My takeaways from the second round series:
Miami beats Chicago 4-1
After a valiant game one effort the Bulls finally succumbed to the injuries that have plagued them throughout the regular and postseason. It would have been interesting to see how the Bulls fared if they would have had five players healthy enough to suit up for the games. The Heat prevailed with half of Dwyane Wade against half of the Bulls roster, but will the Pacers prove a more dangerous adversary if Wade isn't at full speed?
Indiana beats New York 4-2
The Knicks hero ball style was exposed by Indiana's teamwork and stout defense. Carmelo Anthony, who finished third in MVP voting (really?), managed to chuck up 18.75 shots for every assist he dished during the series. His appurtenance in the black hole philosophy, J.R. Smith, shot a putrid 29%. Roy Hibbert made Tyson Chandler look like a little boy. The series went six, but it didn't really feel that close. Credit Indy's hermetic defense for that. They forced the Knicks into becoming a jump shooting team with their inside presence, then turned them into a downright crappy offense with their stellar perimeter d.
Memphis beats OKC 4-1
This series cemented the value of Russell Westbrook. The critics that propounded he was holding Kevin Durant and the Thunder back were summarily silenced. Oklahoma City was a completely different (worse) team with him off the court, and Westbrook's injury may have been the single biggest event that changed the postseason landscape. The Grizzlies smelled blood and capitalized by imposing their style on the series. Memphis, who had the slowest pace and allowed the fewest points during the regular season, stifled the Thunder by holding them under 100 points in every game during the series.
San Antonio beats Golden St. 4-2
The Spurs entrenched themselves as the horror movie villain that never dies and the Warriors proclaimed that they have arrived as an up and coming team (if they can stay healthy). While Stephen Curry had pundits gushing over his performance, a nagging injury (bet you've never heard nagging injury and Stephen Curry in the same sentence before!) may have caused his production to dwindle as the series went on. This, compounded by David Lee's absence, helped seal the team's doom. That and the fine tuned machine of excellent role players led by all-star Tony Parker. Anybody else notice how most of the "stars" are already sitting on their couches?
Now the results you've all been waiting for (or have already looked at by skipping my inane ramblings):
NashMV3 still leads the way, but MMotherwell, who has the Spurs advancing, and Yttriot are still right on his heels. The ouster of OKC knocked out the majority of people's, myself included, Western Conference representative for the NBA Finals. Chances are it will be a photo finish so make sure your score is correct!
It's obviously early in the process, but not too early. We have draft combine information in the books and now we have the order set thanks to the Draft Lottery. That let's think more about how specific players, especially in this draft, might fit with specific teams.
Here's our first 2013 NBA Mock Draft. For more, be sure to visit NBA Draft Insider.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers - Otto Porter Jr.
6-8.5, 197 lbs. SF
Sometimes luck is on your side and that is exactly the case for the Cavaliers as they won the lottery for the second time in three years since the departure of The King. Now they have a major choice to make, but when you look past Big Boards it may be easier than one would think. The Cavaliers need a glue player to balance the dynamic nature of Kyrie Irving and Porter Jr. is just the guy with his ability to do a little bit of everything on the court.
2. Orlando Magic - Ben McLemore
6-4.75, 189 lbs. SG
The Magic could use a number of different things including point guard with this pick which is exactly where they were before the lottery. Trey Burke and Ben McLemore have to be the top two choices here, but McLemore has All-Star potential in a situation where he can develop.
3. Washington Wizards - Nerlens Noel
6-11.75, 206 lbs. C
Maybe the best player in the draft falls in their lap as the athletic shot-blocking machine Noel has the chance to be paired with John Wall, Bradley Beal, and Co coming off of his ACL tear. With an aging front-court Noel comes in at exactly the right time.
4. Charlotte Bobcats - Victor Oladipo
6-4.25, 213 lbs. SG
They seem to like building around defense and advanced statistics in Charlotte, so the New Hornets add Oladipo who is the highest-riser in the draft as well as the best overall defensive player on the board.
5. Phoenix Suns - Rudy Gobert
7-2, 234 lbs. C
The draft takes a left turn in Phoenix as the Suns need talent and new GM Ryan McDonough will look to add the best long-term prospects to the roster. Gobert has great length and the potential to be the best big man in this class.
6. New Orleans Pelicans - Trey Burke
6-1.25, 240 lbs. PG
As well as Greivis Vasquez has been for the new Pelicans, the league is all about greatness at the point guard position. Burke has the skill-set and resume to be the league's next great point guard.
7. Sacramento Kings - Anthony Bennett
6-8, 240 lbs. PF
The 2013 version of Grandmamma lands on a team that lacks toughness, which Bennett has in spades. He can physically dominate a game while providing a compliment to the potential star power of DeMarcus Cousins.
8. Detroit Pistons - Shabazz Muhammad
6-6.25, 222 lbs. SF
Shooting and scoring are in need of a major upgrade in Detroit. As limited as his offensive game may be Muhammad makes a lot of sense stretching the floor and completing the front-court of the future in Mo Town.
9. Minnesota Timberwolves - Alex Len
7-1, 225 lbs. C
But, they already have Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic? That is true today and Len provides insurance for tomorrow even though the team may need shooter, the potential of Len is too much to pass on while reaching for shooting.
10. Portland Trail Blazers - C.J. McCollum
6-3, 197 lbs. PG
The worst bench in the league needs to add depth. No matter position this is a team that simply needs talent and McCollum gives the Blazers shooting, play-making, and Damian Lillard a break.
11. Philadelphia 76ers - Cody Zeller
7-0, 230 lbs. C
What was once considered the "Andrew Bynum Experiment" now seems to be over and the team needs to move on. Zeller may not have All-Star potential, but he is a talented big man that can do a lot of the little things a team like the 76ers need.
12. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Toronto) - Mason Plumlee
7-0, 238 lbs. PF
The rich get richer as the best team in the Western Conference add another lottery pick to the fold. Plumlee is a big, athletic front-court prospect that can play the four or the five for the Thunder long-term.
13. Dallas Mavericks - Michael Carter-Williams
6-5, 184 lbs. SG
The need for a point guard may be too tough to pass on if MCW is still on the board. He is a flashy PG that can get a little erratic at times, but the way he took over games at Syracuse was a marvel to watch.
14. Utah Jazz - Jamaal Franklin
6-5, 190 lbs. SG
San Diego State, Jr.
There are no other players in this class that can do the amount of things on the court that Franklin can from the perimeter as a scorer, rebounder, defender, distributor, and play-maker. You may not know him now, but you will...
15. Milwaukee Bucks - Kelly Olynyk
7-0, 234 lbs. C
Adding some scoring to the front-court has to be one of the top priorities for the Bucks this off-season. Drafting Olynyk does that with one fell swoop as he is a great shooter from distance as a 7-footer with a much improved inside game.
16. Boston Celtics - Steven Adams
7-0, 254 lbs. C
He did not have a great year this year as a freshman with the transition from Down Under to the Big East, but there are not many athletes with this size and raw ability in any draft. Getting Adams this late may become the conversation of great steals in a few years.
17. Atlanta Hawks - Dario Saric
6-10, 223 lbs. SF
Only reason the Croatian point-forward falls this far is due to off the court issues and maturity. Other than that Saric is among the most skilled players in this class with the potential to be great if he can get it together.
18. Atlanta Hawks (via Brooklyn/Houston) - Reggie Bullock
6-7, 199 lbs. SG
North Carolina, Jr.
One of the better two-way players in this draft is Bullock with his ability to shoot, finish, and defends multiple positions. He is not a high volume dribbler which will allow him to fit on any team he lands on.
19. Cleveland Cleveland (via LALakers) - Gorgui Dieng
6-11, 229 lbs. C
Another area of need for the Cavaliers will be in the front-court with the young Tristan Thompson and Tyler Zeller as the only options last year after Anderson Varejao went down to injury. Dieng is not going to be an All-Star, but provides a semblance of what Noel would have 18 picks earlier.
20. Chicago Bulls - Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
6-5, 203 lbs. SG
Some think he is a lottery talent with his shooting ability and the way he did a little bit of everything for his team last year. If that ends up being true then the Bulls add a lottery scorer to the mix with a healthy Derrick Rose next season.
21. Utah Jazz (via Golden State) - Dennis Schroeder
6-2, 164 lbs. SG
This is the dream scenario for the Jazz as they fill a need in the lottery and then get the point guard they desperately need seven picks later. One could argue the Jazz were a competent leader from making the playoffs this year and Schroeder has the potential and swag to be a major player at the one.
22. Brooklyn Nets - Jeff Withey
7-0, 221 lbs. C
Keep it simple with Deron Williams, Brook Lopez, Joe Johnson, and Gerald Wallace already in the fold. Withy is nothing flashy, but he is a load inside and defends the rim as well as anyone in this class.
23. Indiana Pacers - Shane Larkin
5-11, 170 lbs. PG
There is no question the Pacers need more dynamic play-makers to take the next leap as a team. While they have George Hill adding Larkin is a plus because Hill can play some two with his length and Larkin provides depth.
24. New York Knicks - Ricky Ledo
6-6, 197 lbs. SG
Who? Yes, the high school scoring wunderkind could solve a lot of the Knicks problems with depth, shooting, and he still has the potential to be a great player if he continues to work on his game.
25. Los Angeles Clippers - Sergey Karasev
6-7, 197 lbs. SF
This is an absolute steal for the Clippers. Karasev is a great, elite three-point shooter that has lottery talent with the way he has progressed over the past two seasons in Russia. A perfect bench player for a playoff team.
26. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Memphis) - Tony Snell
6-7, 198 lbs. SF
New Mexico, Jr.
Another riser thanks to his size, athleticism, and potential as a two-way player. He needs to improve his work ethic which is a tough sell for teams, but he can shoot it and score in bunches when he gets hot.
27. Denver Nuggets - Giannis Adetokunbo
6-9, 196 lbs. SF
The enigma of the draft and the biggest boom or bust prospect is the little know Greek forward Giannis Adetokunbo. He has the ball skills to make plays for others and score in the paint, but has played against the Junior Varsity of Europe to date.
28. San Antonio Spurs - Jackie Carmichael
6-9, 241 lbs. PF
Illinois State, Sr.
Playoff teams add players through the draft that fit their system and can play a role. That is Carmichael as a rebounder that can score in the paint for the youth deprived Spurs.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder - Archie Goodwin
6-5, 189 lbs. SG
Two years in a row the Thunder add a hyped up pre-season lottery pick at the end of the first round. Last year it was Perry Jones III and this year it is the hyper athletic Goodwin who can be a great defender and slasher.
30. Phoenix Suns (via Miami) - Livio Jean-Charles
6-9, 217 lbs. PF
Keeping it in Europe for the Suns with the steady and consistent Jean-Charles from France. He does nothing flashy, but can dominate a game with his rebounding and energy in the paint.
The question now becomes: Who will be available for the Phoenix Suns with the No. 5 Overall Pick? It is not a drastic difference from where they were at No. 4, but one slot could mean the player you absolutely love and the player you really like...