Why Joe Johnson is a More Likely Fit for Knicks Than Lebron James

May 28, 2010

joe johnson

Despite his poor play and team’s early exit from the playoffs, Joe Johnson is still going to have serious suitors in free agency this summer.  He can be confident in knowing the New York Knicks are going to be one of them.

Regardless of whether Johnson choked in the playoffs (or caused the firing of Hawks coach Mike Woodson), the fact that he has helped ascend the Hawks out of the basement of obscurity should not be forgotten.

Since Johnson left the Mike D’Antoni-led Suns to experience stardom in Atlanta, he has become a four-time all-star.

After escaping the shadows of the likes of Steve Nash and Amare Stoudemire, Johnson has come into his own and proved he can lead a team; perhaps not yet to a championship, but at the very least, to good standing in the playoffs.

As the city of New York clings on to the prayer that Lebron James signs with the Knicks, Joe Johnson is quickly becoming a “plan-B” front-runner.

All aspects of popularity and marketing aside, the Knicks have desperately lacked a leader in seasons’ past. A four-time all-star whose team finished third in the Eastern Conference standings certainly qualifies as one in my book.

While Johnson averaged 17 points as a third or sometimes even fourth option with the Suns, there were obvious times where D’Antoni just wanted to get him the ball and see an offensive explosion. But Johnson was still young back then and more notable stars were on the team.

Now in charge of a Knicks squad that has a still-developing supporting core of Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari, D’Antoni would have no qualms about giving the reigns of his offense to Johnson.

In addition to being an effective first option on offense, Johnson is a playmaker. The Chris Duhon-experiment has failed, and with Toney Douglas the only other point guard on the roster, Johnson would be asked to bring up the ball more times than not.

The Knicks are a team with many aspects appealing to Johnson — a big city with an even bigger market, a coach with whom he is familiar and succeeded, as well as a maximum contract to offer.

Johnson left the Suns to be the star of the smaller market Hawks. With that type of experience under his belt, and the Hawks’ next head coach still unknown, the bright lights in the city of New York seem to be an inviting next step in the progression of Johnson’s career.

With the Hawks a bit stagnant, still below the Cavs, Magic, and even Celtics in power rankings, it may be smart to leave Atlanta now to build a winner in New York with the team’s massive cap room and few rebuilding pieces.

Now, of course, Johnson as a number one option is still “plan-B.” It is important not to lose sight of the possibility of Lebron James joining the Knicks.

Even if that miracle does happen, however, Johnson would still be an option. Numerous sources, including ESPN’s Ric Bucher, have mentioned that James wants to play with Johnson.

When asked about the possibility of playing together, Johnson was quoted as saying “I’ll sacrifice” in signing a lesser contract if it meant being James’ running mate.

Nevertheless, if James evades the Knicks, Johnson is an astounding consolation prize. His own signing could also lead to the Knicks ultimately to sign Carlos Boozer or the former Johnson-teammate and D’Antoni-coached Amare Stoudemire.

Some of the summer’s top free agents, including James, Johnson, and Dwyane Wade are scheduled to meet regarding their free agent plans. Despite Wade’s remarks that he does not want to come to New York, Knicks fans should remain hopeful that something positive will come from these potential candidates coming together.

Lebron or no Lebron, the Knicks are poised to upgrade the team considerably. With everything Joe Johnson has gone through thus far in his career, a marriage between both parties just seems like the most logical next step on his quest in becoming one of the league’s elite.

The bright lights and cheering fans await.


Inside the Mind of a Professional: Knicks Journal Interviews NBA Guard Mike James

May 25, 2010

mike james

Mike James, a free agent guard in what promises to be one of the busiest off-seasons in NBA history, is looking forward to whatever opportunity awaits him.

A nine year veteran, he has enjoyed an eventful career that has included winning the 2004 NBA Championship with the Pistons. After playing sparingly for the Wizards this past season, Mike wants nothing more than to get back out on the court.

In the meantime, he too (like everyone else around the league) cannot help but wonder what will happen this summer, like where marquee stars like Lebron James and Chris Bosh will end up.

Nevertheless, Mike has his theories, which he recently shared with me during an interview for my blog, KnicksJournal.com.

It is rare to find a professional athlete who allows himself to open up as much as Mike did. While “marquee” may not be associated with him at all times, no can deny that Mike is confident, upbeat, and undeniably candid.

Take a look as he opens up and holds nothing back about everything from Lebron, the possibility of playing for the Knicks, his NBA Finals prediction, and much more.

Q: Your book, “Fight for Your Dreams: Memoirs of an NBA Star” came out in January. Talk about your motivations for writing the book.

A: I know everyone has a story to tell and my story of how I became a success has never been told. The things that I’ve been through have really been interesting. Through the process I’ve learned so much and I wanted to inspire kids. As a kid, I had so many people tell me I wouldn’t amount to anything. It wasn’t about what people said about me, but what I said about myself. I want kids to know that if you fight for your dreams you can be whatever God made you to be, no matter what anyone else says.

Q: What are you going to do this off-season?

A: I have my celebrity golf weekend July 29th – 31st (starting on the 29th at Bethpage State Park, NY). All of the proceeds go to my scholarship fund. I want to keep helping kids realize their dreams of going to college. Other than that, I’ve been in the gym working out with Coach John Lucas. As a free agent this summer, I’m trying to make myself better and prepare myself for another deal.

Q: Since you are a free agent, would the Knicks be a possible destination for you?

A: Oh my goodness, I’m from New York. It would be great to come home and play for the Knicks. I never thought about it in the past because it’s always tough to go home and play in front of everyone. But now I’d love for my family to see me play. New York seems like they are in position for something positive in the future. I would definitely love to be a part of that.

Q: How well would you fit into Coach D’Antoni’s system?

A: His style of play is a player’s dream. He just wants you to play hard and play the game the right way. If you have an open shot and can be aggressive about it, he wants you to take it. He wants you to put pressure on both ends of the court. As long as you follow the defensive schemes and keep focus on the offensive end, he’ll love you. Who wouldn’t love playing in a system like that?

Q: Obviously the Knicks are in great position entering free agency. What are your thoughts on where Lebron James will end up this season?

A: If LeBron does not stay in Cleveland, the smartest place for him to go would be New York because he would be the biggest sports icon since Babe Ruth. He would be able to market his brand and eventually win with the Knicks.

The “Knicks” team name on his jersey would increase his brand value like no other team could.

Q: Everyone says that Lebron would need a running mate to play with in New York. As a former teammate of Chris Bosh, what are the chances of a player of his caliber coming to New York?

A: If LeBron comes to New York, it would be an easy decision for any other free agent to come to New York. They know that with LeBron and themselves on the Knicks, the team would be that much tougher. LeBron would make any other superstar play that much better. Anyone would love to play with Lebron.

Q: So, if you were a GM with cap room this summer, your strategy would be to sign LeBron first, then go for other players? The wrap on the Knicks is that they do not have enough talent to attract Lebron to sign with the team in the first place.

A: Oh, yeah! It’s harder for another player to join a team not knowing who else will be there. It’s almost like putting chum in the water. You can throw one fish in the water as bait but only a few other fish would show up. If you throw chum in the water, then you’ll have the pick of the litter. That’s what would happen if a team signs LeBron first. It would be easy to add another superstar. When you use Lebron as your bait, you would attract all the other superstars.

Q: Your former team, the Wizards, recently won the first overall pick in next month’s NBA draft. Is there any question as to who they’ll select?

A: I feel like I know for a fact they will select John Wall. Without Gilbert Arenas, the city has been missing that excitement at the guard position. With Andray Blatche coming into his own this season, they don’t need a power forward. The smartest thing for them to do would be to bring Wall in because he would bring success and excitement.

Q: And if Arenas returns next season, he and Wall could play together?

A: Of course. The best thing a team can do for a young point guard is to let him learn the game from a veteran. Gilbert has been through it all and could teach Wall the lifestyle of an NBA player. As a point guard, he could work with Wall on his game too. Playing with Gilbert would be the perfect situation for John Wall.

Q: The Wizards did not really seem to give you much of a chance this past season. What kind of toll does that take on you personally and the way you prepare for next season?

A: The hardest part was training as hard as I did and not getting to play. I was in the gym working hard. I wasn’t bad at all. If you ask anybody on the Wizards why I didn’t play, no one would be able to provide a reason. There is no justification. It was discouraging but it’s over with now.

The only thing I can control now is getting ready for next season. Even though it’s May I’m still in the gym now because I desire to play.

Q: Do you have a five year plan? What’s next for you?

A: I want to play in the NBA three more years and then go to Spain for two years. I want to take my family over there and see my girls learn Spanish. I’m still going to want to play the game but without as much wear and tear. That’s exactly the way the Spanish league is. The game won’t be as physical for me at an older age. I would still be able to play at a good level. I started my career in Europe so that’s where I want to finish it.

Q: What kind of role do you think you can play on an NBA team this season?

A: Listen, I can still average double figures in the NBA. It’s not saying much, but I can play the game. I’m confident I can still make my free throws and hit a couple three pointers per game. I can still defend, so I’m working out in hopes of helping a team. I’m still an asset rather than a liability

Q: With the hype surrounding Lebron, there has been some debate around whom the best player in the NBA is. What’s your take on that?

A: It’s Kobe Bryant. He knows what it takes to win. I was reading the “The Art of War”, which asks the question ‘do you know how to be a good general?’ A good general effectively teaches his soldiers how to march, and if they disobey, the good general has those soldiers beheaded. While that’s drastic, it gets the point across to the next soldiers that come in that the good general means business.

What I’m getting at is that Lebron still needs that killer instinct in him because he still thrives on the energy of his teammates, but Kobe has that killer instinct where he doesn’t tolerate nonsense. He conveys to his teammates that they need to give 110%, just like he does. He also knows that if his teammates aren’t serious, then he needs to take action to get them in line. He’s a proven winner because of that.

Q: Before I let you go, do you have an NBA Finals prediction?

A: Lakers over the Celtics in 6.


Six Celebrities Who Could Lure LeBron James to New York Knicks

May 18, 2010

lebron knicks

The moment the Cavaliers were ousted from the NBA playoffs late last week, the media hit the ground running (as if they hadn’t done so already) speculating where free agent LeBron James will sign this summer.

Knicks fans are some of the most passionate fans in the world and are desperate for a superstar of LeBron’s caliber to come lead the team and revive the city.

New York, which also happens to be one of the entertainment meccas of the world, has plenty of star-studded celebrities who are already (or could soon be) campaigning for “King James” to reign over the city.

In honor of number six — the number LeBron would likely wear as a Knick — here are six celebrities who could ultimately lure LeBron James to New York.

spike lee

Spike Lee, Movie Director

Director Spike Lee, the Knicks’ ultimate fan, would be ecstatic to see LeBron James don orange and blue next season.

Lee, a season subscriber for many years now, must value himself as a true sixth man. He is frequently seen from celebrity row. Often jumping out of his seat, as well as throwing up his hands in excitement or frustration, Lee has also been known to chat and spar with the referees on occasion.

He genuinely loves the Knicks, and LeBron could take comfort in knowing Lee will have his back, on and off the court, should he sign with the Knicks.

cc sab

CC Sabathia, Yankees Pitcher

Should two-time MVP LeBron make the jump from Cleveland to New York, at least he knows he will have someone by his side who has gone through the same transition in good friend and Yankee pitcher CC Sabathia.

Sabathia knows a thing or two about winning; he was the 2007 Cy Young Award Winner and experienced success after coming to New York, winning a World Series ring last season with the Yankees.

The two have been good friends dating back to Sabathia’s playing days with the Cleveland Indians, and Knicks fans can only pray that CC has been in LeBron’s ear telling him how great playing in a market like New York has been.

Sabathia sat courtside during Lebron’s last Madison Square Garden appearance as a Cav (hopefully) with the next celebrity on the list.

jayz

Jay-Z, Rapper

Yes, we all know that Jay-Z is part owner of the Nets, but rest assured that Jay-Z could potentially get LeBron into an “Empire State of Mind” as well.

Jay-Z is a true New Yorker at heart and knows how exciting NYC can really be. The Nets will be playing in Newark for the next two seasons, but even after they move to New York, Brooklyn is seemingly second-tier when it comes to the borough of Manhattan.

Jay-Z has filled up the Garden many times in his musical career and has even attended multiple Knicks games since becoming a Nets owner.

Should LeBron decide early on that New Jersey is not the place for him, it would not appear difficult for Jay-Z to switch gears and sell LeBron on the next best thing as far as he is concerned.

Nevertheless, Jay-Z is one celebrity who could make an honest pitch to his buddy about how fulfilling performing at MSG is.

frank iero

Frank Iero, Musician

Jay-Z just may be outbid if LeBron is a fan of rock music.

My Chemical Romance guitarist Frank Iero is the latest celebrity to join the LeBron-to-Knicks-recruitment-team, taking to his Twitter to extend a very nice offer to LeBron, should he sign with the team: “I would like to sweeten the deal & offer LeBron free MCR tix for life if he decides to play for the Knicks next year,” with the hash tag, “LeBronshouldbeaknick.”

Granted, LeBron would probably be given access to any ticket he wanted at an MSG concert, but Iero could certainly hook him up with tickets for performances around the globe during the off-season.

LeBron should think down the road here; because when he retires, he may enjoy some courtesy tickets to go out head banging every once and a while to preserve his youthful spirit.

trump

Donald Trump, Entrepreneur

Maybe Shaq can tell LeBron how cool “the Donald” is?

One of New York’s most recognizable faces, Trump is already rumored to be part of a new upcoming website, launched by the Knicks, piling up celebrities such as Jerry Seinfeld, (the already mentioned) Spike Lee, and Chazz Palminteri urging LeBron to sign with the Knicks.

Trump has been occupying a seat in celebrity row for quite a number of years, and knows New York City like no other entrepreneur does.

LeBron has said he wants to become sports’ first billionaire by expanding his multiple brands. An expert in succeeding in the New York marketplace, Trump could provide LeBron with some very meaningful advice

Who knows, the two may even choose to form some sort of partnership during LeBron’s potential tenure in orange and blue.

Donald Trump never turns down a good deal.

bloomberg

Mayor Michael Bloomberg

Even politicians have joined this massive recruiting process. While President Obama has endorsed the Bulls as his favored LeBron destination (what a bummer), New York City Mayor Bloomberg is ready to pull out all the stops to share the big stage with the “King.”

“If he calls me and says, ‘What’s it like to live in New York?’ I’ll give him a big sales pitch for New York.”

While celebrities like Iero used the internet to state their case, Bloomberg took to the airwaves last week during his radio show.

After calling New York “the world’s great stage,” Bloomberg added, “I love living in New York. My kids love living in New York. I think LeBron James would love living in New York.”

Upon hearing Bloomberg’s early pitch, Cavs owner Dan Gilbert said he “would think Mayor Bloomberg would have better things to do than that, and have more challenges.”

More important things than assuring LeBron James becomes a New York Knick? I think not.


Cappie Pondexter (the Closest Thing to a WNBA Lebron James) Brings a True Champion’s Mentality to New York Liberty

May 14, 2010

cappie

Cappie Pondexter has accomplished almost everything a team could possibly ask for in a franchise player. At just 27 years old, she is a three-time all-star, two-time WNBA champion, a Finals MVP, and an Olympic champion as well.

She has not, however, taken home a season MVP award.

As Pondexter looks to return the Liberty back to its winning ways this season, perhaps the title of MVP will come hand-in-hand with her winning another championship, but this time, one in New York.

A true hybrid player, Pondexter can shoot, handle the ball, and drive to the basket. She is also strong enough to defend any position. These attributes are all similar to those of her NBA counterparts, Lebron James and Dwyane Wade.

Her arrival should provide New York basketball fans with plenty of hope. She personally requested a trade to New York (who finished at 13-21, just one win above the league-worst record of 12-22) in order to play in a bigger market and expand her fashion-image consulting company, 4 Season Style Management, which she co-founded last summer.

“Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, LeBron, David Beckham—there are so many athletes out there [building their brands],” Pondexter told Sports Illustrated. “For somebody in women’s basketball to do it, it’s something different.”

This is a win-win situation for the Liberty and Pondexter. The better she makes the Liberty, the more exposure and attention the Liberty will obtain — and in-turn, the greater benefits Pondexter will achieve for her off-court endeavors.

Pondexter’s superstar NBA counterpoints should take note. Pondexter has obviously recognized the tremendous tangible and intangible benefits of playing for New York (even as the team finished towards the bottom of the standings). In their quest to land one or more superstar free agents, it’s safe to say that the Knicks could use any help they can get from this interesting parallel to Pondexter and her campaign to elevate her team to more wins, and perhaps a championship.

“I really want to lead this team,” she says. “It’ll be a challenge, but I’m ready for it.”
It may be easier for Pondexter than most would think. Although the Liberty had a rough season in 2009, the team has a plethora of talent in addition to Pondexter.

Among the new acquisitions this season are all-star Nicole Powell and rookie Kalana Greene, who joins the Liberty straight from helping UConn to a remarkable 78 consecutive wins.

Liberty brass certainly worked hard and made productive moves to build a potential winner this off-season, much like Donnie Walsh will look to do with the Knicks.

Let’s just hope he can be just as successful.

The Liberty opens its season Sunday afternoon vs. the Chicago Sky.


2010 NBA Mock Draft-Edition #1

May 11, 2010

As the Knicks hold steady, anxiously waiting this summer’s free agency, I have decided to keep myself busy by becoming a NBA Draft correspondent for Bleacher Report. Ironically enough, the Knicks do not have a first round pick, but do, however, hold the 38th and 39th picks overall.

You can bet that Knicks coverage will trickle back soon with a look at some potential free agent candidates, but for now, here’s my first edition of the 2010 NBA Mock Draft.

1- New Jersey Nets- John Wall from Kentucky
The draft is about shoring up the holes in your team. Point guard certainly isn’t a hole for the Nets with Devin Harris, but they would be crazy to pass up on John Wall.

Wall is an aggressive player on both ends of the court, making it easy for him to drive to the basket as well as create opportunities for his teammates. He also knows how to win, something the Nets proved they did not know how to do this season.

Drafting Wall would also make Harris, a two-time all-star, expendable to trade for perhaps a much better wing player.

2- Minnesota Timberwolves- Evan Turner from Ohio State

Turner is another player that any team in this position would be crazy to pass up. Lucky for the Timberwolves, Turner is exactly what they need.

Turner is not only a go to guy on offense, but a stat-sheet stuffer. This guy can do it all — points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks.

He would fill a tremendous void in Minnesota at shooting guard and be a nice addition to the already strong young core of Flynn, Jefferson, and Love.

3- Sacramento Kings- DeMarcus Cousins from Kentucky

Although the Kings already have Carl Landry and Jason Thompson up front, Cousins is a much more aggressive big man. His physical presence on offense is something this team lacks. The Kings could potentially put all three big men together, which would certainly result in mismatches on the court.

Having Cousins on the court would take the pressure off Landry and allow him to position himself around the perimeter. Drafting Cousins would also be an example of simply selecting the best player available at this spot.

4-Golden State Warriors-Derrick Favors from Georgia Tech

The only knock on this kid seems to be his less than stellar defense, which the Warriors won’t mind at all. Favors is already better than Andris Biedrins. Favors is a better offensive player and more importantly, a bigger body.

He can rebound and score on the inside, which is something the perimeter shooting Warriors would benefit from.

Although he is only a freshman, he is known around the circuit for his great attitude, which should pay off when polishing the other facets of his game.

5-Washington Wizards-Wesley Johnson from Syracuse

Early scouting reports recognized Al-Farouq Aminu as the “top” small forward going in, but Johnson’s popularity in this draft is gaining steam. He is a much better offensive option than Aminu.

Offensive production is something the Wizards need after trading away Caron Butler and Antwan Jamison. Johnson could really flourish in the right system, namely a system that simply allows him to do his thing and score the basketball. Washington seems to be a very nice fit.

Not to mention, Syracuse has a pretty good reputation for producing forwards in recent years (Carmelo Anthony and Hakim Warrick).

6- Philadelphia 76ers- Al-Farouq Aminu from Wake Forest

The 76ers won’t be jumping for joy with this pick, but with Elton Brand and Samuel Dalembert still guaranteed large contracts and only good big men available in the rest of the draft, Aminu will be selected.

He definitely has an upside though, having been compared to Josh Smith in months past.

If the 76ers don’t want him, another team certainly will. Aminu could easily become instant trade bait.

7- Detroit Pistons- Ed Davis from North Carolina

If there is anyone who can realize Davis’ potential, it would be Joe Dumars. Davis is similar to Ben Wallace with more of an offensive presence. Davis may not be a star, but he is the type of player every winning team needs (ala Al Horford on this year’s Hawks or Wallace on the championship winning Pistons a couple years back).

Wallace and Horford have both proven that if one makes a positive enough impact, all-star selections could follow. The future could be bright for Davis.

In addition to his skills, Davis also has a high basketball IQ coming from North Carolina.

8- Los Angeles Clippers- Xaxier Henry from Kansas

Henry could see his stock rise a bit as the Clippers simply fill a void. A couple inches taller than Eric Gordon, Henry could provide some nice energy off the bench for the Clippers.

Coming from Kansas, he obviously knows how to win and would fit in well in Los Angeles as a perimeter shooter.

9- Utah Jazz- Greg Monroe from Georgetown

If Monroe is available at 9 (as he should be), the Jazz will be very happy with this pick.

Although he may not be an all-star type player, Monroe will fit in almost seamlessly into Jerry Sloan’s system.

As past picks have proven, a player’s success could very well be based on the type of system he enters.

Having been compared to Brad Miller, this perimeter shooting big man should spell Mehmet Okur well off the Utah bench.

10- Indiana Pacers- Cole Aldrich from Kansas

Even though the Pacers already have Roy Hibbert, they really cannot afford to pass on Aldrich if he falls this late.

Although he and Hibbert are somewhat similar players, there are plenty of teams lacking a big man and the Pacers could test the waters and see who bites the bait.

Aldrich is a bruiser and could provide a team with a physical presence down low if the Pacers choose to trade him and upgrade a different position.

11- New Orleans Hornets- Donatas Motiejunas from Lithuania

The Hornets have hit jackpot in recent years at the draft as first as first-rate guards are concerned. Maybe it’s time to take a chance at a big man.

The Hornets could draft Motiejunas as a good complement to Emeka Okafor.
With comparisons to Andrea Bargnani (hopefully the Bargnari of last year and not years prior), Motiejunas could provide some nice shooting around the perimeter.

Okafor has a good midrange jumper, but if Motiejunas can prove to hit the long ball, that would really open things open for the Hornets.

12-Memphis Grizzlies- Patrick Patterson from Kentucky

In this big man laden draft, yet another gets chosen. Another Kentucky product, Patterson would be the best option for the Grizzlies in this spot.

The team went for broke and drafted for upside last year, and Patterson is the complete opposite. A very safe pick, he may be even more ready than Thabeet to play at this level.

A very mature and intelligent player, Patterson can play with his back to the basket.

13- Toronto Raptors- Ekpe Udoh from Baylor

With the chance of Chris Bosh leaving next season, the Raptors will select the best offensive big man available at this point.

Udoh is similar to Bosh, with good hands, a good jumper and the ability to rebound. Like Bosh earlier in his career, however, Udoh needs to become stronger.

He definitely needs to polish his game, but given his similarities to Bosh, Toronto should be comfortable pulling the trigger on him anyway.

14-Houston Rockets- Daniel Orton from Kentucky

As noted before, this is a very heavy big man draft, which could lead to Orton falling a couple of spots down to the Rockets. A back up big man last year in Kentucky (surprise, surprise), Orton is a bruiser and has a very impressive defensive ability that should help Houston.

One thing is for sure, he would definitely be a more appropriate sized player to spell Yao Ming off the bench, rather than the 6’6 Chuck Hayes.

15- Milwaukee Bucks- Hassan Whiteside from Marshall

With Andrew Bogut’s injury troubles and Ersan Illaysova’s plain lack of skill and toughness, it would be tough for the Bucks to pass up on Whiteside.

Although it’s unclear just how ready he is for the NBA level given his lack of grip on basic fundamentals, he’s a physical presence down low that can block shots and rebound.

Because the Bucks do have the above stated big men, they have the time for Whiteside to develop. However, if an injury occurs to one of their other big men, Whiteside’s development may very well come through experience.

16- Minnesota Timberwolves- James Anderson from Oklahoma State

With another pick here, the Timberwolves will continue to shore up its wings, drafting Anderson, whom many regard as one of the best shooters in college basketball.

Although he is a below average defender, he should be able to work on that with the team’s defensive minded coaching staff. His offensive skills and high basketball IQ make up for what he lacks on the other end of the court.

17- Chicago Bulls- Damion Jones from Texas

Should Jones drop this low, the Bulls will feel very lucky. Although he is a tough and physical minded player who sees a lot of time at power forward (like quite a few of the Bulls’ current players), Jones has shown potential of developing into an above average perimeter player as well.

The Bulls would be silly to pass up on such a player.

If he can combine his current skills with that of a perimeter player, Jones would provide the Bulls with a combination of talent that none of the team’s other big men have.

18-Miami Heat-Larry Sanders from Virginia Commonwealth

A big man with freakish athleticism is exactly what Miami needs with Michael Beasley and Jermaine O’Neal currently in the post.

Regarded as a late bloomer with some tremendous eventual upside, Sanders plays with a lot of energy, similar to that of the rest of the Heat players.

19 Boston Celtics- Gordon Haywood from Butler

With the Celtics potentially losing a couple of its outside shooters in free agency, and having traded Eddie House and Bill Walker to New York, it would be smart to draft this outside shooting stud at this point in the draft.

Haywood is an excellent three point shooter who could provide the Celtics with timely hoops off the bench if given a chance to be in the mix with its veteran and ever so quickly aging squad.

20- San Antonio Spurs- Solomon Alabi from Florida State

The Spurs will gamble here and hope that Alabi is the answer to its center woes. The team has been getting by without a true center for years, and as Coach Poppovich shuffles his starting lineup, Alabi would be bound to even get a few trial starts next season.

With nothing to lose (and all to gain) at the center position, Alabi would be a worthwhile pick for the Spurs.

21- Oklahoma City Thunder- Stanley Robinson from Connecticut

With multiple comparisons to Gerald Wallace to his credit, there is a chance Robinson goes higher.

If he falls to the Thunder, however, it could very well be a great fit for both sides.

Robinson’s high octane style of play fits the Thunder’s young talent nicely, as he could provide the team’s young budding starting lineup with a boost off the bench.

22- Portland Trailblazers- Paul George from Fresno State

As the first round begins to finally fill out nicely, the Blazers would be smart to select George.

Not only is George a very physical wingman, but a good perimeter shooter. He could play with the Blazers well if they can help him flourish into a catch and shoot type player, as his ball handling skills are said to be quite lackluster.

23- Utah Jazz- Luke Babbitt from Nevada

Don’t look now, but this has suddenly become a wingman draft. There may be a couple of better talented players left in this draft, but Babbitt’s basketball IQ will give him credibility and put him in favor with the Jazz brass.

He is also a very smart passer and a good shooter from behind the arc, which means he can play the Jazz’s style of basketball for certain.

24- Atlanta Hawks- Eric Bledsoe from Kentucky

It seems like a team cannot go wrong with a Kentucky product in this draft.

The Hawks could fill their point guard void here, with Mike Bibby getting older and slower, and Jeff Teague not shaping up to be what the Hawks had hoped.

Of course, drafting Bledsoe would be a move for the future for this playoff contender, but it’s always nice to have a strong point guard waiting in the wings.

25- Memphis Grizzlies- Quincy Pondexter from Washington

With O.J. Mayo moving over to the point next season and Rudy Gay a possibility to depart, Pondexter’s stock may go up if the Grizzlies select him here.

Pondexter would clearly be the best wingman available if all else goes to plan, and given the Grizzlies’ quick turnaround (for the most part) with young talent, Pondexter’s skills could be maximized in a system like Coach Hollins’.

26- Oklahoma City Thunder- Willie Warren from Oklahoma

If for no other reason at all, it would be nice to see the Thunder draft a hometown kid.

Lucky for them, though, Warren is a good match. He is an athletic guard who struggled with his instincts and decision making skills this season. Perhaps he could learn from Russell Westbrook’s early mistakes as he develops into a smarter player.

If he develops a bit stronger basketball IQ to go with his skills, Warren could be a good player.

27-New Jersey Nets- Devin Ebanks from West Virginia

As the Nets draft John Wall and (perhaps) trade Devin Harris, look for them to draft another Devin. Ebanks is a very strong minded defensive player but lacks offensive ability.

Although he is not much of a shooter, he is the right guy for the New Jersey to help them make fans forget about the Sean Williams failure.

28- Memphis Grizzlies- Avery Bradley from Texas

Even if Kevin Seraphin falls this late, don’t expect the Grizzlies or the Magic to bite after already having international big men of their own.

Bradley then becomes the best option available, and could end up playing some decent minutes at point guard after Mike Conley, should the O.J. Mayo-point guard situation not work out as planned.

29- Orlando Magic-Elliot Williams from Memphis

The Magic brass love guards, so expect them to pick yet another in this position.

Williams has a very athletic upside and has an NBA ready body. Already a championship-contending team, the Magic is just looking for talent to give them a boost off the bench and Williams would do just that.

30- Washington Wizards- Kevin Seraphin from France

If Seraphin falls here (it is a big “if”) the Wizards will get a steal at this point in the draft.

Particularly an off the ball type player, Seraphin has offensive talent but is a raw prospect.

However, with a top five pick already in the draft, the Wizards can definitely afford to wait on Seraphin or even trade him to a playoff contender looking for young talent in return for an immediate upgrade.