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Live blog: NBA Draft ’11

REMINDER: This live blog begins at 7:30 EST (6:30 CST, etc.)
Welcome to the live blog! Glad you made it. Get ready to enjoy the NBA Draft as though you were watching it along with tons of other people (only in a live chat online). I’m Alex, I’ll be  your administrator and host for this live blog. Comment, ask questions, spur a discussion. Some obvious topics we’ll be talking about tonight include trades, picks, grades, reactions, and the status of all the franchises. You need to click on the link below to participate/follow the live blog in a pop-up window.
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Some Quick Notes on the Draft

On the eve of the Draft, trade talks and prospect related discussions continue to heat up. Here are some of the most recent rumors to keep your eye on:

  • Jonas Valanciunas has a buyout in place; however that agreement will not allow him to come over until after next season. This should scare away some teams that are looking to make an impact right away with their picks; such teams would include Toronto at 5, Detroit at 8 and Charlotte at 9. If he slips passed Cleveland at 4 Valanciunas could be in for a slide
  • Despite reports of the contrary, Cleveland has not guaranteed Irving that he will be their pick at number one. Although it remains likely that this will be the case, picking Williams would severely shakeup the top of the Draft board. Continue Reading
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NBA Mock Draft 2.0

Remember to be on SavingTheSkyhook.com Thursday at 7:30 p.m. ET (6:30 p.m. CT) to follow and interact with me as I “Cover It Live”, live blogging throughout the entire NBA Draft. If not interested in the draft, and just want to chat about the NBA, ask some questions, start a discussion, come talk to me! If you ARE interested in the draft, I don’t even have to tell you – this is the place to be.

New developments and new predictions have come up this weekend in my research. While I posted my first mock draft but three days ago, I need to update you on the most recent happenings across the NBA draft landscape. And for a little extra spice, I’ll give you two reasons per pick on why (insert team here) will take (insert prospect here). The latest movers and shakers:

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Players to Watch on Draft Night

With the NBA Final’s behind us it is now time to look ahead to next Thursday’s NBA Draft. If you haven’t been following the Draft thus far you might not know that this is fixing to be one of the weakest drafts in terms of superstar power, but one of the deeper drafts in terms of long term role players. The combination of these two things will make this Draft one of the most unpredictable in recent years; In light of its unpredictability here are seven(or so) of the most compelling draft prospect stories to look for on Thursday night. Continue Reading

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Season’s over: First mock draft

Be sure to visit SavingTheSkyhook.com on draft night, June 23, to follow me on my live blog of the NBA draft. Follow my comments, ask questions, make observations, voice your opinions and picks, right HERE on SavingTheSkyhook.com.

Dallas has won the NBA title. Let me just be the 17,679,331 person to congratulate him on winning his first title, and delivering the franchises’ first title, too. Also, congratulations because Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson have deemed you a Top 20 player all time.

Being at the end of the year, I believe a championship puts the Mavericks as the No. 1 power ranking team in the league. Still, they’ll have the 26th pick in the NBA draft, which I’ll get to later (of course). Or is Miami still No. 1? Because – wait – did they lose the series or did the Mavericks win it? Well, that’s what the sad ESPN analysts will get to decided from now until October.

From now until October, I am not an ESPN analysts. No, I’m a draft psychic of sorts. I’ll be bringing you multiple mock drafts (of different style) the next two weeks, before we get to the draft (set your clocks to June 23 at 7 p.m. for first pick… not 6:30 that night for all that repetitive analysis stuff).

So hopefully before ESPN starts unleashing the fury of draft talk, you’ll read this post… you know, so you “heard it here first.” But I can’t promise you I’m going to deliver identical picks to ESPN’s Chad Ford. I don’t want that. What I’m going to do is deliver you (in this mock draft) my prediction, followed by an unspecified number of “scenarios,” which could also occur with any given pick. In order to explain this, I should just stop rambling and let you read the rest of this post (getting to the important stuff). So I won’t explain anything further.

OH, and congrats Dirk… or wait, did I say that already? Continue Reading

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The Significance Of The NBA Finals

Just in case you hadn’t heard, the NBA season concluded Sunday when the Dallas Mavericks pulled out a 105-95 win over the Miami Heat, winning the series in six games. The game seemed like it was the Mavericks to win from the start, the most glaring evidence of this being the fact that Dirk had a miserable first half shooting but Dallas still had the lead. By the time the fourth quarter rolled around, with Terry playing the way he was in a positive way, and LeBron and Dwayne Wade playing the way they did in a negative way, the fate of both teams was as good as sealed.

Dirk and the Mavs show off their hardware

This series was significant for a myriad of reasons that go far beyond the simple fact that it was for the NBA’s biggest prize—the Larry O’Brien trophy. Continue Reading

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What’s Next for the Mavericks and the Heat

We’re three days late for post-game analysis, and every other blogger and writer has already written about what they think happened and what should have.  Instead of feeding you some of the same thoughts and opinions you might have read or heard lately, I’d rather look towards the future of these two great teams.  What’s next, who’s going to be involved and how they can go about doing it.

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Taking My Talents….Home!

 

The Miami Heat’s failure to capitalize on its first shot at an NBA Championship, with their “Big 3,” in place, will undoubtedly go down as one of the biggest disappointments in Sports History.  It’s not the fact that a team so top-heavy in talent can lose a series; it’s what happened prior to this point, that’s the problem.  This series wasn’t about what Dallas Accomplished, but more about what Miami failed to Accomplish.  The series wasn’t about the dynamic leadership displayed by Dirk Nowitzki, but the lack of leadership by LeBron James.  All of these things are magnified due to the brash and very bold statements made by James, starting with “The Decision.”

The Decision

James’ announcement of his choice of team via Television Special, followed by a proclamation of at least 7 Championships, ultimately set the Heat up for failure.  James was so confident in the team’s ability to succeed, that he hinted at victories even if Pat Riley was the team’s starting Point Guard.  With a team this talented, who’s going to argue LeBron’s statements?  I for one saw the Heat as a dead-lock for the Finals, which was correct.  I initially picked them to lose the Finals versus the Lakers, but uhh…We saw how that turned out for “Showtime!”  Once the Lakers were ousted, I didn’t see anyone standing in the way of Miami’s Destiny.  As a team, they entered the playoffs clicking on all cylinders, and even watched LeBron mature as a player through the first 3 series.  But then came the Big Stage…(Here’s where you insert for favorite sad face : ( perplexed style : / or the highly emotional crying face (,-__-,)

 

James basically disappeared in the Finals, averaging 18pts, 7ast, & 7reb!!! LeBron is a former NBA Scoring Champ, and averaged 18 ppg!  Let’s also note that James averaged 21ppg as a ROOKIE!  Now, not taking anything away from his overall playoff performance, because he is the reason Miami got to the Finals.  James was playing like a man possessed in the first 3 rounds, and hit some huge shots in both the Boston and Chicago Series’.  You can argue that it’s a team game, and all of the blame can’t be placed on James, which is correct.  However, LeBron’s actions coinciding with his talents are what create the enormous bulls-eye on his back.   He also doesn’t help the scrutiny by his comments, and almost nonchalant attitude at press conferences.  Again this is a team game, but the team itself doesn’t share in the talking aspect, which James excels in.  If you go back to the introduction of “The Heatles,” it was LeBron who did the most talking, and predicting on behalf of the Heat.  Look at it like this…Muhammad Ali was known for his trash talk before, and during, some of the biggest fights of his life.  While Ali didn’t have an unblemished record, he always came back to avenge a loss, thus backing his proclamations.  LeBron doesn’t have a history of closing games, playing to his full potential, nor being the leader that the “Face of the NBA,” should; but talks as if this isn’t the case.  If LeBron showed a little more humility, I don’t believe the backlash would be to this unbelievable level.

 

So What Exactly Happened?


Aside from LeBron’s shortcomings in the Finals, what else seemed to go wrong for Miami, that didn’t for Dallas?  Let’s start with Miami’s consistency outside of its core.  The bench play was much uninspired throughout the series, while Dallas had its role players contribute on a nightly basis.  But despite the poor role playing on behalf of the Heat, they controlled this entire series.  Splitting the first 4 games, could have easily been a 4-0 Miami Sweep.  Dallas turned the Heat into a jump shooting team, and prevented them from attacking the paint, which is their
strong suit.  Along with Dallas’ defensive adjustment, was Dirk’s relentlessness as a leader.  There wasn’t a moment in this series that Dirk wasn’t in attack mode.  This same thing can be said about Dwayne Wade, who played his heart out throughout the series, and if not for injury, wouldn’t have let up.  If you take each team at 100% attack mode, the Heat should win out every time.  My reasoning is simple; Dwayne Wade and LeBron James excel on BOTH sides of the court, which is a headache for every team in the league.  I fully believe that if LeBron guarded Nowitzki for the entire series, and Wade on either Terry or Barrea (depending on who’s in the game), I don’t see Miami losing this series at all.  This tactic then forces other players to beat you, who aren’t as offensively gifted as the aforementioned Nowitzki, Terry or Barrea.

I also believe that the Heat lost some faith in the process at some point.  Squandering big leads in games they controlled from the beginning, is inexcusable.  The team got extremely passive during the final moments of Game 6, and the stars of the team almost seemed to defer to its role players.  A play that replay’s endlessly in my mind, is the Chalmers turnover under the basket.  With 3 players making over 100 million dollars each, and have the ball in Mario Chalmers’ hands in crucial parts of the game in ridiculous!  I just don’t see the team letting up if Pat Riley is who you have to face when you come off the floor, versus Erik Spolestra.  While Spolestra did improve as the season went on, I think his lack of big game experience is what ultimately did him in.  But again, the coaches aren’t the ones who perform on the floor…it’s the players!

 

The Fallout

While the Heat are the early favorite to win next year’s Title, something has to change.  With 7 players as unrestricted free agents, 3 will likely return with their player options (House, Jones & Illgauskas).  Mario Chalmers is the team’s lone restricted free agent, and has already been rumored to be receiving a qualifying offer from Miami.  Two things that need to change are the team’s ability to score off the bench, along with the team’s interior defense.  When your Shooting Guard is blocking as many, or more, shots than your big’s…There’s a problem!  But not only does the interior defense need to improve, but the overall toughness of the team.  As it stands, it seems as though when Wade isn’t at 100%, the team loses its heart and backbone.  If Miami is lucky enough, there are a few players that I feel could be added at a bargain price to aid in the team’s improvement.  Perimeter Players – Tracey McGrady, Tayshaun Prince, Al Thornton, Michael Redd, T.J. Ford, Shane Battier, Andrei Kirilenko, and Josh Howard.  Interior Players – Kenyon Martin, Samuel Dalembert, Chuck Hayes, Craig Smith, Chris Wilcox, Boris Diaw, Troy Murphy, and Etan Thomas.  While these are all unrestricted free agents that are all possibilities for the Heat, bigger players like Jason Richardson, Jamal Crawford, Nene, and J.R. Smith, are all likely to command too high of a price tag on the market.  Players like Redd, Prince, Ford, Battier, Kirilenko, Martin and Dalembert, would dramatically improve the Heat’s overall roster.  Dalembert provides added shot blocking, along with Martin, who also would be an enforcer that the Heat desperately need.  Battier, Prince and Kirilenko provide length, and solid perimeter defense, as they can defend several positions on the court.  TJ Ford would be a tremendous upgrade at the Point Guard position, while Redd provides more scoring ability off the bench to go along with Mike Miller & James Jones.  Players like McGrady, Josh Howard and Michael Redd are all very injury prone players, but can be very serviceable if their health/minutes are preserved for a playoff run.

 

Along with these changes, I have a strong feeling that Pat Riley will step in as the new coach.  Riley worked too hard to put this team together, to see them fail.  Riley is often linked with the great Phil Jackson, as they not only were great coaches, but managed some of the game’s biggest personalities.  Riley has the pedigree to get the most out of this Heat team, and surely would not have allowed them to relinquish those late game leads.  Look for major changes in South Beach, which will result in Miami’s hoisting of the Championship Trophy.  The only thing that could prevent a title run from happening, are another implosion by the team itself, but if Pat is patrolling the sideline, I wouldn’t bet on it!

 

 

Follow – @TheKidSkoob

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Congrats!

What a series, huh?

This years remarkable NBA Finals capped off with a remarkable Game 6, one watched by 23.5 million people, producing ABC’s best non-Oscar sunday in five years (and the most watched game 6 since Jordan beat the Jazz in 1998.

Now that the season is done, we’ve got plenty of time to get into intricate detail on how this year’s series stacks up against the greats. We’ve also got a lot of cool things a’brewing here at Saving the Skyhook for the offseason, including a live blog during the NBA Draft, but for now, I’d like to offer up some love for the first time NBA Champion Dallas Mavericks.

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Subplots Don’t Matter Now: It’s All About the Game

Not unlike the way the Miami Heat have been covered all season, the NBA Finals coverage has focused as much on what is happening off the court, as what is actually happening on the court.

Maybe this is a reflection of the tabloid crazy society we live in, where people are more interested in celebrity than actual craft, maybe not; but this year’s NBA Finals has been covered in tabloid-like manner.

All series long the news has been inundated with stories about Mark Cuban, Dirk’s flu, Wade and LeBron’s mock sickness, and LeBron’s personal life; but there has been surprisingly little focus on what really matters—the game itself.

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