Portland Trail Blazers

2010-11 NBA Preview: Northwest Division

Oklahoma City Thunder (50-32 last season)

How could I not put up a picture of Kevin Durant? MVP? I think so.

Projected Starting Five:

Point Guard: Russell Westbrook

Shooting Guard: Thabo Sefolosha

Small Forward: Kevin Durant

Power Forward: Jeff Green

Center: Nenad Krstic

Key Reserves:

Guard: Eric Maynor

Guard: James Harden

Forward-Center: Serge Ibaka

The Thunder are still so young, yet so talented.  They can’t get ahead of themselves though.  This new success needs to be handled correctly and it cannot get into their heads or else they could possibly have a massive meltdown.  For example, take the 2008-09 New Orleans Hornets.  They are the perfect example of that.  They biggest concern I have for the Thunder is their shooting.  Other than Kevin Durant, it was an adventure for them last season.  Hopefully the additions of Daequan Cook and Morris Peterson can help in that department.  OKC is a lock for the playoffs and look for them to make a deep run.

Portland Trail Blazers (50-32 last season)

Will Oden ever last through an entire season?

Projected Starting Five:

Point Guard: Andre Miller

Shooting Guard: Brandon Roy

Small Forward: Nicolas Batum

Power Forward: LaMarcus Aldridge

Center: Marcus Camby

Key Reserves:

Guard: Wesley Matthews

Guard-Forward: Rudy Fernandez

Center: Greg Oden

No team ever avoids injury, but no team is ever stung as bad as Portland was last season.  With a complete lineup, this team has the potential to be the best in the West.  They allowed the fewest points of any team in the West (94.8) and defense is definitely their calling card.  Wesley Matthews was brought in for his defense and also to provide a spark off the bench.  Marcus Camby is still a great defensive center, even at 36-years-old.  Nicolas Batum has the length to block shots and get a couple of steals per game.  The great thing about the Trail Blazers is that they are also very young as well.  I realize that Camby and Andre Miller are not, but the rest of the team is.  This team will be good for years to come, as long as Brandon Roy is still hanging around in the future.

Utah Jazz (53-29 last season)

I think Hayward has a potential to be another Kirilenko.

Projected Starting Five:

Point Guard: Deron Williams

Shooting Guard: Raja Bell

Small Forward: Andrei Kirilenko

Power Forward: Paul Millsap

Center: Al Jefferson

Key Reserves:

Guard: Sundiata Gaines

Guard-Forward: C.J. Miles

Forward: Gordon Hayward

Deron Williams might be the best point guard in the NBA thanks to last season.  His playmaking ability is getting to a ridiculous feat and with the players around him it could even get better this year.  Getting the additions such as Al Jefferson, Raja Bell and Gordon Hayward acclimated quickly is crucial.  Williams and Carlos Boozer were the second coming of Stockton and Malone (obviously not as good as these two) and I believe Jefferson can fill the shoes of Boozer and put up 20 points and 10 rebounds for the season.  Jefferson is also going to have to find chemistry with Paul Millsap.  Both will want to control the paint, but each have to pick and choose when to make their moves.  The Jazz will most likely be a middle of the pack playoff team, but I see them losing first round.

Denver Nuggets (53-29 last season)

Will he stay or will he go?

Projected Starting Five:

Point Guard: Chauncey Billups

Shooting Guard: Arron Afflalo

Small Forward: Carmelo Anthony

Power Forward: Kenyon Martin

Center: Nene Hilario

Key Reserves:

Guard: J.R. Smith

Forward: Al Harrington

Forward-Center: Chris Andersen

Most people probably are wondering why I have the Nuggets finishing fourth in their division, and the reason is because Carmelo Anthony will either be gone from the team or not focused enough to lead.  Carmelo is an elite player, and if he gets traded the Nuggets will turn into another run-of-the-mill team not making the playoffs.  We all saw the breakdown this team had without head coach George Carl, and without their superstar, all hell might break loose.  J.R. Smith is a hothead and even though he is in a contract year, his play will still be very streaky.  Kenyon Martin is always getting hurt, so the play of Al Harrington will be a huge part to the success to this team as well.  In the end, with Carmelo or not, I just don’t see it this year for the Nuggets.

Minnesota Timberwolves (15-67 last season)

A world of potential and only 21-years-old

Projected Starting Five:

Point Guard: Luke Ridnour

Shooting Guard: Corey Brewer

Small Forward: Michael Beasley

Power Forward: Kevin Love

Center: Darko Milicic

Key Reserves:

Guard: Jonny Flynn

Guard: Wayne Ellington

Forward: Wesley Johnson

The Timberwolves are going to be even worse this year.  With the loss of Al Jefferson to division opponent Utah, Minnesota has no “go-to” scorer.  Michael Beasley is their best bet, especially since in 2008, he was projected and considered to be a better prospect than Derrick RoseKevin Love is developing into a great player but he does most of the nitty-gritty work.  Rookie Wesley Johnson has the skill set to be great and he will definitely get ample amounts of playing time with this team.  Darko Milicic has ANOTHER chance and again it will be a failure.  I wouldn’t be surprised if this team finishes with less wins than they did last season.

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2010-11 NBA Preview-Overview

The NBA season is less than a week away and many are getting excited for what should be a fantastic thrill ride.  I will be posting division previews sporadicly during the course of this week and into the weekend.  Stay tuned for analysis on your favorite team, but for now, here is a division breakdown with projected records and the four important awards handed out at the end of the year.

Eastern Conference

Can New York make the playoffs thanks to Amar'e?

Atlantic Division

Boston Celtics (51-31)

New York Knicks (36-46)

New Jersey Nets (32-50)

Philadelphia 76ers (29-53)

Toronto Raptors (25-57)

Central Division

How will the Cavs fare without LeBron?

Chicago Bulls (50-32)

Milwaukee Bucks (47-35)

Indiana Pacers (32-50)

Cleveland Cavaliers (30-52)

Detroit Pistons (29-53)

Southeast Division

Wall and Arenas will be a fun duo to watch!

Miami Heat (61-21)

Orlando Magic (54-28)

Atlanta Hawks (46-36)

Washington Wizards (37-45)

Charlotte Bobcats (36-46)

Western Conference

Northwest Division

Oklahoma City Thunder (52-30)

Portland Trail Blazers (51-31)

MVP! MVP! MVP!

Utah Jazz (47-35)

Denver Nuggets (41-41)

Minnesota Timberwolves (22-60)

Pacific Division

Los Angeles Lakers (59-23)

Phoenix Suns (46-36)

Los Angeles Clippers (36-46)

Sacramento Kings (30-52)

Golden State Warriors (28-54)

 

Southwest Division

How many games will Yao play in?

Dallas Mavericks (51-31)

Houston Rockets (47-35)

San Antonio Spurs (45-37)

Memphis Grizzlies (41-41)

New Orleans Hornets (37-45)

 

My pick for the NBA Finals is Lakers over Heat in a seven game series.  Here are the awards for the end of the season.

MVP: Kevin Durant

Most Improved Player: Hedo Turkoglu

6th Man: Jamal Crawford

Defensive Player of the Year: Dwight Howard

Rookie of the Year: Blake Griffin

Durant vs Wade: The Best Out of College

By: Ross Geiger

Kevin Durant or Dwyane Wade?

Who's Better?

When it comes to who’s the best basketball player in the world the conversation is filed down to NBA superstars in Kobe Bryant and LeBron James. While much of that debate may have been answered this past offseason, another controversial debate arises and remains unanswered: Who’s the best player in the NBA that went to college?

In past years, it was a no-brainer; Dwyane Wade out of Marquette University was clearly the league’s best player that played at the college ranks. But just in a matter of a couple year, another player has earned the right to be considered alongside D-Wade, his name: Kevin Durant.

The Oklahoma City Thunder star swingman out of Texas has continued to improve and impress year in and year out since joining the league in 2007. Drafted 2nd overall by the Seattle Supersonics, Durant, from the jump, was an underrated young talent as the Portland Trail Blazers decided upon selecting Greg Oden over Durant in a very hyped up debacle of which would make the better #1 overall selection in the 2007 NBA Draft.

This Question Has Been Resolved

Since then, Durant has turned that debate into a comical joke as he’s clearly proven he was the better of the two draft top picks. Whether you want to consider it fairly or unfairly, due to Oden’s injury, Durant took home the 2007 NBA Rookie of the Year Award. But I’m willing to bet that Oden wouldn’t of even came close to posting comparable rookie numbers to those of Durant’s 20.3 pgg, 4.4 rpg, and 2.4 apg nightly.

In his following sophomore season, Durant built upon those numbers and his status as one of the league’s top young guns was confirmed. During the 2009 NBA All-Star Game in Phoenix, Durant showed the NBA World what the league could expect in the near future. In the Rookie-Sophomore Game, Durant carried his sophomore team to victory by breaking the scoring record with 46 points. Coincidentally the old mark was held by Phoenix’s own (at the time) Amar’e Stoudemire, when he put up 36 points for the sophomore team in 2004. The very next day, Durant participated in the NBA’s first H-O-R-S-E contest and Durant took home the crown for that as well, taking down Hawks guard Joe Johnson and Grizzlies rookie O.J. Mayo. This all came during a year in which the Seattle Supersonics were relocated from Seattle to Oklahoma City where they became the Thunder. All-Star Weekend was a great time for the Thunder’s young leader to put his team as well as his name on the map. Durant finished his second season in the league improving upon nearly each and every statistical category and percentages (except BPG & FT%), averaging 25.3 ppg, 6.5 rpg, and 2.8 apg.

Showing rapid improvements upon entering the league, nobody had the slightest idea what to expect from Kevin Durant as he entered his third year in the NBA this past season. Once again, Durant, nicknamed “The Durantula”, didn’t disappoint. He earned tons of accolades including becoming an NBA All-Star for the first time, winning his second straight H-O-R-S-E competition, and even coaching the rookies in the T-Mobile Rookie Challenge. But none of those achievements are as historical as his last as he took home the NBA’s scoring title averaging 30.1 points per game, becoming the youngest in league history to win the scoring title at only 21 years of age. He broke LeBron James’s record becoming the youngest and on his way to doing that he also broke Allen Iverson’s record number of games scoring at least 25 points.

But maybe the most impressive achievement of all was Durant’s leadership. He led his team to a very unexpected playoff berth with the Thunder finishing their season with 50 wins, which earned him the last and final spot in the Western Conference playoffs. Winning 50 games was a 27 game improvement for the Thunder, making their season the sixth biggest turnaround in NBA history. In the playoffs, Durant’s team held their own agains the defending NBA World Champion Los Angeles Lakers stretching the series to a tough 6 games before losing 4-2 on a buzzer-beating tip in by Pau Gasol. At the end of the year, Durant finished second in the MVP voting behind LeBron James and was honored with a spot on the 2010 All-NBA First Team, that included LeBron James, Dwight Howard, Kobe Bryant, and yup, you guessed it, Dwyane Wade….

Wade and Durant are the only two superstars among the top names on the 2010 All-NBA First Team list that went to college. Wade’s popularity is slowly becoming rivaled with Durant’s as both should be mentioned in the same sentence together. Among Wade’s notable achievements, he was awarded Sportsman of the Year by Sports Illustrated in 2006, has had the top selling jersey in the NBA for nearly two years to go with his NBA Championship and Finals MVP.

Much like Durant’s incredible third season in the league, D-Wade also shined bright during his third year. Wade helped carry the Miami Heat, along with Shaquille O’Neal, to the Heat’s first NBA Championship in franchise history. At the conclusion of the 2006 NBA Finals, Wade also took home the 2006 NBA Finals MVP. Just for good measure, Wade led the league in scoring in 2008-2009.

Of the five superstars named to last season’s 2010 All-NBA First Team, Durant was the only player that was not a member of Team USA’s Gold Medal team.  The only reason for that was age and inexperience. Durant is now the captain of the Team USA basketball and is well on his way of matching many of the accomplishments Wade’s already earned.

While Dwyane Wade’s NBA career may have 4 more years of experience and accomplishments under his belt, does Kevin Durant have a shot at being named the best NBA player that went to college as soon as this upcoming season?

Let Us Know What You Think!

Wade:

28 Years Old

College: Marquette University

Drafted 5th Overall in the 2003 NBA Draft by the Miami Heat

Has been a member of the Heat his entire career

2006 NBA Champion & 2006 NBA Finals MVP

6-Time NBA All-Star

NBA Scoring Champion (2009)

2-Time All-NBA First Team

2-Time All-NBA Second Team

1-Time All-NBA Third Team

3-Time All-Defensive Second Team

2004 NBA All-Rookie First Team

2010 NBA All-Star MVP

2-Time Skills Challenge Champion

2006 Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year

Kevin Durant:

21 Years Old

Drafted 2nd overall in the 2007 NBA Draft by the Seattle Supersonics

Has been a member of the Supersonics/Thunder his entire career

1-Time NBA All-Star

NBA Scoring Champion (2010)

All-NBA First Team

2-Time H-O-R-S-E Competition Winner

2008 NBA Rookie of the Year

NBA All-Rookie First Team

VOTE!

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


4/29/10 NBA Playoff Predictions

Dallas Mavericks at San Antonio Spurs- 8 ET TNT

These three must lead the charge with their backs against the wall in San Antonio

In their two game trip out to San Antonio to play games 3 and 4, the Dallas Mavericks failed to come through with a road victory. Coming off a home victory in Game 5, staying safe from elimination, the Mavericks have their backs up against the wall traveling into the Spurs country. There’s a strong chance that even before the game tips off, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban won’t have any fingernails left on his hands. This nerve racking Game 6 will be the game of the night as both the Mavericks and the Spurs pose a threats that could head deep into the playoffs.

Both Manu & Timmy will be refreshed for Game 6

Rest assured, Tim Duncan will elevate his game and chomping at the bit to finish off Dirk Nowitzki and the rest of his rival opponents. I can also assure you Caron Butler will not go off for 35 points and 11 rebounds again in Game 6. With Ginobili only clocking 18 minutes in Game 5, the Spurs in a sense are well rested and should be well prepared. It’s almost as if they were okay we allowing the Mavericks to have the Game 5 win and planned to take care of the Mavericks back in San Antonio. I see a change of plans in the forecast; the Spurs won’t execute the organized plan to win Game 6. I predicted the Mavericks to go to NBA Finals this year and I’m going to stand by it with the Mavericks tying up the series.

Mavericks- 106 Spurs- 98

Phoenix Suns at Portland Trail Blazers- 10:30 ET TNT

You know Channing's brought his whole repertoire when he throws down a monster dunk like he did in Game 5

As an NBA fan you always got to give it up to the Phoenix Suns. They always try to keep games interesting. Game 6 should be no different, the Blazers will keep their hopes alive with a huge win at home. My reasoning behind that starts with the Blazers bench and ends with the Suns bench (literally). In Game 5, both Channing Frye and Jared Dudley were spectacular combining for 13-21 shooting, connecting on 8 of just 14 attempted three balls, both perfect from the free throw stripe with 10 boards and contributing 39 of the Suns 55 bench points. That my friends, won’t happen inside the Rose Garden! With that being said, it’s not out of the question that the Suns starters can make up for some of the lack of production off the bench but Frye and Dudley were the key difference makers in the Suns Game 5 success.

On the flipside, the Blazer bench was nonexistent in Game 5 and that includes my guy Martell Webster. I see the injured Brandon Roy largely effecting the outcome of Game 6, Roy always finds a way to play well on his homecourt. Rudy Fernandez must be more aggressive on offense, I can’t even understand how he only took one shot in fifteen minutes, is that even possible? Can you really be a shooting guard and only attempt one shot when playing and being defended by the Phoenix Suns? Seems impossible to me.

Do YOU believe Bayless could soon be in a Phoenix Suns jersey?

My final thought is in regards to Jerryd Bayless, it’s safe to say Jerryd’s probably receiving tons of text messages and phone calls from his Phoenix connects talking about the Suns. Though he’s far from the team’s leader or best player for that matter, Bayless is good enough for me to be confident in saying he won’t allow his team to go out like this at home. At the very least, he’ll help keep them alive and force a Game 7 in Phoenix. Many may think I’m giving the kid way to much credit than he really deserves. But it’s hard to argue against Jerryd Bayless’s performances against the Phoenix Suns. He really does bring it each and every night, coming out with a little more aggressiveness as if he has something to prove. In many ways, he definitely has a lot to prove. He’s got one more year remaining on his contract and I’m sure he’d be interested in signing his first veteran’s deal with the Phoenix Suns if the price is right. By this point in his career the Suns will have a pretty clear evaluation of his potential and his league value, while Suns fans can only pray the Suns organization also realizes Goran Dragic is not the answer to Steve Nash’s predecessor (nor is Bayless but he honestly is a better overall player than Dragic). But in the meantime, Bayless and the Blazers force a Game 7 in Phoenix “for all the marbles” as the Suns legendary broadcaster Al McCoy used to say.

Blazers- 110 Suns- 101

NBA Playoffs Game 2’s 4-20-10

Milwaukee Bucks at Atlanta Hawks -7ET

In large part to help promote the great BucksProductions videos, I’ve decided to take a different approach in previewing Game 2 between the Bucks and Hawks.

The Architecture: Any good architect can tell you that if there’s even the slightest chance that a foundation’s structure could collapse, you need to make adjustments to the plan. Despite the fact that he doesn’t like making adjustments, Bucks Head Coach Scott Skiles must make a starting unit adjustment in order for the Bucks to have a chance. Josh Smith had his way all game long with Carlos Delfino guarding him and to make matters worse Delfino wasn’t even contributing on the offesive side of the floor. Skiles must change his starting rotation to Jennings/Salmons/Mbah a Moute/Ilayasova/Thomas. That limits the amount of mismatches and help side that will present out there on the floor.

The Rotation: Giving Ersan Ilayasova the starting nod does risk early foul trouble and obviously diminishes Skiles reliable big man scoring option but it’s a roll of the dice the Bucks need to take. If and when Carlos Delfino wakes up and starts to be the aggressive shooter he’s been all year for the Bucks, we have a nice new addition to the bench scoring output alongside Ridnour and Stackhouse. The Hawks themselves don’t really have a solid big man off the bench so starting Ilayasova seems very logical to me. Are the Bucks really trying to tell me that Dan Gadzuric can’t do a somewhat decent job defending Joe Smith or Zaza Pachulia? Please…At least test the waters of the idea. The Bucks aren’t in a position in which they can play it safe, it’s time to take a chance at a new look and see if it pays dividends.

In Our House…Playoff Party: Brandon Jennings was phenomenal in Game 1 proving yet again that the young rookie steps up in big time games. Jennings should already be expected to see some of the Hawks defensive adjustments come Game 2. With the Hawks high intensity switching defense look for the Hawks’ guards to force the ball out of Jennings hands, trapping him whenever the opportunity presents itself (Screen & Rolls) in particular. So the Bucks will need solid offensive contributions from those surrounding Jennings, Kurt Thomas must hit the open 15 footer off the screen and roll (he’ll get tons of those looks if the trap Jennings on the screen). John Salmons must do a better job putting the ball in the basket assisting Jennings, in Game 1 the Bucks relied way to much upon Jennings and help was nearly non-existent on offense.

Can the Bucks find the right ingredients to keep the chef from cooking?!

Game 2 Overview: The Bucks chances of success will obviously start on the defensive end of the floor. Getting stops early would really be the difference maker in the Bucks giving themselves a great chance to come out on top in Game 2 starting with limiting amount of points in the paint. The Bucks can’t play from behind like they did and Game 1 if they want to give themselves a chance to head back to Milwaukee tied up. A win in Game 2 for the Bucks puts them in a very good position to force a Game 6 or even series deciding 7th game.

Hawks-109 Bucks-105 OT

Miami Heat at Boston Celtics-8 ET

Will O'Neal step up his game for Game 2?

As Paul Pierce would say sometimes The Truth Hurts and to be honest, I truthfully feel the Celtics are fine without Kevin Garnett. While I’ll be the first too admit I haven’t been high on Garnett ever since leaving Minnesota, I think the Celtics have adapted to playing without him at this point. The only big issue that becomes a concern is relying upon the play of Rasheed Wallace who has been a complete waste this season. But you can be assured that Rondo and Pierce will come out an pick up the scoring slack left in Garnett’s absence. For the Heat, Jermaine O’Neal’s 3-14 shooting performance just won’t cut it. Clearly they’ll need him to start finishing around the basket and Tito Jackson must also step up his play. Quentin Richardson did a sufficient job aiding Dwyane Wade for the perimeter tallying 15 points in Game 1, but on a nightly basis the Heat must have “a big three”. Clearly Wade will always be a permanent figure in the Heat’s “big three” but between Richardson/Beasley/O’Neal, two of them must step up on any given night for the Heat to find success. In Game 1, only two were present (Wade & Richardson), if the Heat can compile a “big three” tonight they win Game 2.

Heat- 97 Celtics- 94 OT

Portland Trail Blazers at Phoenix Suns- 10 ET

Phoenix is all too familiar to this face...But can the Suns ruin his homecoming?!

While I’d like to say that the Phoenix Suns learned a valuable lesson in Game 1, I very well know they haven’t. Even if they have come out and win in Game 2, I’d be very concerned if I were a Suns fan:

-How bad are the Suns on defense? They’re as bad as allowing Andre Miller to score 32 points allowing him to replicate Brandon Roy in Blazers’ offense.

-How good is Amare Stoudemire? He’s great until he decides to take a defensive possession off allowing Aldridge to follow tap in a missed Bayless jump shot.

-Does Bayless explode yet again? Yes, especially with Brandon Roy out, Bayless will continue to contribute 10-15 points nightly maybe even 20 a night if the Suns aren’t careful.

-How do the Suns respond in Game 2? The Suns will take Game 2 at home, but that’s fine, the Blazers got what they wanted, a split on the road heading back to the Rose Garden. Going into the series I never thought I’d say this but Portland’s in control of the series.

Game 1 was The Tale of Two Jared/Jerryd’s one was a DUD one continued to be an Arizona stud….

Game 2 will be should be another great battle till the final buzzer. It seems as though the Blazers know what to expect on the defensive side of the floor and if they can continue do exactly what they did in Game 1, they’re in good shape. The Suns must get out on the break more frequently and find their touch early. Particularly, Jared Dudley must step up off the Suns bench. Dudley is the team’s spark plug and crowd favorite must drill his open shots, helping swing the momentum in the Suns favor. He was nonexistent in Game 1 which I truly feel was a big reason why Portland stole the opener. Hopefully Dudley watched the Cavaliers’ Jamario Moon’s play last night because the Suns need the same time of contribution. While Dudley’s not a proven NBA player in the league yet, this year’s he’s shown me enough to confidentially say he’ll come out ready to play in Game 2. With that being said, I’m going with a Suns win at home tonight in Game 2, this is Ross Geiger reporting on behalf of JMZ/JSPN (haha just kidding!).

Jared Dudley must step up in Game 2

Phoenix Suns- 104 Portland Trail Blazers- 96

Oklahoma City Thunder at Los Angeles Lakers- 10:30 ET

The Battle Continues Tonight in Game 2

The Thunder had a very impressive hard fought Game 1 loss in Los Angeles this past Sunday. So impressive that I believe they actually just might win a game this series. Durant and Co. showed their young side with their playoff butterflies during the first quarter of Game 1. But after that, they settled down and played real solid against the contending NBA champions. This series also features one of the best (if not the best) defensive matchup in the first round, Kevin Durant guarded by Ron Artest. Watching Durant and Artest go at it is a thing of beauty, a chess match for the ages. This matchup should only get better as the series moves along as both players begin getting a better feel for one another’s tendencies. If the young Durantula can continue to create space, opening himself up for good looks at the basket, the Thunder will win a game this series. Tonight won’t be that night, but will be another step towards figuring it all out.

Lakers- 98 Thunder- 85

NBA Playoff Predictions 4-18-10

Oklahoma City Thunder at Los Angeles Lakers

A Must-See First Round Matchup

The matchups at every position are intriguing to say the least, but can a young team like the Thunder really compete in big game situations against the team that knows how to do it best? While I’d like to think they can, past history would prove otherwise. Despite the Lakers struggles to put all the talent together on a consistent night-to-night basis along with battling injuries they’ll prevail in Game 1 at home and carry forth as the series moves along. But don’t sleep on the series, this series offers the rest of the league and it’s fan a glimpse of the future in the NBA.

Lakers- 106 Thunder- 98

Charlotte Bobcats at Orlando Magic

The Owner & His Captain: Can they lead the movement?

With one of the best regular season home records in the NBA, the Magic shouldn’t disappoint in Game 1. With that being said, taking a quick look up and down the Bobcats roster that task will be far from easy. The Bobcats will come out ready to play and will make this a very exciting series to watch. It’s also valuable to note that the Bobcats have a variety of SEASONED big men to throw at Dwight Howard. If “Captain Jack” can rally the crew behind his long range three pointer, this series could easily forced a heated Game 7. Center & Point positions are my favorite matchups to watch Dwight/Gortat vs. Ratliff/Chandler & the matchup of two very similar point guards Jameer Nelson vs. Raymond Felton (similar style of play & physique).

Magic- 101 Bobcats- 93

San Antonio Spurs at Dallas Mavericks

Mountain Dew is also refreshing but drinking 2 liters before games is just insane

Wait…shouldn’t we typically see this series in a later round? The answer to that question makes me feel so ancient but nonetheless life goes fast. This series will be quite the sight to see and I believe the term “refreshed” sums up the matchup. The Mavericks “refreshed” their roster with the late additions of Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood, and DeShawn Stevenson. On the other hand, the Spurs decided to “refresh” their roster before the ’09-’10 campaign even began adding two important pieces for the playoffs in Antonio McDyess and Richard Jefferson. But despite the preseason additions, the Spurs are just now feeling like a “refreshed” roster. They’ve battled with injuries of Parker/Ginobili while also battling the sluggish play of Jefferson. The return of Parker/Ginobili is scary one-two punch and with the drastic performance improvements Jefferson’s made lately, this series will be as interesting as it always has been. This year the series is just delivered to NBA a bit early, but hey it’s kind of refreshing!

Mavericks- 94 Spurs- 88

Portland Trail Blazers at Phoenix Suns

Umm...yeah self explanatory: Just another day at the office for STAT

Without Brandon Roy, the Blazers will get manhandled in Game 1 in Phoenix but it’s definitely too early for me to commit to a Phoenix Suns sweep. The Bucks and of course the Blazers are two teams that unfortunately seem to always be forced to adapt to key losses but they do so very well. I see that being no different, even if that Blazers loss is the team’s leader and best player. This is a prime opportunity for Aldridge to step up and I’m sure that’s an overused statement that’s dragged on around the city of Portland for years now. Aldridge will continue to be a often forgot about player until he can prove that he should be mentioned along with the league’s best power forwards. Coincidentally, he’ll have to prove that by matching up against arguably the league’s best power forward in Amare Stoudemire. The Suns power forward is on a mission and has his eye on the prize, that prize….(drum roll please)….is a new contract (NOT a championship, sorry Phoenix). But Amare will be an ultimate beast this series and if you don’t believe me just ask Dante Cunningham!

Suns- 112 Blazers- 102