Archives for June 2009

Who’s the Next Pistons Coach?

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By H. Jose Bosch

I can’t say I was shocked when I first learned ex-Pistons coach Michael Curry was fired. But the first thought that went through my mind was, why now, especially with the free agency period looming?

Then it dawned on me: Joe Dumars knows exactly what he’s doing and he probably already has a new coach lined up. At least I can only hope. I mean I did trust the man when he drafted Darko and that didn’t turn out too well. But that’s beside the point.

So, who will replace Curry? I’ve put together a list of who I think are the four best candidates, each with some pros and cons:

Bill Laimbeer

Pros

–Former Bad Boy who knows what it takes to win at the NBA level. He can also demand respect from a team.
–Has head coaching experience and won three championships. Stifle your laughs boys, the WNBA is still a professional basketball league.

Cons

–Even though his WNBA coaching is a plus, zero coaching experience in the NBA is a concern.
–We’ve already seen what a former Piston/rookie coach has done. I’m not sure the city wants to see another one.

Doug Collins

Pros

–Eight years of NBA coaching experience gives him the most experience out of the four candidates I’ve listed.
–His work as an NBA commentator has kept him close enough to the game that he can hit the ground running.

Consdetroit_pistons_logo1

–Despite gradually improving the Bulls during his tenure, they didn’t break out until after he was gone.
–The last three teams he coaches missed the playoffs and he was fired from the Pistons before the 1997-1998 season even ended.

Avery Johnson

Pros

–Has an impressive career .735 win percentage as a head coach with Dallas.
–His experience as a point guard could help Rodney Stuckey develop as a point guard.

Cons

–His Dallas team lost to the Golden State Warriors in the first round of the 2006-2007 playoffs. Arguably one of the biggest upsets in recent NBA history.
–Has coached just three full seasons and it’s arguable whether his hiring would attract free agents.

Tom Izzo

Pros

–His teams have never finished below .500 overall in conference play in 14 seasons.
–Has a track record of developing talent, which could come in handy as the Pistons try to get a bit younger.

Cons

–The jump from college to pro can be difficult. Just ask Rick Pitino.
–His “Players play—Tough Players win” attitude may not work with an NBA team. (See above con).

Chicago Sox Exchange

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Soxman and Paul M. Banks
Alas the dynamic duo of White Sox blogging returns.  With the NBA draft complete and the Chicago Blackhawks on ice for the summer, “Sports Ace,” Paul M. Banks returns to wrap up the Cross-town Classic, discuss the White Sox chances in the AL Central, and to dive into the latest MLB trade rumors involving the southsiders.

(SM) Welcome back, Sports Ace.  Since you’ve been gone, we’ve seen the White Sox rise and fall several times.  Winning 10 of our last 12 games, we are creeping back into contention.  I think our dramatic win on Saturday, followed by the thrashing of the Cubs on Sunday may have been the spark we’ve been waiting for from this team.  Gordon Beckham has been on fire since delivering the game winning hit on Saturday (hitting .350 in his last 20 Abs), and the team appears to be playing with a little more passion albeit still playing sloppy defense.  Your thoughts?

(PMB) Thanks man, it’s great to finally be back. I’m glad you brought up “Bacon” because he’s just been a joy to watch lately, going 3 for 3 last night and playing a key role in the win that finally brought the Sox back to .500. I understand why people compared him to Robin Ventura early on, as they played the same position and both were highly touted first-round draft picks who struggled mightily at the plate and with the glove when their careers first began.

However, I don’t see Beckham as a guy who will ever hit 30-35 HRs in a season. He will be an excellent spray and slap hitter who could regularly see his average in the .310s and .320s each year. He may not have Ventura’s power, but he has way more speed. And as we’re learning now, the steroid era of earlier this decade is over and “grinderball” or “smallball” is the new home run.


UPDATE: Since I wrote this last weekend, before the current winning streak and when the Sox were 6 games out, things have changed.

“After completing a sweep of the Indians last night, the White Sox are 3.0 games back and two games over .500.  It’s been an up and down season, but the White Sox are finally providing legitimate reasons to believe that they can repeat as AL Central champions…40 of them in fact.” See our friends at Midwest Sports Fans.com for more

(SM) After winning 10 of our last 12 games, even the most pessimistic of Sox fans are starting to believe we can overtake the AL Central.  You once said, “the Sox will go as far as Gavin Floyd takes them.”  Well, he improved to 3-0 in June, is 4-1 since May 22 and has a 1.39 ERA in his last eight starts.  As a matter of fact, the Sox now have the 2nd best team ERA in the AL (4.00), second only to Seattle (3.64).  Care to comment on whether or not our pitching can continue to hold the line?gavinfloyd

(PMB) Yes, as far as Floyd (and Danks) will take them. Contreras seems to be young and talented again (or at least very much improved) since his rehab stint at AAA Charlottle, but Floyd is the man truly writing “a tale of two seasons.” You brought up Floyd’s numbers since May 22nd.  Here’s more statistics from that before and after date. In his first 8 starts “Pink Floyd” was 2-4 with a 7.71 ERA with a K/BB walk ratio of 35/23. In his last 8 starts since then, “Pretty Boy Floyd” has an opponents’ batting average of less than .200 and he’s improved his strikeout to walk ratio to 46/15.

(SM) While the pitching has been a bright spot, there is a reason we continue to flirt with mediocrity as a team.  Monday’s game against the Indians was the first time in six games, the White Sox did not make an error.  They have made 17 errors in their previous 11 games.  As we have three players with less than 2 full years combined experience playing 2B, 3B, and SS- this has to be expected.  This is a key area the White Sox must improve if they are to compete in the AL Central as the season presses on.

Other things to consider:  they also have the 3rd worst team batting average in the AL (.254), and are 4th worst in scoring runs (332).  The Sox have the worst team batting average at home (.231), in a hitter’s park, and still have several questions in our line-up, including the perpetual “double-play-in-waiting” with Thome, Konerko, and AJ batting in the 4-6 spots.  How can we fix these things and what are your keys to our successfully repeating as division champions.

(PMB) First A.J. HAS TO THROW SOMEBODY OUT ON THE BASEPATHS FOR ONCE! Of course, it’s not all his fault as Sox pitchers are ludicrously bad and trying to hold runners on base.

Also, prior to this homestand the Sox were hitting a horrific .221 at home this season. This team of slow-moving sluggers were not hitting home runs; in a power hitter’s dream ballpark. How is this worst of both worlds possible? It’s like encountering some dude who’s both an arrogant jerk and a soft, pansy man at the same time. And if it weren’t for singer-songwriter John Mayer, I didn’t think such a man could exist. Also, if weren’t for Josh Fields, I didn’t think you could have an MLB regular who lacked power, ability to hit for average and be atrocious at fielding. Re: Fields, this offseason: HE GONE!

Luckily, the changes Ozzie made to the lineup a few weeks ago have improved the team dramatically, but I still think the AL Central is nowhere near as weak as people make it out to be. It’s going to take at least 90 wins to capture this division, and the American League is light years ahead of the National, so the playoffs are going to be even tougher than last season, if our boys are lucky enough to get there. As good as the Sox have been playing lately, they really didn’t make up much ground and didn’t even reach .500 until yesterday. Detroit and Minnesota are much better than people give them credit for.

(SM) Many fans are questioning whether or not the Sox will be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline.  “Armchair” GMs continue to name Paul Konerko and Jim Thome as the two players the Sox should get rid of in order to become faster.  It’s not easier said than done.  Konerko has 10-5 player trade rights and Thome is too expensive and streaky for anyone to take a chance on him at this point in his career.  Jermaine Dye and Bobby Jenks names have come up all season long as the most tradable commodities.

While we might not agree with unloading any player, let’s look at the latest trade rumblings involving the White Sox and possible impacts of the move:

Jermaine Dye to the San Francisco Giantssox-harmony

The 2005 World Series MVP is hitting .287 with 18 HR and 46 RBI through June 29th.  He’s from the Bay area and has been scouted by he Giants in the last week, who are 7 games back in the NL West but right in the thick of the wild card race.

The move would take away our most consistent bat from the line-up and would move Carlos Quentin to RF, assuming he’s healthy enough to return, leaving us with the continued platoon of Brian Anderson and DeWayne Wise in CF.

If the move were made, the Sox should command nothing less than top pitching prospect Madison Bumgarner.  The 20-year old lefty is 8-2 with a 1.79 ERA in 12 starts between single A and double A this year.
Omar Vizquel

This one was floated on 670 the Score this morning and is unlikely to happen.  The move would result in Alexei Ramirez shifting back to 2B in the hopes that Vizquel would continue to hit .300 and most importantly stabilize the defense.

This is not likely to happen as it contradicts the Sox underlying plan of getting younger.  The Sox remain committed to Alexei Ramirez at shortstop.

Juan Pierre

The rumor that refuses to die would likely be dependent on moving Dye and the Dodgers eating salary.  L.A. claims they are content with keeping him as a bench player, but a young arm like Aaron Porerda or Clayton Richard could change their perspective.

Assuming Dye is traded, your outfield would be Podsednik, Pierre, Quentin and your line-up would have two table setters at the top.  Pierre is hitting .329 with 21 SB in 239 Abs this season.

Bobby Jenks

This move would only occur if the Sox raised the White Flag.  While his name keeps coming up, the only contenders that have a need at closer are the Devil Rays.  I highly doubt anyone would pay top dollar to use him as a set-up man.

As this exchange is approaching extra innings let’s close with Maybe or Mirage, where we hit 5 quick points on the White Sox and offer our opinion whether it is a sign of things to come or something likely to fade quickly?  Remember, no answer can be longer than 20 words!  Let’s play ball…


The White Sox will always be a second class team to the Cubs.soxmanbooth

(SM) Mirage, I don’t count fan-base or attendance, I count championships.  101 years and counting is second class.

(PMB) I’ll have to break the word count rules here, but it’s worth it as I let Ozzie answer this question

Guillen was asked why attendance was so low at the Sox-Dodgers series, and said: “Because our fans are not stupid like Cubs fans. They know we’re horses***.” Ozzie also said Cubs fans will go watch any home game because “Wrigley Field is just a bar.”

Jermaine Dye will still be with the White Sox in August.

(SM), Maybe.  This is truly anyone’s guess, influenced strongly by the Sox play.

(PMB) Mirage. I still think Sox will be sellers come July 31. Like any good GM though, Kenny is keeping this fact close to his vest.

SoxGirl brought the Sox good luck on Sunday.

(SM) Maybe.  I promised a secret weapon and we won 6-0.soxmanonfield

(PMB) Maybe. Superstitions and baseball go together like celebrity deaths and mainstream media overkill.


The Sox should investigate “leaked clubhouse secrets” alleged by the Cubs.

(SM) Mirage.  Moises Alou’s leaking secret was enough for me.

(PMB) Mirage. Cubs seem to think this is a slow sports news time of year…actually it is!


Bobby Jenks will be the Sox closer in August.
(SM) Maybe.  As long as he does not inch closer to 300lbs.

(PMB) Maybe. Who else do we have, Wes Whisler?

What’s so special about Wimbledon for Venus?

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By Cleyana Mayweather

It’s the second week at Wimbledon and a five-time Wimbledon champ is still in it. And, I’m not talking about Roger Federer. I’m talking about the women’s two-time defending champion Venus Williams. The world’s No.3 player has dominated the All England Club winning five of the last eight championships, reaching seven of the last eight finals,  and winning 30 consecutive sets dating back to 2007.

One might think that dominating the most cherished major would transfer to success at other majors as well, but that hasn’t been the case for Williams. Williams hasn’t won a major other than Wimbledon since the 2003 Australian Open and has only advanced once during the last six years past the quarterfinals of a major. It seems that Williams goes into hibernation for most of the year and comes out only to play Wimbledon.

Why has Williams been so successful at Wimbledon? venus-williams_1432314c

Is it because she shares the same name with the trophy?

Or maybe she feels lucky in white?

These are superstitious reasons, but there are definitely technical reasons to answer this question. Williams’ game is suited for grass court play. Williams’ serve on grass gives her a huge advantage. Her serve was once clocked at 129 mph making it the fastest women’s serve in history. Williams stays low to the ground on her groundstrokes moving around the court with grace and style. Oh, and don’t dare leave a shot short because Williams will step in and hit a big volley in your face. That’s just as stupid as trying to get a shot over her long wingspan. She is 6’1 if you didn’t know.

Williams’ success on the All England Club courts has been remarkable. Who could forget the 2005 finals thriller against former No.1 Lindsay Davenport that had everyone calling Williams’ game off the wall? Williams, ranked No. 14 in the draw, was given no shot to even make it to the finals by analysts, but that didn’t stop her. Williams showed she had the heart of a lion ousting Maria Sharapova in the semifinals and then took it to Davenport in the final. The finals’ match went on for almost three hours making it the longest women’s final in history including a 25 shot exchange in the third set that also was the longest point in Wimbledon history. Williams also faced match point in the final. In the end, it was a 4-6, 7-6(4), 9-7 victory over Davenport and one of the greatest women’s finals recorded.

Dubbed as the “best grass court player of our generation” by her sister Serena, Venus is on track to win a third straight Wimbledon title and sixth title overall. A three-peat hasn’t been accomplished since Steffi Graf in 1991-93. With a sixth Wimbledon singles title, only Martina Navratilova (9) and Graf (7) will have more Wimbledon titles than Williams.

When Williams was nine, she told her father that Wimbledon was the championship she wanted to win the most. The only thing that may stand in the way of Williams winning her sixth Wimbledon title is a knee-wrap. Williams is wearing a knee-wrap on her left knee to help her with support after complaining of pain after her first round match. The knee wrap hasn’t slowed Williams down a bit as she hasn’t dropped a set in the Championships.

Williams has made the All England Club her personal playground performing in Wimbledon like she does in no other tournament. So don’t be surprised if you see her in the July 4th final. Fireworks may be in the sky for Williams for the sixth time.

Pressing Social Issues in Sport Part 4 of 4

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Paul M. Banks has an exclusive interview with Dave Zirin discussing the past, present and future social issues at the heart of sports

On a recent episode of “The Simpsons,” Mr. Burns bought a basketball franchise (Mark Cuban made a guest voice appearance). On that episode, Burns opened up a new arena by telling the crowd “Welcome to the American dream: a billionaire using public funds to finance a private playground for the rich.”

This joke had a lot of painful truth to it, as that’s exactly what happens in each one of our cities when a new billion dollar stadium is built. Our hard earned tax payer dollars go towards financing a private building that each one of us must pay $50 every time we want to go see the inside of it. That money could be going towards solving the health care or climate crisis; or towards our badly under-funded infrastructure, public transportation and school systems. As a sports fan and journalist, I have to put these awful truths aside in order to enjoy watching the games I love so much. I asked Zirin how most sports fans do this. Is it cognitive dissonance? How come there have been no protests or organization against these heists of public funds? citi-field

“Huge percentages of people, according to polls like Rasmussen oppose public funds for stadiums, so the sentiment is there. I think people get that they’re being screwed, but there’s very little engagement by the left towards the people who have the capacity and the experience to organize people against such a thing. With the world of sports, because you have a lot of people who see themselves as ‘on the left’ or ‘fighters for social justice:’ because they see sports as something alien to them, they have no capacity to figure out how to organize sports fans,” Zirin said.

I agree- too many leaders on the American left have overlooked sports, downplayed their importance or just conceited that arena to the right. That’s the wrong route to take and it’s a good example of why we’re in this mess.

Sportswriter Dave Zirin is the author of four books and his column, Edge of Sports, appears on Sports Illustrated’s website. He is the host of XM satellite’s weekly show, Edge of Sports Radio. I asked him what his next project is all about.
“I just submitted the draft in for a book that’s going to come out on Simon and Schuster’s Scribners brand, the working title is “Bad Sports: How owners are ruining the games we love.” And it’s looking at the way pro sports owners are creating an environment for the fans that’s inhospitable and I compare them to the AIG bankers and insurance giants who have gone repeatedly for short term gain, and with few exceptions have just completely trashed the concept of stability for their sports, alienating fan bases, kids, municipalities, and doing all of this just because there are some very short term benefits for them to do so. And it’s hallowing out their sports…it’s a light read,” Zirin responded.

I have a feeling the names George Steinbrenner, Peter Angelos and Bill Wirtz might end up in this next tome.

Pressing Social Issues in Sport Part 3 of 4

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Paul M. Banks has an exclusive interview with Dave Zirin discussing the past, present and future social issues at the heart of sports

As I continued my interview with Zirin, I asked him about how/why some athletes are able to overcome the “just shut up and play” principle set forth by the status quo.  “The great political athletes of the ‘60s were, you could argue, the best basketball player Bill Walton, the best football player Jim Brown, the greatest track and field athlete in a generation Tommie Smith, people often forget how many insane records Tommie Smith had, his 200 meter record held for 20 years, the best college basketball player in history, Lew Alcindor, maybe the second best college player of all Bill Walton. So these guys all had the cover of their greatness,” Zirin said.

It’s true that if you’re really good at what you do (no matter what field you’re in) than you have more leeway in expressing your true viewpoints. If you’re mediocre or worse at your craft- then you more like have to just acquiesce.etanthomas

“Now Adam Morrison is trying to survive in the league, hanging on by his fingernails, J.J. Redick, believe it or not has a more secure place in the NBA. And I think if Adam Morrison was the kind of guy, a 20 point a game scorer, he would have been somebody who would have shaken things up in the NBA politically. And it’s a shame. For me it’s a shame because rarely do you see players with that kind if courage,” Zirin offered. Morrison actually cried when he heard that his favorite band, the socially conscious heavy metal quartet Rage Against the Machine broke up. Morrison, the 3rd overall pick in the 2006 NBA Draft and college co-player of the year with Redick, was known for his free-thinking ideas and appreciation of radical views. 
Etan Thomas was traded from the Washington Wizards to the Minnesota Timberwolves last week. Thomas, a friend of Zirin’s, is an example of athletes getting a chance to possibly be political when they play for a D.C. team.

“I think so because Abe Pollin, who is unfortunately in ailing health tends to be progressive. His son, Robert Pollin is a professor and one of the leading left-wing economists in the United States, and it certainly helps to be in D.C. Etan Thomas has some powerful friends, he was there with his wife and kids at the White House Easter egg roll, and the Wizards like that too: a very popular president invites one of the players to the Easter Egg roll. That’s great so you’re able to parlay sort of official politics as entertainment and I think it gives Etan some cover to do the work he does whether in prisons or against the death penalty.

Sportswriter Dave Zirin is the author of four books and his column, Edge of Sports, appears on Sports Illustrated’s website. He is the host of XM satellite’s weekly show, Edge of Sports Radio.

Ricky Rubio Trade Options

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by: David Kay

The Timberwolves got their man on draft night.  When they traded Randy Foye and Mike Miller to the Wizards for the number five pick, Minnesota was targeting Spanish point guard Ricky Rubio, even trying to move up to the number two spot to assure that they landed him.  As it played out Rubio fell right into their laps at five and the T-Wolves couldn’t have been any happier.  But the wedding may be annulled quicker than Britney Spears’ brief matrimony to Jason Alexander (no, not THAT Jason Alexander.)  Rubio is apparently pulling an Eli Manning/Steve Francis/Eric Lindros and is cold to the idea of living in ‘Sota, reportedly threatening to head back to Spain to play for a couple more years rather than suit up for the Wolves.

So what is new Minnesota general manager David Kahn to do besides try to convince T-Wolves’ fans that he is not the second coming of Kevin McHale?  Kahn recently sent an e-mail to season ticket holders saying that he was willing to wait a couple years if necessary while Rubio played out his current contract in Spain.  The two parties reportedly met face-to-face over the weekend, but that has yet to be confirmed.

The way I see it, Kahn has two options.  He can play hard ball, call Rubio’s bluff, and insist that they are not going to trade him, eventually hoping the flashy point guard agrees to play with the T-Wolves whether it’s this season or three years from now.  Or he can coward up, give in to Rubio’s demands, and deal the Spaniard for a couple valuable pieces (or six point guards.)  Here are some possible deals that would land Rubio in a desirable location while adding to the T-Wolves youth movement.

Trade One: Minnesota deals Ricky Rubio ($3.3 million) and Brian Cardinal ($6.75 million) to Dallas for Josh Howard ($10.9 million), a 2010 second round pick, and 2011 first round pick.

With Jason Kidd a free agent and getting up there in age, acquiring Rubio would give the Mavs a point guard of the future at a much cheaper rate.  Minnesota lands an all-star caliber in talent in Howard who would provide a major boost on the wing.  Dallas doesn’t own the rights to their 2010 first round pick which is why they give up their 2011 selection.

Minnesota
C: Jefferson/Thomas
PF: Love/Songaila/Pecherov/Madsen/Smith
SF: Gomes/Brewer
SG: Howard/Ellington
PG: Flynn/Telfair

Dallas
C: Dampier
PF: Nowitzki/Nivins/Cardinal
SF: Wright/Stackhouse/Williams
SG: Terry/Carroll
PG: Rubio/Barea

Trade Two: Minnesota deals Ricky Rubio ($3.3) and Brian Cardinal ($6.75) to Clippers for Eric Gordon ($2.8), Marcus Camby (7.65), and 2010 first round pick (top 4 protected)

rubio-twolves1Clipper fans would finally have something to look forward to; a possible long-term combo of Rubio to Griffin that could eventually become the Stockton-Malone of the next decade.  The biggest wrench for the Clips would be moving Davis off the ball which may cause even more sulking than there already is, which seems impossible.  This would instantly make the Clips a real playoff contender.  Dealing Camby opens up more playing time for Griffin without weakening their frontcourt.

Minnesota gets the starting shooting guard they currently don’t have.  Marcus Camby provides a defensive presence and is a free agent after this season so that would open up some more money for free agency.  The 2010 first rounder would likely fall in the late lottery/mid-teen’s.

Minnesota
C: Jefferson/Camby/Thomas
PF: Love/Songaila/Pecherov/Madsen/Smith
SF: Gomes/Brewer
SG: Gordon/Ellington
PG: Flynn/Telfair

Clippers
C: Kaman/Jordan/Skinner
PF: Griffin/Randolph/Cardinal
SF: Thornton/Ricky Davis
SG: Baron Davis/Collins
PG: Rubio/Taylor

Trade Three: Minnesota deals Ricky Rubio ($3.3), Sebastian Telfair ($2.5), and Mark Madsen ($2.8) to New York for Chris Duhon ($6.0), Wilson Chandler ($1.2), Toney Douglas ($1.0), and 2010 first round pick (top 4 protected)

The Knicks have been the most likely destination for Rubio since word came out that he didn’t want to go to Minnesota.  This would be a huge get for New York and yet another way to entice LeBron, D-Wade, or one of the top free agents next summer to come to the Big Apple to play with a pure point guard with an unbelievable ability to distribute the basketball.

Minnesota adds a veteran point guard who is a free agent next summer in Duhon, a combo guard in Douglas who plays well on both ends of the floor, and an improving Chandler.  The key to this trade is the 2010 first round pick which would almost certainly be in the lottery.  Jordan Hill could be another name to possibly throw in this trade but the T-Wolves would be better off improving other areas since they already have the Jefferson-Love duo up front.

Minnesota
C: Jefferson/Thomas
PF: Love/Songaila/Smith/Pecherov/Cardinal
SF: Gomes/Chandler
SG: Brewer/Ellington
PG: Flynn/Duhon/Douglas

New York
C: Lee/Curry/Milicic
PF: Hill/Jefferies/Madsen
SF: Harrington/Gallinari
SG: Hughes/Joe Crawford
PG: Rubio/Robinson/Telfair

Trade Four: Minnesota deals Ricky Rubio ($3.3) to Portland for Rudy Fernandez ($1.1), Jerryd Bayless ($2.1), and 2010 first round pick

The Blazers need to find a point guard of the future and Rubio would the perfect young point guard to lead one of the up-and-coming teams in the NBA.  Portland would still have about nine million dollar to spend in free agency and could land a veteran small forward to help them creep a little closer to the top of the Western Conference.

Minnesota would acquire a shooting guard in Fernandez would they could immediately insert into the starting line-up.  They also get a young combo guard in Bayless who is far from reaching his potential and could be a great bench player if given the chance.  The 2010 first round pick is not a huge addition since it would likely be in the mid-twenties.

Minnesota
C: Jefferson/Thomas
PF: Love/Songaila/Smith/Pecherov/Cardinal/Madsen
SF: Gomes/Brewer
SG: Fernandez/Ellington
PG: Flynn/Bayless/Telfair

Portland
C: Pryzbilla/Oden
PF: Aldridge/Frye/Pendergraph
SF: Batum/Outlaw/Cunningham
SG: Roy/Webster
PG: Rubio/Blake/Mills

Trade Five: Minnesota deals Ricky Rubio ($3.3) and Craig Smith ($2.5) to Miami for Michael Beasley ($4.6), Daequan Cook ($1.4), and Mario Chalmers ($0.8)

dwyane-wade-layup1The thought of Rubio playing alongside my favorite player, Dwyane Wade, literally turns me on.  While Chalmers had a solid rookie season, he does not have near the long-term potential of a player like Rubio.  Acquiring Rubio might also be a great selling point as to the direction of the Heat franchise and help keep D-Wade in South Beach.

Minnesota gets three players to help their youth movement.  Beasley showed flashes of being worthy of the number two pick in last year’s draft, but also struggled to find his niche at times.  Chalmers would serve as a nice point guard option alongside Flynn.  Cook has great range on his shot, the type of player the T-Wolves lack.

Minnesota
C: Jefferson/Thomas
PF: Love/Songaila/Pecherov/Cardinal/Madsen
SF: Gomes/Beasley
SG: Brewer/Cook/Ellington
PG: Flynn/Chalmers/Telfair

Miami
C: O’Neal/Anthony/Blount
PF: Haslem/Smith/Dozier
SF: Jones/Moon/Wright/Diawara
SG: Wade/Beverly
PG: Rubio/Quinn

NBA Draft Mailbag II

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By Paul M. Banks and David Kay

First off I’m from Canada, I live in Vancouver (Miss the Grizzlies)

NO ONE F***in Says “EH” in Canada

Everyone i know pronounces defense the same way the c makes no f**in difference to me

A-BOOT are you F***IN KIDDING ME

i know people who lived in toronto all their life then moved here and they don’t say f**in A-BOOT they say ABOUT not ABOOT

Did you get that s*** South Park or Some S***

F*** YOU

–Johnny Damon


WOW! With the exception of “The FSU Cowgirl” Jenn Sterger, I don’t think I’ve ever encountered someone online so filled with hatred and bitterness. It’s interesting you signed this email under such an obvious pseudonym, and your lack of syntax and sentence structure says quite a bit about yourself. Also, the prodigious cursing would make even Ozzie Guillen blush.

However, you’re barking up the wrong tree if you seek to extinguish bigotry and prejudice against Canadians. I literally had “O Canada” as my ring tone for a few months in 2006, and I plan to hopefully, have my bachelor party in Windsor, Ontario some day soon. jennsterger

If no one says “eh?” in Canada, how come they sell t-shirts with the phrase and a Canadian flag on it at tourist shops everywhere? You did succeed in destroying one Canadian stereotype: many of us Yanks believe your people to excessively polite. You on the other hand…

 
Los Angeles is the perfect market for Ricky Rubio (though I know he preferred NYK)…do you think LA would make the deal? Would you rather have Baron Davis and Eric Gordon or Baron Davis with Ricky Rubio as the future?

— Matt


With Baron and Gordon (or “Basketball Judas” as I call him, being a die-hard Illini and UI alum) you have a better traditional backcourt pairing. Davis can be a score-first point guard if needs be, but he’s better in a distributor role with EG focusing on wing play and off the ball. So this would create better continuity. On the flip side, I think Rubio has a lot more potential long-term.

So even though you’d have two “pure point guards,” watching Rubio highlights make me salivate and given how young he is- imagine what he could be in his prime? Gordon for Rubio straight-up is…advantage- Spaniard. I’ve covered the Big Ten extensively these past couple years, and witness Gordon’s sulking, slumping and sliding shooting percentages after Kelvin Sampson was fired making me wonder what type of maturity and toughness he truly has…Of course Rubio’s game translating to the league is still a wild card in itself.

–Paul

I agree that I would rather have Rubio. He has “special potential” if I can channel my inner-Fran Fraschilla. I don’t see Gordon as anything more than a complimentary scoring option who doesn’t do anything else on the floor.

–Davidgordon_s28_0823z

 

Great work! I’ve seen some pretty ridiculous mock drafts, but yours makes sense. Assuming all the teams stand pat with their picks, it could be a pretty close to accurate draft. If the Wolves end up with Thabeet and Curry, I would be very happy! Once again, nice work!

–Jeris

 

Thanks for the props and checking out our site. I take it you’re a T-Wolves fan. Be sure to check out www.thesportsbank.net  (another site I write for). It’s a Midwest site that has a bunch of Minnesota sports stuff on it, so check it out when you get a chance. I have a lot of friends who are T-Wolves fans and the write extensively about the ineptitude of David Kahn and his “interesting” point guard hoarding philosophy on draft night.
 

 

Mr.  Banks,
 
I am a huge fan of the NBA/NBA Draft and noticed your mock draft on walterfootball. I was wondering how you thought of Jonny Flynn on defense. On a scale of 1 – 10 how do you think he is on defense? Also on a scale of 1-10 how do you think Toney Douglas is on defense? Thanks!!!*Nov 21 - 00:05*

–Andre

 

I think Flynn was one of the best point guard in the country this season, but not really that spectacular on the defensive end. T’ Wolves GM David Kahn thinks he’ll be a great on-the-ball defender in the league though…which makes me think much less of Flynn defensively. Douglas, on the other hand is an outstanding defender- especially man to man. I rate him a 9.

 
Don’t you think this makes the most sense for the Cavs:

The Cavs need to trade for Shaq (Ben Wallace, Sahsa, and this years 2nd round pick). Shaq has only 1 year left on his contract so that gives Cleveland plenty of options for the summer of 2010 where as these rumors of Joe Smith or Antawn Jamison both leave Cleveland in trouble for 2010 if they do indeed try to go after Bosh or Yao. In addition to this, sign Rasheed Wallace to a 2 years deal at a mid-level contract. Try to resign Andy but not at 10 millon a yr that he wants. Then draft a SG/SF with our 1st round draft pick.

This player (I like your idea of drafting Meeks) needs to be able to knock down shots and contribute off the bench when D. West isn’t in the game. But this still leaves Cleveland with a huge hole after they trade Sasha and Wally is a free agent – they still need someone to be a backup for LeBron.

I say try to sign Wally to a cheap deal for 2 more years – I believe he knows that he is not going to make the same amount of money he made this year and he might be willing to give Cleveland a discount due to the fact that he wants to stay a Cav, otherwise they have to sign someone cheap to fill this position. The only other option is a sign and trade with Andy to try to find a backup to LBJ but this doesnt really make sense give the situation because it does not leave Cleveland with any bigs in a year of 2. This gives Cleveland:

C- Shaq, Z, Jackson
PF – R. Wallace, Andy, JJ
SF – LBJ, (sign someone / Wally?), Jawad Williams, JJ
SG – West, (Meeks / whoever we get in the draft), Gibson
PG – Mo Williams, Gibson, Kinsey

Any thoughts?

–t18andme

nbascrilla1
I think the Shaq trade makes a lot of sense for Cleveland if Phoenix is willing to pretty much give him away for thirty cents on the dollar, which they are reportedly not interested in doing. It would definitely be worth the risk in their bid to win a championship. Using the mid-level on Sheed makes sense, but if that happens, the odds of re-signing Varajeo go down unless one of them is willing to take a back-up role. No way Varajeo should be signed for more than $7 mil a year, and the Cavs are in a position of power since not a lot of teams have the cap flexibility to sign Varajeo for more than the mid-level exception which Cleveland can surely top.

At 30, the Cavs should draft a wing player whether it’s Sam Young, Derrick Brown, Wayne Ellington, Meeks, or Marcus Thornton. I’d lean towards Young or Brown since they are more multi-dimensional players where Meeks, Ellington, and Thornton are pretty much shooters and not great athletes or defenders. The only way I would bring Wally back is for a one-year deal at the league minimum. Especially in this financially strapped off-season, he doesn’t deserve a penny more than that.

NHL, Blackhawks Just had a Draft Too!

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By Paul M. Banks

If you’re still recovering from the NBA Draft and/or caught up in MLB interleague rivalry match-ups, you might have missed the NHL entry draft on Friday and Saturday. Now that hockey is now officialy back in the nation’s greatest sports city, I’ll fill you in on what happened. With the help of the Hawks media relations department of course. The following information is from the Blackhawks official press releases.

The Chicago Blackhawks completed the 2009 National Hockey League Entry Draft at the Bell Centre in Montreal on Saturday. On Friday, Chicago drafted defenseman Dylan Olsen from the Camrose Kodiaks of the Alberta Junior Hockey League with its first round selection (28th overall).


Blackhawks 2009 NHL Draft Recap:

First Round: Dylan Olsen, D, Camrose Kodiaks (28th overall)

The Chicago Blackhawks have selected defenseman Dylan Olsen from the Camrose Kodiaks of the Alberta Junior Hockey League with the 28th selection of the 2009 National Hockey League Entry Draft at the Bell Centre in Montreal on Friday night.

Olsen, 18, paced Camrose blueliners with 10 goals and registered 29 points and 123 penalty minutes in 53 games last season, his second in the AJHL. The Salt Lake City, Utah, native also collected four points (2G, 2A) and a +4 plus/minus rating in six games with Team Canada at the 2009 Under-18 IIHF World Championships.

Olsen (6-2, 206), who was selected to the 2009 Canadian Junior Hockey League Prospects game, has committed to the University of Minnesota-Duluth for 2009-10. He has racked up 168 penalty minutes and 53 points (18G, 35A) in 102 career games over two seasons with Camrose. During his first campaign with the club, Olsen helped the Kodiaks capture the 2008 AJHL championship and the 2008 Doyle Cup (a best-of-seven series against the BCHL champion) before losing in the final of the Canadian Junior ‘A’ championship to the Humboldt Broncos (Saskatchewan).

The Blackhawks 28th overall selection on Friday marked their latest in the first round in franchise history (46 previous NHL Drafts). nhl_draft

Second Round: Brandon Pirri, C, Georgetown Raiders (59th overall)

Third Round: Daniel DeLisle, C/LW, Totino-Grace High School (89th overall)

Fourth Round: Byron Froese, C, Everett Silvertips (119th overall)

Fifth Round: Marcus Kruger, C, Djurgarden/Djurgarden Jr., Sweden (149th overall)

Sixth Round: David Pacan, C, Cumberland Grads (177th overall)*

Seventh Round: Paul Phillips, D, Cedar Rapids RoughRiders (195th overall)**

Seventh Round: David Gilbert, C, Quebec Remparts (209th overall)

* Selection acquired from the Atlanta Thrashers on Saturday, in exchange for the Blackhawks’ fifth round pick in 2010

** Selection acquired from the Florida Panthers in exchange for Magnus Johansson on Jan. 10, 2008

Blackhawks Saturday (Rounds Two through Seven) Draft Pick Bios:

Pirri, 18, ranked third in the Ontario Junior Hockey League with 46 goals and 94 points in just 44 games with the Streetsville Derbys and Georgetown Raiders. The Toronto native started the regular season with Streetsville, posting 49 points (21G, 28A) in 18 contests before being traded to Georgetown for the final 26 matchups (25G, 20A). He paced Georgetown with eight goals, 13 assists and 21 points in 14 postseason tilts, leading the club to the division finals. Pirri (6-0, 160), who is slated to attend Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (ECAC) in the fall, has racked up 144 points (64G, 80A) in 84 career OJHL games spanning two seasons with Streetsville (2007-09) and Georgetown (2008-09).

DeLisle, 18, led Totino-Grace High School in Fridley, Minnesota with 30 goals, 22 assists and 52 points in 24 games during the 2008-09 season. A native of Minneapolis, DeLisle (6-4, 222) captained Totino-Grace during his senior campaign and finished as a finalist for the Mr. Hockey Award, given to the outstanding senior boys high school hockey player in the state of Minnesota. He is committed to attend the University of Minnesota-Duluth in the fall.

Froese, 18, ranked second on the Western Hockey League’s Everett Silvertips with 38 assists and third with 57 points while appearing in all 72 regular-season games as a rookie. The Winkler, Manitoba, native’s 38 assists ranked third among WHL rookies, while his 57 points finished fourth. Froese (5-11, 191) also dished out three assists in five postseason tilts with the Silvertips. He was a member of Team Canada at the 2009 IIHF Under-18 World Championships, posting seven points (4G, 3A) in six contests.

Kruger, 19, made his Swedish Elite League debut with Djurgarden last season, posting four points (2G, 2A) and two penalty minutes in 15 games. The Stockholm native spent the majority of the campaign with Djurgarden Jr. (Sweden-Jr.) registering 30 assists, 39 points and a +21 plus/minus rating in 34 contests. Kruger (5-11, 172) also recorded six points (G, 5A) in six postseason tilts with Djurgarden Jr.

Pacan, 18, ranked fourth on the Central Junior A Hockey League’s Cumberland Grads with 60 points and held fifth with 22 goals and 38 assists in 58 games. The Ottawa, Ontario, native bagged ten of his 22 goals on the power play during the regular season, second-best on the club, while his 78 penalty minutes finished third. He paced the club with six assists and ranked second with eight points in six postseason outings. Pacan (6-3, 187) has spent the last two seasons with Cumberland, racking up 94 points (34G, 60A) and 108 penalty minutes in 118 regular-season matchups. hawksdraft

Phillips, 17, ranked second among Cedar Rapids (United States Hockey League) defensemen with eight goals, 25 assists and 33 points (8th-best among USHL defensemen) while being one of two players to skate in all 60 regular-season games. The Darien, Illinois, native collected 15 (3G, 12A) of his 33 points on the power play, while also finishing his second USHL campaign with six penalty minutes in five postseason outings. Phillips (6-1, 195), who is committed to attend Denver University (WCHA) in the fall, collected 36 points (9G, 27A) and 81 penalty minutes in 103 career regular-season matchups with Cedar Rapids.

Gilbert, 18, ranked eighth on the Quebec Remparts of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with 32 assists and tied for eighth with 43 points in 67 regular-season games. The Chateauguay, Quebec, native finished second among team centers with a 54.0 faceoff winning percentage during the regular season before collecting six goals and eight points in 17 postseason tilts to help the Remparts reach the QMJHL semifinals. Gilbert (6-2, 176) made his QMJHL debut in 2007-08, accruing 14 points (7G, 7A) in 28 outings with Quebec.

There were a ton of trades on draft day too, such as….blackhawks

NY Islanders traded pick #56 in the 2009 Entry Draft to Columbus for picks
#62 and #92 in 2009.

Florida traded D Jay Bouwmeester to Calgary for D Jordan Leopold and pick
#67 in the 2009 Entry Draft.

Calgary traded picks #84 and #107 in the 2009 Entry Draft to Los Angeles for pick #74 in 2009.

NY Islanders traded pick #91 in the 2009 Entry Draft to Phoenix for a 3rd-round pick in 2010.

Atlanta traded pick #95 in the 2009 Entry Draft to Los Angeles for picks #117, #120 and #203 in 2009.

Minnesota traded picks #99 and #133 in the 2009 Entry Draft to Edmonton for C Kyle Brodziak and pick #161 in 2009.

Los Angeles traded picks #107 and #138 in the 2009 Entry Draft to Florida for Florida’s 3rd-round pick in 2010.

Washington traded D Sami Lepisto to Phoenix for Phoenix’s 5th-round pick in 2010.

Pittsburgh traded unsigned draft choice G Chad Johnson to NY Rangers for pick #151 in the 2009 Entry Draft.

Nashville traded pick #148 in the 2009 Entry Draft to Tampa Bay for a 5th-round pick in 2010.

Los Angeles traded C Brian Boyle to NY Rangers for a 3rd-round pick in the 2010 Entry Draft.

Calgary traded D Jim Vandermeer to Phoenix for C Brandon Prust.

Atlanta traded pick #177 in the 2009 Entry Draft to Chicago for a 5th-round pick in 2010.

Dallas traded pick #189 in the 2009 Entry Draft to San Jose for San Jose’s 6th-round pick in 2010.

Phoenix traded pick #187 in the 2009 Entry Draft to Vancouver for the rights to D Shaun Heshka.

Edmonton traded pick #191 in the 2009 Entry Draft to Ottawa for a 6th-round pick in 2010.

Nashville traded pick #202 in the 2009 Entry Draft to St. Louis for St.
Louis’ 7th-round pick in 2010.

Pittsburgh traded pick #211 in the 2009 Entry Draft to Montreal for a 6th-round pick in 2010.

210 players were selected from 11 countries. Following is a breakdown of 2009 Entry Draft selections by birthplace:

Canada            102
United States    55
Sweden            24
Finland          10
Russia            7
Slovakia          5
Czech Republic    3
Belarus          1
Denmark          1
Germany          1
United Kingdom    1
Total            210

Cubs and Sox Fans Mutually Exclusive?

cubssox

By Sam Svoboda

Before I even begin, I’d just like to say that I fully expect to catch some flak for this- too many people have their opinions on the Cubs and the Sox and refuse to even think about modifying them. But with the “Crosstown Classic” again this weekend, it’s a perfect time to examine the possibility that maybe, just maybe, the city’s two baseball teams are not mutually exclusive. In other words, liking the Sox does not mean you have to hate the Cubs, and vice versa: you can actually (gasp!) like both teams.

If you haven’t already started typing out a comment degrading my sports intelligence, hear me out. I’ll start with my personal story: My paternal grandfather is a life-long Cubs fan and my maternal grandfather is a life-long Sox fan. I grew up going to games both at Wrigley and Comiskey, and listening to both Harry Caray and Hawk Harrelson. I can rattle off the names of completely forgettable Southsiders like Mike Caruso and Jorge Fabregas and Northsiders like Jose Nieves and Brant Brown (insert obligatory dropped fly ball reference here).

And when I was little no one ever told me I was wrong to grow up rooting for (aka suffering with) both teams. Maybe it was because I was a kid, and they figured eventually I’d pick one or the other. But I still don’t see the need to choose. And it’s not because I’m a “glory hunter”, thinking that supporting two teams will double my chances of success- I mean, this is Chicago baseball we’re talking about after all, where World Series titles are less frequent than Haley’s Comet. I just think that, as a born-and-bred Chicagoan and one who loves his city, why shouldn’t I root for both of the teams that are representing it?CT 00294379E_Sox0628_23.JPG

Now, I also realize that this argument is not universal, especially as a fan of English soccer, where “derbies” between teams in the same city make the rivalry between Cubs and Sox fans look almost loving. But these are different in fundamental ways, and can actually provide contrasts that show why the Chicago baseball teams are not mutually exclusive (for simplicity, we’ll compare the Cubs and Sox to North London soccer rivals Arsenal and Tottenham).

First of all, the Cubs and Sox only play six out of their 162 games against each other (1 out of every 27 games), whereas Arsenal plays Tottenham twice in a 38 game season (1 out of 19 games- not counting the possibility that they’ll also face each other in a domestic cup competition). I’m basically the opposite of a math major, but I can tell you that the six Crosstown Classic games will not have a huge impact on the overall season. But in the Premier League, where there are no playoffs and everything is decided in the regular season, two matches can be very influential in determining a team’s fate.

More important than the different mathematical weights of games, however, is the different league structures. In the Premier League’s “single table” structure, every Tottenham match has an impact on the same standings that Arsenal are in- they’re fighting for the same spots.

With the two-league structure of MLB, though, how the Cubs are doing has zero effect on the Sox’ hopes of success, and vice versa. In fact, games against the other Chicago team mean a whole lot less than those against division rivals, or even just fellow NL or AL teams. These separate spheres mean that the success of one team does not hinder the other… unless the two play each other in the World Series again, in which case Satan will need to buy some heavy wool clothing.arsenal-london-club-badge-4900624

This is magnified even more when you add in history. Arsenal and Tottenham have been playing each other in high stakes matches- including many in the aforementioned cup tournaments- for over a hundred years (except for the years when Tottenham have been relegated to the second division). The Cubs and Sox played each other in the 1906 World Series. Interleague play started in 1997. Suffice to say, the two teams didn’t exactly play hundreds of meaningful games between each other in those 91 interceding years.

So while they’ve occupied the same town, the Sox and the Cubs might as well have been in separate universes in baseball terms- and they still compete in separate spheres today, although they both represent our fair city. Again, I’m not naive enough to think that the above argument will make all Chicagoans love both teams, but if I’ve convinced one person….

The Minnesota Timberwolves draft: Logic is Thrown out the Window

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By Peter Christian

I’ve had more than 24 hours to digest the first round point guard smorgasbord that was the Minnesota Timberwolves draft platter. All I can still say is, “Ummm, OK?” and “Now what?”

I have run so many different theories as to the logic being dished in the Timberwolves draft room by the Anti-Brain Trust headed up by first time GM David Kahn (no, I know he was technically GM in Indiana a few years back, but that was in title only, he had absolutely NO SAY in the basketball decisions with Donnie Walsh and Larry Bird calling the shots) and honestly I think that I’m being far too generous with the optimistic spin I’ve put on the eyebrow raising decisions yesterday.

Before I get too far into my spinning and destroying, I want to go on record to say thank you to Chris Wallace, Sam Presti and Geoff Petrie for passing on a player that could become the best point guard on the planet:

Thank you fellas and see you back in the lottery next season, its decisions like that that ensure you will be counting your ping pong balls in early February rather than determining how you match-up against potential play-off opponents.

ricky_rubio1

I was so happy that the Wolves were in a position to draft Ricky Rubio that I may have uttered praising words of David Kahn. For anyone that heard them, please disregard what you heard and continue believing that I am the biggest proponent of raising awareness about his arrogance and basketball ineptitude.

Only minutes later however, the other shoe dropped, kind of. When the commissioner announced that the Wolves had selected Jonny Flynn with the sixth pick (over the expected pick of Stephen Curry) I immediately started thinking of trade opportunities. As time wore on and no rumors surfaced I was briefly scared that Kahn (from here on out referred to as The Idiot) was trying to secretly shop Rubio (which I’m denying is an option at this point, but with The Idiot, anything could happen)

flynn_withball_292_090626

I kind of talked myself into a combination of Rubio and Flynn until the 18th pick was announced, at which point I just started laughing like the Joker in “Batman” (the one with Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson). It’s worth mentioning that after this pick I made the comment that I really like Sebastian Telfair as a 4th string point guard in the NBA. I think that is his ideal role in the league.

despair

Shortly thereafter I started brainstorming what The Idiot was doing. Did he mistake the 2009 NBA draft for a fantasy basketball draft? Was he really just really worried that he was going to “miss” on a point guard in one of the best point guard drafts ever, so he tried to take as many as possible to cover his ass? Was he just trying to prove a point to Timberwolves fans that in fact, it can get worse than having Kevin McHale as your team’s GM? No matter what the strategy was, it sucked. The Idiot illustrated in his first draft that he has no business making decisions to build a basketball team, because he was seemingly unaware that a) a successful team needs more than just a plethora of point guards and power forwards and b) that he can actually select players that play ANY position in the draft.

(note: I like the Wayne Ellington pick, a lot and the selection the guy named Henk is meaningless, let’s just deal with the fact that the Wolves had six picks and took a point guard with four of them).

In hindsight, I’ve come to the realization that the Wolves took Flynn as insurance for the possibility that Rubio isn’t too excited to live in Minnesota (which he isn’t) and that if they let Rubio stay in Spain for a year or two it isn’t the end of the world. Flynn can handle the point, Ellington might have a bit of an extended role as a #28 pick and the team can likely look forward to three first round picks next year (two of which should be in the top twenty).

Does that mean that I’m sold on the events that took place yesterday? Not a chance. Do I think The Idiot has a plan? Only if he just read that last paragraph.

Oh the wonders of being a Timberwolves fan.

NBA Draft Grades

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By: David Kay

Embarrased… Ashamed… Disappointed… I apologize for my poor showing with my final NBA mock draft.  After tying ESPN’s Chad Ford last year (we each picked 9 first round choices correctly), Ford OWNED me this year getting 13 right compared to my pathetic showing of six.  But like Teddy KGB in Rounders, I can admit when I have been defeated.  “He beat me.  Straight up.”

Anyway, with the craziness that was the 2009 NBA Draft in the books, it’s time to hand out some “grades.”  I say “grades” because I think it is way too early to use the regular A, B, C, D, F scale to judge a draft.  Plus, I’m all about straying from the norm.  So my grading scale is as followed:

LOVE IT
Makes Sense
Meh
Don’t Get it
REALLY???

Chicago Bulls Grades:


16. James Johnson, F, Wake Forest

The Bulls need a physical player down low. I think Blair would have been a safer pick, despite the whole “No ACL’s in his knees” rumors. Johnson needs to work on his jumper if he is gonna stick around. (Pick Grade: Makes Sense)

26. Taj Gibson, F, USC
They already took James Johnson, a physical power forward at 16, so how does Gibson fit? The Bulls needed to get a wing player in case they don’t re-sign Ben Gordon. I can’t believe Blair has fallen past the Bulls twice. (Pick Grade: Don’t Get It)

Other Draft Grades:

T’Wolves: Do you like the Ricky Rubio/Jonny Flynn combo in Minnesota?  I don’t.

Milwaukee: Brandon Jennings to the Bucks?  Meh

Detroit: Pistons draft Tayshaun Prince’s thinner, yes thinner, look-alike.

For every team’s grades, click here

Bulls Send Message to Tyrus Thomas in Draft

bullscourt1

By Paul M. Banks

Did the Chicago Bulls send a message to incumbent starting power forward Tyrus Thomas Thursday night by drafting two power forwards? By using both of their first round draft picks on prospects who play the four, the Chicago front office seems to be telling us one of two things. Either a.) Coach Vinny Del Negro, GM Gar Forman and company are unhappy with Thomas (who desperately needs to develop a post move) and are attempting to motivate him, or b.) Ty is being aggressively shopped to other GMs in the league. Maybe we’ll learn more once NBA free agency starts on July 1, when more transactions are like to start happening around the association.

But we can worry about that later, for now let’s focus on who the Bulls did pick up with the 16th and 26th overall picks.


Wake Forest, Forward, James Johnson

In college, Johnson was able to muscle weaker defenders down low while also using his ability to drive and finish. His range from deep leaves plenty of room for improvement, but he did develop a more consistent mid-range game as a sophomore. “We love his versatility he can play the four, he can play the three, he can play inside, he can play outside, at his size 6’8” 250 he can put the ball on the floor, he can rebound and put it out in transition. He’s a very big passer for a big guy,” Forman said to the media present at the Berto Center.

USC, Forward, Taj Gibson

Gibson is already 23 years old and should be able to contribute off the bench right away. He will likely make a living as a professional thanks to his rebounding and shot-blocking ability. 6’10” with a 7’2” wingspan, Gibson had the second longest reach of anyone in this draft. (Only the 7’3” Hasheem Thabeet was longer) “His wingspan was amazing, he’s long, he can block shots in the lane and he has a developing inside-outside game,” Forman said of Gibson on draft night.