Friday, June 28, 2013

6/28 (Draft Hangover) Quickie

Things I liked:

*The Wizards: Give Ernie Grunfeld credit (yes, I said it). He didn't overthink the team's pick at No. 3 and went with the sure thing and best fit -- Otto Porter. I'm thrilled.

Meanwhile, after years of frustrating me with their deflating second-round moves, the team's second-round pick was pretty inspired: Glen Rice Jr. is precisely the kind of player emerging from an existing NBA talent market inefficiency (limited draft insight into how D-Leaguers translate) that give teams cheap quality role players.

*Sam Hinkie: The 76ers rookie GM traded star Jrue Holiday for Nerlens Noel, positioning the Sixers to lose a ton next year and get themselves in place to get a franchise cornerstone in next year's draft.

*Magic: Victor Oladipo isn't necessarily an All-NBA superstar, but is the kind of core All-Star cog that changes a team, especially if they complement him with a high pick next year.

*Jazz: Trey Burke is an ideal fit for them at PG.

*Pistons: Get the best value of the 2nd round in Tony Mitchell.

*Daryl Morey: Isaiah Canaan is exactly the kind of second-round steal the Rockets specialize in.

*Nate Wolters: I was going to love whatever team got him -- congrats, Bucks.

*Smart teams still smart: Spurs taking Livio Jean-Charles, Thunder taking Andre Roberson. When those players succeed (possibly wildly), it will be because of the teams that drafted them.

*Anthony Bennett at No. 1: Got a wild night off to the right start. (Also, the Cavs did great picking up Sergey Karasev, who I really like.)

*The Celtics imploding themselves: Why not? Not like they were going anywhere.

*Bebe: If I was still doing a draft fashion review, he would have won.

*David Stern: He relished the boos from the Brooklyn crowd, who were jeering him more out of love than anything else. The moment with a tuxedo-clad Hakeem at the end was fun.

Things I didn't: Charlotte picking Cody Zeller.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

6/26 (Very) Quickie

In the absence of my traditional "NBA Draft Fashion" column, this year I voted on Nerlens Noel's suit, which he has put up for fan vote at What does it say that I voted for "Look One" and it is running a distant third behind the two other choices?

The Nets are smart to try to pursue KG, and KG should want to play on the Nets... Congrats, UCLA baseball... A-Rod is a fool, but Yankees GM Brian Cashman is a bigger one for engaging him publicly, not the least of which with a "STFU"... Aside from the fact that the Clippers put Eric Bledsoe to pretty good use, this potential trade of him to the Magic for SG Aaron Afflalo is a good one for both teams. (Then the Magic can draft Victor Oladipo and have the most athletic backcourt in the NBA)... Really enjoyed this dispatch from Grantland's Katie Baker from Game 6 of the Stanley Cup in Boston... Is it really that much to ask that my Wiz just take Otto Porter and be done with it?

-- D.S.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

6/25 (Cup) Quickie

This week, I began a summer hiatus from writing my daily USA TODAY Sports column. Still, can't help but file a few notes this morning:

The Blackhawks' Cup-winning flurry in the final minute (plus change, to be exact) was the greatest finish ever to a Stanley Cup finals. Yes, it was a Game 6, not a Game 7. Yes, it happened in regulation, not sudden-death overtime. But coming from a goal down on the road to clinch a Cup? Wow.

More: Steve Darcis qualifies for Upset of the Year... Yasiel Puig, Yasiel Puig, Yasiel Puig... Brian Shaw being hired by the Nuggets isn't nearly as intriguing or important as the Grizzlies promoting wildly underrated lead assistant Dave Joerger... I'm partial to Mississippi State, but the CWS best-of-3 format doesn't leave a lot of room for error -- advantage: UCLA... yes, Puig-mania, but Wil Myers is no slouch... that Bulls-go-fishing could-Wizards-trade-No.-3-pick-for-Luol-Deng rumor yesterday nearly wrecked me... Three days from the NBA Draft, I've still got it Cavs/Noel, Magic/Oladipo, Wizards/Porter (or, at least, I hope that's how it goes)...

-- D.S.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

6/21 (LeBron + Heat x 2) Quickie

Last year's breakthrough championship for LeBron was his most meaningful, but this second one is more important -- and will likely become a "most important" once LeBron gets to 3+ titles, as early as next year.

It was the toughest opponent he'll ever face -- far tougher than any of the six teams (5 if you count the Jazz only once) that Michael Jordan had to beat.

And he elevated his game to near-perfection -- by far the best he has ever been, and that's not too far off from "best there ever was."

I love that he didn't cheer as the clock hit 0.0 -- he later showed some emotion, but his initial impulse was to display a look that said "Well, of COURSE we won a title again."

Regardless of the handful of unlucky bounces for the Spurs (or lucky ones for the Heat) that ultimately gave the Heat the game, LeBron has put himself on another stratosphere.

Even if it feels like another Heat d'accompli next season, and... that's OK. This Heat-Spurs series was a non-stop thrill ride played at such a high level that it was entirely satisfying.

The only issue is if LeBron, like Jordan, can never again find a Finals foe that is worthy of pushing him to his limits and then, amazingly for him AND the rest of us, beyond.

-- D.S.