Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Note to NBA owners: Do not hire Chris Mannix as your GM

I am a pretty big NBA fan. Now, I don't get paid to write about it, so I doubt I know more than Chris Mannix at SI.com.

His article, mock drafting the NBA, might make me reconsider.

Before reading this, I quickly threw together my top eleven. Keep in mind this took all of ten minutes and I didn't have player ages handy. I also really overlooked Yao. Oops.

1. LeBron James - duh
2. Chris Paul - ditto
3. Kobe Bryant - nothing to see here
4. Deron Williams - underrated, slightly worse than Paul, but killed him head to head and has good size
5. Amare Stoudamire - monster, better than Howard
6. Gilbert Arenas - there are, at most, three other guys I want shooting the last shot of a game more than Gil
7. Dwight Howard - physical specimen, needs to work on moves
8. Carlos Boozer - most polished big man out of the three
9. Brandon Roy - crazy upside, next best PG
10. Josh Smith - best swingman/multifaceted player
11. Dwayne Wade - injured and it's mostly his own fault, has a lot to prove next season

2. Miami Heat: Dwight Howard, C, 22. Shot-blocking, physically intimidating, attack-the-rim centers are hard to come by. Actually, outside of Howard, they are nearly impossible. As he proved this past season in Orlando, Howard is capable of dominating even with undersized help.

Know what else is rare? Post players with actual basketball moves. Howard's best move is "slam a miss back down with one arm." 30% of his shots were dunks last year. That's nuts. And while he does block shots, he isn't really that good defensively. Ask Chris Bosh, who drops like 40 on him every time they play.

He also sucks from the line (59%) and turns the ball over a lot - 263 times last season, which was fourth highest. The top three (and much of the top ten) were all guards.

5. Memphis Grizzlies: Yao Ming, C, 27. Size? Check. Skills? Double-check. Aggressive personality? Check, check, check. He has shrugged off his passive demeanor and become fiercely competitive, perhaps the lone attribute that had stood between Yao and greatness. Well, that and better health.

Hasn't played more than 57 games since 2004-05? Check. Will play in the Olympics/various Chinese basketball leagues during the offseason, increasing his injury chances? Check. Loyalty lies in a freakin communist country? Check, check, check.

I may have overlooked Yao, but number five is way too high considering the age and injury problems.

6. New York Knicks: Kevin Garnett, PF, 32. Yes, with KG as your cornerstone, you will have to find a fourth-quarter scorer. But that's about all you will need to find to complement this ultimate team player and defensive menace.

That, and the fountain of youth. KG is 32. He has, what, 3-5 more years being this good? But this is the Knicks, so maybe Mannix is making an awesome, elaborate joke.

7. Los Angeles Clippers: Amaré Stoudemire, F/C, 25. Lingering questions about the health of his surgically repaired knees vanished after a 25.2-point, 9.1-rebound season in 2007-08. Dominating offense, questionable defense.

His defense is only as questionable as Howard's, but he doesn't send blocks to the 12th row, so I guess he sucks. He also has that sport-writer Viagra known as "playoff experience."

10. New Jersey Nets: Tim Duncan, F/C, 32. Only age keeps Duncan from going higher. Duncan operates out of the post like Bill Walton and is as fundamentally sound as they come. Unfortunately, the 11-year veteran has played nearly two full seasons in playoff games, meaning his decline should be only a few years away.

So put him at number ten! There can't be better players than a 32-year-old Duncan!

No 23-year-old Deron Williams, who I had at number four, yet...

14. Golden State Warriors: Greg Oden, C, 20. OK, so Oden hasn't played a game yet. But a 7-foot, 250-pound center with superior defensive ability has to be considered a franchise player. Any offensive skills he develops -- and he will develop them -- are a bonus.

Sam Bowie.

16. Philadelphia 76ers: Deron Williams, PG, 23. Big, strong, fast, good going to the basket and a lethal shooter.

Gets you number 16, behind Tony Parker, who's three years older and worse at basketball.

If Williams has any flaws, it's that at times he looks likes a shooting guard in a point guard's body.

If *Magic Johnson* has any flaws, it's that at times he looks like *every position* in *every position's body*.

17. Toronto Raptors: Paul Pierce, SF, 30. Pierce can get physical with smaller forwards and drive around bigger ones. A durable player (only one full season of fewer than 73 games),

Ugh. 30 years old. Better players on the board. Finals hangover?

the 10-year veteran proved in the NBA Finals that his defense is underrated.

Half the game is underrated.

20. Denver Nuggets: David West, PF, 27. West might be the most underrated 20-point scorer in the NBA. A dependable jump shooter, West will continue to grow as his inside game improves.

Paul is his PG. Paul is his PG. Paul is his PG. Paul is his PG. Paul is his PG. Paul is his PG.

Boozer, who is right after West, has been playing better longer, is a year younger and can board much better. Color me befuddled blue.

22. Orlando Magic: Brandon Roy, SG, 23. Roy is Dwyane Wade Lite, all the way down to his curiously spelled middle name (Dawayne). Nicknamed "The Natural," Roy attacks the basket with reckless abandon and, at 6-6, can play both guard positions.

Meanwhile, Deron Williams is a fatass.

23. Utah Jazz: Manu Ginobili, SG, 30.

24. Phoenix Suns: Steve Nash, PG, 34.

25. Houston Rockets: Richard Hamilton, SG, 30.

All guys over 30 with tons of playoff miles on them. Mannix understands we're drafting here right? Like, for the future?

Josh Smith (22!), Gasol (27), Igoudala (24), Durant (19!!!) and Redd (28) all (stupidly) come after them.

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