Why Is The NBA Dark Tonight?

nba

Every year the NBA playoffs start the same way…..games end on Wednesday, and the playoffs start on Saturday. Unceremoniously, with a non marquee game at 12:30 followed by 4 other games.

But why no game on Friday night? Wouldn’t this be the perfect time to showcase to your fans the kickoff of your REAL season? You just finished a regular season where teams on the top and bottom were losing games on purpose to solidify either a draft slot or preferred first round playoff matchup.

So here is what I have always proposed, and its so simple, so fun, and so fan friendly it has always confounded me that its never be done. Play ONE game on Friday night. Have it be your “Playoff Opening Night Extravaganza”. Have an hour pregame where the ESPN or TNT pundits set the matchups for your tournament. Let them recap the regular season and let the lay fan understand how we got here and what to expect.

Have the teams welcome the national audience by having a team legend throw up an honorary tip. Adam Silver should be in attendance and should welcome the fans to the greatest show on earth from half court. The game would merely be celebration to kickoff what will be a month and a half of tournament action to crown your champion.

Friday

Who wouldn’t watch this? Is there something else the NBA fan is doing Friday night other than checking out the NHL tournament or watching a movie with a significant other?? Whats the downside? One less day of rest for TWO of your SIXTEEN teams competing in this thing??

When your done solving the tanking problem thats plagued the regular season you need to make this happen Adam Silver. Would be a great way to put YOUR stamp on the NBA in way that would make people pay attention to your sport.

Silver

Possibilities for next season

The final few weeks of this season are/will be grim, so here’s my little diversion into la la land to distract me from the horror show on the court.

Rondo mad

Here’s the roster as it is now…

 

It’s always dangerous to make big decisions when you’re depressed, but after this season I’m punching out on the two guys who are theoretically our biggest talents– Rondo and Green. Whatever magic coaching juju Brad Stevens might be capable of we’re not seeing any evidence that it’s working on these two.

So here’s my Thursday early evening pipe dream of how the off-season might go

  • Come draft night after furious negotiations, 13 almost-trades reported on twitter, and 5 camera cut-aways to Danny talking on the phone while the Celtics are on the clock, the Celtics stand pat and draft Jabari Parker, Duke, with the #3 pick
  • Jabari

  • Parker hangs around back stage so he can pull off a photo bomb of the post-selection interview with the Celtics second pick, K.J. McDaniels, Clemson, taken at #18
  • KJ

  • At the end of the night, to the complete surprise of the sports media who had not reported it in advance, the Celtics trade Rajon Rondo in a deal with multiple considerations for the draft rights to Marcus Smart, OK State
  • Smart

  • Over the summer the Celtics pull off one other roster-altering move: Brandon Bass and Keith Bogans (who is immediately waived) are finally dealt to Houston for Omar Asik in move that the Rocket’s owner reportedly insisted on. It is later revealed that Wyc included several millions dollars in the deal
  • NBA: Houston Rockets at Cleveland Cavaliers

  • As free agency opens the Celtics are unexpectedly revealed to be a desirable destination of journeymen vet PGs, since the starters job is wide open and there are plenty of minutes to go around. Disco takes his kids to the beach for a week where there is no internet access, and doesn’t catch before he leaves whether the team ends up signing Mo WilliamsShaun Livingston or Kirk Hinrich on a small-money deal. As he nods off to sleep with his toes in the warm sand he fondly dreams of any of the three providing stability and leadership in the court to our roster of young’uns
  • The final surprise comes a week into training camp as Wizards management becomes furious at the lack of development from Otto Porter, who shows up to camp horribly out of shape. The proceed to deal Porter and Andre Miller to the Celtics for Jeff Green, along with other draft considerations changing hands
  • After a summer in which both are underwhelmed by their contract offers and passed over by other teams pursuing bigger names, both Avery Bradley and Kris Humphries resign with the Celtics on two- and three- year deals.

As training camp winds down the Celtics rotation for opening night looks something like…

 

 
Could it happen? Anythings possiiiiiiibbbbble!!!!!!
Garnett
Ainge

How might Phil running the Knicks impact the Celtics?

Phil Jackson, the Knick's new "Philosopher-in-Chief"?

Phil Jackson, the Knick’s new “Philosopher-in-Chief”?

Since I’m generally in agreement with those who see a potential SuperFriends, Jr. team-up between Rondo and ‘Melo as both a real risk to the C’s, but also a potential opportunity, I’ve been thinking quite a bit about how the Knicks hiring Phil could impact things related to Rondo and the C’s, whether that means the level of threat we should see in the Knicks as a max-contract bidder for Rondo in 2015, or how realistic it might be for the Celtics to make a play for ‘Melo as a sign & trade target this summer.

It’s hard to know if he’s reading the situation correctly, but this piece by veteran New York-based NBA columnist Howard Beck of Bleacher Report includes a lot of interesting suggestions about how Phil might run things, and the role Phil supposedly envisions for himself:

“I think mentoring is something that I’d be very comfortable doing,” Jackson told me over lunch in February 2011.

Mentor who? Coaches, preferably, though coaches can be famously headstrong, Jackson noted.

The seeds of a broader vision were evident, even then. Jackson wanted to share the wisdom he had accumulated over four decades in basketball. What form that might take, he wasn’t yet sure.

Now we know…

This is the ultimate evolution of Jackson’s mentoring impulse: to teach an entire franchise—indeed, the league’s most dysfunctional franchise—how to win. To impart all that he knows about team building, trust, strategy, training, preparation, work habits and, yes, Eastern philosophy. If any team needs a lesson in Zen, it’s the Knicks…

The role Jackson covets is best described as “philosopher-in-chief.” He wants to set the agenda, to establish a culture and a values system, to identify the type of players and coaches a team should pursue, the offensive and defensive philosophies it should adopt…

This much is also true: Jackson has no interest in getting cozy with agents, or poring over salary-cap minutiae or scouting college games. He will need a strong and experienced front office working with him…

If Dolan provides Jackson with the autonomy he needs, if Jackson proves as adept fostering a healthy office culture as he is at promoting a harmonious locker room, then the Knicks may yet have a ray of hope, and Dolan may yet find redemption.

That’s a role for Jackson that makes sense to me, and I think it potentially mitigates the question about whether he’s going to be a legit talent evaluator (which he wouldn’t need to be, if he’s planning to keep or build an experienced front office to handle the day-to-day details.

If nothing else, I think having Phil there as the “Face of the Franchise” is going to help them, based on some of the comments that Melo made immesiately after the hiring was reported:

Al Iannazzone ‏@Al_Iannazzone

Carmelo Anthony said Knicks look more attractive now (for free agents) with Phil Jackson here.

Melo also made comments that sure sound to me llike he’s not planning on going anywhere (reported here by ESPN New York)

“I’m willing to do whatever,” Anthony said after practice Monday. “As long as it’s gonna put me in a position to win, I’m willing to do whatever. I’m not sold or stuck on my play.”

“What I’ve been able to do these past 10-11 years has gotten me at where I am right now,” Anthony continued. “If Phil wants to come in and change that this late in my career, if it’s going to help me win a championship, I’m with it.”

“As far as knowing what it takes to win, Phil is the best to ever do it,” Anthony said. “So for me to be able to have the opportunity and have him by my side, for him to teach me, you know, because I’m still willing to learn the game of basketball.

“And I haven’t won anything [and] he’s won a lot. I can learn a lot from him and his system, things that he wants to incorporate here. I’m hoping and praying this all works.”

That makes me think that Melo’s probably not a realistic option for the C’s this summer.

Rondo and 'Melo may no longer be destined to for SuperFriends, Jr., if Anthony stays with Phil in New York to run the triangle offense.

Rondo and ‘Melo may no longer be destined to for SuperFriends, Jr., if Anthony stays with Phil in New York to run the triangle offense.

But on the bright side, from a Celtics perspective, it’s also been reported that a “Philospher in Chief” role for Jackson WILL at least eventually mean focusing on the Triangle Offense:

Ian Begley ‏@IanBegley

This isn’t ground-breaking, but source says Phil is strongly committed to implementing the triangle & will shape the roster w/that in mind.

Presumably, part of the appeal there is to try and maximize ‘Melo’s scoring ability in a less-Iso-driven offense.  That makes sense to me, as I see the triangle as an excellent fit for Anthony’s skill-set.

Phil also reportedly envisions keeping Iman Shumpert, among others, and I also see Shumpert as an solid fit as a triangle-offense guard.

Ian Begley @IanBegley

Phil’s early assessment of the #Knicks: per source, he likes Anthony, Chandler, Iman and Aldrich. Also likes youth of Hardaway Jr. & Murry.

Rondo, on the other hand, is not an ideal fit in that offense.  So to the relief of many C’s fans, I could see Phil trying to go in a different direction with the Knicks’ 2015 cap room.  If New York is no longer a suitor, that not only would help the Celticss keep Rondo, it could mean that his salary market will be more limited, and the C’s might even be able to re-sign Rondo at a more reasonable (i.e. sub-max) contract level.

The guy I DO think Phil might focus on in 2015 is Kevin Love, whose passing and shooting would be a great fit in the triangle, if they could put defenders around him and Melo. Love has even played in the triangle before, when Jackson-disciple Rambis was coaching the Wolves.

That might remove another All-Star level option for the C’s (although if Love makes it to FA in 2015, he’s almost certainly not going to end up in Boston regardless; they’d need to trade for him before then).

But if the trade-off is the Lakers losing Phil AND getting shut-out on both ‘Melo and Love the next two summers, I could dig that.

That’s especially true if it means that Rondo is more likely to stay with the C’s even if they miss on the two obvious All-Star trade targets.

——————————–

Visit the Celtics Nuts / Stuck on 16 (shouldn’t that be 17 now?) forums to discuss Rondo’s season, where Ainge might take the roster from here, whether Rajon should even be part of it, and all things Knicks (Rocco used to like these Knicks, but he’s reformed now).   Then join yourself, and let your fellow Nuts know what you think.

 

 

UConn Nation

Uconn 10

If your not from Connecticut, you’ll never understand. Its a state caught in-between New York and Boston, with very little to claim as their own, other than mastery of insurance sales.

In 1986, the University of Connecticut hired a little known basketball coach from Northeastern named Jim Calhoun and everything changed. By 1990 they won the Big East tournament. In 1999 they won their first of three national titles. UConn basketball was something, the only thing, people from the state could call their own. And it all had been done from a campus located across from a farm in a small town called Storrs.

 

jim-calhoun

But by 2012 everything began to fall apart. The team had been placed on academic probation, prohibiting them from participating in the post season for the first time in school history. Conference realignment left UConn the only major program in the nation without a chair, landing in a conference called the American Athletic Association. Jim Calhoun retired (or did he?…..but thats a discussion for a different day) and the program was on life support.

Enter Kevin Ollie, an alum who had spent the last 13 years bouncing from one NBA team to another. He hired all assistant coaches with UConn alumni status. The top players, specifically Shabaz Napier, decided to stick around. There was a glimmer of hope, specifically when the team beat Florida on a last second shot early in Ollie’s second season.

Then the tournament began and magic followed. The state rallied around Ollie and Napier and they won their first tournament game, a nail biting overtime win over St. Josephs. Next up was ex Big East rival Villanova, which UConn handled with ease and a big lift from Napier, who seemed to be channeling Kemba Walker, who single handedly lead UConn to their last national championship in 2011. Next up was Iowa State, who had the misfortune of facing Connecticut at MSG, a place where so much of their past history had been made. On they advanced to the elite 8 where they will face Michigan State.

 

Iowa state

While it would be nice to win three more games and capture their fourth national championship, their mission has already been accomplished. The state with nothing to call their own once again has something to rally around and be proud of.

They have already won.

Magic-Bird for the rec league set?

mcdermott---anderson

The new Bird vs. Magic?

Heretical photoshops aside, the forthcoming NBA Draft will have two of the more interesting players in years in Doug McDermott of Creighton and Kyle Anderson of UCLA. Both are supremely skilled players while possessing athleticism normally seen in pickup games at your local YMCA. It is easy to dismiss players like this, given that they look like walking dinosaurs even playing beside their NCAA peers, but my question is, “Is this folly?” Does passing over players like these two, and I should really include North Carolina State’s T.J. Warren here, leave an NBA team open for ridicule once they turn pro?

The case for Doug McDermott

Doug McDermott gets the basketball in the hoop. He does it in a wide variety of ways, despite what you may hear from the mouthbreathers who claim he is a one trick pony, chucking endless three point attempts. He uses screens for both spot up attempts and cuts. The post up game is a big part of his repertoire, despite the annoying college zones McDermott faces. Although he is limited by his foot speed, this is a player who can drive with the ball as well. From a 20,000 foot level, McDermott’s offensive arsenal is really impressively comprehensive, and a lot of it will translate with his entry into the NBA.

Throughout his four college seasons, Doug McDermott has scored, going for 30 or more points 26 times over the course of his college career. Each season was more consistent than the last, ending with his senior campaign, his best by far. Out of 35 games this past season, McDermott scored 25 or more points in a staggering 22 of them. This was all done, despite every team Creighton faced keying their defense to contain McDermott. Man? Zone? It didn’t matter. McDermott was dropping an avalanche on them, and doing it while turning the ball over less than twice per game.

The major question with this player is whether or not he can defend a position on the floor in the NBA. I have my doubts. While watching Creighton games this season, McDermott appeared to be an indifferent defender, to put it kindly. He exerted very little effort. He will not be able to play the game on one side of the court once he reaches the NBA. One guy half-assing it kills a team’s defense in the pros. His steals and blocks totals were mournful over the course of his college career. Whether this was due to a stark inability to defend or the aforementioned lack of effort is debatable. One thing that isn’t debatable – he will have to devote far more energy to his defense if he wants to be a successful professional basketball player in this country.

The case for Kyle Anderson

I can think of no player more divisive right now than UCLA’s Kyle Anderson. According to this model over on APBRmetrics, Kyle Anderson has the highest upside of anyone in this coming draft. Other folks watch him and cannot see any way his lack of athleticism will allow him to even play in the NBA. Some see him as a towering PG at the next level while other pencil him in a point forward from the SF position. Draft rankings have him all over the place, with Chad ford not having him in his top 25, DraftExpress ranking him #19 and NBADraft.net listing him in the top 5. Suffice it to say, the opinions on this player are all over the place.

Anderson, as a college player, is quite simply a handful. He handles the point and both forward positions for UCLA. There is nobody in college basketball that understands passing angles with anything approaching his (I just have to say it here) genius of the subject. In fact, you would be hard pressed to find an NCAA player who understands angles in general, both in passing and attacking the rim, as well as Kyle Anderson. He doesn’t move to a spot simply to space himself from the ball handler. He moves to spots on the floor where he has options – options he has already taken note of. If he’s a PG, the ball isn’t in his hands for long. This isn’t a PG who pounds the ball for half the clock; he knows what is happening on the floor and is ready to either make his move or pass the ball. When he is distributing the basketball, players get the ball where and when they need it.

One of the statistical truisms I have used over the past decade and a half is that PGs who rebound well in college will translate into the NBA. There isn’t a NCAA PG I can recall that rebounds like Kyle Anderson. As a freshman, he took down 8.6 rebounds per game. This past season, that increased slightly to 8.8 boards per game. Anderson’s frame is, to be kind, sort of wiry. It is also agreed that he is both slow and cannot jump to save his own life. Again, the ability to understand angles comes into play here. That, and a pair of condor arms combine to make him an excellent college rebounder.

The startling thing about the improvement in Anderson’s game from his freshman season to his sophomore season has been his shooting. He took few shots as a freshman and made fewer of them. His shooting as a sophomore has been a revelation. While only taking one and a half three point shots per game, he made an astounding 48% of them. His finishing around the rim and the mid-range game also improved vastly. Those long arms make it difficult to block or alter his release, despite the glaring lack of athleticism.

As for his NBA prospects, I think Anderson is a PG at the professional level, despite the absurdity of the notion, given that just about every PG in the NBA should be able to blow by him on drives. I believe the help defenses should mitigate the damage this can cause, combined with the potential to pair him with a center who can defend the rim. If you get that straight, there is the potential to run out a gigantic starting five that offers so many matchup problems on the offensive side of the ball as to be ludicrous. With the shooting improvement, teams will not be able to sag off Anderson outside and playing with NBA athletes at the power forward and center positions, Anderson’s pick and roll game has the potential to be death incarnate.

Rec league or NBA ready?

There are two old school, nonathletic players with solid fundamentals. So, are we talking dinosaurs here or are these two real players?

In this person’s opinion, both McDermott and Anderson will have long, productive NBA careers. I see McDermott more as a bench player – someone who can enter a game against the opponent’s bench and be a remorseless bomber. Unless his defense miraculously improves, I don’t see a way he can help a good team in the starting lineup. Some of his scoring will certainly translate and that is a useful thing for NBA teams.

Anderson is riskier. He doesn’t look like a bench guy to me. I believe his impact will have to come from being a starter in the NBA and if his lack of athleticism prohibits him from starting, he will likely bust. Still, the potential for running out a truly unique player at the PG position is a massive attraction. If a team hits on Anderson, you are looking at a player that helps a team win in multiple facets, something this draft is woefully short of.

They may not be fast. They do not jump like NBA players. Despite the hyperbole of the title, they are neither Larry Bird nor Magic Johnson. What they are, are two more players from the forthcoming draft that have the ability to help their team win.

 

Mock Our Draft

The Pick and Pop Diaries: NBA Mock III

draft

The Pick and Pop Diaries: NBA Mock III

Our third mock draft is here! Andy Lipson won the coin toss and got to choose first and will select on the odd numbers while Evan Javel handles the evens.  Our lives are basketball, college and pro, and few people have watched as much this season as we did.  Obviously there is still a lot to shake out before the draft, but here’s a look at how we see it going as of today.  Enjoy and please feel free to comment or send us questions as we enjoy talking basketball.

1. Milwaukee: Andrew Wiggins 6’8″ 200 lbs, SG/SF, Freshman, Kansas

Wiggins’ college career ended with a serious dud as Kansas got bounced from the tourney, but his physical gifts along with his strong fundamental base give him a ceiling that few players can ever hope to achieve.  There is no doubt that Wiggins will be an elite defensive player and wreak havoc in the open court on offense, right away.  While he still has a ways to go in getting his distance shot to where it needs to be, he will knock down his share of jumpers during his rookie campaign. Recent comparisons have likened him to a younger Paul George, and I truly believe he will be just as good if not better than George if his strong work ethic continues.

 

coming to an NBA team near you…

 

2. Philadelphia: Jabari Parker 6’8 240 lbs, SF, Freshman, Duke

The 76ers have lost 25 games in a row, so they could use any help they can get. Despite their awful season coach Brett Brown has implemented a system and stuck to it. Regardless of personnel it seems like Brown wants his team to play fast (they currently play at the fastest pace in the league), shoot 3′s (15th in the NBA in 3 point attempts, despite being 29th in 3 point %), and force turnovers (5th in the NBA in % of turnovers forced).

Enter Jabari Parker, the best offensive player in the 2014 draft, a perfect fit for the offensively minded (maybe more like offensively intentioned) Sixers. Parker thrives in transition, shoots the 3 at over 35% (considering that the majority of his 3′s are contested this isn’t bad) and creates turnovers (often to the detriment of their overall defense), in other words he’s a perfect fit for Philly.

 

Despite his apathy for defense, Jabari has the best defensive rating on his team. When he does get a stop he can really get out on the break and finish

 

3. Orlando: Joel Embiid 7’0 250 lbs, C, Freshman, Kansas

Embiid has been pegged as the number one pick for most of the college season, but a recent stress fracture in his back has dropped his stock a bit.  Getting him at 3 would be a huge coup for the Magic who could pair this dynamic athlete with their promising PF/C Nikola Vucevic to create an enormous front line that should dominate the glass and protect the rim. Embiid, while still learning the game (he has only been playing the game for 4 years), shows  surprisingly refined foot work on both ends of the floor. He is an incredibly smooth athlete and has the potential to be a franchise player at the center position.  He could easily slide back to the top spot as he shows he is fully healthy during pre-draft workouts.

 

Just see how he moves at his size

 

4. Utah: Dante Exum 6’6, 190 lbs, PG/SG, Australian (18 y/o at time of draft)

Utah has all the pieces to be a really good team. If they can re-sign Gordon Hayward they will have good up and coming players at every position. Unfortunately, not all their good young pieces fit together. It is no coincidence that the Jazz played their best ball of the season when they played Marvin Williams as a stretch four and increased their pace. Knowing this, I believe next year they try to play faster and Dante Exum is just the player to help them achieve this goal.

With the ability to play beside Trey Burke at the two or running the point himself Exum would fit nicely with the Jazz. He is one of the quickest players in the draft and would excel getting up and down the court with the pass first Trey Burke. If the Jazz decide to go big having the 6’6 Exum at the point and the 6’8 Hayward at the two would give them elite length in the back court. Dante Exum’s positional versatility would allow the Jazz to play a variety of styles allowing them to maximize the contributions of every play on their roster.

 

5. Boston: Marcus Smart 6’4″ 225 lbs, PG/SG, Sophomore, Oklahoma State

Boston just misses out on the elite prospects in this draft by drafting 5th, but here, in Smart, they manage to pick a combo guard who is an elite defensive player with lighting quick hands.  His plus strength at the guard position should aide him greatly in  creating dribble penetration.  The big concern for me is his inconsistent outside shot, but with a good looking form already in place, the results should eventually come.  He would be an excellent insurance policy in case the Celtics lose Rondo or Bradley, or both.  Smart does everything on the floor including providing a level of toughness that teams crave as they try to build a contender.

 

DID HE JUST LEAP OVER THE GUY HE BLOCKED?

 

6. LA Lakers: Julius Randle 6’9″ 250 lbs, PF,  Freshman, Kentucky

Randle is the most underrated player in the draft. With the lofty expectations at Kentucky anything short of consistent dominance hurt his stock. With the NBA trending towards athletic stretch 4′s instead of bruising post scorers Randle’s game is diminished because he doesn’t fit the new power forward archetype.

Instead of focusing on what he is not (which is what caused him to slip since the start of the season), I would rather focus on what he can do. Randle should come into the NBA and rebound at a high level immediately. While it might take a while for him to figure out how to finish at the rim against long NBA defenders (due to his relatively short arms), his current bevy of post moves at such a young age should be an indication that he will be able to find a way. At six for a Lakers team that has always relied on free agency to bring in top talent, Randle is an absolute steal.

7. Sacramento: Aaron Gordon, 6’9 225 lbs, PF/SF. Freshman, Arizona

Sacramento already has scorers, so adding a defensive minded prospect who thrives offensively by crashing to the rim would fit perfectly with the young core of this team.  Gordon wreaked havoc on opponents during the first couple games of the tournament, stuffing the stat sheet.  He has abnormally active hands and feet on defense which allows him to generate steals and blocks as well as keeping his defender in front of him.  Being an elite athlete, some have compared him to a young Blake Griffin, in the way he thrives around the basket offensively as an above the rim finisher.  His jump shot is a bit funky, but given time I think he will be a serviceable shooter.  He is a very poor free throw shooter and this continues to be a big concern for a player you’d like to have out there in close games in the fourth quarter. I don’t think Gordon is a star in the NBA, but he is a winner and a difference maker who, like Smart a couple picks earlier, will do everything for his team.

 

Are all of his dunks reverse slams?

 

8. Detroit:  Doug McDermott, 6’8″ 220 lbs, SF/Stretch PF, Senior, Creighton

The Pistons are a front court heavy team that really struggles to space the floor. McDermott is the best floor spacer in the draft, with a deadly shot and a great feel for getting himself open. Due to his subpar athleticism McDermott might not have as high a ceiling as the other lottery prospects but he is far and away the most NBA ready now.

While his lack of athleticism negatively impacts his defense, I believe he can become a passable defender. Having shown such a nuanced understanding of the offensive side of the ball I would be surprised if he couldn’t fit in an NBA system as a very good help defender. Plus how can you not love a guy with the nickname McBuckets!

9. Cleveland: Noah Vonleh 6’10 240 lbs, PF/C, Freshman, Indiana

I love Vonleh.  He is a warrior in the interior, an elite rebounder on both ends and possesses a solid array of back to the basket moves.  Combining his interior dominance with his sweet shooting stroke from outside and I believe there is the makings of a star here.  He is very young and not an elite athlete, but he has an undeniable skill set that I believe makes him the best PF prospect in this draft class. On defense, he isn’t a rim protector but he moves his feet fairly well and makes his opponent shoot over his enormous 7’4″ wingspan and 8’10″ standing reach. He won’t be able to give big minutes right off the bat, but a year of grooming and patience should be rewarded with a player who is a game changer.

 

future all star

 

10. Denver (Knicks pick goes to to Den): Tyler Ennis, 6’2 185 lbs, PG, Freshman, Syracuse

From a need perspective, Denver is a hard team to gauge. Having suffered season ending injuries to presumed pre season starters JaVale McGeeDanilo GallinariJ.J. Hickson and backup point Nate Robinson, all Denver really needs is to get healthy. With their salary cap tied up on a lot of mid level deals the Nuggets need to add players that can help them now, rather than players with the potential to help them 3 years down the road.

Tyler Ennis is by far the most NBA ready player available. He can come in and play a roll similar to Andre Miller before Byron Scott forced his trade by benching him. Ennis will fill out and be able to play next to Ty Lawson, while also playing back up when Lawson needs a breather. Ennis will make great decisions, knock down open shots and give his team a chance to win every game, even if it is at the expense of elite athleticism.

 

Check out the full mock draft at http://www.thepickandpop.com/2014/03/27/nba-mock-draft-3-0/ and discuss in our forums!!

 

 

True Madness

MarchMadness2011Logo2

My thoughts on the tourney so far:

Best first round I have EVER seen. 6 overtime games, tons of upsets. Great GREAT drama.

The officiating continues to just flat out suck. There is no consistency from game to game other than they will call a TON of fouls. Lots of games are in the DOUBLE bonus with more than ten minutes to go in a half. Thats not fun for anyone.

The foul commited by the VCU kid was the worst decision in a big game I have seen in a LONG LONG time.

McDermott manages 30 points despite going scoreless for over 7 minutes in the second half. He scored in every way imaginable except from the free throw line. I think that really bodes well…….these guys are NOT getting the calls they are getting in the NCAA’s when they get to the NBA. I’m looking at you Wiggins, Young, and Randel.

The coaching has been downright putrid at times. Bad timeouts, poor execution decisions, especially teams that seem to think stopping three point shooting is by going with a zone. Roy Williams is the worst big program coach I have ever seen.

It really can’t be set up better for UConn. I can’t imagine a team they would rather play than a former Big East member. They may lose, but its a game they certainly won’t need any motivation to play in.

Memphis saving the ACC’s face with a nice win today.

Congrats to Dayton. Ohio State has been ducking them for the last decade. I doubt there is a team that won a more meaningful game than the Flyers. Good for them.

Even with the upsets, other than Dook, the field remains strong with powerhouse teams. The second round could never live up to the first round, but it should be fantastic.

The level of play is as poor as it has been the last 4 or 5 years. Players struggle with every facet of the game other than defense and three point shooting. Unfortunately 90% of the three point shooters aren’t NBA prospects.

Where Are Elite Players Drafted?

draft lottery AP

There is a general belief that in order to win an NBA Championship, you need at least 1, preferably 2 elite players.  The Celtics are looking to get back to contender status, and the draft seems to be the best chance Boston has of getting an elite player.  What are their odds of landing one, if their pick is somewhere in the 4-12 range?

I’m defining an elite player as a one of the league’s ten best, and am using Basketball Reference’s Win Shares statistic to figure out the league’s top ten.  Win Shares is one of the best attempts at quantifying a player’s entire contribution, for a few reasons:  It’s more of a counting stat than a rate stat, it does a better job than most of incorporating defense, and you can actually test it out to see how successful it is.  1 win share is equivalent to 1 team win.  Last year’s Celtics had a total of 41.6 win shares, and finished with 41 wins.  In 2011-2012, they had a total of 38.7 win shares, and finished with 39 wins.  Simple enough.  For more on win shares, go here:

http://www.basketball-reference.com/about/ws.html

I looked at the top ten players in each season from 1979-80 through 2013-14, a total of 350 top ten seasons and 112 different players.  I chose 79-80 to start for a few reasons, but largely due to the influx of new statistics that came about in the previous decade:  3 pointers, offensive/defensive rebounds, blocks, steals, and turnovers.  I didn’t count any results from before that year, meaning Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (who is currently 1st all time in win shares and finished in the top ten 16 times in his career) only gets credited with six top ten finishes, all from the 79-80 season on.

This first chart shows the number of players who were ever among the top ten best players in the league on the y axis, and the spot they were drafted at on the x axis.

michael-jordan-cigar

Because looking at the data that way essentially counts Vin Baker (1 top ten finish) as equal to Michael Jordan (11 top ten finishes), lets look at it again, this time with the total number of top ten finishes in the y axis:

This method has it’s flaws as well:  At first glance, there’s a large drop off from the 16th to 17th pick.  This is only because of John Stockton, who had 11 top ten finishes.  Looking at these graphs together, and we get a reasonably clear picture of where the elite players are drafted.

Unsurprisingly, the #1 pick is far and away the most valuable.  There is also a clear drop off outside of the top 3, and outside of the top 5 especially.  The Celtics are currently in line for the 6th pick, potentially the outside looking in, at least in terms of picking up a potentially elite player.

Andrew Wiggins – Kansas vs. Oklahoma State

Andrew Wiggins

Kansas vs. Oklahoma State

03.14.2014

This is another in a string of strong performances for Andrew Wiggins. Going up against a tough OK State team, Wiggins scored 30 points to go along with 8 rebounds and 3 steals.

The major thing that should be taken away from this performance is the amount of times Wiggins loses his handle. This has been a criticism of Wiggins since before entering the NCAA ranks and really does hold true. Wiggins often has real trouble transitioning from his dribble into a shooting form. This caused the majority of the 5 turnovers he committed against OK State, along with Marcus Smart’s pressure.

Going forward, Wiggins will need to fix his handle, as NBA referees will not be bailing him out with phantom fouls and NBA defenders won’t react as slowly to an exposed basketball.

Enjoy the video and decide for yourself, or discuss this performance with these Nuts over on our forums.

McDermott In Green?

mcdermott-cover

As time was winding down on the Big East Championship tonight I wandered onto the message board of www.celticsnuts.com and one of our most distinguished members suggested Doug McDermott could be a target of Danny Ainge in the upcoming draft. At first I thought this was silly, but with more contemplation, it might not be as far fetched as one might think.

Right now it appears the Celtics will be drafting outside the “big 3″ of Parker, Wiggins and Embiid. That means a plethora of players come into play as there is very little consensus on how the draft might play out from there, and no one can get into the head of an NBA GM. But it appears to me that McDermott fits the Celtics for a number of reasons.

First, other than Parker, McDermott might be the most NBA ready of all the prospects. This could appeal to the Celtics because it would allow them to immediately insert a drafted player into the rotation and expect him to contribute to an NBA team thats trying to win games. A productive player on a rookie salary makes it much less likely that the team will be ping pong chasing again next season, and opens up a scenario where the Celtics use their resources, be it via trade of draft picks or players, to improve the roster and try and win games now.

Next, this would allow the Celtics to move Jeff Green, a productive player with a palatable salary, but one that doesn’t do much more than score the ball. He’s also maddeningly inconsistent which has contributed to the teams bulging loss column this season. McDermott could easily slide right into Greens role, and at the very least provide similar outside shooting.

Speaking of outside shooting, the Celtics are in desperate need of someone that can consistently produce from beyond the arc. This season the Celtics rank 28th in 3 point FG % and when you employ a point guard that has the skills of Rajon Rondo, your not maximizing his abilities if you can’t make teams pay for helping on his dribble penetration. McDermott is one of the most prolific outside shooters in college basketball history. The fit here is obvious.

Drafting an older, more ready NBA player, would put the team more of a “win now” mode, and allow them to continue to sell tickets. I believe this is a massive draw to the owners, and Ainge himself has intimated they don’t intend to “bottom out” and rebuild in the way teams like the Sacramento Kings have in the last decade.  It also should be noted that there have been rumors that Ainge considers this draft “over rated”, which could be code for “I don’t think these freshman are as good as people think”.  Connecting the dots lead me to believe that drafting an upperclassman is something the Boston Celtics are very open to doing.

I see McDermott and the Celtics as a match made in heaven, and there is a very good chance he’s available with their first of two first round selections they own in this years draft. They also could move up and draft him with their second pick if he were to be available in the 10-14 range. Feel free to explore the message board section of our website and contribute to the conversation on the draft and everything Celtic related!

Doug McDermott