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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...

Trade Analysis: Jacoby Ellsbury to the New York Yankees

(Last night, Jacoby Ellsbury was signed to a massive, 7-year, $153 million dollar deal to play for the New York Yankees. Living in NYC, I have more than my fair share of Pinstripe Fan friends, none of which were overly thrilled with the proceedings. Here are my thoughts, as well as MAMBINO contributor El Miz, whose words were culled from no less than half a dozen e-mails)
KOBEshigawa: I’m confounded by this signing. Still, I’m trying to find reason in the seemingly unreasonable.
Ellsbury’s still a great defensive outfielder and often capable of being spectacular. He’s the lead-off hitter that Brett Gardner might not ever be (though he’s shown flashes at times) and certainly won’t ever blossom as while as a Yankee. Ellsbury is still an elite base stealer (52 for 56 this season), though truthfully I can’t say whether he’s more of a skillful base stealer or just a burner–I haven’t seen him play enough. Still, he might be one of these intellectual runners that still swipes 20+ bags into his late thirties, a la Kenny Lofton or Rickey Henderson. Again, if I were to watch him more, I could probably have a better informed decision.
With the bat, it looks like he’ll never be a 20-30 homer guy after that one extremely fluky year, but it’s clear to me that as long as his speed stays with him (at least for another two or three years), he can still be a 30 double threat. He’s got a fairly solid batting eye, doesn’t strike out a ton and generally seems to be a hard worker. On top of everything else, his injury history has been largely contact injuries: broken ribs that were exacerbated by playing while still injured (due to a bad misdiagnosis) in 2010 and a dislocated shoulder after a collision on a slide in 2012
The world is of course comparing this deal to Carl Crawford’s record contract with the Red Sox that is both similar in size (7 years, $142 million) and potential for disaster. I’m not sure I buy it completely. For his entire career, it’s obvious that Crawford’s game was contingent on his athleticism. He was a fast runner, but never an efficient base stealer; he was a pretty good hitter, but it was probably because of his speed that he hit over 100 triples in Tampa; he had a good batting eye, but never a spectacular one. Ellsbury, unlike Crawford, is a better baseball player. Crawford was a better athlete. Big difference. Ellsbury will age better into his deal, I presume, than his counterpart has.
That being said……

A car crash worth watching: New York Knicks Season Preview

Starting Five: PG Raymond Felton, SG J.R. Smith, SF Metta World Peace, PF Carmelo Anthony, C Tyson Chandler
Key Bench Players: SG Iman Shumpert, PF Andrea Bargnani, G Beno Udrih, PF/C Amar’e Stoudemire When Healthy, PG Pablo Prigioni, PF Kenyon Martin
Notable offseason additions: PF/C Andrea Bargnani, SG Tim Hardaway Jr., PG Beno Udrih
Notable offseason subtractions: PG Jason Kidd, SF Steve Novak
FACT OR FICTION #1: Andrea Bargnani will be a key contributor off the bench for the Knicks.
FACT. Most people derided this trade, because trolling the Knicks is “in” and the Knicks usually make bad trades. #ANALYSIS. This is just the world we live in, and as Knicks fans, you have to get used to it.
There was a time where Andrea Bargnani actually had some basketball skills. He was a 7 footer who could score from the block, shoot the 3, find the open man when the double-team came. He has averaged 40% from 3 for an entire season. He has averaged over 20 points per game for a season. There are not many 7 footers in the NBA with those line items on their resume. Yes, he is a rebounding zero. Yes, the most quotable commentary when you search “Bargnani defense” is “LOL”. Yes, he freaking stunk last year. But he is a big who can score, who is only 28, and who may just be salvageable.… Read more...

Instant Trade Analysis: Metta World Peace to the New York Knicks

New York Knicks get: SF Metta World Peace (two years, $3 million)
(The following was a MAMBINO e-mail chain started off by renegade blogger, friend of the blog and all-around degenerate Jimbo Shingles. What followed was an Instant Trade Analysis of Metta World Peace signing with the New York Knickerbockers)
Jimbo Shingles: What do we think about this?
Where are are the Knicks missing depth? What can they do to win the whole thing?
The CDP: Regarding Metta, he fell off the second half of the year a bit, but he was on fire and reinvigorated entering the year. He was in great shape, and an absolute bull dog on defense. His speed has been leaving him for years (he’s 33!), so he can’t guard the fastest guys in the league anymore, but he still has incredibly quick, strong hands and he has great instincts on the ball. Plus, he uses his size well to body up bigs and not give an inch.

Offensively he’s not the same beast–Metta has always needed a lot of volume to be even remotely efficient–but he’s definitely serviceable enough in the right positions (open threes, in the post) to keep defenses honest. … 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’S Western Conference NBA All-Stars

Saturday, we laid out our picks for the Eastern Conference All-Stars stamped with the iron-clad MAMBINO seal of approval. Once you’ve peeped that, feast your eyes on our Western Conference selections:
Starting Guards: Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder (Unanimous) & Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers
Westbrook is one of four (!) unanimous selections from this glorious forum, and really, is there any doubt? After a somewhat reckless start, Russ has gone back to his world destroying ways, shooting just 41% (very close to his career mark), but getting to the line nearly 8 times a game, a number identically matched to the number of dimes he doles out every night. Statistically, Westbrook’s 2012-2013 isn’t as impressive as last year, but all expectations have to be deviated when taking into account the massive team-wide upheaval in the wake of the James Harden deal. Chris Paul surprisingly wasn’t a unanimous selection, as one of our panel gave the starting nod to James Harden…somehow. CP3 is in the midst of a MVP-caliber year, in which he should finish no worse than third in the voting by the time April rolls around. His availability for the actual All-Star game is in doubt with a bone bruise in his knee, a horrifying proposition for any Clips fan. Wherever you are.

MAMBINO’s Eastern Conference 2013 NBA All-Star Selections

Every year, the NBA grants voting power to the people and allows the fan base to vote for the starters in it’s annual All-Star game. It seems that this year, like all other years, we here at MAMBINO have looked at the selections and determined that the people don’t know shit.
The NBA All-Star game amounts to a gigantic popularity contest, in which fans vote for both conference’s starters, which in turn affects the seven reserves selected by the 30 head coaches. After a quick poll between some of MAMBINO’s finest, we’ve combed our collective roundball consciousness and determined which players were most deserving of this prestigious honor.
Unlike the bogus MLB All-Star game, the NBA holds no premises like mandatory representatives from every team or a 34-man roster which is 9 players larger than the standard 25-man. It’s extremely difficult to be selected to an All-Star team in basketball, as great players on poor teams are routinely–and perhaps righty–penalized for playing on a terrible squad. Until Thursday night, the Golden State Warriors haven’t had an All-Star since 1997, when Latrell Sprewell laughed at $21 million dollar contracts and played at a high level. The reason? The Warriors have made the postseason just once in that span.
We’ve put together our rosters according to NBA standards, which means two guards and three “bigs” (there is no “Center” position on the ballot this year, a telling sign of the direction the league is going. The Lakers are even getting beaten down subliminally on nomination sheets), as well as seven reserve players. We tried our best to reward players who are not just playing great, but doing the most to elevate their teams into playoff, or close to playoff contention. Here are the MAMBINO Eastern Conference All-Stars, with select commentary. Western Conference coming tomorrow!
Starting Guards: Jrue Holiday, Philadelphia 76ers (Unanimous) & Paul George, Indiana Pacers
In a tough year for the Eastern Conference guards, Holiday and George surprisingly pick up the nods here. The Sixers’ starting point guard has been the bright spot of an otherwise extremely disappointing season in Philly. Holiday has been the biggest reason why a Andrew Bynum-less team is even staying on the fringes of a under-competitive Eastern Conference playoff race, ranking 8th in scoring, 4th in assists and 12th in rebounds per game for guards. The biggest knock on him has to be his league-leading 4 turnovers a game, but it’s his willingness to take the lead dog spot for a Philly team that’s had it’s trajectory radically changed that’s most impressive.
Most casual NBA fans won’t know the name “Paul George”, and if they did, they’re either from Indianapolis or think that he’s a Revolutionary War general. Like Holiday, George’s ability to step into a leading role for the injured Danny Granger has been inspiring. The former Fresno State Bulldog is registering career-highs in almost every category, including a massive 7.8 boards per game as well as throwing in 17 points and nearly 4 assists a contest. More importantly, his defense has been fantastic and thus providing more overall value than the max contract man in Granger.
Snubbing Dwyane Wade …