The NBA Draft Re-Cap

THE NBA DRAFT RE-CAP - WHAT WE LIKED (AND WHAT WE DIDN’T LIKE!)...

PLUS OUR NFL PRESEASON TEAM COVERAGE BEGINS AS WE CHECK OUT THE STEELERS AND FALCONS

Have they stopped booing NBA Commissioner David Stern yet?

Okay, so the commish played along with the “peanut gallery” crowd at last night’s NBA Draft held in Newark and it made for fun (if altogether silly) TV but gotta admit we were home booing some of the selections/teams - and we’ll tell you why in just a couple of moments here in today’s jam-packed Jim Sez.

The fact of the matter is we all heard the rumors of blockbuster deals with the names of Orlando’s Dwight Howard, the Los Angeles Lakers’ Pau Gasol and Atlanta’s Josh Smith all tossed around in recent days and yet when the bright lights came on last night none of the above were handed change-of-address forms and all the chatter regarding the likes of Houston, Boston and Dallas all moving up in Round One fell flatter than a proverbial pancake.

Where was the real drama, guys?

No doubt that the New Orleans Hornets struck gold by landing that numero uno pick in the lottery and cashed the ticket with the choice of Kentucky F Anthony Davis and we love the pick of Duke point guard Austin Rivers with that #10 overall selection but of the seven NBA teams that sported two-or-more opening-round draft picks the Hornets were the only team - we believe - that really hit it out of the ball park.

Consider the Rockets:

They wound up with three first-round draft choices after the attempts to trade for Howard came up lame and Kevin McHale’s club snatched up SG Jeremy Lamb (Connecticut) at #12, SF Royce White (Iowa State) at pick #16 and PF Terrence Jones (Kentucky) at #18 -- don’t get us wrong as they’re all nice players but all that pre-Draft movin’ and shakin’ and that’s all the Rockets netted in this haul?

Why didn’t Houston package a couple of those picks to get into the top three and land Florida G Bradley Beal who everyone had rated a top three prospect in this draft? Hmmm.

Then there were the so-called “reaches” in Round One:

Take Syracuse shooting guard Dion Waiters was nabbed at the #4 overall spot by the Cleveland Cavaliers:
Okay, so anyone could sit here and tell you that Waiters wasn’t supposed to be chosen until the 12th or 13th pick - give or take - but the Cavs believed he was a perfect complement to Rookie of the Year PG Kyrie Irving and so they pulled the trigger on him but don’t you think Cleveland could have gotten the moon, sun and stars from the Portland Trail Blazers who were picking 6th and 11th?

It was no secret in NBA-land that the Blazers coveted - and got - Weber State PG Damian Lillard (the Blazers nabbed Illinois 7-1 center Meyers Leonard at #11) and all we’re saying is the Cavs could have forced a big deal here and gotten Waiters probably with that 11th pick and added the likes of a Harrison Barnes (North Carolina/went #7 to Golden State) or a Thomas Robinson (Kansas/went #5 to Golden State) to their goody basket.

Than there was Toronto grabbing Washington SG Terrence Ross at #8 - yet another “reach”:

Yes, we heard ESPN analyst Jay Bilas spouting off that if you really like a player than grab him even if he’s plucked a few picks prematurely but the North of the Border Raptors - who already are stockpiled with nice shooters but little else - were in the position there to dictate things or at least opt for size (see North Carolina’s John Henson or college teammate Tyler Zeller) but instead grabbed Ross and stunned just about everyone including yours truly.

And one note on Round II - and we all know very few second-round choices in the NBA turn into anything useful in this league:

It has become common practice for international players to be nabbed in this second round and then “stored away” in Europe for a couple of seasons while they develop their game but if you’re an NBA general manager than don’t you want help right now? So, we applaud the picks of Cleveland for workaholic F Jae Crowder (Marquette) and Portland for nabbing Memphis SG Will Barton - both of whom figure to be “energy players” for their teams right away.

Okay, so now a quick-hitter line about the top 10 players selected in this 2012 NBA Draft:

  1. NEW ORLEANS - Anthony Davis, PF, Kentucky: Enough about the “uni-brow” already, let’s see you block five shots a night in the league where they play for pay.
  2. CHARLOTTE - Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF, Kentucky: We thought this banger would go second and he did, just that we believed Cavs would have traded into this spot for ‘em.
  3. WASHINGTON - Bradley Beal, SG, Florida: Kid showed major poise in his TV interview and may already be more mature than whole Wizards roster!
  4. CLEVELAND - Dion Waiters, SG, Syracuse: Could actually see this former Big East star “taking away” shots from the aforementioned G Irving.
  5. SACRAMENTO - Thomas Robinson, PF, Kansas: Tears of joy for this hard-working star and we project him as nightly double-double guy right away.
  6. PORTLAND - Damian Lillard, PG, Weber State: Don’t blow off the fact that he played inferior competition 95 percent of the time.
  7. GOLDEN STATE - Harrison Barnes, SF, North Carolina: Loved the comment that he will be a “better pro” because something tells us he’ll average 20-to-22 ppg before too long.
  8. TORONTO - Terrence Ross, SG, Washington: Nothing against this kid but how many shots will he get on this chuck-it-up Raptors squad?
  9. DETROIT - Andre Drummond, C, Connecticut: Call him a project all you want but truth is Pistons never thought he’d fall in their laps here.
  10. NEW ORLEANS - Austin Rivers, PG, Duke: As we stated in our NBA Mock Draft report, we would have grabbed this guy anywhere from the third pick on ... so bravo, Hornets!

Now hear this ...

Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers have put a highly successful 2012 NBA Playoffs in their rear-view mirror and now our attention’s 100 percent focused on all the Major-League Baseball Winners!

Check in with us either right here online at www.jimhurley.com or else at our exclusive toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 for all the daily and nightly MLB winners.

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THE NFL PRESEASON COVERAGE BEGINS: STEELERS AND FALCS ON OUR RADAR TODAY

The NBA Draft is history ... so what’s next on the sports landscape?

Glad you asked ‘cause in the coming days/weeks we will load up on NFL Coverage beginning here with Team-by-Team Reports as we inch closer to the 2012 NFL Season that kicks off its regular season on Wednesday, Sept. 5th when the Dallas Cowboys play at the Super Bowl champion New York Giants.

On today’s Jim Sez menu we offer up three teams - so here goes:

PITTSBURGH - Last year’s Steelers went 12-4 but were short-circuited in an AFC Wild Card overtime game in Denver and the fact Mike Tomlin’s club was not overly effective running the ball (14th in the league at 119 yards-per-game) prodded this AFC North crew to nab a pair of offensive linemen with its top two draft picks:

Guard David DeCastro (Stanford) and behemoth OT Mike Adams (Ohio State) might not make an instant impact on this team’s middling ground game but long-term results should be very positive. Keep in mind that RB Rashard Mendenhall (928 yards rushing and 9 TDs in 2011) is coming off a torn right ACL but the Steelers hope versatile rookie RB Chris Rainey (5th round pick from Florida) can be an asset swinging out of the backfield to catch some QB Ben Roethlisberger flare passes that are simply glorified running plays.

Remember no more WR Hines Ward: The one-time Super Bowl MVP retired last off-season after being phased out in the Steelers’ more predominant vertical passing game that stars WR Mike Wallace (72 receptions for 1,193 yards with 8 TDs).

ATLANTA - Normally a 10-win season for the Falcons would have been met with great satisfaction but that NFC Wild Card Playoff bomb loss to the eventual Super Bowl champion New York Giants really rattled the cages of this NFC South crew and now the Birds must cope with some big-time changes as offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey left to take over as head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars while well-respected quarterbacks coach Bob Bratkowski left with him. So, QB Matt Ryan - still without a playoff win in three tries (2008, 2010 and ’11) - must show more maturity than ever before if Atlanta wishes to make it three consecutive post-season berths.

In terms of on-the-field personnel changes, the Falcons are hoping their top pick - second-round draftee C Peter Konz (Wisconsin) - cracks the starting offensive line whether it’s a at center or guard while reports circulate that veteran CB Asante Samuel - who came over in a trade with Philadelphia - has been a real positive leader already and now we’ll see just how much he helps shore up a passing defense that last year ranked 20th in the league while allowing nearly 237 yards a game.

Note: Get more NFL Team-by-Team Reports in tomorrow’s Jim Sez.

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