NBA Draft Winners and Losers - Interleage Weekend



By Jim Hurley:

Good thing those grade-school kids who star on the ESPN "spelling bees" didn't have to participate in last night's NBA Draft ...between Bismack Biyombo to Nikola Vucevic to Chukwudiebere Maduabum the whole bunch of those star spellers would have been stumped before ever getting to the "final round"!

No doubt the international flavor was alive and well -and note Vucevic wasn't even one of the international players (he went to USC) -as the NBA Draft in Newark on this early summer evening was awash in "eye chart"-like names but here's all you really need to know:

There were a batch of NBA teams that truly helped themselves here in this splashy scene in "Brick City" and a slew of teams that did absolutely nothing positive and we'll get to a few "Winners" and "Losers" in just a moment but first some quick-hitter comments from the regarding the top five players chosen:

#1 CLEVELAND -- Kyrie Irving, PG ...In a league where point guard play has become more important than ever before, the Cavaliers (who haven't been able to do much right in the past 12 months) hit a home run even though some folks believe Irving's brief 11-game stay at Duke will hurt. The kid will have a complete run of the franchise and there won't be instant pressure to make the playoffs and that's known as a "win-win" situation.

#2 MINNESOTA -Derrick Williams, PF ...Good luck keeping track of all the draft picks/trades that the Timberwolves made last night but just remember that this University of Arizona product isn't afraid to take the last-second shot and probably shoots it from deep better than three-quarters of the NBA players right now. Again, a major "thumbs-up" draft pick here.

#3 UTAH -Enes Kanter, C ... The big man that never did play a single game for the University of Kentucky is said to be filled with mucho confidence but we've seen his types get chewed up and spit out in NBA-land and we would rather have seen the Jazz tab UConn's Kemba Walker here (as suggested in our Jim Sez NBA Mock Draft) and then let him have that free run of this franchise for the next 8-to-10 years.

#4 CLEVELAND -Tristan Thompson, PF ...The first real "surprise" of this year's NBA Draft is a bona-fide star in the making and he could be a major defensive force in this league but the Cavs probably should have grabbed at one of the international players (see Jan Vesely who went sixth to Washington).

#5 TORONTO -Jonas Valanciunas, C ...The Lithuanian big man may be a good fit on a Raptors team that knows all about drafting international players in Round I but Veseley (who can really run the court) would have been the better pick here.
We'll get to the NBA Draft's biggest "Winners" and "Losers" in a moment but first this message:

Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers will be releasing loads of Major-League Baseball Winners each and every day and you can be part of all the action -- just remember to call the toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 or go online right here and make sure you're all aboard for a summer filled with all our MLB winners! The calling/check-in times are as follows: After 10 a.m. ET on Saturdays and Sundays; after 11 a.m. ET for weekday Baseball and anytime after 1 p.m. ET for all the weeknight action in the world of Major-League Baseball.


We know, we know. Most NBA Draft "experts" will be quick to tell you that it takes "years" before you know how well an organization's draft went but we'll go out on a limb here and tell you the biggest "Winners" and "Losers" last night:


Three cheers for ESPN Draft Analyst Jon Barry who declared the Washington Wizards as big winners as the D.C. gang added the aforementioned 6-foot-11 Veseley (and won't he look good snagging alley-oop passes from John Wall!) with the #6 overall pick and then landed defensive-minded forward Chris Singleton (Florida State) at #18 and then got the cherry on top with the selection of Butler guard Shelvin Mack at pick #34 ...and remember that Mack led our parade of five players that figured to be real second-round steals or sleepers. Maybe Rome wasn't built in a day but the 2011-12 Wizards could be that NBA team to make the biggest rise in the won/loss column.

Our next NBA Draft Night "winner" was San Antonio as the Spurs made waves with one of the night's big trades. The four-time champions dealt away guard George Hill to Indiana for No. 15 pick Kawhi Leonard (San Diego State) and a pair of highly-touted international players in No. 42 pick Davis Bertans and No. 46 choice Erazem Lorbek plus the late first-round choice of Texas point guard Cory Joseph was a nice touch even though the ESPN analyst panel undersold him as a potential down-the-road replacement for Tony Parker.

Finally, had to love what the Denver Nuggets did at #22 with rebounding whiz (and Newark native) Kenneth Faried of Morehead State who won't ask for many shots but can/will get the Mile High gang's fast break in full-speed mode. Okay, so we didn't love the deal that sent away PG Raymond Felton to Portland and brought back veteran PG Andre Miller but there was a future second-round pick tossed into that deal and so overall the Nuggets made out just fine -maybe not an "A" but certainly a "B+" grade here.


Let's cut to the chase and tell you the two first-round picks we didn't like:

The Golden State Warriors -and brand-new head coach Mark Jackson -opted for Washington State shooting guard Klay Thompson with that 11th-overall selection while at #17 the New York Knicks -and their out-the-door general manager Donnie Walsh -tabbed Georgia Tech guard Iman Shumpert.

Folks, both teams should have (and could have) drafted the aforementioned Faried plus we think the Warriors were in a position to also trade that pick (maybe to Phoenix) and pick up a couple of warm bodies. Don't count us among the folks who believe Thompson will be a great pro -we've seen some of his dud games in person!

Meanwhile, the Knicks -who truthfully have not drafted all that well in the Walsh Era -needed an energy/defense/rebound guy in Faried or maybe should have grabbed Singleton who went the very next pick to the Wizards. Later, both the Warriors and Knicks picked up other teams' second-round choices -Golden State grabbed the transient Jeremy Tyler in a swap with Charlotte while New York grabbed Kentucky big man Josh Harrellson via a deal with New Orleans but neither figures to be real standout players on the NBA level.

Hey, one other "loser" on the night was Notre Dame guard Ben Hansbrough -the Big East Player of the Year didn't get drafted at all -but if he should be looking for advice than think about playing backup point guard in Washington or possibly going to New Jersey where there will be plenty of vacancies on the roster.


Major-League Baseball's Interleague Play rolls on this final June weekend and here's three key series that we'll be eyeballing on this Friday-Saturday-Sunday:

CLEVELAND (40-33) at SAN FRANCISCO (41-34) -True, the American League Central standings say the Indians are still in the lead (by a single game over the Detroit Tigers) but the Tribe's ship has taken on water in recent weeks and some key team stats bear that out as Cleveland's 9th in the league in batting average (.251), 9th in home runs (67) and now just 7th in team ERA (3.93).

Now, the Indians' lineup -that includes four players with 30-or-more RBI including leader SS Asdrubal Cabrera (team-leading 12 HR and 43 RBI) -will try to whack a San Fran pitching staff that won't be throwing RHP Tim Lincecum here after he evened his record at 6-6 with Thursday's 2-1 home win against the Minnesota Twins.

Still, the defending World Series champion SF Giants remain offensively challenged with just 16 runs scored in their last seven games -let's see if new leadoff hitter CF Aaron Rowand (2-for-3 on Thursday) gets to stay in the lineup here.
ARIZONA (42-34) at DETROIT (40-35) -No question that the Tigers (a full game back of Cleveland at the start of today's action) has been treading water lately with a mediocre 5-5 mark in their last 10 games but there's always RHP Justin Verlander (9-3, 2.54 ERA) around to save the day.

Verlander's scheduled to start the middle game of this set on Saturday and he vaults into this appearance having beaten Colorado 9-1, Cleveland 4-0, Seattle 4-1, the Chicago White Sox 4-2 and Boston 3-0 in his last five starts and -save for possibly Cliff Lee of the surging Philadelphia Phillies -there is no hotter starting pitcher in all the land.

Note that Detroit closer Jose Valverde is a perfect 17-for-17 in save opportunities this season while opposing batters are hitting just .196 against 'em that deserves a wow!
COLORADO (37-37) at NEW YORK YANKEES (43-30) -What's the real key to the Yankees' 2011 season? Try to avoid playing the archrival Boston Red Sox! The Yanks -who sport the second-best record in the AL (and the second-best mark in the AL East) are 1-8 versus the Bosox this season and a collective 42-22 against all other comers and now in struts a Rockies team that truly has run hot-and-cold all year long else to describe a Colorado crew that's 19-19 at Coors Field this year and 18-18 away?

Okay, so the Rocks just won two-of-three in back-to-back Interleague series versus Detroit and Cleveland but RHP Ubaldo Jimenez -this evening's scheduled starter in The Bronx -comes off a 5-4 home win against the Tigers last Saturday night and yet he's still a woeful 2-7 with a bloated 4.68 ERA and now having to face a Yanks lineup that has bashed some big-time homers in the past few days (see RF Nick Swisher's three-run blast last Sunday night at Wrigley Field and 1B Jorge Posada's key two-run dinger to beat Cincinnati on Wednesday afternoon).

NOTE: There are more NBA Draft goodies and MLB Notes in the next edition of Jim Sez.


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