June 27th, 2012

NBA Draft: “What’s Best for the Tar Heels” Edition

Tomorrow during the NBA Draft, we’ll get to play the Jay Bilas “wingspan” drinking game, we’ll see the Bobcats trade back and we’ll see one GM smile nervously after selecting Andre Drummond. It’s one of my favorite days of the year, particularly when the Tar Heels have potentially four first round players. 

When imagining where our favorite college players will go into the draft we have to factor in A) what’s best for us and B) what’s best for the player. For instance, it’d be great for North Carolinians if the Bobcats drafted all four Carolina players and dammit they will try, but man…would that be the worst for those players. Just ask Sean May. 

That said, this post leans more towards predicting draft selections based on the player’s best interest. If I am a draft prospect, where would I MOST want to go, in the realistic position on the draft board? Let’s answer that for our Carolina stars…

Harrison Barnes

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There’s not a player in the draft that was a bigger high school prospect than Harrison Barnes. At times he was compared to Kobe. When I saw him as a Freshman against Texas in person, he hit a clutch late shot with a form I could only liken to Michael. Barnes is far from the one-name status of those legends, but few players in this draft have one-name potential like Harrison. The pro team that saw LeBron leave and win a championship is certainly hungry to get back the kind of player that sells seats, billboards and, down the road, championship apparel.

Here’s why Cleveland at No. 4 is perfect for Barnes: They have a young, talented team with a star in Kyrie Irving. Irving and Barnes just happen to be good friends, as close as a Dukie and Tar Heel can be. I like Alonzo Gee at the 3 spot, or anywhere that can do this, which means Barnes would fit comfortably at the scoring guard position. The Cavs will have just enough pressure in 2013 to push Barnes into being a reliable perimeter scorer and eventually, one of the league’s top one-two punches with Irving.

John Henson

Today Houston traded their 14th pick and Samuel Dalembert to Milwaukee for the 12th pick. Word around town (internet town) is that Houston will try to throw picks at Orlando for Dwight Howard. That ain’t happening. 

Dalembert was the Rocket’s starting center in 2011-2012. He’s 31, 6’11” and 250 lbs, and averaged 7.5 points, 7.0 rebounds and 1.7 blocks. At 21, 6’11”  and 220 pounds, couldn’t Henson average those numbers from day one? Henson played high school in Round Rock, Texas, about three hours from Houston. Houston is loaded with scoring at the guard positions and Louis Scola anchoring the 4. Henson’s super goofy, and after a month of swatting shots, would of course start finger wagging after blocks in homage to former Rocket Dikembe Mutombo. And looking at the picture above, he’d be great at it.

Kendall Marshall

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Let’s face it: Steve Nash isn’t coming back to Phoenix. He took one look at the Miami Heat rolling through the playoffs and thought, “They could use a point guard.” The best pure point leader and passer in the draft is Marshall. Phoenix is no longer the type of team built to run, and although Marshall has the ability to push the break, he’s a good fit to execute in the half-court and make an average offensive team better. Marshall would be best with a solid defensive front-court behind him, but in the middle of the first round, the Suns present the best opportunity for an old-school floor general. 

Tyler Zeller

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Let’s go back to Samuel Dalembert. Where he left a big hole in Houston, he’s not exactly filling it at age 31 in his new home in Milwaukee. Here’s the Center depth for the Bucks: Dalembert, Ekpe Udoh, Larry Sanders and Kwame Brown. Seriously. 

Now here’s the rest of the Bucks starting five: Monte Ellis (electric, speedy scorer), Brandon Jennings (young streaky shooter), Drew Gooden (comeback year last season) and Ersan Ilyasaova (maybe the best young player no one has heard of. He had 25 rebounds in a game last year!). This team won’t defend very well, but Zeller would fit right in with the up-tempo guards. He might even replace the deer mascot on the jerseys. It’d just be Zeller, sprinting up the court with Glen Davis huffing in the background. I’d watch that team. And I’d enjoy seeing Tar Heels go picks 12-13-14 in a row.

So please, MJ, I’m begging you: Don’t screw this up.

April 2nd, 2012

Dog chases cat. One of these is a mascot.

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