NBA 2K community

2K Corner Series: Interview with Pacers’ Cody Parrent

A critical component to any athlete’s success is their love for competition. In 2017, that competition is no longer exclusive to the hardwood or grass fields. Instead, the virtual world is home to some of the fiercest competitors in the world.

This is the belief that fuels Cody Parrent, the director of esports for the Indiana Pacers. He now channels his passion to compete into being a leader in the NBA 2K League community.

Driven By Competition and Friendship

Don’t mistake Parrent for being just a gamer. At his core, he’s a competitor.

It started as a teenager. He loved that AAU basketball and club soccer provided him with a time and place to hang out with his friends. However, Parrent never wanted the fun to stop.

“I had to be home at a certain time, and I wanted to keep hanging out with my friends. So we started playing video games online together,” he said.

NBA 2K community

Image Courtesy of Cody Parrent’s LinkedIn

That soon developed into a passion for Parrent. He would go on to compete in national tournaments in Halo 2 through his high school career. Sadly, he had to temper his competitive spirit in college.

“I wanted to buckle down on my studies,” Parrent said. “I didn’t compete much, but I kept up with the scene.”

It’s a good thing he did. Parrent earned his undergrad and MBA from University of Southern Indiana. After graduation, he and his friends started NBA 2k Lab. With this kind of experience and business acumen, he was no doubt among a short list of candidates for the director of esports position with the Pacers.

Focusing On The Community

One thing that was apparent in our conversation was his genuine understanding and love of the NBA 2K community. This kind of knowledge is critical to the success of the NBA 2K League. Parrent talked about a community event the Pacers hosted at the Game On Esports Center in Westfield, Indiana. He was hoping for an audience of 15 to 20 people to attend so he could educate them about the NBA 2K League. He had no idea what was going to transpire.

“We had over 100 people…people from Colorado, New York City, Orlando…some drove 15 hours to attend our event.”

– Cody Parrent

This kind of attendance does not only foreshadow the league’s success, but it also indicates how great the NBA 2K community is.

What does Parrent attribute to the success of this event? He knows where the community lives.

“The NBA 2K community lives on Twitter,” he said. “People are always talking and messaging with open spots in upcoming games.”

If you’re looking to get involved, search #2kfreeagent and you’ll understand how open and understanding the players in the community are.

Message for Aspiring Pros

We were able to speak at length about the draft process on the 2K Corner 3 Podcast, which you can listen to here. Parrent explained what an aspiring player needs to be doing in order to qualify for the NBA 2K League draft pool in 2018.

“If you’re listening take notes, if you are aspiring to be an NBA 2K League player, the tryout mode in February is what will allow you to get into the draft pool,” Parrent said.

Parrent went on to mention specific items and skills they will be evaluating during that tryout mode. While this isn’t an official announcement by the league, the NBA 2K community should take notice of any advice Parrent has to offer.

Silencing The Doubters

For those who continue to doubt this league’s credibility and success, Parrent has a message for you.

“2K17 sold 9 million copies and has 1.6 million active daily users and a growing Pro Am Scene,” he said.

The numbers clearly illustrate a demand for the game and an engaged consumer. The key will be converting those who don’t qualify for the draft pool and the casual player to tune in once the games start up.

With people like Cody Parrent at the helm, I have no doubt the NBA 2K League will find a way attract and sustain viewers.

 

You can hear the full interview including details about the national tryout and the qualification process to become a professional 2K player in the 2K Corner 3 Podcast by clicking here.

To stay updated be sure to follow Cody Parrent on Twitter @codyparrent and Kelly Krauskopf, President of the Indiana Fever and Senior Vice President of Pacers Sports & Entertainment @FeverPrez.

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NBA 2k League

Pacers at the forefront of the NBA 2k League

For years, one of the most popular sport-based video games has been NBA 2k. However, the video game will soon vault into the top of the esports stratosphere with the NBA 2k League.

There haven’t been many details released about the league. We know that 17 NBA franchises have agreed to participate. We also know that tryouts will take place in February, and the subsequent draft will occur in March. And, we know that all players must be 18 years or older to be eligible. And finally, we know that one franchise is setting an example for the other 16 participants, the Indiana Pacers.

It Starts at the top

NBA 2k League

In order to ensure the successful launch of the NBA 2k League, the participants must believe in the idea, starting with the owners. (Courtesy of; Indy Star)

In an interview in May by the Indy Star, Pacers owner Herb Simon had some preliminary thoughts about the NBA 2k League and its formation. “I’m very, very bullish about the league under the present leadership,” he said.

He thinks it could be a useful tool to tap into a younger demographic adding, “The young kids are playing this, and they are playing it all the time.” Simon wasn’t wrong. NBA 2k was the highest-rated and highest-revenue-generating sports video game in North America at the time.

Having the right leadership is critical for any organization or idea to succeed. The NBA 2k League will be no different. If owners like Simon believe in the idea wholeheartedly, then that same attitude will matriculate through the organization. It’s important that everyone on board from the owner to the camera man understands the vision and the value of this emerging league.

Understanding the Industry

Fast forward to late September, and the Pacers have hired Robert “Cody” Parrent as their Director of Esports Operations. Parrent has an extensive background in CS:GO and Halo, but how does his experience translate to the NBA 2k League?

It’s simple. He understands the consumer. The esports industry, while growing, still has many unanswered questions. For example, will the games be played on PC or console? Will the NBA partner with a streaming service like Twitch to broadcast these games, or promote them on their own network, NBA TV? While those answers may not exist now, the Pacers are confident that Parrent could have the key to unlocking a new consumer for their franchise.

the introduction of gaming

Let’s jump to last night’s game versus the Cleveland Cavaliers. On the Fox Sports Indiana halftime program, the Pacers ran a piece on what each player thought of their respective 2k rating.

While this may seem like filler or fluff, it’s exactly the opposite. The Pacers are slowly exposing their fan base to the game. It’s incredibly smart. They want to introduce their traditional fans to gaming on a general level. The best way to do so is to involve the players themselves. Why? It adds legitimacy to the game and the league.

In the piece, it is evident that Lance Stephenson and Myles Turner were fully aware of their rating, and excited to talk about it. Turner went as far as to say he could see himself earning a rating in the high 80’s or low 90’s by season’s end. This kind of excitement from the players is a critical step to ensuring the league hits the ground running. Think about it, if the players featured in the game didn’t find it interesting or fun, why would you?

Let’s examine the timing. The Pacers chose to run this piece at halftime of their biggest game to date. They knew eyes would be glued to the TV when LeBron James, and the always topical Cleveland Cavaliers, hosted the Pacers last night. I’d hardly say that’s a coincidence. One could argue it was calculated and smart to air the piece at halftime of this particular game.

These are small steps, but they are no doubt in the right direction. The Pacers, along with a few others, are setting the standard and are taking the necessary steps to best promote NBA 2k League and its launch in May of 2018.


 

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NBA season preview: Central Division

The Central Division winner has been what seems like a foregone conclusion lately. The Cleveland Cavaliers led by star LeBron James have been one of the best teams in basketball the last few seasons.

There are teams like the Milwaukee Bucks and Detroit Pistons on the rise and teams dealing stars on the decline. Stars like Jimmy Butler and Paul George are moving out, which means the division race could be Cleveland’s once again.

Here are my record predictions for each of the five teams in the Central Division.

Chicago Bulls:

2016-2017 record: 41-41

2017-2018 prediction: 26-56

It’s a tough fall to lose Jimmy Butler, and the biggest part of that trade is the high draft pick the Bulls get in next year’s draft.

As far as winning now goes, the Bulls are relying on Zach Lavine to carry most of the offensive load.

Taj Gibson and Rajon Rondo are also gone from last year’s team meaning that a lot of offensive weapons have left. Dwyane Wade is currently looking for a buyout which would mean that some of the best offensive weapons could be gone.

The Bulls are going in the rebuilding direction and this season will be a tough one in Chicago.

Cleveland Cavaliers:

nba season preview: Central Division

Lebron James and Kevin Love, Photo Courtesy of sportsworldreport.com

2016-2017 record: 51-31

2017-2018 prediction: 48-34

The Cavaliers have been the team representing the Eastern Conference in the Finals each of the last three years. Obviously any team with LeBron James is hard to beat. This upcoming season, the Cavaliers are the favorite to win the Central Division.

With lots of teams getting more competitive, the Cavaliers stayed about the same this summer. Losing Kyrie Irving is a big deal due to his ability to create and finish around the rim. However, LeBron is still the best player in basketball and he can carry a team if he needs to.

LeBron and the Cavaliers will still be a top three seed in the Eastern Conference, but there will be a lot more competitive games this season, especially now that Isaiah Thomas is a defensive mismatch.

The Cavaliers are still the team to beat in the East, but I think they took a small step back this offseason.

Detroit Pistons:

2016-2017 record: 37-45

2017-2018 prediction: 36-46

Avery Bradley was a huge offseason move for the Detroit Pistons. He has the ability to score offensively and also rebound and defend at a high level for a guard.

Unfortunately the Pistons lost Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Aron Baynes and Marcus Morris. Morris and Pope provided scoring that was much needed throughout the year and Baynes and Drummond dominated the boards.

One addition that helps mightily on a somewhat poor shooting team is the drafting of Luke Kennard. Kennard can flat out shoot it and the Pistons will need it to free up Andre Drummond inside.

The Pistons stay about even after the offseason. They lose some offense but add some defense which will help them win the lower scoring games.

Indiana Pacers:

nba season preview: Central Division

Myles Turner, photo courtesy of Freep.com

2016-2017 record: 42-40

2017-2018 prediction: 33-49

Losing an All-Star in Paul George is a big deal but this Pacers team can still play. Lance Stephenson, Myles Turner and Victor Oladipo are a very good set of players who can be very good for this team.

Myles Turner is going to take a big jump this year and turn into a star and Victor Oladipo will benefit from not having as much pressure around him. The Indiana Pacers may have backtracked but they are still a good enough team to make a playoff push, it just might come up short.

Losing Paul George in the offseason means that your wins will decrease but I think the Indiana Pacers will still be very competitive this season.

Milwaukee Bucks:

2016-2017 record: 42-40

2017-2018 prediction: 47-35

The Milwaukee Bucks return the same core as they did last season, and this season everyone is more experienced.

They add D.J. Wilson out of Michigan and keep virtually the same team. Malcolm Brogdon, Khris Middleton and Giannis Antetokounmpo are looking to build off the great seasons they had last year.

The Bucks have built themselves into a team on the rise through the draft. They have a lot of versatile guys who can guard multiple positions.

Come playoff time they will be a hard out and I think that when they play Cleveland they will give them all they can handle.

 

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NBA players set to make the leap to Stardom in 2017-2018

NBA Preview:

Many different NBA players are looking to make the next step into stardom or from stardom to super-stardom. The off-season is a time for players to improve without being in the center of the media.

Young players show lots of promise in their first couple years in the league. Some experience injuries, off-court struggles and ultimately a lack of production. However, some rise from all the setbacks and make the transition to the spotlight.

This is a chance to speculate about the players who will make the biggest jumps this off-season.

Star Watch:

Myles Turner:

NBA

Myles Turner, Photo Courtesy of SI.com.

Paul George is out of town so Turner is the guy in Indiana now.

Turner has always had the potential to breakout but he has always been in the shadow of Paul George. Now it’s his chance to get the spotlight and lead a team that is mid rebuild.

Turner shot 35 percent from three and averaged 14.5 points while grabbing 7.3 rebounds per game last year.

Turner is a consistent double-double threat and can stretch the floor in a pick and pop situation. He is also a very good low post player who can take the pressure off the Indiana guards.

This will be one of Turner’s best opportunities to show just how good he is, and with the door open in Indiana, he has a very good chance to be a consistent All-Star in the Eastern Conference for years to come.

Dion Waiters:

Who would have thought that a guy who Lebron basically forced out of Cleveland would thrive in the second half of last season?

Part of the Stardom that Dion Waiters is capable of came out in the back half of the 2016-2017 season for the Miami Heat. Waiters was one of the main reasons in turning the Heats record completely around.

In the last 41 games of the season (the ones Waiters played in) he averaged 21.6 points, 4.9 assists and 4.6 rebounds per game.

Obviously he was lost for some time due to an ankle injury, but those numbers are All-Star worthy. The Heat have added a few key pieces, but Dion Waiters and Hassan Whiteside are the two keys to this team.

If Waiters can harness his last 41 games and turn it into a season he will lead the Heat to the playoffs and put up career numbers.

Jusuf Nurkic:

Nurkic is unique because he put up star numbers before injury. In 20 games with the Portland Trail Blazers, Nurkic shot 51 percent, and averaged 15.2 point and 10.4 rebounds.

A double-double over 20 games while sharing the ball with a ball dominant guard has the means for a star. Obviously Nurkic hasn’t had a large sample size on the Trail Blazers, but from his small sample size he screams stat-sheet stuffer.

He might not be an Allstar in a loaded Western Conference, but he can put up big time numbers.

With a complete recovery from a right leg fracture, Jusuf will pick up right where he left off.

The Trailblazers are in need of a jolt to their frontcourt, and with a healthy Nurkic, Portland could be playoff bound, and form their own big three moving forward.

D’Angelo Russell:

There’s a lot less pressure on D’Angelo Russell these days. He’s in a weaker Eastern Conference and is the clear cut star of the Brooklyn Nets.

Russell has proven that he can score and he has improved in his all around statistics in this past season. He is only 21 years-old and he is in a completely different system now.

The lights aren’t shining down on Russell now, he is on a team that finished in the basement of the NBA, and doesn’t appear on the brink of a playoff push in the upcoming season.

It’s weird to say that a player could benefit from being on a less competitive team, but Russell will get a huge confidence and statistic boost being the centerpiece of the Brooklyn Nets.

There’s low expectations surrounding this new look Nets team, and Russell is ready to take the reigns and put together a very solid season that might even land him an Allstar selection.

Why:

The players listed are all players who have shown lots of promise in their NBA careers. Even if it’s for a short span of time, the players have shown they are capable of stardom.

So many players in the league can have a few good games, but to be a star, you have to carry great statistics over the course of an 82 game season. Last year these players all fell into the category of having some good games but for one reason or another couldn’t carry it for the whole season.

With each of their current situations they have been placed in, the future looks bright. These four players will make the jump to stardom in the 2017-2018 NBA season.

 

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2017 NBA Mock Draft V 4.0

2017 NBA Mock Draft V 4.0

The Golden State Warriors are the 2017 NBA champions. Now that the Finals are over, the entire basketball community will be focusing on the upcoming NBA Draft on June 22. This is a prime opportunity for teams to either deepen their roster or build playoff caliber teams. Here is Hagan’s Haus 2017 NBA Mock Draft V 4.0.

1: Boston Celtics: Markelle Fultz, PG, Washington

2017 NBA Mock Draft V 4.0

(Photo Credit: Elaine Thompson/AP)

The Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers are working on a trade so that the 76ers can select Markelle Fultz. Even if the trade doesn’t get finalized Fultz will be the number one overall pick in this draft.

2: Los Angeles Lakers: Lonzo Ball, PG, UCLA

Los Angeles is not going to pass on a player who will make those around him better and has the star power that Lonzo Ball has. These rumors floating around about the Lakers falling out of love with Lonzo is all a smokescreen. The truth of the matter is that the first two picks have been decided and they are just trying to keep people interested and on their toes.

3: Philadelphia 76ers: Josh Jackson, SG/SF, Kansas

This pick is just like the first overall pick. It is likely going to be Boston drafting in the third position and they will take Josh Jackson. This is a sign that the Celtics may put all their faith in Isaiah Thomas as their point guard. Jackson can fit right into the culture they are building in Boston and he will help them get closer to compete for a championship.

4: Phoenix Suns: Jayson Tatum, SF, Duke

The Suns are just unlucky. Phoenix was supposed to have a top three pick but fell to fourth when the lottery took place. Now they are going to miss on Josh Jackson by one pick. Jayson Tatum is flying under the radar but will be a very good NBA player.

Tatum has a polished isolation game and can score from anywhere on the floor. Tatum will be a solid second option to Devin Booker.

5: Sacramento Kings: De’Aaron Fox, PG, Kentucky

2017 NBA Mock Draft V 4.0

(Photo Credit: http://www.zimbio.com)

Reports coming out of Sacramento say that the Kings are absolutely in love with De’Aaron Fox and are even willing to trade both the fifth and tenth pick to move up just one spot to get him.

Fox should be around at five and the Kings can draft their franchise point guard. Buddy Hield and De’Aaron Fox would be a promising backcourt that would help the Kings get closer to the playoffs.

6: Orlando Magic: Johnathan Issac, F, Florida St.

Orlando has been terrible ever since Dwight Howard left. Johnathan Issac has been recently compared to Kevin Durant, but he is not the scorer that Durant is. Issac will bring tons of athleticism to the Magic. He has proven he can play an all-around game but has been very inconsistent. If developed correctly, Issac can become one of the best two-way players in the NBA and an All-Star.

7: Minnesota Timberwolves: Malik Monk, SG, Kentucky

The Timberwolves are already loaded with young talent and in a perfect world, Tom Thibodeau would like to acquire more veterans in the locker room. Minnesota might be looking to make a trade in the future and will take the best available player which will be Malik Monk. Monk is a scoring machine capable of going off at any moment. He is the best scorer to come out of college since Kevin Durant and will easily average 20 points per game in the NBA.

8: New York Knicks: Frank Ntilikina, PG, France

New York has always been a city of immigrants. The Knicks are going to follow that mold it seems, as they already have Kristaps Porzingis and are in love with Frank Ntilikina.

Ntilikina has excellent size for a point guard. He is listed at 6-foot-5 and 190 pounds. Ntilikina is a pass-first point guard with a high I.Q. He has developed a mid-range game and excellent floater but is a really inconsistent shooter. Ntilikina also has great lateral quickness that makes him an elite defender.

9: Dallas Mavericks: Dennis Smith Jr., PG, NC State

2017 NBA Mock Draft V 4.0

(Photo Credit:http://bleacherreport.com)

Dennis Smith is arguably a top five player in this class. The Mavericks have a chance to find their franchise point guard who can help lead them back into the playoffs. Smith can score, pass and rebound with the best of them while in college. He also has the insane athleticism that allows him to posterize defenders.

10: Sacramento Kings: Lauri Markkanen, PF, Arizona

The Kings currently have two core pieces in Buddy Hield and Willie Cauley-Stein. If they take Fox earlier in the draft then it becomes an even better core. Lauri Markkanen could then take this team to even better heights.

Markkanen is a 7-foot stretch big who will be able to shoot the three in the NBA. He has all the intangibles to become a power forward like Dirk Nowitzki. He can stretch the floor or go inside. Markkanen would fit alongside Cauley-Stein because he can stretch the floor.

Getting Fox and Markkanen would make the Kings one of the best young teams in the NBA.

11: Charlotte Hornets: Donovan Mitchell, SG, Louisville

Donovan Mitchell was projected to be a late-first round pick around a month ago but has lately been flying up draft boards. Teams who have worked Mitchell out have been really impressed by the 6-foot-3 shooting guard. Mitchell is a shot creator and that is something the Hornets need. Charlotte could create a dangerous backcourt by pairing Mitchell with Kemba Walker.

12: Detroit Pistons: Harry Giles, PF, Duke

Detroit needs a big man alongside Andre Drummond. Picking Harry Giles would be a shock here, but could be a huge steal. Giles was considered the best player coming out of high school and was projected to be the No. 1 pick before he began having injury problems.

We have not seen what Giles is fully capable of, but his potential is through the roof. He is an athletic finisher who can be molded into a great defender.

Giles has had a lot of injuries but if he can get healthy he has the skill and potential to be the best player in this draft class.

13: Denver Nuggets: Zach Collins, PF/C, Gonzaga

2017 NBA Mock Draft V 4.0

(Photo Credit: http://www.zimbio.com)

Denver is really close to becoming a playoff team in the tough Western Conference. Their young guards just need more experience and will continue to develop.

Collins is a good rebounder and shot blocker. Pairing him up with Nikola Jokic could create one of the most dangerous frontcourts in the NBA. Collins needs to mold his offensive skills, but because Jokic is so skilled offensively, Collins’ defensive skills would create a perfect combination.

14: Miami Heat: T.J. Leaf, PF, UCLA

The Heat were amazing in the second half of this season. Hassan Whiteside is a franchise centerpiece at center. Their guard play has been tremendous, and Justise Winslow is really coming into his own. That leaves the power forward position as their biggest need.

T.J. Leaf has a high motor and can play both inside and out. Miami would get a player who could be molded into a star by Erik Spoelstra.

15: PORTLAND TRAILBLAZERS: JOHN COLLINS, PF, WAKE FOREST

John Collins could be a valuable piece around Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum. Collins has a good offensive game that would help take pressure off their guards to score. He has a post-up game that most bigs don’t have. His impressive footwork allows him to beat even the best of defenders. If he develops his defense, he could become a top power forward in the NBA.

16: CHICAGO BULLS: JUSTIN PATTON, C, CREIGHTON

2017 NBA Mock Draft V 4.0

(Photo Credit: Chris Machian- The World Harold)

Building around Jimmy Butler seems to be the top priority for the Chicago Bulls. Robin Lopez is serviceable, but he is not a center that will help a team reach a title.

Justin Patton may be one. He is a 7-foot monster that averaged 12.9 points, 6.2 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game as a freshman at Creighton.

NBA coaching could turn Patton into a dominant center in an era of outside shooting. There will be few players capable of defending him once he grows into his own. The Bulls would be lucky to get Patton.

17: Milwaukee Bucks: Bam Adebayo, C, Kentucky

The Milwaukee Bucks are building something special. Giannis Antetokounmpo is looking like a future MVP and Khris Middleton is a stud. Drafting Adebayo will give Milwaukee a presence inside to make the Bucks even more dangerous. The talent they already have and can acquire with Adebayo will allow the Bucks to get closer to the Eastern Conference finals.

18: Indiana Pacers: Luke Kennard, SG, Duke

Luke Kennard fits the new style of the NBA. He is a pure shooter and can be a valuable scorer in the NBA. Kennard isn’t going to be a guy who changes a franchise but as a sidekick to Paul George, he could thrive. George wants the Pacers to add talent so they can compete for a title adding Kennard would help go a long way in the Pacers effort to keep Paul George when he becomes a free agent.

19: Atlanta Hawks: Jarrett Allen, C, Texas

Dwight Howard is aging and no longer a top center in the NBA. The Hawks must prepare for the future and that could be in the form of Jarrett Allen. Allen is a beast on the boards and has the potential to become a solid post-up big man.

20: Portland Trailblazers: Justin Jackson, SF, North Carolina

Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum need help and Justin Jackson would fit perfectly with this team. Jackson would be the piece to help get the Blazers back into the playoffs.

He has great length and can stretch the floor. Jackson played great for most of the tournament. He had a subpar performance in the title game, but can still become a good NBA starter.

Jackson needs to add weight but is a versatile defender capable of guarding multiple positions. His mid-range jumper is well-polished.

21: Oklahoma City Thunder: OG Anunoby, SF, Indiana

2017 NBA Mock Draft V 4.0

(Photo Credit:http://hoosierstateofmind.com)

OG Anunoby will improve the Thunder on the defensive end of the floor immediately. In college, Anunoby was able to defend all five positions and that kind of versatility will make him a valuable player.

He also shot 36 percent from three in his career and will help take some pressure off of Russell Westbrook.

22: Brooklyn Nets: Ivan Rabb, C, California

The Nets will not be good for a long time which means they can be patient with the development of Ivan Rabb. He has lots of potential to grow offensively.

Rabb is already a good defender, and even though he only averaged about one block per game in his career, he altered plenty of shots. His inconsistency at Cal is what hurts him, but he has shown flashes of brilliance and that is what the Nets will try and bottle up and turn into a consistent output.

23: Toronto Raptors: Isaiah Hartenstein, PF, Germany

Isaiah Hartenstein is a bit of an unknown but is an old school big man. He plays an extremely physical style and is a great rebounder. Hartenstein is also a great shot blocker and the Raptors really need an inside presence. He has very little experience but the success of Kristaps Porzingis helps Hartenstein.

Isaiah Hartenstein will need a lot of developing on his offensive game but with the Raptors current roster, he can fill the role of rebounder and rim protector without having to rush his offensive development.

24: UTAH JAZZ: CALEB SWANIGAN, PF, PURDUE

The Jazz are in almost as good of a position as the Celtics. They finished as the fifth seed in the tough Western Conference and have two first-round draft picks.

Swanigan can come right into the NBA and contribute off the bench. Depth is what the best teams have, and that is what Utah is going to get in picking Swanigan.

25: ORLANDO MAGIC: Terrance Ferguson, SG, Australia

Terrance Ferguson has been very hyped up as of late. He attacks the basketball and can also be a spot up shooter. Ferguson will need to develop defensively but would be a good fit with the Magic who need some more scoring.

26: Portland Trailblazers: Semi Ojeleye, F, SMU

Semi Ojeleye is an athletic freak. Ojeleye can handle the ball, shoot threes, create his own shot and get to the rim. Semi Ojeleye is going somewhat underrated in this draft because of his lack of perimeter defense. The Blazers have enough picks to take a shot on Ojeleye to continue building the depth needed to compete in the West.

27: BROOKLYN NETS (VIA BOSTON): JORDAN BELL, PF, OREGON

2017 NBA Mock Draft V 4.0

(Photo Credit: http://247sports.com)

Jordan Bell was a second-round pick before the tournament. Bell was a huge reason Oregon reached their first Final Four since 1939. The Nets would get a solid rebounder who brings in a heavy motor and will give you everything he has. The Nets need these high energy type of players to change the culture in Brooklyn.

28: Los Angeles Lakers: Josh Hart, SG, Villanova

Josh Hart is a leader and a winner, and the Lakers could use some of that in their locker room.

Hart improved his scoring each season at Villanova, and that should translate into the NBA. Hart doesn’t have to be a starting shooting guard to make a big impact. Every team needs a bench scorer and Hart can fill that void for the Lakers as they continue to build towards a championship.

29: San Antonio Spurs: Thomas Bryant, C, Indiana

Any player that the Spurs take should celebrate as if they won the championship. The Spurs will develop Thomas Bryant into a solid NBA starter. Bryant is an excellent rebounder and has a knack for getting offensive boards. He has some decent low post moves and with Gregg Popovich coaching him up he can turn decent into dominant.

30: Utah Jazz: Tyler Lydon, F, Syracuse

Tyler Lydon has improved vastly from his freshman season to sophomore season. Lydon improved his points, rebounds, assists and free throw percentage. At 6-foot-9, Lydon can stretch the floor and he would be a great fit in Utah as a solid role player.

Second Round

31: Atlanta Hawks: Dillon Brooks, SF, Oregon

32: Phoenix Suns: Dwayne Bacon, SF, Florida St.

33: Orlando Magic: Jawun Evans, PG, Oklahoma St.

34: Sacramento Kings: Rodions Kurucs, SF, Latvia

35: Orlando Magic: DJ Wilson, PF, Michigan

36: Philadelphia 76ers: Tyler Dorsey, G, Oregon

37: Boston Celtics: Johnathan Motley, PF, Baylor

38: Chicago Bulls: Devin Robinson, F, Florida

39: Philadelphia 76ers: Derrick White, G, Colorado

40: New Orleans Pelicans: Frank Mason III, PG, Kansas

41: Charlotte Hornets: Tony Bradley, C, North Carolina

42: Utah Jazz: Mathias Lessort, F/C, France

43: Houston Rockets: Kyle Kuzma, PF, Utah

44: New York Knicks: Frank Jackson, SG, Duke

45: Houston Rockets: Ike Anigbogu, C UCLA

46: Philadelphia 76ers: Anzejs Pasecniks, C, Latvia

47: Indiana Pacers: LJ Peak, SG Georgetown

48: Milwaukee Bucks: Alec Peters, PF, Valparaiso

49: Denver Nuggets: Jaron Blossomgame, F, Clemson

50: Philadelphia 76ers: Jonah Bolden, PF, Australia

51: Denver Nuggets: Alberto Abalde, SF, Spain

52: Washington Wizards: Cameron Oliver, PF, Nevada

53: Boston Celtics: PJ Dozier, SG, South Carolina

54: Phoenix Suns: Nigel Williams-Goss, PG, Gonzaga

55: Utah Jazz: Sindarius Thornwell, SG, South Carolina

56: Boston Celtics: Aleksandear Vezenkov, F, Bulgaria

57: Brooklyn Nets: Edmund Summer, PG, Xavier

58: New York Knicks: Sterling Brown, SG, SMU

59: San Antonio Spurs: Monte Morris, PG, Iowa St.

60: Atlanta Hawks: Wesley Iwundu, SG, Kansas State

 

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Luke Kennard is the Next Steph Curry

I’ll be honest. I am not as bold as Lavar Ball, who said his son, Lonzo, will be better than Steph Curry. What I will say is this, Duke’s Luke Kennard will mirror Steph Curry’s game in the NBA.

Background

Let’s start out with a little background on Luke Kennard. The soon to be 21-year-old, Kennard attended Franklin High School in Franklin, Ohio. As a junior and senior, Kennard was donned the Ohio Gatorade Basketball Player of the Year. Ohio is also, of course, where the great Lebron James played his high school basketball. Kennard, who averaged around 40 points a game during his senior year, finished ahead of Lebron, and second all-time on the Ohio High School Athletic Association career scoring list. Oh and by the way, he was also named the Division II State Offensive Player of the Year in 2013, but for football. As quarterback for Franklin High, Kennard threw for 2,331 yards with 26 passing and 4 rushing touchdowns. The craziest part is that he threw right handed, even though he is a left handed shooter. Yes, this dude is a total freak. The 6’6 athletic guard did not disappoint at the next level.

Kennard in High School during a game in which he dropped 59 points for Franklin High (wn.com)

While coming off the bench his freshman year, Kennard averaged 11.8 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 1.5 assists per game for the Blue Devils. Great numbers for a freshman off the bench, but Kennard had not been used to this type of role, as he has been the star player his whole life. After starting only six games during the regular season, Kennard started all of the ACC tournament, and NCAA tournament games. It was his past sophomore year that Kennard showed that his High School stats were no joke.

During his sophomore campaign, Kennard lead the Blue Devils in scoring at 19.5 points per game. He did this on 49% shooting, including 43.8% from deep. Not only did Kennard shoot the lights out, he also averaged 5 rebounds and 2.5 assists a game. These stats were good enough for Kennard to be named a consensus All American, as well as a unanimous selection for the All-ACC First Team. In three contests against the eventual NCAA champion, UNC Tar Heels, Kennard averaged 22.7 points, on 53.8% shooting, as well as grabbing 4 rebounds per game. His efficiency and ability to knock down shots are just two of the many reasons he will be a star in the NBA. Having coach Mike Krzyzewski for two seasons could have also helped a little.

Kennard vs. Curry

Now, back to the Steph Curry comparisons. One thing that must be noted is the fact that Steph Curry played at Davidson University, who have sent a total of five players to the NBA, none of course played with Steph. Kennard’s teammates, Jayson Tatum, Harry Giles, and Franklin Jackson will all be selected in the first round of the upcoming NBA Draft on June 22nd. Not even named was Grayson Allen, who is staying for his senior year and will be a first round draft pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. My point is this, Steph had to be the guy or else his team would lose by 40. I am not taking anything away from him averaging 25 points a game over three years at Davidson, but during his junior year, Curry took 687 shots, which was over 200 more shots than Kennard had attempted this past year. Duke also plays in the ACC, which is far better competition that the Southern Conference, which Curry and Davidson competed in, before recently joining the Atlantic-10.

Curry during his time at Davidson University (Warriors World)

Surrounded by better teammates, and playing in a better conference, Kennard was able to match up very similar to Curry, who is arguably one of the best college basketball players of all time. Curry, who during his sophomore season averaged 26 points per game, shot 48.3% from the field, and 43.9% from three. The percentages almost identical to Kennard’s. They also both were able to shoot above 85% from the free throw line. I also believe Kennard will be a much better defender than Curry, mostly because of his quickness and the fact that he is 6’6”. All in all, both players can score at will. Kennard has shown he can get his shot off against anyone at any time because of his quick shot and athleticism, similar to Curry.

The Next Level

People might ask, what about the ball handling and ability to make plays like Curry? In a post draft workout interview with the Indiana Pacers, Kennard was asked if he thought he could be a playmaker at the next level. He responded with a confident “I do”, and why wouldn’t he? He has shown throughout his athletic career that he can virtually do anything.

In that same interview, Kennard also touched upon the spacing in the NBA and how the game has changed into more of a shooter’s league. To put it into perspective, the average amount of threes attempted in a game was 13 in the 1999-2000 season. This past year, it was 26 per game. We also saw the Houston Rockets break the record for most threes attempted in a season, as well as most threes made per game. This record will probably be broken as more and more teams have realized how valuable the 3-point shot truly is.

Not a bad league to enter if you are a sniper like Kennard, who shot over 44% from downtown. So where should he get picked?

Best Fit

In a league where teams are looking for guys who can stretch the floor and hit threes, Kennard is a perfect fit for essentially any team. Mock drafts have him at around 18th pick to the Indiana Pacers, which would be an absolute steal. If Kennard falls to the Pacers, it wouldn’t be the worst spot. The stadium is about two hours away from his hometown in Franklin, Ohio, and playing alongside Paul George would be extremely beneficial. Teams like Boston, Orlando, Dallas, Charlotte and Denver, who all have picks before Indiana, could really use a guy like Kennard. Not only can he be an immediate impact for these teams, but Kennard could thrive as all of the teams listed finished in the top half of the league in three point shots attempted during the 2016-17 campaign.

Of the top rated prospects, (Fultz, Ball, Jackson, Fox, Tatum, Smith, Monk), Kennard finished ahead of all of them in three-point percentage. Why draft a player who cannot shoot when teams are taking more deep shots than ever? In a league dominated by the three ball, Kennard is the obvious choice.

On June 22nd, we will most likely see a situation similar to when Johnny Flynn was drafted ahead of Steph Curry. With an already established shot, the confident and consistent Kennard will drop a lot lower than he should have. GM’s will be shaking their heads in the near future if they pass on Luke Kennard.

 

 

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Atlanta Hawks 2017 NBA Draft Profile

Atlanta Hawks 2017 NBA Draft Profile

Welcome to day 18 of Draftmas where we will take a look at the Atlanta Hawks 2017 NBA Draft profile.

Summary

Atlanta Hawks 2017 NBA Draft Profile

(Photo Credit: https://alchetron.com)

The Atlanta Hawks are one of the most consistent franchises in the NBA. Atlanta has made the playoffs for 10 straight seasons. Last season, they finished with a 43-39 record which earned them the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference.

Atlanta lost to Washington in the first round 4-2. The Hawks have some really good players, most notably, Dwight Howard and Paul Millsap but they are missing that go-to star who will take the team to the next level.

In those 10 straight playoff appearances, they have never been able to reach the Finals, and have only reached the conference finals once which was in the 2014-2015 season. Head coach Mike Budenholzer is a product of Gregg Popovich which means he has the Hawks playing team basketball predicated on ball movement. This is evident in their 10th overall ranking in assists, averaging 23.6 per game.

This is why the Hawks are still consistently good without that superstar player. If Atlanta wants to become a legitimate contender they need to find that star whether it is via free agency or the draft.

Atlanta’s strengths are on the defensive side of the court. The Hawks ranked 10th in points allowed per game (104), seventh in steals per game (8.3) and fifth in opponents field goal percentage (44.4 percent).

Offensively is where the Hawks struggle the most. They ranked 28th in both turnovers (15.8 per game) and free throw percentage (72.8 percent). Atlanta ranked 18th in field goal percentage (45.1 percent) and 23rd in three-point percentage (34.1 percent).

One of the remaining bright spots for the Hawks was their rebounding, they ranked ninth in the NBA averaging 44.3 rebounds per game.

Picks & Needs

First Round: No. 19

Second Round: No. 31, No. 60

The Hawks need to find some scoring in this draft. It will be highly unlikely that they find a franchise star late in the first round so scoring has to be their number one priority.

Atlanta could also look to draft a big at either center or power forward. Dwight Howard is past his prime and there may be better options at his position. Paul Millsap is also on the back half of his career and there were trade rumors surrounding him last season.

Atlanta needs more depth at their small forward position as well. It may not make sense to draft a small forward since that is the position they drafted last year in Taurean Prince but they need another rotation player at that spot.

The last need for the Hawks to become a better team is by adding depth at the point guard position. Dennis Schroder is an average point guard and adding a second point guard to either compete against or spell him would improve the Hawks.

 

Targets & Thoughts

Atlanta Hawks 2017 NBA Draft Profile

(Photo Credit: http://www.courier-journal.com)

Pick #19: Bam Adebayo F/C Kentucky

Many of the top shooting guards will be drafted by the time the Hawks are on the clock. Atlanta will look to take the best available big man remaining and around pick 19 that would be Kentucky’s Bam Adebayo. Adebayo averaged 13 points, 8 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game in his first season at Kentucky.

Bam Adebayo is very athletic and loves to play an aggressive style of basketball. His goal is to posterize everyone in his path. Bam is also one of the best offensive rebounders in this draft class.

He will need some more development on offense as all of his game is predicated on playing near the rim. To become a solid NBA starter he will need to work on a midrange game as well.

Defensively, Adebayo is a stud. He has shown the ability to be a fierce rim protector along with the versatility to switch screens and defend quick guards as well.

Bam may not be a dominant force in the NBA but as he develops he can become a solid starter capable of replacing either Dwight Howard or Paul Millsap as they leave Atlanta.

Pick #31: Sindarius Thornwell SG South Carolina

Early in the second round, the Hawks could find a gem at the shooting guard position. Sindarius Thornwell was the best player for South Carolina during their Final Four run. Thornwell can score in all sorts of ways. Inside, outside, off screens, in transition and even spot-up shooting.

Sindarius averaged 21.4 points, 7.2 rebounds, 2.8 assists per game and a player efficiency rating of 30.3. He shot 44.5 percent from the field and 39.5 percent from behind the arc.

Thornwell has some flaws defensively but his offense could help Atlanta right away. He has a chance to be the next second round gem in the NBA.

Pick #60: Kobi Simmons PG Arizona

Kobi Simmons will be a late second-round pick who may struggle to make the roster. As the final pick in the draft, the Hawks will take a chance on a possible backup point guard. He has a lot of potential but only averaged 8.8 points and 2.0 assists while at Arizona. Simmons also only shot 39.7 percent.

Simmons has tons of athleticism but lacks basketball I.Q. If he can tap into the potential scouts have raved about since he was in high school he has a chance to become a solid backup point guard in the NBA.

Conclusion

Atlanta has made the playoffs for 10 straight years but can’t seem to get over the hump. The Hawks need to continue acquiring talent and building depth. The strength of the team is on defense and the Hawks must improve their offense by adding shooters and scorers.

The number one goal is to get a shooter but if one isn’t available at pick 19 they should go after big men for depth. If the Hawks can do these things they can close the gap on the top teams in the East. They may not win a championship next year but you can guarantee they will make the playoffs.

Thanks for checking out the Atlanta Hawks 2017 NBA Draft profile and tune in tomorrow for day 19 of NBA Draftmas to see what the Oklahoma City Thunder are going to do.

Day 17 Draftmas: Indiana Pacers

Day 16 Draftmas: Milwaukee Bucks

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Pacers

Indiana Pacers 2017 NBA Draft Profile

Day 17 of our 2017 NBA Draftmas special focuses on the draft needs and targets of the Indiana Pacers.

Summary

Pacers

The Pacers will go as far as Paul George and Myles Turner will take them. (Photo by Cluthpoints.com)

The Pacers are in a state of stagnation as they have been eliminated in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs for two straight seasons. Under new head coach Nate McMillan, the team ranked 15th in points per game and 16th in points allowed.

They are carried by superstar forward Paul George, who is a three time All-NBA and All-Defensive player. Many questioned whether George would be able to return to his All-Star caliber form after a gruesome leg injury in 2014, although he has proved doubters wrong by returning in better shape than ever. He has averaged upwards of 23 points, six rebounds and three assists per game in his last two seasons. With two years and a player option left on his contract, the Pacers window to win now is closing. With rumors swirling about the possibility of George opting out to join his home town Los Angeles Lakers, the Pacers must do whatever it takes, whether it is bringing in veterans, or drafting the proper rookies, in order to retain him.

The most talented young piece Indiana possess is center Myles Turner. The 21-year-old was selected with the 11th pick in the 2015 NBA draft and has proven himself as an impact player at the next level. He played and started in 81 games in which he averaged about 15 points, seven rebounds and two blocks per game on 51 percent shooting. Turner has the ability to score from anywhere on the floor as he can work the post just as well as he can hit the three ball. His offensive versatility will be key for the construction of the Pacers lineup moving forward.

Other key players include Glenn Robinson III and 10-year veteran Thad Young. Robinson III has emerged as one of the most explosive players in the NBA, although his jumper has flown under the radar as he shot about 47 percent from the field and most notably 39 percent from three. Young took a step back on the stat sheet after averaging 15 points and nine rebounds per game with the Brooklyn Nets in 2015-16 and only 11 points and six rebounds in 2016-17, although his field goal percentage rose significantly. His offensive role with Indiana has been diminished, but he is still an integral piece of the Pacers on both ends of the floor.

Notable free-agents include floor generals Jeff Teague and Aaron Brooks, sharpshooter C.J. Miles and physical big man Lavoy Allen. If the Pacers were to lose all four of these players, they would have some gaping holes to fill.

Picks & Needs

Indiana has two picks in this years’ NBA draft, including one in the first and one in the second round.

First round: No. 18

Second round: No. 47

If the Pacers were to lose both Teague and Brooks, they would be in desperate need of a point guard. With the loss of Miles, there is an opening for Robinson III to receive more minutes, although they will have lost a supreme three-point shooter in the process. Finally, if Indiana moves on from Lavoy Allen, they will seemingly put Al Jefferson, Kevin Seraphin or Rakeem Christmas in a more defined bench role.

Targets & Thoughts

Pacers

Luke Kennard is arguably the best pure scorer int he 2017 NBA draft. (Photo by SI.com)

Pick #18: Luke Kennard, Guard, Duke

Kennard would be a perfect fit at the two-guard position in Indiana. He can replace C.J. Miles as their go-to three-point specialist and Monta Ellis as their athletic slasher. Unlike Miles, Kennard can legitimately create his own shot. In his sophomore season, he averaged 13 field goal attempts per game while shooting 49 percent from the field and a miraculous 44 percent from three.

The all-time leading scorer in Ohio high school basketball history (yes he passed LeBron James) is a lethal scorer who can be the Robin to Paul George’s Batman. I’m extremely surprised that Kennard has not been mentioned among the top-10 picks in mock drafts, as he seems to be one of the most NBA ready players. He was ranked first in the ACC in minutes played, points produced, offensive rating, offensive plus minus and win shares in 2016-17. If the Pacers were lucky enough to land the consensus All American, their offensive ranking would surely jump into the top ten.

Pacers

Two-time Naismith Award winner Frank Mason will be a steal in the second round. (Photo by Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Pick #47: Frank Mason, Guard, Kansas

With the possible losses of both Teague and Brooks, point guard may be a severe need for the Pacers. Wooden Award winner Frank Mason has been projected as a mid-second round pick due to his lack of size and potential, as he is a 5-foot-11 23-year-old, although he would be a great fit in Indiana. His size failed to hold him back from becoming one of the elite point guards at the college level, and I don’t believe it will hold him back moving forward.

The two-time Naismith Award winner averaged about 21 points, five assists and four rebounds in his senior season. He also led Kansas to two straight Elite Eight appearances in the NCAA tournament. His leadership and offensive ability will make him an above average floor general at the next level.

 

Conclusion

The Pacers may need to replace point guards Jeff Teague and Aaron Brooks, making senior Frank Mason a perfect fit in the second round. Also, with the assumed departure of C.J. Miles, Indiana will need to add a three-point specialist, like Luke Kennard, to force the defense to spread the floor.

A guy like Kennard can create more floor space and passing options for Paul George on the drive and Myles Turner at the high post. If the Pacers land either of these two All-Americans, they will be in a great position moving forward, with or without George.

Thanks for checking out the Indiana Pacers 2017 NBA Draft profile and tune in tomorrow for day 18 of NBA Draftmas to see what the Atlanta Hawks may do.

 

NBA Draftmas Day 15: Chicago Bulls

NBA Draftmas Day 16: Milwaukee Bucks

 

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2017 NBA Finals

2017 NBA Finals Preview

The 2017 NBA Finals are set and the wait is finally over. The world gets to see the Golden State Warriors matchup with the Cleveland Cavaliers for the third-straight year in the Finals.

It is the grudge match of all grudge matches. Everyone has been waiting for this series since the season tipped off on Oct. 25, 2016. Some have been waiting for this since Kevin Durant signed with the Warriors in July.

This third fight between the Warriors and Cavs will be bigger than the “Thrilla in Manila”.

How They Got Here

2017 NBA Finals

(Photo Credit: REX Shutterstock)

The Golden State Warriors went 67-15 this season following a record-breaking 73-win season in 2016. Golden State also broke the record for most wins over a three-year span.

This Warriors team is actually better than last year’s team thanks to the signing of Kevin Durant. The Warriors took it easy in the regular season because their goal all year was to meet the Cavs in the Finals.

Golden State made quick work of their playoff opponents. They swept all three opponents in a tough Western Conference. What the Warriors have done this postseason has been impressive and they sent a message. Winning the Finals is an obsession to them and nothing else is considered acceptable.

The Cleveland Cavaliers have not had it as easy as the Warriors. Cleveland went 51-31 and finished as the second seed in the East. The Cavs really struggled in the second half of the season. After Jan. 1st the Cavs went 26-24. They looked bad defensively and some started to question whether or not they were capable of another Finals run.

All those questions were put to bed quickly once the playoffs started. The Cavs easily swept the Pacers and Raptors before meeting the top-seeded Celtics in the conference finals. Cleveland then wiped Boston off their home-court in embarrassing fashion. Boston stole game three but all that did was delay the inevitable. Cleveland went on to finish the next two games easily to reach the finals for the third straight year.

Round One: Cleveland Hurt

2017 NBA Finals

(Photo Credit: Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

The first year these two teams met in the Finals was in 2015. Kevin Love had been hurt in the first round and would miss the remainder of the playoffs.

Game 1 of the Finals dealt another injury to a Cleveland star. Kyrie Irving went down with a fractured kneecap in the first game of the series during overtime. Golden State would win that game and win the series 4-2 to capture its first title in 40 years.

Many called the Warriors title tainted claiming that they would not have won the championship had the Cavaliers been healthy. They were champions without respect and it was their mission to prove they were worthy of the crown.

LeBron had failed to bring a title to Cleveland and many were wondering if it was the right move to leave Miami. The criticism was high despite him averaging 35.8 points per game, 8.8 assists per game and 13.3 rebounds per game while shooting just 38.9 percent from the field. Just as the Warriors were determined to prove they were worthy of the crown, LeBron was determined to bring a title home.

Round Two: Suspension Sparks A Comeback

2017 NBA Finals

(Photo Credit: http://www.nba.com)

Cleveland and Golden State would meet again in the 2016 Finals for a rematch. Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving were both healthy for this matchup and many thought the Cavaliers would prove they were truly the better team. Coming into the Finals the Cavaliers had only lost two games in the East.

The Warriors had a much tougher road in the West. They had to comeback from being down 3-1 in the Western Conference finals. Throughout the playoffs, Steph Curry and Andre Iguodala were dealing with nagging injuries. They played through those injuries but were not at full strength and expanded tons of energy just to get to the Finals.

In the beginning of the series, none of that seemed to matter. Golden State took a 2-0 series lead and had the largest combined margin of victory in NBA Finals history. Cleveland would win Game 3 and Golden State won Game 4 to take a 3-1 series lead. In that game, Draymond Green was assessed a flagrant foul, setting his playoff total to four, resulting in a suspension for Game 5. No team had ever come back from down 3-1 in the NBA Finals.

Cleveland was able to win Games 5 and Game 6 to force an epic Game 7.

After six games the teams were tied in games won and total score. It was as close as a series as it could ever be and the final game of the year would truly decide a champion.

In Game 7, LeBron James blocked a late layup attempt by Andre Iguodala that set up a game-winning 3-pointer by Kyrie Irving. The Cavs won Game 7 93-89 and ended a 52-year championship drought in the city of Cleveland.

The Warriors had lost in the Finals and believed that had Iggy been healthier he would have dunked the ball. Golden State fans also believed that Curry wasn’t healthy and that if Draymond had not been suspended they would have won Game 6 and the series.

Round Three: Bragging Rights

2017 NBA Finals

(Photo Credit: http://realballinsiders.com)

Fast forward to now and here we are set for round three. The Warriors added superstar Kevin Durant to help them get back to the Finals for a third-straight season. The Cavaliers added minor pieces but have made it back to defend their title.

Golden State ended a 40 year drought and Cleveland ended a 52-year drought.

As mentioned earlier the Warriors enter the Finals 12-0 and the Cavaliers enter the Finals 12-1. Both teams sprinted to the Finals as fast as possible, and as rested as possible.

In round three, there are no excuses. Both teams are healthy and both teams will be rested. It is time to put up or shut up. It is time to make a mark on history.

Who’s era is it really? Without trying to predict too far ahead, it is unlikely these teams meet for a fourth straight Finals appearance.

Cleveland comes into the Finals averaging 116.8 points per game while Golden State comes in averaging 118.3 points per game. Both teams are great offensively but the team who plays the best defense will win this series.

There are so many fun matchups the world gets to see in this series as well. Steph Curry and Klay Thompson versus Kyrie Irving. Draymond Green versus Tristan Thompson, LeBron James or Kevin Love.

The most intriguing though is when Kevin Durant and LeBron James match up against one another. Two of the best players in the world will fight it out to be called the champion.

This series will go down in history. At the end of the day, the Warriors are going to win because they have just too much firepower. They lost last season by four points in Game 7. Adding Kevin Durant to the mix will just be too much. All eyes are on the Finals to see who really is the best between these two franchises.

The new greatest rivalry in sports will write the newest chapter this summer, changing legacies forever.

Prediction: Golden State Warriors 4-2

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2017 NBA Mock Draft

2017 NBA Mock Draft V. 3.0 (Post-Lottery)

The lottery has finally passed and the draft order is now officially set. As the Finals approach, so does the draft season. All but the final four teams are focused solely on the draft, which means The Game Haus is too.

This mock draft will take a look at where players may go in late June. Also, if you loved Draftmas for the NFL draft, be on the lookout for the hardwood version of Draftmas coming soon here at The Game Haus.

For now, here is Hagan’s Haus 2017 NBA mock draft, version three.

1: BOSTON CELTICS (VIA BROOKLYN): MARKELLE FULTZ PG WASHINGTON

2017 NBA Mock Draft

(Photo Credit: Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Boston is in great position after winning the lottery. It is also obvious the Celtics do not need a point guard. Isaiah Thomas has proven his worth time and time again in the NBA. Any player can be a bust out of college, but I.T. is a proven commodity. It is still unlikely that Fultz will be a bust, but he has not proven anything yet in the association.

Boston needs a second scoring option. They play great team defense and find themselves in trouble with Thomas being their only viable option on offense. Boston will take Fultz, but it could be because they plan on trading him for another scoring superstar. The pick here seems to clearly be Fultz, but it is unclear if he will ever play a game for Boston.

2: LOS ANGELES LAKERS: LONZO BALL PG UCLA

LaVar Ball and the rest of his family got exactly what they hoped for in the lottery. The Lakers came away with the second overall pick. LaVar has made it clear that he wants his son to be the next Laker great. He has even said that his son, Lonzo, will not work out for the Celtics. Lonzo is from L.A., and not only is it his dream, but he believes it’s his destiny, to rock purple and gold.

There are also rumors swirling that teams are putting together trade packages in hopes of acquiring D’Angelo Russell, who may be on his way to bigger things. You can read about how well he has actually progressed as a player here.

LaVar may be onto something when talking about how good his son can be. Sticking strictly to Lonzo and his basketball ability, it is clear that he is a consensus top-three prospect. Ball is a great playmaker and passer with a high basketball I.Q.

Ball will be a floor general capable of running an NBA team and becoming an on-court coach. He showed at UCLA that he can make everyone around him better and that will translate into the NBA.

Many scouts compare him to Jason Kidd, which is a pretty accurate comparison. Having a Kidd-like career would be an amazing accomplishment for anybody. The Lakers need a franchise player and that is exactly what Lonzo Ball will be. The Lakers have a difficult decision ahead of them, but pairing Ball with Brandon Ingram and Julius Randle could lead to more parades in Hollywood.

3: PHILADELPHIA 76ERS: MALIK MONK SG KENTUCKY

Trusting the process hit yet another bump in the road this season. Joel Embiid suffered another injury after appearing in just 31 games. If that wasn’t enough, last year’s first overall pick, Ben Simmons, didn’t make his debut this year either. The 76ers still believe those pieces will result in playoff appearances and maybe even titles.

Reports came out that the Philadelphia brass believes Simmons will be the point guard. That is why they will use this pick on Malik Monk.

Monk has proven to be a flat-out scoring machine and that will translate to the NBA. Drafting Monk will allow the Sixers to develop Simmons as their point guard while putting a scorer in the backcourt beside him.

Creating a powerful backcourt could be the key to a deep postseason run. They already have a great frontcourt player in Embiid.

4: PHOENIX SUNS: JOSH JACKSON SF KANSAS

2017 NBA Mock Draft

(Photo Credit: Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Josh Jackson could prove to be a valuable wing alongside Devin Booker. Jackson averaged 16.3 points per game at Kansas. He is a two-way player capable of becoming a superstar. Jackson has a good feel for the game and is dangerous on offense. He can score both inside and out and is a very underrated passer.

Pairing him with a future superstar like Booker is only going to lead to success for Phoenix. Having a core of Eric Bledsoe, Devin Booker and Josh Jackson will make the Suns a threat in the West in two to three years.

Jackson doesn’t have to be a franchise player in Phoenix. He just has to be Robin to Batman, which makes him a perfect fit in the desert.

5: Sacramento Kings: JAYSON TATUM SF DUKE

The Kings need to start from scratch. Buddy Hield seems to be the guy that Sacramento will build this team around. It looks like Willie Cauley-Stein will be the man up front with DeMarcus Cousins now out of the picture.

Jayson Tatum could grow to be an NBA superstar. Tatum has a well-polished iso game that is NBA ready.  He can score anywhere on the floor due to his ability to create off the dribble.

One of his biggest weaknesses is his shot selection. Due to his height and ability to shoot over defenders, Tatum tends to settle for difficult shots. Shot selection will improve over time and he could become a nice addition to the team in Sacramento.

6: Orlando Magic: DE’AARON FOX PG KENTUCKY

The Magic seem to have an unclear direction. Orlando hasn’t made the playoffs for five straight years in a very weak Eastern Conference. Frank Vogel has improved the team, but they need more talent outside of Aaron Gordon. At this point, the best thing the Magic can do is pick the best available player, which in this position would be De’Aaron Fox.

Fox doesn’t get the hype that Fultz or Ball get, but is definitely going to be a force in the NBA. Fox did nothing but help his stock in the tournament, especially when he dropped 39 points against Lonzo Ball and UCLA in the Sweet 16.

Fox is left handed, which is sometimes hard to defend because defenders are so used to right-handed players. He is also extremely quick, and defenders may have trouble keeping up with him. Fox will need to work on shooting with more consistency, but has proven he can control a game.

7: MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES: LAURI MARKKANEN PF ARIZONA

Minnesota has a franchise center and small forward in Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins. They have young guards in Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn. The Timberwolves need experience and veteran leadership more than anything, so it is tough to predict what they will do with this pick. Lauri Markkanen would be a perfect option for the Timberwolves.

Markkanen is a 7-foot stretch big who will be able to shoot the three in the NBA. He has all the intangibles to become a power forward like Dirk Nowitzki. He can stretch the floor or go inside.

Markkanen can also play the center position to spell Towns. Markkanen needs to add some weight, but could really help the Timberwolves become a playoff team.

8: New York Knicks: Dennis Smith JR PG N.C. State

2017 NBA Mock draft

(Photo Credit: WILLIAM HOWARD/ICON SPORTSWIRE)

The Knicks badly need a franchise point guard to pair with Kristaps Porzingis. Dennis Smith is a top-five talent who will fall a bit due to some of the other needs teams have since not all are looking for a point guard.

The Knicks would get a player like Russell Westbrook by drafting Smith. He can score, pass and rebound with the best of them in college. He also has the insane athleticism that allows him to posterize defenders.

The Zen Master needs to make the most out of this pick to win back the love of the Knicks’ fan base, and Dennis Smith could bring that love to the Big Apple.

9: DALLAS MAVERICKS: ISAIAH HARTENSTEIN PF GERMANY

From one German to the next.  Isaiah Hartenstein would be a great fit in Dallas. He is a versatile, left-handed player who can score inside and outside. Hartenstein is a great passing big man with a high basketball I.Q.

The downside with Hartenstein is his immaturity and lack of experience against tough competition. However, his potential makes him a lottery pick.

Sitting him behind Dirk for a year would be the perfect step in developing Hartenstein. He could easily relate to Dirk. He could really learn how to become a great pro.

10: SACRAMENTO KINGS (VIA PELICANS): JONATHAN ISaAC PF FLORIDA STATE

Jonathan Isaac would be a great fit with this team. Isaac is a great rebounder and can run the floor well for a big man. He also shoots well from all areas of the floor. Isaac could play at small forward or power forward in today’s NBA. The Kings would find a great player with lots of potentials, who could grow into a solid NBA starter.

11.CHARLOTTE HORNETS: JUSTIN JACKSON SF NORTH CAROLINA

The G.O.A.T., Michael Jordan, loves him some Tar Heels. Justin Jackson would be a terrific fit in Charlotte. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has never lived up to the hype of a second overall pick. Jackson would be the piece to help get the Hornets back into the playoffs.

He has great length and can stretch the floor. Jackson played great for most of the tournament. He had a subpar performance in the title game, but can still become a good NBA starter.

Jackson needs to add weight, but is a versatile defender capable of guarding multiple positions. His mid-range jumper is well-polished. Charlotte would improve by drafting Jackson.

12: DETROIT PISTONS: HARRY GILES PF DUKE

Detroit needs a big man alongside Andre Drummond. Picking Harry Giles would be a shock here, but could be a huge steal. Giles was considered the best player coming out of high school and was projected to be the No. 1 pick before he began having injury problems.

We have not seen what Giles is fully capable of, but his potential is through the roof. He is an athletic finisher who can be molded into a great defender.

13: DENVER NUGGETS: Zach Collins F Gonzaga

2017 NBA Mock Draft

(Photo Credit: Mark J. Rebilas, USA TODAY Sports)

Denver is really close to becoming a playoff team in the tough Western Conference. Their young guards just need more experience and will continue to develop.

Collins is a real good rebounder and shot blocker. Pairing him up with Nikola Jokic could create one of the most dangerous frontcourts in the NBA. Collins needs to mold his offensive skills, but because Jokic is so skilled offensively, Collins’ defensive skills would create a perfect combination.

14: MIAMI HEAT: T.J. LEAF PF UCLA

The Heat were amazing in the second half of this season. Hassan Whiteside is a franchise centerpiece at center. Their guard play has been tremendous, and Justise Winslow is really coming into his own. That leaves the power forward position as their biggest need.

T.J. Leaf has a high motor and can play both inside and out. Miami would get a player who could be molded into a star by Erik Spoelstra.

15: PORTLAND TRAILBLAZERS: JOHN COLLINS PF WAKE FOREST

John Collins could be a valuable piece around Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum. Collins has a good offensive game that would help take pressure off their guards to score. He has a post-up game that most bigs don’t have. His impressive footwork allows him to beat even the best of defenders. If he develops his defense, he could become a top power forward in the NBA.

16: CHICAGO BULLS: JUSTIN PATTON C CREIGHTON

Building around Jimmy Butler seems to be the top priority for the Chicago Bulls. Robin Lopez is serviceable, but he is not a center that will help a team reach a title.

Justin Patton may be one. He is a 7-foot monster that averaged 12.9 points, 6.2 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game as a freshman at Creighton.

NBA coaching could turn Patton into a dominant center in an era of outside shooting. There will be few players capable of defending him once he grows into his own. The Bulls would be lucky to get Patton.

17: MILWAUKEE BUCKS: BAM ADEBAYO PF KENTUCKY

The Milwaukee Bucks are building something special. Giannis Antetokounmpo is looking like a future MVP and Khris Middleton is a stud. Drafting Adebayo will give Milwaukee a presence inside to make the Bucks even more dangerous.

18: INDIANA PACERS: FRANK NTILIKINA PG FRANCE

2017 NBA Mock Draft

(Photo Credit:http://www.draftexpress.com)

One thing is clear in the NBA: teams need a franchise point guard. The Pacers have Jeff Teague, but he has not really proven to be a franchise point guard.

Ntilikina has excellent size for a point guard. He is listed at 6-foot-5, 190 pounds. Ntilikina is a pass-first point guard with a high I.Q. He has developed a mid-range game and excellent floater, but is a really inconsistent shooter. Ntilikina also has great lateral quickness that makes him an elite defender.

All the skills are there for Ntilikina to become a franchise point guard.

19: ATLANTA HAWKS: IVAN RABB C CALIFORNIA

Dwight Howard is no longer a top center. Atlanta needs to think about the future, and Ivan Rabb is the future at center.

He has lots of potential to grow offensively. Rabb is already a good defender, and even though he only averaged about one block per game in his career, he altered plenty of shots. His inconsistency at Cal is what hurts him, but he has shown flashes of brilliance.

20: PORTLAND TRAILBLAZERS (VIA MEMPHIS): TYLER LYDON PF SYRACUSE

Tyler Lydon has improved vastly from his freshman season to sophomore season. Lydon improved his points, rebounds, assists and free throw percentage. At 6-foot-9, Lydon can stretch the floor and he would be a great fit in Portland.

21: OKLAHOMA CITY: DILLON BROOKS SF OREGON

It is clear that Russell Westbrook needs help. He is an animal but can’t do it on his own.

Dillon Brooks is one of the most underrated players in all of college basketball. Brooks is capable of being the second option to Westbrook and a true sidekick that Westbrook desperately needs. Filling the small forward spot is of utter importance to the Thunder.

22: BROOKLYN NETS (VIA WASHINGTON): LUKE KENNARD SG DUKE

Luke Kennard is a scoring machine. Brooklyn needs a lot of help, even though they played better late in the year.

Kennard isn’t going to be a guy who changes a franchise, but he can be a 20-point-per-game scorer in the NBA. Every team needs that type of player, and the Nets can’t get a franchise-changing player in the early 20s. They will have to settle for finding solid role players until they can get a franchise changing player.

23: TORONTO RAPTORS: DWAYNE BACON SF FLORIDA STATE

If Kyle Lowry is truly leaving, then Toronto is going to need a point guard. At this point in the draft, there aren’t any point guards capable of starting.

The Raptors may have to let Cory Joseph be the guy and draft a wing player here. Bacon can come in and be a solid rotation player, allowing the Raptors to deepen their bench as they continue to chase a championship.

24: UTAH JAZZ: CALEB SWANIGAN PF PURDUE

The Jazz are in almost as good of a position as the Celtics. They finished as the fifth seed in the tough Western Conference and have two first-round draft picks.

Swanigan can come right into the NBA and contribute off the bench. Depth is what the best teams have, and that is what Utah is going to get in picking Swanigan.

25: ORLANDO MAGIC (VIA LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS): JOSH HART SG VILLANOVA

2017 NBA Mock Draft

(Photo Credit: AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Josh Hart could bring a culture change to the franchise. He is a leader and a winner, and the Magic could use some of that in their locker room.

Hart improved his scoring each season at Villanova, and that should translate into the NBA. If they put together a backcourt with De’Aaron Fox and Josh Hart, the Magic could make the playoffs as early as next season.

26: PORTLAND TRAILBLAZERS (VIA CLEVELAND): RODIONS KURUCS SF LATVIA

Kurucs is a project, and Portland can afford to draft a developmental player this late in the first round, especially with it being their third pick in the first round. Kurucs is versatile and can be a valuable scoring option in the NBA off the bench. Anything more than being a role player would be a huge win for the Blazers.

27: BROOKLYN NETS (VIA BOSTON): JORDAN BELL PF OREGON

Jordan Bell was a second-round pick before the tournament. Bell was a huge reason Oregon reached their first Final Four since 1939. The Nets would get a solid rebounder who brings in a heavy motor and will give you everything he has. The Nets need these high energy type of players to change the culture in Brooklyn.

28: LOS ANGELES LAKERS (VIA HOUSTON): DONOVAN MITCHELL SG LOUISVILLE

The Lakers have youth on their side and drafting Mitchell will allow them to continue to build assets as trading blocks so that they can get superstars back in Hollywood. Mitchell is a solid shooting guard who can be a solid sixth man in the NBA.

29: SAN ANTONIO SPURS: Jarrett Allen C Texas

The Spurs are like the Patriots. They know what they are doing and you don’t question them.

LaMarcus Aldridge has been average at best since signing with the Spurs. With Kawhi Leonard being a two-way star, the Spurs need a big man who can play as Robin to Leonard. Jarrett Allen is a beast on the boards and has the potential to become a solid post-up big man.

30: UTAH JAZZ (VIA GOLDEN STATE): JOHNATHAN MOTLEY PF BAYLOR

Utah needs some frontcourt athleticism. Derrick Favors has only had one really productive season and looks to be on the decline. Motley’s offensive I.Q. makes him a perfect fit in Utah to be a solid role player on a solid playoff team. The Jazz continue to build depth at hopes of a deeper postseason run.

 

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