Tag: NBA Draft

nba

Believe it or Not: NBA Season 2014/15 Predictions

This is one of my favourite times of the year. The NBA season is here. You’ve drafted players into your own world beating fantasy squad. Players have been chopped, changed and drafted all over the league. And it is also the perfect time to make predictions about the NBA season. My personal belief is that if your predictions are said loudly, told to many people and said with a great deal of overconfidence that they just might come true. Here are my Top 5. Believe it or Not.

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NBA: NBA Draft

ROOKIE WATCH: MARCUS SMART (BOSTON CELTICS)

Following on from Nick C’s opening Julius Randle Rookie feature, I have decided to choose new Boston Celtics draftee Marcus Smart. My decision behind the pick was that as a Boston Celtics fan, I feel I can give a true account to his Rookie season as I’ll be watching him more than any other rookie in the League, while trying to stay as unbiased as I possibly can.

 

NBA: NBA Draft

 

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NBA Nation Australia + Hoops Podcast QuickDraft

With the NBA draft just around the corner, seriously it’s tomorrow, the boys have come together to give a peculiar twist on a mock draft.
Rather than all four (How, Caro, Pumpa, McKern) of them just doing the same old boring thing and showing off their draft picks, they decided to spice things up.
Using a completely random luck of the draw type system, the order was decided and following a lengthy email chain (during work hours too, sorry if any bosses read this) the selections were made.
Of course the email chain has had to be cut down a little as at times things got a little carried away.
Only the top 20 picks were made with each person having 5 selections.
Let’s get stuck in….

From: Nick How
To: Nick Caro; Reece Pedretti; James McKern
Subject: NBA Nation Oz/Hoops Podcast Draft

Oh hello fellas!!
Ok then, with the first pick Cavs select: Jabari Parker

From: Reece Pedretti
To: Nick Caro; Nick How; James McKern
Subject: NBA Nation Oz/Hoops Podcast Draft

Okey doaks….
Congratulations Jabari!!!

The 2nd pick.. Bucks (Pumpa) selects… Andrew Wiggins = True star potential.. Future all-star in this league… sort of sucks that someone has to end up at Milwaukee (spelling) Sorry Andrew “Chin up”

From: Nick Caro
To: Reece Pedretti; Nick How; James McKern
Subject: NBA Nation Oz/Hoops Podcast Draft
With the third pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, the Philadelphia 76ers select, Dante Exum – Australia.
He’s been compared with the likes of Kobe Bryant, and Michael Jordan and it is the best point guard on offer in the draft hands down. Athletic and versatile, Exum can get to the rack, and spread the defense to allow his troops enough room to move freely and go to work. His shot needs work, but that will come with time.
From: James McKern
To: Nick; Nick How; James McKern
Subject: NBA Nation Oz/Hoops Podcast Draft

Good pick! No takers yet for Embiid….

With the 4th pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, the Orlando Magic select: Marcus Smart

Oladipo was trialled at the point last season and that clearly didn’t work, they need a floor general and Smart is that man. Move Oladipo to the 2 and trade Afflalo!!

Pumpa back to you my man

From: Reece Pedretti
To: Nick Caro; Nick How; James McKern
Subject: NBA Nation Oz/Hoops Podcast Draft

Aaron Gordon to the Jazz

He is a talented bugger!! That’s all I’m saying!!! Team him up with trey Burke… #FUN

From: Nick How
To: Nick Caro; Reece Pedretti; James McKern
Subject: NBA Nation Oz/Hoops Podcast Draft

I’m going to take a massive gamble here but with the 6th the Celtics select Joel Embiid.
Danny Ainge loves a gamble, and this pick could turn out to be the thing of legend if this gamble pays off.

From: James McKern
To: Nick; Nick How; James McKern
Subject: NBA Nation Oz/Hoops Podcast Draft

Damn you How! I was going to take Embiid with my 7th pick.

With the 7th pick the Los Angeles Lakers select: Elfrid Payton (cue Bill Simmons screaming Woaahhh)

Nash is no longer any good and Payton is the point guard that could seriously develop into a legit two way threat. Reckon Kobe would love playing with the kid too.

From: Nick Caro
To: Reece Pedretti; Nick How; James McKern
Subject: NBA Nation Oz/Hoops Podcast Draft

I absolutely hate that pick Boof. Yuck.

Julius Randle to the Kings with the 8th pick.

From: Reece Pedretti
To: Nick Caro; Nick How; James McKern
Subject: NBA Nation Oz/Hoops Podcast Draft

Hornets Select Noah Vonleh with the 9th pick.

Team him up in the front court with Anthony Davis #brightfuture

From: James McKern
To: Nick; Nick How; James McKern
Subject: NBA Nation Oz/Hoops Podcast Draft

Haha sorry Caro, but it’s my pick I’ll do what I want hahaha

Love the Vonleh pick to the Hornets Pumpa!!

Caro it’s your pick with number 10

From: Nick Caro
To: Reece Pedretti; Nick How; James McKern
Subject: NBA Nation Oz/Hoops Podcast Draft

10: Philadelphia 76ers – Nik Stauskas

From: Nick How
To: Nick Caro; Reece Pedretti; James McKern
Subject: NBA Nation Oz/Hoops Podcast Draft

11. Denver Nuggets select Dario Saric

From: Reece Pedretti
To: Nick Caro; Nick How; James McKern
Subject: NBA Nation Oz/Hoops Podcast Draft

Dougie Mac SLIDING!!!! I’m in shock!!!

From: James McKern
To: Nick; Nick How; James McKern
Subject: NBA Nation Oz/Hoops Podcast Draft

Gamble on Saric, not available for 2 years….

Shock no more, with the 12th pick the Orlando Magic select: Dougie Mac!

13th pick is over to Caro for the Wolves…

From: Nick How
To: Nick Caro; Reece Pedretti; James McKern
Subject: NBA Nation Oz/Hoops Podcast Draft

SHIT!! I’ve only just seen that he’s unable to play for two years.

From: Nick Caro
To: Reece Pedretti; Nick How; James McKern
Subject: NBA Nation Oz/Hoops Podcast Draft

Presuming K-Love leaves, the Wolves will have to strengthen their front court, and they can do this by drafting small forward Rodney Hood……. BUT……… I think they’re better off simply aiming for the best player available at this point………. Zach LaVine!

From: James McKern
To: Nick; Nick How; James McKern
Subject: NBA Nation Oz/Hoops Podcast Draft

Like it!

With the 14th Pick the Phoenix Suns select: James Young!

Athletic wing scorer who would be a terrific addition alongside Dragic and Bledsoe.

15th Pick is yours Pumpa for the Atlanta Hawks

From: Reece Pedretti
To: Nick Caro; Nick How; James McKern
Subject: NBA Nation Oz/Hoops Podcast Draft

15th Pick for the Hawks: RODNEY HOOD!!!
LUV HIM!!!!

From: Nick Caro
To: Reece Pedretti; Nick How; James McKern
Subject: NBA Nation Oz/Hoops Podcast Draft

I’m slotting Gary Harris in at 16 for the Bulls. Could go higher, but he’d be a nice fit in the back court alongside Rose.

From: James McKern
To: Nick; Nick How; James McKern
Subject: NBA Nation Oz/Hoops Podcast Draft

Ah you bastard!! Can’t believe you took Harris haha

From: Reece Pedretti
To: Nick Caro; Nick How; James McKern
Subject: NBA Nation Oz/Hoops Podcast Draft

The Celtics Select:

GLEN ROBINSON the 3rd.

GO BLUE!!!

From: James McKern
To: Nick; Nick How; James McKern
Subject: NBA Nation Oz/Hoops Podcast Draft

#stretch!! Haha

The next two picks belong to you Mr.How

From: Nick How
To: Nick Caro; Reece Pedretti; James McKern
Subject: NBA Nation Oz/Hoops Podcast Draft

18. Tyler Ennis
19. Shabazz Napier

From: James McKern
To: Nick; Nick How; James McKern
Subject: NBA Nation Oz/Hoops Podcast Draft

I hate that you took those two players How, you’ve screwed my last pick haha.

With the final pick, the Toronto Raptors select: Adreian Payne!
Go Spartans!!

There you have it, the first ever NBA Nation Oz + Hoops Podcast Draft; the final pecking order looks something like this:

1. Jabari Parker

2. Andrew Wiggins

3. Dante Exum

4. Marcus Smart

5. Aaron Gordon

6. Joel Embiid

7. Elfrid Payton

8. Julius Randle

9. Noah Vonleh

10. Nik Stauskas

11. Dario Saric

12. Doug McDermott

13. Zac LaVine

14. James Young

15. Rodney Hood

16. Gary Harris

17. Glen Robinson III

18. Tyler Ennis

19. Shabazz Napier

20. Adreian Payne

Who makes the best GM? Nick How drafted a nice mix of big men + guards, Caro selected almost all guards apart from Randle, Pumpa easily drafted 5 of the most athletic players in the draft and Boof went pretty heavy on the scorers.
Unhappy with any of the selections that one of the guys made? (Like Caro being filthy on Boof for picking Payton to his Lakers)…….

From: Nick Caro
To: Reece Pedretti; Nick How; James McKern
Subject: NBA Nation Oz/Hoops Podcast Draft

Can’t believe you gave us fu@k$ng Elfrid Payton, Boof haha…. Shoot me!

…….then be sure to let them know about it! Drop a comment in the box below or jump on twitter.
Have fun on draft day everyone, hopefully your team selects the players you want.

 



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Is Danny Ainge Looking To Trade The Celtics Up In This Draft?

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With the NBA Draft being just shy of 3 weeks away, the inevitable rumour mill is in full swing. 

Yesterday the Boston Herald ran a story that suggested that Boston Celtics GM Danny Ainge has been look at ways to move up in this forthcoming Draft, and has apparently already contacted 2 teams:

The source added that C’s president of basketball operations Danny Ainge and his staff are at least momentarily focused on investigating players who will be available at No. 6, with a series of high-profiled workouts scheduled for next Thursday and Friday.

Ainge reportedly also has contacted two unspecified teams in the five slots above his pick about trading up for the most intriguing prospects in the draft. He has also taken a marginal number of calls from teams interested in the sixth pick.

Interesting quote to say the least, and it would be anyones guess as to what Danny would intend to use that higher pick for. A potential Top 3 pick to keep and hopefully make an immediate impact? Or is the Top 3 pick, what is needed to to include somewhere to dangle in front of the Timberwolves in the hope of landing Kevin Love?

Boston Herald’s Mark Murphy also wrote that:

The Celtics, as of yesterday, had yet to make an offer, though they are prepared to do so.

What’s unclear is whether that would be a package including the current #6 pick as well as other assets or is trading up to Top 3 all in aid of capturing Love?

Either way? I don’t think draft night will be a quiet one for C’s fans.



2012 NBA Draft Lottery

Draft Lottery Results; Cleveland Awarded #1 Pick

The results of the Draft Lottery are in, and the Cleveland Cavaliers, much to everyone’s shock and awe, have walked away with the number one pick….. Again.

For the third time in four years, the Cavs moved up from ninth position to take the #1 spot, denying the Bucks and Sixers the opportunity at the first selection in the upcoming draft. The Cavs, who’ve drafted the likes of LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Anthony Bennett, had just a 1.7% chance at nabbing the first pick, but it appears that this is a team blessed with an unabashed amount of good luck. Interestingly, the team with the best odds at winning the lotto hasn’t actually won since 2004, with Cleveland taking it out a total of 4 times in that period. A feat which, before hand, would have only had a .007% chance of occurring.

The Bucks, who had a 25% chance at taking the lotto, fell back to second with the Sixers, who suffered through a 26-game losing streak this year, falling to third. Orlando dropped a spot to 4th, and the Jazz rounded out the top 5. Powerhouses the Boston Celtics and LA Lakers failed to move up, occupying the 6th and 7th spots respectively while the Kings, Hornets and Sixers (2nd pick) completed the top 10.

The Detroit Pistons, who finished 8th in the rankings, fell to 9th, subsequently owing their pick to the reformed Charlotte Hornets as part of the Ben Gordon trade. The trade of Carmelo Anthony to the Knicks failed to yield a top 10 pick for the Nuggets, who occupy the 11th spot, with the Magic, Wolves and Suns wrapping up the 12th, 13th and 14th positions.

The 2014 Draft is touted as one of the deepest in history, with talent right the way through the top 10. Many argue that guys projected to go 6th or 7th are worthy of going #1 in any other draft, so there is reason to be happy if your team did land inside the top 10.

We’ll have more draft coverage as we lead up to the event on June 26th (AUS)

 

 

 



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NBA Nation Australia’s Draft Lottery Roundtable Special Featuring Special Guests

nba-draft-lottery3

With the Draft Lottery fast approaching this week, us at NBA Nation Australia have been more than excited to see where the picks may fall in what is being called the best Draft class for some time. In this Draft Lottery special roundtable we tackle the questions on the lips of all NBA fans, and we also thought we’d invite along a few friends.

Pumpa from the Hoops Podcast (@Pumpa5/@HoopsPodcast)

Hank McCoy from Courtside Podcast (@CRTSDE)

and… Benyam Kidane from the Believe The Hype Podcast (@BenyamKidane)

Right, let’s get to this..

 

1. The Draft lottery is just around the corner, and it’s one of the most highly anticipated in years. How do you see the chips falling?

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Nick Caro: Hard to see it falling any other way than the Bucks or Sixers nabbing that number one pick. I mean, considering the woeful seasons they had, and the likelihood of one of them getting the top spot, they kinda deserve it. They’ll have a myriad of options from Wiggins, to Parker, to Embiid (although I do believe he’ll fall). The Magic and Jazz will probably end up 3rd or 4th and have a shot at the likes of Aussie guard Dante Exum. I don’t really see the Lakers or Celtics getting anywhere near the top three, with both teams expected to land anywhere from 5 to 7 but will still have a good chance at guys like Julius Randle, Noah Vonleh and Marcus Smart. Outside of those picks, it becomes a little more difficult to predict.

Nick How: Well, I’d love to say my Celtics land the top pick, but I honestly don’t see it happening. (I will be crossing my fingers throughout though.) I see the picks falling as follows..  1.Bucks 2.76ers 3.Magic 4.Celtics 5.Jazz 6.Lakers 7.Pistons 8.Kings 9.Cavaliers 10.76ers

Matt Leslie: I think it will be Wiggins, Parker, Exum, Randle, Smart, Embiid in that order. Dante will probably be the surprise at #3. I feel he has that X factor and at 6’6′ has great size for a point guard not to mention, his times on the 3/4 sprint were faster than the likes of Lillard, Paul and Curry. I don’t really know how the balls will roll in relation to team orders but I feel the Lakers will snare a top 3 pick, it’s just the Lakers thing to do – not to mention it’s the only thing they have going for them since they can’t actually trade for Kevin Love just yet.

Nathan Darby: It’d be nice to see the 76ers land the top pick. They’ve got a chance and you’ve got to be in it to win it. I like what the 76ers are doing. Solid coach. Great young side with huge upside and still haven’t had Nerlens Noel step on the court. The Bucks are a waste of space as far as I’m concerned and constantly make bad recruiting and draft decisions. They haven’t been interesting since Bogut’s arm fell off. Personally I hope the Celtics land a nice pick. What they need is some athletisicm and some pop. They already have a super point guard in Rondo. Dante Exum would compliment him well with his power and finishing ability but I think they’ll chase a SF or PF. Aaron Gordon is raw but athletic and depending on where the picks go and who is still left on the board even Julius Randle might be an option for the Celts.

Ryan O’Connell: I have no idea. Literally, no idea. It’s a lottery in every sense of the word. In terms of who will go where, a lot will obviously depend on the draft order and what specific needs a team has when drafting. But just judging on talent alone, there is any number of possible permutations, because the top five or six players all offer so much, in varying ways.

Pumpa: Its a very exciting time of the year for fans and franchise alike. The excitement of being able to get the next best young stud should be getting the teams excited because the Pumpa is pumped about it!!! I am guilty of getting way to excited about the draft.. although i do believe that a high percentage of players drafted could play a big role on NBA teams if given the chance or are lucky enough to find a fit (eg, Jimmer)!!

Hank McCoy: Gun to my head, if i had to make a call on the first 10 picks i would have to go with… 1.Philly 2.Milwaukee 3.Boston 4.Orlando 5.Utah 6.LA 7.Sacramento (why do they always seem to get this pick?) 8.Detriot 9.Cleveland 10.Philly. I’m also expecting all the usual drama (minus David Stern) in this years Draft… Everyone’s predictions thrown out the window by pick 3, Bill Simmon’s head to explode and of course what Draft would be complete without Knicks fans yelling abuse (even though they don’t have a pick this year).

Benyam Kidane: There are plenty of franchise changing talents, great role players and plenty of young potential in this draft. I think the top three will be as expected with Wiggins, Parker and Embiid as the ‘best available talent,’ but after that it is really intriguing to see what direction teams go in with some wildcard players projected for the top 10 such as Dante Exum, Dario Saric and Tyler Ennis. I can’t see too many surprises given there is a lot of dependable talent in the first 20 picks so the desire to take a gamble isn’t as high this year.

 

2. Andrew Wiggins is widely regarded as the clear number one pick, but is he really the best player in the top 10? Why should Wiggins go number 1 over any other prospect?

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Nick C: Yes. Andrew Wiggins is undoubtedly the best overall player in this year’s draft. Fundamentally, Wiggins has his game fine tuned to a point where he is absolutely the safest #1 pick this draft has to offer, and will take the league by storm. There’s plenty to love about pretty much every guy in the top 10, but considering Wiggins’ overall game, he has to go number one. Is he as NBA-ready as some of the other guys in the draft? No, but he’s easily the most likely to excel when he does step onto an NBA floor. One need only look at his versatility on the floor throughout his past season at Kansas to understand he is something special. He has a vertical leap that is an inch higher than his closest opponent at over 44 inches, he also has a 7-foot wingspan and an 8-foot stride. This collectively makes him the most athletically capable guy in the draft. By a long way. Defensively he’s able to guard more than just one spot on the floor and his sheer length alone will disrupt opponents. Offensively his shot needs work, but more recently scouts have reported that his ability from the NBA three point line has improved dramatically. When it’s all broken down, there’s no smoke without fire and Wiggins is clearly the guy the team with the #1 pick should draft.

Nick H: He shouldn’t. Jabari Parker is the best player in this Draft in my opinion. Parker is just more of awell-rounded player, his basketball IQ is ridiculous for a player of his young years. His pure scoring touch, ability to beat his marker with dizzying crossovers and his natural skill for the game are just some of his key attributes. Watching Parker excel in a good Duke team has been a delight this year, and I’m excited as all hell to see his transition into the League. It really is each to their own when discussing who will go No.1 this year though, both Parker & Wiggins have true superstar potential, and I believe both will have long careers at the top of this game.

 

Matt: andrew-wiggins-vertical-leap-photo

I reckon that says it all. In terms of athleticism he appears to be just a few steps ahead of everyone else. I’m interested in why he’d skip the combine, as he’s pretty much a consensus #1 pick. In terms of ceiling, well, who knows just how high he can go. Right now I’d say he’s the best, but we’ve seen the number one pick get outplayed by the other rooks many a time. Whether or not he is the most NBA ready will remain to be seen.

Nathan: Wiggins is raw with huge upside. He hasn’t quite got the complete game just yet and may take a while to shine in the NBA. Wiggins is explosive and will feature big time on the highlight reels throughout his career but I still think Jabari Parker is the more complete player at the moment. He doesn’t have that explosiveness of Wiggins and thus has more tools in his trick bag. Parker is a solid dude and will be a mismatch for many a SF in the paint. Personally I’d pick Parker but I don’t think he’d be interested in playing for the under 14 boys team I coach.

Ryan: This is the time of year when words like ‘ceiling’, ‘potential’ and ‘upside’ get thrown around with alarming regularity. However, those exact words are the reason why Andrew Wiggins is a big chance of being the overall number one pick in the draft. Though his freshman season didn’t quite match the hype that surrounded Wiggins in pre-season, he still showed enough to suggest he might be a future star in the NBA. The problem with that sentence is the selective use of the word ‘might’. The truth is that Wiggins isn’t quite the ‘can’t miss’ prospect many thought he would be. He’s certainly got a lot of potential, but we’ve seen hundreds of players never fully capitalise on their talents, for whatever reason. The bottom line is that Wiggins, like everyone else, will be a gamble. One that might pay off tremendously, or one that may be very costly for a team if those drafted behind him develop into better players.

Pumpa: Wiggins is definatly a talent and has a promising future, Although what proof do we have that he is gonna be as great as people think. I watched about 8-10 Kansas games and saw a very talented kid with alot of room to improve. I do not remember seeing him take over a game and drag them to victory like a future star should. I think people get way to excited about talented players. Why cant we just say he has talent and it will be fun to see how he goes in the NBA? Definate number 1 pick, Ya mad if you dont take him!

Hank: Yes we saw glimpses of Wiggins and his potential last season, but overall #1? Not. So. Fast. Didn’t we also see Joel Embiid steal the spotlight from Wiggins during the season and make his own case for high honours? Didn’t we also see Jabari Parker showcase a wider offensive skill set and Julius Randle bruised his NBA ready arsenal upon everyone? Heck, even Dante Exum might be the better potential pick if a team is willing to take a gamble? He’s the new poster boy for Canada (Sorry, Bennett) but he still has much to prove. For my money Jabari Parker is the clear cut No.1 pick, it’s not even close.

Benyam: I don’t think it’s clear that Wiggins is necessarily the best player in the draft, but his potential and upside is crazy good. Teams draft players on potential and what they could become, so in the case of Wiggins, his ceiling as a franchise changing wing nightmare, far outweighs the likelihood he is just an ok NBA player. There is enough evidence to suggest Wiggins will pan out, but at the end of the day, some General Managers will draft to make the ‘right move’ and nobody is getting fired for taking Wiggins with the first pick. Taking a risk on another guy could work out better, but taking Wiggins is a safer bet.

 

3. Skilled big man Joel Embiid is touted as a top three pick, but has recently been subject to some injury concerns. Considering what we know about injured draftees, will he stay high, or fall to a lower pick?

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Nick C: I think he’ll fall. Considering the list of big men with injury issues (ahem, Greg Oden? Andrew Bynum?), teams have to be especially vigilant when it comes to drafting a guy who is hurt. Granted, Joel’s issues aren’t in his knees, but they are in his back (ala Dwight Howard), but it’s a serious concern nonetheless. Now, while injuries don’t always define a players career, drafting a guy who has spent much of the last season on the sidelines is risky, especially when you’re attempting to rebuild, possibly around this player. The risks associated with drafting Embiid are too high for him to be considered a top three pick for me, and a team like Philly can ill afford another Nerlens Noel type situation. Look, if Embiid is still on the board beyond 5 or 6, I’d probably encourage a team to take him, but with so many options within the top 5, I just think teams would be crazy to take the risk. It should be noted that based purely on skill, he is definitely worthy of landing top 3.

Nick H: Embiid will stay high. We all know a decent big man is few and far between and Embiid really is in possession of the goods. While he hasn’t had the best of luck when it comes to staying free of injury, I think if he is still on the block come No.3 (Which I think is where he’ll be picked) whoevers pick that may be, they’d be crazy not to pick him. A fair amount of comparisons have been made regarding Embiid so far, and while he isn’t in the same league as Tim Duncan or Hakeem Olajuwon just quite yet, he does have the potential to last and excel in this League.

Matt: I was never really sold on him; I’m still not. If Nerlens Noel could fall as quickly and as far as he did, I think it’s more than possible Embiid does the same. I’ve got him slated at 6th in my mock draft. For some teams, this draft is the Holy Grail; some tanked all year just to position themselves, I just don’t see them risking it all for a guy who could turn into a bust due to injuries. I don’t think hiding from the combine helped his prospects all that much. That being said, teams will have the ability to interview him and get him checked by their staff. If they’re happy enough then maybe they will bite. I mean they’re more qualified than me, right?

Nathan: You’ve always got to tread lightly with big men and injuries. Being so big they tend to get injured a whole lot more due to the extra weight and stress on their knees and ankles. Greg Oden and Andrew Bogut are prime examples of this. Both beasts of big men but neither really hit their potential due to constant injuries. On the other side though, big men are worth their weight in gold. If you can snag a dominating big man in the draft your team can go from zero to hero real quick. Roll the dice. Joel will be a top 3 pick.

Ryan: Whenever a player has injury concerns before he’s even drafted, people start to panic a little bit, and rightfully so. From Sam Bowie, to Greg Oden, to Nerlens Noel, we’ve seen concerns about young players with injuries be concerns that were immensely justified. However, any draft pick comes with a certain degree of risk. There have been just a handful of players drafted over the years that were almost guaranteed to be stars in the NBA, but every other player selected was a roll of the dice, in some capacity, for the team selecting them. With that in mind, and knowing Embiid’s potential, there is no way he’ll drop lower than fourth, because someone will take a punt on him knowing that if said punt comes off, it could drastically change the fortunes of the franchise.

Pumpa: My thoughts are like so many other big men that get drafted, he needs to stay in college for another year at least.. 2 would be better.. 3 would be awesome.. Teams do not wanna miss out on the next big thing and draft on potential. The kid did a “dream Shake” on a bloke who looked like a chubby pig farmer and the world went wild.. then all the hoopla began! Yes, he has talent and i like him, but no one knows how he will go in the NBA, Im looking forward to finding out!!!

Hank: Hmm… Someone get Nerlens Noel on the phone and ask him about potential top picks falling in the Draft (too soon?). But seriously, before a stress fracture in his back caused Embiid to miss the end of the season for the Jayhawks, Joel was a beast averaging 11.2pts 8.1rebs 2.6blks and has everyone asking “Wiggins who?”.You could even argue that due to Embiid having surgery and not being able to compete in the combine (out of sight out of mind) it may even hurt his stock, BUT when your 6-11 and being compared by scouts as a potential Olajuwon type mold, worst case scenario pick 5 is as low as he drops.

Benyam: Quality big men with Embiid’s skillset are hard to come by these days so a team will definitely roll the dice on him with a high pick. Only last year we saw a great big man prospect in Nerlens Noel fall in the draft due to injury concerns, but going from the first pick to the number six is not that drastic a drop and I can’t see Embiid falling further than fourth. There will be a lot of ‘take best available talent and figure it out later’ in this draft and Embiid’s ability to affect the game on both ends makes him such an appealing prospect for teams. Although justifying taking him with the number one pick will be difficult given the wealth of talent in the class, but the risk could very well be worth the reward if Embiid pans out.

 

4. Aussie draft prospect Dante Exum has the weight of a country on his shoulders, and is likely to be a high pick. With no college ball experience, do you think Exum is ready for NBA basketball?

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Nick C: So hard to say. I think Exum’s sheer ability will help him in the NBA, with his length and athleticism helping him to compete at the top level. I really would have loved to see him play a year in the NCAA before nominating, if not simply to get a taste of playing on the big stage. Aside from that, I think he’ll be just fine once the cobwebs come off. I think it’s imperative for Dante that he is mentored by a player who knows the NBA, and has a wealth of experience to pass down. This, at least, will help him to understand what he can expect from playing in the toughest league in the world. His country is behind him, which will no doubt encourage him, and provide him with the confidence he needs to perform. He seems like he’s fairly confident in his ability, and has already spent time finding an agent and immersing himself in the NBA culture, which I think is a very smart move for a kid who’s about to have the eyes of an entire country on him. Considering his size, he could potneitally work as an elite rim protector with the ability to have a serious effect on the offense as well. I’d describe him as a mix of Thunder PF Serge Ibaka with a little Chris Bosh thrown in as well. Definitely one to keep an eye on.

Nick H: I’d love to say yes, but I honestly haven’t seen enough of his game to answer wholeheartedly. I do believe he’ll still be drafted high though, and make no mistake about it, I’m sure he’ll grow into a very good NBA player. I have read in numerous places that if Exum had of played College ball that there would have been a good chance of him being picked at the top spot. I’m not quite so about that, but you can’t help but take notice of that. If my Celtics don’t end up trading their pick for Kevin Love, I honestly see Exum playing in that famous green next year. The kids an Aussie, we’ll back him regardless, won’t we?

Matt: You’ll have seen that I slated him as third. I am huge on the kid, I honestly can’t speak highly enough of him. Firstly he appears very humble and well spoken, a trait that will serve him well in the NBA. Secondly as mentioned he sits at 6’6′ and about 196lbs, which is huge, for an NBA point guard. He’s lightning quick, at least half a step quicker than any of his counterparts and can finish explosively at the rim. He’s got a streaky shot but that can be fixed, his vision and athleticism should see him prosper. I think of him as a Westbrookesque player just with a higher IQ.

Nathan: Is anybody really ready for NBA ball? He has the game to thrive in the league and has been compared to Russell Westbrook on numerous occasions. Coming from Australia with little to no big game or college experience I think he’ll have a chip on his shoulder. This chip will make him want to prove to everyone that he belongs. And playing in the NBA a chip on the shoulder is a pre requisite. Everyone in the league is arrogant and cocky. Aussies love a challenge and aren’t afraid to put it all on the line. Exum will be no different. He has the potential to be a force.

Ryan: In some respects, the lack of college basketball experience can be a plus for an incoming player. The style played in college is vastly different to that in the pros, with college coaches having greater impact and influence over games, and a strong emphasis on teamwork – both offensively and defensively. Exum has been ‘the man’ in the teams he’s played in and has been given free reign to captilise on his tremendous skills, which should help him when he gets to the NBA. The real concern is the level of opposition Exum has faced thus far in his career, which is why he’s been dubbed the ‘mystery man’ of the draft. Scouts have seen very little of him compared to other players, and that’s primarily because he wasn’t on-show in college. Though he impressed at the Draft Combine, and he’s got some fantastic YouTube highlight films, questions remain about Exum and how he’ll compete against better opposition. The Australian patriotism within me says he’ll be fine and a future star. The objective basketball fan in me isn’t quite as bullish, but still remains optimistic.

Pumpa: He could be but “No One knows”.. NO ONE KNOWS..we can only speculate and hope, Speculating is just a guess!!! So if you speculate he will be good and he is… then you guessed correctly!!! Well done!!! #sarcasm. I hope he goes well and gets an opportunity to play and learn because he has lots of improvement to make when he starts playing against men instead of Aussie kids who will struggle to make a future NBL roster! Good luck to him tho!!!

Hank: Ready for the NBA game straight out of the gates? No. Ready for the right situation and a franchise with a little patience? Yes. Let’s not jump the gun and instead proceed with caution. Yes Dante Exum is Aussie and that gets our blood pumping but despite glimpses at the Nike Hoops Summit (16pts 3rebs 2ast) and some sparing national minutes, Dante has yet to prove himself against top prospects on a night in night out basis. I’m sorry to be the barer of bad news but in a Draft this deep, is Exum a guy you really want to take a gamble on so high? I’m not saying that Dante won’t be a good PG in 4-5 years but with players like Marcus Smart, Doug McDermott and Tyler Ennis still on the board, these guys could help a team straight away and after all isn’t the point of the Draft not to be there next year?

Benyam: Exum carries himself with considerable calm and confidence in his ability and from the growth we have seen in his game and body over the past 12 months, it makes me think he is more than ready to take the next step. The environment where he honed his game at the Australian Institute of Sport is the perfect situation to prepare for the pros, outside of directly competing with his fellow draft members on a regular basis. His more recent preparations for the draft also seem to have been on point, given that he has not had to play an NCAA season, instead spend that time working on his game in LA with trainers for an extended period of time, something that we will see pay off in the short-term. He has improved his shooting mechanics and also put on some size. Whilst his peers have been playing in college, he has been working on his individual development, which gives him a bit of an edge.

 

5. So much has been written about the top prospects in this draft. Tell us briefly about a player that you believe will surprise people, but may not go so high.

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Nick C: We really haven’t heard much about Noah Vonleh, the power forward out of Indiana. As far as PF’s go, the top 10 isn’t littered with a wealth of quality, but this guy is certainly one of the better ones. Standing at a whopping 6’8″, with a wing span of 7’4″ (!!), Vonleh is one of the bigger guys within the top 10 and should benefit any team that picks him greatly. Down low, he’s a beast but he’s also able to stretch the floor and create trouble for defenses with a quality jump shot. He’s also a great rebounder on both ends, and is able to get out on the break with relative ease. Considering his size, he could potentially work as an elite rim protector with the ability to have a serious effect on the offense as well. I’d describe him as a mix of Thunder PF Serge Ibaka with a little Chris Bosh thrown in as well. Definitely one to keep an eye on.

Nick H: This is purely down to Pumpa going on about this following player for so long. Nik Stauskas is the player that will surprise people from this draft. This kid has got real game and can shoot the lights out, I fully expect to see him at the 3pt contest some day. He surprisingly has decent ball handling skills, and despite his size has been known to run the point. Stauskas has the potential to really be one of the better drafts from this class. Keep your eyes peeled.

Matt: I am pretty high on Cleanthony Early to be honest. Let’s start with the fact he was the heart of Wichita State who went through their season undefeated. Well until they ran into Kentucky. Did I mention he was one of the top scorers in the NCAA per minutes played? He plays as a power forward in college but is a bit undersized for the NBA. That being said, he has all the tools needed to become a solid small forward. As I mentioned, he was one of the best scorers in college basketball, averaging 24.5 points per-40 minutes, that’s good for 5th best. He can score from almost anywhere; the post and the perimeter and at the line. Still not impressed? Consider he did this with a true shooting percentage of 64%,  (58% 2P%, 38% 3P%, 84% FT%). Good for 7th overall among the Top-100 prospects.

Nathan: Dario Saric, Glenn Robinson and James Young. The only problem with Dario Saric is that nobody knows when he will actually come to the NBA. He’s an international and if a team is willing to wait a year or two to get him then I can see him being a very tidy pick up and a potential superstar. At one stage Glen Robinson had huge hype but his inconsistencies changed that pretty quickly. To have hype you have had to do something right. Robinson has some skills and would lift on a team with elite players. If he’s there towards the end of the round, Robinson is worth a shot. Young could be the steal of the draft. He’s coming out of Kentucky which means he was slightly hidden behind some other big name ballers. But don’t let that scare you from him.Young is obviously a great complimentary player but he also has the ability to shine. Act surprised when he dominates.

Ryan: LaQuinton Ross. I just love those players that make the game look easy,even if that comes across as being lazy at times. I could definitely see Ross as a scoring 6th offensive end, and if he lands with the right club. Make no mistake, I’m not predicting Ross will be a superstar, but if you can put the ball in the hoop, you’re a valuable asset and will always be sought after. I think Ross could be a nice sleeper pick for a team looking for some offence late in the first man for a team due to his abundance of skills on the round.

Pumpa: TRICKY NICKY STAUSKAS..If Spicey Curry tweets you and wants to go up against you in a 3 point shooting comp you must be pretty good!!! I watched Tricky Nicky start off the bench as a Michigan freshman as a skinny kid getting 8 mins a game and turn into the BIG 10 player of the year. His all round game is constantly improving and he will not just be happy to make an NBA roster, this kid wants to play and loves the big stage!!!! Lookout for Tricky Nicky!! In saying that… who really knows .. Im just guessing/hoping!!! I hope for Nicky How and Boof Mckern that he ends up in Celtic green!!!

Hank: I’m a sucker for Nikky Stauskas, yes i’m a Michigan fan but this kid is ready to turn some heads. His game is made for pick-and-roll, and Tricky Nikky can do one thing well that will keep him on a NBA bench… Flat out shoot. When i look at this kid i can’t help but see a young Stephen Curry and if my fanboy ramblings still don’t convince you, jump onto YouTube and watch him drain 123/141 three point attempts. Case Closed.

Benyam: My sleeper for this loaded draft is Serbian wing Bogdan Bogdanovic. He will more than likely be taken early in the second round or late first round. He is coming off a great season in Europe, leading Partizan Belgrade in points, assists, blocks and usage, whilst shooting 40% from 3-point range. He is a long defender at 6’6 with a 6’11 wingspan, who reads the game well and plays both ends of the floor well. He is ticking a lot of boxes and I think he could help a team out right away once he adjusts to the speed of the NBA.

 

6. It seems unthinkable in this draft considering the hype, but with the information you have, who do you believe could be a bust?

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Nick C: This isn’t because of his ability, because I do believe he has it in spades, but I can see Joel Embiid being a bust. It sucks to say it, because had he not been dealing with these injuries he’d probably be looking at going number one. I just don’t think, considering the troubles he’s had, it’s a) wise to pick him too high and b) he’ll be able to compete with injury concerns before he’s even hit the NBA. The history of big men with chronic injuries is massive, and in many cases the injury has completely destroyed their careers. We’ve seen it happen before, and I just think it has the potential to happen with Embiid. This kid is hugely hyped, and rightly so, but if he ends up like Greg Oden or Andrew Bynum? I don’t know. It just seems like the writing is on the wall early with this one. 

Nick H: Real tough one to answer actually, but the only player I could  think may be a bust is Shabazz Napier. From what I’ve seen of his game, despite some of it being pretty good he has a tendency to ball-hog. Not overly athletic, and doesn’t have the best of defensive games. I hope I’m completely wrong as I don’t wish anyone to be a bust, but this roundtable requires answers. Shabazz just came to mind.

Matt: Aaron Harrison. He and his brother started the year as arguably the two best players in their positions but oh how the mighty fall. You might remember Harrison from his clutch time heroics throughout March Madness but had you heard much of him before that? You should have considering he was part of a star studded Kentucky Wildcats line-up. Unfortunately he is a 35.6% shooter from behind the arc, which I feel will only become worse once he is behind an NBA 3-point line. He also tends to go MIA during games, again a trait which wont fly in the big leagues. While he isn’t the biggest ‘maybe’ of the draft, I think he isn’t as valuable as some may think.

Nathan: I’ll be controversial here and say that Wiggins could quite possibly be a bust. He relies a lot on his athleticism and doesn’t have the purest of game. For Wiggins he possibly needs to work on his D to get it up to speed and develop a solid all round game. It probably won’t happen but you never know.

Ryan: Though you never like to predict someone will be a bust before they’ve even been given a chance, the answer here simply has to be Joel Embiid. After suffering knee and back injuries late into Kansas’ campaign, Embiid was then ruled out for the rest of the season, with reports of stress fractures in his back hurting not just his draft chances, but more importantly, perhaps his career. The fact he still hasn’t been cleared for full- contact is a major red-flag. If the question here is around a potential ‘bust’, draft failures never come bigger than when they are associated with injured players that unfortunately can’t reach their potential because they simply can’t stay on the floor. Let’s hope that’s not Embiid, but we can’t deny the potential for disaster is there.

Pumpa: I have concerns that Marcus Smart will not be anywhere near as good in the NBA as the experts think he will. From what i can tell he wants to be “the Man” on a team and the chances of that happening in the NBA is very low!! I dont see him adapting to being a role player and being a disappointment everywhere he goes throughout his carreer.. I think!! From what the pumpa saw over the last few years, Smarts game style is like a Bully in the schoolyard pushing in line at the canteen.. he would bully his way to the basket and score on kids that were scared of him! Aint no one scared in the NBA tho! Good luck Marcus!!

Hank: He’s the perfect Blake Griffin clone. 6’8 undersized power forward who can jump out of the gym, comes complete with his own shaky perimeter game and really get up and down the gym in a hurry. Only problem is there is only one Blake Griffin. One thing we forget is that the Draft is a bunch of bad teams, who have a history of making bad decisions. I fear that Aaron Gordon’s undoing may just be that of a team trying to draft Blake Griffin. 

Benyam: For as much as I love Doug McDemott’s game, whether it can translate to anywhere near his collegiate level is another question. A sharpshooting, scoring machine, who can hit he three at an efficient percentage sounds like a great prospect, however a slower, poor defender with small wingspan has shades of potential bust written all over it. Determining what exactly a bust is; is difficult as you can only be compared to the expectation put on you externally and a team taking you with a high pick is not your fault. I do think he will have a solid NBA career but nowhere near what he produced in college and what a lot of people are expecitng him to be.

 

Thanks for reading our in depth Special Edition of our Roundtable. If there were any players you think we may have overlooked or an answer you disagree with, why not leave us a message below.

We would like to thank our guests, Pumpa, Hank and Benyam and urge you to go and follow them and listen to their respective podcasts. They really are covering the beautiful game fantastically well, and what a treat your ears are in for you are just finding out about them now.

Pumpa from the Hoops Podcast (@Pumpa5/@HoopsPodcast)

Hank McCoy from Courtside Podcast (@CRTSDE)

Benyam Kidane from the Believe The Hype Podcast (@BenyamKidane)

 

 



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NBA Nation Australia’s Roundtable Featuring Adam Howes, Tom Read and NBA Slander – April 2014

It’s been a long time coming, but NBA Nation Australia’s Roundtable is finally back, and with the 2014 Playoffs just around the corner, there are are a multitude of topics that ache for discussion. From the rise, and subsequent demise of the Indiana Pacers, to an unbelievably close race for the MVP crown, this NBA season has once again gone above and beyond. Reaffirming that we, as basketball fans can engross ourselves in this beautiful game, and lose ourselves in its ever-changing and evolving landscape. This time round, we have three fantastic guests, all of whom are well ingrained in Australia’s basketball scene in their own way. Tom Read from our country’s #1 NBA Podcast #BelieveTheHype, Adam Howes who is fast becoming what we believe to be Australia’s number one NBA journalist, and the ever controversial, and always thoroughly entertaining NBA Slander. These guys will join the usual suspects to discuss some of the NBA’s most pressing questions, and have their own say at the culmination of another season, where all fans can come together, and rejoice over this beautiful thing we call basketball. Enjoy. (NB: Answers were submitted over the course of the past 4 days.)

1.With the playoffs just over a week away, there are several teams that are battling for the 8th and 7th seeds during the course of the final few games. Who will make the 8, and who will just miss out in both conferences?

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at New York Knicks

Nathan Darby: In the East my heart wants New York to sneak in and Atlanta to miss out. Will they do anything if they make the playoffs? It’s highly doubtful but they can make for some entertaining games. I still cannot believe that Charlotte are up there and I think that Brooklyn might be able to do some damage. In the West Phoenix will stay at 8. Such a good story for a team that nobody gave a  chance of doing anything and it’s great to see Gerald Green showing he’s more than a dunker. The rest of the West will stay as is. A Clippers Vs Golden State First Round Match-Up would be mint. Bogut being a pest, niggling at Blake and DeAndre. Curry and Klay dropping bombs. CP3 running the show. If the Warriors get a roll on they’ll be tough over 7.

Ryan O’Connell: It’s the Knicks and Hawks battling it out for the final spot in the East, and I think Atlanta will take it. Both teams have horror draws to finish the season, playing teams above them in the standings, apart from the Hawks facing the lowly Bucks on the last day of the season. The Hawks should beat Milwaukee, and therefore win the right to get belted in the first round of the playoffs. Plus, let’s face it, the Knicks are putrid. In the West, it’s a lottery, with Memphis, Dallas, Phoenix, and even Golden State all duking it out for the final three spots. The Grizzlies play the Suns on the second last day of the season in a match that will probably decide the fate of both teams. I’ll lean towards Memphis’ experience getting them home in that game, which means the Suns brilliant season may not result in a playoff spot; which is ludicrous considering what an excellent basketball team they’ve been all season.

Adam Howes: I’ll start with the East. One through seven is all clinched, with some teetering between Charlotte and Washington, so really it’s just a matter of the eighth seed being filled. It’s a two horse race between the Hawks and the Knicks, but despite their struggles I think the Hawks hold onto their current spot. The Knicks are cooked, stick a fork in them, they are DONE! They still have to face the Raptors (twice), Bulls and also the Nets. I’ll be shocked if they catch Atlanta and really, do they even deserve that spot after the abysmal season they’ve had? That’s a resounding no from me on that front. Besides, Lala’s probably already got the bags packed and the travel agent on speed dial. I hear Chicago is nice in June. The plot thickens out west. GSW, Dallas and Phoenix have all been playing with reckless abandon over their last 10 or so games, whilst Memphis is still hanging in by the skin of their teeth. As awesome as it would be from a basketball purist’s perspective to have the Mavs drop to the eight spot and face off against the Spurs in the first round, my gut instinct has the Suns meeting Timmy and company, which is a little disappointing, as I think that Phoenix vs. OKC in round 1 would make for some heart pounding basketball theatre. Getting back to the Warriors, I think they stay in the sixth position. Even though they have more games remaining (5) than the aforementioned teams, only one is a Playoff bound opponent.

Brenton Harris: Perhaps nothing better reflects the disparity of the two conferences than these two races, on the one hand you have the Hawks and the Knicks seemingly doing everything in their power to NOT make the playoffs in the East and on the other hand you have three worthy teams in the Suns, Mavericks and Grizzlies slugging it out in a winner-takes-all dog-fight for the final two remaining spots. In the Eastern conference, which honestly I couldn’t care less about I think the Hawks will unintentionally find themselves in the playoffs and subject to a sweep at the hands of the Heat, but I won’t be watching them do so. My eyes will be locked on the far more exciting West where entertaining story lines such as the Cinderella run by the Suns, Dirks last stand and the grit and grind Grizzlies search to rediscover their identity, coupled with some rather fortuitous scheduling that sees the teams all play each other over the course of the last few days of the season, should make for some utterly enthralling viewing. As a Suns fan, who infamously gave them NO CHANCE of achieving anything this year, I’d love for the Cinderella run they’ve been on to continue, however my head tells me that I’ll be sweating it out on the result of the final game of the campaign as the Suns square off against the Grizzlies in a ‘play-in’ game for the ages. The Mavs, with an easier schedule will have sewn up their spot already. This whole situation is yet another example of why the NBA is awesome. No matter what happens, I’d just like to take the opportunity to once again reiterate that I was WRONG about the Suns and that I love them dearly for what they’ve done for me as a fan this year. Bring on that last game against the Grizz, and then bring on those Spurs!

Nick Caro: It’s getting clearer by the day! Just this afternoon (Thursday) the Hawks ensured the Cavs won’t make the postseason, and made things very difficult for the Knicks with a win over Boston. At this point it’s hard to see New York overcoming the deficit, so I am saying the Hawks will definitely claim the 8th spot, and get booted by Miami or Indiana in the first round. The West is a bit tougher to call, with the Grizzlies and Suns battling hard for 8th, while the 7th placed Mavs aren’t yet a sure thing. Even Golden State could technically fall out at this point. While I love the story of the Phoenix Suns, I have to think the Grizzlies will push themselves into the 8 spot, and enjoy a huge first round match up with the Spurs.

NBA Slander: In the East, I think the Hawks will hang on to that 8th spot. They are two games in front of the Knicks at the moment and both teams have three games left to play. I don’t see the Knicks winning their last three against the Bulls, Nets and Raptors who are all in the playoffs. The Hawks, however, have the Heat, Bobcats and Bucks. The West is a much closer race between the Mavericks, Grizzlies and Suns (all within half a game of each other). Assuming the Grizzlies beat the Lakers, they have to play against the Suns and the Mavericks for their final two games. I’m going with the Mavs to hold the 7th spot and the Grizzlies to hold 8th.

Tom Read: In the Eastern Conference, it’s pretty safe to say that the Atlanta Hawks will lock down the 8th seed. They are 2 games ahead of the New York Knicks with 3 games remaining. PLUS they hold the tie-breaker over the Knicks. So, basically… They’ll have to lose all 3 of their remaining games vs the Heat, Bobcats & Bucks plus the Knicks would have to win all 3 of their remaining games against the Bulls, Nets & Raptors for them to fall out of the Playoffs. In the West, the Playoffs basically start now as the Mavericks, Grizzlies & Suns all play each-other over the final week of the season. (How’s that for scheduling!) I see all 3 teams finishing on 49 wins & Phoenix finishing in 9th place due to the tiebreaker.

 2. A big talking point over the last couple of weeks has been the Indiana Pacers and their apparent fall from grace. From league leading title favorites, to underdogs in a first round match up, what is wrong with this team?

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ND: I’ve still got the Pacers winning it. I said it at the start of the season and I can’t change my mind now. I like to think of it as tapering. They’re just priming themselves for the big show.

RO: Their offense sucks, to put it bluntly. Though there have been reports that chemistry has also been an issue since the Danny Granger/Evan Turner trade, the fact remains if the team was scoring more, and therefore winning more games, chemistry wouldn’t be an issue. Though in a classic ‘chicken versus egg’ scenario, maybe the offense would be better if the chemistry was better? Hhhmm. Back to the offense, and the Pacers hot start to the season may have been fool’s gold. Indy still lack an elite-level penetrator/point guard that can get easy buckets for teammates when the offense stagnates. Roy Hibbert is much improved down low, but remains mechanical at times. And I personally believe that the team overrates Lance Stephenson. Put it this way, I don’t think you can win the title if Lance is a vital part of your team. Their defense will win them their fair share of games, even in the playoffs, but sadly, this is no longer a championship team. If indeed it ever was.

AH: where is Roy Hibbert? Talk about underachieving, he’s over seven feet tall for crying out loud. Seriously, how is this supposed “All-Star” not dominating? Is it because he’s not seeing enough of the ball, his recent protests alluding to that as possibly the cause, unless he was referring to THIS? As for George, perhaps he should just take a social media sabbatical and focus on basketball and his leadership skills. In regards to that early season MVP discussion, shame on those of you who indulged in that nonsense. Such utter Poppycock! (If I’m to be remembered for anything in my first ever round table, let it be said that it was for using the word poppycock in reference to Paul George’s MVP legitimacy). All I know is this, if there is actually any tension between the two, Vogel or David West better sort it out quick fast or else their season will go down in NBA history as a bitter disappointment or at best be turned into a question on a TV game show… ‘This once lauded team won over 50 games in the 2013-14 NBA season, until dysfunctional set in and they were eliminated in the second round”.

BH: Simple: They’ve lost confidence in their own abilities and basketball is such a confidence driven game. Fans had better hope they regain that belief quickly because there is a team in Toronto and one in Chicago that are both brimming with confidence in their systems and in their own abilities that could easily upset the Pacers and find themselves facing the Heat for a spot in the finals.

NC: I’ve run through this a thousand times in my head and the only word that keeps popping up is chemistry. This team has lost ALL of it. Not just a player causing problems, or a bit of a feud between some guys. No. This team has somehow lost every single shred of chemistry which made them the NBA’s biggest threat to the Heat. Now, without that chemistry, and a dramatic drop in form from their stars, the Pacers have been relegated to a pack team, simply scraping their way to the end of the season. Coach Frank Vogel today rested their entire squad against the Bucks. A move scoffed at by yours truly. Why would a coach, on the verge of losing his team, sit his guys when the one thing they need is to re-learn how to play together? Rest? Ridiculous. They don’t need rest. Their average age is 26. They don’t need rest. They need to learn how to play together. Find that defensive, stifling style that made them so great to watch. This team simply HAS to find it soon, or I guarantee you they won’t make it past the first round.

NS: Absolutely everything. Many of us pegged them as legitimate contenders earlier in the season. Since then, many of us have changed our minds. We don’t know if they can right the ship. Let’s start with Roy Hibbert, a starting Center that managed to grab a grand total of 1 rebound in a game against their rival Miami Heat that may decide homecourt advantage. Utterly pathetic. And I’m not even going to use his name but a starting point guard for a championship caliber team cannot be averaging 2.8 assists in the last 5 games and 3.5 assist per game in the entire season. They better get their act together or they’re not going to make it out of the 1st round.

TR: This is a really perplexing situation at the moment. It’s amazing to see a team that only 2 months ago, looked like it would run away with the Eastern Conference #1 Seed & be well on their way to knocking the Heat off their mantle as the best team in the Conference. I don’t believe there’s just one thing that has gone wrong with the Pacers, but it’s a whole lot of little things that have mounted up into this situation. The biggest thing to me would be the deadline deal that sent Danny Granger to the 76ers in exchange for Evan Turner & Lavoy Allen. Whilst on court, this looked like it was a minor upgrade… Turner’s younger & more athletic than Granger… However, I think we may have all discounted that even when he was injured, this was still Danny Granger’s team. He was the first star from this new generation of Pacers & has been the locker room leader for this group. Throughout last season when he was sidelined, he was still at every game, training & was a functioning part of the team even though he wasn’t on the court. His leadership has allowed the Pacers to get the best out of their young guys in Paul George, Roy Hibbert & Lance Stephenson. However, now he’s gone, that leadership has fallen on the shoulders of the above mentioned guys & to a lesser extent, David West & George Hill. It has become clearly noticable that they aren’t ready to take on this level of responsibility just yet. Furthermore, Granger’s departure came at a time where there was a few off-court rumors & controversies surrounding Paul George. With the nature of these incidents, how hard would it be for him to demand leadership in a locker room full of guys in their twenties? Also, their offense has been really bad lately. They have been relying too much on isolation plays from George, Stephenson & Turner instead of trying to set picks or playing through the post. One of their major problems recently with their offense was the fact that CJ Watson had been sidelined. I’m not a huge fan of George Hill, he’s plays the game too safe. With Watson back in the team now, Hill won’t be as heavily relied on & CJ can start to get the offense working a bit better again.

3. It wouldn’t be a roundtable without discussing the MVP race. There are a multitude of contenders, but really, it is just a two horse race. To this point, who is your MVP of season 2013/14 and why?

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ND: Durantula. No doubt. He ran the show at OKC with Westbrook out and didn’t miss a beat. KD has bulked up and doesn’t just rely on jumpers anymore. His game has evolved and has taken over Lebron as the best in the league. Just remember back to Durant’s complete domination of Lebron earlier in the season. On a side note, how good has Noah gone this season? MVP calibre season but there’s two greats ahead of him.

RO: Kevin Durant. It’s very close, and you could easily make a case that LeBron James’ superior defense and passing gives him the edge, but I simply believe that Durant has had a slightly better season. Throw in the fact that Durant plays in the ultra-tough Western Conference, has been without his sidekick Russell Westbrook for large parts of the season, and honestly, some dreaded voter fatigue for LeBron, and I think KD will be the 2013/14 MVP. And he’ll thoroughly deserve it.

AH: Joakim Noah. There I said it. I can’t front, that’s my guy. If I was eligible to cast an MVP vote for him I would. (To be fair guys, you did ask who my MVP of the 2013/14 season is) Now yes there is definitely some bias thrown in the mix when it comes to my answer, but look at the facts:-

* On a team with no active superstar, his spirited play and never say die attitude has the Bulls almost  at the 50 win mark. Who foresaw that?
* The Bulls have played 78 games, he’s lead the charge playing in 76 of those.
* He leads the Bulls in assists, rebounds and blocks and is on pace to set career highs in two of those categories and also scoring. In fact, he only needs four more points, two assists and thirty two rebounds across the remaining four games to become only the fourth center in league history to average 12 ppg, 11 rpg and 5 apg in a season. The other three gentlemen he joins, Bill Russell, Wilt and Kareem.
* He’s tied with Lance Stephenson in leading the league in triple doubles (4), which is remarkable as it’s not a common feat for big men. In fact, he’s become only the fourth center in NBA history to have four triple doubles in a season, joining Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell and David Robinson. He’s also seventh in the league in double doubles.
* Also achieved his second consecutive All-Star berth this season. I’ve even left some other things of note out so as not to prattle on too much. Simply put, you take the emotional spark plug off that Bulls squad and they are nowhere near where they are in the  standings right now.

Please note: In saying all this, I’ve had my money on Kevin Durant since the start of the year to take home the Maurice Podoloff trophy (I may be a Bulls fan but I’m also a realist). If KD doesn’t win it, I’m going to have some serious conspiratorial thoughts about Adam Silver and his cronies.

BH: Kevin Durant will be the MVP this year, and it will be thoroughly deserved. His season passes both the statistical and eyeball tests and the combination of his stellar performance and a bit of voter fatigue should see him awarded the trophy for the very first time. LeBron remains the best and most complete player on the planet though.

NC: This is so tough. I picked KD as the MVP at the start of the season, and honestly, he’s exceeded my expectations. The 40+ streak, the 25+ streak, countless game winners, defensive prowess not seen before and an ability to win games all on his own without his right hand man there to help him. I just cannot go past him. LeBron has had another great year, but hasn’t impressed me to the point where I believe he deserves the award over KD. Simple stats will tell you he hasn’t surpassed Durant in any area aside from FG%, and we all know LeBron’s points come primarily in the paint. With the current climate being very luke warm in the Eastern conference, I don’t see how LeBron James could be handed the trophy over Kevin Durant, who dominates the white hot west.

NS: In my opinion, Kevin Durant is the clear MVP. He has had a more consistent season where he’s improved (and beat LeBron James) in nearly every statistical category. Furthermore, his player efficiency rating (PER) is a league-leading 30.22, edging out LeBron’s 29.52. What more is there to say? Mr Durant deserves the award and it would be daylight robbery if LeBron won MVP.

TR: This isn’t a conversation… Kevin Durant is the MVP. You can make an arguement for LeBron James. But any other player in the NBA doesn’t deserve to be included in discussing an ‘MVP race’… There’s daylight between 2nd & 3rd.

4. It is sure to be a fascinating playoff series this year, with the West consisting of so many great teams, while the East has gotten considerably worse. What is your ideal meeting in each conference, and why would the two teams match up so well?

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ND: Golden State Vs Clippers. Just look at how good their match-ups have been this season. Imagine that in the heat of the playoffs over 7 games. The rivalry between these two sides has just grown. Watching these two play, you can feel the emotion in the match. Plus they are two action packed teams to watch. Indiana Vs Miami. The only two teams capable of doing anything in the East. This would be a beast of a conference battle. George Vs Lebron will be massive and Hibbert trying to exploit the lack of reliable centres on the Heat line up. They’ve had some great bouts during the season and I would love to see Indiana roll the Heat in 7.

RO: As mentioned earlier, the Pacers have dropped off so much that the Eastern Conference Finals match-up with the Miami Heat that was anticipated all season might actually be a fizzer – if the Pacers even make it that far. You could argue that a Bulls vs Heat series would have more emotion and intensity, while the Nets swept the Heat during the regular season, which sets up a tantalising subplot should they meet in the Conference Finals. However, let’s not forget that even in the Pacers limp finish to the regular season, they still defeated the Heat in a close game in Indiana. Despite Indy’s offensive struggles, it’s still the series we want to see in the East. In the West, I’ll keep it simple: Spurs vs Thunder. They’re the two beat teams, and present serious match-up troubles for each other. It would be a great, great series, and a worthy decider of who comes out of the West, the far superior conference
when it comes to depth of quality teams.

AH: In the East, I can’t go past the Heat vs. the Bulls. I’ve never heard anyone say they don’t enjoy watching those teams go head to head. The way the Bulls are playing out of their minds and with such confidence at this present time, I’m 100% positive they want that match up to happen as much as the fans do. Miami haven’t looked as sharp of late, but of course we know how they are capable of rounding into form once the Playoffs hit. The question is, with all the basketball mileage they’ve absorbed over the last three seasons, can they dig into those reserves of energy and experience to appear again on the grand stage? I’m not as confident as most Heat fans are and I know if they do meet Chicago, Tim Thibodeau’s team will be the toughest obstacle in the East that they have to get past. Key match-up to watch: Butler versus James. Jimmy has become an elite defender in his short time in the NBA, can he keep James’s output to a minimum and frustrate him on the defensive end? That remains to be seen. As for the West, in a perfect world it would be an OKC/GSW Western Conference Finals meeting, but even if that doesn’t take place I really want to see these two teams clash. You have two teams with volume scorers, you have a solid of mix of veterans and youth and on top of this you have two of the most exciting teams to watch that make a League Pass subscription one of the greatest joyful luxuries in our lives. Key match-up to watch: Hard to go past Curry and Westbrook, but from a purely Australasian standpoint, Andrew Bogut vs. Stephen Adams. Chippy doesn’t even cover it, fireworks is still understating it. Let’s just say it could lead to some hardnosed, gritty, slug fests.

BH: I know it’s probably sacrilege not to say the Heat and the Pacers in the East, but there’s a part of me that really wants the Raptors to find a way into a conference finals showdown with the Heat. It’d be an amazing story, and would gift the Heat haters a fun, underdog team to pull for, while giving the profile of basketball in Canada a massive boost, perhaps finally making Toronto a destination city for free-agents like it deserves to be. RAP, RAP city bitch, will lose in 5 or 6.  In the West, I’ll take anyone vs anyone and be happy, however in an ideal world I’d like to see the Western Conference finals be a Thunder vs Clippers affair, with the Clippers reigning supreme so we can have ourselves a Hollywood as hell finals series. Either team would prevailing would make for a worthy finals though. My head says it’ll come down to the Spurs vs Thunder though, with the Thunder prevailing in 6.
NC: The West NEEDS Memphis to claim the 8th seed and face the Spurs in the first round. What could easily be a WCF series in the first round would set in motion a playoffs series for the ages, with the grit and grind of the Grizzlies, against the fundamental dominance of San Antonio playing out in an epic battle of two western conference powerhouses. In the East, bring on the Bulls and Nets. The Bulls have prospered without Derrick Rose and are still a threat in my eyes, while the Nets have overcome early struggles to become a very legitimate force in an average conference. Their playoff experience is invaluable with guys like KG and Pierce at the helm, and would go a long way in helping them overcome this first round match up with Chicago.
NS: There are too many fun matchups in the West but I’ll be looking forward to a Spurs Vs. Thunder conference final. It would be a great rematch of the 2012 Western Conference Finals where the Thunder won 4-2.In the East, a Bulls Vs. Heat conference final would get me as happy as a clam. LeBron James has averaged only 18.3 points against the Bulls and with the exception of the Spurs, he has averaged around 27.4 points against the rest of the league (I’ve done the Math). Yep, you guessed it, defense and LeBron struggling makes me happy.
TR: Houston v Portland is a potential series that i’m really looking forward to. These two teams match-up really well & have had some high-scoring encounters this season. Patrick Beverley should be back in time for the Playoffs & he defends Damian Lillard better than most other point guards. It’s a match-up of two top 5 offensive teams & it should be a super-fun first round series. Plus, Dwight Howard hasn’t won a Playoff series since 2010.

5. The NBA draft is touted as one of the most talented in recent memory with a multitude of prospects impressing teams, players   and fans alike. With the lottery just around the corner, how do you see the dominoes falling?

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ND: Hopefully Boston gets whoever they want (Could be Dante Exum??) but I’ve always liked Jabari Parker. I think he looks like a complete player. Scores well. Can rebound and block shots. Things didn’t go his way this season but the dude’s a competitor. Has that winners instinct and you could tell that by how disappointed he was with Dukes performance this season. Wiggins will probably go #1 but I see Parker being the better player.

RO: Maybe I’m in the minority here, but I’m not sure this draft is going to be as amazing as everyone – myself included – first thought. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still very deep, and there are still a lot of very talented players in it, but is it really going to have six or more ‘can’t miss’ superstars in it? I’m not so certain. In terms of who is going to be drafted where? I’ve got no idea! Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Joel Embiid, Dante Exum and Julius Randle could all go first overall, and then the rest could fall into any order imaginable. I’ve seriously got no idea, and a lot will depends on the draft order. I do like Randle though, if anyone’s asking . . .

AH: To be completely honest as someone who follows the NCAA from afar, in recent years I’ve paid little attention to the lead up to the Draft until the day arrives, but this year I’m definitely more engaged. In terms of who falls where, it’s hard to say at this point until a clear picture is painted of who is declaring eligibility. Of course the big names like Parker, Wiggins and Embiid will no doubt go high, but like majority of the avid basketball fans who reside in Australia, I’m most interested to see how things end up for our home grown top prospect, Dante Exum. Analyst Fran Fraschilla recently likened him to a young Michael Jordan, a comparison some thought was too much too soon. I’d made the same comparison in my own mind only days prior whilst watching THIS. Can he reach such levels of greatness? Will the lottery bound Lakers manoeuvre their way towards him as has been suggested? Will he become the next in line to take Kobe’s spot or is he just a more skilled Nick Young? Only time will tell.

BH: I foresee the 76ers usurping the Bucks and landing a much-needed number one overall pick which they will use on Andrew Wiggins and it’ll prove to be the right call. The city of brotherly love deserves a break. As for the Bucks, I see them landing the number two pick and doing the very Bucks like thing of drafting Embiid and using him as the basis of their franchise overhaul. From there a lot depends on how the balls drop as each of the different teams have very different needs. If the Lakers or Magic find themselves in the top-three then Dante Exum will find himself starting for one of those two franchises as each has a desperate need for a point guard. Outside of that I think it’ll come down to teams just picking the best players available. With the uncertainty surrounding several top prospects intentions, I hazard to guess who they’ll be.

NC: As a Laker fan, the draft is actually stressing me out this year. It’s so important that LA drafts well, and acquires some young talent to be mentored by Kobe. That said, plenty of teams are thinking the same, With the Sixers, Bucks, Magic, Celtics and Jazz all vying for the top picks. Of course, the lottery means that standings are simply an indication of the chance you have at garnering the top pick. Nothing is guaranteed. I see the Sixers getting the top pick and taking Andrew Wiggins, followed by the Bucks and Joel Embiid, Magic with Jabari Parker, Celtics with Dante Exum and the Lakers with Julius Randle or Marcus Smart. As much as I’d love one of the top 4 picks, I don’t think the chips will fall the Lakers way there. I like Julius Randle however, and feel he could benefit the Lakers with some TLC throughout the next year. As far as these teams go, I think that’s not only how it will fall, but what is best for each team going into next season.

NS: The Bucks look like they will be getting the 1st pick percentage-wise but it is called a lottery for a reason, anything can happen. I have a sick feeling in my stomach that the Lakers will somehow end up with a top 3 pick no matter what their record is so here is my order for the first 5 picks based on absolute guess work and limited consideration for percentages: Bucks, 76ers, Lakers, Jazz and Kings. Once again, my Celtics will get screwed out of a top 5 pick, the “unluck” of the Irish…

TR: I still see Andrew Wiggins going #1. I think every team that could potentially land the #1 spot will pick him. He’s clearly the most talented & athletic player in the draft. He’s 6’8″, has a 7′ wingspan & clearly has the biggest upside out of anyone in the draft class. Whist he’s still very young & does have his flaws, such as his shooting, he’s got the basic skillset that can make him into an elite NBA All-Star. One thing I love about Wiggins is the fact he’s an elite defender for his age. This is something that he has over guys like LeBron James & Kevin Durant when they came into the league. LBJ & KD took years to become capable NBA defenders & Wiggins looks like he’ll be a solid defender from day 1. His ability to get to the hole, transition game & how effective he is in pick & rolls show that he’s tailor made for today’s NBA game. I see Jabari Parker going next. If Wiggins isn’t on the board, he’s a sure thing to go next. He’s a perfect 4 for today’s NBA game. He shot 47% from the field this year & 35% from beyond the arc (50% from 3 in November!). People say that the knock on him is that he’s a mesh between Carmelo Anthony & Rudy Gay… But, is that really a bad thing? I mean Melo’s one of the best scorers in the NBA & Rudy Gay isn’t as bad as people think he is. Under the right coach & situation, he could become a very dangerous offensive weapon. I actually think that Joel Embiid will fall out of the top 3. After the plethora of elite young big-men injuries over the last few decades, the fact that Embiid has had back & knee issues already in his short career will pose a red flag. I think he’ll still go top 5, but if the Lakers, Sacramento, Detroit or Orlando are picking at 3, I can see one of them taking Dante Exum. These 3 teams are really high on what Dante has to offer. He’s an athletic, big combo guard who can get to the hole & is an extremely creative offensive general. His biggest weaknesses are his ball handling & his shot. His arc is a big flat, but there has been noticeable signs of improvement on that over the last 6 months. People say he’s an unknown, but it’s really not the case. There are 4 years worth of footage of him playing in FIBA tournaments & invitational, against the very guys who he’s pitted against in the draft. He capably held his own against them all. Dante’s currently working out in Anaheim & from what i’ve heard coming out of there… Everyone who’s caught some of the workouts have been extremely impressed with what they’ve seen. Shout-out to Julius Randle, he’d be a great fit for Boston or Utah if they pick 3rd.

6. This season has seen many players improve, while also witnessing many regress. Who, in your opinion, has claimed the crown of ‘Most Improved’ and adversely, who has disappointed more than anyone else?

jr-smith-clubbing

ND: This is always tough to pick. Do you pick someone who has gone from good to great or someone who has gone from nothing to something? I’d love to see Shaun Livingston get it just for the story that comes with it but I don’t think that MIP are based on heart warming stories alone. It’ll be either Bledsoe, Dragic or Green. These three turned Phoenix from nothing to something. I can’t give it to Bledsoe because of his injuries and Dragic has always been a solid baller but my pick is Gerald Green. From the D-League to dominating the NBA if that doesn’t hit the pre-requisites for MIP then I don’t know what does.As a Celtics fan I am constantly disappointed with Jeff Green and his inconsistent performances. This year was supposed to be his big break out season but it just did not happen. Anthony Bennett already looks a bust as the 2013 #1 draft pick and basically anyone on the Bucks roster has been a disappointment.

RO: There are a lot of candidates for the MIP award, with Goran Dragic no doubt being a popular pick due to his ascension to bona fide star in a great season for the surprising Phoenix Suns. However, for me, it’s the New Orleans Pelicans’ Anthony Davis, who, in just his second season, made the leap from ‘potential star’, to ‘oh my god, he might be an all-time great!’. His all-round game and potential is scary, and he developed so much in his sophomore season that it suggests we may have something very special on our
hands. In terms of who regressed, an obvious answer might be Pau Gasol. Though questions remain over whether he’s regressed, aged, or has just been marginalised by a coach that has no idea how to use him and his skill-set. For me, the player that really took a downturn was Raymond Felton. He went from being an important part of the Knicks success the season before, to a liability on and off the court this season. In fact, can I name the whole Knicks squad here?

AH: Oooooh this is a tough call for me, I’d love to see Taj Gibson take it home as well as the Sixth Man Award. The Bulls have promoted him for both awards, but I’d say the chances of him being a recipient of both is slim. Besides field goal percentage and blocks, his numbers have increased across the board so he is a worthy candidate, but I think it may be Goran Dragic’s at seasons end. I’ll be Hulk like angry if Tajy Woo receives neither. Once again you have a player who’s numbers have increased across the board, with only a slight dip in the assist column, keeping in mind he does share the back court with another point guard who’s no slouch either (Eric Bledsoe) so that makes his numbers even more impressive. After Dragic was snubbed from the All-Star game, he’s been playing with a meteor sized chip on his shoulder and in the process helping lead the Suns to a Playoff berth that I don’t think many people saw coming before the season commenced. I think the panel of sportswriters that cast their votes for the award, will make things right for The Dragon. As for the most disappointing, I’m going to sum that up with one name in one sentence – J.R. Smith.

BH: Is there a way we can give this award to the entire Phoenix Suns team? The evolution of the games of Dragic, Green, Plumlee and both Morris twins borders on the unfathomable. Of these Suns I think Dragic is the pick of the bunch. He has developed into a genuine all-star caliber player and has become the face of the organisation in the process. He should have been an all-star.  Suns homer picks aside, the other  candidates for the award as I see it are Anthony Davis who at 21 years old is already an absolute monster and DeMarcus Cousins who finally seems to have grown into himself. My heart says Dragic, but my brain says this one is going to The Brow. 

NC: Anthony Davis. Undoubtedly the most improved player in the NBA by a long, long way. The Unibrow has upped his scoring average by a whopping 7.6 points per game to 21.1ppg, and increased his rebounding average by over 2 per game. He’s also averaging 2.8 blocks (leads the league), a huge improvement from 2012-13’s 1.8bpg. To top it off, Davis is one of just five players in the NBA averaging 20+ points and 10+ rebounds. Hard to argue that with a significant improvement in every statistical category in just his sophomore year, Ant Davis is well on his way to NBA super-stardom. (Honorable mention to Jodie Meeks). Adversely, it’s hard to go past the Bucks’ $24 million man OJ Mayo. Mayo, who was showing real promise with the Mavs just last season, has regressed with the Bucks shooting a career low 40% from the field for 11.8 ppg, down signifigantly from last season where he averaged over 15 points a game. Assists and per/48 are also down, indicating that Mayo is in fact one of the worst performing players on the team. Not exactly what you expect when signing a guy to 3-years/$24 million. (Honorable mention JR Smith).

NS: There have been many surprises! Kyle Lowry, Lance Stephenson, Gerald Green and Goran Dragic but I’m going Anthony Davis. His numbers have gone from 13.5 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 1.8 BPG, 51.6 FG%, 75.1 FT%, 21.7 PER in his rookie year (2012-2013) to 21.4 PPG, 10.4 RPG, 2.9 BPG, 52.7 FG%, 78.7 FT%, 27.1 PER, this season. I’m looking forward to seeing another big leap from him next season. The biggest disappointment has been Larry Sanders, hands down. I thought he would build upon his great season last year where he averaged 9.8 PPG, 9.5 RPG, 2.8 BPG. I was dead wrong. What’s wrong with him? Everything is wrong. He managed to take himself off the court with a bar fight https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mJ7KceTzB-s that tore a ligament in his right hand, which caused him to miss 25 games. And when he managed to get on the court, he didn’t stay there long, racking up fouls and ejections at an alarming rate. Not to mention his violation of the league’s anti-drug policy. The hits just keep coming (pun intended). Hang in there Milwaukee, only 4 years left on his $44 million dollar contract. 
TR: Blake Griffin has been the most improved player for me this season. I truly believe that the leap from NBA All-Star to Superstar is a bigger leap than from being an ok-to-good NBA player or from good-to-All-Star. His offensive game has come on rapidly. He’s developed a dangerous mid-range game & has implemented some very good post-moves. Furthermore, his leadership & ability to close games when Chris Paul was injured earlier on this season has just highlighted how far he has come.As for the most disappointing player this year… You’ve got to go with Andrew Bynum. I mean, yes he does have some very bad injury problems that must be very hard to deal with. It takes him forever to get his body ready for games & he spends hours after a game he plays icing his knees & warming down. BUT, the way he just threw away the opportunity that the Cavs gave him & he just didn’t seem to care, THEN demanding that he’d only sign with a contender for the remainder of the season makes you realise just how out of whack his priorities are. The only side note is that when he has been on court & engaged this season he has been very effective. Now if he could just change his attitude & seemed like he cared, maybe I’d have a bit of sympathy for how difficult it is for him to play basketball these days. Either that, or retire. It kills me seeing him like this.
There you have it folks! Another cracking Roundtable with some of the best this country has to offer. Thanks for reading, and a special thanks to Adam Howes, NBA Slander and Tom Read for taking part. You can find their twitter handles and where else you can find them below!
NBA Slander: Pick n Roll AU Twitter: @NBASlander
Tom: Believe The Hype Podcast Twitter: @traread


The “T” Word

Tanking. It’s like the new planking. Everyone is talking about it so I thought I’d join the party in an upright seated position. Is it happening in the NBA? Is it worth it? Does it work? Or is this just a story that has been blown out of proportion and turned into something bigger than it actually is? After having a discussion with a few fans, this is one of the issues they wanted researched and researched it shall be. If you have any stories that you want written up feel free to let me know and I’ll do my best to make it work. (more…)



korver

Your [updated] All-Fantasy NBA Team

The last All-Fantasy NBA Team I posted here at NBA Nation Australia was published early in the season, Novemeber 14th, to be exact.  At that point, we were only a couple of weeks into the 2013/14 Regular Season, blissfully unaware of  the eventual injury crisis that was heading our way.

I don’t know about you, but I have been hit hard by the aforementioned injury bug.  In one of my fantasy leagues, I drafted Anthony Davis, Kobe Bryant, Eric Bledsoe, Ryan Anderson, Luol Deng and Jimmy Butler (yes, all in the one team).  That’s 6 out of my first 10 players selected that have gone down with various injuries and ailments, for varying lengths of time.  Suffice to say, I’m struggling in that league, with a record of 3 wins and 8 losses after 11 weeks.  Unfortunately there’ll be no “back-to-back” fantasy title coming my way this season.

If you’ve managed to avoid the injuries to the guys above, not to mention the likes of Al Horford, Deron Williams, Derrick Rose, Chris Paul, Dwayne “day-to-day” Wade, Jrue Holiday, Russell Westbrook, Nikola Vucevic and Gordon Hayward (to name but a few, there are many more) – then you are indeed a lucky son of a gun.

The injury to Derrick Rose, particularly, hit hard.  At the time of the news breaking about his knee injury, I was on a flight from Melbourne to New York (via Los Angeles), with tickets literally in hand, anticipating seeing D-Rose up close and personal at the United Center in early December.  Once we landed in New York, I checked my Twitter feed and quickly became aware of the devastating news that I wouldn’t be seeing Rose take on the Pistons, in Chicago, in just a few short weeks.

Bill[Bill Wennington making me look about 4 foot tall here!]


Hey I can’t complain – I caught 4 NBA games on my travels (LAL @ BKN, NOR @ NYK, MIL @ BOS and DET @ CHI) and met the great Bill Wennington whilst I was there.  Perhaps a post about my experiences at these NBA games can be the subject of a future article.

So whilst not seeing Rose was a cruel blow, I’m just a fan – I can’t even imagine how crushing the set-back was for Derrick Rose himself, as well as for the franchise.  However, we know enough about Rose to understand he’ll work as hard as possible to be back better than ever next season.  And, I’m sure (or, I hope) that I’ll have the opportunity to see the Bulls in person again, one day.

This story is not dissimilar to that of my brother, Adam, who also had a trip to the USA locked in, back in 1993/94.  And as the huge Bulls fan that he is, he was eagerly anticipating (that’s probably an understatement) seeing his idol, Michael Jordan, play in person for his beloved Chicago Bulls in early 1994.  Unfortunately for Adam, and as I’m sure almost everyone reading this is all too aware, Jordan shocked the basketball world by announcing his sudden retirement from basketball in October 6th, 1993 (only a matter of weeks before the season, but after Adam’s trip was locked in and paid for), with Jordan citing a loss of desire to play the game.  You can read more about it here.

So perhaps Adam & I were just unlucky, but it’s still a rather unique and cruel coincidence that we both were dealt bad hands by the basketball gods.  (To this day, Adam loves the 1980’s and 1990’s era of the NBA, and has established a successful website and podcast dedicated to the glory days of the NBA: In All Airness.  You would be wise to check it out, and listen to some amazing podcasts with greats of the NBA, at inallairness.com).

Back to fantasy.  You can check out the first edition of the All-Fantasy team here, but as the season has progressed, so has the All-Fantasy team.  This team is based on games played since my previous post, so essentially games played from mid-November through to mid-January.

And remember, as per the previous team published, I try to avoid the obvious “superstars” like Kevin Durant and LeBron James.  Let’s just say that Durant, LeBron, Chris Paul (pre-injury), Kevin Love and LaMarcus Aldridge have been absolutely outstanding fantasy players, as we expected.

Here is the team – in a traditional fantasy line-up format:

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PG

Goran Dragic

It’s hard not to love what Dragic has done for the Suns in his last 25-odd games. Whether Bledsoe has been on the court, or not, Dragic is putting up All-Star numbers. Not only is he putting up 20 points a contest, he’s dishing out 6 assists and doing it whilst maintaining healthy percentages.

SG

Wesley Matthews

Often overlooked in Portland – alongside bigger names Aldridge, Batum and Lillard – but he’s holding his own and contributing a bit of everything across the board, with elite 3PFG numbers (2.6 makes per game).

SF

Thaddeus Young

The 76’ers may not be pretty whilst they’re positioning themselves for the 2014 draft lottery, they play a style of game very much suited to fantasy (their opponents don’t mind this either). Young struggled earlier in the season but has come on strong, helping you everywhere except the blocks category.

PF

Paul Milsap

There is no doubt Paul Milsap is taking advantage of Al Horford’s extended absence with injury. There is very little Milsap can’t do, showing why he is one of the most complete players in fantasy. If he could raise his FG% to near .500, he would be elite.

C

DeMarcus Cousins

Cousins has surprised many this year, putting up numbers comparable (if not better) than most big men in the NBA. If you were re-drafting your fantasy league today – he would be a certain top 10 selection. So if you got him in the second or third round back in October, you are reaping the reward right now.

G

Kyle Korver

Congratulations Kyle – consecutive All-Fantasy team nominations!

Forget the streak of 107 consecutive games hitting a 3-pointer (whilst impressive), Korver is giving you more than just elite 3-point shooting these days – and he’s doing it efficiently. His rebounds, assists and steals are up on last season – a great sign for fantasy owners. That’s why he’s now a 2-time All-Fantasy team member.

F

David Lee

Selecting David Lee in the 4th round of one of my fantasy leagues is perhaps my favourite selection of this season. I just love everything he brings to the table, from a fantasy perspective. And he does it under the radar, too. His FG% is terrific, given the amount of attempts he puts up (approximately 15). He won’t give you above average blocks or steals, but he’ll help you in most other areas.

C

Nikola Pekovic

Similarly to Lee, Pekovic is a points, rebounding & FG% machine. You’ll need to fill your roster with other players that can contribute above average in the steals & blocks categories, but you’ll love owning a healthy Pekovic. He’s just a monster.

UTIL

Manu Ginobli

I’m one that had all but written off Manu coming into this season. But whilst the minutes are down, Manu gives you great production in a number of areas, including 3’s, assists and steals. Like Korver also, Manu is a player I owned at one point this season, but I wasn’t patient enough to wait for this fantasy value to present itself.

UTIL

Channing Frye

No, I didn’t expect this one either. Particularly from the PF/C position, Frye adds tremendous value if you’re looking for 3PFG’s. He won’t contribute blocks, but he does enough in the rebounds and assists category to be worthy of a spot on your roster.

UTIL

Derrick Favors

It’s handy to round out a fantasy roster such as this with a player like Favors. With Al Jefferson having departed for Charlotte, Favors and Kanter were supposed to be a “2-headed monster” in the Jazz front court. Whilst Kanter hasn’t played up to expectations, Favors is delivering big-time. With solid across the board numbers, he’s going to be a great fantasy option at PF for many seasons to come.

Thanks for reading once again.  Have I missed any players you think deserved a place in this latest edition of the All-Fantasy team, or do you disagree with any of the selections? If so, feel free to reply with your suggestions in the comments below, or you can contact me on Twitter – @luke2177.  I’m always up for a fantasy discussion on Twitter.

I hope your fantasy season is going a bit better than mine!



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Your All-Fantasy NBA Team – Luke Ryan

After what felt like the longest NBA off-season I’ve experienced, we’re suddenly already 2 weeks into the regular season and fantasy leagues are in full swing.  What I’m specifically loving about this season so far, is the amount of fantasy content out there and how easy it is to connect with other like-minded fantasy coaches.

On Twitter, specifically, it’s almost like a support network for fantasy players – a place you can confess your wrong-doings and seek forgiveness, so to speak.  If you’re anything like me, you’ve been accessing the waiver wire like it’s going out of fashion. It’s possible the amount of information and data out there (about injuries, line-ups, daily player status and the like) makes me look to the waivers far too often.

Perhaps you’ve erred on one or two occasions, as I have.  The silliest move I’ve made so far, was dropping DeAndre Jordan for Vitor Faverani.  Yes, I really did that.  As I’ve mentioned previously around these parts, I’m somewhat of a “percentages guy” and Jordan’s FT% was annoying me like an itch that you just can’t scratch.  I saw Vitor as having a realistic opportunity to play 30+ minutes going forward for the Celtics, plus Vitor has a silkier stroke at the free-throw line.  Well, it’s fair to say, the Vitor experiment didn’t last long.  I’ve been burnt by the Celtics big-man rotation and as a result I’m staying away.

On the plus side, in one of my main leagues – I drafted Paul George, Anthony Davis and Eric Bledsoe.  That helps me sleep at night.

Enough about my fantasy problems.

I thought I’d have a look at the early-season form and put together my own “All-Fantasy team”.  I’m very mindful that we’re only two weeks in, but this is a team that will evolve throughout the course of the season (I’ll try to update the team every month or so).  Importantly, I didn’t want to look at all of the obvious superstars for this team.  So you won’t find a LeBron James, Kevin Durant or Chris Paul here (as great as they have each been this season) – because I’m sure everyone reading this knows that those guys are the elite. This team strives to dig a little deeper.

On this team, you’ll (mostly) find the fantasy surprises of the young NBA season to date, plus a player or two that has “broken out” and (so far) lived up to huge pre-season expectations.  As a matter of housekeeping, my selections are based on a traditional 8-category league (no turnovers).

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Here is the team in a traditional fantasy line-up format:

PG

Eric Bledsoe

Has lived up to the huge expectations placed upon his young shoulders in the pre-season. I’m loving his current efficiency, also.  Making the Suns suddenly relevant.

20.6 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 7.3 apg, 1.9 stl, 0.1 blk, .52 FG%, .80 FT%

SG

Kevin Martin

Enjoying his new surroundings in Minnesota, playing in a familiar system under Rick Adelman. It doesn’t hurt that he’s playing with K-Love and Rubio, either.

24.6 ppg, 3 3PFG’s, 3.3 rpg, 2.4 apg, 1.4 stl, .46 FG%, .92 FT%

SF

Klay Thompson

Shooting the lights out for the Warriors so far in 2013-14.  Along with Martin (above), T-4th in the NBA for 3PFG’s made but Klay has the best 3-point percentage amongst players putting up 6 three-point attempts or more a game.

19.6 ppg, 3 3PFG’s, 2.5 rpg, 1.8 apg, 1.1 stl, .53 FG%, .87 FT%

PF

Kevin Love

Absolutely dominant, to put it simply. It’s so early, but if Love keeps up this production (and the Wolves consistently win), he’ll end up in MVP calculations. Sure, he’s a “superstar”, but he had questions marks over him entering the season.

26.4 ppg, 2.5 3PFG’s, 15.0 rpg, 5.0 apg, .47 FG%, .85 FT%

C

Anthony Davis

I loved the potential of Davis coming into the season and drafted him early as a result.  He has repaid my faith, and then some. And he’s doing it so far without Ryan Anderson spreading the floor around him. He’ll need to take out a restraining order against me if this form continues.

20.9 ppg, 10.8 rpg, 1.6 apg, 2.3 stl, 3.4 blk, .47 FG%, .86 FT%

G

Michael Carter-Williams

Has surprised almost everyone with his form to start the season. The shooting has slipped recently, but these numbers must be acknowledged. Wasn’t drafted in every league, but that has surely now been corrected due to his excellent numbers.

17.4 ppg, 1.9 3PFG’s, 5.4 rpg, 7.6 apg, 2.6 stl, .70 FT%

F

Carlos Boozer

Bit of love for my man Boozer, please. Sure he’s being paid a lot of money ($15.3M this year, $16.8M in 2014-15) but he gives everything out on the court and will become a valuable player to any team on a more reasonably priced contract in a couple of seasons. Look at those percentages!

18.0 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 2.3 apg, .60 FG%, .91 FT%

C

Spencer Hawes

Another beneficiary of the super thin 76’ers line-up. I drafted Hawes in a couple of leagues simply due to opportunity and sheer volume of minutes he’d play (especially once Noel was out of the picture).

15.8 ppg, 1.8 3PFG’s, 10.8 rpg, 3.1 apg, 1.9 blk, .54 FG%, .74 FT%

UTIL

Nikola Vucevic

Of the “middle of the draft” centers that were available, Vucevic has emerged as the clear #1 of the group. Jonas Valanciunas and Enes Kanter have had less than ideal starts to the season, whilst “Vuc” has delivered for fantasy coaches in a big way.

15.6, 11.9 rpg, 2.8 apg, 1.3 stl, 1.0 blk, .53 FG%, .72 FT%

UTIL

Markieff Morris

Definitely one of the pleasant surprises of the first two weeks. Making the most of a thin Suns front line, Morris is contributing across the board and would have made a superb waiver wire pick-up in the first week (assuming he wasn’t drafted in your league).

17.2 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 1.7 apg, 1.7 stl, .63 FG%, .80 FT%

UTIL

Kyle Korver

You generally know what Korver is going to give you, but his current production in 2013-14 is up compared to last season, including the all-important “minutes played” category. Korver wont hurt you in any area and will fill it up from 3-point range consistently.

13.9 ppg, 2.7 3PFG’s, 4.0 rpg, 3.1 apg, 1.7 stl, .56 FG%, 1.0 FT%

If any of these guys happen to be available in your league, you had better go ahead and pick them up quick smart!

Thanks for reading everyone. Have I missed any players you think deserved a place in the All-Fantasy team? If so, feel free to reply with your suggestions in the comments below, or you can always contact me on Twitter – @luke2177.

Have a great fantasy week everyone!