Currently browsing category

AO

MAMBINO 2014 NBA Mock Draft

The time is upon us once again MAMBINites: the NBA Draft, a haven for hoophead nerds everywhere, is finally here.
 
This particular year’s edition has been through all sorts of permutations–once called the greatest draft since 2003, expectations have since been tapered. Bloggers and writers projected no less than five franchise-caliber superstars coming into the NBA this June, but as the NCAA season wore on, it was apparent that this wasn’t going to be the epic class we thought.
 
Nevertheless, the MAMBINO crew is just as jakked up for this year’s annual rite of passage as we ever are. This draft may not have a James-Wade-Anthony-Bosh-type cache, but it is certainly filled with difference makers and All-Stars. We’ve racked up our selections for lottery picks 1-14, giving you a solid profile of what WE think Thursday’s event at Barclays Center in Brooklyn will look like.
 
Full disclosure: we wrote this one up a week ago, but Joel Embiid’s foot injury threw our entire post into disarray. In many ways, this is the MAMBINO 2014 NBA Mock Draft 2.0, but we’re proceeding in this new and daring world where a 7-footer has foot and back problems. New AND daring!
 
With the 1st pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, the Cleveland Cavaliers select Jabari Parker from Duke University
 
El Miz: The Joel Embiid njury should change nothing. If I was the GM of the Cavs and my boss was not Dan G, then Embiid would be the pick. I’ll roll the dice on the injury Wheel of Fortune for the player with the most upside by far in the draft. But Dan G does not want an injured center who may not play until the calendar turns to 2015. Dan G wants to win and win soon, and “he is sick of winning the lottery”! He makes this clear, banging out late night e-mails in Sans Serif asking “who will win rookie of the year, please advise” and “do any of these guys have asthma, please advise.”… Read more...

Keepsake: Boston Celtics Season Preview

(Posted on behalf of blog brother AO)
 
Starting Five: TBA (Editor’s note: to begin the season, only F Jeff Green and G Avery Braldey are really assured of starting roles. But in general, it’s all in flux right now)
 
Key Bench Players: Undetermined
 
Notable Offseason Additions: PF Kris Humphries’ expiring contract, PF/C Kelly Olynyk, SF Gerald Wallace, G MarShon Brooks, three first round picks from the Brooklyn Nets.
 
Notable Offseason Subtractions: PF Kevin Garnett, SF Paul Pierce, G Jason Terry’s corpse and head coach Doc Rivers.
 
FACT OR FICTION: The Celtics are rebuilding.  They have cleaned house of everyone except Rajon Rondo.  To really commit to the rebuild, they must trade Rajon Rondo.
 
FICTION.  FICTION! FICTION!!! 
 
This is a popular yet misguided thought among NBA heads.   I disagree so wholeheartedly that we’re going to rip through the other Celtic summer league headlines in one summary sentence:  Olynyk was the Summer League Jesus, Humphries’ expiring is a huge deadline card to be played, and RIP Ubuntu.  Now, the three reasons why Boston should absolutely not trade Rondo:… Read more...

Vise Grip: Indiana Pacers Season Preview

(Posting on behalf of MAMBINO contributor AO)

Starting Five: PG George Hill, SG Lance Stephenson, SF Paul George, PF David West, C Roy Hibbert
 
Key Bench Players: SF Danny Granger, PF Luis Scola, PG CJ Watson
 
Notable offseason additions: Scola, Watson, F Chris Copeland
 
Notable offseason subtractions: PF Tyler Hansborough, PG DJ Augustin, SF Gerald Green
 
FACT OR FICTION: The Pacers are the biggest threat to the Miami Heat 3-peat, East OR West.
 
FACT. In consecutive seasons the Pacers have gone out swinging, pushing the Heat harder than any team not from San Antonio, TX. In 2012 they lost 4-2 in the Conference semifinals and this year the upstarts boxed their way to a 4-3 bloodbath. Those were also Frank Vogel’s first two full years as head coach and he has undoubtedly established one of the most consistent character teams in the league. A ‘character team’ is one that has an identity. Indiana plays a physical, wear-you-out style night in and night out. They don’t waver. Think of the Chicago Bulls on the defensive end, but with legitimate scoring options on the offensive end.… Read more...

Simmer Up Now?: Washington Wizards Season Preview

(Check out our season preview from the District by our resident Zardos fan, AO.)
 
Starting Five: PG John Wall, SG Bradley Beal, SF Martell Webster, PF Nene, C Emeka Okafor
 
Key Bench Players: PF Trevor Ariza, PG Eric Maynor, F Jan Vesely, F Otto Porter, F Al Harrington
 
Notable Offseason Additions: Harrington, Maynor, Porter (#3 pick in 2013 Draft)
 
Notable Offseason Subtractions: None
 
FACT OR FICTION: There’s stability in Washington.  Does it matter?
 
FACT. Ernie Grunfeld is betting his last chips on YES.  Take a look again at the notable offseason subtractions:  No one.  Everyone who mattered, from a statistical or locker room standpoint, is coming back.  Any NBA fan worth his salt knows that the Wizards aren’t betting on theIR year end record of 29-53.  What they’re letting simmer is the .500+ ball they played with John Wall in the lineup, and the hope is that the simmer carries over to this season and begins to boil.
 
What’s that you say?  A watched pot never boils.  Well actually, it does.  Try it some time.  It will eventually boil, I swear.  The key ingredient is patience.  And four things that Grunfeld did this offseason exercised that virtue to the fullest:… Read more...

MAMBINO’s NBA Mock Draft, Part 2

Yesterday, we hit you with the first part of our 2013 NBA Mock Draft, going through and selecting on behalf of the lottery teams. Today in part 2, we’ll mock the rest of the first round. Onward!
 
With the 15th pick, the Milwaukee Bucks would be thrilled to select Shabazz Muhammad, forward from UCLA. 
 
AO: The Bucks are in NBA no mans land, just good enough to make the playoffs and be swept. That’s not where you want to be.  There are lots of rumblings about the potential re-signings, or non signings, of the overrated back court of Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis.  Assuming one of those two will be back (max), and the hilarious offensive-ineptitude of their frontcourt, the Bucks have a strong need for scoring across the board.  Shabazz is a guy who was rated #1 in this draft for a long period.  His quick one year tenure at UCLA was forgettable, but no one doubts this is one of the most skilled guys in the draft.  He can score, handle and shoot.  Passing and defense are another issue, but at #15, the Bucks would be lucky to grab someone who could potentially lead their team in scoring.… Read more...

MAMBINO’s NBA Mock Draft, Part 1

With an epic NBA Finals in the books and new legacies defined, the most exciting part of the season continues on with the 2013 NBA Draft.

 

Most prognosticators have called this weakest draft since Kenyon Martin, Darius Miles and the other dregs of the NBA sewer system bogged up our beloved L in 2000. However, what I’m seeing is a talent pool that might not have a definite superstar in it’s upper echelons, but rather a sizeable amount of solid role players and borderline All-Stars. Not too shabby.

 

To sate our endless appetite for anything smelling like the NBA, us hoophead junkies assembled like Voltron this week to do our annual mock draft. We all were assigned teams and told to get into the minds of each team’s GM, and pick not only along talent, but also need. The MAMBINO crew will be there in person this Thursday to see what we got right, what we got terribly wrong and yes, if we can boo David Stern as lustily with the 1st pick as we do the 30th. It’s the Commissioner’s last draft before his retirement, so we’ll make sure to emerge from Barclays Center with our vocal chords raw. Be sure to follow us on Twitter for some in-arena perspective @TheGreatMambino. Today we’ll cover the lottery picks in part 1, and tomorrow we’ll do the rest of the first round in part 2.

 

Without further ado….let’s go!

 

With the number 1 pick, the Cleveland Cavaliers select Anthony Bennett, forward from UNLV

 

AO: Obviously, lots of rumors surrounding this pick.  Looking at it from a pure “need” standpoint, Bennett is the right mix of safe + potential.  Sure, Cleveland doesn’t have a foundation in the middle, although Anderson Varajeo and Tyler Zeller are both competent, the former being a borderline All-Star when healthy.  But I’m not sold on the bigs in this draft.

 

Noel and Len have both been rumored to be the target for CLE, but they are both projects, not ready to come in and contribute right away.  CLE is set at the 1 and 2 with Mr. Irving and Mr. Waiters.  The front court is mostly unproven and young.  Why would you want more of that?  Why assume that risk of drafting a bust, especially when everyone agrees the ceilings are pretty low w/ Noel and Len.  Instead, I’d take a guy in Bennett who can play the 3 and leverage his size at that position.  He’s a good enough shooter to be a legit 3, but will also be capable of playing the stretch 4 for at least some minutes.  Lastly, I think Dan Gilbert and co like to play things close to the vest (except when the best player in the NBA leaves his team on national TV, then, yea, he gets a bit “public”).  No one saw Waiters coming last year.  Who knows what Tricky Dan has behind his bowtie?

 

With the 2nd pick, the Orlando Magic select Nerlens Noel, center from the University of Kentucky.

 
KOBEsh: A debatable number 1 pick, Noel (if healthy) could be an absolute defensive destroyer for any NBA team. Orlando has found a hidden gem in Nikola Vucevic, whose rebounding is certainly underrated, but can’t be depended upon as shot blocking intimidation in the paint. Pairing him with Noel could make for a formidable Magic frontline, with Nerlens serving as the Tyson Chandler (the best case scenario, by far for Noel) to Vucevic’s offensive capabilities. By drafting the center, Orlando is essentially punting next season (as Noel is still recovering from a torn ACL), and setting themselves up for another lottery pick in the STACKED 2014 Draft. Not a bad … Read more...

How Much Worse Could the Wizards Get? Finding Hope in the District

Yesterday, I started an e-mail chain with my man AO, the greatest (and only) Washington Wizards fan I know. At the time, the Wiz were mired in a 0-12 start, by far the worst in franchise history. Without young point guard John Wall and mostly without productive center Nene, the former Bullets stood amongst the league’s most disappointing teams with even the most modest of expectations. 

In a seemingly everlasting attempt to make a die-hard hoop head feel better about his seemingly perpetually terrible team, I e-mail AO with vibes of positivity. What I got was clairvoyance from a NBA sage. Check out our first exchange:

KOBEsh: The Washington Wizards are 0-12, and looking like far and away the worst team in the NBA. Without former number 1 overall pick John Wall and new center Nene for most of the season, the Zardos have struggled in nearly every conceivable way. They’re not atrocious defensively, thanks to the efforts of offseason imports Trevor Ariza and Emeka Okafor, but offensively, this team looks absolutely lost. They’re last in total points, points per game, points per 100 possessions, field goal percentage and those are just the categories they’re dead last in
 
Though Wall is scheduled to come back any time within the next month or so, but at this point, there’s really no rush to get him on the floor. Thus…there are so many negative things to say about the Wizards–you don’t have to google far to find them–but we’re going to do something a bit differently on MAMBINO. Let’s keep up the positive vibes the District has been nuturing lately, from the loins of RGIII to the bat of 12 year-old superstar Bryce Harper.

AO–looking ahead towards the end of the year, which of these are you thinking is the next (and first) Wizards win? And why?
 
AO: I think we win tonight, at home versus Portland.  The main reason being the guys in the locker room are absolutely fed up, enough to even call one of the vaunted “players only meetings”.  I guess 0-10 wasn’t enough for that meeting, but 0-12that calls for emergency measures.  

We’ve been right in all but 2 games, with most of them coming down to the final few minutes with the score near equal.  We’ve even had multiple shots to win games at the buzzer (Bradley Beal, Jordan Crawford, AJ Price). I think tonight, we look across the court and see a Portland team limping into DC with a 2-5 away record. We see a rookie poing guard, albeit a good one, who has been prone to inconsistency early in his career. Aldridge is knicked up. Most importantly, they are a pretty benign offensive team. That means we can keep the game ugly and close. And this time I think we finally make a couple of timely shots down the stretch, grab a W, and get the 500 lb. gorilla off our backs.  

Mere hours later, AO the Great Sage was correct, and the Wizards came out as a pathetic 1-12 team, rather than an outright disgrace at 1-12 after a victory at home against the Blazers. Not bad. Still, the following questions pertain. 

KOBEsh: You might have just answered the question, but do you feel like this team is actually “0-12” bad? (Editor’s note: “1-12” bad). What do you feel should be their actual record?  

AO: I don’t think they’re 0-12 bad, but they’re pretty damn close. Something like 2-10 makes a little more sense. They easily could have won one of the two Boston games or the road games at Atlanta or Indiana. Whatever though: coulda, shoulda, woulda. They’re 0-Read more...

MAMBINO’s 2012-2013 NBA Season Preview Wrap-Up

After six weeks, our massive 2012-2013 team-by-team preview has come to an end. Shout out to the entire ridiculously pseudonymed MAMBINO writing crew–El Miz, Bocker Knocker, The CDP, El Mariachi, AO, The King, Mr. Marquez and Thunderstolt–for all their contributions. They turned out better than I could have possibly imagined; insightful, well-considered, funny and most of all, right. 

If you haven’t already, check out our predictions for expected Eastern and Western Conference finishes, as well as our 30 team preview series. You’ll dig.


Coming this week: our picks for all the MVP, DPOY and ROY awards, as well as most and least disappointing/improved/suprising and of course, 2012-2013 NBA champion.


Southeast Division 
Atlanta Hawks 


Central Division
Pacific Division

Northwest Division

Philadelphia 76ers
Toronto RaptorsRead more...

Steam Clean Your Rugs: Washington Wizards Season Preview

(This Washington Wizards preview is from frequent MAMBINO advisor, but lamentably infrequent contributor AO. This manliest of men grew up a true hoophead, unfortunately stricken with a love for his local District basketball organization. I always pull for the Wiz, just so this long-suffered, but extremely dedicated fan can hold his curled head up high)

Starting Five: PG John Wall, SG Bradley Beal, SF Trevor Ariza, PF Nene, C Emeka Okafor

Key Bench Players: SG/6th man Jordan Crawford, PG AJ Price, F Jan Vesely, F Trevor Booker, F Chris Singleton, C Kevin Seraphin,

Notable offseason additions: Beal (3rd overall pick), Ariza, Okafor, Price, G/F Martell Webster

Notable offseason subtractions: F Andray Blatche

You know when you move into a new place and the landlord tells you the rugs have just been steam cleaned?  Yeah, you know that smell.  Well, that same, crisp, brand new smell is emanating from the Verizon Center in the nation’s capital, the home of YOUR…Washington Wizards. 

This season is all about new beginnings, which is kinda funny because this is the t-shirt I was handed at last year’s home opener.  New traditions, eh?  Not so much.  Last year was thoroughly influenced by some of the hold overs from the Agent Zero era – the very same that left a despicable mark of pranks, immaturity and a “I’m young, rich and creative, so let’s get online and show the world how creative I am!!” attitude.  Three characters from the aforementioned Gilbert era were still around midway through last year.  Now, going into a brand new 2012-13 NBA season, they’re all gone.  In a last minute deadline deal, GM Ernie Grunfeld stealthily got rid of Javale McGee and Nick Young, and in return got a solid veteran in Nene, his arthritic knees be damned.  Then, this off-season the last domino fell: Andray Blatche was amnestied. With him gone, the page could finally be turned. I could not be happier to say: that attitude has officially left the building. The incomprehensible stupidity finally can be put behind us, and the team can focus on an important question: how to win basketball games. 


It’s really nice to be able to talk about the Wizards in an on the court context.  Going into the 2012-13 campaign, while minimal, there are some expectations around the league for the Wizards to make a jump.  When you’re an annual bottom dweller, this may not be hard, but some are even talking playoffs. The main reason is the aforementioned purging coupled with the veterans Grunfeld brought in not only to teach the youngsters but push them to compete. While writers around the NBA blogosphere mostly criticized the Ariza/Okafor additions for clogging cap space over the next two years, I saw it as a bold move that said “we are ready to start winning ball games”.  We’re no longer throwing out a team that has built-in excuses.  Youth is not an excuse when you start 3 veterans in your front court.  Okafor, Ariza and Nene should anchor a front court to go along with what many perceive to be the teams future–its young but potentially dynamic backcourt.

You all know about John Wall.  And yes, he deserves his own paragraph, so I’ll oblige.  The Pope is entering his third year in the league and coming off a decent year but one where he didn’t make any progress from his rookie year:

2010-2011: 16 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 8 apg, 4 TO
2011-2012: 16 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 8 apg, 4 TO

You read that right: his numbers were exactly the same.  I don’t blame him much, mostly becRead more...

MAMBINO NBA Playoffs Roundtable

Look, we know you guys get sick of just me and BockerKnocker dominating the page. We get it. Handsome doesn’t translate on the internet, otherwise you’d probably want more of us. But technology being the way it is, we’re going to share the MAMBINO wealth and open up a NBA Playoffs roundtable to our stable of fine friends and writers – AO, El Miz, Thunderstolt, The King and of course, us two idiots. We’re going to ask a few key questions in any series, and give our aficionados room to answer. Let’s go!

1) CHICAGO BULLS vs. 8) PHILADELPHIA 76ERS

Q: Can the Sixers win this series now? Seriously?

BockerKnocker: This is unfortunate. The Philadelphia Lucky Charms didn’t just “steal” Game 2 from the Chicago Bulls. They looked them dead in the eye, smelled the blood left in the water by Derrick Rose’s torn ACL, told Chicago they would win, and then did just that. So it can’t be called “stealing” if Chicago essentially gave their apartment keys to Jrue Holiday and Lou Williams and watched while they ransacked the place. And it must have been tough to see Chicago native Evan Turner take one game back to Philly after Turner told the world that he preferred to play Chicago over Miami. Oh, and I almost forgot that Scottie Pippen sent a pre-game letter to the team trying to rally the troops. So if one of the game’s best players of all-time can’t get you psyched up to beat a freaking 8-seed at home, then YES, the Sixers can definitely win this series.

Q: What do the Bulls have to do to turn this around? Who has to step up just to beat Philly?
BockerKnocker: The obvious answer is first-time All-Star Luol Deng, who must shoulder most of the scoring load that Rose would have gladly taken. Luol, I get that you’re hurting, but if you’re gonna suit up, this team won’t win if you score 8 points.

But I think the real answer is Carlos Boozer. It’s one thing to make superstar-level money and not back up your contract with superstar-level play, but it’s another to put up the same numbers when a key player goes down for the count. If he can’t contribute more than 9 points and 5 rebounds in a game that the team so desperately needed to shake off the stink of Rose’s injury, then Boozer has fully earned the nickname “Beach Muscles.” And that would be extra fitting, because the way things are going, he’ll have an early start to the summer.

I just read that part over again. 9 points and 5 rebounds in Game 2!? The guy is owed approximately 47 million dollars (!!!) through 2015. He needs to be Amnestied. And not after the playoffs. NOW.

2) MIAMI HEAT vs. 7) NEW YORK KNICKERBOCKERS

Q:  Other than the obvious injuries to STAT & Shump, what has gone wrong?

If this wasn’t digital, you’d see BockerKnocker’s tears on the page

El Miz:  Everything. Newly minted DPOY by the NBA and the Great Mambino, Tyson Chandler got the freakin’ flu in April.  I’ve never heard of this happening before — I thought there was global warming or something. Should anybody get the flu after winter?  Coming into this series (and coming into this season), the front court was clearly the strength.  Chandler has been huge all year; he’s been awesome on the defensive end, has come up with a number of huge rebounds and defensive plays, is so efficient offensively, and is really the one guy the Knicks have that the Heat don’t really have an answer for.  Without him at 100%, the Knicks had to play essentially perfe… Read more...