Tuesday, June 26, 2007

NBA Mock Draft 2.0...And More!

"Riding across the land, kicking up sand
Sheriff's posse's on my tail 'cause I'm in demand."

Back again for a little bit more of the same. It's hot, it's summer, so why waste time?

The Sox are back into "regular" play after two plus weeks of no DH's and bad lineups...actually, really bad lineups. I love how we went 12-6 in interleague action, but face it, most of the lineups we faced were total garbage. Arizona? San Fran? San Diego? These teams have maybe one good hitter, and the rest you can pretty much chalk up to luck...and worst of all, it doesn't seem like they'll be getting any better. True, these teams have some great pitching going for them. Arizona has the reigning Cy Young in Brandon Webb and the re-charged, re-energized Randy Johnson, the Giants' fourth best pitcher right now is Barry Zito, so that's a bit of an indication on how good they are, and the Padres have the best 1-2 starting pitching punch in the majors and the best bullpen in the league. Yet with all that being said, these teams are mediocre at best. The D-Backs and the Padres have two of the best records in the NL, yet played poorly against the AL in interleague play. Arizona went 8-7 and San Diego went 6-9, and the reason Arizona did so well is because they faced Baltimore six times, going 5-1. So what does all this mean? Well, it's easy for someone to say that the AL has better players and better talent, but it stems a lot deeper than that. It's all about resources...money more specifically. Consider this: When I calculated the 2007 Opening Day payrolls for both AL teams and NL teams, the difference was staggering. First, only three NL teams are in the top 10 payrolls in the league...and they have 16 teams! Then, I averaged both the AL and NL payrolls, and those results were even more startling. The average AL payroll was $93,412,706. The average payroll for the NL was $74,141,326. That is a difference of $19,271,380...almost $20 million! When you toss out the lowest AL payroll, which is Tampa Bay, not surprisingly, the next-lowest team is the Cleveland Indians, who spent almost $62 million this year. There were six teams that spent less than that in the NL, and two of those teams are San Diego and Arizona. What's even more puzzling is that both teams went down from their 2006 payrolls, with the Padres cutting $11.5 million and Arizona cutting $7 million, only the Nationals cut more ($26 million) than those two. Does the league alignment have anything to do with this? I wonder. Think about it: the AL has only 14 teams to divvy up all their revenues to, and the NL has 16 teams. Still, is that any excuse for a team to cut back that much in their payrolls? Money doesn't make the team, as evident by the Orioles, who spent $95 million this year, but what it does is open up some doors in terms of depth and player development that these teams are going to need come October.

I am so sick of Patriot fans going crazy about the supposed "greed" of Asante Samuel not signing his franchise tenure. Look, I know, we are probably not going to make as much money as Samuel is due to earn next year in our lifetimes, but you have to think about this entire thing from a business perspective, and not from an everyday, blue-collar standpoint. Samuel would make almost $8 million next year, but think about this in a long-term sense. Say Samuel signs that one-year deal, plays this year, and gets hurt, which could definitely happen. Samuel gets his eight mil, and then what? If he's lucky, the injury is not too severe, but still, his contract will not be worth nearly as much as it would be right now. Right now, Samuel is looking for around $20 million in guaranteed money. Now, personally, not only do I not think he won't get that from the Pats, but he won't get that much from anyone if he gets traded. Realistically, Asante should expect to get about $13-15 million guaranteed. Plus, the contract will be "back-heavy," meaning that the majority of the base contract will be paid out in the later years of the deal. The reason clubs do this is because they are able to pay a guy in his prime years a lot less than he would potentially be worth. Plus, because the life of an NFL career is such an unknown, this is protection from having to pay a guy big bucks for "damaged goods." In any event, getting back to my original message: Stop with the constant Asante hating. The guy is simply trying to capitalize off of a career season. If you had no guarantee from an employer if you would be able to work next year, wouldn't you try and get the most money you could up front?...Ok then.

The NBA Draft is right around the corner, and that means that I'm going to have to sure up my mock draft, and even provide some analysis for you. So, here comes the final mock draft installment:

Round One:
  1. Portland- Greg Oden. This should be Kevin Durant, and if the Blazers smarten up, it might be, but it seems like Portland is still so infatuated with Oden that he will probably end up going #1. Oden brings a lot to the table, but this team already seems to have a bevy of big men, including LaMarcus Aldridge, who was the second overall pick last year, and Zach Randolph, who is coming off a breakout season.
  2. Seattle- Kevin Durant. In terms of skill and upside, this guy is #1. Durant brings a lot to the table, and even more, he will be able to step in right away, as he will be playing in Rashard Lewis' spot at small forward.
  3. Atlanta- Al Horford. This should be Mike Conley, but why would the Hawks do something smart like take a gifted point guard, which they desperately need, when they could take a big man who is quick on his feet? Horford's a good prospect, but didn't Atlanta do the exact same thing last year? They passed on Brandon Roy and Rudy Gay last year for Sheldon Williams, and two years ago, passed on Deron Williams, Chris Paul, and Raymond Felton for Marvin Williams. If the Hawks think Conley will be there at #11 for their second first-rounder, they are dreaming.
  4. Memphis- Mike Conley. Although they have Chucky Atkins, Conley is simply the best player by far available right here. Conley is the best floor general in the draft, and the Grizz need someone to get the ball to Gasol in the middle before he starts demanding a trade again.
  5. Boston- Corey Brewer. This could very well be Jeff Green here, but Brewer is actually a better pick given that he is a better defender than Green. Remember, if the C's draft Noah here, it will officially cap off the worst year in Celtic history. Red passed on, the Celts tanked their season, Doc not only didn't get fired, but got an extension, the C's felt another brutal lottery loss, and then, if Noah comes aboard, the franchise will burn to the ground, at least they will in my mind. It's also a very real possibility, as he worked out for the Celts a few weeks ago...God help me now!
  6. Milwaukee- Brandan Wright. Dare I say Marvin Williams all over again? In what is basically the exact same subplot as what launched Williams to #2 two years ago: A Tar Heel who has a ton of unrefined talent, and who scouts have drooled over for his athleticism and size. Unfortunately, I don't see Wright being able to play up to his top-5 billing.
  7. Minnesota- Joakim Noah. KG's future seems to be in doubt, and even if, somehow, the Timberwolves manage to keep Garnett, they do need some depth in the paint. Joakim Noah is just as he is advertised: He is a decent shooter, gets some rebounds, but will be called upon for his intensity more than anything.
  8. Charlotte- Jeff Green. Gerald Wallace just opted out of his contract, meaning that there is a void to be filled at the small forward position. The Bobcats need size down low, but they will probably be willing to put that on hold to get someone to replace Wallace.
  9. Chicago- Yi Jianlian. I had Yi going at #5 to the Celts, but it seems like their interest has been fanned a bit. The Bulls are in need of someone who can back up both Tyrus Thomas and Ben Wallace, and Jianlian would solve both those issues.
  10. Sacramento- Spencer Hawes. The Kings are another team with a big question mark at power forward. Hawes, who only played one year at U-Dub, will compete for a starting job right away with Kenny Thomas, and will definitely get his fair share of minutes regardless due to ongoing health concerns with Shareef Abdur-Rahim.
  11. Atlanta- Acie Law IV. Although Javaris Crittenton would be a good hometown pick for the Hawks, it seems that Law has peaked their attention ever since his workout. The Hawks are in desperate need for a point guard, and Law was easily one of the best in the nation last year.
  12. Philadelphia- Al Thornton. This is one of the easiest picks to make given that Thornton falls this far. This is the first of three first-round picks for the Sixers, and it would be almost unheard of if they kept all three of them. However, if Thornton is still available, this would be a great add to Philly's lineup, which is lacking physicality at the forward position.
  13. New Orleans- Nick Young. The Hornets have Chris Paul, and now, they need a compliment for him. Young was outstanding in the tournament and showed a ton of athleticism in the pre-draft camp in Orlando.
  14. L.A. Clippers- Julian Wright. For whatever reason, the hype on Wright has minimized over the past few weeks. This is a classic case of someone not being a "sexy" pick, and therefore, others who stood out in workouts have passed Wright in favorability. The guy is still a top-10 talent, with the only knock on him being his lack of experience coming out as a sophomore.
  15. Detroit- Rodney Stuckey. This was interesting, because I had Thaddeus Young in this spot, but recently, I've seen a lot of movement for Stuckey to go ahead of Young. Not saying this is the way it should be, but hot rumors and potential are what fuel the draft.
  16. Washington- Thaddeus Young. So basically, I just flipped the two picks, with both teams needing exactly the same thing, and both guys play the same way anyway, so no one is going to lose in this situation.
  17. New Jersey- Sean Williams. I have all the confidence in the world that Williams will be a great player in the league if he stays out of trouble...big "if" considering where he's headed.
  18. Golden State- Jason Smith. I still like Smith to go to the Warriors because it seems like they need some depth in the frontcourt, as their guard play, especially Baron Davis, was outstanding in the playoffs.
  19. L.A. Lakers- Javaris Crittenton. There is no certainty about their team. Even their best player may not be back next year. What is known is that the Lakers passed on trading for Jason Kidd and ended up getting stuck with Smush Parker at the point. Crittenton has perhaps more upside than anyone in this draft given his makeup, and could turn out to be a steal at #19.
  20. Miami- Gabe Pruitt. There's only so far you can push "White Chocolate," and riding him to a championship was way more than they could have asked for. Miami needs youth in a bunch of places, and Pruitt would certainly fill a need.
  21. Philadelphia- Glen Davis. Davis has been one of the biggest lightning rods in the whole draft. People either think he'll be a good fit, or think he will fail miserably. What Davis needs to do is try and get into the gray area that has been created by great (Shaq) and not-so-great (Stromile Swift) LSU big men.
  22. Charlotte- Daequan Cook. I'm going to stay with Cook going to Charlotte here. What the Bobcats are dying for is a perimeter scorer, and from what Cook showed in his limited time with the Buckeyes (50% from three), he may be able to have an immediate impact along with Green.
  23. New York- Jared Dudley. Ah yes, a New York pick. Well Knick fans, I hope this one makes you happy. Dudley has all the skills and the heart to be great in the league, and given last year's first round pick (Rey Rey!), the Knicks do put value on a player's heart and desire.
  24. Phoenix- Wilson Chandler. With Shawn Marion either leaving this year or next year most likely, the Suns need some depth at small forward. Chandler has been a name that has risen up draft boards, and has gone from being a guy who might get drafted, to a sure-fire first-rounder.
  25. Utah- Morris Almond. Utah is in dire need of a perimeter scorer to take some of the load off Deron Williams. Almond is another guy who has seen is stock go up before the draft, and although he played at a small school (Rice), his abilities and his workouts have translated into slipping into the late first round.
  26. Houston- Tiago Splitter. Splitter is a guy who may not be able to come and play in the NBA until next year. With that being said, if he didn't have the kind of problems coming to the U.S. like he does, he could have been a top-10 pick. Measuring in at 7'0, 240 pounds, Splitter very much resembles Pau Gasol when he entered the league.
  27. Detroit- Dominic James. People may be surprised to see James in the first round, but what I liked about him is that he showed a lot of poise and leadership on the floor. Right now, Chauncey Billups' return is up in the air, so getting a point guard like James could provide as an insurance policy of sorts.
  28. San Antonio- Alando Tucker. The Spurs won the championship in relatively easy fashion, but still they are getting old, especially at the forward position. Guys like Bruce Bowen and Michael Finley will not be able to keep their game up to the level it is now. Tucker will be waiting in the wings once it is clear that those two are over the hill.
  29. Phoenix- Nick Fazekas. There is no such thing as having too much size, and with the "run and gun" style the Suns play, Fazekas adds an outside element that is tough to defend on fast breaks.
  30. Philadelphia- Taurean Green. If Philly keeps all three of their first-rounders, they are crazy. This draft is deep, but there are a bunch of impact guys that will go in the top 10 that the Sixers need to package some of their picks to move up. However, if they stay at #30, and Green is still around, they will be loving life. Andre Miller is still making plays, but it would be nice to have some depth to give him a breather every now and again.
That concludes the first round. To recap, Florida has four guys taken in the first round, the first time a school had four first-rounders since 2005 when UNC had four in the top 14 (Williams, Felton, May, McCants). Ohio State will send three of their phenomenal freshmen to the first round. This was a team that easily could have duplicated what the Fab Five of Michigan did, and probably could have done even more. Right now, I only have two international guys going in the first round. Although there could be more, I expect this to be an on-going trend considering the lack of impact international players have had on the league for the most part. Obviously there are exceptions (Yao, Manu, Parker, Gasol, etc.), but if you look at it from an overall sense, there is no way anyone can tell me that drafting a guy from overseas is a "sure thing."

Enjoy the draft everyone. Peace.


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