The Draft – Part Five: Center

And then there was one…position left to cover on our rundown of Cavaliers wants and needs in this summers draft. It’s the position that has seemingly been outgrown in the perimeter orientated NBA of today, but is a spot that if you are strong at, can take you far. Just look at the four teams left in the playoffs. Chicago has Noah, Dallas has Chandler and Oklahoma has itself a nasty piece of muscle in Perkins. Miami are the exception, but if you have two guys like James and Wade you’ll get by with anyone playing center. Anderson Varejao for me is the obvious starter at this spot; JJ is a little bit too small and defensively isn’t quite there. Now, I believe he can play minutes there for spells of the season due to the fact he’s a great athlete and can out jump the best of them. Plus, if you’re any bit slow or similar in height to JJ, he’ll eat you up. But its not just the slow, small centers he’s lit up this past season. He had huge games against Chicago, Boston, Atlanta and Memphis, teams that all possess rebound magnets in their frontline. If he was an inch or two taller, I genuinely believe he’d be the solution.

Ryan Hollins (Miami game aside) was a disappointment, and we didn’t get enough Semih Erden (though I think he might be a real nice piece) to evaluate him. Samardo Samuels, though a great worker, hasn’t got the size to be a force in the middle when it comes to matching up with guys like Bynum, Perkins and even to a lesser extent Brooke Lopez. He’s able to give you minutes at the four for sure, and along with Harangody they provide depth and bodies to bang with.

It’s at the center position where this years draft is really weak – there really aren’t that many prospects coming out this summer that would instantly make you say, “Yeah, I’m taking him and not looking back. He’ll give me quality minutes right off the bat.” The main guys atop every mock draft are international guys, from Kanter to Lucas Nogueira. Kanter could be a top three pick if the balls bounce the right way, and judging from scouting reports it seems that here we have a guy who’s a big, bruising force with a decent offensive game already. He loves rebounding and uses his extremely long frame to hunt them down. Plus, I cannot overlook anybody that outshone Jared Sullinger.

Nogueira is intriguing to many because of the fact he’s only 18 and is a freak athlete. He’s got a ridiculous wingspan (7’6”) and can soar way above the rim for a blocked shot or to dunk inside. He’s not exactly shining at the poor enough standard of basketball in Spain however, something that must have scouts worried. I think he’ll get taken in the first round by a team that won’t need his length right now; they’ll stash him overseas for a few years then take him when they feel the time is right. How long that may take I’m not sure, but if you’re taking him in the late teens/early twenties you could get very lucky.

With regards to American prospects, I’m not too sure we have many guys who are legitimate centers in this draft. The Morris twins, Kenneth Faried, JuJuan Johnson and Jordan Williams are all power forwards in size but have played a lot of minutes at the five in college. Even the undersized prospects (Biyombo springs to mind) is listed as a center, though his 6’9” frame suggests to me he’ll struggle there due to his lack of size. But what do I know; I’m no expert on the European guys. Greg Smith, Jeremy Tyler and Keith Benson are guys who seem to be sprinkled about on mock drafts anywhere you look. You’ll be doing well to find any in a first round, however. Slim pickings for “legit” centers this June, but its not every year you can nab a Dwight Howard or Andrew Bynum now is it.

Talkin Playoffs

In one game, we saw the two defining storylines of this years playoffs go in two vastly contrasting ways. Everybody’s other favourite team, Oklahoma, advanced to the Western Conference Finals on the back of a 105-90 win over Memphis, who I’m sure have gathered a few new admirers in their epic postseason.

Kevin Durant took twice as many shots as Russell Westbrook, just the way it should be too if you ask me.

Nick Collison is getting his very own statue in Oklahoma, rumours have stated. Those reports have yet to be confirmed however.

Dallas v Oklahoma will last 6 games, and Oklahoma will advance to the NBA Finals. Mark my words.

In the East, the Bulls looked scary good in their game one. They played some insane defense on the Heat, and they genuinely looked the part of a number one overall seed. Rose didn’t even have a good game by his standards if you ask me, and they blew Miami right out of the building.

Sure, Wade and LeBron were quiet – but the kind of pressure Chicago applied to them will do that to even the best offensive players in our league.

Taj Gibson went JJ Hickson on D Wade, and it was wonderful.

Chicago just looked hungrier, they looked like they wanted it a hundred times more than Miami, and they epitomised that with their second half performance. Their bench was huge for them, outscoring, outworking and outshining the reserves of the Heat with ease.

Chicago’s Bench 28-30 LeBron & Wade. Tells it all…

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