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Brent Blaze
Brent Blaze
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Ondre Baronette

MeloDrama finally to a head posted by Ondre Baronette

So your a newly married man, you were born in Brooklyn, and play for the Denver Nuggets. Now you want to force the organization you grew up rooting for, to gut thier roster, trade you to their team, and sign that big extension. It makes little sense, about as much sense as it makes signing that extension before their is a work stoppage. The owners and players will be battling for millions, and you and your New York wife and tv personality, La La Vazquez, will be spending millions, and staying in shape. It scares me to think that these players, all be it great, can dictate the direction of franchises, and send players away from where they play, and start a new path. Its hard to complain about the player the Knicks are getting back, but the entire process, made the Lebron James, "Decesion" pale in comparison. I'll continue to watch the team, and will always think about ways to upgrade, aka, "fix" the roster, that it's okay, but I am in the minority, when I say, I hope this trade gets pulled at the last minute, and the hammer is put away, until summer time. Lets go KnicksContinue reading "MeloDrama finally to a head"


john howard

New faces, early dividends posted by john howard

Dallas Mavericks' new players played well last night, beating the top team in the east in Orlando Magic.

Caron Butler and Brenden Haywood combined for 73 minutes 16 rebounds and 31 points.  A really good bigman and another scorer.  Good Job Dallas.

Another top team fell to newcomers.  Denver fell to Washington and their new lineup.  No Arenas, no Jamison, no Butler, no problem.  Josh Howard had 20 points in 23 minutes. More stunning was the 25 points the Wizards outscored the Nuggets in that 23 minutes.  Also, Al Thornton (just acquired from the Clippers) had 21 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 block shots in 31 minutes. Oh I can't wait until Ilgauskas joins the group. 

Expect Thornton and Howard to play with a chip on their shoulders, showing the teams that didn't want them that they were wrong. The Wizards have players that are auditioning for the big free agent bucks.  They are going to be competitive for the rest of the season.

Continue reading "New faces, early dividends"


Scott Shepherd

That Guy Scored 50?? posted by Scott Shepherd

A few days ago I posted a blog listing the best scorers in the NBA today that have yet to have a 50-point scoring game.

While researching that post, I had an even more interesting idea for a post.

It’s a list of guys who, unbelievably, had a 50-point game in their career.

Since I was using www.basketball-reference.com to research the list, we’re only going back to the 1986-87 season. It’s far enough back in time to make some of the guys on the list obscure, but not far enough back to where you won’t remember them.

In no order, here are some of the more random players to score 50 points in an NBA game over the past 24 seasons.

Vernon Maxwell

Before Ron Artest and the “Malice at the Palace”, there was Vernon Maxwell running into the stands and punching a fan. While “Mad Max” will be remembered most for that, he also finds himself in elite company as one of only 60 players to score 50 or more points in a game since the start of the 1986-87 season.

Maxwell may be most remembered for his volatility, but at one point he was very dangerous on the court as well. He dropped for 30 points in the fourth quarter on January 26th, 1991 against the Cavs en route to a career-high 51 points.

Charles Smith

The former number three overall pick had a solid first few seasons with the Clippers, but a series of knee injuries cut his career short after a few other stops. For his career, he averaged 14.4 points per game.

Though he never developed into a big time NBA player, Smith dropped 52 on the Nuggets in December of 1990. It was the only time in his nine year career the Smith scored more than 40 points in a game.
Continue reading "That Guy Scored 50??"


Scott Shepherd

LeBron Makes His Only Trip to "The Garden" Tonight posted by Scott Shepherd

LeBron James makes his only trip to Madison Square Garden tonight.

 

For the past two seasons there has been plenty of talk about LeBron bolting his hometown of Cleveland for the bright lights of New York City.

 

In his career, LeBron has been fantastic at the Garden. He’s averaged 30.1 points, 6.6 assists, 5.6 rebounds and 2.3 steals in ten trips to The Garden. In his last two trips to the Mecca of Basketball, he’s had a 52-10-9 game and a 50-10-8 game.

 

Needless to say, all eyes will be on LeBron tonight to see if he can put on another show on Broadway.

 

Also on tap for tonight, the undefeated Nuggets make their only trip to Miami to take on Dwyane Wade and the Heat; the Pistons look to continue their dominance over the Magic in Orlando; and the Suns try to outrun the Celtics in Boston.

 

I’m gonna wear out my Directv remote trying to keep up with all the games tonight. Should be a great night of basketball.

 

Stay tuned…

Continue reading "LeBron Makes His Only Trip to "The Garden" Tonight"


Brad Hurt

Nuggets hand Grizzlies frustrating loss posted by Brad Hurt

There are no moral victories in the NBA.  Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins said so himself.  If there were, Sunday's 133-123 loss at Denver would have qualified.  The 10-point final margin is a bit misleading because the Grizzlies led by five after the opening quarter and hung around for much of the game.  The Grizzlies put up 40 points in the first quarter on 77 percent shooting, which at least ensured they would not start out flat on the road as they did so many times last season.  They shot the ball extremely well, finishing at 57.8% for the game.  Offense is not the problem.  What has hurt them in their first two losses is turnovers.  They gave the ball away 20 times on Sunday and 14 times in their opener against Detroit, robbing themselves of chances to build runs.  With the way they are shooting the ball right now, if they maximized their possessions, they could be undefeated or at least have played Detroit closer.  Against the Nuggets, the Grizzlies just didn't play enough defense to win.  The Nuggets weren't a whole lot better defensively, but the extra possessions they got allowed them to stay just far enough ahead of the Grizzlies to claim the win.

There is always room for improvement, especially after a loss, but the Grizzlies are far ahead of where they usually are through the first few games of a season.  They showed flashes of greatness against the Nuggets and never hit an extended lull like they have in past road games.  They did fade in the third quarter, but just as they did so many times a year ago, they roared back in the fourth quarter to make a game of it.

Continue reading "Nuggets hand Grizzlies frustrating loss"

Scott Shepherd

Fun With Box Scores posted by Scott Shepherd

In the NBA these days, it seems like there is a stat for everything. We’ve got PER, offensive efficiency ratings, defensive efficiency rating, and so on and so on.

It seems like every team in the league now employs their own stat guru. And while I’m not one to question the use of all these new statistics to evaluate NBA players (I actually kinda like them), I’m old school.

 

To me, all the new stats in the world can’t tell the story of an NBA game as well as the good, old fashioned box score.

 

Therefore, I’m starting a new feature today called “Fun With Box Scores”.

 

Every Monday, I’ll be posting some of the more interesting things that jumped out at me from the previous week’s box scores.

 

This week, they are, in no particular order:

 

The Cavs were +38 when LeBron was on the floor this week. They were -27 when he wasn’t.

 

Meanwhile, the Cavs were -3 when Shaq was on the floor and +19 when he wasn’t.

 

Rasheed Wallace took 8 shots on Wednesday…all three pointers. For the week, ‘Sheed attempted 36 shots. 25 of them were three pointers.

 

Danilo Gallinari was 8-16 from deep on Saturday. He was 1-6 on two-point shots. For the week he was 18-36 on three-point shots and 4-11 on two-point attempts.

 

Carmelo Anthony had 113 points in 116 minutes this week.

 

Greg Oden had 26 points in 99 minutes. He also had 19 fouls.

 

Speaking of fouls, Hasheem Thabeet had 8 in 24 minutes of play this week. In his defense, he did have four blocks, giving him a nice one block for every two fouls ratio.

Continue reading "Fun With Box Scores"


Scott Shepherd

First Impressions posted by Scott Shepherd

The NBA season is officially underway (unless you live in Chicago or Milwaukee).

 

After several hours parked in front of the NBA League Pass for the past two days, it’s time for some first impressions.

 

The Good

 

Ty Lawson

 

How good was he last night? I predicted the Denver Nuggets to be the third best team in the West this season, and that was assuming that Ty Lawson would play like a rookie point guard.

But his 17 points, six assists, and four rebounds, plus very solid fourth quarter minutes in a close game against a decent Utah team, shows that he may be a real X factor for this team moving forward.

 

Brook Lopez

 

Lopez was a monster last night, finishing with 27 points, 15 rebounds, five blocks, and four assists. Of course, the Nets lost, mainly because they couldn’t hold off the mighty T’Wolves down the stretch, but it certainly wasn’t because of Lopez.

 

Los Angeles Lakers

 

I know they were playing the Clippers, but the champs didn’t miss a beat. This could have been the most lopsided seven-point game I’ve ever seen.

 

If it hadn’t been for the extended period in the second quarter where D.J. Mbenga tried to show his limitless range the Clippers would have lost by 20.

 

The Lakers starters (minus their second best player, Pau Gasol), were nothing short of dominant all game. They just toyed with the Clippers for most of the game, and clamped down where it mattered most.

 

Boston Celtics

 

Continue reading "First Impressions"


john howard

Denver summer league posted by john howard

With Chauncey Billups and JR Smith in the backcourt, things are looking fine in Denver. However, last year they did display some weakness coming off the bench.  They may have found some solutions.  Ty Lawson was very good during the Las Vegas summer league.  He lead the team in scoring with 17 points 4 rebounds, and 4 assists.  What was even more pleasing was that he only had 2 turnovers a game.  He may signal the end of Arron Afflalo.   The team has an option on him next year. And, if Lawson plays out like I think, Afflalo will be the odd man out.

Sonny Weems does not have a guaranteed contract.  So, this is a big summer for him. He averaged 16ppg and 6 rebounds.  Those are good numbers.  He did not shoot the ball well.  But, rebounding from the guard spot is a plus.  He may have earned himself a spot on this team.

Another guard, Coby Karl, shot lights out.  Cedric Simmons and Kareem Rush also played some.  Neither are under contract right now.

All in all, the Nuggets got a steal with Lawson. Flynn and Rubio got the headlines.  But, before it's all said and done, there will be many teams wishing they had taken Ty.

Continue reading "Denver summer league"


Sabrina

My first blog on ESPN.com 2/22/2009 posted by Sabrina

I just found my first blog that I wrote and figured I'd post it up here since it's semi-relevant to the upcoming season and what has been going on with the many changes.

27-27

As an avid Detriot Pistons fan, I’m just about ready to jump off a cliff because I just can’t stand watching them play like this anymore. If you’re a Wizards fan, you understand my pain considering we’re both 27-27 right now. Actually, I’m not punching myself in the face every time the Pistons lose because I think they can pull it together. With a new coach, new roster, and a few rookies, it’s understandable that this team isn’t quite the team it used to be. There is great potential on this team and I don’t think their record is doing them any justice considering their roster of very skilled players.

I want to start off by talking about Rodney Stuckey. As a second year rookie, he is getting a lot more playing time than he did last season. Also, last season he had to share the spotlight and Point Guard position with Chauncey Billups, who is now playing on the Denver Nuggets. Michael Curry, the current head coach, recently said that Stuckey is "the key to our team.” Stuckey is a great player, but keep in mind that this is his first year being on the court with so many minutes. He is new to the team and NBA itself and still needs the experience to be a star player. These are obvious reasons Stuckey shouldn’t be the “key” to the team. I think that with a few years, he’ll learn how to be a better player and definitely can lead the Pistons back into championship status.

Continue reading "My first blog on ESPN.com 2/22/2009"


Christopher Arroyo

National Champs send four in NBA Draft posted by Christopher Arroyo

The people who saw the 2009 NBA Draft on Thursday were in for a special treat when they saw Blake Griffin go No. 1.

 

Very predictable however.

 

Then, Hasheem Thabeet went No. 2, which was also predictable. Then things got a bit interesting.

 

The early shocker was Stephen Curry going number seven to the Golden State Warriors. But what was really neat was that all of the North Carolina players that declared were drafted.

 

The first Tar Heel chosen was Tyler Hansbrough, who went at number 13 to the Indiana Pacers. This was a good pick, for the Pacers and here is why. Indiana is not known to carry much toughness, especially in the frontcourt.

 

If you had the treat to see this guy in college then you would know that he’s the real deal for toughness. I think he will start the season on the bench, but he will emerge into that starting position around December.

 

The second Tar Heel chosen was Ty Lawson, who was picked by the Minnesota Timberwolves. Now I know many of you were wondering why Minnesota picked four guards in the first round, which three were point guards. But, rest assured, they ended up trading Lawson to the Denver Nuggets for a future first round pick.

 

This is the BEST team for Lawson. You’re putting one of the top, and under-appreciated, point guards in the draft on a team that is surrounded with rising talent. He is also going to appreciate being an apprentice to Denver’s Chauncey Billups.

 

Probably the most respected guard in the league and known for his patience and leadership on and off the court. Sadly, he will be a bench player for a few years but, learning under Billups will definitely make him one of the top point guards in the league. This was really the best move of the draft Denver should be strong under the point guard position for at least the next 10 years if all goes well.

Continue reading "National Champs send four in NBA Draft"

Denver Nuggets News

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Nuggets banking on big year from Arron Afflalo (Yahoo Sports)

DENVER (AP) -- Arron Afflalo is looking forward to his return to the Denver Nuggets after being acquired from Orlando in a draft-day deal last week. [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports


Wizards will keep Andre Miller for another season (Yahoo Sports)

The Washington Wizards will keep Andre Miller for another season. Miller's agent, Andy Miller, said Saturday that he's been officially notified by the Wizards that the team will guarantee the veteran guard's contract for $4.6 million in 2014-15. The 38-year-old Miller was acquired from the Denver Nuggets in a trade-deadline deal in February. He immediately filled a longstanding need for a reliable point guard behind John Wall, averaging 3.8 points and 3.5 assists in 28 games as the Wizards made the playoffs for the first time since 2008. [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports


Nuggets get Nurkic, Harris after deal with Bulls (The Associated Press)

The Denver Nuggets parlayed a draft-day trade with Chicago into a Bosnian big man that very few knew about until Thursday and a shooting guard they long coveted. After taking Creighton forward Doug McDermott at No. 11, Denver quickly traded his drafts rights - along with forward Anthony Randolph - to the Bulls for two first-round selections, which the Nuggets used to pick up center Jusuf Nurkic (pronounced you-SOOF noor-KITCH) at No. 16 and Michigan State guard Gary Harris at No. 19. The Nuggets also received a future second-round pick in the deal. Denver went the international route again with its 41st pick, taking Serbian power forward Nikola Jokic (Knee-coe-lah yo-kitch). [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports


Grading the 2014 NBA draft (Ball Don't Lie)

Readers will notice a fair amount of very good grades in our take on the 2014 NBA draft. This is because the league’s front offices are getting smarter, scouting is becoming more advanced, and that this is one of the deeper drafts in NBA history. It’s early, but we think these marks were earned. Onto the grades …Atlanta Hawks The haul: Adreian Payne, Walter Tavares, Lamar Patterson Hawk general manager Danny Ferry has yet to put together a championship contender in Atlanta, but he’s done well to secure low cost talent while avoiding some (or, all, really) of the financial mistakes made by his predecessors. The loss of Al Horford to injury in 2013-14 turned Atlanta’s season on its ear, and while Payne is nowhere near the sort of contributor that the former Hawk All-Star is, his ability to spread the floor while playing competently on the other end will fit in with a team that likes to do its damage from the perimeter. Finding a go-to backup and spot starter at 15 was good news. The 6-11 Payne is already 23, but his confidence in both contributing from the outside and playing the center and power forward position will be a needed boon to coach Mike Budenholzer’s bench. In the second round, the Hawks took a calculated chance on enormous 7-3 Cape Verde product Walter Tavares. The 22-year old has been playing basketball for just four years, but he still managed to work as a rotation player in a prominent international league in Spain, which bodes well for his chances to make an NBA bench. Grade: A *** Boston Celtics The haul: Marcus Smart, James Young Grabbing an enviable future starting backcourt, one that comes complete with dynamic athleticism, ball handling skills, NBA-styled leadership qualities from Smart and game-changing spacing from Young, is a big deal. Boston GM Danny Ainge didn’t try to faff about with trades or attempts at moving up and down, he just chose what were probably the two best players available as Boston continues its pick-heavy rebuilding project. The unfortunate byproduct is the annoying columns we’ll be reading in the upcoming months about how Smart was brought in to replace Rajon Rondo. This isn’t the case, as Smart isn’t ready to take on full time point guard responsibilities at this level, though that will change soon enough. Rondo has never been on the trade block, but he’s always been available in a deal –and both Rajon and Ainge are smart and professional enough to understand and work through their uneasy situation, with Rondo in his prime and his teammates just starting up. Rondo could and probably should be dealt in July, but that doesn’t mean we need to make a press-fueled soap opera out of it. Grade: A *** Brooklyn Nets The haul: Markel Brown, Cory Jefferson, Xavier Thames The Nets were working without a first round pick, and with most of its roster just about untradeable in the open market, GM Billy King was resigned to asking his owner to open his checkbook in order to toss millions (or, excuse me, “cash considerations”) to other teams in order to find some young help to possibly make the roster next season. It’s all King can do, in looking to find some new blood to give this moribund roster some life. Markel is an undersized shooting guard, but a smart player and dogged defender. Jefferson shows some promise with his face up game and 6-9 length, while Thames is a short scoring guard. All three could find a role with a good training camp showing, and it appears as if Mikhail Prokhorov won’t be cutting costs any time soon . Draft: B *** Charlotte Hornets The haul: Noah Vonleh, P.J. Hairston, Semaj Christon Vonleh, the Indiana big man with serious upside on both sides of the ball, slid slightly to the newly re-christened Hornets at ninth overall, and the team should be giddy with the way things worked out. If the young man remains diligent, his “Otis Thorpe meets Chris Bosh”style of play could do great things for an improving Hornets team, and give the team a buttress in the eventual post-Al Jefferson era. There is serious potential here. The Hornets also draft Shabazz Napier (another slider who would have worked well alongside former teammate Kemba Walker) at 24, but it quickly scuttled him off to Miami for a second round pick that turned into Christon (an athletic point guard who some have accused of underachieving), while falling a few spots to take on the guy they wanted all along –former North Carolina scorer P.J. Hairston. If Hairston can keep his off the court exploits in order and stay in shape, his brand of scoring and shooting at the wing position will be exactly what Charlotte needs. Grade: A+ *** Chicago Bulls The haul: Doug McDermott, Anthony Randolph, Cameron Bairstow Chicago went into Thursday night with all manner of options, and it truly rolled the dice on dealing up to swap picks with Denver and acquire McDermott. The former Creighton star supplies exactly what Chicago needs on paper –shooting and someone to swing between the forward positions –but it remains to be whether or not those oodles of contested jumpers in the MVC and then the Big East will translate to the NBA. This isn’t like pro football, where moving up in the middle of the first round can do wonders for your team. There may not have been any stars available at 16 and 19, but was this worth it for Chicago? The deal did not save the Bulls any potential cap space as it readies for a shot to sign Carmelo Anthony this summer, and the acquisition of Randolph further clouds things. He’ll make just $1.8 million next season, and though Chicago can forego the 60-day waiting period that bans immediate re-trades by dealing while under the cap, Randolph still seems to be an odd player to take on when every penny counts. Bairstow, an Australian center with serious scoring skills on the NCAA level, could stick around should Chicago empty its roster in the chase for Carmelo. Grade: C+ Cleveland Cavaliers The haul: Andrew Wiggins, Joe Harris, Dwight Powell, Brendan Haywood Once again, the Cleveland Cavaliers entered draft night with the top pick in the draft, and for the second straight season there was some question as to who the squad would glom onto. New GM David Griffin chose Wiggins in this scenario, and it’s not hard to understand why –his mixture of offensive potential and at times dominant defense could turn him into a franchise player if everything develops as promised. Concerns about previous whiffs in the first round or Kyrie Irving’s permanence are for another day –Wiggins is a stud and a deserved top overall pick. In a deep draft, Virginia shooter Joe Harris will probably make the Cavs despite his 33rd overall selection status, though Stanford shooting bigman Dwight Powell is less assured to find an NBA home this fall. The Cavaliers also took on the contract of Brendan Haywood in a deal with the Hornets in order to acquire Powell, but Haywood did not play last season and is unlikely to ever see a minute in Cleveland. Grade: A+ *** Dallas Mavericks The haul: No haul Dallas did not have a first round pick after dealing its selection to Los Angeles in 2011 for Lamar Odom. That didn’t work out. Its second round picks were tossed to New York in the Tyson Chandler trade. Please don’t remind fans that Raymond Felton was also involved in that trade. Grade: C *** Denver Nuggets The haul: Jusuf Nurkic, Garry Harris, Arron Afflalo, Nikola Jokic Reportedly, with Dario Saric signing at least a two-year deal with a team in Turkey , the Nuggets lost out on their main target. Undeterred, they received both of Chicago’s mid-round selections while pawning Anthony Randolph off on the Bulls while picking up Nurkic and Harris in the process. Nurkic, frankly, looks like a bit of a plodder whose game may not translate to the NBA (he played in Croatia last year), but he’s only 19 and appears to have a bit of a needed edge to his game. And we’re always game for an old school-styled center to find a home in this league. Harris seems like a bit of a redundant pick now that Afflalo is back with Denver for a second turn, but if Aaron opts out and leaves as a free agent next summer, the all-around stylings of the Michigan State product should provide ample relief. He’s just a classic, two-way sort of Nugget. Jokic is a massive, skilled big forward who may stay overseas for a few years before making his way stateside. In all, a solid return for what was once the 11th pick, Evan Fournier, and the 56th pick. Grade: B *** Detroit Pistons The haul: Spencer Dinwiddie New Pistons el jefe Stan Van Gundy and GM Jeff Bower entered the night without a first round selection, as the squad’s would-be lottery pick was sent to Charlotte in a cost-cutting move that sadly helped the team eventually acquire Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings, but it made out quite well on Thursday in the end. Picking in the second round, the franchise chose Dimwiddle as a stash of sorts, while the new front office figures out just what the heck it is going to do with its mess of a roster. Dimwiddle is a 6-6 point guard with lottery level talent, but he tore his left ACL midway through last January, and figures to need the bulk of his rookie year to get back up to his regular speed, much less adapt to the rigors of NBA competition. Still, a smart contract from the Pistons’end could keep the prospect in the fold, and he’ll only be 22 when 2015-16 tips off. Grade: A *** Golden State Warriors The haul: No haul The Warriors gave up their 23rd pick to Utah in an attempt to clear space to trade for Andre Iguodala last summer. Fair move, in retrospect. Grade: A *** Houston Rockets The haul: Clint Capela, Nick Johnson, Alessandro Gentile Houston’s night went almost annoyingly to plan. The team is preparing to deal its way into further cap space, again , and make a run at LeBron James, or Carmelo Anthony, or Chris Bosh, or Columbia Records-era Miles Davis, or season three of ‘The Simpsons,’or the 1967 Ford Mustang, or any other number of franchise-level knockouts. The team drafted Capela, a Swiss stringbean with hops, to keep overseas and save cap space. In the second round, the Rox picked up Nick Johnson, an undersized but incredibly athletic off guard that could become an immediate favorite of the team’s coaching staff at a Chandler Parsons-esque price. The team also used a pick on scoring swingman Alessandro Gentile, who directed some of my favorite films of the 1960s. Neither player may see the light of day for Houston next season, but grabbing three sound prospects while keeping potential cap space intact? While also receiving a first round pick from New Orleans in exchange for Omer Asik? A killer couple of days that could lead to another killer offseason for this franchise. Grade: A *** Indiana Pacers The haul: No haul Indiana dealt its first round pick to Phoenix for Luis Scola and the ability to unload Gerald Green’s contract, which seemed like a good idea at the time. It also, mindful of Lance Stephenson’s impending free agency and luxury tax concerns, dealt its second round selection for cash. Grade: D *** Los Angeles Clippers The haul: C.J. Wilcox The 6-5 Wilcox is a good enough player, but one wonders if the Clippers may have been better off in trading out of the first round and seeing what it could scrounge in the second frame (where they didn’t have a pick). The hope here is that Wilcox could turn into a Hubert Davis-styled shooter for a team that suffered through injuries to J.J. Redick last season, and Wilcox did shoot nearly 39 percent from behind the (admittedly shortened) three-point in his four-year career at Washington. He’s a ready-made player, which suits this win-now team. His aim has to be true, though. Grade: B- *** Los Angeles Lakers The haul: Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson The Lakers didn’t make some massive splash befitting of the franchise’s history, there were no deals to swing or legends to bring in. All they did was acquire a fantastic potential two-way big man that was in the conversation for the top overall pick in the beginning of the school year before falling statistical victim to Kentucky’s depth. Randle will be a great player, and though that fall (and especially his lingering foot injury concerns) is a little troubling, he’ll do well in this league provided he stays aggressive, stays in shape, and Kobe Bryant doesn’t make him cry. Clarkson is a point guard with skills and size at 6-5, and the Lakers were lucky to be able to swoop in and buy this pick (from Washington) midway through the second round. With Los Angeles’roster bare heading into the offseason, he’ll have a chance to make the team. Grade: A+ *** Memphis Grizzlies The haul: Jordon Adams, Jarnell Stokes It’s clichéd to go here, but in Stokes and especially Jordon Adams, the Grizzlies have glommed onto two players that don’t look like game-changers, but the rate out exceedingly well once their all-around stats are run through the Memphis-led cheesecloth of advanced analytics. You can’t knock the contributions. If Adams stays in shape and earns minutes defensively, the UCLA product could be yet another hoped-for swingman answer for the Grizzlies on the perimeter. Stokes looks like an undersized power forward, and he probably is, but that didn’t stop him from putting up fantastic numbers for Tennessee last season. Grade: B+ *** Miami Heat The haul: Shabazz Napier The Miami Heat, in a lot of ways, are truly lucky that Charlotte really, really wanted P.J. Hairston as much as LeBron James wanted Napier. James, via social media, made his love for the former Connecticut guard well known , and for good reason –the young man is a gamer that can splash from all over the court, a needed tonic for a Heat team that had to switch to a point guard-less lineup in the team’s final game of the season earlier this month. The price for the two-pick move up was merely the 55th selection in the draft, and a 2019 second-rounder. Sound work, considering Chicago had to give up a first round pick and take on extra salary just to move up five spots. Grade: A+ *** Milwaukee Bucks The haul: Jabari Parker, Damien Inglis, Johnny O’Bryant, Both Parker and the Bucks are exceedingly happy that Cleveland selected Andrew Wiggins first overall. Jabari looks to be a Rookie of the Year favorite, and his modern-as-tomorrow forward pairing with Giannis Antetokounmpo in a versatile front court, with Larry Sanders hopefully finding his indoor voice, will serve as much-watch basketball in 2014-15, and hopefully for many years to come. With so many NBA-ready players available in the second round of a wickedly-deep draft, it seemed surprising that the Bucks would go for a project type in the French swingman Inglis, but the Bucks don’t appear to see him as a project, and rather someone that can contribute right away. O’Bryant is a low post scorer that still may find a spot on the Bucks in spite of a frontcourt glut, because he’s surrounded by so many defense-first types to contrast with. Grade: A+ *** Minnesota Timberwolves The haul: Zach LaVine, Glenn Robinson III When he wants to be on, Zach LaVine looks like a franchise-changing talent. He can lock up defensively, penetrate and dish, or free himself for his own high-arching jumper offensively. The problem is that he takes heaps of possessions off defensively, and too often he floats on the other end. If he could get it together, the Wolves could have a Gerald Green-type starting base that (unlike with Green) they could actually toss out to play point guard at times and lock down opponents on the wing. Thinking that Minnesota drafted the UCLA project to appease fellow former Bruin Kevin Love is a bit of a stretch, but one can never put anything past this franchise. There’s also the chance, though, that Kevin Love the UCLA Fan might be scared to pieces about playing with him after watching Levine’s shot selection from the comfort of his living room last season. Glenn Robinson III’s game may translate better to the pros, which is good for a late second round pick. And with so many roster spots already full and a potential Love deal on the way, Minnesota sold off its other second round picks. Grade: B- *** New Orleans Pelicans The haul: Russ Smith Judging the Pelicans 2013 trade, one that essentially gifted the Philadelphia 76ers both Nerlens Noel and the 10th pick in this year’s draft for Jrue Holiday, is a bit of a waste some 12 months later. It wasn’t a franchise-killing move, Holiday can play, but it wasn’t the smartest transaction either from the team’s front office and (we’re guessing) ownership group. Who the Sixers ended up taking with those selections is borderline irrelevant. As a result of overrating their roster and playoff chances, the Pelicans were without a first round pick. New Orleans is always on the lookout for backup point guard help, and it dealt D-League wonder Pierre Jackson to Philadelphia for the second round rights to Smith, a smallish waterbug who had an up and down career at Louisville. Grade: C *** New York Knicks The haul: Cleanthony Early, Thanasis Antetokounmpo, Louis Labeyrie Phil Jackson’s got a new toy! The new Knick president worked his way toward two projects and an NBA-ready prospect in Early, who has first round skills. You may not want him starting as your small forward, but he will be a sound rotation player. Antetokounmpo is not nearly as skilled as his younger brother Giannis, but he is a banger and tireless worker that will appeal to both the Knicks and Knicks fans. Labeyrie has hops but the French big forward (grabbed by the Knicks after they paid for Indiana’s second round selection) seems like a long shot to make the team. Considering the second round nature of each pick, this was a win. Grade: A *** Oklahoma City Thunder The haul: Mitch McGary, Josh Huestis Thunder GM Sam Presti has never shied away from drafting for need, and he clearly feels as if his team needs the sort of forward/center depth that someone like McGary can provide. The 6-10 Michigan big man’s sophomore year was a bit of a wash due to a back injury and it probably cost him a shot at being a lottery pick, but that’s probably the best for this player that may never be an NBA-level starter. There is talent here, though. Huestis looks like a rather bland selection, but neither Presti nor Josh care much about this. He’s an absolute lock down defender that can still hit a loping, wide-open jumper. He’ll probably round off into a poor, poor, poor man’s Derrick McKey, but that’s just fine for a second round print. And, again, Oklahoma City needs that sort of guy. Grade: B *** Orlando Magic The haul: Aaron Gordon, Elfrid Payton, Evan Fournier, Roy Devyn Marble Selecting Gordon at fourth overall seemed like a surprise at the time, but as we move away from draft night and study the Magic’s (very much) lacking roster, this feels like an appropriate move. The Arizona big man has a major motor and stupid hops, he was born the same month that the Chicago Bulls traded for Dennis Rodman (that is to say, “he’s quite young”), and he’ll have room to ease into his 20s on a Magic team that has been forced into taking the slow approach with the rebuild. The Magic steadied that rebuild by going after its point guard of the future in Payton, relinquishing a future first round pick that Philadelphia owed it in an attempt to move up two slots to grab the still-developing point man. Picking up Fournier and Roy Devyn Marble (a lithe scorer who could make the team) for Arron Afflalo seems like a loss, but Afflalo wasn’t long for the team and would have been (rightfully) taking shots away from the Magic’s younger prospects. Grade: B+ *** Philadelphia 76ers The haul: Joel Embiid, Dario Saric, return of its 2016 or 2017 first round pick, K.J. McDaniels, Jerami Grant, Pierre Jackson, Nemanja Dangubić, Vasilje Micic, Jordan McCrae Bloody hell, this team. Philadephia GM Sam Hinkie is shooting for the stars. He’s seen team after NBA team shoot for merely being in with a chance, and too many front office types either merely make moves to keep their own jobs for another year, or satisfy an impatient owner. This guy’s long term approach is borderline unprecedented, in this league’s history. A year after trading an All-Star for a player the Sixers always planned on keeping out for the entire season in Nerlens Noel, Philadelphia used the third overall pick on Joel Embiid, who may have to do nearly the same as he recovers from a frightening navicular bone injury. Dario Saric’s status is more than assured –the versatile forward isn’t coming to the NBA for at least two years. Embiid and Noel, when healthy, play the same position. K.J. McDaniels, Jerami Grant and Jordan McCrae are all athletes that Hinkie is hoping click at the pro level. Dangubic is another backcourt athlete that has a lot to figure out, and Micic is a pass-first guy that may never come over. It’s all very weird and fascinating. Noel, Embiid, and Saric might be a frontcourt for the ages. And Philadelphia may lose 97 games next season. Grade: B *** Phoenix Suns The haul: T.J. Warren, Tyler Ennis, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Tyler Ennis, Alec Brown It will be interesting to see how Warren’s game translates to the pro level, he’s not going to jump over anyone or light up the night sky with his outside shooting, but he still averaged nearly 25 points per game in his sophomore year at North Carolina State. He barely made more than a quarter of his three-pointers on a shortened line and made fewer than two-thirds of his free throws, but he still found ways to score while hitting 52 percent of his shots from the field. Sometimes these things don’t carry over, but you can’t help but trust Suns GM Ryan McDonough. Warren’s 7.1 rebounds per game also bode well. Bogdanovic will get to stick things out overseas as his shot-happy game isn’t ready to come over just yet (especially on a guaranteed first round contract), and Tyler Ennis seems like a curious pick with Goran Dragic and restricted free agent Eric Bledsoe around, but if the Suns are admitting that Ennis lines up as a future reserve then the move makes sense. Brown is a wispy-thin project center that may not make the team. Grade: B *** Portland Trail Blazers The haul: No haul Portland sent its first round pick to Charlotte three years ago for a year and a half of Gerald Wallace, who they later sent to Brooklyn GM Billy King in exchange for the pick that turned into Damian Lillard. King later signed Wallace to a four-year, $40 million deal, before trading him to Boston for an aging Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, while giving up another series of first round picks along the way. This is a long way of saying that Billy King is bad at this, and that the Blazers eventually got Lillard. Grade: A *** Sacramento Kings The haul: Nik Stauskas It’s understandable that Kings fans are upset at this pick. The team selected Ben McLemore in the 2013 draft to ostensibly provide the same perimeter skill set that Stauskas is known for, and while McLemore struggled in his rookie year, the team is still doubling down on the NBA’s least-important position. That Nik could turn into a better version of this sort of player isn’t the point. It’s that the Kings possibly wasted yet another year, with yet another eighth overall pick. The pick is in the bag, though, and it’s time to move on. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with an eighth overall pick coming off the bench to spell another at the same position, and Sacramento’s true issues come on the other end of the ball –dealing with the defensive shortcomings of Isaiah Thomas and DeMarcus Cousins. It’s fair to wonder if Elfrid Payton wouldn’t have been a better choice, but the cynical take is that there was no panacea at this slot, and that you might as well go for another gunslinger all over again. Still …Grade: C+ *** San Antonio Spurs The haul: Kyle Anderson In the big eye-roll pick of the night, the Spurs chose a player in Kyle Anderson that every observer immediately started liking to Boris Diaw, who put San Antonio over the top during its 2014 NBA championship run. Anderson averaged an eye-popping 6.8 assists per game at UCLA last season, and his ability to ease his team into ball movement was praised even before the Spurs chose him with the final pick in the first round. Grade: A *** Toronto Raptors The haul: Bruno Caboclo, DeAndre Daniels, The Raptors didn’t have a lottery pick, for once, so perhaps our shocked reaction at their selection of Bruno Caboclo was amplified by the idea that we’re used to them drafting somewhere in the middle of the top 10 of the draft. This was a 20th overall pick, not a franchise-altering slot even in a killer draft like this, and well regarded GM Masai Ujiri took a shot at something special. He had to, because as good as the Raptors were this year, this is still a team without a star. Respected talents and even an All-Star, to be sure, but nobody that is considered a franchise player. Still, Ujiri couldn’t have figured something out on his way to moving down while keeping his affection for Caboclo a secret? Perhaps the rawness of Bruno’s game was overstated –on national TV, no less, to much internet derision –but it is shocking that someone as well-connected as Ujiri couldn’t find a way to select this talent at a more appropriate slot. And that’s with the admission that, sure, maybe this guy could turn into the best player in this already-fabled 2014 draft. Even if that is his destiny, he won’t be the best player for a long, long time. His draft status in 2014 has to reflect that. Grade: Incomplete. Call it a cop out if you want, but it is 2014 and we just don’t know. *** Utah Jazz The haul: Dante Exum, Rodney Hood, second round pick from Memphis in 2016 Exum could be a workout wonder, someone to gawk at in short bursts in lieu of a long college or international season to judge. There’s a chance he could level off and never hit the sort of prime that many expect for him.. Doesn’t matter. The Jazz need a star, and even if they have to wait several years before the teenager finds his NBA legs, finding Exum (at times rumored to be a top three pick) with the fifth selection was an absolute killer. And grabbing Hood, a long swingman that can contribute from the outside, was another fine move. How this team shapes its roster moving forward remains to be seen, but Thursday night was a winner. Grade: A *** Washington Wizards The haul: No haul The Wizards dealt a first round pick to Phoenix, one that was eventually used on Tyler Ennis, for a year’s worth of Marcin Gortat. The center was instrumental in helping Washington return to the playoffs, and he’ll likely be re-signed this summer, so it was a fair trade off. The team’s decision to sell its second round pick, however, should be distressing to Wizards fans . Grade: C The NBA The haul: Isaiah Austin. Solid choice . Big upside. Grade: A+++++++++++++++++++ - - - - - - - Kelly Dwyer is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at KDonhoops@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @KDonhoops [read full article]

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AP Source: Nuggets acquire Afflalo from Magic (Yahoo Sports)

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