NBA Playoffs: Thunder v. Spurs preview

San Antonio Spurs v. Oklahoma City Thunder

This should be one of the most highly anticipated series since the Los Angeles Lakers v. Boston Celtics NBA Finals in 2010. Rarely do we get an extremely intriguing Conference Finals. We will get both on Sunday when the Oklahoma City Thunder visit the San Antonio Spurs in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals. There is so much to look forward to in this series, so let’s get it started.

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How Good Are The Spurs? One of the Best Teams, ever?

Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker

When you see what destruction the San Antonio Spurs have done this season, and so far in the playoffs, it’s not crazy to admit that this team is very good. Actually, they are great. Gregg Popovich has managed a roster filled with veterans and youth. They have depth, experience, talent, and leadership. So just how great is this team?

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The 2012 NBA MVP is . . .

LeBron James and Kevin Durant

The NBA MVP debate has heated up, then cooled down. Then it heated up again, and then it cooled down, again. It seems that the MVP has come down to two players: Miami Heat forward LeBron James and Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant.

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Tyler Hansbrough Becoming Go-To Guy for Indiana Pacers?

Some guys really do play with chips on their shoulders.

That seems to be the case with Indiana Pacers forward Tyler Hansbrough, who arguably has been the team’s most reliable player in terms of production during a recent 1-8 skid that left Indiana hanging on for dear life in eighth place in the Eastern Conference.

Hansbrough’s current season averages of 10.5 points per game and 4.9 rebounds per game certainly aren’t indicative of how the former North Carolina standout has played recently. He recorded back-to-back career-high scoring nights in a home-and-home sweep of the New York Knicks, posting 29 points Sunday at Madison Square Garden and one-upping that tally with the first 30-point game of his pro career Tuesday at Conseco Fieldhouse.

Surprised? Those who follow the Pacers regularly shouldn’t be.

By Drew Allen

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The Big East’s Battle Tested NBA Prospects

bigeast

By Paul M. Banks and David Kay

During the 2008-2009 season, the Big East set itself apart from any other conference in the history college basketball.  It became the first conference in NCAA Tournament history to not only send five teams to the Sweet Sixteen, but also advance four schools to the Elite 8.  At one time, eight Big East teams were ranked in the AP Top 25, the first time a conference had ever accomplished such a feat. In the first week of January, the conference topped their own mark, as nine teams were voted into the Top 25.

With that sort of resume, it should come as no surprise that the Big East will hear a record number of player names called during this year’s NBA Draft.  While only four players from the conference were drafted last year and just six selected in the 2007 Draft, our most recent mock draft has 12 players being drafted. (The previous high was 11 in 2006; ten of which being among the top 33.)  That number could be even higher if underclassmen Luke Harangody of Notre Dame or Villanova’s Scottie Reynolds stay in the draft, but both are expected to return to their respective schools for their senior seasons as they have left that option open by not signing an agent. “We talk off and on. He’s doing his thing, I’m doing my thing. We communicate a little bit, but it’s kind of shaky what he’s feeling,” Villanova’s Dante Cunningham said of his former teammate at the NBA Draft Combine.notre_dame20harangody20beasley

Having played in undoubtedly the toughest conference in the nation should greatly benefit these future NBA’ers at the next level as they will enter the league battle-tested.  Former UConn point guard A.J. Price summed it up best during our exclusive chat at the combine, “Running through the Big East Conference is like you said, kind of like a mini D-League because there were no easy games, a lot of guys who played in that league will be pros if not this year, then eventually, and it prepared me for this time and I’m glad we got a chance to do that,” Price said.

 
Louisville: Clark Bar and T. Will

Louisville, the Big East regular season and conference tournament champions, was one of the two Big East teams to advance to the Final Four.  The Cardinals punched their ticket to Detroit mainly because of their tandem of versatile forwards, Earl Clark and Terrence Williams.  Clark played some of his best basketball down the stretch and shouldn’t fall out of the lottery while Williams will likely be a mid-to-late first rounder.

Williams was very candid at the combine about the big picture of the NBA Draft. “Some others don’t really work out because they feel they’re already secure in a certain spot, and that’s surprises me because you’d think that people who love basketball would play regardless. Other than it’s just everybody going for a job and at the end of the day it’s just business,” Williams said. 

 
Pittsburgh’s Dynamic Duo

Pitt’s DeJuan Blair is an intriguing prospect.  He only measured in at 6-6.5 in shoes which is far from the ideal size for an NBA power forward.  But his physicality and 7’2” wingspan will help wipe away any doubt teams have about his future productivity in the NBA.  Blair is pretty confident: “I don’t think there was a better offensive rebounder by far in this class at all. There’s something about that ball, I go get it,” he said at the combine. A dominating 22 point, 23 rebound beat-down of UConn’s Hasheem Thabeet during the regular season doesn’t hurt either.

NBA Draft aficionados are buzzing about Blair astonishing weight loss (40 pounds in three weeks) during his workouts. At the NBA Draft combine, Blair had a sense of humor about it. “I told my mom that this morning she said did you cut off your leg off? She couldn’t believe it and that was pretty exciting,” Get ready for the next best-selling book: “The DeJuan Blair Diet.”  

Besides being the object of obsession by ESPN analyst Bob Knight because of his outstanding shot fake, fellow Panther Sam Young should be taken in the last first *Nov 21 - 00:05*round and have a solid pro career due to his savvy basketball knowledge and multi-faceted offensive game. “A lot of people don’t think I can play the two, but I think when it’s all said and done I’m going to be a two,” Young said.

 
In like Flynn

Syracuse point guard Jonny Flynn churned out one of the gutsiest performances in conference tournament history this March, when he played 67 of the 70 minutes in the six-overtime classic against UConn and following that up by being on the floor for all 45 minutes of the Orange’s OT victory against West Virginia the very next night.  He is the perfect combination of a true point guard who can score in a variety of ways when needed to.  He currently projects as a mid-lottery pick and should make an immediate impact at the NBA. 

Flynn described his game: “I think I have some characteristics of Chris Paul. His tenacity, he’s hard as nails, fiery, fires his teammates up, he really knows how to get his teammates in position to where they can score, where they don’t have to do much to score. Look at David West and Tyson Chandler; where would they be without Chris Paul?”

NBA Draft Early Entrants

By David K.

The NBA released the official early entries for this year’s NBA Draft which will be held on June 25th (coincidentally enough, that is my birthday.  It’s only fitting.)  The college players who have declared but not signed an agent, thus keeping their eligibility open in case they decide to return to school, have until June 15th to make the decision to stay in the draft or pull their name off this list.  The NCAA recently moved that date to May 8th for next year with the intention of not hand-cuffing college coaches who are waiting on a player to make a decision while figuring out what to potentially do with that scholarship that would open.

EARLY ENTRY CANDIDATES FOR 2009 NBA DRAFT

*Darion Anderson-Northern Illinois, 6-2, Sophomore
*Ryan Anderson-Nebraska , 6-4, Junior
*Dominique Archie-South Carolina, 6-7,  Junior
DeJuan Blair-Pittsburgh, 6-7, Sophomore
*Derrick Brown-Xavier, 6-8, Junior
Chase Budinger-Arizona, 6-7, Junior
*Nick Calathes-Florida, 6-6, Sophomore
Earl Clark-Louisville, 6-9, Junior
*Dwayne Collins-Miami, 6-8, Junior
*Kareem Cooper-Texas-El Paso, 7-0, Junior
*Kenneth Cooper-Louisiana Tech, 6-10, Junior
*Brandon Costner-North Carolina State, 6-9, Junior
Stephen Curry-Davidson, 6-1, Junior
*Bryan Davis-Texas A&M, 6-9, Junior
*Austin Daye-Gonzaga, 6-10, Sophomore
DeMar DeRozan-Southern California, 6-7, Freshman
Eric Devendorf-Syracuse, 6-4, Junior
*Devan Downey-South Carolina, 5-9, Junior
*Osiris Eldridge-Illinois State, 6-3, Junior
Wayne Ellington-North Carolina, 6-4, Junior
*Chinemelu Elonu-Texas A&M, 6-10, Junior
*Tyreke Evans-Memphis, 6-6, Freshman
Gary Flowers-Chipola JC (FL), 6-8, Sophomore
Jonny Flynn-Syracuse, 6-0, Sophomore
*Jonathan Gibson-New Mexico State, 6-2, Junior
*Kyle Gibson-Louisiana Tech, 6-5, Junior
*Taj Gibson-Southern California, 6-9, Junior
Blake Griffin-Oklahoma, 6-10, Sophomore
D’mond Grismore-Huston-Tillotson (TX), 6-6, Junior
*Rogér Guignard-Texas-Arlington, 5-11, Junior
Daniel Hackett-Southern California, 6-5, Junior
*Luke Harangody-Notre Dame, 6-8, Junior
James Harden-Arizona State, 6-4, Sophomore
Kevin Harris-Northwest Mississippi CC, 5-11, Sophomore
*Paul Harris-Syracuse, 6-5, Junior
*Gerald Henderson-Duke, 6-5, Junior
Jordan Hill-Arizona, 6-9, Junior
*Jrue Holiday-UCLA, 6-4, Freshman
*Damion James-Texas, 6-7, Junior
James Johnson-Wake Forest, 6-9, Sophomore
*Mac Koshwal-DePaul, 6-10, Sophomore
*Gani Lawal-Georgia Tech, 6-9, Sophomore
Ty Lawson-North Carolina, 5-11, Junior
*James Lewis-Fresno Pacific, 6-4, Junior
*Darnell Lindsay-Tennessee Tech, 6-4, Junior
*Dior Lowhorn-San Francisco, 6-7, Junior
*Ater Majok-Connecticut, 6-10, Freshman
*Jodie Meeks-Kentucky, 6-4, Junior
Nate Miles-Southern Idaho, 6-7, Freshman
*Patrick Mills-St. Mary’s, 6-0, Sophomore
*Tasmin Mitchell-LSU, 6-7, Junior
B.J. Mullens-Ohio State, 7-0, Freshman
Ronald Ogoke-Paul Quinn College (TX), 7-0, Junior
*Patrick Patterson-Kentucky, 6-9, Sophomore
*Scottie Reynolds-Villanova, 6-2, Junior
*D.J. Rivera-Binghamton, 6-4, Junior
*Terrence Roderick-Alabama-Birmingham, 6-6, Sophomore
*Magnum Rolle-Louisiana Tech, 6-1, Junior
*Junior Salters-Wofford, 6-1, Junior
*Donald Sloan-Texas A&M, 6-3, Junior
*Tyler Smith-Tennessee, 6-7, Junior
DaJuan Summers-Georgetown, 6-8, Junior
*Shawn Taggart-Memphis, 6-10, Junior
*Jonathan Tavernari-BYU, 6-6, Junior
*Jeff Teague-Wake Forest, 6-2, Sophomore
Hasheem Thabeet-Connecticut, 7-3, Junior
Malcolm Thomas-San Diego City College, 6-9, Sophomore
Dar Tucker-DePaul, 6-5, Sophomore
*Jarvis Varnado-Mississippi State , 6-9, Junior
*Greivis Vasquez-Maryland, 6-6, Junior
Martez Walker-Riverside CC (CA), 6-6, Freshman
*Michael Washington-Arkansas, 6-9, Junior
*Jeremy Wise-Southern Mississippi, 6-2, Junior
*Nic Wise-Arizona, 5-10, Junior

*has not hired an agent to preserve eligibility if they choose to return to college.

International players who have applied for early entry into the 2009 NBA Draft:

Amadou Aboubakar Zaki-Nancy (France), 7-1, 1988
Rodrigue Beaubois-Cholet (France), 6-0, 1988
Nemanja Bjelica-Crvena Zvezda (Serbia), 6-10, 1988
Georgios Bogris-Ilysiakos (Greece), 6-10, 1989
Omri Casspi-Maccabi Elite (Israel), 6-9, 1988
Victor Claver-Pamesa Valencia (Spain), 6-9, 1988
Vladimir Dasic-Buducnost (Montenegro), 6-10, 1988
Christian Eyenga-DKV Joventut (Spain), 6-5, 1989
Vitor Faverani-Unicaja Malaga (Spain), 6-10, 1988
Sergey Gladyr-Mykolaiv (Ukraine), 6-5, 1989
Adam Hanga-Albacomp (Hungary), 6-7, 1989
Bari? Hersek-Efes Pilsen (Turkey), 6-9, 1988
Rudy Jomby-Le Havre (France), 6-6, 1988
Tanel Kurbas-Kalev/Cramo (Estonia), 6-6, 1988
Milan Macvan-Hemofarm (Serbia), 6-9, 1989
Boban Marjanovic-Hemofarm (Serbia), 7-4, 1988
Tim Ohlbrecht-Bamberg (Germany), 6-1, 1988
Carl Ona Embo-Biella (Italy), 6-1, 1989
Nikolaos Pappas-Real Madrid II (Spain), 6-5, 1990
Anton Ponomarev-Astana Tigers (Kazakhstan), 6-10, 1988
Paulo Prestes-Unicaja Malaga (Spain), 6-11, 1988
Miroslav Raduljica-FMP Zeleznik (Serbia), 7-0, 1988
Fernando Raposo-Pau Orthez (France), 6-9, 1989
Ricky Rubio-DKV Joventut (Spain), 6-4, 1990
Evangelos Sakellariou-Pagrati (Greece), 6-5, 1989
Alexandros Sigkounas-Olimpia Larissa (Greece), 6-7, 1988
Ludovic Vaty-Pau Orthez (France), 6-9, 1988
Ibrahim Yildirim-Banvit (Turkey), 6-3, 1990
Artem Zabelin-CSKA Moscow (Russia), 7-1, 1988

*Country indicates where team plays, not country of nationality.

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2009 NBA Mock Draft

By: David K.

This is my second mock draft that has taken team needs into account.  Now that the NBA regular season is done, the preliminary order is set until the draft lottery takes place on May 19th.  The deadline has also passed for college underclassmen to announce if they are declaring for the draft or returning to school.  Those underclassmen that have yet to hire an agent have until June 15th to do so.  Remember, I got as many picks correct last year as ESPN’s “expert” Chad Ford and watched 274 college basketball games this season, so I feel pretty good about my projections.

1. Sacramento- Ricky Rubio, PG, Spain, 6-4, 1990
If the Kings land the top pick, it’s a gutsy call, but I think Rubio is their guy.  Sacramento has a few young bigs, but has a major need for a long-term franchise player and a point guard, both roles that Rubio can fill.  Plus, I think Rubio is the “sexier” pick and the Maloof brothers are all about “sexy.”
Think: Steve Nash

2. Washington – Blake Griffin, PF, Oklahoma, 6-9, So.
Griffin has proven to be the most dominant player in college basketball and will likely be the number one pick if any team but the Kings are selecting first.  While he doesn’t fill a need for the Wizards, he is too good to pass up with the second pick.
Think: Amare Stoudamire

3. L.A. Clippers- Hasheem Thabeet, C, UConn, 7-3, Jr.
The Clips already have Marcus Camby and Chris Kaman up-front, but Camby is a free agent after next season.  Thabeet is the third best prospect in this class and absolutely owns the paint on the defensive end.  Not being needed to contribute major minutes in his first season might actually be a good thing since his offensive game still needs to improve.
Think: Ben Wallace, but six inches taller

4. Oklahoma City- James Harden, SG, Arizona State, 6-5, So.
OKC would likely take a long look at Jordan Hill as well, but Harden fills a major void for a shooting guard.  He has the ability to take over a game whenever he wants, although he also tends to be too unselfish at times as well.  Harden would be a nice running mate for Kevin Durant.
Think: Paul Pierce

5. Minnesota- Tyreke Evans, G, Memphis, 6-6, Fr.
I love Evans and think he would be the perfect fit for the T-Wolves who need a player that can attack the basket which is Evans’ strength.  He can also play some point guard, a position that Randy Foye has never really taken over since arriving in Minnesota.  The knock on Evans is his inconsistent outside shot, but that improves with time.
Think: Manu Ginobli

6. Memphis – Jordan Hill, PF, Arizona, 6-10, So.
The Griz would be ecstatic if Hill fell to them.  With young perimeter players like Mike Conley, O.J. Mayo, and Rudy Gay, Memphis needs someone to play down low.  Hill has great athleticism which would be perfect for a young team that wants to run.  He also has nice touch around the basket, but will need to get stronger
Think: LaMarcus Aldridge

7. Golden State- Brandon Jennings, PG, Italy, 6-0, 1989
Jennings is one of the most intriguing prospects in this draft because he did not have great success playing overseas this year, but is loaded with potential.  He would be a perfect fit for a team needing a true point guard who can get other players involved, but also score when called upon.
Think: Kenny Anderson

8. New York- Demar DeRozan, SG, USC, 6-6, Fr.
With Larry Hughes, Cuttino Mobley, and Quentin Richardson all one year away from free agency, the Knicks need to find a long-term solution at the two-guard.  DeRozan is an incredible athlete and really came along strong during the final month of the season, though his three-point shot still needs work.
Think: Vince Carter

9. Toronto- Gerald Henderson, SG, Duke, 6-4, Jr.
The Raptors have a major hole for a wing player who can take it to the rack.  Henderson took a major step during his junior season and will likely continue to improve at the next level.  He is that athletic scorer needed in Toronto and can also stroke it from deep.
Think: J.R. Smith

10. Milwaukee- Jonny Flynn, PG, Syracuse, 6-0, So.
Flynn seems like a player who Scott Skiles would love to coach.  He is tough, plays with a lot of heart, and just gets it.  He understands how to run the point, when to be a distributor, when his team needs him to be a scorer.  Since Luke Ridnour is not the answer and Ramon Sessions is a free agent, Flynn is the choice.
Think: Raymond Felton

11. New Jersey- Earl Clark, SF, Louisville, 6-8, Jr.
This would be somewhat of a steal for the Nets at 11.  Clark has the potential to be a point forward-type player in the NBA, is a freak of an athlete, and has nice range on his jumper.  He would be a great fit in New Jersey as they need some help on the wing.
Think: Lamar Odom


12. Charlotte- Wayne Ellington, SG, UNC, 6-5, Jr.

Playing for the National Champion Tar Heels certainly elevated Ellington’s stock.  The Bobcats could use some depth on the wing and Ellington would provide that.  He has one of the smoothest shooting strokes in college hoops and can also take it to the rack.
Think: Richard Hamilton

13. Indiana- Stephen Curry, G, Davidson, 6-3, Jr.
Is he a one or a two?  Despite being the most talented pure shooter in college basketball and having limitless range from the outside, the fact that Dell’s son is a “tweener” could deter teams from taking him.  Plus, he is rail thin.  He likely won’t fall out of the lottery and the Pacers could use a sharpshooter to bring off their bench.
Think: Jason Terry

14. Phoenix- Ty Lawson, PG, UNC, 5-11, Jr.
Steve Nash is getting up their in age and if the Suns pick up his option for next season, would become a free agent in 2010.  Like Ellington, Lawson’s stock soared during UNC’s title run.  He was probably the best floor general in college hoops and has greatly improved his three-point shot.
Think: Jameer Nelson

15. Detroit- Jeff Teague, PG, Wake Forest, 6-1, So.
I think it’s safe to say the Allen Iverson deal backfired.  AI and Rasheed Wallace are both free agents so the Pistons could go in either direction with this pick.  Teague is a scoring point guard who shot the ball at a very high percentage last season.
Think: Keyon Dooling

16. Chicago- DeJuan Blair, PF, Pitt, 6-7, So
It has been pretty clear against the Celtics, that the Bulls lack that low post bruiser.  Enter Blair.  At 6-7, he is undersized to play power forward, but he is just so strong and long which makes him a force on the block and board.  It is uncertain how that will translate to the pro game, as Blair will need to work on his mid-range jumper to be effective at the next level.  A shooting guard could also be an option in case Ben Gordon leaves via free agency.
Think: Craig Smith

17. Philadelphia- Eric Maynor, PG, VCU, 6-3, Sr.
With Andre Miller eligible for free agency, the Sixers likely draft a point guard..  Maynor is a playmaker on the offensive end, a true floor general, and has good size to play the point in the NBA.  He must continue to become a more consistent shooter.
Think: Antonio Daniels

18. #Minnesota- Terrence Williams, SF, Louisville, 6-6, Sr.
With the second of their three first round picks, I still think the T-Wolves need to address their need for athletes on the wing.  Williams is the definition of versatile.  He attacks the hoop, is a very improved shooter, can rebound, is a great passer, and plays defense.  I think he is a steal of a mid-first round pick.
Think: Gerald Wallace.

19. Atlanta- James Johnson, F, Wake Forest, 6-9, So.
With only seven players under contract for next season, the Hawks need depth at every position and probably take the best available player.  One major NBA Draft web-site has Johnson listed as the tenth best prospect in this draft, which is a bit ridiculous in my mind.  The former Demon Deacon is an athletic forward who can play the three or four, and while his frame is ready for the rigor of the NBA, his shot is not.
Think: Wilson Chandler

20. Utah- B.J. Mullens, C, Ohio State, 7-0, Fr.
I am still surprised Mullens decided to go pro as he would have been better served returning to the Buckeyes and developing his game.  But based on his athleticism, size, and potential, he is definitely worth a mid-first round pick  The Jazz likely go for a post player since Carlos Boozer and Mehmet Okur could both opt out of their contracts this off-season.
Think: Spencer Hawes

21. New Orleans- Patrick Patterson, PF, Kentucky, 6-9, So.
The Hornets need to add some depth up-front as Hilton Armstrong is their only reserve post player under contract for next season.  Patterson has a nice combination of size, strength, and athleticism, and decent range on his jumper.
Think: Kenyon Martin

22. Dallas- Gani Lawal, F, Georgia Tech, 6-8, So.
The Mavs have two important players entering free agency, Jason Kidd and Brandon Bass, so drafting a replacement for either makes sense.  Lawal is a slightly under-sized power forward who has a nice low-post game.  He is a solid rebounder, decent shot blocker, but doesn’t have much of a perimeter game.
Think: Brandon Bass

23. &Sacramento- Chase Budinger, G/F, Arizona, 6-7, Jr.
Assuming the Kings take Rubio at #1, they should look for a wing player here. Budinger’s strength is his versatility.  He can jump out of the gym, hit the three ball, and has a nice inside-outside game, but his tendency to disappear during stretches is a major knock.
Think: Stephen Jackson

24. Portland- Victor Claver, F, Spain, 6-11, 1989
The Blazers roster is pretty much set for next season, so the logical move would be to trade out of this pick or draft another Euro player and stash him overseas.  Claver is a typical Euro-style player in that he is long, has a good all-around skill set, but needs to get stronger.
Think: Donte Greene

25. +Oklahoma City- Tyler Hansbrough, PF, UNC, 6-9, Sr.
Despite being one of the most decorated in recent college basketball history, a lot of people are questioning how his game will translate into the NBA.  I don’t see him being anything more than an energy guy off the bench at the next level, but could bring his work ethic and winning mentality to OKC.
Think: Eduardo Najera

26. %Chicago- Sam Young, G/F, Pitt, 6-6, Sr.
Since I have the Bulls going big at #16, they likely take a wing player in case Gordon does bolt this off-season.  Young can elevate, hit it from deep, has a tremendous basketball IQ, can take bigger defenders off the dribble and post up smaller guys.  His lack of NBA-type athleticism drops him to this spot.
Think: Michael Finley

27. $Memphis- Patty Mills, PG, St. Mary’s, 5-11, So.
The Griz are likely to address their need for a back-up point guard with this pick.  Mills can create his own shot, excels in transition, and is lightning quick off the dribble.  He had a very successful Olympics last summer playing for Australia and caught the eyes of a lot of NBA scouts.
Think: Ramon Sessions

28. ^Minnesota- Damion James, SF, Texas, 6-8, Jr.
I doubt the T-Wolves actually keep all three of their picks, but James would be a good value here.  A sub par season hurt his stock as he was once a projected lottery pick.  He was one of the most aggressive offensive rebounders in college basketball, has an NBA-ready build, and a nice shot from the perimeter.
Think: Maurice Evans

29. L.A. Lakers- Tyler Smith, SF, Tennessee, 6-7, Jr.
Smith would provide some insurance if Lamar Odom leaves via free agency.  The former Vol is fearless when attacking the hoop and thrives on the break.  He is not a great outside shooter, but his rebounding and passing abilities help his stock.
Think: Thabo Sefolosha

30. Cleveland- Marcus Thornton, SG, LSU, 6-4, Sr.

Thornton is a little undersized to play the two in the NBA, but there is no question the kid can flat-out shoot the rock, and what he lacks in size, he makes up for in strength.  I think he would be a great late first round pick especially for the Cavs who would just need him to compliment LeBron for a few stretches a game.
Think: Daequan Cook

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Second Round
31. Sacramento- Vladimir Dasic, SF, Montenegro, 1988
32. Portland- Taj Gibson, PF, USC, 6-9, Jr.
33. Washington- Darren Collison, PG, UCLA, 6-2, Sr.
34. Denver- .Jermaine Taylor, SG, UCF, 6-4, Sr.
35. Memphis- DaJuan Summers, SF, Georgetown, 6-8, Jr.
36. Detroit- Jeff Pendergraph, PF, Arizona State, 6-10, Sr.
37. San Antonio- Omri Casspi, SF, Isreal, 6-8, 1988
38. Portland- Milan Macvan, PF, Serbia, 6-9, 1989
39. Detroit- Greivis Vasquez, SG, Maryland, 6-5, Jr.
40. Charlotte- Danny Green, SF, UNC, 6-7, Sr.
41. Milwaukee- Josh Heytvelt, PF, Gonzaga, 6-11, Sr.
42. L.A. Lakers- Jerel McNeal, G, Marquette, 6-3, Sr.
43. Miami- Chris Johnson, PF, LSU, 6-11, Sr.
44. Detroit- Lee Cummard, G/F, BYU, 6-7, Sr.
45. Minnesota- A.J. Price, PG, UConn, 6-2, Sr
46. Cleveland- Dante Cunningham, F, Villanova, 6-8, Sr.
47. Minnesota- Jonas Jerebko, PF, Sweden, 6-9, 1989
48. Phoenix- Demarre Carroll, F, Missouri, 6-8, Sr.
49. Atlanta- Dionte Christmas, SG, Temple, 6-5, Sr.
50. Utah- Jeff Adrien, PF, UConn, 6-7, Sr.
51. San Antonio- Wesley Matthews, SG, Marquette, 6-5, Sr.
52. Indiana- Leo Lyons, F, Missouri, 6-9, Sr.
53. San Antonio- Jon Brockman, PF, Washington, 6-7, Sr.
54. Charlotte- Curtis Jerrells, PG, Baylor, 6-1, Sr.
55. Portland- Dar Tucker, SG, DePaul, 6-5, So.
56. Portland- Nando de Colo, G, 6-5, France 1987
57. Phoenix- Toney Douglas, PG, Florida State, 6-2
58. Boston- Robert Vaden, SG, UAB, 6-5, Sr.
59. L.A. Lakers- Sergio Llull, PG, Spain, 6-5, 1988
60. Miami- Jack McClinton, PG, Miami (FL), 6-1, Sr.

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Declared for the Draft:
>Dominique Archie, SF, South Carolina, 6-7, Jr.
DeJuan Blair, PF, Pitt, 6-7, So.
>Derrick Brown, F, Xavier, 6-9, Jr.
Chase Budinger, G/F, Arizona, 6-7, Jr.
>Nick Calathes, G, Florida, 6-6, So.
Earl Clark, F, Louisville, 6-8, Jr.
>Dwayne Collins, PF, Miami, 6-8, Jr.
>Brandon Costner, PF, N.C. State, 6-9, Jr.
Stephen Curry, G, Davidson, 6-2, Jr.
>Bryan Davis, PF, Texas A&M, 6-9, Jr.
>Austin Daye, F, Gonzaga, 6-0, So.
Demar DeRozan, SG, USC, 6-6, Fr.
>Eric Devendorf, G, Syracuse, 6-4, Jr.
>Devin Downey, PG, South Carolina, 5-9, Jr
>Osiris Eldridge, SG, Illinois State, 6-3, Jr.
Wayne Ellington, SG, North Carolina, 6-5, Jr.
>Chinemelu Elonu, F/C. Texas A&M, 6-10, Jr.
>Tyreke Evans, G, Memphis, 6-6, Fr.
>Roderick Flemings, SF, Hawaii, 6-7, Jr.
Jonny Flynn, PG, Syracuse, 6-0, So.
Taj Gibson, PF, USC, 6-9, Jr.
Blake Griffin, PF, Oklahoma, 6-10, So.
Daniel Hackett, PG, USC, 6-4, Jr.
>Luke Harangody, PF, Notre Dame, 6-8, Jr.
James Harden, SG, Arizona State, 6-5, So.
>Paul Harris, G/F. Syracuse, 6-5, Jr.
>Gerald Henderson, SG, Duke, 6-4, Jr.
Jordan Hill, PF, Arizona, 6-10, Jr.
>Jrue Holliday, G, UCLA, 6-4, Fr
>Damion James, SF, Texas, 6-8, Jr.
Brandon Jennings, PG, Italy, 6-0, 1989
James Johnson, F, Wake Forest, 6-9, So.
>Mac Koshwal, C, DePaul, 6-10, So.
>Gani Lawal, F, Georgia Tech, 6-8, So.
Ty Lawson, PG, North Carolina, 5-11, Jr.
>Ater Majok, PF, UConn, 6-10, Fr.
>Jodie Meeks, SG, Kentucky, 6-4, Jr
>Patty Mills, PG, St. Mary’s, 5-11, So.
>Tasmin Mitchell, SF, LSU, 6-7, Jr.
B.J. Mullens, C, Ohio State, 7-0, Fr.
>Patrick Patterson, PF, Kentucky, 6-9, So.
>Scottie Reynolds, PG, Villanova, 6-2, Jr.
Ricky Rubio, PG, Spain, 6-4, 1990
>David Sloan, G, Texas A&M, 6-3, Jr.
>Tyler Smith, SF, Tennessee, 6-7, Jr.
DaJuan Summers, SF, Georgetown, 6-8, Jr.
>Shawn Taggart, PF, Memphis, 6-10, Jr.
>Jonathan Tavernari, G/F, BYU, 6-6, Jr.
>Jeff Teague, PG, Wake Forest, 6-1, So.
Hasheem Thabeet, C, UConn, 7-3, Jr.
Dar Tucker, SG, DePaul, 6-5, So.
>Jarvis Varnado, PF, Mississippi State, 6-9, Jr.
>Greivis Vasquez, SG, Maryland, 6-5, Jr.
>Michael Washington, PF, Arkansas, 6-9, Jr.
>Jeremy Wise, PG, Southern Miss., 6-2, Jr.
>Nic Wise, PG, Arizona, 5-10, Jr.

>has yet to hire an agent

Staying in School:
Cole Aldrich, C, Kansas, 6-11, So.
Al-Farouq Aminu, SF, Wake Forest, 6-9, Fr.
James Anderson, SG, Oklahoma St., 6-6, So.
Trevor Booker, PF, Clemson, 6-7, Jr.
Craig Brackins, PF, Iowa State, 6-10, So.
Patrick Christopher, SG, Cal, 6-5, Jr.
Sherron Collins, PG, Kansas, 5-11, Jr.
Ed Davis, PF, North Carolina, 6-10, Fr.
Devin Ebanks, F, West Virginia, 6-9, Fr.
Manny Harris, SG, Michigan, 6-5, So.
JaJuan Johnson, PF, Purdue, 6-10, So.
Jerome Jordan, C, Tulsa, 7-0, Jr.
Greg Monroe, PF, Georgetown, 6-10, Fr.
Dexter Pittman, C, Texas, 6-10, Jr.
Stanley Robinson, SF, UConn, 6-8, Jr.
DeShawn Sims, SF, Michigan, 6-8, Jr.
Kyle Singler, F, Duke, 6-8, So.
Evan Turner, SF, Ohio State, So.
Willie Warren, G, Oklahoma, 6-4, Fr.

#Minnesota gets Miami’s ’09 1st round pick (top ten protected) via Ricky Davis trade
&Kings get Houston ’09 1st round pick via Ron Artest trade
+Thunder gets Spurs’ ’09 1st round pick (lottery preotected) via Kurt Thomas trade
%Bulls get lower of Thunder’s ’09 1st round pick (from either SA or Den) via Thabo Sefolosha trade
$Memphis gets Orlando ’09 1st round pick via Rafer Alston trade
^Minnesota gets Boston’s ’09 1st round pick (top 3 protected) via Kevin Garnett trade

Footlocker.com

East Regional Bracket Breakdown

By: David K.

Overview: What stands out most about this regional, is the massive home-court advantage for (2) Duke and (3) Villanova.  You pretty much write in each team into the Sweet 16 since the Dukies play in North Carolina and Nova is in their home city of Philadelphia.  With Pittsburgh being the one seed, this is a fairly top heavy bracket.

Elite Eight Prediction: (1) Pitt beats (3) Villanova

Yes, my second all Big East Elite 8 match-up.  I have Pitt winning the entire tournament and have been on that bandwagon for the past few weeks.  The only thing that will stop them is if DeJuan Blair gets into foul trouble.  Pitt is 0-4 when Blair fouls out of a game.  Fortunately for them, there really aren’t a lot of big guys who will get in his way in this bracket.  Villanova has the best guard play in the country with Scottie Reynolds and the Corey’s (Fisher and Stokes.)  They go eight deep and their Sweet 16 match-up with Duke should be an absolute shoot-out.

Sleeper: (9) Tennessee

I like this Tennessee team, and not just because of Wayne Chism’s headband.  When their offense is clicking, they can put up points with any team in the country.  They tend to play out of control too often, but have the athletes and quickness to possibly upset Pitt in the second round.

Early Exit: (6) UCLA

The Bruins run of three straight trips to the Final Four will come to an end this year.  UCLA has a tough first round match-up against VCU who has experience in knocking off a major program two years when they upset Duke in the first round.  VCU’s point guard is Eric Maynor who will be a mid-first round pick and led VCU in that upset of Duke.  Even if UCLA escapes out of the first round, they get Villanova in their home city.  I am guessing there will not be a lot of Bruin backers making the long trip from Cali to Philly.

Most Intriguing First Round Match-Up: (7) Texas vs. (10) Minnesota

The Longhorns were a team I was very high on early in the season.  But A.J. Abrams has not been able to find his shooting touch and it has really hurt the Horns.  Minnesota surprised a lot of teams when they started the season 16-1.  But the Gophs finished the year 6-9 and were lucky to land a spot in the Big Dance.  Minnesota is at their best when their defense is suffocating and they are very deliberate on the offensive end (aka typical boring Big Ten ball.)  I think Texas wins if Abrams is able to find his stroke early