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UPDATED: 2014 NBA Mock Draft


By
Updated: February 20, 2014
This post was originally published on Houndsports.com

wiggins 1

HoundSports 2014 NBA Mock Draft

Check Out Picks 16-30 with our 2014 NBA Mock Draft Part 2

Updated 2.18.2014

2014 NBA Draft Fact or Fiction:

The 2014 NBA Draft is a draft worth tanking for because it is loaded with franchise saving players?” Fiction.

The 2014 NBA Draft is indeed a very deep draft, just no clear-cut superstars.” Fact

               This is a good draft, don’t mistake skepticism for negativity, there are many awesome players that I would be thrilled to add to my favorite NBA club. However, it is appearing less-likely that there are obvious franchise-saving superstars in the 2014 NBA Draft.

There are two kinds of superstars though. There are the kind of players who were always going to be a superstar regardless of the team they were drafted to. Kevin Love is a fine example of a guy who was always going to be a superstar. He was drafted to a bad team, with a coach who couldn’t recognize his talent and possibly even stunted his development as a player, but Love prevailed and has turned into one of the 10 or so best players in the NBA.

On the other hand you have Paul George. He was kind of a dicey pick, an inconsistent player who drifted through most of his two seasons at the smaller Fresno State, but he went to the perfect team. The Pacers put George on a strong program and brought him along at the appropriate pace and Paul George himself deserves a lot of credit for working at his game to get to that point.

I am confident there are no Kevin Love’s in this draft. There is not a single player who isn’t going to be situation-dependent on developing his talents. However, I do think there could be a lot more guys in the Paul George style of “how to get a star” then is let on. From Embiid and Parker at the top of the draft to Jordan Adams, James Young, Noah Vonleh and others…there is a lot of talent, but it’s not a guarantee.

I’ll note this later, but James Young is a guy I think is the perfect example of how cruel the NBA Draft can be. If I wasn’t confident in my team’s culture, I would be terrified of drafting him but if I was a stable organization with a good foundation of leadership there is a chance Young could be a very good scorer on the perimeter as he certainly has the raw athletic ability to do so.

The NBA Draft is a good reality check for where your organization is at. Draft productive players early, take fliers later. The 2014 NBA Draft will be one that has a positive impact on a number of teams, but as always there will be trap picks to steer clear of.

 

1)    Joel Embiid—7’0, 250 Freshman Center, Kansas:

embiid

 

2/18: The word is out on Joel Embiid. He’s no longer that “sneaky guy who might be the best player in the draft but could go 3-5 instead of 1,” but now it seems he almost stands on an island by himself as the clear-cut best prospect in the draft. That doesn’t mean he will automatically be the best player, but he’s on the fast-track towards stardom.

1/3: I’m going to call it right now: Joel Embiid will be an All-Star center as long as he can fix one issue in his game. He needs to stop fouling. Of all the amazing thing Joel Embiid does his 6.5 fouls per40 minutes are holding him back from truly putting together one of the best season by a center in recent college basketball history.

While his foul situation limits him to only 21 minutes per game, Embiid is still capable of making a huge impact on the court in his time. Want to know a funny stat? Andrew Wiggins, who I like and still think he’s got a shot at being pretty special in the NBA, is averaging 1.4 assists per game in 31 mpg, while Embiid is averaging 1.3 apg.

NBA Comp: Marc Gasol

Still like the Marc Gasol call for Embiid. Not too many big men that can move, pass, defend, shoot and do all the crazy things Embiid can do, but Gasol is one of them. Embiid has the attitude and work ethic of a winner and I can’t wait to see what he does in the NBA.

 

2)    Jabari Parker—6’9, 225 Freshman Forward, Duke:

parker

2/18: Guys who can score with volume, do it with efficiency and contribute in other areas of the game are very rare. We get 10-20 players a decade that have the potential ceiling Parker has.

He’s got a chance to average more than 1.5 steals and 1.5 blocks per game to go along with his tremendous scoring and rebounding ability. I am continually amazed at Parker’s well rounded game and he still has made a very compelling case for the first pick in the draft. Ultimately it might come down to fit between Embiid and Parker.

NBA Comp: Dirk Nowitzki

While Parker might end up being a little more freakish on the defensive end than Dirk is (Dirk also being underrated defensively), I think he will be an instant contender for the best forward for the next ten years once he steps on to the court. Similarly to Dirk, I imagine the best road to success is a defensive powerhouse center, a good pick and roll point guard and a slew of shooters to compliment Parker’s talents.

 

4)    Dante Exum—6’6, 195 Guard, Australia:

exum

2/18: After digging deep into video and statistical analysis of Exum’s game, it’s clear he is an elite prospect in this draft. The awkwardness of trying to scout internationally and compare it to collegiately seems to be recipe for sleeping on really good international players in most drafts. However, in Exum’s case it appears this won’t be an issue.

Exum is going to be in the top 3-5 contenders for “most athletic” player in this draft, but his amazing handle and ability to get to the rim are what separates him from the rest of the players in his peer group. He is lightning quick with his first step and his handle and mixing in his incredible size it makes him nearly unstoppable in the international league.

Exum’s max ceiling might be higher than anyone in this draft, but for him to ever fully realize his potential he’s going to have to improve his outside shooting.  His career three point percentages is in the 30% neighborhood and that is going to have to at least get to about 35% for him to fully turn into the player he can be.

NBA Comparison: Penny Hardaway

 

3)     Marcus Smart—6’4, 200 Sophomore Guard, Oklahoma St.

marcus smart

1/30: Marcus Smart gets the nod above Andrew Wiggins. I was chatting with a friend about draft stuff and he asked me “gun to your head are you going Smart or Wiggins,” and honestly I said Smart so naturally I felt I had to represent it that way as well in my Mock Draft. I like Wiggins, but I am so comfortable with Marcus Smart that, unless it’s situational driven, I’m not sure I could take Wiggins over him.

Smart has been doing this for 2 straight years: he’s a prolific playmaker and defensive player, who struggles to be consistent with the 3 ball but otherwise is a pretty good scorer. You know what you are going to get. He has a much higher floor than Wiggins and possibly an equivalent ceiling.

Why I say that is, Smart’s usage is incredibly high (30%) and it is very unlikely an NBA team uses him this much. If his usage is lowered to a more realistic 20-24% for an elite point guard, his weakness: three point shooting efficiency and turnovers are likely to improve.  If you watch Smart play he takes a lot of late in the shot clock 3 pointers and occasionally will try and force plays that aren’t there because he has to carry so much of the load for Oklahoma State.

I love Smart. He’s one of the safest picks in the draft and also has some pretty high upside that is requisite of being a top 5 pick.

NBA Comp: Chauncey Billups

The credit for this: My buddy @vjl_bball gets the nod for the Chauncey Billups comparison. If you love the NBA and enjoy statistical analysis I would HIGHLY recommend following him on twitter, he’s easily one of the best basketball minds on the internet. And I’m including guys like Marc Stine and Chad Ford in that conversation as well.

The Billups comparison is so spot on. A bigger point guard, excellent athletically, a  great play maker and defensive player while needing to improve his jumper before he can be an elite guy. Billups ended up being one of the best point guards in the NBA for about 8 years and I think that is kind of the ceiling Marcus Smart has.

 

5)    Noah Vonleh—6’10, 240 Power Forward, Indiana

vonleh

2.18: If I have a top 7 pick in the 2014 Draft and I need a Power Forward, Noah Vonleh would be my target and not Julius Randle. Vonleh has a similar scoring upside as Randle, he’s averaging 18 pp40, 54% FG%, 22% USG% and a sneaky 35% 3P%, which shows he has the ability to score the basketball and is a significantly better athlete than Randle as well.

In terms of off-ball prowess, there are few who can equal Vonleh as a post. He gets you 2.3 blocks, 1.5 steals and nearly 15 rebounds per40, which puts him in epic company as far as the 2014 Draft is concerned.

Vonleh is both production-wise a superior prospect and upside-wise a superior prospect to Julius Randle. He was a very highly-touted recruit as well and could easily be the guy in the 2014 Draft that teams instantly regret passing on.

NBA Comp: Serge Ibaka

I’m feeling pretty good about Vonleh as one of my absolute must draft guys for people not in the top 3 of this draft. Ibaka was a sleeper coming into the pros and in a similar way I could see Vonleh being that as well. His offensive game is more fluid and natural than Ibaka’s looked earlier in his career, I think Vonleh could quickly exceed Ibaka on offense but I like the style Ibaka plays as the comp for Vonleh. He’s a long and athletic defensive ace who is competent around the hoop and has some decent range.

 

6)    Andrew Wiggins—6’8, 200 Freshman Small Forward, Kansas:

wiggins 1

I’m starting to get back on the Andrew Wiggins bandwagon. I admit, I was one of the guys who jumped off farily early on, but I think the guy has shown enough to justify a top 5 pick in this draft…Just maybe not enough to tank for. You can read my full feature on Wiggins here.

2/18: Knocking Wiggins down to 6 is not a slight on him, but more that I have a much more defined opinion on a few other players ahead of him. Could Wiggins certainly turn into a superstar? I think he has that upside. He’s an excellent defender already and has potential to incredibly improve in that area as well. He score at the rim and shoot the three pointer as well…it’s just getting to the rim that is the problem.

The lack of an even college-level handle has really held Wiggins back in his freshmen season and could be the single most important aspect of his professional development as well. If he can take notes from Paul George and do whatever magical ball handling program he did (if there really is a Paul George ball handling program, he should be selling it to every suburban AAU kid on the planet) Wiggins could have a chance at reaching that superstar potential. Personally, I hope Wiggins drops in the draft a little bit just to light a fire under him. He could use a wake-up call to make sure he takes his development seriously.

1/30: Wiggins has looked a lot better as of late. In his past three games he is averaging 24.3 points per game and I shooting well over 50% from the field (and 3’s, which is encouraging). It looks like he might be starting to figure a few things out scoring-wise. He’s gotten to the line 6, 10 and 12 times in the respective games which I LOVE to see.

Not to be the Debbie-downer, but the reality is he has only recorded an assist in one of those three games (in which he did have 5). He hits the boards well and plays solid defense, but he absolutely need to improve his overall playmaking if he wants to be an elite prospect in the 2014 NBA Draft

 

7)    Julius Randle—6’9, 250 Power Forward, Kentucky:

Kentucky-Julius-Randle

1/30: I am very close to dropping Randle down a few spots in my Mock Draft, but he continues to do just enough to make it tough for me to believe he won’t be a top 5 pick.  He can score and he can board, and guys like that generally have a place in the NBA.

If it ends up he’s not athletic enough to score at-will on professionals the team drafting him could be looking at the next Anthony Bennett type scenario though.

For reference sake

PPG    RPG   BLK%   STL%   3P%  USG%

Player  1      16.1    10.2   2.8%     0.8%  18%   27%

Player  2       16.1    8.1    5.6%    1.5%  38%   27.5%

Player 2 is Anthony Bennett. Be worried.

NBA Comp: Jamal Mashburn

Mash was kind of miscast in the older days of the NBA. He was still a very effective Small Forward for nearly a decade, averaging 18 points, 5 rebound and 4 assists but I wonder what would have happened if they would have played him at the 4? I think Julius Randle might be a roundabout way of seeing what that could have been like.

 

8)    Willie Cauley-Stein—7’1, 250 C, Kentucky:   

WCS

 

I have liked WCS dating all the way back to last year’s draft. He has the potential of an absolute stud defensive player and that has only grown this season.  His per40 numbers are 5.3 blocks, 2 steals and 14 rebounds which puts him in absolute elite territory. To match his impressive defensive ability he also has a very efficient offensive game that shows a player who knows what he is and doesn’t try to do too much, but is very effective in his role.

He’s an athletic 7 footer that can move on the defensive end. On that alone he is worth a top 10 pick.

 

NBA Comp: Omer Asik

Asik is one of the absolute best defensive centers in the NBA with a DefRAPM of 5.4 which puts him in Joakim Noah, Marc Gasol and Dwight Howard company and he has a very competent but limited offensive game. I project WCS to be a similar type of player, an absolute monster defensively who won’t kill you (while not helping you) type of offensive player.

 

9)   Jordan Adams—6’6, 220 Shooting Guard, UCLA:

2013 Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational - Northwestern v UCLA

Look, I don’t know what to tell you. Jordan Adams is a killer-freaking good prospect and is being criminally underrated by the more popular draft websites right now. He’s James Harden like on offense (25 points per 40, 64% TS%) and Victor Oladipo like on defense (13% DREB, 6.6% STL). Adams is looking to be the perfect off-guard prospect in a league where the off guard position is incredibly thin.

I don’t know if there is something other scouts are seeing that I am missing, but even when I watch him play he seems like an incredibly active guy who is always involved in the offense and a menace on defense. I’m calling it now, come NBA combines you’ll start to see Adams rising to the top 8 of the NBA Mock Drafts…remember you heard it here first.

NBA Comp: Wes Matthews

I’m going to play this comp a little safer than I want to deep down. I mean there is a legitimate case to be made that he could be the next James Harden offensively, while being a significantly better defender. However, Wes Matthews seems like a very realistic comparions for Adams to reach in his NBA career. Matthews is a feisty defender, excellent scorer and can create plays for others. Matthews is also fairly underrated

 

10)      Kyle Anderson—6’9, 230 Forward, UCLA:

kyle-anderson-blog

UCLA pulls off the rare hat-trick of having 3 criminally underrated draft prospects on one team. I wonder if there is something about playing in Southern California that just downgrades your draft stock by 20% (remember Kevin Love went AFTER Michael Beasley and OJ Mayo). I can understand part of the issue with Anderson being that he plays really, really…..really, really slow.

Anderson is billed as not being very athletic, but I can’t imagine that is the issue. He’s getting 3.9% BLK% which is good for a very good center prospect, 2.7% STL% which is good for a very good guard prospect, 32% AST% which is great for a very good point guard prospect and 16% TRB% which is good for anyone. It’s quite puzzling that a guy who impacts the game on nearly every single level is not getting very much publicity but it must be because aesthetically he doesn’t appear to be all that impressive. If you check his stats though, he’s tough to ignore.

NBA Comp: Andrei Kirilenko

The concerns I have about Anderson’s game are similar to the issues AK-47 had over his whole career, he’s not really a 3 or a 4. It’ll be an issue most of Anderson’s career, but if he can get on the right team he should be able to be an AK-47 type of impact super-stud.

 

11)    Aaron Gordon—6’9, 220 Forward, Arizona:

aaron gordon

 1/30: I’m starting to get a little bit better feel for Aaron Gordon’s game. He’s going to be a very effective player in the NBA, but I’m still a little fuzzy as to what extent that will be. I think there is a possible Blake Griffin upside with Gordon as he finishes well at the rim, is very athletic and has a decent handle for 4, but there is also the possible reality that he gives you all of Blake’s shortcomings (FT shooting, not being an overly great individual defender) without nearly as much of what make’s Blake awesome.

NBA Comp: Giannis Antetokounmpo 

The best way to compare a very bizarre prospect like Gordon is to compare him with a very bizarre NBA like Giannis. Gordon has the raw tools to be pretty special, but much like Giannis, but he’s going to need some seasoning before realizing his potential.

 

12)     Tyler Ennis—6’2, 180 Point Guard, Syracuse:

tyler-ennis1

2/18: Ennis is just going to be a rock for whatever team he is drafted to. He never turns the ball over and makes all the right plays in leading Syracuse to being one of the favorites to win the NCAA tournament. His stock is flying high after his epic  game-winning buzzer beater vs Pittsburg a few weeks ago.

Tyler Ennis is exactly the kind of player who could see his draft stock rise immensely with the kind of tournament that he is capable of having, but it would be wise to maintain expectations for the young man. Is he going to be a star? Maybe he ultimately makes an all-star team in his career, but I don’t expect him to ever be considered a “franchise” point guard, but what he could be is a very steady player who is always making his teams better.

Much like my Vonleh>Randle opinion, if I needed a point guard and I had a lottery pick I would certainly be trying to get Marcus Smart first, as I believe he has a higher ceiling, but I wouldn’t be too worried if I ended up with Tyler Ennis.

NBA Comparison: Ty Lawson

Maybe not in terms of style, as Lawson is a shorter speed demon and that’s not quite Ennis’ game, but I think he probably will go about 5 picks later than he should and make a bunch of teams look stupid for taking other players ahead of him.

 

13)       Gary Harris—6’4, 200 SG, Michigan St.

gary harris

 

2/18: What you are seeing happen with Gary Harris is the effect of a significant increase in role from year-to-year. As a freshmen the Spartan’s used Harris as a reasonably important aspect of their offense to the tune of a 20% usage rate and he responded by being a very effective player in his off-ball role. Since productive freshmen shooting guards are a rare creature in this day and age, Harris was considered a top 10 pick in the 2013 NBA draft (honestly may have been the best player considering how poorly the 2013-14 Rookie class has performed). Now in his sophomore season he has seen his game take nearly a 30% jump in usage, from 20% to 28% and as a result his overall efficiency has dropped a little.

That being said, I think I’m more encouraged by this version of Gary Harris than I was last years’ version. The freshmen version of Gary Harris didn’t look like he could ever be more than a complimentary player, suited for an off-ball role but not a legit cornerstone of a contending team. After taking on a heavy load and still being an efficient and effective player, I’m coming away thinking Harris might have some upside that wasn’t shown last year.

NBA Comp:  Arron Afflalo

Arron Afflalo is probably the ideal comparison for someone who can take on a heavier usage role on a bad team but is likely best suited as the 4th wheel on a very good team. Harris shares the same smart brand of basketball Afflalo has played the past couple years as he has established himself as one of the more reliable wing players in the NBA.

 

14)      Doug McDermott—6’7, 225 Forward, Creighton:

DMcD

2/18: If I were McD’s publicist and I was tyring to establish his draft stock I would simply come up with the slogan “Doug McDermott: Because you can trust me” and that’s all I think you would need to get McDermott into the lottery of this draft. There are a lot of variables, a lot of unknown talents in the 2014 draft but the one constant is: Doug McDermott can shoot the basketball.

Both fairly and unfairly he is compared to Kyle Korver, who is an excellent and underrated player himself, but McDermott is more than just a shooter. He is a pure scorer. He’ll hit you with crafty post moves, make the right cuts at the right time and run a pick-and-pop to perfection. Will he be a star? Probably not, but he’s going to be a weapon for whatever team drafts him. You can trust Doug McDermott.

1/3: At some point his production just can’t be ignored. McD will surely have a tough time finding a spot to play in the NBA, being he isn’t overly athletic for 3 and doesn’t really have the size for 4 in the NBA, but his athletic limitations haven’t stopped him once in four years so far. He has a completely outstanding 65% career TS%, including 46% from beyond the arc and he has ramped up his Free Throw Attempts from a career average of 6 per game to a near-mythic 9.1 to start off his senior season. McDermott is a terrific rebounder and actually carries a very respectable Defensive Efficiency Rating giving up 100 pts/100 possessions which is counter what is commonly thought of his prowess on the defensive end.

Obviously any conversation about McDermott needs to include his main issues, which are bound to haunt him until he proves otherwise, being his unfortunate tweener status. He has played the majority of his college career as a 4 and hasn’t really shown any skills that would suggest he has the ability to be a 3 in college, not to mention the pros. A career average of less than .5% STL% and 9.8 AST% are not very encouraging and he is obviously not the most physically gifted guy in the world.

I can say one thing for certain with McDermott: he is legitimately a good basketball player. At some point physical limitations will win out, but I think McD has enough in him to make himself a viable professional basketball player and utilize his incredible offensive skill set.

NBA Comp: Ryan Anderson

I’m not sure Anderson is a great comp for McDermott, but he’s an awkward player to comp for. An extremely efficient scorer who also is an excellent rebounder? I think I like his chances of being some variation of the Ryan Anderson type of player, maybe not as effective but in that ballpark.

 

15)      Zach LaVine—6’5, 190 G, UCLA

zach lavine

UCLA is a weird team, they will have three guys I consider to be very strong NBA prospects coming out in 2014 but they aren’t a great team themselves. Either way, Zach LaVine storms into my top 10 with a hyper efficient scoring game which helps solidify him as one of the most athletically gifted players in this whole class.

Even after he has cooled off a bit, LaVine still qualifies as an intruiging prospect with his combination of size, athleticism and skill. I could see him being a very effective player in the wide-open style of many of the modern NBA offenses.

NBA Comp: Shawn Marion

Check out the rest of HoundSports 2014 NBA Mock Draft Here With Part 2

Follow me on Twitter @JustinPinotti

Justin Pinotti

Justin Pinotti

My name is Justin I am from Minneapolis, Mn. I have a double major in English and Communications, was a basketball and football athlete in high school. I play in many pick up games and adult leagues across the Twin Cities area and occasionally tweet my pick up basketball stats (but only if I have a freakishly good game). I like Fantasy Football, Awesome Television shows, movies and I enjoy writing/creating music as well. I am an absolute Minnesota TWolves homer and I won’t apologize for that (the 8th seed is ours this year!!!!) My years of being a Minnesota Sports fan additionally has lead to a huge passion for both the NFL and NBA Drafts. I love prospect watching and mock drafting. I’m excited to write for HoundSports!You can follow me on twitter @JustinPinotti

Heat impressive at All-Star Break


This post was originally published at @ HoundSports

By
Updated: February 17, 2014

Miami Heat All-star break

The Miami Heat entered the All-Star break with a 37-14 record, which is the third best in the NBA. They’re also currently only two and half games behind the Indiana Pacers for the no.1 seed. That’s pretty darn impressive considering the Heat have been the team that has coasted throughout the regular season while the Pacers are focused on getting that no.1 seed and homecourt advantage. The team is also in the middle of a Western conference road trip where they have gone 3-1. The trip concludes this week with games against the Dallas Mavericks and Oklahoma City Thunder.

So far in this road trip, the Heat have beaten Western conference playoff contenders Los Angeles Clippers, Phoenix Suns, and the Golden State Warriors in a game that culminated in LeBron James channeling his inner cold-blooded assassin and hitting the game-winning three-pointer. All three of these games have been impressive wins and all the talk of Kevin Durant being the front-runner for MVP and closing the gap on LeBron as the game’s best overall player appear to have King James on a mission. Right now, I would say Durant is the front-runner for MVP considering the Oklahoma City Thunder have the best record in the NBA despite Russell Westbrook missing a significant amount of time this season. However, LeBron isn’t going to relinquish the MVP title that easy and it should be a close race come April  between these two front-runners. LeBron has also been playing much better defense lately than he had  earlier this year. This defensive intensity should continue come playoff-time. With Dwyane Wade missing time with injuries, Chris Bosh has filled in nicely as the team’s no.2 scorer.

 

Of course, I would like the Heat to play better, or at least look somewhat interested, against the inferior opponents. It’s ironic that their only loss of this road trip so far at the time of writing was against the Utah Jazz, who are contending for the no.1 pick in this year’s NBA lottery. Hey, these types of losses happen. The lowly Orlando Magic, who are also in contention for that no.1 pick, beat both the Pacers and Thunder in the same weekend, so these types of games will happen in the regular season. I would just like to see less of it with the Heat as I have seen so far this season. Although their victory at Golden State  was good overall, I would like to see them shake off that habit of blown leads, as they did by blowing a 21-point third quarter lead against the Warriors, who can are obviously capable of getting hot from beyond the arc at any given moment. Dwyane Wade’s number of missed games is a bit high and not a major concern.. I understand that this is part of the maintenance program for him to keep him healthy come playoff time but missing both games last week was a bit odd, even if the injuries were legitimate. The good news is that he did look impressive in the All-Star game, even if little defense is played in it, so he should be fine whenever he suits up.

Overall, despite some annoying losses to bottom dwellers, the Heat have done well this season and should continue to battle for that no.1 seed in the East. However, going into the playoffs healthy is a much bigger priority for this team in its quest for a three-peat.

Sergio Carmona

Sergio Carmona

Sergio is a life-long resident of Miami and an avid fan of the local South Florida teams. Although he cheers for all his hometown major sports teams, his favorites are the Dolphins, Heat, and Hurricanes football team. He is also very optimistic that the Dolphins and University of Miami football team can return to their former glory days. Rooting for the Dolphins this past decade has been tough on him but he remains a loyal fan. Sergio is a big fan of the NFL, NBA, and College Football but he follows virtually every sport. His writing experience includes writing for local newspapers Miami’s Community Newspapers and South Florida’s Jewish Journal.

Dear NBA


I am writing this open letter in the hope that when the time comes, you will vote to keep the NBA uniforms free of corporate logos.

The argument to have the logos on the jerseys is around $100 million a year. There is no other reason. A simple dollar amount that may help keep a few teams above water. For a few years anyway. But in the long run the rich teams will still be richer, and the small market teams will still be small market.

I am going to ask you to think about it in a different way. Don’t think about what the money means.

Think about what the decision itself means.

Money will come and go. Teams will make it, Teams will also lose it. in fact, they may lose a lot of it. That is the nature of money. History has shown us that there will never be enough.

Unfortunately, greed ensures us that this will forever be the case. Yes, the extra money may help ease a few bottom lines, but so would plenty of other things.

The decision will be about money. But it doesn’t have to be. What if it could mean more than that?

You have a chance to show the world that there is still hope. Hope that there can still be decisions made based on purity and integrity. Hope that some things can remain free. Hope that traditions will be honoured. Hope that not everything has a price. Hope that we can enjoy things without feeling like we are being sold something along the way.

The world is getting tired of being sold to. Tired of advertising, of TV commercials, of billboards. When we watch the NBA, MLB, NFL and NHL, witnessing athletes – doing things we can only dream of – in a uniform that has just a team name and number, we can, for a moment, escape this. We can focus on what really matters. The game, the players, the moments. Sport in America is what it is, the best in the world, because of this. Because it still retains some integrity and purity.

Because it is still just about the game.

We live in an age where there is a real danger of corporate suffocation of everything that we love. Our movies have been sold. Our music has been sold. There isn’t much left on this earth that hasn’t been sold. An audience is a commodity. We know this. We aren’t stupid. But when there is an opportunity like this, to make a real difference and stand up, not for what’s better for a hand full of owners, but what’s better for hundreds of millions of fans around the world, It’s too good to miss.

You have the chance to do something big. To say no. To make a stand and believe in the people who give you the opportunity to be where you are in the first place. Us. The fans. The people who buy tickets, hats, shirts, jerseys, bobble-heads. We want to keep it sacred. We want to keep it real. This is a chance to keep it that way.

We don’t want to watch our favourite players do amazing things while being sold something completely different. We have already bought in. We are sold on our teams, on the game, on the wins, on the sport, on the dream. You have us. Don’t sell us out.

There are many other reasons that other fans have spoken about at length. Listen to them, for these people are the ones that love the game, and will defend its integrity with a passion and intensity that burns inside every true sports fan. The fans are why this is all possible.

You have the chance to do something meaningful.

Not only for us, but for the money-driven world we live in.

Written by

Graphic Design // Digital Publishing // Sport // Music // Star Wars

 

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@KobeBryant Tweets #BrokenNotBeaten But At His Age Enough Breaks Will Leave Him Beat.


Los Angeles Lakers fans will hate to admit this but “father time” seems to be catching up with their superstar shooting guard, Kobe Bryant, who’m returned briefly this season after tearing his Achilles at the end of last season.  Bryant played just six games, shooting three for sixteen from the three point line, averaging fourteen points and six turnovers a game before injuring his knee.  It does not really matter though because Kobe Bryant is Kobe Bryant and what is the best part about Kobe Bryant?

His passion for the game of basketball.

In this section : Sports

By Gary Washburn

|  Globe Staff  December 29, 2013

Kobe Bryant is once again in street clothes, but he says he’ll return this season.

Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Kobe Bryant is once again in street clothes, but he says he’ll return this season.

Kobe Bryant is despised here in Boston because he is a Los Angeles Laker and he lived at the free throw line in the fourth quarter of that painful Game 7 of the 2010 Finals, but the NBA is a better and more entertaining product when he is healthy and scoring buckets.

Bryant returned from a torn left Achilles’ tendon for a total of six games before fracturing his left kneecap in a collision with former Celtic Tony Allen on Dec. 17. Bryant remained quiet for eight days but finally broke his silence on Christmas Day, once again addressing a potential long-term injury.

Considered one of the league’s toughest and sturdiest players for 16 years, Bryant has been relegated to the sidelines and rehabilitation for much of the past eight months.

Based on the two injuries, some NBA observers have suggested he sit out the remainder of the season to allow his body to completely heal so he can be prepared for the final two seasons of his contract.

Bryant, as expected, dismissed that notion and plans to return this season, despite the Lakers being out of the playoff picture in the Western Conference and playing with a patchwork lineup filled with journeymen.

This is no surprise. Bryant is not going to miss an opportunity to play basketball, despite how meaningless the games may be. A few years ago, Bryant was trying to prove he wasn’t being eclipsed by LeBron James as the league’s most talented player.

And when James did become the game’s premier player, Bryant was relegated to proving he was still in his prime.

Following the first major injury of his career, Bryant was asked to prove he is capable of even approaching his previous form.

“It’s funny hearing all the comments and things like that. It can’t help but enhance my focus more,” he said before the Lakers lost to the Heat on Christmas Day.

“Obviously it’s not something I wanted to have happen, but there’s nothing you can do about it. From that standpoint, you have to look at an injury for exactly what it is, which is something that’s going to heal, and be as strong as it ever was.

“I was fortunate it wasn’t a meniscus or anything else. There’s nothing I really have to do from a recovery standpoint other than letting the bones heal and letting the fracture heal. You kind of just have to look at the injury in a vacuum.”

Bryant averaged just 13.8 points in his six games, shooting 42.5 percent and committing a whopping 5.7 turnovers per game. Bryant was 3 for 16 from the 3-point line and attempted eight fewer shots per game than the previous season.

There was apprehension in Bryant’s game, but he strangely said the six-game stint was a positive experience.

“Obviously, you have the negative side of the injury, but aside from that, I felt like I had some really good questions answered in terms of what I can do on a basketball floor,” he said. “It was kind of like you’re experimenting from game to game and measuring things and trying to figure things out. I felt pretty good about that, which was the biggest question mark.

“The knee is not really a concern to me. The fracture will heal, but the biggest question mark was how would my Achilles’ respond to my game, and I felt pretty good about that.”

The only player to ever come back strong from a torn Achilles’ tendon is Dominique Wilkins in 1991-92, but Wilkins was 32 years old and played another seven seasons.

Bryant is 35, has already played 17 seasons in the NBA (nearly half of his life), and has a history of knee troubles. His game was so predicated on his physical prowess, the question now becomes whether Bryant can remain one of the league’s premier players from the ground level.

“I felt like I learned that I pretty much could do everything I could before, particularly in the last game [against Memphis],” he said.

“The biggest part of my game in the last two or three years has always been getting to a space on the floor, being able to elevate and shoot pull-up jump shots, and getting into the paint. It was a great test going up against Tony Allen, who in my opinion has been the guy who’s defended me the best individually since I got into the league. [It was my] fourth game in five nights and to be able to go up against him, and respond to that challenge, I feel really good about it.”

Bryant has vowed to return, and he’s been a man of his word throughout his career. Meanwhile, watching the Lakers fight to remain competitive is difficult, as they throw out a plethora of journeymen — many of them major disappointments at their previous stops — while Bryant sits and watches in street clothes from the sideline.

The NBA is healthier when Bryant is healthy.

“The Achilles’ felt fine. It was strong. From getting out on the court from that, it was a matter of the rest of the body catching up,” Bryant said. “Also, like I said before, there was some natural tentativeness, and what you can and what you can’t do, so you kind of just go down the list and try to improve from game to game.

“My spirits are fine. I feel more locked in now than I have been my entire career because of it. The spirit is fine, the focus is great, and we’re just going to have to see what happens when I come back.”

NO REGRETS

Williams glad he took one-and-done route

Shawne Williams of the Lakers was the first player drafted under the NBA’s one-and-done policy in 2006, and he said he doesn’t regret his decision to leave the University of Memphis after one season, despite myriad troubles and playing for five teams.

Williams said he should have handled the situation more maturely, but staying in college for additional years could only have resulted in increased scrutiny by scouts.

“If you averaged 13 or 14 [points per game], the pressure automatically goes up,” he said. “They want you to average 18 the next year, and then the next year they want you to average 21, and then the next year they want you to average [more], but it’s not that easy in college. College ball is the toughest ball to me because everybody plays hard, 94 feet, no defensive [three-second call] and centers can sit in the paint all day, so it’s hard.”

Williams said he has no regrets about leaving school, comparing a high-level college program to the NBA.

“College is the same as the NBA, you’ve just got more money in the NBA and more downtime,” he said. “In college, coaches kind of micromanage your time — early-morning workouts, early-morning breakfasts, got to have lunch together and dinner together. In the league, it’s like, let’s practice and after practice you’re done and it’s, ‘I’ll see you tomorrow.’ That’s the only difference, but I feel like you have to grow up one way or another.

“I’d rather grow up in the NBA than wait around in college and not growing up when you still have people that are kind of coddling you a little bit.”

The NBA is not a league for development. Many young players have been told what to work on to improve and have been waived or traded when the ascension didn’t occur.

“Some organizations you go in, they have the structure where they want you to work and put the coaches in place [to help you],” said Williams, who signed a one-year, non-guaranteed deal with the Lakers in the offseason. “Some coaches, they know you are a pro and you’ve got to do your job and you’ve got to get better over the summer. It ain’t the time to work on it during the season, it’s time to work on it in the summer.”

The NBA is considering extending the limit of years in college before turning pro to two, but the players’ union would have to approve the change.

“I feel like they already took away from the high school kids and I feel like if you are worthy of getting picked out of 60 picks, then that’s a great accomplishment,” Williams said. “They shouldn’t hold people back. I think most college players have big dominant years and the next year it’s the same. It’s like the NBA. [College teams] get a scouting report, they know what you do.

“[Kentucky coach John] Calipari said it best: You’ve got to try to hide your weaknesses because the one thing about the NBA personnel and scouts, they take their jobs very seriously. They evaluate you over four years and they see if you stay the same or if you grow, and it ends up hurting the college kid.”

There are plenty of early-entry draftees floating around the league, looking for an opportunity. In Philadelphia, Tony Wroten has been discovered following an empty first season with the Memphis Grizzlies. Guaranteed contracts are not convincing NBA teams to hold on to those younger players living only on potential. Patience is shorter than in the past.

“It’s a revolving door; this is not a stuck-in-cement league,” said Williams. “Everybody is trying to look to get better, so nowadays a lot of people bounce around, not like the 1990s when teams used to be together for seven or eight years. It’s a thin line of patience, and everyone wants to win right now.

“I feel like it’s a totally different structure in the league than when I came out. You were coming out on guaranteed, four-year deals; you had four years to get yourself together. Now it’s not like that. You’ve got to get yourself together quick or come in ready.”

ETC.

Injury bug continues to claim star players

The NBA has been besieged with injuries this season, more than even in the lockout-shortened season of 2011-12. On Friday, the Thunder quietly announced that point guard Russell Westbrook underwent arthroscopic surgery on the same knee that he had two previous procedures on in the past six months.

“Russell has been playing pain-free, but recently had experienced increased swelling. After consultation and consideration by his surgeon in Los Angeles, a plan was established to monitor the swelling that included a series of scheduled MRIs,” general manager Sam Presti said. “On the most recent MRI it was determined by the surgeon that there was an area of concern that had not previously existed, nor was detectable in the previous procedures, and it was necessary to evaluate Russell further. The consulting physician determined that arthroscopic surgery was necessary to address the swelling that was taking place. We know that Russell’s work ethic and commitment will help him return to the level of play that we have all come to appreciate.”

Westbrook looked flawless in notching a triple-double in the Christmas Day win over the Knicks. His absence means more playing time for ex-Boston College standout ReggieJackson, who flourished in Westbrook’s absence during last season’s playoffs and during the early stages of this season.

Portland, Oklahoma City, and San Antonio are currently fighting for the top spot in the Western Conference, while the Los Angeles Clippers, Houston, Phoenix, Golden State, and Dallas are in the second tier. Westbrook’s absence could cause the Thunder to drop in the standings, and there is additional concern about whether this knee injury is chronic.

Meanwhile, a few hours after the Westbrook injury was announced, the Atlanta Hawks revealed that center Al Horford, arguably their best player, would miss extended time with a torn right pectoral muscle, sustained in a double-overtime win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. Horford missed all but 11 games of the lockout season with a torn left pectoral muscle.

And how does this affect the Celtics? They have the rights to the lower of the first-round picks between the Nets and Hawks, and both teams have just lost their best players to long-term injuries. Brook Lopez will miss the season with a broken bone in his right foot, sustained in the Dec. 22 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers.

So, Brooklyn and Atlanta will be shorthanded for the remainder of the regular season, which most likely will affect their draft status and ensure the Celtics get a quality pick in what is expected to be the best draft class since 2003. Westbrook, Horford and Lopez join Derrick Rose, Kobe Bryant, Marc Gasol, RajonRondo, and Danilo Gallinari as players who have sustained, or are recovering from, significant injuries this season.

Layups

Paul Pierce perhaps exemplified his frustrations in Brooklyn with his clothesline of Indiana’s George Hill during Monday’s loss to the Pacers. Not only did Pierce receive a Flagrant 2 foul and an automatic ejection, but also a $15,000 fine. Pierce was also scoreless for the evening, his first zero-point game since 1999, when he was with the Celtics. It’s been a nightmarish season for Pierce, who is a free agent at season’s end and could be on the trade market if the Nets don’t dramatically improve. The Clippers are in need of a productive small forward as the experiment with Jared Dudley has been uneven at best . . . The Bobcats could be in the market for small forward help after backup Jeffery Taylor was felled by a torn Achilles’ tendon. Starter Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is already out with a broken hand, leaving the improved Bobcats to use journeyman Chris Douglas-Roberts and Ben Gordon at the position . . . Former NBA guard Bobby Brown scored 74 points in a Chinese Basketball Association game last week and will be available to clubs when the CBA season ends in March. Brown has always been a high-scoring, dynamic guard but has been unable to stick with an NBA team. The lack of backup point guards in the league should create a market for Brown. Speaking of backup point guards, D.J. Augustin is flourishing with the opportunity he was given by the Bulls after being dumped by Toronto following the Rudy Gay trade. He’s averaging 10.4 points and 6.3 assists in seven games since joining the club. He is averaging 30.7 minutes. . . . The Magic are trying to work out a contract settlement with Hedo Turkoglu, who has no future with the organization and is in the final year of his deal that pays him $12 million but only $6 million guaranteed if he is waived by Jan. 10. The Magic will certainly dump Turkoglu — one of their top players from the team that defeated the Celtics in the Eastern Conference semifinals and reached the 2009 Finals — but perhaps there could be a deal with a contending team before that Jan. 10 deadline. How much does Turkoglu have left? . . . The Celtics don’t have any players on their roster on non-guaranteed contracts, so there will be no concern about players being waived. The club does, however, have an open roster spot and perhaps enough salary cap space to absorb a 10-day contract if needed. Players can be signed to 10-day contracts after Jan. 10. The Celtics are so close to the luxury tax, they did not want to sign even a minimum contract for fear of exceeding the tax line. A 10-day contract could be a different story.

Gary Washburn can be reached a gwashburn@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @gwashburnGlobe. Material from interviews, wire services, other beat writers, and league and team sources was used in this report.

@KobeBryant – Lakers Sign #Kobe to 2-Year Extension


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Lakers Sign Kobe to 2-Year Extension

11/25/2013 8:29 AM PST

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Kobe Bryant just inked a deal to stay with the purple and gold for another two years … TMZ Sports has learned.

L.A. Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak says the team has signed Kobe to a 2-year extension. The terms of the contract were not released.

The 35-year-old NBA legend was already set to make more than $30.5 million this season.

“This is a very happy day for Lakers fans and for the Lakers organization,” Kupchak said.  The team is confident Kobe will finish his career as a Laker.

Moments ago, Kobe tweeted out of a pic of his signed contract — along with the hashtag “Laker4Life.”

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Is Dwight Howard Settling For Just Average?


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Thus far in his career, Howard has yet to prove himself as a superstar contender in the National Basketball Association.  ESPN analysts around the league will agree Dwight has too much potential and too much athletic ability to settle for just an average basketball player, however Dwight seems to be doing just that and is becoming a mediocre center for the Houston Rockets.

Dwight is not challenging himself early on in the season, he is not demanding the ball down on the block and he is not getting along with his teammates.  Perhaps we have been expecting too much from Dwight Howard.

Not signing with the Los Angeles Lakers was a big mistake for Dwight Howard, probably the biggest mistake of his career in my opinion simply because the Lakers would have been built around Dwight once Kobe Bryant retired from the league in a few years.  The Los Angeles Lakers are one of the most winning franchises in all of sports and I think Dwight Howard will look back on his decision once his contract with Houston runs out and realize what an awful career choice he made signing with the Rockets.

On his career Dwight is averaging eighteen points and thirteen rebounds, which are awesome statistics for anyone else but because this is Dwight Howard we are talking about here I have to be a bit more critical on his performance.  This season Dwight Howard needs to average twenty eight points and fifteen rebounds a game if the Houston Rockets hope to stand any chance of chasing an NBA title.

 

 

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Grading The Houston Rockets Starting Five!


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Jeremy LinGuard (HOU)

On his career, Lin is averaging twelve points and five assists on forty-four percent shooting.  He is a dynamic point guard with the ability to put the ball in the basket from any place on the floor.  His quickness combined with his height makes him a tough person to guard on the defensive end of the court.

Grade – B+

Dwight Howard – Center (HOU)

Howard is averaging a whopping eighteen points and thirteen rebounds on his career while shooting fifty-seven percent from the field.  Dwight is one of if not the most dominant big men currently active in the National Basketball Association.  His size around the basket mixed in with his aggressive style of play makes the nine-year NBA player almost unstoppable.  His nickname is after all superman.

Grade – A+

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James Harden – Guard (HOU)

Expect James Harden to have the best season of his career statistically speaking.  Since leaving the Oklahoma City Thunder, Harden has taken the role of being a starter for the Houston Rockets.  Last season for the Houston Rockets, James Harden averaged twenty-six points, six assists and five rebounds.

Grade – A

Chandler Parsons – Forward (HOU)

This guy is flat-out good.  Parsons has spent only two years in the NBA and has racked up an average of thirteen points and five rebounds on forty-seven percent shooting from the field.  He is a bit undersized for his position but he makes up for it with his ability to shoot the long ball.

Grade – B

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Francisco Garcia – Guard  (HOU)

Gracia is averaging eight points on his career with forty-three percent shooting.  The greatest thing about Garcia is his consistency, meaning the Rockets know exactly what he will give night in and night out which makes him a reliable player.  Look for him to be a bit more aggressive shooting the ball this season with Dwight Howard drawing in a large amount of attention on the block.

Grade – C+

 

 

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A Quick Look At Tonights Spurs vs. Lakers Matchup


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Tim Duncan will not be active for the San Antonio Spurs tonights nor will Kobe Bryant.  This will be the first matchup between the two teams where both Duncan and Bryant are absent since 1996 when Duncan was at Wake Forest and Bryant was a rookie in the NBA.  Steve Nash will suit up tonight after missing the Lakers last game against the Golden State Warriors.  Early predictions lean toward the San Antonio Spurs to win this game by no less than fifteen points.

KOBE BRYANT GETS $24 MILLION DOLLARS TODAY


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Kobe Bryant‘s having a pretty good Friday — ’cause he just got a check for $24.4 MILLION dollars, courtesy of the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Mamba had pre-negotiated his deal with the team to get roughly 80% of his $30.5 million salary for this season up front in one giant balloon payment — and today is payday.

Total payment — $24,363,044.

Read more: http://www.tmz.com/2013/11/01/kobe-bryant-24-million-dollars-los-angeles-lakers/#ixzz2jQMQPLSe

 

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Vote For Who You Think Is This Years NBA’s Most Valuable Player!