Pick and Scroll

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Your daily (Mon-Fri) roundup of links from around the blogosphere, typically Trail Blazers related.

  • Casey Holdahl and Dave Deckard discuss the draft, Rudy’s discontent, and Nate McMillan in the latest TrailBlazers.com podcast.
  • Coup from Rip City Project assigns Nicolas Batum some homework. Nicolas, if you are reading this, whatever the hell you did last summer, do it again!
  • Brian Berger of Sports Business Radio talks money and mortality in Paul Allen’s turn under the microscope in OregonLive’s “You be the GM” series.
  • Notorious homer Tommy Heinsohn is not happy with the physicality of the Orlando Magic. In response, Ron Borges of The Boston Herald wants Shelden Williams to hurt Dwight Howard.
  • I’m not sure if I can explain the satisfaction I am getting from the idea that the Celtics are being bulled. The Celtics have played very physically over the last few years, they have slapped, and hit, and clawed, and bullied, and taunted. I love the idea that the Orlando Magic have gotten inside Boston’s collective head. That type of edge is what is required to be the first team to fight their way out of a 3-0 hole, and to fight for a championship in general. I hope the Trail Blazers are paying close attention.
  • I told ya’ll ZBo don’t pass. Zach Randolph is not the focus of either investigation that recently mentioned him. Instead, the investigations are targeting members of Randolph’s disreputable entourage, the “Hoops Family.”
  • Let’s talk about moving up in the draft. The difficulty with moving up this year is that somewhere around half the NBA will enter free agency this year. Everyone has been clearing the books for “The Summer of James/Bosh/Wade” This means that a lot of the players that would normally be put into a trade are expiring instead and a lot of teams are not interested in taking back much salary.

If history serves as a teacher, Portland can likely buy a pick worse than their own for the requisite “cash considerations.” The Hawks pick at #24 seems to be the best opportunity to buy a pick which can be packaged with the #22 pick to move up if Portland is so inclined. Memphis has the #25 and #28 either of which I could see being traded for Portland’s second round pick (and it’s unguaranteed contract) and the change from Paul Allen’s couch.

The assets the Blazers have to use are Rudy Fernandez, Martell Webster, Joel Przybilla, Jeff Pendergraph, Dante Cunningham, and (somewhat unlikely) Jerryd Bayless.

Rudy is hard to trade by himself for a player because his contract is so small. However, since Rudy’s contract is so small, he could easily be traded to a team with cap space for a 1.24 million trade exception. If a team would trade cap space and a pick for Rudy, cash, and maybe a pick, Portland might consider that.

Joel Przybilla’s contract will be expiring, but this is the summer that all the expiring contracts were expiring for, so it may not hold as much appeal. Joel is injured and no one knows when he will be back so he’d likely only be traded to take on a worse contract with more years.

I do not think Portland will trade Jerryd Bayless. Bayless provides great value for his contract and I don’t see an obvious replacement in the draft. Likewise, I don’t see anyone another team would trade that is significantly better than Bayless.

What do you think might happen? Give us your best guess in the comments.

Pick and Scroll

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Your daily (Mon-Fri) roundup of links from around the blogosphere, typically Trail Blazers related.

• Yesterday I bemoaned how difficult it can be to pry information from Kevin Pritchard and the like, well Kerry Eggers of the Portland Tribune takes a morsel from Pritchard and then follows up with Blazers director of scouting Mike Born. Looks like the Blazers are indeed trying to move on up, but probably just higher in the first round or into the lottery.

• SJ from Rip City Project assigns Marcus Camby some homework in RCP’s ongoing “Summer Reading” series.

• BlazersEdge’s Ben Golliver waxes eloquent about Kevin Pritchard’s tumultuous year in The Oregonian’s “You be the GM” series.

• Mike Tokito, The Oregonian has your NBA High-5, which is considerably “higher” today due to the presence of an allegedly weed distributing Zach Randolph. Zach? Dealing weed? C’mon, we all know Zach doesn’t pass…

• Dave Deckard of BlazersEdge answers some mail.

• ESPN’s Chad Ford has all the draft combine athletic measurements (INsider). I told ya’ll you should buy INsider. For reference sake, I bench as much as Daniel Orton and jump like Solomon Alabi, I am just barely athletic enough to be an NBA center! Too bad I’m 5’9”.

Ekpe Udoh and Patrick Patterson are rising on my radar because of their agility scores. If Portland decides to pick a big man, I hope they pick someone who can show and recover on the pick and roll. Agility is a big part of being able to execute pick and roll defense, of course it also requires timing and skill, but those aren’t tested at the combine.

 

Pick and Scroll

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Your daily (Mon-Fri) roundup of links from around the blogosphere, typically Trail Blazers related.

• Ladies and gentlemen, may I present “The Zen Master.”

• Surprisingly, this next article is not from The Onion. You will soon be able to order a pizza with your favorite team’s logo on it. Speaking for myself, I am not paying an extra five bucks to eat the Blazer Pinwheel, especially with all that Red #5.  Additionally, who would order a pizza with the Clippers logo since you just know that the pizza delivery guy would get into a car wreck on the way to your house?

• Kerry Eggers interviews Kevin Pritchard and reveals pretty much nothing new. My background before law school was political science and I took classes and workshops on campaigns and grass roots campaigning. Most campaign managers would kill to have a candidate that can stay “on message” the way Pritchard can. You can have a whole interview with Pritchard and he will not give a shred of new information, just buzzwords like “culture” and now days “evaluation” and “pink elephant.”

• Dave Deckard of BlazersEdge answers some mail.

• Did you see what Goran Dragic did to Derrick Fisher last night?

• Rob Mahoney of Pro Basketball Talk turns a critical eye to the Detroit Pistons. It’s not really Blazer related, but I was thoroughly entertained by it.

• Also at Pro Basketball Talk, real men play zone defense.

• Sports Illustrated’s Frank Hughes  gives his post-combine report.

• Woooooooooooo Chad Ford Mock Draft 3.0!

• Now, we all know who Evan Turner is. So rather than go through his draft site profiles, I’ll just give you my take: This kid is a do-it-all wing, a Brandon Roy-lite. He plays defense, he passes, he scores, he rebounds, and he rescues kittens from trees. However, what Turner does not do that well, is shoot from beyond the arc. Turner would be a great backup for Roy, and he’d be an amazing sixth man, shoring up both wing spots. However, a Miller (or Bayless), Roy, Turner lineup is just begging to have the paint packed against them. Now that zone is apparently coming into vogue (at least, a little), teams need to have shooters who can make the zone pay. The acquisition of Turner would likely cost (amongst much more) Rudy Fernandez and Martell Webster, so there goes all of Portland’s above average three point bombers other than Nicolas Batum.

I think Portland is looking for shooters and I think that the cost to move up and get Turner would be prohibitive. Turner will be a good player, but he seems to be an awkward fit in Portland.

Pick and Scroll

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Your daily (Mon-Fri) roundup of links from around the blogosphere, typically Trail Blazers related.

• Dave Deckard from BlazersEdge talks draft strategy. Psst, draft BPA!

• Just how much do coaches matter? Kevin Pelton of Basketball prospectus takes a look.

• ESPN’s own Chad Ford is chatting up a storm.

• Coup from Rip City Project assigns some homework to Andre Miller. Just as long as it’s not exercise. Dude does not lift a finger during the offseason.

• Is Greg Monroe soft? I don’t think so. However, I don’t think LaMarcus Aldridge is soft either. [Side note: my theory is that LaMarcus has no faith in his handles and is thus loath to put the ball on the floor and drive past his man. However, if he would cover the ball up like a half-back and take one or two long strides towards the hoop, he might be surprised how much more effective his game becomes.]

• TrueHoop Network sister site Eight Points, Nine Seconds continues their “value of a draft pick” three part series. Here is part two, the awards, and part three, the first year impact.

• New kid on the beat, Mike Tokito of The Oregonian lists the NBA’s top five stories of the day.

• Henry Abbott, “The Blogfather” himself, examines Nate McMillan in The Oregonian’s “You be the GM” series.

• Okay, we’re back in the saddle with the draft coverage. Staying with the “What if Portland trades up to the top four picks” hypothetical, today’s prospect is Derrick FavorsHere is Favors DraftExpress profile, and his NBA draft.net profile.

My take: I wasn’t going to really look at Favors. I thought to myself that with Oden, Przybilla, Camby, and Aldridge, why would Portland take another big man? Then I saw that the Lakers were on Chris Bosh’s wish list. That is when I realized that the “big 3” model is dying. The NBA has turned to “arms race” mode and the stockpile of choice is big men. Look at Cleveland, Boston, Orlando, Los Angeles, and to some extent, San Antonio. They all have a good front line and then they have talented players like Varajao, Ilgauskas, Odom (or Bynum), Davis, McDyess, and Wallace coming off the bench. Next year, who knows how Przybilla’s knee will hold up? All Portland’s big men, save Aldridge, have been a bit injury prone and I can’t imagine that Przybilla or Camby will still be Blazers three years from now.

I am now firmly in the “Portland should pick a big and go after smaller positions in free agency” camp. After all, centers and power forwards get overpaid in free agency, so it’s better to draft them and get them on a rookie scale.

Now, what about Favors? He’s raw, but has a lot of excellent physical tools. He can play both front court positions and he’s an excellent rebounder. Right now he doesn’t have a great jump shot and he struggles a bit at the free throw line, but he has a skill that is more valuable than either of those to the Blazers. Favors is quick and athletic enough to show on the pick and roll and then *gasp* recover. Don’t worry about logjams or minutes crunches. In my mind Portland has four players who are incredibly unlikely to be traded; Roy, Oden, Aldridge, and Batum. As far as I’m concerned, trade who you must out of everyone else if it nets (pun!) you a possible All-Star caliber big man. An acquisition of a prospect like Favors gives Portland a championship level front court that is much better prepared to withstand injury. Now, how would Portland acquire Derrick Favors? Jump on the ESPN Trade Machine and leave us your best deal in the comments below.

An American Needle in a Legal Haystack

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Today the Supreme Court of the United States handed down a unanimous decision in American Needle Inc v. NFLAmerican Needle is an important case because at issue is whether a sports league is a single entity or several diverse entities that work together for a common goal. Today, Justice Stevens’ opinion firmly established the NFL as a collection of 32 teams that are separate entities but work together as a joint-venture.

“Why does it matter if the NFL is considered to be one entity or 32 separate entities working in concert?” Well, there is this tricky little law called The Sherman Antitrust Act which states in part:

“Every contract, combination in the form of trust or otherwise, or conspiracy, in restraint of trade or commerce among the several States, or with foreign nations, is declared to be illegal.”

If the NFL was found to be a single entity, it could not conspire with itself to restrict trade and would be able to (amongst other things) limit the companies that are allowed to manufacture NFL licensed merchandise. That means that one company could be licensed to make hats with NFL team logos and they could charge exorbitant prices because there is nowhere else that anyone can get that product. However, I am not writing this article today because the world is safe from over-priced hats. The American Needle decision is important because of the ramifications of what could have been had the Supreme Court sided with the NFL. In the words of NFL quarterback Drew Brees in The Washington Post:

What might the owners do? They could agree to end or severely restrict free agency, continue to enter into exclusive agreements that will further raise prices on merchandise, lock coaches into salary scales that don’t reward them when they’re promoted and set higher ticket prices (including preventing teams from competing through ticket discounts).

Why is this topic of interest on an NBA blog?

Because the NBA has virtually the same set-up as the NFL and the ruling affects the NBA in much the same fashion. If the NBA were considered a single entity, they could theoretically do away with the NBA Players Association and collective bargaining agreements all together. They could lower wages unilaterally and change player benefits; they could charge whatever they liked for NBA jerseys, etc. However, because the Supreme Court sided with American Needle, collective bargaining agreements are here to stay for the time being.  Obviously, this ruling has a major impact on 2011 NBA CBA negotiations as the case hung over the head of the NBA Players Association like a Sword of Damocles. If the NFL had won, the NBA owners would likely have a lot more leverage in CBA negotiations and the Players Association would have to accept some rather unfavorable terms or risk unilateral action free from scrutiny under the Sherman Act by the NBA owners. In my opinion, had the NFL won, it’s likely that there would have been a strike by the NBA Players association.  

At the end of the day, the status quo remains stable. There is some small likelihood that drug testing rules and other such things can be more easily challenged, especially if the rules conflict with state laws. However, other than that not much has changed, and that’s big news.

NOTE:
To help with the collective vs. single entity distinction, consider Apple. Since Apple is a single entity, they can contract with AT&T to provide sole service for the iPhone. However if Apple, Google, and Motorola conspired together to only let AT&T provide service for all their phones, that would violate the Sherman Act because the separate entities are working in concert together to restrict trade. AT&T would be able to charge as much as the market would bear and companies like Verizon would be effectively shut out. Shutting out other companies is bad because competition tends to force prices lower and force companies to create better, more innovative products. As a matter of public policy, the government tends to favor competition and disfavor monopolies and restrictions on trade.

Regarding LaMarcus

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I did a guest comentary for Oregonlive.com’s You Be The GM series. It’s on LaMarcus Aldridge. Read it there or below.

Oh, and while searching for an image for this post I stumbled upon tours of Aldridge’s McMansions in Dallas and here in Portland.

For years I’ve sought a nickname to truly fit LaMarcus Aldridge. “L-Train,” always seemed poor and lazy—the kid ain’t no bruiser. On the other hand, cat calls like “LaMarshmellow” or “LaMartha” play a bit too loose—he ain’t no baby either.

For now it’s just LaMarcus—nothing more and nothing less.

Part of the uncertainty, I think, is that Portland has asked so much of Aldridge. They want him to be everything at once: a second banana to Brandon Roy and a star while he’s injured; a banging rebounder on the block and a gazelle who stretches defenses and runs the break; a team leader and a 24-year-old who needs to humble study.

Certainly it takes time to realize one’s potential in the NBA—especially for big men—and Aldridge is no different. So where does the precedent for dogging Aldridge arise? Every team needs a fall guy, I guess. But what fourth-year power forward has potential to lead his team to a playoff win? None I know of. Better yet, let’s take a moment and list the better power forwards in the NBA.

Dirk Nowitzki: max salary, deep team, first round exit. Amar’e Stoudemire: a max salary seeking ego-maniac averaging 20 points and 6.6 rebounds in the postseason (Aldridge netted 19 and six). Pau Gasol: max salary (and really a center). Carlos Boozer: max salary (or seeking it). Chris Bosh: same, but couldn’t lead his team to the playoffs, even in the east. Al Jefferson: shown no ability to win. Now, leaving off Tim Duncan Kevin Garnett because their too old to make sense mortgaging the Blazers’ future for, what are we left with?

Six guys. Six power forwards in the league who are arguably better than Aldridge right now. Two of them (Nowitzki and Gasol) aren’t going anywhere. Of those remaining, it’s hard to believe that Stoudemire fits the Blazers culture and could co-exist with Brandon Roy. Bosh could squeeze better into the Blazers’ longer term plans, but he’ll demand much more money than Aldridge and two max deals in Roy and Bosh don’t limit championship potential. Same with Boozer. Finally, swap Al Jefferson for Aldridge in the Suns series and do you get anything more? I’m not convinced. And doesn’t Aldridge have the higher ceiling long term?

Compared to the players above, Aldridge figures to be paid at the bottom end of the spectrum (tied with Jefferson). So maybe the Blazers organization did a decent job holding out during contract negotiations after all.

Yet during the playoffs, especially before the momentarily triumphant return of Brandon Roy, many called on Aldridge win games by himself. Earn that big contract, they sniped. And while I admit Aldridge wasn’t playing to the top of his potential, it was only his second playoff series. Plus he’s not making franchise player money this year or next. In 2010/11, Aldridge will reportedly bank $10.7 million. Again, a handy list of players due to make around the same (although many will make substantially more):

Zach Randolph, Caron Butler, Jason Terry, Erick Dampier, Eddy Curry, Antawn Jamison, Nene, Mehmet Okur, Josh Howard Kevin Martin and Boris Diaw (that’s just from perusing about HALF the NBA’s teams, plus I left out the grossest of the overpaying contracts). Want to trade for any of them? I’d rather kiss Canzano.

So let’s just lay off LaMarcus for awhile. He was the right draft pick, the contract is reasonable, and there’s no more sensible upgrade available. Sure, there are some holes in his game, but who’s to say they wont be filled over the next two or three season?

And until the Blazers have the answers, or someone right falls into their lap, let’s just hold off on the nickname—the right one will come along.

Pick and Scroll

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Your daily (Mon-Fri) roundup of links from around the blogosphere, typically Trail Blazers related. 

• Dave Deckard of BlazersEdge reviews Old Man River Juwan Howard. Ben Golliver and Kevin Pelton bring back the Dontonio Wingcast, double down edition. Ben actually references one of my favorite stories from World War II, Operation Mincemeat.

• We at PRS would like to welcome Mike Tokito who will be covering the NBA for The Oregonian.

• Continuing OregonLive’s “You be the GM” series, Joel Przybilla is up next.

• Jeff Kramer AKA “Storyteller” from ultra-useful site Storyteller’s Contracts joins Dave Deckard and Casey Holdahl for the  Trail Blazers.com podcast, salary cap edition.

• The Hollinger draft rater is back! (INsider) and it does not like Solomon Alabi.

• A fake Blazers team appears in the excellent new Nike “Write the Future” video. I don’t mind Kobe Bryant scoring (and dancing) against a fictitious Blazers team, just as long as it’s not the real the thing. The headbands were such a giveaway. 

• David Stern—not an Oregonian—gave money to the campaign of Republican gubernatorial candidate Chris Dudley. If this election was settled on the free-throw line, are we alone in thinking John Kitzhaber would win?

• Draft Combine measurements should be up pretty soon over at DraftExpress. The measurements should create some movements in the mock drafts as players measure out better or worse than projected. Check them out when they are published and let us know who gets you excited. 

Pick and Scroll

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Your daily (Mon-Fri) roundup of links from around the blogosphere, typically Trail Blazers related.

• Dave Deckard of BlazersEdge reviews Dante Cunningham’s season. I’ll give you my take right quick: Dante is an excellent value and a great ninth or tenth man. He plays hard, hits shots, and hustles on defense. I don’t see “CunningJam” being moved unless his contract is absolutely necessary to getting a deal done. 

• Continuing OregonLive’s “You be the GM” series, Coup from Rip City Project does an excellent job of making a case for keeping Greg Oden.

• Speaking of Oden, Henry Abbot took a break from striking fear in the hearts of baby fowl to interview Oden in a two part series. Here is part One and Two.

• This offseason, I hope Oden is watching Dwight Howard in the playoffs. Maybe he will notice how effective it is when you stop gathering and just dunk.

• Trail Blazers strength coach Bobby Medina talks Oden, Przybilla, and the draft on Wheels at Work.

• The coaching poaching continues as the Atlanta Hawks interview Dean Demopolous. Look, Atlanta, Dean has Richard Gere-esque hair, a full set of eyebrows, and not even a hint of a goatee. He’s not your type.

• Alone in the Corner is taking a closer look at Tim Donaghy’s more questionable calls.

• You want mock drafts? We’ve got ‘em!  BlazersEdge Mock draft page, Mike Rice’s mock draft, and Rip City Project’s mock and explanations.

• DraftExpress updates the file on a few guard prospects.

• I’m skipping the draft prospect evaluation because I love feeding the rampant speculation that Portland might move up in the draft and I need some time to choreograph the mental gymnastics it would take to figure out how picking Derrick Favors or DeMarcus Cousins would work, besides picking the latter giving Portland a “Marcus,” “LaMarcus,” and “DeMarcus.”

Pick and Scroll

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Your daily (Mon-Fri) roundup of links from around the blogosphere, typically Trail Blazers related.

• Adrian Wojnarowski dropped a bomb on twitter last night claiming that Portland is gunning for the third or fourth pick in the draft. To say something like that to Portland fans is the equivalent of handing a junkie a baggie of crack (I hear Ezra Ace has some). LET THE WILD SPECULATION COMMENCE!

• In reaction to AWoj’s column, Sean Meagher of OregonLive.com asks will the Blazers be “moving on up”? Well, first off, let us look at the “why.” TrueHoop Network sister site Eight points, Nine Seconds crunches the numbers on the value of a draft pick. It looks like players picked in the top three are much more likely to become good-to-great NBA players than those picked in the twenties, but you knew that. Players picked around the area Portland is rumored to be targeting are more likely to become a solid starter or even an all-star. So when we think about trades, it’s important to not just view the pieces in terms of “Would you trade player X for a rookie?” The question is actually something more like “Would we trade player X for a starter and possible all-star?”

• Now, let’s look at just who Portland might be targeting. The players most likely to represent a value in this range are Derrick Favors, DeMarcus Cousins, Al-Farouq Aminu, and Wesley Johnson. I can’t imagine Cole Aldrich or Greg Monroe going that high at this point in the draft. However, if Portland can consolidate talent with a trade up to the third or fourth pick and then trade back down to say… eighth, and get the player they want plus some value to make up for trading to third, then maybe those players factor in. Ockham’s Razor would suggest that the Blazers want someone at three or four, however, Ockham was not consulted when the Collective Bargaining Agreement was drafted.

• Today we’ll look at what seems to me to be the most obvious candidate, Wesley JohnsonHere is his DraftExpress profile and his NBAdraft.net profile . Chad Ford says that Johnson is an athletic swingman who can shoot, run the floor and rebound. He may not have star potential, but Ford thinks Johnson can come in and immediately contribute.

My take: A long, athletic shooter with a quick release and good separation? I’ll take him and give him all of Martell Webster and Rudy Fernandez’s minutes. Both Johnson and Nicolas Batum can play and defend multiple positions, run the floor, and stroke it from deep. While there is significant overlap, I think both players can play at the same time. Especially with a playmaker like Andre Miller or Brandon Roy on the floor or a player like Jerryd Bayless who can create penetration. The only question is, at what cost? The first transaction I could think of off the top of my head was Andre Miller, Jerryd Bayless, Rudy Fernandez, and the 22nd pick for Devin Harris and the 3rd pick. Then, presumably Portland would target a backup point guard with the Mid Level Exception. That’s a high price, but Portland is left with a starting lineup of Harris, Roy, Batum, Aldridge, and Oden with Camby, Johnson, and the MLE point guard on the bench. Would that trade be worth it? Do you have a better idea? Let us know. 

• If you’re Kevin Pritchard and you know this may be your last draft, do you go all-in? To mix sports metaphors, if Pritchard is at bat with a 3-2 count, why not swing for the fences?

• SJ from often-linked Rip City Project reviews Jeff Pendergraph for OregonLive’s “You be the GM” series.

• Dave Deckard of BlazersEdge, ever conscious of the economic recession, gives real value for your time with a combination Pendergraph and Przybilla season review.

• Wendell Maxey’s story on former Blazer turned bus driver Shaler Halimon made ESPN’s page 2.

• Finally Dave Berri doesn’t think John Wall is very good, and then questions Derrick Rose as the number one pick in 2008. Things like this are why I don’t take Berri seriously, Rose as a cautionary tale? Really? Berri’s metric doesn’t pass the laugh test. It’s useful for discovering ultra-efficient big men, but otherwise is not very helpful.  

Lottery Mock Draft

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Here is our first stab at how things will go down. Obviously, as combine measurements and workout reports trickle in, things will change.

 1.  Wizards – John Wall

Washington can slide Arenas over to shooting guard or try and trade him (and his monstrous contract, fat chance). Regardless, they have to take John Wall here.

2. 76ers – Evan Turner

Philadelphia takes Turner. At the deadline, trade rumors abounded that the 76ers wanted to unload Andre Iguodala. If a team with cap room whiffs on the James/Bosh/Wade sweepstakes, they may be willing to trade for Iguodala and Philadelphia may be willing to accept less for Iguodala to make room for a Holiday/Turner back court.  Alternate pick: Derrick Favors.

3. Nets – Derrick Favors

Favors is the better player to pair with Brook Lopez in the front court for New Jersey. Cousins might clog the paint a bit and Favors is superior athletically. With a good PG like Devin Harris, Favors should put up good numbers his first year. Alternative pick: Ed Davis

4. Timberwolves – DeMarcus Cousins

Cousins is too talented to fall past the fourth spot. He’s a load in the paint, and the Wolves already have two chunky monkeys in Al Jefferson and Kevin Love, so I would not be surprised to see either the pick traded or Jefferson. Alternative pick: Ed Davis

5. Kings – Wesley Johnson

Omri Casspi is a nice player, but I think Wesley Johnson will be an upgrade. He’ll help take the defensive pressure off of Tyreke Evans and provide some floor spacing. Alternative pick: Al-Farouq Aminu

6. Warriors – Al-Farouq Aminu

The Warriors need talent. Aminu has the most upside of anyone in the draft at this point. Alternative pick Ed Davis (yes again).

7. Pistons – Greg Monroe

Monroe is a high IQ player and a good passer. Detroit needs size he fits the bill. Alternative Pick: Cole Aldrich (if Monroe does badly in workouts).

8. Clippers – Cole Aldrich

The Clippers need another center and Cole Aldrich looks like a solid one. Alternative pick: Daniel Orton.

9. Jazz (from Knicks)Ed Davis

So the Northwest Division dodges a bullet and the Jazz miss out on John Wall or Evan Turner. No one is happier about this than Isiah Thomas. I think this pick gets traded with Andre Kirilenko or Mehmet Okur if Utah re-signs Carlos Boozer. Alternative Pick: Gordon Hayward (*wink).

10. Pacers – Donatas Motiejunas

Motiejunas can spread the floor a bit and provide a nice contrast to Roy Hibbert. Alternative pick: Avery Bradley.

11. Hornets – Daniel Orton

He’s unproven, but Orton’s got an big NBA-ready body. With the 11th pick, it’s OK to swing for the fences. Alternative pick: Xavier Henry.

12. Grizzlies – Patrick Patterson      

There is a good chance this pick gets traded, quite possibly along with a signed-then-traded Rudy Gay. Patterson is an NBA ready power forward and Zach Randolph’s contract is almost up. Alternative pick: Xavier Henry.     

13. Raptors – Ekpe Udoh

This pick could be traded in a last-ditch attempt to keep Bosh, but don’t bet on it. Udoh has a bit of a face up game and is a mobile big man. He’s not enough to fill Bosh’s shoes (but then again, neither was Bosh). Still, Udoh’s a good pick.
Alternative pick: Hassan Whiteside (slide Bargnani to PF). 

14. Rockets – Hassan Whiteside

The Rockets could use some size. Whiteside is a bit of a wildcard due to his purported lack of maturity, but he’s long and athletic and can really block some shots. He needs some development, but if Yao Ming is healthy, the Rockets have the luxury of taking the time to develop him. Alternative pick: Paul George (just a hunch).

How does all this affect Portland?

Well, first off, the Jazz did not move up. High Five! Secondly, the Nets failed to get John Wall, which likely takes Devin Harris off the trading block. Evan Turner’s presence could make Andre Iguodala obtainable, but I don’t think Portland is interested in a move of that magnitude, especially since Iguodala isn’t exactly a floor-spacer. The Grizzlies’ or Raptor’s picks could be up for grabs, and I think Rudy Fernandez could be enough to get them.

It is likely that the draft will be pretty busy with trades as teams jockey for pole position before free agency starts on July 1st. After the big names are off the board, it’s going to be a buyers market for free agents and the Blazers might be able to get real value for the MLE (mid-level exception).