Tag Archives: Julius Randle

The Lakers’ Major League Collapse

Movie quotes are a form of friendship identification for me. If I spout off a line from “Tommy Boy” and you have no idea what I am talking about, we have to re-evaluate the grounds of our relationship. The sports movie that I most quote is a comedic classic with top-notch actors and great plot. “Major League” is the comedic sports movie EVERY person should watch when able. It has everything. Loveable losers, villainous owners and hijinks abound make this a great watch any time (only on channels allowing swearing, the PG version is lame). There is a team in the NBA that reminds me of the lovable Cleveland Indians of “Major League”, but without the winning. The LA Lakers are going nowhere fast and have a cast of characters worthy of a movie script. The line from “Major League” that pops into my mind when thinking of the Lakers this season is “a bunch of has-beens and never was.” This describes the Lakers roster minus a couple players. Let me break down this analysis cast member by cast member.

Kobe Bryant as Jake Taylor
Jake is the older, injured catcher leading a team with emotion and smarts. He solves problems in the clubhouse no coach or admin wants to touch. Kobe is the older, injured leader of the Lakers. Both Kobe and Jake’s bodies are falling apart and they are ready to walk away from the game. Kobe is trying to have fun with a young team and lead them while not wanting to kill everyone for not being better. The flaw in this comparison is everyone likes Jake.

Jordan Clarkson as Ricky “Wild Thing” Vaughn
Ricky is a raw talent. He has control issues and doesn’t always fit in. His talent needs guidance and when he gets it he is a true star. Jordan Clarkson is a second round pick (by the Wizards) that flashed stardom last year and was named first team all-rookie. Despite his rookie year success Jordan doesn’t fit in with this team. The Indians featured Ricky the next year, the Lakers are pushing Kobe and Deangelo Russell combo. This could be a huge mistake for the Lakers moving forward.

Roy Hibbert as Roger Dorn
Roger Dorn is a veteran third baseman with an inflated sense of self. He is also deathly scared of using his body to make a play at third. A fear he conquers and becomes a valuable asset and cornerstone to winning. Roy Hibbert is a veteran big man with an inflated sense of self and fear of getting dirty in the post. He is the tallest player on the court most days and isn’t even the rebounding leader on his own team (Julius Randle has him beat by nearly 3.5 rebounds per game). Similar to Dorn, if Hibbert can learn to clang and bang on the inside he would be a valuable part of the Lakers and their rebuilding.

Julius Randle as Pedro Cerrano
Pedro Cerrano is the hot-headed power hitter with a hole in his swing. He can only hit the fastball and looks to everything from Jesus, voodoo and golf head covers to help. When he figures out the solution to his deficiency is in him he becomes the terror the Indians need. Julius Randle is not a one trick pony like Pedro is, but he hasn’t figured out pacing, team basketball or how to fit in quite yet. Julius was taken out of a game recently (after 16 minutes of total playing time) and was not a fan. This led his coach, Byron Scott to say, “He’s got to grow up. Simple as that. I think the main thing I don’t like is when you take him out of games, how he reacts sometimes. I chalk it up to immaturity and just being inexperienced in this level. It’s going to happen again. I’m going to take him out of other games that he’s not going to like.” Similar to Pedro, Julius can be the terror they need. He has the talent and the aggressiveness Hibbert is missing. He just needs to understand his role and the solution is in him.

Jim Buss as Rachel Phelps
Rachel Phelps is the owner of the Indians. She wants to move them to Florida and tries to sabotage the team so they lose value and must move. The team rallies around her plan and wins despite her. Jim Buss is in charge of basketball operations for the Lakers. He doesn’t want the Lakers to move, he isn’t purposely putting a poor product on the court and the team is definitely not rallying despite him. He is the person in charge of this group of has-beens and never-was and that is a good enough reason to cast him in this role. “Major League” is a great movie. It is funny, exciting and lively. The Lakers are…not any of these things and if they don’t land a free agent to pull them out of their current state the sequel will not be worth watching.

Cleveland Cavaliers explore trading Waiters and Thompson for additional lottery pick

Since the Cleveland Cavaliers inexplicably won the NBA draft lottery on May 20th, there has been rampant speculation about what the Cleveland Cavaliers plan to do with the number one overall pick. The obvious option would be keeping it and selecting Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid or Jabari Parker. Another option that has gained traction recently is trading the pick for a proven, All-Star caliber veteran to help expedite the Cavs rebuilding process. Some of the names that have been thrown out are Kevin Love, Marc Gasol, LaMarcus Aldridge, Joakim Noah, Al Horford and Zach Randolph. All of these players would obviously exponentially help the Cavs win next season and in the near future, but are any of them worth relinquishing the number one pick in this draft for? Straight up, I’d say no.

I would love to have any of those players to pair with Kyrie Irving and to help the Cavs make a playoff run next season, but I can’t say that would be better than pairing Irving and Embiid/Wiggins for the next 5+ years. Having that pair grow together and actually building a competent team around them that fits together seems like the better option.

One trade report that did catch my attention, however, was a scenario that involved trading Dion Waiters and Tristan Thompson for a lottery pick in this year’s draft. Fox Sports Ohio’s Sam Amico first reported it this week.

via @SamAmicoFSO

Now, it’s a general report and he mentions that it’s just exploratory for the Cavs right now, but this has some enticing potential depending on which team it’s with. It’s also unclear whether that team is targeting the Cavs’ number one pick in that deal or just Waiters and Thompson. If it’s the latter, there are some interesting options there.

Tristan Thompson and Dion Waiters in trade talks, via Fansided.com
Tristan Thompson and Dion Waiters in trade talks, via Fansided.com

First of all, I don’t think the Cavs do this deal unless it’s the 8th pick or higher. While Waiters and Thompson still have some serious improvements to make, they were both 4th overall picks (2011, 2012) and should have more value than a 9th-14th pick. Also, if I were giving up Waiters and Thompson, I’d want to try to pair Julius Randle and Embiid or Noah Vonleh and Wiggins. In order to secure Randle, the Cavs would likely have to make this deal with the Utah Jazz for the fifth pick. In order to secure Vonleh, the Cavs would probably need the sixth or seventh pick from the Boston Celtics or Los Angeles Lakers. If they are unable to obtain those picks, they could look at targeting Aaron Gordon with the 8th pick as well.

 

As enticing as a lineup of Irving–Miles(re-signed)–Wiggins–Bennett(?)–Vonleh/Varejao/Hawes or Irving–Miles–(free agent)–Randle–Embiid is, that would be adding even more youth to an already young core. The positive is that it would allow that talented, young core to grow together over the next 5+ years and become very competitive. Unfortunately, Dan Gilbert has a reputation for putting a “win now” label on the Cavs and it’s doubtful he’d be on board with this direction.

Which brings me to the more likely scenario to happen if this rumored deal goes down. If the Cavs are able to trade Waiters and Thompson for a pick in the 5-10 range, then they could start exploring trades for that pick in order to bring in a veteran. There’s no doubt that the Celtics and Lakers are exploring the same types of trades with their picks (6 and 7), so the Cavs would be able to use a similar lottery pick, and assets, to open up their options.

It’s a little silly to speculate whom the Cavs would target with an additional lottery pick with so much still up in the air. It’s also hard to see a team giving up their lottery pick for Waiters and Thompson right now. If the Cavs are able to make this trade though, they will likely be adding either Embiid or Wiggins, a veteran player through this trade and then signing a veteran player through free agency.

With three weeks to go until the NBA draft, the Cavs have a lot of tough decisions to make. They still need to hire a coach, decide whom to draft with the number one overall pick and make a decision on which players they will be re-signing or trading. Then, after the draft, the Cavs and Irving will decide on an extension and the Cavs will attempt to improve the roster through free agency.

With so many variables for the Cavs to consider and so much still up in the air, one thing is for certain: the Cavs roster should look noticeably different on opening night.

Cleveland Cavaliers Win Lottery, Again

There is no roller coaster ride better than Cleveland sports. For proof of this, look at what’s happened in the month of May alone. The Cleveland Browns had an exciting first round of the NFL draft, landing two top prospects and a future first round pick in 2015. This was followed by news that star receiver Josh Gordon reportedly failed another drug test and is on the verge of a potential indefinite suspension from the NFL. The Cleveland Indians, who’ve been up and down all year long, started to look like they were getting things together only to be swept by the Oakland Athletics while being outscored 30-6 in the series. They followed that up by winning a three game series with the Detroit Tigers, baseball’s best team record-wise. The Cleveland Cavaliers fired their head coach (Mike Brown) following a disappointing season and only had a 1.7% chance of landing the number one overall pick in the draft. Around 8:30pm yesterday evening it was announced that the Cleveland Cavaliers won the draft lottery – giving them the number one overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. This is the third time in four years the Cavs will be drafting number one overall, and unlike previous years there appears to be much more talent at the top of this year’s draft class. Here is a quick look at what the Cavs might do with pick number one, in no particular order.

Andrew Wiggins – SF Kansas

WigginsAndrew Wiggins was thought of by many as the preseason number one overall pick, and for good reason. Wiggins is extremely athletic. He runs the floor smoothly and he can jump, reportedly posting a 44” vertical at the NBA Scouting Combine. Wiggins measures in at 6’8” and right around 200 pounds. While he may be a little light he has a good frame to add some bulk. He has the potential to be a very good two-way player in the NBA because of his quickness, length and athleticism, but he does have some limitations. His ball handling skills are basic and he can struggle to create his own shot at times because of this. During the season questions also arose about his mental toughness and whether he was consistently aggressive enough to play the NBA game. Still, his athleticism is nearly impossible to ignore. Last season for Kansas, Wiggins averaged 17.1 points per game to go along with 5.9 rebounds. He posted a 44.8 FG% and shot 34.1% from behind the three point arc.

Jabari Parker – SF/PF Duke

ParkerPhysically, Jabari Parker is similar to Wiggins in that they are both 6’8” and have a 7’ wingspan. The most noticeable difference however is that Parker weighs in at 240 pounds, giving him a considerable size advantage for a small forward (which is what he projects as in the NBA). Parker may not be as athletic as Wiggins but that doesn’t mean he isn’t equally as worthy of the top pick. Parker is a very good scorer and because of his size and shooting ability can score from anywhere on the floor. He is also a strong rebounder and players very well in transition. He attacks the basket and can finish around the rim. Because he lacks great athleticism he can struggle on the defensive end of the floor. Laterally he doesn’t move that fast and he isn’t as explosive as an Andrew Wiggins. Parker does have a strong work ethic and could possibly develop into a solid NBA defender, but he will never be successful if he has to guard the opponent’s best offensive player. Some scouts do think of him as a “tweener” as he may not be big enough to regularly play power forward and might not be quick/athletic enough to regularly play the small forward position. Others compare him to Paul Pierce, who isn’t considered very athletic. Last year at Duke, Parker averaged 19.1 points and 8.7 rebounds per game. He shot 47.3% from the floor and 35.8% from three point distance.

Joel Embiid – C Kansas

EmbiidTo get it out of the way early, most of Joel Embiid’s weaknesses as a prospect are due to lack of basketball experience. A native of Cameroon (central Africa) Embiid didn’t start playing basketball until 2011, instead playing volleyball and soccer. Embiid is extremely raw, but he is also a very athletic big man who is already showing some talent in his very short basketball career. As you would expect of a former soccer player, Embiid moves and runs the floor very well making him an asset in transition. Because of his size (7’ 250 pounds with a 7’5” wingspan) he is an asset on defense as a rim protector. He also uses his size very well in the low post, bodying up defenders and bothering them with his long arms. Offensively he also shows some talent in the low post. He has utilized multiple moves (drop step, hook shot, up and under) and regularly finishes lop passes with ease. He does need work on both ends of the floor however. Offensively he needs to polish his overall game and be more aware of game situations. Despite his size he could also stand to be a bit more aggressive around the rim. Defensively, he struggles when he is not defending the ball. Embiid needs to learn when to help and not to leave his man open for an easy dunk. There is also the injury concern. He missed several games late in the season with a stress fracture in his back. Andre Drummond has overcome a similar injury but Cavs fans from the late 80s and early 90s will think of Brad Daugherty when it comes to centers with back issues. The question for Cavs GM David Griffin (and other GMs should he not go number one overall) is: are Embiid’s injury concerns worth the risk. Last year at Kansas, Embiid averaged 11.2 points per game to go along with 8.1 rebounds and 2.1 blocks. He posted a 62.6 FG% and shot 68.5% from the free throw line.

Trade the Pick

Oklahoma City Thunder v Minnesota TimberwolvesThe Cavs will undoubtedly explore all of their options with this asset, and one of those options could be a potential trade. Being that Cleveland’s roster already consists of two number one overall picks (Kyrie Irving and Anthony Bennett), and two number four overall picks (Tristan Thompson and Dion Waiters) Griffin and the front office may elect to try and bring in a max deal worthy veteran to add to their young team. Multiple options exist, the most enticing being Minnesota Timberwolves power forward Kevin Love. Love is set to be a free agent at the end of the 2014-15 season and there are no indications he wants to stay in Minnesota. The T’Wolves will have multiple suitors no doubt, but a major factor in any potential deal will revolve around whether or not Love will sign an extension prior to the trade so the Love recipient can avoid a Dwight Howard situation. Other potential trade options are Portland’s LaMarcus Aldridge and Indiana’s Roy Hibbert, both of whom have contracts that expire following the 2014-15 season. Aldridge has been linked to the Cavs before, but he will be 30 when his contract expires, making it difficult to potentially give up the number one overall pick for him. Hibbert is younger but issues with consistency make a trade for him risky as well. The ideal trade situation here is Kevin Love as he is only 25 years old and would in theory pair extremely well with Kyrie Irving. Getting Love would also likely cost the Cavs a young player (Dion Waiters or Tristan Thompson).

The Cavs got very lucky landing the number one overall pick in a draft class that has some very strong talent. The question now is not who is the best player overall. Instead, the Cavs must determine which of these three players is the best fit for their current roster.

NBA Lottery Mock Draft – v.1

The worst NBA regular season in 6 years has finally ended, and I’m glad for that. I’d forgotten what it was like without Kevin Garnett in Boston, and how to root for victories. Thank goodness for Brad Stevens, Rajon Rondo, and the NBA Draft.

Let’s do our first mock draft of the season. For those unfamiliar, the NBA will hold a lottery that ultimately determines the order of the first round. In absence of that having taken place, we’re going to place each team where the odds are they will land and go from there.

I’m going to do the lottery in reverse order to build up an intense amount of drama. I hope you can stand it.

 

14. Phoenix Suns

Jeff Hornacek and the Suns will rip my heart out with the 14th pick in this draft by grabbing Nik Stauskas, the bomb chucker from Michigan, by way of Ontario. The Celtics would be well served by a sizey (if that’s not a word, one of the ESPN guys should start using it on draft night) guard who can shoot the doors off.

The Celtics had better land Rodney Hood at #18.

 

13. Minnesota Timberwolves

This is a complete guess because I think there’s a real chance Minnesota deals Kevin Love and this pick for a deal that includes other picks (and I know almost nothing about NBA basketball in Minnesota), but I’ll go with James Young from Kentucky. Why not.

 

12. Denver Nuggets

Early in the season this looked like it could be a very high pick, and the Knicks looked even dumber than usual. #12 isn’t bad, though. I think Tyler Ennis from Syracuse falls a bit and the Nugs grab him here as a value pick.

 

11. Orlando Magic

Orlando grabs their second pick of the lottery in Denver’s slot here at #11. I don’t want to spoil who they draft at #3, but Zach LaVine here will be their 2nd guard of the night (that’s what they call a “tease”….impressive, right?).

It’s a bit of a value pick, but it’s also imperative that the Magic improve their backcourt. They did a good job getting Victor Oladipo last year, but they need some game changers. LaVine probably won’t be that, but he sure can shoot.

 

10. Philadelphia 76ers

More spoils from Sam Hinkie’s fleecing of the Pelicans. I’ve got Michigan State’s Gary Harris falling to Hinkie here, and that’s a fairly large spoil. Michael Carter-Williams and Gary Harris in the backcourt, Nerlens Noel and this year’s #2 pick in the front court. Cap flexibility and some decent young role players.

I could live in Philly if Boston trades Rajon Rondo.

 

9. Cleveland Cavaliers

Stumbling and bumbling into Doug McDermott is where I see the Cavs going. Their last 2 cornerstone picks have been home run swings in Dion Waiters and Anthony Bennett. I think they overcompensate the other way by drafting the one guy you know exactly what you’re getting – a bench shooter with very few other NBA skills.

Sure, you’ll hear McDermott’s army of fans in the media trumpeting his work ethic and basketball IQ and tireless rebounding effort. It’s the NBA. Unless you’re a coach, that stuff is secondary.

 

8. Detroit Pistons

Julius Randle falls here and the Pistons have to take him, and I suppose they could always trade Greg Monroe or kill Josh Smith to clear a spot next to Andre Drummond. Either way, the Pistons aren’t passing on Randle just to draft McDermott or LaVine. Joe Dumars got fired, remember?

 

7. Sacramento Kings

This is the spot for Noah Vonleh, and it’s a very good thing for the Kings. I think a Vonleh / DeMarcus Cousins frontcourt with an Isaiah Thomas / (maybe) Ben McLemore backcourt is a pretty darn good start.

The problem with Sacramento is finding veteran leadership, and I really wonder whether Shaq and the gang will put an effort behind that.

I LOVE Vonleh. Irrationally.

 

6. LA Lakers

I’ve been nervous for well over a year about the Lakers winning the 2014 lottery. I still am. If they pick where they deserve to pick, here at #6, then I believe Marcus Smart is their man. A tough guard who can defend next to a tough guard who cannot defend anymore is a pretty good haul.

Hopefully Smart is so good that the Lakers go back to where they belong here in the last few years of Kobe Bryant’s boring career – barely scraping into the playoffs and losing in the first round.

 

5. Boston Celtics

Aaron Gordon. I know, I know, the Celtics have some pretty good 4s on the roster already in Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk (they’re not centers; enough of that), but if the draft shakes out the way I think it will, they are going to be looking at choosing between 3 power forwards. I like Gordon’s fit with Rondo better than Randle or Vonleh.

The bonus you get with this pick is that Gordon is one of the least NBA ready guys in the draft. He’s a “finally clicks in year 3” type of guy, and that’s perfect.

Draft Gordon, suck again this year, re-sign Rondo, draft Jahlil Okafor next season, turn that treasure trove of Nets picks into a second level NBA player, and go back to ruling the NBA landscape the way Red intended.

 

4. Utah Jazz

The Church of Latter Day Jazz DESPERATELY wants Jabari Parker, but Orlando sucked just enough to knock them out of the top 3. They’ll take Dante Exum here and……

 

3. Orlando Magic

….trade him and a boatload of future to the Magic for Jabari Parker. And I think the Magic are truly okay with dealing the most NBA ready player in the draft (according to everyone….that’s the schtick to stick to if Parker declares – “he’s NBA ready”. The guy’s a Mormon – I’d say he’s pretty f’ing far from NBA ready).

I don’t think it’s winning time in Orlando yet. They’re still on the ‘suck for picks’ plan, so grabbing Exum and LaVine and shoring up their backcourt for years is just fine with them. They’ll shore up the front court next year at this time because they have a smart GM and a bunch of Utah’s picks.

 

2. Philadelphia 76ers

Speaking of smart GMs, Sam Hinkie’s got his own pick to make now. I see it coming down to Jabari Parker or Joel Embiid, and I think Sam outfoxes himself here. He’ll look long term and see that a front court of Nerlens Noel and Joel Embiid will be almost impossible to score on, and he’ll see that guys like LeBron James will hesitate to drive the lane.

He’ll also think that Anthony Davis and Kevin Durant will be the dominant forces in the league once his team comes of age, and he’ll know that length is the only thing that can really bother those guys.

What he won’t see is the chance to take a real NBA player in Jabari Parker vs. an NBA dream in Joel Embiid. Embiid may be amazing someday, but this is the pick the entire 76ers franchise depends on. Do it right, and you’re a perennial contender. Do it wrong, and you’re just the last guy in a long line who tried to make a Twin Towers Plan work.

He gets it wrong and grabs Embiid.

 

1. Milwaukee Bucks 

Andrew Wiggins to the freaking Milwaukee Bucks. He doesn’t fit a need, seeing as they drafted Giannis Antetokounmpo last year, but he’s the best player in the draft by almost every account.

Thanks Bucks. It’ll be great to see the guy we’ve been talking about for years go to a team where he has competition for his spot and gets to play with O.J. Mayo and Larry Sanders.

But they deserve the pick. The wire to wire winner of Suckfest 2014 is John Hammond. Yeah.

 

Thank you for reading.