Thursday, June 23, 2016

NBA Draft Preview

The NBA Draft season is amongst us and this makes me a very happy Puma. What tempers my happiness however is that my beloved Bulls have earned a place in the lottery after a very lackluster and disgusting season which ended not with a bang but with a whimper.  But all of that is in the past. I will try and keep my happiness up as I go through hours of Youtube footage and NBA draft combine results for you the people.  I shall give you my predictions based on the draft order as it currently is.
1.      Philadelphia-
Ben Simmons: F- LSU
The consensus number one pick for most of the season goes in that slot for young Puma despite how a lot of analysts (not considering myself an analyst) have seemingly soured on him. Simmons has the potential to be a monster player. He’s 6’10 with point guard ball handling, great defense and a natural ease rebounding. The only knock is he is not a strong shooter. That can be learned.
2.     LA Lakers-
Brandon Ingram: F- Duke
I don’t like Duke, this is not a secret. I feel pretty sick saying this…I really like Brandon Ingram. He was probably the most natural scorer in the NCAA last season and while he is slight of frame, he is quite reminiscent of Kevin Durant in his ability to get a shot off from anywhere.
3.     Boston-
Marquese Chriss: F- Washington
Super athletic and has the potential to be a really effective scorer but will need time.  Putting him on Boston with Isaiah Thomas shooting a million shots will give him plenty of chances to rebound and if he runs with the second unit je can work on his shot and footwork so he doesn’t end up as another wild athletic forward who flames out (See: Thomas, Tyrus).
4.     Phoenix-
Dragan Bender: F – Croatia
Not too familiar but fits he’d would be a good move for Phoenix as they have Eric Bledsoe and Devin Booker in the back court. Team him with a traditional low post player like Alex Len (granted he stays healthy) and they could have a very solid young core if the grainy YouTube footage I am basing Bender’s skill on is accurate.
5.    Minnesota -
Kriss Dunn: G – Providence
He has the potential to be the best player in this draft. Very good defensive player and passer, and while his jump shot could use a little work he is highly athletic and able to get to the rim at will sometimes. Teaming him with Towns, Wiggins, LaVine and new coach Tom Thibodeau and Minnesota continues their ascent upward towards the playoffs and away from the lottery.
6.     New Orleans
Buddy Hield: G- Oklahoma
The most polished shooter in the draft Buddy could be the scorer from the 2 guard that the Hornets always hoped Eric Gordon would be. It’s widely accepted he is the best shooter but what often gets overlooked is his ability to score off the dribble. Solid defensive player but he did handle the ball a ton which in the NBA will probably not work for most two guards. But I think he’ll be able to learn to move without the ball and be quite effective.
7.     Denver-
Deyonta Davis: PF/C- Michigan St.
Far from being a finished product, I think he is however a NBA caliber rebounder and rim protector which frankly is something this team is going to need if Kenneth Faried is going to be making an exit sooner rather than later. With Emmanual Mudiay and Danillo Gallinari taking the bulk of the shots I think he may have a Tristan Thompson level ceiling.
8.     Sacramento-
Jaylen Brown: SG/SF- Cal
A 6’6 guard with a damn near 7 foot wingspan. He’s physically impressive, very fast, very strong, and has potential to be an elite defender. Not the best shooter but not everyone can be Klay Thompson or Steph Curry. If he is a high energy guy who cuts to the basket and is a fast break finisher like he can be then the Kings could have a Rudy Gay replacement.
9.    Toronto-
Damontas Sabonis: C- Gonzaga
The son of Arvyda Sabonis so you know he is a gifted passer. Seriously look up some highlights of his pops, he was a beast. He is great at drawing fouls, a highly accurate free throw shooter and a surprisingly good perimeter defender. Adept at slashing to the basket and putting the ball on the floor and getting to the basket he would fit in well with Kyle Lowry and could be a more mobile Marc Gasol.
10.  Milwaukee
Skal Labissiere: PF/C- Kentucky
I honestly have no clue what kind of player he projects out to be, simply because he just didn’t play a lot at Kentucky.  He is a very slight player but there were flashes of him being an impact player. This is going to be a purely potential pick because as good as he looks in workouts and measurables the results on the court just haven’t been there.
11.  Orlando
Jamal Murray: SG/PG- Kentucky
Now they already have guards Victor Oladipo and Elfrid Payton but he’s just too good to pass up. Murray is a lights out shooter, has NBA range, surprisingly a good rebounder from the point guard position. Because he’s such a good shooter at times he does depend on that shot too much sometimes but if he is beginning his career as offensive firepower off the bench he could be quite effective on that young Magic team.
12.  Utah
Furkan Kormaz: SG- Turkey
Extremely accurate shooter, can score from anywhere on the floor.  Now I’m not sure if this is because he was playing against U19 competition but he had a confidence that no one could stop him and his teammates appeared to really respond to him. My only question on him is his defense, not sure if he is good simply because of the competition he went against.
13.  Phoenix
Malik Beasley: SG- Florida St
Beasley is ridiculously athletic and always amped when he is on the court. Usually when you have this combination you have a very erratic shooter, not the case with Beasley. His form is immaculate and he is a knockdown shooter. IF there is a loose ball chances are you will find him in the aftermath. He doesn’t have great handles which does lead to turnovers but that is something that can be improved given he is only 20 years old.

14.  Chicago
Jakob Poeltl: C- Utah

Not the most exciting pick but he is an extremely solid pick. A true 7 footer who runs the floor well, rebounds well and passes well out of the post he could be a good replacement for the likely to depart Joakim Noah and Pau Gasol.  A very efficient shooter but his post moves need a lot of work he could definitely be a contributor on a Bulls team that will likely struggle this season.

Well there you have it, the 2016 NBA Draft Lottery as it will actually happen*.

*It most definitely will not occur in this order.*

Thanks for the Memories Derrick.

Full disclosure, I am an unabashed Derick Rose stan. When injuries piled up and memes flew, I put my cape on and defended him. And I still will. But the time for him to move on has arrived and I am not upset the Bulls traded our guy away.
I watched him ball before he was at Simeon, I saw him destroy grown men as a mere child. When he brought state titles to Simeon even as a Kenwood grad I had a sense of pride. It was like he was doing it for Chicago. I know that I am not alone in this feeling about Rose.

When he went to Memphis he did what he had always done, he won. After coming a miracle Mario Chalmers shot (Seriously screw Mario Chalmers) from a national title I thought that would be it after that, some other town would get to enjoy the explosive kid from Englewood. He'd move on and we wouldn't see him until he decided to hang it up.
But as the basketball gods would have it the ping pong balls bounced in our favor and Chicago got the number one pick. Pooh was coming home.

Right out the gate we saw what Chicagoans knew could be come to fruition. Incredible vision, arguably the best body control of anyone not named Lebron James, and an explosive finisher.

We had our homegrown superstar. In just his 3rd season he was named NBA MVP and the Bulls made a run to the Easter Conference Finals. The next season we seemed poised to have more battles with the Miami Heat, but as soon as our run began it was over. A torn ACL in the waning minutes of a playoff game crushed the city’s basketball hopes and dreams that we have yet to recover from. 

Over the past few seasons we saw glimpses of what he was, and I believe he can once again become the elite payer he once was. Unfortunately it just wasn't going to happen here. He became scrutinized more and pushed himself to come back sooner than he should have through nagging injuries which caused bigger injuries which led to resentment from some fans. But not this one. Despite all the money he had made and endorsements gained, when I saw him on the court I saw the fire of the young guy from Englewood I saw many years ago. 

So thanks Derrick for all the memories. The MVP, the playoff series against Boston whom we had no business taking to the limit, countless athletic dunks, lay ups and passes. I hope you to see you regain your place among the elites in the Mecca of basketball and I will always be a fan.  

Thursday, June 2, 2016

NBA Finals Predictions

Ah it’s the most magical time of the year. The NBA Draft is fast approaching (Don’t worry, you’ll have your mock drafts soon) and the probable palate cleanser to the basketball buffet that was the Western Conference finals is amongst us. Well no need to fear my faithful followers I will give you the prognostication that you all came here for and deserve, no the prognostication that you all NEED. 

Golden State Warriors vs. Cleveland Cavaliers

Point Guard:
Kyrie Irving, despite my assertion that he can be a touch overrated; he is one of the best scoring point guards in the league and usually the best point guard on the floor. Usually he’s the best point guard on the floor. He is going against the reigning, defending and unanimous MVP.
Not only that but he is backed up by Mo Williams and Matthew Dellavadova while Curry is being backed up by the ageless Leandro Barbosa who is still hitting ridiculous shots in the year of our Lord 2016 and Shaun Livingston. 

Advantage: Golden State

Shooting Guard:
Cleveland has one of the best yet streakiest shooters in the league in JR Smith and Iman Shumpert’s immaculate high top. Golden State will be countering with the 2nd best shooter on the planet right now. I don’t care how good Shump’s defense I, doesn’t really matter when Klay Thompson is pulling up from five feet from behind the three point line.

Advantage: Golden State

Small Forward:
Golden State starts Harrison Barnes and brings last year’s Finals MVP Andre Iguodala off the bench. That’s always gotta be an advantage right? Well not when Cleveland is going to with the cyborg from the future sent to play basketball LeBron James. 
I hate his guts, but all will be forgiven if he comes to Chicago
He is so good, and is playing so well right now that he singlehandedly gives the edge to Cleveland. Hell last year with Dellavadova, Tristan Thompson and a frigid JR Smith he took the Warriors to 6. I don’t like LeBron (Because he doesn’t play for my team) but I respect the hell out of the man.

Advantage: Cleveland

Power Forward:
Kevin Love after being out last year’s Finals is having kind of an up and down playoffs so far. Meanwhile the Warriors’ Draymond Green appears to have a problem not kicking people in the junk.
Right in the kiwis.
So I’ll call this a draw. Backing those up will be Channing Frye, a pretty good shooter for a big man, and Mareese Speights, a pretty good shooter for a big man. I’m gonna chalk this one up as a draw.

Advantage: Draw

Cleveland will send out Tristan Thompson who I have joked about in the past as looking like Michael B. Jordan if he got hit in the face with a sack of hot pennies plays some pretty damn good defense. Meanwhile his counterpart is Andrew Bogut who plays some pretty damn good defense. On top of that he is a pretty good passer and doesn’t look lost when you pass him the ball which Thompson can’t say. Timofey Mozgov is a solid player defensively but has a penchant for getting dunked on. 
Never forget.
Meanwhile Festus Ezeli isn’t get dunked on but really can’t be depended on for being more than a good defensive energy guy off the bench. Still it’s enough to sway me.

Advantage:  Golden State

Tyronn Lue has been a revelation with the Cavs. He seems to not only have the respect of the players but in game he has steadily evolved into a coach I would want to lead my beloved Bulls, very high praise. He is matching wits however with the current coach of the year and member of the Popovich coaching tree, Steve Kerr. The Warriors won 73 games and although Luke Walton coached half the season they didn’t lose a beat when he returned. He plays diverse lineups and adapts well to in game situations. It certainly helps that Steph and Klay are pulling up from 10 feet behind the three  point line and drilling shots.

Advantage: Golden State

 Well given how I have scored the position battles I think you can venture a guess as to how I am predicting this series to play out. I think it will be competitive but it will never be in doubt. Warriors take the title and complete the dream season in 6 games.