Category Archives: NBA

“With the fifth pick in the NBA draft, the Phoenix Suns Select….”

Alex Len, the fifth pick in the NBA draft, selected by the Phoenix Suns

Yesterday was Draft Day.  Draft Day is so interesting to me; your team can acquire its franchise player for the next decade or your team can screw itself into oblivion in the blink of an eye.  There are blockbuster trades, money saving trades, future trades, teams drafting for each other.  It’s absolutely great and absolutely terrifying.  Unfortunately for a Phoenix Suns fan, it usually falls under the terrifying part of the spectrum.  I honestly cannot remember that last time I felt good about the Suns after draft night. Naturally, I was nervous all day yesterday.  It stressful and hectic, with lots of ups and downs.  Let me break it down for you.

8:00 AM: “Feeling good about this draft.  I think we’ll end up with Oladipo or McLemore!”

8:15 AM:

“Oh my god! We could end up with Nerlens Noel! This is a dream come true!”

8:43 AM: “There’s no way CLE skips on Nerlens Noel. He’s a perfect fit for their team and he’s exactly the type of player they’ve drafted the past few years.  Oh well. OLADIPO!!!!”

10:36 AM: “But what if the draft ends up being 1. Noel 2. Oladipo 3. Porter 4. McLemore ??? I guess Bennett would be a good pick for us!”

10:57 AM: “Wait. What if we end up taking Alex Len? Please, god, no.”

11:31 AM:

11:33 AM:

12:09 PM:

12:15 PM:

2:54 PM:

“OH MY GOD, THERE’S HOPE! MCDONOUGH, MAKING MOVES!!!”

3:33 PM:

4:02 PM: “I have absolutely no idea what’s going to happen tonight.”

4:36 PM: *Cleveland shocks the basketball world by taking Anthony Bennett with the number one pick*

4:46 PM: “DO YOU KNOW WHAT THIS MEANS? WE COULD END UP WITH NOEL!!!

4:49 PM: *Orlando has selected Oladipo, Washington has selected Porter, and Charlotte has stupidly selected Zeller*

“We’re set!!!!”

4:53 PM: “What if we like totally screwed up and took Len? Haha, even the Suns aren’t that dumb. We got McDonough. We’re set.”

4:54 PM: “Oh my god, what if?!?!?!?!”

4:56 PM:

5:06 PM: *With the fifth pick in the draft, the Phoenix Suns select Alex Len* 

5:08 PM:

5:11 PM:

5:33 PM: *Paul Coro reports the Suns turned down an opportunity to trade for Jrue Holiday* 

5:45 PM: “ANDREW WIGGINS 2014!!!!!!!!”

It was a pretty rough day for me.  I never in a million years thought Noel would drop to us and we take Alex Len over him??!?!! He was the projected number one! He has so much more upside! You can build around that guy! He’s automatically your best defensive player and your anchor for the next five years! He was perfect for the Suns.  At the very least take McLemore!

I just can’t get behind Alex Len.  He’s a got a better post game than Noel AND THAT’S IT.  He’s not as athletic, doesn’t have as high a ceiling, not as good a rebounder, and not nearly the defender Noel is.  Why is everyone suddenly calling Len a rim protector?  He averaged 2.1 blocks (to Noels 4.4 blocks!!!!), which looks good until you realize HE’S 7’1. Shouldn’t a 7’1 sophomore be averaging more in college?!  Also, .2 steals to Noel’s 2.1 steals.  Noel, at 7 foot, averages as many steals as Len does blocks, NOT TO MENTION THE 4.4 BLOCKS.  The analytics will show he is vastly overrated.

Len has a decent offensive game, but honestly, what’s the best case scenario for this guy? I just see Jonas Valanciunas.  I just don’t think he has the talent or athleticism to be a Brook Lopez or Al Horford.  He just looks sluggish coming down the court. I just don’t understand it. I hate the pick so much and it’s such a typical Phoenix Suns pick.  I was really hoping Ryan McDonough would change things for us. And then the decline of the Jrue Holiday trade? Any time you have the chance to take Alex Len over the projected number one AND decline a Jrue Holiday trade that would have redeemed the Suns for the 2009 draft, you have to do it….right? Why, McDonough, why?! You were the chosen one! You were supposed to end the bad drafts, not join them! Bring balance to the Suns, not leave them in darkness! 

I do, however, like the Archie Goodwin pick.  I see a lot of potential there, although I’m not sure why the Suns are insisting on making him a point guard.  This is the only silver lining of the draft for the Suns.

And look, for the record, I hope I’m wrong. McDonough is supposed to be a smart guy and I have to think he knows what he’s doing here. Hopefully, he knows something I don’t.  And I hope Alex Len proves me wrong.  And maybe he will, but I just don’t see him having a better career than Noel.

Oh well.  The Suns have at least set up 2014 for a great tanking year and we can start looking at the 2014 draft.  I’d get excited about the prospect of getting Andrew Wiggins, but I’m sure the Suns will find a way to screw that up to.

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The Bad Luck Phoenix Suns and the 2013 Draft

Which draft prospect will don the new logo next season?

It’s almost that time.  That time of the year where you get a true sense of who the basketball nerds are.  It’s NBA Draft time, baby.

Be warned, we’re focusing on the Phoenix Suns.

QUICK ASIDE ON THE LOGOS: Like the black on the starburst logo, hate the new S logo. Those new jerseys better be awesome. OKAY DRAFT TIME.

The Suns have a top 5 pick for the first time since 1987.  Wait, what???!!!!?!?!?! How is that even possible?  As many dark years as we’ve had and somehow we have less (0) number one picks than Cleveland has had in the last three years (2).  The highest we’ve ever selected was number two, which we’ve done twice.  By my count, we’ve only cracked the top ten 17 times in our 45 years as a franchise.[1]

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[1] Granted, some of this is the Suns’ own fault; PHX is notorious for trading away their picks, but still.

I’m not much of a conspiracy theory guy, but you have to admit the odds have been never in our favor[2].  We will always be the team that comes so, so close[3] to winning it all and we will always be the team that gets screwed by the Draft.

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[2] Points for cleverness?

[3] 1976, 1993 Finals runs, the infamous 2007 Stoudemire/Diaw suspension, 2010…I’d even count 2006.  We got to the Conference Finals without Stoudemire.

I really thought this would be the year the NBA would finally give us a break and throw the number one pick our way.  Are we not owed one? Instead, Cleveland ends up with its third number one pick in 10 years. Cleveland, who undeniably tanked the end of their season[4] and ended up with only the third worst record, is rewarded with a top five pick for the fourth time in three years.  The lottery is such a joke and it rewards tanking teams[5].

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[4] Don’t try to tell me a young core of Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, Tristian Thompson and three months of Anderson Varejao couldn’t string together more wins than the Suns IN THE CENTRAL DIVISION.  Do you know what horrible, unforgivable things I would do to have that team?!

[5] Also, don’t try to tell me the Suns tanked.  They’re really that bad.

Even so, the fifth pick is still something to get excited about.  For the record, I don’t think this is a weak draft.  While there aren’t any standout superstars, I think it’s loaded with solid guys that will no doubt be starters in a few years.  We’ll revisit this draft in a few years, realize it was actually pretty good, and we can all say I said it first.

So, who are the Suns picking? Well, it’s tough to say.  This has got to be the most uncertain draft of all time.  It all depends on the four teams ahead of us and I see a few different scenarios:

Scenario 1 (And probably the most likely scenario):

  1. Cleveland selects Nerlens Noel
  2. Orlando selects Ben McLemore[6]
  3. Washington selects Otto Porter
  4. Charlotte selects Alex Len
  5. Phoenix selects Victor Oladipo

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[6] This is probably the toughest call. Word on the street is ORL is big on Oladipo.

I’m thinking (hoping?) this is how things will turn out. The Orlando and Phoenix picks could flip.  I’d be really happy with McLemore or Oladipo.

Scenario 2 (The Cleveland Cold Feet Scenario):

  1. Cleveland selects Alex Len
  2. Orlando selects Nerlens Noel
  3. Washington selects Otto Porter
  4. Charlotte selects Anthony Bennett/Ben McLemore
  5. Phoenix selects Victor Oladipo/Ben McLemore

Okay, so I kind of cheated on this one.  It’s tough to say with Charlotte, they’ve been quiet on their intentions.  Obviously there are a million different scenarios here, but I think these two are the most likely.  There’s a lot of talk about Cleveland taking Len over Noel, but honestly, I don’t see it happening.  I think Noel has much more upside and it would go against what Cleveland has been doing with their picks over the last few years.  Either way though, it probably doesn’t really change things for the Suns.

Suns GM Ryan McDonough has said that the Suns are targeting about eight different guys that they could be possibly drafting.  I think we can safely assume that Noel, Porter, Len, Bennett, McLemore, and Oladipo are six of those eight, with the others probably being Trey Burke, CJ McCollum, Michael Carter Williams, or, gulp, Cody Zeller.

There’s no way we’re getting Noel or Porter; they’re the only two surely to go by the third pick.  I’d be really, really happy with Oladipo or McLemore.  Dipo is a crazy worker with a great motor.  There’s no way he doesn’t make it in the league.  Worst case scenario he’s a more athletic Avery Bradley.  Best case?  Who knows?  He might end up being the next Dwyane Wade.

I really feel like McLemore could be a Paul George-caliber player.  There’s been a lot of questions about his character, fitness, etc, but I don’t think you can pass on his potential.  Both him and Dipo would be perfect fits for the Suns.

I like Bennett a lot too, but I’m not sure he’d be a great fit in Phoenix.  Love his game, not concerned with his height, and I think he’ll be a star, but I don’t know how we’d use him.  Still, I’d take a chance on him.  He’s kind of like a way more talented Brandon Bass.

If we don’t come away with Oladipo, McLemore, or Bennett, I’ll probably be disappointed.  I’m just not sold on Alex Len.  Everyone says he’s agile, but he looks pretty sluggish running the floor to me.  He reminds me a lot of Jonas Valančiūnas and don’t get me wrong, Valančiūnas is a nice player, but he’s not the type of guy you want to build around.  The injury scares me a bit too.  I can’t shake the feeling that he’s not going to hold up in the NBA.

Unless the game plan is to play Goran Dragić at the two and trade Kendal Marshall, (or maybe even Dragić, but that would just be blasphemous.  I can’t see it happening.) I don’t understand why we would be drafting a point guard.  Burke’s got potential, but he’s too small.  Can’t get behind Carter Williams. I do like McCollum a lot, but I’d much rather have a guy like Dipo or McLemore.  Why would we develop another PG and move Dragić to SG when we could just draft a SG, both of which have great potential?  I’ll be severely disappointed if McDonough’s first move as GM is to draft yet another point guard.

And if we draft Cody Zeller? I quit.  I freakin’ quit as a Suns fan.

The Suns also have the 30th pick.  Hard to say what’s going to happen there.  Hearing Tony Snell here a lot, but I’d prefer to take a chance on a big guy here, especially if we’re drafting Oladipo or McLemore.  I’d love to see the Suns trade up and go for someone like Steven Adams, Rudy Gobert, or Kelly Olynyk.  In recent years, I’d say there’s no way, but maybe McDonough will shake things up.  I hope so.

If I were a betting man, I’d say we leave the draft with Oladipo.  Or McLemore. It’s too hard to say! It all depends on that ORL pick, but I think they have to go with McLemore.  There’s more upside there.

So Oladipo!! Yeah!! What do you think of Oladipo? Would he be your top pick?

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Why You Should Be Watching the 2013 NBA Finals

A lot of people hate San Antonio. A lot of people hate Miami.

It should be no surprise people aren’t watching this NBA Finals like they were last year, right?

Wrong. If you’re not paying close attention to this series, you are not a true basketball fan.

Let’s take a look at San Antonio.  I used to be a SA hater.[1]  I used to think they were the Suns’ arch nemesis, that they played dirty, and were overrated.  I thought they were boring and I relished every early playoff exit, setback, and misfortune they experienced.

But I was wrong.  The Spurs have been the most consistent team over the last decade and there’s absolutely no argument to be had otherwise.  They’ve dominated the league, going to the Finals four times and coming out with the trophy four out of those four times (1999, 2003, 2005, 2007).

Save for 2005 and 2007, most of those teams look pretty different.  1999 had Duncan and Robinson.  2003 was mostly Duncan.  It wasn’t until 2005 and 2007 that the Big Three really took shape.

The San Antonio Spurs of 2013 look radically different from any of those teams.  Guys like Bowen and Kerr and Horry are replaced with the likes of Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green, and Tiago Splitter.  Respectively, they were the 15th, 46th (!!), and 28th picks in their respective drafts.  RC Buford and his staff really know how to get the most out of their draft picks and trades.  These guys could very well have been completely irrelevant anywhere else in the league[2], but instead, Leonard is doing a swell job guarding LeBron James, Green is knocking down every open three he gets, and Splitter is getting DESTROYED BY LEBRON (But seriously, The Spurs don’t get past Memphis without Splitter).  You have to respect a team that can string together low draft picks and glue guys to play such beautiful basketball.

And it is beautiful.  Anyone who says San Antonio ball is boring is fooling themselves.  Gregg Popovich’s system is meticulous, but so wonderfully calculated.  They take care of the ball (Four TO’s in Game 1).  They take efficient shots.  They swing the ball.

Popovich has gotten every member of the San Antonio Spurs over the last 14 years to play for something greater than their individual selves[3].  They play team ball in a league that has become a star’s league.

And at the center of it all is Tim Duncan, their humble, team-first star, and the greatest player of the generation.[4]

Now let’s look at the Miami Heat.

If we’ve ever talked basketball before, surely you’ve heard my distaste for the Heat.  I stopped liking them sometime after the first championship, when it became Wade’s team.  I despise the player Wade has become (he was all heart in 2006; now he’s just a dirty player).  Then the big “Decision” of 2010 and LeBron James decided to take his talents to South Beach.

Has there ever been a more distasteful way for a free agent to switch teams before??!!

I digress.  So now, the Heat has its superstar lineup with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh.  I hate it when teams do this.  How many times have teams tried to mash a bunch of superstars together and hope they get a ring out of it?[5]  It’s pretty much the exact opposite of what the Spurs did.  Except this time it’s even worse, because the players decided to do it.  Do you think Michael Jordan would have ever teamed up with Clyde Drexler or Reggie Miller?! Hell no!!!!!!

So LeBron and the Heat fell quickly out of my good graces.  I booed them, cheered against them, laughed at them when they couldn’t figure it out that first year.  I’d celebrate LeBron’s shortcomings and ridicule his passiveness.

I proudly wore my “LBJ SUX” shirt last year during the playoffs.  Until Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals at least.  Facing elimination against the Celtics, LeBron hit a new level.  He went off like I’ve never seen a player go off before.  He destroyed the Celtics.  Here’s a refresher:

Game 6: 45 points, 19-26 FGA/M, 15 REB, 5 AST, 1 Broken Hearted Celtics Fan 😦 

 

He’s been a changed player since then.  He’s redefined his game.  He’ll kill you inside or out, and if you double up on him, he’ll find the open man.  It’s impossible not to admire it.  The “LBJ SUX” shirt hasn’t left my closet in a while.  I just can’t justify it anymore.

The Miami Heat have done a really great job at surrounding James with the right players.  Spot up shooters like Mike Miller, Ray Allen, and, occasionally, Shane Battier (He made an absurd 15-26 threes in the Finals last year, but still only shot 38% for the whole playoffs.  What????!!!!! I still try to tell myself that the Heat only win with Battier shooting like that), rats like Norris Cole and Mario Chalmers, and then balls-to-wall nutso guys like Chris Anderson make for a pretty solid supporting cast when you have two superstars and best effing player in the world.

I may not personally like them, but the basketball fan in me has to appreciate the 2013 Miami Heat.  How could you not?  The way they can really, really pour on the defense for periods, run the fast break, hit open shooters…it’s impressive.

So now we have two great teams playing each other in the Finals.  Yet, viewership is down 12% from last year, because we don’t have two superstars going at each other like last year.  I’ve got news for you.  This will be a far more memorable series than last year’s.  In a lot of ways, it already has been.  San Antonio stole Game 1 from Miami.  Miami destroyed San Antonio in Game 2.  Those are both big deals.  Remember, the Finals has a 2-3-2 format, so the next THREE games will be in San Antonio.

There have been plenty of highlights so far too.  Tony Parker’s buzzer-beating bank shot and LeBron’s aforementioned ownage of Splitter stand out.

There are a ridiculous amounts of little side stories surrounding this game.  Will LeBron repeat?  Does small ball work?  Can Popovich hit an even higher level of coaching? Will Tim Duncan get his fifth ring 14 years apart from his first?

Think about that last one for a second.  To my knowledge, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar holds the record for longest gap between his first and last championship (17 years).  But still, Kareem wasn’t impacting the game in his last championship run like Duncan is now.  Duncan’s numbers have hardly even changed over that 14 year span.  Do you still think Kobe is the best player of the generation?

The 2013 NBA Finals have two great teams, each of which fully deserve to be there.  The Spurs are probably playing their last Finals with Timmy.  The Heat are trying to cement themselves as a dynasty.  There are countless Hall of Famers playing.  It’s an old school matchup and truer basketball than what we have seen in a while.  It’s fun.  I originally predicted Miami in 6, but I think this thing has potential to go 7 games.  That’s only happened 17 of the 66 NBA Finals.  Either way, it’ll be a grind out series.  I’m in the process of moving right now, so I don’t even have cable; I’ve been watching the games on my phone.  That’s how exciting this series is.  So why wouldn’t you be watching?


[1] If you’re a Suns fan like me, you’ve probably hated the Spurs at one point or another. But make no mistake, the Los Angeles Lakers are our rivals. The Spurs just happened to be the best team in the league when they ousted us in 2005, 2007, and 2008.  I’ve come to accept this.  I think.

[2] Can you imagine if Phoenix took Leonard over Morris Twin A in the 2011 draft? He’d probably be on his way out of the league by now, the way we develop our rookies…

[3] Exception: Stephen Jackson

[4] It’s not Kobe. It’s just not.  He’s had too many dark years (2004-2007). He doesn’t win the first three wings without Shaq and having Gasol in his prime certainly didn’t hurt for the next two.

[5] Case in point: 2012-2013 Los Angeles Lakers Experiment

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