Submitted by Jim Hurley on Thursday, June 18, 2015 at 12:00 AM
THE COUNTDOWN IS ON –
THE NBA DRAFT NOW IS JUST A WEEK AWAY …
WE OFFICIALLY RE-CAP THE WARRIORS'
TITLE-WINNING SEASON …
PLUS OUR BASEBALL NEWS & NOTES
The Golden State Warriors are still busy kissin'-and-huggin' their brand-new Larry O'Brien NBA Championship Trophy – and who can really blame them! – but the league's numero uno team is also directing its attention to next Thursday's NBA Draft at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Can Steve Kerr's club add a real diamond-in-the-rough type player here with pick #30 or could we even see unsung GM Bob Myers getting creative here and packaging this end-of-the-first-round pick along with, let's say, a Harrison Barnes or maybe reserve C Festus Ezeli for a lottery pick such as Wisconsin's Frank Kaminsky or maybe UCLA power forward Kevin Looney?
Don't put it past the Warriors that they'll have a draft-night trick up its sleeve as the heady Myers knows it's not so bad to tinker with a team's roster even after winning it all – and never facing a playoff elimination game, to boot!
Okay, more chit-chat on Golden State's newly-minted championship shortly in today's edition of Jim Sez but let's spend a few moments on the aforementioned June 25th Draft with a reminder that the Warriors selected regular-season MVP Stephen Curry with the #7 overall pick in the 2009 draft; they tabbed fellow "Splash Brother" star Klay Thompson with the 11th overall choice in the 2011 draft; and they grabbed do-it-all F/C Draymond Green with the 35th overall pick in the 2012 draft thus proving that you can snap up lots of valuable "merchandise" when selecting outside the top few picks.
Meanwhile, it's become pretty obvious that the Minnesota Timberwolves are set to grab Kentucky F/C Karl-Anthony Towns with the top pick in next week's draft while the Los Angeles Lakers are less unsure although we'd continue to put our money on Duke C Jahlil Okafor and you're getting major vibes that at #3 the Philadelphia 76ers are gonna grab G D'Angelo Russell from Ohio State – but then it really gets intense with the rumor mill:
Let's just say that picks #4-thru-#8 figure to include the following names:
Latvian F Kristaps Porzingis, Duke F Justise Winslow, PG Emmanuel Mudiay (played in China last season), Kentucky C Willie Cauley-Stein and Croatian G Mario Hezonja – but go ahead and try to match up player with new pro team and you'd be hard-pressed right now to make perfect pairings with this quintet.
The X-factor – as in often is on NBA Draft Night – is what team is gonna make a move into the top handful-or-so selections and we could see the Miami Heat and/or the Chicago Bulls making a big-time splash as they pursue one of these #4-through-#8 players for just the right price.
Hey, could you picture Heat GM Pat Riley – whose team is due to select at #10 – swinging a deal with arch-enemy Phil Jackson of the beleaguered New York Knicks?
Okay, so we probably can't see it either but how about a juicy deal that would involve the Heat sending second-year G Shabazz Napier to New York with the Knicks and Miami flip-flopping those #4 and #10 overall draft picks? Hmmm.
And, while we're at it, now that the three-point crazy Warriors just won it all, might this draft's top three-point shooters become even more valuable in the eyes of the league's GMs and scouts?
So, that could mean a skyrocket rise to a higher-than-projected draft spot for the likes of Kentucky G Devin Booker and/or UNLV two-guard Rashad Vaughn … so stay tuned.
HERE'S TO THE CHAMPION WARRIORS
It's easy to see now that we all have 20-20 vision but the two nights in this year's NBA Playoffs that signified that the Golden State Warriors were a very special team were May 11th – a 101-84 rout over Memphis in Game 4 of that Western Conference Semifinal Round after the Grizzlies took the first two-of-three games – and then Game 4 of the just-completed NBA Finals on June 11th when G-State trounced the host Cleveland Cavaliers 103-82 after LeBron James and Company had darted out to a two games-to-one series lead.
On both occasions, the Warriors answered the bell and – interestingly enough – Curry, Andre Iguodala and friends left little doubt with wins by 17 and 21 points.
In fact, when you trace back the playoff journey of this Golden State crew you'll note the Warriors may have gone a modest 11-10 ATS (against the spread) this post-season meaning that you would have broken even while playing G-State for a $100 per-play wager game-after-game but Kerr's club did win 11 of its 16 playoff victories by 10-or-more points … pretty impressive stuff.
And for what it's worth, here's some of the key stats that Warriors' players put up during the course of a 21-game playoff sojourn:
Stephen Curry averaged 28.3 ppg for a team that averaged 103.3 ppg this post-season …
Klay Thompson – despite a rather meek NBA Finals save for a 34-point showing in Game 2 – averaged 18.6 ppg in the playoffs …
Andre Iguodala shot 47.4 percent from the floor (but just 41.5 percent from the free-throw line) this post-season …
And Draymond Green contributed the stat-sheet stuffing line of 13.7 ppg, 10.1 rebounds-per-game and a better-than-you-thought 5.2 assists per game.
Throw into the mix the fact the Warriors held foes to a per-game scoring average of 95.5 points a contest and, well, you have plenty of reasons why Golden State is celebrating the franchise's first title in 40 years.
If you ask us right now, we'll say Golden State and Oklahoma City will be the #1 and #2 seeds in the NBA's Western Conference chase next year – that's in either order, folks – with the Los Angeles Clippers and Houston Rockets likely getting the other home-court advantage spots in the playoffs.
Just don't hold us to it 10 months from now!
And now hear this …
Okay, so the NBA Finals – and the whole 2014-15 NBA season, for that matter – is officially in the books but that doesn't mean Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers will stop the winning!
There's plenty of Major-League Baseball daily winners coming your way when you check in either right here online at www.jimhurley.com or via our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 any time after 1 p.m. Eastern time for weeknight action, after 11 a.m. ET for weekday games and after 10 a.m. ET for Saturday/Sunday/Holiday Winners.
Plus, the Football Season isn't that far off as NFL Preseason action swings into gear in early August – can't wait!
BASEBALL NEWS & NOTES
No doubt about it that this here-and-now 2015 Major-League Baseball season has been all about "streaks" whether it's been the matching 11-game winning streaks of the New York Mets (see April) and the Toronto Blue Jays (see June) or the prolonged losing skids with the Philadelphia Phillies' eight-game losing streak while heading into last night's home game against the Baltimore Orioles the longest active "L" streak in the land.
And that's the rub, folks:
Forget the losing skids that the pathetic Phillies are on and consider what a double-digit-type winning streak can do for a big-league team that's stuck in the muck-and-mire of baseball mediocrity these days.
Heck, in a time when five of the six divisions in MLB don't have a leader of more than 3.5 games, it's only common sense that anyone – in any division – can make a run for the top with one elongated winning streak and two American League teams that we're keeping an eye on are the Detroit Tigers (34-31) and the Los Angeles Angels (33-32).
The fact is the Tigers – who entered Wednesday's action in Cincinnati – are just a plus 7 in the all-important runs differential category but with Victor Martinez set to return this weekend (he's been out since May 19th with knee inflammation following off-season surgery) the offense should get healthier/better in a hurry plus can't ignore the fact that RHP Anibal Sanchez (5-7, 4.65 ERA) has come on strong lately following back-to-back 6-0 wins against the Chicago Cubs and the Cincinnati Reds.
As far as the Angels – who are a minus 3 in the runs differential category and really just slogging their way through this 2015 campaign – you get the feeling that things may be set to turn around for starters RHP Jered Weaver (4-7, 4.65 ERA), LHP C.J. Wilson (4-5, 3.60 ERA) and rehabbing righty Garrett Richards (7-4, 3.59 ERA) and this "big three" could propel the Halos to a much-needed winning streak and keep in mind they're home in the state of California for much of the next couple of weeks with a slew of home games against Houston and Seattle – those key divisional games could "right" LAA real soon.
NOTE: Remember the NBA Draft is set for next Thursday, June 25th and we'll have previews/coverages all through the next several days plus there's more Baseball News/Notes comin' soon in these Jim Sez columns.