Brandon Jennings

NBA Extensions

Midnight marked the deadline for rookies from the 2009 NBA Draft to work out an extension with their teams. The Thunder couldn’t reach an agreement with James Harden and now he’s in Houston. In less publicized news, however, several other notable players from that draft class worked out deals just before the deadline.

DeMar DeRozan, Toronto Raptors: 4 years, $40 million

DeRozan’s reputation around the NBA has largely remained constant since his days as a draft prospect. He is blessed with tremendous physical tools, can be an explosive scorer, and if he ever makes the jump to being a 22 ppg guy and do it while being more efficient, he could be the starting shooting guard on a decent team. However, none of this has happened. He remains a talented young player, but without almost any indication he will become more efficient, he is more likely to end up like an early-career Jason Richardson than the centerpiece (or even second option) on a good team. If he doesn’t make the jump this year with an outstanding point guard (Kyle Lowry) and solid supporting cast, he may not go to any level beyond that.

Judging the contract is a little hard since post-Lockout GMs/Owners seem to be just as dumb with contracts as pre-Lockout GMs/Owners. In free agency, DeRozan likely would have received this offer from someone. The Raptors re-signing him likely means that the Raptors were also unwilling to find a trade partner. Just off the top of my head, there are a few teams that would at least field serious offers about DeRozan. The Bucks would likely be interested in re-uniting their current franchise centerpiece (Brandon Jennings) with his childhood running mate. There are certainly enough pieces to make this work, but I think the bottom line is that Toronto wants to win now. They aren’t interested in re-shuffling the deck in hopes of a better mix. Frankly, I agree with them. I have little to no interest in paying DeRozan 10m per year, but they are a pretty solid team right now and they will likely make the playoffs this year.

Jrue Holiday, Phildelphia 76ers: 4 years, $41 million

Jrue is in a somewhat similar situation to DeRozan. He is still young, still has plenty of upside, but he hasn’t made much progress year-to-year. He is a fairly important part of the 76ers plans moving forward, and I suppose continuity is worth some extra money, but he just doesn’t do the things you think he’d do. He is extremely athletic but doesn’t get to the rim in the halfcourt often or get to the line (1.8 FTA/game last year). The Sixers offense liked to run a lot last year, but he still didn’t rack up assists in those minutes. Stats are not everything, but on a team that struggled offensively last year, you’d think he would take a bigger role.

Maybe the best way to view Jrue is alongside two point guards who did not get their extensions: Darren Collison and Brandon Jennings. In Indiana, Collison was a speedy, smart point guard who (until the Orlando series) was slightly subpar on defense and was just kind of underwhelming. He would have magnificent stretches where he would hit his mid-range jumper and be aggressive and make the Pacers offense unstoppable. But for much longer stretches he’d struggle with his mid-range pull-up jumper, lose his aggression and find ways to not make full use of his skill set. When the Pacers swapped him (indirectly) for D.J. Augustin, they got a player who was not as good, but who could utilize his skill set more efficiently than Collison did. I do not watch enough 76ers games to state this outright, but Jrue strikes me as another guy with a skill set he doesn’t use efficiently.

Brandon Jennings didn’t get his extension either. He is a quick, sometimes explosive, guard with a very underrated game as a creator. The defensive-reputation of the Bucks sometimes overshadows that for long stretches last season, the Bucks were an outstanding offensive team, particularly with their passing. Jennings’ inconsistent jump shot and inability to finish in the lane (probably a height and loss-of-hops problem) have been well-documented but not nearly as well as his consistency in running the offense and being a productive player. BUT, once again the issue is efficiency. Can Brandon Jennings do his job on this team? Absolutely. Could a lesser player execute the same sets and bring similar skills at a much lower price? Yes.

That’s what it comes down to for Jrue. This contract is a hope that he becomes a player who can utilize his skill set better and jump up a level in the point guard hierarchy, but if that doesn’t happen, this contract will look fairly bad in 3 years.

Taj Gibson, Chicago Bulls: 4 years, $32 million guaranteed w/ 6 million in incentives extra possible (thus the reporting of 4/38m)

Gee, I wonder who has been teaching Gibson how to yell……

Taj Gibson’s deal is a complete departure from the last two guys we talked about. The Bulls frankly couldn’t afford to let Gibson go, and yet they took a very hard line with him. It is no secret that Bulls fans hate Carlos Boozer and that the Bulls have very little interest in keeping him around. Gibson is probably the better player right now even though Chicago’s likely offensive struggles this year will be slightly ameliorated by Boozer’s presence. On the open market, I would think Gibson could get a Millsap-type deal. His offensive game isn’t as refined as Millsap, but his defense is much better and the value of each is likely similar in free agency. I think Bulls fans would have been happy to extend him for 4 years, $48 million, but they got a discount, so a small round of applause for the penny-pinching Reinsdorf.

Other Things I Wanted To Comment On

All-NBA 2012 Second Round Draft Picks

PG: Tyshawn Taylor (BKN)- There weren’t a ton of PGs in the second round that will see significant minutes and I didn’t see Isaiah Thomas (SAC) on this list.

SG: Doron Lamb (MIL)- Plenty of minutes and I am betting on a Monta Ellis trade.

SF: Jae Crowder (DAL)- Hustle, muscle, decent shooting. Marquette connections had to influence on this pick.

SF (because I didn’t want to pick a PF): Darius Miller (NO)- Should see minutes on an exciting team. If I had to pick a PF, it would be Kris Joseph, but he won’t see enough time.

F/C: Kyle O’Quinn (ORL)- Someone has to play well for them, right?

2010-11 NBA Preview: Central Division

Chicago Bulls (41-41 last season)

Most liked in Chicago since Michael Jordan?

Projected Starting Five:

Point Guard: Derrick Rose

Shooting Guard: Ronnie Brewer

Small Forward: Luol Deng

Power Forward: Carlos Boozer

Center: Joakim Noah

Key Reserves:

Guard-Forward: Kyle Korver

Guard-Forward: Keith Bogans

Forward: Taj Gibson

Derrick Rose is the man!  1st season: Rookie of the Year.  2nd season: All-Star.  3rd season?  It’s anyone’s guess to how good Rose can be.  Speculation is that a three point shot is in the works for him as well.  I’m excited to see the leadership he will bring to this Bulls’ offense.  Taj Gibson is also going to have to play well for the first couple of months as Carlos Boozer recovers from his broken hand.  The last interesting point I have for this team is who will end up taking the shooting guard position.  Ronnie Brewer is good all-around and Kyle Korver has the shooting stroke, but can either make the spot his own?  Regardless, Bulls win their division.

Milwaukee Bucks (46-36 last season)

A new lefty has risen in Milwaukee, sorry Michael Redd.

Projected Starting Five:

Point Guard: Brandon Jennings

Shooting Guard: John Salmons

Small Forward: Corey Maggette

Power Forward: Drew Gooden

Center: Andrew Bogut

Key Reserves:

Guard: Keyon Dooling

Guard-Forward: Chris Douglas-Roberts

Forward: Luc Richard Mbah a Moute

The toughest part for this team will be buying into a rotation that will gel on the court.  The Bucks are really deep and this is among one of the better problems one could talk about.  The key for this squad to excel is Andrew Bogut.  If he can come back strong from the injury he endured last season, I believe the Bucks have a legitimate shot at the second round.  Also, the continued development of Brandon Jennings will sure be fun to watch.  This kid is still very raw and still has a broken shot, but he is only going to improve and become a top point guard in the league.

Indiana Pacers (32-50 last season)

Thanks to the CP3 injury, Collison has a starting job.

Projected Starting Five:

Point Guard: Darren Collison

Shooting Guard: Mike Dunleavy

Small Forward: Danny Granger

Power Forward: Tyler Hansbrough

Center: Roy Hibbert

Key Reserves:

Guard: T.J. Ford

Forward: Paul George

Center: Jeff Foster

This team is my sleeper for the year.  Everyone has them finishing 4th or 5th in the division, but I feel that if they can stay healthy and Danny Granger plays like he did in last season, except for 82 games, and Darren Collison also plays like last season, they have a shot at the 8th seed.  Call me insane, but this is my crazy pick for the year.  Also be on the alert for Roy Hibbert to have a breakout year.  He could possibly be a good candidate for the Most Improved Player award.

Cleveland Cavaliers (61-21 last season)

From LeBron James to Jamario Moon. Good luck Cleveland.

Projected Starting Five:

Point Guard: Mo Williams

Shooting Guard: Daniel Gibson

Small Forward: Jamario Moon

Power Forward: Antawn Jamison

Center: Anderson Varejao

Key Reserves:

Guard: Anthony Parker

Forward: J.J. Hickson

Forward: Leon Powe

A natural disaster struck Cleveland and it was the loss of LeBron James.  A miracle needs to happen for this team to make the playoffs.  Yeah, they have Mo Williams, Antawn Jamison and Anderson Varejao, but without LeBron they are nothing.  Almost 30 points per game is lost and there isn’t anyone good enough to fill that spot.  I’m sorry Cleveland, but get ready for a rough year.

Detroit Pistons (27-55 last season)

Please prove me wrong, because I loved you, T-Mac!

Projected Starting Five:

Point Guard: Rodney Stuckey

Shooting Guard: Richard Hamilton

Small Forward: Tayshaun Prince

Power Forward: Charlie Villanueva

Center: Ben Wallace

Key Reserves:

Guard: Will Bynum

Guard: Ben Gordon

Forward: Austin Daye

I have no faith in this team.  Something about them just doesn’t rub me the right way.  Charlie Villanueva had an abysmal debut year in Detroit and injuries plagued them all year long and into this preseason.  Ben Wallace is nowhere near to where he used to be as a player back in the glory days of the Pistons, and Rodney Stuckey does not have the playmaking ability to lead this team.  Maybe they won’t finish last in the division, but they sure aren’t making the playoffs for a while with the transactions they are making. Cough, Tracy McGrady, Cough. Washed up!

 

Wall & Jennings Connect on a Nasty Alley-Oop

By: Ross Geiger

Wall will be flying high in D.C. this season

The best two point guards from the past two drafts collided this week in Los Angeles, California for the Boost Mobile Elite 24 event. They’re both former participants of the Elite 24 event, where 24 of the top high school prospects regardless of class take the hardwood.

Before the event’s actual game a handful of the NBA’s brightest talent took the stage against this year’s 2010 Elite 24 players among those young NBA players that joined John Wall and Brandon Jennings included DeMar DeRozen and 2010 Rookie of the Year Tyreke Evans.

One of the games best highlights was a 2-on-1 fastbreak which left Jahii Carson left helpless trying to guard both Jennings and Wall running the break. Jennings delivered quite the pass and Wall finished up nicely with a 1 handed monster jam. Check it out:

Sometimes the Smallest Pieces, Play the Biggest Roles

By: Ross Geiger

Boykins signed a 1 year, $1.3 million dollar contract with the Bucks

The free agent signing of Earl Boykins joining the Milwaukee Bucks will undoubtedly go unnoticed. Furthermore, Boykins will go unnoticed the majority of the time being the third string point guard on the Bucks. But there’s something left to be said about Bucks General Manager John Hammond’s decision to bring in the 12-year veteran.

If you haven’t noticed by now, Hammond never makes a move without a significant purpose. Not once will you find him stumped in why he decided to make a roster decision. This is no different, even if it’s the littlest move involving the league’s smallest player.

Boykins offers the Bucks qualities haven’t had during Hammond’s tenure and will ultimately have more effect on the actual outcome of each game then many will even realize. Most of what Boykins will offer the Bucks this upcoming year won’t be observed on the court, but behind the scenes.

While he stands at the bare minimum height of 5’5, Boykins has about seen it all throughout his NBA career. He’s had some glamour years, he’s had some disappointing seasons as a player, but now he’s being given an opportunity unlike any other.

Boykins himself said it best yesterday in his Bucks press conference, “My role is to be ready when I’m needed.”

Well Mr. Boykins, you’re need from start to finish on and off the floor, in more ways than just one. It starts on the practice floor come time for training camp. Boykins will be a guided presence in the development of Bucks star point guard Brandon Jennings. With Boykins on board with the Bucks for the upcoming 2010-2011 season, there will be no days off for Jennings.

Each day they step on the court, a challenge awaits, a challenge that will initially be mind-boggling to the young guard: “How in the world is this guy so good and effective, even at the age of 34?”

Other than his height, there are three big things in particular that separate Boykins from his competition: his ball handling ability, his defense, and his ability to use quickness under control on the offensive side of the court. Each of these three big things are areas in which Jennings must improve in order to reach the all-star status he desires to reach as early as this year.

An on-ball is the only way to stop Boykins's on-ball pressure

Boykins will be a prime leader by example on the practice floor and by doing so he will continue to earn the respect he’s earned every year he’s graced the NBA hardwood. He’s a hound dog on every defensive possession picking his man up full court from start to finish. Each and every single time, Jennings can expect to be hit with on the ball pressure, thus forcing him to improve his ball handling skills. That defensive intensity bought by Boykins is the reason why he’s known for having an exceptional steal per turnover ratio. That type of effort brought every practice will rub off on Jennings. Not only will he become more comfortable handling the ball with lots of ball pressure, but he’ll also see the rewards that result from playing such hard defense every possession.

On the offensive side of things Boykins is blessed with the similar speed, quickness, and agility that helps Jennings be the lethal offensive threat that he is. But like most young, quick NBA point guards, one thing Jennings hasn’t quite mastered is using that speed under control. Professor Boykins will make this a hands-on learn-by-example lesson. Take a few minutes and watch some old highlight reels of Boykins, rest assured you’ll see a glimpses of the moves reflected in Jennings’ offensive repertoire.

Both guards are skinny and considered lightweights at the point guard position, but expect to see the two playing next to one another every now and then. The tandem might even be called upon when the games on the line. Much like Jennings, Boykins is known for rising to the occasion, coming up big when it counts the most. Having the ability to put two ball handlers out on the court that do just that is so valuable during the heat of the moment.

Boykins's game deciding pump fake on Jennings last season

In two of the four Milwaukee Bucks vs. Washington Wizards meetings last season, Boykins got the best of Jennings. In the first of these two specific meeting Boykins drove right past Jennings absorbing the contact in the lane, finishing the bucket, and the capitalized from the foul line. In the other, Boykins sold Jennings on a strong shot fake when seconds remaining and once again made the Bucks pay at the foul stripe. Both plays were crucial in the game’s final outcome as the Wizards went onto win those games.

“At this point, winning is the only thing that’s important,” Boykins also noted at his press conference.

And it’s clear to both Boykins and the Bucks that’s the primary focus come time to tip off next season. Boykins will look to make his fourth NBA playoff appearance in which he’s always excelled. He holds a 12.9 points per game, 3.9 assists per game, 1.6 rebounds per game career average in the playoffs.

With winning being the only thing that’s important to Boykins, he know he plays a huge role in helping the Bucks young leader in Jennings lead his ball club into a playoff position. Boykins will immediately become a Squad 6 fan favorite and excited to help execute the task at hand. He knows what it’ll take and he’ll make sure he fulfills his role on this Bucks team next season.

Jennings can expect to see this EVERY practice

So watch NBA world, sometimes the smallest pieces can play the biggest role. Boykins will continue to be a true testament to that!

Follow Ross Geiger on Twitter: @RossGeiger

Young Bucks Take the Diamond

By: Ross Geiger

They’re known as Milwaukee’s “Yung Bucks” and for a change it’s nice to be able to be proud of the Bucks first round draftees of the past two years. It’s almost even safe to say these two, unique talents may be (for the Bucks sake of success) the last “Yung Bucks” worth noting. Next year, Bucks fans around the globe should hope that their future first round picks aren’t selected in the first half of upcoming NBA Drafts.

With the praise, comes expectations, of course when it comes to Larry Sanders the expectation level isn’t as comparable to a Brandon Jennings but then again, did we really expect Jennings to blossom this quick? Absolutely not, though I was one who was very high on Jennings future and his contributions as an NBA rookie, I never would’ve expected some of the outbursts he had his rookie season. While I far from expect Sanders to be as jaw-dropping good as Jennings was in his rookie campaign, the two share some similarities.

One being that they both entered the league with a ton of question marks and for the other, well let’s just say they’re equally good at throwing out first pitches!

This past Tuesday, July 27th, the Bucks 15th pick was honored in Richmond, Virginia by the city’s minor league baseball team. The Richmond Flying Squirrels was honored with a ball game noted as “Larry Sanders Night” and as part of the festivities Sanders threw out the ceremonial first pitch. Much like Jennings’ latest ceremonial first pitch at a Brewers game on June 28th against the Houston Astros, inside Miller Park, Sanders’s first pitch was quite the sight to see.

Both not only received loud ovations upon being announced and taking the mound, but they also both provided unnatural deliveries that humored their respected home crowds. Take a Look:

While the duos future on the court will remain uncertain until the coming years, one things for sure: When it comes to baseball and ceremonial first pitches they know how to get the crowd laughing. It’s clear that they were both born basketball players by their tosses out on the baseball diamond, which is a good sign (cough…Joe Alexander….cough) and they definitely know how to get Bucks fans excited for the upcoming season. With that being said, it’s time to “Play Ball!!!” inside the Bradley Center next year. Fear the Deer should very well continues for many years to come.

Milwaukee Bucks Summer League Game 1 Points of Emphasis

By: Ross Geiger

Game 1: Dallas Mavericks: 73 Milwaukee Bucks: 72 OT

After watching the Milwaukee Bucks lose a tough one in a very exciting battle with the Dallas Mavericks in their Summer League opener, I came away with five players that are worthy of some points of emphasis.

Jackson could earn a jersey with the Bucks this season, but he won't be wearing #00, that belongs to Drew Gooden

1. Darnell Jackson: Leading all scorers with 17 points in the contest, Jackson’s NBA experience really paid dividends. Going 8-15 from the field while collecting 7 boards all came under composure. Many of the young players came into the game with debut butterflies but it was evident that Jackson’s adapted to the summer league experiences. He led by example in 25 minutes of play and played under control the entire time, only committing 2 fouls as well. It’s still very early in a long process but his Game 1 play definitely helps his case in grabbing one of the last few spots on the Bucks roster this season.

2.  Larry Sanders: Despite what many take from Sanders’ pro debut, I actually feel I saw more positives than negatives today. Yes he struggled offensively but we knew that was his biggest weakness coming in. Having only connected on 4 of his 15 shot attempts Sanders must improve upon finishing at the basket while absorbing contact, along with better shot selection. As far as the shot selection goes, that can easily improve as the games move on, he was trying to impress as any brand new top pick would in their debut. But as I mentioned there were tons of positives from this year’s 15th overall selection. Sanders is very active on both ends of the floor, alert at all times, and always attacking the glass. Those intangibles are things that will most definitely find him earning some floor time under Bucks Head Coach Scott Skiles this year. Though it’s only one game and my first look at the Bucks rookie if I were to give you an outlook on Sanders’s first year with the Bucks here’s my evaluation: He’ll play spot minutes, be a spark plug used at the end of quarters giving guys quick breathers, instant energy. A very realistic first year comparison in terms of production and play I’d say he’ll be a lot like Suns forward Lou Amundson. With that being said, he obviously carries way more potential and talent moving forward with a bright future in this league. Just be patient and give him some time to transition and adjust to the NBA level of play.

An NBA Type Talent With Off-the-Court Question Marks

3. Sean Williams: Being a guy always high on the potential of Area 51, I definitely won’t count him out on making an NBA roster this season. If he can prove (and keep) his head on straight (which is a big if) there’s no question he’s an NBA type talent. He’s long, runs the floor like gazelle, can clean up around the rim, and of course he lives up to his nickname “Area 51” protecting the paint by swatting away shots. What I liked in his first game with the Bucks was his patience, his control, and his willingness to move the ball. On top of that he impressed me with his 15 foot look that he drilled and also threw his body around a bit and took two charges. Williams has a great sense of when and when not to attempt to block a shot, he stays grounded at the right time and tends to pick the correct times to challenge a shot attempt. That feature of knowing when to block a shot could really benefit Bucks draftee Larry Sanders who doesn’t have the slightest clue when there’s a time and a place to leave his feet. Bucks fans, it’s a long shot, but don’t count out Williams on maybe earning that last roster spot. I wouldn’t bet on it, but his talent is intriguing and if there’s any organization that can help Williams change his off court habits it’s in Milwaukee. There’s no doubt the Bucks are great situation for Sean Williams future, the question is whether or not Williams is worth risking the team’s locker room atmosphere. If Xavier Henry or Paul George would have fallen to the Bucks at 15, I think Sean Williams maybe makes the team. But with Sanders on board, along with Tiny Gallon whose close with Brandon Jennings, I see Williams unfortunately not getting his second chance with the Bucks.

4. Deron Washington: A second round draft pick of the Detroit Pistons in last year’s draft, Washington’s got an idea of what summer league’s all about this year. That showed in today’s game as Washington went 4-8 from the field, hitting 1 of 2 attempts from downtown, and 2-2 from the charity stripe. His contributions helped keep the Bucks in the ballgame and he hit some big shots. Washington finished with a solid 11 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, to go along with 2 steals. With continued play like this, Washington should find himself a nice look overseas next season.

The Former Marquette Standout

5.  Dominic James: The former standout point guard from Marquette is entering his redemption year after suffering a summer league ending injury just a day or two before he was set to participate in summer league last year with the Bucks. James didn’t have a pretty game by any means but his hard nosed, full court pressure defense and his efforts in getting good looks for those around him gives him my nod for my 5th and final spot. His highlighted plays include a buzzer beating high fade away jumper to end the first quarter of play, a nice no look dish hitting Darnell Jackson after drawing too, and his hustle play in which he sprinted all the way down on the defensive end, ultimately sacrificing his body leaping over the media table on the baseline. James isn’t quite a NBA level talent, but this type of play will definitely help his chances overseas, giving him more better opportunites in the future. I’m sure we’ll see Mr. James on an NBA Summer League roster next year as well. In the end, it’s great to see the Milwaukee Bucks giving exposure to Wisconsin area players: Dominic James, Jerry Smith, and Franklin.

The Bucks look to bounce back from their overtime loss against the Dallas Mavericks tomorrow against the Memphis Grizzlies. Game time is set from 8 ET and will be televised on NBATV.

Follow Ross Geiger on Twitter: (@RossGeiger)

Ross Geiger’s NBA Mock Draft 3.0

1. Washington Wizards- John Wall, Kentucky

Oh how a year changes things.

2. Philadelphia 76ers- Evan Turner, Ohio State

3. New Jersey Nets- Wesley Johnson, Syracuse

4. Minnesota Timberwolves- Derrick Favors, Georgia Tech

5. Sacramento Kings- DeMarcus Cousins, Kentucky

6. Golden State Warriors- Ekpe Udoh, Baylor

7. Detroit Pistons- Ed Davis, North Carolina

8. Los Angeles Clippers- Al-Farouq Aminu, Wake Forest

9. Utah Jazz- Luke Babbit, Nevada

10. Indiana Pacers- Greg Monroe, Georgetown

11. New Orleans Hornets- Gordon Hayward, Butler

12. Memphis Grizzlies- Paul George, Fresno State

13. Toronto Raptors- Cole Aldrich, Kansas

14. Houston Rockets- Patrick Patterson, Kentucky

15. Milwaukee Bucks- Xavier Henry, Kansas

16. Minnesota Timberwolves- Lance Stephenson, Cincinnati

17. Chicago Bulls- Avery Bradley, Texas

18. Oklahoma City Thunder- Damian James, Texas

19. Boston Celtics- James Anderson, Oklahoma State

20. San Antonio Spurs- Craig Brackens, Iowa State

21. Oklahoma City Thunder- Kevin Seraphin, France

22. Portland Trail Blazers- Hassan Whiteside, Marshall

23. Minnesota Timberwolves- Larry Sanders, VCU

24. Atlanta Hawks- Solomon Alabi, Florida State

Kentucky is well represented in the 1st round.

25. Memphis Grizzlies- Daniel Orton, Kentucky

26. Oklahoma City Thunder- Elliot Williams, Memphis

27. New Jersey Nets- Jordan Crawford, Xavier

28. Memphis Grizzlies- Dominique Jones, South Florida

29. Orlando Magic- Devin Ebanks, West Virginia

30. Washington Wizards- Quincy Pondexter, Washington

31. New Jersey Nets- Keith “Tiny” Gallon, Oklahoma

32. Miami Heat- Gani Lawal, Georgia Tech

33. Sacramento Kings- Ryan Richards, England

34. Portland Trail Blazers- Stanley Robinson, UConn

35. Washington Wizards- Willie Warren, Oklahoma

36. Detroit Pistons- Eric Bledsoe, Kentucky

37. Milwaukee Bucks- Jarvis Varnado, Mississppi State

38. New York Knicks- Terrico White, Mississppi

39. New York Knicks- Trevor Booker, Clemson

40. Indiana Pacers- Da’Sean Butler, West Virginia

Butler was the heart of WVU, and he now goes to the city where Butler University plays ball. Coincidence??? Yes.

41. Miami Heat- Armon Johnson, Nevada

42. Miami Heat- Dexter Pittman, Texas

43. Los Angeles Lakers- Greivis Vasquez, Maryland

44. Milwaukee Bucks- Samardo Samuels, Louisville

45. Minnesota Timberwolves- Nemanja Bjelica, Serbia

46. Phoenix Suns- Thomas Heurtel- France

47. Milwaukee Bucks- Dwyane Collins, Miami

48. Miami Heat- Tibor Pleiss, Germany

Radford is also represented...

49. San Antonio Spurs- Art Parakhouski, Radford

50. Dallas Mavericks- Latavious Williams, USA (D-League)

51. Oklahoma City Thunder- Derrick Caracter, UTEP

52. Boston Celtics- Manny Harris, Michigan

53. Atlanta Hawks- Sylven Landesberg, Virginia

54. Los Angeles Clippers- Sherron Collins, Kansas

55. Utah Jazz- Jon Scheyer, Duke

56. Minnesota Timberwolves- Artem Zabelin, Russia

Looks like Kahn is going to steal Zabelin from Prokorhov

57. Indiana Pacers- Ben Uzoh, Tulsa

58. Los Angeles Lakers- Alexey Shved, Russia

59. Orlando Magic- Mikhail Torrance, Alabama

60. Phoenix Suns- Lazar Hayward, Marquette

Hey, Phoenix! DRAFT ME!!!!!!!!

Ross Geiger’s NBA Mock Draft 2.0

With the 2010 NBA Draft  just 2 weeks away, I give you my updated NBA Mock Draft 2.0. A lot has changed since my first mock draft: NBA Draft Combine was held, team scheduled workouts are underway, and player evaluations have improved. For the past two weeks, I’ve been staying up on my research of the top prospects: from their completed workouts, interested teams, to all the rumors. From everything I’ve compiled through the web, daily newspapers, magazines, and of course my own sources here’s how I feel this year’s NBA Draft will shakedown if the draft were to be held tomorrow. Enjoy!

1. Wizards- This pick is going nowhere, John Wall will be a Washington Wizard next season, I can assure you that.

Selection: John Wall, Kentucky

2. 76ers- As I mentioned in my mock draft, the 76ers aren’t 100% certain they’ll hold onto this pick. There’s definitely a possibility that the #2 pick could be sent away if I the trading partner is willing to take on Elton Brand and his long-term contract. Unless Brand is included in a deal, I see Philly keeping the pick, don’t see them involving Iguodala unless they’ll receive a high 1st round pick in return.

Selection: Evan Turner, Ohio State

3. Nets- There has been some outside interest from around the league regarding their 3rd pick in this year’s draft but as of now don’t expect any deals involving the pick to happen.

Selection:  Derrick Favors, Georgia Tech

That's Right DeMarcus, you're draft stock is rising

4. Minnesota Timberwolves- Minnesota is all but satisfied with this pick and are exploring their options on moving up as well as out of the draft with their fourth pick. With two other first round picks in this year’s draft, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them get rid of the 4th pick if the right deal was on the table. The fourth pick is definitely available to all teams, if the price is right. If they don’t move the pick, I now see the Timberwolves selecting DeMarcus Cousins here at #3. Many would scratch their head to where exactly he fits in, but let’s not forget the Wolves kept surprising us last year, stocking up with point guards in each of their three first-round picks. They shipped off one of them in Ty Lawson and I see the selection of Cousins allowing them to ship off either Kevin Love or Al Jefferson (the more likely to be moved).

Selection: DeMarcus Cousins, Kentucky

5. Sacramento Kings- Each year it seems like nobody has a clue what the Kings organization has up their sleeve on draft night and once again the NBA world is kept pondering their options here. What I can tell you is that the Sacramento Kings have no interest in trading this pick. The question that remains unknown is whether or not they’d select Greg Monroe over DeMarcus Cousins. While Cousins is regarded as the player with most potential, Monroe is the safe pick who reminds Sac-Town of a young Chris Webber. I see Sacramento not rolling any dice and taking the safe pick with Monroe.

Selection: Greg Monroe, Georgetown

A sign & trade deal could point Wesley Johnson in a different direction come July

6. Golden State Warriors- If Wesley Johnson falls to the Warriors here at #6, there’s no chance they’ll pass him up. But I’m going to throw you a Oakland-like Zito curve ball to ponder, could the Phoenix Suns do a sign-and-trade Amare Stoudemire to Golden State in exchange for Wesley Johnson. No truth behind this happening, but I like the proposition. Amare gets his max contract with a good fit in Golden State, while the Suns get a nice piece to move towards the future with, just saying.

Selection: Wesley Johnson, Syracuse

7. Detroit Pistons- While the Pistons have been reportedly aggressively trying to move up into the 4-5 range, I just don’t see it happening unless they strike a deal with the Minnesota Timberwolves. I wouldn’t have the slightest idea what the Pistons would be willing to offer and what the Timberwolves would be willing to accept but I’d say Rodney Stuckey and/or Tayshaun Prince would be included in any deal. If Detroit doesn’t deal, expect them to take Al-Farouq Aminu. He’s a young, up and coming small forward that allows them to continue to shop Tayshaun Prince who they’re more than willing to get off their hands.

Selection: Al-Farouq Aminu, Wake Forest

8. Los Angeles Clippers-Lots of hype around the Web say the Clippers are hot on Gordon Haywood and that isn’t a surprise to me. He’s versatile, he’s a winner, and could pan out to be a great pick, even here as high as eight. I find their interest in Hayward comical because I see a lot of Mike Dunleavy in Gordon Hayward as an NBA prospect. Hayward will definitely be mentioned inside the Clippers draft room when on the clock but in the end I see them passing on him and going with Xavier Henry instead.

Selection: Xavier Henry, Kansas

9. Utah Jazz- ESPN’s Chad Ford wrote that the Utah Jazz have been high on Luke Babbit longer than most and they’ve continue to remain high on his potential. But do I really see them using their 9th pick on Babbit? Absolutely not, maybe this is just my own bias here, being that I’m not high on Babbitt as a top ten pick, but I see the Jazz going power forward. They know they’re losing Carlos Boozer this summer so why not go with a power forward with high potential to back-up the new starting power forward in Utah, Paul Millsap? I see Jerry Sloan and the Utah Jazz taking none other than Ed Davis as big with a high potential and basketball intellect.

Selection: Ed Davis, North Carolina

10. Indiana Pacers- Maybe the scenario is too perfect but if Gordon Hayward is still on the board, we all know the talk will be how in the world could Indiana pass up on him? I see them buying into the idea of selecting him for a variety of reasons. Not only will he help sell seats and be a great fit building toward the future, but it gives the Pacers the ability to unload Danny Granger. I remain high on the idea that the Timberwolves will strike out in snagging restricted free agent Rudy Gay and will elect to trade for Danny Granger. Pacers then get either Kevin Love or Al Jefferson in return which replaces departing free agent Troy Murphy (after next year) and they’re future finally gets on the right track.

Selection: Gordon Hayward, Butler

N.O. could be a perfect fit especially as Whiteside draws the Tyson Chandler comparisons

11. New Orleans Hornets- The Hornets could go any direction outside of drafting a point guard at the eleventh position. But of all their immediate needs, I see them selecting a center with this pick. With Okafor everything but impressive in his first season with the Hornets, it’d be wise that they take the opportunity to draft a big man to develop. If there was a time to do it, the time is now. This year’s draft at pick #11 offers a variety of attractive centers that could potentially blossom into stars. The three top candidates for this pick if they decide to look inside would be Cole Aldrich, Hassan Whiteside, and Daniel Orton. Though it’s pretty clear that Aldrich is the most NBA-ready center to step right in to contribute I see the Hornets drafting on overall potential and athleticism. With that being said, I see New Orleans taking Hassan Whiteside, a prospect often compared to Tyson Chandler type player around the basket. Last time I checked, Chris Paul played pretty well with the real Tyson Chandler, maybe Whiteside can tandem to do much of the same down the road. But there is some definite concern, it has been reported that Hassan Whiteside and Daniel Orton both got schooled recently by Rockets center (& former Hornet draftee) Hilton Armstrong, take it for what it’s worth. I know that hearing that kind of concerns me, but I’m still a buyer on Whiteside’s potential.

Selection: Hassan Whiteside, Marshall

12. Memphis Grizzlies- I don’t hear much drift out of the Memphis Grizzlies camp but credible sources around the league have said that the Grizzlies are set on selecting Luke Babbitt if he happens to fall into their hands at twelve. Personally, I don’t like the pick nor Babbitt as an NBA prospect, but this is the same team that drafted Hasheem Thabeet 2nd overall last year.

Selection: Luke Babbitt, Nevada

How is he not a perfect fit in Toronto if he falls to them at #13? Can he play for the Maple Leafs too?

13. Toronto Raptors- With Chris Bosh departing, drafting a power forward is a must for the Toronto Raptors this year.  Or do they? Last year Toronto signed their former first pick Andrea Bargnani to a 5 year, $50 million dollar extension. If Cole Aldrich is still on the board, I see them picking him in a heartbeat; they’d not only select the most NBA-ready talent, but add toughness at the center position. This selection is also key in allowing Bargnani to move over to the starting power forward position. Obviously losing Bosh will be a huge loss, but having the ability to take Aldrich with the 13th pick should help Raptor fans restore some sort of optimism looking towards the future.

Selection: Cole Aldrich, Kansas

14. Houston Rockets- Even after acquiring Jordan Hill near the deadline last season, the Rockets need to invest in drafting another power forward to turn too next year. I see their man being Ekpe Udoh at #14. Udoh bring the long, defensive minded power forward they’d love to have down low. Never underestimate Rockets GM Darryl Morey and his “numbers” system, Udoh might solve his math problem with what to do at the 14th pick.

Selection: Ekpe Udoh, Baylor

15. Milwaukee Bucks- If all goes as planned in this mock draft, the Bucks are left scratching their heads on what to do here with this pick. All of their favorite prospects have been taken, not one of them has slid down to them at the midway point of the draft. Even I, as someone who covers the Milwaukee Bucks am left confused on what to do here with Ed Davis, Hassan Whiteside, and Xavier Henry off the board. So I see them taking the best available player which at this point is easily Paul George. While George is labeled a small forward, I think the Bucks would experiment with placing George at the shooting guard position since it’s such a slight change as far as the Milwaukee Bucks offense is concerned. George could very well end up being a blessing in disguise for the Brew City, could it be two straight years of successful draft picks for the Milwaukee Bucks?! We’ll have to wait and see….

Selection: Paul George, Fresno State

Ross Geiger’s 2010 NBA Mock Draft

2010 NBA Mock Draft (1 Month before Draft Day)

Wall definitely holds all the "Wizardry" that's needed to become a star in the NBA

1. Washington Wizards- John Wall

One of the most hyped up draft picks in recent history, John Wall has a lot challenges awaiting him in D.C., but behind the luck of Mr. Abe Polin’s championship ring Wall is everything the Wizards organization could ever ask for. Skills aside, his marketability alone will help change the face and image of the Wizards’ franchise as it moves forward from their past nightmare of a season. While I feel as though, Wall maybe a little overhyped, my only concern with his development are those influences around him. Being so young is great, but the Wizards must keep a close eye out on Wall, keeping him on his steady path towards being successful. Wall in Washington offers a variety of challenges on and off the basketball court, hopefully he can keep a level head, stay smart, and can continually grow as a professional. With Gilbert Arenas and Josh Howard on board, the smartest thing the Wizards could do is go grab a long-time veteran point guard that can lead Wall by example. A great example of this can be seen with the Chicago Bulls going out and grabbing Lindsay Hunter when the Bulls drafted Derrick Rose, a player Wall is often compared too.

This Year's National Player of the Year

2. Philadelphia 76ers- Evan Turner

It’ll be interesting to see what shakes down next season in Philly. Turner very well could be the key to the 76ers being able to make some trades. Many are already pondering whether or not Turner and Andre Iguodala can coexist together. While I think they can definitely work together I wouldn’t be surprised to see Philly keeping Iguodala out on the trading block. One team that really stands out as a possible trading partner would be the Memphis Grizzlies. If the Grizzlies are unable to resign Rudy Gay, they may be interested in acquiring Iguodala, a player so similar to Gay that it wouldn’t be a completely change in offensive strategies next year in Memphis. The 76ers can’t go wrong with drafting Turner, from his overall potential to the decisions he immediately allows the franchise to make, this great situation for both Turner and the 76ers.

3. New Jersey Nets- Derrick Favors

So what if the New Jersey Nets weren’t rewarded with the first overall pick for their horrendous play last season, this very well could be a blessing in disguise. Drafting Derrick Favors is the best fit for New Jersey anyways. Drafting Wall would’ve led to having to make a tough decision on Devin Harris’s future with the franchise, Favors on the other hand, helps them avoid the unneeded headache. He’ll compliment Brook Lopez very well and gives them a drastic improvement at the power forward position. For Favors there’s not a better situation available, if all goes as planned he should be a starter from jump. He’ll be given plenty of minutes and will have the chance to gain valuable exposure and experience; Nets fans should be looking forward to the progression he’ll make immediately. Looking down the road, I like Yi Jianlian being my sixth man off the bench, a foreigner whose not always consistent but should be much better off not having to deal with as much expectations. Derrick will do both the Nets and Yi a big Favor (pun intended) even as a rookie.

4. Minnesota Timberwolves- Wesley Johnson

With the Timberwolves under the leadership of General Manager David Kahn, you never quite know what to expect on draft night as we all found out this past year. Despite what many mock drafts around the Web suggest, I’m not so sure the Timberwolves take Johnson here. Even before NBA draft workouts, my gut tells me not to count out the Timberwolves selecting DeMarcus Cousins. Whether or not Kahn decides to pull the trigger on Cousins depends on how patient he’s willing to be. Earlier this past season, the Timberwolves and Pacers came extremely close on deal that would’ve sent Al Jefferson to Indiana in exchange for Danny Granger. Cousins is often compared to Al Jefferson in terms of size and abilities. It’s not out of the question that Kahn selects Cousins, then attempts to pull the deal for Granger offering up Al Jefferson and Corey Brewer. This trade would immediately improve both teams, the only road block that may stand in the way is Pacers forward Troy Murphy. But for the Timberwolves, adding Cousins and Granger instantaneously makes them no laughing matter next season. Don’t forget that the sooner the Timberwolves become successful, the sooner Ricky Rubio may decide it’s time make the move over to the join the team. But that’s a lot of speculation on my part and until the draft talk continues to heat up I’ll stand pat with the majority of mock drafts and take Wesley Johnson here at number four.

Whichever team takes Cousins must monitor the amount of times he calls to order pizza

5. Sacramento Kings- DeMarcus Cousins

The last thing the Sacramento Kings need is another young big man, but unfortunately for them, the best players availiable are in face big men. Sac-Town will choose between taking DeMarcus Cousins or Greg Monroe here at five. With the Maloof brothers all to familiar with gambling owning their luxurious Palms hotel in Las Vegas, I got to say they’ll go with Cousins. His definitely the risky selection but I see his overall potential too hard to pass up. As Jason Thompson continues to develop, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to take Greg Monroe here, even when he’s by far the safest pick. You cannot have Thompson coming off your bench, especially now that they have sixth man of the year candidate Carl Landry after the trade with Houston. If Cousins can live up to his potential, stay in shape, and improve his game the it’s scary to envision what Sacramento’s future may have in store with the combination of Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins.

6. Golden State Warriors- Greg Monroe

Monroe has arguably has the highest basketball IQ out of all the projected lottery picks. After snagging the very intelligent basketball player in Stephen Curry in last year’s draft, it makes perfect sense to put Monroe alongside their future point guard. The two would work very well together, having too very young and wise talents inside and outside. If Anthony Randolph can bounce back from injury, the Warriors future big three can consist of Curry, Randolph, and Monroe.

7. Detroit Pistons- Cole Aldrich

The Pistons desperately need a big man and Cole Adrich is the next best option left on the board once Cousins and Monroe are off the board. A good shot blocker, Aldrich can continue to help Detroit basketball have a strong defensive presence down low. This year the Pistons went with Ben Wallace as their starting center and Big Ben has just never been the same since deciding to leave Detroit to sign with Chicago a few years back. Aldrich is Mo-Town’s new future at the center position.

8. Los Angeles Clippers- Al-Farouq Aminu

Considering that the Clippers traded away Al Thornton, it makes me feel much better predicting them to take Aminu here at number seven. I realize they have Travis Outlaw and I’d fully expect him to fulfill the team’s starting role, but Aminu will be their work in progress. I see Aminu being a instant energy guy coming off the Clipper bench next season and a guy you can count on taking over in the next couple years to go along with Blake Griffin

9. Utah Jazz- Patrick Patterson

With the likely departure of Carlos Boozer, Patterson would be a nice addition to the Jazz young core group of guys. The Jazz main concern will be his ability to knock down the open mid-range jump shots that are very important in the two-man game with Deron Williams. But Patterson’s lack of a NBA ready jumpshot should be the least of Utah’s concerns, he posses a lot of intangibles you just can’t teach. He has soft hands and even more importantly a high basketball IQ, something that will go a long way with Head Coach Jerry Sloan.

The Pacers most likely regret trading away Jerryd Bayles, their 2008 draft pick, Bradley has the same type of game as Bayless

10. Indiana Pacers- Avery Bradley

While Xavier Henry most likely is the best player availiable on the board, they Pacers don’t need another shooting guard, they need somebody to fill the void at the point guard position. Bradley isn’t close to ready to handle the starting duties, but can be immediate spark plug the Pacers are missing. One of the worst defensive teams in the NBA, Avery won’t help them improve in that department but in the NBA if you cannot play defense, you can always try to out score opponents. Avery has a knack for putting the ball in the basket and can contribute some points off the bench.

11. New Orleans Hornets- Xavier Henry

The New Orleans Hornets had a very successful draft night last year, adding Darren Collison and Marcus Thornton both whom raised eyebrows throughout the league with their rookie season performances. Henry is a deadly shooter who can do all the things Morris Peterson isn’t able to do anymore. This young prospect has the size and strength to play both the shooting guard and the small forward position which is extremely valuable to the Hornets. Next season they’ll look to play point guards Paul and Collison at the same time and being able to place Henry in that small forward can help both of the Hornets’ penetrating point guards tally up some assists with his perimeter game.

12. Memphis Grizzlies- Paul George

The issue isn’t whether or not Rudy Gay decides to stay because George will be a work in progress throughout his entire rookie season. But his upside is worthy of being selected at number 12. He’s long, athletic, and has a quick release on his shot. If selected by the Grizzlies, he may find a few spots minutes to prove his rookie worth but don’t expect to see him out on the floor much more than Suns fans saw Earl Clark this season.

13. Toronto Raptors- Donatas Motiejunas

With Chris Bosh leaving soon, the Raptors definitely need to add a big man here. Though Ed Davis and Ekpe Udoh remain on the board, I see Bryan Colangelo intrigued by the Motiejunas who has all the potential to make him a steal at pick 13. Always the biggest concern with young international players is whether or not they’ll be able to fully transition their games to the NBA style of play. In Toronto, Motiejunas has best chance to transition his game moderately fast with a team consisting of many international sensations with the likes of Jose Calderon, Hedo Turkoglu, Marco Belinelli, and Andrea Bargnani (the player Motiejunas is often compared to).

Whiteside's Size & Length is Unmatched

14. Houston Rockets- Hassan Whiteside

Unfortunately it looks as though my favorite draft prospect won’t be available when it comes time for the Milwaukee Bucks to be on the clock. The Houston Rockets would get a steal here if Whiteside happens to fall into their laps at 14. I start salivating just hearing the comparisons of Whiteside being a young, raw talent that is comparable to Marcus Camby. He would be a good fit in Houston due in large part that he won’t be expected to contribute much his rookie season. So if you’re an NBA fan looking to catch a glimpse of Whiteside, get to the game when the gates open up one and half hours before game time, you can be sure he’ll be putting in a lot of work in pregame workouts. If Whiteside pans out to be just 70% of the player he has the potential to become, this selection will be well worth it.

15. Milwaukee Bucks- Ed Davis

While I’d love to see Bucks General Manager John Hammond and the Bucks attempt to trade up for the rights to Hassan Whiteside, I see them ultimately sticking with their pick here at 15. That pick is looking like it’ll be Ed Davis, the power forward out of North Carolina. My favorite description of Davis can be seen on NBADraft.net where these words fall under his strengths section: “live” legs, high motor, excellent touch, and tremendous footwork for his age. Then one last description on Davis drops louder than a bomb in the eyes of anybody who understand the Milwaukee Bucks team mentality: He “does not have a superstar attitude, he has a workman’s approach to the game that is refreshing to see.” The Bucks will love every bit of that characteristic, the thought of developing two gym rats in Brandon Jennings at point and Ed Davis down low could definitely be something to look forward to in the future.

16. Minnesota Timberwolves- Ekpe Udoh

Udoh can help add to the Timberwolves strength down low. He’s a tremendous shot blocker and should end being more of a defensive minded player in the NBA. Udoh could learn a lot practicing with Kevin Love and Al Jefferson on a daily basis.

Anderson's Stroke is a Thing of Beauty from the Outside

17. Chicago Bulls- James Anderson

Could end up being of the better steals in the draft if he does slide past the lottery picks. Anderson brings the outside shooting presence that the Bulls lacked all season long from the perimeter. Don’t sleep on the Big 12 player of the year who averaged 22.3 points last season, he offers a lot of upside, and would fit in nicely in Chicago.

18. Miami Heat- Damion James

Considering that Heat only have five players under contract next season, the possibilities at this pick are endless. The Heat’s hope is to sign a big name PF/C and hope to also persuade Dwyane Wade to remain with them as well. So I’d see the Heat looking to add a small forward with high energy. Big 12 Conference’s all time leading rebounder fits the profile and is one of the more athletically gifted talents available in this draft. The Heat wouldn’t go wrong with taking James here at 18, even when many NBA analysts may find this a little too high for James.

19. Boston Celtics- Larry Sanders

Who knows how many more seasons Kevin Garnett’s knees can handle. Sanders is a very late bloomer who never played organized basketball until the 10th grade. A very strong defensive player, Sanders could learn a lot from of the best defensive power forwards in the business in Garnett. He has a lot of room for growth and could end becoming a very solid player in this league.

Hayward may rock a very similar black and silver jersey soon in San Antonio

20. San Antonio Spurs- Gordon Hayward

Though I must say it’s hard picturing Hayward in a Spurs uniform, I think he’d be a nice pick here at 20 for the Spurs. He provide a little bit of everything and could potentially be a huge boost of the Spurs bench. With Richard Jefferson, all but impressive after his first year with the Spurs, Hayward might find a fair amount of time to play. If I’m Gregg Popovich, I love having to young talents in Hayward and DeJuan Blair to turn too off the bench.

21. Oklahoma City Thunder- Luke Babbitt

We’ll just have to wait and see how Babbitt’s future pans out in the NBA but if it’s anything like it’s projected to be, the Thunder have find another great piece that fits with their future. Babbitt at 6’9 is a lethal shooter with the ability to play both the small forward and power forward positions. For his own sake, he better prepare to play the power forward position with Kevin Durant occupying the majoring of the small forward minutes. Realistically, if Babbit lands in Oklahoma City I see him being a bonafide sixth man that could potentially be a sixth man award candidate down the road.

22. Portland Trail Blazers- Kevin Seraphin

It’d be silly for Portland to even consider any prospect outside of the power forward and center positions. With their luck with injuries, they could always improve their support system down in the paint. The popular options here are Solomon Alabi and Daniel Orton, but I see Blazers General Manager Kevin Pritchard taking his chances on Kevin Seraphin, the young product out of France. Already having Nicolas Batum on board, Seraphin would have French companion to help aid his adjustment to the NBA if the Blazers decide to bring him over to play next season. Seraphin’s upside is worth the gamble as the first round gets into it’s later selections.

There's No Debate: Stephenson Definitely Has the Size

23. Minnesota Timberwolves- Lance Stephenson

Once again you must pop the question, do you go best player available or do you go immediate needs? I see the Timberwolves opting against taking the best player available (either Orton or Alabi) and rather choosing a shooting guard. Heading into the NBA Draft Combine I would’ve put Elliot Williams ahead of Lance Stephenson in my rankings, but after missing the NBA Draft Combine due to injury, Stephenson jumps him in my book. It was very costly time to get injured and allowing teams to get a look at you in the pivotal pre-draft camp is so important for anyone’s draft stock. But in the long term, Stephenson is the more promising player of the two shooting guards, he’s got an NBA ready body who’s a guy that needed one more year of college to fully blossom. Depending on what happens during free agency, Stephenson may have a outside chance of starting next season for the Timberwolves if they’re willing to endure another long losing season.

24. Atlanta Hawks- Willie Warren

The Hawks have so many questions left unanswered at the shooting guard position, what will all pan out with Joe Johnson? Nobody has the slightest idea but the chances of Atlanta holding onto him looks all but promising. With that being said, they need to look at drafting a shooting guard with this pick. I see Sixth Man of the Year Jamal Crawford becoming the Hawks starting shooting guard next season so he’ll need a backup. Warren has an NBA ready body and has the offensive skills to be a highly productive scorer in the future. He’s a very interesting prospect who was listed as a lottery pick in many mock drafts before last season.

25. Memphis Grizzlies- Daniel Orton

Both Orton and his agent will finally be relieved to know he’ll be coming off the board in the first round after being a guy who fell way past where he’s currently projected to be drafted (in the high teens). This is a great pickup by the Grizzlies here with the 25th pick and Orton hopefully can develop his game having to defend Zach Randolph each day in practice.

26. Oklahoma City Thunder- Armon Johnson

Not very well known, Johnson could very well be a big sleeper in this year’s draft class. He’s quick and crafty which could be the perfect player to back up Russell Westbrook. While Eric Maynor will still find his own opportunities to find minutes at the backup point guard slot, Johnson will give him a run for his money next season.

27. New Jersey Nets- Solomon Alabi

His size alone is very intriguing, but he’s a work in progress. If the Nets are willing to gamble, stay patient then this is a wise pick with Alabi being one of the best available here at 27. If not, expect the Nets to go get a better-known college player like Devin Ebanks.

Wait is that John Wall? No folks, that's the 6'1 Eric Bledsoe

28. Memphis Grizzlies- Eric Bledsoe

He was very much hidden behind the play of John Wall last season with Kentucky and I definitely feel Bledsoe may be one the this year’s best keep late first round secrets. He’s very athletic and has the strength that allows him to absorb contact while finishing around the rim. Nice backup to Mike Conley next season and he could potentially take over Conley’s starting job in the coming years.

29. Orlando Magic- Elliot Williams

This highly explosive young shooting guard needs to improve his perimeter shooting, but has the leaping ability you just can’t teach. A year under the wing of Vince Carter could really benefit Williams during his rookie season and it’s worth the Magic taking him here this late in the first round.

30. Washington Wizards- Gani Lawal

Much like Eric Bledsoe, Lawal was hidden behind Derrick Favors this past year at Georgia Tech. While still raw, Lawal has a lot of potential to become solid down the road. Wizards need some help in the frontcourt and Lawal is the best available.

Bucks/Hawks Game 7 Predictions (Special Edition)

Milwaukee Bucks at Atlanta Hawks- 1 ET- ABC

Prepare for Game 7

As we all know, December 25th is quite the holiday celebration. Now that I’m all grown up, outside of getting to spend quality time with my family, watching the highlighted NBA games on ABC each year is what I look forward to most. This year, Christmas came a little bit early in many respects. On Friday it came for the Hawks as the Bucks gave them a huge gift as they came out very poorly and never recovered, which allowed the Hawks to regain control of the series. Tomorrow marks a gift for the Milwaukee Bucks as they play a deciding Game 7 in Atlanta. You may be wondering how can it be a gift for a Bucks team that could’ve closed out the series at home? While you’re absolutely right, it’s for those exact same reasons that Game 7 is a gift to the Milwaukee Bucks. This Game 7 will forever be known in my book as The Gift & The Curse.

The Bucks gift wrapped Game 6

“The Gift” will come in it’s appropriate holiday fashion with the Bucks wearing their traditional Christmas team colors. “The Gift” will be opened by the Atlanta Hawks and it shall be shared amongst the entire Hawks organization, team, fans , and city. Maybe you’ve already see where this is leading but the Gift is the Curse. The curse to what’s to come in the near future in Atlanta after tragic Game 7 loss in Atlanta occurs. Now you may wonder: How will the gift be successfully sent and presented? How dare you ask such a question, you should’ve learned that answer growing up. The answer: By the reindeer of course!

These "Reindeer" will decide Game 7 for their respected teams

Dasher: “Jamal Crawford” Whomever is defending Crawford must make sure to know where he is at all times, especially during the closing seconds of this game. In his first playoff appearance, Crawford’s going to be dashing all around the floor looking to get off a clean look at the basket. If anyone’s going to deliver the unbelievable dagger to the Bucks chances of moving on it lies in the hands of Jamal Crawford.

Dancer: “Brandon Jennings” In the Game 6 postgame press conference Jennings stated he’s coming ready to play come Sunday afternoon. When he means ready to play, it also means he’ll be ready to swag, so expect a little dancing on and off the court.

Prancer: “Ersan Ilayasova” The Bucks need Ilayasova to prance all around the glass on both ends of the floor. He’ll be important in limiting the Hawks second shots on the defensive end and cleaning up the Bucks missed shots with put backs on the offensive end.

He'll be fired up for Game 7

Vixen: “Joe Johnson” The term Vixen just sounds scary and evil which is exactly how Bucks’ fans would describe Johnson all series long but especially now heading into Game 7. The grammatically correct definition of a vixen is a female fox or ill-tempered woman, none of which apply to Johnson.

Comet: “Josh Smith” J-Smoov will continue to be unsmooth near and around the basket whenever he’s unable to finish above the rim. Under the rim, he’ll continue to look he should be playing for the WNBA’s Houston Comets.

Cupid: “Carlos Delfino”It’s safe to say by now that Delfino has found his shooting touch from the outside. Knowing you can count upon him to hit his open looks, take some pressure of Salmons, and hit big shots, what’s not to love about Carlos….

Donner: “Mike Woodson” Since Donner is not an actual word and just a name, it didn’t ring a bell to who be honored with this reindeer. But Donner does rhyme with goner and that’s exactly what Mike Woodson will be at the end of the playoffs: win or lose tomorrow. Unless the Hawks win the NBA Championship, he’s gone: either leaving under his own will which could potentially end up being to Philly with Larry Brown. Why would he opt to leave on his own? Job Security. Some would already say his job is on the line and that’s before Joe Johnson packs up and leaves this summer.

Everyday a Scrub is Born, Clap for 'em, Clap for 'em...eeeyyy

Blitzen: “Zaza Pachulia & Dan Gadzuric” When it comes to this name, I can’t help but think of the word blitz. Not only would both of these honorable bench players be great defensive football players but they more than make up for it by blitzing (fouling) on the basketball court. Whether it’s to send a statement or just a shot block attempt, both are very gifted when it comes to fouling.

It may be unfair, but the Bucks' Game 7 chances are determined by Salmons

Rudolph: “John Salmons” Coming off a horrendous 2-13 shooting night for only 8 points in Game 6, Salmons is the key to delivering “The Gift and The Curse” to the Atlanta Hawks in Game 7. Being Rudolph, he’ll need to use his famous Red Nose to guide his deer to victory. While that starts off on the offensive end by providing a bulk of the scoring load, it can’t end there. Salmons must also provide “hard-nosed” defense on Joe Johnson for the entirety of Game 7. Can he do it all? Of course; has Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer ever let you down? Like Johnson, Salmons leadership is never vocal, but like another popular “Rudolf”, he’s going to “Let It Rock” in Game 7.

NBA fans across the globe should mark this game down as a holiday. Hawks and Bucks fans in particular will be rushing to the television sets like a child rushing to see what Santa left on Christmas morning. The rest will be up to 3 keys to the game are nearly identical to those that determine your Christmas presents:

  1. The Reindeer: Whichever “reindeer” are able to take care of business consistently until the final buzzer sounds will win the game for their respective teams. Collectively as a whole, they must all be on the same page and click with one another. Which “team” of reindeer do this the best separate themselves from other and move their slay onto Orlando to face the Magic in Round 2.
  2. NBA Playoffs = NBA Christmas

    Santa: You may find it a little shocking for me to admit this being the big NBA supporter that I am but NBA Commissioner David Stern is Santa. In the end, Santa has a lot of influence on who’ll end up taking the sleigh to Orlando. As the NBA Playoffs progress he’ll be making a list, checking it twice, gunna find out who’s naughty or nice. And come time for one “nice” team to hoist the NBA Championship trophy, Santa Clause is coming to town!!! My advice to the Bucks being the underdogs and a team that wouldn’t be expected to have much of a chance in making a Round 2 matchup against the Magic a competitive one that has the potential to go 6 or 7 games (bringing in that much more money for the league…cough, cough) and to remember to leave Santa a full glass of Milk (fresh from Wisconsin) and some chocolate chip cookies!

  3. Elfs (Santa’s Little Helpers): Once again, I’m ripping my own support of the NBA into little pieces right now but it’s true. We all know Santa has his little helpers and for the David Stern and the NBA that’s of course the officiating. Like I mentioned above, with the Hawks at home and being the team that looks to be much more able to stretch a series with the Magic to at least 6 or 7 games, the Elf’s most likely will be handing the favorable calls to the Hawks. Here are two prime examples from this year already:

For most of us, Christmas is among the most cherished childhood memories we carry with us throughout our lives. We never forget those mornings we rushed out to the living room to see what Santa had left us. While our thought and belief of one man traveling across the world spreading holiday cheer and leaving children gifts that they had on their wish list may diminish; Christmas is amazing and Santa is a big reason for that. The NBA is also where amazing happens and whether we’d like to admit it or not, David Stern has a lot to do with what’s granted off our wish list.

For Bucks fans, it’s hard to add to the wish list, the Milwaukee Bucks have gotten all that could ever ask for this year and more. An exciting future star in draft pick Brandon Jennings, a strong return from overseas from Ersan Ilayasova, drastic improvement in both leadership and performance roles from Andrew Bogut, a solid free agent signing in Jerry Stackhouse, a great deadline trade grabbing John Salmons, saved tons of money moving Richard Jefferson’s contract and picking up Kurt Thomas who turned out to be a blessing in disguise, great bench play and attitude from Luke Ridnour, even more improved defense from Mbah a Moute, a great swap receiving Carlos Delfino, and the creation of Squad 6. With all of this came recognition and respect, all year long the Bucks weren’t the laughing matter they once were, both of the Bucks masterminds were honored: John Hammond won the league’s Executive of the Year Award and Head Coach Scott Skiles was runner-up for NBA Coach of the Year. And most importantly, the NBA now knows why it should FEAR THE DEER.

Ever since stepping foot onto Marquette campus as a college freshmen, I’ve been a all out supporter of the Milwaukee Bucks. I’ve stood by this team since the first game I ever attended, now over 70 games later (having not missed a single game (preseason or season when in Milwaukee) I’ll continue to stand behind the Bucks in Game 7. While I’ll admit and it’s definitely clear in this post that I have my doubts about Game 7, I’m going to let my bias and just overall passion for the Bucks organization to get the best of me in my Game 7 prediction. No way I’m picking against the Bucks in Game 7, I’ve always been a believer in this city, this franchise, and this team, and it ain’t stopping now.

Bucks- 108 Hawks- 107

If this indeed ends up being my last Milwaukee Bucks Game Post of the Season, I hope you enjoyed them & be sure to stay with us as we follow the rest of the NBA playoffs! Thanks for the support!- Ross Geiger