James Young and the 5 Steals In the NBA Draft

August 13, 2014 4:11 pm

There are five guys from the 2014 NBA Draft that I think will be major steals. All five of these guys were drafted outside of the lottery and have a chance to be stars.

James Young, 17th overall, Boston Celtics, Kentucky

James Young

James Young

James Young will be the best player in this draft class. He will lead Boston to greatness and he will do it soon.

He is one of the most dominant college players I have ever seen. Many times last year when he got his hands on the ball, he took over and finished strong at the rim. He was only a freshman but he played like an experienced junior or senior. He averaged 14.3 points per game last year and had 20 points in the national championship game against UCONN.

Young has Avery Bradley and Marcus Thornton ahead of him. Bradley is very good, but he isn’t a match for Young. Look for Young to be the starter early in the season.

I don’t know why he is rated so low. The Celtics got a steal. He has all the tools; shooting, defense, driving to the basket, and possibly best of all, his intensity. When he wants to, he can make any play. He may not win Rookie of the Year, but he will be the best player in this class, just like Kawhi Leonard who went 15th overall in 2011.

When the pick was announced, Bill Simmons was just as excited as he was in his 30 for 30, Four Days in October which is about his beloved Boston Red Sox.

Gary Harris, 19th overall, Denver Nuggets, Michigan State

Gary Harris should have been a lottery pick and somehow fell to No. 19. I don’t know how that happened.

Harris will get to play behind Arron Affalo and Randy Foye but Brian Shaw and the Nuggets will for sure find him plenty of minutes.

His college career at Michigan State ended in an Elite Eight loss to eventual national champion UCONN. Harris did his fair share of work that game by scoring 22. Look for Harris to be a mainstay in this league for 10-15 years.

Jordan Adams, 22nd overall, Memphis Grizzlies, UCLA

Jordan Adams

Jordan Adams

Jordan Adams is one of my favorite players to watch. In UCLA’s 2013 recruiting class they had Shabazz Muhammad, Kyle Anderson, Tony Parker and Adams. They were rated in that order. There isn’t any doubt now that Adams is the best of those four. He should be able to do the same thing in the NBA.

Like James Young, Adams has the intensity and he is the guy you want to take the last shot. This season he averaged 17.4 points per game and scored more than 20 points in 13 different games.

He comes into Memphis with some solid guys ahead of him. Courtney Lee and Tony Allen will be hard to beat out as a rookie. They have both been around a long time and they will do anything they can to earn their minutes, especially Allen. Either way, Adams will work his way up the ladder. He will be one those guys you don’t want to take out of the game.

Kyle Anderson, 30th overall, San Antonio Spurs, UCLA

Kyle Anderson was the nation’s third rated recruit in 2013. His time at UCLA was disappointing at the beginning, but it got better as time went on and he had 15 double doubles his sophomore season. San Antonio is a perfect place for Kyle because he will have time to learn. Gregg Popovich is one of the best at developing his players. The only lottery pick on his team is Tim Duncan.

He seems like he is a guy who will buy into this system and accept being a role player because he has Kawhi Leonard in front of him. He will get to learn and win a lot his first two years with the Spurs. When he gets thrust in game action, he will know that his teammates have his back 100 percent. That team will do anything it can to make a guy better. Tim Duncan is the most underrated player in any sport in history I think. Sure, people praised him in the Finals, but that is the last time I have even heard his name. That is probably how he likes it though.

Overall, Anderson is a great pick for the Spurs. He has the talent to be one of the best this game has ever seen and now he gets the best coach. He will have virtually no pressure to be an impact player either because of the talent the Spurs already have.

Nick Johnson, 42nd overall, Houston Rockets, Arizona

Nick Johnson

Nick Johnson

Nick Johnson is all business and was a very efficient and proven leader at Arizona. It isn’t often that a second round pick has the chance to be great, but this is one of them. He won’t be able to start at shooting guard because of James Harden, but he should be able either be the starting point guard or the backup point guard as a rookie. The other point guards are Patrick Beverly, Ish Smith and Isaiah Canaan. I think he passes Smith and Canaan easily.

At Arizona he was the Pac-12 Player of the Year and a first-team All-American. His season and college career ended in a heartbreaker against Wisconsin in the Elite Eight. He averaged 16.3 points per game and really made the most of having Aaron Gordon who was the fourth overall pick after just one year in college. Gordon was rated as the third best player in high school in 2013. I’m not sure if Gordon would have put up the same numbers without Johnson. Gordon is a great player and Johnson played to his strengths.

Imagine how good Johnson will be when he has a chance to feed Dwight Howard the ball. This move could really be what the Rockets need to get to the next level. If Harden and Howard are happy, they will be the most deadly combo in the league. And if that happens, it will be because of Nick Johnson.

You can follow Thomas Frey on Twitter: @ThomasFreyRP

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Milwaukee Bucks power forward, Larry Sanders Talks About New Coach, Jason Kidd and his VCU College Days

July 27, 2014 8:53 pm

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San Antonio Spurs small forward, Danny Green Talks About His Coaches and Winning the NBA Championship

July 27, 2014 1:06 pm

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Bradley Beal on Upcoming NBA Season for the Washington Wizards

July 16, 2014 10:19 pm

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The Beast of the Week: Kawhi Leonard

June 19, 2014 8:45 pm


Kawhi Leonard was one of the many reasons the San Antonio Spurs won this year’s NBA Championship against the Miami Heat. He had three great games to end the series including a 29 point performance in game three.

Leonard was magnificent on defense when he guarded Lebron James. At only 22, his potential is nearly endless. The San Diego State product is becoming one of the most talked about athletes in sports.

You can follow Thomas Frey on Twitter: @ThomasFreyRP

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Throwback Thursday: The 1984 NBA Draft

June 19, 2014 7:40 pm


From left to right: Hakeem Olajuwon, John Stockton, Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley. Background: NBA Commissioner, David Stern posing for a photo with first overall pick Hakeem Olajuwon just moments after being draft by the Houston Rockets.

On June 19th, 1984…The 38th annual NBA draft was held in the famous Madison Square Garden in New York City where college basketball and international players waited anxiously through the immense cheering and booing from devoted fans as first-year NBA Commissioner David Stern called up the young soon-to-be basketball stars on stage.

With the Houston Rockets winning the coin flip – yes a coin flip – the 1984 NBA Draft was the last to be held before the creation of the Draft Lottery in 1985. The Rockets drafted center Hakeem Olajuwon with the first overall pick in the draft.


The junior center from the University of Houston was the second foreign-born player drafted first overall. The Nigerian 7 foot center went on to have a Hall of Fame career in the NBA. Olajuwon retired in 2003 after playing one year with the Toronto Raptors but his impact in the league was in Houston, where he won back-to-back NBA Championships in 94’ and 95’ and was also named Finals MVP for both.

After averaging 11 rebounds per game, Olajuwon retired with a career total of 13,747 rebounds and 26,946 points and remains the all-time leader in blocks, with 3,830. Olajuwon was inducted in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2008.

With the second overall pick in the draft, the Portland Trail Blazers drafted center Sam Bowie from the University of Kentucky. The 7 foot 1 big man who was a star in his high school and college days never saw his pro career lift off. After having leg injuries in the following seasons in Portland – the man who was selected before Michael Jordan is considered the biggest draft bust in NBA history. Bowie played five seasons with the Trail Blazers before being traded to the New Jersey Nets, where he played for four years before finishing his career with the Los Angeles Lakers in 1995 after two seasons.


With the third overall pick in the draft, the Chicago Bulls drafted shooting guard and College Player of the Year, Michael Jordan. The North Carolina Tar Heel made an immediate impact for Bulls, where he was named Rookie of the Year and was also selected to the All-NBA Second Team in his rookie season. Following his rookie year, Jordan went on to have a legendary NBA career that is still talked about today.

Following the selection of Michael Jordan in the draft, the Dallas Mavericks drafted his teammate at North Carolina, Sam Perkins with the fourth overall pick in the draft. Although Perkins never achieved the amount of success of his former college teammate, Perkins did go on to have a great NBA career.

After 17 years in the NBA, Perkins scored 15,324 points and grabbed 7,666 rebounds in his career. The power forward spent his career with four NBA teams; after playing six years in Dallas, Perkins moved on to play for the Los Angeles Lakers for three years, and five years years with the Seattle Supersonics before retiring in 2001 with the Indiana Pacers after his three year stint with the team.

To round up the top five picks in the 1984 draft, the Philadelphia 76ers drafted power forward Charles Barkley from the University of Auburn. Although Barkley never won a championship ring, he did go on to have a valuable career in the NBA. After eight years with the 76ers where he proved to be a dominant force in the paint but his team could never get past Jordan and the Bulls in the Eastern Conference. He was traded to the Phoenix Suns, where he won NBA’s Most Valuable Player Award in 1993 with the Suns after averaging 25 points per game and 12 rebounds.


The former 10 time NBA All-Star was later traded from the Suns after four years to the Houston Rockets. After joining the Rockets, it was believed that Barkley would capture his first NBA championship title with Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler. But it would never happen – Barkley would retire in the year 2000. Barkley became the fourth player in NBA history to achieve 20,000 points, 10,000 rebounds and 4,000 assists. With a career total of 23,757 points, 12,546 rebounds and 4,215 assists – Barkley was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006.

The 1984 NBA draft featured three NBA Hall of Fame players in the first five picks: Olajuwon, Jordan and Barkley. But with the 16th pick in the draft – the Utah Jazz silenced Madison Square Garden by drafting an unknown point guard from Gonzaga, John Stockton.

Stockton, who played his entire career in Utah, was a 10 time NBA All-Star who led the league in assists for nine straight years and steals for two years. Although he was never able to lead the Jazz to a championship title, Stockton engraved his name in NBA history by becoming the all-time leader in assists and steals after 19 years in the league. The unknown college player who was drafted by the Jazz scored 19,711 points in his career; recorded 15,806 assists and 3,265 steals. In 2009, Stockton was inducted into the Hall of Fame.

The 1984 draft has been regarded as one of the best draft classes in NBA history. By producing four hall of fame players, and seven NBA All-Stars – basketball fans and sports writers look at the year of 1984 when the league changed forever due to the greatness of Michael Jordan and his fellow draft-mates who dominated the NBA throughout the 90’s and raised the bar in each of their respective positions.


You can follow David Pradel on Twitter:@davepradel_

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Throwback Thursday: The Chicago Bulls Win NBA Championship for 1st Time

June 12, 2014 6:10 am


Michael Jordan holds the Larry O’Brien trophy for the first time with tears of joy after defeating the Los Angeles Lakers in a 4-1 NBA Finals matchup in 1991.

On June 12th, 1991…The Chicago Bulls won their first NBA championship title by defeating the Los Angeles Lakers in a 4-1 finals matchup that showcased the battle between two basketball icons Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan.

Twenty three years ago, the Chicago Bulls were led by their superstar player who wore the famous number 23 jersey, and brought the Larry O’Brien trophy to the city of Chicago for the first time as the sweat and champagne drenched Michael Jordan and his teammates as they celebrated their accomplishment in the visitor’s locker room at the Great Western Forum.

“I’m numb… I don’t know what to do. I want to enjoy this, it’s such a great feeling. I’ve never been this emotional in public…” said Michael Jordan in an interview moments after being crowned champions.


The 1991 NBA Finals showcased two basketball icons: Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson. Without knowing Magic Johnson would pass on the NBA torch to Jordan who went on to win 5 more NBA championships with the Chicago Bulls in a seven-year span.

After winning his second regular season MVP award and his fifth consecutive scoring title, Michael Jordan made his NBA Finals debut. The then 28-year-old Jordan displayed his greatness with remarkable highlights that will forever be remembered. Jordan was seen flying through the air with his tongue out while switching hands in the middle of a layup that got Bulls fans cheering in his famous layup that has been replayed on every NBA Finals highlight reel since. Jordan averaged 31.2 points, 11.4 assists, 6.6 rebounds and 2.8 steals which earned him his first Finals MVP award.

Led by head coach Phil Jackson, the Bulls were the number one seed in the East. They cruised past the Eastern Conference by beating the New York Knicks, the Philadelphia 76ers and the “Bad Boys” Detroit Pistons.

The Bulls were able to stop Magic Johnson and company on their quest to win an NBA championship with first-year head coach Mike Dunleavy, Sr., who succeeded former Lakers head coach Pat Riley. After losing on their home court, the Lakers’ Showtime era came to an end against Jordan and the Bulls in 1991. That following year, Magic Johnson made his announcement that shocked the sports world. Johnson retired on November 7th, 1991 after receiving the news that he has HIV.

The 1991 NBA Finals represented the end of one era and the beginning of another. As the Los Angeles Lakers struggled in the following years, the Chicago Bulls began their dynasty with their superstar MVP Michael Jordan who would eventually engrave his name and team in basketball history.



You can follow David Pradel on Twitter: @davepradel_

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The Draft: Minnesota Timberwolves

April 18, 2014 2:37 pm

The Minnesota Timberwolves have not had very much luck with their top ten draft choices since 2006. It has been eight straight drafts where the Timberwolves have drafted this high. Now, it finally looks like that streak will come to an end.

In 2006 Randy Foye was drafted seventh overall out of Villanova. He played with the Timberwolves until 2009 when he moved to Washington. Foye then moved around between the Clippers, Jazz, and is currently with the Denver Nuggets. In his career Foye has averaged 11.5 points and three assists per game.

Corey Brewer was selected seventh overall in 2007 after winning back to back national championships at Florida. He is currently in his third stint with Minnesota and he has also played with the Mavericks and Nuggets. Brewer has averaged 9.8 points per game throughout his career.

Corey Brewer

Corey Brewer

In 2008 UCLA freshman star Kevin Love was drafted fifth overall and was traded on draft day to Minnesota where he is currently one of the best in the game. He has averaged 18.6 points and 12.3 rebounds per game in his career.

In 2009 the Timberwolves selected fifth and sixth overall. The fifth pick was traded to them from Washington while the sixth pick was their own. Ricky Rubio went fifth while Jonny Flynn went sixth. Rubio was still on contract with an international team and couldn’t start playing in Minnesota until 2011. He has averaged 10 points and 7.9 assists per game in his career.

In 2010 Minnesota took Wesley Johnson from Syracuse fourth overall. It didn’t work out too well. He played for Minnesota until 2012 when he was traded to the Suns. He currently plays for the Lakers and he has averaged eight points and three rebounds in his career.

Derrick Williams was the second overall draft choice in the 2011 NBA Draft. He played for Minnesota until this season when he was traded to the Kings. He’s averaged 10.1 points and 4.9 rebounds per game in his career.

In 2012, the Timberwolves owned the tenth overall pick, but it was traded to the New Orleans Hornets.

It was sort of the same story in 2013. The Timberwolves owned the ninth overall pick, but they traded it to the Jazz for the 14th and 21st overall picks.

You can follow Thomas Frey on Twitter: @ThomasFreyRP

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The Great NBA Talent That Came From The 2011 Sweet 16 At The Honda Center

February 26, 2014 7:50 pm


From left to right: Kemba Walker, Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving, Derrick Williams, and Jeremy Lamb.

The Sweet 16 at the Honda Center in 2011 had some great future NBA talent.

The first game was between the San Diego State Aztecs and the Connecticut Huskies. The Huskies narrowly won. UCONN had three players get drafted, two of them in the first round. Kemba Walker went 9th overall in 2011 while Jeremy Lamb went 12th overall in 2012. Alex Oriahki was drafted 57th overall in 2013 after transferring to Missouri.

The Aztecs had three guys from that team go to the NBA. Kawhi Leonard was drafted 15th overall in 2011 and is now a starter for the reigning Western Conference champions San Antonio Spurs. Malcolm Thomas went undrafted in 2012 but still made the NBA and is currently playing for the Utah Jazz. Jamaal Franklin was a freshman on that team and was drafted 41st overall in 2013.

In the second game the Arizona Wildcats blew out the Duke Blue Devils. Duke had way more NBA talent, but it wasn’t enough that night.

Arizona had the second overall pick of the 2011 NBA Draft in Derrick Williams. He had a great game. The only other player from that team to make the NBA was Solomon Hill who went 23rd overall in the 2013 NBA Draft.

Duke has had six players get drafted from that team so far. Kyrie Irving went first overall in 2011 and has played great so far. Also drafted in 2011 were Nolan Smith who went 21st overall and Kyle Singler who went 33rd overall. In the 2012 NBA Draft Miles Plumlee went 26th overall. The next year, his brother Mason went 22nd overall. Finally, the sixth guy was Ryan Kelly who went 48th overall in 2013.

Overall, nine first round picks played in the Honda Center that day.

You can follow Thomas Frey on Twitter: @ThomasFreyRP

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The Beast of the Week: Larry Bird

February 23, 2014 4:03 pm


Normally our Beast of the Week goes to a player and their incredible performance on the field or court. But in the new era of sports, your performance on the clean office carpet where telephones ring non-stop on the desk while in an expensive suit than a sweaty jersey is just as important to give your team the best chance for a championship title.

During the final hours of the 2014 NBA trade deadline on Feb. 20, Larry Bird, the president of basketball operations for the Indiana Pacers pulled the trigger on trading one of the beloved Pacers’ player, Danny Granger and a future second-round pick to Philadelphia as they received 76ers guard Evan Turner and center Lavoy Allen.

This buzzer-beating trade deal could be the deciding factor on who wins the NBA Finals this year. The Pacers added great bench players during the off-season last year and now add two more for an intimidating match-up problem on paper against the fellow Eastern Conference teams.

Although Bird traded veteran star forward Danny Granger, it was with the best intentions as Granger has suffered injury problems the past year and has struggled on making a healthy appearance on the court this season with only starting two games for the Pacers. During his long absence from the court last year and with superstar Paul George leading the Pacers to the playoffs, Granger was a supporting role player off the bench.

By adding 76ers star wing player, Evan Turner to come off the bench is an upgrade for the Pacers – as Turner was a starter for Philadelphia and has great versatility to run the point, play shooting guard and be used as a small forward in the game when the starters are resting.

Turner, the 6’7” guard is averaging 17 points, six rebounds and 4 assists this season. Big man, Lavoy Allen is averaging 5 points and 5 rebounds but could see his numbers rise toward the end of the season when PF David West and C Roy Hibbert rest before the playoffs begin.

Earlier last month, Bird took center Andrew Bynum off the market and added his big-man presence in to cause problems for playoff teams this Spring. Bynum will be a great bench player come playoff time, and with the addition of Lavoy Allen – the Pacers are big, strong and looking to send LeBron James and company back to South Beach early for the offseason.

The Pacers are favorites to win the Larry O’Brien trophy this year with their powerful starting five lineup and arguably one of the best benches in the league – all thanks to Larry Bird.

There is no doubt that 30 years ago, “Larry Legend” would’ve been named beast of the week with his performance on the court for the Boston Celtics. It seems now Bird has mastered the art of operating as an executive for the Pacers, and that is why he is our beast of the week.


You can follow David Pradel on Twitter: @davepradel_

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