R-n-G 2013 All-Star Reserve Picks
(I wrote these Wednesday afternoon and posted them up on Thursday morning, just in time before the coaches’ choices are revealed for the actual All-Star reserves.)
I always found it fun deciding who are the most “deserving” players for the All-Star game each year. The thing is: who are we to decide who is most deserving and what is the criteria? We already know who ultimately decides the All-Star Reserves (head coaches… or at least whoever the coaches have do it for them), but how do they decide? Best players on winning teams? Overall stats? Narrative? To honor a players’ past accolades? Are they just flat out fun to watch? Rationale varies per person, and mine reflects all of the reasoning above (besides rewarding past All-Stars. Nah, I’m not having any of that). Don’t like who I choose? Well it doesn’t matter because my choices matter even less.
Eastern Conference Picks
So after the All-Star Starters of Rajon Rondo, Dwyane Wade, Lebron James, Carmelo Anthony, and Kevin Garnett, here are my reserves:
First Guard: Kyrie Irving
I usually like to allow only one player from a very subpar team in each conference to make the All-Star team if he has been playing at such an incredibly high level. (Am I trolling if I said that player in the West is Kobe Bryant? Yes, yes I am, but it’s also COMPLETELY TRUE). That player for the East this season is Kyrie. Though the Cavs are at an abysmal 11-32 (13th in the East) as of Wednesday, Kyrie is playing like a Top 5 point guard at 20 years old. He’s 6th in points per game (23.7), 15th in PER (22.29), and I would like to have him start if it wasn’t for the fact that he’s missed a quarter of the Cavs’ games this season already. Kyrie should be a lock for the All-Star game, and if he isn’t on your list then you should be ashamed of yourselves (I’m looking at you, Inside the NBA guys).
Western Conference Picks
So after the All-Star Starters of Chris Paul, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin, and (ugh) Dwight Howard, here are my reserves:
First Frontcourt: Tim DuncanThis is where Dwight Howard starting ruins everything. The Lakers have a .415 winning percentage (12th in the West, 20th overall) and have two All-Star starters. The Spurs have the 2nd best record in the entire NBA and Tim Duncan is (or at least will be) a reserve. 6th overall in PER. His points, rebounds, assists, and blocks per game have all improved from the past two seasons, and he is not playing like he is 36 years old. He is arguably still the best player on one of the best teams and thus should be a lock (and should be starting). Granted, he doesn’t even want to be there in the first place, bu that doesn’t make him any less deserving.
Jeff Green Puts Al Jefferson on a Poster
It’s one of those times that makes you yell “OH SH*T” out loud. It’s beautiful.
Kyrie Irving appears in new Foot Locker spot. Yeah, it literally made me lol.
Making Moves: NBA Free Agency 2012 - Joe Johnson Traded to the
New Jersey Brooklyn Nets
Joe Johnson will go to the Brooklyn Nets while Anthony Morrow, Jordan Farmar, DeShawn Stevenson, Jordan Williams, Johan Petro, and a 2013 lottery protected 1st round draft pick (via the Houston Rockets) are headed to the Atlanta Hawks.
The most amazing detail of this trade? Joe Johnson’s contract was supposedly “untradable.” He’s owed $19.8 million in 12-13, $21.5 in 13-14, $23.2 in 14-15, and almost $25 mil in 15-16. This (along with Rashard Lewis’ recently bought-out 21 million that was traded TWICE) should solidify the fact that any contract can be traded, no matter how bad they are.
Word is that this trade (that won’t be official until July 11th) is not contingent with attempts to resign Deron Williams, so whether or not D-Will stays in Brooklyn or otherwise, Johnson is a Net. If anything, this may deter any thoughts that the Nets would trade for Dwight Howard who has said that he would only sign an extension with one team (which might be the Nets…). With this trade, the Nets will have about $50 million in cap space for possibly three players: Johnson, Gerald Wallace, and Deron Williams if he resigns. Money may not be a problem for majority owner Mikhail Prokhorov and he may even be willing to pay into the luxury tax… but don’t expect three max contracts on this roster in the future (remember: Lebron, Wade, and Bosh had to all take smaller contracts to play together).
My take on this move: the Nets were searching for some sort of “consolation” if a Dwight Howard trade wouldn’t work out. Yes, the Nets had trade assets, but not necessarily assets the Orlando Magic would want. The Magic is a team that, post-Dwight, wants to rebuild with young pieces (i.e. through draft picks or promising young players still on rookie contracts). Aside from MarShon Brooks (and to a lesser extent Brook Lopez), the Nets simply do not have enough of those type of pieces that the Magic would want. Instead, they have a ton of smaller expiring contracts that would help a team wanting more cap space in the near future. That team happened to be the Atlanta Hawks, who still have key core players Josh Smith and Al Horford and managed to get rid of a terrible contract.
And in spite of taking on Johnson’s terrible contract, the Nets left this trade in a fair position. Everything hangs on the resigning of Deron Williams, but if he does resign, the Nets are surely expected to be a playoff team. D-Will, Johnson, Wallace, Brooks, and Lopez is a solid core that can at least make the 2nd round of the Playoffs. Secondly, they were able to keep MarShon Brooks, Gerald Green, and their own 2013 draft pick, all the most coveted pieces the Nets have in trade talks.
Yes, a team’s ultimate goal is to earn a Championship, but after a 22-44 season placing 12th in the East, this is a step in a… better direction.
(via Y! Sports)
Runnin-n-Gunnin Mock Draft - Lottery Picks
I’m surprising myself with the fact that this is the first time I’ve ever attempted a mock draft. Granted, I never really watch NCAA basketball and I’ve never felt knowledgeable enough about actual prospects to pick and choose teams for them to go to. This year… well it wasn’t much different. I only watched a few NCAA games but have done a good amount of research, hopefully enough to try and make smart decisions for this mock draft.
Because I follow the NBA religiously and haven’t had enough interest in NCAA ball in recent history, I tend to choose picks based more on team need than best player available, especially after the Top 5. Also, I first attempted to go with all 30 picks in the first round, but once I got to the 14th pick, I thought to myself, “NOPE” and stopped there at the lottery.
This year’s draft is tricky, though. After Anthony Davis goes #1 overall, every other pick depends on who the Bobcats get at #2. Furthermore, the draft starts to get messier after the 7th pick. And on top of all this, who knows what types or how many trades will happen before or during the draft. Here I’ll cover the lottery picks as they currently stand, but also address possible trades that have been rumored. Oy. Well… here we go:
#1 New Orleans Hornets - Anthony Davis, PF, Kentucky
Biggest and only no-brainer in this year’s draft. Having a young core of Eric Gordon, Davis, and whoever the Hornets end up getting with the 10th pick is a more than decent way to rebuild in the post-CP3 era.
#2 Charlotte Bobcats - Thomas Robinson, PF, Kansas
The Bobcats have an incredible amount of options with the #2 pick. The Bobcats have so many needs for their roster, so it’s only fair to go with the best player available (BPA), but even that is arguable. I’ve seen a good amount of mocks having the Bobcats nab Bradley Beal, but with the recent trade for Bed Gordon, Beal would most likely get minutes at the 3, which I don’t like. Robinson is a great choice, though, because he is a player that will definitely contribute right away with consistency. Also, a frontcourt featuring Bismack Biyombo and Robinson can be a solid foundation for some improvement for a team that desperately needs it.
Apparently, the Bobcats have 5 suitors for the #2 pick that they’re mulling over. I’m assuming one of those choices is for the Cavaliers’ #4 pick. If that trade does happen, expect Beal to go #2.
#3 Washington Wizards - Bradley Beal, SG, Florida
Beal going to the Wizards makes the most sense, especially after the Rashard Lewis for Trevor Ariza and Emeka Okafor trade. John Wall needs to be surrounded by shooters, and the only one on the current roster that gets minutes is Jordan Crawford. Beal is the obvious pick having comparisons to Ray Allen.
#4 Cleveland Cavaliers - Harrison Barnes, SF, North Carolina
The Cavs can’t really go wrong here: you either go for Barnes or Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. MKG may eventually be the better player, but Barnes is one of the most NBA ready players in this draft. Similarly to John Wall’s situation in Washington, it may be preferable to surround rising star point guard Kyrie Irving with shooters, and Barnes fits that bill. Also for the past few weeks, Barnes has been higher on the Cavs’ draft board than MKG (it’s got to be that shooting…).
Last night it became clear that the Cavaliers are apparently high on shooting guard Dion Waiters. If this holds true, expect them to trade down during the draft.
#5 Sacramento Kings - Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF, Kentucky
With Barnes going #4, the only reasonable decision the Kings could make is taking MKG at #5 as the BPA. The part that troubles me, though, is the incredible logjam the Kings have at the wing positions (Thornton, Evans, Garcia, UFA Williams, Salmons, Outlaw, RFA Greene, Honeycutt), but MKG is too tough to pass up. The Kings sorely need defense, and MKG may be the best perimeter defender in the draft who can cover three positions. If anything, the Kings could attempt to move any one of their wings to make room (especially Tyreke Evans, from whom they could get some value).
If the Kings made a move on draft day, it would be with the Rockets, who currently hold the 12th, 16th, AND 18th picks. The Kings are high on Moe Harkless and the Rockets would like to take a swing at Andre Drummond, so don’t be surprised if this happens. (The Kings did say no to a trade involving Kyle Lowry though, so anything is possible and/or impossible).
#6 Portland Trailblazers - Damian Lillard, PG, Weber St.
And thus begins the Blazers’ rebuilding stage. Lucky for Portland fans, the Nets didn’t secure a Top 3 pick, giving the Blazers two chances in the lottery to build their team back up. There are two obvious holes this team will try to cover with their two draft picks: point guard and big man (preferably a center). With a plethora of big men slated to go in the late lottery, the Blazers will be smart to snatch the best point guard in the draft at #6 with Lillard.
#7 Golden State Warriors - Dion Waiters, SG, Syracuse
So all that tanking was worth it, right? There is some talent drop off after the 5th pick, but that doesn’t mean that anyone from #6 onward won’t be great players. It was tough having the Warriors pass on Andre Drummond who has ridiculous upside, but the Warriors don’t want to wait a few seasons for their #7 pick in a deep draft to finally pan out. Waiters is arguably the BPA at this point and can contribute right away. Even if the guard spot isn’t an automatic need, the Warriors could use some assets as trade pieces.
I stated earlier how the Cavaliers are actually very high on Waiters, so if anything does happen, the Cavs may actually draft MKG, wait for the Warriors to draft Waiters, and then pull the trigger for a trade that involves other GSW pieces, such as Dorell Wright and their #30 pick. If by some odd reason everyone the Warriors like in the top 7 are gone, then see them trading down with Houston for two of their late-lottery/mid-first round picks.
#8 Toronto Raptors - Andre Drummond, C, UConn
Here is where the draft gets especially tricky and I start straying away from the BPA angle. It was already tough enough having Drummond fall past 7th, and I basically convinced myself that he could work in Toronto. With Andrea Bargnani soon to be joined by Jonas Valanciunas in their front court, Drummond wouldn’t have to contribute right away. He would also act as insurance in case the Raptors pull off a trade for Rudy Gay and add Bargnani as a part of that deal. Granted, if a trade does happen, Jose Calderon would also be a part of the deal, and a player like Austin Rivers would make a lot of sense (but then again, I’m hoping that Nash signs with Toronto this offseason).
#9 Detroit Pistons - Tyler Zeller, C, North Carolina
For some reason I actually really like this pick for Detroit. It is in this point in the draft where we will see mostly big men, and I believe that is what the Pistons are looking at right now. They would like to move budding star Greg Monroe down to his natural position at Power Forward, so a polished, NBA ready Center makes the most sense. Zeller can run the floor well for his size and is sneaky athletic, which should compliment Monroe well. #9 may be high for Zeller, but I just like the fit (though John Henson’s defense might have something to say about this…).
#10 New Orleans Hornets - Terrence Ross, G/F, Washington
I Initially had Kendall Marshall up here, but his stock has been dropping due to his slow foot speed, and Ross’ has been rising. #10 may be a stretch, but from picks #9 on, it’s a complete crapshoot. Having just traded Trevor Ariza and with no other starting SF available (sorry Aminu), Ross is a decent choice to pair next to Eric Gordon, plus he can act as insurance in case injury woes still plague Gordon (or if he doesn’t resign). He can also take on some offensive load off of Gordon, and this team sure could use some offense.
#11 Portland Trailblazers - John Henson, PF/C, North Carolina
I went back and forth with this pick between Henson and Meyers Leonard, but ultimately went with Henson. He is more ready to play right away than Leonard may be, and could be a great compliment next to LaMarcus Aldridge. Still though, it feels really weird having three UNC players go in a row on this Mock Draft. It’s like when you fill in “C” in multiple questions in a row while taking a test.
#12 Houston Rockets - Jeremy Lamb, SG, UConn
I really don’t expect the Rockets to have this pick by the end of the night. Maybe this pick goes to the Kings. Maybe to the Warriors. Heck, maybe they even succeed and end up getting Dwight Howard. Whatever happens, Lamb is a solid pick here. Even if the Rockets end up keeping this pick, Lamb could be a good pick as an eventual replacement for Kevin Martin, whom the Rockets may want to trade at some point (they’re seriously pushing for Dwight Howard. Wow.).
#13 Phoenix Suns - Austin Rivers, G, Duke
While Rivers has been climbing a bunch of draft boards, I have him basically where I expected him to go. Granted, the Raptors may not go for Drummond and get insurance for Calderon instead and choose Rivers at #8 instead, but in between these picks I don’t really see a reason for a team to really want Rivers. Enter Phoenix: this pick screams “Steve Nash is leaving, we need a point guard.” Even if Nash decides to return to Phoenix, Rivers would be a great choice as a combo guard behind Nash, while learning from the best.
#14 Milwaukee Bucks - Meyers Leonard, C, Illinois
The Bucks desperately need size since they traded away Andrew Bogut back in March, and Leonard is a good choice with value at #14. The Bucks recently traded for Samuel Dalembert meaning that the starting job is out of the question (unless they start him at PF, but I expect someone like Udoh or Mbah a Moute to slide there), but this takes pressure of Leonard to contribute right away. Leonard currently has more potential that skill, but that matched with his incredible athleticism would be great coming off the bench for now.
Welp. I tried my best. The NBA Draft is tonight, 7:30pm EST/4:30pm PST with a Draft Preview at 7pm/4pm. I can’t wait to see how wrong I am.
So this happened.
Here’s a stat via Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel:
Strangest math in all of sports, ever. Eddy Curry: 525 career regular-season games. ZERO career playoff games. One championship ring.
Curry is now forever a part of NBA folklore, along with Darko Milicic and Adam Morrison as players who won NBA championships by sitting on the bench. (Granted, Darko has become a serviceable player in these past several seasons, but won a ring with the Detroit Pistons back in 2004 while playing only 1.8 minutes per game in 8 playoff games, only 3 of which were in the finals… thanks basketball-reference).
I will admit that I have been a little more than upset at the fact that a player like Curry, known for being out of shape and has lived on the bench for almost all of the past three seasons (here’s me on my personal blog), but you honestly can’t be too upset with what he’s been through, especially in his career. From cardiac problems to alleged harassment charges to murdered family to foreclosure, if anyone needed a break in life, it was Eddy Curry. I try to not be judgmental on anyone, so I won’t make assumptions on Curry’s character or life, so all I can really do is congratulate the man. Congrats Eddy Curry, you’re an NBA Champion.
gets earns his first NBA Championship and Finals MVP
Skeptics and haters will always have their words. ”It’s only one championship. Jordan has 6 and Kobe has 5.” ”This championship has a ‘66 game lockout shortened season’ asterisk right next to it.” ”So many key players like Derrick Rose and Dwight Howard were out during the playoffs.” ”He needed Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to win a championship.”
I wouldn’t call myself a Lebron James fan (nor a hater), but you know that he’s the best player in the game right now. You know that he played great in all four quarters in every playoff game, especially in the Finals. You know that he’s an incredible basketball playing specimen, with the basketball IQ of Magic paired with the size and strength of Malone. You know that he can win more championships.
But hey, sometimes you need a villain. This championship may detract more haters, but who else is everyone going to hate now?
Congratulations Lebron. You deserve it.
(photo via hoopshype)
The other side of the championship.
Bounced out in the 1st round against the Lakers in 2010. Beaten in the Western Conference Finals by the Mavericks in 2011. Out worked by the Heat in 2012. Their best three players on average are 23 years old. They beat the San Antonio Spurs, fresh off of a 20 game win streak (as well as had the best record in the NBA) four games in a row to make it into the Finals.
You already know, but it’s not over for this team. Not by a long shot. I can’t wait to see what this team will be able to do in the future.
Hang your head high KD. 3 time scoring champ. Runner-Up MVP. You have at least 15 years left of your career. You’ll get yours sooner or later.
Seriously though, this image makes me so sad :(
(photo via jose3030)
Miami Heat: 2012 NBA Champions (via jose3030)