Three Questions Entering Opening Night in the NBA

NBA Opening Night!

NBA Opening Night!

 

Who cares about watching the Orlando Magic get pummeled by the Indiana Pacers (-12)?

I do! I do!

Is it because the Magic have no one who can cover Paul George, and I happen to enjoy his dynamic offensive game? Is it because I wagered on Victor Oladipo to win rookie of the year at 9/2? Or is it because I want to take the Pacers in a 4 point teaser?

Editor’s note: I’m not addicted to gambling; I’m just addicted to fun. 

Can the Bulls back up Bill Simmons and make a statement in game 1 against the Heat (-5) with D-Rose back?

It’s not a question of whether or not the Bulls can win in Miami – we know they can. They made the second-round last season without their fearless leader and former-MVP. Additionally notable, sources say Derrick Rose has added 5 inches to his vertical leap – is that even fathomable? The real question is, “can the Bulls take it to the Heat and win by double digits in Miami?”

Excited? Me too.

How many shots will Nick Young take for the Lakers (+9.5) in tonight’s pseudo home game against the Clippers?

Fresh off mojo-boosting performances in the Drew League, LA’s culty’ Pro-Am summer league, Nick Young is ready to hoist up some J’s – cough cough. Cue the dented rims! He’s actually not a bad shooter (43% FG / 36% 3PT), he just seems to shoot too much.

To run a quick test – Nick Young averages 9.7 shots per game in 23.1 minutes per game. A comparable, but better high-volume shooter that came to mind when thinking about Young, opposing guard, Jamal Crawford, averages 13.1 shots per game in 31.6 minutes per game over his career. But who is the more frequent shooter?

And, the numbers say…. Nick Young by a nose!

Nick Young – .419 shots per minute / 2.38 minutes per shot

Jamal Crawford – .414 shots per minute / 2.41 minutes per shot

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The 2013 Orlando Summer League Awards

Just as the OSL comes to a close, the Las Vegas Summer League begins – what a treat! The Thunder won the Orlando SL “Championship” today, but I don’t think that should have much of a correlation to the regular season… Or could it?

At any rate, here are the OSL awards from this week presented to you by The Corner Triple. To be considered, players must’ve played in at least 4 out of their team’s 5 games. Also, accolades are dually based on their statistical performance as well as how their intangibles (athleticism, vision, composure etc.) will translate to an actual NBA game.

All Orlando Summer League First-Team

C – Andre Drummond, Detroit Pistons

Andre Drummond

Andre Drummond

Thanks to commenter Jake C, who reminded me that Drummond did play in 4/5 of his team’s games, I’ve added him to the All OSL First-Team over Mason Plumlee. Andre averaged 15.5 points and 14.8 rebounds, and shot 51.9% from the field. If he didn’t miss so many layups he would’ve been near 60%, and if he didn’t shot 33% from the line he would’ve had many more points. Taking it all into consideration, Drummond looks ready to take off.

PF/C – Kelly Olynyk, Boston Celtics

K.O.

K.O.

I’m not saying he’s going to be the next Dirk Nowitzki, but I do think he has a very unique skill set that resembles aspects of Dirk’s game. He’s not as smooth or quite as good of a shooter, but Kelly has proven that he can play. He averaged 18 points and 7.8 rebounds, and should have a great rookie campaign for the Celtics.

SF/PF – Terrence Jones, Houston Rockets

Terrence Jones

Terrence Jones

Terrence Jones is now ready to produce in the NBA. On the week, Jones averaged 15.8 points on 42.2% from the field, and 7 rebounds per game. If he decides to be as assertive for the Rockets in the regular season as he did this week, he will be one of the most important Rockets off the bench in 2013-14.

SG – Jeremy Lamb, Oklahoma City Thunder

Jeremy Lamb

Jeremy Lamb

Unrelated to his play, I’m pretty sure Lamb added some orange highlights to his hair (see above). This week, Lamb averaged a productive 18.8 points 4 rebounds, and shot 39.1% from the field. He had a dominant 32-point performance against the Sixers (seems like everyones best game was against Philly), and looked like a guy that will continue to improve throughout camp, and become offensive weapon for the Thunder.

PG – Victor Oladipo, Orlando Magic

Victor Oladipo

Victor Oladipo

The Magic played Oladipo at point guard, and although it isn’t his natural position, he played it better than anyone else. Oladpio finished the week by averaging 19 points 5 assists and 3 steals per game. Against the Sixers – his best game – he dominated his matchup against Michael Carter-Williams by turning him over eight times, then hitting a game-winning step-back jumper with 4.4 seconds left to win by 1. Great week for Victor.

Honorable Mention

PF/C – Mason Plumlee, Brooklyn Nets

Mason Plumlee

Mason Plumlee

Mason edged out a few others for honorable mention by finishing with averages of 13.2 points and 7.8 rebounds per contest. Under the tutelage of the veteran Nets front court, Mason will surely improve and be a productive NBA player. I don’t see him getting many minutes this season because the Nets are so stacked up front, but he’ll get in there when they’re trying to rest guys like Garnett.


Most Interesting Player

C – Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz

Rudy Gobert and his 9'7'' Standing Reach

Rudy Gobert and his 9’7” Standing Reach

I almost picked him over Mason Plumlee for no reason other than likability, but without further ado I present to you, Frenchman, Rudy Gobert. Rudy Gobert was probably my favorite non-Celtic player of the week. Usually, foreigners with absurd wingspans and huge hands come to the NBA as long-term projects, but not Rudy. Gobert averaged 5.4 points on 52.6% from the field, with 6.2 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game, and should be an effective rim-protector by the middle of the season for the Jazz.

Most Surprising Player

SG/SF – Solomon Hill, Indiana Pacers

Solomon Hill

Solomon Hill

Solomon Hill was a guy who has flown under the radar until this week. One of the most efficient shooters in the OSL, Hill averaged 12 points 5.6 rebounds, shot 48.9% from the field, and 55.6% from three. That’s a pretty great week for an underdog looking for his first contract.

Most Disappointing Player

PG – Trey Burke, Utah Jazz

Trey Burke

Trey Burke

After a brutal week where he averaged just 8.8 points on 24.1% from the field, Trey Burke was very candid in his interview by saying, “It’s a matter of getting my feet under my shot… I’ve been flat. It’s not a matter of not losing confidence in my shot… I just need to get used to the speed of the game. I’m gonna continue to work.” Burke seems to have maintained his sanity, but has an uphill mental battle ahead of him.

Three Predictions From the 2013 NBA Draft

1. The Cavs’ will be kicking themselves in 6 months for picking Anthony Bennett

Bennet and Stern

Bennet and Stern

Anthony Bennett is a huge risk/reward pick for the Cavaliers because of who they didn’t pick. By picking Bennett, they passed on the ‘sure thing’ in Victor Oladipo (who went #2 to Orlando), Otto Porter, and also passed on the consensus #1 talent in this draft, Nerlens Noel. Bennett has the ability to be the best player from this draft class in 5 years, but I’d put his odds at 11:1, whereas I’d put Oladipo at 9:1, Porter at 7:1 and Noel at 5:1. Bennett’s upside potential is there, but the Cavs’ definitely took a risk in picking him number one.

That being said, he has three very impressive skills. He can really handle the ball for a guy his size. There’s a play in the scouting video (Anthony Bennett Scouting Video) that starts at 3:58 that had me in awe. He crosses up James Michael-McAdoo (a consensus lottery pick in 2014 from UNC), and takes it to the bucket, and finishes strong. Secondly, he can dunk really easily for someone who’s 6’7” mostly due to his his 7’1” wingspan, a physical trait that allows him to play bigger than he is – on offense at least. His third best trait is his soft shooting touch. Although he has a mechanical kink in his shot, where he jumps forward instead of straight up and down, he shots the ball effortlessly, and with very good form. This should help him transition to more of a 3 than a 4.

On the defensive end, Bennett either doesn’t have a basic understanding of defensive positioning or just doesn’t try. Positioning is something that can be taught, but only if the subject is willing to learn. His post defense is also pretty soft, and he doesn’t use his hands to feel his defender making him easy to bully in the post. Overall, he’s probably better off dropping 10 pounds, learning to defend the 3 position, and trying to take Alonzo Gee’s minutes. The draft is 50% scouting, and 50% gambling – only time will tell if this will work out for the Cavs’.

2. The most underrated player in this draft was picked in the second round by the San Antonio Spurs, obviously

DeShaun Thomas

Deshaun Thomas

I am pretty sure that being picked in the second round by the Spurs, and succeeding in the NBA is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Manu Ginobili (59th overall), Luis Scola (55th overall), Goran Dragic (45th overall) are three players that come to mind when thinking about the Spurs eye for second round talent. Deshaun Thomas has a chance to be yet another successful NBA player taken in the second round by the Spurs. He looked noticeably fit in his recent workout video, and had an extra bounce in his step. He has a quick release on his jumper, and should be a very good mid-range guy coming off screens, and slashing to the hoop. He scored 19.8 ppg while playing in arguably the best defensive conference, and possibly best overall conference in the country, and shot close to 50% from the field. This guy can score in a lot of different ways, and it’s pretty absurd that he slipped to the 58th pick in this draft behind a lot of draft-and-stash guys, and other less skilled college players.

3. These three players will make an immediate impact for their teams and contend for the ROY award

Otto Porter

Otto Porter

Otto Porter – Porter will fit in really well on the Wizards, and should be playing serious minutes by opening night. They have a solid core led by Wall/Beal/Nene, and by adding Porter to the mix, the Wiz’ have a real shot to make the playoffs next season. Porter’s my favorite for rookie of the year, and should have a good shot at it given that he may start on opening night.

Victor Oladipo – An obvious choice for this list due to the lack of talent on the Magic roster, and the natural fit of Oladipo on just about any roster. He’s going to defend the other teams’ top scorer, and he’ll definitely get some shots on offense. He and Afflalo will make for a nice 1-2 punch, and could be on the court at the same time in small lineup situations.

Trey Burke – Utah traded up to the number 9 pick to snag Burke, who should be a great fit for the young, big and athletic Utah squad. He’s great on the fast break, shot 38.4% from three-point land, and averaged almost 7 assists per game. His turnover numbers should go down as he won’t need to be “the man” in Utah just yet, but I think he’ll be in the rookie of the year conversation in 2013-2014 as well as the other two I listed above.

Who Should Go 1-10 in the 2013 NBA Draft

 

According to most NBA analysts and experts, tonights’ NBA Draft is supposedly the weakest since 2000, when the top five looked liked this: Kenyon Martin, Stromile Swift, Darius Miles, Marcus Fizer, and Mike Miller. I disagree… Completely.

Just three players in the 2000 Draft ever made an All-Star Team: Kenyon Martin (1x), Jamaal Magloire (1x), Michael Redd (1x), and oddly enough, they all made the 2004 All-Star Team for the Eastern Conference. Despite the fact that this draft is lacking a LeBron James or a Kevin Durant, there are many future starters, rotation players and potential future All-Stars. This draft may be less talented than others, but it’s pretty deep, and definitely more unpredictable – we don’t even know for sure who’s going 1!

To exercise my personal interest in this particular draft, I will break down whom each team SHOULD pick, how that will fill that team’s needs, and that player’s closest NBA comparison (seeing they reach their potential).

1) Cleveland Cavaliers SHOULD select: Nerlens Noel (PF/C – Kentucky)

Noel averaged 10.5 PPG / 9.5 RPG / 59% FG / 4.4 BPG in 32 minutes per game until his season ending ACL injury. Recently, the Cavs team doctor cleared them to draft Noel, and he’s definitely the right choice at no. 1. The Cavs will probably not contend next year, but maybe the year after (LeBron James’s return to Cleveland in 2014?). Noel has the ability to fit in immediately as a premier help-side rim protector along side Tristan Thompson and Anderson Varejao, and WILL develop a post game as he has already shown a soft touch with his dominant (left) hand around the rim. He’ll obviously need to add some mass to his painfully thin 206 pound frame if he’s going to match up one-on-one against beefier post players, but his natural shot-blocking ability and defensive instincts should serve him well as soon as he steps on the court.

NBA Comparison: Joakim Noah (More Athletic)

2) Orlando Magic SHOULD Select: Victor Oladipo (SG/SF – Indiana)

Many have said Oladipo is the only sure thing in this draft. While I disagree that he is the ONLY sure thing, I think he DOES have All-Star potential. He lives and breathes hoops, and has improved athletically and skillfully more than any other college player over the past year. When Bill Simmons asked him what he would do in his first night in South Beach when visiting the Miami Heat he replied, “Nah, I gotta guard LeBron the next day.” In this way, Oladipo is the anti-Shabazz Muhammed,  widely considered the ultimate risk of the draft. Oladipo is also a D-Wade caliber athlete, and a Tony Allen caliber defender. Offensively he doesn’t like to drive to his left, has a mechanical shot, and while he shot 44% from three he only attempted 68. The bottom line on Oladipo is that, given his work ethic, he will max out his potential and should end up being a good NBA shooter. Also notable, Orlando is serious trade talks to move Afflalo and Nicholson to the Clippers for Eric Bledsoe, the Magic could have a solid young nucleus of Bledsoe, Oladipo and Tobias Harris (averaged 17.3 PPG after being traded to Orlando in 2013).

NBA Comparison: Tony Allen (better shooter)

3) Washington Wizards SHOULD Select: Otto Porter (F – Georgetown)

Otto Porter is the probably the most dynamic player in this draft (some may argue Oladipo), and has proven that he can be ‘the guy’ down the stretch of games at Georgetown. Porter averaged 16.2 ppg 7.5 rpg and shot 43% from beyond the arc in his Sophomore campaign at G-Town, and can defend his position well despite analysts worries about his ‘lateral quickness’. Anyone who is a 6’9” 3-guard has diminishing lateral quickness when they play 36 minutes of a 40 minute game. This guy has All-Star potential, and it would behoove Washington to use the pick and select him here if they don’t trade the pick to Chicago, as rumored. The Wiz need another scorer to take the pressure off of Wall and Beal, and if they can get full seasons out of Nene, Okafor and a developing Serephin they should be okay in the front court.

NBA Comparison: Luol Deng (better 3-pt shooter/won’t slash as much)

4) Charlotte Bobcats SHOULD Select: Ben MacLemore (SG – Kansas)

As the Cats’ finished 27th in points per game at a 93.4 and last in field goal percentage at 42.5%, they need a guy who can pull the ball in the bucket. MacLemore shot 49.5% from the field and 42% from three-point land, and if anyone could be the perfect fit in Charlotte, it’s this guy. B-Mac has the silkiest jumper in the draft, loves to run the floor, rebounds well for his position (5.2 rpg), and shoots 87% from the line. Essentially, Charlotte fans won’t have to put a bag over their heads watching MKG (Michael Kidd-Gilchrist) forcing up jumpers that he has never made at any level, and Kemba will have another weapon. I think he may need a few years to develop, but he’s an outstanding vertical (not the best horizontal athlete or ball-handler) athlete who can shoot. There were thoughts that Ben could go no. 1, and he still could, but he’d be a great fit in Charlotte.

NBA Comparison: O.J. Mayo 

5) Phoenix Suns SHOULD Select: Anthony Bennett (SF/PF – UNLV)

An offensive-minded tweener 6’7” SF/PF, with a 7’1” wingspan and an NBA ready body won’t fix the troubled Suns, but will help. Right now their depth chart shows the SF position as P.J. Tucker with Jared Dudley behind him. If there’s a guy in this draft who I could see starting the first game of the season other than Oladipo, it’s Anthony Bennett on the Suns. He jumps forward on his jump shot, but gets good lift, and frankly, his shot looks pretty effortless and smooth. While on the subject of effortless, he doesn’t seem to exhibit much effort on the defensive end at all – something that could hurt his draft stock, but probably not much for the Suns who let up a whopping 101.6 ppg in 2012-2013. Yeah, they probably need more defense and Alex Len could be a good pick here, but Bennett’s issue on defense isn’t about ability but effort, which is that may just take a kick in the butt.

NBA Comparison: Boris Diaw (better athlete / weaker defensive motor) 

6) New Orleans SHOULD Select – Trey Burke (PG – Michigan)

The Pelicans, as they’re now called, have an interesting scenario on their hands. They were very bad last year, partly due to Eric Gordon’s knee (something that could end up being a recurring injury ie. Gilbert Arenas), but also due to a general lack of offensive acumen everywhere else. While Burke doesn’t solve every issue, he can help with the scoring load off the bench, or as small-ball backcourt pairing with Greivis Vasquez (who might be traded tonight), or godforbid if Rivers improves, with him. Burke is undersized for any position in the NBA, but he knows how to get to the rim, take the big shot, and compete.

NBA Comparison – Kemba Walker

7) Sacramento Kings SHOULD Select: C.J. McCollum (PG – Lehigh)

The team whose players never seem happy, never have the ball enough, and don’t win very often could get a guy who may solve at least two of those three things – but probably not the third. McCollum, a 6’3” PG from Lehigh, could be this year’s Damian Lillard, the mid-major point guard who comes storming onto the NBA scene despite not consistently playing top-tier competition. The bottom line is that McCollum is an elite-level ball handler who can make open or tough shots off the dribble, and off screens. Also, after watching his interview with Jalen Rose and Bill Simmons, McCollum seems like he could be the team leader that the Kings desperately need. DeMarcus Cousins and Tyreke Evans just don’t cut it in the leadership category. If the Kings pick McCollum here, Isaiah Thomas will have competition for the starting point guard job in Sacramento.

NBA Comparison: George Hill (better leader)

8) Detroit Pistons SHOULD Select: Michael Carter-Williams (PG – Syracuse)

MCW can handle like a guard and dunk like a forward. I still had a hard time believing he can play point guard in the NBA until I watched his workout video where he looked more than capable, but only athletically. These tall point guards rarely work out, but MCW could be one that does. If he goes to Detroit, he’ll be able to learn a thing or two from Calderon as his ability fades, and step in mid-season when the Pistons are chillin’ in the 12 spot in the east. MCW will be able to get to post up undersized guards on the block, but he definitely needs to learn how to shoot or teams will play “Rondo Defense” on him. He has good value here, but certainly not a sure thing.

NBA Comparison: best case – Greivis Vasquez (more athletic) / worst case – Shaun Livingston

9) Minnesota Timberwolves SHOULD Select: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (SG/SF – Georgia)

Last season the wolves’ shot a horrendous 30.5% (last in the league) from the three-point line, and Caldwell-Pope would certainly help them improve. He shot 37% from behind the arc, which is good, but his stroke looks like he could hop into that 40% range as an NBA player. He is also as athletically gifted as it gets, and has the size and ability to add to a team defensively as well. This guy gives the Wolves’ what they need, but they still may trade up to try and get Oladipo or MacLemore who are both more polished. Overall, KCP is a prime candidate to someday be a 20 point scorer on a terrible team.

NBA Comparison: Nick Young

10) Trail Blazers SHOULD Select: Alex Len (C – Maryland)

The Trail Blazers got a godsend in Damian Lillard last year, and might get some similar luck with the 10th pick of this years draft. Alex Len, who just turned 20, played half of his freshman year at Maryland with a stress fracture (not a very good sign for a 19 year old, but better than a knee injury), and quickly developed a post game. Hailing from the Ukraine, Len self-taught himself English in the little time he’s been in the states, and seems to have picked up the American game especially quickly as well. From tape he’s shown his athleticism, and an arsenal of post moves that the Maryland system didn’t seem to use enough to their advantage. The Blazers have a front court with Aldridge and Hickson, but have two unproven projects in Meyers Leonard and Joel Freeland (don’t see much potential for him). With the thought of moving Aldridge fresh in their minds, the Blazers should pick up Len if he’s available here.

NBA Comparison: best case – Tyson Chandler / worst case – Jonas Valanciunas

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