Random NBA Thoughts

Time to empty the desk drawer of my NBA mind

Time to empty the desk drawer of my NBA mind

Random thoughts on the NBA as Summer league action winds down:

The Pacers are headed for disaster. Not only did they decide to keep Frank Vogal, even though even the most causal observer knew he had completely lost control of his team on the eve of the playoffs, they have continued to hitch their wagon to Roy Hibbert and his 14 million dollar contract. He looks about as cooked as a steak at a truck stop diner, and unless he turns it completely around, their fortunes will ride with him and his wobbly legs. They will miss Lance Stevenson and his kisses which will put enormous pressure on Paul George to make the leap from all star to superstar, a role that doesn’t seem to fit his personality. They are headed to a freefall, which is a tough feat to accomplish in the putrid Eastern conference.

The Pacers can kiss goodbye to their status as contenders for the NBA title

The Pacers can kiss goodbye to their status as contenders for the NBA title

It seemed awful convenient that the Celtics second first round pick James Young suffered a concussion and was not able to participate in summer league action. For a player some, like myself, thought got drafted so high based solely on clutch shooting in the NCAA tournament, his absence allowed him to not get exposed by players drafted after him, or not at all. Or maybe he did suffer a concussion. Either way, its not good for the player or the Celtics as he needs all the experience he can get to prepare for this season, where he will probably be asked, as a 19 year old, to contribute. Youth is death in the NBA, and fares even worse if its not prepared. Unless something magical happens the Celtics are headed for a long season with losses piling up and another trip to the ping pong derby.

This is the most exciting moment of James Young's NBA career so far

This is the most exciting moment of James Young’s NBA career so far

Speaking of the Celtics, does anyone else think that these moves they are making, or lack thereof, might be sign the owners are getting ready to sell the team? They have stripped the team of any long term contracts other than the coach, and have accumulated several draft picks that would allow the next owner to build a team on his terms. Or maybe these owners are in for the long haul and prepared for an extended rebuild. Are they ready to take that kind of a hit to their wallet? My guess is no, and time will tell, but after seeing the Clippers sell for a billion dollars, it has to be awfully enticing for this ownership to see how much money could be made in a sale.

An NBA team is worth an all time high after the billion dollar sale of the Clippers

An NBA team is worth an all time high after the billion dollar sale of the Clippers

If the Cavs aren’t able to make a deal for Kevin Love, I think it could be a while before they’re contending for a title. Lebron James just got smoked in the NBA finals with a team where he was surrounded by 2 hall of famers and several hired guns with specific skill sets designed to make the team championship timber. James has never been on an offense first team, and even if they DO make the Love trade, they will be now. I can’t imagine this transition will be an easy or quick one for James or the Cavs, who have a coach thats never spent a second steering and NBA ship. From a PR standpoint, the choice to return home was a slam dunk for James, but I believe he’s in for a rude awakening when he finally hits the court with that roster.

Lebron James is going to miss his teammates in Miami more than he, or others think

Lebron James is going to miss his teammates in Miami more than he, or others think

I can’t make up my mind if these summer league games are meaningful tools to judge young NBA players or throwaway exhibitions. The point of each contest isn’t to win the game, its a chance for each player to showcase his talents to his own team or one that might want to trade for him or sign him to a contract overseas. This creates a situation where players that are high draft picks or already in an NBA rotation are playing with much less urgency than those who are not. I suppose the best course of action is to take them for the small sample size they are and wait til the games actually count to properly evaluate their play.

Does this mean anything?

Does this mean anything?

And finally kudos to Adam Silver and the NBA for at least considering changing the lottery process and making it less likely teams will be trying to lose games near the end of the season. I feel this is the biggest problem facing the NBA, and the fact that, unlike David Stern, they are at least pondering changes, gives me hope. Hope that I won’t turn on a game in April and think “is this team trying to win this game or lose it?”. Bad for the NBA, bad for the fan, and just plain old bad business.

The saddest ritual in all of sports...the super bowl of losing

The saddest ritual in all of sports…the super bowl of losing

A Consumer Guide to the 2014-15 Celtics

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The NBA offseason is a consumer and lifestyle decision for many fans. You’ve got ticket prices, ticket packages, season tickets, cable bills, League Pass, and League Pass Broadband. You’ve got to budget your time, plan vacations, adjust your evening workload, raise or lower your wife’s expectations of human companionship. Whether you do it consciously or not, you spend all summer side-eyeing your favorite team’s roster and monetizing your anticipation.

This year I decided to rate each pertinent Celtics player on a scale of one to ten, based on how much I anticipating watching them play this year. As they’re all role players, I’ve created a handy scale based on Celtics role players since 2000. It looks like this:

10- James Posey
9- Leon Powe
8- Eddie House
7- Erick Strickland
6- Eric Williams
5- Ryan Gomes
4- Raef LaFrentz
3- Wally Szczerbiak
2- Vin Baker
1- Mark Blount

A few quick notes:

1) There are no 9s or 10s on the 2014-15 Celtics. Give me a break—we’re talking James Fucking Posey and Leon Fucking Powe here. These guys should have statues in Faneuil Hall, right next to Troy Brown and Dave Roberts.

2) I’m not counting the 10-day contract holdovers (Babb, Johnson) and the salary slots (Anthony and, I believe, Thornton). Not much point.

3) I am almost dead certain this is not the opening-day roster, but here we are.

4) The below numbers might actually seem low, but in some cases they were a little higher than I expected. For year two of a complete makeover without a top pick, that’s not too bad.

5) I didn’t even come close to spelling LaFrentz or Szczerbiak correctly on the first try. That’s how far they’ve slipped from my memory. It’s the small mercies in life.

Here we go:

Brandon Bass

If there existed a team for guys that I don’t even realize have checked in the game for like three minutes, then Bass would undoubtedly be captain. Outside of the fact that he always seems to spend his summers at Pizza Hut, I don’t have anything against him. Quiet, doesn’t take nights off, stays within his role. Defends a little better than people think, if worse than Danny Ainge says. A game so well-rounded it encompasses everything from 10-foot jump shots to 12-foot jump shots. A fine 7th man on a decent team.

At this point, however, Bass resembles nothing less than the ancient ruins of the KG/PP era. He makes me ask, “what is he still doing here” more than anyone else on the team, and so he’s got to go—for page-turning purposes, if nothing else. They should just list him Seven Million Dollar Expiring Contract in the official program. And if you’ve ever spent any time on the ESPN trade machine, you know that $7 million is a nice number for making moves happen. It’s time to move.

Final verdict: Wally Szczerbiak (3)

I don't like to be compared to a white guy who's name I can't even spell

I don’t like to be compared to a white guy who’s name I can’t even spell

Avery Bradley

I’m still not sure what to make of Bradley’s Celtics career. He went from being arguably the worst NBA player I’ve ever seen as a rookie to becoming the guy who stole Ray Allen’s job and inadvertently helped run him out of town (along with Doc, Ainge, and Rondo), to being a nice piece of a good team, to being overrated on a good team (where he was, to be fair, asked to do too much). Even the contract he just signed went from being an “oh no!” contract to a great value contract in 2 weeks, as the likes of Gordon Hayward started pulling in twice as much. I’m spotting dimes, I’m eating onions. I don’t know what’s up with this kid.

I do like him with Smart, in a vacuum (I’d like it better if we had, say, Atlanta’s frontcourt). So there’s that. But you know what? I’ve never really warmed to this guy, and certainly not as a fairly major piece of a rebuilding team’s foundation.

I’m reserving the right to change my mind but right now the final verdict is Raef Lafrentz (4)

I'm the thinking man's Raef LaFrentz

I’m the thinking man’s Raef LaFrentz

Vitor Favarani

This guy plays offense — loooooves to play offense — and works the boards, but could be the worst defender I’ve ever seen on the NBA level, and that includes Yi Jianlian’s chair. Frankly I think he’s still on the roster to make Kelly feel good about himself. And to make Tommy think that Rasheed Wallace is still on the team.

He ended up in Brad Stevens’ doghouse last year, but I suspect we’ll see a little more of him this year than we may want.

Final verdict: Wally Szczerbiak (3)

Fear the beard

Fear the beard

Jeff Green

One of my least favorite Red Sox players of all time was Derek Lowe during his Shaky Years. There is nothing worse in baseball, aside from actually watching the games, than a closer who is sometimes awesome and sometimes terrible, and you never know what you’re going to get. It gets to the point where the good games make you more frustrated than the bad games.

Jeff Green is the Shaky Derek Lowe of the Celtics, only if Dan Duquette broke a championship core to get him. Good guy, happy to root for him; I just wish I was rooting for him on the Hawks or Hornets. That is his destiny. I dread having to watch him. I don’t even like talking about him anymore.

Final verdict: a less drunk but equally depressing Vin Baker (2)

Thinking of all the money I could make in free agency makes my mouth water (and tongue hang out)

Thinking of all the money I could make in free agency makes my mouth water (and tongue hang out)

Kelly Olynyk

Olynyk is the rare player who seems to understand the game at a very high level but has a very hard time playing it. Some of it comes down to his obvious physical limitations—he’s too slow to sacrifice wasted energy, yet all he seems to do is waste energy. Some of it is his lost-looking demeanor. I’m going to hope the latter comes down to year-long rookie yips in, let’s face it, a sucky year to be a Celtics rookie. If that’s gone and he’s put on some muscle, he’ll be decent. I enjoy pulling for him.

People have complained that Ainge used assets to move up to get in the draft to get him. In retrospect, it seems clear that Ainge knew Minnesota wanted him and was playing a long game, thinking about a Love trade a year or two in advance. I don’t think a Love trade will happen, but I’m also not getting too attached to young Oly. Be honest with yourself: do you really see Kelly Olynyk as a Part Of The Celtics Future? I don’t.

Do I remind you of a character from the movie Dazed and Confused?

Do I remind you of a character from the movie Dazed and Confused?

Final Verdict: Eric Williams (6)

Phill Pressey

I like Pressey. People compare him derisively to J.R. Bremer, but I liked Bremer too. Pressey can run an offense, play some D, unleash the occasional “holy shit” pass, and plays with just a tiny bit of edge. Add the local angle and that’s real easy to root for. I won’t be rooting for him in 3 years, because my Mandarin isn’t that good, but I’ll have no problem this year, even though he helps make our backcourt look like an open audition for Time Bandits.

Final Verdict: Eric Williams (6)

"Congratulations your still in the NBA"

“Congratulations you’re still in the NBA”

Rajon Rondo

Man, I used to love me some Rajon Rondo.

What happened? For starters, the internet happened. The internet never lets you enjoy anything in peace, and it ruined him, like it ruined Antoine Walker before him. At some point, rather than letting myself feel rightfully dazzled by every pass and nodding in approval at his overall “fuck all y’all” attitude, I began bracing for the online complaints with every passed-upon layup, every indignant gesture, every slack attempt to “fight” through a screen. No matter if the good outweighs the bad; the joy is gone. So thanks, internet.

Also, to be fair, Rondo himself happened. After Ray left, I fully expected Rondo to tear through the league. That didn’t happen. Instead, the atrocious assist streak did — which, by the way, I blame just as much on Doc Rivers’ shameless mail-in job in his final Celtics years as I blame on Rondo. But no matter. It happened, and it wasn’t much fun. And then the injury happened, and that wasn’t much fun. Every year I expect him to weasel into the MVP discussion. Maybe “only” top 7 or 8 on the ladder (which is where he belongs on his very best days), but in there somewhere. Every year: nope. What a shame.

So I’ve given up on expecting anything on Rondo, good or bad. It’s clearly time for the dude to move on, but assuming he is still a Celtic, maybe he comes into the year looking to take Smart under his wing and tear the scrotum off of the superfriends league (not just in ESPN games), and earn the max deal he’s asking for. Then again, maybe he comes in and dogs it 90% of the time, pounds the ball for 20 seconds every time up the court before throwing a scoop pass to Sully for a 12-foot jump shot. Who knows.

BUT: I’m an idiot. I’m still optimistic. Rondo is part of the 2008 team and those are my guys. I will always root for all of them and never hate any of them. Even Ray Allen, who I’m guessing is currently trying to frantically sign with the German soccer team.

Final verdict: Eddie House (8)

I am MUCH more likable than Eddie House

I am MUCH more likable than Eddie House

Marcus Smart

I don’t mind that Smart returned to college and didn’t improve — I did that three times when I was college. I don’t mind that he tussled with that fan, because I used to live a few hours from the Texas Tech campus and man, there are some severely horrible human beings in that part of the world. I don’t mind that he can’t shoot; I am a firm believer that this can be corrected to a respectable degree.

I do like defenders that frustrate guards into giving up and keep teams from getting into their sets early in the shot clock. Rondo’s ability to do this was a secret weapon of the Thibodeau schemes here, and Avery took that torch once Rondo’s other responsibilities got to be too much. Avery’s gone a little slack now that his responsibilities got to be too much, and Smart will help him get back on course. They’ll be great together. I can’t wait to watch Stevens ring the bell and unleash Smart and Bradley as a swarming, two-man full-court press. That’s going to be beautiful.

Offensively, I’m not so excited. His offensive ceiling, to me, is that of a pre-injury Rose or pre-washed-up Deron or Wade, with lower shooting numbers from outside and less creativity. That’s obviously not a bad ceiling, and I hope he comes close to it, but did I like watching those guys pinball off of every defender until they got a foul call? No, I did not. And that uggo-ball is basically Smart’s upside.

That said, I love his moxie, so final verdict: Erick Strickland (7)

Hopefully this won't be the highlight of Marcus Smart's career

Hopefully this won’t be the highlight of Marcus Smart’s career

Jared Sullinger

I’m trying to ignore how he spends his summers (answering the door for police officers, super-sizing his combo meals), and focus on the seasons. I still like this guy a lot. Not “compare his stats to Kevin Love like,” but I still watch him and see the top-5 prospect there. Hard worker, great rebounder, an expanding offensive game. Seems smart enough to conjure up legit chemistry with anyone he gets big minutes with. He’s a dude who makes things happen. We need more guys like him, and I am looking forward to seeing him develop into a real, full-time player.

Final verdict: Eddie House (8)

My back hurts

My back hurts

Gerald Wallace

I don’t hate him. His contract is a burden, but that’s the price of at least one glorious Nets pick. Spasiba! And at 2/20, it’s not the worst dead-contract out there — he doesn’t do anything particularly well, but still somehow seems to make some good things happen. On occasion. For no particular reason, I think he’ll have an OK year.

I just wish 1) he wouldn’t have those idiotic games where he never shoots, and 2) he wouldn’t call out his teammates every week. But then I also wish his teammates wouldn’t give him reason to.

Real talk: he was clearly subtweeting Jeff Green, stealer of his SF minutes, with those call-outs. So cut the shit Green. Either play harder every night or publicly tell this guy to fuck off — either one I’m fine with.

Final verdict: Raef LaFrentz (4)

"Make sure those checks clear"

“Make sure those checks clear”

James Young

I watched Kentucky more than any other college team this year and I swear I don’t remember a single thing this guy did. That ain’t a good sign.

That said, I wanted youth and shooting from the draft (I think they’ll regret passing on Gary Harris) and he’s young and has got shooting mechanics to work with. And regardless of how you feel about Calipari, his success rate with recruiting and developing NBA prospects of late has been decent enough that his kids deserve the benefit of the doubt. So, in spite of the whiffs of Kedrick Brown that I’m getting from Young’s general direction, I will give him that benefit of the doubt.

Even though I don’t expect anything from him this year, I always have irrational hopes for Celtic rookies, so final verdict: Eric Williams (6)

"Isn't it cool how it says Celtics under the brim of my cap?"

“Isn’t it cool how it says Celtics under the brim of my cap?”

Tyler Zeller

I’m just happy to have another center on the roster. And he’s under 25? Fabulous.

(For the record, I think he’ll be good for us)

Final verdict: Eric Williams (6)

Look, I can even dunk!!

Look, I can even dunk!!

Team verdict:

The average is a 5.25, with room to improve. Not too bad! A financial and emotional investment in this team should see mild returns, provided the investment is low and the expectations are tempered.

But you know what’s better? Nine first round picks in 5 years, and loads of cap space in just one year (assuming Green opts out). As GMs go, from a scale of Red Auerbach (10) to Chris Wallace (1), Danny Ainge ranks an 8. That’s where the big returns will come in.

—My name is Robert Ker. I twitter about esoteric bullshit, tumblr about music, and take photos of signs at the following places:

https://twitter.com/bobbker

http://thejacketpocket.tumblr.com/

http://instagram.com/signsinmaine

So, What Do We Have Here? Tyler Zeller: the next Nenad Krstic, or something more?

The great white hope??

What should we make of this man?

Earlier today the Celtics made a deal with the Nets and Cavaliers that effectively doubled the number of NBA centers on our roster*. Move over, Joel! You’ve got company.

It’s not clear how excited we should be by the middle Zeller. He grew up in a basketball family, is reasonably athletic, and as a kid was tall for his age. At the end of his high school career he was named ‘Mr Basketball’ for the state of Indiana after averaging ~30 ppg his senior season. From there he went UNC where folks reading this may have watched him many times over the next four years.

Despite being a skilled seven-footer at one of the highest-profile college programs in the country Zeller wasn’t taken until the 17th pick in his draft. Seven footers who project to have All Star potential usually go top five in the NBA draft. Seven footers who project as solid starters often go in the mid-lottery. Tyler spent four years at Chapel Hill and so was a pretty thoroughly scouted by the time he declared as a draft prospect. His slide to 17 wasn’t because NBA teams were unsure of what they’d be getting.

His first year in Cleveland didn’t do much to dispel the idea that he was at best a backup-quality big. He had a rocky time of things in lots of typical rookie ways, even without the many times he got pushed around by bigger, stronger, NBA centers. That he started 55 games his first year was more a sign of desperation and injuries to Anderson Varejao than anything else. Immediately after which the Cavs went and signed Andrew Bynum.

Andrew Bynam never danced his way in to the hearts of Cavs fans

Andrew Bynam never danced his way in to the hearts of Cavs fans

Importantly, the Cavs have been a mess on the court for Zeller’s whole time there. As they’ve cycled through coaches they’ve gone from looking horrible on offense to horrible on defense to back to horrible on offense. Jarrett Jack was actually a good mid-range and three-point shooter until he went to Cleveland and all his averages plummeted. Under Mike Brown the Cavs offense has been incredibly predictable and painful. In the games I watched they tended to start with something like a simple high screen-and-roll action, but then once the defense made the obvious reaction things would grind to a halt. Five to ten seconds into the possession it often wasn’t clear what anyone was supposed to be doing, and things tended to devolve into Dion or Kyrie driving into a pull-up jumper. Even if his team-mates had any intention of passing, Zeller wasn’t getting decent looks in that mess.

That said, Tyler’s second year was more encouraging, despite the fact that he played fewer minutes and was mostly an after-thought in the constant rolling melodrama that was the Cavs. He’s got a good touch around the basket and began showing flashes of a mid-range jumper. Encouragingly, he had the highest shooting percentages of any player who logged minutes at the 5 for Cleveland last season. He’s also bulked up, and doesn’t look nearly as lost on defense as he once did. He could stand to play with more of an edge on defense, with less finesse and more willingness to take and receive a few body blows.

Look, I can even dunk!!

More of this, please

It’s hard to say how much a difference he’ll make on defense. He currently reads as a relatively league-average backup center. Which is to say significantly better than anyone the Celtics had on the roster last season. (None of our PFs playing out of position count on this score, so his competition is limited to Vitor and Joel Anthony). He’s got the size to be a decent defensive big. He could stand to get stronger, quicker, more of everything on that end. Roy Hibbert was a 17th pick who just made an All Star team in his sixth year as a defensive center in a weak conference. That would be the ideal trajectory, however unlikely.

In sum, under a coach who knows what he’s doing and with players who are willing to play as a team on both ends, he’s got the skills to be a useful piece. If you want a recent Celtic to use as an comparable, the closest is probably Nenad Krstic. Good shooter with a soft touch in a face-game from 5-10′ from the basket. Can finish at the hoop when he gets behind the defense, but not going to bull his way through tough man defense or a crowd. Good BBIQ and decent passer for a big man. 

Wherever Tyler’s game goes from here, at least his chair worked

By Disco

FabMeloChair

 

 

*While an excellent Spanish league back-up, for the purposes of this discussion Vitor doesn’t count as an NBA-quality center

The Anatomy Of An NBA Rumor

It’s a crazy time in the NBA. As we wait for the free agency decisions from LeBron, Carmelo, and The Other Two Miami Players, the league hangs in the balance. Player movement has basically frozen. In this vacuum, trade rumors are like oxygen for fans…and in 2014, a whisper on Twitter can result in an avalanche of posts on Twiter, Facebook, and the like about something that’ll never, ever happen.

Here’s how it usually goes:

Step 1: Some idiot on Twitter “reports” a baseless rumor.

Maybe this person identities as the “trainer” of a player involved in the rumor. “Manager” is my favorite. In the Internet age, fans have evolved past the point where they trust someone who simply claims that they have a “source.” On Twitter, you can be anybody…so, if you plan to start a rumor, you better be saying that you’re said player’s driver/bodyguard/cousin. Or at least that you’re related to one of them.

This guy is a Twitter sensation right now.

Step 2: Other idiots retweet, share, and talk about this rumor.

This is what helps bring the original rumor alive. Fans so desperate for a morsel of news retweet and post their own original tweets about this rumor. Someone sees a rumor from a “source” and feel the need to chime in on Twitter. “RONDO A PACER?????? WOOOW” is your basic, unsubstantiated tweet about another rumor. Incidentally, they create confusion and get their brainless followers talking about the possibilities.

Guys, he’s 300% sure.

Step 3: Bleacher Report runs it.

Ah, Bleacher Report – the “news outlet” that lowers the bar so almost anyone can appear in Google News. At this point, the Bleacher Report writer will generally source to the original “rumor” and then fill out the rest of their article with speculation about why such a move makes sense for all parties involved. The writer always speaks as if they have authority and there’s a hint that they may have inside information, too. Fans comment that they either love or hate the rumor/the player/the writer. The rumor grows.

Step 4: Someone trustworthy is forced to acknowledge the rumor.

This is where the rumor really takes a leap. A respected writer – maybe of ESPN, Sports Illustrated, or Yahoo! Sports – finally responds to fans’ inquiries about the aforementioned rumor. Maybe this writer, unaware of the life that this rumor already has in the seedy underbelly of Twitter, simply responds that it would “make sense” for a team involved. The writer may think that what they’ve tweeted is harmless. But alas…they’ve given this rumor legitimacy. This is when your friends who are really into sports may share it on Facebook.

Step 5: ESPN publishes a story.

Many rumors die right before this point – but, depending on how strong the comment was from the respected writer in the previous step, ESPN may run a quick story that says basically nothing except what was already reported by the previously-mentioned respected writer. Still…the story is now “on ESPN!!!” and is now being shared everywhere. It’s at this point when your friends who are casual sports fans will post about it on Facebook and bring it up at the water cooler.

Step 6: Your local news station talks about it on TV.

A local news outlet will talk about the story on the evening news. At this point, your mom knows about the rumor, and wants to know your take. You’ll see the story on TV and think, “Wow, I remember when that was a thing…eight hours ago.” That’s how fast the news cycle is. Something we heard in the morning can seem so completely out-of-date and inaccurate by nighttime that it’s almost laughable…and oftentimes, it was never “news” to begin with!

-

Within 36 hours, the rumor has totally fizzled out. A Twitter search will reveal that people have forgotten about the rumor and have moved on to the next one. That’s the nature of rumors. They burn bright but they’re not long for this world. Still, they’re the lifeblood of the offseason, and I will begrudgingly admit…they can be kind of fun.

So, let’s hear it, Carmelo Anthony’s trainer’s cousin’s friend: where is he going to sign? Your followers anxiously await.

##

This post first appeared on http://adamokane.com. For wild, unsubstantiated trade rumors, follow me @adamokane. I’m Danny Ainge’s nephew’s barber.

Jeff Green, From Overpaid To Underpaid

Its NBA free agency time and its all about the green

Its NBA free agency time and its all about the green

Here are two NBA players and their statistics last season:

Player A: 16.2 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 5.2 apg, 41% fg, 30% 3pfg, 36 mpg, .52% true sooting percentage

Player B: 16.9 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 1.6 apg, 41% fg, 34% 3pfg, 34 mpg, .52% true shooting percentage

Player A is Gordon Hayward, who has been reported to have been offered a MAX contract from the Cleveland Cavaliers, player B is your own maddening Jeff Green who will make 9 million next season with a player option for the next season at the same rate. I think we can all agree that Jeff Green has never really lived up to his potential. Traded for Kendrick Perkins in a season where, at the time, the Celtics held the best record in the NBA, Green has largely underachieved in Boston. He was diagnosed with a serious heart condition the summer after the trade, had successful surgery, and the Celtics signed him to a deal immediately after, which was largely panned as an overpay. Many, such as myself, wondered aloud of the Celtics were bidding against themselves in giving him such a rich deal.

Man were we those people wrong.

How ya like me NOW?

How ya like me NOW?

I was all aboard the “get rid of Jeff Green” bandwagon and would have driven him myself to Logan if they traded him. I’m no longer on this vehicle, when you consider what Hayward was reportedly just offered, and the rumors are that the Jazz will match. Take a long look around the league, and you will find it almost impossible to find similar production to Green at his salary.

No matter what course of action Ainge is considering for the immediate and long term future of the club, there is no need to rid the team of Jeff Green. The hope is you can surround him with better talent and he’s not asked to do things on a basketball court he’s not capable of, mainly be option A on offense. He just can’t handle it and isn’t paid to. But as a third or fourth option, well now he’s an underpaid gem.

Each year we think that NBA GM’s will come to their senses and stop handing out max contracts to the likes of Gordon Hayward, but it never happens. Its my belief that these contracts are offered for two reasons; First, the salary cap is too low, especially for max contracts. If Gordon Hayward is worth around 16 million dollars a year, then Lebron James is probably worth around 40. Carmello Anthony probably splits the difference at around 25, and everyone else fits in their correct slot. The salary cap prevents players to be paid according to their production. And second, the owners are making money hand over fist after their latest whipping of the NBA players association in the collective bargaining agreement. This money moves into their pockets and the hands of the Gordon Haywards of the league. Its pretty simple if you think about it.

With the money he's going to get in FA, hopefully Hayward will be able to afford a haircut

With the money he’s going to get in FA, hopefully Hayward will be able to afford a haircut

The bottom line of all of this is that you need to PAY for production in this league. When the corpse of Ben Gordon signs a contract worth 9 million dollars over 2 years, ( http://www.cbssports.com/nba/eye-on-basketball/24604531/magic-agree-to-two-year-9-million-deal-with-ben-gordon ) you know your going to have to open your wallet if you want to pay retail (free agency) over wholesale (draft). This is why its so important that the Celtics have made the right choice in drafting Marcus Smart. They will have him tied up for multiple years at a very reasonable salary. If they can get real, actual efficient production out of him, and players like Green, they have a real chance to get good fast because they can use the plethora of money NOT used on him on quality veterans they obtain via trade (most likely) or free agency.

Good luck Danny Ainge, and hold onto Jeff Green for as long as you can. In the matter of 24 hours he went from an overpaid stiff to an underpaid gem.

Danny Ainge reacts to the news of Gordon Hayward's contract offer from the Cavs

Danny Ainge reacts to the news of Gordon Hayward’s contract offer from the Cavs

Discuss Jeff Green, the Celtics and everything NBA related at http://celticsnuts.com/forum/index.php

Celtics: Taking The Long Road

Hope is the Smart way to think in Boston

Hope is the Smart way to think in Boston

Its called a long con. Where a con man takes years to make his plan come to fruition, his “mark” usually wined and dined and lulled into thinking things are all going well and then bam…..the rug is pulled out from under them and the con man makes his move.

Are the Celtics pulling a “long con” on the rest of the NBA? It certainly would seem it with their lack of trades at the NBA draft, staying put and drafting in their slot, adding Marcus Smart and James Young to a roster that won a whopping 25 games last season. As of right now lets look at what the roster looks like:

PG: Rondo, Smart, Pressey
SG: Young, Babb, Bogans (in contract only)
SF: Green, Wallace, Johnson
PF: Bass, Sullinger,
C: Olynyk, Faverani, Anthony

Not a welcome sight for Celtic fans hoping for a quick turnaround

Not a welcome sight for Celtic fans hoping for a quick turnaround

With the loss of defensive anchor Kris Humphries, that looks like a 20 to 25 win team to me. Of course there could be moves made in the offseason to improve the roster, but they have very few options. They could:

Trade Rajon Rondo. What return they could get is anyone’s guess, but based on his play last season I would argue that his value is at an all time low. He DID prove that he was healthy coming off knee surgery which is nice, but he was horrendous defensively and lent a ton of credence to his critics who argue that he’s a player that doesn’t move the needle in the win loss column when he’s not surrounded by hall of fame talent. They could probably kick the can down the road a bit and move him for someone like Josh Smith and hope Marcus Smart is ready to come in and play right away. That would require them to sign Humphries or a similar player up front and then add some scrap heap vets and hope the Eastern conference remains as bad as it was last season.

Hopefully Rondo uses this tactic to get Ainge to improve the team

Hopefully Rondo uses this tactic to get Ainge to improve the team

Trade Rondo, Smart and one of their draft picks from the stockpile they have from the Nets and Clippers and try and land an impact player. Who that player might would be anyone’s guess. This would require several things to line up in a row……mainly a) The team they’re trading with would want Rajon Rondo and presumably be interested in signing him long term b) be interested in the Celtics’ recent lottery pick in Marcus Smart and b) have an impact vet the Celtics would covet to vault them to the middle of the back in the aforementioned putrid Eastern conference. (they would also have to think this hypothetic vet is not worth keeping) This seems like a long shot. Speaking of long shots, Celticsnuts poster Bostonfan23 from our boards came up with this idea with about a million different moving parts:

1.) Trade Rondo to Milwaukee for Larry Sanders and the Bucks’ 2015 pick – top 3 protected.
2.) Trade Jared Sullinger and non-guaranteed contracts for Kendrick Perkins and OKC’s 2017 first rounder.
3.) Trade the Pierce TPE along with the Clippers first rounder to Utah for Hayward in a S+T. 4y/42m.
4.) Sign either Shaun Livingston or Patty Mills with the MLE. I doubt either of those guys would be available to us, though…if so, sign Steve Blake to a one year deal.
5.) S+T Bradley somewhere and pick up a small asset. Regrettably, let Humphries go…someone will give him the MLE or close to it.

Sanders / Perkins
Olynyk / Bass
Green / Wallace
Hayward / Young
Smart / Blake

After, we would have…

-two first round picks each year for the next four years
-a core of Smart (20), Hayward (24), and Sanders (25) locked in for the next four seasons
-supporting players in Young and Olynyk that may turn into something or at least be decent trade chips
-we’ll keep Green and Bass’s expiring deals to potentially use at the deadline (I assume JG will opt out) and still have Wallace’s expiring next offseason
-with Wallace, Olynyk, Smart, Young, Sanders, and Hayward under contract for ’16, we would have about $28m in cap room next offseason

That seems a little like spinning your wheels, but if its fireworks you want, this is probably as close as your going to get in this offseason.

So whats the “plan”? From my chair it seems the Celtics are in this for the long haul (con). Probably be really bad again next season, resulting in more ping pong ball rooting as next season winds down. Hope and pray that Marcus Smart is the steal of the draft, and move forward with yet another lottery pick of your own and a bushel of picks from the Nets and Clippers. If either of those teams were to go into the tank in the next 3 to 5 years the Celtics could really be in business, with a plethora of quality assets to make a major move. But then again in 3 to 5 years a meteor could hit the earth and we could all be dead rendering all this moot.

With coaching genius Jason Kidd heading to Milwaukee maybe the Nets will go in the tank

With coaching genius Jason Kidd heading to Milwaukee maybe the Nets will go in the tank

What they can and need to do in the immediate future is make sure a culture of losing doesn’t seep into the organization and begin to strangle it like boa constrictor on its prey. We have seen this happen with teams like the Kings, where you start stockpiling young players without any vets to give them direction, losing becomes the norm, and you begin a cycle of losing you can’t get out of. (I call this the “cycle of suck”) The losing brings more high draft picks and more young players, and as the years go by you start to have to make decisions on them contract wise and you have no idea if the players that are collecting statistics on your team are good or bad because SOMEONE has to score in the NBA. Even the worst team get 90 points a game and the assists, steals and rebounds that go with it. Also, youth is death in the NBA. You simply cannot win with a roster full of young players.

The face of the "cycle of suck"

The face of the “cycle of suck”

So whats needed are veterans who know how to win, be professionals and teach these young players what the NBA is all about. Many want the Celtics to rid themselves of Brandon Bass, but that would be a HUGE mistake as he provides exactly what young players need….a role model to follow. Signing Humphries does the same thing plus it provides much needed interior defense. Maybe they can pry a guy like Inman Shumpert from the Knicks with one of their draft picks. Make sure Brad Stevens is in this for the long haul and can stay sane as the losses pile up.

Stevens can plead all he wants but the Celtics won't be winning many games in the near future

Stevens can plead all he wants but the Celtics won’t be winning many games in the near future

Buckle up Celtic fans, this is going to be a long and bumpy road unless by some miracle they can still pull off the rumored Kevin Love deal thats been shot down. The good news is tickets will be available for every game, and should be for cheap. The bad news is the losses should pile up like garbage on your curb during a collection strike. That which doesn’t kill us only makes us stronger…..or something like that.

Keep the faith, and pray Marcus Smart is the best player taken in the 2014 draft.

Marcus is going to need to conger up all the mojo he can to get himself and the Celtics over the top

Marcus is going to need to conger up all the mojo he can to get himself and the Celtics over the top

Discuss the future of the Celtics and everything NBA related here: http://celticsnuts.com/forum/index.php

James Young Picked #17 Overall

james young

I’ll be honest here. I don’t have any video breakdowns for James Young because he was awful in the Kentucky games I watched last season. Here’s what I’ve got on him:

Pros:

  • Great body for a shooting guard. Tall, long arms.
  • Smooth stroke from outside
  • He is not Bruno Caboclo 

Cons:

  • His outside shot is erratic
  • Handle is not up to par, to be generous
  • Turnover prone
  • Decision making is suspect

Comparison: Jalen Rose compared him to Mo Pete, so let’s just go with that.

Future outlook: I will say, Young was a highly recruited high schooler. He has a lot of potential to grow as a player, and from what I have seen from his thus far, he’ll definitely need to grow to be a successful NBA player.

Marcus Smart Picked #6 Overall

From an earlier column..

Marcus Smart, PG, Oklahoma State

Until Marcus Smart decided to shove a fan back in February, the only way I could describe him as a player was, well, smart. Him going Pacers/Pistons tamped that down a bit for me. Still, on the court, he is a floor general – always making sure his teammates are where they need to be. Oklahoma State basketball coach Travis Ford trusted Smart enough to guard everybody, from his guard peers to opponents power forwards, and despite being oftentimes outsized, Smart always put in the necessary work to succeed.

Touting Smart as the sure-fire first overall in last year’s Draft isn’t quite what it sounds, as last year’s Draft was uniformly awful. That said, his freshman campaign showed a player who has the size, strength and intelligence to play NBA basketball. Smart is built like an NFL linebacker and is very quick for his size. He has no problem breaking down his man off the dribble and getting into the lane. This will translate into the pros. He can pass the basketball and knows where it should go but he isn’t the kind of distributor you see dribbling the air out of the ball at the top of the arc. Often this past season, he was playing the off guard position, due to some serious roster construction issues that plagued OK State.

Many folks have opined that Smart’s jump shot is broken and his season’s stats would tend to lend credence to that opinion. While he slightly improved his FG% and his 3PT%, he still made his living at the free throw line. Whether his reduced turnover rate this past season was a result of improved decision making or playing other positions remains to be seen. He remained a very good rebounding guard.

Despite an incremental improvement from his freshman to sophomore seasons, this appears to be a player with a high floor and a high ceiling, with the chances of hitting his ceiling solely tied to his ability to improve his jump shooting. Most PGs improve their jump shot as they gain NBA experience but Smart has a long way to go. Without the ability to hit 38-42% of his jump shots, Smart will be relegated to being a middle of the road starting PG. If he learns to hit his jumpers, you are talking about a guy whose career could look a lot like Joe Dumars.

The Final Pre-Draft Rankings

nba-draft-board
The 2014 NBA Draft is nearly upon us. While there will be an endless supply of mock drafts available for your perusal, what I have have here for you is my final top 20 rankings for the players available. The players are listed in the order in which I think they should be ranked, not taking into account team needs or draft promises. If a player is not listed, it should be assumed I either do not have enough evidence to make a proper determination on them, they look to be a bust or I have just overlooked them.

On to the list.

1. Jabari Parker, SF, Duke

duke-jabari-parker-640-102013
Pros:

  • Extremely long for a scoring SF
  • Has an array of moves to get to the rim
  • One of, if not the best finishers at the rim
  • NBA 3-pt range
  • Good rebounder for the SF position
  • While he’s an alpha, he doesn’t just bomb away while ignoring his teammates
  • Very good handles

Cons:

  • Very streaky outside shooter
  • Best move is a jab step, pull up for a long 2-pt shot
  • His defense is adequate, at best right now
  • Might outgrow the SF position

Comparison: A less efficient Carmelo Anthony.

Future outlook: This player should get at least three All-Star nods during his career. If everything clicks with him, he could be a top-15 player, though the chances of this happening look low to me.

2. Dante Exum, PG, Oceania

dante exum

 Pros:

  • Great NBA body for a guard
  • Advanced scoring instincts
  • His shooting is not as poor as you have been led to believe
  • Competitiveness has been much lauded during the interview/workout season
  • Looks like he could stick at PG or SG. Has the play making for the point and the scoring instincts for the off guard position

Cons:

  • Level of competition thus far has been dubious, at best
  • Will need minutes while making mistakes early on
  • Extremely right hand dominant
  • The shot, while not bad to my eyes, is not an NBA quality weapon right now

Comparison: From what I have seen of Exum, he looks an awful lot like a bigger, more athletic Derek Rose.

Future outlook: As I mentioned, it will take Exum some time to get acclimated to professional basketball. He will need minutes, early and often, to work out the speed and physicality of NBA basketball. That said, if he makes the transition like I think he will, this guy will be an All-Star by year 4. He will be 22 then. If he continues to improve into his prime, look out.

3. Andrew Wiggins, SF, Kansas

andrew wiggins

Pros:

  • Excellent athlete.
  • Superb length for a SF
  • Transition game is elite
  • Good form on his jump shots
  • Has the potential to be an impact defender from the SF position right away
  • Very quick first step

Cons:

  • Handle isn’t what it could be
  • Doesn’t have a fall back move if there isn’t access to the paint
  • Disappears for long stretches
  • His finishing at the rim is suspect right now

Comparison: If he develops into more of an alpha, the Paul George comparison you hear for him is apt.

Future outlook: This is a player you can start right away and he won’t hurt you. In order to ascend to the All-Star level, he will need to develop his scoring mentality. If that happens, he should make 3 or 4 All-Star games over his career. Anything beyond that should be seen as wishful thinking at present.

4. Marcus Smart, PG, Oklahoma State

marcus smart

Pros:

  • Solid handles for a PG
  • Tough as nails
  • Knows how to get into the lane and can finish through contact
  • Exceptional defensive player
  • Strong rebounder for a guard
  • Doesn’t dribble the air out of the ball, unselfish

Cons:

  • Outside shooting is poor right now
  • Fears he might outgrow the point position
  • The fan incident last season showed immaturity

Comparison: Smart reminds me of a young Joe Dumars. He can play either the point or off guard while defense will be his calling card.

Future outlook: If Smart learns how to shoot at an acceptable rate and doesn’t keep bulking up, I feel he could be a 2 to 3 time All-Star, though those appearances are likely to be late in his prime.

5. Aaron Godon, PF, Arizona

Aaron-Gordon-Dunk-CU

Pros:

  • The one player in this draft that might be able to pick a quarter off the top of the backboard
  • While his shot is broken, he looks like one of those players who can score from all over the court
  • Has the quickness to be an impact defender at PF
  • Unstoppable in transition
  • Good handles for a PF

Cons:

  • The shot – it be broke
  • Slight build for a PF
  • Boom or bust player likely

Comparison: He’s a smaller, broken shot version of Blake Griffin.

Future outlook: He needs to fix the shot. If he does, he has the chance to be an elusive 20/10 PF. If he doesn’t, he is going to bust. Hard. With this ranking, I’m betting on the former.

6. Joel Embiid, C, Kansas

joel embiid

Pros:

  • Legitimate seven footer
  • Long arms and solid athleticism
  • Runs the court very well
  • Shows promise defending both the perimeter and the post
  • Advanced post moves are part of his repertoire
  • Very few bones left to fracture

Cons:

  • Rumored to be in a full-body cast presently
  • Hepatitis? Hepatitis!
  • Plays below the rim at times
  • While he shows promise as a rim protector, he still needs work
  •  Makes quick decisions in the post but you can tell they are decisions and not instincts

Comparisons: When playing basketball, he resembles a much taller Hakeem. While dressed in a suit, he looks like a far less dejected Greg Oden.

Future outlook: His outlook right now is sketchy at best, the Greg Oden Fast Track. But, as Red always said, “You can’t teach height.” If he overcomes this spate of injuries and communicable diseases, he has the potential to be the best center in the league within four seasons. That, my friends, is no joke.

7. Noah Vonleh, PF, Indiana

noah vonleh

Pros:

  • Despite being a giraffe, his arms a long too
  • Thick, solid build
  • Good quickness for a big man
  • Outside shooting looks to be a strength
  • Effective help defender

Cons:

  • Only played 26 minutes per game as a freshman
  • He thinks he’s a better ball handler than he actually is
  • Doesn’t appear to have a scorer’s mentality
  • He will foul early and often early on in his career
  • His neck totally freaks me out

Comparison: Looks like a poor man’s Elton Brand to me.

Future outlook:  In order to fulfill the Elton Brand promise, Vonleh will need to work his ass off to become a primary scorer. He has the talent. Does he have the drive? We’ll see.

8. T.J. Warren, SF, Wolfpack

tj warren

Pros:

  • Scores from everywhere on the court
  • Good first step on drives
  • His bag of tricks is second only to McDermott in this class
  • Finishes through contact
  • Big, strong body for a SF
  • One of the best offensive rebounding SF’s you will see
  • WOLF…..PACK!!

Cons:

  • His outside shot looks wonky. He’s been effective with it in the past, though.
  • Willing defender but he lacks the quickness to stay with many SF’s he will be matched up with
  • Free throw shooting needs to improve
  • Black hole on offense – the ball goes in and doesn’t come back out
  • He doesn’t have what one would call a chiseled physique
  • I might be completely biased on this player

Comparison: Reminds me of a young Paul Pierce. If he manages to work on his outside shooting effectively, who knows, he might get there someday.

Future outlook: I expect him to put up 14/5 as a rookie. From there, whether he improves or not depends entirely on his ability to fix his outside shooting.

9. Doug McDermott, SF, Creighton

mcdermott

Pros:

  • World class scorer of the basketball
  • Not simply a spot up guy, he gets his points everywhere on the court
  • Smart player without the basketball
  • Finishes through contact

Cons:

  • Defense is not currently in his vocabulary
  • Outside shot can get streaky
  • Lacks the foot speed to stay in front of most NBA SF’s

Comparison: McDermott’s floor is Kyle Korver – a very useful bench player.

Future outlook: He’ll have at least a Korver-esque career. If he can dedicate himself to defense as much as he does offensively, well, I’m not really sure what I’d peg him as. Maybe a Tom Chambers kind of guy?

10. Rodney Hood, SF, Duke

rodney hood

Pros:

  • Excellent outside shooter
  • Finishes around the rim with power
  • First step quick enough to get into the paint

Cons:

  • Defensively unmotivated
  • Somewhat slight for his age
  • Needs to work on his rebounding
  • Unsure if his handles will be a plus at the next level

Comparison: I see a lot of Travis Outlaw, the Summer League version, in Rodney Hood. This isn’t a bad thing.

Future outlook: Hood is older for an NBA prospect. He should hit the ground running upon entering the league. If he doesn’t, it is a glaring red flag.

11. Nik Stauskas, SG, Michigan

nik-stauskas-600x337

Pros:

  • Great size for a SG
  • Lethal outside shooter
  • Surprisingly quick first step
  • Makes plays for his teammates

Cons:

  • Every game I saw him play, he was either injured or sucked
  • Limited effectiveness defensively
  • Might not be able to defend guards

Comparsion: Plays the game like a guard version of Gordon Hayward.

Future outlook: He’s going to be 21 when the season starts, so Stauskas needs to be able to play right away. He will likely begin off the bench, depending on who drafts him. His defense will be the key as to whether he will be able to work as a starter in the NBA or not.

12. Julius Randle, PF, Kentucky

julius randle

Pros:

  • Face up drives difficult to contain
  • Potential for an outside shot
  • Very quick feet
  • Powerful rebounder

Cons:

  • Indifferent defender
  • Not sure he actually knows how to play 5-on-5 basketball
  • Careless with the ball
  • Trusts his handle more than he should
  • Will not be getting 7 free throws per game in the NBA

Comparison: Easiest comparison for this draft. He’s a quicker, slightly smaller Zach Randolph.

Future outlook: Randle should peak as a 16/8 guy with very little work. If he puts in the work and has the dedication, his numbers should look a lot more like Zach Randolph’s. Not my kind of player, but a 20/10 guy is nothing to sneeze at.

13. Kyle Anderson, PG/PF, UCLA

kyle-anderson

Pros:

  • Best passer in this draft class
  • Off the charts basketball IQ
  • Despite limited athleticism, can get into the lane at will
  • Improved outside shooter
  • Positional flexibility, played both PG and SF/PF at UCLA last season

Cons:

  • Might not have a position defensively
  • Despite quick hands, lacks the ability to stay in front of his man
  • Very limited athlete

Comparison: Is he a slo-mo Shaun Livingston? Is he a skinny Boris Diaw? Nobody really knows at this point.

Future outlook: Love this player and don’t care what position he winds up playing. Guys with his floor IQ can play for me any day. I project him to be a starter within a season or two of entering the league.

14. K.J. McDaniels, SF, Clemson

kj mcdaniels

Pros:

  • Explosive leaper
  • Lightning fast for his size
  • Willing man defender
  • Exceptional help defender
  • Expanding offensive game
  • Excellent rebounder for the SF position

Cons:

  • Handle is suspect
  • Turnover machine
  • Outside shot isn’t as good as he thinks it is

Comparison: Ultra-quick James Posey?

Future outlook: I think McDaniels could be a tremendous role player in the league, an off the bench SF that can lock down his position while helping others defensively and knocking down shots. The biggest question with him is whether he will buy in or if he sees himself as a starter.

15. P.J. Hairston, SG, NBADL via Heels

pj hairston

Pros: 

  • Great size for a SG
  • Solid outside shooter
  • Above average athleticism
  • Solid handles

Cons:

  • Shady backgroud
  • Though solid, he shoots rainbows from outside
  • Does not create for teammates
  • Not sure if he will buy in defensively

Comparison: There aren’t many solid shooting, 6′ 6″ shooting guards out there. Maybe a jacked up Mo Pete?

Future outlook: Without a number of improvements to his game, I see Hairston as a useful bench player in the league.If his ball handling and his ability to create for others improve, he could become a marginal starter.

16. Gary Harris, SG, Michigan State

Gary-Harris

Pros: 

  • Swiss Army knife of shooting guards
  • Defends his position well
  • Decent size for a SG

Cons:

  • Does a lot of things well but he really doesn’t excel at anything
  • Marginal handles
  • Didn’t make the leap expected from freshman to sophomore season

Comparison: I don’t know who to compare him with. A taller Avery Bradley with a better outside stroke?

Future outlook: Harris is capable of starting, but if he’s your starter, your back court is weak. He needs to put in a lot of work to be a quality starter. Harris would be a good guy coming off your bench for energy minutes and knocking down open jumpers.

17. Shabazz Napier, PG, Connecticut

shabazz napier

 Pros:

  • Solid handle for a PG
  • Can shoot from anywhere on the court
  • Solid three point shot
  • Distributes the ball well

Cons:

  • Small frame
  • Senior, so what you see is what you get
  • Not as quick as he looks in college
  • Will have a hard time keep NBA PGs out of the paint

Comparison: If everything falls right, he could have himself a Ty Lawson career.

Future outlook: I think Shabazz will have to start on the bench for whoever drafts him. I’m not sure he has the skills to be able to be more than that.

18. Cleanthony Early, SF/PF, Wichita State

cleanthony early

Pros: 

  • Physically mature player
  • Good form on his outside shot
  • Very good athlete
  • Tough to stop in transition

Cons:

  • Getting a bit long in the tooth
  • Not really a primary scorer
  • His handle leads to turnovers

Comparison: Another James Posey type? I’ve got to be right on one of them.

Future outlook: Strictly a bench guy. If he dedicates himself defensively, he could turn into great 3-and-D sub.

19. Zach LaVine, SG, UCLA

zach lavine

Pros:

  • Best athlete in the class
  • Solid outside stroke
  • Runs the break better than most

Cons:

  • I’ve seen many UCLA games and I still can’t tell you if LaVine has a first step or not
  • Trouble finishing around the rim at his current weight
  • Streaky outside shooter
  • Handle is suspect
  • Unsure if he knows how to defend yet

Comparison: Gerald Green. Whether or not he gets the NBA game quicker than Gerald remains to be seen.

Future outlook: Really tough gauging where this player will top out. His physical attributes stand out but his head is a mile behind. Will need to learn the game quickly to become a quality player.

20. Elfrid Payton, PG, LA Lafayette

elfrid-payton

Pros:

  • Solid ball handler
  • Astute distributor
  •  Should be a plus defender at the next level
  • Gets into the lane at will

Cons: 

  • Mournful shooter
  • Inferior level of competition
  • Not the finisher he should be

Comparison: Has to be Rondo, doesn’t it?

Future outlook: Will be a bench player initially. Remains to be seen what he turns into. Likely, either a Rondo type starter or a bust.

Wrap up

That is my take on the top 20 players available for the NBA Draft. Most of the players you don’t see on this list either didn’t have enough exposure to comment on or are likely busts. Comment and let us know what you think, or discuss it with these Nuts over on our forums.

The Long View on Feet

Lying season is in full force right now. The Lakers are trading #7 overall and a flaming bag of dog shit for Kevin Love. Joel Embiid has leprosy, in addition to having a skeleton made of bleu cheese. Arn Tellem is trying to guide Embiid to either the Lakers or the Celtics. Klay Thompson’s spit cures cancer. Carmelo will split time between the Bulls, the Heat and the Rockets next season. Dario Saric is actually good at basketball.

In an effort to clear away some of the nonsense, let’s take a look at the case of Joel Embiid, the talented, cast-wearing center from Kansas via Cameroon.

embiid

Over the past six months, nobody’s draft stock has seen the roller coaster trajectory Embiid’s has. He was initially an afterthought, playing in Andrew Wiggins’ shadow. As Wiggins disappointed and Embiid had some nice games, he leapfrogged everybody and became the near consensus first overall prospect in basketball. Then, the injuries started piling up. First, he had the scratched eye, which nobody talks about, yet severely limited his productivity for a couple games. Then there was the back. Despite not being a harbinger of horror, it still kept him from finishing his 32 game college season and also from competing in the tournament. Now, it is a stress fracture in his foot.

Oh dear.

Well, the injury concerns are pretty serious now. The first question anyone thinking of drafting Embiid should be is, “If he can’t finish a college season without going on the shelf, what are the chances he will be able to play 82 games and the playoffs without encountering trouble?” That is a major red flag, right there. Greg Oden, Bill Walton and Pervis Ellison were all able to play full seasons of NCAA basketball. What is one getting into with a guy that cannot even do that at age 20?

Big trouble, that’s what.

How about the injuries themselves? Two stress fractures in two different parts of the body. Does Embiid have osteoporosis? Can we expect to see further stress fractures down the line? Does he just need to start drinking more milk and scarf down some vitamin D? Back problems helped to sideline the career of Ralph Sampson. Foot problems have derailed the careers of many big men. When you combine the two, all Embiid is missing at this point are knee issues for the wheelchair trifecta.

The GM who drafts Joel Embiid on Thursday is taking a chance that these injuries will be a thing of the past in six months. They are betting on his talent, which in my opinion has been somewhat inflated past his actual production, but that’s another matter entirely. They are betting that no other lottery selected players will have a better career than Embiid. If he’s still selected high, they are likely betting their careers on it.

The Boston Celtics are picking at #6 overall and there is talk Embiid will be available to them. As I pointed out in my last column, center is the Celtics biggest need. What the Celtics do not need, however, is a center who cannot play due to injuries. And from what we have seen of Joel Embiid’s basketball career thus far, that appears to be exactly what he is.