The Booth Review Vol. 8

Title Wave

saban+henry=championship

On Monday night, the Alabama Crimson Tide beat the Clemson Tigers 45-40, in what turned out to be the most thrilling championship game in recent memory, which marks Nick Saban’s 4th title in the last 7 years.

Heisman trophy winning runningback Derrick Henry tallied 158 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns. 2016 Heisman hopeful Deshaun Watson totaled 478 total yards of offense (405 passing, 73 rushing) and 4 passing touchdowns for the Tigers.

This win cements Saban’s legacy as one of the greatest college football coaches in modern history, while reminding the nation of the dominant capabilities of the Crimson Tide program.

I found Derrick Henry to be most impressive. I still believe that he is a product of Alabama’s running system, but he does possess some elite traits (power, vision) that will most certainly transfer to the NFL. I want to hate the Tide, but that does not mean I do not respect the job Saban has done is Tuscaloosa.

(Vision.)

California Love

la-rams-stl-rams

On Tuesday, the NFL announced that the St. Louis Rams won the right relocate to Los Angeles. After a 30-2 vote by the NFL owners, the plan for the Rams Inglewood complex created by owner Stan Kroenke won out against the Carson City plans created by Dean Spanos of the San Diego Chargers and Mark Davis of the Oakland Raiders.

Interestingly enough, both the Chargers and the Raiders may not have lost out on the right to relocate. The Chargers have a year to decide if they would like to join the Rams as a joint venture, similar to the agreement between New York Giants and Jets. If the team passes, the Raiders then have a year to decide whether to take the Chargers place as LA’s second football team. And, if both teams should choose to stay in their respective homes, they will receive a $100 million paycheck from the league for all of their troubles.

stan-kroenke-cool-scarf

Of course this guy wanted to stay in St.Louis. Just look at him.

On top of that, the Raiders still remain interested in relocating to San Antonio if they are unable to move to Los Angeles or receive a new stadium in Oakland within the next year. In other words, we may have to wait another two years before we receive any concrete answers about the Chargers or Raiders.

For now, let us all welcome back the Los Angeles Rams; finally out of the shadow of the Cardinals only to be placed firmly in the shadows of the Lakers, Clippers, Kings, and Dodgers. At least they are not the worst football team in the state (sorry, 49ers).

(Speaking of the 49ers…)

Chip, Chip, Hooray!

chipp

Today, the San Francisco 49ers have announced the hiring of Chip Kelly as their new head coach. After narrowing down the candidates to just two, Kelly and Mike Shannahan, CEO Jed York and GM Trent Baalke pounced on the former Oregon and Eagles head man. Many experts are very high on the move.

Chip Kelly could work wonders for the franchise, especially considering the fact that he was only hired as a head coach. It has not been reported if Kelly has any say in personnel matters, but Trent Baalke is still firmly the GM of the team. With Kelly focused entirely on coaching, the team should be able to rebuild and thrive within the new system he puts into place. Whether or not Colin Kaepernick can regain his 2012-2013 form is yet to be seen, but if he cannot do the job, Kelly and Baalke will find someone who can.

Oddly enough, it is very unusual that this coaching hire feels like a direct contrast with the type of coach Jim Harbaugh was during his tenure in San Francisco.

Catch a Tiger by the Toe

mccarron-heyward-cin-pitt

In case you missed it, the Cincinnati Bengals imploded this past Saturday. Due to two late personal foul penalties committed by Vontaze Burfict and Adam “Pacman” Jones, the Pittsburgh Steelers went on to beat the Bengals in the AFC Wild Card game 18-16. The first incident in question occurred after Burfict appeared to make a shoulder to helmet hit on a vulnerable Antonio Brown. 

The next incident happened when Steeler’s linebacker coach Joey Porter stepped onto the field (a penalty last time I checked), and called out several Bengals players. Pacman retaliated, drawing the second flag and sealing the fate of the Bengals.

bengals-steelersfight.gif

Courtesy of SBNation.

It is clear that Jones and Burfict were out of line and lacked poise in the given situation, but the fact remains that Joey Porter was on the field and deserved a penalty. I do not understand how the referees missed him interacting with the players. He is clearly the only guy who is not wearing a helmet or shoulder pads. The fact remains that the Steelers won and the Bengals lost. At the end of the day, Cincinnati can only blame themselves for their inability to close the game out.

Gased Out

CYSvWlgWQAAAxER.jpg-large-850x560

The Miami Dolphins named former Bears offensive coordinator Adam Gase as their new head coach. Gase brings with him a track record of tailoring offenses around talented quarterbacks, highlighting their strengths and minimizing their weaknesses. Bears quarterback Jay Cutler was just another one of Gase’s successes. The Miami front office is hoping that the former Bears and Broncos offensive coordinator can help Tannehill tap into his immense talent and upside in order to become a top flight quarterback.

In response to the lose of Gase, the Bears promoted former quarterback coach Dowell Loggains to the vacated position. Loggains helps maintain continuity among the Bears offensive coaching staff, while helping to keep Jay Cutler comfortable. The Bears will only go as far as Cutler will take them, and another year with the same playbook will go a long way in doing that. Loggains has previous offensive coordinator experience with the Tennessee Titans in both the 2012 and 2013 seasons. With more talent at his disposal, Loggains should be capable of continuing the success the Bears offensive experienced last season, while helping to correct the unit’s failures.

loggains-oc-da-bears

He is too cool to be a QB coach anyway.

Make no mistake, this is a make or break year for Cutler and any other pre-John Fox players. If the team is unable to remain competitive in the NFC North, we should see a systematic rebuild of the club. If you cannot win games with the talent you have, then you need to get new talent: pure and simple.

Melo Has No Zen: And Other Thoughts from the 2015 NBA Draft

What the hell happened yesterday in the Barclays Center? Actually, a better question would be what the hell didn’t happen yesterday? Boogie Cousins was suppose to be the Lakers’ new hope. George Karl was suppose to impose his dictator-like will and turn the 2015 Sacramento Kings into the 2013 Denver Nuggets (literally; with Ty Lawson and everything). I was suppose to hit on more than 10 percent of my draft picks ( 😦 ).

(Editor’s Note: Rest assured, I will not be quitting my day job.)

Even though the big dominoes do not fall in Brooklyn last night; a lot still happened. Now, I’m not going to give out grades to teams based off of how teams drafted. I’m also not going to grade prospects on how I think they will develop. If Wednesday’s mock draft has taught me anything is that I am not Tom Cruise in Minority Report. 

(Editor’s Note: And you can’t replace Precogs with a Magic 8 Ball. Enough though they appear to be virtually the same thing. I mean, why else would they randomly float in water? Think about it.)

In all seriousness, this year proves that no one can really project how a player will develop. Just look at Draymond Green, Khris Middleton, and our very own Jimmy Butler. I can count on one hand ( zero is the magic number) just how many people thought these three would be max-contract players and the prized free agents of 2015. Instead, I am going to go team by team and give my immediate thoughts about them. No projections, no grades, just thoughts, ideas, hopes, dreams, likes, dislikes: things like that. First up:

1) Minnesota Timberwolves:

Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, Tyus Jones, and Zach LaVine appear to be  the young foundation for the mediocre T’Wolves. Not to mention that those players are surrounded by intriguing prospects like Shabazz Muhammad, Gorgui Dieng, and Adreiane Payne. Add in the still developing Ricky Rubio and sprinkle in some sage-like wisdom from KG on his farewell tour, and Flip Saunders may have something cooking in the Twin Cities.

2) Los Angeles Lakers:

By picking D’Angelo Russell the Lakers have not only positioned themselves to trade for an asset that can help the team “win-now” (BOOGIE!!!), but they have also positioned themselves to be successful when Kobe Bryant decides to hang them up. O, and they have oodles of cap space, which always helps.

3) Philadelphia 76ers:

Three big men enter: one or two big men leave. By adding Jahlil Okafor, the Ballin’ Bennys (please let that nickname stick) and Sam Hinkie have made the team’s front court situation very awkward. Maybe Embiid learned how to shoot threes during his rehab. Maybe Noel and Okafor are the new Sampson and Olajuwon or Parrish and McHale. Either way, something has to give and I think one of these guys is leaving Philly very soon.

(Editor’s Note: It’s not him.)

4) New York Knicks:

I have no idea why Melo is mad. The Knicks possibly took the best player in the draft (Porzingis) and a young player who can help them win now (Grant). If he doesn’t like their draft picks, then maybe he should pull a LeBron and start recruiting some high profile free agents (Love, Aldridge, Monroe, Jordan, etc.). Trust the Zen Master, Melo, he has 11 rings to your none.

5) Orlando Magic:

I know I said I wouldn’t give out any grades, but Mario Hezonja single-handedly changed my mind. Just watch this:

And this:

And read this:

The Orlando Magic get an A+ grade in swag this year.

(Editor’s Note: I am President of the “Super Mario Hezonja Fan Club” and in no way is this review a bias reflection of that fact.*)

6) Sacramento Kings:

FREE BOOGIE!

7) Denver Nuggets:

Emannuel Mudiay’s arrival in the Mile High City signals the end of the Ty Lawson era, and even he know it.

8) Detroit Pistons:

Does anyone else think that Stan Van Gundy just traded his old Caron Butler for a newer, upgraded version?

9) Charlotte Hornets:

Do you guys think that Michael Jordan is aware of what he’s doing? He loves picking the “best player available” even when they really aren’t.

He loves picking guys who are All-Americans; guys who have won at the college level.

Guys who have won National Championships.

Guys who have a few wrinkles to iron out. Like there shooting ability, toughness, etc.

Or guys who may not have “NBA” athleticism, but sure do have “NBA” skill.

All because he is secretly haunted by his dark past. Haunted by the one player that made the GOAT an utter failure. He’s truly tormented by…

…The One That Got Away.

10) Miami Heat:

What type of black magic does Pat Riley practice. Is he like Bette Midler from Hocus Pocus? Or maybe Severus Snape from Harry Potter? He does have some Alan Rickman in his face. No, he is most definitely Gandolf the Grey. There is no way you win that many championships if you’re not Gandolf. Man, I could only imagine what he said on that phone call to Justise Winslow as he was spiraling into a free fall out of the lottery…

11) Indiana Pacers:

I know Larry Bird runs the Pacers. I know they essentially have their 2013 core returning minus Stephenson and West. And I know they have a hole at the power forward, but how do you not draft Cameron Payne at 11? He’s everything the Pacers need to take the next step. I guess I just need to trust the three-eyed Larry.

12) Utah Jazz:

Trey Lyles may not have three point range yet, but neither did Trevor Booker before he came to Utah. At the age of 27 he only managed to hit a career high 34 percent for downtown, and he did stuff like this:

I think Lyles will be fine.

13) Phoenix Suns:

Booker is a solid pick for a team in desperate need of three point shooting. And boy can this guy shoot the J.

14) Oklahoma City Thunder:

He could be Russell Westbrook insurance, D.J. Augustin insurance,  or Anthony Morrow insurance; either way Billy Donovan and OKC got another great young basketball player. The Thunder should be a force next season.

15) Atlanta Hawks:

(Editor’s Note: Guess Al Horford called in sick. Way to step up Kent Bazemore.)

I think it’s sad that their new uniforms are more noteworthy than their addition of Tim Hardaway Jr. With that being said; he is a great scorer and Atlanta could definitely use more of that.

16) Boston Celtics:

I guess Danny Ainge is trying to build a team full of Marcus Smarts. I mean that’s not the worst basketball line-up in the world. That title is a two-way tie between the “Baby Bulls” (starting Eddy Curry at center, Marcus Fizer at power forward, and Tyson Chandler at small forward), and the 2009 T’Wolves (Rubio as “New Isiah Thomas” and Jonny Flynn as “New Joe Dumars”).

17) Milwaukee Bucks:

Greek Freak: check. Jabari Parker: check. Jason Kidd: check. The Bucks could have drafted Larry Sanders again and it wouldn’t have mattered. The Deer have such a strong core that any other young player they manage to develop is just gravy.

18) Houston Rockets:

The Rockets need a secondary ball-handler off the bench, yet they took a jack-of-all trades small forward. Why might you ask? Because Daryl Morey doesn’t care about team needs. He views players as assets and he wants to best assets in the league. Dekker will find a place, either for Houston or another squad, but by tip off of the season opener, Dork Elvis will fill that need.

19) Washington Wizards:

The Wizards felt that replacing Paul Pierce was a more pressing need than finding a great third guard or back up big man. It’s hard to argue that logic with “small ball” becoming the league’s newest scheme. Oubre Jr. lacks a lot of polish and skill, but the talent and athleticism are there. I mean, you can’t be a scrub with shoe game like that.

20) Toronto Raptors:

Not much to say about this pick. The “Drakes” filled a team need. Now they need to be major players in free agency in order to round out the rest of their roster.

21) Dallas Mavericks:

Justin Anderson might be one of the bigger steals in this draft. He’s a 3 and D wing, with the potential to grow into a team’s third or fourth option. With Monta Ellis and Al-Farouq Aminu testing free agency, the team has some holes at the guard and forward spot.

22) Chicago Bulls:

Bobby Portis was suppose to be a lottery pick, and now he’s Chicago-bound. Does this mean one of the Bulls’ front line talents (Gibson, Noah, or Gasol) on their way out? Or is Portis insurance in case all three are too beat up to be effective?

(Editor’s Note: Does anyone else think this guy could be the love child of Tom Haverford and Roy Hibbert? Bobby Portis is “Entertainment 720”. Make this a thing.)

23) Portland Trail Blazers:

Would you rather have a tenacious wing defender who can’t score, or a nimble big man who can’t defend the rim? Portland chose the later, but in the wake of the Warriors’ championship I believe they should have chosen the former. Being able to guard four or five positions has great value. Then again, when you dress like Rodney Dangerfield from Caddyshack, it makes you wonder.

24) Cleveland Cavaliers:

Just finished ordering my Rakeem Christmas Cavs Christmas Day jersey. It’s Christmas on Christmas. I wish this was made up.

25) Memphis Grizzlies:

(Editor’s Note: My favorite owner in the NBA…because he’s the dreamiest.)

Jarell Martin’s highest comparison was to that of Jeff Green. The Grizzlies have Jeff Green. Do they need two Jeff Greens? Or are the Grizzlies writing something on the wall in permanent marker?

26) San Antonio Spurs:

They took an European player whom they can stash for several years. And Popovich wins the draft again.

27) Brooklyn Nets:

Kudos to Billy King and Lionel Hollins for finally making a trade that screws over the other team. Hollis-Jefferson may not set the scoreboard on fire, but he could step out on the court and guard players like Carmelo Anthony, Jimmy Butler, and Kyle Korver today. He needs a few months of training before he gets up to LeBron’s level.

28) Golden State Warriors:

Kevon Looney, a potential top 10 pick at the beginning of the season, fell all the way to the Dubs at number 30. The rich keep on getting richer.

29) New Orleans Pelicans:

The Pelicans drafted Branden Dawson in the 2nd round, but the biggest acquisition thus far is new head coach Alvin Gentry. He was the architect of the Warriors world-beating offense, and now he has the league’s most versatile and unguardable player at his disposal.  Long live The Brow!

30) Los Angeles Clippers:

The Clippers didn’t have a draft pick, some big names may leave the team in free agency, and their new uniforms look like they were made at Kinkos. This might be their year after all.

My First and Only NBA Mock Draft

Unlike last year’s draft, 2015 has the potential to be the most interesting in recent memory. Plenty of teams are trying to trade for veterans and draft picks a like in order to establish themselves a potential playoff contenders. Teams like the Knicks, Lakers, Kings and Nuggets have been burning up the rumor mill, trying to make drastic roster overhauls. Other teams, like the Timberwolves and Magic, are trying to build upon already impressive young rosters. And the Philadelphia 76ers are…still rebuilding…I guess. No one really knows what they are doing, but apparently, it’s all part of the plan. Without further delay, here is my first and final 2015 NBA Mock draft.

1) Minnesota Timberwolves: Karl-Anthony Towns, Kentucky, PF/C, Freshman.

This appears to be the only lock in the entire draft. With reports of the T’wolves making promises to Towns and his camp, the Kentucky freshman appears to be guaranteed in Minnesota next season. Wiggins, Rubio, LaVine, and the 7’0″ big man from the Dominican Republic will form a tremendous core for Flip Saunders to build upon.

2) Los Angeles Lakers: Jahlil Okafor, Duke, C, Freshman.

With reports that the Laker’s front office is “80-20” in favor of drafting Okafor over Russell, it appears that barring any trades this will be how it plays out. If this was 2005 and not 2015, Okafor would be the consensus number one overall selection. However, with low-post building blocks becoming a thing of the past, the Lakers are still making the smart choice with this pick. The Duke big man may not have as much potential as Towns or Kristaps Prozingis, but Okafor has the highest floor of anyone in this draft. He should help to cushion the blow when the Kobe Bryant era ends.

3) Detroit Pistons (trade with Philadelphia 76ers): Kristaps Porzingis, Sevilla, PF, Age 19.

  • DET receives 3rd overall pick and SG/SF Hollis Thompson.
  • PHI receives 8th overall pick, Brandon Jennings, and 2016 Top-10 protected 1st round pick.

The Pistons really want to try an compete for a playoff spot next year. The Pistons have a few key free agents they would like to bring back (Reggie Jackson, Greg Monroe), but a lack of the cap space to do so. Stan Van Gundy seems to be a bigger fan of Reggie Jackson than of Greg Monroe. Monroe is an awkward fit next to Andre Drummond leading to Van Gundy acquiring Ersan Ilyasova this offseason to provide better floor spacing. However, acquiring Porzingis may put this team over the top. Porzingis has the potential to be a new breed of power forward (think Nikola Mirotic with Nerlens Noel type athleticism). He may not be a franchise player, but Porzingis can be a border line all-star for years to come. The 76ers acquire an asset (Brandon Jennings), a future first round pick, and they still get to draft the player they want (more on that later).

4) New York Knicks: D’Angelo Russell, Ohio State, PG/SG, Freshman.

The Knicks surprisingly end up drafting their man when Russell falls all the way to them at 4th overall. Russell really adds talent to a very barren roster. Plus his skill set should help make players like Carmelo Anthony and Tim Hardaway Jr. much better next year. Plus it helps when he can do things like this:

(Editor’s note: !!!!!!!!)

And this:

(Editor’s Note: I always grab my ankles when I see this. I want to make sure they are after the video.)

Good job New York; you finally got lucky. Now please, don’t screw this up.

5) Orlando Magic: Justise Winslow, Duke, SF, Freshman.

With Tobias Harris set to hit free agency and new head coach Scott Skiles taking over, Winslow seems like the obvious draft choice. His defensive ability will make him a perfect fit for Skiles’ defense, while his position and burgeoning offensive skills make him the perfect replacement for Harris.

6) Sacramento Kings: Willie Cauley-Stein, Kentucky, C/PF, Junior.

I really wanted to put in a Ty Lawson to Sacramento trade in this post, but nothing really worked out. The Kings don’t have the assets to pull off a trade of that caliber. However, that does not mean the Kings won’t make a trade this Thursday. I just believe the trade will be more of a salary dump (Rudy Gay) in order for the team to make a run at Rajon Rondo or Goran Dragic. Cauley-Stein is the pick because the team appears to be set on adding a point guard via free agency and the two-guard spot is maned by both Ben McLemore and Nik Stauskas. Plus it helps that Boogie is really good friends with WCS.

7) Denver Nuggets: Stanley Johnson, Arizona, SF, Freshman.

With the Nuggets entering a rebuilding stage, the team should be focused on adding talent to their roster. Johnson is arguably the most talented player left on the board. He also projects to be one of the best defensive players in this draft, a skill set new head coach Mike Malone would like to fully utilize.

8) Philadelphia 76ers (trade with Detroit Pistons): Emmanuel Mudiay, Guangdong Southern Tigers (China), PG, Age 19.

Mudiay has been Sam Hinkie’s guy since last year. Before heading to China, the talented point guard was considered the number one overall prospect in this year’s draft class. An ankle injury and questions about his shooting ability have caused his stock to fall. However, the 19 yeard old fills a huge need for the eternally rebuilding 76ers.

9) Boston Celtics (trade with Charlotte Hornets): Mario Hezonja, FC Barcelona, SG/SF, Age 20.

  • BOS receives #9 overall pick and Jeff Taylor, and Marvin Williams.
  • CHA receives #16 overall pick, #33 overall pick (2nd round).

He’s being compared to Jimmy Butler and Kobe Bryant, and the Celtics need someone of that caliber on their roster. They are also thin at the power forward and the wing. This trade nets the Celtics another body at small forward, as well as a replacement for Brandon Bass. Charlotte can dump some salary and remain in range to draft the player they truly want.

10) Miami Heat: Myles Turner, Texas, C/PF, Freshman.

When Chris Bosh was out of the lineup last year due to blood clots, the Heat’s offense suffered greatly. They needed a front line player who could help space the floor an allow for Dwayne Wade and Luol Deng to cut to the paint. Turner is that type of player. Not only can he space the floor, but his face-up game will allow for him to seamlessly integrate with Bosh and Hassan Whiteside in Miami’s front court.

11) Indiana Pacers: Cameron Payne, Murray State, PG, Sophomore.

Payne is this year’s mid-major draft darling. His shooting stroke needs some work but he can attack the basket with ease, and he is a pick-and-roll maestro. The Pacers need some more scoring power next to Paul George, and a better point guard option then George Hill. Payne provides Indiana with both, as well as allow the team to run some interesting two point guard offensive sets like Pheonix and Toronto.

12) Utah Jazz: Frank Kaminsky, PF/C, Wisconsin, Senior.

Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors appear to be two of the three building blocks of Utah’s future. With Gordon Hayward (the 3rd building block) and Rodney Hood being the only players who can affectively stretch the floor, the Jazz need someone who can provide spacing for their offense. Enter Kaminksy, Naismith Player of the Year and media darling. His three-point shooting and passing ability will allow him to play with both Favors and Gobert.

13) Phoenix Suns: Sam Dekker, Wisconsin, SF, Junior.

With Gerald Green on the way out of the door, the Suns desperately need shooting from the wings. Enter Dekker, who shot 33 percent from three at Wisconsin last season, but is capable of shooting much better (39 percent his freshman year). He’s a player who can come off of the bench and play next to Brandon Knight and Eric Bledsoe.

14) Oklahoma City Thunder: Devin Booker, Kentucky, SG, Freshman.

The Thunder have been the hardest lottery team to gauge and I believe that is because they are just going to take the best player available. Kevin Durant missed most of last season with a variety of injuries, and the team is two-deep at every position, therefore I believe they are going to draft who they deem as the best prospect left on the board. In this case, it’s Booker. He’s a very similar player to Anthony Morrow, but with higher upside. Booker should pair nicely with Durant and Westbrook.

15) Atlanta Hawks: Trey Lyles, Kentucky, SF/PF, Freshman.

With DeMarre Carroll and Paul Millsap testing free agency this off-season, the Hawks need to prepare for one, if not both, to leave the team. Enter Lyles, the Kentucky combo-forward. Lyles exhibits traits from both players, and he’s young enough to develop into a solid player in Atlanta’s offensive system.

16) Charlotte Hornets (trade with Boston Celtics): R.J. Hunter, Georgia State, SG, Junior.

After trading Gerald Henderson to the Trail Blazers earlier today, the Hornets are going to draft his replacement. Hunter has had a lot of great workouts the past few weeks, and a lot of teams in the bottom of the lottery showed interest. One of those teams was the Hornets. At the 9th pick, Hunter would represent a huge reach. However, at the 16th pick Hunter would to be a great value, especially for a team that struggled to hit three pointers like the Hornets did last year.

17) Brooklyn Nets (trade with Milwaukee Bucks): Kevon Looney, UCLA, SF/PF, Frehman.

  • BKN receives #17 overall draft pick.
  • MIL receives #29 overall draft pick and PF/C Mason Plumlee.

The Nets have been trying to use Mason Plumlee to move up in the draft for weeks now. The Milwaukee Bucks are a playoff with plenty of wholes to fill and not enough cap space to fill them. Jason Kidd was the coach who drafted Plumlee in 2013, and his brother Miles was aquired by the team at last year’s trade deadline. Sometimes the stars align too perfectly. Plumlee would bolster the Bucks front court, while the trade would allow the Nets to acquire the ultra-talented, extremely raw Kevon Looney to replace Plumlee and the soon-to-be free agent Thaddeus Young. Looney was a top-5 pick before this season, and while the talent is there, the overall skill is not. In desperate need of youth, the Nets take a flyer on a player who could be part of the next wave of stretch-fours in the NBA.

18) Houston Rockets: Jerian Grant, Notre Dame, PG, Freshman.

https://v.cdn.vine.co/r/videos/8D654E84961163273426530705408_24f3f5c0203.5.1.8454209517965518300.mp4?versionId=yf9BuNHeDQHPx.Xgo_WatTmu6WfsGGDY

The Rockets hopelessly need a secondary playmaker behind James Harden. Grant fills that need, as well as provide versatility and shooting for both guard positions. The addition of Grant would force Jason Terry back to shooting guard, and allow for Patrick Beverly to strictly play with James Harden.

19) Washington Wizards: Bobby Portis, PF, Arkansas, Sophomore.

When Nene was hurt in these past playoffs, the Wizards survived by playing small ball with Paul Pierce at the power forward and Otto Porter Jr. at small forward. With Pierce gone, the Wiz need to draft an insurance policy and eventual replacement for Nene. Portis man not have three-point range, but he does have a good jumper, and a budding face up game to compliment Marcin Gortat.

20) Toronto Raptors: Jarell Martin, LSU, SF/PF, Sophomore.

News broke that Martin has received a 1st round promise from a team in the bottom part of the draft. Many people believe it to be the Memphis Grizzles, but I believe the Raptors are that team. Martin might be a tweener, but he does fill two positions of need for the “Drakes”: the forward spots. Martin  kills two birds with one stone, and adds talent to a roster on the verge of contention.

21) Philadelphia 76ers (trade with Dallas Mavericks): Rashad Vaughn, UNLV, SG, Freshman.

  • PHI receives #21 overall draft pick, 2016 and 2017 2nd round picks.
  • DAL receives Brandon Jennings and Jerami Grant.

This trade allows for the 76ers to acquire another talented young player to help with their rebuild, while the Mavericks replace the production lost from Rajon Rondo, Monta Ellis, and Al-Farouq Aminu. This trade also allows for the Mavs to save what little cap flexibility they have left, preparing them to make a run at an upper-level free agent prospect (LaMarcus Aldridge? Dwayne Wade?).

22) Chicago Bulls: Tyus Jones, Duke, PG, Freshman.

Aaron Brooks appears to be hitting the open market, and the Bulls are in need of a dependable backup to Derrick Rose. Enter Jones, who is fresh off leading Duke to a National Championship. Jones could serve as a calming force for Chicago’s second unit, as well as DRose’s possible replacement.

23) Portland Trail Blazers: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Arizona, SG/SF, Sophomore.

With news of the team trading Nicholas Batum to the Hornets, the Blazers are in need of a cheap replacement. RHJ has the skill-set to be the next Tony Allen, and he comes as a cheap alternative to Batum. The money saved could be used for Portland to pursue they’re own free agents, or possibly bring in their replacements.

24) Cleveland Cavaliers: Terry Rozier, Louisville, PG/SG, Junior.

With J.R. Smith opting out of his contract, the Cavaliers have the opportunity to add a player who can replace his production, while providing a better complement to Matthew Dellavedova and Kyrie Irving. Rozier can effectively play both guard spots, as well as score in bunches.

25) Memphis Grizzlies: Kelly Oubre Jr., Kansas, SG/SF, Freshman.

Oubre has top ten talent, but produced like a second round pick this past year at Kansas. The Grizzlies are a team that needs to swing for the fences due to their inability to attract free agents. Look for Memphis to take a swing at the former Jayhawk in hopes he plays up to his potential.

26) San Antonio Spurs: Jonathan Holmes, Texas, SF/PF, Senior.

The Spurs draft targets are always very tough to gauge. Holmes is a versatile prospect who could fill a variety of weaknesses for the veteran ball club. They also could trade the pick…or draft an international prospect to draft overseas…or trade down. They can literally do anything because Gregg Popovich and R.C. Buford seem to be the best drafters in NBA history. Whatever they decide to do, it’ll be the right decision.

27) Los Angeles Lakers: Justin Anderson, Virginia, SG/SF, Junior.

Without much depth at small forward, Anderson seems like a give-me at this point in the draft. The junior can provide a solid 3-and-D presence for a team trying to win-now. He also possesses just enough potential to grow into a rock solid starting wing.

28) Boston Celtics: Chris McCullough, Syracuse, PF/C, Freshman.

With their second pick of the round, the Celtics try a hit a home run by drafting McCullough. Despite the fact he tore his ACL last season, the Syracuse product displayed the ability to help space the offense while blocking shots from both the weak and strong sides on defense. Boston can afford to let the McCullough grow and develop into a stronger player.

29) Milwaukee Bucks (trade with Brooklyn Nets): Delon Wright, Utah, PG, Senior.

Jason Kidd has a thing for long, athletic point guard prospects who can’t shoot. Wright could be next in a line on this long list on point guards Kidd is trying to develop. The Warriors won a championship because of their interchangeable and versatile defense. Drafting Wright would allow for the Bucks to create a similar defensive scheme.

30) Golden State Warriors: Montrezl Harrell, Louisville, PF, Junior.

After winning the NBA finals, the Warriors don’t have as many needs as people would believe. However, with David Lee seeking a trade, the Dubs need to find someone to fill his void. Harrell would add toughness and athleticism to the defending champs, as well as the ability to play more small-ball. Harrell has the toughness to play center in small line-ups, without the Golden State giving up their defensive identity.

The Booth Review Vol. 4

1) An Overactive Blatter

After the arrests of several FIFA officials, Sepp Blatter stepped down amid corruption allegations and in possible involvement in these criminal cases. Now it is being reported that Blatter accepted a 10 million dollars bribe from then-South African President Thabo Mbeki. Investigators are looking into Russia’s and Qatar’s Wolrd Cup bids to see if there was any bribery involved

2) So Nice, They Crowned Him Thrice

For the 1st time since 1978, a new Triple Crown winner has been named. American Pharoah is the 12th recipient of the prestigious award after winning the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes. His margin of victory was the 4th largest margin of victory in Belmont history. Hopefully we won’t have to wait another 37 years to witness around Triple Crown victor.

3) Can Lighting Strike Twice?

Game 3 is tonight at the Mad House on Madison, and the Hawks are trying to regain their momentum from Game 1. Ben Bishop is still questionable for tonight. If that’s the case, the Lighting will turn to 20-year-old Andrei Vasilevskiy in goal. Chicago needs to capitalize on his inexperience and start off strong. It will be hard for Tampa Bay to win two games on the road, but if they can split on this road trip then they have a great shot of putting the Hawks away at home. Game 3 starts tonight at 7 pm.

4) The King Defends his Kingdom

39 points, 16 rebounds, and 11 assists: that was LeBron James’ stat line at the end of last night’s overtime thriller at Golden State. The Cavaliers won the game 95-93. Stephen Curry easily had his worst game in the playoffs, and Matthew Dellavedova continues to cement his status as a NBA cult hero and Australian living legend. The most impressive part of this game has to be LeBron James. Minus Kyrie Irving, with only 12 healthy bodies on a 13-man roster, and forced into using a 7-man rotation, James and the Cavaliers gutted out a gritty road victory. If the Cavs can win these next two games in Cleveland, the team has a great shot of winning the series in six games. LeBron James is three more Superman-like performances away from bring Cleveland its first professional championship in 60 plus years.

5) Can a Cyclone Leave its Mark on Chicago?

On Tuesday, Fred Hoiberg was named the new head coach of the Chicago Bulls. “The Mayor” represents a departure from Tom Thibodeau’s defense first, “my way or the highway” coaching style. Hoiberg is an offensive guru and player’s coach. If he can help boost the Bulls offensive, and if the front offensive can diversify and strength the roster, the Bulls should be on a short list of front runners for the Eastern Conference Championship.

6) Is Something Burning?

The White Sox currently sit in last place in the division at 25-30, 7.5 games behind the 1st place Minnesota Twins. The Sox still have a chance to make up some ground, but they need better play from some of their offseason acquisitions such as Jeff Samardzija, Melky Cabrera, and Adam LaRoche. If the Sox can get some more production from so keys positions, they can turn this season around. If not, Robin Ventura should pack his bags because he won’t be around to manage next year.

Chicago’s Great Coup: Out With a Dictator, In With a Mayor

Thursday morning the Chicago Bulls fired head coach Tom Thibodeau after five successful seasons. He finished an overall record of 255-139 and a postseason record of 23-28. His .647 winning percent is second all-time in Bulls’ history, behind the legendary Phil Jackson.

The rift between Thibodeau and the Bulls’ front office was one of the worst kept secrets in the league. He was a strong-armed coach who lacked offensive creativity and frequently butted heads with GM Gar Forman and VP of Basketball Operations John Paxson. Forman and Paxson were far from innocent in this situation, but as is the nature with broken relationships, they most come to an end.

With that said, the Bulls are now in a tough position with their coaching search. Who can they bring in to replace the second most successful coach in franchise history? They are coming off a 50-win season, and with their current roster, the Bulls are in a “win-now” mind frame. The next coach needs to be able to elevate the team to greater heights, not hinder their development.

According to multiple sources, Iowa State’s Fred Hoiberg will be named the new Bulls’ head coach. He finished his tenure in Ames with a 115-56 record (.673 winning percentage). “The Mayor” played with the Bulls with 1999 to 2003. He finished his career with the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2005. After his career, Hoiberg joined the T’wolves’ front office until 2010.

(Editor’s Note: He was actually a Mayoral candidate. Not a joke. Google it.) 

Hoiberg has been a strong candidate since last season, when he seemingly resurrected Iowa State’s basketball program. But, what makes him a great head coach for the Bulls? What makes him the obvious choice to be Thib’s successor?

The most important qualification for Fred Hoiberg is that he is an offensive guru. According to Kevin Pomeroy’s adjusted offensive rankings, and Synery Sports, Iowa State this year’s team as the 14th-most efficient in the country. The Bulls under Tom Thibodeau were 15th in the league in offensive efficiency. To put that into perspective: the Bulls were in the middle of the pack by NBA standards while Iowa State was in 94th percentile in the NCAA. Regardless of how you slice it, The Mayor knows how to get teams to score.

And for those of you who are afraid the defense is going to drop off under Hoiberg; think again. Although the Iowa State finished 71st in adjusted defensive efficiency, that was due in part to roster he implemented. The tallest player the Cyclones had was 6’9”, and he didn’t start playing until January. Hoiberg won with a team full of lightly recruited prospects (Georges Niang, Naz Long) and transfers (Jameel McKay, Bryce Dejean-Jones, Monte Morris). Imagine what he can do with a roster full of all-stars and defensive 1st and 2nd teamers.

(Editor’s Note: Dude balled in soccer shoes. He must have skills.)

I believe that Hoiberg is a great choice to follow Tom Thibodeau. He’s an offense-first coach, who known’s how to teach fundamentally sound defense. He’s also a former player; so he understands the grind an 82 game season can be. At the end of the day, Fred Hoiberg could be the missing piece that puts the Bulls over the top.

(Editor’s Note: P.S. Fred if you need a swagger coach, I know a guy.)

The Force is Strong in This One: Bulls-Cavs Preview

May the fourth be with you. Today is Star Wars Day, the only holiday that justifies it’s existence with the use of a terrible pun. I’m not a hater of Star Wars Day, but couldn’t it happen on a different day, like May 25th (the release date of the 1st Star Wars movie)? I digress; today is also the opening game of the Eastern Conference semi-finals between the Chicago Bulls and the Cleveland Cavaliers. With Stars War on the brain, I got to thinking that this Bulls-Cavs series is very reminiscent of the Rebel Alliance’s battle with the Empire.  Here are my conclusions:

1) Derrick Rose is Luke Skywalker

Both men have suffered grave injuries in the line of battle (Rose and knee, Luke and his hand). Hopefully, DRose follows in Luke’s footsteps and defeats Darth Vader. Speaking of which…

2) LeBron James is Darth Vader

This doesn’t mean LeBron is evil, in fact both James and Vader are tragic characters in retrospect. LeBron was seen as a coward for leaving Cleveland for Miami. Vader made up for his transgressions through his death, while James is trying to do that with his return. It can also be said that LeBron is, in fact, a Basketball Sith Lord sent here to destroy opponents with his mastery of the force.

3) Joakim Noah is Princess Leia

This is not a stretch, I promise you. According to the Stars Wars Data Bank, “Princess Leia Organa was one of the Rebel Alliance’s greatest leaders, fearless on the battlefield and dedicated to ending the tyranny of the Empire.” Sound like a certain former Defensive MVP for a certain Chicago Bulls? Plus the hair, am I right?

4) Nikola Mirotic is Han Solo and Paul Gasol is Chewbacca

A scoundrel, a loose cannon, a man who cannot be tamed; all of these characteristics not only describes one of the greatest characters in the galaxy, but one of the greatest rookies in Chicago Bulls history. As for the Chewy-Gasol comparisons, both are know for their short tempers and their big hearts. Plus, they kind of look alike don’t they?

(Editors Note/Breaking News: Gasol cast as Chewbacca stand in for Star Wars: The Force Awakens)

5) Kyrie Irving is Galen Marek (Starkiller)

Now this one is the biggest stretch considering that Starkiller was only in “Force Unleashed” video games and not in the actual movie, but when the shoe fits. Starkiller was an assassin used by Vader to kill various members of the Jedi Order in order to begin war on the galaxy. Uncle Drew is an assassin on the basketball court, used by James when teams can be exploited by his passing and creating abilities or when an opponents back court is particularly weak.

6) Taj Gibson is Lando Calrissian

Quick witted and daring, Lando was an invaluable member of the Rebel Alliance. But, try as he might, he would never ever be able to replace Han. Sounds like Taj right? Important to the Bulls, but not a good enough replacement for Mirotic.

7) Aaron Brooks is R2-D2 and Mike Dunleavy is C-3PO

R2 is the gutsy little robot who is always there for a quick fix. He’s a skilled starship mechanic and fighter pilot’s assistance. He’ even there with Luke on Dagobah; strapped to Skywalker’s back as he is completing Yoda’s grueling training exercises. Aaron is the Bulls gutsy, quick-fix. He’s ready to help DRose when ever need be.

On the flip side, C-3PO is humanoid protocol droid designed for etiquette. Dunleavy is a 13-year pro who thrives using proper technique, footwork, and spacing. In order for the Bulls to be successful, both of these role players must find a way to rise to the occasion during pivotal events during this series much like R2 and C-3PO found there way into key events during the rebellion.

8) The rest of the Cavaliers are Stormtroppers

Minus Kevin Love, who is out of the lineup due to injury, the rest of Cleveland’s roster is of little consequence. The job of both and Stormtropper and a Cavalier is to contribute to the war effort while protecting those hire up the food chain. Both are necessary for victory, and both can beat you if you let them. But if you take away those who are in charge (James/Vader), then both with collapse into a conglomerate of individuals only looking out for themselves.

9) Tom Thibodeau is Admiral Ackbar

Admiral Ackbar was instrumental in the destruction of the Death Star II, and the eventual victory of the Rebel Alliance. Thibs needs to be just as decisive and tactical in order for the Bulls to overcome Cleveland in this semi-finals match up.

(Editor’s Note: How has a defensive-minded coach never said the word “trap” on national television?)

10) Jimmy Butler is Wedge Antilles

Now this one is the least obvious comparison, but it is the most important/best fitting. Wedge was one of the founding members of the Rogue Squadron, along with Luke Skywalker and Commander Arhul Narra. Wedge was a key member of the team that destroyed the first Death Star, as well as the pilot to eliminate Death Star II. He is the only fighter pilot to survive both skirmishes. The Bulls need Jimmy Butler to be Wedge Antilles. While Rose, Gasol, and Mirotic willl be focused upon by the Cav’s defense, it will be Butler who draws LeBron James on defense. If Butler can’t score against James, he must then be able to help his teammates exploit weaker match ups. It will also be up to Butler to slow James down defensively while players like Rose, Dunleavy, Brooks, and Tony Snell try and stop Kryie Irving defensively. Just like Antilles in Return of the Jedi, it will be up to Butler to destroy the Cavaliers right at their core.

My prediction for the game is Bulls in seven. With Kevin Love out for the remainder of the playoffs, and J.R. Smith suspended for the first two games, the Bulls have a fighting chance to win a game in Cleveland.

Either way, this series should go down to the wire.

(Food for thought)

The Booth Review Vol. 2

1) Take a Walk on the Wild Side:

On Saturday night, the Blackhawks finished off their series with the Nashville Predators, winning the game 4-3. Duncan Keith netted the game winning score 16 minutes into the third period to put the Preds away. Jonathan Toews and Keith finished the game with a goal and two assists each. The Patricks, Kane and Sharp, each tallied a goal and an assist. Next up for the Hawks is the Minnesota Wild in the Western Conference semi-finals.

2) MLB’s Royal Rumble:

On Thursday night, the Kansas City Royals and Chicago White Sox exchanged blows in what turned out to be a very interesting scuffle. Multiple suspensions resulted from the melee including Royal’s pitchers Yordano Ventura (7 games), Edinson Volquez (5 games) Kelvin Herrera (2 games), centerfielder Lorenzo Cain (2 games), and White Sox’s pitchers Chris Sale and Jeff Samardzija (5 games). The most notable person involved in the altercation is Ventura, who is just weeks off of instigating another incident with the Oakland Athletics. Ventura and the Royals have always been considered a feisty, fiery bunch. However, this angst seems to be spilling over onto the field.

3) Jimmy Butler: Serving His Opponents Up One Tasty Bucket at a Time:

As the Bulls strive to win their ongoing series against the Milwaukee Bucks, one thing becomes readily apparent: Jimmy Butler is the man. Butler, who is a free agent at the end of the season, is averaging career highs points per game (28.3), assists per game (3.0), steals per game (1.8), field goal percentage (.543), and three point percentage (.393). Regardless of what happens during the rest of the playoffs, Butler has cemented his place as the Bulls’ new franchise cornerstone.

4) The People v. Scott Darling: The Case Exonerating Corey Crawford:

After giving up three goals in the first period during Saturday’s Game 6 win, Joel Quenneville opted to pull playoff hero Scott Darling for embattled former-starter Corey Crawford. The results were instantaneous: Crawford shut-out the Predators the rest of the game, and the Hawks won because of it. No starter has been named for Game 1, but in my opinion, Quenneville should stick with the hot hand in Crawford, but Darling should be ready to play at a moment’s notice. It’s better to have two solid goalies than one terrible one.

5) And With the First Pick of the 2015 NFL Draft…:

This Thursday marks the beginning of the NFL Draft. For the first time since 1965, the draft will be held in the city of Chicago. This draft proves to be equal parts exciting and mystifying. Aside from Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston going first overall to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the rest of the draft is unknown. Where will Marcus Mariota be selected? Will there be any blockbuster trades? The only thing that is for sure, is that Thursday night will be one hell of a night.