Tuesday, June 26, 2007

2007 NBA Mock Draft

2007 NBA Mock Draft
I know what your thinkin', and you're totally just in thinking so. Why on earth would I, one of the world's most prominent and effective NBA bashers, lead off my column with the NBA Draft? Well, quite frankly, I like drafts. Even better, I love college hoops, and now that the draft has reverted to being mostly college kids again, I think I have a better handle on which players will fill needs for certain teams. That being said, I laid out this year's lottery, and not factoring in trades, I made the picks for each team, one to fourteen. So check out my draft, and keep in mind while you're reading, that these are the picks that make and break a franchise for years to come. You draft Joe Forte and Ron Mercer, and you get decades of losing, you draft Tim Duncan....and get my point. Read On!

1. Portland Trailblazers - C Greg Oden, Ohio St.
*Durant may actually be more "talented", but I'm still pretty sure that Greg Oden is a lot "taller". He's the franchise big man that leaves GM's drooling, and even though Portland drafted a center last year (LeMarcus Aldridge), they can't possibly pass on Oden here. Need I remind you that these are the same Blazers that passed on Michael Jordan to draft big man Sam Bowie? Taking the big man shouldn't be a mistake here, even though Oden may already look ready to slap on some white shoes, white pants, and begin collecting retirement checks.

2. Seattle Sonics (they aren't "Super" anymore) - F Kevin Durant, Texas
*When the best scorer in the draft falls to you at #2, you can't really complain. Durant has all the game you could possibly want in a 19 year old rookie, and judging by his frame, he's only going to get bigger and better. Seattle is much more in need of a big man like Oden than Portland is, but they'll be more than happy than have Durant serve as their franchise building block for the next 5-10 years.

3. Atlanta Hawks - F Al Horford, Florida
*I'm actually of the opinion that last year's pick, Shelden Williams, isn't a bust and will mature into a solid player. That being said, I still think Horford is the pick here. It's obvious that part of Atlanta's plan is to stockpile young talent, and this would be a nice step in that direction. Not to mention he's a great player, with probably the best low post scoring ability in the draft. He's not really a fit in Atlanta, but with Mike Conley Jr. looking like a slight reach here, it's the best play.

4. Memphis Grizzlies - F Corey Brewer, Florida
*During last year's mock draft, I said that while they weren't in the top few picks, Brandon Roy and Randy Foye would have the most impact in the '06-'07 season. Foye was OK in Minnesota and Roy was Rookie of the Year in Portland. Well, if it means anything, I get the same feeling about Corey Brewer in this year's draft. He's got the skill, he's got the length, and he's got the caginess to make things happen for him. Like his teammate Horford before him, he may not totally fit a need in Memphis, but it's too tough to pass on him.

5. Boston Celtics - G Mike Conley Jr., Ohio St.
*Plain and simple. I haven't heard any buzz at all about the Celts drafting Conley, and that's why I'm making him the pick. Out of left field, a trade will come involving Delonte West or Rajon Rondo as secondary pieces, and it will create a spot for the "point guard of the future". It will be fun to watch Danny dodge all his doubters on this one, but if a trade can be moved to add a veteran role player, and room made for him in the guard rotation, then I'd really like the pick. Conley is a dynamic player, very much in the Tony Parker mold. And while he's never played on a team without Greg Oden in his entire life, what he did at OSU while Oden was hurt was enough to show he's got the skills to make it in the league as a big time point. (any selection of a large Asian, gap toothed Gator, or Austin Ainge, will result in hysterical commentary by stay tuned)

6. Milwaukee Bucks - F Al Thornton, Florida St.
*Ask anyone who watched Florida St. last season, and they'll tell you their best player wasn't Al Thornton, but Tim Pickett. Too bad for Pickett he's shaped like Khalid El Amin, and old enough to be Greg Oden's oldest son. God news for Thornton, is that much like teammate Anthony Johnson last year, he's managed to catapult his draft stock through great workouts. At 6'7" and about 240 pounds, Thornton is an athletic freak, who has the ability to get to the rim and finish, as well as the post moves out to 10-12 feet. The Bucks could really use a nice guard to throw into their rotation, but unless they can trade out of this spot, I don't see them passing on Thornton. He'll be a good compliment to Andrew Bogut (remember him?) for years to come.

7. Minnesota Timberwolves
(they haven't cut the "timber"...yet) - F Jeff Green, Georgetown
*Jeff Green is just a notch below the "Corey Brewer/Brandon Roy/Randy Foye" category. He's got the all around game to play in the pros, and most importantly, he can defend. The intriguing question with Green, is how his offensive game can develop outside of Georgetown's Princeton style offense. In the NBA, he'll be asked to do much more offensively, and it's yet to be proven whether or not he can really handle the scoring load in key situations. I happen to feel he'll adapt nicely, and there's nothing Minnesota could use more right now than solid complimentary players, with or without KG.

8. Charlotte Bobcats - F Yi Jianlian, China
*What is there to say. He's 19 years old, he's got all the raw skills and he's 7 feet tall. The only difference between Yi, Darko Milicic, Fredric Weis and Nikoloz Tskitishvilli, is that he's Asian. But as in any draft, the unknown and the promising upside can be very intriguing. I'm guessing that the "flavor of the month" mentality will ware off by draft day though, and Yi will slip. Not many teams are going to want to wait for this guy, but with their young core in need of a veteran more than another rookie, Charlotte is a good place to land. He'll be able to fly under the radar for a bit, and could eventually turn into a real tandem at forward with Emeka Okafor. Funny note here. Rumors persist that the Chinese government might pull Yi from the draft if he's not chosen by a city with a decent Chinese population. There was even the story that he refused to work out for the Bucks at #6. What, not enough rice in Wisconsin for ya? Dude, I've seen your frame, and some bloody cow chunks and mountains of corn and cheese could do you good. And in Charlotte you could beef up on pulled pork, fried chicken and well...fried anything I reckon! Get some meat on them Communist bones! It would be a shame if China pulled this power move, but they have like 2 billion peeps, so there's not much (nukes) we can do about it (nukes).

9. Chicago Bulls - F Brendan Wright, North Carolina*A lot of people see the Bulls taking Washington big man, Spencer Hawes, with this pick, but I think Wright is a better alternative. He's a more athletic alternative, and will fit nicely right away in a rotation with Ben Wallace and their top pick last year, Tyrus Thomas. Eventually, the Bulls would like to see Wright mature into their center of the future, and he'll be able to step in and provide valuable minutes right away on a playoff team.

10. Sacramento Kings - F Joakim Noah, Florida
*Might look a little low for Noah, but there's plenty of people out there that have him going even lower. Not much lower, mind you, but you better believe his draft stock has taken a huge hit over the past year. With another year to examine his game, scouts are left wondering what exactly it is he does well. One thing he has shown, is a great motor on both the offensive and defensive ends, when he's properly motivated. The Kings will take the gamble that they can inspire Noah to rock it up and down the court on night to night basis, and I'm guessing they'll lose. Still, it's not a terrible pick at #10, and if he does bulk up, and find some offensive game outside of 5 feet, then he could be a two way monster in the mold of a Marcus Camby. (<----V unlikely)

11. Atlanta Hawks - G Rodney Stuckey, Eastern Washington
*They passed on Conley at #3, so they fill the need for a point at #11 with Stuckey. Most people haven't seen much of Stuckey, but the kid is a baller. He's another big guard, in the Jason Kidd/Deron Williams mold, but withe the floor vision and finishing skills more like Chris Paul. I'm not saying he'll be as good as those players, but he does have the skill set as his stats last year as a sophomore (24.6 ppg 4.7 rpg, 5.5 apg) clearly showed. Question is with the guys from the smaller schools, is have they gone up against top notch competition? Well, look no further than all the noise the mid majors make these days in the NCAA tourney for your answer. He's big game tough and tested, and should make for a quality guard with explosive ability in spurts.

12. Philadelphia 76ers - C Spencer Hawes, Washington
*Hawes is a big 7 footer with soft hands, and good rebounding ability, much in the mold of UNC's Tyler Hansbrough. Think of him like a more offensive minded version of Brad Miller, without the great passing ability. He's a legit big man, which is exactly what Philly needs, and if he's still on the board here, I don't see how they can possibly pass. They could gamble on a big guard like Rice's Morris Almond or Georgia Tech's Javaris Crittendon, but cementing a big man in the middle for the next few years will probably prove just too good a prospect to pass up.

13. NO/OK Hornets - G Nick Young, USC
*At 6'6" and 200 pounds, Young is the perfect slashing compliment to the feisty Chris Paul. Young burst onto the scene in PAC 10 play and the Trojans 2nd round upset of Kevin Durant and Texas. Seeing as he didn't want to he shadowed by incoming phenom, OJ Mayo, he opted for the NBA a year early, and may have hurt his stock. Either way, he's a great pick here at 13 based on his ability to score and defend alone. He's a tough minded player, with the physical tools to get up and down in an NBA offense. The Hornets would love a big man at this spot, but after Hawes the crop gets kinda thin, and there isn't anyone really worth gambling on.

14. Los Angeles Clippers - G Javaris Crittendon, Georgia Tech
*With the future health of Shaun Livingston still very much up in the air, Crittendon is an intriguing pick to fill the void. He only spent one year at Tech, to mixed reviews, but he's a big guard at 6'5" that can run the floor and distribute the rock. They'd prefer Conley or Stuckey in this spot, but with my predicted run on young point guards, they won't be around to be had.

There you have it! If these teams chose to listen to me, then they'll be much better served to say the least. Oh, and should I correctly nail the lottery selections in the '07 draft, fresh off the heels of my NBA Finals pre-season prediction coming to fruition, then you best believe I will be crowning myself the ALL KNOWING, ALL HATING, KING OF NBA PREDICTIONS. Believe it!

Red Sox Update

Overall: 48-27, 1st in AL East by 10 games
Status: If you look closely in the distance, you can see them. And if you turn off the TV and the radio, tell everyone around you to shut up, and go stand in the middle of the woods, you might be able to hear them. "Them", in this case, are all those yahoos that were so vocal last summer AGAINST the Josh Beckett/Mike Lowell for Anibal Sanchez/Hanley Ramirez trade. Well how you likin' it now, you chumps? Beckett has been downright filthy this year, improving his record to 11-1 this weekend with an 8 inning, 8 strikeout performance against the San Diego Padres and their ace, Jake Peavy. Thats been his M.O. this year too (and for those too afraid to ever ask, MO stands for modus operandi, latin for "mode of operation". ex. that's his M.O. = "that's what he always does" or "that's how he gets down"....don't you feel smarter now?). Every time the Sox have asked Beckett to take the hill, he's gone out and dominated, lowering his ERA from last year by almost 2 full runs (5.01 to 3.07) and dramatically cutting down on the number of dingers he's allowing to leave the yard (last year 36 homers allowed in 33 starts / this year 5 homers allowed in 14 starts). Anyone that has been watching knows that the difference has been the effectiveness of his curveball, and combining that with his devastating heater, has boosted the young ace from "developing" to full blown Cy Young candidate. Add in Lowell, who was supposedly a salary throw in and is batting .289 with 32 homers and 132 RBI since joining the Sox, and there's no way you can even argue that the Marlins got even close to a fair trade. People were doing back flips and having kittens last year when Sanchez threw that no-hitter, and Ramirez was well on his way to NL Rookie of the Year honors, but now that Sanchez is on the DL in (AAA), and the Sox are 10 games up in the East, people could seem to care less about Hanley. Sure, he still serves as a testament to Theo Epstein's poor judge of talent at shortstop (or any position players for that matter), but I think at this point, everyone is more than willing to trade an All-Star SS for a top of the rotation, Cy Young winner who can solidify your rotation for the next 5-7 years. Hey, I just like to give props where props are due, that way I can rip Theo and his crew for the horrible moves they make, guilt free! (PS - JD Drew sucks)

*And you thought that Bronson Arroyo was going to be the only Red Sox player with an album? Wrong my friends. Coming to a store near you, courtesy of TOSHIBA entertainment, it's "Music From the Mound" with Boston's very own, Daisuke Matsuzaka. Unfortunately, Dice K doesn't sing on the album, as it is only a completion of his favorite Japanese and English songs, but there is one original tune on the disc. The title is called "Giroballs", and the song is said to feature former Extreme guitarist Nuno Bettencourt, J. Geils harmonica player Magic Dick (bet he has no trouble with the ladies), and of course a special cameo by NESN's very own, Jerry Remy and Don Orsillo. I haven't heard any of the album, and I don't really plan on listening to any of the songs beside Giroballs, but I would be interested to see which songs the Sox Asian import seems to find inspirational. If anything else, you have to hand it to his marketing people. Products like this one may look really dumb when you find them in a yard sale 20 years later next to a bunch of old silverware, but the guy is one of the most popular athletes in the world, so I say, take advantage. Besides, from what I've learned from movies and TV, Japanese people love crazy shit like this. Well, that....and they apparently have an unhealthy addiction to Japanimation, Dance Dance Revolution, hookers with blonde wigs on, and anything that has to do with 1970's and 1980's America. Rock on Dice K! Rock on!

Diamonds Are Forever
*Baseball lost one of it's true all-time great characters this week, when former big league closer, Rod Beck, passed away at the age of 38. Forget that the guy hadn't been in the league since an '03 comeback with the Padres, or the fact that he was only a 3 time All-Star, this guy was one of the game's greats. His Fumanchu mustache was the shit, he looked like your average beer-leaguer, and he was always more about playing the game, than being above it in anyway. It was the fact that he lived in an RV, in the parking lot of the minor league stadium in Iowa where he was playing, and shot the shit with fans after the game while killing brews and burnin' butts. The guy was pitching well past his prime, purely because he knew how to pitch. Well after he had lost all his velocity on the heater, and all the bite on the ill 6 to 12 curve, he was still getting guys out on pure guile. That's because he knew the game. When people would say he was "letting guys hit it" by tossing his 75 mph junk up there, he would respond by saying he was "making them hit it", exactly where he wanted it go to. Pitching beyond just strikeouts, what a concept. He may have had issues after leaving baseball (two trips to rehab), and I'm sure some ugly rumors or reports will surface regaurding his death, but none of that should even begin to detract from the overall impact this guy had one the game. He was a great guy, a great friend, a great teammate, flat out the shit and he will be sorely missed. R.I.P Rod Beck (1968-2007)

*Hey there Yankees! What's the deal? I thought you guys were all "back in the race" (at 8 back they were saying this, mind you), what the hell happened? No sooner were Bomber fans lining up to take crack at all the pompous members of Red Sox Nation, than the Yanks promptly went 1-6 on their west coast swing, and dropped a cool 11 games back, and into 3rd place in the AL East. What's even worse (or in my case funny), is that through all these ups and downs, the Yanks issues have swung from pitching to hitting and back to pictching and then again to hitting. Right now, it's the offense. In their nine game winning streak, they raked to the tune of 7.8 runs per game, while in their recent 1-5 stretch, they've managed only 3.2 runs per game. If you can't hit, I don't care how many Roger Clemens you got, it just ain't gonna work. Oh and about Clemens, Yankee fans. Stop trying to convince the rest of the world that when he comes in to pitch in relief, that it's somehow beneficial to your team. He's only available because he only went 4 innings his last start, not because he's some super human! Get yer ass in gear here, New York, I want a pennant race, not a pennant cakewalk!

*The White Sox are imploding at an historic rate. And, while I usually couldn't care less (remember "could care less" is wrong, so stop saying it) about such things as an American League Central team eating itself up like ravenous cancer, it turns out I may be able to benefit from the situation after all. Word out of Chicago, is that GM Kenny Williams is fed up with his squad, and just two years removed from a World Series title he's ready to deal off some of his high older, higher salaried players. This may help me, and the Red Sox, because one of the prime candidates to be dealt is left handed hurler, Mark Buehrle, who's contract is up at the end of the year. Many here, in Red Sox Nation, only want Buehrle if his contract can be extended before a deal is done, but I'm just the opposite. While I'm not in favor of giving up our top tier prospects for Buehrle (4-4 3.39 ERA), I wouldn't mind parting with a few decent minor leaguers just to have him for the rest of '07. With Schilling on the shelf for a bit, and 40 years old to boot, Buehrle would serve as great insurance to a staff that's already tops in the AL, and provide an almost unbeatable playoff rotation of Beckett, Schilling, Matsuzaka and Buehrle. That would be devastating, and provided the offense doesn't go into hibernation and Paps and crew continue thei success, it would all but guarantee at least a chance to play for the title in Octoboer. MY one fear with Buerhle, is if he's extended, purely due to the strain that's already been put on his 28 year old arm. Since coming up with the White Sox in 2000, Buehrle has 6 seasons of 200+ innings pitched, and is on pace for another 200+ this year. Some say that's a track record of consistency, and while that's true, I see it more as a sign that he may be ready to begin breaking down. If they want to tack 2 years onto his deal I wouldn't have much issue, but Markie had been asking for 4+ years in negotiations with Chicago, so there's little reason to think he'd settle on half that length. Especially when you know's he'll get 5+ years and close to Barry Zito money on the open market. Oh well, this one might just be getting started, so stay tuned. Juicy, juicy summer baseball trade rumors....gotta love it!

News and Notes
*Of course you know the saying "well, ya learn somethin' new everyday", right? Well, thanks to a recent news flash about the financial situation of track star, and alleged roid freak, Marion Jones, I've managed to double the average man's capability, and learn two things, in one day. First off, I learned that despite my lack of a college degree, my own apartment, my own paid off car, or even a solid stock portfolio, have more money in the bank than former gold medalist and world class sprinter, Marion Jones. That's right, despite her run for about a decade as the premier woman's sprinter ( record 5 medals in '00 games), Jones is claiming in bankruptcy court, that she has a mere 2 G's to her name, and needs assistance in paying off her many creditors. The bank has already foreclosed on her Chapel Hill home (right down the block from the other MJ), and Jones was forced to sell the house she had bought for her mother, in order to pay some of her bills. Dear Lord! It was just a few years ago, that Jones was the pimp of the track circuit, winning medals, setting records, and pocketing sick endorsement dollars. How the hell does she blow cakes like that? Jones herself, says she doesn't know how she raped her cash stash, and that she is just going to try and gather up and rebuild. Rebuild what, exactly? You're too old to run, and you're too ugly to do ads based on you being hot. And you don't know how you lost your cash? How about the fact you've spent more days in court, defending youself against BALCO prosecutors, because you have been repeatedtly accused by those close to you (trainer, husband, ex-husband) of shooting roids! I'm no law expert here, but I was under the impression that this whole "court" thing, wasn't cheap! Maybe it's me, but it never appeared to me that Johnnie Cochrane was makin' "just enough to get by" in those silk suits and Bentley convertibles. Maybe, Marion, if you hadn't gotten mixed up with the BALCO Roid Factory, you wouldn't be ordering Matthew Lesko's scam book as we speak to save your financially crippled ass. I hate to seem like I am reveling in someone elses financial agony, but when a celebrity manages to blow so much cash in such a short period of time, I can't help but at least be in some sort of comical awe. Damn Marion. Just make sure next time you have millions of dollars, you keep some of it in the bank, instead of filling your swimming pool with it and inviting over all your childhood friends from the ghetto for "a swim". And for those of you paying attention enough to realize I said I learned "two" new things, but only told you one, good for you. It not only shows that you're intelligent, it shows you have the passion and desire for true sports knowlegde that you are willing to follow me to the ends of the earth for the truth! Yea, something like that. Well, wait no longer. The second thing I learned today, from Marion Jones, was that just because you do steroids, doesn't mean you're going to be rich. Oh wait, I learned that in high school....and I already know about 15 people that prove that point to me perfectly. OK, so I only learned one thing....but I managed to remember something else that I had apparently joke's still on you!

*It seems that Chauncey Billups is looking to get paid, as hes opted out of the final year of his contract with the Detroit Pistons. All I got for ya here is, why can't the Celtics get players like this!?! I'll admit I wasn't a fan of drafting Billups as a soph out of Colorado at #3 (thank Ricky Pitino for that one), but I also wasn't a fan of running his crooked haired ass out of town just 51 games into his Celtic tenure. Oh well. You can never say what would have happened if he had stayed, it's just a shame to see how good he did become. I mean he's no Waltaahhhh McCahhhhhty, but rumor is he can run a little bit at the point. And wouldn't you know it, the Celts are in dire need of a veteran PG. What a world.

*On that note, the latest news on the Celtics trade front, has them involved in a deal with Kevin Garnett after all. This deal doesn't send KG to the C's (a destination you still shouldn't rule out for him), but to the Lakers, in a 4 way deal involving the Wolves, Celtics, Lakers, and Pacers. The key principles involved would be KG to the Lakers, Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum to Indiana, Al Jefferson and the #5 pick to Minnesota, and Jermaine O'Neal to the Celtics. Boooooo to this deal! I don't want Jermaine O'Neal, dammit! And I certainly don't want the CElts to help facilitate a deal in which they get probably the third best deal. Not to mention, they would help in forming another Western Conference power in Los Angeles, and would be inviting a 20 year old 7 footer to join their conference with Bynum in Indiana. Oh well, the grosser the deal, the more likely it is that the Mormon pulls the trigger. Can you say, Raef LaFrentz and Jiri Welsh? (OK maybe you can't say those what I meant was "Can you say, Danny Ainge sucks giant baboon testicles covered in elephant dung and fire ants?...hope that helped clarify what I meant)

*So much for Tank Johnson's "from Suge Knight to Rueben Studdard" campaign. The oft troubled Bears defensive tackle, who was already suspended for the season's first 8 games after serving jail time for gun chrages, ran afoul with the law again, and has officially been cut loose. After being pulled over in the early hours in Arizona this week, Johnson was charged with speeding and "suspicion of impairment". Bears GM Jerry Angelo took about 5 seconds after hearing the news to waive his ass, and even came out and said the team was "upset and embarassed" and that through his actions Johson had "comprosmised the credibility of our organization". You're damn straight, Jerry, and good for you. The guys talent doesn't even come close to out weighing the liability he is to your business. The fewer guys on your team that you're in constant fear that they're gonna end up in the pokey, the better. You know this isn't the last we've heard from Tank, though. He's too talented to stay away, especially at just 25 years old. I don't care how power crazy Sherrif Goodell has become, some team will take a flier on Johnson once he gets his life in order. Now, it's on him to make that happen. Sell the guns, ditch the booze and narcotics, and get your large anus in gear. You have a few years to capitalize on your talent and make millions of dollars, and if you don't change your lifestyle with the quickness, you'll be left to a career as a professional bodyguard, mixed marshal arts reject, or being a stunt double in the movie incarnation of MTV's Rob & Big.

*You tell me what's weirder here. 1) The fact that Kenny "Me first" Anderson is now a coach in the CBA or 2) the team that he coaches is called the Atlanta Crunk? I'm all for capitalizing on local culture, in this case the popularity of the Atlanta hip hop scene, but this is just sketchy. What's next? Michael Jordan coaching the Las Vegas Gamblers, or how about Magic Johnson coaching the SoCal MILF Hunters? What a shady, shady league. And you know some white dude was the one that said "how about we call the team the Crunk, or some other lyric from a popular artist like 50 cents or Timberland?" Leave the rappin' to the rappers, fellas, and when in doubt, just name the team the Wildcats or Tigers. Seems to work for everyone else.

Fantasy Update

Last Week: LOST 9-12-3 vs Dice K 4 Cy Young #1
Overall: 3rd place, 35 games back (143-123-22, .535)

*I'm still amazed that my team isn't getting clobbered on a regular basis, so I'm just giving up trying to figure it out. I mean my team hit .249, only managed 2 dingers all week and slugged a puny .325. Better yet, my pitching staff was more like a bunch of SUNOCO attendants, managing a 5.00 ERA, and walking 19 over just 45 inning (3+ walks per 9 innings). Stiil, despite my team's own inability to get out of their own way, I barely lost this week. And while my grip on 3rd has become ever so tenuous at just half a game, I still feel very confident that my boys game turn it around, and get me that tiny virtual trophy I so crave. (for those still not in the know, it's a tiny trophy they put in your Yahoo! profile if you finish in the top 3 in your league. Also, that little man that often appears at the end of blog, is also on the page where the tiny trophies are displayed. Feel free to refer to him as Mini Rooch, Minister Ram Jam, Elvis "Tiny Trophy" DiMarco or Straight Pimps McGee.)


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