Central division offseason primer

The Bulls are at a crossroads this offseason. Thibs seems to be on the outs, so they need to find a new coach. That decision will impact all their other choices this summer.

Jimmy Butler RFA
Mike Dunleavy
Nazr Mohammed
Aaron Brooks
Kirk Hinrich PO

The main problem for the Bulls this year is going to be resigning Jimmy Butler, everyone else who is expiring is expendable. I would expect Hinrich to acceptable option, as he probably won’t get more money anywhere else.

Free Agent targets:
The Bulls are set up front, what they need is a backup point guard and another wing to play next to Butler. They should be able to find a guard in the draft, so they should try to get a wing in free agency. Iman Shumpert, Gerald Green, Marco Bellinelli and Demarre Carroll are all good options.

Draft Targets:
There are a few options for the Bulls at the point guard position. I think that Tyus Jones would make a lot of sense as a high level backup point guard.

Trade Machine Says:
Sacramento receives: Taj Gibson, 2015 first
Chicago Receives: Nik Stauskas, Jason Thompson, and 2015 first

Cleveland: The Cavs have a really interesting summer ahead of them. Their coming off of what most would call a successful season. (I’m writing this during the conference finals). The big question is what is going to happen with Kevin Love. All the signs seem to be pointing to him leaving.

Kevin Love PO
JR Smith PO
LeBron James PO
Mike Miller PO
Timofey Mozgov TO
Iman Shumpert RFA
Matthew Dellavedova RFA
Tristan Thompson RFA
Shawn Marion
James Jones
Kendrick Perkins

That’s a lot of names, but most of them should be coming back. LeBron and JR will most likely hold out for bigger paychecks next year. They will probably renew Mozgov. And there isn’t much of a market for Marion, Miller, Delly, Jones or Perkins. That leaves three guys who could leave. Love seems like he is going to be leaving, which leaves the two youngsters.
Tristan Thompson has a pretty nice market in front of him, the problem is that it is flooded with big men. He is going to be a consolation prize for the teams that can’t get Gasol, Love, Monroe or Aldridge. I could see him going to a team like the Pistons, if they lose Monroe.
Iman is going to be in even higher demand. He has some solid potential as a Kawhi/Jimmy Butler type for those that can’t pay enough for those guys. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Lakers chase him.

Free Agent Targets:
Spacing is at a premium for the Cavs. They’ve been at their best this season when they either play Love at the four, or go small ball with LeBron there. The problem is that LeBron hates guarding Power Forwards like David West, so what they need is to sign guys who can stretch the floor as a four. I would look for them to target guys like Charlie Villanueva, Dante Cunningham, Josh Smith and Andrea Bargnani. Those aren’t super appealing names, but they can all fill the role.

Draft Targets:
I think that Shawn Marion is likely to retire this year. He hasn’t had much of an effect for the Cavs, but they could use someone in his mold. Enter Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. He is an elite athlete with excellent defensive skills. His jumper needs some work, but he could be a very useful role player in the years to come.

Trade Machine Says:
Boston receives: Timofey Mozgov, Cleveland’s 2015 first and 2016 lottery protected first.
Cleveland receives: Jared Sullinger and Evan Turner.

Detroit: Deeeee-troit Basketball! The Pistons have a pretty nice foundation to build on right now, but with Moose expected to leave and some other big decisions to make. This promises to be an eventful offseason in the motor city.

Reggie Jackson RFA
Cartier Martin PO
John Lucas
Greg Monroe
Tayshaun Prince
Joel Anthony

Three of those guys seem like pretty good best to retire. I would expect Martin to pick up his player option, and I think that the Pistons will be able to keep Reggie Jackson. Moose seems to be gone though, which is somewhat sad.

Free Agent Targets:
The Pistons have their point guard and Center for the futre, and I am more optimistic than most about KCP and Jodie Meeks, so they really mostly need to fill out the forward positions. I can see them going after KJ McDaniels. Ed Davis and Luis Scola also make some sense for them. If Miami waives his team option, Michael Beasley could be another interesting piece. They also may chase Draymond Green, but I would expect that the Warriors will match any offer they make.

Draft Targets:
I think that the Pistons ought to be targeting one of two guys in the draft. They should be trying to get either Hezonja or Stanley Johnson. They really just need a small forward to fill out their starting lineup.

Trade Machine Says:
Cleveland receives: Anthony Tolliver
Detroit receives: Joe Harris, Cleveland’s 2015 first

Indiana: The Pacers will most likely be a playoff team next year, as they will be returning Paul George. They have a high pick this year, and Hibbert might opt out of his contract (unlikely). They should have an interesting offseason.

Rodney Stuckey
CJ Watson
Luis Scola
Donald Sloan
Shayne Whittington TO
Chris Copeland TO
Roy Hibbert PO
David West PO

I think that the Pacers will end up bringing most of these players back. I don’t see either of the big men opting out, and everyone else should be cheap enough to bring back. They will probably let a low impact player or two go, just to open up roster space.

Free Agent Targets:
The Pacers need a backup big man and a starting shooting guard. They should be able to grab a big man in the draft, so I’ll focus on the two spot. There are a couple of shooting guards they can go after. Wes Matthews and Danny Green are two guys that they could chase.

Draft Targets:
I think that the main target for the Pacers is going to be Willie Cauley-Stein. Larry Bird already made his regard pretty clear, and he’s a great fit to eventually replace Hibbert.

Trade Machine Says:
Cleveland receives: Roy Hibbert, Indiana 2018 pick top 20 protected.
Indiana receives: Timofey Mozgov, Joe Harris, Cleveland’s 2015 pick (#24)

The Bucks were a pretty surprising team this year, as they made the playoffs without having Jabari Parker most of the year.  They have a lot of exciting young players, and they should be able to put themselves in position to contend long-term.

Khris Middleton RFA
Jared Dudley ETO

The Bucks’ first priority this offseason should be to resign Khris Middleton. He is a hugely important part of their hyper-long, positionless style of basketball. Jared Dudley is a helpful floor spacer, but he is somewhat replaceable.

Free Agent Targets:
   I think that Milwaukee should be trying to upgrade their backup big men this summer. Fortunately, there’s always a few bigs that you can get at a discount. Jason Thompson and Thomas Robinson could be good options, and there are a few guys available in the draft.

Draft Targets:
  The Bucks have a few options for big men in the draft. Four of them are Bobby Portis, Trey Lyles, Kevon Looney, and Christian Wood. They all bring different things, but they are all long athletes who would fit well.

Trade Machine Says:
Miami receives: Jerryd Bayless, John Henson, 2015 pick, 2017pick
Milwaukee receives: Hassan Whiteside and Udonis Haslem


The Only Mock Draft You Need

It’s just not the NBA if nobody’s declaring they’ve been conspired against. Let’s get another mock in before the Knicks’ tears have dried from their mustaches.
*This is who I would pick, not who I expect the teams to pick. Feel free to explain why I’m wrong.

1. Minnesota: Karl Anthony-Towns
The only situation I didn’t have Towns going first was if the Knicks won the lottery. I figured that they would have a win-now mentality. The Timberwolves can afford to be a little more patient. Towns has incredible upside, defensively and offensively. The Wolves can start to look at role players after this pick, they have their foundation of Rubio-Lavine-Wiggins-Towns-Pek (or Dieng). I wouldn’t be surprised to see Pekovic get traded this offseason.

2: Los Angeles Lakers: Jahlil Okafor
  The Lakers were the big winner of the lottery, moving up from fourth to second. I have them taking Jahlil Okafor here. He crowds the paint a little bit playing next to Julius Randle, and neither of them are great rim protectors, but I think that if you have the opportunity to draft the next Tim Duncan, you’ve gotta take it. Even if it isn’t the greatest fit, they have plenty of time before they contend for a championship. They can trade Randle, or they can let them learn how to play together. The Randle-Okafor combination could be one of the great high low post duos of all time.

3: Philadelphia: D’Angelo Russell
  I’m struggling to come up with a player comparison for Russell. He has James Harden’s ability to score in a variety of ways, as well as a Steph Curry-esque ability to make the insane pass. If you have key components of the two top candidates for the MVP, that means you’re a steal at the third pick. The one question mark about Russell is his athleticism. Does he have the ability to finish over people, or the strength to go through them? He’s going to have to work on that to become an elite scorer, but I think he has enough tools that he can make up for his lack of over the rim explosiveness.

4: New York: Emmanuel Mudiay
  I think that this is a no-brainer unless they trade the pick. In terms of fit, potential, and short term building, no prospect remaining is a better match with New York. Mudiay is John Wall in Michael Carter-Williams’ body. He has elite athleticism and playmaking ability. His jumpshot isn’t great, but his mechanics don’t give you MKG flashbacks, so it can improve. He can be a really good player for a long time, and he could bring the Knicks back to the playoffs.

5: Orlando: Justise Winslow
  Speaking of no-brainers, pretty much everyone has the Magic taking Winslow here. I agree, because he is pretty much a perfect fit for them. The Warriors are once again showing us that an athletic, swarming defense is the way to go, and that’s what Winslow gives you. His jumper is a little bit strange, but it only needs minor adjustments, and when he’s hot he makes a high percentage of them anyway. He fits the Jimmy Butler/Kawhi Leonard mold of two-way wings that can give you 15-20 points and guard the other teams’ star.

6: Sacramento: Kristaps Porzingis
  I believe that this draft has a pretty clear top five. Now that we’re through that group, we enter the second tier. These are the guys who either are going to be projects, or don’t have much long-term potential. Porzingis falls squarely into the first group. Kris, as we learned he is called during the lottery show, has enormous upside, as a 7’1 athletic stretch big man. Unfortunately, there is a stereotype of high upside Euros not living up to their potential. This is no more the case than home grown products, (Anthony Randolph anyone?) but I guess Darko scarred everybody. It’s not hard to see the red flags with Kris though, he’s 7’1, but he weighs only 220 pounds, he plays mostly on the perimeter despite his height, and he looks averse to contact. He has great athleticism though, and he seems like a really good fit next to Boogie as an athletic rim protector who can spread the floor.

7: Denver: Myles Turner
Turner is a guy who I expect to rise dramatically before the draft, he has a pretty good body and great skills for a big man. Turner is a great compliment to Jusuf Nurkic, and makes Faried very expendable for the Nuggets. (Watch the Trail Blazers for him). Turner is a little bit like a bigger, less explosive Serge Ibaka. That’s a very enticing skill set for a building team.

8: Detroit: Stanley Johnson
This is another match made in heaven with the way this player fits with this team. Detroit is building a physical, defensive minded style of team. Johnson has a stellar body for an NBA small forward at 6’8 235 lbs. He can shoot the three, but he excels offensively when he can play like a running back going “downhill” in transition. He is another player in the DTA mold.

9: Charlotte: Mario Hezonja
  The Hornets desperately need a perimeter scorer. Hezonja is the best one of those remaining, so this pick makes sense. He has great size to play either wing position at 6’8, he can pass, shoot, and he is excellent at running wings on the break. He is also an above average passer, so the only question is whether he can defend at an NBA level.

10: Miami: Delon Wright
  Wright vs. Grant is one of the biggest debates of this year’s draft, but it goes deeper than a debate between two players. This is the debate between the numbers test and the eye test. Jerian Grant is an excellent player, so this shouldn’t be read as a takedown of him, but the advanced stats make it clear that Wright is a better player, especially on defense. (For more on this subject you should go to Wingspan Addicts, an excellent NBA draft blog). Miami has been one of the teams leading the numbers revolution in the NBA, so I think that they take Wright. Either one would be an upgrade over Mario Chalmers.

11: Indiana: Willie Trill Cauley-Stein
   Cauley-Stein is probably the best defensive player in this draft. He can protect the rim almost as well as anyone in the league already, and his pick and roll defense is beautiful. On the other end of the floor, he has excellent above the rim athleticism, and he is developing a nice little fifteen footer to keep the defense honest. Look for him to be a threat in pick and rolls. Another great quality is that he actually makes free throws, so he’s a rim protector you can leave in at the end of the game.

12: Utah: Kelly Oubre
   Oubre was, for the most part, a disappointment in college. He didn’t play as well as anybody thought he would, and his jumpshot was especially underwhelming. Here’s the thing, though, Oubre is a terrible fit for college basketball. He belongs in uptempo, athletic, basketball. He just couldn’t work in the grind it out pace that is currently in fashion. He really would be a great fit for the Rockets, but the Jazz work too.  He can help the Jazz begin building their bench, and he really fits the long, athletic, mold they are building around.

13: Phoenix: Kevon Looney
  The Suns can afford a gamble here, and Looney is just that. Looney seems to have all the physical tools, but he still needs to work on putting it all together in one game. He is very long, but he lacks the ability to bang in the post, which might limit his production initially. He has the skills to stretch the floor and pound the glass, so an eventual 16 ppg 10 rpg season isn’t beyond the realm of imagination.

14: Oklahoma City: Devin Booker
   OKC probably doesn’t need to bring Dion Waiters back next season, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they packaged him with this pick to try to move up or get some veteran help. As it is though, I have them taking Booker because he has some Klay Thompson potential. He can shoot the three and hit shots off of one or two dribbles, and he’s an underrated athlete and defender. He’s a great fit for them, and he could contribute immediately.

15: Atlanta: Sam Dekker
  I’m not very high on the Wisconsin guys as NBA players. They’re kind of the opposite of Kelly Oubre. They both have good enough size and skill to contribute, but they’re never going to be stars. Sam Dekker in college got most of his scoring opportunities out of plays that were designed to create mismatches for him. Once he got that mismatch, he didn’t really use any finesse post moves, he just put his shoulder down and bullied guys. That doesn’t really work in the NBA unless you’re Shaq, (ask Tyler Hansbrough). He’s going to have to adjust, and he will probably end up being a Mike Dunleavy/ Kyle Singler type of player.

16:Boston: Bobby Portis
  Portis is a really good all around player, but he lacks that one great skill that would really make him a huge asset. As it is, he can stretch the floor, protect the rim and rebound. He should also be able to play well next to Kevin Love if they get him. He’s 6’11 and long, and he is enough of an athlete that he can probably guard most types of post players on defense.

17: Milwaukee: Trey Lyles
  This is the part of the draft where you really start to look at drafting for need, as these are mostly teams at various stages of contention. What the Bucks really need right now is a backup big man. I don’t think that Ersan Ilyasova and Zaza Pachulia are doing too much for them right now. There are a couple of options here, they could go with Lyles or Robert Upshaw, I think that what they went through with Larry Sanders is going to scare them off of Upshaw, so Lyles is the choice here. He can shoot out to the three point line, and he does lots of interesting things in pick and rolls. His year playing the three at Kentucky should prepare him well for Milwaukee.

18: Houston: Jerian Grant
Houston desperately needs a point guard. As I write this, Jason Terry is the starter for the Rockets, and Pablo Prigioni is the backup. Patrick Beverly is hurt, but I don’t think he was ever a plus point guard. Jerian Grant makes a lot of sense for them, not only due to his position, but because Notre Dame played a style very similar to the Rockets last year. He can excel at both guard spots, and he can provide some scoring when Harden is out.

19: Washington: Justin Anderson
  Washington has their foundation, and they have a solid supporting cast around their backcourt, but the backup wing spot could use some work. Justin Anderson is a very good defender with a streaky jumpshot. When he’s hot, he looks like a Klay Thompson type of shooter. Wes Matthews is probably a more realistic example to shoot for, but if he turned out as good as eighty percent of Matthews that would be a great pickup at 19.

20: Toronto: Frank Kaminsky
Toronto has several needs, so this pick could go a few ways, but I think the Raptors grab Kaminsky here as an upgrade over Tyler Hansbrough. Kaminsky is a solid post scorer, and he can stretch the floor on offense, but I’m worried about him protecting the rim. He is 6’11 but his arms are only 6’10. He has a smaller wingspan than Justise Winslow, who is 6’6. He’s not a great athlete, but he should be able to leverage his skills into a long career.

21: Dallas: Cameron Payne
I don’t love Payne, even though there has been a pretty good track record in the last few years of mid major point guards turning out well. He isn’t an explosive leaper like Lillard or a lockdown defender like  Elfrid Payton. He is a very solid offensive guard though, and Dallas really just needs someone who won’t ruin their spacing like Rondo did. (That trade still just makes no sense to me, why would they give up what they had going for a guy who everyone knows can’t shoot?)

22: Chicago: Tyus Jones
  Jahlil Okafor was the anchor for Duke all year, Justise Winslow was the X-factor and Tyus Jones was the leader. Whenever the Blue Devils needed a clutch bucket, they went to Jones. I think he is going to be a very good NBA point guard, especially if he gets a few years to develop and learn how to make up for his lack of size. He can shoot, pass, and defend, so I think he could have a very good career. He reminds me of Trey Burke and Kemba Walker.

23: Portland: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson
   Nic Batum is a free agent this year, and I don’t think the Blazers will be too desperate to bring him back. Jefferson makes a lot of sense for them, he can play both forward positions, and he is an outstanding defensive player. Think of him as a Draymond Green type. He’s not quite the shooter that Green has become, but he’s an even better athlete. He’s a solid pick at 23.

24: Cleveland: Christian Wood
  The Cavs have so many expiring contracts that it makes sense for them to just take the best player available. Christian Wood is 6’11, he can jump out of the gym and he has three point range. The problem is that he just hasn’t figured out how to play basketball yet. Everyone would love to take the next Anthony Davis, but no one wants the next Javale McGee. He’s going to have to demonstrate some semblance of a basketball IQ in interviews before the draft.

25: Memphis: RJ Hunter
   Memphis continues its desperate attempt to find some sort of spacing for their big men. RJ Hunter can provide that. Lots of people are throwing around the stat that he only shot 30% from three last year, but here’s the thing, he was the only offense that his team had, and he was regularly double teamed. If you look at his shot charts, he was taking very deep, very contested threes. I think he’ll be a fine spot up shooter.

26: San Antonio: George Lucas De Paula
   We have now crossed from the teams drafting for need to the team that doesn’t have any. In case you don’t know, De Paula is an 18 year old 6’6 Brazilian point guard with a seven foot wingspan and 10″ by 10″ hands. He doesn’t have a great grasp of English, but that won’t be a problem playing for the Spurs. He is the Giannis Antetokounmpo of this year’s draft.

27: Los Angeles Lakers: Terry Rozier
  Rozier is a very solid scoring point guard, but he isn’t quite good enough to project as much more than a backup. That’s fine, because the Lakers are just trying to stockpile assets right now.

28: Boston: Joseph Young
I am a huge fan of Joseph Young, I think that he can become a Jamal Crawford/ Monta Ellis type of scorer. The main problem that people have with him is his size, but that makes Boston a great fit for him, because he can play next to Marcus Smart, who is enormous for a point guard.

29: Brooklyn: Montrezl Harrell
  Brooklyn just needs young, cheap players. Harrell is a solid all around player who at the very least can pound the glass and get some offensive putbacks. Brooklyn is trending down, and will be for a while, but they can pick up a decent asset here.

30: Golden State: Robert Upshaw
Whenever I watch the Warriors in the playoffs, I get major Perkins flashbacks from Andrew Bogut. Upshaw could be a solid replacement for Bogut, as long as he can convince the Warriors front office that he isn’t going to be a huge cancer to this team’s precious chemistry.

That’s all for now, check back regularly for divisional offseason primers and more draft coverage!

Southeast Division Offseason Primer

Atlanta: The Hawks are coming off of an excellent season, where they overachieved and ended up with the one seed in the east. This team is one or two pieces away from competing for the championship. There aren’t really any stars for them to chase, but they can definitely upgrade at a few spots.

Paul Millsap PF
Pero Antic C (Team Option)
Demarre Carroll SF
Elton Brand PF
John Jenkins SG

The first priority for the Hawks is obviously going to be resigning Paul Millsap. They have some room, and he seems to be a team player, so I would expect them to be able to keep him. I would pick up Antic’s option as well. I would also try to resign Carroll for continuity’s sake, but he is pretty replacable.

Free Agency Targets:
The Hawks are set at the post and Point Guard positions, what they need is help on the wing. They have a few options in the draft, (we’ll get to that in a minute) but there are several options in free agency. Danilo Gallinari is an excellent floor stretcher, but he has had problems staying on the floor. Nic Batum has had a bad year offensively, but he is a very good defensive player.

Draft Targets:
They can also deal with their needs through the draft. Kelly Oubre has all the tools to become a very good two way player. Devin Booker is a very good shooter who can develop some ball skills and become a star. Sam Dekker is another option.

Trade Machine Says:
Memphis receives Thabo Sefoloshia, Shelvin Mack, and Atlanta’s 2016 first round pick (lottery protected.)
Atlanta receives Jeff Green.

Charlotte: Here’s the other end of the spectrum, the Hornets were extremely disappointing this season, and they need to make some adjustments for next year. Their main targets should be any players that can shoot the three.

Jason Maxiel
Mo Williams
Jeff Taylor RFA
Bismack Biyombo RFA
Al Jefferson PO
Gerald Henderson PO

I’m going to assume that Williams, Jefferson, Henderson, and Biyombo are all coming back. Those guys are either stars, (Jefferson) or fill a need, (the rest). Taylor and Maxiel are pretty redundant, especially with Zeller and Vonleh at the power forward position.

Free Agent targets:
The Hornets really need some scoring from the wing. They could target Danny Green, but he’s probably going to be too expensive. The could also try to get another Green, Gerald. He can score well, but he would also be pretty hard to get.

Draft Targets:
Charlotte could also attack their problems through the draft. Kelly Oubre makes a lot of sense for them. If you think about a three-man defensive wrecking crew of Oubre, MKG, and Vonleh, they would have an excellent foundation. If Stanley Johnson falls to them then he would also be an excellent fit.

Trade Machine Says:
Toronto receives: Lance Stephenson, PJ Hairston and a top ten protected 2017 pick that then becomes top five protected in 2018.
Charlotte receives: Demar DeRozan and Greg Stiemsma.

Miami: The Heat have a pretty solid foundation for their roster, what they really need right now is a group of role players. I would especially be looking for another guard to back up Dwyane Wade, for when he inevitably gets hurt. Their main change should really just be staying healthy.

Goran Dragic PO
Dwyane Wade PO
Luol Deng PO
Michael Beasley TO

I would definitely keep Beasley, as he is one of the only effective role players remaining on the team. I think Wade and Deng will accept their player options, and I would expect Dragic to as well. They will all make much more money by negotiating their new deals next year, when the cap jumps.

Free Agent targets:
Miami doesn’t really need to chase a star, so they can afford to overpay some of the lower level free agents. I would try to sign a replacement for Udonis Haslem. A couple of big man options would be Brandon Bass and Thomas Robinson. Bass is more of a known quantity while Robinson has underachieved so far in his career, but he has tremendous upside. Another player they could target is Mo Williams.

Draft Targets:
This is a very interesting draft. There are a lot of options around the tenth pick. I think the Heat could take one of Delon Wright and Jerian Grant. These two players are going to be the center of some debate, because while Grant aces the eye test, the advanced stats prefer Wright. I think they both make a lot sense for the Heat, because of their ability to play both guard positions.

Trade Machine Says:
Toronto receives: Mario Chalmers, Josh McRoberts, and Miami’s pick 
Miami receives: Kyle Lowry
(This assumes that Dragic leaves and the Raptors blow it up.)

Orlando: The Magic mostly have their foundation, now they just need a coach and some role players. This could be a huge offseason for them.

Willie Green
Tobias Harris RFA
Kyle O’Quinn RFA

The Magic will have an interesting decision to make with regards to Tobias Harris. He is one of the higher profile free agents on the market this summer, so they will have to decide what they are willing to match for him. He is a very good player at both forward spots, so I think they should try to keep him.

Free Agent targets:
What the Magic really need is shooting off of the bench. Their starters are (for the most part) below average shooters, so it makes sense to try to add reserves who can spread the floor.
Mo Williams would give them good shooting and a veteran presence, and Marcus Thornton and Danny Granger from Phoenix would also be good options.

Draft Targets:
My Orlando draft wishlist starts and ends with Justise Winslow. He is just a beautiful fit with this team. If that falls through, Stanley Johnson is a very good consolation prize. If Karl Towns falls to them or they get the first pick, he would be the only player they should take over Winslow.

Trade Machine Says:
Cleveland receives: Maurice Harkless, Kyle O’Quinn and a 2018 top twenty protected first that rolls over every year.
Orlando receives Iman Shumpert, Joe Harris and Cleveland’s 2015 first round pick (#24)

Washington: The Wizards are coming off of an excellent season. Their foundation is set, though they are planning on making a run at Kevin Durant. They are a legitimate contender, and they have some opportunities to improve this offseason.

Paul Pierce PO
Garrett Temple PO
Rasual Butler
Drew Gooden
Kevin Seraphin
Will Bynum

I think that the Wizards will probably try to bring everyone back, though if they lose anyone but Pierce, they wouldn’t be hurting too badly.

Free Agent targets:
I think that the Wizards don’t have a ton of needs. If they wanted to get a sixth man though, Louis Williams could be an excellent option. Gerald Green would also work.

Draft targets:
Kevon Looney seems to fit with the Wizards as a long forward, who could eventually replace Paul Pierce. R.J. Hunter could give them another great shooter behind Beal.
Another solid option could be Frank Kaminsky.

Trade Machine Says:
Washington receives: Thad Young
Brooklyn receives: Martell Webster, Garrett Temple and Dejuan Blair.

Making a mockery

It’s that time of year again, when teams start jockeying for position. No, not playoff position, I’m talking about tanking. Let’s see what the reward at the end of the tunnel is for every team.
*this is who I think these teams should take, not necessarily who they will take.

1. NYK. With the first pick in my imaginary draft the Knicks take…. Jahlil Okafor. He is the surest thing in this draft, and the Knicks need a post scorer not named Samuel Dalembert. Big Jah is the franchise player who can lead the Knicks back to the playoffs.
  2. Minnesota. With Okafor off the board the only acceptable pick is Karl Anthony-Towns. Towns is a developing but promising offensive player, and a Serge Ibaka/Anthony Davis level terror on the defensive end. A potential front line of him and Dieng is terrifying for the future, especially combined with what Wiggins could be on offense.

  3. Philadelphia. The Michael Carter-Williams trade puts the Sixers in the market for a point guard. The best one available is Emmanuel Mudiay. Mudiay has John Wall athleticism in a strong six five frame. His shooting needs some work, but he has every physical tool you could want.

  4. LAL. The Lakers are in full rebuilding mode, which means they should just try to get the best talent available. D’angelo Russell isn’t an out of this world athlete, but he has a great ability to score from the two as well as handle the ball and set up teammates at the point. He also has nice size to play either guard spot at 6’5. Imagine having to guard twenty to twenty-five Russell and Randle pick and rolls every night.

  5. Orlando. The Magic could go several ways with this pick, but I think the best fit for them is Justise Winslow. He fits the player type they’ve been going after these last few drafts, and he could eventually be a 15-20 point scorer with his decent jumper and aggressive drives. Think about the defensive wrecking crew that he, Oladipo, Payton and Gordon could become.

  6. Sacramento. Boogie has never really had a good complement in the front court. Kristaps Porzingis could change that. This is a very high risk/reward pick, as Porzingis brings all the risks of a 7’1 220 lb Euro. But completely based on his skills and fit, he seems like a solid pick, he can spread the floor for Boogie, while also helping to protect the rim.

7. Denver. I don’t think Denver wants to be good right now, so I’m taking Mario Hezonja. Hezonja has the ability to be a more athletic Manu, while also giving the Nuggets a guy to stash while they continue their rebuild.

8. Detroit. Stanley Johnson. This is one of my favorite picks so far. Johnson gives Detroit a legit wing player who can step in and guard anyone in the league. He and SVG should mix nicely.

9. Charlotte. Charlotte needs scoring in a bad way. Kelly Oubre can provide that, while not murdering them on the defensive end. Yes, he was underwhelming in college, but he has the skills and physical tools to be a scorer at the next level.

10. Atlanta. Atlanta is in the enviable position of looking for a role player in the lottery. Look for them to shop this pick, but if they keep it, I would take Devin Booker. I know it’s a reach, but he fits their system and gives them one of the only pure shooters in the draft.

11. Indiana. With Paul George coming back next year, the Pacers need some bench scoring. Let’s take the hometown kid, Trey Lyles. He can spread the floor around Hibbert and eventually replace David West on offense.

12. Utah. The Jazz just need people who can actually play. I guess you just take the highest value here, which is Willie Cauley-Stein. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them move this pick.

13. Houston. The Rockets are always looking for shooting, but there isn’t much here at this point in the draft, so let’s fill another need. I’m taking Jerian Grant to eventually take over at point guard for Patrick Beverly. Right now he can make his teamates better and provide some bench scoring in a system quite similar to that of Notre Dame.

14. Phoenix. Phoenix needs a big guy who can spread the floor and protect the rim. I just described Myles Turner. Turner can play the Channing Frye role on offense, while giving them a high level shot blocker.

15. Boston. The Celtics are the beginning of the range where you begin taking guys with big question marks. I have them taking Caris Levert. He could be a really solid player, but he has had some health issues which pushed him outside of the lottery for me. At the very least, he could become an effective spacer for Brad Stevens’ team.

16. Philadelphia. Philly is still just acquiring assets at this point, and Montrezl Harrell is the best one remaining. He is undersized, but he has absurd athleticism and strength, which, along with an improved jumper, make him a solid pick in the second half of the first round.

17. Milwaukee. The Bucks could use another big man, which means Kevon Looney is probably the choice here. He has a bad habit of disappearing in close games, but he fits the mold the Bucks have been drafting, long versatile athletes.

18. Washington. The Wizards are pretty solid at every position but coach, but they could use a backup big man. I’ll give them Frank Kaminsky. He is an adequate defender, and he will give them all kinds of options in pick and rolls with Wall and pick and pops with Beal.

19. OKC. The Thunder have a choice to make this summer between Dion Waiters and Enes Kanter. I personally would choose Kanter, which once again puts OKC in the market for a shooting guard. Justin Anderson gives the team it’s first two way shooting guard ever. He can hit the three at a high rate, and he is an all world defender for Virginia.

20. Toronto. Christian Wood. Toronto doesn’t really have any urgent needs, so I just gave them a quality asset. Wood is 6’11 and ridiculously long. He projects as an excellent rim protector, which means he could be a steal at pick twenty.

21. Chicago. As always the Bulls need scoring and a point guard who could potentially replace Rose. Delon Wright fills both needs. I think he has really good value this late in the draft. If he’s still here they should jump on him.

22. Dallas. Rajon Rondo has been an enormous flop in Dallas. His arrival sent the team into a tailspin and they will probably look to trade him for a point guard who can shoot this offseason. If that doesn’t turn out well, they could draft Terry Rozier. He isn’t a franchise point guard, but he’s probably good enough for now.

23. San Antonio. Sam Dekker, and you know he’s gonna hit a game winner in the finals. I feel sick.

24. Cleveland. Cleveland selects Kris Dunn. He is a really solid two way backup point guard.

25. Portland. Portland needs some bench scoring, so I’ll go with Buddy Hield here. He’s a solid microwave guy and he can handle the ball a little bit, so he has good value this late.

26. Boston. I’m taking Joseph Young for the Celtics with the knowledge that one of two things will happen. He will either be Jamal Crawford, or he’ll be playing in Europe in three years. There’s no in-between.

27. LAL. I already gave LA a two, so let’s finish the backcourt with Tyus Jones.  I’m a big fan of Jones and I think he can be a high level NBA point guard.

28. Cleveland. The Cavs get the steal of the draft here with R.J. Hunter. He is an incredible shooter with great size for a two guard at 6’5.

29. Brooklyn. I think Brooklyn will probably gamble on Cliff Alexander’s potential here. Worst case is that he has no impact, but the best case is him becoming a smaller Deandre Jordan.

30. Golden State. The Warriors wrap up the first round by taking  Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. He is a fantastic defender with no offensive ability. He will make a decent replacement for David Lee.

Arrested Development

    Arn Tellem made a proposal this past week about how to fix the problem that the NBA has with player development. I won’t go into it in depth here, but it basically touched on the D-league, minimum age requirements, and rookie contracts. I thought that a lot of what he said made sense, but it kind of made me want to draw up my own proposal. Here it is.

1. Age requirements: I say that if NBA teams want to draft high schoolers, they should be able to. It also makes no sense to keep up the one and done rule, because some of these guys honestly don’t belong in or want to be in college. It doesn’t make sense for other students, professors or the school to invest time in guys who have no interest in staying more than one semester. However, if a player goes to college, they have to stay for three years at least. That makes it so that teams can really build their team for a few years.

2. D-league: This is my proposal to fix the D-league, anytime a team drafts a high school player, they are required to give them a four year contract and keep them in the D-league for at least two years. That means that if a guy like Emmanuel Mudiay decides to forgo college, then he will still be available for United States fan to see in the D-league, instead of relying on poorly edited YouTube clips. This will also incentivize every team to get their own affiliate if they don’t have one.

3. Rookie Contracts: I think that we keep a similar rookie scale to what we have now, with one added rule. Whenever you draft a player, sign them, and then put them in the D-league, you then have to double the length of their contract, at half of the annual salary. So, for example if the Thunder draft a player and sign them to a two year, five hundred thousand dollar per year contract, then send them down, their contract becomes four years at two hundred and fifty. That provides young players with a little more long-term financial protection.

   There are doubtlessly holes in my plan, but I think I’m on the right track.

Big Winners

    Many people are writing columns declaring which teams “won” their trades yesterday. I don’t think you can actually know that until four or five years from now, but you can make some snap decisions as to which team or player benefited from yesterday’s action. Here are three people or teams who “won” yesterday.

   1. Oklahoma City.
    This isn’t just about the trade the Thunder made, it’s also about the one they didn’t. The team was going to trade RJ and Perkins either way, but they were faced with two options. Option one was an injury-prone player on a hefty contract, while option two was a player who was 90% as good for a fifth of the price, along with multiple players who filled positions of need. Presti made the right choice, clearly, and the Thunder now have a really good bench for the first time in their history.

   2. Miami.
   The Chris Bosh news obviously hurts, but the Heat absolutely robbed the Suns yesterday. Goran and Zoran for essentially nothing is one of the more lopsided trades since James Harden. This was an absolute clinic on how to take advantage of a panicking team, tip your cap Pat Riley!

    3. Reggie Jackson.
    As Kevin Durant so succinctly put it, “he got what he wanted”. The onus is now on Reggie to prove that he is more than a disgruntled gunner who can’t coexist with players who are better than him. He has an opportunity to become a star perimeter player and one of the faces of the new Pistons. This could go either way, but it’s at least interesting to watch.

Meeting the deadline

  The trade deadline is this Thursday, and the Thunder are definitely going to be active. Even if they don’t manage to swing a trade, they have several chips they can move. Reggie Jackson has value, and Kendrick Perkins’ expiring deal still is worth something to teams trying to cut costs. There are several moves that the Thunder could make, but these are three deals that could help make this the year.

1.OKC  receives Jarrett Jack and two second round picks
  Brooklyn receives Reggie Jackson, Perry Jones and Jeremy Lamb

   OKC gets a backup point guard who also provides them with three point shooting, while the nets get three young, fairly cheap players with potential who they can build with or use as bait in the salary dumps that will be happening shortly.

2. OKC receives Aaron Brooks and Doug Mcdermott
    Chicago receives Reggie Jackson

    This is a much better return for Reggie Jackson, as the Thunder fill two positions of need, while keeping their other small trading chips. The bulls, on the other hand, get a guy who can provide wing scoring and some Derrick Rose insurance. On paper, a Rose, Jackson, Butler, Gasol and Noah lineup is terrifying.

3. OKC receives Arron Afflalo and Erick Green
    Denver receives Reggie Jackson and Kendrick Perkins

    This is the most likely of the trades that I’ve listed here. OKC finally gets a two way shooting guard, while the Nuggets get a guy to build with or trade during this reset they’re undergoing. This would probably necessitate further trades, as the Thunder would have no backup point guard, but that’s why you have Dion Waiters.

The Thunder may not make any of these trades, but I think they all make varying degrees of sense.