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Tyrus ThomasCHICAGO BULLS
Who They Ended Up With: PF Tyrus Thomas, SG Thabo Sefolosha, SF Viktor Khryapa (trade)
Comments: The Bulls were able to get the player they probably wanted anyway, as well as Viktor Khryapa and a draft pick when they traded the rights to LaMarcus Aldridge whom they drafted second overall to the Blazers for Thomas.  That John Paxson is one smart dude.  Thomas is extremely athletic, can finish on the break, and can do with a ball what every credit card company I apply with does and that’s reject with reckless abandon.  He’s still very young and might be the anti-Eddy Curry/Tyson Chandler and actually have his game grow and be more than one dimensional.  Sefolosha could be a defensive stopper at this level and could be a solid bench player.  I’m not sure where or when Kyryapa will play with Andres Nocioni and Luol Deng at the three.
Final Grade: A-

CLEVELAND CAVALLIERS
Who They Ended Up With: SG Shannon Brown, PG Daniel Gibson, SF/PF Ejike Ugboaja
Comments: I like the Brown pick because who knows what’s going to happen to Larry Hughes health-wise.  It’s unfortunate for Hughes because he obviously has talent, capable on both ends of the floor.  Brown brings some intensity to an otherwise pretty quiet team.  Even LeBron James doesn’t yell and scream much, which is actually very MJ-like, as well as refreshing.  Gibson was an excellent pickup in the second round as he has shown the abilty to play at a high level.  He’ll probably do an apprenticeship under Eric Snow, but then take over.  Gibson is more of a scorer than a true point, but maybe playing with James will change his outlook.
Final Grade: B

Click to continue reading NBA Draft Grades: Central Division


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Unlike what he just did, Renaldo Balkman is NOT a slam dunkI know what you’re thinking - “What the hell took you so long to get these NBA Draft grades out?”  Well, I’ve been so immersed with watching the World Cup (and, yeah, I know I haven’t been writing about that either, but I find myself enjoying it way too much, I’m “spent” as Austin Powers used to say, to write about it; don’t worry, I’ll do up a Finals preview), being in TWO heated fantasy baseball matchups with archrivals, and doing several fantasy football mocks, I just had to put the old orange roundball on the side for a minute.  But, don’t worry, I’m on top of it like Zach Braff on any chick he was fortunate enough to be on top of… Natalie Portman?  Mandy Moore?  How’d that happen?!?!?! 

Well, at least, Braff didn’t draft Renaldo Balkman.

BOSTON CELTICS:
Who They Ended Up With: PG Rajon Rondo, PF Leon Powe, PG Sebastian Telfair (via trade), PF/C Theo Ratliff (via trade), PF Brian Grant (via trade)
Comments: At first, I liked the trade to get Telfair from the Portland Trailblazers because as good as Delonte West was, he’s not really a point.  I was really excited thinking of how West would flourish even more from the two spot as he didn’t have to worry about creating for his teammates anymore.  But then the Celtics drafted Rajon Rondo, another point guard.  They definitely are stocking up on PGs for Allen Iverson.  Hopefully, the deal gets done for the Celtics or they’ll look dumb.  But, getting Leon Powe was a great value pick.  Too bad he’ll probably be coming off the bench.  However if Ryan Gomes can come out of nowhere, so can Powe.
Final Grade: Incomplete, depending on what happens with AI.

NEW JERSEY NETS:
Who They Ended Up With: PG Marcus Williams, PF/C Josh Boone, SG Hassan Adams
Comments: Man, were the Nets lucky sons of biznitches or what?  Williams was pretty much ranked as the number one point guard in the draft and he falls all the way to number 22 because of conditioning questions, as well as that stealing of laptops incident last year.  Okay, I understand.  But, Williams is as gritty as they come, can find the open man, and is a clutch performer.  Learning behind Jason Kidd will only help Williams become the Black Steve Nash (how funny does that sound?).  Nash sat behind Kidd back in Nash’s first go-around with the Suns and look at him now.  Boone will be good, eventually, as he’s just too talented not to succeed.  He just needs to play with a little more fire.  Understand, I’ve followed Hassan Adams since his high school days and I love him as a player, but in Jersey with Richard Jefferson and Vince Carter, I’m not sure if he’ll stick.
Final Grade: A

Click to continue reading NBA Draft Grades: Atlantic Division


Adam Morrison, bang your head!

Top Four Reasons the NBA Draft Didn’t Go As I Hoped

1. Adam Morrison to the Charlotte Bobcats.
The Bobcats will never be on tv in Seattle. Check that, they will be on TV twice – once when they play the Supersonics in Seattle and once when Seattle plays out there.
2. Sonics Draft Sene.
The Sonics might as well have thrown in the towel with that pick – Who? From where? Was Kevin Bacon involved in recruiting this cat?
3. Boston Celtics Gears Up to Make a Run at Iverson (And Trades Away Dan Dickau).
First, I don’t think Sebastian Telfair is the answer to anyone’s point guard problems. Second, Allen Iverson and Paul Pierce on the same team… now that would set basketball back 10 years.
4. Trailblazers Draft Gone Awry.
I was really hoping the Zers would become my team by picking Adam Morrison and turning things around under new ownership. Nope.

My resolution – order the expanded digital cable package so I can watch European soccer all winter on Fox Sports Soccer.


LaMarcus AldridgeTyrus ThomasBanging down low, fighting in the box, scoring in the post, and denying shots from the other team with an emphatic block are jobs designated to the bigs of the frontline.  Check out the top five power forward and center prospects in this year’s draft. 

NOTE: Due to time constraints, I am combining this position without blurbs.  Just being honest.  To get in depth analysis on the other positions, either scroll down or click on the appropiate position - Point Guard; Shooting Guard; Small Forward.

Power Forwards

1. Tyrus Thomas, Louisiana State University, 6’9”, 215 lbs.
2. Andrea Bargnani, Italy, 7’0”, 225 lbs.
3. Shelden Williams, Duke University, 6’9”, 250 lbs.
4. Cedric Simmons, North Carolina State University, 6’9”, 233 lbs.
5. Josh Boone, University of Connecticut, 6’10”, 237 lbs.

Others to consider:
James Augustine, University of Illiinois; Justin Williams, University of Wyoming; Kevin Pittsnogle, West Virginia University; Tai Gray, University of Oklahoma

Centers

1. LaMarcus Aldridge, University of Texas, 6’10”, 237 lbs.
2. Patrick O’Bryant, Bradley University, 7’0”, 260 lbs.
3. Hilton Armstrong, University of Connecticut, 6’10”, 240 lbs.
4. Paul Davis, Michigan State University, 6’11”, 270 lbs.
5. Saer Sene, Senegal, 7’0”, 229 lbs.

Another to consider:

Ryan Hollins, UCLA


Adam Morrison, the number one pick?These are the wing players that are usually the marksmen from the outside.  However, don’t fall asleep on them on the perimeter because they will go baseline on you and show you they aren’t all that “small.”  Here are the top five small forward prospects in this year’s draft.

1. Adam Morrison, Gonzaga University, 6’8”, 205 lbs.
Morrison AKA The Stache led the nation in scoring and can flat out score.  He’s as unathletic as you get, but he can score off the dribble against very good defenders, and of course shoot the lights out from anywhere on the perimeter.  He’s relentless and flat out can put the ball in the basket.  However, he doesn’t really put that offensive effort on the defensive end and he’ll almost definitely have problems guarding players on the NBA level.  His ability to score, his seemingly endless energy, and will to win will hopefully help cover that deficiency.

2. Rudy Gay, University of Connecticut, 6’9”, 220 lbs.
Before the college season started last year, Gay was being spoken of very highly.  We’re talking being player of the year, the number one overall pick in the draft, etc.  While he star has gotten a bit dirty, it’s still shining bright enough for Gay to be an early to mid-lottery pick, based on his upside.  He has taller than average wing height, an excellent wingspan, and explosiveness.  And he can jump out of the gym, as they say.  He also has a pretty good stroke from the outside.  A big drawback is that Gay sometimes gets lax and just coasts, not actively looking for the ball in half-court sets.

3. Rodney Carney, University of Memphis, 6’7”, 205 lbs.
Carney is another physical and athletic freak.  Quickness, explosiveness, length, strength, great first step, and a sweet shot are all attributes given to Carney.  But, Carney doesn’t have much of a handle and his defense is predicated on how he’s going offensively.

4. Thabo Sefolosha, Switzerland, 6’7”, 205 lbs.
Sefolosha is a slasher and benefits in making good decisions with the ball because of his point guard days in the junior levels of the Italian league.  He’s a smooth player and seems to play with a chip on his shoulder, which should translate well as far as demeanor goes in integrating into the NBA.  He’s not the typical European softy.  He’s a bit thin and will have to adapt to playing on a higher plane due to NBA-level competition.

5. P.J. Tucker, University of Texas, 6’5”, 220 lbs.
Tucker is an intense competitor and likes to get down and dirty, especially on the offensive end, which brings Tucker to the line.  He has a solid handle and can score in the box.  He isn’t a great shooter, but his competitiveness and tenacity are pluses.

Others to consider: 

Renaldo Balkman, University of South Carolina;  Marcus Vinicius, Brazil


Brandon Roy finishingThese guys are all about scoring.  Hit the triple, slash to the basket, finish on the break… put the ball in the hoop.  Here are the top five shooting guard prospects in this year’s draft.

1. Brandon Roy, University of Washington, 6’5”, 195 lbs.
Roy is probably the most polished and most ready to play on the NBA level.  And I’ll admit, I’m really high on this guy and he’s the player I’ll be following most from this draft.  Roy plays both ends of the floor very well and is a straight up smooth player.  He has a high basketball IQ and could be a Shawn Marion type from the 2-guard.  Okay, maybe that’s puttting a lot of expectations on him, but Roy does everything well.  Roy has had knee problems in the past and that can be a concern, but look at his production in college.  Also, he pulled a Dwyane Wade (when Wade was with Marquette) this past season by putting Washington on his shoulders and carrying them deep into the NCAA tournament.  The intangibles are just as impressive as his physical abilty. 

2. Randy Foye, Villanova University, 6’3”, 205 lbs.
Foye is a smooth slasher that can get to the hoop and finish, even if he gets fouled.  He’s as stubborn as that other Philly guard, Allen Iverson, when it comes to driving the ball into the lane.  But, he isn’t all about penetration as he can drain the jumper, but he is more a scorer than shooter.  His skill set dictates that Foye is a two-guard, naturally, he’s a bit short for the position.  He will need to improve his playmaking ability if he needs to play the point on the NBA level.

3. Ronnie Brewer, University of Arkansas, 6.7”, 228 lbs.
Brewer can score and create shots for others almost equally.  He slashes to the basket with aplomb and can even drop it off when the defense collapses on him.  Defensively, he can lockdown any offensive player thanks to his quickness and wingspan.  At Arkansas, Brewer has a career 2.4 steals per game average.  The problem with his game is that he has an uglier shot than Shawn Marion.  He’ll need to work on the release on his shot in order to be able to score the way he did in college.

4. Maurice Ager, Michigan State University, 6’5”, 202 lbs.
Ager’s athletic ability helps his transition game, which is one of his strengths.  Another aspect that is strong in Ager’s game is his ability to hit from beyond the arc.  Ager doesn’t score much off the dribble and will need to work on that to be a better player at the next level.  He has very good physicallity to succeed as a defender, but needs to be a little more intense.

5. Quincy Douby, Rutgers University, 6’3”, 175 lbs.
Douby can score to a high degree both from attacking the hoop and shooting from the outside, which makes him a difficult defensive assignment.  Douby is very quick, but thin.  He’ll need to add muscle mass in order to continue to slash to the hoop.  Douby is a scorer and can sometimes get that tunnel vision where he isn’t looking for his teammates because he’s so focused on scoring.

Others to consider:

J.J. Reddick, Duke University; Shannon Brown, Michigan State University; Guillermo Diaz, University of Miami; Allan Ray, Villanova University; Rudy Fernandez, Spain


Marcus WilliamsThese are your floor generals, the extension of the coach on the floor, and the player where it all usually begins.  The primary role of a point guard is to set the offense up, whether it’s a half-court set or handling the ball on the fast break and finding the open man.  Here’s a look at the top five point guard prospects in this year’s draft.

1. Marcus Williams, University of Connecticut, 6’2”, 200 lbs.
Williams comes from great programs, both in high school (Oak Hill Academy) and college (UConn).  He has very good court vision able to find the open man, prototype physicality, and is able to stay cool in tight situations.  He has excellent ball-handling skills and being a lefty brings a different dimension to the court.  Unfortunately there are some off-the-court issues with Williams and his defense isn’t the greatest.

2. Sergio Rodriguez, Spain, 6’3”, 170 lbs.
Rodriguez is only 19-years-old, a dynamo with the ball who is able to find teammates to finish and get to the hoop.  Unfortunately, with that youth, Rodriguez can get too caught up in trying to look flashy, he causes turnovers.  He hasn’t shown the ability to play well on defense and can be burned from the perimeter or off the dribble.  However, he has a huge upside and because of his age, will probably be one of the point guards taken first within the position.

3. Rajon Rondo, University of Kentucky, 6’1”, 171 lbs.
Unlike the aforementioned players, Rondo can play defense.  Not only that, the boy can rebound as well (6.1), actually leading Kentucky in that category last season… as a point guard!  He has great physical skills, able to sky, great lateral quickness, and a long wingspan.  Rondo’s drawbacks are that he’s thin and doesn’t quite have great perimeter shooting skills.  For example a 57.7 career FT% is not a good thing. 

4. Jordan Farmar, UCLA, 6’2”, 170 lbs.
Farmar is a great playmaker, heady, and makes his teammates better.  He sounds like another Cali point guard that has since become one of the best point guards to ever play in the NBA - Jason Kidd.  I’m not saying Farmar is the next Kidd, but he does have those intangibles.  Farmar can score and pass with the best of them, but has only average athleticism and needs to create space, or have it created for him by a screen, to be effective.

5. Kyle Lowry, Villanova University, 6’0”, 185 lbs.
Lowry is a tough player on both ends of the court - attacking the basket and playing defense up in his man’s face.  Of the two, Lowry’s defense is his better quality.  He doesn’t have a polished offensive game and his perimeter shooting is questionable.  Also, Lowry is shorter than the ideal point guard height.

Others to consider:

Dee Brown, University of Illinois; Mardy Collins, Temple University; Jose Juan Barea, Northeastern University; Darius Washington, Jr., University of Memphis; Gerry McNamara, Syracuse University


Draft The StacheThe 2006 NBA draft is quickly approaching (June 28th), and it sounds like that the Portland Trailblazer fans are making it very clear who they would like the team to select with the 4th pick of the draft. 

The Draft the Stache Campaign is gaining traction in the Rose City, and urging the Blazers to draft Gonzaga star Adam Morrison.  An open letter to the team declares that Morrison is the player that can help re-establish the fans trust in the organization harkening back to the days of Clyde Drexler and Terry Porter.

I wonder if the fans campaigned to draft Sam Bowie back in the 1984 NBA Draft?

Read More | Draft The Stache

Toronto RaptorsThe NBA Draft Lottery was held in the midst of the Miami Heat/Detroit Pistons playoff game, and no matter who ended up winning the game, the Toronto Raptors were going to be winners too as the lottery played itself out in front of a national audience on ESPN.  The Raptors beat the odds, only having an 8.8% chance of getting the first pick. 

The Portland Trailblazers having the worst record during the regular season, and therefore having the best odds of winning the lottery, actually fell all the way to picking number four.  Tough luck.  The Chicago Bulls will pick second overall thanks to a trade of Eddy Curry to the New York Knicks before the season started.  Excellent luck.  The Charlotte Bobcats will pick third.

On top of having the number one overall draft pick, the Raptors also have some salary cap flexibility and it will be interesting to see what they do.  With PF/C Chris Bosh as the cornerstone for the franchise, to go along with SF/PF Charlie Villanueva and PG Mike James, the Raptors can improve themselves in a hurry.

At this point, there is no consensus number one overall draft pick, but the projected top players will be Gonzaga’s Adam Morrison, Texas’ LaMarcus Aldridge, and LSU’s Tyrus Thomas.  Don’t be surprised if the Raptors go across the Atlantic and choose PF Andrea Bargnani from Italy, considering the new Assistant GM, Maurizio Gherardini is coming from being a GM for Italy’s powerhouse Benetton Treviso.

The NBA Draft takes place on June 28.


Vince Young can throwTennessee Titans2005 Record: 4-12
Points For: 299
Points Against: 421
Rushing Yards PG: 95.3
Rushing Yards Allowed PG: 118.4
Passing Yards PG: 224.8
Passing Yards Allowed PG: 201.0
Drafted:
1.3 (3) - Vince Young, QB, Texas  
2.13 (45) - LenDale White, TB, USC (from Philadelphia) 
4.5 (102) - Calvin Lowry, S, Penn St.   
4.19 (116) - Stephen Tulloch, LB, N.C. State (from Dallas through Philadelphia) 
5.4 (137)  - Terna Nande, LB, Miami (OH)   
5.37 (169) - Jesse Mahelona, DT, Tennessee (Compensatory Selection) 
6.3 (172) - Jonathan Orr, WR, Wisconsin  
7.7 (215) - Cortland Finnegan, DB, Samford  
7.37 (245) - Spencer Toone, LB, Utah (Compensatory Selection) 
7.38 (246) - Quinton Ganther, RB, Utah (Compensatory Selection)
Comments:
There was a lot of speculation with the first pick for the Titans (number three overall) as it basically came down to Young or Matt Leinart who had ties with offensive coordinator, Norm Chow from their USC days.  It basically came down to who had the most upside of the two and ownership deemed that Leinart had basically peaked already, while Young was still trending upwards and could be the next Steve McNair, a former MVP for the Titans and current disgruntled employee.  White was a first round talent who was arguably just as good as Reggie Bush concerning numbers, but because of character issues and an injury problem, White took a landslide down to the second round and I have to say the Titans lucked out in getting this power back.  Lowry is the proverbial “solid” player.  He has very solid tackling skills. Tulloch has good speed and a motor. Nande is a very fast and explosive player.  He could excel in special teams play.  Mahelona loves to play, but that doesn’t always translate in the statline.  Orr is a tall wide receiver with very good speed.  Finnegan is superfast and is a more than viable option in the return game.  Toone will probably play special teams and come in only to give one of the linebackers a rest.  Ganther is short, but strong.  He doesn’t have great speed, however.
ENDSCORE GRADE: C+


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