Monday, May 21, 2012

Mock Drafting It

By: Kyle Schimming

While the most climatic parts of the NBA season is taking place throughout sold-out arenas across the country, I can't help but look ahead to a league event that has nothing to do with who hoists the Larry O'Brien Trophy.

The Draft Lottery is less than two weeks away and for fans in Cleveland, Washington, Charlotte and New Orleans where and ultimately who their team will choose in this summer's draft will begin to take shape.

So I've decided to take my first stab at attempting to project how the draft will shake out based off of where each team finished the regular season. The order is still yet to be determined, but it's never too early to try and figure how the lottery bound teams of the NBA will draft come June.

1. Charlotte - Anthony Davis, Kentucky
This is a no-brainier. Davis has a chance to be an impact player immediately and the Bobcats could definitely use the shot-blocking Player of the Year in college basketball.

2. Washington - Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kentucky
The Wizards roster needs help in both the frontcourt and backcourt, so they could go in a number of directions. Kidd-Gilchrist could be the type of team-first, all-around player that has been absent from the nations capital lately.

3. Cleveland - Bradley Beal, Florida
In a dream scenario, a pairing of Beal and ROY Kyrie Irving together could eventually form one of the top backcourts in the NBA. Like Kyrie, Beal showed in his one season in college that he can really fill it up and the Cavs got very little the past two season from their shooting guards. If both Davis and Kidd-Gilchrist are gone when it's Cleveland's turn to pick, Chris Grant will likely be very willing to snatch up Beal.

I do have concerns over Beal's lack of height (6'3"), which would leave the Cavs undersized similar to the situation Golden State found themselves in recently with Steph Curry and Monta Ellis. However, Irving has shown the potential to be much better than either of those two and that could be enough to offset any of those problems. Beal has a chance to be a top-end shooting guard one day and will fill one of the major needs of the future.

4. New Orleans - Harrison Barnes, North Carolina
After all of the fanfare that accompanied Barnes to North Carolina, his time there is being considered a letdown. It's clear his ceiling isn't as high as once thought, but Barnes is still likely to become a solid NBA player who can last a long time in the league.

5. Sacramento - Thomas Robinson, Kansas
Robinson and DeMarcus Cousins would form a solid duo in the paint. In Robinson, the Kings would also get a mature individual that could hopefully rub off on Cousins.

6. Portland - Jeremy Lamb, UConn
The Blazers need a shooting guard who can create for himself, and Lamb has the length and shooting ability to do so.

7. Golden State - Andre Drummond, UConn
Yes, I know the Warriors traded for Andrew Bogut at the deadline. But, it's unlikely they take a guard at this spot and Drummond can step in if Bogut gets injured for the third straight season. Remember, the Warriors set a new standard for tanking to get this pick so whoever they choose better perform.

8. Toronto - Damian Lillard, Weber State
The Raptors need to come away with a point guard from this draft. Kendall Marshall is the more popular choice, but Lillard is a much better scorer and could flourish with the right team.

9. Detroit - Perry Jones III, Baylor
Joe Dumars has made a number of questionable decisions in recent drafts, but it appears he found a solid starting point guard in Brandon Knight. If Jones ever puts everything together, he could become Tracy McGrady 2.0.

10. New Orleans - Kendall Marshall, North Carolina
The Hornets will be thrilled if they are able to come away with both Barnes and Marshall with their selections. Both can step in and start right away and will help make the team much more competitive in 2012-13.

11. Portland - Tyler Zeller, North Carolina
The Blazers could use another big man to pair with LaMarcus Aldridge. Despite the surplus of power forwards in the draft, there aren't a whole lot of great centers available. I could see them looking to trade out of this pick and back into the later part of the first round.

12. Milwaukee - Jared Sullinger, Ohio State
Sullinger appears to have really hurt his draft stock by coming back to school for his sophomore year. If he continues to develop his mid range jumper, this could be a huge steal for the Bucks.

13. Phoenix - John Henson, North Carolina
The Suns would like to find an eventual replacement for Steve Nash, but if they miss out on both Lillard and Marshall then they should look to improve their defense by adding the athletic Henson.

14. Houston - Austin Rivers, Duke
Kevin Martin struggled to play at the level he has been accustomed to, and Rivers brings a load of confidence and an understanding of the NBA game thanks to his family pedigree.

15. Philadelphia - Meyers Leonard, Illinois
Sixers have plenty guards/forwards, could use size inside.

16. Houston - Fab Melo, Mississippi State
The Rockets need to add help inside as well and will likely do so with one of their two picks. Melo is raw offensively but a deference maker on defense.

17. Dallas - Moe Harkless, St. Johns
The defending champs need to get younger across the board. Harkless is comparable to Shawn Marion and could become an solid replacement.

18. Minnesota - Terrence Ross, Washington
Wesley Johnson has been a bust and the athletic Ross would fit will playing alongside Ricky Rubio.

19. Orlando - Dion Waiters, Syracuse
Brings a toughness that the Magic desperately needs. A solid college player who can shoot and penetrate.

20. Denver - Tony Wroten, Washington
The Nuggets have depth across the board and may look to take the best available player regardless of position.

21. Boston - Arnett Moultrie, Mississippi State
Could take over the power forward position from KG whenever he does decided to retire. Although, after his recent performance, that could be further off than most expected.

22. Boston - Royce White, Iowa State
White has a unique set of skills, and could learn from playing with Paul Pierce.

23. Atlanta - Quincy Miller, Baylor
Josh Smith has been very open about wanting out of Atlanta and would open up a hole at small forward if ever traded.

24. Cleveland - Terrence Jones, Kentucky
There's a chance that everyone the Cavs are interested in at this point are off the board. But trading the pick seems like an unlikely option, especially after failing to get anything out of the second round picks from last years draft.

I'm not a huge fan of Jones but if he does happen to fall this far I can't see the Cavs passing him up. He is flawed offensively and doesn't always show up to play, but is the type of athlete that could share minutes with Alonzo Gee. I'm sure Cavs fans are hoping for more out of this pick but Jones would have solid value this low.

25. Memphis - John Jenkins, Vanderbilt
Memphis could go in any direction with this pick. If they let O.J. Mayo sign elsewhere, then a backup shooting guard could be a possibility.

26. Indiana - William Buford, Ohio State
The Pacers have a number of four year college players on their roster, and could look at Buford with their only pick of the draft.

27. Miami - Draymond Green, Michigan State
The Heat need some toughness in their rotation, and the solid Green could supply that better than most other options this late.

28. Oklahoma City - Festus Ezeli, Vanderbilt
Ezeli could become a solid backup to Kendrick Perkins.

29. Chicago - Doron Lamb, Kentucky
Rip Hamilton is a shell of his former self and Lamb would give them another option at shooting guard.

30. Golden State - Will Barton, Memphis
I think Barton should have returned to school, but is definitely worth a flier on because of his potential.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Desperate and Delusional

By: Kyle Schimming

Playoff basketball has had no problem avoiding The Q in the two seasons since LeBron James traded in his winter coat for the warmth of South Beach.

This void has given me the opportunity to dive into the Indians season a little faster than in past years while setting myself up even earlier for the inevitable Browns destruction to come.

But what it's also done is given me the time to continue my disdain towards James and throw my support behind the opponents that match up with the Heat each round.

I'm quick to admit that the Dallas Mavericks' Finals victory last season over the Heat brought me way more joy than I imagined it would and carved out a special place in my all-time favorite German athletes list for Dirk Nowitzki...oh you don't have a list of your favorite German athletes, yeah me either.

Fast forward to this postseason and I find myself in a similar position. The NBA fan in me is drawn to the match ups all across the board. But I've certainly kept a closer eye on Miami's opponents and their chances at knocking out the Heat.

I wasn't expecting much trouble from their first round match up with the Knicks. The Heat were never going to be threatened my Carmelo and Amare's less than stealer effort on the defensive end. Miami made quick work of New York and now leads Indiana 1-0.

The Pacers have the depth to give the Heat trouble and the Game 1 injury to Chris Bosh has made this series more interesting, but all along the team I've had my eyes on the Eastern Conference Finals as the series where the Heat will really be tested.

Even before Derrick Rose tore up his knee in the first round, I was hoping for the Celtics to emerge as the team that would put LeBron's plans of winning his eight championships on hold. The Celtics have the experience and the confidence to go up against the Heat and  potentially send them home before the Finals.

While Boston has looked good but not great in beating Atlanta in six games and grabbing a 1-0 lead on Philadelphia, I still have the same expectations for them as I did before the playoffs began.

That hope may turn out to come true, but like any guy who fails to see any negatives in a new girlfriend, my feelings towards the Celtics are obviously skewed by my disdain towards James.

This is especially clear any time Ryan Hollins, yes that Ryan Hollins, checks into the game as Boston's first big man off the bench. Any Cavs fan will tell you that Ryan Hollins shouldn't be relied on to provide a solid inside presence in a local YMCA game let alone in a playoff series.

But that's exactly what Hollins is being asked to do by Celtics coach Doc Rivers. Hollins has turned into the energy guy off the bench whenever Kevin Garnett and Brandon Bass need a break. He was easily one of the worst players on a team with the third worst record in the league, yet finds himself right in the middle of what is likely the last chance for Boston's "Big Three" to chase a championship.

I'd imagine that Ryan Hollins wasn't what Danny Ainge had in mind for the future when he traded away Kendrick Perkins before last years trading deadline, but he's going to have to have his fingerprints on however far the Celtics end up advancing in the playoffs.

This alone shows how desperate and somewhat delusional the fans are who once cheered for James as he promised to bring a banner to Cleveland and now spend their summers throwing their support behind the once hated "Big Three" of the Celtics.

However, for now the thought of the Heat smugly winning a championship is more than enough for Cavs fans to convince themselves that the old Celtics legs have one more Finals run in them and that Ryan Hollins has suddenly realized that he is indeed 7'0" tall and allowed to grab rebounds.

But we've all seen how James handles the pressure when matched up against a fan base both desperate and a little delusional, and for now that allows Cavs fans to continue to believe. Even when what it's believing in is Ryan Hollins.