NBA Draft: Five big risks in the 2011 NBA Draft

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Right now, there are no busts in the 2011 NBA Draft.

By 2014 we will be calling a few of these guys busts, but right now they are just risks. In this draft, picking out what risks to gamble on is amazingly difficult, seemingly every player has some glaring flaws. We’d preach patience — wait at least wait a couple years before you decide to rip your GM for what was such an obvious decision (while forgetting how you told your friends you thought this was a great pick on draft night).

Some risks are bigger than others — and in this draft boom and bust are hand-in-hand. Particularly among the big men. Some of the most athletic players and the guys with the highest ceilings are the guys who may never pan out.

Which is why our “sleepers list” and “risk list” have some crossover this year. Here are five guys that are risks (if you want to call them potential busts, that’s your call).

Jeremy Tyler, 6’11” power forward, Japanese league: Big men move up the draft board at the end every year, and that is happening for Tyler because he comes with legit NBA big man size. And he has some skills, a face up game and he can board. Some teams like him. But the guy was unimpressive in Japan last year. There are real questions about his maturity and desire. He skipped his senior year of high school and the chance to go to a major college to go instead to Europe, a decision that backfired. Another flame out is possible, but some team may well take him in the first round anyway because of his size and potential.

Bismack Biyombo, 6’8” power forward, Congo: He gets portrayed as a Joel Anthony/Ben Wallace type — all offense and no defense. He is maybe the best athlete in this draft so it’s not likely he will out completely (he has looked good in the Spanish league, so there is some basis), but then again we all said these same things about Hasheem Thabeet a couple years ago. Biyombo was an offensive disaster at Eurocamp and that has to give you real pause.

Jonas Valanciunas, 6’11” center, Lithuania: Another real boom or bust guy. He has some nice offensive moves, he has shown he is willing to bang bodies and compete, he has soft hands. But he is sushi raw. He has to bulk up, improve his footwork, his defense, his shot, his ball handling… you get the idea. Lots of potential there and again not likely to be a bust, but there is a real risk there.

Josh Selby, 6’3” point guard, Kansas: He’s an explosive athlete coming out of high school who went on to be suspended for the first nine games at Kansas (and often sat in crunch time), was a ball-dominating guard who had poor shot selection and missed a lot. The Morris twins overshadowed him, but he struggled to try to fit in with that. He’ll be a point in the NBA but really has two guard skills — except for the whole good shooting thing. He hit just 37 percent of his shots last season. The guy has exceptional athletic skills but there are questions about if he knows how to use them at the NBA level.

Donatas Motiejunas, 7’0” Center, Lithuania: We hate to stereotype players around here, but Motiejunas fits the mold — he is a classic European big man. Which means he can shoot fairly well from the outside but don’t expect the seven footer to hang out in the paint and be productive. He is a stretch four and you should think poor man’s Andrea Bargnani. There could be value in that, but he has to be in the right situation. He could well flame out, once he gets to the USA (there are questions about his buyout).

Joe Johnson dominates late, Jazz beat Clippers 105-98 to even series 2-2

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Rudy Gobert was back at center, giving the Jazz an emotional boost and someone who can match up with DeAndre Jordan (although Gobert wasn’t moving like his normal self).

Gordon Hayward had to leave the game with food poisoning.

It didn’t matter, the Jazz had Joe Johnson. The veteran forward who knows how to get buckets scored or assisted on 20 straight points for Utah in the fourth, sparking a run that got the Jazz a 105-98 come-from-behind win.

The series is now tied 2-2, heading back to Los Angeles for Game 5 Tuesday.

When people talk about Johnson, the first thing that seems to come up is the oversized contract Atlanta gave him, but they forget this is a seven-time All-Star. He was nicknamed “iso-joe” because of how Mike Woodson’s offense used him heavily in isolation for the Hawks, but that was playing to the strength of his skill set. He can get buckets. Just ask the Clippers, as Johnson finished with 28.

The return of Gobert, a quietly strong game from Derrick Favors, plus maybe something else (like the heavy load last game) seemed to wear on DeAndre Jordan, who was not as sharp as normal in this one. The Clippers again leaned on Chris Paul — 27 points, 12 assists, nine rebounds — and Jamal Crawford who had 25 points off the bench. However, take those two out of the equation and the rest of the Clippers shot just 34.2 percent against that elite Jazz defense. In the fourth quarter, the entire Clippers’ team shot 31.4 percent total.

Utah got good performances from their role players, who stepped up with Hayward out. Rodney Hood had 18 points and some key buckets in the fourth. Then there was Joe Ingles, who defended CP3 for stretches, was a force getting where he wanted on the pick-and-roll leading to 11 assists, plus he had two key threes down the stretch.

The Clippers clearly missed Blake Griffin in some of these matchups, but Los Angeles is going to have to adjust to that in this series because he’s not returning.

This series is even and feels like it may well go seven. The Clippers have two out of the remaining three at home, and they have the best player in the series in Chris Paul. All that may not be enough if the Jazz role players keep stepping up.

Watch Paul George lose JR Smith, put Cavaliers guard on skates with crossover

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Game 4 between the Indiana Pacers and Cleveland Cavaliers was hotly-contested in the first half. The Cavaliers led, 58-52, after two quarters.

But one special play came when Indiana’s Paul George put JR Smith on his heels, with the Cavaliers guard reeling back some 10 feet after a pull-back crossover left George alone at the 3-point line.

Via Twitter:

You might say George pushed off with his left hand, but you could also point out that Smith then turned a flop-like head kick into an actual blown defensive assignment.

Cleveland completed the series sweep on Indiana with the win, 106-102.

Kobe Bryant’s new Canvas video is brought to you by the letter O (for Obsession)

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Kobe Bryant’s Canvas series returned to our television screen on Saturday. The Sesame Street-like videos center around finding a place to draw motivation from in order to, as the most recent video says, dominate the will of your opponent.

They’re … weird.

They are also extremely Kobe-ish in that they stay true to the former Los Angeles Lakers great’s internal vision of how to play basketball.

The last one we saw was all about finding a musecage, and using your dark thoughts to propel you to win. This one is all about obsession, and how that emotion separates those who like to win from true competitors.

I’m personally all for these videos. They are maybe a little cheesy, or single-minded, but that’s sort of the point. It accurately reflects Kobe, which is something you don’t often see from retired players trying to transition their brand from player to former player.

Isaiah Thomas scores 33, Celtics beat Bulls 104-95 to tie series

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CHICAGO (AP) Isaiah Thomas scored 33 points, and the Boston Celtics beat the Chicago Bulls 104-95 on Sunday to tie their first-round playoff series at 2-all.

Boston blew a 20-point lead, but Thomas keyed a third-quarter run that put the Celtics back on top after Chicago briefly went ahead.

Gerald Green made four 3-pointers on his way to 18 points, helping the top-seeded Celtics return the favor in Chicago after dropping the first two games at home. Al Horford added 15 points and 12 rebounds.

Game 5 is Wednesday in Boston.

Jimmy Butler carried the Bulls with 33 points and nine assists. Nikola Mirotic and seldom-used Isaiah Canaan each scored 13 points, but Dwyane Wade finished with just 11.

Canaan made his first appearance since April 10, with Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg searching for help at point guard with Rajon Rondo missing his second straight game because of a broken right thumb.

The Celtics led by 20 in the second quarter and were still up 10 in the third when Chicago scored 12 straight. The Bulls went ahead 65-63 on Robin Lopez‘s hook shot with 4:35 left in the quarter.

Thomas answered with back-to-back layups and scored 10 points in a 12-0 run that gave the Celtics a 75-65 lead, and they withstood a push by the Bulls early in the fourth.

With Thomas and Green each scoring 16 in the first half, the Celtics carried a 57-46 lead into the break.

Butler led the Bulls with 17 in the half. But the offense struggled in a big way with Rondo unavailable. Jerian Grant started and went to the bench after about five ineffective minutes. Michael Carter-Williams then picked up two quick fouls, forcing the Bulls to go with Canaan in the first quarter.

The Celtics, meanwhile, led 41-21 early in the second quarter. But things started to turn after Canaan stole the ball from Marcus Smart and scored on a layup.

Smart feigned throwing the ball at Butler. The two came nose to nose, resulting in technical fouls for both players, and the Bulls started to shoot their way back into it.

Mirotic hit a pair of 3-pointers and scored eight in the quarter. Bobby Portis cut it to 52-42 with his basket late in the half, and Butler hit two free throws with 22.6 seconds left to make it 57-46.

RONDO FINED

The NBA fined Rondo for attempting to trip Boston Celtics forward Jae Crowder from the bench in Game 3. Crowder jawed at the Bulls’ bench after hitting a jumper and Rondo extended his leg as Crowder walked by.

TIP-INS

Celtics: Thomas was just 1 of 9 on 3-pointers but made 12 of 13 free throws.

Bulls: Butler made 19 of 23 foul shots after failing to get to the line in Game 3. … Canaan was inactive for the first three games.