NBA Draft 2010: Stephenson, Orton, Cousins, Aldrich and Lawal. Steals.

June 27, 2010

by Jack Maidment

Drama. Not a word you would associate with this year’s NBA Draft. With few surprises on the board and even fewer on the trade table this was a night that requires a little more digging than usual.

Who did well?

First and foremost the Chicago Bulls, who, with the deal that will send Kirk Heinrich to the Washington Wizards, have now got enough cap room to pursue two big-time free agents.

There can be little doubt that the Bulls are sitting in pole position to attract LeBron, Wade and co: big market, oodles of money, history, a top-three point guard and a dominant and energetic big man who needs to win.

Oh, and Luol Deng aka The Porcelain Man.

The Heinrich deal works out pretty well for the Wizards too as he can combine with John Wall to form one of the most physical and effective defensive backcourt pairings in the League.

Heinrich’s spot up shooting and range from three should also give Wall the space to penetrate and wreak havoc on the offensive end.

The Sacramento Kings profited handsomely from the Minnesota Timberwolves passing on DeMarcus Cousins because he had said he didn’t want to go there and because David Kahn is like the NBA version of The Riddler.

Two Drafts and two immense players for the Kings. A Tyreke Evans-Cousins tandem should be fruity indeed and even a fifty per cent fulfilment of the big man’s talent would see him become a truly dominant center.

He is enormous.

Curve ball time.

The Orlando Magic had a great draft.

Daniel Orton and Stanley Robinson. Late first and second round picks but with a lot more potential to make an impression than a number of other team’s picks.

Orton entered the Draft hidden by the hype that surrounded the rest of his team mates from Kentucky, but make no mistake, given some time and the tutelage of Dwight Howard and Patrick Ewing he could and should be a fantastic player.

As for Robinson, there is certainly the hint of Gerald Wallace in his do-it-all style and his ability to make an impact on both ends of the floor make him the potential steal of the second round.

The only problem for both of these players is whether or not they will get enough playing time to progress.

The Magic were not the only team to get better at the pivot position with the Oklahoma City Thunder doing what they do best to address their need for a big man.

Sam Presti has a knack for striking Draft gold and the trade he orchestrated to take Cole Aldrich to OKC by way of New Orleans’ pick gives them a gritty rebounder and shot blocker who is as tough as hell and whose lack of offensive game will not matter a bit with Durant, Westbrook, Harden and Green providing all the scoring needed. And he is cheap.

Honourable mention:

Ganai Lawal picked 46 by the Phoenix Suns the man from Georgia Tech is the perfect fit for an up-tempo system. He can run the floor all night long, can finish and most importantly he can rebound with ferocity. Help on the glass was exactly what the Suns needed and Lawal is an absolute steal this late in the second round.

Lance Stephenson out of Cincinnati, picked 40 overall by the Indiana Pacers, has long been held in high regard. There is not a record in New York city basketball that he doesn’t hold and his physical strength and shot creation should translate well to the NBA if he is given a chance to do his thing. He needs the ball. The question is if he will get it.


Washington Wizards add Mike Miller and Randy Foye, Timberwolves in strong position to go after Ricky Rubio

June 25, 2009
Please be Healthy.

Please be Healthy.

by Jack Maidment

If points were the only thing that mattered, the Washington Wizards would likely be in the mix for the title next year.

In exchange for the #5 pick in this year’s draft and 3 veterans the Wiz are now the proud owners of one of the most offensively capable teams in the League.

A squad which now includes Gilbert Arenas, Caron Butler, Antawn Jamison, DeShawn Stevenson, Nick Young, Mike Miller and Randy Foye should be capable of hanging with any team in the scoring department.

Their trade partners, the Minnesota Timberwolves, now hold 4 first round picks: 5, 6, 18 and 28.

It is thought that they will try and trade up to acquire the #2 pick, currently held by the Memphis Grizzlies. If successful, the Wolves will take Ricky Rubio second overall on Draft night.

They believe that the Spaniard’s talents and personality might be enough to reinvigorate a franchise that has struggled for support in recent years, especially since Kevin Garnett’s departure to the Boston Celtics.

Even if they are unable to swap with Memphis, picking at 5 and 6 gives them a great chance at upgrading their squad with at 2 exciting, young players.

Stephen Curry, DeMar DeRozan and Tyreke Evans are all likely to still be on the board when the Wolves’ time comes.

The deal also puts the Timberwolves in a strong financial position for 2010 with a large number of expiring contracts in their possession.

This means that the Wolves will have the chance to sign some big time free agents. Only for them to be rejected.

Even so, the Wolves will be young and exciting next year.

Not so young but perhaps more exciting will be the Wizards. Injury dependant that is.

NBA Draft 2009: Top 10 Largely Picks Itself

May 26, 2009
Stephen Curry fits the Knicks

Stephen Curry fits the Knicks

by Jack Maidment

Why would you pick Blake Griffin with the #1 pick in this year’s NBA Draft?

The answers are two fold:

1. You get the only player ‘guaranteed’ to make an impact straight away a player destined for All-Star status sooner rather than later.

2. As a struggling franchise you draft the player that will sell the most season tickets through sheer weight of interest.

Now, both of these reasons are obvious and self explanatory. Yet it is with no surprise that we hear that the Clippers are listening to offers for their pick.

Such a rumour has started to grow pace as a result of one man’s actions: Ricky Rubio.

It could be argued that the DNA of this Draft class rests heavily on how the man from Spain decides to handle himself as the Big Night draws closer.

Rumours are rumours and their one constant is that they don’t have to hold an ounce of truth: they will still grow larger and gain more talk time. Whether Rubio will commit to the draft regardless of location could dictate the specifics for, at least, the other players in the top 10.

It is difficult to isolate Rubio because his decision will affect everyone making the first 10 picks largely difficult to predict. However, some should be sure things. Observe:

Barring trades and Clipper Madness, Blake Griffin will go first to Los Angeles. As Ron Burgundy would say, ‘that’s a given’.

If Rubio plays hard ball the Grizzlies will likely take Hasheem Thabeet for two reasons. Firstly, he should compliment Marc Gasol’s post game.

Secondly, Memphis couldn’t accommodate another perimeter player who needs the ball to be successful. They already have OJ Mayo and Rudy Gay to demand the rock and it can only be shared so much.

Ricky Rubio may well look attractive to the Thunder, but the bottom line is: could he play in the same backcourt as Russell Westbrook? No. Westbrook can play at the 2, but both want the ball in their hand. Conflict? Yep.

So who do Oklahoma take? James Harden, the best SG in this class would provide them with a perimeter threat who can go to the hoop and finish. A perfect compliment to Westbrook, Durant and Jeff Green.

The Sacramento Kings could be a viable alternative for Rubio who would get the reigns to the team and would sell tickets. But, whether he would mesh with Kevin Martin, the franchise’s main scorer and ball demander, is a tough question to resolve.

The Washington Wizards will likely take Jordan Hill who will bring toughness and heart to a front line which lacks fire. His offensive game may be far from polished, but the fact that the Wiz will have Arenas, Butler and Jamison, Hill wont be relied on for production anyway. Just clean the glass and hustle.

Hill seems like a lock for Wahington. He just makes sense. The same can not be said for the next two picks.

It would appear that the T-Wolves and the Warriors will take Tyreke Evans and Brandon Jennings, but which way round does not scream out.

Nellie Ball would suit Jennings more but Monta Ellis might not be too keen. But, to be fair, he might not like the other option any better.

Tyreke is probably a better fit for the Wolves who can persist with Randy Foye at the 1.

It’s a tough call.

If he is still there, the New York Knicks will take the best shooter in the draft, Stephen Curry who should fit perfectly into Mike D’Antoni’s offense. That will be nice.

Toronto picks 9th and they will need to address their lack of backcourt power, probably by taking Demar DeRozan. A real slasher, he should fit nicely with Calderon and compliment the Raptors frontline perfectly.

Ramon Sessions’ contract demands will likely lead the Bucks to draft a PG in the shape of Jonny Flynn.

If Rubio pulls out then everything will change, with Jennings the one to benefit.

If he stays in the draft and Memphis or Oklahoma call his bluff, the landscape will change all over again.

It’s all on Rubio.