Archive for June, 2010

The NBA free agent frenzy is at a all-time high. Everywhere there are different “insiders with knowledge of the situation” saying where Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Joe Johnson and another certain reigning MVP from Cleveland, will land. Come Thursday at midnight, the rumor mill will push to another level all the way to the July 8th signing date begins.

There are so many different scenarios that have been placed into the mix at this point that it gets made to be a foregone conclusion on some players intentions. I’m looking at it from a totally open perspective from the information available from financial perspectives and player intent. For the next few days leading into the July 1 cutting of the ribbon for the free agent race, I will be breaking down individual players roles from THE CHEAP SEATS, continuing with maybe the best pure scorer in Eastern Conference….

Dwyane Wade

The Basics: Shooting/Point Guard, 28 years old, 6’4, 220 lbs

The Numbers: 26.6 PPG, 6.5 APG, 4.8 RPG (2010); 25.4 PPG, 6.6 APG, 4.9 RPG (Career); 6 time All-Star, 2006 NBA Champion, 2009 Scoring Champion, 2 time All-NBA, 3 time All-Defensive Team

Summary: Dwyane Wade is in the top 3 players in the NBA. He is a dynamic scorer, defender and just about anything else you can be good at. He is one of the rare players who consistently plays his best basketball at the best moments. He scores mainly on penetration baskets to the rim and is the best finisher at the basket in the NBA. He has developed a mid range shot to accompany his finishing at the rim, but is not a good 3 point shooter. He gets to the free throw line consistently as a result of his style of play, although it does take a toll on him playing such a physical style, as he has never played a full season. Wade also is a highly active rebounder and passes in the style of a pure point guard. Essentially, he is two guards in one and lessens the need for a great point guard to accompany him.

Best suited for…..a team where he is in control. To maximize on his talents, Wade needs to have the ball in his hands most of the time. Due to the completeness of his game, this is not a problem necessarily. It does limit what type of player he can be paired with however. It is best for him to have players he can feed the ball too in between using his own scoring prowess, such as a post player or spot up shooters.

He's already the King of the South Beach sand castle, but its that enough?

Prime Candidates: Miami Heat, New York Knicks, New Jersey Nets, Chicago Bulls

New York Knicks: They have both everything that Wade would need and everything he doesn’t all at once. On the court, they have the flexibility to sign Wade and another big name running mate (Bosh, James or Stoudemire) to usher in a new era with, while being able to re-sign incumbent All-Star David Lee and pair them all with the emerging Danillo Gallinari. Off the court, it’s in the media and marketing capital of the planet in New York City. However, it breaks down to chances of winning in the end and the Knicks can’t promise that. It would take a perfect storm to pull the Knicks into immediate contenders, and at this point in his career Wade has little need to be part of any rebuilding project.

New Jersey Nets: The Nets are looking to grow their program into a highlighted one in the league and adding Wade who definitely adds the immediate attention that they desire. However, that doesn’t necessarily add the desired immediate effect on the court. While they feature young building blocks in Brook Lopez, Devin Harris and Derrick Favors, and would give the complete keys to the car to Wade, they also are shooting for a playoff appearance within five years, not one. Wade is looking to secure an immediate shot back into the NBA Finals picture with this offseason and that’s not what he finds in Jersey.

Chicago Bulls: There are a lot of indicators that would make Chicago seem like the ideal place for him. The Bulls are already in the playoff picture, have another All-Star in tow already in Derrick Rose and it’s his hometown. However, Wade dispelled Chicago almost as soon as the season ended and it is a location where some of his personal issues surrounding his offseason divorce are based, so he may not want to deal with that full-time. Also, his style of play mirrors Rose’s and it may make for more on court difficulties than needed, especially when you can pick your destiny.

Miami Heat: Every indication puts Wade back on South Beach. For all intensive purposes, Wade seems to be second

For Wade, it's about luring the right piece to get him here again.

in control of the franchise after Pat Riley, and can use this free agent period to position him into a stronger position financially, strategically (such as luring Riley back to the sidelines) and teammate wise. He can keep his same niche and freedom on court in Miami, as the entire scheme revolves around his will, and can attract new pieces that fit into his desired look for a push back to the top of the East. He is already playing the role of lead ambassador for the Heat, so it seems unlikely to bolt after these efforts.

Wade is a unique talent who understand his position in this free agent bonanza well. The max contract is guaranteed, so it’s about aligning himself with the best talent he can in any situation he is in. While he still is playing second fiddle to LeBron in drawing power to attract future teammates, Wade is not far behind and has proven already that with the right cast he will take care of the winning in June. That is something that even LeBron cannot match.

Next: Carlos Boozer

The NBA free agent frenzy is at a all-time high. Everywhere there are different “insiders with knowledge of the situation” saying where Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Joe Johnson and another certain reigning MVP from Cleveland, will land. Come Thursday at midnight, the rumor mill will push to another level all the way to the July 8th signing date begins.

There are so many different scenarios that have been placed into the mix at this point that it gets made to be a foregone conclusion on some players intentions. I’m looking at it from a totally open perspective from the information available from financial perspectives and player intent. For the next few days leading into the July 1 cutting of the ribbon for the free agent race, I will be breaking down individual players roles from THE CHEAP SEATS, continuing with a dynamic scorer that is a definite push to high scoring nights….

Amar’e Stoudemire

The Basics: Power Forward, 27 years old, 6’10, 250 lbs

The Numbers: 23.1 PPG, 8.9 RPG, 1 BPG (2010); 21.4 PPG, 8.9 RPG, 1.4 BPG (Career); 5 time All-Star, 2003 Rookie of the year

At 6'10, few players possess Stoudemire's athletic or scoring abilities.

Summary: Stoudemire is one of the most front court scorers in basketball. He has developed a different attack since he returned from micro-fracture knee surgery a few years back. Before the injury, he lived above the rim and was one of the premier high-flying big men in the NBA. Now he has regained most of that ability again, but has retained expanded his game with an improved shot he used while rehabbed. He makes usage of most short face up penetration moves and second chance points, but has some post moves to add in as well. While blocking some shots, Stoudemire is a sub par defender and other forwards and centers can take advantage of this as well. He will rebound consistently, but huge rebounding nights are also much rarer than big scoring nights.

Best suited for…..a fast moving, motion based team. For his entire career, Stoudemire has played in an offensive scheme where the mission has been to outscore the opponent and do it quickly. To maximize on Stoudemire’s main ability to get to the basket, his next destination should have the ability to do this. He also is very effective in the pick and roll, and capitalizes on easy baskets that way by using his still considerable athletic ability to out jump the transitioning defense off the pick. It is critical that there are other defenders available along the frontline as well, because he usually tries put up more points than his matchup over stopping them on defense.

Prime Candidates: Miami Heat, New York Knicks, Chicago Bulls, New Jersey Nets, Phoenix Suns

Miami Heat: This situation works if Miami adds more interior presence. The Heat already has a player that is similar to Stoudemire’s makeup in Michael Beasley in their frontcourt already. This could be a defensive nightmare, but the Heat could score 100 plus nightly (and may need to). It would make them a formidable matchup on offense for any team in the NBA when matched nightly with Dwyane Wade and Beasley, but they would have to make more additions to make this pairing work. Stoudemire is from the Florida area and this could be his preferred endpoint and if Miami misses out on Chris Bosh, he would be neck and neck with Carlos Boozer to join Wade.

New York Knicks: The Knicks present a familiar situation for Stoudemire, as Mike D’Antoni knows how to best utilize his talents, due to their time in Phoenix together. New York is essentially rebuilding their entire structure and could start with adding him to the mix. If David Lee is added to the mix again, his energy and rebounding prowess would offset Stoudemire well, but neither is equipped to play center full-time on defense and that could hold back the Knicks as well. He wouldn’t be the one pick fix, but could play a big role if other moves are made around him.

New Jersey Nets: New Jersey would be a place where he could definitely find a fit. They need more of a scoring punch and are looking to let recently drafted power forward Derrick Favors start on the bench and grow. With new owner Mikhail Prokhovov’s pledge to be in the Playoffs within five years, he may be willing to spend more to continue to make splashes to reach that goal before that deadline, which could land Stoudemire’s services quickly. Similar to the Bulls pieces, Brook Lopez and Devin Harris can run the floor and create the openings Stoudemire needs to operate.

Chicago Bulls: The Bulls are a great matchup for Stoudemire, with an on-court few pieces that would allow him to truly play his game. Derrick Rose is a high energy guard that is emerging as a premier guard and Joakim Noah is a rebounding and shot blocking machine. The issue here would be new coach Tom Thibodeau, who is an advocate of using defense to create offense. It would serve the Bulls to consider the matchup, as they have no interior scoring presence currently and he would be an automatic fix that could push the team past the first round of the Playoffs finally.

Once the smoke clears, Amar'e will be able to name his price.

Phoenix Suns: A return to the incumbent is not out of the question. The Suns have a solid core that made a deep playoff run and already are familiar to him. They can bring him back into the fold financially, but there could be a movement to change the structure of the Suns and prepare for the end of the Steve Nash era, which is approaching soon, so a rebuilding effort may be underway there soon. Also, the Suns have entertained seemingly yearly offers to move Stoudemire, and that may be enough of an ego bruise for him to not look back to Phoenix, unless nothing else materializes.

Mr. Stoudemire could stand to benefit more from waiting than any other player in the pool. Many more teams will be willing to pay a max contract to Stoudemire and ignore his one-dimensional attack once the top-tier power forward Chris Bosh is committed somewhere. He will immediately upgrade the potency of any team’s scoring punch and could be the go-to scorer most teams in the market lack.

Next: Dwyane Wade

The NBA free agent frenzy is at a all-time high. Everywhere there are different “insiders with knowledge of the situation” saying where Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Joe Johnson and another certain reigning MVP from Cleveland, will land. Come Thursday at midnight, the rumor mill will push to another level all the way to the July 8th signing date begins.

There are so many different scenarios that have been placed into the mix at this point that it gets made to be a foregone conclusion on some players intentions. I’m looking at it from a totally open perspective from the information available from financial perspectives and player intent. For the next few days leading into the July 1 cutting of the ribbon for the free agent race, I will be breaking down individual players roles from THE CHEAP SEATS, continuing with player that could push his new mates to the next level, if the puzzle is just right….

Joe Johnson

The Basics: Small Forward/Shooting Guard, 29 years old, 6’7, 240 lbs

The Numbers: 21.3 PPG, 4.6 APG, 4.3 RPG (2010); 17.6 PPG, 4.6 APG, 4.2 RPG (Career); 4 time All-Star

Johnson is an aggressive finisher that can contribute at two spots equally.

Best Suited For….a team with other athletic options. Johnson has always been a great option on teams that have other athletic forwards to play off of, starting with Amare Stoudemire and Shawn Marion with the Suns, followed by Josh Smith, Al Horford and Marvin Williams in Atlanta. Johnson is not what you would consider a player that can carry a franchise by himself, but with a supporting cast he can push a team to quick success. This allows for him to play his more individual based game still, while having other options.

Prime Candidates: New York Knicks, Chicago Bulls, New Jersey Nets, Washington Wizards, Los Angeles Clippers, Atlanta Hawks

Cases

New York Knicks: With the Knicks rebuilding efforts and young core, Johnson could step in immediately and make his own niche. It would help by re-signing David Lee or adding Stoudemire to the mix to shared the lead role with Johnson, as he won’t turn the tides for the Knicks by himself. Danillo Gallinari is emerging as a shooting threat and Mike D’Antoni’s scheme is one that will lend itself to his style of play. But without another addition to join him it would be pointless for him to go there, because he won’t lift them to the next level himself. It’s worthwhile noting that Johnson’s representation has floated he may be willing to play for less to join the Knicks as well.

Chicago Bulls: Chicago seems to be in play for everyone out there this offseason, but Johnson doesn’t fit well into what they currently have there, as both Derrick Rose and Luol Deng are the same style of player. A better long-range shooter would be the best non LeBron or Wade perimeter addition for the Bulls. However, Johnson would add experience to a Chicago backcourt that has been depleted with the exits of Ben Gordon and Kirk Hinrich in the last few years. Joe would be a definite worthwhile pursuit if they miss out on the whole Chris Bosh, James and Wade race. 

New Jersey Nets: The Nets are going to be active this offseason in every area as well and have a lot of the pieces thatwould be the best for Johnson to pair with. Brook Lopez and Derrick Favors are athletic post players that can score and rebound. Devin Harris is a great shooter and playmaker. Also they are currently moving out more contracts to be in the position to add more frontline talent, which could be Stoudemire, Lee, or Carlos Boozer. The addition of Johnson alone could push the New Jersey to the brink of immediate playoff contention in the changing landscape of the East.

Washington Wizards: The Wizards are in a full rebuilding mode and it started with selecting John Wall with the first pick in last week’s draft. Johnson may not be ideal for the team with Gilbert Arenas in mix still, at an uncertain position. However, if they unload his contract, Johnson would be a versatile and experienced hand that could help to be a sure option for Wall to gain his confidence with.

Los Angeles Clippers: The Clips are being floated around as players that are looking to make an addition to an emerging core. This would be a good fit for Johnson to go into, as he would have each type of player that brings out the best in him. The Clippers feature a strong scoring backcourt with Baron Davis and Eric Gordon, a frontline that features All-Star Chris Kaman and is adding Blake Griffin and Al-Farouq Aminu to its mix. Johnson could play his isolation office on the wing and push the Clippers (of all teams) into the consistent playoff picture in the West. Whether the Clippers are overall buyers, or just in the LeBron market (as they have been interested in) remains to be seen, but Johnson would make great sense (not one of the Clips strong suits).

Atlanta Hawks: Johnson didn’t leave the Hawks under ideal circumstances. He had some harsh words for the fan base on the way out and the Hawks are looking to make small, but big changes to their structure and Johnson is part of that change. While the money is there to give him a slight raise if they decided to, it’s not comparable to the potentially max contract that Johnson is seeking, and they most likely will use their funds toward reshaping the current roster, post-Johnson.

Johnson helped push Atlanta and Phoenix to new levels during his tenures.

Johnson is in a unique position amongst the more notable free agents, where he fits in several scenarios and does it as a stand-alone player. While he can write his own ticket, he won’t be able to turn around most of the teams in the free agent market by himself. He is a reliable and balanced contributor, but the team that selects him will need to be ready to make moves towards the top quickly, as he is turning 30 soon and could be headed for a decline, yet not an immediate one.

The NBA free agent frenzy is at a all-time high. Everywhere there are different “insiders with knowledge of the situation” saying where Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Joe Johnson and another certain reigning MVP from Cleveland, will land. Come Thursday at midnight, the rumor mill will push to another level all the way to the July 8th signing date begins.

There are so many different scenarios that have been placed into the mix at this point that it gets made to be a foregone conclusion on some players intentions. I’m looking at it from a totally open perspective from the information available from financial perspectives and player intent. For the next few days leading into the July 1 cutting of the ribbon for the free agent race, I will be breaking down individual players roles from THE CHEAP SEATS, starting today with the premier post player available.

Chris Bosh

The Basics: Power Forward, 26 years old, 6’11, 230 lbs

The Numbers: 24 PPG, 10. 8 RPG, 1.2 BPG, .518 FG % in 2010; 20.2 PPG, 9.4 RPG, 1.2 BPG (Career); 5 Time All-Star

Summary: Bosh is the best scoring power forward in the League. He brings a combination of being able to score in the low post, drive to the basket and has a spot up jump shot in the style of a young Kevin Garnett. The shooting aspect of his game is what sets him apart from other pure power forwards in the league, and can even stretch back to the 3 point line. He is also solid passer out of the post and shoots a very good 79% from the free throw line. A credible defender, Bosh can block some shots, but should not be counted on as a sole low post defender.

Best Suited for…..a team where he plays with a creator on the perimeter. This is needed for many big men in the league as someone has to get this ball to them. For the majority of his career, Bosh has been by far the greatest talent on his team, so he has not been able to share the scoring punch with another. His ability to step away from the basket and shoot could be best used if deployed with either a playmaking point or a penetrating wing player. This would allow him to avoid some of the constant double team that surrounded him from the tip off in Toronto. Also, another player with size to let him play pure power forward and move from being out of position at center.

An underrated talent for years, Bosh is on the verge of maxing out.

 

Prime Candidates: Miami Heat, Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Lakers, New Jersey Nets, New York Knicks

Cases

Miami Heat: Dwyane Wade, pure and simple. He would never go to Miami without D-Wade, so despite Wade’s free agent status as well, it would be a package deal. This would be a great scenario, as he could be the second option on offense and be free to get incredible looks playing off Wade. While they are developing their point guard situation, Wade is one of the most creative offensive players in the NBA and Bosh would play off him very well. They have room to add as much as they need to and if this pairing somehow adds Joe Johnson or even LeBron James, well you’re looking at a 80’s Lakers or Celtics situation on South Beach.

Chicago Bulls: This would be an embarrassment of riches, as the Bulls already have one of the best young guards in basketball on their roster in Derrick Rose. The Bulls have cleared cap space to potentially add THREE players with max contracts, to add to Rose and Luol Deng. In the post he would join Joakim Noah, who would handle the majority of the dirty work and let Bosh focus much more on purely scoring, his specialty. If LeBron is added to this fold (as he would almost have to be to land Bosh), this would instantly become THE upper tier team in the East, as they were already a playoff squad this year, even after unloading many of their key figures to clear cap room to be active this year.

Los Angeles Lakers: Bosh himself stated that he considers the Lakers to be on his short list of teams to join. This happens when you are back-to-back champions and have Kobe Bryant on your side. This would be a perfect situation, as he would be able to share the post will an equal in size with Gasol and be able to play off both Bryant and Gasol in LA’s triangle scheme. However, this scenario seems a bit farfetched due to the financial commitments already on hand between Bryant, Gasol, Ron Artest and Lamar Odom. Never say never, but there doesn’t seem to be much future here, even with a sign and trade from Toronto

New Jersey Nets: The Nets are in the market for some more front court help, even after selecting Derrick Favors 3rd overall in last week’s draft, and have the financial room to add a max contract. Devin Harris is the point guard that would create exactly what Bosh needs to be setup, and he could play pure power forward and maximize on his shooting abilities with Brook Lopez under the rim. In reality though, there doesn’t seem to be much steam for any of the premier free agents to land there and they may be in the market for one of the forwards underneath Bosh’s level. The rebuilding efforts are quite intense in Jersey and Bosh is most likely looking for a “win now” scenario after escaping Toronto’s perpetual rebuilding plan.

Shooting over matchups at an athletic 6'11 is what separates Bosh from other PF's.

 

New York Knicks: The Knicks will be linked to every free agent available in the market this year. But the Knicks core is awful right now, with Danillo Gallinari as the best returning player under contract. The Knicks will make some moves, but the lure of playing in New York may not be enough to be a part of this mix. This pairing would only happen if the Knicks woo LeBron to the Big Apple as well, as the Knicks have been a mess for some time and wouldn’t be an upgrade over even returning to Toronto without another superstar in tow….and even then, it may be too much of a reach.

Bosh is a tremendous coup, and due to his stated allegence to following LeBron’s decision, is almost certainly to be the greatest complimentary gift in the history of NBA free agency. As a premier talent that as only played with players of his calibur on Olympic and All-Star teams, the maximum ability of Bosh could be unleashed finally once he is paired with another superstar (think Gasol after he found Kobe). Wherever he lands, Chris Bosh is about to take a huge step forward from regular season beast to yearly playoff contender.

Next: Joe Johnson

The day is here and the NBA Draft is on deck in a few hours. It’s all a big guessing game for months, but the picture is clearing up and some sense is being able to be made of the big picture. After #1, all hell could break loose, but the top of the draft, barring any last second trades, is looking solid. But anything could happen and there are lots of teams on the phone with each other. Some are trying to crack into the heralded Top 5 area, many are trying to package multiple late first round picks into earlier slots. Memphis and Oklahoma City are chief among these teams, with 3 picks each in the round.

Here is THE CHEAP SEATS prediction on where how the pieces will fit together, if the current order held (as we know it will not). This shows the needs of the teams and what could be available in what range to fit them. Enjoy and COMMENT!

  1. Washington Wizards: John Wall-PG-6’4, 195 lbs, Kentucky (Freshman): The obvious pick for the Wizards, Wall follows in the footsteps of other recent franchise cornerstone point guards drafted from the John Calipari system needed to lead their franchises back to prominence. (Derrick Rose, 08 and Tyreke Evans, 09)
  2. Philadelphia 76ers: Evan Turner-SG-6’7, 215 lbs, Ohio State (Junior): Turner is not the best fit for Philadelphia, but can do whatever is needed along the wing and is the clear best talent after Wall.
  3. New Jersey Nets: Derrick Favors-PF-6’9, 245 lbs, Georgia Tech (Freshman): This pick has been debated between Johnson and Cousins, but in the end New Jersey should go with Favors, who can add an another huge frontcourt youth and potentially form a devastating duo with Brooke Lopez in a few years.
  4. Minnesota Timberwolves: Wesley Johnson-SF-6’8, 205 lbs, Syracuse (Junior): The perfect player for a Timberwolves team that needs help everywhere. Johnson will add a definite inside/outside scoring touch and will help on the boards as well, where Minnesota has struggled due to recent injuries.
  5. Sacramento Kings: DeMarcus Cousins-C-6’11, 268 lbs, Kentucky (Freshman): The most debated player in the draft, Cousins will fit in next to newly acquired Samuel Dalembert along all big front line and will be the go to post player to offset the Kings’ Tyreke Evans penetration based game.
  6. Golden State Warriors: Greg Monroe-PF-6’11,240 lbs, Georgetown (Sophomore): There is some debate on if Monroe will land here over either Udoh or Aminu, but Monroe is the best talent available here and fits the best into what the Warriors currently lack. An athletic post scorer who is a LaMarcus Aldridge type.
  7. Detroit Pistons: Ed Davis-PF-6’10, 220 lbs, North Carolina (Sophomore): Detroit is on the verge of cleaning out their aging roster and Davis is big the can replace the loss of Rasheed Wallace a year ago and can develop into a versatile scoring option. Aldrich and Aminu are possibilities here too.
  8. Los Angeles Clippers: Al-Farouq Aminu-SF-6’8, 215 lbs, Wake Forest (Sophomore): One of the players that has the most possible endpoints, Aminu lands in LA to fill out an ever improving Clippers core with a rim attacking forward that the current roster lacks. Could bring new energy to the Clips with the returning Blake Griffin.
  9. Utah Jazz: Luke Babbitt-SF-6’9, 214 lbs, Nevada (Sophomore): The Jazz are said the be very high on Babbitt who has the size to help out at either small or power forward, but has a shot that fits a shooting guard. With Kirilenko, Korver and Boozer all potentially gone, this makes solid sense.
  10. Indiana Pacers: Ekpe Udoh-PF-6’10, 237 lbs, Baylor (Junior): Udoh is not the point guard that has desperately been needed in Indy for years, but gives an athletic front court rebounder and is the best shot blocking presence in the draft. Adds to an ever improving young core of the Pacers.
  11. New Orleans Hornets: Cole Aldrich-C-6’10, 245 lbs, Kansas (Junior): Aldrich isn’t the best talent available, but adds depth to the Hornets front court behind Emeka Okafor and David West. An investment in the core of a team that will improve greatly with a healthy Chris Paul next season.
  12. Memphis Grizzlies: Eric Bledsoe-PG-6’2, 190 lbs, Kentucky (Freshman): Memphis has talent everywhere as a result of living in the top of the Lottery since forever it feels like, but needs to add depth, and a potential new starter, at point guard due to Mike Conley not living up to expectations thru year 3.
  13. Toronto Raptors: Patrick Patterson-PF-6’9, 240 lbs, Kentucky (Junior): Toronto needs to re-establish themselves in both size and scoring in the frontcourt with Chris Bosh’s impending departure. Patterson is great scorer that will ease the irreplaceable Bosh’s move.
  14. Houston Rockets: Hassan Whiteside-C-7’0, 225 lbs, Marshall (Freshman): A very raw shot blocking talent, Whiteside needs some time to develop, but adds some insurance behind the risky return of Yao Ming from foot surgery. Whiteside has great potential regardless and could have been top 5 in 2011.
  15. Milwaukee Bucks: Larry Sanders-PF-6’11, 220 lbs, VCU (Junior): Milwaukee is transitioning their roster daily leading up to the draft and Sanders gives them what they haven’t acquired: a long, defending post player than can run the floor, in the mold of Charlie Villanueva. He is said to have a promise if available here.
  16. Minnesota Timberwolves: Gordon Hayward-SF-6’8, 211, Butler (Sophomore): Hayward is an attractive option to many teams, including LA at #8. However, if he falls to the Wolves here he give them both depth and another versatile scoring option the can score from anywhere on the court.
  17. Chicago Bulls: Xavier Henry-SG-6’6, 215 lbs, Kansas (Freshman): In a bit of a slide, Henry adds a backcourt scoring threat from land range that can also rebound and play off Derrick Rose. Anything can happen in Chicago in next few months and Henry adds immediate punch to the developing roster.
  18. Oklahoma City Thunder: Paul George-SF-6’8, 215 lbs, Fresno State (Sophomore): Many teams are high on George and for good reason, but he seems to be the odd man out on what fits into the scheme of several teams in front of OKC, who is looking to add depth on the wing behind Durant at forward. A great coup at 18.
  19. Boston Celtics: Avery Bradley-SG-6’3, 180 lbs, Texas (Freshman): The East champs are drafting high for a team that went as far as they did, and it is good considering the turnover that could take place there. Bradley is a quick scoring guard that paired with Rajon Rondo could run many teams out the gym.
  20. San Antonio Spurs: Kevin Seraphin-PF-6’10, 258 lbs, France: It seems cliché to say the San Antonio will take the first international player of the board, but they need to add more size at both power forward and center. Seraphin has the size to do both and ease the last years of Tim Duncan some.
  21. Oklahoma City Thunder: Solomon Alabi-C-7’0, 240 lbs, Florida State (Sophomore): The Thunder need to add a long defensive presence under the rim and Alabi is a natural shot blocker. He will need some work and development, but projects well for OKC, where all he will be asked to do is alter shots.
  22. Portland Trailblazers: Terrico White-SG/PG-6’5, 203 lbs, Mississippi (Junior): Its said that Portland sees White as the draft’s premier athlete and loves his versatility in the backcourt, comparable to Rudy Fernandez. With Fernandez potentially on the way out-of-town, this is a suitable replacement and value pick.
  23. Minnesota Timberwolves: Daniel Orton-C-6’11, 268 lbs, Kentucky (Freshman): Orton’s stock is all over the place, but it seems to be permanently down head into the draft. If Minnesota snags him here, they add young depth to a thin frontline behind Al Jefferson and Kevin Love.
  24. Atlanta Hawks: James Anderson-SG-6’6, 220 lbs, Oklahoma State (Junior): With Joe Johnson on the way out, Anderson adds a long distance scorer to play off the frontcourt based Hawks and depth behind the resurgent Jamal Crawford. With Mike Bibby aging, Atlanta could look to the point guard position here too.
  25. Memphis Grizzlies: Craig Brackens-PF-6’10, 229 lbs, Iowa State (Junior): With a frontline that features Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph and the developing Haseem Thasbeet, the pick of Brackens gives even more spring to a Grizzlies team on the verge of breaking through.
  26. Oklahoma City Thunder: Damion James-F-6’8, 230 lbs, Texas (Senior): James would be the first senior off the board and is one of the most versatile talents in the forward pool. Helps the Thunder at both forward positions and was a college teammate of Kevin Durant.
  27. New Jersey Nets: Jordan Crawford-SG-6’4, 200 lbs, Xavier (Junior): With their second pick of the first round New Jersey could look to the back court and couple the athletic Crawford with Courtney Lee and Devin Harris, to replace the departed Chris Douglas-Roberts.
  28. Memphis Grizzlies:  Lance Stephenson-SG-6’5, 225 lbs, Cincinnati (Freshman): An addition to an embarrassment of riches in perimeter scoring. Stephenson is a young tremendous talent that could land much higher, as Milwaukee has eyes on him in the 15th slot as well.
  29. Orlando Magic: Devin Eubanks-SF-6’8, 208 lbs, West Virginia (Sophomore): Orlando needs to get stronger in the front court, but at this point the talent isn’t there for that pick. Eubanks worked out well for Orlando and gives a true scoring small forward to put with Michael Pietrus.
  30. Washington Wizards: Gani Lawal-PF-6’9, 233 lbs, Georgia Tech (Junior): Washington needs to add some size and Lawal has the experience and size to fit in with the Wizards direction.

What do you think? How do you see it working out? COMMENT AND LET ME AND US KNOW. Tune in to the 2010 NBA Draft on ESPN at 6 PM and follow me on Twitter at @CheapSeatFan for updates throughout the entire draft.

The 2010 NBA Draft is coming up on Thursday night and the stars (and flameouts) of tomorrow are in line.  

Wall is secured at the top of class, but how the rest of the bricks stack?

 There are many teams making moves in this year’s edition of the amateur basketball auction, and by the time the Washington Wizards go on the clock Thursday night the order of the bidders could look totally different.  

What won’t change are the competitors for each teams courting. Below are THE CHEAP SEATS ranking of the prospects for the upcoming Draft, by position. Below is the current order of the first round. Thursday morning, the conclusion of lead up to my NBA Draft coverage will feature my final mock draft.  

**Center**  

  1. DeMarcus Cousins: 6’11, 260 lbs, Kentucky (Freshman)
  2. Cole Aldrich: 6’10, 245 lbs, Kansas (Junior)
  3. Hassan Whiteside: 7’0, 225 lbs, Marshall (Freshman)
  4. Daniel Orton: 6’10, 269 lbs, Kentucky (Freshman)
  5. Solomon Alabi: 7’1, 240 lbs, Florida State (Sophomore)*redshirt

Center Summary: This is a solid class for the center position, which is fleeting in true talent many years. It features tough rebounders such as Aldrich, pure shot blockers in Whiteside and Alabi. Cousins and Orton both present strong upsides as overall pure talents who add scoring, but have several concerns about their approaches and true potential.

Late Look: Miroslav Raduljica: 7’1, 250 lbs, Serbia (22 yo, International): One of the few international entries in this draft, Raduljica shows good movement for his size and can give quality bench play and front court depth, even if it isn’t immediate.

 **Power Forward**  

  1. Derrick Favors: 6’9, 245 lbs, Georgia Tech (Freshman)
  2. Greg Monroe: 6’11, 240 lbs, Georgetown (Sophomore)
  3. Ed Davis: 6’10, 220 lbs, North Carolina (Sophomore)
  4. Ekpe Udoh: 6’10, 237 lbs, Baylor (Junior)
  5. Patrick Patterson: 6’9, 240 lbs, Kentucky (Junior)

PF Summary: This is the deepest position in the draft, with legit talent into the early second round. All of the top 6 players have potential spots in the lottery, with a second grouping being available immediately after this group. Favors value is high enough to place him potentially in the mix for the 2nd overall pick. Monroe and Davis are others with spots most likely within the top 10 as well. 

Late Look: Larry Sanders: 6’11, 222, Virginia Commonwealth (Junior): Sanders is a lengthy frontcourt presence, which while he does not have the talent of the upper tier, could be a difference maker immediately as a depth player. Sanders should add defensive presence, as he was a two-time Colonial Athletic Association Defensive Player of the Year.

**Small Forward**

  1. Wesley Johnson:  6’8, 205 lbs, Syracuse (Junior)
  2. Al-Farouq Aminu: 6’9, 215 lbs, Wake Forest (Sophomore)
  3. Gordon Hayward: 6’8, 211 lbs, Butler (Sophomore)
  4. Paul George: 6’9, 214 lbs, Fresno State (Sophomore)
  5. Luke Babbitt: 6’9, 214 lbs, Nevada (Sophomore)

 SF Summary: There is plenty of size at the 3 this year, but there also as much youth at the spot as well. Each of the top players has a unique upside and there is a variety of talents available, but Syracuse’s Johnson is easily the most well-rounded of the bunch. After he’s off the board there is much division on the value of the other players and each is more specified to what each later lotto-to-mid first round team needs.

 Late Look: Damion James: 6’8, 230 lbs, Texas (Senior): One of the most consistently productive players in the NCAA over the last four years, James is the highest ranked senior in the class. Can contribute in all areas of the game and will be an instant boost to the depth of any team in the late first round.

**Shooting Guard**  

  1. Evan Turner: 6’7, 215 lbs, Ohio State (Junior)
  2. Avery Bradley: 6’3, 180 lbs, Texas (Freshman)
  3. Xavier Henry: 6’6, 215 lbs, Kansas (Freshman)
  4. James Anderson: 6’6, 220 lbs (Junior)
  5. Jordan Crawford: 6’4, 200 lbs (Junior)      

SG Summary: A rather regular year in the backcourt, shooting guard takes on a bit more talent than point overall. Turner is the most versatile player in the draft, which is criticized as being a bit of a “tweener”, without a home. Bradley and Henry are more traditional scorers and fit with many late Lottery different teams, while Anderson may be the best shooter in the Draft.

Late Look: Lance Stephenson: 6’5, 225 lbs, Cincinnati (Freshman): A raw talent, Stephenson shows the ability to be a dynamic scorer after his runs at Cincinnati and as the all-time leader scorer in New York high school history. First round talent, but a questionable attitude and approach are larger concerns which could drop him down team boards.

**Point Guard** 

  1. John Wall: 6’4, 195 lbs, Kentucky (Freshman)
  2. Eric Bledsoe: 6’2, 190 lbs, Kentucky (Freshman)
  3. Armon Johnson: 6’4, 195 lbs (Junior)
  4. Terrico White: 6’5, 203 lbs (Sophomore)
  5. Willie Warren: 6’4, 210 lbs (Sophomore)

PG Summary: John Wall is the definitive talent of the entire draft and a lock to join the Wizards at the top of the draft. After Wall however, it gets interesting. Bledsoe played in Wall’s shadow at Kentucky, but has started to separate himself some. After those two the falloff is somewhat steep, so it should not be a shocked to see point hungry teams jump to take Bledsoe higher than expected.  

Late Look: Sherron Collins: 5’11, 217 lbs, Kansas (Senior): Collins is the winningest player in the history of the Kansas Jayhawks, and that’s saying a lot. He is full of intangibles and can be a solid creator of the bench for a second round team needing a solid backup ball handler. 

**2010 NBA Draft Order (Lottery Teams in Bold)**   

  1. Washington Wizards:
  2. Philadelphia 76ers:
  3. New Jersey Nets:
  4. Minnesota Timberwolves:
  5. Sacramento Kings:
  6.  Golden State Warriors:
  7. Detroit Pistons:
  8. Los Angeles Clippers:
  9. Utah Jazz (from New York via Phoenix)
  10. Indiana Pacers:
  11. New Orleans Hornets
  12. Memphis Grizzlies
  13. Toronto Raptors
  14. Houston Rockets
  15. Milwaukee Bucks (from Chicago)
  16. Minnesota Timberwolves (from Charlotte via Denver)
  17. Chicago Bulls (from Milwaukee)
  18. Miami Heat
  19. Boston Celtics
  20. San Antonio Spurs
  21. Oklahoma City Thunder
  22. Portland Trailblazers
  23. Minnesota Timberwolves (from Utah via Philadelphia)
  24. Atlanta Hawks
  25. Memphis Grizzlies (from Denver)
  26. Oklahoma City Thunder (from Phoenix)
  27. New Jersey Nets (from Dallas)
  28. Memphis Grizzlies (from LA Lakers)
  29. Orlando Magic
  30. Washington Wizards (from Cleveland)

The man in the mirror continues to move towards his desired reflection. This is part two of a two-part series on Kobe Bryant and the 2010 NBA Finals, his role in the game now, Michael Jordan comparisons and NBA history.

Living for what you aren’t over what you are is counterproductive. So is viewing the world in such a way as well. It’s the debate of the times amongst basketball fans, __________ is better than Kobe. Or Kobe is good, but he’ll never be as good as ___________. These are opinions (and maybe excuses to not like him), but I think they are taking away from the ability to appreciate him for what he’s done and what else he still could do.

5 Times the Champ, Kobe still comes up short for many. Why?

The opinions of Kobe’s place in the game now and his place in history are spread out across the entire scope of the game. Some consider him to be the best in the game now; some give that title to LeBron. Some say he is the most successful player of his era, others say he won as a by-product of being coupled with Shaq and Phil Jackson the first time around. Some even say he is the best to have ever done it, period. Obviously, there are more other “opinions” on that. In any scenario, I can’t think of any player who is more debated while losing and gaining more of his place in history all at once.

For me, Kobe’s place in history is changing, yet is clear. He is one of the most talented players in the history of the game. Without a doubt, he is one of the greatest shooting guards to ever play and most consistent winners in NBA history. Why isn’t that good enough? Why must he be so much more? For the other players in these categories, they are not universally hated. Tim Duncan: great winner, but not hated. Allen Iverson: tremendous scorer, still not hated. Dwyane Wade: outstanding combo of exciting scorer and winner, but no hate.

First of all, let’s lay it out there. Kobe Bryant is not Michael Jordan. Jordan is not only the greatest player in NBA history, but he is arguably the greatest player in pro sports history. He was the perfect storm of statistical dominance and unrelenting success at the highest summits of his sport. For career comparison:

Michael Jordan: 30.1 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 5.3 APG, 2.3 SPG. 5 time MVP, 10 All-NBA & 9 All-Defensive teams

6-0 Finals appearances, 6 Finals MVP, 33.4 Playoff PPG

Kobe Bryant: 25.3 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 4.7 APG, 1.5 SPG. 1 time MVP, 8 All-NBA & 8 All-Defensive teams

5-2 Finals appearances, 2 Finals MVP, 26.1 Playoff PPG

 
 

King and the Prince to be? Jordan is still in his own class.

This is not Kobe’s fault, that’s a hell of an act to follow so shortly after Michael has left. It’s not like comparing a contemporary baseball player to Babe Ruth, because there is no fresh memory of Ruth. His impact is legend that has been known forever. Kobe and Mike actually shared the same court, albeit on totally different end of their careers. They are strikingly similar in approach, but he is not greater than Jordan. It is fair however to say he is the closest to emulating Jordan’s game and success since him.

For many, Kobe is judged as the 2nd greatest player (overall) of all time. This is also inaccurate. For all of his greatness Kobe isn’t the greatest player in the history of his franchise yet. That honor goes to Earvin Johnson. Jerry West or

Shoulders above: Who's the true King of LA?

 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar may still rank above. In the history of the NBA perspective, Larry Bird, Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell stand chief amongst others who outrank Bryant in achievements at this point of his career. Jerry West, Oscar Robertson and Tim Duncan are within his contemporaries in NBA history. The numbers stand up, but give credence to Bryant being amongst the NBA elite historically. 

Larry Bird: 24.3 PPG, 10 RPG, 6.3 APG, 1.7 SPG; 3-2 in Finals, 3-Time MVP

Magic Johnson: 19.5 PPG, 11.2 APG, 7.2 RPG, 1.9 SPG; 5-5 NBA Finals, 3 Time MVP

Bill Russell: 15.1 PPG, 22.1 RPG, 4.3 APG, (blocks not kept yet); 11-0 NBA Finals, 5 Time MVP

Wilt Chamberlain: 30.1 PPG, 22.9 RPG, 4.4 APG (block not kept yet); 2-0 NBA Finals, 4 Time MVP

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: 24.6 PPG, 11.2 RPG, 2.6 BPG, 3.6 APG; 6-4 NBA Finals, 6 Time MVP

This isn’t designed to detract from Kobe, but it shows a realistic spot on what he has done. A few others have claim for superior rank as well (West, Robertson chiefly) for where he’s at in the decline prime of his career, he deserves top 10 mentions in the history of the NBA.

Like Brady and Manning, the view of NBA top dog is based on what you're looking for.

The LeBron James debate is more interesting to me. LeBron James entered the league with huge hype, which leads some to be turned off of him. He is the most incomparable player in NBA history, as he is such a unique talent with the potential/expectations that come with it. He also entered at a time when Bryant was top dog and literally incomparable in the NBA. The main contention for James being lesser than Bryant is his lack of championships, which is a matter of how you measure the greatness of a player. Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, Karl Malone and Iverson are all great players that didn’t win. And LeBron is halfway to where Kobe is in his career (time wise), minus playing with either a tremendous Hall of Famer in his prime or the greatest coach ever. These factors make a huge impact on his early success. I’m not sure who’s better but I’ll provide the comparison for Kobe at 25 versus LeBron at this point for pure head up showing. With both coming from high school directly, it holds weight. 

 

LeBron at 25: 27.8 PPG, 7 RPG, 7 APG, 1.7 SPG; 2-time MVP, 4 time All-NBA; 0-1 Finals

Kobe at 25: 21.7 PPG, 5 RPG, 4.2 APG, 1.4 SPG; 0 MVP; 3 time All-NBA; 3-1 NBA Finals

Kobe’s career started off much slower, as he didn’t average 20 points until his fourth year. But he did play a huge role on a Laker team that completed a three-peat at 22-24 years old. As James reached the Finals once, losing to the Spurs in his 4th season, Kobe won his first championship his 4th season. However, James early accomplishments in the league are unrivaled at his age. It’s a split on the two measures of greatness judgment in my assessment. I feel it will be easier to judge James’ accomplishments against Bryant’s by the time he reaches 30 years old as well.

For Kobe, the detraction is based in something more. He has not been scandal free and unlike many other figures, his have been very public. His on and off court rivalry with Shaq, his sexual affair and subsequent marital fallout, the perceived rivalry with his own teammates, probably all contribute to his lack of universal appeal. He is not unique in this (see Jordan, Michael), but in his position it is amplified more as the standard setter for professional basketball players of his era.

Bryant almost cannot be spoken of without a parallel being drawn. He will always be discussed as easily by himself as he is with Shaq, Jordan, LeBron or Phil. The bottom line is that Bryant is a transcendent player that when the late 90’s and 2000’s are mentioned, will always be synonymous with the era. To negate that fact due to saying who he wasn’t is to cheat him of what he is: the defining player of the decade. It doesn’t have to be liked or approved of, but it’s true and should be acknowledged if not respected.