The Booth Review Vol. 7

1) Payback is a Bitch

Yesterday, the US Women’s National Soccer team beat Japan 5 to 2 to win the 2015 Women’s World Cup. This is the team’s first World Cup since 1999, avenging a loss to the same Japanese squad in the 2011 finals.

Carli Lloyd led the Americans with a hat trick (3 goals), which was the first in US Women’s soccer history. Because of her performance, Lloyd won the Golden Ball Award; which is the World Cup’s MVP. Plus, she made the longest goal I’ve ever seen from a professional soccer player.

https://mtc.cdn.vine.co/r/videos/AC691FE60B1229618942503723008_31cbf7a7d95.4.1.16119305759570234145.mp4?versionId=O3arJnSRvBb3XZXvVZenkJlqKxsJSzhK

The team deserved this win, and the fame and notoriety that comes from it. Hopefully women’s soccer, and women’s sports in general, gets the boost it deserves from this showing.

2) Sign on the Dotted Line, Please

Even though it’s the NBA offseason, free agency is dominating the headlines. A lot of movement has taken place between now and July 1st. Here is a run down of the important NBA roster moves that have occured:

– The Spurs resigned Kawhi Leonard (5 years/90 million) and Danny Green (4 yrs/ 45 mil) and signed LaMarcus Aldridge (4 yrs/80 mil). They are now the Western Conference favorites.

(Editor’s Note: Que Aladdin song “I Can Show You the World”)

– Important free agents that resigned with their teams: Jimmy Butler (5 yrs/90 mil), Khris Middleton (5 yrs/70 mil), Draymond Green (5/85 mil), Kevin Love (5/110 mil), Marc Gasol (5/100 mil), Dwayne Wade (1 yr/20 mil), Paul Millsap (3 yrs/58 mil).

(Editor’s Note: Memphis now gets 5 more years of the smoothest big man in the league.)

– Important free agents that went to different teams: DeAndre Jordan (4 yrs/80 mil with Dallas), Greg Monroe (3yrs/ 50 mil with Milwaukee), Lou Williams (3 yrs/21 mil with LA Lakers), DeMarre Carroll (4 yr/ 60 mil with Toronto), Wes Matthews (4 yrs/ 57 mil with Dallas), Monta Ellis (4 yrs, 44 mil with Indiana), and Tyson Chandler (4 yrs/52 mil). The Mavericks replace old Tyson Chandler with “Young Tyson Chandler.” The dunks alone make this deal a win for Dallas.

(Editor’s Note: Can’t wait for those Dirk to DeAndre alley-oops. 7 footers passing to other 7 footers is like watching Unicorns and Leprechauns play in a field.)

For a more in depth review of NBA free agency, visit:

http://www.sbnation.com/2015/6/30/8860381/nba-free-agent-signings-tracker-2015-rumors

3) No Trade-backs

NHL free agency is happening right now as well, however, it’s the trades that have everyone around the league talking. Here is an important list of NHL trades:

– Brandon Saad was traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets for Artem Anisimov, Marko Dano, Jeremy Morin, Corey Tropp and a fourth-round selection in the 2016 NHL Draft. Anisimov then signed a 5 year, 22.75 million dollar contract with Chicago.

– Buffalo sent defenseman Nikita Zadorov, forwards Mikhail Grigorenko and J.T. Compher and the No. 31 overall pick in the 2015 draft to the Avs in exchange for center Ryan O’Reilly and forward Jamie McGinn.

– Toronto traded winger Phil Kessel, forward Tyler Biggs and defenseman Tim Erixon to Pittsburgh for forwards Kasperi Kapanen and Nick Spaling, defenseman Scott Harrington, and two conditional draft picks.

(Editor’s Note: Kessel might be my favorite non-Blackhawks hockey player in the league. He’s over-weight and out of shape, but he’s one of the best goal-scorers in hockey. Plus he really loves his smelling salts.)

For more free agent information visit: http://www.sbnation.com/nhl-free-agency

4) The Votes Are in; the Winners Are…

The MLB all-star voting ended this past weekend. Here is a list of starters and reserves for both the National League and the American League:

NL Starters-

C: Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants

1B: Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona Diamondbacks

2B: Dee Gordon, Miami Marlins

3B: Todd Frazier, Cincinnati Reds

SS: Jhonny Peralta, St. Louis Cardinals

OF: Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins (injured, will not play.); Matt Holliday, St. Louis Cardinals (injured, questionable to play.); and Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals

NL Reserves-

C: Yadier Molina, St. Louis Cardinals; Yasmani Grandal, Los Angeles Dodgers

1B: Anthony Rizzo, Chicago Cubs; Adrian Gonzalez, Los Angeles Dodgers

2B: Joe Panik, San Francisco Giants; D.J. LaMahieu, Colorado Rockies

3B: Kris Bryant, Chicago Cubs (replaced injured Stanton on roster.); Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies

SS: Brandon Crawford, San Francisco Giants

OF: A.J. Pollock, Arizona Diamondbacks; Justin Upton, San Diego Padres; Joc Pederson, Los Angeles Dodgers; Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates (will start for injured Stanton.)

SPs: RHP Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals; RHP Zack Greinke, Los Angeles Dodgers; RHP Gerrit Cole, Pittsburgh Pirates; RHP A.J. Burnett, Pittsburgh Pirates; LHP Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco Giants; RHP Michael Wacha, St. Louis Cardinals; RHP Jacob deGrom, New York Mets,; RHP Shelby Miller, Atlanta Braves

RPs: LHP Aroldis Chapman, Cincinnati Reds; RHP Mark Melancon, Pittsburgh Pirates; RHP Jonathan Papelbon, Philadelphia Phillies; RHP Francisco Rodriguez, Milwaukee Brewers; RHP Trevor Rosenthal, St. Louis Cardinals

NL Final Vote Candidates: RHP Johnny Cueto, Cincinnati Reds; RHP Jeurys Famlilia, New York Mets; LHP Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers; RHP Carlos Martinez, St. Louis Cardinals; SS Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado Rockies

AL Starters-

C: Salvador Perez, Kansas City

1B: Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers (injured, will not play.)

2B: Jose Altuve, Houston Astros

3B: Josh Donaldson, Toronto Blue Jays

SS: Alcides Escobar, Kansas City Royals

OF: Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels; Lorenzo Cain, Kansas City Royals; Alex Gordon, Kansas City Royals

DH: Nelson Cruz, Seattle Mariners

AL Reserves-

C: Russell Martin, Toronto Blue Jays; Stephen Vogt, Oakland Athletics

1B: Price Fielder, Texas Rangers; Albert Pujols, Los Angeles Angels (will start for injured Cabrera); Mark Teixeira, New York Yankees (replaced injured Cabrera on the roster)

2B: Jason Kipnis, Cleveland Indians

3B: Manny Machado, Baltimore Orioles

SS: Jose Iglesias, Detroit Tigers

OF: Adam Jones, Baltimore Orioles; J.D. Martinez, Detroit Tigers; Jose Baustista, Toronto Blue Jays

UTIL: Brock Holt, Boston Red Sox

SPs: LHP Chris Sale, Chicago White Sox; RHP Sonny Gray, Oakland Athletics; RHP Chris Archer, Tampa Bay Rays; RHP Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners; LHP David Price, Detroit Tigers; LHP Dallas Keuchel, Houston Astros

RPs: RHP Brad Boxberger, Tampa Bay Rays; Dellin Betances, New York Yankees; RHP Wade Davis Kansas City Royals; RHP Kelvin Herrera, Kansas City Royals; RHP Darren O’Day, Baltimore Orioles; LHP Zach Britton, Baltimore Orioles; LHP Glen Perkins, Minnesota Twins

AL Final Vote Candidates: SS Xander Bogaerts, Boston Red Sox; OF Yoenis Cespedes, Detroit Tigers; OF Brett Gardner, New York Yankees; 3B Mike Moustakas, Kansas City Royals; 2B Brian Dozier, Minnesota Twins

The final votes are due by Friday, July 10th. I will have more in depth analysis on the topic coming tomorrow or Thursday. Stay tuned.

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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 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. 1

The Booth Review is an article recapping what was in Chicago Sports over the weekend of April 17-19. Here are the top stories:

The People v. Corey Crawford

The biggest sporting news this weekend comes at the hand of the Chicago Blackhawks. After giving up 3 goals in the 1st period of Game 1, Corey Crawford had been on thin ice with coaches and fans alike. Crawford may have fallen through after the Hawks beat the Predators Sunday, 4-2. Darling finished the day with 35 saves, adding on to his league leading save percentage (.975) and goals against average (0.94). This leaves many to wonder if this is the end of Crawford. Darling starts Game 4 tonight and in my opinion, until he falters, he should remain the starter for the remainder of the playoffs.

“I have a Venti Latte for Kris.”

Getting his first (and hopefully only) cup of coffee with the Cubs this past weekend, super-rookie Kris Bryant made his major league debut. Going 3 for 10, with a double and 4 strikeouts, Bryant did disappoint. However, he is too talented not to succeed. Cubs’ fans must be patient with the Phenom; he’s no Mike Trout. There will be growing pains along the way, but they will be well worth it.

Every Rose Has its Thorn(s)…Still

The Bulls also played their first playoff game this year against the Milwaukee Bucks, and an old friend came out of hiding to steal the show. Derrick Rose finished the game with 23 points and 7 assists. But it was more than what appeared in the box score for Rose, who played in his first playoff game since 2012. He dunked, nailed pull-up three pointers, and got the crowd hyped up. If he can maintain this level of play for the rest of the playoffs, Chicago may be able to topple the mighty Atlanta Hawks and Cleveland Cavaliers for the right to represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals this June.

Welcome Back, Kaner

Very rarely does a super-star returning from an 8-week injury get bumped down to fourth on a list of hot sports topics, but it was that type of weekend in Chicago sports. Patrick Kane is back with a vengeance, scoring 3 points in his first three games back from a broken collarbone. Now 3 points may not seem like a lot, but he is currently tied for third on the team in total points. The Hawks are getting it done as a team, and Kane has served as a catalyst for the second line. As he goes, the team goes, so it is great to see him getting back into his comfort zone.

That’s all for the weekend recap. This time next week I will be covering the NFL Draft, and hopefully a handful of Bulls and Blackhawks victories. See red and let’s go Hawks!

Tomorrow the wait is over, the 2014 NBA Draft is finally here. This year’s draft should be full of plenty of surprises. Today, there were already two trades that really surprised many of us. ESPN reported via their twitter that two had occurred: one between the Mavericks and another between Rockets and the Pelicans.

If this is any indication of the how this draft will play out, then we should be in for quite the show tomorrow night. Here is my final mock draft for 2014.

1) Cleveland Cavaliers : Jabari Parker, SF/PF, Duke, Fr. In light of Joel Embiid’s injury, the Cleveland Cavaliers have a tough choice between Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins. Parker is the safer bet between the two prospects and also fills a position of need for the team. After striking out on Anthony Bennett last year, Cleveland cannot afford to whiff on the pick. Parker will not be as big of a bust as Wiggins has the potential to be, therefore in order to minimize the damage of a possible mistake, the Cavs will select the small forward from Duke number one overall. 

 

2) Milwaukee Bucks: Dante Exum, PG/SG, Australia. Andrew Wiggins is too similar to Giannis Antetokounmpo to justify being drafted by the Bucks. Both players cannot consistently shoot the ball and use their elite athleticism and superb defensive skills to earn minutes. Exum, however, allows the team to shift Brandon Knight to his natural shooting guard position and helps the Bucks maintain good floor spacing.

 

3) Philadelphia 76ers: Andrew Wiggins, SG/SF, Kansas, Fr. The 76ers luck out with Wiggins falling to number three. The team has discussed moving up in the draft in order to secure their most desired player, however a deal with the Cavs will not be reached. Wiggins will team with Nerlens Noel and reigning Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams to form a great foundation for the rebuilding Philly squad.

wiggins

 

4) Orlando Magic: Joel Embiid, C, Kansas, Fr. It is hard to gauge Embiid’s draft stock after news broke – no pun intended – about the stress fracture in his foot. With two fractures over a five month time span, teams maybe too afraid to take a risk on the high upside Cameroonian from Lawrence. GM Rob Hennigan, who stems from the Spur’s front office tree, will be the one to pull the trigger on Embiid. Injury issues aside, he is the most talented big man prospect to come into the league since Dwight Howard. The Magic are historically good at developing big men – see Howard, Dwight and O’Neal, Shaquille – and the Magic are in need of a true franchise corner stone. Embiid could be the next Hakeem Olajuwon, and in this case, the reward far outweighs the risk of drafting him.

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5)Utah Jazz: Noah Vonleh, PF, Indiana, Fr. Utah just missed out on Joel Embiid, but Vonleh is a great consolation prize. He is a stretch four with surprisingly good handles for a player of his size. Many people believe he could develop into the next Chris Bosh. With Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter underperforming, the talented Vonleh would be a great player to add to the Jazz frontcourt mix.

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6) Boston Celtics: Marcus Smart, PG/SG, Oklahoma State, Soph. Marcus Smart is the logical draft choice for the rebuilding Celtics. He can play both guard positions and has the talent to be a franchise building block. He could fill in for Avery Bradley at the two guard if he leaves for free agency, or he could replace Rajon Rondo at the point if Danny Ainge decides to trade the former NBA Champion.

7) Los Angeles Lakers: Julius Randle, PF, Kentucky, Fr. Despite his foot injury, Randle is the very player L.A. needs in order to gain the talent needed to win now, with the youth to help win later. Randle is developed enough to create an immediate impact, while possessing just enough upside to help the Lakers in the future. He is also one of the best front court players available, which fills a need for the Lakers.

8) Sacramento Kings: Elfrid Payton, PG, Louisiana Lafayette, Jr. Mike Malone is a defensive minded coach looking for an upgrade at point guard. Payton is the best defensive point guard available. He also has a surprisingly high upside for a third year college player. Many believe that Payton is a jump-shot away from being one of the best players in this draft. With Isaiah Thomas testing free agency, the Louisiana Lafayette prospect is worth the gamble for a team in desperate need of a spark.

9) Charlotte Hornets: Doug McDermott, SF, Creighton, Sr. The Hornets are in dire need of shooting and “Dougie McBuckets” is at the top of the class. He can score in a variety of ways due to his high basketball I.Q., NBA offensive skill level, and general feel for the game. Couple McDermott’s offense with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist’s defensive capabilities, and the Hornets would form a formidable platoon at the small forward position.

10) Philadelphia 76ers: Aaron Gordon, SF/PF, Arizona, Fr. Gordon has the potential to be the next Shawn Marion or Andrei Kirilenko based on his defensive prowess, athleticism, and lack of a definitive position at the pro level. He lacks a true post game and the ability to hit a jump shot to stretch the defense. However, the 76ers are in such need of talent that they are one of the few organizations that can over-look these flaws to take a risk on Gordon. They could pair him with Nerlens Noel to form a dominant defensive frontcourt for years to come.

11) Denver Nuggets: Gary Harris, SG, Michigan State, Soph. The Nuggets need a shooting guard after ineffective seasons by Randy Foye and Evan Fournier. Both players are not above league average at the off-guard spot and the Nuggets need a dependable option in order to move forward. Harris has the skills needed to start right away, while possessing the upside to grow into a possible all-star player.

12) Orlando Magic: Zach LaVine PG/SG, UCLA, Fr. After taking Victor Oladipo last year, the Magic have shown they do not mind drafting a prospect who has more upside than skill. LaVine is definitely a player fitting that description. LaVine has shown the ball-handling ability and passing skill that make him a unique point guard prospect. However, he needs to become a better decision-maker in order to fully thrive at the point guard spot. With Orlando’s team seasons away from being competitive, Magic Coach Jacques Vaughn, a former NBA point guard, has time to allow the UCLA freshman phenom to learn on the job.

13) Minnesota Timberwolves: Nik Stauskas, SG, Michigan, Soph. The Timberwolves lack outside shooting help. Their most effective three point shooter was their power forward, which is never a good sign. Kevin Martin was not the solution to Minnesota’s shooting guard problem, but Nik Stauskas might be. What the Michigan product lacks in defensive ability and athleticism, he makes up for with skill and lights-out shooting. He will be able to stretch the floor and allow more driving lanes for Ricky Rubio.

14) Phoenix Suns: Jusuf Nurkic, C, Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Suns are looking for a big-bodied, rough and tumble center to balance out their roster. Alex Len proved to be more of a finesse power forward, while Miles Plumlee seems to be more of high energy off the bench. With players like Channing Frye and the Morris twins on the roster, Phoenix really lacks a true post player. Enter Nurkic, who reminds many GMs of Nikola Peckovic and Marcin Gortat. He would finally add a much need backbone in the post for the Suns.

15) Atlanta Hawks: James Young, SG/SF, Kentucky, Fr. Mike Scott, John Jenkins, Jared Cunningham, Lou Williams, and Cartier Martin – this is the list of players who failed to take hold of the Hawk’s in flux wing position. Kyle Korver and DeMarre Carroll were the only players that played above-average basketball on the wing, but neither of them would be considered an NBA starting-caliber player. James Young would stabilize a position that has been lacking since Joe Johnson was traded to the Nets two years ago. Young could play the shooting guard with Korver and Carroll at the small forward position.

16) Chicago Bulls: Tyler Ennis, PG, Syracuse, Fr. Tom “The Point Guard Whisperer” Thibodeau may need to reload his backcourt with D.J. Augustin and Kirk Hinrich on the free agent market. Hinrich may be able to resign if he accepts a cap friendly deal, but Augustin may be too far out of the Bull’s price range to return. Drafting Ennis would help soften the blow. What the Syracuse point man lacks in athleticism, he makes up for with great passing and shooting skills, exceptional ball handling ability, and good leadership. He is no Marquis Teague, and is better equipped to handle what the Bulls ask for in a player than the former first-round pick.

17) Boston Celtics: Dario Saric, SF/PF, Croatia. With news that Saric signed a three year deal in Turkey, many teams will most likely pass on him for a prospect that could help right away. The Celtics are in a position where they can afford to take the “draft and stash” approach. It will take the Croatian two years before he can be bought out and play in the NBA. Boston has the liberty of waiting the two years to either bring Saric over or use him as trade-bait for a high impact player later on.

18) Phoenix Suns: T.J. Warren, SF/PF, North Carolina State, Soph. Warren may not have an NBA caliber jump shot, but the man can flat out score. If you have ever seen highlights of his 41-point performance over Pittsburgh, or the 42-performance over Boston College (both are worth the YouTube search), then you know how easy it is for him to score. With the plethora of stretch fours the Suns have on their roster, a player like Warren would offer a unique inside game to complement those players.

19) Chicago Bulls: Rodney Hood, SG/SF, Duke, Soph. The Bulls need to strengthen their scoring game. Rodney Hood was second in scoring at Duke last year behind Chicago-native Jabari Parker. Chicago also loves Duke prospects. The Bulls have had seven on their roster since the 1999-2000 season. If the shoe fits, wear it.

20) Toronto Raptors: Adreiane Payne, PF/C, Michigan State, Sr. Payne may have gone much higher if he were not 23 years old. At this point in time, Payne is a low ceiling, high floor prospect. He is a stretch forward with good athleticism and work ethic. Luckily for Payne, the Raptors need this type of player. Amir Johnson is the only power forward left on the roster, and he is more suited for a bench role. Payne can start immediately for a team fresh off of its first playoff birth since 2008.

 

21) Oklahoma City Thunder: Clint Capela, PF/C, Switzerland. Capela is a very young, athletic center prospect without much basketball skill. He is very raw as a player, but after taking Steven Adams last year in the draft, Thunder GM Sam Presti has shown a willingness to draft high upside players. Capela would serve as a back up to Serge Ibaka, while developing into the defensive force the team needs him to be.

22) Memphis Grizzlies: PJ Hairston, SG, Texas Legends (D-League). The Grizzles lack a scoring threat, and Hairston is one of the best scorers in this year’s draft class. He can provide Memphis with back court scoring it has missed since O.J. Mayo left in free agency two years ago.

23) Utah Jazz: Jordan Clarkson, PG/SG, Missouri, Jr. Clarkson has been a fast riser in recent weeks. He has shown an improved shooting stroke and the versatility to play both guard spots. The Jazz need a bigger guard to help the smaller Trey Burke thrive.  Clarkson’s addition would also allow Utah to bring Alec Burks off the bench, a role he is better suited for.

24) Charlotte Hornets: Mitch McGary, PF/C, Michigan, Soph.

According to Chad Forde’s Twitter account, the Hornets have issued McGary a promise that if he is available at the twenty-fourth pick, the team will select him. The former Michigan center would be an odd choice for a team that recently added Cody Zeller, but McGary is 6’10, and it is hard to find quality production in the post.

25) Houston Rockets: Kyle Anderson, PG/SF, UCLA, Soph. Darryl Morey, more commonly known as “Dork Elvis,” loves accruing assets more than he likes drafting players. A 6’9” point guard is very hard to come by. If Anderson shows that he could play at a NBA pace, he could be quite the trade chip for Morey down the road.

26) Miami Heat: Shabazz Napier, PG, UConn, Sr. Miami wants to “retool” instead of “rebuild,” therefore the team feels that four year players are a better investment than high upside prospects. No one has a more decorated career than Napier. The two time national champion will be a welcomed addition to a team desperate for an efficient, do-it-all point guard.

27) Phoenix Suns: K.J. McDaniels, SG/SF, Clemson, Jr. With P.J. Tucker a free agent, the Suns need a cheap replacement for a classic “Three and D” guy. McDaniels offers great perimeter defense with a solid outside jump shot. Younger and cheaper always sounds good to a team with an all-star restricted free agent, Eric Bledsoe, on the books.

28) Los Angeles Clippers: Jarnell Stokes, PF, Tennessee, Jr. Stokes is a banger in the post with tremendous amounts of strength and not much athleticism. The Clippers have plenty of the latter but not much of the former. Stokes offers them toughness in the paint, which they have not had in a long time. He will also be a welcomed upgrade over Glenn Davis.

29) Oklahoma City Thunder: Spencer Dinwiddie, PG/SG, Colorado, Jr. Had it not been for an ACL tear last season, Dinwiddie would be much higher on this list. He is a big bodied guard with the ability to play the one and the two. He is a player who is capable of running an NBA offense while keeping his turnover rate low. He would serve as a great backcourt partner to Reggie Jackson.

30) San Antonio Spurs: Bogdan Bogdanovic, PG/SG, Serbia. Bogdan averaged 31 points this past week in the Serbian League finals for KK Partizan. If Patty Mills decides to walk in free agency, the Spurs have found their new gunner for the bench. If Mills returns, the Spurs can stash Bogdanovic overseas for one or two more seasons. By doing so he can develop into Manu Ginobili’s heir apparent and eventual replacement.

 

NBA Mock Draft 2.0

The draft is only a week away and a lot of moving and shaking has taken place over the last few days. Surprise prospects have been climbing up many GM’s draft boards. Trade rumors are springing up left and right adding more intrigue to an already unpredictable draft. Here are my picks for my new NBA mock draft.

(Editor’s note: This blog was posted before the news of Joel Embiid’s broken foot was released. These picks were made without that knowledge, but this information will be reflected in my NBA Mock Draft 3.0)