After the dust has settled, 25 observations from the NBA draft

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25 thoughts, observations, and wisecracks about the 2012 NBA Draft, now that there’s been some time to see the whole board.

 

1. I spent two months talking myself into the idea that Tyshawn Taylor was a first round pick because I was worried I was being overly harsh on his decision making late in games. Then it turned out I was giving him too much credit.

2. Harrison Barnes was essentially overrated in evaluations for two years, all the way up until Thursday at 7:00 EST. Then he was adequately rated by the draft process. Waiters may have been a reach by Cleveland, but Barnes going seventh was representative of where he should go overall. Enough of a risk to not go top five, enough of a talent to go top ten.

3. The bust likelihood on Anthony Davis is the basement. It’s sub-arctic. That’s such a luxury for the Hornets. Even if his offensive game never flourishes, defensively, he’s a franchise player. His ceiling is mega-star, his basement is franchise power forward. So that works out well for them.

4. I was vehemently opposed to the idea of Harrison Barnes going top four. But he would have been a better choice for Cleveland than Waiters. It’s not that Waiters doesn’t fill the need or won’t be a good player. He does and he will. It’s just such a reach. The Cavaliers spent all that time efforting to move up to No. 2, why not spend a little time moving back to get Waiters and pick up something else? It wasn’t a huge reach, it was a small reach, but it was still a reach.

5. But Sacramento reaps the benefits. All of your rebounds? They belong to the Kings. All of them. In two years, that’s the single nastiest frontcourt in the NBA. Just nasty. Cousins and Robinson are going to flat out beat up on other frontcourts.

6. How about Portland showing common sense? Addressing need while taking arguably the two best players at their positions? Some common sense in a rare showing.

7. I love John Henson as a draft prospect, I hate him as a Milwaukee Buck. Ekpe Udoh, Larry Sanders, Samuel Dalembert… why do you need to add John Henson to that mix? What does he do for you in Skiles’ system?

8. Detroit couldn’t get away from Drummond’s hypnotic effect. No matter what they did, they just landed back there. Unfortunate, really. (File this under: things to throw back in my face if Drummond reaches his potential and shows that every single piece of evidence about his mental approach is flawed.)

9. The only thing, the only thing that gives me pause on Royce White is the fact that he said he might rather play music than play basketball. It’s a totally fair position. A lot of people would rather do other things than what they do. It’s just that so few NBA players are truly great with that mindset.

10. I had all these wonderful words prepared for whoever took Terrence Ross in spots 13-18, and then the Raptors went and reached for the sky on him and now I don’t like the pick at all. That’s just aggravating. He was best available at the position, but it’s such a “competent role player with a top-10 pick” feel.

11. “Philly drafts Moe Harkless so surely they’re going to trade Andre Iguodala!” #thingswehavethoughtforthepastfiveyears

12. Houston managed to get three great players in the draft and still come out a loser because they yet again whiffed on the big pitch. Graded. On. A curve.

13. I want you to imagine a frontcourt of Glen Davis and Andrew Nicholson. Rolly, polly, big, and aggressive as everything holy.

14. You know, if you combine both of Boston’s picks into one player, you really start to have something.

15. Oh, what’s that, you can’t do that due to NBA regulations and basic laws of science? Oh, then that’s a terrible 1-2 set. Great for value where they were at, though, even if Melo was a bit of a reach.

16. OK, Dallas. Whatever.

17. Very excited to attend the Grand Opening of the Denver Nuggets new department store: “Versatile Wings Outlet Store,” since they can open it now by owning approximately 1,100 of them.

18. Perry Jones III went from being that pick that you were anxiously dreading a team taking too high to that kid you felt sorry for dropping so low. The draft, she is a cruel mistress.

19. Kendall Marshall to the Suns makes so much sense and you nod along and nod along and then you look at the draft board and go “Wait, Marshall went No. 13? That high? Really?”

20. The Ben Gordon trade helps my “MKG is going to have too many expectations to do things he can’t even though he’s a phenomenal player and a great kid” blood pressure stay down. That’s one of the weirdest sentences ever written.

21. Washington: Daring the fates and skating by since… 2012. But still!

22. An Austin Rivers-Eric Gordon backcourt should just be called The Hunger Games.

23. Teague may have been the slightly better, maybe safer pick for Memphis, but based off their need for a combo guard, he fits well. They still will not be able to shoot. At all.

24. Philadelphia really sneakily managed their way into a tremendous draft.

25. Robbie Hummel getting drafted is just a good thing for this world. Congrats to that kid.

Thunder’s Taj Gibson providing scoring help for Westbrook

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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Taj Gibson often describes his role for the Thunder as doing whatever the team needs.

For now, scoring is playing a bigger part than usual. The versatile 6-foot-9 power forward has found his way since being traded from Chicago and has emerged one of Oklahoma City’s few consistent offensive weapons alongside Russell Westbrook in the playoffs. He may need to keep it up to give the Thunder a chance of winning the first-round series with Houston – Oklahoma City trails 2-1 heading into Game 4 Sunday at home.

Gibson built a sterling reputation in Chicago, but the Brooklyn, New York native is more concerned with the respect he’s earned since his arrival.

“They see I’m in here late nights, early mornings, just constantly working with my teammates, constantly putting work in,” he said. “The confidence is going to be there because they understand you do the work, but I’m just trying to do whatever I can to help my team.”

Gibson has done a little bit of everything since coming to the Thunder. He has provided experience and versatility to an already stacked frontline that includes emerging young players Steven Adams and Enes Kanter. He also has added toughness, and at times, scoring punch. His athleticism and ability to guard on the perimeter against outside-shooting big men and on switches fills some of the void created when the Thunder traded Serge Ibaka on draft night this past offseason.

“Great vet,” guard Victor Oladipo said. “Great man, first and foremost. Very positive and does what it takes to win. It was a great pickup for us.”

Domantas Sabonis was the starting power forward when Gibson arrived in Oklahoma City, but once he got settled and began to understand coach Billy Donovan’s system, the Thunder improved. Gibson replaced Sabonis for the first time March 9 against San Antonio, and the Thunder went 11-5 with him in the starting lineup. He averaged 9.0 points and 4.5 rebounds in 21 regular-season games for the Thunder.

He is averaging 11 points on 65 percent shooting in the playoffs. He was effective on offense in Game 2, establishing himself early and helping put the Thunder in position to win. Oklahoma City went away from him late, and Houston rallied for the victory.

In Game 3, the Thunder went back to him consistently. a href(equals)’https://apnews.com/dab4b99c496a4450906c11a9c72132d1/Westbrook’s-triple-double-leads-Thunder-past-Rockets-115-113?utm-campaign=SocialFlow&utm-source=Twitter&utm-medium=AP-Sports’He finished with 20 points on 10-for-13 shooting in Oklahoma City’s 115-113 win/a on Friday night.

“Taj is a great post player,” Westbrook said. “He does a great job of getting in great position down low. When we see a matchup that we like we are going to keep going to him. Whether it is a miss or a make, it gives us the opportunity to score the basketball in the paint.”

Gibson did damage inside and out and punished the Rockets with his mid-range jumper.

“It’s no shock to me, just because that mid-range is automatic for him,” Thunder forward Doug McDermott, who also joined the Thunder in the trade with Chicago, said. “He’s tough to guard on that block too.”

Gibson also had a fast start in Game 2, but once the Thunder began to struggle, they went away from him. Gibson knew he didn’t need to change much going into Game 3.

“Just continue to be aggressive,” he said. “I felt like I had good shots in Game 2. Just got to stay with it and play the game as it flows to me.”

On defense, Gibson has been a better option than Kanter and Adams, who have struggled to keep up with the more athletic Rockets. Gibson performed well in all facets in Game 3, and Donovan needs more of that in Game 4.

“I was happy for him last night,” Donovan said Saturday. “I thought he gave us a great lift in both the first and second half. He’s professional, he’s a man, and he’s a reliable guy.”

Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/CliffBruntAP .

Watch Kawhi Leonard, Mike Conley in epic playoff duel Saturday (VIDEO)

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Kawhi Leonard scored 16 straight points for the Spurs at the end of regulation to give San Antonio the lead and a chance. Then Mike Conley hit a floater in the lane forced overtime.

There Mike Conley hit a floating bank shot that had the Grizzlies up three with :47 seconds left, only to have Leonard answer with a three to tie the game. Marc Gasol would break that tie and get Memphis the series-evening win.

Conley and Leonard traded blows through the clutch parts of Saturday’s epic Game 4 between Memphis and San Antonio. It’s worth checking out the highlights again.

John Wall goes coast-to-coast, behind-the-back for lefty dunk (VIDEO)

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There’s not going to be many plays better than this in the entire playoffs.

There wasn’t a lot for Wizards’ fans to cheer in Game 3, the Hawks took control early and routed Washington, making it a 2-1 series. But there was this, John Wall going coast-to-coast with the ball, going around-the-back and throwing it down left handed.

Wall is just so fast end to end.

Warriors take 3-0 series lead over Blazers with 119-113 win

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PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Stephen Curry scored 34 points, Klay Thompson added 24 and the short-handed Golden State Warriors overcame a slow start to take a 3-0 lead in their playoff series against the Portland Trail Blazers with a 119-113 victory on Saturday night.

The Blazers led by as many as 17 points in the first half, but couldn’t hold off the Warriors, who can clinch the series with a win Monday night in Game 4 at the Moda Center.

Golden State was without Kevin Durant, who was sitting for a second straight game cause of a left calf strain, and coach Steve Kerr stayed back at the team hotel because of illness.

The Warriors took a 108-100 lead after Andre Iguodala‘s dunk with 4:05 to go.

Noah Vonleh‘s dunk got Portland within four at 110-106 with 1:29 left, but Curry answered with a 3-pointer that all but sealed it, sending fans streaming for the exits.

CJ McCollum led the Blazers with 32 points, while Damian Lillard added 31.