Here is Part One of my
1.0 2016 Boston Celtics
1st Round Mock Draft.
SV=Standing Vert, MV=Max Vert + SR-Standing Reach = MVR Max Vert Reach.
I'm starting this Draft off with a rant. "He is going to be the best basketballer Australia has produced," Ben Simmons former coach in Australia Kevin Goorjian said. "There was a quote that came up that if you get the No. 1 pick and you donít take Simmons you should be fired. Iím totally behind that. He is the No. 1 pick. Itís clear." If you don't think he is the clear cut number one pick than you should be fired.
Contrarians do the same thing every year, sounding like fools, and thinking it makes them sound smarter than everyone else (and yes I know that makes me sound like arrogant boob as well). "He's got a hint of Magic. You know at times, you can see like a younger LeBron where you're not sure what position he is," the HC of 76ers said. "One moment you think he's a 4, maybe he's a 3. He looks comfortable handling the ball. When you say, 'What is your identifiable, NBA elite skill?' most people will go immediately to passing." When a draftnic compares Ben Simmons to Magic and LaBron, we are not comparing him to LaBron now-days.
We (and other rational draftnics) are not comparing him to the ten year veteran superstar LaBron (I wish I could put make his name flash). He is the best basketball player in the world (Steph Curry is the best shooter in the world. We are comparing him to the 18 year high school kid who entered the 2003 NBA Draft.
We have not seen a 6-9 guy with Simmons' court vision and passing abilities since Magic. "I feel like you said the one that most people come up with first, and it's true," the HC of 76ers Brett Brown said. "You know, he's got a hint of Magic. At times you can see like, a younger LeBron, where you're not sure what position he is. At one moment you think he's a four, maybe he's a three, he looks comfortable handling the ball. When you say what is your 'identifiable NBA elite skill' most people will immediately go to passing." Magic was a skinny kid who looked like he had twigs for arms when he hugged Kareem after they won their first Championship.
LaBron is now a fully developed man with a fully developed game. He was more muscular than any high school player I had ever seen, but he still wasn't close to a fully form adult. Simmons is also very muscular for a 6-10, 19-year old kid. For all those peckerwoods who are annoying me so badly, none of these 18 and 19 year olds are fully developed men. They are kids whose bodies are still far from fully formed. The same can be said for Bender, who is skinnier than Simmons.
Another bag full of ignorant statements that are driving me nuts, is that Simmons can't shot a Three. First off, not everyone in the NBA has to be a great 3-point shooter. And no one who succeeds in the NBA has the same Jumper as a 10-year Vet that they had as a rookie. "I'm just very aware of Ben's situation," Brown said. "I lived in Australia for a long time. I coached his father for five years. I'm aware of his junior coaches throughout Ben's entire life and when you look at his form, no differently to when we drafted Kawhi Leonard with the Spurs. One of the assessments we had to make was 'Was this shot transferable to the NBA? Was it a total rebuild or was it a little bit of a makeover? I think that his form isn't one that you have to blow up and start over. I think it can translate." The easiest thing for a young player to fix is his Jumper, through good coaching and repetition.
Magic shot 22.6% from Three as a 19-year old rookie coming out of Michigan State, and then promptly cried himself to sleep every night for three years in embarrassment. "You take that collection of comments and you add it into a 6'10" frame," Brown said. "The comparisons to those two players could be a little bit reckless. Could be a little bit ambitious. But there's no denying that he comes to the draft with a very unique skill package." LaBron shot 29% from Three as a rookie, and then tanked the rest of his career in shame.
Michael couldn't hit a Three to save him life as rookie. Like, oh, I don't know Ben Simmons (that was very cathartic, thank you). Another spoon full of ignorance that is killing me is that he can't shoot the Three so he hurts a teams 3-point percentage, or some such nuisance. Have you seen his game? No one in this Draft drives towards the hole, attracts over half the defense, and then kicks it to a teammate for an open Three better than Ben. Did you see the Oklahoma game? He had at least five assists kicking it out to teammates at the 3-point line, in the 1st Half (oh, I feel a Tape coming on).
What makes Simmons the clear and only Number One pick in this Draft is that he makes his teammates better, no matter how much they suck (and they sucked at LSU. They missed about ten layups in the Oklahoma game alone). "He sets teammates up for scoring opportunities," 76ers GM Colangelo said. "He's really good on the grab-and-go. He grabs rebounds and runs the break, runs the transition and distributes the basketball. He drives and kicks. He finds the basketball. We just have to put adequate shooters around him." That's better. He makes his teammates better defenders. Better shooters. Better in the fast break, and unequivocally better 3-point shooters.
Like LaBron, he might not be the point guard, but he will be the primary ball handier in most situations in the NBA. "I don't look at Ben Simmons as just a pure-four," 76ers GM Colangelo said. "I look at him as a ball-handling four. I look at him as a guy who is going to distribute the basketball and initiate the offense. I think there are a number of arguments that can be constructed with him." Like Michael and Kobie, he will be the superstar that the offense works through.
In today's NBA the stars who win are the guys who are the point forwards or guards who can control the ball in the final two minutes of a game. Like Pierce and Dirk, and in today's game like LaBron, Steph (yes I know he is a real PG), and Paul George. And don't forget the pairs who work together to dominate the 4th quarter: Westbrook and Durant, and Lowry and DeRozan. Simmons is the best point forward of all those guys, except maybe George. Simmons has the ability to average double figures in Assists at a very young age. If he can make clutch shots, he will become the best basketball player in the world.
Note: Simmons is the guy that everyone is looking to criticize. He picks up crap simply for doing what everyone else is doing. Last year, they top three to five players didn't participate in the Combine, but Simmons gets crap. My favorite is that Ingram agreed to go to the Combine and participate, but then refused to do anything. I think that is worse. If you show up, then show up. Not a peep of criticism for that at all, even though I found that to be stranger. I think he just got a free hotel room and that was it. Hield showed up, got measured, but refused to do the athletic measurements. I bet you didn't hear anything about that either. Strange how the press singles guys out for criticism, and other guys they refuse to even mention for doing the same thing, or worse.
Note Two: Can we please put the trade for Kevin Love in the wastebasket. He sucks. He is not what the Celtics need in any way, shape, or form. Let it rest. Just because he does nice interviews with Bill Simmons doesn't mean he can play. His body has broken down, so let it go. However, Nerlens Noel is a guy they have to think about give up Three for. Philly desperately wants to get Kris Dunn, and would take him at Three if they can work out a deal with the Celtics.
1. 76ers- Ben Simmons- Point Forward, 6-10, 240, LSU, FR,
19.2 PPG, 11.8 RPG, 4.8 APG, Shot 56.1% from the floor, 2 SPG,
The Team: The Philadelphia 76ers are taking Ben Simmons and laughing all the way to the bank, period. There's no intrigue. There's is no drama. There's no mystery. There's no decision to be made. That's why they are so desperately trying to Okafor or Noel. Simmons is the best player in this Draft who is the superstar in waiting. But like Magic, he will do it with passing, hitting his teammates in position to score, and making them better. But like LaBron, he can do it with scoring and driving to the hole, rebounding, and being the most physically dominate athlete on the floor. And like Leonard, he can also do it on defense, and might need to build his 3-point shot into a weapon, though I'm not sure that's really true. He does have a nasty jumper from 16-20.
Philly's head coach has known Ben Simmons literally his whole life. "Each of the teams in Australia were allowed to have two American imports," Brown said. "And one of the American imports we had was a player named David Simmons, from Harlem, New York, who is Ben Simmons' father. The cheerleader, you can't make this stuff up, the cheerleader that was the head cheerleader of that team ended up marrying David Simmons. Our import, who I coached for five years with Lindsay Gaze, and had Ben Simmons, their son." David Simmons played for the current Philly Head Coach Brett Brown.
Brown and Big-Daddy Simmons have been friends since they knew Ben's Mom as a cheerleader. "The Ben Simmons connection, with his family and myself is a good story," Brown said. "I was with David and Julie, his wife, in Orlando. They visited me when we played an NBA game two years ago. I saw Ben Simmons three years ago when I was coaching the Australian Olympic team. And you know, step by step. You have sporadic contact, but very serious contact many years ago. And incredibly coincidental that we find ourselves in this situation that we're in now. You know what's funny is the rules don't permit me to stay in contact with the family [the past year, once he became Draft eligible], the NBA rules." So he knows more about the kind of person Ben really is.
one weakness is that he is a 19-year old kid who can't shoot the
Three. And we all know that if you can't shoot the Three than you
can't play basketball. Can you imagine if Simons shot 17.3% from
Three as a rookie, his career would be over. "I don't look at Ben Simmons as just a pure-four," 76ers GM Colangelo said. "I look at him as a ball-handling four. I look at him as a guy who is going to distribute the basketball and initiate the offense. I think there are a number of arguments that can be constructed with
him. He sets teammates up for scoring opportunities. He's really good on the grab-and-go.
He grabs rebounds and runs the break, runs the transition and distributes the basketball. He drives and kicks. He finds the basketball. We just have to put adequate shooters around him."
Oh, I guess there are other actual aspects to basketball than
shooting. Who knew?
So how in the hell does Philly pass on the best player in the Draft, after they have the ultimate inside guy who knows Ben more than anyone in the NBA? He coached his Dad, and you know he was coaching him and giving him pointers on the court when they got together. Even with the HC being friends with his Dad and all the inside knowledge that garners, could someone explain to me how you pass on a guy with that kind of potential.
The Player: From Magic To LaBron: Ben Simmons.
Simmons is a freak. He is one of the hardest working players in the world. But just because he does it with a stone cold face, that somehow means he doesn't play hard. That is just such a dumb thing to say that it hurts my balls. It shows that you never watched him play a game. Every single guy you hear who says they are concerned about his effort never watched him play. He doesn't always look like he is going all out all the time. But then you look up and he has 20 point, 10 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals, and a block.
What you want is a stone cold killer who keeps his emotions off his face. The Celtics need that more than anything. That's why I want Danny to miraculously turn the 3rd pick in the Draft into Paul George. Simmons instincts puts him in position on the floor better than anyone I've ever seen. He moves less than anyone I've ever seen, who still ends up in perfect position when a play needs to be made. And he is a smooth athlete running, who has an elite burst forward and to the ball.
He led his team in scoring and assists. That is impossible to do without working hard. But what makes him special is that he also led his team in rebounding (a hustle stat) and averaged about a block a game (a hustle stat), and two steals a game (another hustle stat). You cannot lead your team in scoring, passing, and rebounds, and not be the hardest working player on your team. Never mind steals as well. That is simply incredible. When have any of you haters ever heard of a player leading his team in those four stats. It's one thing to lead a team in rebounding and steals, or scoring and assists, but when was the last time you heard of a guy who lead a team in all four. It doesn't mean it hasn't happened, but I have never head of a guy leading his team in: PPG, APG, RPG, and SPG.
His problem is that he is so hard to quantify. He could shoot 17.3% from Three as a rookie, but his driving and kicking could make the Sixers a better 3-point shooting team (Noooooo! That would be horrible). We have never seen a guy do things like he did at LSU. He passes obsessively in the 1st half and often should have ten assists by halftime. Then he shoots and scores more in the 2nd half. He can look like he is gliding sometimes, but then you notice he getting every rebound, playing defense, blocking shots, setting up teammates all over the floor, and scoring. There is a difference between being a smooth athlete and not playing hard.
While Simons is not the 3-point shooter that Ingram is, he is a much more versatile scorer. You can say that Ingram is a better shooter, but you cannot say that he is a better scorer or more versatile offensive player: Simmons was the consensus National Freshman of the Year and was named the SEC Freshman of the Year in what has been a phenomenal freshman campaign Ö He is the first LSU freshman to win the conference Freshman of the Year award since 2006 when Tyrus Thomas was honored Ö Averaged 19.2 points, 11.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game, which ranks in the top five in the SEC in each category ... He may become the first SEC player to finish the season in the top five in all three categories ... At the end of the regular season, Simmons was ranked fourth in points (19.6), first in rebounds (11.9), third in field goal percentage ( 206-367, 56.1 percent), fifth in assists per game (5.0) and second in steals per game (2.0) in the SEC ... His 11.8 rebounds per game led all Division I freshmen Ö One of just two freshmen in the country to average double-figure rebounds Ö Led all major conference players with 23 double-doubles on the year and ranked fifth nationally ... Became the fourth freshman in the past 20 years with 40 points and 10 rebounds in a game after his performance against North Florida on Dec. 2, 2015, where he also became the first major college player to have a game of 40 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists and 5 steals in a game in the last 20 years ... The first LSU player since Shaquille OíNeal to score at least 43 points in a game Ö One of six freshmen in LSU history to score 30 points in a game and joins Chris Jackson (Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf) and fellow freshman Antonio Blakeney as the only players to do it multiple times as he scored 36 at Vanderbilt on Jan. 2, 2016, and had 43 versus UNF on Dec. 2, 2015 Ö Posted six of the SECís eight 20-10-5 games this season Ö Crossed the 600-point mark at Kentucky on March 5, 2016Ö He became the sixth first-year LSU player to score 500 points in a season after a late free throw against Alabama on Jan. 17, 2016 Ö Became the fourth-fastest to pass 500 points in his first year of playing with the Tigers and was the second freshman to do so behind Jackson Ö Simmons had 18 20-point games this season, which was third in the SEC Ö Had an active streak of 28 games in double figure scoring Ö Had a five game streak of 20 points from Feb. 17 to March 1 Ö Had a double-double and 10 or more rebounds in seven straight contests from Nov. 19-Dec. 16 ... Had a double-double in the last four games to close out the regular season before the conference tournament Ö Became the first SEC freshman to record 20 points and 15 rebounds since Julius Randle of Kentucky in the 2013-14 season after posting 23 points and 16 rebounds against South Alabama.
The Reason: Another misnomer is that Philly can't take another Big. They need a guard. They need a shooter. Well, when you have a player like Simmons who is 6-9 (and magically grown into 6-10 at Draft time), you can't just call him a big man and be done. He is a point forward, and a Wing who can block shots and rebound. Teaching a young guy coming into the NBA to shot better is protocol, not some magical enhancement that has never been done.
He is so hard to categorize, because he does so many things well "I love Ben Simmons, but youíre not getting him," Goodman told WEEI. "Youíre not getting the No. 1 pick away from Philly. Ben Simmons has superstar potential. I donít know if heís going to be a superstar, I donít know if heís going to be one of the top five or so players in the league, but heís just so unique in a sense that what he can do at 6-foot-9, 6-foot-10 athletically, seeing the floor [and scoring, rebounding, passing, and blocking shots]. Iíve seen this kid play for three or four years. He doesnít shoot the ball at all yet, which is interesting because most kids, if you say, ĎHey, you canít shoot, you canít shoot, you canít shoot,í they try to show you they can shoot, right? This kid never tried that this year. All he did, and he told me this, he said, ĎWell, itís a higher-percentage shot for me if Iím around the basket than if I take perimeter shots.í So we donít know if he can shoot or not. Iíve talked to several NBA guys, they say his shot is not broke, that they can fix it, or with repetition heíll get better. Iím not comparing him to LeBron (I am). Heís not going to be LeBron. But at 6-foot-10 heís got the court vision of LeBron. Heís not the defender of LeBron. Ben Simmons, if you can get to No. 1, I would package all three of these picks and a player to get to No. 1 to get Ben Simmons." Simmons is a much better passer than LaBron was coming into the NBA.
And as I said earlier, LaBron shot 29% from Three as a rookie, and Magic shot 22.6% as a 19-year old rookie. We have no idea how good a 3-point shooter he will be. But it is standard operating procedure that rookies improve their jumpers exponentially through repetition and good coaching in the NBA. I find it hard to believe that he won't be able to shot close to 40% by the time he is a five year veteran. Also, just for clarification, Michael Jordan was one of the worst 3-point shooters who ever entered the NBA. He shot 17.3% from Three as a rookie. I think Simmons might be able to match that.
He can be the primary ball handler that the offense runs through in the 4th quarter. "A ball handling four who actually would be in a position to initiate the offense," Colangelo said. "Very versatile. Plays multiple positions. He could actually play some three, play some four and even some small five in some situations the way the league is playing right now. But, again, the notion that heís a ball-handling four puts him in a unique position with our team, to be a distributor." He is one of the top ball distributors in this Draft.
2. LA- Brandon Ingram- Duke, 18 years old, 6-9, 190,
17.3 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 2 APG and 1.4 blocks in 34.6 minutes a game.
The Team: I don't want to make it sound like I don't like Ingram. Ingram is a very interesting prospect. It's just that he is clearly the second best prospect in this Draft. It would take a lot for him to end up being a better player than Simmons. But stranger things have happened.
Though they actually have a lot in common. "Ingram has that all-around versatile offensive package," and NBA exec said. "The only question mark about him is his strength. But the question mark about Simmons is his shooting. Now that's the one thing you do all the time and you can get better at. But not only is he not a shooter, but he's a reluctant shooter. So if the Lakers pick him, I don't see Simmons and Randle meshing that well. But if the Lakers get Ingram, they could throw him at small forward and keep that young nucleus together." They both defy the normal pigeon holes of size and athleticism that you put players in.
Ingram could be a Kevin Durant type Shooting guard. Even though he is a much better rebounder, and I think more of a pure forward. He has all the skills of a guard, but I just don't think he can be a guard in the NBA. He can handle the point, and played some PG in the final minutes of games.
I like how he got better in bigger games. Led ACC freshmen in scoring, rebounds, three-pointers per game, three-point percentage, minutes played and double-doubles (8). Played in all 36 games, starting 34 times, and averaged 17.3 points, 6.8 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.4 blocks in 34.6 minutes per contest. Averaged 17.4 points, 7.6 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.5 blocks per game in ACC play. In conference play, ranked third in the ACC in three-pointers per game (2.5), fourth in three-point percentage (.421), fifth in blocks (1.5) and minutes played (37.2), sixth in scoring (17.4) and 10th in rebounds (7.6). Dukeís leading scorer in the 2016 NCAA Tournament, averaging 23.0 points to go along with 6.3 rebounds and 2.7 assists in the three games.
There are two ways he could leap over Simmons as an NBA player. First, he is still growing. He could end up being a 6-11 to 7-foot point forward/center. "Two things are impossible to teach and coach against, unless you have it, are length and quickness," Krzyzewski said. "He can play ball: passing, shooting, rebounding. There is not a phase of the game that he canít do well. He has been really good throughout, and there has been a constant improvement based on what he is experiencing." With his long arms he could have the ability, once he gains 30 or 40 pounds, to cover power forwards when they want to go small ball and spread the floor.
Second, coach K made him the primary ball handler in the final two minutes of the game. He faced more clutch situations with the ball in his hands than Simmons, where his decision making won or lost the game. I've seen him make a game saving block, a game winning pass, and some game saving shoots in the final minutes.
He is a better shooter than Simmons from Three. He shot 42.1% from the college 3-point line last season. "Ingram has that all-around versatile offensive package," an NBA Exec said "The only question mark about him is his strength. If the Lakers get Ingram, they could throw him at small forward and keep that young nucleus together." But just because he is a better shooter, doesn't make him a better scorer.
MJ when he came out of UNC, he was a terrible shooter (17.3% from 3
as a rookie. I love that stat), but an instant scorer in the NBA.
Shooting and scoring are two different skills. "Simmons could go out and play for Toronto tonight and have an
impact," a GM said. "Ingram couldnít do that right away. Both have holes in their game, but Ingramís are more fixable. Heís going to get bigger. His only issues are strength and conditioning and nutrition. Everybody forgets what Kevin Durant looked like when he came in the league. They played him at shooting guard to keep him from getting the stuffing beaten out of him. I think the Lakers are in the perfect position to get Ingram. This could be where their luck finally turns
around." Simmons is the better scorer and offensive player as
his stats showed last season. He averaged: 19.2 points, 11.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists per
game. He may become the first SEC player to finish the season in the top five in all three categories
(Simmons had 18 20-point games this season, which was third in the SEC).
But, Ingram is the better shooter, which means outside shooting. "As you look at a Brandon Ingram, [he is] more of a shooter, a silky smooth small forward type," Colangelo said. "Probably can play multiple positions as well. I think youíve got to look at his versatility. But the one thing that stands out is his ability to shoot the basketball, above all else." He can nail the Three as well as anyone.
The NBA is becoming a run, spread and gun League. If you shoot 40% from Three than you are a more efficient scorer than someone who shoots 50% from Two. But of course there are other considerations, like you don't draw the fouls that knock opponents out of the game beyond the arc as efficiently. So old and new school philosophies are battling it out in the NBA. And right now the new school philosophy of spreading and shooting the Three is winning.
The Player: Part 4: Brandon Ingram.
Reason: There really is no other option.
The Lakers will take the other guy. You win
with stars. When you get an opportunity to Draft one have to take
it. Because he could turn into a superstar and lead your Franchise to the
playoffs for 10 to 12 years. "I always look at talent, high character, versatility and someone who can not only play basketball, but also represent your organization and your city the right way," Colangelo said.
"At the top of this draft, youíll have all of this covered."
You take Ingram because he is the second best pure talent in the
His body is rail thin, "Don't they feed those kids at Duke?" an NBA exec said. "Heís going to have strength problems right away." He has put on ten pounds of so called muscle in the past year.
said he never lifted in high school. "People have to understand that at Duke, it was the first time in his life that he ever really lifted weights and was in that kind of a program," Jay Williams said.
"Thereís no doubt he knows what he has to do to get his body ready for the next level. He has that commitment."
So he is getting bigger and stronger already, and will continue that
naturally whether he lifts or not.
Though he does have some concerns as well. "Ingram just doesnít have that first step where he can beat guys off the dribble with the explosion you see all the time from Durant," a scout said. But he does have the handle to get himself into position to make plays. He also needed to be pushed and cajoled by Krzyzewski to rebound. Simmons never needed to be pushed to rebound.
Listen, both guys played a lot of zone and will need work on their defense. "What Brandon did on top of that zone was magnificent because he shaded Mason and gave the other kids a little bit more room," Krzyzewski said . "It wasnít just the 1-3-1, it was how he was playing it. You canít practice against that unless you have a guy whoís 6í8 1/2″ and a 7í3″ wingspan. Heís continued to get better. He works all the time, and we work with him. We try to put him in situations where he can use his instincts. Heíll go and shoot on his own and whatever. I said, donít just shoot. I said, 'try to, when youíre doing it by yourself and we do it when weíre working with him, just create a shot.' Like youíre good enough to create shots. And then if you hit them, someone is going to say that I taught you that. And so we put that in his mind that itís okay to kind of be you. Heís gotten better and better. He deserves that. Heís not a plant that should be put in a jar. Heís a plant that should be allowed to grow, and he's growing immensely." Both he and Simmons will be different players in five years.
Second Choice: The other guy.
3. Celtics- Dragan Bender- Croatia, PF/C 7-1-9, 215, 3-P% 36.9, FG% 46.6
.75 Assists, .61 SPG, 5.5 PPG, .89 BPG, 3 RPG, 14.5 Min,
The Team: The Celtics are in good, not great, position here. Not getting a top two pick actually makes it easier to trade for a veteran. "You can't base any of your decisions based on what the public thinks and based on what other people think you should do," Ainge said. "You just really have to use our experience, our work and our eyes. And we communicate all the time on what the best road to go is." If you have one of the top two picks you have to take Simmons or Ingram and hope they develop into a star. He shot 36.9% from Three in Israel this past year. The Euro line is further back than the college line, and he is still only 18. Basketball players become better shooters as they get older.
Having Bender at Three is a great place to be, but maybe not as much trade wise as you would want. "[Three] certainly doesnít have the same cachet in trade conversations, in trying to get better quicker," Ainge said. "So that sets that back a little bit, or weíd have to give up more [assets]. I think that there are good players, if we end up using that draft pick. Weíre excited about the potential players." They need the guy who has the potential to be a Number One or Number Two guy on a Playoff contender, not a shooter or another tough PG.
I think this is a three player Draft, and I wrote that before the Celtics got the 3rd pick. "He has turned this Draft into a three player Draft with his great work ethic and growth this off season," I wrote two months ago. "So if the Celts win the Lottery, but get the Bronze, there is a guy they can work into Stevens' system. The thing about the top three players in this Draft is that all are smart, good passers, and team players. They all fit perfectly into Steven's system. But after these three guys there is a big drop off. There are four or five players who may or may not be stars, but are unlikely to become the top dog. Maybe a Scottie Pippen, but more likely the 3rd dog." Bender is another unique Euro talented bigman.
So they need to practice some patience and take Bender to the bank and deposit him on the roster for three years to develop. "I think [practicing patience's] my job in the organization," Ainge said. "I think that ownership would like to see something happen faster. I know my coaches would like to see something faster. I know that my players want to see something faster. I've been in their positions and I get it. And I want to see something faster, too. But I just have to protect us from doing something irrational, just to get a little bit better. If it's something that gets us to be a true championship contender faster, then I think we're all on board, as long as it's a sustainable formula and not a one-year quick hit sacrificing future assets." Bender is the big asset they hold with the 3rd Pick.
You can trade anything else and it would be irrelevant. The Celts are so over-assetted (is assetted a word) that they cannot get a top 20 pick from two years ago into a game (that's a James Young reference). "I have high expectations this summer," Ainge added. "But I also know there's a chance that we go a direction that we take some of these draft picks, and we bring in some young players. Because there are some good young players that may not be as good as a couple of the veterans on our team, and may take some minutes away. And our team record may not be as good, but we think in the long run it's going to be much much better for our team and our development down the road." So having the Nets picks the next two years actually opens a bit of a quandary. Do they try to win now, or take the next three to five years to build a nucleus of young players who can play together for 10 to 15 years like Bird, Parrish, and McHale. Though he was a player they traded for. The greatest basketball mind ever traded the 1st pick in the 1980 Draft, Joe Barry Carroll, to the Warriors for Parrish and the 3rd pick in the Draft McHale. Best trade ever (Two Hall of Famers for a bum)?
So having three Nets pick could actually slow things down a little, because I think Bender is untradeable. "I'm excited about the No. 3 pick," Ainge said. "I would have been excited about it [Lottery] night. If you'd have told me before the night started that, 'Hey, you're going to get the No. 3 pick,' I'd have been very happy with that. But there for one minute I let my mind drift to, like, 'Hey, we may get the No. 1 pick or the No. 2 pick.' But No. 3 is fine. We're excited about that." He is an 18 year old kid with Porzingas like potential (maybe their new McHale?).
He was listed at 6-11 last year and 7-1 this year, like Porzingas a few years ago. He could be a 7-3 rebounding-shooter who can block shots in a year or two (or four). Do you see the Knicks trading Porzingas under any circumstance. When you have a shot to take a kid who could be a star you cannot trade that opportunity. Because they change your franchise fortunes for 15 years, like when Red drafted McHale at Three in the 1980 Draft. They might not work out, like anything in life, but you have to hold onto that chance.
If you do trade this Pick, you have to get a Number One like Paul George, or a Number Two Player in return. I would give up players and this pick for George. I don't think Butler is a Number One. He is a solid Pippen, but not a Michael. But I would certainly think about giving up all eight picks this year for Butler (obviously the five 2nds are so irrelevant that it is a joke). I know Cousins will never be a Number One. Statistically he is a Number One, but real Number Ones lead their teams to wins, and especially wins in Playoff Series. Neither Butler nor Cousins has done that yet.
And I'm only using those three names because those are three guys on the rumor mill. I have trouble believing that George and Butler are available. Other than, George has a knee issue and Indy needs a reboot, and Butler has an attitude problem sometimes and Chicago needs a reboot. Both Indy and Chicago have one 1st, and it is a lot easier to reboot the Franchise when you have four 1st (and five 2nds) to try and build a young nucleus around. And the Celtics are so over-assetted that they can trade the 3rd pick in an 8 for 1 deal, and not have it affect the future too much.
However, Paul George is a a Playoff Killer. If you can get him without hurting the roster too much you just say thank you. The Playoffs are different from the Regular season. In the Regular Season you can have a nice little team play above their heads. In the Playoff you need veterans who are stone cold killers. George is clearly one of the best stone cold Playoff Killers in the NBA right now. If you have a shot at him you give it up. You give up all eight (LOL) draft picks this year as the starting point. Sounds good to me. This is a crappy Draft. The depth goes to about pick Seven, and then falls off a cliff into about 20 guys. Having pick 27 is about as good as having pick 8. That trade would give Indy or Chicago Bender and three picks between 8 and 27.
So if you have to give up Jae Crowder and picks 16 and 23 (and of course pick Three for all the nincompoops out there, all trades start with pick Three) for Paul George, so what. They play the same position. If you have to give up Isaiah as well, so be it. Both those guys are young, fun to watch, and have advantageous contracts, whoop-de-doo. George and Smart can handle the Point. Get George on the roster, spend the year letting the players get to know him, and then let him lead you into the Playoffs.
real question is why would the Pacers do it. That is what I don't
understand. But if they want to reboot the Franchise having the 3rd
pick in the Draft, and three other 1st behind him is a good place to
start. Adding four young talents, and a more experienced vet or two
isn't going to hurt either. But I still think that trade is media
driven BS. But if Danny can work out another big trade for a Playoff
killer, that puts the Celtics in one of the best positions in the
NBA, with two Nets 1sts still to come. However, I think they sit
here and take the uber talented kid from the Holy Land, and develop the kids and draft
picks, as they develop the team over the next three to five years. They're
third in a three player Draft, and the third guy holds the most
risk, with maybe as much upside as well. It is what it is.
The Player: Part 5: Dragan Bender.
The Reason: Buddy Hield and Kris Dunn will be the two best basketball players on the Board at Three. But they are both 22-years old, and not the most talented players on the Board by a long shot. The most talented guy is an 18-year old kid who played in the Holy Land last year (sorry the recovering Catholic in me is coming out). "Right now, weíre trying to become a better team as fast as we can without selling out," Ainge said. "I guess thatís the best way to put it. We want to become a more significant team this upcoming year. And, at the same time, we want to build something thatís sustainable for a longer period of time." Passing on Bender is selling out.
Dunn is not better than Smart. Let me put it this way, they went to college the same year. Dunn spent four years at Providence, and developed himself into a nice driving and passing defensive minded point guard. Smart spent two years in college, and what is amazingly ignored, two years in the NBA being coach by Brad Stevens. Which includes two playoff Series. Which also includes this year's Playoff Series against Atlanta, where he was the best player on the floor in the 4th quarter in more than one game. You don't trade a guy like that under any circumstance, and you certainly do not call a 22-year old prospect, who has proven nothing in the NBA, better than him.
I'm a Hield guy (the Celtics cannot take Dunn under any circumstance, unless they, ouch, trade Smart). If they take Hield they will be a better team next season than if they took Bender. But they would not be any closer to a Championship. "I think that thatís my job in the organization," Ainge said. "I think that ownership would like to see something happen faster. I know my coaches would like to see something faster. I know my players want to see something faster. Iíve been in their positions and I get it. I want to see something faster, too. But I just have to protect us from doing something irrational, just to get a little bit better. If itís something that gets us to be a true championship contender faster, then I think weíre all on board. As long as itís a sustainable formula and not a one-year quick hit that sacrifices future assets." In five years, after all the Nets picks have been sorted out and when you can say they have a legit shot at a Title, Hield will be an average NBA player, but Bender could be a 20-10 Dirk-lite like guy (I was comparing him to McHale as a legit Number Two for a Playoff winning team, not so much their game).
If they stick here they have to take the third best pure talent in the Draft, who has vast potential because of his great length and unfortunate youth. "But youíre getting a 7-foot-1 young man whoís 18-and-a-half years old, who the coaching staff is going to have to develop over the next couple of years." Fraschilla said, "Can he be a very good NBA player? The answer is yes. [He] is not as advanced as where Porzingis was a year ago. Because, A- heís younger. And B- he didnít have the luxury of playing two years in the second-best league in the world in Spain. Heís a unique talent. But in my mind at least one year away from being an effective NBA player." Plus, with the Celtics being so ridiculously over-assetted, they could leave him overseas for a year or two to grow into his body more, and save a roster spot.
So maybe pick 16 could make the team (they really need an 8 for 1 trade). "If youíre not comfortable with him playing a lot of minutes at the highest level over there, the next best thing would just be to bring him over and develop him under your own watchful eye." Fraschilla said. "I think a lot of it is his age. I donít think itís a matter of the young man being soft. Heís just not physically able to go into the low post right now and go hand-to-hand combat with someone like Andre Drummond." He still has a ways to go physically.
he is already doing things over there that most 7-1 to 7-3 athletes
cannot do. "I canít talk about any players specifically," Ainge said.
"But, a player that is going to take time to develop or a player that may not come over to the NBA for a year or two, if we really believe that playerís the best player, we have to take
him. We cannot let a player slip by us just because it doesnít fulfill our immediate satisfaction, or the objective for the fans to see something more exciting. We have to pick the best player, under any circumstance."
Did you get that reference or are you a Knicks fan (ssshhhh, he's
saying he likes the Dragan).
Bender is a planet-guy. There are only so many players over 7-feet tall who can play with his coordination, skill, and smarts. "There are just too many examples of really good players that the fans havenít been excited about on draft day," Danny said. "Last year, I remember Porzingis was drafted in New York and they were booing all over the place and youíre like, 'Well, why would they be booing so much on Porzingis?' When you draft players, I remember when I was in Phoenix and we drafted Steve Nash and we were booed. I remember [they] booed when Dan Majerle was drafted in Phoenix. You canít base any of your decisions based on what the public thinks and based on what other people think you should do. You just really have to use our experience, our work, and our eyes, and we communicate all the time on what the best road to go is." For Knicks fans, Danny has already come out and said Bender is the third most talented guy in this Draft.
Their picking third. "You canít control those things," Stevens said about not getting one of the top two picks. "I think the biggest thing is that there are good players in this draft. And Iím just starting to watch them more closely." Bender is maybe half a step behind Simmons and Ingram, but he is clearly at least two steps ahead of everyone else in this Draft.
Once Stevens watches these guys he will see it as well. "Danny's given me a list of seven or eight guys to really look at, and then obviously we have so many other guys coming in at other pick opportunities, and weíll see everybody come through," Stevens said. "Itíll be probably hard for a true sleeper to get by us. So itís really a great opportunity with the number of picks we have, where we are with that pick in the draft. And thereís so much yet to be determined." It will be very hard to argue with any guy who Danny and Brad choose as the third best talent in the Draft. Danny already revealed who he thinks it is. I have told you who I think it is. If Brad agrees the Celtics will be picking Bender Third, unless a team can offer them a player like George, or maybe Butler.
I must admit the Noel trade has me conflicted. I really like him. He offers something now, and still has a ton of upside. He could be the defensive and rebounding presence the Celtics need inside right now. If his knees are sound he will be very hard to pass. But I still think Bender will be better in the long run. But Noel has such a nice blend of right now, and future gains. I'm completely conflicted.
Second Choice: Trade for George
4. Phoenix- Jamal Murray- Kentucky, PG/SG 6-4.25, 207,
3-P 40.1%, 2-P 50.2%, FT 78.3%, 20.0 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 3.14 3-PPG and 2.2 APG
The Team: Murray is a player with NBA range on his Jumper already. "I said it to everybody that I talked to before the game," Brown, the HC of the Danes said. "Tyler Ulis is the best point guard in the country. Skal Labissiere will go number one or two in the NBA Draft, and Jamal Murray is the best basketball player in the country. Nothing that happened tonight changed my mind." He will over dribble annoying sometimes, as a lot of 18 and 19 year olds do, but he can play the point as well as be a knockdown shooter coming off picks.
He is more a Ray Allen type shooter who needs picks and some help from his teammates to get open. "I became more efficient and a skilled shooter," Murray said. "I found ways to get open when scouting reports said donít let me catch the ball. I just had to work to get open and find different ways of doing that. Just playing winning basketball and learning how to play the two-guard." But he can also create for his teammates. He does a great job getting into the lane and dishing.
He was a great point guard in high school, but moved to shooting guard for Calipari. His decision making at the point is not great, as he tries to get too fancy sometimes. "He was on cruise control," Brown said. "He was hanging out and picking his spots. In my opinion, heís a combination of Mark Jackson and Andre Miller with a jump shot. He plays at a great pace, has great feel, and great size. He can post up and can score from all three levels. Heís really good." He still has work to do on defense.
is another Canadian who came down to America (I love that ironic statement) to play basketball. "It was difficult at first, just to play off the ball so much and not have the ball in your hands," Murray said.
"It's difficult to get in a rhythm when youíre not hitting shots, but I found ways to do that, and I played with a lot more energy than I normally do, and passion."
In November and December, he really struggled with not playing the
But his story is that he is a guy who just kept getting better. "The people that have watched us at the beginning of the year know how much his game has changed," Calipari said. "And what's happened is he went from degree-of-difficulty shots, avoid the contract, and just throw a ball at the rim, not getting to the foul line, not shooting enough catch-and-shoots. Assist to turnover ratio was under water. And we just kept demanding. This is what the best version of you looks like. He's a great kid. He wants to be coached. And I was on him hard. Not as hard as I was on Karl Towns, but I've been on him really hard. All of a sudden, you're seeing an efficient player who's volume scoring." Plus, he has that clutch gene that you cannot teach.
fit here, but I think he is the fourth best player in the Draft. "He has a great knack for scoring the ball,"
an NBA exec said. "He can play two positions. He has international competition. So he would definitely fit the Sixers."
They could go Sabonis here. But he is a little stiff and
mechanical, and no where near the clutch shooter Murray is.
When Canada played the USA team in the Champ game in the Pan Am games he dropped 22-point in the 4th quarter and OT to single handedly beat the US. "Jamal is one of the greatest kids," Calipari said. "The improvement he showed over the course of the season may be unmatched by anyone Iíve ever coached. He grew into a true winner and one of the most efficient scorers. What I love about Jamal is heís a great teammate who has a smile on his face every day. Iím going to really miss coaching him." By the end of his freshman year he was averaging 20 PPG as a 19-year old shooter.
took too many bad shots early, but took to coaching and was one of
the most efficient scorers in the NCAA by the end of the season.
"There's no doubt in my mind," assistant coach Kenny Payne said. "Jamal Murray will be an NBA All-Star. Many times
over. He had to process what was going on. Whenever the spurt hit, all he did was process what we were teaching.
slowing down mentally, re-identifying his game." The guys who
can learn the game the best are the ones who succeed on the next
All teams need scoring. "He's a great natural scorer," Payne said. "Naturally, he can put the ball in the hole. More than just jump shots. Floaters, runners, midrange, layups. Drawing fouls. He can do it all. He's so young and he's learning. He's just a baby. When he accepted the way coach Cal pushed him, accepted what we were trying to get him to do, the way we wanted him to slow down, things opened up for him." Not the best fit, but in three years he could be the best player on the team.
Second Choice: Domantas Sabonis PF
5. Minnesota- Buddy Hield- Duke, Fr, 22-years old, 6-5, 212, Standing Reach 8-5,
WS 6-9.25, 2.2 APG, 20 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 40.8 3-P% on 3.14 3-PPG 45.4 FG%, 1 SPG,
The Team: He will bring the ball up sometimes and shot the jumper without looking at a teammate, which I hate. "Been impressed from day one, his passion for the game, his ability to focus from a work ethic standpoint on things he needs to do to get better," the OK HC Kruger said. "That's from his freshman, sophomore year. Every day he would ask me, 'Coach, how can I get better? What do I need to work on? A lot of kids will say that, but then theyíll go work on the things theyíre most comfortable doing. In Buddyís case, you say, 'Hey, Buddy, left hand needs to be improved, need to take it to the bucket stronger.' Those are things he would work on. He was very focused on what he has to do to complete himself as a player." He is one of those guys who worked so hard on his lefty game that he now drives more to the left than right, which I love.
He makes plays shooting and scoring. Guys who can do both are the special ones. "Buddy is going to make plays for us," his teammate Ryan Spangler said. "We are going to have open shots because of Buddy. We are going to get the ball in good places because of Buddy, so he will make plays for us. I think thatís the most important thing. Itís just great to see him succeed, because I see him work hard and heís Ďs earned everything thatís coming his way, so itís just fun to watch." Tough as nails and is explosive going to the hole. You cannot let him drive right.
He also can lead the fastbreak and dish to a teammate. "Buddy plays at a special level," his teammate Jordan Woodard said. "I couldnít be more pleased for him, primarily because of the way heís handled it. Heís passing around the praise, complimenting his teammates, coming with enthusiasm and passion every day. Itís great to see." But it is his 3-point shooting that will get him drafted in the top eight.
He should develop into a solid 3-point shooting Number Three. "I think the guys recognize Buddy is at the core of everything we do," Kruger said. "Buddyís going to get that target on his back. I think the other guys, number one, they recognize what Buddy has done as being very special and theyíre comfortable with that. They also recognize, too, when defenses make it tough on Buddy, they've got to be able to step up and take advantage of additional opportunities." In the end, he was the guy that made his teammates better at Oklahoma.
The Reason: They want to win now. They have their young Big Three, and need to start winning now. They just need to get more experience, but they also need shooting. Hield is as old or older as the core three, and he can shoot. The Timberwolves best shooter last season was their big center Towns. That has to change. Hield can step in and start shooting Threes day one. Plus, when you draft a player who F-bombs walking up to fulfill his dream, you have to think LaVine is gone the second his rookie contract is up.
Second Choice: Jaylen Brown SF
6. New Orleans- Kris Dunn- Providence, PG, 6-4.5, 220, Standing Reach 8-4", WS 6-9.5,
6.2 APG, 16.4 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 45 FG%, 35.4 3-P%, 2.5 SPG,
The Team: This could be the perfect pick for the Pelicans. Dunn comes with some risk. He is 22-years old and has shoulder issues. "People are gonna want to see those [medical reports] to make a decision on him," Adrian Wojnarowski said. "And now his group is gonna maybe be able to control this process and get him to a place where a team is gonna trade up into No. 3 or 4 for him." Because of his obstinatence with his medical records, he is going to drop in the Draft.
can't take a guy this early without seeing his x-rays. "[They] can't stop them from drafting Dunn,"
Wojnarowski said. "But will those teams do it without his medical
records. Without a personal workout. Without an interview with him?" I
just don't see how any team can do that. But just ask LaVine, it
One thing about Dunn is that he plays hard. ''I'm a hard worker and nothing was ever given to me,'' Dunn said. He got better every year at providence. He makes his teammates better with his passing. "Heís always creating separation in pick-and-roll," Vanderbiltís Damian Jones said. "When you bring somebody two-on-two, he's always getting guys open. He plays the game really well." He is a beast in the open court on the fastbreak, and consistently gives easy shots to his teammates.
Dunn is a terrible shooter, who only hit 73 Threes in four years at Providence. Though he still garnered 16.4 PPG, 6.2 APG, 5.1 RPG and 2.5 steals Last year. "Weíre both fast," Dunn said about some comparing him to John Wall. "We both can attack at the rim. Thatís one of our greatest strengths. And we can get people involved. Thatís what I like to do. I like to get people good shots. And John Wall, he's not a bad defender. He definitely works hard on the defensive end, and that's one of my strengths." I don't see that comparison.
The Reason: The Pelican desperately need a point guard. Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson are both free agents after this season, and both look like they are gone. ''For any point guard who's going there, who wouldn't want to play with Anthony Davis,'' Dunn said. ''He's definitely a superstar, up there with LeBron and all those guys. To be able to play with a guy like that, it's only going to help me.'' So they need to look for replacements for those guys.
Some think Hield and Dunn are the two most NBA ready players in the Draft. ''We're obviously going to get a good player,'' Pelican's HC Gentry said. ''I think there are a lot of good players that potentially going to be strong players. It's going to help our team and then we will move forward from there.'' It is time for the Pelicans to start winning, especially if they want a chance of keeping Gordon and Anderson.
Second Choice: Jaylen Brown SF
7. Nuggets- Jaylen Brown- Duke, Fr, 19-years old, 6-6.75, 222, Standing Reach 8' 6.5",
Wingspan 6-11.75, 2.9 APG, 14.6 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 48.2% FG, 29.4% 3-P, 65.4% FT,
The Team: He could go as high as Four to Phoenix, as he is a better fit for what they need. There is a precipitous drop in talent after this pick. After the top three their are four guys who have the talent to maybe reach an All-Star game or two, maybe. Then the dearth of talent in this Draft really takes over. Poeltl could slip into the top seven. He has a very low floor but also has the lowest ceiling in the top ten. Sabonis could make it a top eight, but he is a little slow, methodic, and robotic. Deyonta Davis sucks. Chriss has the upside, but he is like a stash and carry high school kid, who should be ready to contribute when his rookie contract is up. Labissiere has the Tyson Chandler body, but looks less develop than Chandler when he came out of high school (which is scary). Ellenson has a tragic lack of hops, but he moves around the court nicely. I like the French kid Timothe Luwawu and the kid from Spain Juan Hernangomez as stash guys.
Brown clearly needs the most work learning basketball skills of the
top seven players. "He can handle the ball," Cal HC Martin said.
"He can shoot the ball. He gets to the rim. He posts up. He plays
inside. He plays
outside. More than anything, with all that talent, his mental approach is at a high level."
He might have the most physically talented body in the Draft.
But as you get higher and higher up the levels, skills and smarts become more and more important. "Youíre not just talking about a guy that wants to play basketball. He wants to be successful in the realm of life," Martin said. "A lot of these guys get a bad rap for one and done. Jaylen and Ivan never talk like that. They want to be college student-athletes. Whatever presents itself at the end of the season, thatís what happens." He looks like an NBA small forward already.
But he needs to really work on his basketball skillset. "This guyís the best finisher in the class," Paul Biancardi said. "When he gets in the paint and at the rim, you can't stop him. He can go over you, he can go around you. A great second jump, a jump shot that needs work." He is a project who will be as good as his basketball smarts and instincts will allow him to be.
The Reason: He is a great physical talent. "Kid out of Cal, big strong wing, in the Stanley Johnson mold," Goodman said. "Stanley Johnson was a rookie in Detroit this year, not a great shooter. He fits because they need a big strong wing, right? But if you could have anything that they need right now it would be a younger Paul Pierce. Jaylen Brownís got that body, but he doesnít have the ability to score the ball. He doesnít have the high IQ yet in terms of decision-making with the ball and driving to the basket. He was kind of a mess last year at Cal at times, but I think heíll be in the mix." He also struggled to bring wins to Cal last year.
Second Choice: None