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Posted on: June 16, 2009 8:37 pm
 

A new scenario to mark the birth of the Kahn era

1. A lot of people, myself included, were underwhelmed by the hiring off David Kahn as GM of the Wolves, the details of which can be found in one of my earlier posts titled "Kahn Air". Get it, like as in "Con Air". What if I told you insane was working fifty hours a week in some office for fifty years at the end of which they tell you to piss off; ending up in some retirement village hoping to die before suffering the indignity of trying to make it to the toilet on time? Wouldn't you consider that to be insane? Anywho, to his credit Kahn has basically said everything right since then. He sounds to be the the polar opposite of McHale. Sort of like the movie Face Off when John Travolta and Nicolas Cage are morally opposite but then find themselves quite literally transported into eachother's shoes. If I were to send you flowers where would I... no, let me rephrase that. If I were to let you suck my tongue, would you be grateful?

1A. The problem of course is that he has yet to turn any of his big talk into action, for which I am not at all upset about. The draft, however, will be his first chance to deliver. If he does something big and for once makes this organization look intelligent on draft night he will quickly endear himself to many jaded fans.

2. My absolute favorite NBA rumor and draft site is DraftExpress.com. They are my favorite because they have insightful articles, rumors that tend to come to life and historically have had accurate mock drafts. Today Jon Givony (very solid writer/source) wrote the following...

"No GM in the NBA is apparently more active right now than Minnesota’s David Kahn, as he’s apparently set on “making a big splash in his first draft” according to one NBA executive, and is “talking to everyone” at the moment. One rumor that is making the rounds has Minnesota sending Memphis Kevin Love in exchange for the #2 pick (and filler). Minnesota would then draft Ricky Rubio , which could help them significantly with their ticket sales, and still have the #6 pick at their disposal, which they could use to take someone like Jordan Hill ."


I love Kevin Love. I'd miss him. I'd help him pack if he needed it.

This one got me excited because on a few other occassions I've seen rumors that are totally reinforced by this one. Here is the alternate take I have heard and the one I'd like to see go down on draft night.

Minnesota trades Kevin Love and #6 to Memphis for Rudy Gay and #2 (the closest we'll probably get to Gay Love, right Knap?)

That exact scenario is posted on the Grizzlies forum on ESPN.com and has about 65-70% approval based on user comments.

Why Memphis does it: Ricky Rubio does not want to play for them. He has made that known. Furthermore, they don't really want him. They are commited to Michael Conley, which was made evident by the tradings of Jarvaris Crittenton and fan favorite, Kyle Lowery. What they need is a post presence. Kevin Love, if he were in this draft, would be the consensus #2 pick and perhaps even the #1. He's perfect for them. They lose Gay, who is made redundant next to shot happy OJ Mayo, but pick up the #6 pick for him. They promptly use that to draft Tyreke Evans, who is very much a hometown favorite for his Memphis Tigers connection.

Why Minnesota does it: They add a star potential player in Rubio. He is a position and personality of dire need. Is he a sure thing? No. Could he technically turn out to be the 3rd or 4th or even 5th best PG in this draft? Yes. Is he the sort of aggressive acquisition that could give both the organization and fanbase the massive boost it needs? Fuck yes. As a fan, this, like any other trade could backfire but no sound individual could really be mad at them for taking a shot on a move that appears to have all the upside in the world. They also add Rudy Gay. Some would rather have the #6 pick instead of Gay and I see where they are coming from. Concerns about Gay's on court IQ and hustle are legit. But in this case I'd take the player over the pick, especially when this player is still very young at 23 years old, fits a need at the wing and is capable of scoring 20 points a game. Plus, he's the kind of leaper that could thrive with a passer like Rubio. Kevin Love is a beast and a heck of a person but he's also the only piece they can give up to make this sort of move happen. To get, they must give.

* If it took an exchange of contracts such as the Wolves sending them Brian Cardinal's expiring and in return taking back Marko Jaric's bloated joke, I would still do it. If it took an expiring toss in like Craig Smith, I would still do it.


Minnesota turns around and makes another move to acquire some size. Sam Dalembert and Tyson Chandler are known to be available for expiring contracts. Maybe throw in #18, #28 or either of their 2nd rounders to make it happen.

PG - Ricky Rubio
SG - Mike Miller
SF - Rudy Gay
PF - Al Jefferson
C - Samuel Dalembert

Key Reserves - Randy Foye, Ryan Gomes, Corey Brewer

Without considering other possible trades or free agent moves I think you are looking at a playoff team before long. Jefferson and Gay are the one-two offensive punch. Foye comes in as an all-purpose guard 6th man and is able to play pressure free against second units. Miller melds back into the role of shooter. Dalembert protects the rim. And Ricky Rubio orchestrates the whole thing.

Memphis, by the way, walks away with a Mayo-Love-Evans-Conley-Gasol core. Not too shabby.


The Grizzlies win. The Wolves win. Small markets everywhere win. The fans win. Make it happen.



***None of this goes down without absolute confirmation that Rubio is cool with playing in Minnesota. I shudder the thought of the nuclear event, which shall not be detailed here.
Category: NBA
Posted on: June 16, 2009 12:03 am
 

Mock Lottery V4.0 - 10 Days Til Lift Off

Here's my take on a wild card scenario that may be developing amongst the top few picks. Note that I don't believe it will go down this way, only that according to some reputable draft heads there may be more truth to these possibilities than meets the eye. Also, I only did the top 10 picks because my remaining 20 haven't changed enough since my last mock. So, let's say the damn thing goes crazy...

1. Clippers - Blake Griffin PF OKLAHOMA This is the pick, they can't screw it up...right?

2. Grizzlies - Hasheem Thabeet C UCONN The riot starts here. They reportedly love Thabeet and are put off by Rubio (more on that later). They could try to trade down a couple of spots, which at this point their fanbase appears to favor doing, but they won't risk the Thunder grabbing him with #3.

3. Thunder - Stephen Curry PG/SG DAVIDSON What's in your head, in your head, zombie zombie zombie, hey hey hey oh oh oh. With the Westbrook pick last year the Thundonics proved they will stir it up and take the guy they want regardless of popular opinion. They worked Curry out at length and are just arrogant enough to think a Westbrook/Curry backcourt will work. I personally hate the idea of that duo but I think Curry is legit and I won't wince at all if a certain Wolves team takes him at #6. Rib on.

4. Kings - Johnny Flynn PG SYRACUS He had an amazingly good workout in Sac on Monday and I think they are intent on taking a PG. His off the court interviews were apparently as good as his on court performance, in both of which he clearly came off as better than Holliday and Jennings.

5. Wizards - James Harden SG ARIZONA STATE No brainer at this point. Arenas, Butler, Harden and Jamison should be good for 100+ points a night and a reentry to the top half of the Eastern Conference playoff seeds.

6. Timberwolves - Ricky Rubio PG EUROPE At this point you're all shaking your head, I know. But remember, this isn't exactly how I think it will happen but it's also maybe not as unlikely as you might think. First and foremost, he isn't working out in the US. Out of sight, out of mind. Plain and simple, his stock is falling. Scouts are really starting to question if he can guard other PGs or consistently hit a jumpe shot. The Clips won't take him. Rubio's agent has flat out said he's not interested in playing or working out for Memphis or Washington, citing playing opportunites as the reason, while emphasizing it has nothing to do with market size in Memphis' case. The logic being that his appeal will be on an international level so whatever US city he happens to play in doesn't really matter. His agent also says he is very willing to workout and play for Oklahoma City and Sacramento. The problem: they may not want him. I've heard repeatedly that the Thunder view Westbrook as thier PG of the future and are very much enamored with Curry and Harden. Kings GM, Geoff Petri, has flat out said them taking Rubio is by no means a lock. Their recent raves about Flynn and Tyreke Evans may lend merit to this. Neither OKC or Sac is thrilled that Rubio isn't over here working out and I've heard it strongly suggested there is a chance he will fall here. So if the claim that Rubio doesn't care about the market size and really just wants to be the sure thing starter then Minnesota is a good spot for him. He could also pull some bullshit and try to force his hand to Golden State or New York, in which case the Wolves would be left in a Yi Jianlin situation. Would they call his bluff? Who knows. If I were Kahn I'd be on the phone with his agent seeing if Minnesota is a place he'd be will to set up. If so, I'd be pushing strongly for a trade. I read a rumor in a Memphis paper of Kevin Love, #6 and Brian Cardinal (expiring) for Rudy Gay, #2 and Marko Jaric (not expiring).

7. Warriors - Brandon Jennings PG EUROPE Like Flynn, he smoked his workout in Golden State. The Kings and Wolves could be possible destinations but I'd almost bet my left nut at this point that Jennings ends up here.
 
8. Knicks - DeMar DeRozan SG USC Knicks get scorned on their top three choices (Curry, Flynn, Jennings). They go for the next biggest shot at a star. New York should offer up this pick and David Lee to Memphis to move up and get Rubio.

9. Raptors - Tyreke Evans SG MEMPHIS They want DeRozan but Evans is a good consolation prize. Truthfully, he's probably better.

10. Bucks - Jeff Teague PG WAKE FOREST I have it on good word they are in love with Teague, which Teague better hope is true or he could fall into the 20s.


Category: NBA
Posted on: June 9, 2009 4:19 pm
Edited on: June 9, 2009 4:21 pm
 

The Players

This time of year is always great for NBA draft junkies like myself. This year, however, is even better than most because of the mass uncertainty extending all throughout the 1st round. Last year, Russ Westbrook was a curveball and no one saw Jerryd Bayless falling as far as he did, but for the most part dudes went where they were supposed to, especially in the lottery. This year will be nothing like that. Everything after the 1st overall pick (and even that isn’t a given) is up for grabs and it is exhilarating. Here is a sampling of the rumors that are abound about various prospects, collected from columns, articles, fan forums, nerps, message boards, etc…
 
Blake Griffin PF OKLAHOMA - Very likely to be #1 but some think there is a chance the  Clips really want Rubio and his star power to compete with the Lakers on a dollars level. Basically, they’re looking for an excuse to not take Griffin.
 
Ricky Rubio PG EUROPE - He has become less of a lock to go #2. For one, the Grizzlies apparently do not have good standing in Spain due to poor relations with the Gasol bros and Juan Carlos Navarro.  Two, word got out that Rubio was not interested in playing in Memphis or OKC, which draft #2 and 3 respectively. He denies this but you never know. Three, analysis of his strength and lack of consistent jump shot have intensified and become more critical. Some mocks have him falling to the Kings at #4, but I’d still bet on Memphis at #2.
 
Hasheem Thabeet C UCONN - Almost no buzz around this guy. Maybe that’s because there are no other centers worth a damn so he doesn’t really have any competition. Too bad Cole Aldrich didn’t come out. He could go as high as #2 to the Grizz or as low as #6 to the Wolves. The Thunder at #3 and Wizards at #5 are ideal.
 
James Harden SG ARIZONA STATE - Also difficult to peg. Word out of the Chicago pre-draft camp is that he raised red flags when he refused to work out against Tyreke Evans. He also apparently rubbed several teams the wrong way by refusing to personally workout for any team drafting after #4. Awfully presumptuous for a guy who had a terrible NCAA Tourney performance and is by no means a lock to go in the top 4. Rumors have him going to OKC at #3, Washington at #5 or Minnesota at #6.
 
Jordan Hill PF ARIZONA - The sky is sort of falling for this guy. After Griffin he is the only real lottery worthy PF in the draft, although a lot of teams think DeJuan Blair PF PITT is a better value in the mid-teens. Some reputable mocks have Hill falling to Milwuakee at #10 or possibly beyond, which I think would be a Brook Lopez-like steal. Washington should take him at #5. He’s NBA ready and fits their exact need in the post. He would also be a good fit in OKC, Golden State at #7 or Toronto  at #9 (yes, foreshadowing Bosh’s departure).
 
Stephen Curry PG/SG DAVIDSON - He’s skyrocketing up the charts. He impressed the hell out of a lot of GMs at the Chicago camp and apparently showcased some passing skills that have people believing he could get by as a shoot-first PG. His basketball pedigree and knowledge for the game are working for him, as well.  OKC has scheduled an all day workout for him and the word is that they have no plans to trade down. Charlotte is also very interested in moving up to snag him. I’ve seen him mentioned going to every team between #3 and #8, but never after that.
 
DeMar DeRozan SG USC - The most recent rumor is that DeRozan has a promise from Toronto at #9. He also fits the profile of a Golden State sort of pick. Talk of going in the early lottery has faded but some think he is still being considered by OKC and Minnesota.
 
Tyreke Evans SG MEMPHIS - He played PG for most of his final season in college but NBA execs apparently don’t think he can cut it as one at the next level because if they did he’d probably be projected in the top few picks. His ceiling pick is Washington at #5, but Minnesota or Toronto remain the two most likely destinations.
 
Johnny Flynn PG SYRACUSE - Not quite at the same rate as Curry, but he’s climbing the charts, as well. His charisma translates to leadership and his clutch ability in the NCAA tourney was the stuff of legends. He’s a true point guard with the speed, strength and tenacity to guard any point in the league.  Until now I’ve always projected him at #10 to Milwaukee but I’ve recently seen him as high as #4 to Sacramento. I’ve even heard his name whispered in a few Minnesota rumors.
 
Brandon Jennings PG EUROPE - When players like Curry and Flynn start to climb, someone else has got to fall. That someone in this case is Jennings. He refused to participate in the Reebok Euro Camp, which doesn’t look good for a guy trying to prove he’s hungry, and his limited workouts so far haven’t looked good. He’s got plenty of time to turn it around but at this point he’s probably a late lottery pick.
 
BJ Mullens C OHIO STATE - The last pick or two of the lottery is the absolute best he can hope for but he has done enough in workouts so far to salvage his draft stock. A few weeks ago he was cruising towards the bottom of the 1st round but he’s been able to showcase his natural talent enough in order to stabilize.
 
Jrue Holliday PG UCLA - Tougher to project than any other top prospect in the draft. If you like him, he never got a fair shot at UCLA and was used out of position. With his size and skill set he should be the second or maybe even first PG off the board, possibly to Sacramento at #4. If you don’t like him, he got thoroughly outplayed by Darren Collison at UCLA and has no business even entering this draft. He’s a total underachiever with unproven skill and if you take him higher than #20 you’re wasting your pick. That’s how differing opinions are on this kid.

DeJuan Blair PF PITTSBURGH - An undersized banger PF in the mold of Craig Smith but with a better overall game. Would be perfect for Detroit at #15 or Chicago at #16, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he went higher to maybe New Jersey at #11.
 
Earl Clark SF/PF LOUISVILLE & James Johnson SF/PF WAKE FOREST - Both of these guys will probably go between picks #10 and 15. New Jersey and Phoenix seem like likely destinations for either. Both have that tweener forward game that was clearly powerful enough in college but will be difficult to project as pros.
 
Ty Lawson PG UNC, Eric Maynor PF VCU & Jeff Teague PG WAKE FOREST - By all accounts, these three have fallen to the back of the PG rankings for their own various deficiencies. Of the three, Lawson gets the most love but at this point they all look like they’ll go somewhere between #13 and #25.
 
Gerald Henderson SG DUKE, Terrance Williams SG LOUISVILLE & Marcus Thornton SG LSU - The second tier of SGs, probable will go in that order. Henderson could go as high as Charlotte at #12. Williams will probably go in the mid to late teens with Chicago at #15 being a real possibility. Thornton has Courtney Lee/Chris Douglas Roberts written all over him, meaning he’ll either be a solid late 1st round pick or a steal in the early 2nd.

Chase Budinger SF ARIZONA, Sam Young SF PITTSBURGH & Austin Daye SF GONZAGA - All wing players with uniquely different games but will probably be sought after by teams looking for similar things. I’ve seen Budinger rated the highest with Phoenix at #14 being a possibility. Sam Young could sneak into the mid teens but will more likely go somewhere in the 20s. Austin Daye is a boom or bust, freak athlete/raw talent type player all the way. He could easily slip to the early 2nd round ala DeAndre Jordan or go as high as #15 to Detroit, who has worked him out a couple of times.
 
Patrick Mills PG ST. MARY’S & Darren Collison PG UCLA - Safely in the third tier of PGs and looking like fringe 1st round picks. Could easily be targets of the Wolves at #28 if they don’t take a PG with either of their first two picks and/or keep the 28th pick, neither of which is likely.
 
Tyler Hansbrough PF UNC, Gani Lawal PF GEORGIA TECH, Taj Gibson PF USC  & Jeff Pendergraph PF LSU - The distant second and third tier PFs. Pendergraph should be a 2nd round pick for sure but I love him as a super steal. Seriously, keep your eye on him. Anyone of the other three could sneak into the late 1st round but it wouldn’t at all be surprising to see them fall into the 2nd. My sneaky call is that Hansbrough breaks the trend of college stars equals terrible pros and actually becomes a serviceable player in the NBA.

Category: NBA
Posted on: June 1, 2009 2:53 pm
 

A new mock, for which to mock V3.0

Keep in mind, this is a mock draft, not player rankings. My rankings would actually be quite different. The following, rather, is based on what I think will happen and the various reliable-sounding rumors I have heard. There's quite a few changes between this and my last mock. A big trend I went with was teams taking players who went to college in that state when push came to shove. I'll put the initials HS (home state) at the end of each commentary to denote that every time that happens.

1. Clippers - Blake Griffin PF Oklahoma I still think they want to take Rubio but ultimately won't risk the nightmarish PR fallout of letting Griffin pass.
2. Grizzlies - Hasheem Thabeet C UConn The rumors, true or not, are that Rubio doesn't want to play for Memphis because of past poor dealings with fellow Spainards, Pau Gasol and Juan Carlos Navarro, and now their slight on Marc Gasol by openly declaring they want another center to start ahead of him.
3. Zombies - Ricky Rubio PG Europe A starting five of Rubio, Westbrook, Durant, Green and maybe Tyson Chandler has the looks of a future undead dynasty.
4. Kings - Brandon Jennings PG Europe I think they'll trade down but ultimately this will be their guy. HS
5. Wizards - James Harden SG Arizona State Jordan Hill is another strong possibility here and probably more of a need but the allure of an Arenas/Harden backcourt with Butler on the wing might be a little too deadly to pass up.
6. Timberwolves - Stephen Curry PG/SG Davidson The first stunner of the draft. Why do the Wolves do this? Because they are the Wolves. Also, this prediction is based on them convincing themselves that he can be a servicable point guard in the mold of a shoot first guy like Sam Cassell. Some fans are scared off by that idea because it didn't work with Foye but that doesn't mean they should never try it again. I've slightly come around on the idea of this. He might be the only guy in the draft besides Griffin who you know absolutely is going to be elite at something: shooting. Furthermore, the Wolves should still be in the mindset of drafting the best player available as oppose to need. Need is something playoff teams draft for. Rebuilding squads go for best available. If his workouts go well, Curry may prove himself to be that.
7. Warriors - Jordan Hill PF Arizona Very solild pick and a desperate need, which means they probably won't actually take him.
8. Knicks - DeMar DeRozan SG USC - They want Curry but will settle for DeRozan, who has as much potential as any one in the draft and has the high flying game that could thrive under D'Antoni.
9. Raptors - Tyreke Evans SG Memphis If the Wolves don't go Curry then Evans will be their guy, assuming no big names fall. His best asset: he has the size and quickness to guard the 1-3 spots.
10. Bucks - Johnny Flynn PG Syracuse I'm sticking with Flynn here. It just makes too much sense on too many levels.
11. Nets - Earl Clark SF/PF Louisville I like this dude a lot.
12. Bobcats - Gerald Henderson SG Duke This guy is very solid. I wouldn't at all be surprised if his Duke stigma causes people to underrate him and he ends up being one of the best guards from this draft. HS
13. Pacers - BJ Mullens C Ohio State - The workouts are where Mullens will reclimb draft boards. He is, after all, a rare combination of size and freakish athleticism for his size. I wouldn't even think about him until the late teens at the absolute earliest but because he's one of only two centers in this draft my feeling is that a team will reach for him. Plus, it's the only glaring position of need for them.
14. Suns - Chase Budinger SF Arizona They could just as easily go point guard here but I think they'll take one more shot at the title, which means drafting both a need and a player who can contribute immediately. Enter Budinger. HS
15. Pistons - DeJuan Blair PF Pittsburgh Direct Bulls snipe. Size and post stregth, exactly what this team needs.
16. Bulls - James Johnson SF/PF Wake Forest Sort of redundant to Luol Deng but Johnson is actually much more suited to play the 4 and in addition to versatility, he'll likely be their most offensively skilled big immediately.
17. 76ers - Sam Young SG/SF Pittsburgh Mock drafts have a huge variation on this kid right now, ranging from late lottery to late 1st round. He's an all around player and will be a nice fit next to Iggy. I think they'll re-sign Andre Miller, but if not, this pick could be a PG. HS
18. Timberwolves - Eric Maynor PG VCU Sticking with the best player available theme, the Wolves go Maynor here. Some fans would detest the drafting of a PG, as it would signify they intend to play Curry at the 2 guard, which most think he cannot do. I happen to think it could work well. A guard rotation of Foye, Miller, Maynor and Curry would provide a little bit of everything and at least create a stable from which at least two players should emerge as legitimate cornerstones.
19. Hawks - Ty Lawson PG North Carolina I'm much higher on him than this but rumors suggest he is falling and becoming the odd man out in the PG wars. A great steal for the Hawks.
20. Jazz - Terrance Williams SG Louisville With nine players entering free agency it's tough to say what this team will need but if we're going by last year's roster an offensive off guard stud like Williams would fit nicely.
21. Hornets - Marcus Thornton SG LSU This will seem high compared to other mocks but I like his game a lot and I think he would be a nice back court fit with Paul. HS
22. Mavericks - Tyler Hansbrough PF North Carolina As many predict, he may turn out to be a college wonder and pro bust but he's exactly the kind of player the Mavs need next to Dirk.
23. Kings - Austin Daye SF Gonzaga - Sac has shown they aren't afraid to take projects like Jason Thompson or as I assume, Brandon Jennings, and Daye is exactly that. At 6'10" and with shooting guard skills he could pay off big ..,or totally bust out of the league.
24. Portland - Jrue Holliday PG UCLA The Blazers are always suckers for the big name and Holliday is that. My guess is they'll for sure unload Sergio Rodriguez and possibly Jerryd Bayless as well this offseason, making room for this pick.
25. Zombies - Gani Lawal PF Georgia Tech Seems like a logical choice given their roster make up. They could use a real PF to spell Jeff Green, who is playing out of position.
26. Bulls - Omri Casspi SF Israel If they don't think he'll come over this is the choice. If he's coming this season I doubt he'll go here. They could easily trade this pick, as well.
27. Grizzlies - Jeff Teague PG Wake Forest This could be exactly the right spot for him to go or a complete steal, maybe the steal of the draft. Don't be surprised if climbs as much as a dozen picks between now and the draft.
28. Timberwolves - Derrick Brown SF Xavier I'd be stunned if the Wolves actually use this pick. It just doesn't seem like it's in their plans. Hopefully they package it as part of a move up or to acquire an established player.
29. Lakers - Darren Collison PG UCLA Patrick Mills is a better point guard but they'll take the hometown kid instead. Derek Fisher is old. HS
30. Cavaliers - DeJuan Summers SF Georgetown Summers is sort of boring to me but he is a strong wing and pretty NBA ready. If the Cavs use this pick they'll take someone who can help now.


The two big names that go undrafted by this account are Patrick Mills PG St. Marys and Wayne Ellington SG UNC. Either one could easily go in the 1st but as of now, this is how I see it shaking out.

Category: NBA
Posted on: May 26, 2009 1:06 am
Edited on: May 26, 2009 8:18 am
 

Berg's MOCKERY v2.0

Now that we know the team order, here's my take. For now I didn't predict trades, only where I think the player will end up. You'll see.

1. Clippers - Ricky Rubio  PG EUROPE I just somehow think he ends up here, whether by draft choice or trade.
2. Grizzlies - Blake Griffin PF OKLAHOMA Merry Christmas and Happy Chanukah! I think the Grizz would take Thabeet over Rubio if it comes to that.
3. ZombieSonics - Hasheem Thabeet C UCONN A perfect fit.
4. Kings - Brandon Jennings PG EUROPE I actually think the Wolves will trade up to this spot to nab Harden in front of the Wiz and the Kings will drop down to #6 and snag the guy they want without having to reach as much.
5. Wizards - Jordan Hill PF ARIZONA 50/50 chance they trade this pick. A post presence like Hill makes sense though.
6. Timberwolves - James Harden SG ARIZONA STATE OJ Mayo atoned for.
7. Warriors - Ty Lawson PG UNC Why not? He's exactly the position they need and the kind of player they love.
8. Knicks - Stephen Curry SG DAVIDSON This pick seems destined, although I would take DeRozan ahead of him.
9. Raptors - DeMar DeRozan SG USC Shades of Vincanity.
10. Bucks - Johnny Flynn PG SYRACUSE They'll let Sessions walk, Flynn embodies the new face and direction of the team.
11. Nets - Earl Clark SF LOUISVILLE Great fit with Harris and Lopez, Clark could prove to be a top 5 talent in this class.
12. Bobcats - Gerald Henderson SG DUKE Another in-state draft pick.
13. Pacers - Tyreke Evans SG MEMPHIS This team is a mess so they go best player available.
14. Suns - James Johnson SF WAKE FOREST The days of unloading picks for cap relief have to end sometime. Johnson, like Earl Clark, can play both forward spots.
15. Pistons - DeJuan Blair PF PITT Pistons have the cap room to make a run at Boozer, this pick may change in that event.
16. Bulls - Terrance Williams SG LOUISVILLE No idea what the Bulls will do, if they don't re-sign Gordon this would be a great pick.
17. 76ers - Eric Maynor PG VCU Dre Miller is gone so this position is the obvious fill.
18. Timberwolves - Jeff Teague PG WAKE FOREST Maynor is another possibility if he falls but Teague is intriguing. Or should I say inteaguing?
19. Hawks - Jrue Holliday PG UCLA With no obvious need they take the high upside Bibby replacement.
20. Jazz - Chase Budinger SF ARIZONA White + scrappy = Utah.
21. Hornets - BJ Mullens C OHIO STATE Someone is gonna take him, why not the Hornets? Chandler replacement is the logic.
22. Mavericks - Taylor Hansbrough PF UNC Oh no they didn't!
23. Kings - Sam Young SF PITT Versatile wing is best player on the board at this point.
24. Trail Blazers - Taj Gibson PF USC I doubt Portland will use this pick but a physical post presence is their main need.
25. Zombies - Gani Lawal PF GEORGIA Drafting for need. I won't be surprised if this dude ends up falling out of the first round.
26. Bulls - Omri Casspi SF ISRAEL 
Stash the Israeli for a few years instead of drafting some body to warm the end of the bench.
27. Grizzlies - Patrick Mills PG ST. MARYS Insurance incase Conley finally tanks out.
28. Timberwolves - Austin Daye SF GONZAGA 6'10" forward is major project but also has major upside.
29. Lakers - Darren Collison PG UCLA - hometown kid eventually takes over for Grandpa Fisher.
30. Cavaliers - Marcus Thornton SG LSU You might not know him, but he's good.

Players who could easily move into 1st Round: Wayne Ellington SG UNC, Derrick Brown SF XAVIER, DeJuan Summers SF GEORGETOWN, Dionte Christmas SG TEMPLE, Toney Douglas SG FLORIDA STATE


Category: NBA
Posted on: May 22, 2009 11:41 pm
Edited on: May 26, 2009 8:11 am
 

Wrath of Kahn, You Kahn Do It!, Kahn-Air, etc...

     One thing is certain about the David Kahn hire as President of Basketball Operations of the Timberwolves: he will not be given a fair shake by the majority of fans. In the minds of many of the faithful, he’s already blown four or five drafts, traded away a couple of stars in the making and signed Ryan Gomes to an under-the-table max contract.

      The outpouring of negativity over this hire on various internet, radio and television outlets has been astounding. I understand feeling underwhelmed and even disappointed. Those things are valid. I understand not trusting the hire because of Glen Taylor’s recent pattern of ineptitude. Also valid. But to rip Kahn so thoroughly, as though we just lured Isaiah Thomas away from Florida International is a complete overreaction and frankly, beyond the bounds of fandom.

What we do know about Kahn…

  • Despite what Taylor says, he was the third choice for this job
  • He hasn’t been in the NBA since 2004. Before that he spent nine years with the Indiana Pacers under Donnie Walsh. Four of those years were as GM.
  • In recent years he led an effort to secure an MLB franchise in Portland and served simultaneously in an executive role for four NBDL franchises.
  • He is credited as leading the effort to have Conseco Fieldhouse built.
  • He is good friends with David Stern.
  • He is a lawyer.
  • He is considered a financial specialist or “capologist”.  

     That’s it. That’s all we know. We know his Pacer teams were competitive and had a lot of talent pass through the organization during his tenure but we still don’t know how much of that can be attributed to him. By his own admission, Kahn has typically worked in “under the radar” positions but people within NBA circles vouch strongly for his talent (ie. Walsh, Stern, Larry Bird). He’s no Jerry West. And he’s no Kevin McHale. Not yet, anyways.

    I’ll be the first to admit, he’s not an exciting choice or even one to warrant as many words as I am typing (Yet I continue to type. Why?). Since I’m essentially imploring fans to give the guy a chance, I will start by admitting that he was fairly impressive in his introductory press conference this Friday. He came off infinitely more basketball savy than Glen Taylor. He also outlined a philosophy for success that gave me more insight into the future plans of this team than Taylor/McHale has done in five seasons. He seems intelligent. He seems committed to aggressively pursuing winning talent. He seems a little cocky. He seems a lot better than I thought he would. 

What he can do to quickly endear himself to fans and in the process, sell a lot of tickets…

  • Fire Kevin McHale. Cut the cord. Throw the blankie away. Say goodbye already.
  • Fire Jim Stack and Rob Babcock. Suits.
  • Keep Fred Hoiberg and promote him to GM. Fans will appreciate the gesture of good will. The title promotion will be only that, a new title.
  • Draft intelligently this year and at some point trade up, if only a few picks, to land a particular player. It will show that he is more interested in securing talent than increasing profits. The fans need evidence that this organization cares more about winning than it does money.
  • Put together some kind of trade and acquire a legitimate and established talent. This will be the most difficult of all the above to accomplish and maybe take a while, but if he can bring in another young cog with star potential, however improbable, he will instantly become a genius and a savior and an immeasurable upgrade over McHale in the eyes of Wolves fans everywhere.

Good luck, pal.






Category: NBA
Posted on: May 18, 2009 1:52 pm
 

Berg’s NBA Mockery V1.0

I’m a lover of non-war related drafts. The NBA draft is my Superbowl, if you can wrap your mind around that. This is my current First Round mock with analysis for the top 14 talents. Why 14? Because the lottery is the first 14 picks, silly. In about 24 hours we’ll know the actual draft order and things can get a bit more team specific. Until then, it's more of a best overall sort of affair. Feast…     


1. Ricky Rubio PG EUROPE - Yep, I put him ahead of Blake Griffin. On a prospect scale of 1-100 I’d rank Griffin as a 93 and Rubio as a 90. That difference is negligible when you consider the Wolves dire need for a playmaker, a point guard and star personality. I am Morpheus-like in my belief/hope that Rubio is The One. HIGH/LOW COMPARISON: Steve Nash/Jose Calderon.

2. Blake Griffin PF OKLAHOMA - He’s a star in wait. I’m much higher on him than I was Michael Beasley and I was high on Beasley. His main knock is that he doesn’t have a jump shot, which not many bigs do when they enter the Association. His athleticism is first class for his size and his 'team first' attitude is what you need out of a leader. HIGH/LOW COMPARISON: Tim Duncan/Carlos Boozer.

3. James Harden SG ARIZONA STATE - He doesn’t look flashy or particularly quick but he’s highly creative and efficient when it comes to putting the ball in the basket from anywhere inside of 24 feet. His defense and positive attitude are right on, too. His criticisms are exactly like the ones Brandon Roy was subject to when he was drafted and we’ve all seen how that played out. Gamers game and ballers ball. It’s that simple. HIGH/LOW COMPARISON: Brandon Roy/James Posey.

4. Ty Lawson PG UNC - I might be the only person without the last name “Lawson” that ranks him this high but I’ve looked closely at his game and beyond being somewhat undersized at 6’0” I just don’t see many flaws. His strengths, on the other hand, are plentiful. His speed is elite, great court vision, a tenacious defender, strong, great at slashing to the rim, fiery competitor, clutch performer and stood out at a major college program.  His major knock coming into last season was that he was a poor jump shooter. All he did to answer that was shoot 53% from the field and 47% from 3 point land. I love him. HIGH/LOW COMPARISON: Chris Paul/TJ Ford.

5. Tyreke Evans SG MEMPHIS - This guy is both a big time talent and a need position for the Wolves. At 6’5” he can play the wing, yet has PG skills. Memphis used him at point last year during a stretch where the team went 27-1. He’s a great scorer but not necessarily a great shooter. He gets to the rim with ease and is prone to drawing fouls. His perimeter defense is outstanding, which comes from his great quickness and sneaky reach. All that being said, he is a bit of a raw talent and does have some boom or bust potential. HIGH/LOW COMPARISON: Latrell Sprewell/Ronnie Brewer.

6. Brandon Jennings PG EUROPE - A pure point guard. Everything you’d want in one, to boot. Great speed, vision and passing ability with a very high ceiling (star potential). Character concerns arose with his decision to play in Europe instead of go to college but that was due more to poor grades and test scores than personal choice. Apparently he showed a lot of maturity and humility overseas playing with veterans. HIGH/LOW COMPARISON: Gilbert Arenas/Sebastian Telfair.

7. Hasheem Thabeet C UCONN - You can’t teach height and in a draft deprived of it Thabeet’s 7’3” frame is at a premium. No one can question his elite shot blocking ability, which is a major need for the Wolves, but in my opinion he failed to show enough progression in other areas this year to warrant a top 5 pick. He too often looks soft and passive when rebounding. I’d rather throw an expiring contract out for a guy like Tyson Chandler, which is all it would take, and draft any of the above players instead. HIGH/LOW COMPARISON: Dikembe Mutumbo/Michael Olowokandi.

8. Jonny Flynn PG SYRACUSE - This is a bit of a reach but I am enamored with his A+ intangibles and leadership. He’s got the overall skill set and demeanor you’d want from a point guard, although his jumper needs some work. He's sort of like Lawson, but slightly less good at everything. HIGH/LOW COMPARISON: Jameer Nelson/Antonio Daniels.

9. DeMar DeRozan SG USC - Based on athleticism and natural born talent this kid has more upside than anyone in the draft. On that along he should be a top 3 pick. Of course, that won’t happen because he’s a major project. So much so that he could fall out of the top 10. Flashes of greatness last season will keep him in the lottery and depending on how his workouts go he could approach as high as #5. Regardless, he’ll be in the dunk contest next year. HIGH/LOW COMPARISON: Vince Carter/Gerald Green.

10. Earl Clark SF LOUISVILLE - Another guy with freakish tools and notable question marks. He has the quickness and slashing ability of a wing along with the strength and power game of a post player. The problem is he rarely put it all together last season and often appeared to mentally check out of the game. The “Lack of Aggression” label is a tough one to shake. HIGH/LOW COMPARISON: Lamar Odom/Marvin Williams.

11. Jordan Hill PF ARIZONA - Next to Griffin, he’s the only other true power forward worthy of a first round pick. As a result, he’ll actually go much higher than this, perhaps as high as #3, but since my rankings are skewed towards the needs of the Wolves this is where he goes. He’s a very solid big man with a fast motor and all around skills. I just don’t see much star potential. HIGH/LOW COMPARISON: Al Horford/Chris Wilcox.

12. Stephen Curry SG DAVIDSON - I think anything beyond expectations as a role player, and a good one at that, are a bit unrealistic. He was extremely effective against double and triple teams all throughout his college career, has great intangibles and his shot will definitely translate to the NBA but other than that, he has as a lot of factors working against him. He’s short with a small frame, not particularly fast or athletic, comes from a small school/conference and cannot run as an effective point. HIGH/LOW COMPARISON: Mike Bibby/JJ Reddick.

13. Eric Maynor PG VCU - Not many people saw him play but he’s both talented and skilled. There’s a difference. Things that stand out: high basketball IQ, great on court leader, effective shot creator, clutch performer, all around offensive game. I like that he had a lot of big games against big teams. His defensive abilities are in question. HIGH/LOW COMPARISON: Mo Williams/Rafer Alston.

14. Jrue Holliday PG UCLA - He had huge buzz heading into last season and did nothing but underwhelm everyone who cared to watch, averaging 8 PPG and 3 APG. Still, he’s got a ton of talent and a lot of “experts” claim he was terribly mismanaged within the UCLA system. The only thing that stood out was his great skills as a defender, which is nice but not enough. He’s an upside pick. HIGH/LOW COMPARISON: Rodney Stuckey/Shaun Livingston.

15. Gerald Henderson SG DUKE

16. Jeff Teague PG WAKE FOREST

17. Terrance Williams SG LOUISVILLE

18. Sam Young SG PITTSBURGH

19. Nick Calathes PG FLORIDA

20. Chase Budinger SF ARIZONA

21. James Johnson SF WAKE FOREST

22. Patrick Mills PG ST. MARYS

23. Marcus Thornton SG LSU

24. DeJuan Blair PF PITTSBURGH

25. Dionte Christmas SG TEMPLE

26. BJ Mullens C OHIO STATE

27. Taj Gibson PF USC

28. Austin Daye SF GONZAGA

29. Wayne Ellington SG UNC

30. DeJuan Summers SF GEORGETOWN

Category: NBA
Posted on: May 11, 2009 10:59 am
 

The Kevin McHale Legacy

Are we in the final days of the McHale era? Anyone who has even casually observed the situation would think so but we’re talking about a guy who has survived more trials than most executives are allowed to endure. Some liken him to a cockroach that just won’t die. Some think that’s too insulting to cockroaches.  I’m on record as saying I don’t think he is as bad as is often made out to be. I understand the frustration for losing has to go somewhere and the very nature of his job means he takes the brunt of that frustration from the media and fanbase. But if I’m being fair, I’ll admit that he has taken a lot of Heat for things that are out of his control. That being said, I think he should be fired yesterday.  In case we are in the final throws of Mac’s reign, I tried, as objectively as possible, to formulate a list of both his sins and successes, as well as those things he just couldn’t control. This is my opinion, of course, so feel free to add things I forgot in the comments below or challenge one of my rulings.


The Good

  • Drafted Kevin Garnett
  • Hired Flip Saunders out of relative obscurity
  • Traded Donyell Marshall for Tom Gugliotta
  • Traded for Stephon Marbury, which despite giving up Ray Allen was a good trade at the time
  • Parlayed an openly disgruntled Marbury into Terrell Brandon, and the team became much better as a result
  • Drafted Wally Szczerbiak, who had several good seasons, including one as an All-Star, before breaking down
  • Aggressive 03-04 offseason, in which Wolves acquired Sam Cassell, Latrell Sprewell, Fred Hoiberg, Trenton Hassell and others en route to Western Conference Finals
  • Acquired a future star in Al Jefferson and other assets in Garnett trade, a rare feat in today’s climate of pure salary dumping
  • Traded OJ Mayo for Kevin Love, Mike Miller and salary cap relief
  • Partially made up for past debacles by acquiring future draft picks (Boston, Miami, Utah, Philadelphia, Houston) and young talent (Rodney Carney) for old hacks and bad contracts (Marko Jaric, Antoine Walker, Mark Blount, Ricky Davis, Gerald Green, Greg Buckner)
  • Recently re-signed role players Ryan Gomes, Sebastian Telfair and Craig Smith for contracts low in money, years and risk, setting the team up to be one of the few financially unrestrained teams in the league

The Bad

  • The Joe Smith Fiasco. This one is epic.
  • Drafted Ndudi Ebi, Paul Grant, Will Avery in the first round
  • Fired Flip Saunders after his first subpar half-season in 10 years
  • Panicked and traded Sam Cassell and a first round pick for Marko Jaric, then extended Jaric’s contract for a ridiculous amount of money
  • Foolishly allowed Garnett to play GM on occasion, which led to friends of KG, Trenton Hassell, Troy Hudson and Joe Smith, being re-signed to lengthy and undeserving deals
  • Signed Mike James to big contract out of desperation to accommodate aging Garnett
  • Traded Brandon Roy for Randy Foye
  • Failure to ever put a long-term star player next to Garnett, despite obvious need for it.
  • Traded the second round draft pick that eventually became Mario Chalmers during the draft but long before the pick was even made, An irresponsible act considering it was evident decent players were falling
  • Typically treated second round picks like a waste of time, rarely took them seriously (ie. Rick Rickert)
  • Never really embraced the job, always fronted a nonchalant “I’d rather be fishing” attitude, which is sort of funny when the team is winning and flat out infuriating when the team struggles
  • Built consistent playoff teams but never, in over a decade at the helm, a team that made a sustained run at a title. This fact is the most damning and the one least subject to opinion.

The Not His Fault But He Still Eats The Blame For the Fallout

  • Michael Williams’ multitude of degenerative injuries that led to him playing in 35 games over the span of four seasons and his eventual retirement
  • Stephon Marbury’s exploding ego and desire for better night life
  • Glen Taylor’s tight wallet and basketball philosophy that would be better suited for the 1980s.
  • Wally Szczerbiak’s chronic foot problems, which made him go from slow to slower
  • Terrell Brandon’s career ending knee injury, a season after they let Chauncey Billups walk because Brandon was their guy
  • Malik Sealy’s death in car crash
  • Sam Cassell had one good season and thought he deserved Steve Nash money before his contract was even up, then intentionally sabotaged the team through uninspired play in order to prove a point
  • Latrell Sprewell’s need to feed his family...really well
  • Fred Hoiberg’s defective heart forced retirement
  • Three lottery picks in a row (Rashad McCants, Randy Foye and Corey Brewer) suffering full season, or close to it, injuries in their developmentally key second NBA season
  • Lack of luck. In addition to the injuries this franchise has never, in its many attempts, landed a top 2 pick in the draft. Building a contender is a lot easier if a LeBron James or Dwight Howard or Kevin Durant or Derrick Rose falls into your lap.
  • Glen Taylor’s refusal to fire him. Was he supposed to off himself?
Category: NBA
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com