NBA Pre-Draft Craziness!...and some great news for Laker fans
Lets start with the best news of the summer so far. Cue the celebration music and the fireworks and whatever the hell else you can light up. NICK YOUNG IS OPTING OUT AND BECOMING A FREE AGENT!!!!! Woooooooooooooooooohoooooooooooooo. Magic has beaten HIV and now just cured cancer! What a treat to start off the NBA offseason. Like who would sign this guy? Hey do you want a guy who hates passing, laughs the entire time he is on the court, does a celebration every time he scores, and hates playing defense? Orlando Magic step forward. I just don't see a team who isn't tanking trying to sign this guy. Wikipedia's sports cancer page should have a link to Nick Young's page. So basically the Lakers just won the offseason, but on to bigger and better topics.
So lets start with NBA free agency stuff and then hit the draft. And when you talk free agency, you talk Lebron James. So every "insider" and "senior writer" says Lebron is heading to LA after this season. Well guess what, this outsider says he isn't. Why would Lebron James go to the West? Because he has a house there? So does half the NBA. Because he likes to be in movies? Ya he already did that last summer. Those are the most ridiculous reasons to switch to a franchise that can't make you a champion. And lets talk about his movies and business interests in LA. When is he gonna have time to do this stuff during the season? During his off days when they have practice and film and then have to get on a plane or have a home game the next day. Its not like he gets weeks off to go make movies during the season (insert rest jokes). But he really can't, so living in LA during the season isn't that important. But guess what is important. Winning rings, competing for titles. As players get older in their careers, individual accolades mean less, and titles mean more because you know your running out of time on titles. Look at David West and Pau Gasol and guys like this who just move from team to team trying to be a piece on an already good team.So lets just say for arguments sake that Lebron James, lover of basketball history, self aware enough to realize what more titles can mean to his legacy, is considering leaving Cleveland. Where would he go? The insiders say LA. Ok. So lets assume that the Lakers draft Lonzo Ball and sign Paul George and then sign Lebron James. Is that team good enough to beat Houston? Is it good enough to beat San Antonio? Is it good enough to beat Golden State? The simple answer is no. And on top of that, there are scenarios where they might have to play all three! Now you can argue that Ball, George, and James are a better combo than Irving, Love, and James but there are some problems with that too. First off, how much better because you have an unproven player in Ball who I don't think can shoot and really just does a lot of the same things Lebron does. And while having two Lebrons would be amazing, someone will have to knock down an open three. The second thing is that the role players on the Cavs are waaaaaaaay better than the role players on the Lakers. And no im not talking about Deron Williams. Look I believe in Lebron more than anyone but can he take a team who had the third worst record in the league and get them through the West when he couldn't take a team with two other really good players, solid role players, had the second best record in the East, and got thumped in the Finals? Lets not forget had the Cavs been in the West this year, 51 wins would have tied them for 4th and 5th with the Clippers and Jazz. Think about that, same record as the Jazz. So lets pretend they had the tie breaker with those teams they would have had to play the Clippers, then the Warriors, then the Spurs, just to get out of the East. Lets pretend they won one game less or didn't have the tie breaker. They would have been the 6 seed and had to face the Rockets, then the Spurs, then the Warriors, all on the road. No chance they are getting through that. Now lets look at the East. The Cavs don't need the best record to make the Finals. So Lebron can take it easy, get the rest he needs, and really only have to worry about one series. The Cavs lost 1 game before the finals this year. And that one game they were up 20 and pissed away the game at home to the Celtics. In three games at Boston in the Eastern Conference finals, the Cavs did not trail for 1 second. Think about that. Not 2-0 not 50-49 never once for one second. So why wouldn't Lebron stay in the East? Let the Spurs and Rockets and whoever else take their cuts at Golden State and then wait and only have to beat one of the 3 or 4 teams with better records than them instead of all of them. It seems obvious to me he would not go West. Now...I did not say I didn't see him leaving Cleveland. I could see Lebron going to the Knicks or the Heat if he doesn't want to stay with Cleveland. Lebron has had a thing for New York since he came into the league, often wearing Yankee hats out and always talking about how special the Garden is. With Porzingus there and Carmelo and playing the "lets team up game," I could see him winding up in New York. I don't know why he wants to play with Carmelo so badly, like I know they are friends but Carmelo has proven time and time again that not only can he not win, he can't even get his team to the playoffs. And he also hasn't realized that iso-ball doesn't work in the NBA any more. But Lebron may teach him how to play properly I guess. I could also see him going to the Heat. He has been there before, he won there before and Spolstra is a great coach. I think he wouldn't have any trouble convincing guys to join him there either. He could just sign a small deal the day free agency opens and say here I am who wants to join me in Miami. I think the players will come.
Now lets talk about the Lakers. The Lakers have done a nice job so far with their positioning. I know I haven't said that in years but its true.Trading away Movgov's contract and Russell was pretty smart. And if I spelled Mozgov wrong I don't care and I'm not gonna look it up. So I said not to take Russell and they listened two years too late but they finally listened. So trading him away clears the pg spot for Ball and the seat closest to the bench for his dad which means Luke Walton will be able to run Lavar's plays all year long. Now lets get to the Paul George situation. He has said he wants to be a Laker. Ok Lakers, just relax. Don't trade for him, don't do anything but just wait. This is really important. Now everyone and my mother have all said well what if he goes to a team and then likes it so much he stays. Ya that could happen. But name me the times that did happen. I'll wait. Because I can't think of any. But I can think of tons that didn't stay. And what happens is you trade away all your assets and then get caught standing there with nothing in your hand but your....never mind. Lets also think about this. What if he gets traded to the Lakers and he hates it. Because with him and Ball they still aren't a playoff team. So the Lakers still stink, Ball's dad is being annoying, he doesn't respect Luke Walton, and he looks at the West and goes, get me out of here I'm going back to the East where its easier to make a finals run. And now the Lakers don't have him long term. Basically yes I want the Lakers to hide how crappy they are and then trap him in a long term deal.
Now on to the draft tomorrow night.
The draft is deep and strong and filled with zero intrigue. Remember when teams tried to hide who they were picking so that the team after them was caught off guard when they have 5 minutes to pick. Now we know who everyone is taking and its not as fun. But thats ok, it gives fans hope, it gives teams in the West reason to believe they can take a game off Golden State on the back end of a back to back next year when they sit three starters. So well worth it.
1. Sixers- The sixers traded up to get Fultz and I see both sides here. First off everyone in the NBA says he is the clear #1 pick. Well on this we have to trust them. And everyone and my mother (she is an NBA expert) says how can he be when they won 9 games last year. Well none of them watched him play, but guess what, the scouts did. And Lonzo ball was on tv half the season last year so everyone saw him play and yet everyone still thinks he is #1. And Kansas and Josh Jackson were on tv every week and yet all the scouts still think this guy is #1. So my guess is he is pretty good.
2. Lakers- Lakers won the lottery by staying in the top 3 and are poised to pick Lonzo Ball. It seems like the move, he has the size, the vision, the athleticism, and the family. Well on the flip side, I don't think he can shoot, and he really doesn't play defense, and he is pretty nonchalant as in he doesn't play hard. But that is the case for a lot of guys coming out of college. So lets give him a chance. And while i'm here I want to give a culture rant real quick. Some guys in this league never have a chance, just as some kids born into crappy families don't have a chance, or kids who play on sports teams coached by some idiot dad have no chance. Why do players that go to the Spurs end up going about their business quietly and are immediately good? Why do players who play for the Patriots just seem to get it? Its the culture established over time by winning people and winning organizations. You go to the Spurs you are there to go to work. Its not a joking matter, its not a party, its a business of winning. Same with the Pats and other franchises who are successful year in and year out. And I think a lot of young players could be really good, but they get into a losing culture and they have a nice contract and they look at the older guys who either aren't giving it their all or are only playing for themselves and their next contract and they learn from that. I have coached from middle school all the way to the college level so I have seen every kind of coach. And when I coached middle school club teams I would watch other teams warm up and I would see basic fundamentals taught incorrectly and I would think to myself, "these kids have no chance." They are learning the wrong things and they are going to continue to move backwards as long as they are playing for this coach and then when its time to play basketball at the high school level, they will have done the wrong thing for so long they won't be able to catch up. And I really feel bad for those kids. Now obviously it is different at the NBA level, but many times these are 19 year old kids who are straight out of one year of college and are basically away from anyone telling them what to do for the first time. So if the first things they learn are to have fun, ball-hog, party all the time, etc., these are going to be the things that stick with them. And of course not everyone falls into that pit but it is very easy especially if your not winning. So that is a concern I have with the Lakers in general. I don't know if they have the veteran leadership to get Ball to play hard and play the right way.
3 Celtics- They traded down and I love it. They acquired another high pick for next year and they are going to get a guy they wanted. Look we all don't know about Fultz and maybe they don't either. So by trading down they just wait for what falls to them. And lets not forget they are way ahead of schedule. Ainge has been stockpiling assets waiting for the end of Lebron. It just so happens the Celtics are progressing faster than expected. All that is happening positively for the Celtics now is just gravy, he is preparing for 2020 when he thinks Lebron might be vulnerable and the Celtics can take over the East for a long time.
Instead of going team by team I will just highlight a couple guys. I like Tatum from Duke and wouldn't be surprised if he went to the Celtics. He is a guy who could be an elite scorer. I also like both Kentucky guys, Monk and Fox. I think Monk could also be an elite scorer but could also end up as a volume shooter guy who isn't great. Monk is a really long point guard and I like his game. Will he be able to stay in front of small fast point guards is the question for him. I don't know much about the pg from NC State Smith Jr. but he seems to be gaining momentum. Markkanen is nice but who knows how his game translates in the NBA. Kennard from Duke is projected in the 8-12 range. I hate this pick. He is undersized, he doesn't defend at all, and he isn't athletic. To me he topped out at the college level. I know he is not projected in the first round but I like Frank Mason III from Kansas. I am going out on a limb here because I heard on the radio today that in the last 17 years of the draft only 9 second rounders have become all stars so thats not good for him but I like his game a lot. No one else is too exciting to talk about. UCLA fans are interested in TJ Leaf. He has great athleticism and motor but he needs more of an offensive game. He would just turn and shoot on the block last year and that will get thrown back in his face in the NBA. I think thats about it, maybe we will take a look at how it went down the road.