Adam Silver will be rollin’ phat on Draft night
Eds. Note: This mock isn’t necessarily intended to predict what teams will do, but to spell out what WE would do at each pick. Some of that is likely to map onto what teams actually end up doing on Thursday, some isn’t.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers – Nerlens Noel, C, Kentucky
Patrick J: I think the Cavs go with the conventional wisdom here. In a draft without a sure-thing superstar, you go with talent and size, especially when there’s a seven footer with potentially upper upper level shotblocking skills and defensive instincts.
Andy G: Can’t disagree, here. It’s not so much that NERLENS is can’t-miss as much as there’s probably not a sure thing anywhere in this draft and it’s pretty easy to see how his game carries over to modern NBA defense, often times built around roaming paint protectors.
Plus, that flat top.
The photoshop gone viral
Quite a last 24 hours for Punch-Drunk Wolves. Andy G is in Chicago. I’m leaving today for Manila. And Anthony Bennett.
Allow me to humblebrag for a moment.
As I was getting home from work yesterday, I got an email from Jon Wallace, who guest-blogged a story recently on the Wizards’ draft strategy.
Jon wrote to me and Andy G:
Did you guys see the picture on Anthony Bennett’s instagram? http://instagram.com/p/ae2FzoqVWY/
Later, at 8:21 Eastern , Jon wrote back again, saying:
Also mentioned in this WaPo article, as the lede
Will it be Otto Porter Jr. or Anthony Bennett lighting up our nation’s capital next season?
This is a special guest post by my friend and fellow DC resident Jon Wallace. Jon is a Duke grad and a Wizards fan, but we try not to hold that against him. Below, he discusses the Wizards’ situation in the upcoming NBA Draft.* – Patrick J
A View of the NBA Draft from DC
by Jon Wallace
A Wizards fan finds him or herself in an interesting position this offseason. The team finished another year without reaching 30 wins, yet there is more than just guarded optimism for the future. After John Wall’s return from injury, the ‘Zards played good to excellent basketball to close out the year.
With the full(ish) complement of players, Washington played well enough to have the fan base thinking playoffs next year and potential deep runs in the postseason in following years. In an admittedly small sample size, the Wizards were 17-7 with Wall, Beal, and Nene on the floor at the same time. They were 24-24 with just Wall and Beal. Projected out over a full season, these data points have Wiz fans excited about April and May basketball in 2014.
All this optimism – a distinctly weird emotion for Wizards’ fans to experience – was augmented when Washington jumped five spots in the NBA lottery to obtain the third overall pick.
Our cup runneth over.
But which prospect would most help the Wizards as they look to end an era of lottery teams and move into an era of playoff basketball?
Alexey loves the land of 10,000 (frozen) lakes. It’s like Moscow.
Alexey Shved: Minneapolis is Moscow and Moscow is Minneapolis and I like Moscow so therefore I like Minneapolis
Andy G: Amid all of the
pre-draft Playoffs craze, we haven’t devoted nearly enough (any?) attention to our favorite Timberwolf, Alexey Shved.
For some background, in case anyone forgot, here is the best visual representation of how Shved met “The Rookie Wall”:
It was tough to watch, both as a fan of Shved the player, and the Timberwolves team. His off-season will be as important to the team as anything it does in the draft or free agency. The team needs help at shooting guard in a bad way, and Alexey has had/might continue to have the opportunity to make the job his. He just needs to get [a lot] stronger and more consistent with his jump shot.
He gave an interview in Russia recently, which was partially interpreted in a Canis Hoopus thread by commenter RussianBeesnyestEenterest.com (I love that moniker, btw.) Shved had this to say about his rookie season, and hitting the rookie wall:
“I was not able to sustain that level of play for the season – mainly because it was very tiring. Other players also warned me that could happen to me. Avoiding these slumps was not possible though. Playing 82 games in five and a half months – that’s quite a prize (ironic). It is, for example, possible to have 5 games in just 7 days! And if the coaching staff gives you 25 to 30 minutes of playing time it is very hard to give them good basketball until the end of such a stretch. At the end of the day I had very pleasing games and very unpleasing ones. It gave me experience. And for next season, I will know what to expect right from the start. Of course I will work to ensure that I will play much more consistently.”
Importantly, he goes on to say that he’s returning to Minnesota on June 25 to work individually with the team on his off-season program.
The next Kawhi Leonard is probably not walkin’ through that door. So plan accordingly.
Many Timberwolves fans will expect the team to draft a wing player in the upcoming lottery. It’s the position of need, after all. Flip and Rick should ignore the radio callers and message boards and draft without regard for position.
Why, you ask?
Here at Punch-Drunk Wolves, we’ve lauded UNLV draft prospect Anthony Bennett’s game and NBA prospects over and over. For the uninitiated, Bennett is a bulldozing 6’8’’ forward who’s got a nice handle and a silky smooth stroke (ALLITERATION!), with range out to the three.
There are other good players in the draft, sure. See Exhibits A and B.
But suffice it to say that PDW hopes Bennett ends up in a Timberwolves uniform next season. As the months have passed and I’ve watched and read more about potential draft prospects, I’ve become more-and-more intrigued by Bennett as a possible transcendent player, one whose best-case scenario is something like a Star Child combo that’s one part Charles Barkley and one part Carmelo Anthony.
In short, I’ve come to think I might draft him 1st overall. And although that’s a minority opinion, I’m not alone in that assessment.
Here’s the thing: most draftniks currently project Bennett as the likely 3rd or 4th overall pick. That bodes poorly for the Wolves: they’re currently slotted to have the 9th pick, and would have to move up to get Bennett unless they defy the odds in this year’s Draft Lottery, not to mention the franchise’s entire history of bad Lotto luck. And why should we expect any different? After all the NBA has a habit–and I’m just going to say a “habit”–of producing some pretty incredible storylines (2:25). Storylines that tend not to center around the Wolves unexpectedly being in prime position to draft a sure-thing, no-shit, lock to become an NBA star.
Yet the prospect of the Timberwolves drafting Bennett–who, apart from Noel, is possibly the closest thing this draft has to a sure-thing, no-shit, lock to become a star–increased on Tuesday, when Bennett’s agent told ESPN that Bennett would be having surgery on his left rotator cuff on Wednesday. According to the report, Bennett will miss four months.
That’s a crucial period.
It’s March. Spring is (officially) here.
Flowers are blooming and the air is warm. There’s still piles of snow on the ground and it’s cold as hell. But NBA and NCAA tournament basketball is being played. Basketball fans are in a state of full receptivity, like a f*cking lightning rod.*
Me, I’ve been traveling the last week, first to Minnesota, then to Chicago. Catching games when I could. But travel is disruptive, especially for someone who’s usually planted in his lounger in front of a 60-inch TV with the full suite of League Pass and cable options, and two(!) laptops, one usually dedicated to picking up a second NBA game on League Pass Broadband and the other to NBA Twitter. While on the road I’ve been catching games when possible. But it hasn’t been the same as my home base in The Hoops Junkie’s Blogger Lair. But now I’m back in the captain’s chair, and it’s on.
Anyway, here’s some stuff I’m thinking about.
The Wolves Remain Intriguing In Spite Of Everything
In this late juncture of the too-long NBA regular season and with the Wolves’ absence from the Race for the 8 Seed, we’re going to begin talking some DRAFT. We’ll try to make this a weekly series but as with all things Punch-Drunk Wolves, that’s subject to change based on, well, whatever we feel like doing. In any case, here’s Draft Talk, take 1.
Best Fit, or Best Player Available?
Andy G: It’s a common question faced by teams of any professional sport that drafts players: Do we draft a player that fills a need, or do we draft whoever we’ve pegged as the best player available, regardless of position or fit? In 2011 — the last time the Wolves had a lottery pick — this was a pressing question as there was a perfect storm of clear-cut “best player available” (only he wasn’t, but who’s counting?) that played precisely the same position as the Wolves’ All-Star and best player. Of course I’m talking about Derrick Williams. It’s been mostly a disaster with D-Thrill because a) he can’t play anything except the 4; and b) he’s not even that good at the 4. Looking back, the Wolves woulda been better off going purely for need and drafting or trading down for a wing like Kawhi Leonard or Klay Thompson. Oh well.
The Wolves remain without talented wing players. They have a good point guard, a good power forward, and — assuming he is re-signed — a good center. Do they absolutely have to draft a wing in the 2013 lottery, or what?