What up world! This EJ and I’m back with another edition of The Blog About Nothing. Last night was the NBA Draft and next week kicks off NBA Free Agency. It’s a great time if you’re a basketball fan. Also, with the World Cup in full swing, and Wimbledon starting in earnest it’s a great time for sports fans. This week’s blog I’ll give a little draft recap, a little free agency talk, and some World Cup stuff. Let’s do this!
With the #1 overall pick the Cleveland Cavaliers selected Andrew Wiggins. When we did our Mock Draft here at 7Poundbag I predicted Wiggins would be the #1 pick because I couldn’t see how the Cavaliers could pass up such an athlete at that spot. I also made that selection before Joel Embiid broke his foot. In Wiggins the Cavs are getting a player that runs the floor well, plays tough nose defense, and can score some. He’s not a killer, in the put 30 points up a night sense, but I’ve seen comparisons to Tracy McGrady with Wiggins and I think those are pretty accurate. I’d slot him in at the 2 guard next to Irving and watch him ball out, but at 6’8″ he’ll likely be a small forward in the NBA, to accomodate an Irving-Waiters backcourt.
Jabari Parker went 2nd overall to the Milwaukee Bucks. I like Parker in the fact that he is pro ready, and I love the fact that he wanted to play in Milwaukee because it’s only 90 miles from his native Chicago, but I have some questions about him in the NBA. Now, Parker is probably going to win Rookie of the Year next season because offensively he is ahead of his draft class as far as he has a great feel for the game, but I wonder about his conditioning. Word is the Bucks are going to play him at power forward, because while Jabari is tall enough at 6’8″, he looks like he’s one good eating binge away from being a real doughy 270 pounds (some reports already put him in the mid 250’s). He’s already an average athlete, so if he can’t watch his nutritional habits he’s going to get abused on the defensive end. Some see Carmelo Anthony in Parker, and I see why they say that because they have similar body types and offensive games, but I don’t think he’s going to have a Carmelo like impact in the NBA. A good player. Far from a great one.
A man that I think will be great was drafted third overall by the Philadelphia 76ers. Joel Embiid is a player I’m all in on. He’s a legit 7 feet, he moves well for a big man, and the fact that the Cameroon native is so raw, he’s able to be molded. The kid wants to learn. His introduction to the game was a DVD of Hakeem Olajuwon’s moves, and it’s clear that he studied Hakeem the Dream well because his game emulates him. On offense Embiid showed at the University of Kansas that he is very fluid, and in workouts before he got hurt he showed that he can play inside and his range stretches out to the 3 point line. If Philadelphia can be patient with his recovery, I’d try to get Embiid to work with Olajuwon to help mold his game even further. I don’t know if Joel will play next season, but when he is ready, he’s going to be a monster. Feel free to disagree with me, but please do remember my words when Embiid is an All-Star.
Now I’m not going to recap the remaining 57 picks but I’m going to highlight some teams that had a good draft. I love what Utah did with taking Dante Exum at #5 and Rodney Hood at #23. Exum is raw and unknown because he played in his native Australia but he’s 6’6″ and by all accounts he can play both the PG and SG position. Pair him with Trey Burke and Utah has a talented young backcourt. Hood proved he can shoot the ball at Duke and gives Utah Gordon Haywood insurance in case the price gets too high for the soon to be restricted free agent. I also loved what Boston did in getting Marcus Smart at #6 and James Young at #17. General Manager Danny Ainge loves collecting assets and he got two more talents to add to a young squad.
Can someone please give Michael Jordan a standing ovation? The Charlotte Hornets owner finally nailed it. I like Noah Vonleh. He might be the same player as Cody Zeller (ironically enough also from Indiana University) in the fact both big men like to play outside-in, but Vonleh has pro potential and Charlotte can be a little patient. P.J. Hairston at #26 would be a risk to most teams but playing in his home state of North Carolina, and playing for a legend (and fellow University of North Carolina alum) in Michael Jordan should be a calming influence on the young man. The shooting guard can score in droves, and that’s what the Hornets need. I should also mention 2nd round pick Semaj Christon from Xavier University. I had the chance to see Christon and Xavier take on St. John’s at the Garden this year, and I came away from that game impressed by Christon. He’s someone I can see sticking on the Hornets roster as a backup combo guard.
Finally, I’m going to show some love to the Los Angeles Lakers. I know I trash the Lakers in these blogs, which is funny considering I’m a Lakers fan (I just have little faith in the direction of the franchise), but I do like drafting Julius Randle at #7. The Lakers had a horrible season, and the majority of their team are free agents who likely won’t be coming back so in getting Randle the Lakers picked up a kid who is ready to play. I’d slot him in at power forward on opening night. I also like the Lakers trading for University of Missouri guard Jordan Clarkson in the second round. Clarkson at 6’5″ could be a PG in the NBA, but he’ll likely be a SG and can be a high energy backup for Kobe. Good draft for the Lakers. See, I can praise them.
I can praise them now, anyway. Not so sure I’ll be so kind if the Lakers strike out in free agency. NBA free agency kicks off on July 1st and once again it is headlined by LeBron James. LeBron has opted out of his deal with the Miami Heat and the Lakers are among his noted suitors. The Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Clippers, and the Chicago Bulls are on the list of suitors to woo LeBron away from the Heat. Carmelo Anthony is also available. Carmelo opted out of his Knicks deal and he’ll likely meet with the same teams interested in LeBron, as well as a few others such as the Dallas Mavericks. LeBron’s Big Three teammates Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade may also opt out. They have until June 30th to make their intentions known. On top of these four names, we’ll see some restricted free agents such as Indiana’s Lance Stephenson, Utah’s Gordon Haywood, Detroit’s Greg Monroe, Phoenix’s Eric Bledsoe, and Sacramento’s Isaiah Thomas on the market. Those guys are restricted so their teams have the right to match any offer made to them. There are several other free agents out there (I’m not going to name them all folks) so there is plenty to keep glued to the TV and Twitter for over the next few weeks.
As far as the big names go, I’m not so certain we’ll see any movement. I don’t think LeBron leaves Miami. For his legacy, it wouldn’t look good if he bailed again in search of a ring, and I think LeBron knows by opting out he is in a position where he could take a little less money in the short term and give the Heat flexibility to rebuild the roster around him. By opting out so early he puts pressure on Bosh and Wade to do the same, so the Big Three can get their reinforcements. I also don’t think any of the restricted free agents leave. Detroit values Monroe, Phoenix would be crazy not to keep Bledsoe at all costs, especially after a season in which they greatly overachieved, Sacramento likes Thomas, and he has been a good player for them, and I think Utah holds on to Haywood. As far as Stephenson goes, I think Indiana keeps him. Should they? No, because he isn’t worth all the drama he seems to attract but the Pacers would be hard pressed to replace him if they let him walk. Lance is a headcase but he’s a walking triple double every time he touches the court.
The only player I think POSSIBLY leaves his team is Carmelo Anthony. The Knicks are trying to keep him and the trade of Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton to the Mavericks for Jose Calderon and others was a good start, but it looks like Carmelo is sincerely intrigued by the opportunity to play with Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose in Chicago. He also shouldn’t count out playing with Dwight Howard and James Harden in Houston, or a possible fit with the Clippers alongside CP3 and Blake Griffin. In any case, there’s a lot to consider here and revisit in next week’s blog. I got a feeling my next few blogs will be full of NBA talk.
The World Cup is about to enter the Round of 16 stage. Starting tomorrow we will be in the knockout rounds, where it’s win and advance. Lose and you go home. In my World Cup previews I gave you my three favorites and I’m happy to say two of them are still alive. Brazil and Argentina both looked shaky in the opening round, but now in the Round of 16 this is the stage where they historically come alive. Brazil plays Chile on Saturday (Columbia plays Uruguay on Saturday as well) and Argentina plays Switzerland on Tuesday (United States plays Belgium on Tuesday as well). The Round of 16 will have two games a day over a period of four days stretching from June 28th to July 1st. I like Brazil and Argentina’s chances at advancing but I will say Chile is a pretty difficult opponent for the host nation to face. A lot of pressure is on Brazil to win a 6th World Cup and Chile is a pretty good attacking side that looks to expose a nervous opponent. That’s a game to keep an eye on. My third favorite was Spain, who despite being defending World Cup champions had a terrible World Cup and shockingly crashed out of the 1st round. La Furia Roja was just a step slow, and the rest of the World caught up to their style of play.
Also in that blog I mentioned my dark horse in Belgium, and the young Belgians have advanced to the Round of 16 where they will play the United States. I glossed over the US briefly in that blog because I didn’t expect the US was going to advance out of their group with Germany, Portugal, and Ghana but here we are. As much as I love the young Belgians, I wouldn’t be all that stunned if the United States beats them on Tuesday. Coach Jurgen Klinsmann might not have thought they were good enough to get this far, but the US play with determination and they know how to capitalize off of the timely break. The second team I just glossed over in that blog was my favorite team to root for: England. The English crashed out of the World Cup in embarassing fashion, but I do like the fact they have some promising young players, and should be a team that can have a good Euro 2016 and World Cup 2018.
After the Round of 16, will come the Quarterfinals, then the Semifinals, and finally the Championship match on July 13th. This is where the game gets intense. There are no more draws, no more conservative play. You may still get a boring game or two (here’s looking at you Costa Rica-Greece and Germany-Algeria) but if you’re a fan that is still on the fence with soccer and the World Cup, now is the time I encourage you to watch. If you can’t be sucked in by the drama, by the determination, and what these games mean to the players and their country, then you can know for sure this game is not for you. If you haven’t tried to sneak away from your desk, or watch it like how I’ve been watching it with the Watch ESPN app and your phone under your desk, then you haven’t bought into World Cup fever. Do yourself a favor: catch it! Love the game baby!! Love it!
I’m know I teased Wimbledon in the intro, but I’m not a big tennis fan anymore. I’ll still watch when Serena Williams play because of dat ass, but I’m not big into the game. If you love tennis, check it out on ESPN, and if you love Serena, just keep your eyes glued to dat ass!!
Thanks for reading. Thanks for supporting www.7poundbag.com and Peace.
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