Roster Spots

Recently there’s been some discussion in the comment section at KnickerBlogger about the Knicks roster needs. Coach D’Antoni is known to keep the rotation short, but a 7 man team seems to be small even for him. The problem seems to be the lack of quality at the end of the Knicks’ bench.

Malik Rose saw time early on, but D’Antoni probably got tired of seeing Rose end up with the ball under the hoop and unable to finish. (I sure was!) Roberson made a name for himself in the summer league, but played his way out of the rotation. Jared Jeffries, who was supposed to perform a cocoon act reborn as a D’Antoni center, has been more caterpillar than butterfly. Additionally the Knicks have Eddy Curry who is suffering from a knee injury, Danilo Gallinari who is suffering from a back injury, and Jerome James who is suffering from sucking. James actually saw some live court time in the Knicks blowout of the Kings, but even against Shaq, James and his valuable 6 fouls stayed rooted to the bench.

Obviously most of these guys are not good enough (or healthy enough) to help the team this year. With the retirement of Mobley and the possible buyout of Marbury, the Knicks may have two roster spots open. But the question remains what kind of player(s) do the Knicks need?

The most glaring need is guard, or more specifically point guard. Duhon takes the lion’s share of the duties, with Robinson giving him a breather for a few minutes a night. This works out when the pair are healthy, but recently Robinson’s injury exposed the lack of depth. The Knicks third (and last) guard on the roster, Roberson, was unable to run the point. Roberson is more of a undersized scorer, and D’Antoni was so reluctant to use him that the he prefered the Knicks to have 5 forwards on the court instead of Roberson guiding the offense.

New York needs a point guard, not to make the rotation but rather to provide insurance in case either Duhon or Robinson get hurt again. Even if an injury forces this guard into action, they would only see 5-10 minutes to give the starter some breathing time. The Knicks don’t even need to swing a deal to acquire a player of this type. Jared Jordan was just signed to a NBDL team, and former Knick Frank Williams is already one of that league’s better point guards.

As for the second roster spot, interior defense is an issue, but this is a hard need to fill. Players that can block shots, rebound, run the floor, and don’t embarrass themselves on offense are much more difficult to find. To borrow from David Berri, there’s a short supply of tall people. The Knicks wouldn’t be able to grab a player like this off the developmental league or waiver wire. They might be able to find a player that does two of these, but that player isn’t likely to break the rotation. A player like Joakim Noah might be a good fit, but the Knicks are low on resources to make a trade like that.

Instead the Knicks should concentrate on another weakness: small forward. Wilson Chandler has supplanted Quentin Richardson from the starting lineup, and has performed admirably for a 21 year old. However Chandler shows his age often. He settles for the jump shot too often, isn’t great at finishing around the hoop and doesn’t pass well. I can’t think of another player that hits the backboard on the corner three as often as Wilson. Although he’s the Knicks best shot blocker in the rotation, he’s not freakishly athletic like Prince or Marion.

On one hand I’m reluctant to suggest the Knicks grab another SF, since that may cut into Chandler’s time. And on a rebuilding team, giving minutes to your young small forward is a good thing. However in a Hermian world where teams play to win the game, getting a SF that can rebound, defend the paint, and score inside would help the team greatly. Of course the Knicks gave away just that type of player (Balkman) and it’s likely the Knicks will grab Ewing Jr. in an attempt to fill that role.

John Hollinger usually notes that when a team suffers from an injured player, it’s not the drop-off from the starter to the first reserve that hurts the team the most. But rather the team suffers because they have to dig deeper into the bench to replace the minutes that the reserve player used to fill. The Knicks started off the season with a decent rotation, but as injuries and trades have robbed them of quality players, the end of the bench has come back to haunt them. Even if players like James, Marbury, and Rose aren’t playing much, they’re taking up roster spots of players that could be contributing. By robbing the team of players that might prove useful even in spot minutes, these players are hurting the team just as much as if they were playing badly on the court.

Prediction Time

My guess is that the Knicks won’t win more than 28 games. It’s not that I think the team hasn’t improved. I think Duhon pushing Marbury to the bench gives them depth at guard. With Duhon & Collins the Knicks have two able perimeter defenders – something they haven’t had since perhaps Sprewell & Ward. Maybe even Ward & Harper, since Latrell spent most of his time at small forward.

I think replacing Curry in the starting lineup with David Lee is a considerable improvement. Lee is not only a better player, but a Lee/Randolph front court compliments D’Antoni’s coaching style. Since both are able rebounders, there should be more fast break opportunities. And Lee can play off the ball more with Randolph than Curry would. Also I think Chandler will eventually supplant Richardson at small forward eventually, and that will help the team as well.

I think Mike D’Antoni is a good coach. In fact I think he’s the best coach this team has had since Van Gundy. Many thought D’Antoni preferred veterans over newbies, and the Knick prospects would suffer. Yet it seems many of the youngsters are favored by D’Antoni (Robinson, Chandler, Lee, and even Gallinari). He has a coherent structure for the offense. For the first time in years I feel that the Knicks are actually drawing up plays during timeouts instead of taking everyone’s dinner orders.

So why all the negativity? (If you can call a 5 game improvement negativity.) First is that the East has improved drastically. Jermaine O’Neal makes the Raptors better. Elton Brand makes the Sixers better. Beasley and a full season from Wade & Marion make the Heat better. Mo Williams might make the Cavs better.

My second cause for concern is the roster makeup. It’s thought that Zach Randolph will be moved at the deadline. Let’s just assume that the Knicks move him for a lesser player. Who takes his place in the lineup? The guy they traded for? Well by definition that player should be worse. (Who would take on contract & give up a better player?) If not then maybe Eddy Curry? Or Jared Jeffries? Or Gallinari? None of these will translate into more wins this season.

And who is to say that the Knicks don’t move Lee, Chandler, or Robinson? The team is rebuilding, and it’s hard to say what the roster will look like in March. Even without any changes, the team is paper thin at small forward. The depth chart is two deep: Chandler and Richardson. If one or both get hurt the Knicks will struggle.

So with all that in mind, I’ll stick with 28 wins for the Knicks in 2009. However it doesn’t matter to me how many wins the team gets. This year the team will be more fun to watch. Already it seems that the younger players like Lee, Robinson, and Chandler are going to get more minutes.


Some other predictions from around the league.

Hollinger: 28 wins

Ball Don’t Lie: 23 wins

Yahoo/Accuscore: 25 wins

Straight Bangin: 30 wins

Posting & Toasting: 36 wins

UPDATED: Basketball Prospectus: 24

Rockets Grab Artest

The Houston Rockets acquired Ron Artest from the Kings for Donte Green, Bobby Jackson, and next year’s first round pick. So far the move is receiving positive reviews. Hollinger likes the move, as does the Dream Shake blog (who is extra sure the move is a winner, because Richard Justice hates it). Hell even King fans like the deal (“The Kings will do more than just survive — they will thrive without Ron-Ron… Wins for everybody.”)

{democracy:23}

Balkman Traded for Nothing?

According to ESPN:

The Denver Nuggets have traded Taurean Green, Bobby Jones and a 2010 second-round draft pick to the Knicks for Renaldo Balkman and cash considerations, an NBA front-office source tells ESPN.com’s John Hollinger.

Green and Jones are likely to be cut because they have non-guaranteed deals, the source told Hollinger. Their acquisitions would increase the Knicks’ roster to 17 players.

Interesting that Hollinger broke the story for ESPN, although he does cover the Knicks for the NY Sun. As for the Knicks, assuming that they’re going to cut Green and Jones, this is a bad trade. Balkman has value as a defender, rebounder, and transition player. If the only thing New York ends up with is the draft pick it’s a total loss. They’re not likely to get an NBA caliber with that 2nd round pick.

Until this is official I’m hoping that one of two things are true about this trade: either the draft pick is a conditional first or they are going to cut someone else and keep Green. He had nice numbers in 8 games in the NBDL and is only 21 years old. At least it would mean they got something out of the deal.

Interview With HoopsAnalyst’s Ed Weiland

Maybe the web’s worst kept secret is the fantastic NBA analysis done at HoopsAnalyst.com. Recently Ed Weiland and Harlan Schreiber did a 7 part series statistically inspecting this year’s draft crop. (The links to each section: PG, SG, G, SF, PF, F, C). Since they did such a wonderful job pre-draft, I decided to ask Ed some questions post-draft.

KB: You had Rose as the top prospect in the draft while both Hollinger and Doerr had Beasley over Rose. What did you see in Rose that gave him the edge over Beasley?

EW: Rose was a more complete player. There were really no weaknesses when I compared his stats with great PGs of the past. With Beasley and Love the defensive numbers were a little low when compared to great PFs. My rating system looks first at whether a player performs at a high enough level in certain statistics that are important for his position. For a PG that would be points/40, assists/40, fg%, and the sum of rebounds, steals and blocks per 40 minutes. Also important for a PG is an ability to get to the line and keeping his A/TO above 1.5 or so. If a player falls short of levels successful prospects have historically hit, I will penalize them regardless of how well their other numbers look.

There was nothing in Rose’s numbers that were eye-popping, as there were with Beasley and Love. He comfortably hit all the levels successful PGs needed to hit in every important statistic. Additionally I was also impressed with how well Rose cut down on his TOs late in the year. From what I’ve seen, the ability to play an all-around game is more important for a prospect than the ability to pile up great numbers in a couple of categories.

Beasley and Love were both penalized for substandard defensive numbers. Combine that with Rose’s obvious speed, strength and athleticism and the fact that a good PG is rarer than a good PF and the decision to put Rose at the top was pretty easy. Nothing against Beasley or Love. Both are great prospects who should become great NBA players. I would have been happy to get any one of the 3. If the Hornets, Celtics or any other team that appears set with a good, young PG had been choosing first, obviously they should go for Beasley.

KB: Just about all statistical analysts had Marreese Speights ranked pretty high, but he wasn’t drafted until 16th (the 6th big man taken). Why do you think there was such a disparity in his value?

EW: Us stat guys look at his per minute stats and see a player who has performed at a level comparable to all-time greats. But we’re not the ones whose jobs are on the line if we take him with the 5th pick and Marreese can’t keep himself in good enough shape to play hard for 35 minutes a game.
My logic on ranking Speights high is this: I’d rather bring in a player like him who might be great, as opposed to someone like Jason Thompson or Robin Lopez who I’m certain won’t be. Teams can usually find a adequate fill-in for the exception. Any chance a team has to land a great or all-star caliber player should not be blown. Speights has that potential.

KB: Roy Hibbert was another player who did well by statistical standards. Do you think his glacieresque crosscourt speed will be a bigger hindrance in the NBA than it was on the college level?

EW: Yes, just about any weakness will be magnified in the NBA. I still feel Hibbert can be an effective role player. He’s tall enough to make the transition and he’s always been a very effective defender in college.

There are some matchups where he’ll need some help, but he can be an effective grinder for 20-25 minutes per game and as a center that makes him a valuable player.

KB: The biggest post day draft news was the Love-Mayo swap. Who do you think got the better of the deal?

EW: Minnesota and this one isn’t even close. Love was a better prospect than Mayo to start with. That they were able to get a player as good as Mike Miller thrown in is amazing. Chris Wallace has clearly filled the void left by Isiah Thomas as the go-to GM when a lopsided trade is needed to boost a team to the next level. I can’t see Mayo replacing Miller’s numbers for at least a few seasons, if ever. The most puzzling thing about the trade was that Love seemed like a perfect fit in Memphis.

KB: There are concerns that Mayo and Westbrook might be too short to become the great defenders at shooting guard that they were in college. What position do you see them playing and how do you see their defense translating in the pros?

EW: Westbrook is a 1 and Mayo is a 2. Westbrook doesn’t score often enough to think he could play the 2, Mayo doesn’t pass well enough to think he could play the 1. Neither is so short, like say Mario Chalmers, that I’d worry about their defensive numbers not carrying over. I think both will be OK there.

Mayo impressed me with his hustle on defense whenever I watched him play. He’s raw and that probably means he’s going to occasionally get beat and look bad from time to time as a rookie, but long term he should be fine. Westbrook also looks like a strong defender. He’s the hard working type who will do what it takes to get the job done defensively at the next level. I worry more about his offense and ability to run the point than his defense.

KB: Between yourself, Doerr, and Hollinger, only Doerr included a statistical analysis of international players. What is the biggest hurdle from analyzing them?

EW: I just don’t have enough data on foreign players where I can compare a player like Gallinari with previous successful and unsuccessful prospects. What I do with foreign players is try to get stats for as many years as a I can and try to make the best call I can using that information. The big guys are fairly simple, just see that they’re good rebounders, shotblockers and high pct. shooters. The biggest difference that I’ve seen between the NCAA stats and international are the scorers don’t hand out as many assists in Europe and the younger players who are pro prospects often aren’t big time scorers.

KB: Danilo Gallinari: great pick, or the greatest pick of all time?

EW: The greater a pick he becomes, the bigger a threat he is to America. I don’t think he’s in the class of Nowitzki or Gasol, but he could be pretty good. In general I would say put your trust in Walsh and D’Antoni. These guys have a good track record of success and given a year to sort through this mess, figure out what of the remaining roster is salvageable and bring their players and system in I think things will start to look pretty promising.

KB: Which team(s) did the best with regards to pick/talent?

EW: Using the theory that one superstar is worth a roster of mediocrities, Chicago, Miami and Minnesota made the biggest scores. The best bargains for when they were drafted would be Speights, Chalmers, Chris Douglas-Roberts, DeAndre Jordan and Richard Hendrix. Best players not drafted were Mark Tyndale and Shawn James.

KB: The worst?

EW: There were 4 players I felt were taken way too high: Eric Gordon, Joe Alexander, Jason Thompson and Robin Lopez. Lopez at 15 was the most ridiculous pick of the day.

KB: Five years from now, we’ll look back on this draft and say…

EW: Damn that Weiland guy nailed it. Seriously the thing that strikes me most about this draft is how even the pool of players were after the top 3 of Rose, Beasley and Love. After that group there were 20-25 players who were closer to each other in ability and potential than any of them were to the top 3. Because of that we’ll see more first round busts and 2nd round and free agent successes than usual.


Danilo Gallinari, threat to America.

Abbreviated Recap from the Live Chat

Here’s a recap of the chat from draft night. I wanted to capture this moment in time from the point of view of the KnickerBlogger Readers. This was heavily edited from a few thousand lines of chat.

All typos are forgiven.

Pre-Draft

Owen: I think there will be a huge group in here to celebrate the arrival of the Italian Stallion, the real one
dave crockett: Not sure I’m happy about JVG and MJax in the booth. They really don’t do the college game.
KnickerBlogger: We have to come up with a better Danilo nickname
KnickerBlogger: Van Gundy loves rookies!
dave crockett: It’s a crime to not have Hubie at the draft.
KnickerBlogger: I can’t wait until Vitale comes out – he loves 4 year collegiates and hates high schoolers & despises foreigners
Brian Cronin: It is fun, Mike, to see him try to hide it
Brian Cronin: He knows it doesn’t look good to hate foreigners, but he just can’t help it
Owen: Derrick Rose is going number 1
Owen: Just announced it…
dave crockett: Miami just got faced with a choice they didnt necessarily want. Things get really complicated. To pass on Beasley would just be dumb.
Cmac: You can’t pass on Beasley
Owen: What about this Nets trade. Home Run for the Nets. Jefferson is somewhat overrated I think
KnickerBlogger: Owen – I’m surprised you say that
KnickerBlogger: Great TS%
dave crockett: Really? I always thought RJ was a guy who was never overhyped or underrated.
dave crockett: He doesn’t get much ink either way.
Owen: Poor rebounding. I don’t know. His numbers have been up and down
dave crockett: He’s been hurt a lot too. (Arizona bias warning.)
Owen: Perhaps. I don’t know, if that trade gets them Lebron, it is a knockout
Owen: Yeah, he had a few great years. This year though it was scoring and not much else

Hopes and dreams…

KnickerBlogger: OK everyone who do you hope the Knicks get?
Brian Cronin: I’m hoping for Westbrook
Brian Cronin: Honestly, though, I’m mainly just hoping Lee is still a Knick Friday morning.
KnickerBlogger: Looking at the statistical chart I put together (compiling Doerr, Hollinger & HoopsAnalyst)
KnickerBlogger: I have Love Bayless or Mayo. After that a trade down for Speights & Chalmers would be awesome
Cmac: I like the Italian Stallion but I am kind of hoping to get Joe Alexander. I watched some of his games this year and especially against UCONN he was just unstoppable
foilfence: i’m still hoping for a trade
KnickerBlogger: I can do Danny too
KnickerBlogger: We have to come up with a better Danilo nickname

Danilo shown on television…

dave crockett: Fans booing Danilo
dave crockett: ouch
daaarn: ouch
dave crockett: All is did was sit there and look like Matthew Modine.
Cmac: Why all the negativity towards him I think he could be a good player
KnickerBlogger: I’ve read a decent amount of newspapers over the last two weeks – they basically summed up Danilo as unathletic & a friend of D’Antoni – basically they made him sound like he’s only a consideration because his dad and our coach were roomies
Brian Cronin: Worked for the Dodgers with Piazza!
KnickerBlogger: lol
foilfence: yeah seems like being slow is the biggest knock.
Brian Cronin: Hey, has anyone talked about Danilo’s defense at all?
Cmac: Also sounds like a hard working never takes a night off type of player. If we got him that would make 2 on the knicks
Owen: They said his father was the Rodman of the Italian League, which sounds promising to me. But watching him, he really doesn’t look athletic.
tastycakes: if danilo is any good, the boos won’t faze him
tastycakes: i want to see toughness from the italian stallion
Owen: he seemed to be laughing it off earlier
trp: he did seem ok with it
offthemeter: he won’t be laughing if he’s the last one in the green room
Cmac: Maybe italy boo’s mean cheering
KnickerBlogger: I was saying Boo-nilo

ESPN reports that Donnie Walsh has his man & implies it’s a PG…

KnickerBlogger: They said Donnie Walsh “has his man”
Lpmatt: his pg
Lpmatt: russel westbrook i guess
Owen: nice suit though…
trp: i bet its bayless
Jon Abbey: yeah, I heard that also, has to be Bayless or Westbrook
Jon Abbey: the reporter said it was a PG
trp: bayless would be a great pick
Jon Abbey: I like Westbrook, fantastic athlete
trp: and we dont have any perimeter defenders, so westbrook would also be a good pick
KnickerBlogger: Bayless one of the top guards by statistical consensus
Jon Abbey: yeah, Augustin I could live with
Jon Abbey: they’re unwatchable with no PG
offthemeter: augustin got used by rose, granted he’s the 1st pick and his size
trp: but steph is the best pg in the league!
Jon Abbey: anyway, Westbrook continues to be my hope
Lpmatt: i wish theyd trade down and draft joe alexander
cbrooklyn: looks like gallinari folks
Maverick: This is a 2 3 year process, nothing will happen next year, might as well grab as many picks as you can and shed some sallary. I would hate to see them pcik anybody but a PG, Gallinari doesn’t do it for me, it’s not the Weis thing, it’s just he is mechanical
trp: it HAS to be a pg
Owen: Anyone glad Mark Jackson is not our Coach?
tastycakes: yes
Cmac: yes
Maverick: Mark Jackson blows
offthemeter: we need a sprewell type electrifying player back at msg
Owen: I would take Hinrich I think, seems like a good gamble

Bulls Select Derrick Rose…

tastycakes: that should have been the knicks
Owen: Bilas is kind of obsessed with Lopez and the fact he is younger than OJ Mayo
Owen: So true, Derrick Rose should be in New York
daaarn: i blame chicago for giving us isaiah
dave crockett: I still don’t get the Del Negro hire with Flip and Thibideaux still out there
foilfence: beasley looked slightly pissed he didn’t go #1
tastycakes: d. rose seems a little shaky
cbrooklyn: hmmm he does have a starbury air

Miami Selects Michael Beasley…

Owen: Of course
tastycakes: dang heat
dred: Smart pick
trp: it was all a smokescreen
tastycakes: the ‘we don’t want beasley’ thing was totally smokescreen
cbrooklyn: i believe riley was blowin hot air also
offthemeter: minnesota oj or lopez
daaarn: oj’ll be next
trp: agreed tastycakes
dave crockett: I just don’t see what Miami gains for moving Beasley at this point.
dred: I don’t think even McHale would be dumb enough to take Lopez 3rd
Brian Cronin: It’ll be really interesting to see if OJ doesn’t go here
daaarn: crosses fingers for McHale stupidiy
offthemeter: hey i’ll throw in steph
GiantsKnickFan420: miami’s starting center is Blount, unless they put haslem at center and go small
Cmac: No love please no love
offthemeter: were all yelling at the tv
Owen: No way love falls though
tastycakes: knicks won’t take love
GiantsKnickFan420: if we trade lee at 5, love would actaully be a comprable replacement
Caleb: Mayo, Lopez, Gordon… Love could fall, easy.
tastycakes: michael beasley already a ‘great player’ in his own mind
Maverick: Curry+Steph for Marion
Z: 3 more picks ’til we’re on the clock. Excited???
Owen: Yeah absolutely.
KnickerBlogger: David Lee’s mom was the shortest on Family Feud
Maverick: Mayo
Owen: Lol, that family feud thing was really funny. I can’t believe Lee was chosen
GiantsKnickFan420: Mchale is a terrible GM, no matter who he choses
daaarn: mayo
Jon Abbey: I say Love
offthemeter: ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

Minnesota Selects OJ Mayo…

dred: Interesting
daaarn: damn, no trade then
tastycakes: family feud – hilarious
dred: Like the glasses
Caleb: hahahaha. He’s McHale’s boy – should tell you something
daaarn: hey they twolves got a new logo
Z: 2 more ’til we’re up…
Owen: So they have Foye Mccants and Mayo now right?
dave crockett: um… McCants BLOWS. I hate him, hate him, hate him.
Z: For a draft with so much build up the first three picks have been pretty un-dramatic
KnickerBlogger: My bet is that Seattle take Love
KnickerBlogger: takes
Owen: He would be a great fit for them I think
Jon Abbey: maybe westbrook
dave crockett: I’ll also add this about Mayo. He was hamstrung by whatever that is that passes as an offense under Tim Floyd at ‘SC.
Caleb: Where’s Jalen Rose when you need him? That was my fave suit of all time
Jon Abbey: lopez would be a good fit too
daaarn: maybe there’s still a trade afoot
Thomas B.: Lopez is in keeping with the Sonic’s never ending search for a center
dave crockett: Pelton says he’d be pretty surprised if the Sonics go for a center.
Caleb: IMO Gallinari or even Speights is est player available now – not that they’re about to get picked

Seattle Picks Russell Westbrook…

Owen: whoa
Cmac: whoa
cbrooklyn: hmmmm
dred: Well
offthemeter: wow
Owen: Interesting
Jon Abbey: yeah, see
offthemeter: shabang
Z: Hmmmm
tastycakes: kind of surprising
Caleb: Chad Ford called it
offthemeter: kazaam
KnickerBlogger: Lemme say that again WHOA!!
Thomas B.: the price of oil hits an all time high
Jon Abbey: stole my boy
dred: Guess we don’t have to worry about him developing now
Owen: They didn’t take a center
offthemeter: whoa
KnickerBlogger: Love still out there
dred: Memphis taking Love?
Owen: Love will go next, no question
GiantsKnickFan420: bayless,love,lopez,gallinari
cbrooklyn: i think its gonna be gallinari
Jon Abbey: westbrook reminds people of rondo
foilfence: so guys, gallinari or bayless?
KnickerBlogger: Ok I’m hoping for Bayless or Galinari
trp: both!
daaarn: bayless or galinari
Cmac: Italy
Jon Abbey: Bayless never looked good when I saw Arizona last year
KnickerBlogger: Actually I’m really hoping for a trade down
offthemeter: bayless is the consensus here in the war room
GiantsKnickFan420: lets see what memphis does 1st
Jon Abbey: so I’m not very high on him
Jon Abbey: but I’ll trust walsh for now
Owen: Btw, talking about running amok, isn’t it amazing how point guard is suddenly the most important position in the NBA? That is why all these guys want to be PG.
Jon Abbey: let’s see what he’s got in mind
cbrooklyn: dont see why we cant just trade steph to italy for gallinari and pick a real center
Caleb: But Donnie has never gambled on an internationale, I don’t think… except Smits
Z: Maybe they drafted him for Walsh in an unannounced trade…
Thomas B.: I like Alexander. How can you not love that nickname: Vannilla sky
T-Mart: suddenly Im a believer in the Rajon Rondo has made Westbrook over-rated style of talent on account fo being surrounded by 3 hall of famers theory
offthemeter: the flying dutchmen
Brian Cronin: Hah – I like that, T-Mart
Jon Abbey: no, rondo is a great player
Jon Abbey: they had budinger also
Jon Abbey: somehow they still couldn’t win games
Jon Abbey: check the play by play of that last game in the finals
Thomas B.: Okay half of you need to leave because I’m liquored and i cant read so fast
Jon Abbey: the whole first quarter is rondo stealing the ball from gasol
offthemeter: people are cracking open the beers now baby
Cmac: Joe Alexander would be great

Memphis Selects Kevin Love…

offthemeter: wow
dave crockett: Love
offthemeter: back to back
offthemeter: ucla
offthemeter: wow
daaarn: i guess it’s bayless then
Owen: Right again…
KnickerBlogger: Weiland – whos your next 3?
weiland: Love, Bayless, Speights
foilfence: would joe alexander be better than wilson chandler?
Brian Cronin: Chad Ford suggests that Seattle wanted Westbrook, Thomas
mjkagan: gallinari is ours
Jon Abbey: might as well give him a shot
Jon Abbey: the crowd is going to boo the fuck out of gallinari
mjkagan: bet we’ll take galli here – d’a’s comments were a smokescreen
GiantsKnickFan420: “i have the tools, i need an engine to run it”-D’antoni. bayless, gordon, agustin are the PGs left

Knicks Select Danilo Galinari!

tastycakes: galinari
daaarn: wtf
offthemeter: we suck
daaarn: boos
offthemeter: oh yes they did
StrongIsland: Italians FTW!
offthemeter: thanks
offthemeter: dantoni
Anthony: of course…
cbrooklyn: hahahahahahahhahaaaa
dave crockett: wow
Owen: Very nice suit….
GiantsKnickFan420: WOW, but i like it!
Caleb: nice. I like it.
mjkagan: called it…
offthemeter: we should have traded down
cbrooklyn: i knew it
dave crockett: really, really surprised
offthemeter: we suck
StrongIsland: EXACTLY…trade down
Thomas B.: Did you catch Sterns Pause? It was like a “What the fuck, I though Isiah was gone.”
StrongIsland: the only other team looking at him was NJ
Jon Abbey: he does have the best chance at being a franchise player of anyone left
Owen: What is that, Prada?
Brian Cronin: The Knicks still can trade down
Maverick: shocking …
offthemeter: can i curse????
Jon Abbey: but this team is going to be tough to watch again

And now reality sets in…

GiantsKnickFan420: the dude is smooth and is touted for his mental toughness, something our current roster has none of
mjkagan: and he can shoot
Caleb: last year I would have assumed it was a mistake. This year I assume he’s right.
daaarn: he had better pan out
Brian Cronin: And Jon is right, he has the best shot at being a top player of all the ones left
StrongIsland: Frederick Weis Redux?
cbrooklyn: i think im willing to give him a chance
Jon Abbey: maybe he’s good
Jon Abbey: but get a fucking PG
Jon Abbey: before the season starts
Owen: His legs look really skinny
daaarn: well that’s not comforting “he wont be a superstar, but he’ll be solid…”
offthemeter: 8th man off the bench
Caleb: Like Jerry West says — you find talent in the draft. You fill needs through trades.
weiland: “not gonna be a superstar” Then why? Bayless just might be..
Thomas B.: Stern: “With the 6th pick the New york Knicks select….(What the hell)..Danilo Gallanari..(idiots).
Caleb: I didn’t see a point guard besides Rose who was more than a hope and a prayer
StrongIsland: 34% give the grade an F
offthemeter: thanks mike dantoni
weiland: Stats aren’t great. I just think the fact that Fran said “not gonna be a superstar” makes it a mistake.
Brian Cronin: Haha…some good commentary on the radio – “Remember, these are fans who can’t even pay for real games, so don’t pay attention to them”
mjkagan: did the fans boo or not?
Brian Cronin: The fans booed like crazy
Caleb: we could trade him for 10 & 21, or 10 and next year’s pick
Cmac: I like the pick
mjkagan: fair enough
Brian Cronin: This is not over yet. And even if it is, then whatever, the guy is a good player.
Caleb: but I don’t really mind keeping him
weiland: hero is Tayshaun Prince? Nice….
mjkagan: Caleb: Who would they take at 10?
T-Mart: well thank god Isiah’s europeon recruitment swing trip paid off!!!!!!!
dave crockett: What worries me most about the Gallinari selection is this? What do these guys really think was the problem with this team? Did they think it was that we don’t have enough scorers? Don’t worry about the defense? I know D’Antoni’s not a big defense guy but Phoenix wasn’t wretched they were middle of the pack on D.

NBA Mock Draft, v 2.0

If you missed my last mock prior to the Orlando pre-draft camp you can see picks 1-14 here and picks 15-30 here .

The ground rules: this mock is less a prediction about what I think teams will do and more about what I would do as GM for each team. Although I anticipate that trades will change the draft order, perhaps radically, my interest is in matching players and teams. Therefore I keep the teams in their given draft order but highlight spots where I expect trades. (In other words, I’m notoriously bad at this so I’m trying to hedge as best I can.)

Note: ESPN.com is reporting a deal involving New Orleans trading its 27th overall selection to Portland for cash considerations. So I will insert Portland into the 27th spot.

1. Chicago Michael Beasley, Kansas State, PF (Version 1.0: Derrick Rose)
The statheads have convinced me that Beasley is the better prospect. No matter who Chicago selects it’ll be interesting to see what Paxson does with the roster this off-season.

2. Miami Derrick Rose, Memphis, PG (Version 1.0: Michael Beasley)
I think the Mayo talk is mostly smoke screen, but I think Miami would much rather be in a position to choose between Rose, Mayo, and an offer that sweeps them off their feet than simply choosing between Rose and Mayo.

3. Minnesota O.J. Mayo, USC, G (Version 1.0: O.J. Mayo)
Mayo seems to be the consensus #3 talent in the draft and easily its most polarizing. A basketball mercenary since middle school, his much anticipated but mediocre “one-and-done” at SoCal has pit statheads against the traditional scouting types who love him. An oversimplification? Yes, but not an entirely inaccurate one.

4. Seattle Jerryd Bayless, Arizona, G (Version 1.0: Jerryd Bayless)
Keep moving people; nothing to see here.

5. Memphis Kevin Love, UCLA, PF (Version 1.0: Brook Lopez)
Love may be the next most polarizing player in the draft after Mayo. Statheads and scouting types both agree that he’s super skilled and hyper-productive, but is he athletic enough? The Grizz are likely to move if things don’t fall just right for them. One rumored deal involves the Knicks trading David Lee for this pick.

6. New York Russell Westbrook, UCLA, G (Version 1.0: Russell Westbrook)
I am going to stick with Westbrook should NY stay at six. To me, he’s the right kind of gamble on upside. He uses his athleticism on defense and doesn’t try to play outside his limitations. All he really lacks is experience. Although I wouldn’t be incensed about Westbrook, I’d rather see a trade down in search of some low-cost gems in the late teens (e.g., Darrell Arthur, Mario Chalmers) or 20s (e.g., Ryan Anderson, DeVon Hardin, Richard Hendrix), especially if we can dump a bad contract in the process.

7. LA Clippers Danilo Gallinari, Armani Jeans Milan, SF (Version 1.0: Kevin Love)
The Clips are another team that may be looking to deal. One rumor has Maggette going to Phoenix for Barbosa. Either way LA needs shooting in the worst way.

8. Milwaukee Joe Alexander, W. Virginia, SF (Version 1.0: Danilo Gallinari)
Alexander is a late bloomer with athleticism and a nice stroke, but lacks some skills and experience. He’s a solid gamble for Milwaukee, but too big a risk for the Knicks at six I think, though this is Hollinger’s pick.

9. Charlotte Brook Lopez, Stanford, C (Version 1.0: Anthony Randolph)

10. New Jersey Eric Gordon, Indiana, SG (Version 1.0: Donte Green)
It’s hard to anticipate what NJ is going to do with its roster overall. I doubt they’ll really know until the off-season starts to heat up. So if I were Rod Thorn I’d go best available. (I feel like I’m penciling Gordon in here because that’s what I’m supposed to do but I really don’t understand what I’m missing that other people are seeing in him.)

11. Indiana Marreese Speights, Florida, PF (Version 1.0: Eric Gordon)
For my money Speights, not Anthony Randolph, is the high upside forward out of the SEC mid-lottery teams should be gambling on in this draft.

12. Sacramento Alexis Ajinca, Heyeres-Toulon (France), C (Version 1.0: Darrell Arthur)
Ajinca likely won’t play immediately, but may be ready just as Kenny Thomas and Shareef Abdur-Rahim are coming off the books after 2009-10.

13. Portland Anthony Randolph, LSU, SF/PF (Version 1.0: Chase Budinger)
The Blazers are one of the few teams with the patience to wait on youngsters to develop. However, after acquiring the #27 pick from New Orleans I won’t be surprised to see Portland go international and look to stash yet another youngster overseas.

14. Golden St. DeAndre Jordan, Texas A&M, C (Version 1.0: Joe Alexander)
Mine may be the only mock where Jordan actually improves to #14 from the previous version. Although I maintain serious doubts about his work ethic, he may be best suited to play on a running team where he’s only asked to block shots and rebound.

15. Phoenix Brandon Rush, Kansas, SG/SF (Version 1.0: Brandon Rush)

16. Philadelphia Donte Green, Syracuse, SF (Version 1.0: Marreese Speights)

17. Indiana (f/ Toronto) Robin Lopez, Stanford, C (Version 1.0: D.J. Augustin)
The rumored deal sends this pick to Indiana as part of the Jermaine O’Neal for T.J. Ford swap.

18. Washington Darrell Arthur, Kansas, PF (Version 1.0: Nicolas Batum)

19. Cleveland Roy Hibbert, Georgetown, C (Version 1.0: Chris Douglas-Roberts)
Cleveland could use a center with more offensive skill than Varajao, who could be moved this off-season, to eventually take over for Big Z.

20. Charlotte (f/ Denver) Kosta Koufos, Ohio State, C (Version 1.0: Courtney Lee)
Denver dealt this pick to Charlotte for a future first (protected through 2014). DraftExpress is saying that Larry Brown made this deal for Roy Hibbert. So if he’s still on the board that may be where he goes.

21. New Jersey Mario Chalmers, Kansas, PG (Version 1.0: DeAndre Jordan)
I understand that NJ is not happy with Marcus Williams’ development. Chalmers would provide some flexibility. His shooting makes him a better backup to Devin Harris than Williams. (Yeah. I do think Chalmers is better than D.J. Augustin.)

22. Orlando D.J. Augustin, Texas, PG (Version 1.0: JaVale McGee)

23. Utah Courtney Lee, W. Kentucky, SG (Version 1.0: Roy Hibbert)

24. Seattle J.J. Hickson, N.C. State, PF (Version 1.0: Davon Jefferson)

25. Houston Richard Hendrix, Alabama, PF (Version 1.0: Kosta Koufos)

26. San Antonio Chris Douglas-Roberts, Memphis, SG (Version 1.0: Alexis Ajinca)
His body of work and workouts say mid-first, but virtually no one is projecting him there. I think his game fits San Antonio really well.

27. Portland (f/ NO) Ryan Anderson, California, PF (Version 1.0: Ty Lawson)
I am curious about why Portland acquired this pick. I wonder if they’ll keep it.

28. Memphis JaVale McGee, Nevada, PF/C (Version 1.0: Ryan Anderson)

29. Detroit DeVon Hardin, California, C (Version 1.0: DeVon Hardin)

30. Boston Jason Thompson, Rider, PF/C (Version 1.0: Robin Lopez)
Almost whomever Boston drafts will have a shot to get some burn as a rookie, especially if PJ Brown retires.

Final thoughts: I’ll repeat from Version 1.0 that I expect to see a fair amount of wheeling and dealing in this draft. If you are in the market for a rebounding big man this is the draft for you, even into the second round. If you’re in the market for a G, as are the Knicks, the pickings are much slimmer. If Donnie Basketball thinks he needs another guard—and he does, if not to contribute this year then down the road—he may be forced to look to the trade or free agency market.