Rookie of the Year

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

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Sargent’s Orders: Who’s Hot, Who’s Not In Fantasy Baseball (Week 20)

By: James Sargent

Week 20

Hot Batters

Omar Infante: Omar Infante is now the starting third baseman due to the injury of Chipper Jones, and he is sure making the most of it.  He is currently on a 13-game hitting streak and is a must own in all leagues.  Last week, Infante batted .419, scored six runs, belted out three home runs and drove in five RBIs.  The Atlanta Braves utility man won’t be coming out the lineup anytime soon and his production for the rest of the season is worth adding to your roster.

Speed kills!

Coco Crisp: Coco Crisp has been swinging a fiery stick and tearing up the basepaths as of late.  Last week, he jacked two home runs, scored seven runs and stole four bases.  Although Crisp’s season stats are low, you have to remember he only has 202 at-bats.  If you need a spot starter in the outfield slot for a week or two, give Crisp the chance.  He won’t let you down and will definitely provide plenty of runs and a couple of steals.

Lyle Overbay: Lyle Overbay had an outstanding week, but it really only came from one game.  On Friday against the Red Sox, Overbay went 4-for-5 with two homers, seven RBIs and three runs scored.  It was a career night for Overbay and a game that could show what he has the capabilities of doing.  I’m not trying to say Overbay is an outstanding player, but with a little more production out of the Toronto first baseman and he could be a solid fantasy option.  If you are very desperate for a first baseman, Overbay might be your guy, but in all reality, just chalk this performance up to one good day.

Cold Batters

Ryan Howard: Ryan Howard has had 19 at bats since coming off the disabled list and has not made the most of it.  Last week, he went 2-for-19 and only drove in one RBI.  His strikeout rate is still very high and you could say his home run rate is kind of low this season.  If the Phillies want to make the post season, Howard has to be a catalyst in the offense and make them go.

Was last season a fluke for Aaron Hill?

Brian McCann: Last week was pretty bad for Brian McCann.  He only recorded three hits all week and only one RBI.  The Atlanta Braves catcher, just like Ryan Howard, needs to start stepping his game up so his team can hold on to their first place lead.  Even McCann’s defense has been shaky to say the least, and he is normally an elite backstop.  Owners shouldn’t worry though, because the anchor of this line up will erupt soon enough.

Aaron Hill: An 0-for-19 slump over the previous five games had Aaron Hill demoted to eighth in the lineup.  Hopefully this will give a jolt to the struggling second baseman.  Expect Hill to stay in the eight hole with the .208 average he desperately needs to get higher. Owners who drafted Hill with the hopes of a repeat to last season have been thoroughly disappointed.  I know on a first hand basis because I am one of those owners.

Hot Pitchers

ROY or CY Young?

Jaime Garcia: Jaime Garcia threw a three-hitter for his first career shutout, and first outing longer than seven innings, in a 9-0 victory over the Giants.  He picked up his 11th win of the season and his 2.42 ERA is the sixth-best mark in the National League.  This was probably his best game, so far, in the majors and he his looking to have for many more outings similar to the one he just had.  If he keeps up the strong performances, he could possibly have a chance to get some CY Young votes and win Rookie of the Year.

Ted Lilly: Last week, Ted Lilly tossed a two-hit shutout and recorded 11 strikeouts against the Colorado Rockies.  This was his first shutout since 2004 and the Rockies were without star outfielder, Carlos Gonzalez, but nonetheless it was still impressive.  Lilly is 4-0 with a 1.29 ERA in four starts for the Dodgers.  Lilly is proving to be a great spot starter if you need it, and with the season reaching its final month, spot starters will be key.

Brian Matusz: First off, I would like to say that I love Brian Matusz’s stuff.  He has the potential to be a star, left handed pitcher in the majors.  This is his first full season with the Orioles and he has been up-and-down to say the least.  Last week, Matusz threw eight shutout innings and struck out six Rangers.  This start, as with Jaime Garcia, was one of Matusz’s more impressive ones.  Give it a couple more years and Brian Matusz will grow into a more dominating pitcher.

Cold Pitchers

Cliff Lee: Cliff Lee has been struggling as of late, and has not picked up a win since Aug. 6.  Last week did not bode too well for Lee, as he tossed 13.1 innings and allowed 14 earned runs.  When Lee was pulled from his second game last week in the fifth inning, it was his first time since his final start of the 2009 season without completing six innings.  The left-handed work horse needs to get his act together soon so he can be riding high into the playoffs.

The bullpen is where Vazquez will now reside

Javier Vazquez: Last week was a rough one for Javier Vazquez.  Vazquez was taken out of the rotation and will be available out of the bullpen beginning this week.  In seven starts since the All-Star break, Vazquez is 2-2 with a 6.69 ERA, though he’s 0-2 with an 8.10 ERA in four August starts.  Ivan Nova will be replacing Vazquez in the rotation, and with Andy Pettitte soon to return, this could be the end of Vazquez as a starter.

Jon Lester: Jon Lester gave up a career high nine runs in his only start last week.  He lasted only two innings, giving up eight hits and walking three.  He has lost five of his last seven starts, and hopes to be revitalized when he pitches against the Rays.  If Boston wants a post season birth, Lester needs to be the guy to step up and lead the Red Sox.

Need for Speed: Tyreke Evans

On Memorial Day weekend Tyreke took home another trophy in becoming the summer's fastest NBA racer

Speeding, we’re all guilty of doing it some time or another while driving on the roadways, but the Sacramento Kings guard Tyreke Evans, the NBA’s reigning Rookie of the Year, took it to an entirely different level this past Memorial Day weekend. Like most NBA minor misconducts during the offseason, Evans’s crime went forgotten among most fans, but that’s no longer the case.

Now, Evans’s joy ride with a buddy has hit the YouTube world somehow and it’s sure to create some buzz. The video is taken from a California Highway Patrol chopper and it follows Evans in his purple Mercedes Benz for an extended amount of time as he travels at speeds ranging from 120 to 130 miles per hour. The footage shot is no different from clips you would see on such as World’s Wildest Police Chases or Cops with full audio and full video that is very graphic. At the end of Evans’s run from trouble with law enforcement he’s stopped at a local school parking lot and arrested at gunpoint.

It’s looks as though the school is not in session, but the school grounds definitely have some activity at the time the arrest was made. One thing that really stands out is that from the overhead shot of the helicopter it looks as though there are people playing basketball on the outdoor courts at the time. Can you imagine, heading to the park to meet up with some of you’re buddies and wham! You’re immediately stunned in witnessing you’re favorite and team’s best player being arrested at gun point, crazy!

Rest assured, the 20-year-old phenom learned his lesson that summer day in Sacramento. According to SI.com, Evans pleaded no contest to reckless driving, was sentenced to 80 hours of community service, ordered to a teen-driving program, and has his license suspended for 30 days.

It’s unfortunate that Evans’s first NBA offseason won’t be a memorable as he would’ve hoped. Instead of working on his game in the gym, he’ll be doing 80 hours of service to the Sacramento community, which surely won’t count as an NBA Cares program. And if you’re a teenage Kings fan growing up in the Sacramento area, now’s the time to ask mom and dad for driving school! Along with you’re permit, be sure you wear your Kings gear and bring a black sharpie to the classroom.  This incident is just another example of how just how young some of these kids in the league are and why many of them need to a close eye looking out for them. Hopefully next time for Evans, that close eye won’t be the California Highway Patrol.

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.

Sargent’s Orders: Who’s Hot, Who’s Not in Fantasy Baseball (Week 3)

James Sargent, a special guest contributor to the OuttaTownClowns, brings you “Sargent’s Orders: Who’s hot, Who’s Not in Fantasy Baseball.” Sargent is currently a sophomore journalism major at Pima Community College in Tucson, Arizona. As a student there, he works on the school newspaper, the Aztec Press (with a current circulation of 5,000 copies), as the beat writer for the Pima Community College Baseball team. Without further ado, take a look at the Sargent’s Orders!

Week 3

Hot Batters

Jose Guillen: Guillen is off to his best start as a member of the Kansas City Royals, batting .377 with six home runs and 13 RBIs.  He is currently on an 11-game hitting streak, which is three games off his career-high of 14 games in 2008.  This is remarkable for the veteran designated hitter, especially coming off the surgery complications that almost took his life in the offseason.  Definitely pick him up if he is available in your league and ride this hot streak while it lasts.  I do not see Guillen keeping this up all season long, as he is a career .273 hitter and very injury prone.

Takeoff

Cameron Maybin: This young, electric outfielder has had a better “go-around” in his second major league season, as opposed to last year.  The 23-year-old is now the leadoff hitter for the Florida Marlins and is getting on base and starting to steal bases with ease.  He is definitely a guy to keep a watch on because his age could be a factor in instilling confidence for a full seasons work.  Maybin will stay around a .260 to .270 average all year, but will get on base constantly and steal bags.

On to the next one- as in the next great hitter in MLB

Jason Heyward: What a start to this 20-year-old phenom’s career.  First career  home run in first at bat? Check.  Walk-off hit?  Check.  Respect around the league and from Braves’ fans?  Check.  That is a pretty solid start of one’s career I would have to say.  A Rookie of the Year trophy could surely be on this kid’s way.  Heyward has four home runs and 16 RBIs to start the season, and this has all happened out of the seven hole in the lineup.  Certainly look for Heyward to slowly move up in the lineup, and, who knows, maybe he could be batting third or fourth come the end of the season. Chance are he is not available in your league, but if by some miracle he is, grab the young stud and enjoy the ride.

Cold Batters

Mark Teixeira: Teixeira is a notoriously slow starter and tends to start picking it up about a month into the season every year.  As for now, he is batting .125 with two homers and 7 RBIs.  Come May, the Yankees first baseman should be well on his way to overcoming his poor April start.  Fantasy owners, don’t fear, May is almost here.

Locked & Loaded for a comeback

Justin Upton: No one thought this is how Diamondbacks outfielder, Justin Upton, would start his 2010 campaign, coming off an All-Star year.  Upton now has just one hit in his last six games and has seen his average drop to .186.  Although it is way too early to count Upton out, this is still an odd start for him.  Upton will bounce back, but his owners might have to live with the hot and cold streaks all season. Some have speculated that Upton’s contract may have played into his drop off, but at some point you can be sure he will get back to production in the heart of the Diamondbacks lineup.

Grady Sizemore: Sizemore is trying to bounce back from a disappointing and injury-plagued 2009 season.  The Cleveland outfielder is hitting a measly .196 with no home runs and only one stolen bag.  Personally, I feel that Sizemore is a very overrated fantasy player.  For the past two years, I had the unfortunate mistake of drafting him and watching him fall apart on my team.  If the Indians want to make any sort of jump in the AL Central standings, Sizemore is their catalyst and they need him to make a run (if that’s even possible with the pitching staff and lineup they have). Safe bets would be against the Indians making a run, and accordingly against Sizemore’s resurgence.

Hot Pitchers

Off to a great start in Philly

Roy Halladay: Many people might agree with me, and others may not.  I feel that pitchers transitioning from the AL to the NL have it much easier than the other way around.  This can truly be seen with the play of Roy Halladay (and of Cliff Lee last year for the Phillies).  Halladay is 4-0 with a 0.82 ERA and two complete games.  He never experienced a postseason with the Blue Jays and is doing everything in his power to get the Phillies back to the playoffs so he can lead them to yet another World Series.  Halladay is definitely on pace for a 20-win season and will continue to mow down National League hitters on the way.

Livan Hernandez: Wow!  The “old man” has started off terrific.  He is leading the NL in ERA with a dazzling 0.75.  He has also collected two wins for the typically poor Washington Nationals.  I do not see Hernandez pitching like this for many more starts to come, but pick him up while you can and plug him into your roster for now.

David Aardsma: Aardsma has yet to allow a run in six innings and has provided the Mariners with a rock solid closing pitcher to start the season.  Aardsma has six saves in six tries this year and has been looking great since the end of last season.  He now has 16 consecutive saves dating back to Aug. 24, 2009 and will look to extend it in the future.  Move aside Mariano Rivera, David Aardsma is coming your way.

Cold Pitchers

Big Z has become a big problem for the Cubs. Such a big problem that he now resides in the bullpen.

Carlos Zambrano: Zambrano to the bullpen?  No, that couldn’t be the case for the Cubs recent ace.  Well, in fact, it is the case, and this is due to Ted Lilly coming back from the disabled list.  Zambrano took the news from manager Lou Piniella quite well and did not make a huge scene about it as some would have thought.  His ERA on the season is 7.45 and hopefully the bullpen role he will now take on will turn this struggling Cubs team around.

Jon Lester: Lester is 0-2 in three starts with a towering 8.44 ERA.  I don’t believe there is anything too big to worry about with him, and he should bounce back soon enough.

D-Backs bullpen: Don’t put a single one of these pitchers on your fantasy team!  Chad Qualls and Bob Howry especially.  These guys are stinking up the place and have definitely been the cause for a majority of the Arizona losses.  The starters are doing their job for the most part, but the pen is blowing it.  They are 2-5 with a 7.21 ERA and have only converted two of their eight possible save opportunities.  Opponents are also batting a robust .299 against them.  If the D-Backs want a shot at the NL West or wildcard,because obviously it isn’t working so far.

When called upon to put out the fire, the Diamondbacks bullpen instead throws gas on the fire.

Milwaukee’s Cinderella Project Continues

The Cinderella Project Continues for the Bucks...This Time on the Floor....

As the Cinderella Project Milwaukee, a Milwaukee Bucks charity event created by The Gadzuric Foundation, came to a finale Saturday night, the team unfortunately was forced to open up another Cinderella-like project on the court. Whose going to be fill the role and the shoes of Andrew Bogut? Quite frankly, the Bucks roster doesn’t have one player that can even partially answer that question. The loss of Andrew Bogut will of course limit the Bucks chances of success come playoff time, but if there’s one NBA team that could find a why to be successful through such an devastating loss, it most certainly is the Milwaukee Bucks. The Bucks are far too familiar with key losses and aren’t a team that’ll change their mindset or make excuses. As the Bucks continue to move forward, here’s the Bucks personnel that’s has to step up in order for the team to further exemplify the “Fear the Deer” slogan.

The Bucks Starting Center for the Remainder of the Season

Kurt Thomas: The 37 year old veteran will be primarily be the one asked to contribute more than the usual 10 to 20 solid minutes he’s been giving mostly all season. To Thomas’s credit, it’s important to stress solid minutes because that’s exactly what he’ll give you each and every night. Having been a variety of different teams throughout his 14 year career, Thomas has always been a quick adapter to change and I see this change in role being no different. Many night’s should look close to identical to his numbers against Phoenix adding 10 points and 7 rebounds in 30 minutes of play. For the remainder of the year look for Thomas to be a regular 10-12 point, 8-12 rebound, 1-2 block type guy averaging a little over 30 minutes of action.

Spot Minutes Likely for Primoz....

Primoz Brezec: Not much has been asked or expected upon Brezec since coming over in a trade with Philadelphia, but now it seems Brezec may see the floor depending upon the matchups. Brezec hasn’t really seen the floor all year and I doubt the Bucks depend upon him for much. Spot minutes will be key though, being able to throw him out there if any foul trouble occurs (which it will if Gadzuric becomes the primary backup). But Primoz doesn’t offer much outside of a big body, he’s slow in every way imaginable: both in transition and laterally. What’s been my concern with him since coming over is his lack of aggressiveness when he does catch/rebound the ball deep into the paint, he often times elect to kick the ball out than taking the ball up strong and drawing fouls. That’s got to change, the Bucks will need to stress getting their opponents bigs in every foul trouble each game from here on out.

Gadz Provides a Defensive Presence

Dan Gadzuric: Ahh, where to start, where to start, that’s always the hard part with good ole’ Danny G because we’re all just counting down to the days to when it ends as his huge contract finally comes off the books. But suddenly Gadzuric has found himself another bright opportunity to gain some floor time and he’s by far the best option to throw into the fire of a game off the bench with Thomas now starting. Looking at the positives, Gadzuric can run the floor, jump, and last but not least he can block shots while committing fouls. While that sounds like a horrible idea of attempting to block everything and committing fouls, it’s what the Bucks need from him. Gadz can offer a presence that sends a message to guards that they better prepare to get hammered when coming into the lane, every shot that goes up is going to be contested. At the end of the day, if Gadzuric can run the floor (making his defender run it with him) and can add some time off defensive presence in the paint, I’m content.

Ilayasova will continue to take charges just as Bogut would

Ersan Ilayasova: Putting Ilayasova in the center slot of the lineup can only mean one thing, push the tempo. While I don’t necessarily seeing Coach Scott Skiles changing up any of his game plans, I do hope he does give this a whirl for a variety of different reasons. 1) It’d allow the Bucks to run and gun a little bit, change the pace of the game, always keep the defense guessing 2) Ilayasova to the 5, almost always means a Ridnour & Jennings tandem in the backcourt 3) Ilayasova’s ability to knock down the long range three can help stretch the defense against a team like the Celtics, forcing Kendrick Perkins to hold his man on the perimeter offers lanes for penetration and cutters that keep the offense moving at all times. Not saying it’s the right solution, but I hope Skiles gives it a try sometime before the playoffs.

Darnell may get out of the formal attire, but probably won't see the floor too often

Darnell Jackson: Even with the need for a big man to step up, I don’t see Skiles giving Jackson an opportunity to show what he can do. While he may suit up and at least offers the coaching staff an option if need-be, I think it’s wise to work with the bigs that will be able to help you come playoff time. Like I’ve mentioned with most of these guys above, many of them haven’t seen the floor in quite some time, they’ll need minutes to get back into the groove and gel. Also, keep in mind a lot of them haven’t yet played a in-game situation with John Salmons. Giving both Brezec and Gadzuric time to do that will be important in order help them get onto the same page with one another. If Jackson were to have been picked up earlier and eligible for the playoffs, then there’s no question that Skiles would use him as one of his top choices off the bench.

What this means for the rest of the rest of the rotation:

Even more of a scoring load will be put on Jennings's shoulders

Brandon Jennings: The loss of Bogut means more touches, more touches leads to more opportunities to score for Jennings. Whether or not that’s a good thing with the way Jennings has been shooting the ball is one thing but Jennings will be counted upon to produce. Last game against Phoenix he did a great job attacking the rim, drawing fouls, and getting to the free throw stripe. That should continue to happen and should even become easier. Jennings almost always needs a on-ball screen in order for him to get a quality look at the basket and Kurt Thomas has always been a guy able to open up opportunities for his point guard (doing so with some of the best in recent past: Tony Parker and Steve Nash). Thomas will set a solid screen for Jennings to rub off of and 9 times out of 10, he’ll pop rather than roll. That gives Jennings just another direct angle/route to attack the basket. Jennings has been much more effective on the offensive end when he gets it going early inside and working his way out after getting into a rhythm. Getting to the foul line to knock down a few free throws is an easy way shooters can find a rhythm early.

He's Done It All

John Salmons: I don’t know how much more of the load we can put on Salmons than we already do. The guy’s been incredible since coming over and there’s not much else we can ask of him. Without Bogut, Salmons will definitely be counted upon even more so in clutch situations down the stretch of close ball games with the ball in his hands but that’s never a concern to Salmons, he lives for those moments. Scoring outputs from Salmons may slightly go up, but don’t expect much more from the guy, to think ask more from him is ludicrous, he’s given the Bucks everything he’s got since day one, not much will change with Bogut out.

Luc Richard Mbah a Moute:

Mbah a Moute will continue to battle with the best of them down low

Down the stretch of close games, we commonly see Coach Scott Skiles pull Mbah a Moute due to his lack of offensive abilities but now Skiles will be put into a position where he may have to leave him out there on the floor. While I got nothing but praise for Mbah a Moute’s ability to guard bigger players at the power forward position this entire season, he’s really got to try to limit his early fouls. More times than not, he’s gets into early foul trouble adjusting to each particular big man down low. Being a good defender during my playing days, I know this task is much easier said than done. When you’re assigned to guard a bigger player on defense, you really have to feel him out on his abilities and his tendencies on the offensive end, that can often times lead to early foul trouble. I got nothing but love for Mbah a Moute and it’ll be important for him to stay out of foul trouble, and hopefully he can pose as a good mid-range shooter by knocking down some of his first shot attempts.

Carlos Delfino: Delfino’s above average ability to rebound the basketball just became that much more important for the Bucks. Look for Delfino’s rebounding numbers to go up a bit without Bogut inside, the Bucks will count on Delfino to crash the boards a bit harder on defense. While this will ultimately slow down the offensive break, it’s going to be necessary if the Bucks plan to limit their opponents second shot opportunities.

Ball Movement Will Be key

Luke Ridnour: As I mentioned above, Ridnour will most likely see more time being paired with Jennings in the backcourt. This tandem worked very well together earlier on into the year and definitely helped promote ball movement on the offensive end. This ball movement will become that much more important for a postman like Kurt Thomas whose going to struggle battling for position, but with a few quick ball screens, it’ll allow Thomas to seal off his defender and hopefully lead to some close looks down low.

Jerry Stackhouse: With Thomas replacing Bogut as the everyday starting center, the Bucks bench production will become limited which means Stackhouse’s production off the bench will be that much more important from here on out. Thomas, Ridnour, Stackhouse are typically the big three bench contributors that provides that instant spark and have been relied upon to do so all season long. With the departure of Thomas into the starting role, Stackhouse along with Ridnour have a much bigger task at hand. They also are going to be the lucky ones that have to deal with playing with Gadzuric and Brezec for their spot minutes. Luckily for the Bucks, both Stackhouse and Ridnour have been guys with the ability to bail the Bucks offense out as the shot clock winds down.

Bucks fans wouldn't let down these two guys, would they?!

The season is far from over folks, don’t give up on this Milwaukee Bucks team, they’ve come this far, it’d be a shame if the city didn’t rally behind them even during the toughest of times. Need some motivation not to give up? Look no further than Jerry Stackhouse, here’s a veteran who was looking to put himself in a position to make the playoffs. As he considered his options and Milwaukee called, the Bucks looked no where close to destined for a playoff berth, embarking on that rugged west coast trip during to being the new year. But as Redd went down with the season ending injury, Stackhouse didn’t count out giving Milwaukee a shot, he wanted to be the guy that could come in and step up, rather than declining the Bucks offer and maybe calling it quits. Back when the Bucks were well below the .500 mark, Jerry Stackhouse had hope for Milwaukee this season and didn’t throw in the towel. Same applies to Bucks fans, guys like Stackhouse, Salmons and even our fellow rookie Jennings have uplifted a Bucks team not expected to do a damn thing this year, yet here we are early April sitting in the 6th spot of the Eastern Conference playoff race. The Bucks have lived up to this season’s motto and have worked hard and played hard all year long, Bucks fans must continue to cheer hard and believe in this team in return.

FEAR THE DEAR CONTINUES....

Ross Geiger’s NBA Season Award Predictions

Ross Geiger’s NBA Season Award Predictions

Most Valuable Player:

  1. 1. LeBron James– It’s pretty simple for King James, improve upon last year’s record of 66-16 and carry his team to the top spot in the Eastern Conference. If he can do that, there’s no reason he shouldn’t be handed back-to-back MVP honors. That’s a lot to ask for right? Wrong, if he can do it last year, there’s no reason to expect anything less from him year with the Cavs dramatically strengthening their depth surrounding him. The only one who can stop LeBron from grabbing two straight MVPs is LeBron. PERIOD
  2. 2. Dwight Howard– There’s been much talk that Dwight has improved his overall offense game this offseason, if that can be put on displayed immediately along alongside the direct results in the win column, Dwight has a legit shot at making his case for MVP. Already the most dominating big man in the game today, leading the league in both rebounds and blocks last year, if he can continue to be league leader in both rebounds and blocks while continuing to improve his scoring average and free throw percentage, makes himself a prime candidate, if hasn’t already done so.
  3. 3. Kevin Durant– This should be the year Kevin Durant, absolutely blows up. If so, he not only put himself in a position to become involved in the MVP talks but should also put his team in a position to possibly make the playoffs. Though I put Durant 3rd on MVP candidate list, even if the Thunder aren’t a championship caliber team, if the Thunder make the playoffs, Durant could make an exception to the unwritten MVP rule.

Honorable Mention: Kobe Bryant & Andre Iguodala

Sixth Man of the Year:

  1. 1. Manu Ginobili– While adding Richard Jefferson should take a little pressure of Ginobili’s expectations to score, Manu still needs to provide a scoring spark off the San Antonio bench. Ginobili if finally back to full health, the Manu of old, should be as good as new this year. If you don’t believe me ask Charles Barkley and he’ll respond, “GGINNOOOBILLLLIII”.
  2. 2. Leandro Barbosa- Call it a “homer” pick, I don’t care, but fact is Barbosa could find away to come up with his second Sixth Man of the Year honor. With Coach Gentry leading the team back into the direction of the “7 Seconds or Less” mentality, Barbosa being one of the top three fastest players in the league, has to be in the running for Sixth Man. The Brazilian Blur is counted upon to score in bunches off the bench for the high octane Suns, a team that averaged 117.7 ppg after the coaching change. So let’s do that math, nearly 118 points, dare I say Barbosa contribute nearly 18 to 20 each game this year? Just think about it…
  3. 3. Jason Terry- It’s never hard or incorrect to throw “The Jets” name out in Sixth Man talks, he’s been one of the best in the business for years. I think Shawn Marion’s ability to help the Mavs run more only helps Terry’s ability to find more acceptable time, if the Mavs decide to go small on teams. The faster the Mavs pace their offense the more touches and opportunities Terry will get to light it up from the floor. It’s possible Terry could go onto winning the honor for the second straight year.

Honorable Mention: Ben Gordon & (tie) Daequan Cook/Hakim Warrick (if he ends up coming off the bench for the majority of the season)

Rookie of the Year:

  1. 1. Blake Griffin- I’m not a fan of Griffin, I think at best he’ll end up being the next Kenyon Martin in terms of ability. But it’s hard to go against the number one pick who despite the depth should find plenty of opportunity with the Clippers.
  2. 2. Brandon Jennings– Many would call it a stretch, but I’d like to point out, if the Bucks veterans stay healthy, he should be able to be successful with their help. NBA veterans Michael Redd, Andrew Bogut, Carlos Delfino, Kurt Thomas, and Hakim Warrick already believe in the young kid’s ability and should help keep the game simple for the second year pro (yeah, I said it). If Jennings’s leadership proves to help the Bucks battle for a final playoff spot, something nobody has predicted (but me) then he could become quite a surprise for Rookie of the Year honors.
  3. 3. Terrence Williams- An interesting pick, but not out of the question if team success is not part of the picture. To be fair, none of this year’s potential rookie of the year candidates have a good chance at making the playoffs (don’t think DeRozan is a top rook stat-wise), so Williams actually has an upper edge on all the rest. The Nets are set on rebuilding and with on the pathetic Bobby Simmons in Williams’s way, he should find time to put up numbers. So far in the preseason, Williams has shown vast improvements and has been getting tons of touches. Had to put Terrence Williams here, so if he does it, I can say, I told ya so!

Honorable Mention: Tyreke Evans & (tie) Stephen Curry/Jonny Flynn

Most Improved Player Award:

  1. 1. Anthony Randolph
  2. 2. Roy Hibbert
  3. 3. Channing Frye

Honorable Mention: Courtney Lee & Corey Brewer

Defensive Player of the Year:

  1. 1. Dwight Howard
  2. 2. Caron Butler
  3. 3. Ron Artest

Honorable Mention: Tyrus Thomas & Mario Chalmers

Coach of the Year:

  1. 1. Flip Saunders- Washington Wizards
  2. 2. Doc Rivers- Boston Celtics
  3. 3. Scott Brooks- Oklahoma City Thunder

Honorable Mention: Alvin Gentry (Phoenix Suns) & Scott Skiles (Milwaukee Bucks)

Executive of the Year:

  1. 1. Donnie Nelson (Dallas Mavericks)
  2. 2. Ernie Grunfeld (Washington Wizards)
  3. 3. Danny Ferry (Cleveland Cavaliers)

Honorable Mention: Danny Ainge (Boston Celtics) & RC Buford (San Antonio Spurs)