentally owned by the Boston Celtics and in this moment Lebron stopped trying for them, knowing they could never help him win a title. It’s the only explanation for his complete lack of interest in the last two games. He passed the ball away emotionless, watching his teammates struggle and fail because they just weren’t good enough, skilled enough, and most importantly mentally strong enough. But this wasn’t a vengeful Lebron, like Kobe a couple of years ago when he refused to take a shot to teach his team a lesson and have them come back to him begging him to play like he wanted to. No, this passive Lebron was more like a parent realizing for the first time that their kid was never going to be what they wanted him or her to be. This was a sad Lebron who seemed to just realize that these guys around him were not good enough, no matter how hard they tried and no matter how hard he wanted to believe that they were. And when you realize that, you can’t ever go back to way things were. Before Boston I’m sure Lebron genuinely thought that he could lead this group to a championship. But Boston’s defeat of Cleveland opened up Lebron’s eyes. Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, Kevin Garnett, and Kendrick Perkins showed Lebron what a real team can do, and Lebron has realized to get one of those, he will have to leave Cleveland. And Lebron's leaving Cleveland will change everything.

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Epic Saga of LeBron James

Read this article on Bleacher Report


What can you say about LeBron James that hasn't already been said in every outlet of sports media?

He is clearly the most talented and dominant athlete in basketball. He is known as "The Chosen One," "Akron Hammer," "L-Train," or simply "King James." Anybody with that many nicknames is surely an all time great. He is a surefire future hall of famer, and there is no reason for anyone to believe his legacy is on the line. He still has a decade of basketball to play

LeBron was supposed to bring a championship to the cursed city of Cleveland, whose sports teams had not won a title in any major sport since 1964. Just to put that in perspective, here's a short list of things that happened in 1964:

Cassius Clay changed his name to Muhammad Ali and defeated Sunny Liston to win his first heavyweight title.

The Beatles song "I Want to Hold Your Hand" was the number one single.

"My Fair Lady" won best picture at the academy awards.

"Bonanza" was the number one show on television.

My point? 1964 was a long time ago. Cleveland is a city where sports fans are constantly tortured by near misses in nearly every sport. It's happened so often that they actually have names for every specific occurrence. "The Fumble," "The Shot," and "The Drive" are just a few of the incarnations of the Cleveland sports curse (not to mention the 1997 World Series).

Pretty soon, we are going to have to come up with a name for the LeBron situation.

First of all, if LeBron James leaves for another team, I have absolutely no doubt that he instantly becomes the greatest sports pariah of all time in Cleveland. Any time he returns to that city, he will be absolutely despised and reviled beyond his wildest imagination.

Is that justified? Absolutely not. Those fans don't seem to remember that LeBron basically carried the Cavs to the playoffs every year with almost no supporting cast to speak of, including an NBA finals appearance in 2007. He entertained them at every home game with his unbelievable athleticism and talent. He gave them some of the best and most exciting years of his career.

Is it his fault the Cavs haven't won it all yet? No.

Every single year the Cavs were knocked out of the playoffs, we said "Well, LeBron can't be blamed, he played lights out, he just had no help." That is true. I can't remember a single year where LeBron didn't bring it almost every play of every game.

Game five against the Celtics this year was the first time I saw LeBron not being LeBron. The guy literally has had like two or three bad playoffs games in his career, and you are insane if you are going to blame him for this defeat.

Why not blame some of the people who deserve it?
I'm pointing the finger at Mike Brown. He deserves to fired.
The biggest advantage he had against the Celtics was athleticism. During the regular season, the Celtics had a terrible time matching up with Hickson-LeBron-Moon-West-Williams or even Hickson-LeBron-Varejao-Williams-West.

Bill Simmons noted in his column on "In a Feb. 25 game in Boston, Hickson-LeBron/Moon-Varejao-West-Williams turned a 78-77 deficit into a 101-86 rout in just eight minutes. They blew the Celtics off the court."

Instead, he played Shaq all series even though he got killed on pick and rolls every time, was nonexistent on help defense and fast breaks, and clogged up the lane on offense; which limited LeBron to jump shots much of the time.

Hickson sat on the bench nearly the entire series and Moon, Brown's best perimeter defender, who also barely played, was guarding Ray Allen or Paul Pierce instead of Rondo; who continually killed the Cavs with his drives to the basket.

Mike Brown is terrible at creating favorable matchups. The only reason he is even an NBA head coach is because he has the best player in the world and he gets carried to 60-win seasons. The Cavs said they are keeping Brown this year, and I predict that he's gone by this time next year. LeBron should have just been Player-Coach, Bill Russell style.

How about Mo Williams, Antawn Jamison, and Shaq? These guys were brought in to help LeBron, not stand around and expect LeBron to take over and win a title for them. Mo figured it out in the first half of game six, but then everyone just gave up in the last two minutes of the game. Pathetic.
Shaq is not a good player. I'm sorry, but he's terrible. He needs retire.

LeBron has every right to pursue free agency. As cliche as it may sound, it's a free country. You can't force him to stay in Cleveland. He wants to win a title, and it's becoming more and more obvious that it will not happen there.

As a LeBron fan, I want to see him in the finals competing for a championship. For that to happen, I think he has to leave.

At any rate, all signs point to his departure. It is obvious from his body language and from the way his teammates played the last two minutes of game six that he is gone.

Wherever LeBron ends up, he will contend for championships every year. He will pick the best situation for long term championship contention. Personally, I believe that destination is Chicago. Some think it is New Jersey or New York.

Regardless, whatever LeBron James does this summer, it will have a ripple effect across the league that will affect its direction for the next decade.

It is a little sad, but I think I am actually more excited about this off season than the playoffs right now.
With all the free agent signings and potentially one of the deepest drafts ever, it is sure to be an interesting shift in the struggle for NBA supremacy. I can't wait.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Lorenzo Brown and Ryan Harrow

I am by no means an NC State fan, but I have to admit . . their recruits have some nasty mixtapes. Last time on the blog, I posted some ridiculous footage of CJ Leslie being absurdly athletic, dunking on everyone. Here are his 2 freshman teammates for next year: Lorenzo Brown and Ryan Harrow. brown has a sweet crossover and can really get up high and finish with authority. Harrow has absolutely sick handles and will soon be a star point guard. State has a senior PG in Javier Gonzalez, but he's going to have to come off the bench because Harrow is seriously talented. If my team was in the ACC and not named Duke, I'd be very scared of NC State this year.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Grant Hill

The Suns are quickly becoming my personal favorite team in the playoffs. It's just hard to root against guys like Grant Hill and Steve Nash, who are basically octogenarians in today's NBA, but beyond all explanation, are still getting it done. Check out this block, is this really the work of a 37 year old??

And just a little refresher course on Mr. Hill . . in case the young folks don't remember what we was like in his prime (I know the resolution sucks):

Just for clarification, in case it was too fuzzy, on that last dunk, he definitely crossed the s*** out of Dan Majerle and then calmly proceeded to posterize Alonzo Mourning. Humiliating all-time defensive greats was just another day on the job for Grant Hill back in the day. At the height of his career, he was a triple double machine. He was a 6'8" guy who had unworldly hops, sick handles, played ridiculous defense (he still regularly guards the other team's best player at age 37), he was fast a hell and was more than capable of playing four positions including point guard.

Oh yeah, by the way, he currently leads the suns this postseason in rebounding.

His game is so smooth and effortless, it makes you a little disappointed that the best player in the league now has a game about as visually appealing as the city he plays for. (For the slow readers out there, yes, I just ripped on Lebron and Cleveland) Anyways, to me, Grant is a hall of famer. I just don't know anybody who ever came through the league who was just such an intelligent, honest, unselfish, good guy, and was just so much fun to watch. It is literally a tragedy that his best years were taken from us by a chronic ankle injury.

On a final note, if the Suns beat the Spurs and Robin Lopez finds a way to return from his back injury and effectively reintegrate himself into the team . . . I dunno if the Lakers can win that series the way the Suns are playing right now . . . It will be interesting.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

2010 NBA Mock Draft

Read this article on Bleacher Report

The NBA announced last Thursday that 103 players, including 80 players from U.S. colleges and 23 international players, have filed as early entry candidates for the 2010 NBA Draft. Add in about 20 college seniors, about half of whom have a very good chance of being drafted, and you have to figure that more than half of the early entries are going undrafted.

It is truly bewildering to try to comprehend the logic behind some of these kid's decisions. What would prompt all these young players to give up their college eligibility for just a remote shot at being drafted? Sure, the John Walls, Evan Turners, and Demarcus Cousins are guaranteed a spot in the lottery, and no one can question their decision, but what about the Malcolm Delaneys, the Talor Battles, and the AJ Ogilvys? These are players who could have significantly increased their chances of being drafted by staying in school one more year.
If this disturbing trend continues, should we even be calling these guys student-athletes anymore? College has obviously become and prep program for the NBA, and I just don't see the value in it. The one year rule needs to either be abolished or extended to 2 or 3 years, with the option of entering the draft out of high school. That way, the players who want to go to school can go to school and the players who want to go pro can do that.

The days of All-Stars who were once college seniors may have come to an end. Since 2005, just 3 players were drafted as college seniors and made an All-Star squad: Brandon Roy, David Lee, and Danny Granger. Granger and Lee were drafted in 2005. Roy was drafted in 2006. That means 0 seniors drafted after 2006 have made an appearance in the All-Star game. Think about that.

I've taken five recently updated mock drafts from respectable sources (,, Draft Express, ESPN's Chad Ford, and College Hoops Update) and compiled and averaged them into one meta-draft. If these mocks are even remotely accurate, then it seems that 2010 will be the first draft EVER to not feature a single college senior in the lottery. In fact, the first senior projected to be drafted is Texas forward Damion James, 24th.
Without further ado: the first round of the 2010 NBA Draft:

30. Armon Johnson, Jr. Nevada PG
Average draft position: 28.5
I can't terribly fault Johnson for entering this draft. He has the size and skill to play in the NBA as a point guard, and as a junior, he is likely worried about the potential lockout next year.

29. Dominique Jones, Jr. South Florida SG
Average draft position: 28.25
Good offensive guard, and his game shows maturity. However, he's on the small side for an NBA 2 guard and his jumper is about as inconsistent as it gets.

28. Elliot Williams, So. Memphis SG
Average draft position: 27.25
Williams is a guy who I respect a great deal. He started out at Duke, but transferred to Memphis after his first year to be close to his mother, who had developed cancer. If that's not a good reason to want to enter the draft, then I don't know what is. Obviously, with another year in college, E-Mail had a shot at being a lottery pick, but some things are just more important. I hope he goes higher than this, he's a great defensive guard, and I wish him and his family the very best.

27. Quincy Poindexter, Sr. Washington SF
Average draft position: 26.75
One of just 3 seniors projected to go in the first round, good athlete, but with his limited perimeter skill set, I just don't think he's a major player at the NBA level as a small forward.

26. Devin Ebanks, So. West Virginia PF
Average draft position: 26.5
In all honesty, Ebanks should have gone last year, when he had a real shot at going in the lottery. But then again, he could have stayed one more year and still have been in the lottery. Therefore, the logical choice was to go this year, when he's barely a first rounder.

25. Stanley Robinson, Sr. Connecticut SF
Average draft position: 26.25
Senior #2 of 3 . . . Robinson can jump out of the gym, his best asset is clearly his athleticism. However, he lacks the size or power to play the 4 in the NBA, and lacks the perimeter skills to be an effective 3. An unfortunate combination of problems indeed.

24. Damion James, Sr. Texas PF
Average draft position: 23.5
That's it . . . that's ALL the seniors in the first round, all in the bottom 7 picks. However, James deserves to higher than this, he's an outstanding player, very athletic, very talented, great rebounder. His only problem is figuring out what position he will play. He's kind of in that same dilemma as Stanley Robinson, but he has the offensive game to be a player in this league.

23. Luke Babbitt, So. Nevada SF
Average draft position: 22.75
Skilled small forward prospect with an accurate perimeter shot and solid mid range game. Should be a nice offensive boost off the bench but he will have difficulty guarding NBA small forwards, which will limit his playing time.

22. Avery Bradley, Fr. Texas SG
Average draft position: 21.6
A great scorer who can really shoot it, but at 6'2", he's is going to be severely limited as a shooting guard. He lacks the quickness and the floor game to be a point guard.

21. Solomon Alabi, So. Florida State C
Average draft position: 21.2
Big defensive presence who has a soft touch and is very athletic. Alabi could really improve and eventually become a very solid player, but currently, his feel for the game is very limited, and he has a great deal to work on offensively. Still, he's a bargain at this point in the draft. You can't teach 7 feet.

20. Eric Bledsoe, Fr. Kentucky PG
Average draft position: 20.8
The poster boy for leaving a year too early. Kentucky really could have used him next year at the lead guard position. He would have been a top 10 pick next year.

19. Larry Sanders, Jr. Virginia Commonwealth C
Average draft position: 20.0
Intriguing prospect for a mid to late first rounder. Sanders will be a dominant shot blocker. He has a 7'7" wingspan and great anticipation. However, his game is still very raw. He must work on his fundamentals and offensive game.

18. Paul George, So. Fresno State SF
Average draft position: 19.8
The first early entry here who I would consider truly ready for the NBA. George has great length, and a smooth game. He is a great passer as a small forward. His shot is accurate, with a quick release and is difficult to contest because of his high release. He will be an impact player at the next level.

17. James Anderson, Jr. Oklahoma State SG
Average draft position: 19.0
Many people considered Anderson the best 2 guard in colllege basketball this year. He's a prolific scorer, lights out shooter, and has good size for his position. Must improve on his ball handling. He has problems creating offense for himself.

16. Gordon Hayward, So. Butler SF
Average draft position: 16.2
This is about where I expect Hayward to go. He's an excellent shooter, ball handler, and rebounder. Creates matchup problems with his size and shooting skill. He must become more aggressive and improve his defense.

15. Daniel Orton, Fr. Kentucky PF
Average draft position: 15.4
Okay . . . what???? How does a guy who averages 3 points and 3 rebounds go this high in 5 different mock drafts? Talk about drafting on potential. If I were an NBA GM, I'd leave him alone. He is far from the known quantities of his teammates Wall and Cousins. If Orton completely flops in the NBA, I'll be sure to tell you I told you so.

14. Patrick Patterson, Jr. Kentucky PF
Average draft position: 14.4
Great NBA body, effective low post scorer, much improved perimeter shooter. Patterson is the best example in recent memory of a guy who went back to school one more year and came out with a much better draft outlook. Even though his scoring went down, he was able to show what he could really do in an NBA style offense. However, he does need to work on his rebounding.

13. Xavier Henry, Fr. Kansas SG
Average draft position: 14.2
Henry possesses a powerful body and a good shooting stroke. He is a prolific scorer, but lacks elite athleticism.

12. Ekpe Udoh, Jr. Baylor PF
Average draft position: 13.0
Elite prospect. Udoh is unbelievably long and athletic. He possesses the quickness of a guard and is a shot blocking and rebounding force. Still has a raw offensive game, but should develop in time in to one of the best forwards in this draft. I would not be surprised to see him go in the top 10.

11. Donatas Motiejunas, Lithuania PF
Average draft position: 12.4
The latest version of "The Next Dirk Nowitzki." Extremely talented European 7 footer. He can play inside or out, can shoot the ball and has an effective post game. Has the toughness to play through contact and defend in the post.

10. Hassan Whiteside, Fr. Marshall C
Average draft position: 11.4
The typical athletic big guy who is solid defensively but needs to work on his offense. I feel like a broken record at this point, there's just so many of these guys, but Whiteside is clearly the one with the most potential.

9. Greg Monroe, So. Georgetown PF
Average draft position: 9.2
I can't believe a guy this talented isn't a top 6 pick. Think about this for a second. Here's a 6'11" big man who can handle the ball like a guard, has incredible court vision, is extremely unselfish, makes precise and effective passes, and can shoot the ball from range or go down low and score in the post with his unorthodox lefty style. Teams that pass on him will be sorry they did.

8. Ed Davis, So. North Carolina PF
Average draft position: 8.2
Davis should have gone pro last year. That's all there is to it. he dropped in value and he was part of the worst Carolina team since Doherty was on the sidelines. Memo to future top-5 projected guys: Go pro.

7. Cole Aldrich, Jr. Kansas C
Average draft position: 7.0
Solid fundamentals, skilled big man who can rebound, play defense, and score down low. Not an explosive athlete, but will contribute effectively in his role. With Aldrich, what you see is what you get. He's a safe top 10 pick.

6. Al-Farouq Aminu, So. Wake Forest SF
Average draft position: 6.8
I think this is a little high for Aminu. Sure, he's a freak athlete, extremely quick, explosive leaper, and has some REALLY long arms, but the guy can't hit a jump shot and even with his quickness, somehow cannot create his own shots. He will be a defensive presence, but I'd take Monroe over him in a heartbeat.

5. Wes Johnson, Jr. Syracuse SF
Average draft position: 5.4
The top 5 of this draft is about as predictable as it gets. Every mock draft I saw basically had the same 5 guys with a few variances in positioning. Johnson at #5 is the logical choice. He is the prototypical athletic NBA small forward. He has a 7 foot wingspan, which should allow him to be an unbelievable defender. He's ultra quick and has a huge vertical. Johnson will be a star, that's guaranteed.

4. Demarcus Cousins, Fr. Kentucky PF/C
Average draft position: 3.8
Whether Cousins goes 3rd or 4th, you can't really go wrong with him or Favors. With cousins, you get a dominant rebounder who is HUGE(270 pounds). He is also very quick for his size and excels at scoring in the post. He's not a great athlete, but his overwhelming size makes up for it nicely. The only thing you have to worry about with Big Cuz, is how many years he will lead the league in technical fouls.

3. Derrick Favors, Fr. Georgia Tech PF
Average draft position: 3.6
9'1" wingspan . . . that's what they reported. Not only that, Favors is a phenomenal athlete with soft hands. I think you have to go with Favors over Cousins. His length and athleticism is just too much to pass on. His stats weren't very imposing at G Tech, but that's more a problem with the style of play and lack of quality guards to deliver him the ball. Favors will be one of the best scoring big men in the league in a few years. Think Amare Stoudemire.

2. Evan Turner, Jr. Ohio State, SF/SG
Average draft position: 2.0
A no brainer for the #2 pick. Turner is a 6'7" Swiss army knife who can play up to four different positions. That kind of versatility is just unheard of nowadays. He handles like a point guard, rebounds like a power forward, and scores like a shooting guard. Turner can do it all.

1. John Wall Fr. Kentucky PG
Average draft position: 1.0
If you don't take wall at #1, you're absolutely insane. You just don't get blazing speed, pinpoint passing, and dominating athleticism in a 6-4 package like this. In fact, there is no current comparison for Wall in the league. His size and speed put him in a class of his own. The closest comparison i can think of is that he's a miniature version of Lebron James. They are both very similar in the open court, as in, you can't stop them. Yeah . . he's that much of a physical freak.

This Mock is also featured on the Mock Draft Database

Saturday, May 1, 2010

A Fragile State of Mind

It feels safe. But a transparent safe. The kind of safe you see in horror movies when the main character suddenly spots the ghost/killer/ hooded person with the fishhook and dives behind the closest table and waits....and waits...and waits..and nothing happens. So he takes a chance and peeks, nothing happens; he stands up and looks around, nothing happens; he decides to walk right into the middle of room so anything can see him and he can really see no one and still nothing happens. He is safe; he seems safe. He takes a deep breath and walks out and....well, mistake....fishhook to the head.

That is the kind of safe I'm feeling right now and probably what most Tiger fans are feeling right now about our recruiting class. It's too dangerous to talk about it out loud, the whole thing could crumble. We are all waiting for what can go wrong, for everything to fall apart like everything else has involving Tiger basketball in the last year or so. However, you can't really blame us. In a span of just a couple of years Tiger fans saw their championship choked away, their Diva Coach bolting for more publicity and more money, their prized recruiting class stolen by said Diva, snake-oil salesaman coach, and to add insult to injury the first of this list now technically never happened as the NCAA has decided that the Derrick Rose was ineligible and that it was our fault that they cleared him. I won't even mention the big time, season-saving recruitment of Latavouis Williams and then his subsequent defection to go pro in the NBDL instead or that we basically lost two championships in three years (John Wall, Cousins, Coleman, Sallie, Witherspoon, Bledsoe..they would have won the title + the one Coach X choked away for us, okay the one we choked away). The point is Memphis fans are seemingly always braced for the worst. That is why whenever we talk about our recruiting class we can only whisper it, just in case, no jinxing it or getting our hopes up so when the whole thing inevitably does fall apart we can safely say 'Oh we knew something was going to go wrong'.

But it seems as though the fresh pollen-filled, allergy inciting Memphis spring breezes are beginning to wash away the painful memories and pessimistic feelings that have devoured our pschyes. It feels okay now to be cautiously optimistic, this recruiting class might just make it all the way to Memphis, maybe even play a game or two in a Memphis uniform at the Fedex Forum. It might be okay to discuss what might happen next year and what could be. Will Barton, Joe Jackson, Jelan Kendrick, Tarik Black, Chris Crawford, Hippolyte Tsafack, and Antonio Barton, we can even say their names out loud now..... with a slight, quiet tinge of hope. Most of the coaching moves have been made and Josh Pastner is still here. Of course we're all sure that Roy Williams will announce his retirement anyday now and UNC will contact Pastner and take all our recruits, but it hasn't happened yet. It has been a long year since the destruction of the Memphis basketball program at the unforgiving hands of Coach X, but it seems, just for the moment, that we are finally at the light at the end of the tunnel that we have been dreaming of for so long. The only problem is most of us still expect it to be a train.