NBA prospect Davis from the University of Kentucky tries on his cap after being selected by the Hornets as the first overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft in Newark

NBA Draft recap: Three winners. Three losers.


Let’s be honest — we don’t know who the winners and losers from this draft are. We will not know for a three to five years. We should be rating the 2009 NBA Draft now (Clippers and Thunder are your winners, the Grizzlies and Hasheem Thabeet are your losers) not the one that happened last night.

But that’s not how it works in our instant gratification world.

So here are three winners and three losers from the 2012 Draft as we see it now. You can decide in 2015 if we were right.


New Orleans Hornets. Sure, it’s not like it was a challenge to take Anthony Davis with the top pick, but that doesn’t mean they are not still the night’s big winners. They have a franchise anchor player, one they can build a title contender around. Austin Rivers gives then a good ball handling, aggressive, scoring guard to pair with Eric Gordon. Those are some strong cornerstones.

Detroit Pistons. They are not here because I love Andre Drummond — I wouldn’t have taken him personally, I don’t want my team to take guys who coasted in college — but because of where they got him. At No. 9 he is a good gamble, one that they took Khris Middleton in the second round, another good gamble.

Oklahoma City Thunder. Baylor’s Perry Jones III fell all the way to 28 and into their laps, but what a great pick for them. He’s got fantastic talent, a guy who could be the second best pick in this draft in terms of talent if his head is screwed on and he plays hard. This is a locker room that will make sure his head is screwed on right, one of the most professional locker rooms in the league. This was a steal.

Honorable mention here: Sacramento Kings and Washington Wizards.


Brooklyn Nets. Not because of their picks — I like getting Tyshawn Taylor and Tornike Shengelia in the second round — but for what they did at the trade deadline. They gave up their first rounder to Portland to rent Gerald Wallace, who is leaving right now as a free agent. That No. 6 pick would have helped way more than Wallace.

Cleveland Cavaliers. Some people love the gamble they took, I’m not as sold. It really comes down to this — how good is Dion Waiters in a few years? If he pans out, I’m wrong and this is a great pick. But I think they picked for need over the best player available. I will give them this, adding Tyler Zeller via trade a solid move.

Houston Rockets. Again it’s not that they made bad picks, but they made a lot of moves the last week to get into the top 10 at least and they fell short. They dreamed big but couldn’t pull it all off, so they are still stuck in the middle. I will say the Royce White pick could end up being what saves this draft for them.

Jimmy Butler wants Mason Plumlee to pay fine after scuffle (video)


Jimmy Butler and Mason Plumlee got into an altercation in the Bulls’ win over the Trail Blazers last night.

Plumlee lowered his head and tried to barrel through Butler’s chest on a Butler screen. Butler fell and retaliated by putting Plumlee in a leg lock, causing Plumlee to fall.

You might remember a leg lock as what Cavaliers guard Matthew Dellavedova did to Bulls forward Taj Gibson during last year’s playoffs. For all the talk then of Dellavedova being a dirty player, Butler seems particularly aggrieved after getting a technical foul, which comes with a $2,500 fine – the same penalty Dellavedova eventually received. (Plumlee got a flagrant foul.)

Butler, via Vincent Goodwill of CSN Chicago:

“He thought he was playing football for a second there,” Butler said. “Almost had to let the Fort Greene Projects out of me, Brooklyn, you know what I’m saying?”

It was said tongue in cheek considering Gibson was a few feet over and Butler wanted to draw some laughs. Gibson is a Brooklyn native and grew up in the Fort Greene Projects while Butler grew up in Tomball, Texas.

It was no laughing matter when he said he would find a way to approach Plumlee about the fine money, jokingly suggesting he would have his agent email him at “Mr. or something” and made a joke about Mike Dunleavy applauding Plumlee’s act.

Plumlee and Dunleavy are products of Duke University.

“Yeah, he cost me 2,500,” Butler said. “I’m not happy about that. Gonna ask him to pay me back and I’m not playing.”

Is that, or Or is it Dookie?

These are important questions – at least if you’re trying to turn the conversation away from your dirty play and toward your colorful quotes.

Breaking news: Leandro Barbosa dunked


The Warriors became the first team in NBA history to start 16-0.

In the process of getting that record-breaking win over the Lakers, something nearly as historic happened.

Leandro Barbosa dunked.

The 32-year-old Golden State guard last jammed in January 2011.

For a little more perspective, look how Barbosa handled a breakaway layup earlier in the fourth quarter:

You think that man can still slam?

Yes. Yes, he can.

Magic benching Victor Oladipo, starting Channing Frye

Stephen Curry, Victor Oladipo, Channing Frye
1 Comment

Elfrid Payton, Victor Oladipo, Evan Fournier, Tobias Harris and Nikola Vucevic have started eight of the Magic’s 14 games, including the last three.

But after Orlando dropped two straight, Scott Skiles hinted at lineup changes.

The Magic coach will deliver against the Knicks tonight, swapping Channing Frye for Oladipo.

Skiles, via Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel:

“It’s nothing punitive,” Skiles said after the Magic’s shootaround.

“It’s just we feel like we’ve got to try to find a little bit better balance. I’d like Victor to have some more opportunities like he’s had a little bit in the past where he can be on top of the floor and attack and get a little bit more vertical and not only get to the rim but just be a little bit more on the attack but not necessarily start the game that way.”

Here are the offensive/defensive/net ratings for the

  • Former starting lineup: 94.7/111.2/-16.5
  • New starting lineup: 117.2/90.3/+26.8

The new unit has played just 33 minutes in two games, so major sample-size caveats apply. But I like idea of seeing more of what has worked.

I suspect Skiles also wants to keep his players from becoming content. At 6-8 and coming off three straight seasons outside the playoffs, they should have no reason to feel satisfied, but the hard-driving Skiles will be proactive.

If Oladipo – whose defense Skiles values – can get sent to the bench, anyone can.

At some point, the Magic must determine whether Oladipo and Payton – both below-average 3-point shooters – can share a backcourt. But it’s also worth knowing whether Oladipo can excel as a super sub leading bench players.

This switch might help the Magic win now, but at worse, it’ll give them more information for evaluating their young roster. Seems smart all around.

Dwight Howard says he’s cleared to play back-to-backs

Dwight Howard
Leave a comment

The 5-9 Houston Rockets need some wins.

The Houston Rockets have a back-to-back coming up, Sunday against the Knicks then Monday against the Pistons (both on the road). Two teams with quality big men.

Combine those things and you end up with Dwight Howard being re-evaluated by team doctors and getting the training wheels taken off, via Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle.

This, plus a mini training camp the past few days, is part of new coach J.B. Bickerstaff’s effort to turn Houston’s season around.

Houston’s defense is 1.9 points per 100 possessions better this season when Howard is on the court and the Rockets are stronger on the glass. The problem is the offense is 7.8 points per 100 worse with Howard on the court. How much of that can be changed with some roster tweaks — like limiting the time James Harden and Ty Lawson share the court — and how much is due to Howard demanding touches and not doing enough with them we will find out quickly.