Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, June 24, 2015 at 12:01 PM
NBA DRAFT NIGHT IS HERE, BUT IT COULD BE "LET'S MAKE A DEAL" TIME FOR SOME BIG-NAME FRANCHISES
PLUS BASEBALL NEWS & NOTES: ALL-STAR GAME CHIT-CHAT
One of the major sidelights of NBA Draft Night are the trades - or rumors of deals - that carry on throughout the evening and we'll enter tonight's Draft at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn with word that the Boston Celtics wish to deal away overall picks #16 and #28 for a top-10 choice while the likes of the Miami Heat and the Chicago Bulls are also quite interested in getting inside the top 10 (and, more specifically, inside the top seven picks where the major strength of this draft lies).
So, let's tackle a couple of these reports:
The Celtics are said to be conversing with Sacramento (#6), Denver (#7) and Charlotte (#9) for their picks in exchange for the pair of Boston first-rounders but none of the above teams are budging at last check and it might be that Boston may have to add a future draft pick (see 2016) in order to swing a deal.
If Boston is able to accomplish that mission, the feeling is the Celtics will try to draft Arizona F Stanley Johnson or maybe Duke's Justise Winslow should his stock fall below the top five players here.
Meanwhile, Miami is said to be interested in Wisconsin's Frank Kaminsky with the #10 overall pick it currently owns - our Jim Sez Mock Draft has the Heat moving up to #8 in a deal with Detroit and grabbing shooting guard Mario Hezonja from Croatia - but maybe boss-man Pat Riley has even grander designs as he likes Ohio State G D'Angelo Russell and may have the right package to interest the Philadelphia 76ers at that #3 draft slot;
Finally, Chicago's been an under-the-radar "player" here whether it's talk of inking new free-agent Kevin Love or maybe even in trying to sweet-talk three-time Heat champ G Dwyane Wade but don't be at all surprised if the Bulls - who right now own pick #22 in Round I - deal off some players/picks in a package deal that would bring 'em back a #5, #6 or #7 choice in this draft.
We'll have a complete and in-depth re-cap of the NBA Draft in tomorrow's edition of Jim Sez, so don't miss out!
BASEBALL NEWS & NOTES
Hey, want to know something that's really a shame regarding the sham of the All-Star Game voters when it comes to the Kansas City Royals?
There's actually a bunch of KayCee players that do deserve to make this year's All-Star Game roster in Cincinnati but this ballot-stuffing business has overshadowed what's really taken place on the field:
Consider that - at last check - seven Royals players were leading in the voting at the various nine positions that included the DH (only Los Angeles Angels OF Mike Trout and Detroit Tigers 1B Miguel Cabrera were non-Royals set to make the starting lineup) though you should note Toronto 3B Josh Donaldson was catching up quick to KC's Mike Moustakas and ditto for Houston 2B Jose Altuve who's trying to chase down Omar Infante.
The reality of the situation is this: Kansas City (40-28, .588) - sporting the second-best winning percentage in the majors behind the St. Louis Cardinals - deserves its share of All-Star participants whether they be starters or reserves as aforementioned 3B Moustakas is hitting .327, DH Kendrys Morales has a team-best 45 runs batted in and C Sal Perez is hitting a robust .280 with 11 home runs and so who's to say they all don't belong in the Mid-Summer Classic plus Moustakas, Morales, 1B Eric Hosmer and slick-fielding LF Alex Gordon all own OPS' of better-than-800 ... and you can make a serious case all four of these players deserve an All-Star Game berth.
And, we know you didn't ask, but you could make the case for two or three of Kansas City's relief corps to make the All-Star Game roster with Greg Holland (14-of-15 saves), Wade Davis (14 hits allowed in 31 innings) and even Kelvin Herrera (28 Ks in 27 innings) all getting major consideration.
Guess what we're saying is maybe this furor over the ballot-box stuffing Royals fans has hidden the fact that the defending American League champs probably do deserve between five-to-seven players on the All-Star Game team but their accomplishments are pretty much obscured by all this vote controversy.
In other MLB News & Notes ...
Lots of talk about all the great young players in the game today but if you could build a team for the next 10 years you could do a whole lot worse than starting out with Arizona 1B Paul Goldschmidt and Colorado 3B Nolan Arenado who may play on the "other side of the Mississippi River" but are franchise-type players that barely garner a word nationally.
Goldschmidt is a true triple-crown threat in the National League this year - his current stats include a league-leading .355 batting average with 19 HR and 57 RBI while Arenado - maybe the best defensive third baseman in the NL since Mike Schmidt - sports his own sizzling offensive stats: 19 HR, 58 RBI and a solid .287 batting average.
Now, if you talk about All-Star indignities than consider that while Goldschmidt's now running away with the vote at first base - he's some 2.5 million votes ahead of Los Angeles Dodgers star Adrian Gonzalez - there's Arenado firmly entrenched in fourth place behind the likes of St. Louis' Matt Carpenter, Cincinnati's Todd Frazier and Chicago Cubs phenom Kris Bryant.
Hey, all of the above are having fine-to-excellent seasons but Arenado's our guy and let's not hear any silly stuff regarding the fact he plays home games at Coors Field!
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, IT'S OUR NBA MOCK DRAFT!
Go ask any NBA scout or general manager and they'll likely tell you the following: This may be your prototypical young man's draft (lots of "one-and-done" players again) but it's probably the deepest/richest draft we've had in years and so it's with great anticipation that we look forward to Thursday's NBA Draft at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
In today's edition of Jim Sez, we offer up our NBA Mock Draft for the first round action only and - as usual - we've tossed a couple of hand grenades into the mix in terms of draft night trades, so enjoy!
NBA DRAFT 2015
1. MINNESOTA - Karl-Anthony Towns, F/C, Kentucky ... The Timberwolves are not even hiding the fact that this 6-foot-11, 255-pounder will be their numero uno pick and all we can say is if Minny doesn't make the playoffs next year with 2015 Rookie of the Year Andrew Wiggins and the other abundant talent on board then it should officially wave the white flag!
2. LOS ANGELES LAKERS - Jahlil Okafor, C, Duke ... There's been all kinds of smoke-blowing here regarding this pick but gotta believe the Lakers (fresh off their worst season in memory) will grab this inside scoring threat to give 'em some paint presence. Rumors of Miami and/or Denver trading up for this pick are squashed
3. DENVER (trade with Philadelphia) - D'Angelo Russell, SG, Ohio State ... If you've heard the 11th-hour chatter than you know this one-and-done Buckeyes' star doesn't want to play in Philly and so the Sixers "pass" on other prospects here and swing a deal with the Nuggets that brings back point guard Ty Lawson and the #7 overall pick in this draft.
4. NEW YORK KNICKS - Justise Winslow, SF, Duke ... No secret that the Knicks would love to draft Russell but simply don't have the goods to trade up one pick and so team prez Phil Jackson opts for "best available athlete" here and hopes the marriage with Carmelo Anthony and a free agent (possibly Detroit's Greg Monroe) can give New York an instant nucleus.
5. ORLANDO - Kristaps Porzingis, PF, Latvia ... The Magic is building a young power-packed club and so they grab highest-rated guy on its board not named Towns, Okafor or Russell and thereby decline trade offers for this pick that could have brought 'em additional young talent from either Miami or Chicago.
6. SACRAMENTO - Emmanuel Mudiay, PG, China ... The one-time SMU prospect played only a batch of games overseas but he's got a great body (6-foot-5, 200-plus pounds) and should be given plenty of leeway by new Kings' coach George Karl
7. PHILADELPHIA (trade with Denver) - Devin Booker, SG, Kentucky ... The Sixers slide down four spots and then surprise most folks by grabbing this smooth-stroking frosh who most scouts/GMs consider a #10-through-#15 type pick. A Dawson/Booker backcourt should be lots of fun for Philly fans.
8. MIAMI (trade with Detroit) - Mario Hezonja, SG, Croatia ... The NBA Draft can make for some "strange bedfellows" as we see Heat top exec Pat Riley swinging deal with once-fired head coach Stan Van Gundy who now calls the personnel shots (and coaches) for the Pistons so they flip-flop the #8 and #10 overall picks and Miami throws in some sweeteners to boot. The big thing is Miami gets a shooting star here and that's all the rage in the NBA these days after Golden State won it all with lots of perimeter bombers
9. CHARLOTTE - Willie Cauley-Stein, C, Kentucky ... Truth is the Hornets have their eyes on both Booker and Hezonja but they're gone by this ninth overall pick and so they grab this defense-first seven-footer who can cover "3's" and "4's" with the very best of them.
10. DETROIT (trade with Miami) - Stanley Johnson, SF, Arizona ... Lots of mock draft boards have this one-and-done stud going to the Pistons at #8, so you could say Van Gundy gets his man plus some additional goodies here. Meanwhile, this could be a busy night for the Motowners who are pretty much looking to reshape their roster from top-to-bottom
11. INDIANA - Myles Turner, C, Texas ... Something tells us the Pacers are set to turn the page on the Roy Hibbert Era (he could be Milwaukee-bound this summer, so stay tuned) and so the Pacers for now ignore their glaring need for a point guard and go big with this 6-foot-11 stud who really improved during his freshman year in Austin.
12. UTAH - Trey Lyles, F, Kentucky ... In his one year with the UK Wildcats, Lyles shot 49 percent from the floor but just didn't get enough PT (23 minutes per game under John Calipari) but the Jazz have 'em rated higher than most and with Turner off the board here's the make-sense selection
13. PHOENIX - Frank Kaminsky, C, Wisconsin ... The Suns would like to open up the floor and put the five-best scorers in play and so they figure they can't go wrong with last season's Player of the Year who shot a sizzling 54.7 percent from the field while averaging 18.8 ppg.
14. OKLAHOMA CITY - Kelly Oubre, Jr., SF, Kansas ... The Thunder could go in a zillion different directions here but believe this 6-foot-7 former Jayhawks star has the best "upside" of all the remaining players on the board and his wing span will make him fierce defender on the perimeter
15. ATLANTA - R.J. Hunter, SG, Georgia State ... The Hawks stay local here and grab sweet-shooting "March Madness" star here and how difficult will it be guarding the floor versus this bunch now?
16. BOSTON - Bobby Portis, PF, Arkansas ... Lots of talk that the Celtics will grab Wisky's Sam Dekker here but believe the 6-foot-11 Portis is best player left on the board and he's got plenty of perimeter shooting skills that will help open up head coach Brad Stevens' offense
17. MILWAUKEE - Montrezl Harrell, PF, Louisville ... Gotta believe that the go-go Bucks want a bit more toughness in their lineup and second-year head coach Jason Kidd likely compares Harrell with long-ago teammate Kenyon Martin from Kidd's old Nets' playing days.
18. HOUSTON - Jerian Grant, PG, Notre Dame ... All along we've thought the Rockets need to get a pure point guard that will make this team "whole" and love the fact Grant finished out senior year as one of country's 10-best college players. A rock-solid pick and a hand-off guy to the likes of James Harden and Dwight Howard.
19. CHICAGO (trade with Washington) - Sam Dekker, F, Wisconsin ... The Bulls swap their #22 pick and some "future considerations" to grab this Badgers' star and no doubt Chitowners hope 6-foot-9 banger/scorer can be an iron man with this injury-riddled bunch.
20. TORONTO - Cameron Payne, PG, Murray State ... The Raptors and Kyle Lowry figure to go "splitsville" and so this offensive-minded squad gets its hands on a new floor general and keep in mind many mock draft boards have the 6-foot-2 Payne going somewhere in the "teens"
21. DALLAS - Tyus Jones, PG, Duke ... The so-called experiment with veteran point guard Rajon Rondo was an utter disaster in "Big D" and so it's back to the drawing board for the Mavericks who also have free-agent LaMarcus Aldridge on their proverbial radar screen.
22. WASHINGTON (trade with Chicago) - Kevon Looney, PF, UCLA ... The Wizards trade down a few spots and land this 6-foot-9, 220-pounder who most folks feel is a #15-to-#18 pick but he slides down plus Washington gets an extra future draft choice too. Will Looney make folks forget about Paul Pierce who is soon headed to the Los Angeles Clippers
23. PORTLAND - Chris McCullough, PF, Syracuse ... Gotta believe the Trail Blazers will have a new look surrounding star G Damian Lillard what with Aldridge more than likely heading out of town and so Portland keeps fingers crossed he's ready to bounce back from season-ending ACL injury last January.
24. BROOKLYN (trade with Cleveland) - Rashad Vaughn SG, UNLV ... Right at press time the draft host Nets don't own a pick till #29 but they'll shift a couple of bodies to the Eastern Conference champion Cavaliers (maybe Joe Johnson and his bulky salary will do) and will wind up with a pair of first-rounders including this shoot-first, pass-next performer who averaged nearly 18 ppg as a college freshman last year
25. MEMPHIS - Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, SF, Arizona ... Typical Grizzly-like player who tends to his defensive duties first and there won't be any real pressure to get him 30-plus minutes a game as this is a "depth pick" for Memphis team oh-so-close to breaking out providing free agent Marc Gasol stays put.
26. SAN ANTONIO - Delon Wright, PG, Utah ... We know the draftniks love to think Spurs go overseas for their choices but fact of matter is San Ant has eyes for either Vaughn or Wright and are saying their "thanks" one of 'em is still sitting here. Hey, the Tony Parker Era ain't gonna last forever
27. LOS ANGELES LAKERS - Justin Anderson, SF, Virginia ... The Lakers have a whole lot of "boxes to check" in terms of team needs and they jump at grabbing this former Wahoo who was shooting close to 50 percent from downtown last year before suffering a broken finger.
28. BOSTON - Jordan Mickey, PF, LSU ... We say the Celtics stay in the SEC (have 'em drafting Arkansas' Portis with the #16 pick) and two-year college star averaged 14 ppg and will be latest puzzle piece in still-rebuilding iconic team
29. BROOKLYN - Terry Rozier, PG, Louisville ... The Nets have some major facelift work on their agenda and one to-do item is phasing out PG Deron Williams and bringing aboard some new blood and this drive-and-dish guy will make things easier for the team's standstill shooters.
30. GOLDEN STATE - Christian Wood, PF, UNLV ... Okay, so the Warriors won their first title in 40 years without a real big man but size does matter and so Steve Kerr's crew adds this seven-footer who remains a major work-in-progress but could be a key contributor in two-or-three years down the road.
Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers are banging outs lots of winners in Major-League Baseball these days and all you need to do is check in either right here online or via our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 any time after 1 p.m. Eastern time for the 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!