Friday, 23 May 2008

2008 NBA Mock Draft

Here is my first edition of a mock draft for 2008!

1. Chicago Bulls - Derrick Rose (Memphis)
Beasley seems to be a better fit, as the Bulls need a low-post scorer, but I simply think Derrick Rose is the better player. He's unstoppable in the open court, and if he ever develops a consistent jumpshot, he looks like a stronger version of Chris Paul (without quite the passing ability). Plus, John Paxson always emphasizes defense, and Derrick Rose has a much higher ceiling as a defender than Michael Beasley.

2. Miami Heat - Michael Beasley (Kansas St.)
Rose is the guy they really want, but Beasley sure is a nice consolation. He's NBA ready both on the offensive end and rebounding the basketball, and should be able to step into a lineup right away. Beasley will have his struggles on the offensive end, but a trio of Wade-Marion-Beasley would be a real good start in Miami.

3. Minnesota Timberwolves - Brook Lopez (Stanford)
With Lopez, the Timberwolves would be setting themselves up to have one of the best offensive frontlines in the NBA. They already have improving Al Jefferson, and Brook Lopez has great touch around the basket. Lopez does not have great athleticism, but he's big and is refined in his post moves around the basket. That could warrant a top 3 pick.

4. Seattle Supersonics - Jerryd Bayless (Arizona)
Seattle already had a nice core from last year's draft, and Bayless would be another great piece. He's a PG in the mold of a guy like Gilbert Arenas, in that he is really quick off the dribble and is a deadeye shooter. He is 19 and Kevin Durant is 20, so that would be a potent 1-2 combo for years.

5. Memphis Grizzlies - OJ Mayo (USC)
The Grizzlies could go with a big man here, but I like them to go with an off guard in OJ Mayo to create an immensely talented young backcourt, teaming him up with Mike Conley (and then ideally dealing Javaris Crittenton or Kyle Lowry). Mayo has great range on his shot (which makes him a good complement to Conley), but can also score off the dribble, and showed surprising leadership ability in his one year with USC.

6. New York Knicks - Danilo Gallinari (Italy)
According to reports, Gallinari is a 6'10'' forward with PG skills. He can handle the ball, create his own shot (either off the drive or with his back to the basket), hit from 3-point range, and he's a good passer. Sounds like a perfect fit for D'Antoni's system.

7. Los Angeles Clippers - Russell Westbrook (UCLA)
With the PG position unsettled in LA, Westbrook is a nice fit to stay in town and join the Clippers. While he hasn't played full-time at PG very much, he showed he has the skills to do it last year. He's solid handling the ball, he's a very good passer, and he has the athleticism required. He's very tough defensively both on the ball and in the passing lanes. He needs to develop a more consistent jump shot, but that was coming along as the year went. With his athleticism, he is great on the fast break.

8. Milwaukee Bucks - Eric Gordon (Indiana)
Gordon is a great scoring combo guard. With Gordon, the Bucks could look to unload Michael Redd and his large contract. Gordon can score in a variety of ways, as he showed by leading the Big 10 in scoring as a freshman.

9. Charlotte Bobcats - Anthony Randolph (LSU)
Looking for more athleticism, the Bobcats can look to young, but very talented and athletic Randolph. He's in the mold of a Brandan Wright from last year in that he needs to bulk up and improve his midrange game, but he appears to have the talent to do that. He averaged over 15 and 8 in his rookie campaign, and with over 2 blocks per game, showed that his athleticism can allow him to do some things defensively.

10. New Jersey Nets - Kevin Love (UCLA)
With athleticism all around, the Nets can take Love, who provides an NBA ready, polished game. He'll never be a star because of his athletic limitations, but he's an extremely intelligent player, great passer, rebounder, and showed a nice jumpshot last season.

11. Indiana Pacers - DJ Augustin (Texas)
The Pacers are really pretty bad at PG, so Augustin is the natural pick here. He's not the most athletic PG in the draft, but he's quick enough. He is crafty enough to get his own shot, he's a very good shooter, and he can get them into their offense and get playmakers the ball (as he showed when he played Kevin Durant). This seems like a logical pick for Indiana if Augustin is still on the board.

12. Sacramento Kings - DeAndre Jordan (Texas A&M)
Jordan is extremely raw, but his athletic ability is too much to pass up. He has a long way to go, as he showed by not having a huge impact in his year at College Station (8 PPG, 6 RPG), but with his great ability, he projects to be a solid scorer, excellent rebounder and shot blocker.

13. Portland Trailblazers - Joe Alexander (West Virginia)
With the Blazers looking to make a run at the playoffs next season, Alexander is a guy that could come in and give them quality minutes right away. He's not very good defensively, but he has an advanced offensive game and can score in a variety of ways. He's sneakily athletic, has a great jump shot with lots of range, and showed he can carry a team for stretches.

14. Golden State Warriors - Donte Greene (Syracuse)
Greene looks like a great fit for Nellie ball. He's a 3/4 combo guy that can stretch the floor with his outside shot. He's great in the midrange, and shot nearly 35% from downtown in his one season for the Orange. He looks like he could develop into a very solid rebounder with his athleticism and leaping ability, as he averaged over 7 per game. He might not be ready to play a lot of minutes right away, but he should be able to contribute some with his varied skills.

What are your thoughts? What would you change around?

Monday, 19 May 2008

NBA Conference Finals Predictions

We're down to the final four teams in the NBA playoffs, and we have some relatively power matchups. Let's cut out the pretext and just get to the predictions.


With Boston and Detroit, we have to the two teams that have been a cut above the rest of the conference all season long. Detroit, of course, are veterans at this Conference Finals thing, having been here for the last 5 seasons. Boston is coming off of a season in which they won 24 games and replaced 60% of their starters, so they're not quite so experienced with the Conference Finals. But no matter, as Boston is the favorite heading into the series.

But there has been a big development for Boston which makes them appear a lot more vulnerable than they looked in the regular season... Ray Allen got really old, really fast. He was a virtual non-factor against Cleveland, even sitting out for the majority of the 4th quarter of Game 7. He wasn't hitting shots, he wasn't getting open looks consistently, and he could not create his own shot. Without him, does Boston have the offense to get past Detroit? Especially with defensive stalwart Tayshaun Prince guarding Paul Pierce?

I do think the importance of Rajon Rondo will be magnified in this series. Against Cleveland, his defensive skills were not as important, because the Cavs obviously do not have a great offensive PG. However, Rondo will be asked to slow down Chauncey Billups, and his success or failure will be a large determinant of this series. As it stands, I'll go with the more talented Billups, and ergo, the Pistons. The Boston that I watched struggle to handle Cleveland does not have the offensive firepower to hang with Detroit.



We have two legitimately great teams in this series, with the Lakers taking on the Spurs. The Lakers have been the most impressive team in the postseason so far, dispatching the Nuggets in 4 and the Jazz in 6. Meanwhile, the Spurs impressively beat Phoenix in 5 games before outlasting the Hornets in 7.

Both teams are extremely well-coached, fundamentally sound, and talented. That's usually means we should have a pretty nice series on our hands. I would guess that Bruce Bowen will start on Kobe Bryant, which will be the key matchup in the series. Though the Lakers certainly have other options on the floor, they still look to Kobe to get the offense going, both with his scoring and drawing of defenders.

When the Spurs have the ball, the key matchup will be how Derek Fisher guards Tony Parker. The Spurs obviously have Duncan and Ginobili, but the key to the offense is Tony Parker hitting his 18-footers. When Parker is hitting the jumpshot (predominately off of the pick & roll and kickouts from Duncan), the Spurs become very, very difficult to stop.

This should be a classic series between two great teams. In this case, I'll go with the proven commodity... seems like the Spurs are on a mission.


What are your thoughts?

Monday, 12 May 2008

"With no regard for human life!"

Thank you Kevin Harlan. I love that PBP call.

Anyway, Cavs tied the series up 2-2. My first question... the Celtics won 66 games this year? Really? For the second straight game, Boston just looked absolutely abominable offensively, with no flow, and nobody stepping up and making shots. They shot just 38.6% for the game, and only 3/14 from downtown.

None of the big 3 look like they're able to take over a game offensively... KG is far too passive, Paul Pierce has struggled, and Ray Allen continues to be almost a non-factor in this series (other than 1 quarter in this game). The difference between those guys and LeBron is that even when LeBron isn't shooting well, he is still such an incredible passer that he gets tons of open looks for other guys. Boston's three stars don't do that. So while James was again awful shooting the ball, his 13 assists were enough to propel Cleveland into a series-tying victory.

This series should also have put to rest any doubt in the Kevin Garnett vs. Tim Duncan debate. Both great players, but Duncan is a different player in the playoffs and in the 4th quarter. I know the supporting casts over their careers have been vastly different, but change them up and I don't think Garnett would have 4 rings.

As we have seen in the playoffs, home court has been huge, and as Charles Barkley has been saying, things go from game to game... so it will be interesting to see if Boston can get some offensive flow again back in Boston.

Thursday, 1 May 2008

The impact of Jared Allen

My life was super busy around draft time, so I never really got a chance to comment on any of the happenings (much thanks to Steve F. for his excellent post on the draft)... plus, since the Vikings didn't have a first-round choice, I didn't feel as strong of a need to comment on things.

However, I'm quite ok with the Vikings not having a first-round pick, since it allowed them to acquire the NFL's sack leader in 2007, shoring up their biggest defensive weakness, which is consistently getting to the QB with the Front 4.

For the past couple of seasons, the Vikings have had a lot of trouble stopping the pass. When people hear that, they generally assume that this is because of a porous secondary. Not that the Vikings secondary is all-world, but I never really saw that as the main reason. In my mind, there are two big reasons why they have struggled so much against the pass:

- They were so dominant against the run that people just didn't try. This is fairly obvious and has been beaten to death, but a couple of years ago, the Patriots came into the Metrodome for a Sunday night game, and they came out and literally threw the ball on about their first 20 offensive plays. This sorta provided the blueprint, and teams have simply been following it ever since.

- They could never have a consistent pass rush on the Line. Pat Williams is a man against the run, but he's not going to be putting consistent pressure on the QB. Kevin Williams is great, but facing constant double teams on the inside. Which should have, in theory, left lots of room for the DEs to operate, but it didn't always work that way. The hodgepodge of guys like Brian Robison, Ray Edwards, Kenechi Udeze, Darrion Scott, etc. are all average at best (at least, at this point in their careers) at getting to the QB. Even with 1-on-1 matchups, there was never a consistent rush of any type for the front 4. Which means 1 of 2 things happened: either the Vikings had to bring pressure from the LBs which opened things up in the passing game, or the secondary had to cover guys for a really long time. Neither is optimal.

So, of course, it's not hard to see how much of an impact Jared Allen will bring to the Vikings defense. He's one of (if not the) best pass rushers in the NFL, and he's not going to slow down the run defense either. Offensive teams will have a real tough time figuring out how to block the Vikings Line... they'll feature 3 All-Pros... 3 guys that could legitimately get double teamed if they weren't playing with the other two. On the opposite side, Ray Edwards and Brian Robison both seem to be developing into solid pass rushers, and should benefit from the increased attention that teams will have to pay Jared Allen.

So with Allen the Vikings should continue to be dominant against the run while improving them greatly against the pass. His pressure off the edge will keep QBs up at night, and it will hide any problems in the secondary because they won't have to cover as long.

For years, the Vikings have been searching for a dominant pass rushing DE, expending first round pick after first round pick on them. Now, it appears as if they finally have their man in Jared Allen. With his past, it's certainly a risk. The financial commitment is large. But when you look at his potential impact on the defense and on the franchise, giving up only a first round pick and 2 third rounders seems like a bargain.

Watching this video, I have only one thought... is it football season yet?