Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Your Uneducated Guide to the 2011 NBA Draft

I'm always slightly amused when I read mock drafts. Put it this way: if talking heads really knew what was going on in an NBA front office...they'd be in the front office. Everything is an educated guess after checking up on who gets invited for workouts, who had the best NCAA tournament performance, and who Nike likes.

Here at Mambino HQ, I won't beat around the bush. Compared to my knowledge of the NBA, I know practically nothing about college basketball. I'm not one of those old purist d-bags who say that college basketball is better because more white people play...umm I mean because the kids really care! The NBA is the greatest collection of talent in the world. They will certainly get blown out in a professional sports league Quiz Bowl, but I truly believe that the most physically gifted human beings play Naismith's game.

Let's get it started. My criteria:
1. I'm using Chad Ford's Big Board because I love ESPN. Dig it. Because of my self-professed acumen for NCAA roundball, I'll basically decide what type of player each NBA team needs and then steal Ford's analysis because I can.
2. This is what me and my buddy Kerny would call a "should" draft. I'm not gonna draft what I think the team will actually do for one simple reason: I know their teams better than they do.

1. Cleveland Cavaliers: LeBron James, St. Vincent St. Mary HS
That was merely just for the possibility that a Cavs fan is reading this.

This basically boils down to Kyrie Irving or Derrick Williams. I'm a Kyrie guy, but Williams has a greater ceiling. As for the Cavs, everybody's mocking Kyrie here. But picture this: first day of training camp, guy walks in late. He's got cheeseburger grease dripping from his mouth and one of those uneven hobo beards. Nope, it's not Robert "Tractor" Traylor. He's already dead. It's Baron Davis.

Baron Davis is absolutely fascinating to watch...when he cares. When he doesn't care, he's a poster child for NBA-haters: overpaid, overweight, and a waste of space. How is Baron gonna feel when the Cavs draft a point guard at #1? At best Baron would be staring at 28ish minutes, since Ramon Sesh has to play too, at least to maintain his trade value.

On the other hand, Derrick Williams plays the same position as The Artist Formerly Known as LeBron. Dan Gilbert would never actually admit it (unless he gets to write in Comic Sans), but even he would subconsciously compare Williams to LBJ. Williams can be legit down the road, but he's still no LeBron. I'm going with Kyrie Irving.

2. Minnesota Timberwolves: Derrick Williams, Arizona
Rubio, Wes Johnson, Beas, Love. Not bad. If Cleveland goes for Williams, can David Kahn resist the impending jokes if he selects a point guard (Kyrie) at #2?

3. Utah Jazz: Enes Kanter, Turkey/Kentucky
The Jazz are actually pretty deep. By deep, I don't mean they're good; they just have a lot of players at similar talent levels. Ford likes Brandon Knight here, but Memo Okur is entering a contract year and could be traded by the deadline. That would leave major minutes and thus an opportunity for Kanter to show that his talent extends far beyond being a UK cheerleader (Ms. Judd's got that title forever.)

4. Cleveland Cavaliers: Jonas Valanciunas, Lithuania
Question: What type of player is most likely to not LeBronize a city that has already been LeBronized?
Answer: Those damn foreigners. Treat them well, get the right coach, and they will be more likely to show loyalty when free agency hits.

5. Toronto Raptors: Kawhi Leonard, SD State
Totally dig the Dwane Casey hire, if only to ponder DeRozan becoming a complete player. Kawhi is a Casey guy because he's a flat out bully on D.

You know it's a weak draft when a guy like this goes this high. He's basically a slightly taller Tony Allen. Rotation impact guy for sure, but he'll never be a superstar.

Brandon Knight is a wayyy more solid pick here, but he's a Calipari recruit. His ego will be too big for Canada in 4 years.

6. Washington Wizards: Tristan Thompson, Texas
Can't draft Knight here either because of Jaaaah Wall, the essence of cool. Ford says Thompson's got a good motor, and he'll need it to keep up with The Dougie.

7. Sacramento Kings: Brandon Knight, Kentucky
Tyreke's no point guard. Maybe Knight isn't either. But it's not like anything's going right for Sacto anyway. The city's best floor general is their friggin mayor.

8. Detroit Pistons: Kemba Walker, UConn
As a Chestnut Hill guy, I can't stand UConn and I can't stand Jim Calhoun. But Kemba is a natural born leader. If I wasn't married to Ford's Big Board, I would have Kemba ahead of Knight. But it works here because Kemba is a true leader, something Joe Dumars needs for his boys.

Only problem is that the Pistons need more than just basketball players. They need to get a life. You guys are scum. Players like you bring shame upon this great league. Everyone here is now dumber for having [watched you]. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

9. Charlotte Bobcats: Jan Vesely, Czech Republic
We'll never forget that His Airness was caught with egg on his face after the Kwame experiment. (Kinda funny that Kwame was on his payroll this year anyway.) Regardless, it's interesting to note that MJ has gone after college stars after Kwame's career played a huge role in the one-and-done rule. It's not surprising that most of them have failed. (Crybaby Morrison is a popular choice here, but does anyone else remember Big Fat Sean May?) Further proof that the college game can't project NBA success. Vesely and his Euro game present a new direction, something the Bobs desperately need.

10. Milwaukee Bucks: Klay Thompson, Washington State
Michael Redd ain't walking through that door. Thompson can stretch the floor for should-have-been-a-Bocker Brandon Jennings. He's also light-skinned black, so maybe Bogut won't be scared of him.

11. Golden State Warriors: Bismack Biyombo, Congo
Mark Jackson probably won't take a risk with his first draft selection as a head coach, but that's just one of the reasons I think he's a bad hire. Wouldn't it be cool to see Biyombo and Ekpe Udoh play together? All we'd need is Kevin Bacon.

12. Utah Jazz: American Idol, BYU
If Jimmer Fredette is available at 12, the entire state of Utah will go bonkers. I would have to select Fredette merely to avoid a mutiny.

13. Phoenix Suns: Chris Singleton, Florida State
Half Man Half Woman won't have his 18M team option exercised, and Grant Hill is a Free Agent who might want to sign with a contender. That smoothes out the swingman logjam a bit, so Singleton fits here. He can cover 3-4 positions depending on who you read and has enough size to play Power Forward in a small ball lineup.

14. Houston Rockets: Alec Burks, Colorado
Burks won't start over Kevin Martin, but he's the perfect bench complement. He's a slasher that will provide a change of pace, compared to Kevin Martin's one elite skill: having a quick release after running off of screens. Who knows, maybe Martin will help Burks improve his perimeter game, just in time to be replaced. Dork Elvis won't have to overpay Martin once he hits free agency in a couple years, if Burks can prove worthy for the job.

15. Indiana Pacers: Tobias Harris, Tennessee
The Pacers have TWO bigs under contract for next year: Roy Hibbert and Tyler Hansbrough. I didn't even click on Harris' player profile. I just saw that he's a Power Forward. Good enough for me.

16. Philadelphia 76ers: Nikola Vucevic, Southern Cal
I'm going to incorrectly assume that Iggy won't be traded, in which case Philly's gotta draft a big. I like Vucevic; he seems like he could be in a Rocky movie. I just wish he fell just one more slot...

17. YOUR New York Knicks: Kenneth Faried, Morehead State
Ugh. Vucevic would have been perfect here. He wouldn't have to score. All he'd have to do is protect STAT and Melo on the defensive end. Faried doesn't have ideal size for a 4 at 6-8, but the Knicks need defense and rebounding about as much as human beings need oxygen. And maybe the lack of size is a good thing; it could force the Bocks to target the frontline in free agency.

YOUR Los Angeles Lakers don't have a first round pick. So there's no point in going further. I got Tweakcity, USA on my mind anyway. See you guys on Tuesday.