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A Beefy Breakdown of the First Round

Super bad.

We’ve talked about it a lot but there’s no way around it: the impending lockout is already starting to cause problems in the NBA and it started with 2011’s NBA Draft.

In essence, it was weak.  Super weak.

It was a mixture of teams trying to do too much along with those that didn’t seem to want to take part at all.  Cleveland went for flash with their lottery picks while the Timberwolves seemed to do everything they could to get out of the first round and confuse everyone.

For Europeans, it was a great night.  Four of the ten lottery picks were Euros, a draft record.  It ties in with the fact that a boy that has been playing pro overseas has proven himself more than most college athletes and that a seven foot tall German just won Finals MVP.

At the same time, several teams took advantage of their picks as bait for trades.  We saw several good players switch teams on draft night outside of the youngsters that were just getting their first taste of the NBA.  However a lot of franchises seemed to want to avoid much activity at all knowing that on July 1, everything could come to a halt.

1. Kyrie Irving- Cavaliers

The saying goes:

Pick the best player available.

Obviously, Dan Gilbert and the Cleveland Cavs haven’t heard this saying before.  However, he was the best point guard available in the draft.

With Daniel Gibson, Ramon Sessions and Baron Davis on the squad, the Cavaliers are a little crowded at the PG position.  Kyrie Irving will have a lot of players to learn from and comes from a great pedigree of students.  He only played 11 games in college but those games were under Coach K, one of the best teachers of the game.

Now, it seems almost certain that Sessions is trade bait and Gibson will remain a bench player despite his improved play last season.  Byron Scott might as well throw Irving into the rotation immediately seeing as this team was terrible on offense (95.5 ppg which was 25th in the league) and defense (giving up 104.5 ppg which was 23rd in the league).  Those stats combined with winning only one of 37 games from the end of November to the beginning of February including a 26-game-losing streak, makes for not much else to do but start all over.

This pick coincides with the wizards decision to bring in John Wall first overall last season but then again they did lose three more games this season but for various other reasons (bringing a gun to the stadium ring a bell?).

However, only two point guards that were ever drafted first overall brought banners to their respective cities and their names are Isiah Thomas and Magic Johnson.

Scott has a fairly decent player to work with in Irving and they were obviously impressed by his workout.

This is an example of a team seeking and immediate remedy with a player they assume is worth more than he really is.  Irving proved nothing in the NCAA because 11 games doesn’t scratch the surface of what we at the Beef considers a career.

The Cleveland spotlight has a new victim.

This pick shows that the NBA hasn’t gotten over the fact that college experience does matter for multiple reasons.  It teaches these boys teamwork wins and that self-indulgent goals don’t lead to much on a team basis.  Anyone can easily be overrated by what they did in high school.  There is a reason so many prospects stay just that: prospects.  If everyone had their way, they’d all be superstars in the NBA from how they performed in high school gyms.

That’s not how it works.

LeBron James dominated in high school due to his size, game and larger than life personality.  Forgoing college to enter the NBA was his way of expediting his life all the way to the top.

The Cleveland Caveliers saw it the same way: a man-child that didn’t have to prove much of anything before signing a major contract.  He was their savior, their king and their promise of glory.  All he did was crumble when he realized that the games and situations were bigger than him.

He can play and dominate physically but year after year we see how feeble his mind really is.  There’s a reason he only has two wins in the Finals and it took Dwyane Wade, a former Marquette player that took his team to the Final Four, to get those two wins.  Unfortunately, it takes four games to win it all.

Again, Cleveland is looking at the small picture in order to achieve the greater goal.  The media blew up Kyrie and they listened.  True, Baron Davis is getting old and the franchise no longer has an identity outside of Dan Gilbert’s sleazy smile and passive aggressive comments about his king that jumped ship.

However, how do you build a kingdom with only 11 games under your belt?  After all, you still have to win 16 games in the playoffs to take it all home.

Instead, it’s key that the Cavs build from the ground up and not from the top down.  Essentially, they are throwing in a point guard that has absolutely no one to pass to that’s even worth mentioning.

Gilbert and company had no idea that a No. 1 pick could land them so many more options that could lead to so many greater things so much easier and even quicker.  Instead, they too had to grab the spotlight and make that No. 1 pick.  After all, isn’t it those picks that fill seats?  Everyone has to see the top player play.

Sadly, immediate satisfaction is the reason we even have the draft.  Teams get a chance to bring in a player that will forever change their team.  Yes, Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and so on were players that changed their respective teams in ways unimaginable but even they did their time in the trenches in college picking up the pieces of their adolescence, transforming them into supermachines built to do nothing but bleed and breath basketball.

Irving has yet to know who he is as a player.  Duke has a great coach, a great system and great players.  Surrounded by that talent, he was never faced with adversity until he was injured and that still paid off for him… so far.

2. Derrick Williams- Timberwolves

He’s big, he’s bold and he can play

Derrick Williams should have gone first but sometimes that’s not how it works.  He is a very strong and athletic player with an enormous wingspan.  He can get to the rim and elevate or even pull back and shoot a jumper.  He can’t really rebound very well but with Kevin Love on your team, he won’t be relied on for pulling down all the boards.

His defense is questionable but David Khan made a good decision in picking Williams.  Minnesota, who just fired Kurt Rambis, will need to mold this player into an NBA-caliber star, but with his size, that shouldn’t be too hard.  ESPN analyst John Gruden said that he could even play tight end in the NFL.

Ironically, his last game in college was against Kyrie Iving when Arizona lost to Duke in the NCAA Tournament.

It’s a transforming time for the Wolves but when isn’t it?  They always land a slew of first-round picks and do strange things like draft Ricky Rubio who just so happens to now want come to the NBA for the final year of his initial rookie contract.

Williams should rest easy seeing as every other move the Wolves made in the draft seem to be made around trades oriented around saving money.  However, it is still unknown what Khan plans on using the saved cash for.

He will work alongside Wesley Johnson and Martell Webster at the strong forward position.  Johnson was drafted fourth overall last season by the Wolves and started 63 games.  His season was mediocre at best and Williams will be relied on to start in that frontcourt.  His scoring will come naturally and the Wolves did a lot of that last season with 101 a game (10th in the NBA).  But the Wolves were the worst defensively by giving up 107 a night to their opponents.

The new coach and starting point guard (possibly Rubio or Luke Ridnour) will have the luxury of playing with a strong forward that really knows how to create his own shots from anywhere on the floor so all they have to do is essentially get him the ball.  Alongside Love, this frontcourt could be formidable at best.  Now only if Michael Beasley could get his head out of the (weed) clouds.

3. Enes Kanter- Jazz

Meet the Undertaker.

This athletic 19-year-old wanted to play but made too much money while playing in Europe.  Too bad.

He’s 6’11” with five percent body fat.  He’s smart, big and will work well in the Utah Jazz system.  He broke Dirk Nowitzki’s record of 33 points in the Nike Hoop Summit by putting up 34 and will compliment Al Jefferson and Derrick Favors well while playing for the Jazz.

Last season, Utah lost a lot with the retirement of Jerry Sloan and trade that sent Deron Williams to New Jersey.  The entire process showed the kinks in the armor of a perennial powerhouse team that was seemingly build on a foundation of discipline and commitment to the game dating back to the days of Stockton and Malone.

Now, head coach Tyrone Corbin is faced with the daunting task of putting an image on a team that lost almost all of the key pieces that got them to the Western Conference Finals in 2007. They finished 11th in the conference and missed the playoffs for the first time since the 2005-06 season.

Luckily, the Williams trade landed them the third pick in this year’s draft and they subsequently landed the best European player available.  Kanter gives this already deep frontcourt some actual athleticism that will work well with Mehmet Okur, Paul Milsap, Jefferson and Favors.  He can keep up with the fast break with Devin Harris and has deadly speed for a guy his size.

The upside of drafting a guy like Kanter is that he’s been pro before.  He played in the Euroleague and Turkish Basketball league before coming to the NBA.  Being selected to the Turkish National Team helped his resume even more.  Essentially, he already knows how to work in a professional system and even though it prevented him from playing college ball in the US, he knows how to go out and earn a paycheck.  It’s his hard work ethic and dedication that’s going to help him earn respect on the Utah Jazz.

4. Tristan Thompson- Cavaliers

The freshman forward from Texas went a little higher than expected but this lefty can get offensive boards.

He has great speed and super hops with a 9’1” reach after leaving the ground with his 7’1” wingspan.  He gets around the rim but still needs to learn how to score.  Byron Scott will need to work on his free throws as well.  He shoots just above 48 percent from the foul line.  He will need to develop a game that takes advantage of receiving fouls while operating in the lane.

As stated earlier, the Cavs give up a lot of scoring and Thompson can hopefully help lead the way.  Hopefully he can learn a lot from Antawn Jamison who has already stated that he is ready to retire at the end of the season.  Jamison is a blue-collar player that was forced to put the Wizards on his back during stretches of his career and hopefully his work ethic will rub off onto this young longhorn.  It’s essentially him and J.J. Hickson in that frontcourt so he better get ready to work.

5. Jonas Valanciunas- Raptors

Future bust?

Bryan Colangelo loves foreign players and that trend followed suite again this year.

This 19-year-old can get put backs and can run but needs more muscle mass.  He reminds scouts of a young Pau Gasol and Dwayne Casey needs a big guy if they plan on employing a tougher defense north of the border.  Toronto likes him though and has confirmed that his European contract has been bought out.  Some were saying that letting him play out the rest of his contract in order to let him develop a little more.  However, the Raptors want him now.

Having won the FIBA under-16 Championship MVP in 2008 and the under-18 award in 2010, this guy knows nothing but success.  Sadly, that’s a lot more than the Raptors can claim.

He’s big at 7 feet but lean at 231 lbs.  He has speed and determination that will help the Toronto frontcourt that relies almost only on Andrea Bargnani.  They were 27th in the league in offensive boards last season and Valanciunas will give them a little more under the basket.

Although drafting players from Europe does come with the perk of professional experience, sometimes buyouts and overseas contracts can complicate things.  Doesn’t seem as though Colangelo really understands that in this case.  Sadly, Toronto extended their contract with the terrible GM that has such disastrous notches on his resume such as trading Jason Kidd from Phoenix to New Jersey for Stephon Marbury or drafting Bargnani first overall.

Yes, Jerry Colangelo is ingenious but in this case, the apple falls very far away from the tree.

6. Jan Vesely- Wizards

This 2011 FIBA Player of the Year is a 6’11” energy guy that can score in transition and off of half-court lobs.  He’s a European that can actually dunk and should work well with John Wall in Washington.  They refer to him as the European Blake Griffin because of his hops and should definitely help with Flip Saunders’ offense.

This surprisingly young yet large Wizards team will be able to pickup the pace a little bit next season with a big guy that can play alongside JaVale McGee.  Additionally, he will come off the bench for power forward Andray Blatche and give the big guy some much needed rest.  He played more minutes last season than ever before in his career at 33.3 a game

He won’t fix things in Washington but he’s a step in the right direction.

7.  Bismack Biyombo­- Bobcats (Acquired from Kings)

Next KG or Mbenga?

This pick originally belonged to the Kings but became the Bobcats’ after a three-team deal between them, Sacramento and Milwaukee.  The Kings received John Salmons and the tenth pick.  The Bucks got Beno Udrih, Stephen Jackson and Shaun Livingston.  Charlotte received Corey Maggette and the seventh pick in the draft which they used to pick Bismack Biyombo.

He recorded the first triple double ever in the Nike Hoop Summit and yet not a lot of teams knew about this young man from the Congo.  He speaks six languages and has a 7’7” wingspan.

He was playing in Yemen last year but now works for Michael Jordan and a Bobcats team that’s definitely in need of size.  He was a late add to the green room but the NBA knew he would go very early in the draft.  There is a buyout issue to settle with FIBA but the Bobcats have agreed to do whatever it takes to sign Biyombo.

Essentially, the trade freed up a lot of money with Jackson and Livingston leaving town.  Maggette can put up points for the Bobcats who were second to last in the league in scoring last season with only 93 a game.

Biyombo’s raw talent is what should really be focused on.  He naturally positions himself well under the basket to get boards and even block shots.  Some say he was never really tested when he played in the ACB European league for only one season but he has a lot to work on.

With Gerald Wallace going to Portland and the loss of Tyson Chandler to Dallas, Charlotte lost a lot of its defensive grit in the paint.  Hopefully Biyombo will restore that toughness to the Bobcats

8.  Brandon Knight- Pistons

John Callipari has a history of creating great point guards.  This freshman from Kentucky is a combo guard that can score from all over the court.  However, his release is a little funky, he always drives right and can’t really work off of the screen.

He works well with pick and rolls and has good eyes.  Knight has a lot of potential and the next coach of the Detroit Pistons will have a very smart player to mold into hopefully a great NBA point guard.

Knight in shining armor

There are notches in his game but he still took his team to the Final Four.  He knows that it’s going to take a lot of hard work to rebuild the ailing Pistons from the ground up.

Detroit still has a coaching vacancy and is what would considered a team in transformation.  They are a very small team and were last in the league in rebounding last season with only 38 a game.  The guard position is pretty set there now with Will Bynum, Ben Gordon and Rodney Stuckey so Knight will have a lot of players to learn from.  However, we have yet to see what the Pistons do with Tayshaun Prince and Richard Hamilton and their enormous contracts.

Whatever they decide to do, it might be in their best interest to get a little more mass down low.  Greg Monroe started the season off sluggish but started to round out in the later half of the season.  He’s about all they have as far as size with Charlie Villanueva having the worst scoring season of his career.  Also, Ben Wallace is essentially worthless.

Luckily, they only have four contracts through the 2013-14 season which gives them a bit of breathing room with trades or even buyouts.  Lawrence Frank and Mike Woodson are top candidates for the coaching position while Patrick Ewing, Bill Lambeer and Kelvin Sampson are also in the mix.  Whoever they pick, they need figure it out soon.  This team needs to get to work and hopefully Knight has what it takes to restore some pride to this team.

9. Kemba Walker- Bobcats

Kemba knows how to win and work.  Connecticut won every tourney they entered last season including winning five games in fives days during the Big East Tournament.  That’s never been done before.

He can jump, run and score.  He’s strong, fast and not afraid to bang around.  However, he’s a little small at 6’1” and is sometimes a little trigger-happy for a point guard.  He needs to learn how to live up to his nickname EZ Pass and learn how to spread the ball out a little more.

The Bobcats never really recovered from losing point guard Raymond Felton and D.J. Augustin was never really the right guy for the job.  Obviously, Michael Jordan sees something in Walker that can help the Bobcats earth their second ever playoff berth.  His game is so diverse it’s like adding several weapons to the Charlotte offense.  Paul Silas has to teach him to play like an NBA player now.

10. Jimmer Fredette- Sacramento (Acquired from Bucks)

The mania will soon end.

The Kings are looking to rebuild even after landing DeMarcus Cousins and Tyreke Evens but selecting Fredette wont help them.

Fredette likes to shoot and really thrives off of creating his own scoring opportunities.  He’s been compared to Steve Nash but only because of the color of his skin because this Mormon is really a shooting guard.

Defensively, he wont do much at all.  The Kings really need to work on Fredette’s defense if they plan on getting any better.  They call it Jimmermania but Sac Town needs a little more than a polygamous white boy that likes to shoot to keep that team out of Anaheim.

The good news is that Jimmer has several superb guards to learn from.  Tyreke Evans, Marcus Thornton and John Salmons are all great players in their own ways.  If Jimmer takes bits and pieces from each of their respective games, learns patience on the court and makes the most of his limited minutes, we could see a guy that could do some damage off of the court.

He won’t score the amount he did at BYU because he simply wont be taking nearly as many shots.  The position is just too deep in Sacramento for him to get nearly as many minutes either.  He averaged nearly 30 minutes a game in college and it’s guaranteed that he wont get those minutes with how deep they are at the guard position.  Thornton had his best scoring season yet last year in Sac Town with 21 points a game and Salmons will do well with a guard that actually passes.  Jimmer’s only hope is to come off the bench for scoring bursts.

The Kings’ woes run deep and Jimmer will not be their knight in shinning armor.

11.  Klay Thompson- Warriors

The Portland Trailblazers picked his father first overall in 1978 but now it’s his time to shine.

Klay is a perimeter shooter that will add to the already impressive offense in Golden State.  He also knows how to pass very well.  His eyes and intelligence allow him to actually make good decisions on the court that lead him or anyone put points on the board.

With this pick, it’s obvious that Mark Jackson and the Warriors are staying small and fast.  Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry have the both guard positions on lock but Thompson will have two great players to watch and learn from.  If he and Jeremy Lin develop together appropriately, this team could have four excellent guards on their hands.

Jackson promises that this team will make the playoffs in 2011-12 but they should have gone for some more size.  They gave up 32 defensive rebounds a game while allowing their opponents to grab 12.8 offensive boards a game (last in the league).  David Lee had a down year but it was his first season in Golden State and Ekpe Udoh is still developing.  Dorell Wright came out of his shell last season but it’s going to take a bit more for this team to make the playoffs.

We get it, Golden State wants to run but that model just simply doesn’t work.  An 82-game season can be grueling and wears down on these athletes.  If they are going to do it, Jackson has the luxury of a good guard core.

12.  Alec Burks- Jazz

This guard from Colorado won Big 12 Rookie of the Year and has remained fairly under the radar.

He can get to the rim, shake defenders and has a feel for scoring.  His defense is questionable but he definitely has a chip on his shoulder.  The sophomore was not highly recruited hence why he ended up in Colorado.  He has stated that he feels like he always has something to prove and hopefully the Jazz will give him an opportunity to do so.

Chauncey Billups is a mentor of his and has hopefully given him some good pointers to diversify his game.  Luckily for Burks, the two-guard position is up in the air in Utah.  Alongside Kanter, this team has the ability to be very fast and score a lot.

13.  Markieff Morris- Suns

The older of the two twins, by seven minutes, was drafted before his brother Marcus.  Many assumed the younger of the two would go sooner but Markieff has a defined position on the floor unlike Marcus.

Markieff can shoot threes and has good feet under the rim.  He’s the better defender of the two twins and is a very competitive rebounder.  He’s great at positioning himself under the basket and getting both hands in the ball.

Hakim Warrick had a hard time adjusting to the system in Phoenix but hopefully that will turn around next season.  Markieff is a little bigger and slower but hopefully he can learn a bit from the veteran.

It’s obvious that Alvin Gentry wants to build on rebounding and defense.  With the loss of Amar’e Stoudemire to the Knicks, they essentially lost their ability to do much in the paint.  Morris will hopefully be able to come in with the secondary unit and give backup point guard Aaron Brooks a little confidence knowing that someone can bail him out under the rim.

14.  Marcus Morris- Rockets

Seven minutes between births but only five minutes between draft picks.

Some say he fell to Houston, watch his last game with Kansas and you might feel differently.  By making only four of 19 shots in the NCAA Tournament in a loss to Virginia Commonwealth, both his ability and intelligence should come to mind.

The twins can't rely on each other anymore.

He can face up, drive to the basket and score.  He’s a post player with a jump shot where he utilizes his strength to push away defenders.  However, he can’t elevate at all in the lane and the NBA’s shot blockers shouldn’t have a hard time volleyballing his shots into the hardwood.

Houston had no problem scoring last season with 103 points a game but that just so happens to be how much they gave up a game as well.  They sniffed the playoffs last year but ultimately couldn’t catch the Memphis Grizzlies.  At guard, their stacked with Courtney Lee, Kyle Lowry, Goran Dragic and Kevin Martin.  Up front, they are a little weak and were pretty mediocre as far as scoring with their big men.

However, with Brad Miller gone, there is an opening in the rotation.  Also, there is a big question mark over Yao Ming’s head.  He wants to play but his days may be done. Hopefully Marcus will learn a bit from Luis Scola and mimic his creativity on the court.  Kevin McHale needs to go ahead and take the chance by utilizing Marcus with his second unit because Jordan Hill isn’t going to cut it if they plan on competing in the West.

15.  Kawhi Leonard- San Antonio (Picked by Indiana and traded)

This trade was one of the bigger surprises of draft night.  The rumors were that San Antonio was trying to trade Tony Parker but it obviously became apparent to the Spurs organization that if they are going to win, it has to be soon.  Parker, Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan are not getting any younger.

George Hill is a great player but obviously they saw something in Kawhi Leonard that would help them out now.

This sophomore had 23 double-doubles last season and has been described as relentless.  However, he too has flown relatively under the radar.

Leonard is short but has an enormous wingspan and some of the biggest hands in this year’s draft.  He can bully guys to score and can defend anyone on the court.  He’s good at offensive rebounds and gave San Diego State many second chances at scoring.  He doesn’t take a lot of shots but can pass very well.

He plays a very unselfish game of basketball that will fit into Greg Popavich’s system down there in SA.  He will work hard for his minutes and leave it all out on the court.

16.  Nikola Vucevic- 76ers

“Foreign Name but USC Game.”- Stuart Scott

Nikola Has very good size at the center spot and is the biggest player to take part in the NBA Combine this season.  He can rebound very well due to his size and has strong hands.

He can rebound in the double digits and has gotten better every season.  His work ethic is one reason Philadelphia likes him so much.

Doug Collins and his young Sixers surprised a lot of people last year by finishing 41-41 and making the Eastern Conference Playoffs.  However, they lost to Miami mainly to their defense.  Starting center Spencer Hawes only collected 19 rebounds in the entire five-game series and Elton Brand seemed to get worse and worse every game.

Collins already goes pretty small by starting two guards but Vucevic will give them another option at a bigger rotation.

17.  Iman Shumpert- Knicks

Is his mind in the game enough for the bright lights of NYC?

Shumpert is a guard that can guard.  He’s more of a two that works very well in transition.  He’s working on getting to the rim but is known more for his inside jumper.

His maturity comes to question but he’s working on developing a better work ethic.  He’s not great at one single thing but can do a lot on the floor.  He’s a willing passer and is mainly known for his ability to tenaciously guard smaller players.

This will mark Donnie Walsh’s last pick as president of the Knicks and will hopefully help them get out of the first round next season.  Their downfall during both the regular season and their playoff series against Boston was due in part to their terrible defense under Mike D’Antoni’s fast-paced offense.  Additionally, Billups’ injury didn’t help.

This pick will give them a younger guard on the floor to work with the ever-developing Carmelo Anthony.  Lucky for him, Anthony Carter is the backup and beating him out for a spot wont be hard.  Sadly, D’Antoni is a stickler about his rotation that can sometimes be very limited.

18.  Chris Singleton- Wizards

Singleton can defend nearly anyone on the court but can’t shoot very well at all.  His rebounding needs to improve seeing as he only gathered six a game at the forward position playing for Florida State.

He was the ACC Defensive Player of the Year and prevented nearly anyone from scoring against his Seminoles.   With McGee doing most of the work under the glass, Saunders will be able to put Singleton on some of the best shooters in the league.

19.  Tobias Harris- Bucks (Traded from Charlotte)

The freshman forward is a very versatile player with high basketball IQ.

He can step away and shoot or get crafty under the basket.  He’s known for a very disciplined work ethic but needs to work on his athleticism.

Milwaukee disappointed a lot of people by missing the playoffs last season after making it the year before.  However, it was kind of an offseason for Brandon Jennings.  They were last in the league in both ppg with 91 a night and assists with only 18 a game.

Hopefully, their ball movement will greatly improve with Udrih who had to step up in Sacramento with an injured Evans.  Also, Stephen Jackson will bring this team some grit and leadership.  He may have enough gas and stupid things to say for one more season of relevance.  Harris could learn a lot from this guy but hopefully not the thug parts.

It’s a fairly decent frontcourt with Carlos Delfino continuing to improve and Andrew Bogut remaining a steady force at center.

University of Tennessee even painted a rock when recruited Tobias.

20.  Donatas Motiejunas- Houston Rockets (Traded from Timberwolves)

This Lithuanian has an old-fashioned style that allows him to score a lot in the perimeter but he needs to work on his toughness.  Some say his style is a little too lackadaisical for the NBA and at times he seems to not care enough.

21.  Nolan Smith- Trailblazers

Smith is scoring a guard that knows how to win.  He works very well off of the dribble and pick and rolls too.  When Irving was injured he stepped up and led the Blue Devils with his ability to play on both ends of the court.

Portland had only 89 possessions a game last season so speed is definitely a problem at the Rose Garden.  Additionally, injuries seem to always be plaguing this team from Brandon Roy to Greg Oden.

With Andre Miller packing up for Denver and Raymond Felton coming to town, Smith will have a great player to study under.  During the Nuggets playoff series against Oklahoma City, Felton looked tired running up and down the court.  Smith will give Nate McMillan plenty of room to rest Felton.

22.  Kenneth Faried- Nuggets

Faried will bother players all over the court.  He has one goal: to get the ball.

His energy is what makes him so lethal and allowed him to gather 14 rebounds a game along with two steals and two blocks a night.  He’s a relentless player that will get the Nuggets extra possessions.

He gathered over 1600 rebounds in college.  Tim Duncan only had around 1500 and Faried is smaller too.  He can contort his body under the rim and gets the ball with both hands.

His hectic style of play should work well in George Karl’s upbeat style of play and if he’s given minutes, he could ease the pain of playing Al Harrington and possibly give them the opportunity to finally part ways with Kenyon Martin.  However, it really doesn’t look like Denver has much room for this guy in an already stacked frontcourt.

Last season, after the Anthony deal, the Nuggets surprised a lot of skeptics and actually held their heads about water.  They finished the season off 10-1 at home with players such as Felton, Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler who had all been cast off by New York in pursuit of Carmelo.  Their teamwork took them to the playoffs.

In a way, Faried embodies this theme of scratching away at something larger than life.  Denver kept it’s head up after the trade and made the playoffs just as Kenneth exerted all he had to give Morehead State a chance in the NCAA Tournament.  If given the chance, he will impress a lot of people in the NBA.

23.  Nikola Mirotic- Rockets

This 20-year-old has a $2.5 million buyout which means he’ll be in Europe for four more years.

When it comes time for him to play in the US, he has a game a lot like Scola.

His contract was traded to Minnesota in the deal that sent Johnny Flynn to Houston.  He was then traded to Chicago.

Don’t expect to see him anytime soon.  It’s going to cost whoever wants him a lot of cash in order to both buy out his contract and sign him to a deal.

24.  Reggie Jackson- Thunder

Jackson didn’t work out for anyone before the draft but this scoring guard has speed that allows him to get very close to the basket.  In addition, he shoots 42 percent from beyond the arc.

They say he isn’t easy too coach and doesn’t play well with others.  Scott Brooks may have his hands full when it comes to Jackson.  He had great grades in High School and is actually known for doing a lot of community volunteering.  All of that won’t help Kevin Durant hoist a title.

Don’t expect to see a lot of this player after the emergence of Eric Maynor last postseason and the perpetual blindness of this franchise as to how bad Russell Westbrook really is.

25.  MarShon Brooks- Nets (Traded by Boston)

Can MarShon keep up the pace in Bean Town?

He has a tremendous scoring ability for his size and does well creating his own shots.  On February 23, 2011, Brooks Scored 52 points against Notre Dame, tying the record held by Marvin Barnes and broke the Big East record for most points in a game that was previously held at 48, set by Eric Murdock who also attended Providence College.  Thirty-five of those points came in the second half and 15 in the last three minutes which mounted a tremendous comeback against the fighting Irish.  He was second in the nation in points right behind Fredette.

Shortly after being drafted by Boston, he was traded to the Nets for their 27th overall pick in the draft, Jajuan Johnson and a second round pick in the 2014 NBA Draft.

We all know how Avery Johnson works with young point guards when he crushed Devin Harris’ spirit in Dallas.  However, Williams has that starting position on lock and Anthony Morrow is rounding out well.  Hopefully with Brooks coming off of the bench he wont receive the brunt of Avery’s frustration but he will definitely have to assume the role of student under the little general.

26.  Jordan Hamilton­­- Mavericks (Traded to Portland and then Denver)

Jordan is a shooting guard with size that can score.  He shoots from deep with ease and can work very well in the post.  He is considered one of the best rebounding guards in the draft.

He definitely needs to work on his conditioning seeing as he got hung up on screens while chasing down players.

Moments after drafting him, the defending champions traded him to Portland for Rudy Fernandez.  They then traded him to Denver in the Felton-Miller trade.

27.  JuJuan Johnson- Celtics (Traded from Nets)

This Big Ten Defender of the Year can play some good pick and roll basketball allowing him to hit several shots from the floor.  He can’t really do much beyond the arc but can step back and sink some shots from pick and pops.

He can keep up with a fast-paced offense and has some good footwork under the glass.  However, they are saying he might not have the ability to grow much more physically.

28.  Norris Cole- Heat (Traded from Bulls)

One of the best Division I players this year and only to average 20 points, five rebounds and five assists a game.  He’s a good rebounder too with one 20-rebound game on his resume.

He’s a small guard but definitely has the ability to create his own shots as well.  However, he was putting up these numbers in D-I.

After he was selected, the Bulls traded him to Minnesota before sending him to the Heat.  The irony of the situation is that this pick was originally the Heat’s before they sent the pick to Toronto as part of the sign-and-trade agreement for Chris Bosh.  The pick was then sent to the Bulls midseason.

Fresh prince of Miami.

Earlier in the week, Pat Riley stated that the Heat were not trying to get a pick in the first round.  However, they threw a future-second round and some money into a deal and found themselves at the tail end of the first round.

All along, it was Miami’s plan to get a new point guard on draft night.  They lacked both the funds and cap space to get involved in any of the other point guard trades including Felton, Hill, Miller and Flynn so they settled for what they could get in Cole.

The Heat went into Thursday night with eight players under contract for next season: James, Bosh, Wade, Mike Miller, Udonis Haslem, Joel Anthony, Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Dexter Pittman, the center out of Texas who was selected in the second round of the 2010 draft, the only 2010 draft pick to make the roster last season.

They are still waiting to hear 2011-12 player option deals from James Jones and Eddie House.

The team held seven pre-draft workouts that included 15 pg’s.  Currently, they are no point guards under contract for the Heat.  Sadly, it’s their ball movement that failed them in the Finals against the Mavs.  This pick is cute at best but it seems as though Mario Chalmers is going to get the starting position next year.

29.  Cory Joseph- San Antonio

Not a lot had this young Canadian going in the first round but he does play a very unselfish game.

He’s a team player, which just so happens to be how San Antonio does things, but he has been criticized for not being enough of a leader especially for a guard.

He plays a smooth game that thrives off of jumpers.  During the McDonald’s All-American game he showed a very well-rounded game.  He played a very high-intelligence game with smart passing and low turnovers.  Defensively, his athleticism paid off when he was asked to apply full-court press.

30.  Jimmy Butler- Bulls

Jimmy Butler is blue collar to the core.

Butler was homeless by 13 but was taken in by strangers.

The Bulls, like many other teams, didn’t go into this draft with the expectation of changing up a lot.  However, it was a feel-good story for everyone when Butler was selected in the first round.

He works well in transition offense, shoot free throws well but can’t really shoot with his feet set (36 percent).  He does play with a team concept by crashing the boards, passing when it’s needed and general basketball intelligence.  He doesn’t have a flashy game but has a great attitude that could lead to necessary growth.  He could improve his consistency from beyond the arc make him a little more valuable.

Again, all this kid needs is a chance; however, Boozer and Joakim Noah sat out several games last season due to injury.  It might be in Tom Thibodeau’s best interest to give them rest when needed and let Butler get some time on the court.


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Dirk Leaves One High Over The Plate

Dirk Nowitzki, Germany’s first shuuto pitcher.

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Mark Cuban is Straight Thug

Remember how Mark Cuban was sued by Ross Perot, Jr., who is part owner of the Mavericks?

Game, set, match.

This morning, Cuban filed a legal document in, well, mainly legal terms, that, well, in the most legal ways possible, tells Perot, Jr. to suck it.

You can read the whole thing here.

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Which center for the Cavs?

While Kyrie Irving has cemented his place at the #1 draft spot, who do the Cleveland Cavaliers take with their fourth pick?

Big men take time to develop, so the choice is a difficult one between Jonas Valančiūnas and Enes Kanter, two young prospects hidden away in Eastern Europe (Lithuania and Turkey, respectively).

There are many similarities in their games, so in deciding this pick, the team’s going to have to look deeper. Both players are 19 year olds who haven’t spent much time playing against NBA-grade opponents, so there is always the chance that one or either will become duds.

Kanter is the more imposing physical force, weighing in at 260, while Valančiūnas is a good 30 pounds lighter. But as players of this size tend to be stashed away until later, there’s plenty of time for Valančiūnas to bulk up.

Here’s video of Kanter’s play at the 2010 Nike Hoops Summit in Portland, and what strikes me about these clips is Kanter’s speed. He’s notably strong, but for a player of his size, he’s shockingly agile. At around the 2:05 mark, the replay shows Kanter working hard for an offensive rebound and contorting his body for a shot with his back to the basket. He’s impressive, without a doubt, but will he fit with Irving?

Compare that to footage of Valančiūnas. While he is quite twiggy, the guy has an explosiveness that will be incredibly useful to a team once he puts on some muscle. To me, Irving’s game fits better with this player rather than Kanter, but thanks to Lebron James, the Cavs are a franchise desperate to reach the playoffs as soon as possible, and Kanter will provide help much sooner.

I feel the team will pick Kanter at #4, but in the long run, they might be better served with Valančiūnas.

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A New Round of Coaches

The old-guard of NBA coaches is shifting.  And fast.

Much has been made of the Spurs’ first-round collapse, as well as the second-round failures of the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics, as a sign that the post-Jordan era has come to a close.  But this season will be the first since the

You can take it, I'm leaving. With the beer.

1987-88 season to end without Phil Jackson, Jerry Sloan, or Larry Brown as head coaches.  Brown and Sloan were hired in 1988’s offseason, and Jackson came to the Bulls the summer after.  Another longtime great left this season, when Rick Adelman left the Rockets after what can only be labeled a an awful break, dealing with the team’s difficulties with injuries over the past few years.

In addition, this season has also been the first without Don Nelson in 35 years, and since his firing, the front office for the Golden State Warriors have begun to eradicate all traces of Nellie Ball.

Trade this? FOR A 32-50 SEASON? I THINK NOT.

While Jackson’s surely done (at least for a while), I don’t think it would take much to get Brown or Nelson out of hiding, and I believe the right team could lure Sloan into reaching for a championship.  And if they’ve been called about vacant positions, it seems as though they aren’t biting.  Instead, the ranks of the Assistant coaching staffs are being plundered; Mavs assistant Dwane Casey is a desirable coach, and he’s high on the list for all the teams with coaching vacancies.  Before hiring Kevin McHale, the Rockets were considering him, and he’s a premier option for the Warriors, Detroit Pistons, and the  Toronto Raptors. Spurs assistant Mike Budenholzer is another possibility for the Warriors, as is ABC analyst Mark Jackson (lacking coaching experience) and Lakers assistant Brian Shaw (after being shunned by his organization following Phil’s retirement).  There’s even been word of the Pistons bringing back Bad Boy hero Bill Laimbeer, now an assistant for the Minnesota Timberwolves, who, as head coach, led the Detroit Shock to three WNBA titles from 2003-2008.

After Tom Thibodeau led the Chicago Bulls to the Eastern conference Finals this year, expect many more assistants and TV analysts to wind up in the head coaching ranks next season (if there is one).

Let’s all hope they’re better than this was.

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So, What Now?

Tim Duncan's contract is holding the Spurs back.

The question for the San Antonio Spurs is this: how do you rebuild when you haven’t had a lottery pick since 1997?

There’s little reason to believe they’ll receive one next year either.

Despite their first-round collapse against the Memphis Grizzlies, this team is still not likely to miss the playoffs.  The backcourt of Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, along with bench players George Hill and rookie standout Gary Neal, will keep this team in position to earn a spot in the lower ranks of the playoff seeding.  Also, the team happens to have the greatest power forward to ever play in the league, even if he has lost a step or two (or three).

But the window for a Spurs championship is undoubtedly closed, so how should their front office plan for the future?

Many Spurs fans are calling for the team to trade away Richard Jefferson, who hasn’t meshed nearly as well with the system as hoped.  This is not the best thing the Spurs could do, though, because Tim Duncan will retire soon, and Jefferson is a relatively cheap cog that will fit well alongside Parker and Ginobili once he’s gone.  It’s also helpful to remember that Jefferson’s effective shooting percentage this past season was the best of his career (57.9%), as was his true shooting percentage (61.2%).  To compound this, the Spurs will never get a player of equal trade value for him, so why not wait and see how he does when he can combine with Parker and Ginobili as a penetration combination?

The bigger problem for the Spurs is their lack of strength and size inside, as was highlighted by their first-round series against the Grizz.  There’s an old NBA proverb that goes, “If your starting center is 6’9” and he’s not Ben Wallace, you’re in a heap of trouble.”  Except that DeJuan Blair is two inches shorter than that, but there wasn’t a viable alternative except for plugging in the geriatric Antonio McDyess, out of his natural position, in at the five, with Blair and Matt Bonner filling in.  Unsurprisingly, they had the stuffing knocked out of them by Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol.

But big men take time to cultivate, and it seems that there simply aren’t enough of them to go around.  With the Spurs paying Duncan $18 million next year, it seems highly unlikely that the Spurs will be able to snag Nenê from the Nuggets, even despite his relationship with Tiago Splitter.

So could you blow up the team and trade away the big 3?  Probably not, if you want to receive anything as good as you’re letting go.  Ginobili is an electrifying player, a clutch performer, and a fan favorite, and by many accounts the third best SG in the league.  There is no way they’ll let him go.  Duncan is the San Antonio Spurs, and the organization has a profound respect for him that will ensure his retirement in black and silver.  Parker is the most tradable, but for the time being, he is still the best at penetrating defenses and is capable on defense.

In Tiago, the Spurs have a future big.  He missed training camp this year, and was behind for the rest of the season.  He was Spanish league MVP and Spanish league Finals MVP in 2010, and is a wonderful defensive player.  The Spurs are also developing Brit Ryan Richards, who just turned 20 last month and could be a force in a couple of years in Europe.  He has a wide array of post moves, and the length to make a difference as a shot-blocker.

But honestly, the only thing that Spurs fans can do is to wait and trust your front office.  Take next season (if there is a season) as a farewell to Timmy and be incredibly grateful that you had a chance to watch him play for your team.  Remember fondly all the times opposing fans sneered and labeled him boring, because he was still lifting up and banking it off the glass.

Any big moves can wait until after he’s gone.  You owe him that much, at the very least.

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Darrell Arthur Posterizes Nick Collison

What’s better?  Darrell Arthur’s dunk over Nick Collison or Marc Gasol’s reaction when it was called a charge?


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