The Cleveland Cavaliers, Minnesota Timberwolves and Detroit Pistons have agreed in principle to a three team trade that will send forward Kevin Love to Cleveland, Andrew Wiggins, Thaddeus Young and the Cavaliers protected 2015 first-round draft pick to Minnesota and Anthony Bennett to Detroit, according to reports.
For the past month, trade talks have been ongoing between the Cavs and the Timberwolves. Although at first Cleveland was reluctant to trade Wiggins, the No. 1 pick in the 2014 NBA draft, the Timberwolves were adamant in acquiring the potential star in a trade for Love. Bennett, despite a pedestrian rookie season in which he averaged just 12.8 minutes per game, is potentially a valuable commodity for the Pistons as the No. 1 pick of the 2013 draft has shown signs of progress recently.
On Sunday, Wiggins, very aware of trade talks involving him, indicated he was comfortable playing for any team.
“I just want to play for a team that wants me,” Wiggins told ESPN. “Whichever team wants me, I’ll play for.”
The trade, due to a minimum 30 day wait after Wiggins’ contract signing, cannot officially occur until August 23. All three teams have agreed to the trade, but no team faces any punishment should they choose to change their mind before the deal is official. The trade also comes with an agreement that Love will opt out of his current contract in 2015 and re-sign with the Cavaliers for a reported five-years, $120 million. Although the exact terms have been agreed upon, the three organizations plan to stay silent until the trade is announced, according to reports.
The 25-year-old Love is coming off one of his best seasons, netting an average of 26 points and 12.5 rebounds per game. The three-time All-Star received his first All-Start start this season as well, beating out Dwight Howard.
For the Timberwolves, this trade works. Love informed Minnesota that he would not be returning and would be opting out of his contract next summer. Trading the All-Star with a foot already out the door in exchange for the very talented Wiggins is about as good as a consolation prize as a team can get.
For Cleveland, acquiring Kevin Love is the icing on the cake after an amazing offseason that included the signing of four time MVP, LeBron James. Love joins James and guard Kyrie Irving to form a ‘Big 3’ in Cleveland that will be considered a favorite to win the Eastern Conference and contend for an NBA championship immediately.
After LeBron James’ and Carmelo Anthony’s decisions dominated the first part of the offseason, superstar forward Kevin Love is now the biggest player on the market.
With a year remaining on his current contract, Love has been the subject trade talks between the Minnesota Timberwolves and multiple teams this summer. In the past week, a Kevin Love for No. 1 draft pick Andrew Wiggins with Cleveland has looked very likely. However, Wiggins signing his contract with the Cavaliers on Thursday stalls that possibility. The contract prevents any trading of Wiggins for thirty days, or until August 23.
While Cleveland is still a major player for Love, Wiggins’ new contract affords other teams an opportunity to trade for Love. The two biggest contenders outside of Cleveland are the Golden State Warriors and the Chicago Bulls.
THE FAVORITE: Cleveland Cavaliers
Though a trade cannot happen for a month, an agreement between the Cavs and Timberwolves could still occur. While an extremely talented Wiggins has future star potential, LeBron James is in the prime of his career and obviously wants to continue his streak of making the NBA Finals. James and the Cavs management are well aware of the huge impact Love could have on the team’s ability to win now. James has personally reached out to Love in an attempt to recruit him. The political capital that James has over the front office, combined with the desire to play for a title-contender in Love allows Cleveland to remain the favorite.
THE THREAT: Chicago Bulls
After missing out on Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony, the Bulls are still looking to solidify their chances at winning an Eastern Conference Championship. Chicago has now set its sights on acquiring Love, engaging in trade talks with the Timberwolves. In order to entice Minnesota into making a trade, Chicago’s front office will have to make an offer big enough to pull the Timberwolves away from their apparent favorite, Wiggins. Surely, Minnesota will examine every available option before dealing away Love to Cleveland, giving the Bulls an opportunity to snatch Love away.
THE DARKHORSE: The Golden State Warriors
Reports earlier in the summer indicated that Minnesota and Golden State came very close to a deal; however, the Warriors and Timberwolves never came to an agreement. If the Warriors have any regrets, they have the next thirty days to try to put together a deal that Minnesota will agree to. However, it still seems unlikely that the Warriors will trade away guard Klay Thompson, who the Timberwolves seem to be mandating before they consider a trade.
Of course, Love could end up staying in Minnesota, but it seems unlikely at this point that the Timberwolves would keep him. Considering the Timberwolves appear to understand that they will not be able to resign Kevin Love, a trade would allow them to turn the remaining year on his contract into a future for the franchise.
Cleveland has undergone so much reconstruction it seems like Ty Pennington was hired as head advisor.
Since Jimmy Haslam bought the franchise in August of last year, the Browns front office and coaching staff has almost completely shifted. As a result, Norv Turner was brought in during the off-season as offensive coordinator. His vertical passing style of offense and the signing of Jason Campbell displayed the Browns were going in a new direction. McCoy just didn’t fit in the plan.
But the Browns did McCoy a favor in reportedly sending him to the Golden Gate City. Head coach Jim Harbaugh happens to be the magic man when it comes to improving quarterbacks.
And McCoy needs some improvements.
Harbaugh began his head-coaching career at San Diego University, a private university in the Pioneer conference, in 2004. His first quarterback was Todd Mortensen, who had transferred from BYU after underperforming the last three seasons, completing 27 of 77 passes for one touchdown and four interceptions. In his first season under Harbaugh’s direction, Mortensen would throw for 2,874 yards, 25 touchdowns and six interceptions. Mortensen would go on to sign a contract with the Detroit Lions.
In his second year at San Diego, Harbaugh brought out the talents of Josh Johnson. Johnson would shatter most of the school records for passing during his time with Harbaugh and eventually was drafted by Tampa Bay. He currently plays for Cincinnati.
The list continues for Harbaugh from when he began at Stanford and improved T.C. Ostrander, who stepped up from his back-up role to fill in the absence of Trent Edwards in 2007. Ostrander threw for 1,422 yards, seven touchdowns and three interceptions in four games with the Cardinal. When Ostrander suffered a seizure during the fifth week, backup Tavita Prichard stepped in and helped upset top-ranked USC. Prichard would later lose his starting position to Andrew Luck. Luck would get drafted No. 1 overall after finishing second two years in a row in the Heisman polls.
All of this happened under Jim Harbaugh’s direction.
It isn’t coincidence that all of these players improved dramatically. The list is too consistent.
Harbaugh took a quarterback that everyone thought was washed up in Alex Smith and turned him into a team MVP overnight. Then after Smith was injured in Week 10 of the next season, Harbaugh brought up backup Colin Kaepernick and you know the rest.
McCoy will now get his opportunity to improve.
One of the things that kept McCoy out of contention in Cleveland was his lack of arm strength. Under Harbaugh, that is not a problem.
Here’s an example of what an Alex Smith/Harbaugh game looks like. In the 2011 NFC Divisional Playoff game between San Francisco and New Orleans, the average distance Alex Smith had to throw was 7.75 yards. Accuracy, consistency, and mobility allowed Smith to thrive in a 327-yard, four-touchdown playoff win.
Sounds a lot like a 2009 Texas Longhorns game.
But McCoy will have to compete for the backup role with Scott Tolzien. When you have earned a 6-15 record as a starter, you aren’t going to compete for a starting gig anywhere in the NFL.
Both Tolzien and McCoy possess accuracy, youth, and a Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award (given to the NCAA’s most outstanding senior quarterback). It will be a tough competition, but a fair one, much unlike the one McCoy was promised last season with Weeden.
Tolzien or McCoy may have to start at some point next season. The dual-threat attack with Kaepernick is effective, but also risky. Whoever wins the second-string will have to be prepared.
Texas Longhorns point guard Myck Kabongo, who has completed his NCAA-mandated 23-game suspension for receiving impermissible benefits last summer (a $475 plane ticket for a workout in Cleveland), released a statement Monday saying he was ready to play Wednesday against Iowa State and that he was sorry for misleading NCAA and UT officials. Kabongo's ban for receiving an impermissible benefit would have been the standard 10 games, but because he provided incorrect information during the investigation process, the NCAA banned Kabongo for the entire season on Dec. 19. The Longhorns, however, submitted an appeal shortly thereafter and won, cutting his suspension to 23 games.
“I am ready to start playing with my team again and putting behind me the last several months," Kabongo said in the statement. "When I went to Cleveland last summer, I did not intend to break any rules and did not believe I had broken any. I should have been upfront with UT about everything the first time I had a chance, but I’m glad that I corrected my mistake and I’m glad that I was truthful with the NCAA.
I have learned a lot about myself and what is important to me through this process. I have a great team, and they have supported me all year. I believe I am a better teammate and am looking forward to finishing the season with my team. I want to thank my teammates and my coaches for sticking by and supporting me all year.”
Colt McCoy, who served as an honorary captain before Texas’ win over Iowa State last month, went 45-7 as a starting quarterback for the Longhorns. He’s currently backing up rookie Brandon Weeden as a member of the Cleveland Browns.
ARLINGTON, Texas — The Browns players file into the locker room, heading down in defeat after a crushing overtime loss to the Cowboys on Nov. 18.
The majority of the team heads directly to the showers to wash away the stains of yet another close defeat, but backup quarterback and legendary former Longhorn Colt McCoy is one of the exceptions.
McCoy, who hadn’t seen a snap in the game, didn’t break a sweat in his return to Texas. Instead of racing toward the soothing drops of warm water, he stood stoically next to his locker, piling on layers of clothing to combat the biting winds of a cool November Dallas afternoon.
There wasn’t a teammate within 10 feet of him, and he faced away from the crowd of players on the opposite side of the room, where the young running backs and wideouts hammed it up, laughing and joking around, despite having victory snatched from them only minutes earlier.
McCoy took no part, taking the loss as hard as any starter.
“We always find a way to lose,” McCoy said, disheartened by yet another defeat. The Browns are 4-8 on the year, and lost the previous four games by a combined 18 points.
McCoy hasn’t played a role in any of these contests. He’s stood on the sidelines holding a clipboard, relaying signals to 29-year-old rookie quarterback, Brandon Weeden.
McCoy is active in his role. Arms churning to send out the right call, helping Weeden make any adjustments needed at the line. But under it all, he’s frustrated. It can be seen in his clenched jawline after a close loss, the same outline that used to display his 10-volt smile as he roamed the field at DKR.
“It’s a hard deal, especially when you feel like you should be playing,” McCoy said. “You just got to stay positive. It’s a marathon and not a sprint.”
McCoy’s first two seasons in the NFL were a whirlwind. After becoming college football’s all-time winningest quarterback at Texas — he’s now been surpassed on the list by former Boise State Bronco Kellen Moore — and leading the Longhorns to an appearance in the 2009 BCS Championship game, the Browns drafted McCoy in the third round.
In 2010, McCoy quickly ascended to the starting role, replacing an aging Jake Delhomme to play eight games in the year. He found a reasonable level of success that season despite his team’s lacking talent. In 2011, McCoy elevated his play, throwing for 2,733 yards, 14 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He only participated in 13 games however, as a vicious helmet-to-helmet blow by Pittsburgh’s James Harrison gave him a concussion, knocking him out for the remainder of the season.
Despite only having a little over a year under center, Cleveland’s new coaching staff decided to move in a different direction in the 2012 draft. The Browns selected Weeden at No. 22 to be the team’s quarterback of the future, leaving McCoy behind before he had a chance to establish himself.
“I got drafted by a different coaching staff, and they’re going to bring new guys in,” McCoy said. “You don’t want to make any excuses or anything, but you just have to live to fight each day, and I’m in that position right now.”
He’s battling to stay relevant in Cleveland, but the coaching staff hasn’t given him much of an opportunity. Head coach Pat Shurmur said that both quarterbacks would participate in an open competition during training camp, but it seemed to be a mere token gesture, as Shurmur named Weeden the starter only a week and a half into camp.
McCoy hasn’t sniffed the field since, and his body language made it evident that the combination of not playing and the Browns’ struggles are weighing on him. His teammates commend the job he’s done dealing with the situation.
“Colt’s a pro’s pro,” said Phil Dawson, kicker and former Longhorn. “He doesn’t need a pep talk from me. He’s handled all of this tremendously.”
McCoy’s situation parallels his brother’s, Case, a junior who’s been the backup for much of the season at Texas. However, sophomore David Ash started and stumbled against TCU, leaving the door open for Case to seize the job.
The story ended well for Case, but it may not be the same for Colt. The Browns have invested a significant amount in Weeden, and they see him as the future of the franchise. McCoy has one year remaining on his rookie deal, but when asked to look toward his future in Cleveland, McCoy is vague, spouting words about hard work and perseverance.
But his expression says it all. His blue eyes are cold, numbed by frustration. He just wants a chance.
“I want to win,” McCoy said. “I’ve always won. I want to be part of an environment that’s winning. That’s the frustration of not being able to play.”
Printed on Friday, December 6, 2012 as: Losses, benching brother McCoy
The first came with six seconds remaining in the game, only minute after the Browns scored the go-ahead touchdown with 1:07 left. Before that point the Cowboys had the momentum after stuffing Cleveland on the goal-line with less than two minutes remaining, but a nice Josh Cribbs return coupled with a horse collar tackle by John Phillps put the Browns on Dallas’ 17-yard line and in position to win the game.
The Browns took advantage of the opportunity.
On the very next play Brandon Weeden made his best throw of the game with a strike over the middle to Benjamin Watson for the go-ahead touchdown.
The score put the Browns up by three, but a gutsy last-minute drive led by Tony Romo put Bailey in position for his game-tying kick.
In overtime each team failed to score on its first possession, making the game a sudden death contest. But Dallas got the ball back and wasn't about to waste another opportunity to win.
The Cowboys began the drive on Cleveland’s 48, but after a few short slants between Romo and Miles Austin they quickly reached the Browns 20.
From there, Bailey’s automatic leg ended the game on a 38-yard field goal. Bailey went 3-of-3 on field goal attempts and his teammates didn’t doubt for a second that he’d win them the game.
“I call Dan Bailey golden toe,” Cowboys safety Danny McCray said. “To me he’s automatic within his range... It was never a worry, we’re pretty sure Dan’s going to make every kick.”
When comparing Luck to Griffin Robert Griffin III, it’s easy to overlook Luck’s athleticism. But the Stanford product ran the fourth-best 40-yard-dash among quarterbacks, turned in the fifth-best vertical leap and had the furthest broad jump. He’s much, much more athletic than Peyton Manning, Tom Brady or Drew Brees. Luck’s arm and touch could eventually put him in that upper-echelon of NFL quarterbacks, though: he ranked seventh in the NCAA with a 71.3 completion percentage, sixth with 8.7 yards per attempt and tied for fifth with a touchdown percentage of 9.2 — meaning for every 100 passes he attempted, roughly 10 of them were for touchdowns. But will he have anybody besides Reggie Wayne to throw to in Indy?
Bear with me here, but I like the Heisman Winner from Baylor better than I do Luck. In those aforementioned passing metrics, RG3 ranks better than Luck — third in completion percentage, first in yards per attempt, a tie with Luck in touchdown percentage and also a interception percentage that ranked among the best in the country (1.5, good for 12th). Luck, on the other hand, threw an interception 2.5 percent of the time he put the ball in the air — 46th in the country.
It really is arguable that Griffin III is a better passing prospect than Luck. It’s unarguable that he’s a better athlete (best 40 time of any QB, best vertical leap), one who put up whopping rushing numbers in college with 2,943 total yards and 10 games of triple-digit yardage in essentially three seasons.
One last stat: his passer-efficiency rating in 2011 was the second best ever.
USC tackle Matt Kalil has been penciled in at this spot since the combine, but it won’t be too surprising if the Vikings elect to go with this year’s best cornerback. In a division where you’re facing Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford and Jay Cutler (not to mention, Calvin Johnson, Jordy Nelson, Greg Jennings and Brandon Marshall) twice a year, you need to be able to stop the pass.
Offensive tackles aren't full-proof options, either. Jason Smith, Eugene Monroe and Trent Williams are recent examples of top-10 tackles whose teams (St. Louis, Jacksonville and Washington, respectively) rank among the worst in the league (32nd, 28th, 26th, also respectively). Take Claiborne and give yourself a secondary to build on.
Montario Hardesty, Greg Little, Ben Watson, Mohamed Massaquoi, Josh Cribbs, Chris Ogbonnaya…I don’t care who your quarterback is, or who you’ve got on the offensive line; you’re not winning many games with that core of skill players. That’s why the Browns have to get the best running back prospect since Adrian Peterson. Cleveland traded down last year (and drafted a defensive tackle, Phil Taylor, at 21) in order to stockpile picks. Those picks need to be used to help give a quarterback — for now it’s Colt McCoy — a prayer at winning games in the AFC North. Richardson steps in and starts from day one.
With Claiborne and Richardson off the board, the Bucs have to reach a bit here to get a cornerback, but it’s a major position of need. Ronde Barber has very little left in the tank and the troubled Aqib Talib is being shopped.
From 2010 to 2011, Blackmon scored 38 touchdowns and hauled in 232 passes. His 3,304 receiving yards might be a byproduct of a system, but that’s insane no matter how you slice it (as is his ypc average of 14.6). He’s neither the fastest nor the tallest receiver in this draft, yet he is far and away the most productive and should immediately become Sam Bradford’s top target.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars — Matt Kalil, OT, Southern California
Since 2008, the Jags have chosen in the top 10 every year. And with little results to show for it: Derrick Harvey busted, Monroe has provided little semblance of a building block, Blaine Gabbert could be a disaster. The pick of defensive tackle Tyson Alualu is actually the best so far — and even that is saying something. So this pick needs to be right, and when you’re facing that kind of pressure, you take the best player available, regardless of need. Kalil, a potential franchise left tackle, is just that.
Here’s what I don’t like about Tannehill: He has only 20 games at quarterback under his belt and he was perhaps the main culprit in A&M’s choke job of 2011.
Here’s what I do like: He’s a confident, stand-up type of guy with an above-average arm.
Here’s what I hate: His 61.6 completion percentage last season, his seven yards per attempt, his 2.8 interception percentage.
And here’s what I love: He was sacked only nine times last year, so I know the former wide receiver can avoid the pressures of the Jets, Patriots and the newly-revamped pass rush of the Bills in the AFC East, and he can throw on the run. When a play breaks down, or when a receiver just can’t get open — with Brian Hartline and Davone Bess, this could happen quite often — Tannehill can make things happen with his feet.
Look, Tannehill is the ultimate project quarterback. But the Dolphins can afford to be patient. Matt Moore is a serviceable option and it’s not like the team is about to challenge New England or New York for the division. He’s worth the risk here at 8.
With Cam Newton and Steve Smith doing their thing on offense, it’s time for Carolina to shore up things on the other side of the ball. The NFL’s seventh-worst rushing defense would be buoyed by the addition of Cox, who had five sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss last season.
Despite the offseason signing of Mario Williams, there’s still work to be done to improve Buffalo’s D, which ranked 28th in total defense and 30th in run defense. Kuechly, who led the NCAA in tackles last season, gives the Bills one of the best front sevens in the league. Offensive help — mainly, receiver — can come in the later rounds.
Probably a reach here. Then again, they said the same thing about Jason Pierre-Paul at No. 15 a few seasons ago. The Seahawks put up pedestrian sack numbers in 2011 (33, for a sack percentage of 5.7). Coples never put up huge numbers at UNC, but it’s his potential — a 4.7 40 time at 6-foot-6 and 284 lbs. — that has Seattle pulling the trigger.
The Cowboys have taken three defensive backs in the first round the last decade — safety Roy Williams in 2002 and cornerbacks Terence Newman in 2003 and Mike Jenkins in 2008. Barron becomes No. 4 here and it’s easy to believe he could be better than any of the three.
Philly chose a guard with its first-round pick a year ago, but it’s been a long time since it used such a high pick on an offensive tackle — 1998 ,to be exact. With left tackle Jason Peters possibly out for the season, now seems as good a time as any to break the streak.
For a team that’s made the AFC Championship game two of the last three years, the Jets sure do have a lot of holes. The “ground and pound” offense hasn’t gone anywhere behind Shonn Greene (22nd in team rushing last season), the passing game is in a state of disillusion (21st) and the Jets finished in the red in takeaways. But dangling Poe in front of Rex Ryan — who loves taking on defensive projects — is just too tantalizing.
With a boatload of draft picks after dealing Carson Palmer to the Raiders midseason, there’s plenty of time later on for the Bengals to make a sexier choice, possibly at corner or receiver. Take the draft’s best guard prospect off the boards.
What is it that has caused the Chargers to fall short so often? Among other things, the team failed to establish the run it its six-game losing streak in the middle of last year, posting a paltry 98 yards per game. You’ve got a capable runner in Ryan Mathews, now give him somebody to run behind.
Unless the plan is to turn Jay Cutler into David Carr, it’s high time to improve the offensive line. Stick Glenn at right tackle and hope last year’s top pick, Gabe Carimi, is healthy enough to play a full season at left. Then bid adieu to J’Marcus Webb and Lance Louis, the weak links of a unit that allowed 49 sacks in 2011.
In a division that will one day be run by Andrew Luck, it’s imperative to have somebody who can get after the passer. Upshaw (8.5 sacks last season) can put his hand in the dirt in a 4-3 defensive set or play upright in a 3-4.
Randle is just the kind of deep threat the Browns need to stretch the field, and clear out the box for fellow rookie Trent Richardson. His 17.3 yards per reception ranked among the top 20 in the nation a year ago.
Character issues, schmaracter issues. When you can get this kind of talent this late in the first round, and fill a need while doing it, you take a risk. (Jenkins was dismissed by the Florida Gators after a myriad of drug problems and he’s fathered four children with three different women.) If Jenkins can stay out of trouble — granted, a big if — he can help the Lions.
It has been a game of musical chairs at the right guard position for Steelers, where Darnell Stapleton, Ramon Foster and Trai Essex have been used as temporary replacements until a franchise-type player comes along. In the rugged AFC North, with Ben Roethlisberger feeling the heat, here’s the opportunity to grab a long-term starter.
Those who didn’t flip the channel in between Tim Tebow’s series on offense most likely noticed Denver’s glaring weakness. In eight losses, the Broncos gave up an average of 150 rushing yards a game. Peyton Manning won’t be nearly as effective if he’s sitting on the sidelines watching the opposition run at will.
It’s a choice here between Wright or Stephen Hill of Georgia Tech. Because Houston needs somebody to step in opposite Andre Johnson immediately, the best bet is it’s the uber-productive Wright (one touchdown in every seven catches last season) over a raw talent like Hill.
Last year’s sack leader (16) winds up on a team that has twice seen, firsthand, what an effective pass rush can really do (the New York Giants of 2007, 2011). There's a hole to fill, too, with Mark Anderson signing with the Bills.
Like Clay Matthews, McClellin is a bit of a late-bloomer who’s just now starting to pick up steam. Funny timing. Green Bay is in desperate need of a pass-rushing ‘backer to draw some attention away from Mr. Matthews.
This pick might fall into the hands of a team trying to trade up for Brandon Weeden. Among the contenders, Cleveland has the most to offer in terms of draft picks (Nos. 37 and 67). If not, Patriots should go defense again.
One minor cost of the Giants winning the Super Bowl in Feb. was that two of their tight ends, Jake Ballard and Travis Beckum, suffered knee injuries that could cause them to miss the entire 2012 season. Fleener averaged about 20 yards a catch in his final year at Stanford and also hauled in 10 touchdowns.
A tried-and-true practice, The 2011 NBA Draft Lottery (retro) Diary, with thoughts on the first 14 selections:
1. Cleveland (from L.A. Clippers), Kyrie Irving, g, Duke.
*This is the pick the Cavaliers got in the Baron Davis-Mo Williams trade, and it’s just the Clippers’ luck that it becomes the No. 1 pick in the lottery.
After a few days of speculation, no surprise here that the Cavaliers take Irving, who was great in his freshman season at Duke, albeit if he only played 11 games because of injury. He’s not as dynamic as recent No. 1 point guards like John Wall and Derrick Rose, but his playmaking abilities have led some to compare him to Chris Paul.
I’m not sure if Irving will ever be that good, but I don’t think there’s any way he doesn’t become one of the top-10 point guards in the league. This is a step in the right direction for Cleveland, a franchise that desperately needs some hope after last season’s LeBron James hangover.
Just a side note, this puts the Cavs in position to trade one of the other PGs on the roster — whether it be Baron Davis, Ramon Sessions or former Longhorn Boobie Gibson.
2. Minnesota, Derrick Williams, f, Arizona.
It’s really hard not to fall in love with Williams when you watch him play, because he’s so dynamic. If there’s one player in this draft who could become a true superstar, it might be him. Only thing to complain about here is that he’s sort of in a basketball dark hole in Minnesota now — by all accounts, the worst franchise in basketball. And he lands on a roster that already has a glut of talented forwards: Kevin Love, Michael Beasley and Anthony Randolph. There’s also Wesley Johnson, the fourth pick last year. One of those guys will need to be traded to make room for Williams, who projects as a four but could also play the three.
Great pickup for the Jazz. Kanter was set to star at Kentucky before the NCAA ruled him ineligible for all of last season, but he showed some glimpses of his talent at the 2010 Nike Hoops Summit, when he scored 34 points and grabbed 13 rebounds.
Kanter’s skill set — polished low-post game, soft hands, mobile, good jumper — should complement Derrick Favors and Al Jefferson down low. This gives Utah one of the more formidable frontcourts in the league.
4. Cleveland, Tristan Thompson, f, Texas.
Wow. There were some rumblings of this happening in recent mock drafts, but it’s still pretty unbelievable to think about how much Thompson has improved his stock since he officially declared for the draft, when he was a fringe lotto prospect. He might never be a star, but his hustle on both ends of the floor will make him a reliable big man. At Texas, he became known for his defense and his rebounding, but never really got much of a chance to show what he could do offensively, other than put-back dunks and oops. In a NBA offense, and with a really good point guard in Irving, Thompson will have a chance to improve that end of his game in Cleveland.
5. Toronto, Jonas Valanciunas, c, Lietuvos Rytas (Lithuania).
Valanciunas could have gone to Cleveland at No. 4, but there were some worries that his expensive buyout could keep him overseas a bit longer. In any case, he’ll be a really good compliment to Andrea Bargnani whenever he comes to Toronto. Haven’t seen much of the guy (completely forgot to check him out on my most recent trip to Lithuania) but if he’s as solid in the post as the experts say he is, Toronto should have a versatile frontcourt attack.
6. Washington, Jan Vesely, f, Partizan Belgrade (Serbia).
This is going to be fun to watch. Vesely plays differently than any European player you have ever seen, with incredible athleticism and the ability to dunk just about anything. YouTube this guy. Then imagine John Wall lobbing oops to him. Vesely won’t be the second or third best guy on a playoff-contending team, but he could make up an exciting piece of the puzzle in D.C.
7. Sacramento (traded to Charlotte), Bismack Biyombo, f, Fuenlabrada (Spain).
Two really fun picks back-to-back. Biyombo really won’t be good for anything more than shot-blocking and interior defense, but he’s good enough at both of them to make up for offensive incompetence. He and DeMarcus Cousins would have been scary in Sacramento, but Biyombo was traded shortly afterwards to Charlotte.
8. Detroit, Brandon Knight, g, Kentucky.
Knight is an intriguing combo guard who fits well with Detroit, assuming Rodney Stuckey is on his way out. Ideally, he’s a point guard. This is a steal, Knight could have gone in the top five.
9. Charlotte, Kemba Walker, g, Connecticut.
I’m a fan of Kemba, but just not on this team. Charlotte got big contributions last year from former Longhorn D.J. Augustin, who scored 14 points and dished out six assists a game. Walker, like Augustin, is a smaller point guard, and a scorer who needs the ball in his hands to be most successful. Not sure what this means for Augustin’s tenure in Charlotte, because the fans (all 200 of them) might favor Walker, the national champion who has developed a cult-like following. Interesting to note that both he and Augustin were picked No. 9 in the draft.
10. Milwaukee (traded to Sacramento), Jimmer Fredette, g, BYU.
In the name of Joseph Smith, we couldn’t have gotten Jimmer in a bigger media market? I need to see this guy either in New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Dallas, Miami, Denver or Chicago. The only consolation in this is that the Kings should become one of the more polarizing teams to watch, what with Cousins’ temper tantrums and Tyreke Evans’ style of play — equal parts exciting and selfish. Jimmer will most likely play off the ball in Sacramento, so, assuming Evans ever passes to anybody, he’ll do his damage around the three-point line.
11. Golden State, Klay Thompson, g, Washington State.
Thompson led the Pac-10 in scoring this past season, with 21.6 points a game, so it only makes no sense that he’s going to the Warriors, who already have Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry.
12. Utah, Alec Burks, g, Colorado.
Another good get for the Jazz. Burks was one of the premier scorers in the Big 12 this season, and he’ll bring some punch to a backcourt that features — yikes — Devin Harris, Gordon Hayward, C.J. Miles and Raja Bell. Burks should start from day one.
13. Phoenix, Markieff Morris, f, Kansas.
Big, mean, reasonably talented, tough, experienced, with a good motor.
14. Houston, Marcus Morris, f, Kansas.
Twins?! All the above, plus a jump shot.
Some Local Notes:
What a wild night for Jordan Hamilton, who was drafted by Dallas then traded to Portland then traded to Denver. The Nuggets got a steal here. He’s no Carmelo (though, with his shot selection, he might think he is) but he’ll pour in anywhere from 10 to 25 points any given night. If you’re wondering why Hamilton, who was projected to be a lottery pick, slipped all the way to No. 26, it’s because Texas basketball coach Rick Barnes apparently told inquiring NBA front offices that Hamilton was “uncoachable.”
Cory Joseph was not only drafted by the nearby Spurs, but he also served this whole city a whopping plate of crow. Blasted by many when he came out, including myself, Joseph must have put together some really strong workouts for a diligent-scouting team like the Spurs to want him. With George Hill being traded to Indiana tonight, Joseph should be Tony Parker’s backup this season. Good for Cory.
The Spurs also get SDSU’s Kawhi Leonard, who was picked No. 15 and then traded from Indiana in the Hill trade. Nicknamed "The Human Avatar” by his college teammates because of his huge hands, Leonard will give San Antonio the perimeter defense presence it hasn’t had since Bruce Bowen.
Who is your steal of the draft? Who might be the biggest bust?
Head coach Rick Barnes will bid farewell to another group of players leaving for the NBA Draft. Since 2006, eight Longhorns have been selected in teh first round under Barnes
The three Longhorns drafted into the NBA last week spent about as much time on the draft board as they did playing college ball. Tristan Thompson, Jordan Hamilton and Cory Joseph were all taken in the first round of the draft, and it is a point of both contention and celebration for Longhorn fans.
Perhaps the disappointment can only be erased by taking solace in the fact that, for the first time in school history, three players were selected in the first round. Weak draft class or not, no one expected that.
The biggest shocker of the night was when Cleveland selected Tristan Thompson with the fourth overall pick. Let’s be nice and at least count this early selection as a victory for Thompson. The extra “W” will come in handy for him since he is now on the worst team in the league, which did itself no favors by drafting so terribly.
Thompson, along with the Cavaliers’ No. 1 pick Kyrie Irving, will head into the home of the Rust Belt with equally as much rust in their games. Irving played a grand total of 11 games his sophomore year because of injuries, and Thompson played one solid year of beginner ball with Texas. Now he is expected to make an immediate impact on the league’s laughter squad. The problem is the Cavaliers are already stacked with raw forwards.
Thompson would have been better off falling into the upper teens before being selected. He would have fit well into the second team of a squad such as Phoenix or New York; high-scoring teams with an emphasis on speed.
Thompson’s impact is not going to be as a scorer. He is the guy you want to come in for 15-20 minutes, cause defensive chaos, snag big rebounds and drop a respectable nine or 10 points a night. Cleveland may expect too much too early from the big man, and it could have a negative impact on his career moving forward.
If Thompson was drafted into an unfortunate situation, Jordan Hamilton was dealt the exact opposite hand of cards.
Landing in Denver was perfect for Hamilton, because the Nuggets know a thing or two about explosive scorers. Hamilton is being ushered into a situation tailor-made for his game. He will get to spend a year or so on the bench, learning from guys such as Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler, while simultaneously being allowed to unleash his hyperactive shot for 10-15 minutes a game. His progress will be slow, but he is set up for the most success of any of the former UT players drafted.
As far as the Cory Joseph pick is concerned, I’m still shaking my head at why he even chose to enter the draft.
He was essentially going to have the keys to Texas backcourt handed to him had he stayed another year. He would have had a chance to retool his game and up his draft stock. Instead he went 29th to the Spurs, where he could battle Tony Parker for the starting job — a job Joseph will compete for but won’t get.
To be frank, how is anyone supposed to know how these things will turn out? Draft selections often surprise fans. And if anyone knows about draft steals, it is the San Antonio Spurs. In 1999, an Argentinian by the name of Manu Ginobili was selected 57th overall in the second round, and no one aside from the Spurs had high hopes for him. Turns out everyone else was wrong. Ginobili has won three championships with the Spurs and was an All-Star in 2005.
During the 2007-08 season, he received the Sixth Man of the Year Award and was named to the All-NBA Third Team. One can only hope Joseph will be so fortunate.
As for Longhorn basketball fans, you’re free to be either unhappy at the loss of your team’s cornerstone players or happy for their progress. I’m just jealous they have jobs already.