Sean Deveney still has OKC taking Hasheem Thabeet (I think he’s the only one), had this to say about James Harden: “James Harden, Arizona State. Harden is approaching this draft as if he is a top-five pick. And he might be. Certainly, word has spread that the Thunder will take him at No. 3 or the Wizards at No. 5. That feels like smokescreen information, though. Given the fact that the Wizards could trade their pick, and that Oklahoma City, too, is weighing its trading options, it seems that Harden would be wise to work out for some fallback teams later in the lottery.”
Hey guess what? A mock draft!: “Oklahoma City Thunder – James Harden: Many had Harden a lot lower than what I picked but James Harden is the goods. The Thunder are quite pleased with the way Westbrook has developed at the PG position and to under cut him by drafting another PG would just mess everything up (look for them to sign a free agent to play back up) Harden gives the Thunder options at shooting guard, he can score, he can handle the ball and he can create. I can also see Harden handling the ball for extended periods of time as his career continues, kind of reminds me of a shorter Paul Pierce.”
The Blazers are eyeing Stephen Curry: “Don’t be surprised if the Portland Trail Blazers trade into the lottery, looking to acquire Davidson’s Stephen Curry. The way I hear it, the Blazers (currently picking 24th) are nosing around to trade up and have Curry in their sights. Enough teams are willing to deal down that this is a real possibility. And it would be great for Curry in this regard: A long-time NBA scout told me months ago that the ideal situation for Curry is to play point guard on a team with a shooting guard who can also handle the ball. That would allow Curry to spot up some, and maximize the impact of his shooting.”
Seems like everybody compares any sleeper picker now to Russell Westbrook. Therefore my Google alerts go crazy, but the story only has one teeny tiny mention of Russ. For instance, SLAM this week: “[Terrence Williams] isn’t going to be the guy to light up the scoreboard every night and he isn’t going to be the guy to dish out 15 dimes. He’s going to be the guy that fills in the holes wherever they spring up. If Augustin and Wallace are on the floor, he lines up at the off-guard spot and plays solid defense. If Bell is in, TWill can shift to the 3 and bring help on the glass from the perimeter. Williams is likely the closest thing that a scout will find to a utility infielder in this draft and is a guy who can impact the game without dominating the basketball. Also lets not forget what happened last year with a super athletic guard who had question marks about his scoring ability but excelled on the defensive end and was a pretty good playmaker; Russell Westbrook anyone?”
Ty Lawson is falling down draft charts: “Ty Lawson is coming off a rough week: Some GMs didn’t like him in the combine setting, he measured the shortest of any point guard in the draft, and there were questions about his conditioning and a potential toe injury. Put all that together and Lawson seems to be the one guy slipping on a lot of boards. Two GMs had him ranked as high as sixth on their point guard list, but a number of others had him much lower, with two GMs ranking him 10th and one GM ranking him 11th.” He’s already taken a pretty good hit in Joe and I’s revised Big Board which is coming soon.
The draft is overrated (Insider): “But Insider’s D.R.A.F.T. Initiative (Data-Related Analysis For Truth) crew has been poring over draft data for months, analyzing draft picks and their subsequent careers, and we’ve arrived at a surprising conclusion: The NBA draft isn’t that big a deal. That’s because, in any given year, there isn’t enough talent to give many teams any hope of landing a star, let alone a reliable backup.”
Sounds like LeBron James had similar surgery to what D.J. White had: “James underwent a procedure Tuesday at the Cleveland Clinic to remove a benign growth along his right jaw line. The five-hour surgery was performed by Dr. Frank Papay to remove the tissue from the parotid gland, which produces saliva … Operations in that region often take such time because the parotid is located in a delicate area of the head that is surrounded by many nerves and blood vessels.”
Thunder players talk playoff memories: “Back on the east coast, Durant and Green grew up in Washington Wizards territory. Green, for one, attended a pair of Wizards-Cleveland Cavaliers first-round playoff games not too long ago. “Just the atmosphere and the intensity of the playoffs, it was a sudden change,” Green said. Green said he’ll always remember watching classic videos of a young Magic Johnson, who as a rookie led the Lakers to the 1980 league championship over the Philadelphia 76ers. Durant, meanwhile, said he thinks of one thing when the playoffs come to mind: Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals between the Chicago Bulls and Utah Jazz, when Michael Jordan captured his sixth league title by hitting the game-winning shot with just under six seconds to go.”
In the TrueHoop Playoff Smackdown, I had climbed to as high as 12th before the Conference Finals, but with an ill-advised pick of the Cavs, I’m back down to to tied for 18th. I’ve got the Lakers in 6 here, but it seems like everybody else does too. Even the President.
I wrote a little thing about Blake Griffin last week for Kevin Arnovitz of Clipperblog. Just thought some might like to read it: “When most think of Blake Griffin, they think of “powerful,” “strong,” “skilled,” “aggressive,” “No. 1” or “Beast.” But when I think about him, I see that annoying little kid that used to run around and climb on everything during baseball practice. We all called him “Blakey” and everyone was always asking him to get out of the dugout.”