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Tag:2011 NBA Draft
Posted on: June 24, 2011 5:54 pm
Edited on: June 24, 2011 7:26 pm
 

Wolves buy pick, take ineligible player

Posted by Matt Moore

Funny story. 

So while the Wolves were having what is being called a "good" draft by taking Derrick Williams, the second best player in a two-pick draft with the second spot, and then trading a top 20 pick down to get several second rounders, most of which they traded, they did spend to pick one up. The Wolves and David Kahn bought the rights to the No.57 pick in the draft from Dallas, then took a guy name Tanguy Ngombo. 

Ngombo was out of Qatar, and showed up in an impressive showing at the Asian Games.  Wolves assistant Phil Philo found him and the Wolves thought they had themselves a steal in a 21-year-old foreign prospect. What a great story, nice to see the Wolves finally get through a draft without a real embarrassme....

Yeah, so he's not 21. He's 26.

Draft Express originally put him into the sphere of public knowledge, and mentioned the Philo connection. DX also dug up the info that shows he's 26. Which means he's ineligible. Even Qatar lists himi as being born in 1984. The result is the pick will be voided. 

Now, let's say this was just the Wolves' natural 2nd round pick. That would be a bummer, but not really as bad. After all, he was unlikely to come over anyway and even if so may have been terriible. It's a late second-rounder, after all. Or say that they had picked up the pick as part of another trade as an asset they didn't really care about but the other team threw in as a deal-sweetener. That would be acceptable. It's no worse, really, than most of the picks in the second round which are really Euro stashes who will never come over to the A. 

But the Wolves bought the pick. So after making all these moves in order to free up cash, presumably to afford the buyout on the remainder of Kurt Rambis' contract, they then spent money to acquire this selection... and then drafted a player who lied about his age and was ineligible. 

At one level, you feel bad for Philo. Found a prospect, thought it was worth a flyer, talked his organization into making a move for him. Everyone makes mistakes. And maybe Qatar and FIBA are both wrong, and he's 21 and this isn't an issue. Plus, it's not like a second round pick is really worth much and it's not like the loss of a huge asset; the pick couldn't have cost that much. 

But it's just the fact that once again the Wolves can't get out of a draft without stumbling and falling. They traded back to get value, and wound up picking up Brad Miller's contract and drafting a guy who's older than LeBron. Just when you think we have nothing to make fun of the Wolves about, Kahn's organization strikes again.

(HT: SBNation.com)



Posted on: June 24, 2011 3:47 pm
Edited on: June 24, 2011 7:29 pm
 

Way too early Rookie of the Year contenders

Posted by Royce Young



When people say things like, "It's never too early to talk about..." what they really mean is, "It's way, way too early to talk about this but I'm trying to at least acknowledge that."

So... it's never too early to talk about next season's early contenders for Rookie of the Year (assuming there is a next year blah blah blah). Most everyone proclaimed last night's draft to be of the weak variety and while it very well may be, it's going to have a couple good players. Whether it's the top overall pick or a sleeper taken in the 20s, the 2011 NBA Draft won't go down as a total dud.

Who are the candidates to make a big rookie splash? There aren't a ton of franchise changing guys in this draft, but more a bundle of potential. Someone will be named Rookie of the Year and honestly, this might be one of the most wide open races in a long time. Derrick Williams isn't Blake Griffin. Kyrie Irving isn't Derrick Rose. From picks 1-15 really, there are a lot of guys that could contend. So here are my top five.

1. Kyrie Irving, PG, Cavaliers: If the No. 1 overall pick isn't a Rookie of the Year candidate, well, then his name must be Michael Olawakandi. It's hard to really know if Irving is going to step right in and start from day one or if the Cavs want to groom him behind Baron Davis -- don't laugh -- but he's going to get his minutes. This franchise is now his. He's the guy.

He's not John Wall or Derrick Rose, but that just means he's not as flashy. He makes plays everywhere, shoots the ball extremely well and is incredibly composed and mature. It's pretty easy to picture Irving averaging something along the lines of 15 points and five assists per game, which will likely be enough to win the award.

2. Derrick Williams, F, Timberwolves: I think Williams is a fantastic player. A 6-9 guy that's athletic and strong and shot 57 percent from 3? How could you NOT like him?

But I've got questions that almost made me leave him off the list. Where does he fit in with the Wolves? Is he their starting small forward? Does he fit alongside Kevin Love? Does Michael Beasley take too many shots and minutes from him? Does Williams play power forward and Love slide to center? Can Williams play power forward? Is he too much of a tweener, like Jeff Green?

If the Wolves are smart, and of course that's a whole other thing there, Williams sees minutes from day one and Beasley is shipped out so that Williams' growth is never messed with. I don't think the two can co-exist. Give the keys entirely to Ricky Rubio, Love and Williams and see what they can do. If that happens, I think he can put up pretty solid numbers and a few flashy highlights as well.  

3. Jan Vesely, SF, Wizards: Blake Griffin didn't win the Rookie of the Year last year just based off a bunch of crazy highlight dunks. But there's no denying that they certainly helped.

And Vesely is the prime candidate to be 2011-12's official YouTube Party candidate for Rookie of the Year. He has an incredible amount of athleticism, a bunch of flash and some skill to boot. He can score, play and dunk. If Vesely gets minutes, he's going to grab some attention. And in winning awards, sometime attention is all it really takes.

4. Jimmer Fredette, PG, Kings: I'm coming clean -- I'm a total Jimmer junkie. I think he's going to be a great pro. My philosophy is, if you're one of the best at your craft at the highest level you can play, you'll likely be good at the next level too. Adam Morrison excluded, of course.

And Jimmer can score. Yeah, his defense stinks. But I think that was more of a product of the system and structure he operated in at BYU more than anything. BYU's coach Dave Rose knew Fredette couldn't dare pick up a couple early fouls, so he was hidden in a 2-3 scheme and rarely moved his feet or went for a steal. I don't think that's just because Jimmer doesn't understand a simple defensive stance, but more that he was instructed, "Don't you think about picking up a foul." There were similar concerns about Blake Griffin's defense too, but at OU Jeff Capel employed the same mindset to Griffin's defense. And I think that worked out.

The Kings cleared out room for Jimmer to immediately start and run the show. If he's ready for it, he's going to have a chance to put up really nice numbers on an improving team. Is he going to look to score or pass? That's to be seen. But he's a smart guy, has a bunch of talent and knows how to play. He's going to be good.

5. Alec Burks, SG, Jazz: I live in Big 12 country so I'm a bit biased having seen Burks play most of his college games. But let me tell you, that dude tore up the conference. Inside, outside, defensively, rebounding -- he was a one-man team.

The Jazz are slowly transitioning and while Enes Kanter was the No. 3 pick, I think he's going to be brought along more slowly than Burks. There's not a whole lot standing in the way of Burks and playing time, while Kanter has to settle in somewhere around Paul Millsap, Al Jefferson and Mehmet Okur. I don't know what the future of Andrei Kirilenko is but I'm sure Utah isn't that worried about finding room for Burks to play. He's going to likely be in the rotation from the start and might even push C.J. Miles for the starting shooting guard spot.

Posted on: June 24, 2011 3:10 am
Edited on: June 24, 2011 4:01 pm
 

2011 NBA Draft Team Grades

Posted by Matt Moore and Ben Golliver

Here are our team-by-team grades for the 2011 NBA Draft. Listed are team, most notable player, and grade. You can tell us what you think grades should be at our Facebook page. .


Atlanta Hawks: Keith Benson. Grade: B-. Benson has some upside and it was just a second round pick. Good value for position.

Boston Celtics: JaJuan Johnson, E'Twaun Moore. Grade: B. Celtics needed a big, they got a big. They needed a guard. They got one. And they wound up taking guys with polish, both from Purdue, who were both underrated and are capable of being competent role players down the line. Yup, sounds like the Celtics of the last few years. 

Charlotte Bobcats: Bismack Biyombo, Kemba Walker. Grade: A+. A savvy GM knows his team's lot in life. Rich Cho, just weeks on the job, launched a full-scale rebuild by shuttling out Stephen Jackson and adding an extra lottery pick, securing the draft's best defensive prospect and a fan-friendly, dynamic point guard who has a definite shot of making it big at the NBA level. There are plenty more moves in Charlotte's future, but this was a great start.

Chicago Bulls: Nikola Mirotic. Grade: C. The Bulls knew they wouldn't get their improvement at the end of the first round, and didn't try. They traded for a stash and pulled in a 6-7 shooting guard in Jimmy Butler, who's worth a shot. Want not, waste not, I suppose.

Cleveland Cavaliers: Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson. Grade: A. Taking Irving with the first pick gave the franchise a new face, but the selection of Thompson, which was largely unexpected, showed that GM Chris Grant has the guts, vision and power to rebuild a roster his way. Thompson is an excellent two-way player who was a solid find amidst all the Euro hype.

Dallas Mavericks:
none. Grade: I. The Mavericks drafted Rudy Fernandez. So that's pretty good, I guess, but we're still not going to grade them on this "draft." Not that they needed a draft. What with being the champs and Dirk being "that dude" and all.

Denver Nuggets: Kenneth Faried, Jordan Hamilton. Grade: A-. Faried may wind up as nothing more than another high-energy, rebounding bench player who gives you ten minutes of solid defense a night. In this draft, that's great value for where they selected. Faried can't score, but he doesn't have to with the kind of talent he's surrounded by. Denver's a good fit for him. Hamilton is highway robbery. They surrendered Felton, who they neither needed nor wanted, and got back Andre Miller AND Hamilton, who bizarrely slid down the draft. Hamilton can do the work of Wilson Chandler should he depart in free agency. He's long with range and, next to Danilo Galinari, he makes the Nuggets look freakishly athletic. Great draft for Masai Ujiri.

Detroit Pistons: Brandon Knight. Grade A. Knight might not be as ready to lead a team as he thinks he is, but his raw intelligence, overall skillset and upside make him arguably the best value pick of the first round.

Golden State Warriors: Klay Thompson. Grade: B+. Thompson doesn't really address a positional need per se, but he does bring a different -- bigger and longer -- look to the Warriors backcourt. He was clearly their target and will allow a Monta Ellis trade to develop at its own pace. Thompson has sneaky upside. Could he be a star?

Houston Rockets: Marcus Morris, Donatas Motiejunas. Grade: B. Daryl Morey needed to hit a home run, which he didn't do. But he hit a stand-up double by getting a big body, excellent value in his Euro-stash and earns bonus points for getting out of Brad Miller's deal while taking a reasonable risk on a fresh start for Jonny Flynn. Losing a future first-round pick in the process turns this from A- or B+ into a B. Still very clever work.

Indiana Pacers:
No first round picks (traded Kawhi Leonard to Spurs). Grade: B+. This was a sneaky good night for the Pacers. I'm high on George Hill's potential when it's his show to run, and a sliding Kawhi Leonard -- the best player left on the board -- was going to be extraneous in Indiana. 

Los Angeles Clippers: Trey Thompkins. Grade: B. Thompkins slid all the way to the Clippers in the second round. Decent value pick even if it's definitely not a position of need for them. After all, they do have this guy named Griffin.

Los Angeles Lakers: Darius Morris. Grade: A. Even when the Lakers barely try, with all of their picks in the second round, they win. Morris somehow made his way to them and he's one of the better guards offensively in the middle to late part of the draft. The rich get richer, really. Their other picks are mostly just excuses to not pay someone. 

Memphis Grizzlies: Josh Selby. Grade: A-. Selby has great length, outside shooting range, and is a misfit. Perfect for Memphis. Even with Xavier Henry's struggles last year, this was a great pick for where the Grizzlies got him.

Miami Heat: Norris Cole. Grade: B-. Cole has a pulse. Therefore, he is better than half the players who played point guard for Miami this season.

Milwaukee Bucks (from Charlottte): Tobias Harris. Grade: B+. The Bucks cleared cap space and moved down and still managed to snag Harris. It creates a bit of a problem with Carlos Delfino but it's still great talent for where they landed, especially since they added Stephen Jackson.

Minnesota Timberwolves: Derrick Williams. Grade: B. Williams was the best player on the board and a no-brainer, although you always have to wonder when the Timberwolves are on the clock. His fit on Minnesota's roster isn't perfect, but it's not terrible, especially if David Kahn can find a way to ship out Michael Beasley for future assets. Malcolm Lee might be the wing defender they need.

New Jersey Nets:
Marshon Brooks. Grade: B-. The Nets managed a pretty good haul with Brooks hanging around until late when some thought he could go in the mid-teens. And, it's a position of need for them. Jordan Williams has some potential. Not bad for what they had to work with.

New Orleans Hornets: None. Grade: I. Incomplete, Hornets drafted one player then sold him. The end. 

New York Knicks: Iman Shumpert. Grade: B-. Come on, they were taking a guard, they were always taking a guard, they had to take a guard and there was no way to get Jimmer. From there this was unavoidable. Sure, Marshon Brooks would have been entertaining, but they needed someone who could at least play combo guard. Shumpert plays defense and has athleticism. The rest is up to D'Antoni.

Oklahoma City Thunder: Reggie Jackson. Grade: B-. Jackson is a good value pick. The knock will be that he didn't fill a need for the Thunder ... but look at their roster. Who are you going to take minutes away from to give to a rookie? No one. So this pick didn't matter and they still got value from it. 

Orlando Magic: DeAndre Liggins. Grade: B. Pretty talented guy for a team to pick up that late.

Philadelphia 76ers: Nikola Vucevic. Grade: C+. The Sixers needed size. They would have taken any big that was available here and Vucevic was the best available at 6-10. Taking Motiejunas would have been a bigger gamble and at least Vucevic has work ethic. He has no athleticism, none to speak of, and is, in a lot of ways, Spencer Hawes. But there's no point in creating a logjam for yourself just to avoid drafting for need. The Sixers could have done worse for how their roster is constructed. Lavoy Allen will not be joining us next year. 

Phoenix Suns: Markieff Morris. Grade: B-. The Suns went against the grain in terms of which Morris twin was expected to go first, and Markieff brings a physical presence that is currently lacking. He's probably the better fit. The Suns addressed a position, but did they put themselves back on a positive trajectory? Seems like they're facing the same problems as a franchise that they were yesterday.

Portland Trail Blazers:
Nolan Smith. Grade: C. Smith would have been there four to seven picks later if they wanted to trade down. They didn't address needs elsewhere and, while reshaping the backcourt was a priority, there were better guards than Smith to acquire here. A reach pick on top of a disappointing trade night for the Blazers. 

Sacramento Kings:
Jimmer Fredette. Grade: D. The Kings fell in love with a big name, found themselves on the bad end of a big three-team deal and generally continued their pattern of directionless instability. Kings fans suffered through a tough year to get to draft night and almost certainly leave feeling disappointed. 

San Antonio Spurs: Kawhi Leonard. Grade: A-. Huge steal for the Spurs who give up George Hill but get a lottery-quality pick plus Davis Bertans has a lot of potential and is just the kind of guy the Spurs can wait on. Leonard will be an impact player immediately, the rare combination for the Spurs of youth, athleticism, and polish. He gives them a player to help ease the transition and possibly make one more run. Yet another reminder of how good R.C. Buford and company are at this gig. 

Toronto Raptors: Jonas Valanciunas. Grade: I. Well, Bryan Colangelo certainly sticks to his guns, doesn't he? Vegas considered Toronto to be the least likely team to win the 2012 NBA title and that was before they blew a top five pick on a player with a buyout issue that will keep him from the NBA for at least a year. The Raptors addressed their biggest need -- the five spot -- but they needed lots of help now, and didn't get it.
Utah Jazz: Enes Kanter, Alec Burks. Grade: B+. The Jazz arguably came away with the best center and best two guard in the draft. The moves signaled that Utah is ready for a quick turnaround rather than a slash-and-burn style tear down. Kanter has considerable hype to live up to and Burks will need to work on his range, but the Jazz addressed major issues and provided hope, even if they didn't land cult hero Jimmer Fredette.

Washington Wizards: Jan Vesely, Chris Singleton. Grade: A+. The Wizards got two of the best steals of the draft. Vesely will bring aggression and athleticism. Singleton, defense and versatility. They knocked this out of the park. 

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Category: NBA
Posted on: June 24, 2011 1:27 am
Edited on: June 24, 2011 4:08 am
 

NBA Draft: Five biggest surprises

Posted by Royce Young



The build-up to this year's draft had a pretty wild feel to it. With the chance of a lockout ahead, teams appeared to be frantically positioning for a crazy night of trading and movement. A lot went according to plan. Kyrie Irving went No. 1 overall to Cleveland. Derrick Williams was taken right after by Minnesota. Enes Kanter went to Utah third.

There were some surprises though. Some players that dropped a bit farther than expected or climbed up the ladder to get taken four or five spots ahead of expectation. For instance, Josh Selby fell all the way down to 49 to Memphis, which is pretty remarkable. But the 49th overall pick is pretty unremarkable. So here are my biggest five draft night surprises:

1. Tristan Thompson, PF, Cleveland Cavaliers (4): Some prognosticators saw the Cavs going either with Jonas Valanciunas or Thompson here, especially with Kanter coming off the board to Utah at No. 3. But Thompson was mostly slated on big boards somewhere in the 7-10 region. The Cavs didn't necessarily reach on him, as they need more front court depth, but Thompson might've been available a couple slots lower as well.

I imagine the Cavs wanted Kanter and took their second choice with Thompson, but passing over Valanciunas is a bit surprising. The buyout issue for Valanciunas probably had a lot to do with it.

2. Iman Shumpert, PG, New York Knicks (17): The Knicks were hoping homegrown point guard Kemba Walker would somehow free fall to them at 17, but instead, New York picked up Shumpert, a junior guard out of Georgia Tech. The Knicks contingent in the building promptly said, "Who?" and commenced booing.

It's not a bad pick by any means, as the Knicks need a player to groom behind Chauncey Billups, plus, he does offer a little size and athleticism. Shumpert is 6-6 and already a terrific defender, something the Knicks need more than a good scorer. But 17 is a bit high for Shumpert since most saw him as a late first-round guy. Chris Singleton, Kenneth Faried and Marshon Brooks were still on the board at 17,  so some are curious why New York passed them over for Shumpert.

3. Markieff Morris, F, Phoenix Suns (13): Sort of a minor surprise here, but most figured younger brother Marcus was the higher ranked prospect of the two. Naturally, I had to wonder if maybe Lon Babby and the Suns just mixed the two up here. (Twin joke!) It is relatively interesting that Markieff, born seven minutes ahead of Marcus, was picked one spot ahead, almost exactly seven minutes earlier. Some things are just meant to be.

4. Jordan Hamilton, SF, Denver Nuggets (26): Hamilton was taken by the Mavericks and, after mass confusion, ended up being part of a three-way trade that sent him to Denver. But most had the Texas swingman pegged in the 15-20 range. And when he dropped past Houston at 23, it looked like almost a certainty that Oklahoma City would snatch him up at 24.

Yet, he was passed over. There was word that Texas coach Rick Barnes warned teams that Hamilton is uncoachable and that's the reason he slipped. A couple weeks ago he was a borderline lottery pick, but on draft night he barely survived the first round.

5. Corey Joseph, PG, San Antonio Spurs (29): Once the Spurs pushed the button on a trade to send George Hill to Indiana for Kawhi Leonard, you knew San Antonio was going to look to restock its depth. Just not many saw them targeting Joseph.

Joseph played one year at Texas and was a nice, highly-recruited defender, but didn't really impress many. He was pegged as a middle second round guy, so when David Stern called his name with the 29th pick, some were a bit shocked. He has the same frame as George Hill and might be able to settle into that exact some role. Plus, with the Spurs, everything they do seems brilliant. They're sort of like a new Radiohead album in that way. They escape the critics even when something doesn't quite add up because they've earned it with a glowing reputation.
Posted on: June 24, 2011 12:37 am
Edited on: June 24, 2011 11:20 am
 

2011 NBA Draft Winners and Losers



Posted by Matt Moore

It's all over. After an underwhelming crop of draft choices led to a flurry of trades, the dust has settled and the picks are wearing the right hats, finally. Here are your winners and losers of the 2011 NBA Draft:

Winners

Cleveland Cavaliers: Irving is mostly a case of winning by default, but they wouldn't have been the first team to be unable to get out of their own way with an obvious pick. Irving gives them a franchise point guard to build around and was the best player overall in this draft. Going for Derrick Williams would have been sheer hubris in order to burn LeBron by choosing a replacement forward. Then, with the fourth, they could have opted for Valanciunas, which would have been a good pick. But there's a reason so many teams were chasing Tristan Thompson. His workouts showed how he would translate on the next level, and with that kind of athleticism, he provides a good running partner for Irving. They managed to not overcomplicate the combination of two top-five picks. They got good talent both small and big. That's a win right there.

Washington Wizards: The Wizards very quietly had a terrific draft. First Jan Vesely was available, who fits a need for them at slashing forward. With his athleticism and aggression, he makes a perfect partner to run the break with John Wall. Then, miraculously, Chris Singleton tumbled all the way down to No.18 where the Wizards jumped all over him. Singleton is a lottery talent that fell out of the top 14. He gives the Wizards the ability to move Andray Blatche if they can find a taker for his contract. He can rebound and defend exceptionally well. Singleton's length and athleticism, combined with a chip on his shoulder from dropping, makes him a great pick for the Wizards. Shelvin Mack in the second round was a great value pick for backup point guard.

Charlotte Bobcats: In a day, the Bobcats transformed Stephen Jackson, Shaun Livingston, the No.9 and No.19 into Corey Maggette, Bismack Biyombo, and Kemba Walker. That's a great haul. I've never been big on either of the Bobcats' draft picks, but when you consider the balance between an athletic super-freak who is unrefined and an established winner with limited upside, the Bobcats managed to grab two of the most hyped players in the draft. Biyombo provides length and athleticism to pair with Tyrus Thomas. Walker creates a complication at point guard with D.J. Augustin already being an undersized point guard. But Augustin has never won over the Bobcats organization and Walker will be given every chance to compete for the starting role. If his size issues aren't as much a concern as they've been made out to be, and if his shot creation translates to the next level, the Bobcats have just instantly created their foundation for the future while ditching one of their biggest contracts. A great start for the Cho era in Charlotte. 

Denver Nuggets: Raymond Felton got flipped for Andre Miller's non-guaranteed expiring contract and Jordan Hamilton, one of the steals of the draft who inexplicably fell. This for a guard the Nuggets didn't want in the first place. Oh, yeah, and they nabbed Kenneth Faried, who perfectly fits their needs and is a great value pick where they took him. Masai Ujiri is better than you.


Losers


Minnesota Timberwolves: Yes, again. Williams is a great pick, if they were moving Michael Beasley. Or if they were trading Williams. But David Kahn reportedly says they're not moving Williams. They wasted an opportunity to create more assets by moving either one, and instead, will now bullheadedly try to cram two similar players (three if you count Anthony Randolph) into a spot. It's a messy situation and Kahn should have taken one of the other offers made to him for the pick. Then there's the other trade, which was just a mess all over. They pulled in another Euro center to add to their collection, Brad Miller and his too-long, too-expensive contract, and ditched Jonny Flynn. The only redeeming quality is the future first which may or may not be protected into oblivion. Another sterling night for the Wolves. If Williams turns out to be worthy of the No.2 pick, and count me among the people that think he is, and the Wolves recognize that versus burying him as they did Kevin Love, this can be salvaged. From this vantage point, it doesn't look great. 

Update: Wolves wound up swapping Mirotic for the 28th and 43rd picks from the Bulls, then moved the 28th pick to Miami for the 31st pick, which they then sold as well as the 38th pick which was theirs. They used the 43rd on Malcolm Lee, and then traded for the 57th. While not getting Mirotic is a lot better than drafting him, they did all that and wound up with a first later, Malcolm Lee, and Targuy Ngombo. Not a great haul, there. Saved the boss some cash, though.

Golden State Warriors: How many guards can they need? New head coach Mark Jackson and GM Larry Riley constantly talked about defense. Then the Warriors took a shooter. They haven't moved Monta Ellis, so now on the roster they have Stephen Curry, Monta Ellis, Charlie Bell, Jeremy Lin, Acie Law and Reggie Williams. And they just added Klay Thompson. It was an unnecessary move with bigger players with more defensive presence available. The Warriors have enough talent to not need the best player available. But, again, they opt for the usual. Disappointing.

Portland Trail Blazers: Where did that come from? The Blazers first take a huge reach on Nolan Smith at No.21. Smith had his proponents as the draft got closer, and certainly isn't a terrible pick. But in taking him, they elected to create redundancy after trading too much (Andre Miller and Rudy Fernandez) for Raymond Felton. The result is a reformed back court as the Blazers had promised, but not nearly as good as one you would have thought they could carry with the pieces available. Smith may work out well, but he'll never be starter caliber. And, with as many talented guards as there were late in the draft, taking him was a bit of a shock. Jon Diebler is 6-6 and can shoot. That's about it.  


Individual Winners:


Jan Vesely: Underrated as everyone talked about Kanter and Valanciunas, Vesely not only winds up with a good team fit for himself, but stole the highlight of the night with a kiss on the mouth of his lady friend. Then he said "I like the John Wall game" in his TV interview. Vesely came off incredibly cool for a 21-year-old Euro who can't shoot.

Tristan Thompson: Congratulations, Tristan, you cleared about ten spots in three days! It's a marathon, not a race.

Joe Dumars: Lucks into Brandon Knight. Rodney Stuckey problem: solved.


Individual Losers:


Brandon Knight: Plummeted due to his attitude and wound up in dysfunctional Detroit.

Josh Selby: If there was no age limit to the draft, Selby would have been a top ten pick last year. Now he falls all the way to the second round.

Jordan Hamilton: Something really bad must have been found on Hamilton, medically or otherwise. There was a nineteen-pick differential between Hamilton and a player who has rumors of being older than listed with a back issue and a contract problem. That's not a good look for the Texas ex.
Posted on: June 23, 2011 11:03 pm
Edited on: June 24, 2011 12:07 am
 

NBA Trade: Wolves, Rockets trade Miller, Flynn

Posted by Matt Moore

The Wolves finally did it. They managed to get rid of Jonny Flynn. After months and months of discussion, the unhappy marriage that began in 2009 ends as Ricky Rubio finally dons a Wolves uniform and the other point guard selected is shipped off. 

Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reports:
The Rockets-Wolves deal: JFlynn and No. 20 Montiejunas to Houston for Brad Miller, No. 23 Mirotic and future 1st, sources confirm.
So. Just to review. The Wolves try and move the No.2 for a month. Can't do it. Take Derrick Williams when they have Michael Beasley and Anthony Randolph. Have another top twenty pick when they need talent. And then trade it for another Euro center that likely won't come over, Brad Miller who is nearing the end of his career despite having several years left on contract, and a future 1st. Maybe the 1st will be good. 

Meanwhile, the Rockets have acquired a point guard no one wanted, who they are now reportedly trying to trade, when the have both Kyle Lowry and Goran Dragic. And they surrendered a future first rounder just to get rid of Brad Miller who was a mistake to sign last summer, and Montiejunas. 

The Rockets struggled defensively last season without Yao Ming and desperately need a center to bring toughness. So naturally they've traded for Motiejunas whose biggest questions were toughness and effort. It's not that Motiejunas lacks upside, he's got great range and scoring ability. But his questions defensively more than outweigh the good elements, which is why he plummeted out of the lottery and all the way to No.20. But the Rockets needed a center, and they got one.

Winner: We'll give it to the Rockets, only because they managed to take in less money and Motiejunas might surprise. It's neck and neck though.

Loser: Let's say it's the Wolves. Mirotic might be great and the future first is nice, but they have Milicic and Pekovic, and now Miller and his money. An odd trade all around.
Posted on: June 23, 2011 10:29 pm
Edited on: June 23, 2011 10:52 pm
 

2011 NBA Draft: Top 10 Analysis

Here's a rundown of all of our analysis on the top ten picks of the 2011 NBA Draft.

No.1: Cavaliers select Kyrie Irving, PG, Duke University

Irving has been the top pick since last summer and despite a brief dip after his injury in the winter, he returned to the top spot in a flurry of offensive firepower in the NCAA tournament. Irving gives Cleveland not just an athletic playmaking point guard with a jumper, but a franchise quality player with a humble attitude and great basketball IQ.

The question will be who the Cavs will build around Irving. Anderson Varejao is rumored to be being moved and with the No. 4 pick is expected to be used on a big man such as Jonas Valanciunas or Enes Kanter if available. Irving will function as both scorer and distributor for the team. He volunteered for a thorough physical to remove doubts about his toe and has been completely cleared.

Irving's closest comparison is Chris Paul, though he's not the player Paul was when he was drafted. Still, Irving is described by nearly every analyst as "special" and the kind of player the Cavs needed to get in order to kick off their rebuilding project. Landing the top pick with the lottery selection they got in a trade of Mo Williams to the Clippers, Irving represents what the Cavaliers hopes will be a change of luck for a notoriously fate-challenged franchise.

Irving's athleticism isn't of Calipari-point-guard caliber, but he also has a polished jumper and excellent vision. He's not elite at the level of John Wall, but he does have a great overall mix of abilities. Derrick Williams would have been a solid choice here, but Irving was simply the best player available. The question will be if he will reflect the overall quality of this draft, or if he truly is their franchise player to help rebuild the broken kingdom LeBron James left behind.

No. 2: Minnesota Timberwolves select Derrick Williams, F, Arizona

After weeks of posturing and talking, the Minnesota Timberwolves ended up doing pretty much what we all expected them to do: They drafted Derrick Williams from Arizona.

(Now, before I really get into this, keep in mind the Wolves could very well trade Williams later. Maybe by the end of the night, maybe tomorrow. Just want to get that out there.)

I think everyone agrees that the second best player in this draft was Williams, with some even seeing him as maybe the best. So to take him second overall makes sense. What didn't make sense for the Wolves, and the reason they shopped the pick so hard, is how Williams fits within the already jumbled roster David Kahn has assembled. It makes sense to move Michael Beasley now and clear room for Williams to play. But if that doesn't happen, the Wolves rotation is a total mess of raw talent without any rhyme or reason.

Which is what makes the most sense. A core of Ricky Rubio, Kevin Love and Williams isn't a bad trio. Love and Williams are a bit similar and with Williams kind of being a tweener forward, there could be some awkwardness in the two fitting together, but you have to go with him here.

It still makes a lot of sense for the Wolves to move Williams if a deal comes along, but for now, the idea is for Kahn to clear out the clutter a bit and really let his core of young, talented players take over. That's how the Thunder built around Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and at the same, Jeff Green. Those guys had room to fail, then grow and most importantly, develop. Give Williams and company room to breathe and the Wolves might eventually start to make some progress.

In all honesty, Williams may have the most star power of any player in this draft. Love is a very good player -- an All-Star. But I'm not sure he's a true building block star that can carry you. Williams very well might be. He shot 57 percent from 3-point range last season, can play above the rim and score the ball. It's a question of his defense at the next level and a question of where he plays.

There was talk of Enes Kanter at No. 2 as well, but that would've been a copout "fit" pick. Not necessarily a bad selection, but when you're the Wolves, you can't afford to potentially miss out on a star player. Williams was the obvious choice, and the right one.

Now we've just got to see if they hang on to him.

No. 3: Utah Jazz select Enes Kanter, F/C, Kentucky

In a lot of ways, the Jazz sort of held the keys to this draft. What direction were they going to go and where would the chips all fall behind them? Well, they went the direction of Enes Kanter and not Brandon Knight.

Not necessarily a surprise, but a month ago, that definitely wasn't a sure direction for Utah. Kanter is a true center, a 6-11 post player with soft hands and a good touch. Which is what they already have in Al Jefferson.

How does Kanter fit alongside Paul Millsap and Jefferson? We'll see. But it's hard to turn down a player of his caliber in that spot, especially when the Jazz had another pick to use in the lottery. Taking Knight made a lot of sense in a lot of ways, but now the Jazz can fill that spot later on down.

The Jazz are looking at a bit of a rebuild with this roster and in order to do that, you have to take talent. Kanter's got that. He's a bit of a mystery as he didn't play at all at Kentucky, but he was a top college recruit, was excellent in Turkey and by all accounts, will translate well to the NBA.

No. 4: Cleveland Cavaliers select Tristan Thompson, F, University of Texas

Tristan Thompson had made a meteoric rise throughtout the late draft season.  He went from being a mid-teens pick all the way to the fourth pick. His length and size started to catch eyes in the combine and in workouts. His frame and body give him the ability to out-muscle other players, which is rare in a draft low on size. 

Cleveland now has a power forward to pair with Kyrie Irving. The other option, Jonas Valanciunas, won't be available until 2012. Thompson can make an immediate impact. Defensively Thompson's got good ability as well. There are questions about his touch and face-up game, but he showed enough in workouts to convince GMs... like Chris Grant, obviously.

This may have been a reach, but in a weak draft this fills a need. With a surefire lock in Irving, the Cavaliers were able to gamble on who they thought was the best big in this draft. The question will be how he translates to the NBA and if he can put some polish on the raw athletic game he brings off the bat.

The question now turns to whether the Cavs will trade J.J. Hickson, who disappointed last season and who rumors said clashed with Byron Scott. Hickson will likely gather interest on the open market.

No. 5: Toronto Raptors select Jonas Valanciunas, C, Lietuvos Rytas

There were a lot of directions for the Raptors to go with the fifth pick. Bismack Biyombo, Brandon Knight and Kemba Walker were all talked about in this spot.

But with the cards falling where they did, the Raptors simply couldn't pass up an upside player in Jonas Valanciunas. Bryan Colangelo loves himself some international players and Valanciunas was the highest ranked international on the board. Really, it's a match made in heaven.

He probably won't be able to help Toronto next season -- if there is a next season -- as Valanciunas has a complicated buyout to settle that will likely keep him in Europe another season. Which honestly, is probably a good thing. Valanciunas needs more seasoning, needs a little more weight to his frame and a little bit of time to mature and progress.

It's good that the Raptors realize that rebuilding takes time. Instead of trying to land someone that helps now, the Raptors elected to stay patient and hope that Valanciunas can develop into a post presence alongside Andrea Bargnani. Some see Valanciunas as a young Pau Gasol, which might not be a good thing though. The Raps are extremely soft inside and if Valanciunas is going to play with Bargnani, he's going to have to toughen up a bit. He's extremely young and as they say, has that whole upside thing working for him.

Which is what Toronto is banking on.

No. 6: Washington Wizards select Jan Vesely, F, Parizan Belgrade

So the rumors were true. Aggressive. Athletic. Raw. Not the terms usually used with a Euro, but Vesely is not the usual type of Euro. Vesely shows a rare  combination of fierceness in attacking the rim. 

Vesely joins John Wall as a running mate on the break. With the ability to rebound and defend, Vesely has an underrated post game. He knows how to finish in traffic and yes, he's going to make a ton of highlight reels. It matches perfectly with the direction of the Wizards. 

The question will be if Vesely's lack of a jumpshot, comined with Andray Blatche's Blatche-like-ness and JaVale McGee's lack of touch makes for too raw of a front court. Also, should Vesely wind up as a PF at 6-11, things would get crowded down low for the Wiz. As long as the team is going  young and athletic, though, this is a great choice, and Flip Saunders should be able to get a ton out of this kind of weapon.

For all the talk of Kanter, Valanciunas, and Biyombo,Vesely has a decent chance of being the Euro steal of this draft.

Also, upon getting drafted, Vesely's very attractive lady friend planted a huge kiss on him, and later Vesely told ESPN: "I like the John Wall game." Pure Euro gangster.

No. 7: Charlotte Bobcats (from Sacramento Kings) select Bismack Biyombo, F/C, Congo 

The Kings picking seventh, completed a three-way trade with the Bobcats and it was for Charlotte to move up for Biyombo.

What are they getting with the great unknown from Congo? A defensive presence, an athlete and someone that has a lot of room to improve. They aren't getting someone that can score. They aren't getting someone that's going to be part of any offensive set they have. A lot of people have compared Biyombo to Ben Wallace and that's probably pretty accurate.

There are questions about Biyombo's real age, a potential buyout complication and if he really is as good as he showed in a couple showcases. A few months ago, he was a total unknown. But he wowed scouted and GMs in Portland, didn't look great in workouts but because of an ability to change games defensively, Biyombo went high in the lottery.

How does he fit in? I don't think he's a starter from day one, but with Tyrus Thomas alongside in that frontline, the Bobcats definitely have some jumpers. They've got athletes. Biyombo said he thinks he can lead the league in rebounding and blocks, which is what the Cats are looking for. They could've looked for an offensive impact player, but Michael Jordan and new GM Rich Cho are defensive minded people, and Biyombo fits right in with that.

No. 8: Detroit Pistons select Brandon Knight, PG, Kentucky

Most projections didn't have Brandon Knight slipping, but he fell right into Detroit's lap eighth. I suppose Joe Dumars said, "We've got to go best available here."

Because just a week ago, the Pistons extended a qualifying offer to Rodney Stuckey who is a yonug, talented point guard that by all appearances, is part of the process with the Pistons. Now, they've got two talented young point guards.

The feeling was that Detroit would go big and liked Bismack Biyombo. But with him coming off the board a pick earlier to the Bobcats, the Pistons had to weight their options. And it was a best available situation and Knight was best available.

Potentially, there's a chance that the Pistons could move the pick elsewhere to someone for Knight. They were involved in a lot of talks leading up to the draft and I'm sure there's a team that was eyeing Knight that could be willing to make a play for him. Knowing the Pistons' situation, offers will probably come in. And maybe Detroit is open to moving their pick.

If not, Detroit's got a young, solid point guard to work with. That's a roster that needs some talent and some youth. There were other options there that might've been a better fit (Kawhi Leonard, Chris Singleton, Klay Thompson) but Detroit couldn't say no to Knight.

We'll see what happens next.

No. 9: Charlotte Bobcats select Kemba Walker, PG, UConn

So... I guess D.J. Augustin didn't show enough last year? Augustin had a career season and looked to be developing nicely, but instead the Bobcats took an undersized scoring point guard who is more of a scorer rather than a distributor. That makes sense.

It's not a terrible pick, especially when paired with their seventh pick in Bismack Biyombo. The Cats have two fairly big reach rookies, and the odds are that one of the two will work out. Either Biyombo's insane athleticism or Kemba's will to win will make them special players, if both of them don't succeed. Meanwhile, Augustin has to go on the trade block, and with Corey Maggette now on roster, the Bobcats will have a lot of shots coming from the back court starting next season... whenever that is.

Walker's defensive questions are considerable considering his size, but there's no denying his pedigree. If Biyombo was the pure athleticsm, pure tangibles selection, then Walker is the opposite, the pure-polish, pure-intangibles lock. He brings a fierceness that owner Michael Jordan is obvioiusly drawn to, and with his pedigree, he'll help the ticket sales department. Walker's translation to the NBA isn't a sure thing, but his popularity and resume is. 

The freak of nature and the unconquerable hero. Not a bad haul for Rich Cho's first draft.

No. 10 Sacramento Kings (from Milwaukee Bucks) select Jimmer Fredette

It's officially Jimmer Time, Sacramento.

The feeling earlier today when the Kings moved back to 10th in a three-way trade that also brought them John Salmons was that they had Jimmer Fredette in mind.

They got him.

The questions with Jimmer obviously start with his defense and where he'll play. But with the Kings moving Beno Udrih and basically committing to Tyreke Evans off the ball at shooting guard, Jimmer will likely start from day one at point guard in Sacramento. In reality, that's a pretty fun, dynamic backcourt in Evans and Fredette.

What kind of pro will Jimmer be though? Is he good with becoming a Steve Nash pass-first type of player or does he want to keep scoring and firing long distance shots? Jimmer is the type of player though that's willing to fit in. He's coachable, smart and has the ability to learn. Can he guard Derrick Rose? Can he guard Russell Westbrook? Heck, can he guard guys like Jose Calderon and Derek Fisher? We'll have to see.

But the Kings have added some punch and some excitement to the roster. With Jimmer, Evans, Marcus Thornton and DeMarcus Cousins, they've got a pretty exciting young core of talent.

Now, can they win? Jimmer will bring a bit of excitement and energy to a fanbase that needs it as the Kings hang on for dear life in Sacramento. But that near car smell will wear off quickly if the team doesn't start winning. Jimmer will bring a little jolt of excitement, but ultimately, winning is what really gets people buying tickets.

And that's what the Kings drafted Jimmer to do.
Posted on: June 23, 2011 9:58 pm
Edited on: June 23, 2011 10:43 pm
 

NBA TRADE: Nuggets, Blazers, Mavs swap

Posted by Matt Moore

Update 10:17 p.m.: Ken Berger reports that the deal is more complicated. The Blazers also traded Rudy Fernandez to the Dallas Mavericks for the 26th pick in the draft, which they then immediately shipped to Denver (Jordan Hamilton). So to recap:

Portland receives: Raymond Felton

Denver receives: Andre Miller, Jordan Hamilton (by way of Dallas' 26th pick)

Dallas receives: Rudy Fernandez

Fernandez goes to the world champions who need a wing player with energy. The Mavericks are an old team and wouldn't have room for another young player like Hamilton, now get Fernandez who can hit from the outside (3-goggles!) but who was also disappointing and inconsistent for Portland. 

Winner: Denver. They managed to get Miller who is a cash dump and can play backup point guard, and an athletic forward to replace Wilson Chandler who will presumably now not be retained in free agency, and they didn't have to surrender Kenneth Faried who they took at No.22. More young assets and all they moved was Felton who they weren't committed to anyway and who wanted out. 

Loser: Portland gave up their starting point guard and Rudy Fernandez for Raymond Felton. Felton is good. He really is. But he's not starter-plus-sixth-man-for-him good. Not a good start to the post-Cho era in Portland. 

Original report:

In a trade that does not feel like a trade at all, Yahoo! Sports reports that the Nuggets have traded Raymond Felton to the Portland Trail Blazers for Andre Miller. 

The Nuggets essentially swapped Felton and his longer-term contract for Miller who has a team option for 2011-2012 and is an expiring deal after that. The Nuggets may not pick up the option on Miller, or may keep him for one more year as a backup to Ty Lawson. Felton was unhappy from the get-go in Denver after getting bumped to the bench for the younger Lawson.

For Portland, they've been looking to upgrade their point guard position for close to a year and Felton was available and cheap.  Felton likely won't have the chemistry Miller had with LaMarcus Aldridge or his lob ability, but he has better scoring ability, is younger, and a better defender as Miller fades with age. 

The Denver Post reports that the Nuggets also acquired the 26th pick from Dallas (not known what Dallas recieves), and a future second.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com