Tag Archives: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

BULLet Points: Bulls grind out important win in Detroit on MLK Day

The Bulls are entering one of the toughest stretches of games that they will see all year, so Monday’s matinee win over the Detroit Pistons was vital to preserving their spot near the top of the Eastern Conference as the season nears its halfway point. The Bulls move to 24-16 on this victory, and maintain their spot just a game behind Toronto for the third spot in the Eastern Conference. Monday’s 111-101 win raised some questions about the Bulls and their need for Joakim Noah following his season ending injury on Friday night, but much of this is too early to tell. Here’s a look at how the Bulls held off a very strong Detroit team on Monday.

  • Bench play. The Bulls bench players scored a combined 33 points on Monday to just 18 from the Pistons. Aaron Brooks and Doug McDermott combined for 17 of those points, and Nikola Mirotic, though he didn’t get the start tonight even in Noah’s absence, added 10 points of his own. Otherwise, E’Twuan Moore added six to round out the bench scoring. With the exception of Bobby Portis, the bench had a +/- that averaged over +11 collectively. Brooks had a ridiculous 10 assists as well.
  • Pau Gasol. I can’t get too far into this without mentioning Gasol and the work that he did against Detroit. He played nearly the most minutes of the afternoon, second only to Jimmy Butler and his 13/18 from the field was instrumental for a team that was down by six points when the first quarter ended. Gasol also led the team with 31 points on offense to go with 12 rebounds, 10 of which came on defense.
  • Detroit’s collapse. The Pistons shot an insane 68% in the first quarter to take a six point lead as the quarter ended, but they folded as the game progressed. The third quarter was their roughest patch, as they were called for three technical fouls, two of which were against Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who was ejected. Detroit had led by as much as 13 at one point in the third quarter, and coming off of their 18 point victory over the seemingly untouchable Golden State Warriors on Saturday, this was a matchup that I was a little concerned about, especially since it was a road game for the Bulls.
  • Better off without Jo? This is a question that I hate to even ask on the heels of his very devastating injury on Friday night that has effectively ended his season, and it is obviously one that cannot be answered after just one game without him, but it’s something worth keeping an eye on. Fred Hoiberg and Derrick Rose had a few things to say about the question today:

“I don’t think you could find one guy in that locker room that would say we’re a better team,” Hoiberg said. “He does so many things.”

“I’m not going to say that we’re over him or we don’t need him. We need him for sure,” Rose said. “But we’re professionals. We know that once someone goes out, somebody has to step in and do that job, and we believe in everybody on this team.”

  • I don’t want to read too much into this, but I would probably have said that the Bulls were better off, if even slightly, before he was injured. Noah turns 31 in February, so he has been in the league for a considerable amount of time, so his decline as a player is inevitable. Noah has posted a 14.3 PER so far this year, which is lower than even his rookie year nine seasons ago.
  • Where’s Bobby Portis? On Monday, Portis played for just over three minutes and did not score at all. He has not hit double digits in minutes in about a week, and Portis has not shown the flashes of brilliance that drew us to him a couple of weeks ago, and consequentially he has been seeing a diminished role off of the bench since then. Monday would have been a good opportunity to capitalize on the minutes that he was getting, but he did not score and he had just two rebounds.
  • Jimmy Butler, All Star? The voting ended on Monday night, and Butler stands a chance to be voted in as a starter. He has certainly earned a spot and probably deserves to start, but it’s more likely he is selected as a reserve behind Dwyane Wade and Kyle Lowry, likely vote winners.
  • Coming up, the Bulls will test their mettle at the United Center on Wednesday night against the 38-4 Golden State Warriors.

Feds Watchin’: Joe Dumars

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The first in an irregular series of intercepted correspondences. 

Hello friends. My name is Evan and I am a fan of the Detroit Pistons. I know what you’re thinking and the answer is yes, I am also a fan of playing in traffic and bathing with toasters.

Unless you are a basketball fan (which you likely are, based on the fact that you’re here) or a Pistons fan (which I am, and let me tell you that being a Pistons fan is quite different from being a “basketball” fan, since the Pistons have not played “basketball” since roughly 2007), you may not be aware that Pistons General Manager Joe Dumars has spearheaded a rather eventful summer for the organization. After a disappointing season that saw the team get off to a scorching 0-8 start before cruising to a 29-53 finish to earn the 8th pick in a 7 player draft, Dumars fired coach Lawrence Frank and brought in Mo Cheeks to turn things around. This made sense: Cheeks is a grizzled veteran of the game and Frank had presided over two losing seasons and still cannot grow facial hair.

From there, things got a little hairier. The Pistons proceeded to pass on Michigan man Trey Burke in the draft, noting the presence of point guard Brandon Knight (hold this thought) and opting to draft hy-phenom (get it?) Kentavious Caldwell-Pope instead. Detroit then stayed quiet during free agency until suddenly deciding to hand a four year deal to Josh Smith, who was either severely overpaid or severely underpaid but it doesn’t matter because there’s plenty of money to go around in the city of Detroit these days. Finally, Dumars and Co. remembered that Knight died five months ago and dealt him for Brandon Jennings. So if you’re keeping score at home, the Pistons built their team around a shoot first point guard who can shoot sometimes (Jennings), a shoot first power forward who cannot shoot (Smith), a developing big man who terrifies Pistons fans and opponents alike (Andre Drummond), and the team’s quiet as kept best player (Greg Monroe). Oh, and Rasheed Wallace got lost looking for the Funny Farm and joined the team’s coaching staff as well. Welcome to Detroit!

This Dumars-assembled group will either be painfully bad (read: I will watch the Red Wings instead) or a lesson in dysfunctional entertainment that could back into a 7-seed and ruin their Riggin’ for Wiggins shot in the process (read: I’ll watch the Red Wings in April). Either way, one thing is clear: Joe Dumars is clearly not in his right mind. After a startling summer of transactions, I alerted the federal authorities to the prospect of the Pistons GM using illicit, mind-altering substances in large quantities. The Feds proceeded to Watch Dumars and successfully unearth years of correspondence between him and his meth dealer. Below are some relevant highlights of their findings. Everything makes sense now.

June 2003

Joe Dumars: This draft has me all sorts of stressed! Why pick second in a five player draft when it’s so much less stressful to pick sixth? Can’t I just give Memphis its pick back?

Meth Dealer: Let me pump the brakes right there Joe. You guys are on the cusp of a championship run. A successful pick here and you’ll be golden for the next few years. Melo? D-Wade? Championship potential. Don’t trade the pick, or else people will know that you do meth.

JD: Ahh alright, can’t have people on my tail like that. How about that tall kid from Serbia? Marko? What’s his name? God I am so high right now.

MD: What? No no, don’t take the European project. There are stars in this draft! Sure things!

JD: Why take the sure thing when you can live on the edge? Besides, I can’t take some ball hog who will steal touches from Rip Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince. The offense is clicking!

MD: If people find me, it will probably be your fault.

February 2004

JD: I can’t believe Rasheed is out there on the market. He could be our missing piece!

MD: Like there’s a chance in hell I veto the opportunity for two of my highest profile clients to work in the same city. Trade away!

July 2005

JD: I’m having a rough time right now. I really just don’t think Larry [Brown] is cutting it anymore.

MD: What? You guys just went to two straight Finals! You’ve got the best starting five in basketball!

JD: I dunno man. I always feel like he’s hitting on my wife.

MD: Dammit Dumars if you fire a Hall of Fame coach while you’re high I am never selling you any drugs ever again.

JD: Fine fine I’ll wait a day or two! Say, what do you think about Flip Saunders? A real inspiring fellow, yeah?

January 2007

JD: Why didn’t you tell me Chris Webber was an unsigned free agent? How long has he been sitting there? The fans will love a Michigan man!

MD: Your team’s title window is closing. Rip Hamilton hasn’t been healthy in a year. Flip Saunders is still your head coach. That Lebron guy in Cleveland keeps getting better. I have never had less confidence in someone whose team has made five straight Eastern Conference Finals.

JD: C-Webb went number one overall like six years ago right? He’s still fresh! Or have I missed a few seasons?

MD: I hate you so much.

November 2008

JD: Alright alright get this, I hear Allen Iverson is on the market, and all Denver wants from us is our team leader and former Finals MVP. Who says no?

MD: Are you taking some sorts of other medications? Are you over-exerting yourself doing strenuous physical activity?

JD: Ah shit they want Antonio McDyess too, do you think that’s too steep? Really like AD on this team.

MD: How are you still employed?

July 2009

JD: Guess what? I’ve got huge news!

MD: I sincerely hope not, since you’re supposed to be saving all your money for the summer of 2010.

JD: Nah, why wait for talent?

MD: Oh Jesus.

JD: We got Ben Gordon!

MD: What the shit are you going to do with Ben Gordon, Rodney Stuckey and Allen Iverson’s promethazine’d corpse?

JD: And Charlie Villenueva!

MD: If you pay him any more than you do me you should probably consider a new profession.

JD: Five years, $35 million, so much less than I pay you!

MD: You should be put down.

July 2012

MD: Hey Joe, long time no talk. Wondering if everything was okay? I noticed that you’ve picked pretty well in the last three drafts and seem to be building around a young nucleus of Greg Monroe, Brandon Knight, and Andre Drummond. These moves all make quite a bit of sense and frankly I’m a bit concerned?

JD: They just want me to win games. I am so empty without you.

MD: It’s gonna be okay Joe. This is for the best. Remember the 2004 championship run? The six consecutive conference finals appearances?

JD: I was high as a kite all six years. I want you back.

MD: Alright come back to me. I’ll take care of you like the old days.

July 2013

JD: I am so high right now.

MD: Do you have any idea what you’ve done for the last three weeks?

JD: What time is it? I need to take my kids to soccer practice. Did I miss Breaking Bad?

MD: You probably will not be able to afford your drug habit when you get fired.

5-on-5: Bulls Draft Questions and Predictions

With the 2013 NBA Draft coming up tonight, the guys at DRaT decided to take a page out of ESPN.com’s book and do a 5-on-5, with five contributors answering five questions. We enlisted a different intelligent guest to answer each question.

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1) What is the Bulls’ biggest need in this draft?

Jake Weiner: The Bulls’ biggest need in tonight’s draft is undoubtedly a backup big. While the Bulls are starved for shooting, last year’s big man rotation was a disaster. With Taj Gibson as our only reliable backup, Joakim Noah was forced to play nearly 40 minutes a game until missing the last 12 of 15 games with foot problems. With the solid depth available at PF/C, the Bulls should be able to find a fourth big man that can impact the game much more than Nazr Mohammed last season.

Jacob Bikshorn: The Bulls’ biggest need in this draft is to find a shooter. Is this the most likely thing the Bulls will find when their 20th pick is on the clock? No, probably not. But that does not mean it is not still the team’s biggest need. After watching the NBA Finals, I couldn’t help but imagine what the Bulls would look like with the three point arc dotted with shooters as D-Rose slices through the lane. A little spacing could go a long way for the guys in red.

Steven Kerstein: The Bulls’ biggest draft need is a scoring two guard. The team needs another scorer, preferably one who can knock down treys and still get to the basket effectively.

Tyler Geocaris: The Bulls have two clear needs heading into this year’s draft, a backup wing and a backup center. If I were the Bulls, I’d go ahead and look for the best center that is available when it is their turn to pick. Nazr did not earn the trust of Thibs, rarely playing throughout the season forcing Noah to play heavy minutes. Although it is not confirmed, this most likely lead to his foot injury. Take a center so Noah can get more rest.

Abram Shulruff (guest contributor): The classic and expected move by the Bulls would be to pick a 2 guard who can shoot the ball. This would help spread the floor for Rose and give the Bulls much needed help on offense. The kid probably won’t make an immediate impact and will sit on the bench for at least year getting accustomed to the speed of the NBA, Marquis Teague style.

 
2) Assuming nothing insane happens (trades, big names dropping far, etc.), who do you think the Bulls should target at #20?

Jake Weiner: I think the Bulls should target Gorgui Dieng or Mason Plumlee. While I know neither experienced college player is a “sexy” pick, the Bulls really do need another rim protector who can step in and play immediately. Both Dieng and Plumlee played several seasons at major NCAA programs (reigning champs Louisville and Final 4 team Duke, respectively) and seem to have the type of work ethic necessary to crack Tom Thibodeau’s rotation. Either of these players would shore up our back line and allow Joakim Noah to remain fresher for the season and playoffs.

Jacob Bikshorn: I kind of like Jamaal Franklin assuming he gets all the way to 20. I’ve read a little about the guy and he sounds like a player the Bulls could mold into something special. Perhaps the jersey is clouding my judgment, but I really think he could become a Kawhi Leonard type player (both attended San Diego State University). He’s athletic and has good size for guarding the wings at 6’5″. Shooting, while not a strength of his in college, can be improved upon with NBA coaching, just like Kawhi. The upside is there, and at 20 that’s really all you can ask for.

Steven Kerstein: Assuming nothing crazy happens, I’m for the philosophy of taking a European player and stashing him overseas for a couple years. This method provides an organization financial flexibility in a year where there are few (if any) sure fire stars. I’m thinking along the lines of Sergey Karasev, Giannis Adetokunbo or Rudy Gobert.

Tyler Geocaris: Like I stated in the previous question, the Bulls are in dire need of another post player who can give Noah more minutes of rest throughout the season. A few names come to mind like Dieng, Plumlee, and even Kelly Olynyk. In my opinion, I feel like the bulls should go with Dieng. He may be 23 years of age, but he is a very underrated passer and a good open jump shooter. Cleary his strengths are on the defensive end, which the Bulls organization will love about him. He is a mature young player who will be able to learn the defensive system fairly quickly. Dieng seems like a perfect pick here at number 20.

David Hesdorffer (guest contributor): Tim Hardaway Jr. or Mason Plumlee. The Bulls need both a shooting guard to complement Jimmy “buckets” Butler or a backup big man because Taj Gibson is the only quality big off the bench at this point (sorry Nazr). If the Bulls elect to target a shooting guard, I think Tim Hardaway Jr. is a good fit. The bulls only attempted 15.4 three point shots per game last season, which was the second lowest in the NBA. Hardaway Jr. attempted 5.1 threes last season (and made 1.9 of them), so he would be an immediate help. If the bulls elect to pursue a backup big, I think Plumlee is a good choice. He has a nice offensive game that could complement Taj’s defense for next year’s bench mob.

 
3) Would you trade Luol Deng and the Bobcats 2016 first round pick for Cleveland’s #1 pick overall? If so, who would you take? (note: the Bobcats 2014 and 2015 first round picks are lottery protected to an extent while the 2016 pick is fully unprotected)

Jake Weiner: It’s a tough question, but no I wouldn’t. There’s no sure fire superstar at the top of this draft like in years’ past. As the Bulls don’t need a starting 4 or 5, I don’t see how it would be worth it to unload a two time All-Star and a strong future pick for that big of a risk. If the Bulls did make this trade, I’d like them to take Ben McLemore or Victor Oladipo, terrific shooting guard prospects.

Jacob Bikshorn: I wouldn’t do that deal. First, I don’t know why the Bulls would want the first pick. They definitely don’t want Noel or Len as their center spot is looking pretty solid. If they want to make a serious splash they could do it in the 3-7 range. And at that pick, considering the weakness of the draft, I don’t think the Bulls would have to part with that Bobcats pick, which will likely be sick. Even if the Cats pick ends up being 7-8, this draft is not worth trading up in.

Steven Kerstein: I would only trade Deng and the Ty Thomas pick for this year’s No.1 pick if the Bulls would then take that pick and package it with other assets to make a big splash. Otherwise, I’d rather take my chances drafting at 20 and getting more bang for their buck.

Tyler Geocaris: Rule number 1, don’t fall in love with your players. I love Sweet Lu, but yes the Bulls should 100 percent do this trade. My main reason here is Luol’s stock is at an all-time high after coming off an All-Star year and a relatively injury free season. This is Deng’s contract year, and he will most likely be searching for his last big pay day because he is heading towards the later years of his career. As everyone knows, Luol has a ton of miles on him, appearing at the top of the minutes per game leader board each year. If the Bulls could receive some good value for him along with relieving themselves of his contract, I feel like it would ultimately be a win for the Chicago organization.

Spencer Suk (guest contributor): It’s a tempting offer, but I think I’d say no. A banged-up Chicago squad made a good run in the playoffs without Rose, Deng, and Hinrich, basically using a 7 man rotation. They did great against the Heat considering the only man capable of guarding LeBron James was Jimmy Butler, who was forced to constantly pour in 48 minutes a game. The defensive duo of Butler and Deng could be the best chance of slowing James and Wade. With a healthy Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah, the Bulls will be a force in the East next year. It will be tough for the financially strapped Bulls to resign Nate Robinson and Marco Belinelli this off-season, but they could have significant cap space in 2014-15 depending on what they decide to do with Deng’s expiring contract and the final year of Boozer’s deal.

 
4) The Bulls are offered a way to trade into the late lottery (9-14). Who should they be targeting?

Jake Weiner: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. While I earlier said the Bulls biggest need is a backup big man, this is based upon value at the 20th pick. The Bulls’ true biggest need is a starting shooting guard who can hit the three. Since you’re unlikely to find a good one late in the draft, I think the Bulls should thus take a backup big who gives you what you see. Anyway, Caldwell-Pope is thought to be the best pure shooter in the draft and even drawn some Ray Allen comparisons. He’d be an elite fit next to Rose’s paint pressure.

Jacob Bikshorn: I briefly alluded to this in my column the other day, but if McLemore slips out of the top 3 for some reason, the Bulls should definitely look to make an aggressive move. He’s the kind of player who would address question #1.

Steven Kerstein: If the Bulls trade up to this range, something drastic will have occurred to the roster. Having said this, I agree that Caldwell-Pope would be a good fit alongside Derrick Rose. His shot-making ability makes him the viable threat the organization needs on the perimeter. Having said this, I don’t really see a scenario where the Bulls trade up. There is no guy that jumps off the board that the Bulls would be willing to hand over their Korver exception for. I’d rather take a European player and stash him away.

Tyler Geocaris: If he’s there, I would try and go after the sharp shooter Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Pope would be a great fit for the Bulls at the shooting guard position. Playing alongside D-Rose, KCP will get many open looks around the perimeter and also be able to go against opposing teams secondary defenders. Caldwell-Pope proved he can lead a team in the scoring department coming from Georgia. He will fill a need the Bulls have been desperately trying to fill. Chicago should aggressively pursue this option if it is on the table.

Ari Hakimian (guest contributor): If this scenario unfolds, I see the Bulls either snagging SG Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (Georgia) or PF/C Cody Zeller (Indiana). Pope drains threes and slashes to the basket extremely well. His style would make life easier on D-Rose. Zeller, on the other hand, is a big body on the interior. The goofy seven footer has great touch and possesses the acumen to play effectively in Thibs’ complex system. For either scenario to occur, something interesting will have to have taken place for the Bulls.

 
5) Who will be the best NBA player in this draft in five years?

Jake Weiner: I’m a huge Otto Porter fan. Only 20 years old, he has prototypical size for a small forward and no weaknesses in his game. While he may not have one elite skill yet, he’s very good at shooting, getting to the rim and defending inside and on the perimeter. This is the type of guy who can develop a couple All-Star skills as he grows older. In five years, I would not be at all surprised if he’s an efficient version of Rudy Gay. In fact, I think Porter is the best fit for Cleveland, who lacks a small forward desperately.

Jacob Bikshorn: Well, I know Todd is going to say Anthony Bennett, who in my opinion has a bit of Derrick Williams in his game, another Salty favorite. I’m going to pick Victor Oladipo for this one as he is the safest pick. We know what Oladipo’s floor is, and it’s not too shabby. For the rest of these guys, the floor is unknown. And in this type of draft, knowing the floor, as opposed to dreaming of the ceiling, is probably the best way to predict success.

Steven Kerstein: Best player in five years: Trey Burke. He wants it more than any of these other schlubs.

Tyler Geocaris: In 5 years, I think the athletic, sharp shooting Ben McLemore will be the best player from this draft. He clearly has one of the biggest upsides, being able to scorch teams from the perimeter and also having the skill to attack the rim. Some people have questioned his toughness or mental part of the game, but the kid is only 20 years old. If he ends up with the right coach and situation, I generally feel this could be the only repeat All-Star from this year’s draft. In a draft like this one, I select the player with the highest ceiling, which is Ben Mclemore.

Todd Saltzberg (guest contributor): Victor Oladipo will be the best player from the draft in five years. Something you need in the NBA is a work ethic and the ability to improve; Oladipo has both. While he improved greatly each year in college, he still has a lot to work on and with his work ethic, I firmly believe he will. As I’ve said, his floor is Tony Allen, which wouldn’t be bad at all. I think he is going to a player with a ceiling closer to Luol Deng or Andre Iguodala.

2013 NBA Draft: Studs, Duds and Sleepers, by Matt Sherman

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As a life long St. Louis Cardinals fan I have developed an immense appreciation for a well-developed minor league system. Building from within has been a huge factor in the Cardinals 2006 and 2011 World Series titles. Even though the MLB Draft and NBA Draft are totally different beasts, one major similarity holds true; the draft is the best way for a team to get better and ensure longevity of success.

However, just as quickly as a stud prospect lifts a team to the next level, a total flop can set a franchise back for years. The draft, like many things in life, is all about uncertainty. Even a physically imposing and crazy skilled prospect can end up playing 88 career NBA games (Greg Oden). He basically played his only year at Ohio State with one hand after getting wrist surgery before the season, which had scouts drooling over what he could do with two capable hands. Conversely, a lowly second round selection can become a Defensive POY and a cornerstone of a franchise.

Year after year NBA Scouts and GMs are forced to combine their meticulous scouting notes with their gut instincts in hopes of deciphering the best draft prospects. Well I guess the GMs are in luck as I seek to provide them with a short list of studs, duds, and sleepers for the upcoming NBA draft.

Studs:

Ben McLemore, SG
Not only is he the best player is this year’s draft (Sorry Nerlens), but he also has the potential to get much better. McLemore has a jumper that makes Ray Allen’s mouth water. The dude was nearly a 50/40/90 guy in his only season at Kansas and led the team in scoring averaging 16.4 PPG. What solidifies McLemore as the best player in this draft is his underrated athleticism, which he showcased at the NBA Draft combine. After posting a 42 inch max vertical jump and a 3.27 second three-quarter court sprint time, McLemore became my “can’t miss” prospect in the draft. Whichever team is lucky enough to draft this youngster is getting a franchise player and an elite scorer.

Victor Oladipo, SG/SF
What I love about @VICICANFLY4IU (probably going to have to change that twitter handle) is you already know what you are getting at his absolute worst. Bare minimum you are getting a humble workaholic who plays excellent perimeter defense and has insane athletic ability (Checkout his MISSED dunk against Michigan, yeah he’s got bunnies). What is even more amazing about Oladipo is his unforeseeable improvement from his sophomore season to last season. He shot 13% better from the field, 23% better from beyond the arc, while increasing his averages in rebounds, assists, blocks, steals, and points despite playing only two more minutes per game. I’m no math expert, but I think that’s called an upward trend? Another huge bonus for Oladipo is that he is a great teammate and excellent locker room guy. He doesn’t have this enormous ego that accompanies some of today’s top young players. Oladipo was the heart and soul of one of the top college basketball teams in the country and will provide immediate impact wherever he lands in the league.

Shane Larkin, PG
Well I couldn’t just litter my studs list with players being taken in the top five picks, so I venture outside the lottery to give you Shane Larkin. While few view Larkin as a great prospect, I think he has the potential to be a top-tier PG in the league. There has been a clear shift to small point guards having sustained success the past few years a.k.a Chris Paul, Mike Conley, and Tony Parker. At 5’11” Larkin is undersized, but he makes up for that with his blazing speed and leaping ability. He is a lockdown perimeter defender and shows great poise for a young prospect. Larkin helped an improved Miami Hurricane team not only with his play, but with his leadership; not to mention the kid has great bloodlines, his dad is Hall of Fame Shortstop Barry Larkin. If drafted by the right team, let’s say the Indiana Pacers, Larkin can succeed and succeed quickly.

Michael Carter-Williams, PG
And now to immediately contradict myself I present you with 6-foot-6-inch Carter-Williams. While I still believe it is a small point guard league, the way you combat that is with length a-la the importance of Carter-Williams. Being an Indiana Hoosier fan, I witnessed the value of Carter-Williams length during the Hoosiers’ Sweet 16 game against Syracuse. He (and the nasty Syracuse zone) had Yogi Ferrell shitting his pants, thus not allowing the Hoosiers to get in their offensive flow. While Carter-Williams probably won’t be playing in a zone defensive scheme in the NBA, he will still disrupt ball-handlers and force teams out of their sets. Yes, Carter-Williams needs to improve his shooting, but that can definitely be done, just ask Jason Kidd. I see Carter-Williams playing for a while in the league and disrupting the short guys for a living.

Gorgui Dieng, C
Let’s do some Gorgui Dieng quick hitters; he is from Senegal (like it), he speaks five languages (love it), and he is your quintessential rim protector (need it). It is sad how a casual basketball fan forgets that 50% of the game is played on the defensive end when looking at draft prospects. Is Dieng going to WOW anyone with his back to the basket game? No. Is he going to average more than 14 PPG? Probably not. Is he going to play excellent low post defense and alter a plethora of shots? Hell yeah he is! Every team needs a guy to anchor their defense and they aren’t as easy to find as you may think. Now I don’t expect Dieng to play extensive minutes in his early years, but I do think he will hang around the league for a while and find his way on the right team and have a significant impact. He actually has an underrated 14-16 foot jump shot and I anticipate his low post game to improve. Either way you can’t teach his anticipation and shot blocking ability.

Duds:

Nerlens Noel, PF/C
Let’s say a CEO of a major company is faced with a decision to acquire new fixed assets. He has the ability to purchase an extremely expensive piece of machinery that has been known to be faulty and defective, but might produce more product per hour. Would a smart CEO cough-up the big bucks for the faulty piece of machinery or stick to the status quo while trying to make realistic upgrades in other areas of the company? Now insert Noel for the piece of machinery. The NBA is a business and the draft serves as the primary opportunity for companies (a.k.a teams) to improve their assets (players). Thus, Noel’s knee is a huge red flag. In my mind it makes no sense for a team to waste a top 3 pick on a guy who just had major knee surgery. Oh yeah, Noel’s game focuses around his elite athleticism, athleticism that will certainly be in question now. While he may turn out to be a good defensive player and decent offensively, I choose to throw Noel into the duds pile just because it makes no sense to me to waste a top pick on him given his immense uncertainty. There are plenty of safer picks in the top of the draft.

Mason Plumlee, PF
Plumlee is your classic filler pick. He just takes up space on the draft board. He doesn’t do anything above average and is just an all around decent player; can’t shoot, decent low post game, plays okay defense, and isn’t overly athletic. He’s just a big white dude with average skills. Plumlee reminds me a lot of Tyler Hansbrough who used his motor to get by on the college level. Plumlee is a high-energy guy, but he needs more than that to be effective in the league. With not much else to go on besides height and motivation, I can’t see a solid reason to spend a pick on Plumlee.

Shabazz Muhammad, SF
Shabazz seems to be the kid that went through puberty early and thus, was able to dominate high school ball and propel him to be one of the nation’s top prospects. At UCLA he got a rude wake-up call when he had many “oh shit” moments realizing that college ballers were just as athletic as he was. He has character issues and seems to be a little selfish on the court. He’s going be a guy that needs a kick in the pants every once in a while and is just a waste of time for an NBA team to deal with. With higher character guys who have similar games, I don’t see a reason to draft Shabazz.

Steven Adams, C
Clearly I don’t believe this draft features quality big men. Scouts are enamored by Adams’ size at 7 feet and the fact that he is still so young at only 19 years old. Sure there is a lot of potential with those measurables, but he just doesn’t have the skill set to perform on the next stage. Teams will look at Adams as a project, but it seems far too often that NBA teams will draft a big man purely on potential and he turns into nothing. That is how I see Adams future unfolding.

Sleepers:

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG/SF
Another guy with a great name, admittedly this is definitely a contributing factor to why I like Caldwell-Pope so much. More importantly, he has a great frame at 6 feet 5 inches and 205 pounds, a solid stroke, and he’s been “the guy” on his team before. Caldwell-Pope was sheltered from the spotlight since he played his college ball at Georgia, but this actually helped his development even more. He was the go-to-guy on offense averaging 18.5 PPG. His field goal percentage and three-point percentage were low for a guy who does shoot the ball as well as he does, but I attribute that to Caldwell-Pope having to take so many contested and end-of-shot-clock shots. He is also a good rebounder for his position averaging 7.1 a game. My favorite thing about Caldwell-Pope is that he had to be “the man” at Georgia. He is experienced in demanding the ball, which should help his confidence at the next level. I’d love to see the Bulls draft Caldwell-Pope as he could provide good floor spacing for D-Rose to operate while bringing a tough and competitive mentally to an already tough team.

Peyton Siva, PG
Siva is short in stature, but he has the heart of beast. He is very explosive off the dribble and can penetrate deep into the lane against the best defenders. Siva received great coaching at Louisville from Rick Pitino who transformed a hard-nosed point guard from Seattle to a great leader. Siva was the heart and soul of the 2013 National Champion Cardinals and demonstrated his leadership skills playing against the Wooden Award winner, Trey Burke. He posted 18 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists on the biggest stage in college hoops. Yes, Siva’s size is concerning, but that was the knock on him coming of high school too. Siva just knows the game and relies on his high basketball IQ to make up for his height. Siva is a game manager who can score if necessary and there is always a place in the league for a guard who has a good head on his shoulders.

B.J. Young, SG
I played against B.J. back in high school. His team featured tall, athletic black kids while I played with a bunch of short Jews. The game went exactly as it sounds. We lost by 45 and B.J. only played the first quarter. Now that I have reminisced on my playing days let’s talk more about Young. He is a score first guard that has the skill-set to play point or on the wing. Young has what Bill Simmons calls irrational confidence. While Young may get full of himself and take some questionable shots he has the confidence in his ability to make and take difficult shots. He is a guy that has the potential to provide a great spark off the bench and perform well on the second unit. This is an overlooked title, but having quality player on a team’s bench gives them the ability to take over games when the other team is resting their starters a.k.a the Eric Bledsoe effect. Young isn’t the most polished guard in the draft, but he does what he does (score) and he does it well.

Christian Watford, SF/PF
This is a total homer pick. We have all seen Watford at his best and at his worst. At times he shows his versatile offensive capabilities, while other times he looks like an unmotivated waste of space. However, under a structured system where Watford can just play ball I think he can flourish. At the end of the day this guy is too gifted not to play in the league. At 6 feet 9 inches C-Wat can bang in the post and show off his sweet jumper. He’s got a pure stroke and when hot, he can really fill it up. Watford probably won’t be a perennial All-Star, but he can play meaningful minutes of a playoff caliber team. Side Note: he hit the biggest shot in Indiana history when they beat Kentucky in 2011. Kind of cool.

So there you have it, a quick glance at some players to watch for in the upcoming 2013 NBA Draft on June 27th. I’d like to go ahead and apologize to all the foreign players that potentially should have been included in this list. Unfortunately, I haven’t gotten around to watching many Croatian or German basketball league games this season, but from what I read we could have some serious players coming in from oversees.

The draft is an exciting time for all 30 NBA teams. The draft symbolizes hope. Hope that a bad team will select the right prospect to get their team out of the hole and hope that a good team will choose the right guy to make them a title contender. Either way it is exciting to watch these prospects grow and see if they can handle the bright lights and the pressure of playing in the league.