Thursday, June 27, 2013

2013 NBA Draft Commentary

In a decision to re-open the doors to the Gamepoint Blog, I decided to do a live commentary on each of the selections of the first round. Hope you enjoy, and welcome back.


#1 - Cleveland selects Anthony Bennett (UNLV) 
 Social media explodes. Canada makes history here as Bennett becomes the first Canadian to go number one in the NBA Draft, making way for Wiggins to make it two in a row next year. To say this was unexpected would be an understatement. I'm not sure where he fits on this team as Bennett plays best as a stretch 4. Unfortunately, his Canadian teammate Tristan Thompson also plays best at the PF position. This team needs a shot blocking big, but maybe they will try to emulate the small ball that was all the rage during the finals. Either way, the Cavs could have also traded down...

GRADE: C+

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#2 - Orlando selects Victor Oladipo (Indiana) 
Oladipo becomes NBA's version of Mr. Irrelevant - at least outside of Orlando - as the Internet is still buzzing about the Bennett pick.

GRADE: A-

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#3 - Washington selects Otto Porter Jr. (Georgetown) 
Thought Noel would go here, but instead, they get Wall a running mate in one of the more versatile players in the draft. Good size and length will give him the tools to become a solid 2 way player. Coachable and forms a nice trio with Wall and Beal. Meanwhile, Shane Battier wowing me with his montone reporting skills.

GRADE: B+

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#4 - Charlotte selects Cody Zeller (Indiana) 
The best of the Zeller brothers finally makes his way into the NBA. Charlotte gets a legit big man who runs with the best of them, and has an array of post moves that will get him by in the NBA. He won't block a lot of shots, but he'll rotate nicely and can quarterback a defense. Will need to gain some weight and arguably some better long term prospects on the board, but solid pick for the Bobcats.

GRADE: B-

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#5 - Phoenix selects Alex Len (Maryland)
 If I didn't have glasses or contacts on, and the volume was down, I would have thought the Suns had selected Jonas Valanciunas. "Victory baby" for the Suns.

GRADE: B+

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#6 - New Orleans selects Nerlens Noel (Kentucky)
And that sound you hear is a massive army of Kentucky Wildcats fans jumping onto the Pelicans bandwagon. You've got the eyebrow and the flat top patrolling the paint in New Orleans for years to come. Still worrying about the overall combined weight of their 4 and 5.

UPDATE: The Pelicans traded Noel and a 2014 first round pick for Jrue Holliday. New Orleans gets an all-star point guard for question mark in Noel and what they hope is a high lottery pick in 2014. Solid trade.

GRADE: A

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#7 - Sacramento selects Ben McLemore (Kansas)

This guy has a Ray Allen stroke, but he's walking into the circus that is the Sacramento Kings. But if Cousins can be convinced they have something worth building, then I love the 1-2 punch B-Mac and Demarcus can form. Also, Ben is the perfect player to play next to Tyreke.

GRADE: A

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#8 - Detroit selects Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (Georgia)

KCP in Detroit, MKG in Detroit, and Machine Gun Kelly with Bad Boy Records. Three letter initials are all the rage right now, and Detroit gets the second best one in the draft, but the best one for their team. Michael Carter-Williams (MCW) should be taken off the board soon.

GRADE: B-

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#9 - Minnesota selects Trey Burke (Michigan)

Twitter rumours have Trey Burke being moved, but if he stays here, this is a decent pick for the Wolves. Burke is probably the most dynamic point guard in the draft, but it doesn't get anymore dynamic than Ricky Rubio. Either way, he can play the 2 guard and is also an asset moving forward.

GRADE: B+

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#10 - Portland selects C.J. McCollum (Lehigh)

Honestly, Portland must be thrilled that McCollum falls to them, this guy can light it up in a hurry. And I know the Blazers are going to be a headache to deal with on the perimeter with CJ and Lillard out there. Now if they can convince Aldridge to stay.

GRADE: A

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#11 - Philadelphia selects Michael Carter-Williams (Syracuse)

I'm biased because I had Syracuse winning my March Madness pool, and MCW played very well during the tournament. A lot will be made of his size, which is probably his biggest strength, but if he can add strength, I can see him posing a lot of mismatch opportunities for Philly. And with Jrue being traded, this is a solid pick.

GRADE: B

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#12 - Oklahoma selects Steven Adams (Pittsburgh)

With players who've had more of a media spotlight like Shabazz and Olynyk still on the board, the Thunder use our Raptors pick to take Adams, a true 5 who can rebound and block shots. And honestly, that's what the Thunder need, considering Perkins has been a shell of his former self and the other pure scorers they were hoping would fall have already been taken.

GRADE: B+

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#13 - Dallas selects Kelly Olynyk (Gonzaga)

Second Canadian off the board, looks like he'll be traded to the Boston Celtics. Very efficient, and best case scenario, he becomes the Canadian version of Luis Scola with some extended range. Dallas does this trade in their pursuit of Dwight Howard.

GRADE: B

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#14 - Utah selects Shabazz Muhammad (UCLA)

Word is he's being taken for a swap with Minnesotta for Trey Burke. I haven't seen a prospect fall from grace like Shabazz has since his first Ball Is Life video came out. Either way, he fits better with the Wolves than Trey Burke does, and Burke is perfect for Utah.

GRADE: B

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#15 - Milwaukee selects Giannis Antetokounmpo

Honestly, this was the guy I was hoping the Raps would take. There's a lot of bust potential there, but he also has an extremely high ceiling. And at this point of the draft and with who's left on the board, you have to go big or go home.

GRADE: A-

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#16 - Boston selects Lucas Nogueira

This is apparently for Dallas, but whatever team keeps him gets a shot blocking 7 footer. Not sure how I feel about him as a prospect, but you can never have too many trees. This guy's hair though.

GRADE: C+

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#17 - Atlanta selects Dennis Schroeder (Germany)

This is a sexy pick. Huge potential and has drawn Rondo comparisons ever since people took note of his dynamic play style. He's got that Wiz Khalifa blonde patch going on too, the hair game in this year's draft is on point.

GRADE: A-

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#18 Atlanta selects Shane Larkin (Miami)

The Hawks pretend this is their own 2K Association mode with back-to-back picks. Apparently the selection was made for Dallas, which means Larkin's fate will be unknown for most of the night. At this point, Shane Battier continues to make me feel uncomfortable.

GRADE: B-

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#19 - Cleveland selects Sergey Karasev (Russia)

A lot of people expected this guy to go much earlier, so a solid pick here at the 19th slot. Can't have enough shooters to go around Kyrie. Now go catch your flight.

GRADE: B

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#20 - Chicago selects Tony Snell (New Mexico)

For the 20th pick, I got a friend and college peer of mine to contribute. "Joshua Santos", an NBA writer for Fansided and Pippen Ain't Easy.

"This came as a shock as most pundits thought the Bulls would select either Michigan's Tim Hardaway Jr., Louisville's Gorgui Dieng, or California's Allen Crabee. With the Bulls needing somebody to provide that extra shooting to compliment Derrick Rose, since Richard Hamilton was unable to do that, the word on the street is Snell is a great individual defender and shooter who could create his own shots. His weakness however is rebounding. Nonetheless the Bulls filled a need here.

GRADE: B

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#21 - Utah selects Gorgui Dieng (Louisville)

This pick is being made for the Wolves in the Trey Burke deal, and I think Minnesota is making out quite nicely in this year's draft. Even if Love doesn't stay long term, they now have a trio of Rubio, Shabazz, and Dieng. I envisioned Miami hoping this guy would fall to them.

GRADE: A-

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#22 - Brooklyn selects Mason Plumlee (Duke)

If the Garnett-Pierce acquisitions follow through, then Mason Plumlee is walking into an ideal situation where he'll be surrounded by vets who know how to win. Solid finisher and decent athlete. Lopez and Plumlee should provide the Nets with shotblocking for 48 minutes.

GRADE: B+

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#23 - Indiana selects Solomon Hill (Arizona)

What does a team on the cusp of making the finals do in a weak draft with the 23rd pick? They pick up a utility player who relies on his versatility. Really isn't much they could this late in the 1st round, but I would have taken my chance on Tim Hardaway Jr. or Archie Goodwin.

GRADE: B-

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#24 - New York selects Tim Hardaway Jr. (Michigan)

Knicks go for name brand and gets one of the bigger props of the night, something we're not accustomed to from the New York faithful on draft night. If J.R. Smith demands too much money, they have a young dynamic scorer who combined with Shumpert, will try to fill that scoring void.

GRADE: A-

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#25 - Los Angeles Clippers selects Reggie Bullock (North Carolina)

Clippers and Doc Rivers get a shooter to get things going in LA as they prepare to keep Chris Paul. Expect him to be utilized like Ray Allen back in his Boston days, but not necessarily provide Ray Allen production.

GRADE: B

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#26 - Minnesota selects Andre Roberson (Colorado)

With scoring not lacking down in the Bay, Minny selects a wing defender who can rebound for Golden State. If he can even be a homeless man's Shawn Marion for the Warriors, then he'll be excellent value here at #26.

GRADE: B

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#27 - Denver selects Rudy Gobert (France)

Rumours are that this pick will be sent to Utah, but damn, 7'9 wingspan - the longest ever recorded at the NBA combine. If anything, he'll be a sleeper pick in 2k14 drafts all over the world next year.

GRADE: C+

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#28 - San Antonio selects Livio Jean-Charles (France)

The Spurs make this two in a row for France, and the rest of the NBA is scrambling to figure out why their own scouting department didn't jump on this.

GRADE: B

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#29 - Phoenix selects Archie Goodwin (Kentucky)

Great pick for the Suns. They get one of the more athletic guards in the draft, fluid body control, and solid cutter and slasher. Will need to work on his shot, but does have potential to be a scoring point guard. With Len as their big, and Goodwin as their small, Phoenix did a stellar job tonight.

GRADE: A-

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#30 - Golden State selects Nemanja Nedovic (Serbia)

Some people will pretend to know who this guy is or have seen this guy play before. But I won't play that game. And with that, this first round ends with a fizzle.

GRADE: ?

Monday, January 2, 2012

A Tale of Two Cities


The Raptors need a closer.

Last night, it was Andrea Bargnani.

For those that have actually tuned into every game so far, you know that this year's version of the Raptors play differently. The obvious stats don't show it, but there's something pleasantly refreshing about this team on both sides of the court. Ask the opposing coaches and they'll tell you, the Raptors are not a team you can sleep on.

The Raps have been in every game up until the home stretch. Suddenly, we're unable to get easy baskets, things slow down, and the other team goes to their closers to make buckets.

In Orlando, their unique perimeter approach had players like Reddick, Anderson, and Turkoglu finish the game out, while New York went to Melo down the stretch.

We were unable to overcome it against Orlando, but thankfully Bargs was able to come through at Madison Square Garden.

I'm now convinced the Raps will keep this up, and be in a lot of close games this year, and if the playoffs are a goal - then Andrea will have to get used to this.

Tidbit N Tweet of the Night: Raptors are now 1-0 on the second game of a back-to-back. We'll keep track of this all year, especially in a shortened season.

This is the first time #Raptors have held NY under 90 points since January 19, 2005 (W, 99-81) - @RaptorsPR

What caught my eye? I'm one of DeMar's biggest fans, but even his loyalists can't help but notice certain trends that are occurring with him in regards to the defensive end. Both in the last possession of the first half against Dallas and the end of the game against New York, Anthony Carter was subbed in for DeMar. On top of that, New York felt like it was more important to place Fields on Jose instead of DeRozan down the stretch, meaning they were totally cool with hiding Douglas on him too.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Fantasy Friday - A Bench Gem In Both Worlds



Every Friday, we'll be bringing you some fantasy notes and tidbits exclusively from a Toronto Raptors perspective. We're well aware that not many people were sweating bullets on draft night, hoping that a Raptor wasn't picked before their pick came up, but the Raps do have that sleeper potential that could be the difference maker in winning your fantasy league championship.

This week, we've got to bring up the man that best represents the change in culture the Raptors are trying to undergo - James Johnson. The athletic wing was probably left undrafted in just about every fantasy league, but he's absolutely stuffed the stat sheet the first two games.

At the moment, he has lofty small forward averages in most categories with 5.5 pts, 7.0 reb, 3.5 ast, 4.0 stl, 2.0 blks, 45% FG.

The fact that he's also logging in heavy minutes despite coming off the bench means he'll have the opportunity to keep racking up the stats. The only knock on him is you'd like to see him put up a few more points, but considering fantasy basketball is won on categories, Johnson is a gem if you have room on your bench.

If you're in a 12+ team league, definitely pick him up and use him in spot situations late in the week, when you're trying to catch up or protect your rebounds, steals, or blocks.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

DeMar Tebow



In the last two games, for the Raptors, quite a few things have been consistent. For starters, the effort has been there. The Raps may not be the most talented, but that's two straight games where I've seen dives to the floor for a loose ball. Secondly, the improved help defense, especially by James Johnson and Ed Davis.

And then there's DeMar DeRozan, who has been consistently inconsistent. In the first three quarters, DeMar has shown a lack of confidence, and at times, looks completely lost. He's been a big part of why the Raps are unable to get their offense going early. And when the only other scoring option in the starting line up gets in foul trouble like Bargs did last game, even an improved defense can't save the team,

Here are DeRozan's averages in the first three quarters in comparison to the 4th quarter.

QRT 1-3

5/15 FGA

33%

Average Amount of Pts In First Three Quarters Combined: 6.0



QRT 4

11/ 13 FGA

85%

Average Amount of Pts in Fourth Quarter: 12.5


We'll see if this small sample size turns into a trend for Mr. No Props Needed.

What caught my eye? The Raptors opened up the game with six straight stops on the defensive end. Unfortunately, they were unable to capitalize on it on offense due to poor offensive sets and moving screens, but it was a nice change to see us work hard on the defensive end.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Raptors Revisited: The Bargnani Effect

On Monday, January 26, 2011, the Toronto Raptors beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 104-96.

Like noted in yesterday's post, the duo of Jose and Amir were able to pick apart Cleveland's interior defense with a healthy dose of pick and rolls. However, a big reason why it worked so well (besides the fact that the Cavs paint D isn't the most intimidating) is because of the dynamic Bargnani brings to the table.

Let's take a look at two plays that begin with a Calderon-Johnson pick and roll and end with an easy bucket partly because of where Bargnani positions himself on the court.


Jose and Amir initiate the pick n roll, while the Raptors keep both corner 3s occupied, establishing proper spacing. The key thing to watch is Jamison on Bargnani.


Irving goes over the screen due to Jose's hot hand, causing Varejao to leave Amir and switch to Jose. At this point (and due to Cleveland's lack of a shot blocking big), Jamison as the 4 man is caught between switching to Amir or staying on Bagrs



Jamison decides to stay near the perimeter with Bargnani, allowing Amir an easy uncontested basket.

Here's the second play, same concept, same result.


A switch is caused for Varejao on Jose, and Amir again rolls to the basket. Again, Jamison as the Cavs' 4, is assigned with shading Bargs near the top of the 3 point line.


As mentioned by Leo Rautins last night, Irving incorrectly commits himself to Calderon even though Varejao did a good job of leading Jose to the sideline on the hedge. This makes Jamison's job even more difficult when deciding between a wide open Amir or a wide open Bargnani.


Jamison decides to stick with Andrea at the perimeter, allowing Amir to get yet another easy bucket over the shorter Anthony Parker..

Monday, December 26, 2011

Jose-Amir 2K12 Lead Pass Cheese And Accountability



First off - WELCOME BACK RAPTORS BASKETBALL.

With Dwane Casey preaching a culture change of a defensive mentality, Raptors fans can expect a team that won't necessarily be the most talented, but will always try to out work the opposition.

Last night against Cleveland, we saw just that. Make no mistake, this team doesn't look like it will challenge for a playoff spot, but it was great to see some of our players compete. Two that stuck out the most to me were Amir Johnson and Jose Calderon. Amir looked like he was serious about his Defensive Player of the Year goals, and Jose looked like TJ Ford was on his tail again.

And then of course, there was that pass...Anyone who's ever played a game of NBA 2K knows the way to a win is to abuse the paint with some lead passing. Check out 4:30-5:30 of this video to see what Jose and Amir had perfected last night.



What caught my eye? At 4:40 of the 3rd quarter, Bargnani gave up yet another offensive rebound, and at a critical point of the game as well. Immediately, Coach Casey subs in Ed Davis and puts Bargs on the bench. Accountability will key in truly changing the culture of this franchise.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Basketball Never Stops? Nike Explains.



Even while in the midst of a lockout, Nike is capitalizing on their superstar roster and unleashing their "Basketball Never Stops" movement. The company decided to release a follow up video for their commercial to explain what exactly they meant - perhaps to avoid any sticky situations with the current labour dispute. Check out both the follow up video and the actual commercial below.