Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Lacob Factor: Pt. 4


This is part four of a series leading up to the NBA Draft in which I identify players that may be worth Joe Lacob's ability and willingness to buy a draft pick. I do so by choosing players that are mocked to
go at the 20th selection or later by DraftExpress, nbadraft.net, and Chad Ford. The players mentioned so far have been Tony Mitchell, Nate Wolters, and Isaiah Canaan. Today's candidate is...

Myck Kabongo, PG Texas 6'2" 180 lbs.

That's right folks, we're talking Myck Kabongo. Out of High School, Kabongo was projected to spend one year at Texas and then head off to the NBA as a sure fire top five pick. Well,

that didn't exactly work out now did it? Maybe I'm crazy because I think Kabongo should undoubtedly be a first round pick and has plenty of upside as a rotational point guard. One of the stigmas following Kabongo is the fact that he got suspended by the joke that is the NCAA for taking money which he shouldn't have. I don't think this will effect his draft stock because that's a college problem and his college life is in the past. What will negatively hurt his stock despite good quickness and passing skills is a lack of scoring ability, the likes of which have not really been seen on an NBA point guard.

How he'd help: Kabongo can bring something to the Warriors that they don't really have: a pass first point guard. Steph Curry is a star who does get plenty of assists, but he is not a pass first, pass second guard. Now, Kabongo may be all passing because he can't score. Whatever the case may be, he can get others involved. The Warriors have a lot of spot up shooters and having a back-up point guard that only looks to feed them would not be so bad.

Potential problems: Do you think I'm kidding? Because I'm not. He seriously can't shoot. During the NBA combine I thought I was watching Andris Biedrins shoot threes. He some how managed to score 14 ppg at Texas but they were mostly by shaking one defender and getting an open lay-up. It's also a growing suspicion that he will struggle to get to the bucket and finish in the NBA. He is also not that strong and does not use his quickness on defense very well. Plenty of negatives on Kabongo, not enough to not make the league, but plenty.

Where he'd fit in: Kabongo would be put in the mix at the back-up point guard spot. Bringing in Kabongo would probably call for a veteran who could be the primary back-up. The hope would be that over time Kabongo could take over as a pass first primary back-up type of guard.

Conclusion: Kabongo has plenty of reasons working against him that say he won't be a very good NBA player. He also has a glimmer of hope that shows him as a valuable back-up. He likes to pass and set up other teammates to score. He also crashes the boards. He is a project as a second rounder, but there are still reasons to believe he can be the 15th man on a team and develop in the D-league. I wouldn't bet on him being a big factor one day, but he could be something.

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Lacob Factor: Pt. 3


This is part three of a series leading up to the NBA Draft in which I identify players that may be worth Joe Lacob's ability and willingness to buy a draft pick. I do so by choosing players that are mocked to
go at the 20th selection or later by DraftExpress, nbadraft.net, and Chad Ford. The first players mentioned were Tony Mitchell, a power forward out of North Texas, and Nate Wolters, a point guard out of South Dakota State. Today's candidate is...

Isaiah Canaan, PG Murray State 6'0" 190 lbs.

Canaan was one of college basketball's best scorers this past year. The leader of tournament darling Murray State, Canaan made a name for himself as a spark plug point guard who can score any way he wants. He is by no means a pure point guard. His passing skills and decision making leave scouts wanting more. Even still, his energy and scoring off of the bench can always be useful. Last year at Murray State he averaged 21/3/4. Not the assist numbers you're looking for in a point guard. Because of his lack of true point guard skills and size he could easily fall in to the beginning of the second round. 
How he'd help: Canaan would be a spark plug off the bench that would bring instant offense. We have seen the offense sputter whenever Steph is off the floor. David Lee can only do so much from the paint, and Klay Thompson is useless unless he is standing in one spot waiting for a pass. Harrison Barnes may be able to be that guy, but he's only going in to his second year and that may be asking too much. Canaan could come in and push the pace and score the ball with his great shooting or solid strength. Also, another underrated part of Canaan's game is his pestering defense. He is not a lock down defender, but he uses his quickness and strength to annoy ball handlers and make their jobs difficult. This would be a nice change off the bench too. Think Toney Douglas.

Potential problems: While Canaan will be a good offensive player off the bench, it will be primarily as a scorer who can only look out for himself. He is not a good distributor. Maybe that would change when he is not the best player on the floor by far. While playing point guard nearly all the time at Murray State he was only averaging about four assists per game compared to 21 points. If you're looking for a back-up point guard who comes in and gets everyone involved, Canaan is not necessarily your guy.

Where he'd fit in: The Warriors future is uncertain at the back-up point guard spot. Jarret Jack played his way last year to a more lucrative contract this year, and the Warriors would have to go in to the luxury tax to keep him. If they are not willing to do that, then they need a couple of guards behind Steph Curry to pick up the slack. With no Jack the Warriors would probably go with a veteran and a rookie to battle for the minutes behind Steph. Canaan could easily be that rookie.

Conclusion: Isaiah Canaan can flat out score. I think it will translate into the NBA from Murray State because he does it with quickness, strength, and a sweet jumper. He does not pass like Steve Nash, but is he that much worse at distributing than Jarret Jack? I doubt it. I also think Canaan will be a better on ball defender than Jack the second he puts on his first NBA uniform. It may be tough to make him Curry's number one back-up because he will indubitably prone to the dreaded rookie mistakes. When all is said and done, I think Isaiah Canaan will make a solid NBA second stringer. 

The Lacob Factor: Pt. 2


This is part two of a series leading up to the NBA Draft in which I identify players that may be worth Joe Lacob's ability and willingness to buy a draft pick. I do so by choosing players that are mocked to
go at the 20th selection or later by DraftExpress, nbadraft.net, and Chad Ford. The first player mentioned was Tony Mitchell, a power forward out of North Texas. Today's candidate is...

Nate Wolters, PG South Dakota State 6'5" 196 lbs. 

Wolters may be one of the biggest boom or bust prospects in the draft. The only thing left to be decided for teams is whether he is leaning towards boom or more towards bust. To many, Wolters reminds of Jason Williams. He is a flashy player who has even drawn a few Pistol Pete references. His biggest problem is the fact that he played at South Dakota State. In his final year of college he averaged 22/5/5. Normally those kinds of numbers with his flashy style means a team will take a chance on someone regardless of where he played in college. Wolters has a certain lack of athleticism which makes NBA teams wary of his potential.

How he'd help: It's no secret that Jarret Jack was a big key for the Warriors this past season. Jack was an essential ball handler off of the bench that could spell either Curry or Thompson and take over more of the point guard duties. That is what Wolters would be asked to do. Maybe not to the extent that Jack did because Wolters would only be a rookie. Wolters is certainly unique in that he is 6'5" and is still a pure point guard. He can be a facilitator as well as a scorer off of the bench and could provide a rest for Steph Curry without the half court offense going down the drain.

Potential problems: Probably the biggest thing that stands out about Wolters is his lack of athleticism. He is not fleet of foot registering as neither fast or quick. He is also not very strong. If you liked the strength of Jarret Jack, you may not like Wolters as he is at the opposite end of the strength spectrum. If you were to look at Wolters' lack of foot speed and strength you would probably assume he is not a goo defender. Your assumption would be correct as he was not even a good defender at South Dakota State. Does that mean he could not be coached up to being a half decent defender and not a revolving door? Of course not. But he will never be a defensive stopper. Let's be serious though, Jarret Jack wasn't exactly Gary Payton either.

Where he'd fit in: It would surprise very few if Jarret Jack were wearing another teams uniform next year. With that being said, the Warriors will need another point guard off of the bench. Scott Machado ended last year on the Warriors roster but I'm not sure if he is the guy, at least not without competition. Kent Bazemore is going to be seeing time at PG in the summer league, but I think that would be for limited minutes in limited games and mostly because of his defense. While a veteran may be safer, Wolters can come in and compete for time at the back up PG spot. Head coach Mark Jackson is not afraid to play rookies if they prove they are worth the minutes.

Conclusion: Nate Wolters is a player that can easily be had in the later stages of the first round. Usually small school prospects shoot up boards because of their athleticism. This is not an option for Wolters. I believe he is worth a shot late in the first. If he develops nicely, we are talking about a pure point guard with flash and passing ability who stands at 6'5". He would be one of the more unique back-ups in the NBA. If he doesn't pan out, then he is a late first rounder, and those picks often don't work out. He would at depth in an area where the Warriors need it, and may just stick in the league for a long time.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Justin Smith Signs: What That Means for 49ers Draft Class


Justin Smith recently signed a two-year contract extension in what seems like a deal that will see the cowboy retire as a 49er. Here at Bay Area Draft Guy we like to look at how signings effect draft outlooks. Since we are (sadly) very far from the next draft, we will look at how it changes the perception of the previous one. Until this years draft class hits the field, all they are is a perception anyways.

The most notable and obvious pick that had its perception and future role changed is the selection of Florida State DE Cornelius "Tank" Carradine. He was seen as someone who could have merited a first round selection by the 49ers and certainly could have gone much higher had he not needed ACL surgery during his final season at Florida St. In fact, he routinely out performed fellow Florida St. DE and first round pick, Bjoeren Werner.

Before Justin Smith was signed, it was common knowledge that the 49ers needed a player that could play defensive end in their 3-4 formation. This is a position that requires tremendous size and tenacity, as well as the abilities to occupy multiple blockers while stuffing the run and rushing the quarterback. This a a very difficult list to fulfill with one single player. That's the value in Justin Smith, he is that list. That is also the value in Carradine, even as a player out of college, he can still check off every requirement on that list.

So as far as the perception of this last draft, Carradine has moved from a necessity to more of a luxury.  He will still play a key role because the 49ers needed depth along the defensive line. Carradine will no longer be seen as the immediate replacement to Smith however. On draft day this was such a great pick because Carradine could learn behind Smith for a year and then take over for him after Justin's assumed retirement. Well, now that Smith has three seasons left, Carradine is a luxury. He can play the defensive end in the 3-4 to give Justin Smith and Ray McDonald the rest they need, as well as play any position along the line in the 4-3 defense. Heck, if his speed comes back during his recovery they can train him as a spot 3-4 outside linebacker.

The value of a pick is based off the need and talent of the player when he is taken as compared to where he should have been selected. Now that Carradine is a rotation player and not an heir apparent, his value as a pick is much higher because he is no longer essential. Carradine is now just another layer of depth on what may be the leagues deepest team.

Friday, June 21, 2013

The Lacob Factor: Pt. 1


One thing you should never do is count Joe Lacob out if spending money is involved. The Cohan era is over people, this organization is concerned with winning. Just because the Warriors do not own a pick in this years NBA Draft does not mean they will not be making one. This wouldn't even be the first time Lacob has bought a pick. In 2011 Lacob bought the rights to big man Jeremy Tyler in the 2nd round. Did it work out? No, not really, but that's not the point. The point is and was that the Warriors lacked for young potential on the interior and Lacob had a player identified, and went and got him regardless of whether or not he had a pick.
The Warriors did a spectacular job in last years drafting process nabbing Harrison Barnes, Festus Ezeli, and Draymond Green. They also signed Kent Bazemore to play for the Summer League team, and behind Steph Curry he may be the most beloved Warrior. They excelled in last years draft by making great picks at the end of the first round and the beginning of the second. That's what we're looking for this year, and that player may well be needed with the potential departure of Jarret Jack and Carl Landry.

The qualification to be eligible to be a Lacob factor pick is simple. I have taken three of the NBA mock drafts that I respect the most and found players that are mocked to go at pick number 20 or later in the draft. The three mocks I used are DraftExpress, NBADraft.net, and Chad Ford's from ESPN. If a player was consistently in the late first round or even later, they were eligible to be bought by Joe Lacob. The first player eligible to be this years Lacob effect winner is...

Tony Mitchell SF/PF, North Texas, 6'9" 236 lbs. 

This would be an ambitious move by Lacob & Co. Mitchell has been consistently mocked from picks 20-25. He can be seen as a bit of a tweener, but he has incredible athleticism which can help him out at the 4 spot. We know the Warriors aren't afraid to have undersized players at the 4 with David Lee, Carl Landry, Draymond Green, and Harrison Barnes. Mitchell would be another young talent to add in the mix at power forward, however he is unique in that his best asset would be pure athleticism.

How he'd help: The power forwards that the Warriors have the most trouble with are the incredibly athletic ones. It seems like if a power forward can run fast and jump high, he can dominate the interior. Maybe what the Warriors need is their own super athlete to combat that. Mitchell would be able to run with anyone and go up as high as any others for a rebound.

Potential problems: One of the big questions about Mitchell was whether or not he looked so good in college was because of the level of competition he played while at North Texas. If he was just able to coast by on his athleticism, he may try and do the same in the NBA and that won't be enough. There are subtle questions about his motor and he turns the ball over a lot. The turnovers wouldn't be as much of a problem because he won't handle the ball as much as he did at North Texas. His offensive efficiency was low but that's also not a large concern because he will be far down on the list of scoring options.

Where he'd fit in: He would be added to the mix at power forward and to a lesser extent at small forward. David Lee is the unquestioned starter, but behind him coach Jackson likes to mix and match. Draymond Green takes his hard hat and lunch pail into the post every time he is called upon. Harrison Barnes saw some time at the 4 in the playoffs where we saw that having an athlete there can do wonders. Carl Landry was a key to last years Warriors team, but it is unlikely he'll be back in Oakland. Mitchell could play behind Draymond Green at the 4 which would give him some spot minutes here or there, but more importantly, time to grow and expand his game at the NBA level without being thrown to the wolves.

Conclusion: Mitchell could bring the Warriors some real athleticism at a position where they lack it. He is not needed right now, so he will have time to grow and develop. Mitchell has plenty of bust potential, but he also has the athleticism and willingness to defend to be a very nice change of pace at a position where he would be unique to the Warriors.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Who's No. 1?

This is one of those odd years where the number one pick in the draft is very much up for grabs. Look at the last five No. 1 picks, Anthony Davis, Kyrie Irving, John Wall, Blake Griffin, and Derrick Rose. Not a whole lot of debate there. This year can be tricky, and while I don't think anyone would ever refuse the number one overall pick, but Cavs GM Chris Grant has his work cut out for him. He has the franchise building block in Kyrie Irving, but unlike two years ago, the selection won't be that easy. His decision can be narrowed down to five names in my opinion: Nerlens Noel, Alex Len, Otto Porter, Ben McLemore, and Anthony Bennet.

Right off the bat I think you can cancel out McLemore. The Cavs took Dion Waiters last year and
it looks like he'll be able to hold down the SG spot for a good long while.

I also think you can forget about Anthony Bennet. The uber talented and athletic but raw potential is there, but the Cavs have Tristan Thompson at the 4, and he has been developing nicely after averaging 11 ppg and 9 rpg in the 2012-13 season.

That leaves Noel, Len, and Porter. Had Noel not torn his ACL I don't think I would even be writing this article. If he were healthy he would be the number one pick and almost unimaously. However, he is hurt, therefore not a home run pick.

The Cavs could use reinforcements on the wing and in he middle. Anderson Varejao is very good when healthy, but is oft injured. Would it be smart to draft an injured big to help reinforce an injured big? That's the multi-million dollar question. Luckily for the Cavs, all three top choices left fill a hole. Now, who do I think should be the top pick?

otto-porterRight off the bat, I would not take Nerlens Noel. I believe that once a big man sustains a serious injury it becomes a vicious cycle for he rest of their career. There are plenty of circumstances where that is not the case, and Noel does have youth on his side, but I wouldn't risk it. We are talking about a kid in Noel who needed hefty work on his offensive game pre-injury, so it's not like he's a complete player anyways. Based on the injury and the fact that he has offensive deficiency, I would leave him for the Magic at pick two.

That leaves 7'1" Center Alex Len and 6'8" SF Otto Porter Jr.

Personally, I love Otto Porter Jr. I think he will be a solid NBA player and the type of guy who can fit in on any team. I think he is a perfect fit on the Cavs. Porter is the type of player who can effect a game on defense as well as on the boards and is perfectly fine not being the center of the offense. That is the perfect formula for Cleveland. He will bring defense and athleticism on the wing where they very much lack that. Kyrie Irving is obviously the number one option with other solid options in Waiters and Varejao. Porter would fit seamlessly into the offense, knocking down open jumpers when he has the chance. If I were GM I would strongly consider Porter.

alex-lenWith all of that being said, it is hard to look past a 7'1" Center with the rare ability out of college to actually score in the paint. Look around the league. How many seven footers are there that can be or become legitimate scoring options in the paint. There can't be more than a handful of them. That's what makes it so difficult to not take Alex Len. Not even Nerlens Noel can be the scoring presence inside that Len can be. Len averaged 11.9 ppg atMaryland and he didn't get nearly as many touches as he should have. There are questions about his assertiveness and toughness, but it is hard to deny his scoring ability inside. Even if he can't defend or rebound at all he can easily be Brook Lopez, an asset many teams would like to have. With the draft nearing, I would have to put my money on Len being the choice.