Tag Archives: LeBron

The Blockbuster Trade That Needs to Happen

As fans, blockbusters are fun to think about. It’s great to imagine stars flying around willy-nilly, the landscape of the league changing every other minute.

The problem with blockbusters is that they almost never occur. The reason why blockbusters so rarely happen can be easily explained by Newton’s first law: An object at rest will stay at rest unless acted upon by an outside force (thanks 8th grade science!). GMs are unwilling to gamble their jobs on one big move, so rather than taking a chance, they’re content to just sit back and do nothing.

There are a couple of stars rumored to be available: Blake Griffin and Dwight Howard. However, it’s unlikely that a team overcomes its inertia to pull off a blockbuster trade for either of them, because Doc Rivers’ asking price for Griffin is sky-high and teams have little interest in trading for Howard, who’s on an expiring contract, is declining, has dealt with nagging injuries, and will expect a max contract in free agency, one that starts at $30 million per season. In addition, the team that has the most assets available in a trade and is looking for a star, the Celtics, “have recoiled at paying a price Houston would find acceptable,” according to Zach Lowe of ESPN.

Speaking of those Celtics, although they won’t be going after Howard, there are still plenty of other options. And that’s the impetus for the blockbuster trade that absolutely needs to happen:

New York trades Carmelo Anthony to Cleveland 

Cleveland trades Kevin Love to Boston

Boston trades David Lee, Kelly Olynyk, Terry Rozier, James Young, unprotected Brooklyn 2016 1st round pick, top-7 protected Dallas 2016 first round pick to New York

I absolutely love this trade. It works for every single team involved.

As we were just saying, the Celtics are in the hunt for a star, and Danny Ainge has long been an admirer of Love’s game. The two make a perfect fit.

Personally, I’m not so high on Love, as to me, he’s just a more famous version of Olynyk, but if Ainge wants him, this is a reasonable price to pay. Even better, unlike Howard, Love is signed long-term; he won’t reach free agency until 2020.

Losing five good young players will hurt, but as we discussed a few days ago, the Celtics might have too many good players (if that’s possible) and are therefore unable to play them all. The same logic in trading three good players for a very good player like Al Horford applies here as well.

This trade would make Anthony happy. Melo said last Friday: “I think everybody always kind of dreams and hopes that they can play with another great player, another star player,” adding “It’s a star players’ league. I think that’s what we all talk about every time we get together.”

We can infer from that quote that Anthony is hoping to play with a star and doesn’t want to wait for Kristaps Porzingis to blossom into one. And what better a way to do it than to join his friend LeBron in Cleveland for a title run?

Every couple of years, we see Melo on Team USA, enjoying himself, just swishing three-pointers whenever someone passes to him. On the Knicks, he can’t be a complimentary player; on the Cavaliers, he can. Even better, if Tyronn Lue decided to stagger his three stars’ minutes, two of LeBron James, Melo, and Kyrie Irving would be out on the floor at the same time. All three of those guys can create shots for themselves and others, meaning that Cleveland’s offense wouldn’t miss a beat when LeBron takes a breather.

Speaking of LeBron, this trade would make him happy too. James has historically wanted to play with his friends, and Melo would make basketball sense for the Cavs as well.

Love is shooting 36.8% from three-point range, while Anthony is shooting 32.7%. However, Anthony is attempting far more challenging shots than Love; 61% of his three point attempts have come on catch-and-shoots, compared to 91% of Love’s. As you can see, unlike Love, Anthony is capable of creating his own shot. And, as more of a complimentary player, Anthony will be playing off the ball more, leading to more catch-and-shoot attempts. That’ll raise his 3FG% much closer to Love’s.

Defensively, Anthony is far superior to Love. A good way to measure defensive prowess is by defensive field goal percentage. Comparing the player’s defensive FG% to the usual FG% of the player being defended allows us to find out how the defender is playing when compared to an average defender. To illustrate this point, holding Stephen Curry to 45% shooting is considered a success, while allowing Lance Stephenson to shoot 45%, well, isn’t.

Anyways, in this regard, Anthony is a big winner. He ranks sixth in the NBA among the players who have played in at least forty games, holding his opponents to a FG% 6.3 percentage points lower than their norm, while Love ranks 229th out of the 250 players, with a mark of +4.3.

As we can see, Anthony is a clear upgrade over Love. Naturally, that leads to the question: Why wouldn’t the Celtics just trade for Melo instead? Well, Anthony has a no-trade clause, and although he’ll likely waive it if he’s sent to Cleveland to play with LeBron, he’s unlikely to allow the Knicks to trade him to Boston. On top of that, Love is 27, four years younger than the 31-year old Melo, which makes him a better fit for the up-and-coming Celtics team.

Now that we’ve established why both the Cavaliers and the Celtics would make this trade, it’s time to figure out why the Knicks would too.

Well, it’s really not that hard to figure out. Anthony is nearly twelve years older than Porzingis, and by the time the latter enters his prime, the former will be way past his. Accordingly, the Knicks would be wise to build around Porzingis and this trade would allow them to do so.

Porzingis is 20, Rozier is 21, Olynyk is 24, and Young is 20. The two 2016 first rounders will be similarly aged. Add in the 23-year old Jerian Grant and the 24-year old Langston Galloway, and that’s the start of a damn good roster.

The Knicks will also have control of all of those players for years to come, allowing them to develop chemistry through continuity.

The last guy New York would acquire is Lee. He’s an unimportant part of this deal, as he’s on an expiring contract and would be included just to make the salaries work.

Again, I’m doubtful that this blockbuster will ever occur, but if ever there were a time for NBA teams to overcome their inertia to actually make a trade, this is definitely the trade with which to do it.

Advertisements

Notes From Knicks-Jazz

Last night was chock full of basketball, with local channels carrying both the Knicks-Jazz and Nets-Cavs games.

Luckily, I was able to avoid most of the ugly Nets game in favor of the Knicks, but the one significant play I saw was a classic LeBron transition dunk met with cheers from the Barclays Center crowd. The TV only showed the seats close to the court, but those seats were filled with Cavs fans. I guess Nets fans have officially given up on the most boring team in the league. Good for them.

Anyways, let’s talk about the Knicks-Jazz game.  I was very impressed with how Young Kristaps was able to hang with Trey Lyles, a speedy power forward, on defense. That skill a big part of his appeal: He’s big enough to play center but fast enough to cover stretch-4s. That flexibility gives the Knicks multitudinous lineup options.

Rudy Gobert, the French Rejection, the Stifle Tower, is a gangly 7’2″ center for Utah. He’s not much of a driver—Gobert drives only once every two games—but early in the first quarter, he put the ball on the floor and drove for a layup. If Gobert can combine some offensive skill with his fearsome rim protection he could become even more valuable than he already is.

And, for the record, he is already extremely valuable as a rim protector on defense: Opponents have hit only 40.7% of their shots at the rim against him, one of the best marks in the league. Gobert displayed his rim-protecting prowess last night when he absolutely destroyed a Melo dunk attempt

As always, Walt Frazier’s rhyming commentary was entertaining and enjoyable. After Robin Lopez hit his unblockable hook shot, Frazier noted that he was “looking and hooking”. Following YKP’s lovely turnaround shot from the baseline with the shot clock running out, Frazier exclaimed that the Latvian was “shaking and baking”.

The best one of the night, though, was a triple-rhyme: “bounding and astounding and confounding”.

After yesterday’s game, Carmelo Anthony has now played a combined ninety-one minutes over the past two games. For someone who underwent a season-ending knee surgery last season, it seems a tad reckless to be playing so much. The Knicks certainly don’t need another Amar’e Stoudemire clogging up their cap for years. New York would do well to sit Melo for a game of rest sooner or later.

We need to talk about Gordon Hayward, the Jazz’s starting small forward. He’s a very good player, but his lips are bright red. It’s scary. It looks like he rehydrates on the sideline either with Kool-Aid or blood, I’m not sure which. Someone needs to investigate this.

Anyways, the Knicks ended up winning 118-111 in overtime. Including free throws, New York shot a blistering 11/16 in OT, scoring nineteen points over the five minute period.

The Knicks are back to .500 at 22-22 as they head into a challenging stretch of their schedule. They currently stand a half-game out of a playoff spot in the East, and if they can survive the next few games, they’ll be in prime position to make a run at the playoffs after the All-Star Break.

Which Games Should You Watch on Christmas?

On Christmas Day, us fans of the NBA have a serious conundrum. There’s basketball for thirteen hours straight, which is great, but we also have familial obligations and the like. For those of you who can only escape your family for a game or two, here’s a guide to determining which games you should watch and which ones you shouldn’t.

Miami Heat vs. New Orleans Pelicans

Watch if you like: Freakishly long arms, all-lefty lineups, aging stars,  unibrows, imagining what Young Kristaps will be like in three years, having a quick snooze before the good games start.

Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Chicago Bulls

Watch if you like: Teams still finding their identities, power struggles, Enes Kanter’s bushy eyebrows, discontented players, Steven Adam’s fake-looking mustache, ex-college coaches in their first season in the NBA, Bobby Portis sitting on the bench, Dion Waiters hoisting up awful shots that miss by a mile.

Golden State Warriors vs. Cleveland Cavaliers

Watch if you like: Games with history behind them, unstoppable pick-and-rolls, superduperstars, injured players returning, going small, raucous home crowds, great basketball, ridiculous displays of shooting from Steph Curry, ridiculous displays of athleticism from LeBron James, Iman Shumpert’s hair, JR Smith hoisting up awful shots that somehow go in.

Houston Rockets vs. San Antonio Spurs

Watch if you like: Spectacular wing defense, Hack-a-Howard, intra-state rivalries, Spursgasms, foreign players, beards, dazzling sequences of passing, free throws, lefty shooting guards with Eurosteps.

Los Angeles Lakers vs. Los Angeles Clippers

Watch if you like: Kobe Bryant missing shots, thunderous dunks, Chris Paul to DeAndre Jordan alley-oops, young studs against in-their-prime superstars, brutal blowouts, watching the last quarter and a half played by scrubs.

Notes From Knicks-Cavs

Last night, the Knicks lost in Cleveland, 91-84. After watching the game, I have a few thoughts to share.

First off, at the end of the first quarter, there were .8 seconds remaining on the clock, enough time for a quick shot attempt. The ball is inbounded to Langston Galloway, but, instead of taking a shot immediately, he takes a couple of dribbles and takes the shot right after the buzzer sounds.

That type of behavior is something I’ve noticed a lot lately. Rather than taking generally futile last-second heaves, players have been messing around just enough that the shot is taken just after the end of the quarter. Instead of mumbling empty platitudes about doing everything possible to win and whatnot, why don’t players actually do that, instead of just pretending to try their hardest for the sake of a field goal percentage point or two?

In addition to Young Kristaps and YK, I may have another nickname for the Knicks’ Latvian star: KPP. I heard it from a friend; it stands for Kristaps Perfect Porzingis. I’ll try it out, and see if it feels comfortable.

Speaking of Latvia, the last time I wrote about KPP (I like it!), about 40% of the hits on the article came from Latvia, so for all my dear Latvian, KPP-loving readers, veiki, paldies par lasījumā, un iesim Knicks!

Young Kristaps had a pair of spectacular plays near the end of the first half. The first was a block of a layup attempt by LeBron James.

There were two impressive aspects to this play. First, the block came after YK read the play perfectly, noticing that Jose Calderon was guarding LeBron, who has fifty pounds and five inches on him, and walled off both the basket and the passing lane to his own man. To find the second thing, rewatch the video and pause it at eighteen seconds: KPP’s head is on one side of the rim and his arm is long enough that he’s able to reach across it to block the shot. That’s ridiculous.

The second play was a confident, swished, buzzer-beating three.

There was no hesitation whatsoever. Even from a few feet behind the three point line, his shot was smooth and unflustered. This play was in line with the rest of the game, as he hit four threes on five attempts.

There was one poor play at the start of the third quarter. On an Irving-Love pick-and-roll, Calderon and YPP both jumped out on Irving, leaving Love with an opportunity to nail a wide open three. I can’t say for certain if it’s the scheme’s fault or the players’, but either way, you can’t trap a ball handler, even if it’s Irving, if it means leaving a good three-point shooter like Love wide open.

The most mystifying part of this game came in the fourth quarter, when Young Kristaps didn’t play at all. Wait a second… He did? Sorry, I must not have realized since he didn’t take a single shot until a last second heave when the game was out of reach.

With Melo out, KPP is the Knicks’ best player—why is he not being given the ball? I understand that it’s never good to force up shots when they’re not there, but he was wide open from three point range multiple times and was ignored in favor of awkward, off-balance, mid-range attempts.

The team ended up scoring twelve points in the fourth quarter. Maybe, just maybe, ignoring Young Kristaps had something to do with it.

It’s especially annoying as the Knicks entered the final quarter tied, on the road, without their best player, against the best team in the Eastern Conference, but gave the game away. The points they left on the table could have given them the game.

Catching Up on the NBA

My picks are already looking awful. Anthony Davis and Bradley Beal have been hurt. The Pelicans have been plagued by injuries. Washington has been average at best. Without Corey Brewer’s miracle three-point attempt to send last night’s game to overtime, the Rockets would be an atrocious 4-8. Nothing at all has been working out as planned so far.

Well, almost nothing. The Warriors have been customarily dominant. If you follow basketball at all, I’m sure you’ve seen amazing stats lauding the team for their historic achievements, but here’s one you probably haven’t heard: the Warriors are currently on pace to go 82-0, shattering the 72-10 mark set by the 1995-96 Bulls.

All jokes aside, Steph Curry has been insane. I’ve watched a few of Golden State’s games so far, and every time he takes a shot, it seems to be almost a technicality when it goes in. A couple of weeks ago, the Warriors were down to the Clippers late in the game, and Curry just took over and Los Angeles couldn’t do anything to stop him.

Curry’s the clear frontrunner for MVP at this point and he’s way ahead of the pack. Who can challenge him? LeBron is resting for the playoffs, Davis has been hurt, John Wall hasn’t been great, Kevin Durant has been hurt, and James Harden has been an inconsistent player on an inconsistent team. Blake Griffin and Russell Westbrook are my 2-3 behind Curry, but who’s next? Honestly, it might be Andre Drummond. That’s just weird.

In other news: Young Kristaps is everyone’s new favorite player. Young Kristaps has been surprisingly great so far for the Knicks. For all the talk about how he’s a project and how he’s a year or two away, he’s been really really good. Earlier this week, he put up a 29-11 double-double on an efficient 17 shots. He’s been able to shoot threes effectively (including an almost game-winner against Charlotte that was just after time expired) while being a force down low. He’s thrown down a few monstrous put-back dunks (including this beauty against the Raptors) and has been able to serve both as a stretch-four when on the court with Robin Lopez and as a more conventional big man when playing alone.

I think it’s hilarious what’s been happening in Brooklyn so far this season. They’re absolutely, unequivocally atrocious and seem OK with it. That’s a perfectly reasonable thing to do. After all, tanking has worked in the past and the Sixers have been happy to lose again and again over the past few years in the hopes of landing a franchise player. However, the so-called “brain-trust” in Brooklyn seems to have forgotten one important detail: They don’t own their own pick. So while Brooklyn’s incessant losing will likely result in the acquisition of a franchise player, that franchise player will be heading to Boston as part of the Pierce-Garnett-Terry trade from a couple of years ago. While we’re here, I can’t get over how lopsided that trade was. Exploring the ramifications of that horrendous trade might be worth an article in the near future.

Anyways, as we can see, the NBA isn’t lacking in storylines. We haven’t talked at all about the competitive Rookie of the Year race or the exciting young teams coalescing in Orlando and Minnesota or Kobe Bryant’s quest to miss the most shots in the history of the NBA. We’ll discuss all of this, and more, in the future, but for now, let’s just enjoy the impending bloodbath between the Warriors and Clippers on national TV tonight.

Running Diary: Game 6 of the 2015 NBA Finals

This Game 6 has the chance to be legendary. The self-proclaimed (albeit universally acknowledged) best player in the world, carrying his broken-down team on his back, against the whirring machine of basketball perfection that is the Golden State Warriors? That’s compelling enough, appointment viewing, but adding in the tortured histories of the two franchises and the amazing basketball that’s been played so far this series makes this game warrant an official running diary.

I’ve done this a couple of times before, so you know the drill: I write down my reactions live, along with when they happen, as a way of recording what people were seeing, thinking, and feeling, at any given moment.

For the record, I have no real rooting interest in this game. I’m in a pool that I can win if the Cavs win tonight and lose Game 7. To hedge my bet, though, I bet with a friend on the Warriors in this game, so I don’t have any monetary interest in this game, leaving me free to root for a night of amazing basketball.

Anyways, the game is about to start, so let’s get to it!

9:11: And we’re off!

9:12: Interestingly enough, David Blatt is starting off with his twin towers, Timofey Mozgov and Tristan Thompson, against Golden State’s small ball lineup. In it, Blatt is hoping that all the benefits of the super-size lineup, particularly the offensive rebounds, outweigh the huge negative of having Mozgov, a center, match up against Andre Iguodala, a wing player, on defense.

9:15: Well Thompson just got a lefty hook for two points by posting up the much smaller Harrison Barnes. Cleveland’s size advantage is paying off early.

9:19: And just now, a couple of possessions later, Iman Shumpert got an open corner three off a Mozgov post-up. He missed, but that’s the type of shot that the Cavs need to create from their physical advantage.

9:21: One of the best things about the NBA is the chess match that occurs when teams try to shift matchups in their favor. A couple of examples of this to watch out for are with LeBron and Steph Curry. Iguodala is the only Golden State player who can stick with LeBron, so the Cavs will likely run their star through a series of picks to force a smaller player to switch onto him for a LeBron post-up. Likewise, the Warriors will likely plan a bunch of Curry-Draymond Green and Curry-Iguodala pick-and-rolls to get a slow-footed big man, either Thompson or Mozgov, to switch onto Curry. Then, as he’s been doing all season, Curry can dazzle them with a bunch of awesome dribbles, then swish a step-back three.

9:24: Iguodala missed his first couple of shots and just played hot-potato with the ball, afraid to shoot an open three-pointer. Luckily Curry bailed him out by nailing a corner three, but if Iguodala can’t hit shots from outside, Mozgov, who’s ostensibly guarding him, can just stick around in the paint, mucking up the spacing integral to Golden State’s offense.

9:27: The Warriors just breathed a sigh of relief as Iggy just hit a couple of midrange jumpers.

9:28: Again, with the size advantage, Golden State doubled a Mozgov post-up, leading to a nifty pass in the post to Thompson for a dunk.

9:29: IGGY WITH THE HEAT CHECK!!! CORNER THREE!!!

9:37: End of first quarter check-in: Iggy has seven points and a drawn offensive foul against LeBron, the Cavs star has only four points on a mere six shots, and Golden State had a fifteen point lead at one point. Their record when they lead a game by fifteen points or more at any point? 57-0. Ethan Strauss astutely points out that, in addition to this impressive record in these games, even more impressively, the Warriors are undefeated, an astounding 82-0, when they score more points than their opponent.

9:41: We head into the second quarter with Golden State up 28-15.

9:42: James with a crazy fade-away three as the shot clock expires.

9:47: One thing to keep an eye out for: the Cavs have shot eleven free throws already, with about nine minutes left in the second quarter. Klay Thompson has three fouls as well, which could prove troublesome later on, and even now, as Steve Kerr sits him so he doesn’t pick up another foul.

9:52: Mozgov with the emphatic rejection of Iguodala.

9:53: The comparatively small Leandro Barbosa was just forced to switch onto LeBron, and James took it to the hole for two points. It’s this type of switch I was talking about earlier, with the Cavs attempting to get LeBron a physical advantage over his defender for easy points.

9:54: Shumpert slams his body into a Green screen, knocking him over, mirroring the same play with JR Smith from last game.

9:55: ABC just showed that play from Game Four. Wow, Green’s really been setting some great screens.

9:56: No flagrant for Shump, Golden State to inbound the ball.

9:59: Cleveland’s made a little bit of a run, coming back to within five points, 34-29, after a Shumpert jumper.

10:00: Some nifty passing from Golden State on a transition play, leading to an open three for Harrison Barnes. Golden State with the 37-29 advantage with 5:07 left in the first half.

10:07: The free throw disparity is impressive, 17-2 in favor of the Cavs, but they’re still down by eight points. Eight of those free throws are from Cleveland’s twin towers, including six from Mozgov. It’s clear that Golden State’s smaller players are struggling with the bigger Cavaliers, although they’re okay with it as they’re making up for those fouls on the offensive end.

10:08: Shumpert and Iguodala each just picked up their third fouls. This isn’t good for either team, straining Cleveland’s depth, and depriving the Warriors of the one player who can effectively defend LeBron one-on-one.

10:11: Speaking of James, compared to the lofty standards he’s set for himself, he’s been struggling so far this game, with only nine points and two assists.

10:13: LeBron with a beautiful drive past David Lee.

10:14: Curry with a nice left-handed finish in transition against JR Smith.

10:15: James nails a three. 43-38 in Golden State’s favor.

10:16: Curry makes a quick pass to escape a double team leading to a basket from Green.

10:17: With Iguodala on the bench, LeBron has been having his way with Shaun Livingston. After those last two shots and a couple of free throws, James just slipped a nifty low-post pass for a Thompson dunk.

10:19: With the last possession of the first half, James drives, throws up an off-balance shot and misses, but Tristan Thompson follows up with a thunderous slam with less than a second left. The half ends with Golden State clinging to a tenuous lead of two points over the resurgent Cavs, 45-43.

10:36: The game resumes, and Cleveland begins the second half with the ball.

10:37: Mozgov makes a layup to tie the game at 45, then Thompson hits a shot to take the lead for the Cavs. They’ve combined for 22 of Cleveland’s 47 points.

10:39: Barnes hits a three to put the Warriors back on top by one.

10:40: Barnes steals the ball from Shumpert. Iguodala gets the ball on the other end, fakes a pass, and slams it in for a dunk.

10:41: Green nails a three off of a pocket pass from Klay Thompson. Warriors by six. Blatt calls a timeout to regroup.

10:48: LeBron takes on Thompson for an easy basket, then heads back down the floor to grab his tenth rebound. He’s got a double-double with 6:41 left in the third quarter.

10:48: Thompson picks up his fourth foul and Kerr takes him out.

10:51: Curry gets a rebound, dribbles down the court, and throws a bounce pass to Iguodala for a dunk to make it 61-51. Blatt calls another timeout to try and stop the bleeding. The Warriors are on a 16-4 run right now.

10:59: A nice play from the Warriors. The Cavs double Curry off a pick-and-roll between him and Green, Curry slips a pass between them to Green, and Green lofts it up for an alley-oop to Festus Ezeli.

10:59: Curry misses a three but Ezeli crashes in for a booming dunk, even drawing an and-1 foul on Mozgov. Ezeli hits the free throw and the Warriors lead by fourteen, 69-55.

11:05: The game seems close to getting out of hand. Green just bullied James Jones in the post for a couple of points, and Golden State takes a fifteen point lead.

11:09: The third quarter ends, 73-61, Warriors.

11:10: LeBron looks exhausted. He’s still been great, but not his usual otherworldly self, with a couple of lackadaisical plays where he’s been caught just standing around.

11:12: The Cavs have a 43-27 edge in rebounding, a 29-13 edge in free throw attempts, and three of its players have double-doubles. Its main problem is that they’ve turned the ball over fourteen times, to Golden State’s six. When you factor in that Golden State thrives in the chaos in transition that ensues after turnovers, it’s no wonder that the Cavs are playing from behind.

11:15: Down thirteen, LeBron just says screw it, drives down the floor on Barnes, and hits a layup.

11:18: James steals a pass from Green, gallops down the floor, and rises up for the dunk! A 7-0 run from Cleveland brings them to within seven. 75-68, Warriors.

11:21: Curry swishes a three and the lead is back to double digits.

11:23: LeBron passes to Mozgov for a dunk, 78-70.

11:23: Livingston with a put-back dunk off an Iguodala miss, making it 80-70.

11:23: Smith with a three on one end but Iguodala comes back down the floor to nail a three to keep the lead at ten.

11:24: Mozgov physically overpowers Iguodala on his way to the rim for a basket, Warriors 83-75.

11:24: Curry with another three!!!

11:26: Klay Thompson finally hits a three off a nice feed from Curry and it’s 89-75.

11:28: The officials miss a backcourt violation on Curry and instead call a kick-ball on Shumpert, giving the Warriors the ball. Kerr calls a timeout with 6:09 remaining in the game. It’s 89-77 and the Cavaliers are running out of time.

11:32: Off the inbound, Draymond Green passes to Iguodala in the corner and Iggy hits the three. That’s Green’s tenth assist, giving him a triple-double.

11:35: Klay Thompson was just called for an offensive foul and fouls out. He’s got more fouls (6) than points (5). Assuming the Warriors don’t relinquish their thirteen point lead with 4:16 left in the game, Thompson’s performance will be forgotten by history. He’s lucky he’s not on the losing team.

11:43: A right hook for Tristan Thompson and the lead is down to eleven with 2:39 remaning.

11:44: Curry slips past Shumpert and drives to the hoop for an uncontested layup. It’s 98-85, and the Cavs call a timeout with 1:50 remaining.

11:49: JR Smith just nailed the second of two threes, bringing the Cavs to within eight. They’re down 100-92 with 55.2 seconds left.

11:54: LeBron drove for a layup, then the Cavs fouled Curry, but he only made one of his free throws. Then JR Smith came down the floor and hit another off-balance three. It’s 101-97!!!

11:56: Curry hits two free throws and Smith finally misses. Iggy is fouled, hits one of his free throws, and LeBron comes galloping down the floor, jukes his defender, and sets his feet for a wide-open three pointer which he then misses. After a couple of fouls and missed shots…

11:58: THE WARRIORS WIN 105-97

Three Important Notes:

  1. LeBron could not look more exhausted. He gave it his all and it just wasn’t enough. He could not have done anything more than he did.
  2. The Warriors just finished up one of the best seasons in the history of the NBA. They went 67-15 in the regular season, and 16-5 in the playoffs, for a combined record of 83-20, the third highest win total in NBA history, behind only Michael Jordan’s two best teams in Chicago.
  3. Steve Kerr deserves plaudits for his risky gamble in starting Iguodala over Andrew Bogut for the last three games of the series.. It worked out wonderfully, and with it, he dictated the pace of the game, the matchups therein, and won all three of those games, to win the series, and the championship.

The NBA never stops moving, though, and while the Warriors bask in the glow of their championship, the draft hype is about to go into overdrive. The draft is eight days from now, on June 25th, and we’ll be back in this format for the draft.

Until then, all we can do is applaud the Golden State Warriors and toast the marvelous 2014-2015 NBA season.

Onto the draft!

The 2014 NBA Draft Diary

Image

 

The most anticipated draft in many years is finally here. Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid, and Jabari Parker headline the draft. All three will almost certainly, barring injury, be perennial all-stars, although if Cleveland drafts Embiid, he’ll get hurt and be out of the league within three years.

It’s clear that God hates Cleveland. He only gave them the number one draft pick so they can screw it up and torture their fans even more.

After the top tier of Embiid (although he may have dropped out of it due to his injuries), Wiggins, and Parker, are Vonleh, Randle, Exum, Gordon and probably McDermott and Smart. It’s tough to narrow them down. There are so many good players up and down the draft that it almost doesn’t matter where you pick.

Evidence: after that second tier of five or six players and a third tier of eight or nine more, the next 35 players are all good players who can potentially be starters, if not more.

That’s why I love the Knicks-Mavericks trade for the Knicks so much. They unloaded Felton and the onerous contract of Chandler while getting the 34th and 51st picks. While that may not seem like that much, the 34th pick is essentially a first rounder except a lot cheaper, while the 51st pick is just as likely to result in a starter as any pick down to the 25th in this deep draft.

It’s nice to finally see a basketball team I cheer for (I’m a fan of both the Knicks and Nets) have a pick in the draft. It’s a feeling I’m not going have very much over the next few years.

I think it’s hilarious how the Nets are hosting the draft in Barclays Center while not having a single pick.

Anyways, my eleven year old sister is vaguely watching the draft with me, although she seems more likely to be preoccupied by the computer. If she ends up paying attention, she’ll probably focus on insulting the outrageous outfits of the draftees while I focus on insulting the picks. Still, it’ll be tough to do that. It’s so hard to insult picks when there are so many good players.

A big storyline I’ll be watching tonight is where Embiid goes. Who will take a huge risk by taking Embiid? It’s a massive reward if it pays off, but the GM that takes him will be betting their jobs on Embiid’s foot. That’s why I think that a team with multiple first round picks will take Embiid. Philadelphia probably won’t take him because they already have a center in Nerlens Noel. The only other team with multiple lottery picks is the Orlando Magic, who have the fourth and twelfth picks. That’s why, in my big prediction of the night, I predict that the Magic will take Embiid. It’ll be very surprising, but with the amount of risk involved, there’s no certainty. However, I think Orlando is the most likely to take Embiid, even if there’s only a 25% chance that they end up taking him.

Embiid’s injury has thrown this draft into flux. Originally, Embiid was supposed to go to the Cavs, the Bucks were going to get the hometown kid, Parker, and the Sixers would get who they tanked their season for, Wiggins. Then Orlando was going to take Dante Exum to put him in a dual guard role along with Victor Oladipo. Then the rest of the second tier would play out in some way to the next few teams and the next 35 picks could go in any random way.

Just a short explanation of a draft diary: a draft diary is pretty much just a running log of the draft. The time at which I wrote everything is recorded and, other than a small amount of editing, everything is the same as what I originally wrote.
7:26 Well, the draft diary is finally here! Hopefully it’ll become a tradition. I really like writing in this format.
7:27 I’ve been watching the pre-draft show for about twenty minutes and I’m already tired of that stupid NBA draft commercial that has the draftees taking selfies. It’s annoying, repetitive, and people are paying to see the players get drafted and play basketball, not look dumb and take selfies.
7:32 So does Cleveland take Embiid and run the risk of him being hurt? Do they go with Wiggins with the highest potential? Do they pick Parker, who can come in and help right away? No matter what they do, they’ll probably be wrong.
7:33 It’s telling how for years David Stern was booed on draft night, while Silver is cheered today. Stern was unpopular and overstayed his welcome, while Silver got rid of Donald Sterling, so it’s really no contest. Hopefully Silver can keep his popularity and continue to be an exceptional commissioner.
7:34 I like Silver’s speech about the Spurs and how the won a championship using players from up and down the draft, from Duncan at 1 all the way down to Manu at 57 and how he uses that to prove that great players can come from anywhere in the draft. That’s especially true today, when, as I said, there are so many good players throughout the draft.
7:39 The Cavs haven’t sent in their pick yet, despite their time running out. Maybe their strategy is just to not make a pick. They can’t be wrong if they don’t pick anyone.

7:41 The Cavaliers take….

7:41: ANDREW WIGGINS!

7:41 Parker just became one of the best players ever.

7:41 Wiggins just developed the beginnings for about five or six injuries that will prevent him from ever playing.

7:42 Sam Hinkie needs another eight boxes of tissues.

7:43 At least Wiggins is as close to a sure thing as you can get. Hopefully the Cavs won’t find a way to screw it up like they did with Anthony Bennett.

7:44 Wiggins’ suit is… interesting. It’s skeletal looking white flowers on a dark black suit. At least it doesn’t look like he’s bleeding like Jalen Rose’s draft day outfit did.

7:47 Milwaukee takes Jabari Parker, as expected. Not a big deal. It was what everyone expected, although it sucks for Philadelphia.

7:50 Jay Williams says “and now let’s go to his [Parker’s] father, Sonny”. I found that amusing. Just thought you should know.

7:51 It’s going to be very interesting what the Sixers do. Do they pick Embiid despite having another center or do they take Exum, Vonleh, Randle, McDermott, or someone else?

7:53 The Bucks have a sneaky good team. They have Larry Sanders, the Greek Freak, a couple of other decent players, and now Parker. As they have five good players, Milwaukee could easily be a playoff team next year in the garbage East.

7:53 WOW! The Sixers take Embiid! That’s crazy! They already have a center in Nerlens Noel, although I suppose they can have twin towers in the mold of Ralph Sampson and Hakeem Olajuwon on the late-80s Rockets or the late-90s Spurs with Tim Duncan and David Robinson.

7:56 Philadelphia also has a sneaky good team. They have Embiid, small forward X at number 10, Noel, and MCW. That’s a really good, young team, assuming that all four players pan out. In addition to those four, Hinkie has five second rounders, from whom he should be able to gain a starter or two, along with some good bench players. Lord, the Sixers are going to be stacked in a couple of years.

7:58 ESPN goes to a graphic comparing Embiid to Greg Oden. It’s amusing because Oden had his career derailed by injuries. Given that Embiid is a huge injury risk, I can’t imagine why would ESPN jinx him like that.

7:59 Orlando takes…

7:59 Aaron Gordon?!?!? That’s very surprising. It was widely assumed that Orlando would take Exum, but apparently not.

8:01 I’m not entirely sure why they’d take Gordon over Exum. Exum and Smart are the two best two point guards in the draft, with a drop off to Zach LaVine, Elfrid Payton, and Tyler Ennis. Smart probably won’t be around by Orlando’s second first round pick, at number twelve. The forward positions (where Gordon plays) are stacked in this draft, and they probably could have gotten someone comparable to Gordon at number twelve like Doug McDermott, Rodney Hood, or Adreian Payne.

8:02 The commercial with Dante Exum in it cracked me up for some reason. He’s got a noticeable Australian accent which is hugely incongruous to his physical appearance. Did I manage to avoid seeming racist? I hope so.

8:06 The Jazz take Exum 5th overall, doing exactly what I wanted the Magic to do. Utah will play him and Trey Burke in a dual guard role like Phoenix did with Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic before Bledsoe got hurt.

8:12 The Celtics take Marcus Smart.

8:12 I don’t like that pick at all. They already have a good point guard in Rajon Rondo, although they could trade him away for draft picks. They also risk pissing Rondo off, as Rondo is sensitive about those sorts of things. I think they should have taken Julius Randle for an elite rebounder and someone who gets a lot of second-chance points.

8:16 I think the Lakers will take Randle now. Randle doesn’t play the same position as Kobe and he’ll get a lot of rebounds and second-chance points to help make up for when Kobe messes up.

8:17 Julius Randle to the Lakers!
8:17 It’s always nice when I’m right, especially when it’s for the right reasons. For all the reasons I just listed, I love that pick. With his rebounding, point scoring, and his ability to help clean up Kobe’s mistakes, I think it’s a great pick.

8:19 Of course, I may be biased because I watched a lot of him during Kentucky’s run to the NCAA Championship Game, but still, he’s really good. I bet on Kentucky multiple times and I always was pleased with how he always seemed to get the big rebound or how he always managed to fight through contact for a tough layup.

8:22 The Kings take Nik Stauskas, an incredible shooter. He’s a very good player, the best shooter in the class, and is capable of creating his own shot. It’s nice that Sacramento didn’t take a power forward to crowd up their frontcourt even more than it already is.

8:23 Stauskas’ suit is… interesting.

8:29 In their first act as the Hornets, Charlotte takes Noah Vonleh. I don’t mind that pick. He is, presumably, a good player, but his team didn’t make March Madness, so the question is how good he actually is. He should match up well with Al Jefferson to form an imposing Charlotte frontcourt.

8:32 Wow his hands are massive. I think I could fit two or three of my hands into one of his.

8:36 Elfrid Payton is taken by the Sixers at number ten.

8:36 I love his hair.

8:37 Payton is a point guard, but Philly already has a point guard in MCW. What they really needed was a small forward and, conveniently, there were a number of good small forwards waiting for them, like Doug McDermott, Rodney Hood, or Adreian Payne. Also, the skill sets of MCW and Payton overlap a lot. Both can’t really shoot, which is not a good thing when one of them is going to have to be moved to shooting guard. I don’t particularly like this pick.

8:38 It seems as though Payton is having a little bit of trouble putting on his 76ers hat over his massive hair.

8:40 It’s amusing how MCW is interviewed and how he’s desperately trying not to say anything insulting or something that seems selfish. Drafts are always rich with unintentional comedy.

8:42 Doug McDermott to the Nuggets. I like the pick, although I’d like it for almost any team. He’s really good at shooting, scoring, dribbling, creating his own shot, making tough shots, being the leading scorer on a team, and being the only scoring threat on his team. Still, a lot of other Nuggets do a lot of the same things that McDermott does, making his skill set a little redundant.

8:45 Why does it sound like, during his interview, McDermott is breaking up with his dad? He said things like “after a four year grind” and “it’ll be great to move on”? That sounds a lot like a breakup talk to me.

8:51 The Magic take Dario Saric, a power forward out of Croatia.

8:52 He’ll be in Turkey for at least the next couple of years, so they’re essentially stashing him in Europe until 2016.

8:53 I’m not entirely sure how good Saric actually is because he’s from Europe and I’ve never seen him play, although I don’t like the pick for two reasons. One, he’s from Europe, and, despite success stories (see: Parker, Tony), there’ve been more busts, like Darko Milicic, especially among those picked high in the draft. Two, the last notable NBA draftee that I can remember who was stashed overseas and has been in the NBA long enough to establish his true value was Ricky Rubio. He was hyped when he was taken by Minnesota, but after spending a couple of years in Spain, he never turned into the elite point guard he was expected to become. That’s what I fear will happen to Saric.

8:56 The Timberwolves take Zach LaVine, somehow managing to forget that they’ve already got Ricky Rubio. Although the Cavs, Clips, and Knicks will never be approached at the summit of dysfunctional NBA teams, Minnesota is at the top of the next tier. Their pick is just about as bad as it can get in this draft.

8:56 LaVine is a great player and a physical freak, but he’s raw and won’t be ready for a couple of years, so he won’t help Minnesota convince Kevin Love to stay.

9:00 I like the Exum commercials, mostly because I love hearing him talk.

9:01 The Sixers traded Payton to the Magic for Saric and a 2017 first rounder. That makes a lot more sense. The Magic get the point guard they were expected to take, while the Sixers can stash a player overseas as a reinforcement for their team in a couple of years while picking up another first rounder. I like that trade a lot for Philadelphia and don’t mind it for Orlando.

9:03 TJ Warren goes to the Suns. He’s an elite scorer, carried North Carolina State, and doesn’t interfere with the chemistry between Dragic and Bledsoe at the guard spots.

9:05 Wow, Warren talks really fast.

9:10 The Hawks take Adreian Payne. It’s a fine pick but I don’t have much to say about it other than saying that a jump-shooting big is always useful in the NBA.

9:15 A really touching moment when Silver and the NBA ‘select’ Isaiah Austin after he was expected to be selected in the first round but couldn’t, after his basketball career was ended by a genetic disorder.

9:19 The Bulls take Jusuf Nurkic, a center from Bosnia and Herzegovina. That’s part of a trade with the Nuggets in which Chicago gets McDermott and Denver gets the 16th and 19th picks. I like the trade for both teams. The Bulls needed a scorer and a small forward and because they gain cap room by not having to pay another first rounder. The Nuggets get an additional two players and give up a player who they couldn’t use. Presumably that’s why they picked McDermott in the first place, in preparation for a trade. That’s also the reason why Philly took Payton at 10, Orlando took Saric at 12, and, now, Chicago’s pick of Nurkic at 16.

9:25 The Celtics take James Young, a shooting guard out of Kentucky. He’s a great shooter and player, but this creates a logjam in the backcourt for the Celtics with Young, Smart, and Rondo all competing for two spots. Presumably there’s a trade in the works for Boston in which they send away one of those three players.

9:32 The Suns take Tyler Ennis. That’s another strange pick. Phoenix, as I’ve already said multiple times, have Bledsoe and Dragic at the guard spots. As the Raptors really wanted Ennis two picks later, I can only assume that there’s a trade in the works between the two teams because this pick makes no sense whatsoever for the Suns. If the Raptors end up trading for Ennis, then that means that they’ve almost certainly given up on resigning Kyle Lowry.

9:33 Canada is dominating this draft with Wiggins, Stauskas, and Ennis all hailing from the Great White North.

9:35 The Bulls take Gary Harris for the Nuggets at 19. This pick makes Denver’s trade earlier today for Arron Afflalo redundant as both players are shooting guards.

9:38 If Toronto doesn’t manage to trade for Ennis, then they can take Shabazz Napier at twenty.

9:41 Miami is apparently trying to trade up for Napier, which would be a good move for them to pick up a replacement for Mario Chalmers. Of course, all their plans are based on the assumption that LeBron comes back. If he doesn’t, Miami will be screwed even more than they already would have been.

9:44 Well, this was the first pick of some random player than no one has ever heard of: Bruno Caboclo from Brazil, going to the Raptors at number twenty. He’s so raw that, despite his incredible physical gifts, he’s at least four years away from actually playing. Why are they not trying to build on their successful 2014 season by improving their team for the coming season? This pick makes no sense to me.

9:51 With their last asset remaining for the Harden Hijacking, the Thunder take Mitch McGary. I like that pick a lot. McGary is really good and he allows the Thunder to shift Ibaka to the 5 to replace Perkins while sliding in McGary at the 4.

9:58 Memphis takes Jordan Adams from UCLA. He was never projected to go this high, and I’ve not read much about him. At the very least he’s a 2-guard, a position at which the Grizzlies desperately need help.

10:00 Well, it’s time to stop watching as I’ve got work tomorrow and I need my beauty sleep. It’s also funny because in the NFL Draft Diary (the first thing I posted on this blog) I also got through just 22 picks. Still, getting through more than three thousand words together isn’t too shabby. Anyways, I hope you enjoyed and I can’t wait to see how all the new players fit into the league and who excels and who bombs, mostly so I can make fun of them. Now, the attention will shift off of the draft and onto the World Cup and LeBron’s (and the rest of the stars’) impending free agency.