The NBA’s Best Draft Class of All-Time Is…

Lebron James was selected first overall by the Cavaliers  in 2003.

Lebron James was selected first overall by the Cavaliers in 2003.

With the NBA Draft just over 24 hours away, teams are preparing to make selections that can forever change the fortunes of their franchise. With each selection a team faces the possibilities of landing a potential superstar who may one day bring the ultimate prize to their team, a solid contributor who may fill a role or a complete dud who will never pan out in the NBA.

Each pick carries its own risk and all 30 teams will have to face this reality on Thursday night. Over the years, certain drafts have been easier to navigate because the talent pool was incredibly deep. This fosters that argument of which draft class was the best of all-time.

There are three classes that stand above the rest but which one reigns supreme?

Read more of this post

2013 NBA All Star Reserve Predictions

Kyrie Irving and Jrue Holiday could both make the Eastern Conference All-Star team.

Kyrie Irving and Jrue Holiday could both make the Eastern Conference All-Star team.

As the first half of the NBA season comes to a close, we look ahead to the 2013 NBA All-Star Game. The annual East-West Clash will take place in Houston, Texas on February, 17th. The votes are in for the starters and the fans have selected the five players from each conference that will carry the honor of starting in the 62nd NBA All-Star Game. The starters for the East include PG Rajon Rondo, SG Dwyane Wade, SF Lebron James, SF Carmelo Anthony, and PF/C Kevin Garnett. The West will be represented by PG Chris Paul, SG Kobe Bryant, SF Kevin Durant, PF Blake Griffin, and C Dwight Howard.

Bryant led all players in votes with 1,591,437 just edging out Lebron James. Bryant’s nod is a record 15th consecutive. Another player making his 15th appearance in the game is Kevin Garnett. The NBA has changed their voting procedure to remove the Center position and to allow fans to simply vote for three frontcourt players. This rule change most likely gave Garnett a bump into the starting five.

There are no major surprises in the starting units but this will be an incredibly interesting year for reserves. The bench players will be named on January, 24th and will be selected by the votes of the 30 head coaches. Here are my choices for who should be the reserves for each team.

Read more of this post

Sixers land Andrew Bynum in Howard Blockbuster: What it all means

Dwight Howard will be taking his talents to Hollywood and Andrew Bynum will be heading back to the East Coast to play for the Sixers.

The most drama-filled aspect of this NBA off season was the tumultuous situation brewing in Orlando. Dwight Howard ended the season dead-set on not returning to the team next season and made no secret of his desire to move on. The Brooklyn Nets emerged as the early suitor for his services and according to reports, they made substantial offers to do so. They were also Howard’s top choice and the only team he would commit to signing long term with. Eventually the Nets gave up their pursuit and the Rockets, Hawks, and Lakers all stepped up to the plate for the NBA’s premiere Center. In the end, Los Angeles won out and enter the Sixers.

The Lakers and Magic needed extra teams to facilitate this deal. The Lakers did not have enough pieces and picks to pull off a deal straight up for Howard. The Nuggets and Sixers became those teams and the agreed upon trade will drastically change the outlook of all four teams involved:

Nuggets Receive: Andre Iguodala

Sixers Receive: Andrew Bynum and Jason Richardson

Lakers Receive: Dwight Howard, Earl Clark, and Chris Duhon

Magic Receive: Nikola Vucevic, Al Harrington, Aron Afflalo, Maurice Harkless, Protected 1st rounds picks from each team

Read more of this post

NBA Finals Preview: Heat vs Thunder

Here it is. We are roughly 35 hours away from the opening tip of the NBA Finals in Oklahoma City. This series is deuces wild as the number two seeds, from each conference, have ascended to the top. The Eastern Conference’s top seed, the Chicago Bulls, fell to the 76ers in the first round, while the West’s top seed, the San Antonio Spurs, gave up a 2-0 series lead to the Thunder in the conference finals.

Read more of this post

NBA Fan’s Delight: OKC vs. San Antonio

Tim Duncan and the Spurs have to get through the Thunder to get to the NBA Finals.

If you are an NBA basketball fan, you say your prayers hoping for series like this one to occur. The clear cut, hands down, two best teams in the Western Conference, and perhaps the NBA, will be squaring off for a trip to the Finals. You could not write a better script.

Read more of this post

No More Flopping? NBA Commissioner Stern Makes A Case

Indiana Head Coach Frank Vogel was given a $15,000 fine for comments he made about the Heat flopping.

It seems like every NBA star today wants to be a star away from the court as well. They make cameos in movies, star in reality shows, come out with albums and appear to be in the public eye more during the off-season than in season. We see an influx in players leaving smaller market cities for more media friendly cities, like New York and L.A., all in an attempt to grow their brand. It appears that some would like to pursue careers in acting and have decided to practice during their NBA games. Commissioner Stern doesn’t seem to be enjoying the show and would like to put an end to flopping.

Read more of this post

NBA Christmas Game by Game Predictions

NBA fans are already well aware of one of the gifts they are receiving tomorrow and that is the gift of NBA basketball. The league will open a shortened 66 game season on Christmas Day with a slate of five matchups including a rematch of the NBA Finals.

Since NBA fans already know what they’re getting on Christmas, this should not spoil the surprise too much. Here is a game by game prediction of what will unfold in the NBA on Christmas Day. Enjoy.

Read more of this post

Why The Lockout Could Ruin the NBA

 

NBA Commissioner David Stern wants progress made soon.

With the summer set to come to a close, one recurring theme throughout these past few months has been that of labor unrest. A number of union battles have come about in recent months, none more talked about then the two centered on two of the countries professional sports leagues, the NFL and the NBA. The NFL Lockout has come and gone with both sides conceding some things just in time to salvage an abbreviated offseason and preseason without losing any regular season games. The NFL seemed to have left some people’s minds for a little while, but once the lockout was lifted, it quickly returned to the minds of its fans.

The NBA however, may not be so lucky. The lockout for them is slightly different. The NFL was coming off of one of its most profitable seasons ever and the fan base at this point seems very energized. The fact that teams in the NFL do not easily reach dynasty status seems to attract more fans to more teams because you always feel like your team could be on the cusp of winning. The NBA’s season was quite different. The majority of franchises lost money last season. NBA players do not seem to carry the same sympathy card with the fans either. They are on average already the highest paid athletes in professional sports so it is hard to figure out what they want. Last season did not center on fans striving and pulling for their franchise. It mainly focused on the fan base’s hatred for one particular franchise. There is no sense in the NBA that a team in the basement of the league can quickly turn it around in a season or two and compete. This seems to be off-putting to fans and is part of the reason why many people who I encounter prefer college basketball. This lockout could ruin the NBA.

Reports are in that this lockout could cost the league all of next season and perhaps parts of the next. The players do not seem to have the same mindset of their NFL counterparts. Football players banded together and held small self-imposed practices and workouts to prepare during the lockout while NBA players are heading overseas. I do not want to paint the picture that every NFL player showed up to such practices nor do I insist that all of the NBA players are going to go overseas. However, the fact that some already have, and that some seem to be on their way shows that they may not have too much faith in the negotiating prowess of their union or their league. It is true that NFL players do not necessarily have the luxury of going to play in leagues abroad unless you want to count signing with a CFL or Arena League team, but the fact that you saw so many small player organized practices showed that they had football on their minds and wanted to be in a position to put the best product on the field for the fans. NBA players going overseas may be sending a message to the owners, but it is also sending a message to the fans that they do not necessarily have a connection to the NBA or to their particular team, but to simply getting paid.

The NBA does not need another blemish and right now that is what this lockout is. They ended last season on a high note. The team that everyone loved to hate made it far enough to keep ratings up, but lost which kept fans hopes up that even with 3 superstars on one team, my team may still have a chance. That high note quickly plunged in light of this lockout and an abbreviate season most likely will not be the remedy needed to get fans back on board with what the NBA is selling. The league is going to have to be much different in the future to entice fans to come back. A better brand of basketball and more competition are going to be essential to putting fans in the seats when the league resumes business because the bottom line is this: The NBA fan base is nowhere near as strong or as loyal as the NFL’s and there is no guarantee that the league will even be able to retain what they had last season when they were losing major dollars.

Billy Hunter and Derek Fisher are tasked with leading the players to a new CBA.

The two sides are supposed to meet this week for just the second time since the lockout went into effect in early July. Commissioner David Stern is adamant that he wants progress to be made as a result of these meetings. Billy Hunter, the Players Union executive director and Derek Fisher, L.A. Laker Guard and Union President are expected to meet with Stern but the two sides are quite far apart and there does not seem to be any strong indications that these meetings will significantly bridge the gap. Owners want salary cuts and a new more restrictive salary cap system. Players basically want their salaries to remain untouched. Buckle up everyone, because from the looks of this, it is going to be a long, bumpy road before we get back to having NBA basketball. The question is, is anyone going to miss it that much. The NBA better hope so.

NBA Lockout: Looks Like We’re in for the Long Haul.

Player's Union Chief Billy Hunter and President Derek Fisher address the media in front of a group of NBA team player representatives.

It has begun. Yesterday was the first day of the year’s second major professional sports lockout. This time it was in the NBA. As there finally seems to be some light at the end of the tunnel for the NFL, the NBA seems to be mired in a lockout that could certainly threaten next season and perhaps beyond. According to multiple reports, the players and owners alike have been expecting and bracing for this lockout for the last two to three years. Players were warned to be smart with their money and save in preparation for a work stoppage. Owners were steadfast in causing this lockout on the grounds that 22 of the 30 NBA franchises lost money last season even though the overall popularity of the league seemed on the rise. The playoff ratings indicated that the NBA is holding onto diehard fans while attracting a strong base of casual fans. However, this lockout could not be avoided.

Union Chief Billy Hunter and Union President Derek Fisher, along with player representatives from each franchise, have been in negotiations with Commissioner David Stern and the league since the end of the Finals and a deal has yet to be reached. This lockout was indeed inevitable and now it is official. This is certainly not the same as the NFL lockout. Negotiations are expected to continue soon and many feel that this lockout was a necessary step to ensure that both sides would have to get something done. Even though negotiations will continue, both sides do not seem anywhere near a resolution.

David Stern and the league were unable to avoid this inevitable lockout.

The sticking point for the NBA owners is a hard salary cap. The owners want there to be a set salary number that they are not allowed under any circumstance to exceed. Even though this would hurt the dominance of franchises who love to overspend on their players like the Mavericks, the Lakers, and the Heat, it will also raise the competitiveness of franchises with less money thus making the entire league more competitive. Essentially the owners want the league to step in and save them from themselves and the league itself wants to ensure competitiveness to keep the fan base engaged and interested in the product on the court. The owners are also not thrilled with the guaranteed contracts that NBA players enjoy.

The Union is not willing to budge on much of any of the benefits they have negotiated for in the past. The players do not want a hard cap because they want to allow for teams to overspend for their talents if they want to. They are also standing very strong for their guaranteed contracts. NBA players have the highest average salary of the four professional sports at $5 mil annually and they do not want that to change.  One of the most interesting aspects of the argument over a hard cap is what it would mean for the newly assembled Miami Heat and their big three. Let’s say the NBA imposes a hard cap of $50 million. The big three alone are due to earn nearly $48 million in the next year of their contracts combined. How will the Heat hold on to the big three of Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh and still have enough money to fill out the roster if there is a hard cap?

Miami's Big Three could be threatened by the league's proposal of hard salary cap.

The players have been warned but not every player is capable of going a year without a paycheck and owners and the league know this. Players who receive very high compensation will be fine and will most likely continue to receive money from endorsement deals but rookies who have yet to sign contracts and younger players who have not had a chance to save very much money will indeed suffer and will have to be smart during this period of time because many experts forecast that this will indeed go into the season and it looks likely that many games will be lost if not the whole season.

Although this is a clear advantage for the owners, they have their weaknesses as well. A number of owners also own the arena in which their teams play and without basketball those arenas will be empty and thus suffer greatly in the fall. Some would say to just book other events in the arenas which is an option but you have to leave the arena vacant because you never know when the lockout will come to a close. There are also reports that some NBA players, led by Kobe Bryant, are ready to send a message to their bosses by going over to China over the summer to take part in some exhibition games. This would be a way to make money and send a message to the owners that they do not need their franchises to get compensated for their talents.

During the lockout the NBA is being stern (No pun intended) about contact with the players and organizational members. The NBA is prepared to hand down $1 million fines for any contact between coaches, GM’s, organizational members and the players. Sixers head coach Doug Collins embarked on a country-wide trip over the last week to visit with members of his roster to give them workout plans and to make sure that they were in the right mindset to tackle this offseason without his guidance. The league has also decided to crack down on social media. They will allow teams and players to follow one another on Twitter but they are prohibited from mentioning one another in tweets or from messaging one another. Similar rules apply to Facebook and text messaging. If contact needs to be made between players and members of the franchise that is strictly on a personal basis, it is allowed if league permission is first obtained.

Doug Collins will not be able to instruct his young core on how to improve during this lockout.

   

Official 2011 BLS NBA Mock Draft

With the NBA Draft just days away, BLS has decided to follow the popular trend and put out the blog’s first official mock draft. This mock draft will break down each pick of the first round with some in-depth analysis into how the top 20 picks will factor into their new NBA team.

So let’s get it going. With the first pick the Cleveland Cavaliers select…

1.Kyrie Irving 6’4 PG, Duke: There has been little doubt about who would be selected here. There have been some rumblings that perhaps the Cavs will select Derrick Williams instead but according to multiple sources the team has indeed tabbed Irving as their pick. Irving will come in right away and be an explosive impact guard for the Cavs in the mold of a John Wall. Will he have the impact of a Lebron James. No. However, he will be a new star for the organization and fans to embrace. In recent years, PG is clearly becoming the most important position. Take the Heat for example. You can have a star at the 2 3 and 4 and it does not guarantee a title. You need a floor general and Irving can be that for the Cavs.

Kyrie Irving seems likely to be the #1 pick for the Cavs.

With the second pick the Minnesota Timberwolves select…

2. Derrick Williams 6’9 PF, Arizona: Talks were that the Timberwolves are going to select whoever the Cavs don’t and all indications are that the pick will be Derrick Williams. With Williams in tow, The Timberwolves will boast a frontcourt of Williams, Michael Beasley and Kevin Love which will be offensively oriented and will be something like what new Pg Ricky Rubio is used to playing with in the European style of basketball. Reports are that the T’Wolves are looking to mold this team after the Steve Nash run Suns.

With the third pick the Utah Jazz select…

3. Kawhi Leonard 6’7 SF, San Diego State: Leonard has not really been mentioned in mock drafts going this high but I see him as being exactly what the Jazz need. Leonard could come in right away and fill the void that could be left by free agent SF Andrei Kirilenko. Leonard showed some scoring punch last season averaging 15 points to go along with 10 rebounds. He is a high energy player on both sides of the floor.

Derrick Williams looks slated to join Ricky Rubio in Minnesota at #2.

With the fourth pick the Cleveland Cavaliers select…

4. Enes Kanter 6’11 C, Turkey: Kanter has worked out for the Cavs twice and indications are that the team wants him there at #4. Anytime a team has two picks so early in a draft convention points to them selecting a guard and a big and Kanter and Irving could step in right away and start for a Cavs franchise in dire need of a new identity.

With the fifth pick the Toronto Raptors select…

5. Kemba Walker 6’1 PG, Connecticut: Let’s not mince words here. The Raptors need pretty much everything but this is only one selection. Walker showed a lot of heart last season leading his team to a national championship game. His stock has been somewhat cool but he could certainly go to the Raptors and provide them with some fresh energy at the PG spot.

National Champ Kemba Walker may be headed to Toronto at #5.

With the sixth pick the Washington Wizards select…

6. Jan Vesely 6’11 SF, Czech Republic: The Wizards are in a situation similar to the Raptors only they have a PG in place. A solid SF like Vesely could certainly fill a need for the Wizards considering that Rashard Lewis does not seem to be in the teams long term plans. Vesely has great leaping ability and a good motor which could allow him to play an impact role right away in DC.

With the seventh pick the Sacramento Kings select…

7. Brandon Knight 6’4 PG, Kentucky: Indications are that Knight will be off the board before Walker but if the Raptors pass on Knight do not be surprised to see him end up in Sacramento. Knight could come in a battle for the opportunity to share the backcourt with Tyreke Evans. Both have decent enough size to do so without it being a defensive liability. It will just be a matter of determining who is better suited to play off the ball.

With the eighth pick the Detroit Pistons select…

8. Chris Singleton 6’9 Small Forward, Florida State: With a possible departure of Tayshaun Prince, Singleton could come in a fill a need right away. He has good size for the SF spot and is a very solid defender. He is not a prolific scorer but is solid on the offensive end and has some touch away from the basket.

With the ninth pick the Charlotte Bobcats select…

9.  Jonas Valanciunas 7’0 Center, Lithuania: The Bobcats could use a solid big man and if Valanciunas is still on the board here the Bobcats will jump at the chance to take him. Valanciunas is young at age 19 and is an excellent rebounder. He will be an upgrade over what the team currently has at center since the departure of Tyson Chandler.

With the tenth pick the Milwaukee Bucks select…

10. Klay Thompson 6’7 SG, Washington State: Klay Thompson would be an obvious pick here at 10 because he could team up with Brandon Jennings to be the Bucks backcourt of the future.  Thompson is a flat out shooter who averaged 21 points per game last year and shot nearly 40 percent from 3. Thompson is also a good distributer of the ball which will prove to be a good thing playing with Brandon Jennings.

With the eleventh pick the GS Warriors select…

11. Tristan Thompson 6’9 PF, Texas: Thompson has impressed in workouts and has climbed a few draft boards. The Warriors are not in dire need of a power forward but Thompson is an athletic wing who could come in and learn behind David Lee without feeling too much pressure to help right away. Thompson may never be a star but he has a lot of energy and is a good solid rebounder.

With the twelfth pick the Utah Jazz select…

12. Jimmer Fredette 6’3 PG, BYU: The fans in Utah are clamoring for this kid and probably would not hate if the team took him with their earlier pick. The Jazz will not pass if Fredette is still on the board. He showed last season that he is a flat out scorer and a solid leader with a knack for running an offense while also being able to take over with his scoring. Fredette dropped 29 points per game last season and shot 40 percent from behind the arc.

Utah fans may get their wish with the addition of Jimmer Fredette at #12.

With the thirteenth pick the Phoenix Suns select…

13.  Bismark Biyombo 6’9 PF, Spain: Biyombo has been slotted at spots from 10 to 20 in mock drafts that I’ve seen but I think he could fit in nicely with the Suns. The team does not have a player like Biyombo and he could certainly fill a need that the team has a PF since losing Amar’e Stoudemire. Biyombo is merely 18 years old and is a defensive minded rebounder which is something that the Suns could definitely use.

With the fourteenth pick the Houston Rockets select…

14. Jordan Hamilton 6’9 SF, Texas: The Rockets need a lot of pieces. They are certainly a team without much of an identity and they may certainly keep Hamilton in Texas. Hamilton is a good all around player with nice size and a good shooting touch. He averages nearly 19 points a game and shoots about 39% from 3.

With the fifteenth pick the Indiana Pacers select…

15. Alec Burks 6’6 SG, Colorado: This pick will give Darren Collison a good solid backcourt mate and will help to get the Pacers closer to having an all around lineup. Burks averaged 20 points per game and gets to the rim with ease which could be valuable in terms of kicking the ball out to Danny Granger for easy shots and dishing to Roy Hibbert on the block.

Philadelphia Native Marcus Morris may slip to Philly at #16 and have a homecoming in the City of Brotherly Love.

With the sixteenth pick the Philadelphia 76ers select…

16. Marcus Morris 6’9 PF, Kansas: Yes. I have the right twin. Many mock drafts have him going higher but I would not be surprised to see him slip and if both Morris Twins are available to the 76ers, expect them to pick Marcus. He has not visited with the Sixers but the strengths of his game are widely known. He plays the four with a great knack for scoring the ball and has a great touch away from the hoop. Some scouts can see him also excelling at the 3 spot and even though the Sixers are not in need of a SF, another player who can play multi positions does not hurt.

With the seventeenth pick the New York Knicks select…

17. Tobias Harris 6’8 PF, Tennessee: Harris would simply be a depth pick for the Knicks. He plays very smart and displays a lot of energy. The Knicks do not have a set in stone big man to pair with Stoudemire and Harris could complete for that role.

With the eighteenth pick the Washington Wizards select…

18. Kenneth Farried 6’8 PF, Morehead State: Farried could fit in nicely in Washington. He has improved his scoring each of the four years in college and he is a rebounding machine averaging over 14 per game last season. Some mock drafts have him going a little higher but with the myriad of PF’s in this draft he could definitely slip to 18.

With the nineteenth pick the Charlotte Bobcats select…

19. Donatas Motiejunas 7’0 PF, Lithuania: This pick would give the Bobcats a 1, 2 punch of Lithuanian big men. Motiejunas has a good Basketball IQ and has drawn some comparisons to Dirk Nowitzki. Although he may never be that kind of impact player, his ability to play away from the basket and shoot will spread the floor out for Charlotte.

With the twentieth pick the Minnesota Timberwolves select…

20. Marshon Brooks 6’5 SG, Providence: Brooks knows how to get to the basket and is a flat out scorer. He averaged over 24 points per game last season and also pulled down 7 boards per contest. Brooks would add depth to the Wolves rotation and could be a potential backcourt mate for Ricky Rubio in the future.

The rest of the round:

21. Portland Trailblazers: Nikola Vucevic 7’0 C,USC

22. Denver Nuggets: Markieff Morris 6’9 PF, Kansas

23. Houston Rockets: Norris Cole 6’2 PG, Cleveland State

24. OKC Thunder: Nikola Mirotic 6’10 SF, Serbia

25. Boston Celtics: Tyler Honeycutt 6’8 SF, UCLA

26. Dallas Mavericks: Justin Harper 6’9 PF, Richmond

27. New Jersey Nets: Jeremy Tyler 6’11 PF, Israel via San Diego High School

28. Chicago Bulls: Jon Leuer 7’0 PF, Wisconsin

29. San Antonio Spurs: Iman Shumpert 6’6 PG, Georgia Tech

30. Chicago Bulls: Davis Bertans 6’10 SF, Latvia

There you have it. That is BLS’s prediction for Thursday Night’s NBA Draft 1st round. If you have any questions or comments please feel free to comment or get in touch with me via the blog itself or on twitter @BLSBlog. Feedback is always encouraged. The NBA Draft will air on Thursday June 23rd at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ at 7pm on ESPN.