Thursday, June 26, 2014


It NBA Draft day and I have been gone way too long. Where have I been you ask? Great question. Between working my way into an NBA Video Producer position at a top sports website, producing/directing my first feature length doc, joining the producing team on another, and navigating an always entertaining existence in NYC I drove off the tracks. Now like Steve McQueen in Bullitt, I am back behind the wheel with the NBA, film, emerging television commentary and of course, the most random NYC Coachness you can handle. 

Welcome back to... THE COACHS TAKE.

2014 NBA Draft Top 10 
Before we get to the final mock there several questions I need to answer YES to, that you need to read before we begin, thanks ahead of time.

I have been producing NBA draft content.
I cover the NBA for a living. 
I have real sources I can not reveal. 
I played basketball. 
I coached basketball.
I have learned the game from some excellent coaches/mentors. 
I will probably piss many of you off. 

Now we can check ball. 

#1 - Cavs - Jabari Parker - I have been saying this for well over a month, yes, prior to the Embiid injury, Parker is the most NBA ready talent and the safest move for the Cavs who must both turn the corner ASAP and play it safe after their #1 choice last year.

#2 - Bucks - Dante Exum - Now this is a very difficult choice. I am going here for two reasons:
1: The Bucks really like him. 
2: I documented Exum in Australia for a week in 2013 and I feel he could be the best player from this draft by 2018-2019. If you are the Bucks, you are in step one of your rebuild and the window is wide open. Wiggins would not be a bad pick here, but there are things that Exum possesses on the intangible front that Wiggins has yet to show on a consistent basis which include play making/passing ability and an alpha dog mentality. Exum has them both, plus a 6'6" frame, high basketball I.Q. and a strong work ethic as a point guard. Roll the dice!

#3 - Sixers - Andrew Wiggins - The Sixers and their fans have been dreading not being able to have a shot at Wiggins and then decide on the injured Joel Embiid with the #3 overall pick. With Wiggins they get a two way athlete with a high ceiling as a wing complimentary player. Pair him up with MCW and a healthy Nerlens Noel, suddenly there is a real run and gun mentality for the rebuilding Sixers who are still looking at 3-4 window on their rebuild. 

#4 - Magic - Marcus Smart - The Magic need a PG and Smart, whether they had him ranked #1 on their PG list or #2 behind Exum get a very interesting talent to pair with Victor Oladipo as this could be the back court of the future in Orlando. With Embiid on the board they think long and hard about him, but with another pick at #12 (we'll see if Embiid lasts that long) and a need for a high talent guard to pair with Victor O they go with Smart here. 

#5 - Jazz - TRADE/Noah Vonleh - I have a hard time mocking a draft if I can't consider trades. I think there is a good chance this pick is dealt. In which direction, I'm not sure. Actually, I'm more like Peter Griffin uncertain on this. The Jazz stink. They also have to make some decisions on how they want to rebuild and around whom. Gordon Heyward is a RFA, Derrick Favors has yet to blossom and is being talked about in draft night trade rumors (they let Al Jefferson and Paul Milsap walk, because they wanted to build around Favors, now they want to ship him? Anyone else as pro Al Jefferson as I am?) If they keep the pick then they have some nice choices on the board, which include Noah Vonleh, Aaron Gordon and Julius Randle. Yes, they all play the same position as Favors, but they all come with a different skill set. I think they go Vonleh because of both his physical attributes/ceiling and the fact he has shown he can score both inside and outside. 

#6 - Celtics - Aaron Gordon - Would a trade for Kevin Love involving this pick along with other assets make this Celtics fan very happy? Of course. But the chances of that happening are as slim as me meeting Brad Stevens at Summer League, going for lunch and him hiring me. (You know, now that I think of it, that is a terrific idea. Thankfully my flight was just booked.)  With Aaron Gordon the Celtics get a very athletic 4 man that can defend both the 3 and 4, rebound at a high level, run the floor, pass and finish with strength. Does he have a long way to go on anything involving perimeter offense? Yes. But with Gordon the Celtics become more versatile and add another asset that will make Rondo want to stay or to offer in a later deal for an established All-Star.

#7 - Lakers - Julius Randle - Do the Lakers want to trade this pick for an established talent to put next to Kobe Bryant as he rides off into the Pacific sunset? Sure they do. But I am not so sure a Hollywood ending is going to be in the script for the Lakers. It reads for like a Tarantino script without an ending. Some major maneuvering must be done in order for the Lakers to add the necessary talent NOW, which would include trying to lore Melo and LeBron to LA to join the Mamba (I just puked in my mouth) With Randle the Lakers get a very good talent to play the 4 spot, as Randle's physically and offensive tools would allow him to step in and start right away. If Pau Gasol is to return, a combo of Randle and Pau would be fairly intriguing as that combo could run some serious high-low action, it wouldn't be quite as good as that gourmet shit that Jimmy sips in his kitchen but Jules would damn well like it. 

#8 - Kings - TRADE/Elfrid Payton - Yes, another potential pick on the move. If you were around me during the trade deadline, I said that this draft would be busier trade wise than the deadline has been in years. With that said, the Kings need a veteran piece to join Cousins, Gay and Thomas (Yes, Thomas is a RFA, let's pretend for the moment he is coming back) There are teams looking to move up as there is some solid tier 2 talent to be had at this spot. The issue for the Kings is getting a player in return that helps them tomorrow and trying to get back a pick later in the first round. The Celtics and Suns both are candidates to do that, but let's just say for a moment any and all deals don't happen. I like Elfrid Payton here. If someone offers Isaiah Thomas money the Kings aren't willing to spend you get your replacement and if the Kings work it out with Thomas you now have Payton to play next to him or back him up. At 6'4" Payton brings terrific size and defense to the position where Thomas does not. Payton has been very impressive in workouts and he makes perfect sense here for the Kings, that is, if they keep their pick.

#9 - Hornets - Nick Stauskus - The Hornets were able to ride themselves of the Bobcats name and steal this pick from the Pistons on lottery night due to the way the ping pong balls bounced. Serves Pistons fans right! (Yes, watching the BAD BOYS has brought back all the animosity and hate, I'm definitely watching the Chief take out Laimbeer at some point today!) The Hornets, thanks to strong team defense, Al Jefferson, Kemba Walker and some gritty play from role players like Josh McRoberts made the playoffs last season and now it is time to add a much needed piece in Stauskus. Charlotte needs a shooter, badly, now, and they get that and more. Stauskus can put it on the floor, is a very good passer and at 6'5" gives the Hornets an NBA ready pieces to put next to Kemba Walker in the backcourt. As much effort and athleticism as Gerald Henderson and Michael Kidd-Gilcrest give you, having them on the floor at the same time just doesn't work because they are both limited from the perimeter. This is a nice pick for Michael Jordan and the Hornets.

#10 - Sixers - Joel Embiid - Do I know Embiid will fall this far? Absolutely not. Philly could take him at #3 if I am wrong on Exum, but this is the play I am calling so keep reading. Embiid is a huge risk for two reasons; big man with foot issue following a back issue and big man who didn't make it through the length of a college season which is less than half of an NBA season. Does he have tremendous upside IF healthy? Sure. If you are reading this you most likely already know that. For Philly, this is their second pick in the top ten, and their rebuild window is as large as any team, potentially ever. If Embiid works out for them a year from now you'll have MCW, Wiggins, Noel and Embiid. I am not getting into the whole "you can't play Embiid and Noel together" conversation as we have not seen either guy play side by side nor in an NBA game. Talent is talent. Size is size. This would be a good move here for Philly if Embiid falls to ten.

The rest of the lottery: 
#11 - Nuggets - Jusuf Nurkic (look for trade here) 
#12 - Magic - Rodney Hood 
#13 - T-Wolves - Zach LaVine (look for a trade here) 
#14 - Suns - Doug McDermott

Look for multiple deals involving draft picks in the teens and twenties. With both the Tyson Chandler/Jose Calderon deal and Omer Asik deal happening before the draft there will be no shortage of fireworks come this evening. 

Time go get some jumpers in before I head to the office. 

This is... THE COACHS TAKE. 

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