The NBA Draft is one of my favorite events of the entire calendar year, and although it is still about two months away, I am more excited than ever. A few weeks back I posted up my thoughts on the first lottery picks in the draft with their recent averages from several sites. This week, using what I have learned from other major sites, I will make my first-ever lottery mock draft. I hope you enjoy!
Note: I apologize but this is an incorrect and out-dated draft order from April 1, 2008 when I made my first look at the draft. I hope to do another mock draft just before the lottery sometime next month, and I apologize for the inconvenience.
#1 Sacramento – Blake Griffin, PF, Oklahoma: The Kings need a little bit of everything right now. The only two pieces of their future they have locked up are Kevin Martin and Spencer Hawes, and Griffin is the most sure-thing to come to the NBA in a couple of years. He will be an immediate force, and a perennial All-Star. Jason Thompson was not a smart pick at their spot last season, but Griffin should compensate for that selection by bringing in a dominant presence in the paint. He is smart, humble, and a fierce competitor, and I have a good feeling that with his help, the Kings will not win the Lottery next year.
#2 Washington – Jordan Hill, PF, Arizona: Washington is bringing Flip Saunders to coach up this team in 2009, fresh off a miserable past 2008 season. Gilbert Arenas is still the future, and their goal this off-season should be to develop the youngsters they have, and find a long-term replacement for Antawn Jamison. Hill fits the bill, and although Rubio will be better in the end, he is a solid pick here. With Jamison, Butler, Arenas and Hill, along with healthy contribution from Brendan Haywood, I think Washington should be in the giant mix of competitive Eastern Conference teams next season. Their prime winning seasons are over, but anything less than 30 wins next season should be considered yet another disappointment.
#3 LA Clippers – Ricky Rubio, PG, Spain: Rubio will not fall past the third pick in the Draft no matter what, and could possibly be the first pick if Sacramento does not feel comfortable with Beno Udrih for the next couple years. The Clippers need a go-to player and Rubio should help to make Baron Davis feel a little more pressured next season. A great position for the young Spaniard, as he will be surrounded by a solid supporting cast. Davis struggled this past season with injuries and because of a lack of team focus. Al Thornton and Chris Kaman are the two other strong players for the future, but Rubio, just like Griffin, gives the Clippers a face of the franchise for many years to come.
For more information on this post, please visit http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=10237 to see the explanation behind the numbers. This post serves as a explanation for my conclusion and my entire argument over at WFNY.
These numbers are broken down into four sections, diving into the strength of schedule of the Los Angeles Lakers and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Section 1 breaks down the win-loss record among simple win distribution, and also includes the average differential. Section 2 then goes a step further, breaking down the types of teams that lost to the Lakers, Cavs, both or neither, and analyzing what that shows about the two squads. Next, Section 3 is a new process I created of standardizing the schedules where I looked to show what their win-loss records would be if they only played every single team in the NBA at home one, and on the road once. To top it all off, Section 4 breaks down the win-loss records and differentials of the two teams against playoff and lottery teams in the two conferences.
Section 1: Win-Loss Records
Against common teams with 50+ wins
Lakers 16-6 with diff of +5.77, Cavaliers 12-5 with diff of +5.94
The Cleveland Indians last season finished exactly at 0.500 last year with their 81-81 record, which leaves the unit open to direct comparison to the MLB averages in many different regards. Today’s post will be the first in a series of articles I will write in comparing the Indians production in the 2008 season to registered MLB averages in 2008, and seeing what can change for the Tribe in 2009.
Interestingly, the Indians offensive production tailed down in 2008 for the second consecutive season, only averaging 4.97 runs per game, down from 5.01 in 2007, and 5.37 in 2006. The Indians ranked seventh in run production last season, and were eighth in 2007 and second in 2006. When looking at the run production breakdown for the Indians last season, it is not a surprise to see that we were above average in comparison to the entire league:
The average MLB team in 2008 scored 7+ runs in about 24.6% of their ball games, and had a winning percentage of 0.873 in those games. The Indians, in contrast, scored that many runs in 27.2% of their games but had a lower winning percentage at 0.841.
In 2008, the average scored between 4-6 runs right around the league average of 33.7% of the time. The Indians then made up a lot of ground in this category, having an impressive 0.630 winning percentage in these games compared to the league average of 0.596.
Those people who know me personally understand that the NBA Draft is one of my absolute favorite moments of the entire calendar year. While the Draft is still about two and a half months away, the NCAA Tournament got me thinking about the different players who have helped or hurt their status in terms of the NBA Draft. Along with profiles of these players and detailed descriptions of their statistical strengths and weakness, I also include their current projection for the 2009 and/or the 2010 draft.
Boot Up: Cole Aldrich and Sherron Collins, Kansas – It is a very logical argument as to why these two youngsters are suddenly shooting up draft boards: in 2008 Kansas won the national championship, then six players were drafted, and these two were entrusted with the reign of the program under Coach Bill Self. Kansas won the Big 12 regular season title again this season, and advanced to the Sweet 16 where they lost to the eventual Final 4 representative in Michigan State. Aldrich became the first person since Shaquille O’Neal to put up a triple double with blocks in an NCAA Tournament game, while Collins drew dozens of comparisons to former Chicago native point guard Tim Hardaway. Both will probably wait one more year until they jump to the pros, but at the rate they are progressing, will be guaranteed locks for the lottery when things are all said and done: Aldrich (Top 10 pick in 2010) and Collins (Mid-to-late first rounder in 2010.)
Boot Up: Toney Douglas, Florida State – One of the best players you have never heard of in the country, as Douglas, a senior, won the ACC Defensive Player of the Year award and was a first-team all conference selection. He was the point guard for the improved Seminoles in 2008-2009, but would be under-skilled point guard in the NBA, and at 6-5 could be an ideal shooting guard and perimeter defender in the mold of Delonte West for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Led the ACC in scoring this year as well at 21.46 points per game, and is an above average three-pointer shooter at 37.2% over the last two seasons. The scouts might not be too high on him, but I have a good feeling about his future success in the pros, and think that he could be a real difference maker on a team like Utah, New Orleans or Phoenix if they give him a chance in the second round: Second round to undrafted in 2009.
Boot Up: Connecticut Huskies – The Connecticut Huskies came into this year’s NCAA Tournament as the least likely #1 seed to win the national championship at only 7.07%. Through two games in the tournament, the Huskies without starting junior guard Jerome Dyson and even without Coach Jim Calhoun for one game, managed to erase many of those previous doubts. In the regular season, the Huskies were clearly dominant and one of the best teams in the country, but disappointing big game losses at home against Georgetown and Pittsburgh, in Pittsburgh and in the Big East conference tournament against Syracuse gave Louisville the #1 overall seed in the tournament and in the conference overall. These disappointing affairs and the recent injury of Dyson combined to give the Huskies an only 61.48% chance of even making the Sweet 16.
What a difference a week makes, however, and with their two dominant wins over Chattanooga and Texas A&M, the Huskies are playing some of the best basketball in the nation. Their 36-point margin of victory over the #9 seeded Aggies in the second round was by far and away the biggest margin of victory on either Saturday or Sunday, with Villanova’s 20-point win over UCLA coming in second place. In addition, in their victory over the #16 seed Southern Conference champion Chattanooga Mocs, the Huskies went on a mind-blowing fourteen and a half minute, 46-5 run after a relatively slow start to the game. In post-season play, including their loss to Syracuse, they are averaging a victory of the margin of 84.67 to 64.00 per forty minutes of play.
One huge reason why Connecticut is doing so much better recently is the improved all-around play of junior forward Stanley Robinson since the loss of Dyson. Before Dyson’s injury, for the entire season the 6-9 Robinson was averaging 13.40 points and 9.16 rebounds per 40 minutes of play and received 19.63 minutes of playing time per game. In his last nine games, Robinson is now average 16.00 points and 10.71 rebounds per 40 minutes of play and received 31.11 minutes of playing time per game. The Huskies already have three potential NBA players in 7-3 junior center Hasheem Thabeet, 6-7 senior forward Jeff Adrien and 6-2 senior guard A.J. Price, and the emergence of Robinson has made them a very, very dangerous team. Their odds of winning the championship are now 10.34%, making them a more likely national champion than the much more popular picks of Pittsburgh and North Carolina.
Boot Up: Cleveland Cavaliers in the East – Do you remember Christmas Day 2008? Hard to imagine that it was already three months ago already, but this day will go down in history for a very special reason in the NBA. With a constant year and a half stranglehold on the entire NBA, the 27-2 Boston Celtics came into the Staples Center in Los Angeles to take on the 23-5 Lakers. Meanwhile in Cleveland, the 24-4 Cavaliers had the extreme pleasure of hosting their former rivals, the 4-22 Washington Wizards. As the story goes, the Lakers hold on to beat the Celtics by nine, the Cavaliers survive an incredibly ugly game to win by four, and the season continues unsuspectingly. Shockingly and pretty much without warning, the Boston Celtics began their downfall on this very day, and including this loss in Los Angeles are now an unimpressive 27-16 in their last 43 games.
Most Likely Sub-10 Seeds to win in the first round: On average over the 24-year history of the 64-team NCAA Tournament, there have been 4.17 teams with a seed of 11-16 in the second round. Just last year, #12 seeds Villanova and Western Kentucky advanced to the Sweet 16, while #13’s Siena and San Diego along with #11 Kansas State all moved to the second round. Looking at the tournament this season, who are the most likely teams to pull off a significant upset?
East #12 Wisconsin versus #5 Florida State – It might be hard to bet against ACC Defensive Player of the Year Toney Douglas, but according to the numbers, this game is actually a toss-up. Neither team really has a significant advantage in any regard thus Wisconsin should be able to effectively slow down the pace of the game (they have the 334 fastest pace with 59.9 possessions per 40 minutes. CHANCE OF UPSET: 49.02%
Midwest #12 Arizona versus #5 Utah – Arizona may have been the last team into the field of 65, but it certainly looks like they have a decent chance of upsetting the Mountain West champions out in Miami. Arizona has the #7 offensive efficiency in the nation, according to Ken Pomeroy, and when future lottery picks Jordan Hill and Chase Budinger are both on the court they are a dangerous team. CHANCE OF UPSET: 42.97%
West #11 Utah State versus #6 Marquette – CHANCE OF UPSET: 42.75%
South #11 Temple versus #6 Arizona State – CHANCE OF UPSET: 36.62%
West #13 Mississippi State versus #4 Washington – CHANCE OF UPSET: 33.05%
East #11 Virginia Commonwealth versus #6 UCLA – CHANCE OF UPSET: 31.62%
Midwest #13 Cleveland State versus #4 Wake Forest – CHANCE OF UPSET: 31.15%
Midwest #11 Dayton versus #6 West Virginia – CHANCE OF UPSET: 29.25%
West #12 Northern Iowa versus #5 Purdue – CHANCE OF UPSET: 29.20%
Midwest #14 North Dakota State versus #3 Kansas – CHANCE OF UPSET: 28.06%
The definite locks for the Sweet 16: Last season, for the first time in NCAA Tournament history, all four #1 seeds advanced to the Final 4 (National Semifinals). This season, every single bracket projection agreed upon a consensus top eight teams in the country, and all time on average, only six of the top eight seeds advance to the Sweet 16 every year. In addition, approximately 9.7 of the top 16 seeds advance to the Regional Semifinals, while last season 6 of the top 8 seeds and 11 of the top 16 advanced to the Sweet 16. Which are the most likely top seeds to advance past the first weekend?
Midwest #1 Louisville – The overall #1 seed in the entire tournament is the regular season and tournament champion from the Big East. Louisville averaged a scoring margin of 12.6 throughout the season, a very impressive feat considering they played the #11 strength of schedule according to the RPI, and the #19 according to Ken Pomeroy. The Cardinals still have to be careful however, as five times in the last nine years the Big East tournament champion has failed to make it past the first weekend. CHANCE OF MAKING SWEET SIXTEEN: 67.46%
Here is my final listing of teams that have already punched their ticket to the NCAA tournaments, along with possible at-large selections on today, Selection Sunday. To find my definition of the “lower” and “upper” mid-major conferences, check out my article from last week breaking down the possible teams that could make the tournament:
Big Games to watch on Selection Sunday, March 15:
Lower Mid-Majors (semifinals or championship)
Southland Championship @ Katy, TX – #6 Texas San Antonio vs. #1 Stephen F. Austin
Game 7: No. 6 Texas San Antonio vs. No. 1 Stephen F. Austin, ESPN2, 1 p.m.
Majors (all games)
ACC Championship @ Atlanta, GA – #4 Florida State vs. #3 Duke
Game 11: No. 4 Florida State vs. No. 3 Duke, ESPN, 1 p.m.
Big Ten Championship @ Indianapolis, IN – #5 Ohio State vs. #3 Purdue
Game 10: No. 5 Ohio State vs. No. 3 Purdue, 3:30 p.m.
SEC Championship @ Tampa, FL – West #3 Mississippi State vs. East #1 Tennessee
Game 11: W3 Mississippi State vs. E1 Tennessee, 1 p.m.
Boot Up: Here comes Joe Smith – After weeks upon weeks of rumors, it appears that forward Joe Smith is finally coming to the Cleveland Cavaliers. The 6-foot-10 former first round pick out of the University of Maryland signed with the Cavaliers Wednesday morning, and will be able to play in the big game in Boston on Friday night. While many different blogs and reporters across the Northeast Ohio area have praised the return of Smith, a steady 33-year-old veteran presence in the locker room, I warn them of thinking too much about the fourteen-year NBA pro.
Sure, the Cavaliers have had problems defending the paint against teams such as the Los Angeles Lakers and the Miami Heat this season, but they are still #7 in the NBA in points in the paint allowed per game. The Cavaliers are only #23 in the league in points scored in the paint per game, according to TeamRankings.com, but that sort of happens when you have two top perimeter guards starting every single game. An odd fact, however, is that the Cavaliers have the #13 best points in the paint differential at home, while they are #20 on the road. This relates to an article I wrote recently on how LeBron James tends to be more productive at home, as he usually looks to drive it to the basket more often than not.
Joe Smith will continue to be a decent player, as he has averaged at least 17.36 points and 9.65 rebounds per 48 minutes in every single season of his career. Last season, in which he spent his final 27 regular season games with the Cavaliers, was one of his finest of his career on a per-minute basis. He averaged 21.64 points and 11.15 rebounds per 48 minutes, and advanced past the first round of the playoffs for the first time in his career. He is not by any means a legitimate starting post presence for one of the best teams in the NBA, but he is a very good fit for the team for the remainder of this season. I will certainly cheer for him to do well in Cleveland, but I do not think this automatically makes us the favorites, nor does it make us a very different ball club.
Disclaimer: The rankings used in this report are the same as my most recent report on Dayton’s chances in making the NCAA Tournament. In addition, the mid-major rankings highlighted here in the beginning are a more recent update of the same ranking formula I used in last week’s post. If you have any questions at all regarding my analysis or rankings, please feel free to e-mail me back. All statistics, records and rankings are current as of the games played on Sunday, March 1, 2009.
There were a few things left unsaid in my post last week about the relation between the Dayton Flyers and the rest of the mid-major at-large possibilities. Thus, here is an updated and vamped up rendition of an e-mail reply I sent to my father the day after my Dayton report:
As much as Dayton can control their own destiny with their important games coming up, I did not mention how much luck will factor in to this. For example, if UAB pulls off the upset of Memphis in the C-USA tournament, or a team other than Utah, BYU or San Diego State wins the Mountain West tournament, then Dayton could find themselves outside of the at-large field no matter what. Here is a list of the mid-major conferences in order of likelihood for producing a mid-major at-large bid in the NCAA Tournament:
#1 M-West: 3 Brigham Young (21-6 overall, 10-4), 4 Utah (20-7, 11-3), 9 San Diego State (17-8, 9-5), 11 UNLV (20-8, 8-6) and 12 New Mexico (19-10, 10-4)
Disclaimer: In my information about past mid-major at-large teams, I include their record and RPI ranking in the week before Selection Sunday. As a guide for my readers, here is a list of the college basketball rating Web sites that I use in this article:
With only four games remaining in the Atlantic-10 schedule for the Dayton Flyers, I thought it was about time that I wrote a detailed description of how they can possibly advance to the NCAA Tournament in just a few weeks here. Dayton currently sits at #30 in the AP rankings, with a 23-4 overall record, 9-3 in conference play. They had been #25 in this ranking last week, before a surprising loss at Saint Louis brought them back to the “receiving extra votes” category. They have been a good team throughout the season thus far, but these losses to Creighton, Massachusetts, Charlotte and now Saint Louis in the first 27 games could be the main reasons why the NCAA Selection Committee chooses not to include Dayton.
Dayton faces the toughest remaining schedule of any team in the Atlantic-10. They schedule includes a road date with Rhode Island on Wednesday night, a visit from Temple on Saturday, before finishing up with a road trip to Xavier next Thursday and the season finale at UD Arena against Duquesne. In order to understand how difficult these last four games will be, here is a look at the current A-10 standings:
This all started when I returned to campus on Sunday evening, and over-heard an argument with my friends Dave and Vishnu from across the hall about who is the best scorer in NBA history. Vishnu, our resident Lakers/Blazers/Western Conference fan, argued that Kobe Bryant is the best scorer in NBA history because of his current ability to score whenever he wants to from any position on the basketball court. One example of Bryant’s work is that sick (no pun intended) fade-away jump shot he hit over LeBron James in the Lakers versus Cavaliers game two weeks ago. However, as many of you loyal readers know, I have never been a huge fan of Kobe Bryant’s, and I argued that any answer other than Michael Jordan is simply ludicrous. Now here are the numbers to back that statement up:
Let me begin with Kobe Bryant’s career numbers. He is currently in his thirteenth season in the NBA, and over these thirteen seasons Mr. 24 (formerly Mr. 8) has averaged 25.1 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.6 assists in 36.5 minutes a night. He has now appeared in eleven All-Star Games (including one his sophomore season when he averaged only 15.4 points in 26.0 minutes off the bench) and has been on the first or second team All-NBA eight times in his career. Assuming he continues his recent play over the next few years, he is a sure-fire Hall of Famer, who finally won the Most Valuable Player award for the very first time last season:
Kobe Bryant = 918 Games Played and he turned 18 in August just before rookie season (1996-1997)
Over 60+ = 5 (0.54%)
Over 50+ = 24 (2.61%)
Over 40+ = 95 (10.35%)
Over 30+ = 298 (32.46%)
Over 25+ = 474 (51.63%)
Over 20+ = 633 (68.95%)
Boot Up: The Phenomenon of Lamar Odom – I am sorry to bring up this sore subject fellow Cleveland fans, but I was actually planning on writing an article about the 30-year-old Odom days and even weeks before he blew up for 28-points and 17-rebounds in the Lakers victory in Cleveland on Sunday. The main reason for this potential article was that I saw a mention on ESPN recently, that Odom is a free agent and it seems like the Los Angeles Lakers are already thinking about moving on without him. Here are the exact words from Chad Ford:
“Odom will be one of the most coveted free agents on the open market. Phil Jackson likes him, but with Kobe, Bynum and Pau Gasol on the roster, the Lakers don’t need him and might explore trades for him in the coming months. Odom’s penchant for disappearing in big moments (see: 2008 NBA Finals) hasn’t helped his rep in L.A. But he is a great team guy, he can rebound the ball, he can initiate the offense and he doesn’t need the ball to be effective. If he doesn’t stick in L.A., there will be a line of teams waiting to snatch him up.”
Sure, this article is from September and there have been several more ESPN articles about the free agent class of 2009 since that date, it is interesting to ponder the possibilities. Now with Andrew Bynum theoretically out for the rest of the regular season, it seems like the Lakers will probably hold on to Odom for at least the rest of this year, yet Bynum is a big reason why he might not be back next year. In this past off-season, Andrew Bynum signed a massive contract extension with the team that just comes into effect next season. This means that while the Lakers do indeed have over $17 million in expiring contracts, they will still be well over the expected salary cap of about $61 million. Thus the only logical way for the Lakers to re-sign Odom, even though he is their own free agent, is to give him their mid-level-exception, something I would expect Odom to pass down.
Now on to the exact reasons why this article caught my eye, and why, especially after Sunday’s performance, I believe Lamar Odom could still be an All-Star in the NBA. As evidenced on Sunday, Lamar Odom is one of the best scoring threats next to the basket in the NBA. Below this article, I point out how LeBron James shot about 65% from the basket from 2004-2008, and Lamar Odom was pretty close to him last season shooting about 62.2% at that spot on the court. This year his paint numbers down a little bit because of the health of Andrew Bynum (up until recently that is). In addition, in Odom’s career he has never averaged less than 8.46 rebounds and 17.57 points per 48 minutes. In the past five years in Los Angeles, he has averaged about 18.54 points, 5.39 assists, 12.31 rebounds and an efficiency shooting percentage of 1.039 despite never being the premier scoring option on the court behind Bryant, Gasol and recently Bynum.