Category Archives: NBA Draft

The Balk-Cooper NBA Offseason Conferences: Part One

Below, College Sports Town editors Tim Balk and Danny Cooper electronically conference to discuss the happenings of  two crazy weeks in the NBA. This is the first in what will be a series of back-and-forth conversations about the NBA.

Editor’s note: After this post was written, the Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks agreed on a deal that sent Jason Kidd to Milwaukee in exchange for two second round draft picks. The Bucks fired coach Larry Drew.

Danny Cooper: The last few weeks have been a time of turmoil in the NBA. While the NBA Draft and impending free agency usually brings about radical changes, this offseason has been the craziest in recent memory. The draft had a fair amount of drama itself, with promising but injured prospect Joel Embiid falling to the Sixers at the third pick, after the Cavs and Bucks drafted the safer options of Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker with the first and second picks. The rumor mill has been churning at an alarming rate, with rampant speculation about the eventual destinations of superstars such as LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, and Kevin Love. Front office drama has been prevalent as well, with the impending exile of Jason Kidd from the Brooklyn Nets and the ongoing controversy of the Donald Sterling fiasco. Tim, have you ever seen a wilder offseason?

Flip Saunders is back in Minneapolis.

Flip Saunders is back in Minneapolis.

Tim Balk: They’re all pretty wild. I still haven’t gotten over the Timberwolves inexplicably ceding almost total control of their franchise to Flip Saunders. I mean, I love Flip. Remember when he spent like a month as an assistant on the C’s bench and came to every game looking bored and shabbily dressed? Seriously though, this is a guy with a long history of being a marginal coach–he never got over the hump the first time in Minnesota, he never got over the hump with some extremely talented teams in Detroit, and his time in Washington was a trainwreck. I’m not sure what qualifies a guy who lost in the first round SEVEN years in a row with Minny the first time (and we make fun of the Hawks now…) to now take over the team for a second time as coach/GM/part owner. Even funnier, the Flip deal seems to have Jason Kidd, who, honestly, did a terrible job with Brooklyn this year, thinking he should get a similar deal in Brooklyn.

DC: It’s despicable when Flip Saunders has a job coaching an NBA team and Lionel Hollins is waiting for a call back from the Rockets front office. Head coaching moves this offseason have been bizarre. Steve Kerr, Derek Fisher, and David Blatt have been handed the reigns of franchises at major turning points despite no previous NBA head coaching experience. On the bright side, Quin Snyder couldn’t possibly do a worse job than Tyrone Corbin in Utah, and Stan Van Gundy is a sight for sore eyes in Detroit, but there’s a limit to how much they can improve their poor teams. There’s a clear upper echelon of coaches, there’s a hundred yards of crap, then there’s the rest of them. Outside of Gregg Popovich, Rick Carlisle, Doc Rivers, Tom Thibodeau, and Frank Vogel, I’m not sure which coaches are worth the money blown on them each offseason.

TB: I’m not sure I totally agree with your stance on there not being a middle of the pack when it comes to coaching. I’d point to guys like Larry Drew (who may be out of a job quite soon)  and Kevin McHale as fairly average NBA coaches. And there are a lot of other guys I like outside of those four or five. I thought Terry Stotts did a fantastic job in Portland this year. Jeff Hornacek had a great first year in Phoenix. I think we both agree that Spoelstra is an extremely capable coach. Moving back to Kidd, news just broke that the Bucks and Nets are trying to hash out a trade to send him to Milwaukee. First there was the Doc Rivers trade last offseason and now…this? We might be taking the whole coaching carousel to a new level. The weirdest thing to me is that the Bucks are apparently only willing to part with a second round draft pick. If you have enough confidence in a coach to want him leading your team, you’d think you would be willing to give up more than a meager second round pick.  Personally, I’d give up a second round pick NOT to have Kidd coach my team.

DC: Your point is taken. There are some extremely talented coaches out there who performed fantastically last year but aren’t quite at the Poppovic- Rivers- Carlisle level yet. That is not meant as a slight to those coaches but as a testament to the skill of the elite coaches of the league. In any case, dealing coaches is certainly one of the weirder developments of the past few years. I’m not sure that I like it, especially when there is an incumbent in place already, as there is in Milwaukee with Larry Drew. It does make you wonder how much teams would be willing to give up for a great coach like Poppovic.

Where will Melo land?

Where will Melo land?

TB: Shifting the subject from coaches to the draft, I love what the Chicago did. The offensively starved Bulls got a legit offensive weapon in Doug McDermott. Anyone who reads the blog knows I love Dougie. The dude’s got a diverse offensive game and I think he’ll thrive in the Chi. Getting him at 11 smells like a steal, even if they had to flip the 16th and 19th picks to Denver in order to get him. Bringing this thing back to the subject of coaches, Thibodeau was apparently very happy about the acquisition. Given the guys he’s had on his roster the past few years, it isn’t hard to see why he’d be glad to pick up a guy who can put the biscuit in the basket.

DC: No wonder you love McBuckets, you look just like him! In all seriousness, the Bulls are primed to control the East for a long time if the front office can snag highly-sought after free agent Carmelo Anthony. Playing with DPOY Joakim Noah, excellent sixth man Taj Gibson, and perhaps a resurgent Derrick Rose, Melo would prosper, and the Bulls would certainly be perennial favorites in the weak Eastern Conference. Chicago has to sign Melo first, though, and it faces stiff competition to do so. The Rockets and Mavs both have meetings set up with Melo next week, along with the Bulls, and the Knicks won’t let him get away so easy. Tim, what do you think Melo should do? To be honest, I would probably leave New York to create a superteam in Chicago and try to finally get a ring, but as a Knicks fan, that scenario depresses me.

TB: From a purely basketball perspective, Chicago is the clear choice. The Bulls already have a superstar, a proven coach, and a solid supporting ensemble. However, there are other factors at play. New York can pay him more than anybody else. He’s also a New York guy and his family is in the city. Then there’s always the allure of playing in MSG. So I’m not sure what Melo should do. I’ll be going to college outside of Chicago next year, so I’d like to see him take his talents to the United Center for selfish reasons. Even without Anthony, the Bulls should be the class of the East next winter if Rose can stay healthy. By the way, I’m also happy with the draft moves of my hometown C’s; by drafting Marcus Smart and James Young they’ve added some great young talent. Smart’s presence could pave the way for the Celtics to deal Rondo.

We think the C's made a smart move in taking Marcus Smart. (The Smart puns never get old, do they?)

Marcus Smart will be suiting up in Celtic green next season.

DC: The Celtics ended up with two of the better prospects in the draft (thanks Billy King!) in Smart and Young. Smart can let his emotions get the best of him, but if that’s the worst thing there is to say about him, that’s a good sign. Young is a solid sharpshooter who should benefit from playing in a system with Smart and/or Rondo. My issue with the Smart pick is Rondo’s presence on the team. The Celtics need to decide whether they want to deal him to garner more picks in what should be another deep draft in 2015 or if they want to keep him in Beantown for a while. Knowing Rondo’s competitive nature, I’m not so sure he’ll be a great mentor to Smart. Would it be possible for Danny Ainge to finagle a deal with the Timberwolves to exchange Rondo and picks or an expiring contract for Kevin Love? That’s the dream, isn’t it?

TB: That’s the dream.

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NBA Draft: Live Blog

Starting at 7:15, we will be doing a live blog of the NBA Draft. Click the link below and join in on the fun!

 

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NBA Draft Live Blog Thursday Night!

Hello basketball fans! Although I usually blog about baseball as you know, this Thursday night Tim Balk and I are doing a live blog about the 2013 NBA Draft, this year held in the Barclays Center (as reviewed in this post- https://collegesportstown.com/2013/04/21/thoughts-from-the-nets-bulls-game-and-other-nba-playoff-musings/) in Brooklyn, New York. College stars such as Nerlens Noel, Victor Oladipo, and Otto Porter will be thrust into their new lives as NBA players, a lifelong dream realized as the NBA commish announces their names for the world. College Sports Town will be on the job, providing live analysis of the teams’ picks. More details will be on the way later on in the week, but be prepared!

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NBA Draft Thoughts

The NBA Playoffs are over. LeBron James turned in a superior performance last night (37 points and 12 rebounds) to lead the Miami Heat to their second straight NBA Championship in a highly entertaining game seven.

With the Finals wrapped up, NBA fans can turn their attention to the NBA Draft. On Thursday night, teams’ futures will be changed in big ways. I recently published a post about five guys in this draft who I think are undervalued (you can read it here). Today, I will just run down some of my other thoughts on this draft. Enjoy!

It seems to me that Alex Len may be overvalued by NBA scouts.

It seems to me that Alex Len may be overvalued by NBA scouts.

  • Alex Len’s draft stock may be rising like a hot air balloon, but I’m still not remotely sold on him as a top five pick, let alone a no.1 pick. Is he big? Absolutely. Does have great potential? Unquestionably. But, in two years at Maryland, the Ukrainian did not do much to make me think that he is he is deserving of such a high pick. He only rebounded well some of the time, didn’t do much offensively, disappeared from games frequently, and was never dominant on either end of the court. Defensively, he still isn’t that tough and, despite his 7-4 wingspan, he only blocked 2 shots per game (not bad, but not 0ff-the charts good either). I will say that Len showed improvement near the end of his sophomore season, but his game still has a dearth of polish. He looks the part of an NBA center, but Len still strikes me as a guy with a lot of risk and questions surrounding him. He never impressed me particularly in College Park. I don’t see him exploding in the NBA either.
  • A guy whose draft stock might be dropping is Ben McLemore. He may have disappointed in some of his workouts with teams, but I still find it hard to fathom McLemore dropping out of the top 3. He just has so many NBA star skills. His athleticism is ridiculous. He might be the best shooter in the draft. He knows what he is doing on the basketball court and scores with efficiency. Above all, he is a great defender. He could be a franchise player.

    The dynamic Carter-Williams is one of many awesome point guards in this draft.

    The dynamic Carter-Williams is one of many awesome point guards in this draft.

  • If you’re looking for a point guard, this is a really solid draft. Obviously the head liners are Michael Carter-Williams, the 6-6 true point from ‘Cuse who possesses a diverse set of skills, and Trey Burke, the brilliant reigning National Player of the Year from Michigan. (Carter-Williams and Burke dueled in the Final Four.) Beyond those guys there are a number of other good 1s. C.J. McCollum, from Lehigh, is an incredible player with blinding speed and nearly endless range on his shot. Shane Larkin is another awesome pg in this draft. Larkin may be small, but he combines Nate Robinson type athleticism with a high basketball IQ. German point Dennis Schroeder is apparently an excellent prospect, although I’ve yet to see him play (aside from in some impressive highlight mixes on Youtube). Other intriguing 1s include Isaiah Canaan (who is a fabulously fun player to watch), spark plug Pierre Jackson, and Erick Green.
  • I would probably say that the weakest position in this year’s draft is the power forward spot. Beyond Anthony Bennett (a Swiss Army knife of a player who can do it all on both ends of the court) and the super-talented Cody Zeller (who is arguably more of a 5 than a 4), there isn’t much to get excited about at the power forward position. Another quasi center, Kelly Olynyk could be good, although questions about his defensive prowess (and about how many y’s there are in his name) likely will keep him out of the lottery area of the draft. After that, Tony Mitchell, an athletic, long, dude from North Texas and Mike Muscala, a rebound machine from Bucknell, represent the closest thing to exciting power forward prospects.

    How would Shabazz look in a Celtics uni?

    How would Shabazz look in a Celtics uni?

  • One last note for the road: Shabazz Muhammad has drifted into the area where my favorite team, the Celtics, are drafting. While I’ve never been sold on the enigmatic scorer from UCLA, I can’t help but get excited about the potential of the C’s getting a player who people were talking about as a no. 1 pick a year ago. That said, I’d still be disappointed if the Green drafted Muhammad over  Jamaal Franklin.

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2013 NBA Draft: Five Undervalued Prospects

This year’s NBA Draft is an interesting one. The top of the draft does not exactly appear to be packed with future NBA stars, but the draft does seem to have more than ample depth. Outside of the guys projected to land inside the first ten picks, there are some really compelling prospects. Here are five guys that I think have the potential to be drafted much later in the draft than they probably should be:

I don't get why he wore long sleeves in college, but I do think he has a bright future in the NBA ahead of him.

I don’t get why he wore long sleeves in college, but I do think Franklin has a bright NBA future ahead of him.

  1. Jamaal Franklin (San Diego State): Franklin is definitely a lottery level talent, although most have him landing outside of the top 14 picks. The dude is a physical freak with nearly a seven-foot wingspan and crazy leaping ability. He can score in a variety of ways and has excellent defensive skills. As a junior this season for San Diego State, he averaged nearly ten rebounds per game! He has an NBA body, a great motor (a very important attribute), and a diverse set of skills, which all point to professional success. His assist-to-turnover ratio in college was poor, and he may not be 100% NBA ready, but I still think that he is one of the ten best prospects in this draft.

    Dieng's arms are impossibly long.

    Dieng’s arms are impossibly long.

  2. Gorgui Dieng (Louisville): Like Franklin, Dieng appears to have an outside shot of landing in the lottery, but most have him falling somewhere in the middle to late first round. Gorgui is very good on the boards and defensively thanks in part to the fact that he has longer arms than Mister Fantastic. Dieng is also quite athletic for someone who stands almost at seven feet. Teams may be wary of Dieng’s age (he is 23), but his offensive game has improved by leaps and bounds over the past couple of seasons. It’s still not great, but Dieng has decent range on his shot and passes well. He also has developed into a capable finisher around the basket. I think the Senegalese center has a great shot at becoming a very solid NBA player.
  3. Erick Green (Virginia Tech): Green has become my guy in this year’s draft. I’m utterly shocked about how little respect he is getting from NBA scouts. He had an incredible season for Virginia Tech this winter, dropping 25 a game efficiently despite the fact that defenses keyed on him each night because he was the only even moderately good player on the Hokies. Green is a blur in the open court, a terrific shooter, and a very willing passer (one might say he was too willing this season for V-Tech, and he still put up crazy scoring numbers). NBA scouts are probably scared because he played all four years in college, or because he never played on a good team in college, or because he doesn’t have great size. But, when I look at Green I see an otherworldly scorer coming off an ACC Player of the Year campaign who has a very polished game. He reminds me of MarShon Brooks a lot, but he can do more than simply score and is less reliant on his J than Brooks. Don’t be surprised if Green proves to be a draft steal.

    I love Leslie's athleticism.

    I love Leslie’s athleticism.

  4. CJ Leslie (NC State): I see precisely where the concerns regarding Leslie lie. Put bluntly, he was consistently disappointing in college. And I get that. But Leslie is still a lottery type talent that seems to be headed for the early second round. He is 6-9, has some guard skills and the size and length to play around the hoop. In college it often didn’t look like Leslie had any idea of what he was doing on the court and he still averaged 15 and 7 his sophomore and junior seasons. I’m not guaranteeing that Leslie will realize half of his potential, but, under the right tutelage, I could see him becoming a very good defensive player with a solid offensive game.  He could go down as a big steal.
  5. Peyton Siva (Louisville): My second Cardinal on the list (maybe I just like winners)! Siva is projected to be somewhere on the fringe between the 2nd round and not being drafted at all. I think the little guard could, nevertheless, prove to be a very viable NBA player. I honestly would have thought that his tremendous play in the National Championship would have bounced his draft stock up more than it did. Siva is freakishly fast, an unfairly good defender, and has terrific court vision. He is small, and he is on the older side, but it is hard not to like Siva’s motor and speed. He may never make it in the NBA, but I think Siva has a much better chance than most of the guys projected to land beyond the beginning of second round.

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