2014-15 NBA Season Predictions

East Standings:

1. Cleveland Cavaliers: 61-21
2. Chicago Bulls: 57-25
3. Toronto Raptors: 49-33
4. Charlotte Hornets: 48-34
5. Miami Heat: 46-36
6. Atlanta Hawks: 45-37
7. Washington Wizards: 45-37
8. Brooklyn Nets: 43-39
9. New York Knicks: 40-42
10. Detroit Pistons: 39-43
11. Indiana Pacers: 34-48
12. Milwaukee Bucks: 28-54
13. Boston Celtics: 26-56
14. Orlando Magic: 20-62
15. Philadelphia 76ers: 16-66

West Standings:

1. San Antonio Spurs: 60-22
2. Oklahoma City Thunder: 57-25
3. L.A. Clippers: 56-26
4. Dallas Mavericks: 55-27
5. Houston Rockets: 54-28
6. Golden State Warriors: 53-29
7. Portland Trailblazers: 50-32
8. Memphis Grizzlies: 47-35
9. Phoenix Suns: 45-37
10. Denver Nuggets: 38-44
11. New Orleans Pelicans: 37-45
12. Sacramento Kings: 31-51
13. L.A. Lakers: 28-54
14. Minnesota Timberwolves: 28-54
15. Utah Jazz: 25-57

MVP: LeBron James

ROY: Jabari Parker

COY: David Blatt

Sixth Man: Jamal Crawford

MIP: Giannis Antetokounmpo

DPOY: Serge Ibaka

NBA Finals: Cleveland Cavaliers vs San Antonio Spurs
NBA Champs: San Antonio Spurs

Raptors 2014-15 Season Preview

In just one season, there’s a sense of hope with what Masai Ujiri has created with this Raptors team moving forward. Hope that the Raptors have not had since Chris Bosh last lead the team to the playoffs six seasons ago.

Going into 2014-15, the team has set some pretty high expectations as it looks to improve from its unexpected 48-34 record from last season. Or more specifically, the even more impressive 42-22 record after trading away Rudy Gay that seemed to defy all odds.

To be honest, I still have my doubts as to whether or not keeping the status quo for another year is a good idea. Improvement may happen, but I’m not sure than we’re going to see the same type of team post-Rudy trade that many are expecting this upcoming season by keeping the main pieces intact.

One cannot forget about just how bad the conference was last year due to injuries to key players as well as more teams than usual that were blatantly tanking.

Additionally, all of this was happening while the Raptors squad remained relatively healthy and had several players looking to cash in with new contracts. Who knows if they still have that same drive and determination to get the job done this season. But I’d like to be proven wrong about this team once again.

The problem is that the conference as a whole has gotten better and wins will undoubtedly be harder to come by this time around. One reason for that being several other teams within the Eastern Conference have gone out and made some improvements this summer.

The Bulls for example, were just as good of a team post All-Star break as the Raptors and have added Pau Gasol and a supposedly healthy and explosive Derrick Rose. Then there are the Cavs who have lured back LeBron James and followed that up with a trade for Kevin Love. As well as other playoff teams who have either made some moves or simply have key players coming back from injury which should help them improve.

This team is not a contender yet, nor do they have the player needed to take them to that next level. Standing pat is fine for the time being, but there’s still a lot of work to be done to not only solidify its spot in the top of the conference, but also to take that next step to contending.

So, where does this leave the Raptors?

Well, my win prediction for the Raptors currently stands at 49 wins; a slight improvement record wise, but not so much from the post-Rudy numbers. Which, also base on my predictions for all 30 teams would put them once again at 3rd in the conference behind the Cavaliers and Bulls. The playoff matchup for them at sixth would be the Hawks, which is certainly a good matchup to make it past the first round.

I think it’s realistic to say that the Raptors this time around could make it to the second round of the playoffs. They were in fact, one basket away from advancing to the second round against an opponent full of playoff veterans. Now with playoff experience under their belt, and obviously, matchup depending, it’s possible that the Raptors see the second round for the first time since the Vince Carter days.

Maybe we are expecting too much from the team that struck lightning in a bottle last season ranging from an inevitable trade to players playing for their next contracts.

While it’s tough to pinpoint where exactly this team is within the Conference ranks given a small one year sample size, one thing is for certain. Expectations are rising for this team very rapidly. Playoffs are not only just a goal this season; they have also become the benchmark.

For the first time in a long time, the Raptors head into a season with more than just playoff aspirations.

Projected Record: 49-33

Playoffs: 3rd seed and second round loss to the Bulls (2).

2014 Toronto Raptors Offseason

If I had to describe the offseason for the Raptors in one word, it would be continuity.

Unlike a typical Raptors offseason of change, this one wasn’t necessarily about player addition or subtraction. Rather, it was keeping the same core group of players intact for at least another season or two.

Masai Ujiri was able to build that continuity by resigning Kyle Lowry as well as his other restricted free agents Greivis Vasquez and Patrick Patterson and even all the way down to his coach Dwane Casey.

Here’s quick a look at what the Raptors did this offseason:

-Resigned Coach Dwane Casey for three years
-Resigned Kyle Lowry to a reasonable long-term deal
-Resigned Greivis Vasquez for two years
-Resigned Patrick Patterson for three years
-Drafted Bruno Caboclo and DeAndre Daniels
-Traded for Lou Williams and Lucas Nogueira
-Traded Steve Novak for Diante Garrett (waived)
-Signed James Johnson and Will Cherry
-Signed Jordan Hamilton
-Signed Greg Steimsma

There were only minor tweaking to the Raptors roster and sometimes making no drastic moves can be the best move for a team to make. Besides, this is still a team fighting to establish itself in the NBA ranks.

Perhaps no major roster shakeup ends up as metaphorically taking a step forward for this club. A case for improvement can simply be made based off of the continuity from last season. The team has now had more time to gel along with an entire training camp and preseason together. This as a result, should create even more team chemistry for the already cohesive group that we saw last season.

In addition, while there were no obvious game changing or swinging for the fence type of roster moves, the Raptors did at least, make some moves. They were able to add some nice pieces off the bench which should help at various times throughout the season.

James Johnson can guard the type of big mobile forwards that had their way with the Raptors in the playoff series with Brooklyn. As well as Lou Williams who is a combo guard scorer at Casey’s disposal who can some off the bench and put up points in bunches.

The only other notable additions to the team were the rookies. I loved the risk/reward mentality on selecting Bruno Caboclo in the draft versus going for one of the more well known players. I also liked acquiring another young Brazilian with potential in Lucas Nogueira for next to nothing. Any time you can get a good young prospect for a player that was going to be waived, sign me up.

While neither of them have the ability or talent to make an impact on the team at this point, it’s the potential of those two players that I find most intriguing for the team’s future. Potential will be the key here and both players have the potential to be impactful players down the road which is the right strategy in the Raptors current position.

Going along with the continuity theme with the roster, I’ve also continued to be pleased with the work that Masai Ujiri has done, despite his short time with the Raptors thus far.

There has been some very impressive work in what has seemed like each time he made a trade, he turned nothing into something. Which is quite the opposite of his predecessor Bryan Colangelo, who always seemed to give up something in return for nothing.

With that said, however, even though the Raptors have made a case for improvement by simply staying the course, it must also be noted that the Eastern conference as a whole has also improved by making changes. It won’t be the same walk in the park like last year’s conference was. The East will be more competitive this season and the wins will be much more difficult to attain this season.

Dwane Casey will now have his work cut out for him to once again go out and improve the team this season. It is an upward trend that the team has maintained ever since taking over as the head coach of the team.

Except that this time around, the outlook surrounding the team has changed completely considering that now the team is under an enormous amount of pressure to win right out of the gate. That is not something that Casey has had to deal with yet as coach of the Raptors, because he has for the most part been involved with the team’s rebuild.

Even last season, many fans, including myself, thought that trading Rudy Gay was a clear sign of tanking last season, so it’s not like there were high expectations prior to winning the division a few months later.

So it will be interesting to see how he handles that new found pressure to win from day one. As a playoff team and favourite to win the Atlantic division, you need to go out and win the games that playoff teams are supposed to win.

The Raptors have exceeded just about all expectations to this point under Masai Ujiri which has caused the expectations for the team this season to grow exponentially. The city, the fans and the front office have gone all in on this team and have set some high expectations for this season.

The question now though, is with those growing expectations, can the Raptors meet them?

All for one. One for all.

It’s the summer of the Cavs.

The number one pick (seriously, how?), bringing back LeBron and now constant rumours of trading said pick. Speculation didn’t take long to heat up (pun intended) now that the King has returned home.

Obviously trade talks are on hold since the Cavaliers have recently signed their prized rookie Andrew Wiggins to his rookie NBA deal. Consequently, must now wait 30 days to move him. But that hasn’t stopped the recent trade debate.

Should the Cavaliers trade for Kevin Love? Absolutely they should and here’s why.

The Cavs window of opportunity to win is right now. The best player in the world is going to be 30 years old next season and in NBA terms, that’s not young. It’s borderline “old”, to be honest. LeBron is in his prime and if he wants to win, he needs the supporting cast to help him right now.

It’s one of the reasons why LeBron decided to leave the Miami Heat. Not only did he want to return home, but he also knew that he couldn’t win with the team he had in Miami.

With this current Cavs team, they’re more than capable of winning the Eastern Conference. But are they good enough to beat the best Western Conference team in a best of 7 series? I don’t think so.

So, if there is a player out there that can improve the Cavaliers to championship contention immediately that is also available in a trade, Kevin Love is that guy. Adding Kevin Love right now gives them a much more realistic chance to win in the NBA finals next season and may even be good enough to win depending on the matchup.

He’s one of the best big men in the NBA right now and a case could be made that he’s one of the league’s top players as well. Contrary to Wade and Bosh, he’s also just entering his prime, which is the kind of player that is needed in order for the Cavaliers to win.

Not only that, but as a stretch 4 he is the perfect fit next to LeBron and is just pretty much a better and younger version of Chris Bosh.

Love’s expiring contract next season may look quite worrisome, but Cavs fans need not to worry has there seems to be mutual interest in the Cavs and Love. So, while there is uncertainty with his known desire to play in a market like Los Angeles or New York, there’s really no reason why he wouldn’t resign long-term to play with LeBron on a contender.

While I will admit that his defense is suspect, or even non-existent, I don’t buy the constant knocks on Love that he just puts up big numbers on a bad team and that he isn’t a real winner.

First, Kevin Love is one the league leaders in several statistical categories. Not only are his basic per game stats great, but his advanced stats help back it up that he’s doing more than just putting up big numbers.

Consider some of these stats from last season, which are nothing to scoff at:

3rd in total WS
3rd in total OWS
3rd in PER
3rd in DRB%
9th in TRB%
6th in PTS/100POS
3rd in FTM
3th in AST% (amongst NBA Bigs)
8th in 3PM (what LeBron needs)

Second, look at the teams Kevin Love has played on. Then remember just how good the Western Conference has been for the last several years. As good as Kevin Love is, it’s simply too much to ask a player to single-handedly get a team to the playoffs, especially when the conference is about 10 playoff teams deep.

For example, look at the 9th seeded Phoenix Suns last season who missed the playoffs with 48 wins. With that said, the Wolves would easily be a playoff team in the Eastern Conference. Considering the fact that the conferences are so lopsided right now, one should not make an assumption of Kevin Love’s inability to win. In fact, it’s actually more impressive that he even kept the Wolves in the playoff hunt.

Now moving on to the opposite side with regards to Wiggins, I can completely understand why the Cavs would hesitative to include him in any trade right now. If I was the General Manager of Cleveland, I’d try and do everything to keep him too.

He’s a first overall pick in what was believed to be a great draft for quite some time. He also hasn’t played a single game in the NBA yet, so we don’t really have an idea of how good he will be from day one.

But if I’m the General Manager of the Wolves, there is no other offer right now that can even compete with a package of Andrew Wiggins. They would be crazy not to make a deal to get the number one pick for a player that clearly wants to be traded anyways.

I’m a big fan of Wiggins and actually wanted the Raptors to get into the lottery to specifically try and get him. I believe that Wiggins is the real deal and has the potential to be a great player, not just because he’s Canadian.

However, we also must be realistic here. Wiggins is not going to help a championship team right now. Assuming that he does live up to his potential he’s still years away from reaching it and that doesn’t help the Cavaliers win right now.

If Wiggins was more of an NBA-ready product like his counter-part Jabari Parker, then I think you could make a legitimate case not to move him. But under these circumstances, the Cavs must make the move to put the pieces in place to win.

Don’t get me wrong. I would love (no pun intended) to see Wiggins morph into a superstar under LeBron’s tutelage. If there is any player who could get the most out of Wiggins to help him live to live up to his potential, LeBron would be the guy. That and the two-way player that Wiggins could become could be a huge asset playing next to LeBron for several years.

But LeBron did not go back to Cleveland to just sit around and wait no matter how good Wiggins can become. That’s not the fault of Wiggins, but when you have the best player in the game, you do whatever it takes to keep him from making “The Decision” 3.0, no matter how unlikely it is of him leaving again.

So, for what it’s worth, the time is now for the Cavs. They need to make a move to win right now even if the cost of doing so means giving up one or more of their young up and coming players.

Just like the Cavaliers slogan, all for one. Kevin Love.

2014 NBA Draft Recap- Raptors

#20 Bruno Caboclo:

The Cons:
1. He is such an unknown. Maybe that’s a good thing, but the fact that almost nobody knows who this guy is kind of worries me. Could he have been taken later? Sure he could have, but we don’t know exactly how late and I think it’s highly doubtful that the Raptors would have gotten him at 37, as some are suggesting.

2. Continuing with the first point, he was such an unknown that he was not on any of the Mock Draft boards as far as I know. Maybe some did, who knows. But from what I’m seeing, everybody seems to be saying the same thing. That he was either not there, or projected as very late in the second round.

3. He’s years away from being NBA ready. First it was that he would not play in the NBA for a couple seasons. Now apparently he’s in the process of getting his VISA in order to play in the NBA next season.

The problem with that being the Raptors just extended a coach who thought it was a good idea to play Alan Anderson over Terrence Ross, Chuck Hayes over Jonas Valanciunas, John Salmons over Landry Fields, etc.

How does a player fairly new to basketball fit into the equation with a coach who clearly prefers veterans? Casey is not the type of coach who has shown patience with young players. Someone with such little experience would likely be no different and perhaps even worse off.

Needless to say, I think that the Raptors would be doing him a huge disservice by bringing him over to the NBA at this stage in his career, especially if the Raptors continue to have playoff aspirations. The roster spot may be better served for a player who can help them immediately. The last thing I want to see a young player like that do is be glued to the bench and lose confidence.

The Pros:

1. The first comparisons brought up from the people who actually have seen him and heard of him are Kevin Durant and Giannis Antetokuonmpo. That’s definitely a positive. Obviously Durant is one of the best players in the NBA right now and it’s also widely believed that Antetokuonmpo is loads of untapped potential.

2. Apparently both the Spurs and the Thunder were looking at him, which says something about him. That has to mean that he has the potential to be a very good player. But they are not the only ones. Rumour has it that the Jazz and Suns were also interested and they also had picks after 20th and before 37th.

3. Most importantly, the risk involved. At 20th in the draft, it’s highly unlikely that you get a player who has the potential to be a star in the league. It just doesn’t happen anymore. If Bruno has that potential it’s a great gamble to take despite him being so unknown. I always like the idea of taking a calculated risk (which I think this was) versus playing it safe with a player with little to no upside.

Especially when we’re it’s a pick near the bottom of the first round. What exactly do you have to lose other than missing out on what is most likely going to be an NBA role player? You can easily get those types of players in trades or free agency.

I’ll gladly take my chances with a 20th pick on a player that has the chance to be something special, even if there is high bust potential, rather take someone who at best is an NBA role player down the road.

Overall, I really like what I see from Capoclo. I have to give a lot of credit to Ujiri on making this pick, despite a large number of naysayers.

#37 DeAndre Daniels:
There’s not very much pro’s and con’s to a second round pick. While he is very thin, he was a key member of the championship Huskies team. He looks like he can be a decent 3& D guy in the near future as a member of the Raptors which is becoming an asset in today’s NBA.

Frankly, if you can land a second round pick who can stick around in the NBA for years, you’ve done pretty well. He has that potential if he bulks up.

With that said, there were others I would have preferred with that pick, like Jerami Grant, Glenn Robinson III, Markel Brown and Thananis Antetokounmpo. But I’m not overly disappointed with the selection either.

All in all, I’d say it was a good draft for the Raptors when you consider that they had 20, 37 and 59 (which they eventually traded). This draft for the Raptors was all about potential and upside. Sometimes, in this situation, that’s all you can ask for.

2014 NBA Free Agency Predictions

I’ve decided that I’d make some last minute free agency predictions regarding some of the marquee free agents of this summer’s free agent class. These aren’t based on what I want to happen; rather, what I think actually will happen in this highly anticipated free agency. So here are some of the top names of this summer and where I think they end up.

1. LeBron, Wade and Bosh will all resign in Miami. Simply put, Miami gives them the best chance to win. Assuming that they take a pay cut to bring in more help, they should continue to be one of the favourites to win NBA championships. Who that help will be is still a mystery, but the fact that they were all willing to opt out, especially Wade and Bosh is, in my opinion a good sign that they are willing to take less money in order to win.

2. Carmelo Anthony will sign with the Bulls. There are a few reasons why he would do this. For one, the best chance of him winning is staying in the Eastern Conference. Second, from my understanding all the Bulls would need to do is amnesty Carlos Boozer and they would have enough money to sign him. Of course, this will require a pay cut, but Melo has already said that he is willing to sacrifice that in order to win. Third, the Bulls are almost tailor made for Anthony. He can take a lot of shots on offense and has enough defense around him in the starting lineup in Butler, Gibson and Noah. Fourth, without Rose, this team would be a title contender. With a healthy Rose, they might even be the favourites to win it all.

3. Kyle Lowry will sign with the Heat and be part of what keeps the Big Three in Miami. Point guard isn’t the position that’s in need of the biggest upgrade, but the interest between Lowry and the Heat is definitely mutual. While it’s doubtful that he continues to put up the numbers that he did this past season for the Raptors, he doesn’t need to be the alpha dog for Miami. Lowry has already said that he wants the chance to win. He’ll get that in Miami as long as his attitude doesn’t get in the way.

4. Pau Gasol will sign with the Knicks. They don’t have a lot of cap room, but I’m sure they can find a way. It may even include a sign and trade for someone like J.R. Smith. Although he’s said that he would consider a return to the Lakers, I don’t think that he wants to continue to be the talk of trade rumours all the time, which he seems to have been the last few seasons with the Lakers. With the Knicks, Gasol will be reunited with Phil Jackson, Derek Fisher and fellow Spaniard Jose Calderon as they try to recreate a winning team in New York.

5. Chandler Parsons will resign with the Rockets. Not only because I think the Rockets will miss out on the free agents they want, but also because he’s a restricted free agent, meaning they can match any offer to resign him. Parsons is one of the more under rated players in the NBA and is a great fit with the Rockets right now. Plus, I think he’s a much better fit next to Harden and Howard than Melo would be. He’s going to get paid this off season, but he’s worth it.

6. Lance Stephenson will resign with the Pacers. It’s really tough to see anyone other than the Pacers willing to pay the amount of money it will require to get Stephenson. Partly due to the amount he’s supposedly looking for, as well as the fact that he’s not exactly the most mature player. However, he was one of the most improved players in the league last season and provides a lot of energy and toughness on both ends of the court for the Pacers. The Pacers are likely going to make changes to their team this offseason, but I don’t think one of them will be at shooting guard.

7. Dirk Nowitzki will resign with the Mavericks. Obviously, I probably didn’t even need to bother including this one. Dirk is a Mav for life and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

8. Eric Bledsoe will sign with the Lakers. They are a desperate team right now and will probably be willing to make a compelling offer to Bledsoe. The Suns may not want to let him go for nothing, so perhaps a sign and trade deal can be worked out. But I think the Lakers will offer him a contract that is too much for the Suns. Besides, they just drafted Tyler Ennis and have the NBA’s most improved player in Goran Dragic at point guard so they really have no need to keep Bledsoe on the roster.

9. Luol Deng will sign with the Lakers. The Lakers need more of a defensive forward who can also help them to win now with Kobe. Deng provides immediate help while also being young enough to stay with the team in the future. Once the Lakers miss out on the other big names, they will have no choice but to settle on the second-tier players like Deng.

10. Marcin Gortat will sign with the Lakers. For almost the exact same reasons as Deng, except that they need a center to fill out their starting lineup. Gortat, in the right system can be a very effective player as seen in Phoenix and Washington. If the Lakers can find a trade partner for Steve Nash, I think it’s very possible for the Lakers to sign all three of these players and become a playoff team once again.

2014 NBA Draft Recap

Wow. I will say that this was one of the most exciting lead ups to a draft in a very long time in my opinion. Which is odd, considering that up until the day of the draft, the Raptors only had one first round pick and it was all the way down at 20th.

It’s not too often that a team picking with a late first round pick and a couple of second rounders would be so exciting. But to my pleasant surprise, it was.

Not only did all of the hype surrounding this draft class create excitement, but also the last minute scramble for teams to free up cap space made for an interesting week. There were lots of moves and potential moves for teams looking to move up or clear cap room made for an interesting week of NBA rumours.

Can’t wait for the sequel to all of this, the always entertaining “Didn’t sign the big name FA, time to desperately overpay someone else”.

But here’s what I thought of the draft:

Best Picks:

The NBA selecting Isaiah Austin. Sure, it’s not the type of selection that he had originally hoped for. But it was a classy gesture by Adam Silver and the NBA to recognize Austin after being diagnosed with a career ending disease called Marfan syndrome.

Coming into Baylor, Austin was one of the top recruits of the 2012 high school class. He was a legitimate 7-footer with a lot of defensive upside. Remarkably, he even developed a consistent 3-point shot despite being blind in one eye from a previous basketball injury. I was actually hoping that the Raptors might snag him with the 59th pick before the unfortunate news of him broke out.

It serves as a reminder of just how fortunate players are to be able to play in the NBA, no matter which team selects them; I’m looking at you, Zach LaVine. Perhaps he can still be involved in the game in some form, best of luck to him.

#1 Andrew Wiggins. As soon as the news of Embiid’s injury went out, it seems this was the obvious pick to make. Cleveland wants to win now, but they also need the player who had the chance to be the best player down the road and that’s most likely going to be Wiggins.

He now joins fellow Canadians Thompson, Bennett and another Canadian rookie Dwight Powell in Cleveland. For people questioning whether he has the mental toughness to succeed in the NBA…well just remember that is what they also questioned about Andre Drummond and the Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard. While it can be an issue, I think it’s sometimes exaggerated, which hopefully is going to be the case again here.

#2 Jabari Parker. Milwaukee is starting to build a nice core of players. Parker not only helps them immediately, but can also be a legitimate player to build around next to Sanders, Henson, Knight and Antetokounmpo. I expect to see another high pick for the Bucks nest season, but they look very promising right now.

Parker is also from Chicago, which is very close to Milwaukee. Although not the most exciting place in terms of an NBA market, the fact that he’s so close to home might be enough to keep him there over the long haul, which will be great for the Bucks if he turns out to be as good as expected.

#3 Joel Embiid. Many people believe that he has the highest ceiling in this draft class. But the obvious question regarding Embiid will be whether or not can he stay healthy in order to live up to it?

He’s already had two health scares, first with his back and then his foot. It’s a very risky pick, but a healthy front court of Noel and Embiid could be very dominant in the near future and I can’t wait to see them together.

For what it’s worth, while there are players whose careers suffered due to the same injury, but several NBA players have ended up doing just fine. Hopefully that is also the case with Embiid. The 76ers drafted the BPA and drafted for potential. I like that strategy even if it involves having two injured big men.

Also, I am aware that it was due to a delayed response time, but his “reaction” (if you even want to call it one) to being drafted by the 76ers was pretty hilarious.

#6 Marcus Smart. My first thought with this was if he is the potential Rajon Rondo replacement in Boston. Who knows, but I do think that this is a good pick.

I love Smart’s competitiveness and I think he was being underrated considering how much better this draft is than the previous one. He was a contender for the top pick last season until deciding to stay another season in school. Another plus is that he also leads in many of the analytics.

I think he’s a legitimate NBA player, with an NBA ready body. He’s my early pick for Rookie of the Year next season if the Celtics do in fact trade Rajon Rondo.

#7 Julius Randle. The Lakers got an NBA ready player who can come in and help them immediately. Randle has an NBA body and I don’t think he will have much trouble in adjusting to the NBA.

While he may not have that high of an upside in comparison to the other top picks, I think he can be a consistent double-double threat in the NBA. Depending on how the Lakers do in the offseason with regards to their roster, he may have no competition for a spot in the starting lineup.

Randle was another player in this draft who appeared to have an issue with his foot. He claims to be healthy and if that is the case, his name could certainly be in the running for the Rookie of the Year. At this rate, it wouldn’t really surprise me if he ends up winning it, either.

#9 Noah Vonleh. I think Charlotte got a real steal here. This time, I think the Bobcats got it right after passing on Noel and McLemore last season. He should fit in well with the defensive system in place under Steve Clifford.

With him and Jefferson on the front line, they could be a force to be reckoned with. He slipped a lot in the days prior to the draft but I think he has one of the highest upsides for the big men in this draft.

He should come in and immediately help Charlotte contend for a playoff spot once again. I also think he could end up being one of the better players from this draft.

#25 Clint Capela. I think Houston made out really well here considering they had pick number 25.
Due to the Rockets trying to get cap space and the fact that he is still very raw, Capela may not even play in the NBA next season. Even if he does, he’s not ready to contribute on a contending team like the Rockets.

However, considering his upside and the other players who were available, it’s a good gamble to take regardless. He could end up being a steal in a few years after he develops his game, which will likely be overseas.

#26 P.J. Hairston (To Hornets). Charlotte desperately needed to add some shooting to their lineup and they definitely got that in Hairston.

Being dismissed by North Carolina may have actually been a blessing in disguise for Hairston, who put up some solid numbers in the NBA D-League. Hairston may not start for the Hornets, but he should definitely challenge Gerald Henderson for that spot almost immediately. It would not surprise me if he ends up as the full-time starter at some point next season.

He’s NBA ready and is another play that can help get the Hornets back into the playoffs for a second consecutive season.

#30 Kyle Anderson. Well, you could put almost any Spurs pick as a good one. But I really like Anderson’s ability to play multiple positions. He’s a very well-rounded player who can score, rebound and pass the ball, along with a high IQ. In fact, I also wanted the Raptors to take a shot on him due to his unique skill set and potential.

I was convinced that he could be a great NBA player with the right system and he may have found the perfect fit with the Spurs. Simply put, he could end up being the biggest steal of this draft. In fact, I already think that he will be.

If there is anyone that will know how to get the best out of him, it’s probably going to be the Spurs. They also have enough defense around him to hide it, if need be.

Least Favourite Picks:

#8 Nick Stauskas. Unfortunately I don’t think he’s a fit in Sacramento. While I like Stauskas as a prospect, I think it’s essentially Ben McLemore with a lot less upside. I think they will regret not going with Vonleh, who is a better player and actually fills a need.

I think Stauskas has a future in the NBA, I’m just not sure that it’s going to be in Sacramento as long as he’s sharing time with McLemore.

#11 Doug McDermott (to Bulls). He gives the Bulls an immediate presence on a team that should continue to make the playoffs with or without Derrick Rose.

The Bulls need some outside shooting, which McDermott should easily provide, but it’s still anybody’s guess as to how his game will translate to the NBA. Even if the Bulls can figure how to utilize McDermott, his limited upside may not have been the best option to go with here.

I think he can become a good role player on his shooting ability alone, but I’m not convinced that he’s a better prospect than the players they could have had with or without making the trade. Especially Gary Harris, who I think will be a better player and would have been a great pairing next to Jimmy Butler. Even taking Zach LaVine might have been the better gamble here.

That and if the Bulls are actually interested in signing Carmelo Anthony, what use do you have for McDermott there? I can’t really see those two working well, especially if they end up playing on the court together.

#13 Zach LaVine. I’m a LaVine fan and I like the idea of the Wolves drafting for potential. They made a good pick for the future, but still feel as though if the Wolves actually had a shot at retaining Kevin Love, it’s not going to happen by making a pick like this.

While LaVine is said to have one of the highest upsides in the draft, he’s far from being an impact player in the NBA which is what the Wolves needed right away if they wanted any chance of convincing Love to stay. With that said, it’s possible that Love would have still wanted to be traded regardless of who they took.

Additionally, judging by his reaction, you already get the impression that he doesn’t want to be there either. Which is of course no fault to the Wolves, but a reaction like that just adds insult to injury and you can’t help but feel bad for Minnesota.

#15 Adreian Payne.
The Hawks already have Horford and Millsap up front for the time being, so it’s tough to see Payne getting a lot of minutes.

Payne is an athletic big man with the ability to shoot the three which can be an asset in today’s NBA, but he is one of the oldest players in the draft which means there is probably very little upside.

I think they took a little bit of a reach here and they passed on players with more potential which could end up being a mistake. Not to mention, the Hawks already have a very similar player on the bench in Mike Scott.

Potential Second Round Steals:

#31 Damien Inglis
#34 Cleanthony Early
#35 Jarnell Stokes (To Grizzlies)
#38 Spencer Dinwiddie
#39 Jerami Grant
#40 Glenn Robinson III
#44 Markel Brown (To Nets)
#51 Thananis Antetokounmpo