The RF Mock Draft

Don’t mock our mocking. We put together a bunch of our wonderful posters and got them to post selections for teams they laid claim to ahead of time. This is the result.
1. New Orleans (Superjudge) *ANTHONY DAVIS
2. Charlotte (Jackson Filth) *THOMAS ROBINSON
3. Washington (LOG) *MKG
4. Cleveland (Kirby) *BRADLEY BEAL
5. Sacramento (Bill Haverchuck) * HARRISON BARNES
6. Portland (Jeffb) * DAMIAN LILLARD
7. Golden State (Kirby) *ANDRE DRUMMOND
8. Toronto (Dark Knight) * KENDALL MARSHALL
9. Detroit (Stonezz) * JEREMY LAMB
10. New Orleans (Thriller92) *PERRY JONES
11. Portland (Windex) * TERRENCE JONES
12. Milwaukee (ChrisTrip) *TYLER ZELLER
13. Phoenix (ChrisTrip) * AUSTIN RIVERS
14. Houston (Box1992) *QUINCY MILLER
15. Philadelphia (Windex) *ARNETT MOULTRIE
16. Houston (OP13) * JARED SULLINGER
17. Dallas (10gizzle) * MEYERS LEONARD
18. Minnesota (Grizz) * TERRENCE ROSS
19. Orlando (SoGood) * FAB MELO
20. Denver (Shifty.py) * TONY WROTEN
21. Boston (10gizzle) * JOHN HENSON
22. Boston (Thriller92) * MOE HARKLESS
23. Atlanta (jj0786) * DION WAITERS
24. Cleveland (Dark Knight) * ROYCE WHITE
25. Memphis (Shifty.py)* MARQUIS TEAGUE
26. Indiana (KoolAid) * JOHN JENKINS
27. Miami (Quinn) * SCOTT MACHADO
28. OKC (Box1992) * ANDREW NICHOLSON
29. Chicago (Gurk) * TYSHAWN TAYLOR
30. Golden State (Jackson Filth) * DORON LAMB

Claudius: Are we looking at “Fool’s Gold”?

On July 1, 2011 the NBA locked out its players. For five months, Raptor fans had very little to look forward to (save for Jonas Valančiūnas and the continuous hype, but more on that later) beyond understanding that Dwane Casey would stress accountability, culture change and defense whenever the season would begin. As the calendar dates moved each month, fans understood that there would be no training camp, no September to work out the kinks. No camp to examine the condition of the young players that comprise this core (Demar, Davis, Amir, Andrea etc.). No time to establish the parameters of accountability. If there was a season, there was going to be an abbreviated training camp. If any teaching was going to be done, it was going to be done while the season progressed. However, as October turned into November and news of yet another break down in talks between the NBAPA and the NBA arose, the feeling that this season would be lost became predominant. Then, on November 26 news broke that the NBA and NBAPA agreed to a deal. On December 8 the season was officially saved.

Beginning immediately was the rush to start the season by …

Grizz: Raps in the clutch

A topic that has been gaining quite a but of press around the league in the last few seasons is clutch play. It’s a topic that blends the lines of stats and narrative to create constant debate among sports fans. Such a complex category can cause quite a bit of disagreement among basketball experts, and I’m far from such, so I offer my analysis while still trying to give you enough data so you can come to your own conclusions. We can debate what even constitutes clutch play, but for my purposes I will lean towards the last few minutes of a game rather than game winning/tying shots, as I feel clutch play is random enough on it’s own, let alone breaking it down even further to a play or two a game. Also note there is plenty of work out there that will analyze clutch play among the superstars of the league, by better writers with better resources than I, so you won’t find that here. We’ll be focusing strictly Raptors for this piece.
Before we dive too deep into the analysis of the Raptors’ clutch play this year, lets put some qualifiers out …

Thriller’s NBA Season Preview: the West

Northwest Division:
Utah Jazz
Projected Starters: Devin Harris, Raja Bell, Gordon Hayward, Paul Millsap, Al Jefferson
Rotation players: Earl Watson, Alec Burks, CJ Miles, Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter

Key Additions: Alec Burks, Enes Kanter

OUTLOOK:

The Jazz are in a rebuilding year with many good young pieces. I expect them to continue their rebuilding by trading Jefferson for a few more pieces, and possibly Millsap as well to free up minutes for their young bigs. I’m very interested to see if Hayward takes a big step in to becoming a solid starting SF after a very good 2nd half of the year, and how Alec Burks plays in his rookie year as a 6’3 SG.
Denver Nuggets
Projected Starters: Ty Lawson, Rudy Fernandez, Danilo Gallinari, Nene, Timofey Mozgov
Rotation players: Andre Miller, Corey Brewer, Al Harrington, Chris Anderson

Key Additions:Rudy Fernandez, Corey Brewer

OUTLOOK:

They’re still waiting on Afflalo to re sign still, but this looks to be a year of transition for the Nuggets due to losing 3 main pieces to China. I think they’ll still compete for a playoff spot with the improvement of Lawson/Gallo, but their overall team just doesn’t look good enough to make it as of right now. Unless of course Mozgov turns in to Mozgod.
Portland Trail …

Thriller’s NBA season preview: the Atlantic

Atlantic Division:
Boston Celtics
Projected Starters: Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Jermaine O’Neal
Rotation players: Keyon Dooling, Marquis Daniels, Jeff Green, Brandon Bass, Chris Wilcox
Key Additions: Keyon Dooling, Brandon Bass, Chris Wilcox

OUTLOOK:

This is either going to be a year where the Celtics somehow pull it together as a team and get hot going in to the playoffs and be one of the more dangerous teams in this years playoffs, or the Rondo situation combined with their old age will catch up to them and blow up in their face. I expect the latter to be honest as I dont think their pickups will be able to overcome the exhaustion setting in over the season, plus the stars likely sitting out multiple back to back games. Celtics may drop out of the top 4 in the East this year due to the scheduling/old age/Rondo situation.
Philadelphia 76ers
Projected Starters: Jrue Holiday, Jodie Meeks, Andre Iguodala, Elton Brand, Spencer Hawes
Rotation players: Louis Williams, Evan Turner, Thaddeus Young, Nikola Vucevic
Key Additions: Nikola Vucevic

OUTLOOK:

The Sixers had a solid team last year and likely improved it a bit with the addition of Vucevic(assuming he adapts to the NBA game and doesnt become another stiff) and the likely …

Thriller’s NBA Season preview: the Central Division

Chicago Bulls
Projected Starters: Derrick Rose, Richard Hamilton, Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah
Rotation players: CJ Watson, Ron Brewer, Kyle Korver, Taj Gibson, Omer Asik

Key Additions: Richard Hamilton

OUTLOOK:
If Rip Hamilton is healthy, the Bulls have a very good shot at coming out of the East. He should provide that scoring punch they need to be able to space the floor, as well as give Rose more options and space to operate with now being able to play 5 on 5 instead of 4 on 5 with Bogans last year. Their bench may be the best in the NBA, as well as their defence. Their team looks rock solid this year.
Detroit Pistons
Projected Starters: Brandon Knight, Ben Gordon, Tayshaun Prince, Jonas Jerebko, Greg Monroe
Rotation players: Will Bynum, Austin Daye, Charlie Villanueva, Jason Maxiell

Key Additions: Brandon Knight

OUTLOOK:
I’m still sort of shocked they haven’t amnestied Charlie yet, and I’m super shocked that Dumars is trying to give Stuckey 9 million a year when he hasn’t done anything to earn it. They’re much better off letting Knight take the reigns and try to develop him. This will obviously be a rebuilding year for the Pistons.
Cleveland Cavaliers
Projected Starters: Kyrie Irving, Anthony Parker, Omri Casspi, Antawn Jamison, Anderson …

All locked out and no place to go, Part 5: Conclusions

… or How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Lockout

Well. It seems like the players have been winning CBA negotiations for decades now, and it might be time for them to lose one. The players’ pay has been increasing with time, but somewhat faster than league revenues have been – hence the increase in BRI splits. This has played into negotiations as though it was the owners’ fault that they spend so much.

Unfortunately, the system in place, with so many cap exceptions, means that smaller and even mid-market teams have to gamble and give high value and long term contracts to players who may not deserve them, due to the excess of artificial cap space every year. This is the only way for them to keep up with the big market teams. This has evolved to a point where something like the Miami Heat is possible – without cap exceptions, they would never have been able to put a team around those three players, and in coming years, those exceptions will allow them to build a dynasty almost by default. …

All locked out and no place to go, Part 4: End Game

So what does this mean? The revenue split was always meant by both the owners and the players to be 50-50 (or thereabouts). It was implemented incorrectly. So now the owners finally have a situation where they can make it right. Of course, they want a 46-54 split, but greed has ever been the driver of these negotiations. The fact that the players’ opening salvo was an offer to keep the current CBA active is an indication that they know just how good they have it. 57% is a huge cut of the revenues. Add in the limited escrow and the loose luxury tax and excessive exceptions, and that number would only rise again over time, even with the next-year corrections in place.

This is why the current situation is unsustainable – that 57% that everyone claims is ‘fixed’ is by no means fixed, and even a cursory glance at the BRI splits over league history shows that.

This examination of the history of the CBA negotiations has shown that there are three drivers for the owners (and players) to push for CBA …

All locked out and no place to go, Part 3: The 2005 Agreement

So the system had to be fixed. The owners saw that even with their escrow system, the salary cap structure and exceptions were driving spending (in a competitive environment) up beyond their control. So, in the negotiations in 2005, the owners took steps to control salary growth.

The owners established the luxury tax as independent of the escrow system – if a team went over the tax, they paid the tax, period. This was seen as a good way to discourage team spending, despite the ineffectiveness of the previous conditional luxury tax. The tax threshold was set at 61% of BRI, to try to prevent teams from driving the BRI split up above that.

And the owners attacked the salary cap structure. They reduced the maximum years and salary for maximum contracts. The cut the maximum raises for all contracts, thus lowering the value of the mid-level exception in particular.

Unfortunately, to make cuts to the big contracts, and establish their tax (which players saw then as a hard cap, believe it or not), they had to give back.

And the players’ union was wily. They exchanged the slightly reduced pay for superstars and mid-level guys for drastically increased pay for low-level players. The …

All locked out and no place to go, Part 2: The Beginning of the End

Finally, we get to the meat of the CBA history. The last decade and a half has defined these negotiations in several ways, and it started in 1998 when the owners saw that the revenue split had grown to 58%. This was caused by the ever-growing team salaries described earlier and was well over the limiting 51.8%. So the owners nullified the CBA, bringing about the 1998-99 lockout.

The revenue split had been rising steadily because it was not defined in the CBA – the revenue split was supposed to be controlled by the salary cap. However, with teams utilizing such exceptions to the cap as Bird Rights, rookie exceptions, and minimum salary exceptions, the average payroll was growing quickly far beyond the salary cap. The salary cap system was failing – it was designed to define a precise relationship between the league revenues and the player salaries – but had instead become a sort of ‘floor’ for team salaries, as more and more exceptions were used to stay ahead of the competition.

Another very important point is player raises. In standard contracts, there were high yearly raises (10.5% for new players, 12.5% for retained free agents – these have since dropped …

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