Tag Archives: NBA Draft

Running Down a Dream

To all those who read this,

Sitting in SFO with an unanticipated two hour flight delay gives me the rather fortuitous (for the circumstances, at least) opportunity to reflect on what has to be one of the bigger thrills of my adult life.

In some ways, being a draftnik has been a part of me as long as being a sports fan. It takes a unique place in the sporting world as it combines a transition in talent with a transition in terms of a person’s career. Even the biggest college players are making a jump to whatever professional league they enter, likely the first time they have ever made meaningful money playing sports (unless they went to U$C, of course). While many people ignore this component of the process, I have always found it to be incredibly interesting because of all the changes it can mean for these young men. The pressures of going to school and maintaining a social life while playing sports at a high-level are hard to overstate yet pale in comparison to the amount of work it takes to thrive in the best leagues in the world from a physical standpoint.

The other fun part of the draft is that it combines research, analysis, and prediction in a way that stands out. While there are no clear-cut answers most of the time, draft pieces hold relevance and interest for an incredibly long time after the fact because it often takes a while to find out the “right” answer should one exist. Furthermore, there can be gaps in terms of both information and interpretation of that information and reasonable minds can differ in more ways than are present in normal sports discussions. Think about the MLB draft for a second- even big money teams have used completely different philosophies and thrived with similar resources because there are a variety of methods that can work. While that point holds, there are also some who succeed more than others and learning from evaluation mistakes takes on a different light in the draft because the same players never come by again. You have to attempt to apply those learned components on individuals who may or may not fit that box. The uncertainty makes drafts continually interesting and challenging.

For all of these reasons and many more, I gravitated to drafts at a pretty young age. Despite not watching a ton of basketball as a child, I used to take the limited amount of March Madness available to a kid in the late 90’s and try to figure out which guys would be stars and which ones would be duds. Doing that for years in both hoops and football also gives someone bizarre allegiances since the pride in being right on a player sometimes trumps lower-level personal biases. As an example, I have spent years rooting for Danny Granger and Russell Westbrook because each was a player I touted for eons and thus have an emotional stake in their fights however frivolous it may be.

That fascination for drafts only kicked into a higher gear when college started. The reams of hand-written pages got replaced by pages of typing along with more complicated rankings and analysis. The rise of draft content on the Internet and competent internet message boards also forced everyone to step up their game and learn from those around them in a brand new way. Writing draft previews, reviews, and season predictions actually served as the only sportswriting I did for nearly ten years.

As I was starting law school, two of my good friends from college let me know that they were starting a blog and that I was welcome to do any writing for it that worked. It felt like a logical method to blow of the intellectual steam law school inevitably generates (you can see this from the amount of law students and lawyers that engage in sportswriting). From the start, the draft was my passion and it eventually became the place where my relationship with RealGM began and one of the important places it continues to this day.

In many ways, the trip to cover the NBA Draft marks both an accomplishment of one of my biggest dreams and someone to check off the bucket list that I never anticipated fulfilling, much less this quickly and in this capacity. It is both humbling and gratifying to see the effort and time it has taken and consider how many other worthy people have never had the opportunities that have been presented to me over the last few years. That leads to my predominant emotion being appreciation for all those who have made this possible. Instead of naming specific people and this contributions, I will say this: the people who were integral in getting here know who they are and should remember that they have my eternal thanks and appreciation for doing so. If they want public recognition for that role, they can ask me and it will be given.

Even with that, two specific people get some mention here. Rahim and Derrek started Vegan Fish Tacos and brought me into the fold nearly immediately and offered encouragement before anyone other than the three of us and our college friends had any idea what we were doing. Without their push, support, and input, none of this ever would have happened. Guys, you likely will never know how pivotal a role you played in any and all of my writing success. So if anything bad happens, that means it is your fault. Everyone else: thanks so much- you know who you are.

Whether this ends up being a stepping stone to something bigger or a blip on an otherwise uneventful path, everyone who made it this far had a reason to or plenty of free time- my key demographics. Thanks for being a part of this run and here’s to hundreds more stories and pieces to come.

Happy drafting,


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Vegan Fish Tacos’ 2008 NBA Draft Review

Did he go to the right place?He\'s not a Laker, but the T-Wolves will be happy with himTell Kanye West the best player in the draft is going home.

Typically, what I do is I separate the teams into categories and then rank teams within a category.

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Great Drafts:
1. New Jersey Nets Sweet sassy molassy did they do an amazing job. The best way to think about what they did is to put it in the context of their twin goals.
(1) Clear money so they can sign Lebron in the 2010 offseason.
(2) Get talent
They did both of those, and did them astonishigly well. Brook Lopez is a starting-caliber NBA Center, which is astonishingly valuable in today’s NBA, especially in the Eastern Conference. To complement him, the Nets grabbed Yi and the underrated Bobby Simmons in the trade, which accomplishes both goals. To add to that, they added in a guy in Ryan Anderson who can be a great contributor off the bench and the criminally underdrafted Chris Douglas-Roberts, who may end up being a prototypical wingman next to King James. Also, one of my good friends who knows Ryan Anderson and used to smoke out with Dominic McGuire wants Odds on whether he’ll smoke out with Sean Williams now that Ryan is on the team and my friend is in NYC. I’m putting it at 45% right now.

2. Milwaukee BucksIt is genuinely amazing to see two teams that traded with each other at #1 and #2, but it’s well-deserved. The Bucks weren’t going to get out of salary purgatory any time soon, and they added a bevvy of talented players who should fit in fairly well with their squad. Jefferson will bring excitement and a presence that opens up the floor more for Redd, Bogut, and Mo Williams. Also, adding in the gritty (and talented) Joe Alexander along with one of the true glue guys in this draft in Luc Richard Mbah a Moute provides them with a SF/PF rotation that is actually somewhat formidable if they go up-tempo, since they can throw so many bodies at their opponents.

3. Boston Celtics One way to have a great draft is to do more with less. Well, no one did better at that than Danny Ainge. He didn’t even need McHale to bail him out with buying Bill Walker- Grunfeld was more than happy to help. JR Giddens should make the team and his potential is pretty potent if he can ever get his head on straight, and Bill Walker is a stud who should be a consistent presence on the C’s for a long, long time.

4. Portland TrailblazersThey would be one spot higher, but it bothers me a little that they dumped some of their 2nd rounders like Omar Asik who could end up being a valuable member of the Blazers Euro farm team. That said, I was never keen on Jerryd Bayless, but they got him for almost nothing and he will be a fantastic fit next to Brandon Roy. All he has to do is score, which is fortunate for him. Also, adding Nicolas Batum makes the SF spot much more stable in the long-term, so they primarily need to focus on getting a starting SF, which should be cake given the appalling amount of talent they have. It warrants mentioning that they also stole one of my favorite players in all of NBA backup-dom in Ike Diogu- he is skilled and a hard worker who will fit very well with the Blazers’ Centers for however long they want him around.

5. Minnesota TimberwolvesThey couldn’t sniff this level earlier tonight. You can call me a UCLA homer all you like, but Kevin Love will be a great complement for Al Jefferson. The amount of balls that it took to draft Mayo and then extort the Grizzlies the way they did shows me alot about McHale and Mr. Hoiberg. Marko Jaric’s contract is as long as Gasol’s and half of the cost, and the T-Wolves got Mike Miller in the deal too, who can be a good player or a valuable trading piece close to the deadline. The Mario Chalmers trade wasn’t their finest hour, but the rest of the draft has enough merit to put them here.

6. Chicago BullsTaking the best player in the draft makes this a great draft, and adding a big for the future in Omar Asik puts them right here. I wish they’d have added some size that could contribute in the nearer future (they’re Anthony Randolph-thin at C right now), but they have such a strong foundation for the future. Continue reading

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The Day Of- VFT NBA Mock Draft and Draft Board

It’s the day of people! I wanted to put out a quickie revised Mock after all that has gone on

The Draft, Baby!

The Predictions Mock:
1. Chicago Bulls– Derrick Rose, PG, Memphis. The best decision for the Bulls to make, and the one they will do.

2. Miami Heat– Michael Beasley, PF/SF, Kansas State. The news of the Sonics/Clippers stuff makes this much clearer.

3. Minnesota Timberwolves– Kevin Love, PF, UCLA. OJ Mayo is commonly bandied around for this pick, and there is a rationale behind it. That said, I don’t see McHale as seeing a guy like OJ as being a good fit for the team and organization. One potential alternative would be the T-Wolves drafting Mayo anyway and just waiting for the trade offers, just like the leap of faith the NY Giants did when they drafted Phillip Rivers without knowing if the Chargers would go through on the trade. In the end, this should be about finding the best compliment for Al Jefferson, and Kevin is unquestionably that guy in this draft.

4. “Seattle Sonics”- OJ Mayo, SG/PG, U$C. Mayo would be an interesting wing man for Durant and be a pivotal part of their foundation. If Mayo goes #3, this pick will go to the Clippers, probably for them to take Eric Gordon, but it could be Russell Westbrook too.

5. Portland Trailblazers (via Memphis)– Russell Westbrook, SG/PG, UCLA. The trade here is Brian Cardinal, Jason Collins’ corpse, and the #5 pick for Raef’s expiring contract and #13. Gives the Grizzlies ownership more precious money and the Blazers get a great fit. Continue reading

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NBA Draft Day Notes: (Trades, Draft Notes, Rumors)

Our thoughts on some of the trades being rumored ahead of Thursday’s draft:

Portland trades Jarret Jack, Josh McRoberts, and Brandon Rush to Indiana for Jerryd Bayless and Ike Diogu.

Great trade for both sides. Rush is a great fit in Indiana, Bayless was a poor fit. Jack is a good backup point. Indians is having a great week.

Sonics and Clippers agree to swap picks should OJ Mayo be selected 3rd.

I don’t know whats included in this deal, but it seems like, if Mayo is off the board, the Sonics will be sending their #4 pick to the Clippers in exchange for the #7 pick. I’m sure there’s some compensation to make the deal worth it, besides the smaller amount of money that a rookie drafted at 7 would get.

Holy God: Marc Stein reports that the Nets are now ready to trade Richard Jefferson to the Milwaukee Bucks for Bobby Simmons and Yi Jianlian. SImmons is only signed through the 09/10 season (though at an atrocious $10 milion), and Yi is on his rookie contract, of course. Jefferson, on the other hand, is signed through the 10/11 season at $15 million. This is a huge trade that gives Milwakuee another scorerer (though Jefferson is wildly overpaid) and allows the Nets to develop a foreign star as well as shave years and dollars off their books. A wildly successful trade for New Jersey.

Peter Vescey is reporting that Ron Artest will in fact opt out of his contract with the Kings. New York will likely be a heavy suitor, and Artest has long said he wants to play there. For Sacramento, drafting a PG like Augustin will still be a priority, but depending on how the Knicks view ther chances of signing him, their draft/trade strategy might change, with players like Balkman and Lee becoming more expendable.

New Jersey sends the #10 pick and a future 1st to Memphis for the #5 pick.

Basically, Memphis wants out of the #5. I don’t know why, but its Chris Wallace, so I’m not going to try to figure it out. The trade makes sense for New Jersey, who can get a Gallinari or Kevin Love (should Minnesota not take him).

Portland sends the #13 pick and Jarret Jack to New Jersey for Marcus Williams and the #10 pick.

This is an intriguing trade idea, the Nets acquire a good backup point guard, the Blazers take a flier on Marcus Williams, whose option they can decline next year (instead of Jack who has a qualifying offer and therefore would require a cap-hold that would hamstring their salary cap flexibility). With the 10 pick, the Blazers can select one of the better guards available, probably landing DJ Augustin, since most projections have him going to Sacramento at #12. The Nets, on the other hand, can still take one of the many forwards projected for the mid-teens.

Overall: I like this trade. The Nets can use another versatile forward, and picking at #13 does not diminish their ability to select one. So why not get a backup point guard in Jack while they’re at it? For Portland, they can acquire a DJ Augustin level point guard and increase their future salary cap flexibility.


Heat trade Shawn Marion and the #2 pick to Los Angeles for Elton Brand and the #7:

This trade sounds a little desperate to me. Brand is an incredible talent and I’m confident he’ll regain his previous playing form, but the Heat don’t need another PF, that’s why they’re trading out of the 2 pick to begin with. Of course, trading Haslem is always a possibility, and there are a lot of teams who would want him, but after picking up Elton Brand, the Heat would lose some leverage there too. For the Clippers, this is a great trade. They probably draft Beasley to play the 4, insert Marion at 3, and run last year’s draft pick, Al Thornton off the bench and sometimes at the 2. With Kaman having a breakout season last year, all they need is a sure-handed point guard, and could sign Beno Udrih at the MLE to put them back in contention.

Overall: I like this trade, but not as much for the Heat as for the Clippers.

Just in: Evidently Denver is trading out of this draft (like the Hornets did yesterday with the Blazers).They’re sending their #20 pick to Charlotte, in exchange for a future first, with no word on potential conditions attached to that pick. According to DraftExpress, Charlotte is keen on taking Roy Hibbert with the 20 pick, though his stock has been rising so much recently, he might not last that long.

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One Week Out Vegan Fish Tacos NBA Mock Draft and Draft Board

We’re less than a week away folks, and I’ll try to hammer out predictions and opinion pieces throughout the week and of course an insanely long Draft Review either Thursday night or Friday morning. I’m also going to try to be more specific about player movement on my Draft Board, so check it out. The meat of my talent evaluation is there, should that interest you, oh valued reader

The Draft, Baby!

The Predictions Mock:
1. Chicago Bulls– Derrick Rose, PG, Memphis. The best decision for the Bulls to make, and the one they will do.

2. “Seattle Sonics” (via Miami Heat)– Michael Beasley, PF/SF, Kansas State. I was on this long before it was reported, and it makes a ton of sense for both parties. The most sensical trade to me is Wilcox, #4, and one or two of the Sonics’ million 2nd rounders for Alexander Johnson, Marcus Banks, Joel Anthony (for cap purposes) and #2. It would make sense for both parties if there was a way to get Ridnour in on it too, but the problem is that he makes too much money and the Heat have no $4-6m contracts of players they could move, unless Haslem works for them. I don’t like Beasley in a variety of situations, but playing with his good friend (and competitive dude) Kevin Durant would keep him on his game even when the Sonics are having a tough 2 years.

3. Minnesota Timberwolves– Kevin Love, PF, UCLA. OJ Mayo is commonly bandied around for this pick, and there is a rationale behind it. That said, I don’t see McHale as seeing a guy like OJ as being a good fit for the team and organization. One potential alternative would be the T-Wolves drafting Mayo anyway and just waiting for the trade offers, just like the leap of faith the NY Giants did when they drafted Phillip Rivers without knowing if the Chargers would go through on the trade. In the end, this should be about finding the best compliment for Al Jefferson, and Kevin is unquestionably that guy in this draft.

4. Miami Heat (via Seattle)- OJ Mayo, SG/PG, U$C. Mayo probably is the second-best fit for this current Heat squad. Why the trade makes sense is that it gives them a C in Wilcox who can eat up some valuable minutes (and contribute) and unloading Marcus Banks’ deal gives them additional flexibility to bring in some help wherever they feel it’s necessary.

5. Memphis Grizzlies– Brook Lopez, C/PF, Memphis. Lots of people talk about this as a PF pick, but I really don’t see them as being sold on Darko as their C of the future, so they take the player who is the BPA at this slot and would really allow them some flexibility to find their PF, either in this draft or further on down the line. Also, moving Darko to the bench allows them to have more control over his minutes and can put him in situations which better help his confidence. Continue reading

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Brand New Vegan Fish Tacos NBA Mock Draft and Draft Board

Be sure to check below- the Draft Board has new comments and features for players in this draft.

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The Predictions Mock:
1. Chicago Bulls– Derrick Rose, PG, Memphis. The right pick, and the best pick for the long-term future of the franchise.

2. “Seattle Sonics” (via Miami Heat)– Michael Beasley, PF/SF, Kansas State. There are a ton of different ways this trade could work, but something like Ridnour, Wilcox, and the #4 for #2, D. Cook, and a salaries to match (S+T J-Williams or R. Davis, or Blount) would fit the bill.

3. Minnesota Timberwolves– Brook Lopez, C, Stanford. In the end, it seems like McHale will go with a big, and Brook allows the T-Wolves to essentially run a 3-man rotation with Big Al, Brook, and Craig Smith for the time being, which is pretty potent.

4. Miami Heat (via Seattle)- OJ Mayo, SG/PG, U$C. Mayo probably is the second-best fit for this current Heat squad, and the ability to pull some extra talent could help them pull out of their rut much faster.

5. Memphis Grizzlies– Kevin Love, PF, UCLA. Why? Because he’s Chris Wallace, baby! He can run an all-white frontcourt if he wants to! Continue reading

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Bulls get lucky again.

NBA Fate comes in two ways: you can get lucky in the draft, or you can fleece other teams. The Bulls have had NBA Fate smile upon them in both ways, multiple times. So you’d think, with cap space, incredible draft picks, the fortune of trading away Eddy Curry, and the opportunity to sensibly parlay their young players into a great mix of talent, they could have turned themselves into long term contenders with a sensible cap structure to boot.

Thats not the way things turned out. They drafted players who didn’t fit together, resigned players who hadn’t quite proven themselves, and then went out of their way to acquire players on the tail ends of their careers (thats Ben Wallace). Faced with a disastrous season, the team made a mediocre trade and failed to improve their team in the present or future.

So anyways, it seems pretty obvious by any standard of comparison that the Bulls have wasted a tremendous amount of good fortune. They had the potential to be an Eastern Conference contender for a long time to come, but have turned that potential into Larry Hughes and a lot of mismatched parts. Their coach ran out of goodwill and was fired, only to see his successor suffer nearly the same fate. And when granted the opportunity to sign the league’s most attractive coach (Mike D’Antoni) they somehow became gun shy and refused to pay a competitive salary to one of the game’s best minds. This in the face of the players’ overwhelming support for D’Antoni and the fact that the team can afford to splurge on a coach since it has sold out its tickets for numerous consecutive seasons. Its almost as if they’re trying to under-perform.

Its a bitter feeling then, as a closet fan of long suffering teams (like the Bobcats), to see a team that wasted so much good fortune find the 1st overall pick in this years draft fall into its lap. If only our teams could be so lucky.

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