Opening Night Observations

Photo credit: CMG Digital

For all us diehard NBA fans, opening day is a long anticipated one.  Sure, preseason helps us get our fix a little bit but it doesn’t quite compare to the games that count.  Seeing familiar faces in new jerseys, renewed rivalries, reclamation projects, and the NBA on TNT are all things I look forward to as the season kicks off.  Luckily for me,  despite only being 3 games, yesterday provided all of the aforementioned and then some.  Here’s a rundown of some things I found to be worthy of commenting on from last night’s games.

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Orlando Summer League Observations: Day 2

Philadelphia vs. Utah

  • I said yesterday that this is the kind of setting that Alec Burks should dominate and he did just that today.  He displayed skills that proved why he is on another level talent-wise than the other wings in the game.  Burks got into the lane with ease and had several crafty finishes while also showing off his tremendous body control.  It was nice to see Burks not force anything and let the game come to him.  He put up a really efficient performance but I’d like to see him take and knock down more jumpers.
  • Justin Holiday, the older brother of Jrue Holiday, is showing he’s not simply a beneficiary of nepotism but a capable player in his own right.  The lanky 6’6″ wing showed off some nice offensive moves and the ability to knock down shots off the dribble.  His perimeter defense was impressive and he did a nice job making the proper rotations as well.  If he can prove that he’s a solid shooter, there’s a place for him in the league

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Orlando Summer League Observations: Day 1

Brooklyn vs. Orlando

Kyle O’Quinn undoubtedly has a chance to find his way on an NBA roster.  He’s got good size for the 4 spot, a high motor, nice touch, and can step out and hit the jumper.  He appears to run the floor hard on every possession and is always looking to crash the boards.

Justin Harper can really put the ball in the hoop.  He’s got a sweet stroke and can put the ball on the floor if given space – necessary tools for a rotation stretch 4.  He can certainly help fill the void left by the departing Ryan Anderson.  

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Mock Draft 2.0

1. New Orleans – Anthony Davis

This one’s a no brainer.  Davis has been the consensus number one pick for quite a while now and deservedly so.  His combination of defensive instincts, physical attributes, and offensive potential give him all the makings of a future franchise player.

Comparison: Serge Ibaka/Kevin Garnett hybrid

2. Charlotte – Thomas Robinson

There’s only one word to accurately describe the Bobcats: terrible.  They’re in no position to be drafting out of need and could use upgrades at every position.  There’s a lot of directions the Bobcats could go here but ultimately I think they end up with Thomas Robinson.  He’s one of the most NBA ready players in the draft and his size and athleticism coupled with his great motor makes him a solid pick at the number two spot.

Comparison: Antonio McDyess

3. Washington – Bradley Beal

The Wizards added some much needed veteran experience to their roster with the acquisitions of Trevor Ariza and Emeka Okafor and filled a few needs in the process.  With the addition of Ariza and both first round picks last year being small forwards who can’t really shoot, finding the ideal back court mate for John Wall in Beal seems like the right move.  Beal’s ability to stretch the floor, play bigger than his size suggests, defend and rebound allows him to impact the game in many different ways.

Comparison: Eric Gordon

4. Cleveland – Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

Cleveland needs a bonafide wing player to build their core along with their two top five picks in 2011, Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson.  Should MKG fall into their laps, the Cavs shouldn’t hesitate for even second before selecting him.  He may have been overshadowed by his more talented teammate at Kentucky but Gilchrist’s motor, transition game, and perimeter defensive ability is unmatched by anyone in this draft.  This kid has winner written all over him and I can’t see the Cavs passing him up if he’s available.

Comparison: Gerald Wallace

5. Sacramento – Andre Drummond

Drummond is the biggest enigma in the draft.  He’s got some of the best physical tools you’ll ever see in a big man and his athleticism suggests that he should be a dominant player, yet when you watch his games at UConn, you notice large portions of the game where he’s a total non-factor.  Drummond’s motor and desire to become a great player have come into question and are legitimate concerns.  That being said, even if his offensive game doesn’t come around, slotting him next to DeMarcus Cousins seems far too enticing to not explore.  Drummond has serious potential on the defensive end and would really complement Cousins’ game well.

Comparison: DeAndre Jordan

6.Portland – Harrison Barnes

The Blazers need a point guard and a center but with Nicolas Batum likely to receive some big money offers and Barnes being the best player available, he makes sense at this spot.  Barnes never quite lived up to the massive hype he had entering North Carolina despite sporadically showing flashes of his talent.  Barnes had an incredible showing at the draft combine which should help quell concerns about his athleticism.  Barnes can already shoot and play off the ball better than most wing players and could ultimately develop into the star player many believe he’s capable of becoming.

Comparison: Luol Deng

7. Golden State – Dion Waiters

Perhaps no player’s stock has risen quite as rapidly as Dion Waiters.  Waiters has a reputation as a lights out scorer but is a bit undersized for the 2 spot but has nowhere near the court vision required to play the point full time.  Waiters was confined to a bench role at Syracuse but Jim Boheim still seems to be very complimentary of him.  I’ve heard Dwyane Wade comparisons for Waiters but I just don’t see it.  Waiters could be a great slasher who will benefit greatly from Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson’s ability to stretch the floor.

Comparison: Rodney Stuckey (better shooter)

8. Toronto – Damian Lillard

Playing his college ball at the mid major level for Weber State, Lillard was one of the few prospects I didn’t know much about until this year.  After watching extensive game film on him, it’s easy to see why many NBA scouts believe this guy can become a big time player.  Lillard has phenomenal scoring instincts and athleticism.  He’s a scoring point guard in the mold of Russell Westbrook and Derrick Rose and is similarly sized.  There’s some question marks on Lillard’s defense and court vision, but the Raptors could greatly benefit from a dynamic scoring guard who can stretch the floor and put the ball in the hoop.  With Jose Calderon entering the final year of his contract, Lillard can immediately step in and become the Raptors point guard of the future.

Comparison:  6’3″ Will Bynum

9. Detroit – John Henson

With Greg Monroe, Rodney Stuckey, Tayshaun Prince, and Brandon Knight looking to be around for the foreseeable future in Motown, finding a rangy defensive player to put alongside their big man is goal.  Henson isn’t very athletic and considerably weaker than the average power forward, but he more than makes up for it with his monster wingspan and shot blocking instincts.  Henson has improved his offensive game and has developed a solid turnaround jumper making him a factor on both ends of the floor.

Comparison: Larry Sanders/Ekpe Udoh

10. New Orleans – Jeremy Lamb

New Orleans real drafting begins at the 10 spot where they’ll have a plethora of options and various directions they could go in.  Locking up Eric Gordon will be the offseason priority for the Hornets but that probably won’t stop them from taking the best player available at this point rather than drafting out of need.  Jeremy Lamb’s ability to score without having the ball in his hands and potential to be a premier 3rd or 4th option would fit nicely in NOLA where a Gordon/Davis 1-2 punch is clearly the priority.

Comparison: Nicolas Batum

11. Portland – Tyler Zeller

It’s not often that a legit 7 footer with a very polished offensive game, runs the floor well, and has several years of high major experience is available outside of the top 10.  A lot seems to be made of what he can’t do rather than what he excels at.  Zeller can play in the post and allow Aldridge to knock down jumpers or protect the paint, rebound, and knock down mid range Js while Aldridge operates in the post. The Blazers have traditionally had luck drafting big men but they need a center badly and Zeller is going to be a good one for a long time.

Comparison: Roy Hibbert (more athletic)

12. Houston – Terrence Ross

The draft will probably become sloppy from this point on with Houston likely trading a couple of their picks to move up so no summaries will be posted from this point on until the fog clears set closer to the draft.

Comparison: Richard Hamilton

13. Phoenix – Austin Rivers

Comparison: Jamal Crawford

14. Milwaukee – Meyers Leonard

Comparison: Spencer Hawes

15. Philadelphia – Terrence Jones

Comparison: Al Harrington

16. Houston – Moe Harkless

Comparison: Shane Battier

17. Dallas – Perry Jones

Comparison: Tim Thomas

18. Houston – Kendall Marshall

Comparison: Andre Miller

19. Orlando – Arnett Moultrie

Comparison: Jason Thompson

20. Denver – Jared Sullinger

Comparison: Glen Davis

21. Boston – Royce White

Comparison: Boris Diaw

22. Boston – Andrew Nicholson

Comparison: David West

23. Atlanta – Quincy Miller

Comparison: Jeff Green

24. Cleveland – Fab Melo

Comparison: Desagana Diop

25. Memphis – Tony Wroten

Comparison:  Tyreke Evans

26. Indiana – Jeff Taylor

Comparison: Wesley Matthews

27. Miami – Miles Plumlee

Comparison: Ryan Hollins

28. Oklahoma City – Evan Fournier

Comparison: Francisco Garcia

29. Chicago – Will Barton

Comparison: Larry Hughes

30. Golden State – Kyle O’Quinn

Comparison: Larry Sanders

Mock Draft 1.0

Now that the lottery is complete and the Hornets have won the Anthony Davis sweepstakes; we can start to speculate who gets drafted where.  Here’s a quick mock draft I put together without too much thought.

  1. Hornets – Anthony Davis; Kentucky
  2. Bobcats – Andre Drummond; Connecticut
  3. Wizards – Michael Kidd-Gilchrist; Kentucky
  4. Cavaliers – Brad Beal; Florida
  5. Kings – Thomas Robinson; Kansas
  6. Trailblazers – Jared Sullinger; Ohio State
  7. Warriors – Harrison Barnes; North Carolina
  8. Raptors – Jeremy Lamb; Connecticut
  9. Pistons – Quincy Miller; Baylor
  10. Hornets – Kendall Marshall; North Carolina
  11. Trailblazers – Damian Lillard; Weber State
  12. Bucks – Perry Jones; Baylor
  13. Suns – Terrence Ross; Washington
  14. Rockets – John Henson; North Carolina
  15. Sixers – Terrence Jones; Kentucky
  16. Rockets – Tony Wroten; Washington
  17. Mavericks – Tyler Zeller; North Carolina
  18. Timberwolves – Moe Harkless; St. John’s
  19. Magic – Marquis Teague; Kentucky
  20. Nuggets – Darius Miller; Kentucky
  21. Celtics – Austin Rivers; North Carolina
  22. Celtics – Meyers Leonard; Illinois
  23. Hawks – Arnett Moultrie; Mississippi State
  24. Cavaliers – Kevin Jones; West Virginia
  25. Grizzlies – Dion Waiters; Syracuse
  26. Pacers – Jeffery Taylor; Vanderbilt
  27. Heat – Festus Ezeli; Vanderbilt
  28. Thunder – Evan Fournier; France
  29. Bulls – Tyshawn Taylor – Kansas
  30. Warriors – Royce White; Iowa State

Reasons to follow in the coming days…

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