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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...

What we know about the Lakers going into the 2014 NBA Draft

In some years, the NBA Commissioner walks to the podium and there’s not a shadow of a doubt whose name he’s going to call. LeBron James. Derrick Rose. Blake Griffin. Kyrie Irving. John Wall. It’s academic–no holding your breath, no torrid anticipation. A few All-Star teams and MVP trophies later, I’m pretty sure it’s worked out for all those teams.
 
In other years, it’s more surprising. Michael Olowokandi. Andrea Bargnani. Anthony Bennett. The results have ranged from useful scorers to complete busts and everywhere in between. However, there are some June nights that leave people scratching their heads, wondering what exactly they just witnessed.
 
Regardless of whether or not we saw the number one pick coming from a million miles away or were hit out of left field by an Anthony Bennett-sized comet, no one sitting in that arena truly knows whether or not that pick will pan out. In fact, that’s the general sentiment behind all 60 selections in the draft. What we know versus what we don’t know going into draft night is usually staggeringly unbalanced.
 
Unfortunately, the Los Angeles Lakers are not exempt from the mysteries of the NBA Draft.
 
At the number 7 slot on the board, the Lake Show is in an unenviable position. They’re sitting right outside what could be considered a draft comfort zone, perhaps just one slot out of reach for a truly impactful youngster. Guys like Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid, Jabari Parker and Dante Exum could all be taken by the time numero siete is on the clock, with potential stars like Julius Randle and Marcus Smart gone as well. The Lakers are choosing between what I’d consider the “second tier” of rookie players, and at the end of that section, to boot.
 
(Read on at SS&R)

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Should the Lakers take the conflicting skills of Aaron Gordon?

It seems with the seventh selection in the 2014 NBA Draft, the Lakers are only picking from a pool of divisive players. With every swoon of a blogger regarding Marcus Smart’s driving ability, another swath of people will dive right in with concerns about his shooting and attitude. Noah Vonleh certainly has his fans, but also has his detractors who wonder why he wasn’t more of an offensive threat on such a middling Indiana team this past year. Doug McDermott, Gary Harris, Tyler Ennis and Zach LaVine might all be fine, fine pros eventually, but I could pick them apart after watching just a few minutes of video. Former University of Arizona forward Aaron Gordon is no different.
 
Most scouts that I’ve read and video that I’ve watched on Gordon all read almost exactly the same–a flawed player who still has an otherworldly athleticism, drive and most importantly, youth on his side. Let’s break down the big man point by point:
 
Athleticism
 
In most cases, for a blogger to put down “athleticism” as a bulleted argument is usually an exercise in laziness–after all, if we’re talking about an NBA lottery pick, we’re usually talking about guy with world-class athleticism.
 
But for Aaron Gordon? A seemingly mundane point has got to be highlighted.
 
(Check the rest out at SS&R)

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Los Angeles Lakers offseason primer

R.I.P. 2013-2014 Los Angeles Lakers season. You made us watch over 2,000 minutes of Wesley Johnson and somehow made us think that Nick Young (aka Swaggy P) was a responsible, charismatic leader and a decent defender. You were a year that robbed us of 76 games of Kobe Bryant and made us feel like games were more of a chore than a delight. In no way will you be missed.
 
With perhaps the worst six months of Lakers basketball of all time over and done with, we can finally look towards the next six months: the offseason. VP of Player Personnel Jim Buss and GM Mitch Kupchak have a ton of work to do, which includes trying to rebuild a team around a returning Kobe Bryant and of course, dealing with the team’s first lottery pick in almost a decade. It’s fair to say that this is the most pivotal Lakers offseason since 2004, when the same front office traded Shaquille O’Neal and re-signed Bryant.
 
Let’s take a look at the biggest storylines throughout the summer.
 
Who are the Lakers taking in the NBA Draft?
 
For the first time since 2009, the Los Angeles Lakers have a first round draft pick and have the potential to keep the pick for the first time since 2007. But not just any draft pick at that: a genuine lottery pick. Right now I feel like one of the Amish in the middle of a Best Buy: I’m confused and excited and I most definitely need a new pair of pants.
 
(Peep the rest over at Silver Screen & Roll)

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Settle, Lakers fans: NBA Draft’s top four talents are seldomly drafted in the top four

As the Lakers lose night after night, part of the fan base laments another bad loss with uncompetitive fourth quarters becoming the norm. However, the other part of the fan base–maybe the louder portion–reluctantly expresses glee at their favorite team being taken down once again. The reason? Keeping “the tank” rolling towards a high pick in this year’s draft.
 
The more games the Lakers lose, the better probability that the team will have a higher–and thus logically better–selection in June’s NBA Draft. It’s a painful reality to face when one realizes that losing now may be the best way to ensure the organization’s long-term chances of winning. Fans have embraced it almost too easily, a strange reality considering the franchise’s long history of winning year after year.
 
If kept on the current trajectory over the next week and a half, the Lakers will most likely fall somewhere between pick no. 5 and 8 in the Draft. With a stroke of luck, they could end up with as high as the number one pick, though the percentage chance of that happening ranges from 2% all the way up to a sizzling 12% depending on how the rest of the season shakes out.
 
While this isn’t the most glamorous pick, as my colleague Ben Rosales pointed out in his superb article last week, there’s a bevy of great players to be had in those spots. The point of his post was to address Lakers fans out there who have cried doom if the Lakers don’t get within the Draft’s top four selections when potential future All-Stars like Joel Embiid, Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins and Dante Exum could all be available. I too have seen the same type of cries, with some suggesting that if the franchise doesn’t grab a top-4 pick, this season of losing won’t even be worth it.
 
Aside from the players that Ben covered in his piece, I’ve examined the drafts going back to 2003 to see exactly how they unfurled. Combining an inexact formula of All-NBA Team berths, Win Shares and the simple eye test, I’ve examined the best players in each draft class along with their actual position, as well as the “busts” from every year in the top 5. Again, this is an inexact science, so if I offend your sensibilities, my apologies.
 
I’m kidding. I don’t really care about your sensibilities.
 

(Read on at SS&R)
 
 
 
 
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Awesomed into submission: A live 2013 NBA Draft recap

“Your enthusiasm is dwindling.”
 
With a wry smile that couldn’t even begin to convey how much he was enjoying himself, David Stern baited an exhausted New York audience who had already witnessed more excitement in a NBA Draft than the 30 the Commissioner presided over before it. Year after year, a sterotypical New York crowd had booed Stern vociferously with every single pick, pointing more attention towards Stern than the selections he was announcing. And why not? Year after year, the picks were largely settled in the weeks and months beforehand. NBA drafts follow a formula more times than not, replicating mock drafts that have become more a science than good clean fun.
 
The 2013 NBA Draft couldn’t have been any less formulaic than if Walter White disassembled it himself. At 7:20pm, just 10 minutes before the event started, I turned to my friend Kevin and asked, “How do we still not know who the number one pick is going to be?” I scrolled through my phone, gloriously hooked up with the Barclays Center free premium wi-fi (thanks Mikhail!), trying to get an indication through Twitter one way or another. Nerlens Noel. Victor Oladipo. Alex Len. Ben McLemore. No one seemed to stand out more than another. Kevin, clad in his black Orlando Magic shirt and perhaps the last bastion of central Florida fandom in NYC, giddily looked at me and announced, “If we get Oladipo, I’m going to LOSE it!”
 
Looking around, everyone in a surprisingly packed crowd was rolling through their phones, hoping to find the latest #Wojbomb before everyone else. No such luck. My search was interrupted by a surround sound booming chorus of “BOOOOS” hailing down on an entering Commissioner, who made a few opening remarks that I can’t begin to recap–because I couldn’t hear them. The crowd was booing that loudly.
 
Compared to last year, there seemed to be a difference. Fresh off the lockout, The Veto and LeBron James and the Miami Heat winning their first title, there was a distinct taste of actual hatred in the air. The crowd at the Prudential Center in 2012 voiced their displeasure with the Commish, booing him with as much vigor for the 1st pick as the 30th. People were mad at a season nearly cancelled and for some of us, the sense that Stern had acted like Vince McMahon in squashing a league-changing trade.
 
Last night, the anger from last June had dissipated, with the jeers taking on a tone clearly reverential in nature. There was almost a sense of nostalgia knowing that this was the last time we were going to be able to boo him, and we owed it to the man to show him as much disrespectful respect as humanly possible.
 
(Read the rest over at Silver Screen & Roll!)

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Instant Trade Analysis: Jrue Holiday to New Orleans, Nerlens Noel to Philly

Philadelphia 76ers get: C Nerlens Noel, 2014 protected first-round draft pick
 
New Orleans Pelicans get: PG Jrue Holiday, PG Pierre Jackson (2013 42nd overall pick)
 
There were around a dozen trades last night, and similar to the Nets-Celtics deal, this pact between the Sixers and newly christened Pelicans declared a direction for both franchises.
 
The Sixers, a team one win away from the Eastern Conference Finals two seasons ago, were blowing it up.
 
The Pelicans meanwhile, are looking for their rebuilding movement to bear fruit just two years after it started.
 
Whether or not this deal is labeled a win or a bust for Philly completely depends on what you think of Jrue Holiday. The Pelicans’ first ever starting point guard just finished his breakthrough season, leading the Sixers in scoring (17.7 ppg) and assists (8.0 apg) and making his first All-Star game appearance. He was one of the lone bright spots for an awful year in Philadelphia in which Evan Turner’s development once again stagnated, coach Doug Collins resigned and all Andrew Bynum headlines revolved around his hair. Holiday was a very good, though perhaps not elite, two-way player whose excellent defensive chops resembled how well he orchestrated a limited Philly offense. … 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...

MAMBINO Does the NBA Draft: David Stern, the Victor

Taking a train over the river to beautiful downtown Newark, NJ, KOBEsh, Bockerknocker and El Miz took seats  live at the 2012 NBA Draft. Here are some of our collective draft night thoughts and observations.

With his usual, trademark half-cocked smile, Commissioner David Stern saunters to the podium for his 29th NBA Draft. The Commish steps to the microphone to the roar of the crowd. He no doubt spoke words about the excitement of the first-year player selection process and how tonight would be a night that these young men had been dreaming about their entire lives. He no doubt vetted that June 28th, 2012 is the first step in the journey of many to NBA stardom and that we here in the National Basketball Association are so very happy to be at this beautiful arena tonight. He no doubt thanked the boistrous New York crowd that had so bravely made the inconvenient trek all the way out to Newark, while the usual home of the Draft – Madison Square Garden – undergoes year two of their three-year offseason renovation plan. He finally and crisply, no doubt proclaimed that the 2012 NBA Draft is underway, and that indeed, the New Orleans Hornets were on the clock.

I wouldn’t know. The moment the Commissioner stepped to the mic, he was showered with a chorus of boos from the audience in a reception that was more befitting WWE Chairman and on-screen villain Vincent K. McMahon. Stern spoke, and kept on speaking, but barely a word crept through the wave of disdain thrown at him by the crowd. However, unlike Golden State owner Joe Lacob who shrank from the boos of the Oakland crowd on Chris Mullin Night a few months ago, or Clippers owner Donald Sterling who regularly ignores the hate at Staples Center, the Commissioner revels in the surrounding din of this Newark crowd. He hears it and welcomes it. He loves it.

Because he knows it means he won.

Read more at Silver Screen & RollRead more...