Thursday, February 26, 2015

2015 Mock Draft 1.0 (1st Round)

This year's mock drafts, much like last year's, will use the mock simulator until a final draft order is set.  See the link below for the results of the simulation.
Mock Simulation

1 - Philadelphia 76ers - Jahlil Okafor - C - Duke, Fr. - 6'11, 270
It will be very interesting to see what happens if the 76ers get the first overall pick.  Okafor is the consensus top prospect, but Philadelphia has drafted a C with their first pick in each of the last two drafts (Noel in 2013, Embiid in 2014).  Noel could slide to PF and they could either rotate Okafor and Embiid.  Still, it would seem more likely that if the Sixers garner the top pick this year, they'll look to either trade the pick or trade Embiid.  Deep down inside, Sam Hinkie may be hoping he isn't put in this position.  Karl Towns, D'Angelo Russell and Emmanuel Mudiay would all fit the roster nicely if the Sixers do pick 2nd, 3rd or 4th.  

2 - Minnesota Timberwolves - Karl Towns - F/C - Kentucky, Fr. - 7'0, 250
The Wolves have their PG and SG of the future in Ricky Rubio and Andrew Wiggins.  They also have Nikola Pekovic and Gorgui Dieng as a serviceable C rotation.  That leaves them with a hole at SF (unless you see Wiggins as a SF, which is reasonable) and PF.  It's rumored that Kevin Garnett will play two more seasons with the Wolves before retiring and trying to buy the franchise.  Why not draft the player who would have the most to learn from KG?  Towns has the physical makings of an elite defensive player (7'3 wingspan, 36.5" vertical) and the skill-set to make for an excellent complement to Wiggins.  Three years from now, would you like to watch your team try and defend a Wiggins-Towns pick-and-roll/pop?

3 - New York Knicks - D'Angelo Russell - G - Ohio State, Fr. - 6'5, 180
The Knicks could use help at just about every position, as the roster is nearly devoid of young, starter-quality talent.  That allows them to take the best player remaining on the board.  They could go with Emmanuel Mudiay here, but I think Russell is a better fit for what Phil Jackson is trying to do.  Russell's game will allow whoever drafts him to utilize him at both guard positions, flexibility that will fit nicely on the Knicks' roster.  However, if he doesn't tune up his decision-making skills, his turnover problems could force him to play primarily off the ball.

4 - Los Angeles Lakers - Emmanuel Mudiay - PG - China, 1996 - 6'5, 200
Much like the Knicks, the Lakers don't have many young fixtures on the roster.  Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson are the only young pieces who look like they fit.  Mudiay's style overlaps with Clarkson's, but he's easily the best player left at this pick and Clarkson may or may not be a starting-caliber player.  Mudiay would give the Lakers a solid building block, and a potential superstar to build around.  If he can keep defenders honest  by developing a reliable jump shot, he'll be very hard to guard.

5 - Orlando Magic - Stanley Johnson - SF - Arizona, Fr. - 6'7, 240
The Magic have quite a few nice, young pieces on the roster, but the chance that Tobias Harris could sign a large offer sheet in restricted free agency this summer could leave them with a hole at the forward position.  Johnson would give the young Magic another defensive-oriented wing, making a potentially lethal perimeter defense of Johnson, Oladipo and Elfrid Payton.  On the offensive end, Johnson's potential is high if he can shoot the NBA three consistently and fine-tune his ball-handling.

6 - Denver Nuggets - Kelly Oubre - SF - Kansas, Fr. - 6'7, 205
The Nuggets' roster and organization is a mess.  I'm under the assumption that Brian Shaw will be done after this year, and that it's possible they try to move Kenneth Faried and Ty Lawson in the off-season.  If that's the case, the Nuggets will be hoping to move up for a chance to take Russell, Mudiay or Towns.  If they get stuck picking in the 6-10 range, they will have plenty of equally enticing options.  They're set at C going forward with Jusuf Nurkic, and Gary Harris could be a quality SG.  Adding Oubre at SF would allow the Nuggets to have a replacement in waiting with Wilson Chandler's contract expiring at the end of the '15-'16 season.  He's long and athletic but has produced mixed results at Kansas.  If Oubre isn't the man, Mario Hezonja, Kristaps Porzingis, Myles Turner or Kevon Looney could be.

7 - Sacramento Kings - Myles Turner - F/C - Texas, Fr. - 6'11. 240
It seems like the Kings have been looking for a PF to pair with DeMarcus Cousins since drafting the mercurial big man in 2009.  The organization is said to be prioritizing an athletic, shot-blocking big man for the spot.  Turner isn't the dynamic athlete they're looking for, but he's a good shot blocker and has an offensive game that would seem to fit well next to Cousins, with range out to 20+ feet.  If the Kings are willing to move Cousins to PF (and Cousins is willing to oblige), then Willie Cauley-Stein is who could fit in this spot.

8 - Utah Jazz - Mario Hezonja - G/F - Croatia, 1995 - 6'8, 200
Utah is set in the frontcourt, with Favors and Gobert, and they hope they have their PG of the future in Dante Exum.  Gordon Hayward is locked in for the next two or three years on a big deal at one of the wing spots.  That leaves the Jazz with one glaring hole: whatever wing position Hayward isn't playing.  Utah has started Joe Ingles at SF for most of the year.  Hezonja is arguably the best player on the board at this point and his shooting would be welcome in any NBA city.  If he's as good as the international scouts and his highlights insist he is, he could start from day one for whoever he lands with.

9 - Boston Celtics - Willie Cauley-Stein - C - Kentucky, Jr. - 7'0, 240
Cauley-Stein could very well be off the board by the time Boston picks if it doesn't move up in the lottery.  His length, athleticism and defensive prowess make him a great fit in a Boston frontcourt that doesn't feature much of those attributes.  Cauley-Stein seems like a safe bet to be a contributor, and could very well replicate DeAndre Jordan's game at the NBA level.  If WCS isn't available when Boston picks, one of the SG/SF prospects (Oubre, Hezonja, Winslow) may interest them.

10 - Indiana Pacers - Devin Booker - SG - Kentucky, Fr. - 6'5, 185
David West is a free agent in the off-season, and the Pacers could choose to spend this pick on his replacement.  If they don't, SG is a spot that could use young talent.  Booker is the best SG left on the board and is arguably the best shooter in the draft.  If the Pacers do choose to go with a PF with their pick, Kristaps Porzingis and Kevon Looney are the most likely options.

11 - Detroit Pistons - Justise Winslow - SF - Duke, Fr. - 6'7, 230
Detroit traded for its PG of the future (Reggie Jackson) at the deadline, and is set at the SG (Kentavious Caldwell-Pope) and C (Andre Drummond) positions moving forward.  Although Greg Monroe is an impending free agent, the Pistons will likely do everything in their power to keep him.  Their glaring weakness is at the SF spot, where minutes the remainder of the season will be split between 34-year old Tayshaun Prince and 34-year old Caron Butler, after the team traded away Kyle Singler.  Singler wasn't a good long-term option as a starter anyways, due to his lack of athleticism and ball-handling skills.  

Detroit should be thrilled if they get a crack at Oubre or Hezonja, but Winslow wouldn't be a terrible consolation prize.  With a good bit of luck, he may even be available with the 15th pick should the Pistons sneak into the playoffs, although it's not something I'd put money on.  Winslow's game would fit nicely with what the Pistons have on the roster.  He's been a solid outside shooter this season at Duke (38.1 3P%) and has finished well inside the arc as well (49.7 2P%).  He has a great frame and length (6'10 wingspan), which should help him be an impact defender with time.  His ball-handling could use work and he hasn't really been asked to shoulder the load at Duke.  

12 - Charlotte Hornets - Frank Kaminsky - F/C - Wisconsin, Sr. - 7'0, 240
The Hornets could possibly lose Al Jefferson in the off-season, and there isn't a SG who fits in this range with Booker off the board.  Kaminsky would fit nicely in the role that Josh McRoberts filled last season, that the Hornets have yet to find a true replacement for.  He isn't as good of a passer as McRoberts, but his ability to stretch the floor should be welcomed in Charlotte.

13 - Phoenix Suns - Kristaps Porzingis - PF - Latvia, 1995 - 7'0, 225
The Suns don't have any glaring holes on the roster, assuming they bring Brandon Knight back in free agency.  The could use depth on the wings with Gerald Green expiring, and they could use a shot blocker, but neither need has obvious options available at this point.  Porzingis would give the Suns another stretch four, and a player with more upside than some of their other frontcourt options.

14 - Houston Rockets (via NOP) - Kevon Looney - PF - UCLA, Fr. - 6'9, 225
Houston needs more at the PG spot, but the options at this pick just aren't there unless they want to reach for Tyus Jones.  Looney fits the frontcourt as a long, shot blocking option who can run the floor.  His offensive game is still raw, but he has the highest upside of the options here.

Rest of the first round to come later this week.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Total Eclipse of the Chart: Reggie Jackson

"Listen to Your Chart" is now going by "Total Eclipse of the Chart" for obvious reasons.  The gist of the post will remain the same: Breaking down how a player gets his points.

The Pistons certainly made waves at the first trade deadline of Stan Van Gundy's tenure as team president.  The trade for dynamic PG Reggie Jackson has been met with mixed reactions; the detractors stating that Jackson's poor outside shooting doesn't fit well in Detroit's offense and the supporters getting behind Jackson's length, athleticism and defensive potential.  Both sides have their merits, but it's worth taking a closer look to see exactly how Jackson functioned inside an often dysfunctional Oklahoma City offense and how he may function with the Pistons.

Click "read more" for the remainder of the post...

Monday, January 5, 2015

Weekly Preview: 1/4/2015 (1/2)

Record: 10-23 | Streak: Won five | Off. Eff.: 102.7 (25th ▲)| Def. Eff.: 105.8 (14th ▲)

We enter this week on FULL ALERT mode.  The Pistons are 5-0 since waiving Josh Smith on December 22nd, and now sit only four games back of Miami for the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference.  With the exception of a Cavs team in a rut, Detroit has feasted on teams with losing records.  That notion is somewhat mitigated by the fact that their closest win during the stretch is a 10-point victor over the Pacers.  Nonetheless, this week will be a test of what the Pistons are really made of.  Detroit's next three opponents are all over the 20-win mark.  Beating any one of the three, especially with two road games in Texas, would give the Pistons a signature victory that would almost certainly fuel the playoff hopes of Pistons fans.

The Pistons have only scored below 100 points once in their last eight games, that one occasion being a 97-81 victory over the hopeless Knicks, in which the Pistons went on auto-pilot for the 4th quarter.  The Pistons' defense, much like the offense, is nearly a whole two points better per 100 possessions since Smith was let go.  They'll need to keep the good vibes going at both ends to hold serve against the league's elite this week.

Click "Read More" for a preview of Detroit's games this week...