Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Top 11 Las Vegas Summer League Performers and Where They Are Now

A Vegas Summer League commended at the night of July 20 where we saw Becky Hammon and the San Antonio Spurs make history. There were some highs and lows in the Summer League. We saw the top picks, Karl Anthony TownsJahlil OkaforDeAngelo Russell etc. and while they may have not been the most consistent shown glimpses of their immense potentials. I choose to do this a week after the Vegas Summer League to give you an update if the top performers of the Summer League has gotten a reward for their hard work and effort and received a NBA contract or earned a bigger role on their roster.
11. Larry Drew I1
Position: Point Guard
Summer League Stats: 9.0 PPG 3.5 REB 7.8 AST 42% FG
Larry Drew II plays like what you would imagine a coach's son would play. He was a true floor general during the Las Vegas Summer League, while he only averaged 9 points a game, he made a bigger impact on the floor with his passes, what is best about Larry Drew's playmaking ability is his timing. He was always in control throughout and knows the perfect window to lay the assist. He broke out with a Summer League high 16 assists against the Brooklyn Nets. While Larry Drew II did not land on an NBA squad, he signed with French club AS Monaco.
10. Doug McDermott
Position: Forward
Summer League Stats: 18.8 PPG 4.4 RPG 1.0 AST 48% FG
After getting drafted with the 11th pick of the 2014 NBA Draft, McDermott's rookie season got marred by injuries and saw fellow Bulls 2014 rookie Nikola Mirotic overshadow him as the shooter on the team. McDermott needed this summer league to prove that he can translate his skills that made him win the 2014 consensus National Player of the Year while in Creighton. McDermott showed an array of skills, such as scoring off the dribble, driving to the basket and playing in the post, benefiting tremendously in new Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg's new offense. McDermott did not shoot well beyond the arc(13% 3PT) but he is a natural shooter so you don't have to worry about that part of his game.  Dougie McBuckets may be the Chicago Bulls "new signing" this coming season.
9. Dwight Powell
Position: Forward-Center
Summer League Stats: 18.8 PPG 9.2 RPG 2.5 AST 1.0 STL 43% FG
Welp Mavs fans, you still got something out of the Rondo trade, Dwight Powell continued to dominate behind the scenes from D-League to Summer League. Dwight Powell is quite the unique player, he is a 6'11 230 pound bigman with the skillset of a guard. He can put the ball on the floor, create for others and even step out for the three point shot. This rare breed of skills combined with his 7'1 wingspan makes Dwight Powell an intriguing prospect. Dwight Powell hopes to crack the rotation in what looks like a transition year for the Dallas Mavericks.
8. Emmanuel Mudiay
Position: Point Guard
Summer League Stats: 
12.0 PPG 3.5 RPG 5.8 AST 1.2 STL 39% FG
Emmanuel Mudiay is the only first rounder of the 2015 NBA Draft to make this list. Mudiay wowed everybody July 12th against the Sacramento Kings with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Mudiay's ability to run the break with his change of direction is reminiscent of many of the top point guards in the NBA today like John Wall and Russell Westbrook. Mudiay excels in high speeds what he does have a problem with is slowing that speed down and playing more controlled leading to him averaging 5 turnovers a game in Vegas. Once Mudiay learns how to play consistently at different speeds, he has the potential to be one of the upper tier point guards of the NBA. Widely expected to be the Denver Nuggets opening day starting point guard.
7. Alan Williams
Position: Forward-Center
Summer League Stats: 
20.8 11.8 RPG 2.0 AST 1.0 STL 50% FG
Alan Williams was apart of the Orlando Pro Summer League with the Charlotte Hornets however, did not have as much playing time to prove himself, so he hopped on the Houston Rockets' Vegas squad and never looked back. At 6'8, 261 the former UC Santa Barbara standout used his girth to out-muscle everyone and anyone that opposed him in the paint. Despite his size, he hustles for every loose ball grabbing almost 12 rebounds a game and adding a steal. Alan Williams has his limitations as he is as "below the rim" as they come but that did not stop him from dominating Hasheem Thabeet and the D-League select team. Alan Williams like Larry Drew followed suit overseas and signed to play in China for his pro venture. Hey, if Stephon Marbury can get paid, why can't he?
6. Jonathan Simmons
Position: Forward-Guard
Summer League Stats: 
17.0 PPG 4.0 RPG 3.0 AST 1.7 STL 52% FG
Simmons is the only player not named in the Las Vegas Summer League All-Team list to make this ranking. However, his play in the Vegas final is what made Becky Hammon and the San Antonio Spurs win the gold with Simmons winning the Final MVP. Often coming off the bench, Simmons gave the Spurs an instant spark whenever he comes on in the floor. The 25 year old signed a 2 year contract to remain with the Spurs and head to training camp. The way he was used in Vegas off the bench reminds me of a young Stephen Jackson during his first stint with the Spurs and it looks like Greg Popovich may have another ace up his sleeve.
5. Noah VonlehPosition: Forward-Center
Summer League Stats: 
17.2 PPG 8.5 RPG 56% FG 50% 3PT
On June 24th, after a just a year in the Charlotte Hornets getting drafted with the 9th pick in 2014, Noah Vonleh was dealt to the Portland Trailblazers along with Gerald Henderson in exchange for Nicolas BatumLaMarcus Aldridge also decided to leave the Trailblazers to build on his championship aspirations with the San Antonio Spurs. Noah Vonleh after a terrific summer league is seen as the replacement for the 4 time NBA All-Star. Vonleh shown an array of skills that made him highly touted of Indiana. Whether if it was stepping out for 3, running the pick and roll or using his post skills which are pretty advanced for his age. Vonleh doesn't make a similar impact on the defensive end of the floor but that can come with time just like it did for Aldridge. It will be unrealistic to envision him as a direct replacement for LaMarcus, but the Portland TrailBlazers may have got a coup with this trade.
4. Norman Powell
Position: Guard
Summer League Stats: 18.2 PPG 4.0 RPG 1.5 STL 1.5 BLK 51% FG 44% 3PT
Norman Powell excelled as one of the best two-way players in college basketball and did not miss a beat in Vegas as he filled up every area of the stat sheet. What couldn't not do in Vegas? He played lockdown defense, got nearly a couple of steals and blocks per game and created a dunk mixtape against Houston. Powell shown another reason why your draft stock should not be knocked down just because you're a college senior. He might be the biggest second round steal in the draft, he did not just show off potential as a rotation player in the NBA, he shown he could probably be a starter down the line. He has no athletic limitations as he is one of the more athletic players in the draft, he has a developing jumper and can take his man out of the game on the defensive end. If he was 19 with this skill set, he would have been a lock for the lottery. The Raptors gave Powell a three year partially guaranteed contract and could have a role immediately on the team as a perimeter defender.
3. T.J. Warren
Position: Forward
Summer League Stats: 
18.3 PPG 3.6 RPG 1.3 AST 1.1 STL 1.1 BLK 54% FG
T.J. Warren is a microwave on the offensive end as he can heat up in a hurry just as he did against Chicago in the Suns 91-84 win as Warren scored 31 points. Warren at 6'8 215, is deceptively quick and has decent ball handling skills that allows him to get to the basket and draw fouls or pull up with the mid-range jumper. Warren is like old-school 3 in the NBA, he doesn't operate from the three point line, he didn't even make a three in Vegas but gets most of his shots from inside the arc and he was pretty efficient with it. However in this modern day NBA he may need that three point shot as a part of his game especially to play with Brandon Knight and Eric Bledsoe two guards who are already slashers. T.J Warren at this stage of his game would be a great fit at the 4 spot like other converted 3s such as Jeff Green and Thaddeus Young. His quickness and ability to take his man off the dribble will cause mismatch problems over slower 4s. He is expected right now to get a big role off the bench for the Phoenix Suns.
2. Seth Curry
Position: Guard
Summer League Stats: 
24.2 PPG 4.3 RPG 2.7 AST 3.2 STL 46% FG
Seth Curry made such a huge impact in Vegas that Drake almost contemplated remixing 0 to 100. The younger brother's improved play in the Santa Cruz Warriors has followed him to Vegas and put opposing defenses on notice with his ability to create his own shot. Coming out of Duke in 2013, everybody knew Seth Curry can shoot, it was the other parts of his game that was underdeveloped and while he may never be a floor general, he has impressed with his ability to get to the line and also be a pickpocket in the defensive end. Seth Curry wasn't even shooting that well on his jumpers and still made an impact scoring off the dribble and driving the lane something he was not able to do in the past. Seth Curry has finally got rewarded with a 2 year deal with the Sacramento Kings and will project as a scoring spark off the bench.  He did shoot 22% from beyond the arc but have you seen his last name? That is not something to be worried about.
1. Kyle AndersonPosition: Forward
Summer League Stats: 
21.9 PPG 6.0 RPG 1.9 AST 1.1 STL 45% FG
The Las Vegas MVP is the #1 top overall performer in the rankings, showing why the San Antonio Spurs drafted him with the last pick in the first round of the 2014 NBA Draft despite his "athletic limitations". Nicknamed "Slow-mo" Kyle Anderson just moves around the court effortlessly in a smooth way that doesn't get the eye but gets the result. He is an extremely smart player on the offensive end as he can run an offense as well as be an effective off-ball player allowing him to play from the 1 to the 4 spot.  He obviously didn't get the memo that the NBA game is much faster, but then again who needs to tell him? The Spurs are very deep in the depth chart and already duplicates the abilities of teammate Boris Diaw, but could look at backup minutes for Kawhi Leonard plus Popovich is always resting his players.

Friday, July 3, 2015

A Look into the Orlando Pro Summer League 2015

With the frenzy that is the NBA free agency, the Summer League has gone under the radar.  The NBA Summer League is a chance to see the newcomers such as Karl Towns and Jahlil Okafor in action as well as a second chance for players either from the D’League, Europe or even undrafted to make it to the NBA.
The Summer League is where we saw Elfrid Payton(above) show his breathtaking athleticism and passing skills firsthand before he was mainstream when he became the first player in Magic history to record back to back triple doubles. It was the summer league where we saw the “Smash Bros” Andrew Wiggins and Zach Lavine establish their dominance above the rim. Heck,  NBA Champion Draymond Green became a prominent member of the Golden State Warriors thanks to his hustle and defense in the 2012 and 2013 summer leagues that made him the 85 million man he is today.
Here is a look on the rosters of the Orlando Summer League running from July 4-10 and who has a chance of being the next NBA hopefuls.
(Rosters from NBA.com)
Brooklyn Nets
18Adams, DariusG6-1165Indianapolis/Laboral Kutxa (Spain)
34Alexander, CliffF6-8240Kansas
37Birch, KhemF6-10220UNLV/Sioux Falls Skyforce
31Boatright, RyanG6-0175Connecticut
22Brown, MarkelG6-3190Oklahoma State/Brooklyn Nets
55Clark, EarlF6-10234Louisville/Brooklyn Nets
29Delaney, DeshawnG6-5200New Mexico
26Gasser, JoshG6-4192Wisconsin
27Gray, StevenG6-5205Gonzaga/Dijon(France)
16Hollins, AustinG6-4190Minnesota/Denain(France)
24Hollis-Jefferson, RondaeF6-7220Arizona
21Jefferson, CoryF6-9218Baylor/Brooklyn Nets
57Mitchell, AkilF6-9230Virginia/Rio Grande Valley Vipers
20Pinkston, JayVaughnF6-7240Villanova
53Reddic, JuvonteF6-9250Virginia Commonwealth/VP Bologna
17Simmons, JonathonF6-6195Houston/Austin Spurs
2Thames, XavierG6-3187San Diego State/Fort Wayne Mad Ants
12Vaulet, Juan PabloF6-6200Bahia Basket(Argentina)
38Vozzola, BenG6-5195St. Catharine College

Cliff Alexander may have the most to prove in Orlando, after seen as a possible top 10 pick before the start of his freshman season, all fell apart for him before he could blink an eye and went undrafted in the 2015 NBA Draft. He did not set the world on fire once he stepped in as the bigman in Kansas, only logging in 17.3 MPG putting up 7.1 points per game and 5.3 rebounds.  On February 23, the hammer dropped on the 19 year old forward as he was deemed ineligible by the NCAA due to investigations of impermissible benefits received from a third party. Expectations were high for Alexander, he shared MVP honors with Jahlil Okafor in the 2014 Jordan Brand Classic. He has the potential, the question is if he can put it all together.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is looking to turn some heads too as he slipped in the draft all the way to pick 23. Hollis-Jefferson has a chance to show he is more than just a defensive stopper. Not much is known about second round pick Juan Pablo Vaulet other than his coach is Manu’s brother Sebastian Ginobili and he is the youngest international to enter the draft at 19. JayVaughn Pinkston from the Bronx has a chance to stay close to home and Earl Clark is in hopes to restart his career as Markel Brown and Cory Jefferson are trying to establish their roles within the roster. It is open season in Brooklyn as everybody in the roster not named Brook Lopez and Thad Young is in the trading block. Nets’ first round pick Chris McCullough still recovering from his ACL, will not play in the Orlando Summer League.
Charlotte Hornets
24Burrell, JustinF6-9242St. Johns/USA
1Cobbs, JustinG6-3190California/USA
34Craft, AaronG6-2192Ohio State/USA
30Daniels, TroyG6-4204Virginia Commonwealth/USA
19Hairston, P.J.G6-6220North Carolina/USA
9Harrison, AaronG6-6209Kentucky/USA
4Kaminsky, FrankF-C7-0242Wisconsin/USA
55Murphy, KevinG6-5185Tennessee Tech/USA
41Qvale, BrianC6-11255Montana/USA
23Rendleman, KeithF6-8220UNC Wilmington/USA
10Ross, LaQuintonF6-8220Ohio State/USA
21Turner, RalstonG6-6205North Carolina State/USA
20Wallace, JonathanG6-2195Georgetown/USA
16Williams, AlanF-C6-8261UC Santa Barbara/USA

Troy Daniels made himself famous for hitting the game winning shot against the Portland TrailBlazers, Game 3 in the NBA Playoffs while playing for the Houston Rockets. After that he became an immediate journeyman playing for 3 teams in one season. He carved out a little niche for himself in Charlotte but will have to be on his A-game to make it to training camp. Has proven he can score the basketball, needs to contribute in more areas of the game.
According to the Charlotte Observer, Frank the Tank looked “rusty” during the Hornets’ first practice and that is not a good sign if you are already known as the guy that got drafted over Justise Winslow. Kaminsky has a chance to be the focal point of the Hornets’ summer league roster and prove he can hang with the big boys. Aaron Harrison will need to establish a consistent three point shot to make a roster after going undrafted. Aaron Craft was one of the top D’Leaguers last season winning the championship with the Santa Cruz Warriors and also getting defensive player of the year honors, could be a breakout summer league star this year.
Detroit Pistons
30Atkins, ManuelF6-6205Georgia State/Grand Rapids Drive
13Barlow, KelseyG6-5200UIC/Grand Rapids Drive
12Baron, BillyG6-2195Canisius/Lietuvos Rytas
32Berggren, JaredF-C6-10235Wisconsin/Telenet BC Oostende
8Dinwiddie, SpencerG6-6208Colorado/Detroit Pistons
17Gaines, SundiataG6-1195Georgia/Sidigas Avellino
53Gray, KendallC6-10240Delaware State
33Harper, JustinF6-10225Richmond/Sidigas Avellino
6Hilliard, DarrunG6-6215Villanova
41Holsey, KammeonF6-8234Georgia Tech/Grand Rapids Drive
3Johnson, StanleyF6-7245Arizona
42Kemp, AdamF6-10235Marist/KK Feni Industries
34Miller, QuincyF6-9234Baylor/Detroit Pistons
55Thomas, AdonisF6-6240Memphis/Grand Rapids Drive
45Washburn, JulianF-G6-8210UTEP
31Wear, DavidF6-10225UCLA/Reno Bighorns

Greg Monroe signed with the Milwaukee Bucks for 3 years and 50 million leaving a void in the Detroit Pistons 4 spot. Stanley Johnson was drafted to be the team’s small forward but with Monroe leaving, Johnson might have the biggest chance to show his worth in the association as he has shown to play both positions in Arizona. At the age of 19 he already has a NBA body big enough to defend NBA 4s and quick enough to defend NBA 3s. Detroit might pull him back for the final games of the summer league but he has a chance to show why he is the self-proclaimed “best player in the draft”.
Darrun Hillard was highly productive during his time in Villanova and with a team that lacks 3 point shooters will need to shoot as well as he did in college to get regular season minutes. With Brandon Jennings still recovering from his achilles, Spencer Dinwiddle has to show his worth to backup Reggie Jackson in the NBA. The Pistons boast a young roster so it is great opportunity for all players involved to make a team.
Indiana Pacers
19Eddie, JarellG6-7218Virginia Tech/Austin Spurs
44Hill, SolomonF6-7225Arizona/Indiana Pacers
10Kalnietis, MantasG6-5185Lithuania/Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar
7Lacy, DaVonteG6-4210Washington State
20Lockett, TrentG6-5209Marquette/Lowen Braunschweig
23Nunnally, JamesF6-7205UC-Santa Barbara/Maccabi Ashdod
6Octeus, JonG6-4170Purdue
50Onuaku, ArinzeC6-9275Syracuse/Minnesota Timberwolves
24Osby, RomeroF6-8238Oklahoma/Indios de Mayaguez
40Stainbrook, MattC6-10270Xavier
33Turner, MylesC6-11238Texas
17Watford, ChristianF6-9220Indiana/Reno Bighorns
42Whittington, ShayneF6-11250Western Michigan/Indiana Pacers
1Young, JoeG6-2180Oregon

With David West leaving the team on not the happiest of terms, it opens a void in the Indiana frontcourt which Myles Turner can make a mark to be a starter out the gate. Despite his size, Turner’s strength is the mid range shot, a weapon David West was deadly with in his time in Indiana. Turner is also a good FT shooter(83.9 pct in Texas) which is a rare strength for a 7 footer. A weakness is his physicality in the paint although he has a body frame that can gain a lot of weight. He is a little raw though, might of left college a year or two before he was ready, just as likely to become a steal as he is a bust.
Solomon Hill was the Paul George replacement in the starting lineup last season and despite that is still trying to prove himself on the summer league. Former Big East bigmen Arinze Onuaku and Matt Stainbrook are auditioning for backup center, both undersized but make up for it with effort and strength inside the paint. After signing Monta Ellis, Indiana is contending for the playoffs, so spots will be hard to come by for players not already on the main roster.
Los Angeles Clippers
22Dawson, BrandenF6-6225Michigan St./USA
8Garrett, DianteG6-5189Iowa St./USA
21Griffin, EricF6-8193Campbell /USA
1Hamilton, JordanF6-7220Texas /USA4
20Johnson, GeronG6-3202Memphis /USA
31Johnson, HaakimF6-7200Pikeville /USA
18M’Baye, AmathF6-8215Oklahoma /USA
19McMorrow, LiamC7-2275Tennessee Tech/USA
12Moreira, YanickC6-11220SMU /USA
2Newbill, D.J.G6-4210Penn St./USA
42Parham, TimF6-9239Maryland EasternShore/USA
33White, RoyceF6-8268Iowa St./USA
30Wilcox, C.J.G6-5195Washington /USA
10Wolters, NateG6-4193South DakotaSt./USA
14Young, PatricC6-9239Florida /USA

At 24 years old, this may be C.J. Wilcox’s last chance to make the rotation of the LA Clippers. A former first round pick out of Washington, Wilcox was supposed to come in and provide a scoring spark off the bench. The Clips crowded backcourt made life hard for Wilcox to get PT as he spent some time in the D’League to get some experience. Wilcox strength is his three point shooting, which is always needed playing with ball dominant Chris Paul.
It might be Jordan Hamilton and Nate Wolters’ last shot to make a NBA roster, Jordan Hamilton known as a slasher and Wolters a pass first heady point guard who had meaningful minutes with the Milwaukee Bucks during his rookie season. Royce White will always be remembered as the player who boycotted the Houston Rockets over his anxiety on flying on planes, is probably not quick enough to defend the modern day 4. Clippers are a team pushing for a championship and will be lucky if any player(outside of C.J. Wilcox) will make the main roster.

Memphis Grizzlies
3Adams, JordanG6-5209Memphis Grizzlies
21Cameron, JoshG6-1175Coastal Carolina
14Cowels, RaymondF-G6-4206Dan Helder (Netherlands)
6Crocker, TonyG-F6-7209Hapoel Holon (Israel)
0Green, JayMychalF6-9227Memphis Grizzlies
4Harrison, AndrewG6-6213Kentucky
20Holyfield, MichaelC6-11270Sam Houston State
53Kirk, AlexC7-0245Canton Charge
35Lazare, DarnellF6-8240London Lightning
7Madden, KyG6-5171Arkansas
23Scrubb, PhilipG6-3180Carleton University
2Smith, RussG6-0165Memphis Grizzlies
1Stokes, JarnellF-C6-9263Memphis Grizzlies
18Warren, JoshF-C6-9220Kumamoto Vorters (Japan)
8White, OkaroF6-9180Granarolo Bologna (Italy)

Memphis are likely to have Marc Gasol signed to a long term contract which means they’ll be back trying to contend for a championship. Grizzlies are always solid in the frontcourt, it is the backcourt that usually leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to scoring. Enter Jordan Adams, a high scoring shooting guard for UCLA only played 30 games for Memphis his rookie season. The Grizzlies are not known to give a young rook big minutes so this summer league is to show how much Jordan Adams has improved from the previous season and if he is ready to give the Grizz  much added scoring spark.
Jarnell Stokes  and Russ Smith have also found times rough in Memphis and both are auditioning for backup roles. Andrew Harrison unlike his twin brother got drafted with the 44th pick but he is more of a tweener than a combo guard, needs to show if he can handle PG duties.  JayMychal Green dominated in the D-League with 23 points a game and 10.9 rebounds, which lead Memphis to reward him with a multi-year contract.

Miami Heat
50Burgess, BradfordF6-5224VCU
12Dragic, ZoranG6-5200Unicaja Malaga (Slovenia)
32Ennis, JamesF6-7208Long Beach State
27Gabriel, KennyF6-8210Auburn
38Howard Jr., JuwanG6-5228Detroit Mercy
8Johnson, TylerG6-4190Fresno State
25Kalinoski, TylerG6-4189Davidson
26McGruder, RodneyG6-4205Kansas State
13Napier, ShabazzG6-1175Connecticut
34Olaseni, GabrielC6-10225Iowa
35Reed, WillieF-C6-11231St. Louis
14Richardson, JoshG6-6200Tennessee
51Smith, JoshuaC6-10360Georgetown
36Trice, TravisG6-2177Michigan State
29Tuttle, SethF6-9225Northern Iowa
5Walker, HenryF6-6235Kansas State
21Whiteside, HassanC7-0265Marshall
28Whittington, GregF6-8212Georgetown
20Winslow, JustiseF6-6225Duke

It was a surprise to everybody that Justise Winslow fell into the clutches of Pat Riley with the 10th pick of the draft. A week after the draft, the Heat signed Dwayne Wade to a 1 year, 20 million dollar contract and with Chris Bosh back, it looks like Miami is once again in the fold to compete in the Eastern Conference.  The reason Winslow fell because many teams were skeptical of his perimeter game, which I’m sure Winslow will be eager to display in Orlando.
Hassan Whiteside was one of the feel-good stories of the NBA from bouncing around in the D-League to becoming a legit NBA starting center. Whiteside is not playing any games but will practice with the summer league roster. Shabazz Napier battled injury in his rookie season with a hernia and may not play the first summer league game. Travis Trice made a name for himself in Michigan State’s national tournament run, is he a NBA point guard? Zoran Dragic and Juwan Howard Jr. may be on the squad because of their last names and will need to show that is not the only reason they are on the roster.
Oklahoma City Thunder
23Bader, TravisG6-5190Oakland
7Christon, SemajG6-3190Xavier
41Cobbins, MichaelF6-8230Oklahoma State
11Cook, QuinnG6-2185Duke
26Cotton, TekeleG6-2202Wichita State
18Esho, MaxieF6-8215Massachusetts
30Gaines, FrankG6-3195IPFW
44Johnson, DakariC7-0255Kentucky
16Jones, KevinF6-8260West Virginia
33McGary, MitchF6-10255Michigan
31Randolph, LeviG6-4205Alabama
15Solomon, RichardF-C6-11230California
40Southerland, JamesF6-8225Syracuse
25Teague, MarquisG6-2225Kentucky
42Zanna, TalibF-C6-9230Pittsburgh

Last season was a disaster for OKC as Kevin Durant suffered from a broken foot which led Russell Westbrook carrying the bulk and failed to reach the playoffs for the first time since Westbrook’s rookie season. Head coach Scott Brooks got fired and longtime University of Florida head coach Landon Donovan took his place at the helm. The Thunder used the 15th pick to draft guard Cameron Payne out of Murray State who will not play in the summer league due to a fractured finger.
Marquis Teague though will get a chance(and probably his last) to prove he is a NBA point guard. Marquis Teague was once dubbed the “better brother” over the older Jeff Teague although Jeff has proven to be a top tier point guard while Marquis is fighting for a roster spot. Dakari Johnson might have left Kentucky too early as he got picked 48th in the NBA draft. He hopes he does not follow the same path as another former Kentucky bigman Daniel Orton did with the Thunder. Quinn Cook is a shooting guard in a point guard’s body, OKC is the perfect roster for him as Russell Westbrook is able to defend 2 guards. Quinn Cook will need to showcase that he can stretch the floor that he was known for at Duke.
Orlando White
6Appling, KeithG6-1185Erie Bayhawks
43Bachynski, JordanC7-2250Westchester Knicks
25Benson, KeithC6-11229BC Kalev/Cramo
22Bohannon, JohnF6-11210Erie Bayhawks
24Braun, TaylorG6-7210Okapi Aalstar
14Carson, JahaiiG5-10180Metalac Valjevo
19Ejim, MelvinF6-6220Virtus Roma
31Mason, AntoineG6-3210Auburn
53Ndoye, YoussouC6-11235St. Bonaventure
28Rice Jr, GlenF6-6206Rio Grande Valley Vipers
33Singleton, ChrisF6-9228Oklahoma City
32Smith, LenzelleG6-4210Erie Bayhwaks
26Walker, DondrayG6-5190Newberry College
15Wilbekin, ScottieG6-2176AEK Athens
37Williams, JarvisF6-8212Murray State

The Orlando Magic are going to have two teams in the summer league with Orlando Blue being the first team and Orlando White being the second team.  The white team is using this as a showcase for possibly the Vegas Summer League and features a couple of players formerly of the NBA.
Chris Singleton was supposed to be an elite defender in the NBA at the age of 25 but failed to establish himself so far. Glen Rice Jr found success in the D’League with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers excelling at a point forward role may have his last shot to prove his worth.

Orlando Blue
45Broekhoff, RyanF6-7215Besiktas Integral
30Coursey, DanielC6-10220Erie Bayhawks
16Crawford, DrewG6-5215Erie Bayhawks
20Davies, BrandonF6-10240Virtus Roma
50Egwu, NnannaC6-11250Illinois
00Gordon, AaronF6-9220Orlando Magic
1Harvey, TylerG6-4185Eastern Washington
23Hezonja, MarioG-F6-8218FC Barcelona
11Marble, DevynG6-6200Orlando Magic
52Morgan, JordanF6-8250Virtus Roma
4Payton, ElfridG6-4185Orlando Magic
36Sibert, JordanG6-4187Dayton
17Siva, PeytonG6-0185Erie Bayhawks
54Thomas, TaShawnF6-8242Oklahoma
55Trawick, JabrilF6-5220Georgetown
35Walker, MauriceC6-10255Minnesota

Aside from Elfrid Payton making another summer league appearance, this will be a chance for Magic fans to see their 5th pick of the draft Mario Hezonja in action. Hezonja boasts similarities to J.R. Smith, he is athletic, can score in bunches in hurry but is prone to have droughts and is prone to have bouts with coaches as he did in Barcelona. However the Croatian is not short of confidence, when asked if he has ever watched soccer affiliate’s Lionel Messi he told the reporter that Messi should watch him. He gives Magic a much needed scorer and the combination of Payton, Oladipo and Hezonja should be fun to watch.
Aaron Gordon’s rookie year was interrupted due to injuries and it is still a question where his best position on the floor is. He is too skinny for the 4 spot while he has no perimeter game for the 3 spot. While Gordon has the potential to be a game changing defender, his offense is pretty offensive. Famous for his heroics in college, Peyton Siva may have this as his last break to show height is not an issue to make an NBA roster. The Orlando Magic has possibly the youngest main roster in the NBA, so spots are up for grabs.

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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

2015 NBA Draft: Player Grades

The NBA Draft where the story begins...

Despite the NBA, NFL and all the major soccer leagues concluded to an end, this is my favorite part of the year, the NBA Draft. I've been closely following the NBA Draft since I was a kid, the prospects, mock drafts, talk shows etc. From pleading in my bedroom for my Atlanta Hawks to draft Chris Paul over Marvin Williams to saying that Michael Beasley was the best player of the 2008 draft class.
It's just that thing, the NBA Draft (well all drafts for that matter) is a glorified guessing game for all teams in their respective leagues. In the NBA's case, the 14 teams that did not make the playoffs are drawn into a lottery with the worst having the highest percentage and second worst having second highest percentage and so on, this system (while Knicks fan are not too fond of it) is a fair system that does not allow teams that tank to always get what they want (just ask Knicks fans).
There is alot of player archetypes going on in every draft year, from the sure things to the players that could be the difference to you losing your GM job. The draft provokes a reaction from fans and players alike from fans booing the top commish every time he steps to the podium, to a player questioning their team's draft pick whom was deemed "two years away from being two years away".

The 2015 NBA Draft is full of different type of players that can change a team's fortune for better or worse. While I don't believe this draft will end up like the 96 Draft or the 03 Draft this will be one of the more solid draft classes we've seen (certainly better than the last two years).
In this article, is a grouping on where the players stand in the NBA Draft from my viewpoint.

Possesses all the athletic traits and skills to be a perennial All-Star in the NBA. This is the player(s) who have all the tools in regards to be a household name in the NBA.(ex. Anthony Davis, Andrew Wiggins, John Wall, Kevin Durant)

F/C Karl-Anthony Towns - Kentucky

Karl Towns has shown through his time in Kentucky he can be a game changer defensively. At 7'0 250 pounds, Towns has the mobility and size that NBA scouts want in a bigman, and the skill that someone with his raw talents usually lack at his age. Already projects as a elite shot-blocker (2.2 in 21.1 minutes), excellent jumpshot from mid-range and is also an good free throw shooter (81.3 FT percentage). His weaknesses are his post game and foul trouble but two aspects that can easily improve with further coaching. He might not get the big scoring numbers as a Anthony Davis, defensively he can be just as much of an impact. His quickness just like Davis allows him to play the four and five spot.

Can't miss prospect who has the potential to be one of the better players of the NBA. May not be a household name but talent level is a in the NBA, Skills are already extremely polished to make an impact on the NBA but not as high of an upside as the future star. May have limitations that are holding him back. (ex. Al Horford, Al Jefferson, Jimmy Butler, Brook Lopez)

C Jahlil Okafor - Duke

I first watched Okafor live in the 2014 Jordan Brand Classic at the Barclays Center, and I came away amazed that someone his age can be so seasoned and polished. His post moves were already NBA caliber, it was almost like watching Steph Curry's jumpshot if you are all about the fundamentals like I am, the way he recognized defenses no wasted movements, knew when to fade knew when to go inside he made it look so effortless, So why I do I not have him at Future Star you ask? It is because I am not sold on how much he will improve. Jahlil Okafor reminds me of a slower LaMarcus Aldridge/Al Jefferson hybrid which means I believe he can be a 20 a game scorer but lacks the defense intensity to be an interior force and lacks the foot speed to play in a fast pace tempo or to play the four spot. Jahlil Okafor always dominated as he usually had a considerable size advantage over the person opposing him, how will he fare against opposition his own size?  Jahlil Okafor grades out as the most NBA ready prospect but does not have the potential as a Karl Towns.

Justise Winslow Signs with Roc Nation: Latest Details, Comments and Reaction

G/F Justise Winslow - Duke

Jahlil Okafor's right hand man also grades out as a High Class prospect. He can do all the little things and was every bit as important to Duke's National Championship run as Jahilil Okafor. What I like most about Winslow is that he already possesses the strength needed to be a NBA swingman, he uses that size to be an excellent defender that can guard all perimeter positions even well as a power forward. The fact that he may be a 2 guard in the NBA but was able to play the 4 spot in the NCAA is a testament to his strength and post defense. Winslow is also a better scorer than given credit for, what he lacks is the ability to create his own shot but is a good spot-up shooter hitting 41.4 percent of his three point shots in college. Winslow's projected draft range is 4-8 with 4 being a slight reach, however Winslow's game reminds me of a Kawhi Leonard/Jimmy Butler on the high end with Wilson Chandler being the low end and should be paid closer attention to.

These guys can flat out put the ball in the basket. They possess a potent jumpshot as well as the ability to create their own shot off the dribble. These guys can heat up any moment and put a scoring clinic on opposing defenses. (ex. Bradley Beal, Klay Thompson, Jamal Crawford, James Harden)

G D'Angelo Russell - Ohio State

I am extremely high on D'Angelo Russell as his position versatility and scoring ability can help any team in the top five of the draft. Russell can shoot the lights out, Russell was 41.1 from the three point line during his only year in Ohio State while attempting 7 threes a game. Russell also has the ball handling skills to create his own shot off the dribble with the ability to create for others averaging 5 assists per game. Russell just give me shades of Brandon Roy and like the former Trail-Blazer, makes up for his lack of elite athleticism with his craftiness. For critics questioning his lack of athleticism, he ranks number one in Transition Points per 40 minutes with 7.4(via Draftexpress). D'Angelo Russell will have no problems creating offense in the NBA.

G/F Mario Hezonja - Croatia(FC Barcelona)

Hezonja is a 6'8 200 Croatian shooting guard who plays for one of the best European clubs in the world FC Barcelona. Along with that size, Hezonja is a knockdown shooter and can heat up in an instant. Hezonja also benefits from his explosion and is able to finish effectively off the dribble. Think of an European J.R. Smith and that might fit the profile of Hezonja, a guy who is a microwave when hitting his first couple of shots. Like J.R. Smith when he is cold he can shoot you out of a game, as well as he has had problems with his discipline in Barcelona complaining about his sporadic playing time. Nonetheless Mario Hezonja knows how to score and that will translate to the NBA.

G Devin Booker - Kentucky

With the countless freshman that Kentucky boasts every year, there is always one or two players from each class that declare for the NBA Draft , whether it was James Young, Archie Goodwin, Daniel Orton you name it and the wonder if Devin Booker should of stayed in college another year rather than go to the NBA, There is one thing that Devin Booker does better than the last Kentucky alumni could do and that is shoot the ball. Devin Booker has a textbook shot, quick release that could fit seamlessly with the splash brothers. Devin Booker is not just the average standstill shooter, he can as well shoot off the dribble and has the off-ball awareness to run off screens to get himself open. Booker however is very below the rim and knows his limitations so don't expect him on the offensive end of a fathead. Being the youngest player in the NBA Draft at 18(will not turn 19 until October 30) Booker has the potential to be a starting 2 guard in the NBA.

G Cameron Payne - Murray State

Cameron Payne is the next mid-major point guard to come out of nowhere to being projected in the lottery following Elfrid Payton and Damian Lillard. Payne helped lead his college Murray State to have 25 straight wins until they lost to Belmont in the conference tournament final and went to the NIT. One of the most pure skillful basketball players in the draft with his combination of ball handling skills, passing and natural scoring ability. Does not have the elite quickness of a modern NBA point starting guard but enough quickness to be a threat in the NBA level. The obvious question is the level of competition in which he has not played a top 25 squad in his two seasons of college. He obviously has been doing something well in pre-draft workouts as his stock is quickly rising.

Not the most NBA ready players, but their draft stock is based on what they can become. (ex. Dennis Schroeder, Anthony Randolph, Tyrus Thomas, Russell Westbrook)

G Emmanuel Mudiay - Congo(Guangdong Southern Tigers)

Emmanuel Mudiay may have the most interesting draft storyline, he might very well be the next Blindside, but Mudiay is out to prove that he will not be a flop like the once great movie star Michael Oher. Mudiay decided to go against the grain just like Jeremy Tyler and Brandon Jennings did before him and go overseas and the once projected #1 pick over Towns and Okafor is now not even a lock to go in the top 5. Playing overseas in clubs that know you are NBA bound do not give you any favors in regards to playing time as you are not staying with the club after that season, Mudiay found it tough to garner playing time, he finally got a run of games in a lineup switch and got an ankle injury that finished his season after 12 games. Mudiay is like a poor man's John Wall, he is not as athletic as the Wizards guard, but is just as good a passer as Wall was at that age and has a similar body type. Like Wall when he was drafted he does not have a jumpshot although he improved it in China, Hawks guard Dennis Schroeder might be the best comparison for now as he probably will struggle his first season but could ultimately end up one of the top players from the draft.

F Stanley Johnson - Arizona

There is a question on what exactly former Arizona forward Stanley Johnson will become as a NBA player. Looking at him from a physical standpoint he looks like LeBron James, he is 6'7, over 240 pounds and he has had the build since high school. Stanley Johnson struggled in the NCAA Tournament and was pretty inefficient when it came to finishing around the basket someone with his size should have no qualms with. The added size and skill in the college game resulted to Stanley Johnson not being as effective as he was accustomed to in high school. Although Stanley Johnson might benefit from the floor spacing and become a better player in the NBA than he was in college.

F/C Trey Lyles - Kentucky

Lyles shows a diverse skill-set when it comes to the offensive end. He can put the ball on the floor, has a mid range jumper, play in the post and is an good passer. Lyles is like a jack of all trades, master of none. Lyles upside is in his wingspan (7'3) and how he can be an impact defensively. He wasn't too great defensively for Kentucky but was playing in the small forward spot most of the time due to being on the same team with Karl Towns and Willie Cauley-Stein,
While he can do every bit of the offensive end well, where will his niche be in the NBA?

C Myles Turner - Texas

There always seem to be a type of player like Myles Turner, 7 foot lanky bigman with a lot of room to fill out his frame. There is one part of Turner's game that separates him from the other bigman he has a jumper that extends to college three point line. Combined he is also a good free throw shooter(shot 83.9 percent from the line), a skill that separates him from another 7 footer from the state of Texas DeAndre Jordan. Turner much like most young bigman does not have a defined post-game often electing to settle for the jumpshot. He is also more long than athletic and has struggled with better opposition(38% FG against top 100 defenses). Myles Turner with his mid-range shot and defensive potential could already find a role on a bench similar to what Clint Capela done for the Houston Rockets towards the end of the season.

F Kelly Oubre - Kansas

Kelly Oubre's draft stock fell a bit during his only college season as critics saw he wasn't as NBA ready as expected. Oubre is a 6'7 swingman with a ridicously long wingspan at 7'2 and is fairly athletic and can score in a variety ways. What Oubre lacks is polish and was often in Kansas' coach Bill Self's doghouse for his defensive lapses and questionable shot selection. Has all the tools to be a natural scorer in the NBA, may need some time to learn on the bench before he is ready to play big minutes. If he falls past the lottery, could be one of this year's draft steals.

NBA ready but with limited potential, key bench player or solid starter,can usually do one or two things pretty well, usually have athletic limitations or glaring weaknesses in other parts of their game. (ex. Kyle Korver, Tyler Hansbrough, Kyle Anderson, Danny Green, Tristan Thompson)

F Frank Kaminsky - Wisconsin

Frank Kaminsky was the media darling during the NCAA Tournament carrying Wisconsin along with Sam Dekker to the National stage until they lost to Okafor and the Duke Blue Devils. Kaminsky is a supremely skilled 7 footer who is one of the best three point shooters in this draft, a trait that is now coveted in today's NBA with the perimeter style bigman. Kaminsky also has a repertoire of post skills that keeps his defenders guessing. The problem is if he can score against players that are his size in the paint. During the latter stages of the NCAA tournament he has shown difficulty in scoring inside against the likes of Towns and Cauley Stein and Okafor and Marshall Plumlee where he has often times preferred to do his damage on the perimeter. He might be a defensive liability in the next level too as he lacks the strength in the post. Kaminsky could be a starter from the get-go but will have to be paired with someone else that is gritty and defensive minded to mask his weaknesses. Could be a 7'1 Ryan Anderson.

C Willie Cauley-Stein - Kentucky

Rim protection is big in the NBA as you need a key rim protector to make life harder for the LeBrons and Westbrooks of the NBA and Cauley Stein projects as a rim protector.Along with Towns created a 7 foot tower for opposing offenses. For a 7 footer with a 7'3 wingspan can also play defense on the perimeter which is rare for a player his size. Now the offensive side of his game is another side of the story but if he can keep developing his mid-range jumper would be a solid pick for a team building a foundation for the playoffs. Should not be drafted by a team expecting him to be more than what he is.

G/F R.J Hunter - Georgia State

R.J Hunter made a name for himself in the NCAA Tournament turning Georgia State into a Cinderella story along with his father and coach Ron Hunter. If it wasn't for the Baylor upset, he might not be getting this acclaim that he is getting. R.J Hunter is the ultimate 3 and D player, being a coach's son he has excellent basketball I.Q. and rotates good defensively and is athletic enough to hold his own against 2 guards and has the wingspan (6'11) to defend small forwards. Hunter may have not shot too well in Georgia State, (39.3 FG pct and 29,8 3PT) but can be contributed he was taking the bulk of the shots and defenses were keying on him. He has the mentality of a shooter though and will benefit from having less defensive pressure on him in the NBA. R.J. Hunter can shoot and draw foul shots at a good clip but is not able to create a shot off the dribble. R.J. Hunter might have the biggest draft range in the first round, with some mock drafts taking him in the lottery and others having him at 30.

F Rondae Hollis-Jefferson - Arizona

May be the most athletic player in this draft. At 6'7 220, Hollis-Jefferson already possess the physical frame needed to defend NBA wings. Hollis-Jefferson was named to the Pac-12 All-Conference Team and the All-Defensive Team. As you seen Andre Iguodala's effectiveness in the NBA Finals, you know perimeter defense is a coveted asset in the NBA and will automatically fill a role on a NBA squad. The question on the offensive end is his shooting range on the offensive end (20.7 3pt percentage off 0.8 attempts per game). Not really much of a difference between him and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.

F Bobby Portis - Arkansas

Solid college player who averaged 17.5 points per game and 8.9 rebounds during his time for Arkansas. Fundamental knows where to be on the offensive and defensive end. Is an inside-out player, good bigman on the pick and roll that can also fade and hit a jumpshot. Not that athletic, will not be able to impose his will in the NBA game. Reminds me of Jason Thompson.

G Tyus Jones - Duke

Tyus Jones was the difference maker for Duke winning the National Championship. Despite only being 19 years old, Jones has the mentality of an college senior. He knows how to run an offense, does a great job in keeping his turnovers to a minimum and might be the most polished floor general in the draft. What Tyus lacks is supreme athleticism and quickness but that attribute may be overvalued given today's NBA point guard.
One of my sleepers in the draft, I have him listed as role player but could be a legit NBA starter. High end Ty Lawson/Andre Miller, low end Jordan Farmar.

Last but not least we have the question mark. This is the ultimate boom or bust prospect, a player with extreme upside but also an extreme downside. Could possibly be a superstar in the NBA or out in 3 years. GM is usually fired if it turns out to be the latter. Even riskier than the Upside player. (ex. Dirk Nowitzki, Tracy McGrady, Nikoloz Tskitishvili, Hassan Whiteside, Jan Vesely,Tyson Chandler, Hasheem Thabeet)

F - Kristaps Porzingis - Latvia(CB Sevilla)

Perhaps the biggest mystery in the NBA Draft, has little to no game film and most detail NBA teams have to go by is his pre-draft workouts. NBA teams must of came out impressed as he has risen up draft boards with even some draft pundits labeling him number 2. To be honest I am not too sold on the Latvian big man, from watching clips of his European play for Sevilla, he looks too similar to Tskitishvili and Vesely. He is a 7'1 frail bigman who likes to play like a guard and put the ball on the floor from the perimeter which he might be able to get away with that in Europe but NBA players will steal the ball in an instant. I remember Nikoloz Tskitishvili was described as a 7 foot T-Mac and Jan Vesely said one of his favorite players was Kevin Durant and he modeled his game after him. Just like Porzingis both guys were deemed athletic, has guard skills and have a similar build. What Porzingis has is a three point shot which will translate into the next level but he seriously needs to bulk up if he wants to make it in the NBA. If he cannot consistently play in the post in Europe how is he expected to do that in the NBA? He already gets overpowered in the paint and will need to improve his defensive IQ as he falls asleep defensively and does not rotate quick enough. What I like hearing from Porzingis it does seem he has a drive to be a NBA player and is not traveling to America solely for the money, a common thing a lot of International players do. It will be a mystery were he will fall, but if I was GM, I would not take the risk.

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Thursday, June 4, 2015

2015 Finals Preview: Cleveland Cavaliers Vs. Golden State Warriors

The talk of the Finals will be about Stephen Curry and LeBron but the attention should go to the role players.

It is the NBA Finals that the majority predicted, LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers will face Stephen Curry and the high scoring Golden State Warriors. Last year both teams were in limbo fired their respective coaches, Cleveland fired Mike Brown for his second stint after one failed season where Cleveland finished 33-49 that didn't match the ambitions of owner Dan Gilbert who was eager to give the state of Ohio success in the post-LeBron era. Golden State Warriors on the other hand were fresh off a promising season where they finished 51-31 and gaining the 6th seed in the Western Conference. However, the Warriors were eliminated by the Los Angeles Clippers in 7 games which led to the subsequent firing of Mark Jackson which caused displeasure among Golden State fans and players, especially Stephen Curry.
         The main reason for the firing of Mark Jackson was the lack of trust between him and the coaching staff as well with ownership and offensive playstyle that did not utilize the vast depth that the Warriors possessed as it was mainly Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson that was relied on to produce the bulk of the offense. 
        On May, 14, 2014, the Golden State Warriors hired Steve Kerr to be their head coach. Steve Kerr became the latest of a recent trend that saw former players take the jump to become a head coach of a team without any prior coaching experience although Kerr was the GM for the Phoenix Suns. Speaking of the Phoenix Suns, Steve Kerr decided to hire Alvin Gentry to be his assistant who was the coach at the time Kerr was General Manager of the Suns. Gentry is highly responsible for the uptempo style of play that Golden State play. Steve Kerr has also done a good job incorporating the role players into the fold of the offense which saw players like Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green have career seasons.
       The Cleveland Cavaliers were looking at another season to sneak into the NBA Playoffs, and signed David Blatt to become their head coach making it his first stint as a head coach in the NBA. David Blatt was famous for being an international head coach leading Maccabi Tel Aviv to defeat a Real Madrid squad that featured former NBA players Sergio Rodriguez and Rudy Fernandez in the championship in 2014 ending his stint with Maccabi Tel Aviv at 225-55.
      LeBron James and the Miami Heat lost in the 2014 NBA Finals to the San Antonio Spurs leading LeBron to assess his future in South Beach as he had an aging injury-prone Dwayne Wade and a Chris Bosh who was inconsistent as well as a bunch of role players whom unperformed.
       After months of speculation, LeBron James made his decision to return to Cleveland in hopes of bringing back his promise of returning a championship. Cleveland's front office were so dead set on that aspiration that they traded #1 picks Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett for Kevin Love (who eventually went down to injury in the series against Boston).

The last time Golden State won a championship was about 40 years ago in 1975 while Cleveland never won a championship since they were founded in 1970. The closest the Cavs have ever gotten was in 2007 when LeBron and the Cavaliers were swept by the San Antonio Spurs. Golden State are the favorites to win this NBA Finals but the game of basketball is all about matchups so how do they fare against Cleveland.

Kyrie Irving vs Stephen Curry


Kyrie Irving only played the final game of the series against the Atlanta Hawks where he played 22 minutes but scored 16 points. If the Cavs wanted to, they could have rested him the whole series so he can get his legs together as he is dealing with tendinitis in left knee. Kyrie Irving is expected to play and judging by how he played against Atlanta he may have no ill effects although knee issues tend to come and go. Stephen Curry is of course the reigning MVP and have been taking victims with him with his combination of ball handling and shooting skills. While Curry is the MVP of the NBA if Kyrie Irving is 100 percent I will label this matchup a push. While I can not see Kyrie Irving guard Stephen Curry I also can't see Stephen Curry guard Kyrie Irving. Both players are possibly the best ball handlers in the NBA and will make for exciting crossovers and highlight clips.

Winner = Push

J.R. Smith/Iman Shumpert vs Klay Thompson

Both guards love to score in bunches and can get hot at any moment and can become nearly unstoppable when heated. J.R. Smith has been instrumental in Cleveland's success without Kyrie Irving giving opposing teams another threat on the perimeter other than LeBron. Klay Thompson although is more consistent than J.R. and is an excellent defender as well. Iman Shumpert will rotate SG duties with J.R. throughout the series.

Winner = Klay Thompson

LeBron James vs Harrison Barnes

I don't think I have to say who is the winner of this matchup but it will be interesting to see how the Golden State Warriors will defend Lebron. Harrison Barnes possesses great length at 6'8 and enough quickness to keep LeBron from driving the lane. While he lack the strength, his backup Andre Iguodala can matchup muscle for muscle against LeBron as well as runner up defensive player of the year Draymond Green. LeBron also can not sleep on defense with Harrison Barnes and his ability to stretch the floor.

Winner: LeBron James

Tristan Thompson vs Draymond Green

Both these players have been just as influential to their teams as the respective star players LeBron and Steph Curry. Tristan Thompson has been one of the top sixth men during the regular season and has done more than enough to replace the injured Kevin Love. Draymond Green has had an amazing season where he finished second in Most Improved Player and Defensive Player of the Year, I have never seen a player with that type of versatility that he has the on-ball perimeter defense to guard James Harden and the interior defense to defend Dwight Howard.
This video explains the importance of Draymond Green:

This may be the most important matchup of the series and whoever wins the matchup will win the series.

Winner: Draymond Green

Timofey Mozgov vs Andrew Bogut

Both bigmen are not going to make the front page of the papers but do what their coaches ask of them with the dirty work on rebounds and the defensive end. Timofey Mozgov is better offensively than Bogut around the rim and has completely changed his reputation from 7 foot stiff to a solid starting center. Andrew Bogut may not score many points but is good in help defense and can give LeBron problems driving the lane, I will give the slight edge to Andrew Bogut.

Winner: Andrew Bogut

Best backups the NBA has to offer.

The reason the Cleveland Cavaliers have got this far into the NBA Finals have been their contribution from the bench. Matthew Dellavedova especially has stepped up for Kyrie Irving's absence and has gave the Cavaliers a spark with his gritty play and his three point shooting. Iman Shumpert has been improving his jumper as well as being one of the better perimeter defenders in the NBA. Golden State's bench although is like a second starting lineup. With Andre Igoudala, David Lee, Festus Ezeli, Shaun Livingston and Leandro Barbosa coming off the bench is unmatched by any other NBA roster.

Winner: Golden State

David Blatt does not get enough credit for the coaching of the Cleveland Cavaliers, as the creative offensive sets he uses get players such as Dellavedova effective as well as incorporating LeBron in more ways to be effective. The coaching in this series is even as both teams know how to improvise on the offensive end to keep opposing teams guessing. This will be a high scoring series and while the Cavaliers will put up a fight, I do not think it will be enough as Golden State's depth will be too much for Cleveland in the same way the San Antonio Spurs defeated LeBron and the Miami Heat last season.

Warriors in 6

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Pre Fight Podcast Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao

Listen to the Pre-Fight podcast before the fight. Blogger was difficult with the embed from SoundCloud so I had to do it through Google Plus.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

UEFA Champions League Preview February 25

Results from yesterday's campaign saw Juventus defeat Dortmund 2-1 with the German side having the away goal. The other match result saw Barcelona defeat Manchester City 2-1 with Barcelona having two strong away goals from Luis Suarez. However, Barcelona could of had three goals if it wasn't for this miss.

Today's matchups are Arsenal vs. Monaco and Bayer Leverkusen vs Atletico Madrid. Arsenal and Monaco will face each other for the first time in each club's history and both clubs are nursing a lot of injuries to their key players.  Atletico Madrid will battle against a Bayer Leverkusen team that has been struggling in the Bundesliga at 6th but has to be happy to make it to the knockout rounds of the Champions League. 

Arsenal vs Monaco
Arsenal runs on Alexis
Possible lineups
Arsenal: Ospina; Chambers, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal; Coquelin, Cazorla; Welbeck, Özil, Sánchez; Giroud.
 Out: Ramsey (hamstring), Arteta (ankle), Debuchy (shoulder), Gnabry (knee), Diaby (calf), Wilshere (ankle)
 Doubtful: Oxlade-Chamberlain (groin)

Monaco: Subašić; Fabinho, Abdennour, Wallace, Kurzawa; Dirar, João Moutinho, Kondogbia, Bernardo Silva, Ferreira-Carrasco; Berbatov.
Out: Toulalan (suspended), Lamina Traoré (leg), Bakayoko (thigh), Carvalho (calf), Raggi (knee)
Doubtful: Kurzawa (leg), Ferreira-Carrasco (thigh)

Arsenal have qualified for the knockout stage for the 15th year in a row. The closest they reached to a Champions League final was 2006 where they were only runner ups. 
Monaco were also runner ups in 2004, but went through some dark times in the years following getting relegated after 2010-2011 season. 
After Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybololvev took over, the sun started shining again for Monaco and are 4th in Ligue 1. 
Rejected by Manchester United resurrected by Monaco.
They have lost their Colombian duo James Rodriguez and Radamel Falcao to Real Madrid and Manchester United respectively but they have enough quality to compete. 
Joao Moutinho and Kondogbia complement each other well in the midfield and Dimitar Berbatov is one of the most effective lazy players in soccer. 
Arsenal's midfield have been depleted by injury but still have Carzorla and Ozil as both can make magic with the ball at their feet. 
The attacking instincts of Alexis Sanchez and Olivier Giroud and speed of Danny Welbeck will be alot to ask for the Monaco defense which will be the deciding factor over this match series.

Arsenal Key Player: Alexis Sanchez
Monaco Key Player: Dimitar Berbatov
Aggregate: Arsenal 3-2

Atletico Madrid vs Bayer Leverkusen
He's been excellent for Atletico this season, can he replicate that against Bayer 04?

Possible lineups
Leverkusen: Leno; Castro, Spahić, Papadopoulos, Wendell; Reinartz, Rolfes; Bellarabi, Çalhanoğlu, Son; Drmić.
Out: Kruse (ankle), Ömer Toprak (suspended), Jedvaj (hamstring), Bender (knee)
Atlético: Moyà; Juanfran, Godín, Miranda, Siqueira; Saúl, Gabi, Tiago, Raúl García; Griezmann, Mandžukić.
Out: Koke (hamstring)
Doubtful: Arda (dead leg), Giménez (illness)

Atletico Madrid finished the UEFA Champions League last season against Real Madrid as runner ups due to Real's late game heroics.
They are a different team this season as Courtois, Filipe Luis and Diego Costa now play for Chelsea.They have replaced them with effective signings in Mario Mandzukic, Miguel Moya and Antoine Griezmann(above).
Griezmann and Mandzukic have combined for a total of 26 goals this campaign. 

Josep Drmic is a striker on form.
Leverkusen have key players such as Lars Bender, Tin Jedvaj and Max Kruse out for injury and Omer Toprak suspended for one match.Swiss striker Josep Drmic is not to be slept on as he has 16 goals this campaign. This will be the battle of two potent attacks but also strong defenses.
The winner out of this draw will be Atletico as they have the better defense of the two sides.

Bayer 04 Key Player: Josep Drmic
Atletico Key Player: Antoine Griezmann
Aggregate: Atletico 3-1