Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The NBA Super Draft

By Mr. Plow (Srikant) and The Plow King (Jeff)

Here's the scenario: every NBA player is put back into the draft and you’re starting a team of 10 players from scratch, who do you pick? Contracts and salaries do not matter, ages do.

Bonus Points are given for using nicknames (e.g. The Answer and Tough Juice), Double Bonus Points for making-up nicknames (e.g. The Question and Weak Juice © Simmons)

Final “Rosters” judged on the following:

1) The win now factor
2) The win in 5 years factor
3) Chemistry
4) Puts butts in the seats
5) Coach-ability / Clubhouse Cancer Potential

Mr. Plow, is on the clock

Mr. Plow, Pick 1: Dwight (Man-Child) Howard: while some would say LeBron, I am going to take the next Shaq here. He is 22 and is already averaging a 22 and 15 (last time that happened was Moses)…He could be the first since Wilt to go 20+ , 15+, and shoot 60% from the field.

Plow King, Pick 2: LeBron “Bubblicious”James: I have trouble arguing with Dewey at Pick 1, but I’ll take Bubblicious and be pleased as punch. Fact: he’s carried a bad team to the NBA Finals (granted, it was terrible finals). Fact: he’s only 11 months older than Dwight. Fact: his ceiling remains limitless, as evidenced by the fact he’s playing very, very good defense this year (supposedly an aftereffect of the Olympic Summer Sessions with Kobe). Compared to last year his scoring, assists, steals, boards, and blocks are up, and turnovers down. (Channeling my inner-Hubie, trying my best not to imitate the Sports Guy) We’re talking about a kid that turned 23 less than a month ago who has carried a bad team to the NBA finals, has been an All-Star MVP, will be league MVP this year, and is averaging nearly 30, 8, and 8. Let’s not forget he’s doing this with teammates like Drew Gooden and a coach who’s famous because his brother does the weather.

Mr. Plow, Pick 3: Kobe “I put it where the sun don’t shine” Bryant: Yao was a thought here, albeit a passing one. How could you not go with Kobe? I could look up the stats and give you the lines, but you already know. Thinking about a Kobe, Dwight Howard pick and roll makes me as giddy as Larry Brown when someone makes the extra pass. Yes, he has locker room cancer potential, but if this year is any indication, Kobe is turning a corner. He has shown the ability, and more importantly, the willingness to share the ball, and play well with a young team. Further, Kobe has the type of all around game, and basketball IQ where I could see him playing productively into his mid thirties. Finally, with 10 seconds and the ball, and a chance to win or tie, there is no one else in the NBA I would want to take the shot. To use a trite and slightly unsettling basketball cliché: He is a cold-blooded killer.

Plow King, Pick 4: touché Mr. Plow, touché. Tim “Galeophobia” Duncan: I’ve struggled with this next pick; I clearly need to go big, but Amare scares the crap out of me, and Duncan and KG are the same age. I could talk myself out of Duncan eight different ways, but he’s hands down the best player since the Jordan era, he’s on the back-end of his prime, but still has 3 years of top-notch basketball in him. His teams win, players love to play with him, he’s a coach’s dream, and, while his numbers might not be eye-popping, they are a function of what his team needs. Sure there are sexier picks, but the bottom line is any team with Duncan usually wins handily. He’s a legitimate center in today’s game, and still a top 3 player. Dwight is a man-child, but right now, I think Duncan is the better player. Go ahead Mr. Plow, I know you hate the methodical efficiency of the Spurs, but tell me you’d bet your savings against another Spurs championship this year? I didn’t think so. Bubblicious and Duncan: chemistry, defense, and playoff toughness. I’ll take those two all day. You’re up…

Mr. Plow, Pick 5: Carmelo “Stop Snitching” Anthony aka “Punch and Run: Before I justify the pick, I just want to point out that DH had 34 and 16 in his lone game against the Spurs this year. I also notice that the Plow King, did not explicitly state Duncan’s age. Just for full disclosure, he is 31, turning 32 in April (at least on his Virgin Island birth certificate…it could be another Dikembe situation). Now to the pick, I thought hard about Yao and a PG at this spot, but I will continue to solidify the starting front court with Anthony. The drop between Anthony and the next best Small Forward here is way larger than at any other position. I think I can get better or equal value further down the line at other positions. I am not the biggest Carmelo fan, but at 23, I think he has got loads of potential, and this year he has exhibited the ability to play with a ball dominating scorer in my personal hero the “Answer”. He has a full offensive arsenal at his disposal: he can step out and hit the three, go down on the low block, or slash and get to the rim. Further, the development of his jump shot makes him nearly impossible to defend. Also, this past summer with the US National Team, he showed a willingness to bruise down low, rebound, and play defense. LBJ represents the best combo forward in the NBA, I think Melo is the next.

Plow King, Pick 6: Chris “Forever Silky” Paul. Carmelo Anthony? Really? Ahead of Chris Paul, Kevin Garnett, Dwayne Wade, and Yao? I got love for the kid from Towson Catholic, but he’s never been better than third team All-NBA and you and I both know ‘Melo settles for the jumper far, far too often. Question one: why does a 28% three point shooter take so many threes? Question two: why does he average just 5.8 boards a game? I like ‘Melo, and definitely at times see the Bernard King comparisons, but I’m not sure he’s a Top-5 pick in this exercise. Anyway, onto the younger MVP candidate I just took. At 22 years old Paul is the best point guard in the league. DISCLAIMER: Hawks fans, both of them, should skip the rest of this paragraph. Dude is averaging 11 dimes and 21 points, oh, and he’s first in the league in steals. He has the Hornets, yes, those HORNETS, atop the Southwest division ahead of the Spurs, Mavs, and Rockets. Mr. Plow, you probably had the same logic I had: let the other guy reach on Paul and wait it out for Deron, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that the gap between Paul and Deron is widening. They might have been very close as rookies, although Paul won Rookie of the Year, but while Deron is becoming a top-notch Point Guard and a terrific pro, Silky is becoming a legitimate MVP candidate. Simmons sums up the Deron-Paul debate perfectly in my opinion: “Personally, I don't see the debate: Paul is one year younger, he's completely unstoppable off the dribble, he's better than Williams statistically, and he's shining with a lesser supporting cast and an inferior coach for a franchise that has been comically unstable (and continues to be unstable). Good God, what else do you want from a franchise point guard?”. Say what you want about Simmons, but the man knows his hoop. Bubblicious, Duncan, and Silky… oh my!

Mr. Plow, Pick 7: Deron “Caramel Stockton” Williams: Paul is a great player, who I too am very high on as well. However, on a team with Kobe and Melo, who needs a point guard who scores? As for Melo’s rebounding, who needs him to, when I have DH? I think that going with Deron Williams puts me in a position for the future. He was one of the most improved players in the NBA last year, and has continued to play well into this year. He was dominant in the playoffs last year, especially against Barron Davis. Deron is strong (much like Jason Kidd), and has the moves and strength to get to the rim. He is a solid outside shooter (last year was more than likely an aberration), and is quickly developing into one of the games top 3 point guards. It’s easy to forget that he is still only 23, and I get the impression that some people bought a little too hard into the hype. Averaging 19 and 9 as a third year player is terrific progress. I think he will be an elite player in the next few years, and we will be talking about him along with Paul. I think in the end, that gap that Plow king refers to between Paul and Deron won’t be as large as he thinks.

Plow King, Pick 8: Kevin “Banana Kaboom” Garnett: Oh sweet mercy, I’ve just paired Duncan and Garnett (Peanut Butter and, um, Chunky Peanut Butter?) and now have an all-world front-court for a minimum of three years. I know you’re thinking my team is too old, but KG is still a first-team NBA player and will remain so for three years. I feel like he’s a young 31. The best measure of Garnett’s impact on any team: last year the Celtics winning percentage was .293, this year .810 (See also here).

Mr. Plow, Pick 9: Amare “grown up Ja Rule” Stoudemire: What’s your 5 year plan Plow King? Don’t die? I mean come on, we are now talking about a pair of 31, soon to be 32, year old aging power forwards. I will take Amare here, and pair him with “Man Child” giving me the most athletic front court in NBA history. Did I hear you say Micro-fracture surgery? Well, Amare has shown me enough where I think he has recovered from the surgery. He made the All Star team in his first year back, and was an All-NBA first team performer (albeit because Duncan was classified as a Forward). The guy finishes at the rim and runs the floor like a freight train. I can hear the rims pleading for mercy already, with “Man-Child” and Amare thundering away. He looks as if he has fought the micro fracture demon and won. He is a perfect fit for the run and gun style of team I am assembling.

Plow King, Pick 10: Yao “Sweet and Sour” Ming aka “The Most Well-Proportioned 7’6” man alive”: Ahh yes, Amare “One more injury away from ending his career” Stoudemire, also known as “Routinely abused by Tim Duncan” Stoudemire and “One of the worst defensive forwards in the entire league” Stoudemire. Anyway, with Yao I now have the best passing team in the history of time. With Duncan and KG in the fold I was tempted to pass on Yao, but he was simply the highest rated 7’6” Chinese guy available. I think “Sweet and Sour” is an appropriate nickname because Yao can so often be a tease. One game it’s 35 and 17, the next 11 and 8. But a 27 year old center with those passing skills and that mid-range game is too tempting, even if he’s coming off my mythical bench. I like him better as a Beta Dog then carrying a team, which makes him such a good fit here. It’s also worth noting that from a revenue standpoint, my team just drafted one billion more fans.

Mr. Plow, Pick 11: Steve “Captain Canada” Nash: This team is now just getting silly: Nash pushing the ball, Kobe and Carmelo on the wings, and two of the most athletic big men in NBA history in Amare and Dwight trailing the break. This team is fast and athletic, and looking like it might score 170 a game. The Yao, Garnett, and Duncan picks certainly will keep Plow King’s team mired in the half court, and that’s fine, if you like that sort of thing. I, on the other hand, picked a team that will run and score…a lot. To that end, do I even have to justify picking Nash? He is a young 33, but age is why he fell this far. They guy just hit his stride two years ago, and with his fitness and cerebral game, I could see him playing until he is 38 or 39. You will receive little argument from me that Chris Paul is the best PG in the league, but with Nash and Deron, I think I have picked up the 2nd and 3rd best guys. Some would even argue that Nash, right now, is still the best. The guy has won 2 MVPs (should have won 3) and is the system in Phoenix. What is most impressive to me about Nash, is how many secondary assists he gets a game. He doesn’t always have to be the one passing the ball to the scorer, he sees plays 2 or 3 passes down the line. That is something you don’t see on the stat sheet, and in today’s NBA. The best part about picking Nash here: Deron doesn’t have to start now, and I can wait for him to develop.

Plow King, Pick 12: Dwayne “Abba Zabba” Wade: Wow, Mr. Plow you finally picked a non-American, and he was all the way from Canada. Your new team name is the Lou Dobbs All-Stars. I feel like were both not giving DuWayne enough respect. He’s a finals MVP, a four time All-Star, three times All-NBA, oh, and he’s 26 years old. He’s an underrated passer, averaging almost 7 assists per game over his career. He has the ability to play both one and two guard. Sadly his team has been horrendous this year, but he’s hardly to blame, putting up career highs in most stat categories (and doing so efficiently). Unfortunately for him this fake-NBA draft is only an exercise because he’s stuck with an aging, not-very-talented team with no cap space until 2010. Events like the All-Star game are sure to only exacerbate the problem. I can’t see him in Miami past 2010 without major, major roster changes. And why is the cruel-boned filled corpse of Pat Riley still coaching there?

Mr. Plow, Pick 13: Brandon “Not Quite Jesus” Roy: Why the nickname? Roy’s game most closely resembles that of Ray Allen’s (Jesus Shuttlesworth). He shot a remarkable 46% from 3 point range after the all-star game last year. He is not an overwhelming athlete, but is a solid long range shooter and has a mastery of lost art of the mid-range pull-up. His versatility and youth make him the pick here. While he does not have Ray’s shooting accuracy, he is able to play multiple guard positions, and has terrific handle. It really comes down to this, Brandon Roy is just very good at everything, and not great at anything. His game really does not have any real weakness. While that normally doesn’t lead to super-star status in today’s NBA, I think he will defy convention. He won’t make anyone look foolish, he won’t thunder on you, but when you look up at the end of the game, you will say “Brandon Roy played great.” Let’s not forget, that after the Oden injury, the Blazers were supposed to be awful this year. Roy has lead them to a tie for the Pacific lead, and an almost lock for the playoffs. The guy is proving he is a winner, and continues to go largely unnoticed by the public,(partially for playing out west, and partially for the perception that he won rookie of the year in a weak year). I am here to tell you Brandon Roy is for real, and he will fit in very nicely with the up-tempo team I put together.

Plow King, Pick 14: Dirk “Locks of Love” Nowitzki: Oh Lou Dobbs, continue to pass on the MVP candidates and I’ll keep adding to my arsenal. Dirk might be the second or third guy off my bench, but he’s the outside threat my team was missing. No one, save maybe Peja and Jesus Shuttesworth, maybe, has a prettier shot than Dirk. Sure he’s a little nutty and sh*t the bed in his only finals appearance, but as a role player I couldn’t be happier. He’s 7’1” and a match-up nightmare. His ability to knock down the open jumper is unrivaled in today’s game; he shoots 40% from three. He’s 29, but there’s no reason he can’t be a Bob Horry player into his mid-30s, and on this team, that’s all I’m asking him to be.

Mr. Plow, Pick 15: Al “Not George” Jefferson: It’s looking like the United Nations over there. I don’t dislike the pick, but Dirk scares me. Did we already forget last year’s playoff debacle? And for all the MVP winners being selected on the other side, let’s not forget that Dirk and KG’s team both failed to reach the NBA finals in the years they won the MVP (Duncan’s team also lost to the Lakers in one of his MVP seasons). Dirk’s team even lost in the first round, as a one seed! Also, the Plow King’s team in 5 years will feature 6 players over the age of 30! I digress, back to Jefferson. The kid is terrific. He is going to be a star in this league, and probably would be if he could ever get off of a losing team. He is physical on the block, athletic, and shows tenacity on the boards. He is already a 21-12 man, and he is getting better. He just had is first career 40 point game, and if Minnesota could put some pieces around him, they might not be as far away as we think.. There was a reason that Minnesota demanded his inclusion in the Garnett deal…if you haven’t heard of Al Jefferson, you will.

Plow King, Pick 16: Manu “Elmer’s” Ginobili: I love the Jefferson pick (a poor man’s Dwight Howard- although you missed a golden opportunity to use "Weasy Jefferson"), but with this team a player like Ginobili can make all the difference. His modest numbers don’t tell the whole story. He’s the ultimate chemistry player and a guy every player would love to play with and every opponent hates to play against (as seen here). He was the 2004 Olympics MVP leading Argentina to the gold medal. I know you find this hard to believe Lou, but they now play basketball outside of the continental 48. He’s currently in the best year of his career: shooting over 40% from three, averaging 20 a game, putting up good all-around peripherals, and all in 29 minutes per. I would’ve picked Manu several picks ago if not for his surely smelly locker room presence; and I don’t mean that in the clubhouse cancer sense, but in the he literally smells bad sense (or scents?). In the “oh by the way” category, if we were factoring in contracts he’d be one of the first guys off the board. He makes about $9M per or, better quantified, half of this guy.

Mr. Plow, Pick 17: Chris “Lebron James is my father” Bosh: Make that 7 players who will be over 30 in 5 years. Plow King is part of the problem, he is taking away jobs from decent, hard-working Americans…like Chris Bosh. I’ll admit, I haven’t always been a fan, but the kid is growing on me. He is one of the most skilled big men in the league, being able to comfortably shoot 20-footers, or take his man off the dribble. He rarely posts up, but causes huge mis-matches because of quickness and handle. He also has a nice left hook, which he drops over smaller defenders. He is 23 and is already among the top forwards in the game. If he adds bulk, and improves defensively on the block (he is great coming off the weak-side), he could be elite in the coming years.

Plow King, Pick 18: Andrew “Socks” Bynum: Tough to argue with Bosh, statistically he’s been great, and he’s probably still underappreciated. But he strikes me as one of those players that everyone said got no respect until he got a little too much respect. He’s a “nice” player, but I see limited upside and a below average forward defensively, but Bosh is solid, although probably better on my half-court centric team. By the way, Ryan pointed this out to me recently, when did Bosh become Wesley Autry Subway Hero??? He used to be so young and clean-cut. Hey, that's Canada for you! Onto Bynum, little known fact I learned while researching the Bynum pick: he showers with his socks on (Manu’s thinking “What’s ‘showers’?”). That kind of quirkiness coupled with the way he’s battled back from the Kobe incident tells me this kid is destined to be a superstar. Looking back in a couple years Bynumite strikes me as the most obvious “how did he last that long?” guy.

Mr. Plow, Pick 19: Josh “JoHo” Howard: No complaints about the Bynum pick, he is developing into a nice piece for the resurgent Lakers. An interesting note, none of the players selected are shoot first players, aside from Kobe and maybe Melo. In fact, Lebron, KG, Duncan, and Dirk have all been criticized in the past for not taking over games, or taking the big shots (Lebron did shake this criticism last playoffs). KG and Dirk have also faced the T-Mac like criticism of not having playoff success. Steve Nash has avoided this criticism, but the same can be said about him. Admittedly, the team I took was, for the most part, much younger, and hence has avoided similar criticism. I wonder for how long? We judge our athletes by championships, so how long before we start saying Man-Child hasn’t won a title? In any case, I take Howard here, because of what I saw from him this year. With Dirk mired in a post playoff collapse funk, Howard carried the Mavs for the first part of the season. He is a slasher, who’s game is about getting to the rim or foul line. However, he plays great defense, and can guard several positions on the floor. I think he should have made the All-Star team this year…which brings me to my final point. People in China should not get to vote for OUR all-star game. Consider that T-Mac, who was hurt for a large chunk of the season, almost was selected a starter! This is called the Yao Ming effect, where fans of Yao just pick whoever they see on the tv, or pick Yao’s teammates. I am surprised Shane Battier didn’t make (he probably would have it weren’t for those bumps on his head). Then consider that AI is starting over Chris Paul! I blame this exclusively on China, and their knowledge-less fans. I don’t want to go on a rant here…

Plow King, Pick 20: Caron “Tough Juice” Butler aka “Once Traded for Kwame Brown; yes, that Kwame Brown”. What the h*ll does rant mean? Let it out Lou Dobbs, let it out. If you really want to get pissed-off click here. By the way, I sure hope Tom Tancredo builds that big wall of his to keep out all of the good for nothing immigrants! Am I right!? OK, I like the Howard pick, he’s your first real glue guy. I would’ve taken Tough Juice first, but both guys are similar in my mind. As a Wizards fan, what Caron and ‘Tawn are doing this year makes this one of the most enjoyable seasons ever. Even though Caron was an All-Star last year, he has shown unbelievable improvement. His career three point percentage (his most glaring flaw in terms of efficiency), which was below 30%, is 37% this season; his assists, scoring, and shooting percentages are all up. More than anything Caron is turning from a nice player into a borderline franchise player and certainly a great “1a” option. His emotion on the court coupled with the fact he finally believes he’s a great player makes him a perfect fit on my squad. As a bench player he’ll be a team and crowd favorite. So Caron, welcome to Team “Done Sh*t” you’ll be systematically dismantling Team “Hopes to one day, if all the cards fall into place, and no one gets hurt, maybe be as good as Team Done Sh*t”.

Mr Plow Reply: Team Done Sh*t? Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash haven’t done anything either, I suppose? As for the others, I implore you to look at the stats; the cards have already fallen into place, and my team is still getting better. In any event, I will take my chances with a younger, more athletic team over an old plodder of a team any day. Seven players over 30 in 5 years…this isn’t the YMCA league, it’s the NBA. Wake up Plow King, times are changing. It’s about speed and athleticism now…not about old crafty vets running the motion offense.

Plow King Reply: Kobe Bryant Finals Appearances without Shaq PLUS Steve Nash Finals Appearances EQUALS the same number of Finals Appearance made by You and Me and the one guy still reading this far. In fact on your team only Josh Howard, one (he lost), and Kobe, all with Shaq, have even been to a Finals. In a related story my team has nine appearances and seven titles; not that titles are the lone barometer, but it’s worth noting.

The Line-ups: Plow King vs. Mr. Plow
PG: Chris Paul vs. Nash
SG: Wade vs. Kobe
SF: LeBron vs. Carmelo
PF: Garnett vs. Amare
C: Duncan vs. Dwight Howard

Plow King Bench
Manu Ginobili
Yao Ming
Dirk Nowitzki
Caron Butler
Andrew Bynum

Mr. Plow Bench
Al Jefferson
Deron Williams
Brandon Roy
Chris Bosh
Josh Howard

Notables outside looking in: Utah's Lone Boozer, Brother Named Baron, Brother Named Gilbert, Tony Longoria, Stabby Pierce, Oden (Bill Russell's Dad), T-Mac, Durant (I guess), the Hawks four, the Pistons, David West (someone probably should've picked him- but over who?), The Whiny Matrix, Kaman (no, seriously), Iverson, Gasol (Pau not Marc), Elton Brand (his Dad owns a trophy shop), David Lee, and Rudy "Not" Gay (someone should've picked him, right? Again, over who?).


zadecky said...

I can't keep it in. I have a HUGE mancrush on Tough Juice. HUGE!!!! Moreso than the one I had on Johan.

Ryan Smith said...

Well done, guys. My devotion to the NBA died when Dominique Wilkins retired, but this still played well with me. Particularly Dwayne "Abba Zabba" Wade. He's my only friend...

Ben said...

echoing ryan, well done, this was an awesome read. my thoughts: i think its pretty obvious that 5 years from now mr plow is in a dominating position unless plow king makes a larry johnson-esque waiver wire pickup. i'm not sure that chemistry is a concern with either of these teams as the 2 most selfish players (kobe and melo) have both proven very recently that when paired with talent, they can be as good a team player as the next guy, and i think its pretty clear that both squads sell out every game twice. the most interesting debate is who wins right now. i think if you put these teams together tomorrow, plow king wins more times largely b/c the vets gel faster as a team. but i think that over time, mr plow's young guys find a way to play together in an unstoppable fashion on both sides of the floor. on offense neither team is looking for ways to score but i'll give a slight edge to mr plow. you have arguably the best pure scorer ever paired with an incredibly efficient set of sidekicks (aside from melo's 3-pt woes) that will only get better (and lets face it, if kobe is still dunking and jordan's career arc is any hint, he will continue to find new and unstoppable ways to score well into his 30's beyond his sick athleticism years). on defense i'm giving the edge to plow king now but not for long. kg and td now are unreal defensively, and while lebron could be the best defender in the league in 5 years, cp is going to find it tough to defend bigger, stronger point guards night after night. i think kobe is the best 1-1 defender in the league (exhibit 1: in summary, he limits a guy averaging 27 ppg to 4 pts, 4 turnovers, 0 assists while still managing to throw in 20 of his own. http://sports.espn.go.com/oly/olybb/columns/story?columnist=sheridan_chris&page=USA-Brazil), man-child is powerful enough and athletic enough to overcome amare's defensive shortcomings and also eventually is a better defender than either kg or td and howard comes off the bench to provide some relief when melo and nash get abused. the guy i would feel the worst about not drafting is josh smith although similarly, i don't think any pick is a bad one. maybe over tough juice or baldy?