Monday, June 24, 2013

2013 NBA Mock Draft Updated (Baillargeon)

With the 2013 NBA Draft only three days away, Kyle Baillargeon has updated his mock draft.

Here is his updated mock:  

1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Nerlens Noel, PF/C, Kentucky

No signs of a trade by Cleveland, so expect Noel to go No. 1 as we have all expected.  

2. Orlando Magic: Ben McLemore, SG, Kansas

If the Magic trade Afflalo for Bledsoe, McLemore can slide in as the starting SG and the Magic will suddenly have their backcourt of the future.  

3. Washington Wizards: Anthony Bennett, PF, UNLV

High upside and potential superstar ability for a team that can afford to wait.  

4. Charlotte Bobcats: Alex Len, C, Maryland

Len gives the Bobcats the size that they desperately need.  

5. Phoenix Suns: Otto Porter Jr., SF, Georgetown

Some consider Porter the best player in the draft. He'd be a great building block for the Suns.  

6. New Orleans Pelicans: Victor Oladipo, SG, Indiana

Could instead go with Burke if the Pelicans feel Rivers isn't their man at the point.  

7. Sacramento Kings: Cody Zeller, PF/C, Indiana

Fills a hole at PF for the Kings.  

8. Detroit Pistons: Trey Burke, PG, Michigan

National Player of the Year will let the Pistons slide Knight to two-guard.

 9. Minnesota Timberwolves: C.J. McCollum, SG, Lehigh

Excellent shooter from long range goes to a team that desperately needs it.  

10. Portland Trail Blazers: Steven Adams, C, Pittsburgh

Great compliment to LaMarcus Aldridge's skills in the front court.

See rest of his first-round projection

More mocks: Kevin Hanson - Brendan Donahue - Mock Database

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

NBA Finals Prediction: Miami Heat vs. San Antonio Spurs (Trifone)

I had both winners of the Conference Finals, picking the Spurs and Heat to advance, but I had the quality of the series' flip-flopped.  San Antonio was the better team in all four games against the Grizz, a series I expected to be much tighter than it was.  The Heat, on the other hand, struggled much more than expected; not because the Pacers aren't a good team, but because the Heat had just been on another level.  Not only did they rattle of 27 wins in a row earlier in the year, but they were 8-1 in the playoffs going into the series, and seemed poised for another championship run.  Roy Hibbert, Paul George, and David West proved to be a pretty formidable Big Three, but ultimately, the Heat were able to dispatch of them in a lopsided Game Seven in Miami.

Much has been made of the long layoff that San Antonio has had between sweeping Memphis, and Game 1 of the NBA Finals coming up on June 6th.  Personally, I think the Spurs are a team that the rest will greatly benefit.  Last year, the Spurs were playing tremendous basketball, and I still have no idea what happened for them to lose four consecutive games to Oklahoma City.  This year, the Spurs did not have the same steam coming in to the playoffs, but they have clearly been the best in the West, and earned their trip to the Finals.  Tim Duncan seems to have found the fountain of youth, and at 37 is playing just about as well as he ever has, which is certainly saying something, considering he is thought of by most to be the best power forward in NBA history.  Tony Parker is also back to the MVP form from early in the year.  For the Spurs, this will be their fifth Finals appearance in the Duncan-Poppovich era.  They won all four previous trips, with the most recent title coming against LeBron James and the Cavs.

The Heat have been the team with a target on their backs the entire year.  They are the defending NBA Champions, and have had to take everyone's best shot all year long.  Although they have had lingering injuries, specifically Dwyane Wade, for much of the year, and an aging cast of shooters who did not really show up in the Eastern Conference Finals, Miami found a way to get back for the third consecutive year.  Since joining the Heat, LeBron is 3/3 in Finals appearances, and could become a champion for the second year in a row.

In many ways, this series is a referendum on LeBron's place in history.  Many analyst's have defended LeBron, saying that his supporting cast has been as bad, if not worse, than the one he had in Cleveland.  History, however, is not going to remember that supporting cast in the same way.  As good as Wade, Chris Bosh, Ray Allen, Shane Battier, etc. have been, none of them are going to be compared to the elite of the elite, and talked about in the discussion for the GOAT.  For LeBron, however, not getting a ring, for ANY reason, is going to be in paragraph one of his bio when all is said and done for him.

I think this has the makings of a fantastic series, and it's a matchup we really haven't seen.  In the two games that the Spurs and Heat played this year, San Antonio rested all their big guns in Miami, and the Heat did the same thing on the road at San Antonio.  I'm expecting a back-and-forth series, but I think that ultimately, LeBron and Miami will be up to "not two" as far as championships go.  The Pacers defense exposed some of the Heat's flaws, but they were still able to make adjustments and advance.  I don't see the role players like Allen and Battier to be as bad as they were against Indiana, and D-Wade showed us in Game 7 that he still has something left in the tank.  Bosh was mentally defeated by West and Hibbert, but will get a fresh start against Duncan and the Spurs.  It is going to be another tall task, but I think he will fare better.

And at the end of the day, the Heat have a weapon that no team in the league has.  LeBron is as intelligent of a player as there is in the league, and his ability to  be either Magic or Michael, depending on what the team needs, gives them an advantage that is tough to counter.  If anyone can figure out a way to stop him, it's Pop, and I'm looking forward to the coaching matchup as much as anything else.  But at the end of the day, I'll take LeBron and the Heat in 6.

Prediction: Miami Heat in 6 Games

[Note: This post is from John Trifone.  See his other basketball posts here and/or follow him on Twitter @JohnnyT0122.]

Sunday, June 2, 2013

2013 NBA Mock Draft (Baillargeon)

We are less than four weeks away from the 2013 NBA Draft, which will be held on June 27th in Brooklyn.

From now until the draft, our contributors will either post their initial mock draft and then make updates, as necessary.

Here is the first-round projection from Kyle Baillargeon:

1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Nerlens Noel, PF/C, Kentucky

It really looks like the Cavaliers are looking to trade this pick.  But, we don't do trades in mock drafts, so the pick is Noel.  Ultimately, he's the best choice for the Cavs, assuming his knee injury doesn't limit him once he's fully healed.  The Cavaliers won't push Noel to come back until he's ready.  In a few years, he could anchor the defense, much like Marc Gasol does in Memphis.

And there's a good chance the Cavaliers will be just as bad next year, giving them the opportunity at Andrew Wiggins or one of the other potential studs in a loaded 2014 draft.

2. Orlando Magic: Trey Burke, PG, Michigan

The Magic need help everywhere, and though they have 31 year-old Jameer Nelson as the incumbent PG, it's expected that he'll be phased out of the Magic's long-term plans.  Other players in the draft may look like they have higher upside, but with a draft class as questionable as this one, it would make the most sense to go with the National Player of the Year.

3. Washington Wizards: Anthony Bennett, PF, UNLV

With his scoring ability, Bennett has the chance to be the best player in the draft.  His position is undefined due to his size, but he could slide to the three or play the four in smaller lineups.  The Wizards aren't expected to contend next year, so they should take a shot on the player that has possibly the highest upside, with the hopes that in a few years they'll have a superstar on their hands.

4. Charlotte Bobcats: Ben McLemore, SG, Kansas

McLemore does one thing in the draft better than just about anyone else: Shoot.  He's also a great athlete who can run the floor.  Considering the dearth of top-tier shooting guards in the league, we could be talking about him as a top five or six two-guard if he expands his game over the next few years.  He's the smart pick.

5. Phoenix Suns: Otto Porter Jr., SF, Georgetown

The Suns would have a steal if Porter falls to them.  He doesn't necessarily have the upside of those taken before him, but he can contribute right away and would be a good young piece for the organization to build off of as they try to start fresh.

6. New Orleans Pelicans: Alex Len, C, Maryland

Len is a tough call, as he has all the tangibles but needs to put it all together.  It would give New Orleans a potentially great young front court, not unlike Utah and Detroit. If the Pelicans think that they can trade Eric Gordon (with they may want to), Victor Oladipo could be the pick instead.

7. Sacramento Kings: Cody Zeller, PF/C, Indiana

The Kings have a hole at power forward.  Zeller is very athletic and doesn't need the ball in his hands to make an impact on the court.  Sacramento doesn't have enough players like that.  He could be a good compliment to Boogie Cousins.

8. Detroit Pistons: Victor Oladipo, SG, Indiana

Oladipo is an excellent defender and would help the Pistons right away. He's also shown himself to have the makings of a tremendous leader. There's a good chance that he won't slip this far, but if he does, Detroit will have found themselves another good young player at value. 

9. Minnesota Timberwolves: C.J. McCollum, SG, Lehigh

One of the reasons Kevin Love gets so many rebounds is because the Wolves throw up a ton of bricks.  McCollum is an excellent shooter from long range. He was a point guard in college, but some guy named Rubio will push him to shooting guard.  This is one of the most obvious picks in the draft, but also one of the smartest.

10. Portland Trail Blazers: Steven Adams, C, Pittsburgh

Adams is a name that's become hot of late, with his great showing at the combine.  He's definitely raw, however.  However, he wouldn't be called on to contribute much offensively if he goes to Portland.  Let him bang down-low, play defense and rebound, and he could be a good compliment to LaMarcus Aldridge.

11. Philadelphia 76ers: Dario Saric, SF, Croatia

Saric is considered the top foreign player in the draft.  Is he more Dirk Nowitzki or Jan Vesely?  That's the risk.  But the 76ers have shown that they're willing to take risks (see: Andrew Bynum trade) if they think it will make them a better team.

12. Oklahoma City Thunder: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG, Georgia

Trading James Harden was a terrible move.  And Kevin Martin really isn't good anymore.  Caldwell-Pope falls somewhere in the middle of these two on the basketball spectrum.  He's a good shooter and a smart ball player.  

13. Dallas Mavericks: Michael Carter-Williams, PG, Syracuse

Darren Collison is a nice player, but Carter-Williams could be the Mavericks' Rajon Rondo.  He has the chance to make an impact right away. 

14. Utah Jazz: Dennis Schroeder, PG, Germany

Another player who brings Rondo comparisons, rumors are that Schroeder has an early-round promise from someone.  The Jazz have a need at point guard and may very well be that team. 

15. Milwaukee Bucks: Tony Mitchell, SF, North Texas

The depth of the draft shows with this pick, as Mitchell could go here, or he could fall out of the first round.  With so many players having roughly the same risk, the Bucks should go with the athletic Mitchell whom some (including Mitchell himself) compare to Kenneth Faried.

- Continue to Picks 16-30

- 2013 NBA Mock Draft from Kevin Hanson
- Our NBA Mock Draft Database

- Also, check out: 2014 NFL Mock Draft | NFL Mock Draft Database

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