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Pass The Pill’s NBA Draft of the best players at every position (1-30)

The Pass the Pill team compiled a list of the best player at every position from every team.

TOP 30 POINT GUARDS

 

1 – Chris Paul – Los Angeles Clippers (Frank Santos) Same

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I’ll keep this short and sweet. Chris Paul is clearly the best point guard in the NBA, and I try my best not to discuss basketball with people who feel otherwise.

2 – Russell Westbrook – Oklahoma City Thunder (Andy Flint) +1

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Chris Paul is the guy for me, in terms of the best point-guard currently lacing ’em up. In fact, he’s the NBA’s third best player.

After CP3, I go for Russ Wess. The superstar who still shines, despite not being his team’s most talented player. Most point-guards would have a field day playing with Kevin Durant, but as a scorer, Westbrook has to take turns with the league’s most lethal offensive weapon, and while KD’s presence on the court means Westbrook faces less double-teaming, it also means sharing shots, which isn’t ideal for a guy who could easily be throwing up 25+ a night

3 – Tony Parker – San Antonio Spurs (Frank Santos) -1

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Flint’s man-crush for Russell Westbrook has officially hit stalker mode.

Time and time again Tony Parker proves to be the most reliable point guard in this league. He may not be as talented as some of the guys on this list behind him, but if I am starting a team, give me Tony Parker over any guy not named Chris Paul.

4- Stephen Curry – Golden State Warriors (Andy Flint) Same

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Stephen Curry has taken the necessary steps to, not only become a top-tier NBA point-guard, but he’s also done a magical job of creating the type of game that has me thinking he belongs among the league’s top-10 current players, period.

Not only can Curry score, but he can control the tempo of the the game, make his teammates look better, and leads his team to wins. Curry and the Warriors have failed to make any real noise during the post-season, but he has them knocking on the door in a tough western conference, and that’s a start.

5 – Damian Lillard – Portland Trail Blazers (Frank Santos) +3

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Really the first change from last year’s draft that had Lillard at #8. My reasoning at the time was that it was possible Damian Lillard had reached his ceiling in just his rookie season, and that he may not have much room for improvement.

In related news, I’m sorry Dame; it’s a good thing you probably don’t listen to idiots like me.

6 – John Wall – Washington Wizards (Andy Flint) Same

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I had Wall ranked fifth and Lillard ranked sixth, so I don’t have much to complain about here.

Wall’s offensive game is still raw. Rawer than I would have predicted it to be after four full seasons in the league. I suppose some of that can be attributed to time missed his first three seasons with the Wizards, but injuries do happen, so I won’t bore you with excuses.

However, it’s Wall’s throwback type of game that has his critics upset. Wall’s ability to maneuver in open spaces, while finding the correct lanes to feed players is really what gives him a secure advantage at his position. If and when he polishes his jumper, he’ll become one of the game’s most deadly players.

7 – Derrick Rose – Chicago Bulls (Frank Santos) +3

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Dear Derrick Rose,

Please stay healthy. We miss you.

Love,

All NBA Fans.

All I needed was to watch D-Rose school some guys that will never make it into the NBA in the FIBA tournament to think he’s back. That either means… he’s back OR I am desperately looking for a reason to think he’s back. I’ll let you decide.

8 – Rajon Rondo – Boston Celtics (Andy Flint) -3

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Is it bad that I’m sort of expecting to be disappointed by this pick?

The 28-year old Rondo is officially on the clock, as far as “what’s his worth without the Big Three?” goes.  Rondo isn’t getting any younger and it’s time for him to prove his relevance post-Pierce/Garnett/Allen. Despite being one of the best passers/facilitators I’ve ever had the pleasure to watch, the Celtics have failed to really do anything impressive with Rondo as their best player. Perhaps it’s time for Rajon to depart from Boston and start anew.

No doubt that Rondo is a problem when paired with the right players. His biggest issue may be his generally poor attitude.

9- Goran Dragic – Phoenix Suns (Frank Santos) +10

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Dragic leaped ten spots from last year, and rightfully so. He was the best individual story of last year’s NBA season to me, and it was great to watch him grow before our eyes. Not only was he vastly improved from the prior season, but he brings something I have a soft spot for in point guards: he is ALWAYS in attack mode.

Even more than being an exceptional passer, which is obviously what we know point guards for, the ability to keep the defense on their toes creates so many opportunities for teammates, and is just as useful for a point guard. That’s what Dragic brings to the table.

10 – Eric Bledsoe – Phoenix Suns (Andy Flint) +10

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Frank goes Goran with the ninth pick, which is fine, but I had Dragic ranked 11th and Bledsoe ranked 8th overall.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Dragic, but I’d take Bledsoe over Goran every time. Bledsoe’s ability to attack the basket relentlessly is only rivaled by a couple of guys at his position (A healthy Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook). Bledsoe’s defense is also tops in the league, and I’m a fan of any defensive-minded guard at this level. The point-guard position is so stacked these days that having a guy who plays lock-down defense is priceless.

Note: I truly love Bledsoe and Goran paired together in a two point-guard backcourt. I believe my partner in crime, Santos, agrees. Hopefully the Suns can figure out this debacle.

11- Kyrie Irving – Cleveland Cavaliers (Frank Santos) -2

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Bledsoe at 10 was the first pick that legitimately surprised me. Not that he isn’t talented, but with the emergence of Dragic, Bledsoe’s Dwyane Wade knees, and the fact that he and the Suns clearly are not on the same page, it could be a long season in Phoenix for him.

Like the rest of the world, I am intrigued at how the Cleveland Cavaliers will juggle their new accumulation of talent. My suspicion is that Irving will be much higher on this list come next year, simply because LeBron James has a proven track record of making the players around him better.

However, Irving to me will be the guy who has to make the biggest adjustment to his game ala Chris Bosh in 2010 with the Miami Heat. James is going to have the ball, which has been Irving’s job his entire career, and his ability to adjust his skill-set accordingly will be one of the biggest stories on this Cavaliers team.

12 – Jrue Holiday – New Orleans Pelicans (Andy Flint) Same

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I thought long and hard about Kyle Lowry here. But I had Jrue ranked 10th and Lowry ranked 11th, so I ultimately decided to stay true to my prior thoughts. The biggest curve, for me, so far was Frank selecting Derrick Rose at number seven, as I had Rose’s knees ranked 13th overall.

This is Holiday’s make or break season. He’s finally surrounded by guys who can get it done, and coming back healthy should help catapult the Pelicans into playoff contention. Jrue also has the fortune of playing next to one of the game’s most gifted big men, in Anthony Davis, as he eyes a big return season in 2014-15. I truly expect Jrue Holiday to be the big X-Factor for this young squad.

13 – Kyle Lowry – Toronto Raptors (Frank Santos) +10

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I knew Kyle Lowry had turned a corner in his career when as a Net fan, I hated everything he stood for last year during the playoffs. Like Dragic, Lowry lives in attack mode, and he really found his game last year. Staying with Toronto long-term was a great decision for him basketball wise, and I am excited to see Lowry grow with back-court mate DeMar DeRozen.

Lowry is another guy who has shot up the list since last year, where he landed at 23.

14 – Ty Lawson – Denver Nuggets (Andy Flint) -3

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Santos and I chatted a lot about what Ty Lawson actually does, and that’s where I constantly find myself getting stuck. You can regurgitate Lawson’s stats all day long (17.6 and 8.8 last season), and you can talk about his speed, etc, but at the end of the day, what defines his game? Where are his big moments? Now, I’m sure I’ll have 100 Nuggets’ fans filling up the comment section with their favorite Ty Moments, but when a player truly arrives, the entire league knows it and I’m still having trouble recognizing Ty’s IT moments.

Not to say Lawson sucks or anything. I just don’t know how much better he is then say, Jeff Teague. And at least with Teague, we know exactly what he’s made of when it counts. Teague took over an entire series, against a one seed. The Hawks failed to win, but that was the moment when the world knew that Teague was, not only a very talented player, but a true next-level gamer. I’ve never really seen that from Ty, and that is where I stand.

15 – Deron Williams – Brooklyn Nets (Frank Santos) -8

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Excuse me for a moment while I put my head through a wall.

As a Net fan, there was a clear fact last season: Shaun Livingston was the best point guard who put on a Brooklyn uniform last season. Livingston made the veteran’s minimum, while Deron Williams stole made over $18 million. Still, I can’t convince myself he’s not in the upper half of starting point guards.

Don’t mind me, I’m probably just in denial that my starting point guard may not be as good as Brandon Jennings anymore…

16 – Jeff Teague – Atlanta Hawks (Andy Flint) -1

Note: I was really hoping Frank would let his homer-ism get the best of him in this draft and take Deron Williams in the top 10. Alas, he did not, and I can’t even hate on him going 15th, being that I had him ranked 18th overall.

Tegaue on the other hand. ICE WATER! This dude showed his worth last season during the first-round, and I’m riding the wave into 2014-15. I explained a bit of my Teague love at number 14, when talking Ty Lawson. This is a league where you’re judged based off of stats and big moments. Teague’sa stats are great, and we all witnessed his big moments against the Pacers last year. I expect much of the same from him this season.

17 – Mike Conley – Memphis Grizzlies (Frank Santos) -4

I have a soft spot for Mike Conley; he’s my kind of point guard. Not the best shooter by any means, but a guy you can count on to give you a solid night almost every game out. He fits perfectly with the Memphis Grizzlies “throwback” mentality, and was a huge reason why they almost upset the OKC Thunder last year.

Aaaaand in writing this I realized I definitely think he’s better than Deron Williams right now, so there’s that.

18 – Kemba Walker – Charlotte Bobcats (Andy Flint) +4

We always harp on wanting point-guards to facilitate and control the tempo of games, and I believe Kemba does that, even though most people don’t see it that way. Kemba is a scorer at heart, and scoring is what he SHOULD continue to do. Walker averaged 17.7 points per game last season, which was exactly the same as he averaged in 2012-13. The kicker for me, is the fact that he did this while winning 43 games, versus the 21 games that Charlotte won the season prior.

Walker also managed to keep his scoring average, while sharing the load with Al Jefferson, who managed 21.8 ppg last season. Walker also improved his three-point percentage (while actually shooting more shots from deep), his free-throw percentage (while also taking more), his rebounds, assists and turnovers. This all speaks to his growth as an all-around player. Kemba just keeps improving.

19 – Patrick Beverley – Houston Rockets (Frank Santos) +N/A

Beverley is one of the more intriguing story-lines of next year for me. With the loss of Chandler Parsons to the Dallas Mavericks, Beverley suddenly has a much larger role on the team, especially offensively. Trevor Ariza will do great doing what he does, standing in the corner nailing 3’s and playing good defense, but he doesn’t bring the versatility Parson delivered for this team.

Does Beverley have another element of his game we have yet to see? I suspect the answer is no, but we will see…

20 – Michael Carter-Williams – Philadelphia 76ers (Andy Flint) -3

Frank hates MCW, and it’s fairly clear that Philly isn’t even 100% sold on the reigning Rookie of the Year. But, I happen to like the kid for various reasons, including his overall size, his ability to get to the basket, despite not being overly quick, or athletic, and I really love his ability to reel in triple-doubles. He’s a great rebounder, for his position, and he sees the floor well.

The biggest knock on Carter-Williams was his poor jumper, but the biggest difference between the NBA and the NCAA is spacing. Spacing helps players who have the ability to get to the basket. MCW has the ability to get to the hoop, and he showed it off last season. He can always work to improve his jump shot.

21 – Brandon Jennings – Detroit Pistons (Frank Santos) -7

Okay, so maybe I was wrong when I said MCW would be playing in Turkey in 2019. I will say the flight is delayed; I haven’t cancelled the reservation just yet.

Brandon Jennings has the ability to drop 50 on any given night. The fact that he rarely makes a difference on the court most nights is precisely why he is so low on this list.

Pairing Jennings with Josh Smith is the type of move that should get a GM fired. In unrelated news, if you have an opening for employment, Joe Dumars may be interested.

22 – Ricky Rubio – Minnesota Timberwolves (Andy Flint) -6

Look, I have my reservations about Rubio, but I do love his defensive abilities, his passing, and his overall ability to control the tempo of games. I believe that this will work perfectly with the young, athletic assets that Minnesota brought in for Kevin Love, who frankly wasn’t getting the job done anyways.

Rubio needs to continue to work on his shot, but we watched Andre Miller have a very successful NBA career, while never really nailing down a consistent jumper. I believe Rubio can be similar.

23 – Brandon Knight – Milwaukee Bucks (Frank Santos) +N/A

Yes, Brandon Knight IS still in the league. He did not die when DeAndre Jordan stripped him of his dignity a couple of years ago. In fact, Knight quietly had a promising season for the mostly disappointing Bucks.

New Bucks coach Jason Kidd should be good for his game, and will expect a lot out of him. I think Knight has the talent to deliver, and is a sleeper to be one of the most improved players this coming season.

24 – Isaiah Thomas – Phoenix Suns (Andy Flint) -3

I feel like we slept on Isaiah a bit, but I’m okay with him landing here at 24. It’s hard to tell what his role will be in Phoenix, but backing up both Dragic and Bledsoe could work, if Bledsoe stays. If Bledsoe goes, then I’d imagine that Thomas will step into his role, playing beside Goran, in a two point-guard set.

At any rate, I saw the Kings moving on from Thomas coming from a mile away. In fact, this is what I said last season when we put together out annual point-guard draft – “I just feel like, while he seems like the guy right now, the Kings’ brass will probably always be on the look-out for a taller, stronger guy to take his job.”

25 – George Hill – Indiana Pacers (Frank Santos) -7

I don’t know what to do with George Hill. I’ve watched him play hundreds of times, and I have yet to decide whether I think he’s good or not. He just… disappears on the floor. With Paul George likely sidelined for the season next year, the Pacers are going to have one hell of a time trying to score the ball. This may be the time for Hill to step up, I am just not sure if he can.

26 – Darren Collison – Sacramento Kings (Andy Flint) +N/A

Personally, I’d have left George Hill off of this list entirely. He reminds me of Mario Chalmers (as far as roles go).

Collison is a marginally effective starter. I do prefer him in a backup type role, which probably won’t be the case in Sacramento, unless McCallum really makes strides, heading into this season. Either way, it’s a step down from Thomas, who I just ranted about at number 24.

27 – Shawn Livingston – Golden State Warriors (Frank Santos) +N/A

How can you not root for Shaun Livingston? After his horrific injury years ago, he has fought all the way back, and was rightfully compensated this offseason. His size puts him at an automatic advantage night in and night out, and he was smart enough to develop a post game to further highlight his special skill-set.

He now finds himself in a great situation with the Golden State Warriors, where new coach Steve Kerr will certainly be looking to utilize him as the third guard alongside The Splash Brothers.

28 – Trey Burke – Utah Jazz (Andy Flint) +N/A

Still improving, but has the tools to be an effective starting point-guard. However, I do wonder how the arrival of Australian stud, Dante Exum, will impact Burke. I’m not even sure which position Exum is best suited for.

Exum and Burke could either be great for SLC, or Exum could cause waves for the young guard from Michigan. Time will tell.

29 – Reggie Jackson – Oklahoma City Thunder (Frank Santos) -3

Reggie Jackson showed what he was made of when Russell Westbrook went down, and I really liked what I saw in those weeks. Also, Jackson saved Westbrook and Durant last season in their series against the Grizzlies when he exploded while the two superstars struggled from the field.

Jackson will probably be starting this season as Thabo Sefolosha skipped town for Atlanta, and the combination of Jackson and Westbrook on the floor for extended minutes could end up being a match up nightmare for opposing teams.

30 – Marcus Smart – Boston Celtics (Andy Flint) +N/A

This was my pick where I had to look at the ability and believe that Marcus Smart was one of the most NBA ready players taken in this year’s draft. I have no idea how the Rajon Rondo saga will play out, but I do believe that the Celtics know Smart’s value, and will eventually insert him into the lineup as their starting point-guard.

Smart has great instincts, facilitates well, can drive and score almost at will, but won’t wow anyone with his athleticism. That said, I do believe he’ll be an impact player in this league for years to come.

 

TOP 30 SHOOTING GUARDS 

 

1 – James Harden – Houston Rockets (Andy Flint) Same

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I couldn’t pull the trigger on D-Wade, or Kobe Bryant for the number one overall two-guard in the league. Frankly, I don’t trust either one to crack the top three, because…

A) They’ve both fallen apart.

B) Some of these young guards have really stepped up to fill their shoes.

That being said, it’s James Harden for me. Defensive inefficiencies aside, Harden is better on offense than roughly 99% of the NBA. Harden’s game doesn’t just stop at scoring (which he’s very good at), but it also extends into play-making, which comes in handy when your starting point-guard is Patrick Beverley.

I could certainly take points off for Harden’s lack of defensive effort, but guys like Klay Thompson and DeMar DeRozan aren’t really much better.

2 – Klay Thompson – Golden State Warriors (Frank Santos) +2

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Here’s basically how Klay ends up #2 to me: He’s a better player than Dwyane Wade right now, period. We all have no idea what kind of Kobe Bryant we will see this season, and I think he is the best of the young guns between he, Beal, and DeRozen. He’s the best shooter, clearly, and I believe he is the best defender. Also, he is in the best situation with his current team who somehow convinced themselves he wasn’t worth trading for one of the league’s best 10 players.

Oh, and he will be happy soon enough once he cashes that max money contract he will inevitably receive.

3 – DeMar DeRozan – Toronto Raptors (Andy Flint) +5

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Note: I didn’t get to draft Klay or Beal, so I must state that I believe Beal is ten times the defender Klay is.

I had DeRozan ranked number two, and I’m glad to have him fall to me at number three. I give him a slight advantage over Wade and Beal, who I had ranked number three and four, respectively. Either way, DeMar DeRozan is here and he really looks like he’s ready to take flight as a star in this league.

4 – Kobe Bryant – Los Angeles Lakers (Frank Santos) -2

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I never doubt greatness. I could have taken Bradley Beal here, but something tells me Kobe is going to be in full-fledged FU mode to prove all of his doubters wrong. How many WINS that brings the Lakers? I am not sure, but don’t be surprised if Kobe drops 50 multiple times this upcoming season just to show you he is STILL Kobe Bryant.

Plus, I am just a little lower on Beal than most people, like our founder Jason Whitney, who would probably take Beal over Jordan in his prime.

5 – Dwyane Wade – Miami Heat (Andy Flint) -2

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Give me Wade over Kobe every day of the week. At least Wade’s managed to play the game recently. Kobe Bryant has officially reached Derrick Rose’ territory, and at his age, I’m not sure what he’s capable of doing when and if he comes back healthy.

Wade, on the other hand, scares me too. I had him just ahead of Beal, with Kobe at number five, and Klay Thompson at number six. Either way, I believe Santos and I are mostly on the same page.

6 – Bradley Beal – Washington Wizards (Frank Santos) +6

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Many people will probably think this is a bit low for him, as do I (I would have taken him ahead of Wade), but it really boils down to preference of the young guns. For me, Beal is just slightly inferior to both DeRozen and Thompson, which lands him out of the top five.

The question will be how do Beal and Wall grow together, and will they eventually clash with each other basketball wise. What I mean by that is as each grow their game, it may not be the type of growth tailored to playing with each other. Beal may develop his game to the point where he needs the ball more, and Wall’s magic is with the ball in his hands, especially in transition.

With the addition of Paul Pierce, the Wizards should be one of the more intriguing teams in the East this year.

7 – Lance Stephenson – Charlotte Hornets (Andy Flint) +4

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I’m glad to see Lance Stephenson get away from Indiana, and not because I dislike Indiana, but simply because I feel like it was a toxic situation between the top dawgs among the Pacers’ ranks (Stephenson, Paul George and Roy Hibbert). There always seemed to be some profound angst between the Pacers’ best players.

Lance in Charlotte is, not only a fresh start, but it’s a good fit, and this is why. Al Jefferson is their established alpha dog. Unlike Hibbert

8 – Monta Ellis – Dallas Mavericks (Frank Santos) -2

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I was surprised by myself as I typed this pick to Andy. I am not really a huge Monta Ellis guy, but his improvement last season is undeniable. Couple that with a slight drop-off in talent after this point, and Ellis seems like the logical pick here at 8. The criticism for Ellis has always been his inability to make teammates better, which in simpler terms… he’s a ball-hog. While that may never change long-term, he was certainly more of a facilitator last year than any other time in his career.

If he can learn to balance vintage Monta with the guy we saw last year consistently, I could talk myself into him being a couple of spots higher next year.

9 – Arron Afflalo – Denver Nuggets (Andy Flint) -4

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Afflalo came in at number four last season, and it’s not that he got any worse, it’s more that his peers improved. In fact, the two-guard seemed incredibly weak when we ranked them last year, but now with the rise of guys like Beal, Stephenson and DeRozan, somebody had to take a fall.

Also, I’m imagining that Afflalo will still be a good player now that he’s back in Denver, but with more mouths to feed, in terms of who gets the rock, I’d also imagine that Afflalo’s numbers will be on the decline from his Magic’ days.

10 – Joe Johnson – Brooklyn Nets (Frank Santos) -3

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Joe Johnson actually fell on this list from last year, but that is more so because of the performance of the players in front of him. I will repeat my analysis from last year: Just because Joe Johnson is overpaid does not mean he isn’t an extremely talented player still. He was also clearly the best player on a team who made the second round of the playoffs last year. GIVE JOE HIS DUE DAMNIT. /end rant

11 – Tony Allen – Memphis Grizzlies (Andy Flint) +N/A

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It makes me sick to my stomach to scroll through last year’s draft and realize that Santos and I made a huge blunder by leaving Allen off of our list.

The most rugged on-the-ball defender in the league. A true beast by every definition of the word. Allen is the heart and soul of the Memphis Grizzlies defense.

12 – Jimmy Butler – Chicago Bulls (Frank Santos) +10

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I love me some Jimmy Butler. It’s going to make me extremely sad when he has to retire in 2016 because Thibs plays him 92 minutes a game. The best part about Butler is that even in playing all of those minutes, he rarely seems tired on the court, and he brings an intensity many players in the league simply lack.

If he can manage to improve his shooting even marginally, and develop a go-to offensive move, he can be one of the premier shooting guards in the league. Hopefully the newest return of Derrick Rose will help him in that capacity.

13 – Kevin Martin – Minnesota Timberwolves (Andy Flint) +N/A

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Kevin Martin is another guy who you see has an increase of Not Available. This wasn’t so much because we forgot him last season, as we did Tony Allen, but because we used Martin as a small-forward. I cannot recall who possessed us to do so, but that is where he landed.

Martin is probably past his days of attempting to lead the league in both free throws and three pointers made, but he’s still effective, and can still put the rock in the cup. Although, he’ll have both Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine vying for minutes behind him.

14 – Eric Gordon – New Orleans Pelicans (Frank Santos) -4

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/looks around

Wow… this bandwagon looks pretty empty. You guys don’t believe in Eric Gordon anymore?! Why not? It’s not like I can’t remember the last time he played a full seas–

Oh. Right…

Can I take this pick back? No?

Okay then, I still believe Eric, I still believe!

15 – Victor Oladipo – Orlando Magic (Andy Flint) +2

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Kudos to Santos’ entire rant about Eric Gordon. He’s likely to be my “which player was taken too high” answer.

Oladipo, on the other hand, is probably going to make great strides this year, for a few different reasons.

A) He has a season under his belt, which means a better understanding of the game, improved shooting, and being conditioned to the riggers of playing 82 NBA games.

B) The Magic drafted point-guard, Elfrid Payton, who when combined Luke Ridnour, should take the pressures of handling the ball off of Vic.

C) No Arron Afflalo around to share time with as a wing scorer. The means Oladipo stands to see more space and opportunity, while on the floor.

16 – Kyle Korver – Atlanta Hawks (Frank Santos) +11

Andy has what we call White Boy Syndrome, which basically means even though he’s white, he doesn’t think white boys can ball. Thus,  I had to take the white boys off the board quickly.

Kyle Korver may be the best specialist in the entire league, not just 3-point specialist, I am talking any player that is in the league because they have a niche (rebounding, defense etc.) For that reason, I see him as more valuable than anybody left on this list, and worthy of his spot here at 16.

17 – Tyreke Evans – New Orleans Pelicans (Andy Flint) +1

I’d love to see the Pelicans get a brain and finally move Reke back to playing the two, exclusively, but with bums like Eric Gordon eating up roster and cap space, Tyreke is sentenced to life at the small-forward position, despite being far more valuable as a two-guard.

18 – J.J. Redick – Los Angeles Clippers (Frank Santos) +6

Give me all the white boys!!!

J.J Redick is very undervalued, and I thought some people at least started to reconsider their opinion on him once he went down last season with the Clippers. He’s a guy we thought would be a specialist in the league, but has proven to be just a bit more.

19 – Wesley Matthews – Portland Trail Blazers (Andy Flint) -3

Above average defender. Above average jump shooter. Seems like a solid wing in the Trail Blazers system. I don’t love Matthews, but I do understand his value, as convincing some players around the association to play defense (James Harden), or learn to nail-down a consistent jumper (Tyreke Evans), seems like pulling teeth. Wesley Matthews does both of these things. He’s one of those guys who will go out and put in steady work, and I can live with that.

20 – Giannis Antetokounmpo – Milwaukee Bucks (Frank Santos) +N/A

There was no way I was leaving this draft without taking the Greek Freak. Just wasn’t going to happen. I fell into YTL before he even played a game (that’s YouTube Love, for those of you scoring at home), and his play during the season only made our sportsmance that more passionate.

Then you throw in that he’s still growing, literally STILL GROWING PEOPLE, and yeah, he’s gonna be a problem.

21 – Jamal Crawford – Los Angeles Clippers (Andy Flint) -12

Frank does his best to lobby for Crawford in the post below, and I must agree. I think Crawford should fall somewhere between 16-20. I guess 21 isn’t too far off, but yes, Jamal is probably better than four or five guys ranked ahead of him.

22 – Dion Waiters – Cleveland Cavaliers (Frank Santos) -8

We did my man Jamal Crawford straight dirty by having him all the way at 21. Then again, if Jamal Crawford was doing this draft, he’d be #1 without debate, so maybe we are just taking him too low to even it out.

Dion Waiters is basically Jamal Crawford, just not as good at it yet. Don’t worry young Dion, it took Crawford a while to master his craft too. Plus, you’re playing with the best player on earth now, so that will probably help. Waiters may realize his destiny of coming off the bench as a sixth man, putting up 10 shots in 8 minutes after all. I’m irrationally excited about this reality.

23 – Manu Ginobili – San Antonio Spurs (Andy Flint) -8

It’s almost sad to think of Manu as being only the 23rd best player at the shooting-guard position, but facts are facts, and Manu’s game is a long ways from where it was between 2004-2011, when he was considered to be one of the best players in the game.

I still have respect for his game, and I’d take him in a playoff series, but unfortunately he just doesn’t impact the game the same way these days.

Props on a great career, Manu,

Sincerely, a big fan.

24 – Gerald Green – Phoenix Suns (Frank Santos) +1

Unfortunately, I think the Gerald Green we saw last season may be the best we ever see again. That happens at times; guys go crazy for whatever reason (typically a contract year) and then can never duplicate that performance. However, he is a player, who despite certainly not being one of the top 20 players in the league, I would pay to watch play.

25 – Avery Bradley – Boston Celtics (Andy Flint) -5

Is this guy ever going to explode and show us his true potential? The answer is yes and no. Yes in the sense that it’s already happened. No in the sense that there was no real explosion. Bradley was the flavor of the month for about, well, a month. I do believe he has an effective game, but he’s no star.

26 – Gerald Henderson – Charlotte Hornets (Frank Santos) -7

He is what he is, plain and simple. A good, not great, reliable shooter, and ideally a bench guy. I really like his role potentially with Lance Stephenson in Charlotte now taking over the starting role.

27 – Tim Hardaway Jr. – New York Knicks (Andy Flint) +N/A

I’m a Timmy Jr. fan, and I believe he’s already become a better asset than Iman Shumpert. Shump has a little of what I was saying about Avery Bradley in him, and I just do not feel like he’s lived up to the anticipated hype in NY.

Hardaway has the ability shoot the J, while also losing nothing in the athleticism department.

28 – Iman Shumpert – New York Knicks (Frank Santos) +N/A

I thought it made sense that Shumpert and Hardaway Jr. went back to back here, as they seem like comparable competition with each other in New York. I think people have started to sour on Shump for no reason, and he may surprise people under Derek Fisher.

That’s more of a gut feeling than anything else. Plus, it’s not like I am not selecting anyone ridiculously good behind him…

29 – Danny Green – San Antonio Spurs (Andy Flint) -4

Danny Green is a decent spot-up jump-shooter and defender. He’s the type of guy who lives for the big moment, but I won’t hold my breath on him putting something together for an entire season. Fortunately, he’ll get another crack at drilling big shots during the post-season, as the Spurs aren’t going anywhere yet.

30 – Jodie Meeks – Detroit Pistons (Frank Santos) +N/A

Shooters will always shoot. It’s just too bad they don’t usually make a lot of mone—

HOLD UP, JODIE MEEKS GOT HOW MUCH?! I’m not knocking the hustle, Jodie. Not one bit. I’m just saying if you’re an NBA player, or an aspiring NBA player and you aren’t jacking up 1,000 3’s a day now, then you’re not doing it right.

TOP 30 SMALL FORWARDS

1 – LeBron James – Cleveland Cavaliers (Frank Santos) Same

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I thought about taking Kevin Dur— no I didn’t. The King is still the King. Shout out to all you LeBron haters. You keep telling me he’s “not clutch” or whatever while you miss out on watching one of the greatest players of all-time objectively.

2 – Kevin Durant – Oklahoma City Thunder (Andy Flint) Same

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This would have been the point where I formally stepped out had Santos taken KD with the number one overall selection. That’s just bad practice!

Anyways, not only is Kevin Durant the second best small-forward in the league, but he’s also the second best player running around the association. These are facts. I’m simply here to let you all know.

3 – Carmelo Anthony – New York Knicks (Frank Santos) +1

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I probably would take Paul George here pre-injury, but the fact George won’t be with us this season makes this an easy pick to me. Melo will be one of the more interesting story-lines this season for me. If he can’t succeed under Phil Jackson in a less than stellar, and wide open Eastern Conference, we may have to start re-evaluating whether he fits the “superstar” mold we anointed him with so long ago.

4 – Paul George – Indiana Pacers (Andy Flint) -1

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I won’t lie, taking Paul George here was a little hard. Not because PG13 hasn’t proven himself to be one of the NBA’s true talents, but because his leg went all Kevin Ware on him over the Summer, and let’s face it, we’re a society that clamors over “what have you done for me lately” rather than taking a second to rub a few sticks together and form a sound opinion, based off of facts.

These facts are relatively easy to figure out. Minus the gruesome leg injury, Paul George has become a legit superstar across this league.

I’d also like to point out that I also had him ranked third in this draft prior to the injury, but I agree with Melo subbing in at number three.

5 – Luol Deng – Miami Heat (Frank Santos) +1

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As Andy will tell you, my plan for half the league this off-season was as follows: SIGN LUOL DENG.

The Miami Heat were the only team that listened. Deng will play a bigger role for the Heat than he may have played for any team in his past, and I think he is up for the task. His response to the controversy involving the scouting report about him to the Atlanta Hawks is exactly why Deng is the kind of guy you want in your locker room.

Combine that with the overall mediocrity and/or disappointments of the small forward list following George and I take the always consistent/reliable Deng here at 5 every time.

6 – Andre Iguodala – Golden State Warriors (Andy Flint) -1

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Frank tells no lies when speaking of his plans for Luol Deng to play for all 30 NBA teams next season. Frank can find a role for Deng in any organization, and I personally cannot disagree. Deng is the definition of a “do it all” type talent. He won’t consistently dump 30 on you a night, but he will rebound, pass, play defense and put the ball in the cup enough that you’ll never call him an offensive liability.

Iguodala is essentially Luol Deng. I believe both players have their own, unique way of playing the game, but both tend to get the same results. They do the dirty work, and Iggy’s fit with the Warriors is exactly what the doctor ordered. If ever there were a role that was built with a guy like Andre Iguodala in mind, it was playing basketball with Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.

7 – Kwahi Leonard – San Antonio Spurs (Frank Santos) +4

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Kawhi is a bad man. As soon as Duncan, Parker and Ginobili ride off into the sunset and hand this team over to him, he will be at least three spots higher on this list. However, that day has not come yet, and one of the things that makes Leonard so valuable is his willingness to play a smaller role for now while the aforementioned Hall of Fame trio show him the ropes.

8 – Chandler Parsons – Dallas Mavericks (Andy Flint) +2

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Parsons still has to prove it to me. I know what you’re thinking… “But, dude, you selected him in the top 10. Why do that if he still has to prove it?”. Well, that’s actually quite simple. It’s because, while I do still believe Parsons needs to earn being the eighth best SF in the league, I also believe that he’ll do it. This kid has a ton of athleticism, shooting skill, and an overall drive that really makes me believe that he can be truly special.

Did I mention that Chandler is 6-10? I’m not sure if you guys realize just how big he is. He moves around like a guy who stands 6-6 would. Yep, nope. 6-10!

9 – Rudy Gay – Sacramento Kings (Frank Santos) Same

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Rudy Gay is someone I still have no grip on, and I feel like Grizzlie/Raptor/King fans know what I am talking about. Plagued by inconsistency and overall bad decision making, it is hard to really place Gay anywhere on this list. Some nights he can certainly be among the elite, and others taking him at 9 feels like a complete reach. In the end, I think he is far more talented than the people behind him, and I hope he has truly found a home in Sacramento.

10 – Gordon Hayward – Utah Jazz (Andy Flint) -3

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By now, if you’ve been reading our other drafts, you’ll start to notice a theme. That theme being that Frank constantly accuses me of having “white guy syndrome”, which by his definition, means that I don’t prefer white basketball players. I’m here to let you know that, while it’s he’s totally right (White Men Can’t Jump!), the score, so far, is 2-0, and I’m firmly leading the race.

But, yeah, Gordon Hayward can ball, and the Utah Jazz realized that by matching an offer sheet from the Hornets, that will earn Hayward roughly $15 million per season, for the next few years.

11 – Trevor Ariza – Houston Rockets (Frank Santos) +7

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The fact Flint took two white boys blew my mind. This is such a big step for him.

If I remember correctly, Flint here said I reached for Ariza last year, and he went out and showed why he can be so valuable on one of the better stories in the league last year that was the Washington Wizards. And then he went out on the free agent market and got PAID. Props to you Trevor: A guy who knows what he is good at on the court and sticks to that.

I expect him to be a great fit with the Rockets, possibly even better than Chandler Parsons was.

12 – Nicolas Batum – Portland Trail Blazers (Andy Flint) -4

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Batum falls under the category of great defender, and his effort on that side of the ball, alone, is nearly enough to land him somewhere between 11 and 20. But the fun doesn’t just end at defense. Batum can drill the deep ball, which is a must when playing with guys like Lillard and LaMarcus Aldrige. Batum put the ball in the cup nearly two times (.361%) per game last season from beyond the arc.

13 – Jeff Green – Boston Celtics (Frank Santos) +1

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Jeff Green at 13 is more of a indictment on the rest of this group than it is a compliment to him. Take what I said about Rudy Gay, and then just realize that Green just isn’t as talented. When you are Rudy Gay talented and inconsistent, people will take a chance on you. When you are 70% of that and inconsistent like Green is, your chances may start to come few and far between.

Expect Green to get traded at some point this season as Boston looks to transition to a younger core, and hopefully the change of scenery may do him some good.

14 – Paul Pierce – Washington Wizards (Andy Flint) +1

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Pierce was NOT the Paul Pierce I grew up watching, last season. In fact, Pierce only managed 13.5 points per game in his first and only season with the Brooklyn Nets, which was a career low (16.5 ppg as a rookie) for the 10X NBA All-Star.

The bottom line is, I expect MUCH better basketball from the former NBA Champ now that he’s found himself a young, competitive team to make one last run with. And if you don’t believe that Washington has a shot, keep that to yourself around Paul, because he just may poke your eyes out. Ask Joakim Noah.

15 – Danilo Gallinari – Denver Nuggets (Frank Santos) +2

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Just a complete shot in the dark on Gallinari here. He is the wildcard of this entire draft to me. This seems like the highest you could realistically take him, and hey, I love Gallo.

He just needs to ya know, actually play basketball.

16 – Tobias Harris – Orlando Magic (Andy Flint) -3

Perhaps it’s the fact that I like the Orlando Magic. Maybe it’s Harris’ ability to just flat-out be effective when on the floor, but this kid can play, and at merely 22-years old, expect to see a break-out season from the combo-forward, who appears to be healthy and in better shape, heading into 2014-15.

17 – Jabari Parker – Milwaukee Bucks (Frank Santos) +N/A

I am on record as being a Wiggins over Parker guy. However, as far as immediate impact, Parker will be the winner in that department. He is going to play a TON of minutes for the Bucks, who are officially the most entertaining bad team in the league for me.

I foresee myself watching more Bucks games than I probably should be, with Parker and the Greek Freak being to blame.

18 – Shawn Marion – Cleveland Cavaliers (Andy Flint) +4

I’d like to echo Frank, by saying that I too am Wiggins over Parker, but also agree with Parker at 18, and ahead of Andrew Wiggins.

On to Shawn Marion. This guys will be a staple for the Cavs from off the bench. Expect defense, heart, and a great lockerroom guy. You just can’t bet against The Matrix.

19 – Matt Barnes – Los Angeles Clippers (Frank Santos) +N/A

At this point, all these guys are the same blend of mediocre. You could argue that Barnes should be 28, and make a realistic case. For me, he is simply the most proven guy and you know what you are getting from him night-in and night-out; some tough defense and probably instigating a fight.

Throw in his improved three-point shooting, and he seemed like the most logical pick.

20 – Nick Young – Los Angeles Lakers (Andy Flint) +5

The self-proclaimed best player on planet Earth, baby! Swaggy P gets buckets, while managing to not exhaust too much energy on the defensive end of the floor, because, hey, James Harden has to be someone’s role model.

All jokes aside, Nick Young can give any team around the league a nice boost as a volume scorer.

21 – Corey Brewer – Minnesota Timberwolves (Frank Santos) +N/A

I will give Corey Brewer credit: he was supposed to essentially a defensive specialist, and many people had already thrown him in that category. However, he transformed his game and became a dependable offensive threat on the break. Brewer will be one of the major losers with the departure of Kevin Love, as he was the recipient of many of those famous Love outlet passes. Also, he figures to lose at least some minutes to Andrew Wiggins.

22 – Michael Kidd-Glichrist – Charlotte Hornets (Andy Flint) +4

If you still believe in Kidd-Gilchrist, are located in the Charlotte area and are currently looking for the only other person still aboard the MKG bandwagon, the good news is, I’m here. The bad news is I live in New York, so we probably can’t hang out and talk about how great Kidd-Gilchrist is going to be in three years.

I probably won’t ever live it down when it’s determined that MKG is a career second man off the bench, but I do see enough under the surface to choose him here with confidence in my choice.

23 – Andrei Kirilenko – Brooklyn Nets (Frank Santos) +N/A

Homer pick? I didn’t think so, but then Flint said AK-47 wasn’t even on his list. One of those guys that stats simply don’t do justice. Plays with intensity when he’s healthy enough to be on the floor. Obviously, his best days are in his past, but I would still take him over the guys we have left..

24 – P.J. Tucker – Phoenix Suns (Andy Flint) +N/A

It’s easy to overlook what Tucker brings to the Suns. After all, they do have talented guys like Eric Bledsoe, Goran Dragic, the Morris twins and Isaiah Thomas, but P.J. Tucker was a solid starter for the Suns last season, and I expect the way he leads with defense to be contagious, as the Suns aim to actually make playoffs this season.

25 – Wilson Chandler – Denver Nuggets (Frank Santos) -5

I am still not sure what position Chandler plays, and he looked lost in Denver last season for that reason. He is an over-sized shooting guard or an under-sized small forward. Take your pick. Oh, and defense is optional…

26 – Andrew Wiggins – Minnesota Timberwolves (Andy Flint) +N/A

I have some high hopes for the Canadian born Andrew Wiggins, as he begins his NBA adventure on a young team, with plenty of room for Wiggins to grab the reigns and lead with his play.

I don’t expect Wiggins to win rookie of the year, but I do expect him to eventually become the best player from the 2014 NBA Draft. He’ll ease into stardom, as his offensive game is still pretty raw, but give him a few seasons, and be prepared to marvel at his overall talent.

27 – Harrison Barnes – Golden State Warriors (Frank Santos) -8

Some real regression from Barnes last season was troubling; one of the bigger loses of the Iguodala addition. Still obviously has potential to turn it around, but Iggy ain’t going anywhere either and I am just not sure where he fits with the arrival of Steve Kerr.

28 – Vince Carter – Memphis Grizzlies (Andy Flint) +5

Carter is slightly better than Tayshaun Prince, in my book. I also like the fact that VC ended up in Memphis, where he can give the Grizzlies something they’ve lacked since parting ways with Rudy Gay… A scorer. VC may be 37-years old, and lack the explosive leaping of his youth, but Carter has put in a nice amount of work to become a successful shooter. He fills the cup at roughly 40% from deep, and should provide the Grizzlies with a late-game scoring option.

29 – Tayshaun Prince – Memphis Grizzlies (Frank Santos) +N/A

This is just me saying Tayshaun Prince is better than Otto Porter Jr… nothing more.

30 – Otto Porter Jr. – Washington Wizards (Andy Flint) +N/A

Ehhh. It was Porter Jr. or Maurice Harkless at number 30. I almost feel like it didn’t matter who I took here. However, Porter was impressive during Summer League, and I suppose we’ll see if this high draft pick can make strides in 2014-15.

TOP 30 POWER FOWARDS

1 – Blake Griffin – Los Angeles Clippers (Andy Flint) +2

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Last year I took LaMarcus Aldridge with the second pick, and stated that I would have taken him first overall, because, simply put, LMA is a bad, bad man. But, Blake Griffin has also become a bad, bad man, and his 2013-14 campaign really opened up my eyes.

Blake put on his big boy pants last season and led the Clippers to a 13-6 record, while Chris Paul missed time with a Grade 3 AC joint separation.

If you would have asked me what I thought of Blake, heading into last season, I would have explained that he was a talented leaper, who will always find a way to score, being that he’s one of the most athletic players at his position. I honestly felt like it ended there, but Blake surprised me, by expanding his all-around game last season.

2 – LaMarcus Aldridge – Portland Trail Blazers  (Frank Santos) Same

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These top five guys are all so close, it really comes down to personal preference, and what you are looking for in a power forward. If it were my pick, I would have taken Aldridge #1, but Blake’s game has grown so much, its hard to argue against him.

I think there is a misconception we need to clear up. LaMarcus Aldridge is NOT a “stretch 4”. He has an excellent post game, so his talent is not strictly in the mid-range. However, that mid-range game is by far the best of his peers in this group. Aldridge is simply unstoppable when he is on his game.

You are probably expecting me to say that last years playoffs were LMA’s “coming out party”, but he’s been low-key killing dudes for years now; most people just don’t notice because he plays in Portland at 2AM EST.

3 – Anthony Davis – New Orleans Pelicans (Andy Flint) +3

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I was really on the fence with this pick, as I obviously had Kevin Love on my mind a bit. This isn’t a slight against Love, but rather me praising Davis for his ability and what I believe he is turning into. The polished offense we all heard about when Davis was drafted back in 2012 is starting to show its face, while his defensive prowess is years ahead of most players in this league.

I believe Davis will be the top dog in this list next season.

4 – Kevin Love – Cleveland Cavaliers (Frank Santos) -3

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First off, #BowToTheBrow, but I was quite shocked that Flint took him over Kevin Love, who we appear to be quite low on. Before the season started last year, I think Love was the popular consensus for the #1 pick on this list. Part of his drop has simply been the performance of his peers, but I think Love’s game has taken a serious PR hit. He now has what I call “Carmelo Anthony Syndrome”, where people don’t deny your talent, but throw that question around of “does he make his teammates better?”

Obviously, that has all changed now, as Love is about to be playing alongside LeBron James, and won’t need to be the alpha dog anymore. However, we are about to see how Love adjusts to now being the third option on a championship contender as opposed to the first, second, and third option on a team lucky to hit .500. Love should have been watching Chris Bosh film all off-season, as he should expect to play a very similar role for the Cavs this season.

5 – Chris Bosh – Miami Heat (Andy Flint) Same

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Much to the surprise of most of you haters, Chris Bosh is still a top-tier talent in this league. I understand that Bosh is everyone’s favorite player to hate, but the dude has skill, and the Miami Heat will only go as far as Bosh’s skill can lead them, because Dwyane Wade (and his knees) are done.

6 – Tim Duncan – San Antonio Spurs (Frank Santos) +1

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Do I need to really tell you about the Big Fundamental? He’s a Hall of Famer who somehow has told Father Time to sit down and shut up while Timmy does his work.

I usually don’t resort to this argument, but… Count The Rings.

7 – Dirk Nowitzki – Dallas Mavericks (Andy Flint) -3

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You can say a lot of the same things about Dirk that Santos just said about Timmy D. Storied NBA career. Dirk is the top European player to ever lace ’em up in the NBA, and at the tender age of 36, you can still count on The Germanator to average somewhere around 20 ppg, while leading his team to the playoffs.

8 – Serge Ibaka – Oklahoma City Thunder (Frank Santos) +6

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I can’t believe we drafted Ibaka 14th last year; that seems far too low. Ibaka is by far the best defender on this list, at least for now (I think The Brow can enter the conversation this year), and he has carved out a role in the OKC offense that many didn’t believe he could, even stretching out to the three-point line.

As Dirk and Duncan age another year, I expect Ibaka to leap over them this time next year if he continues his progression this year.

9 – Zach Randolph – Memphis Grizzlies (Andy Flint) -1

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Zebo! Heart, grit, determination. And all of that came from one Google search for Zach Randolph.

All joking aside, name five players who leave it out on the floor the way Zebo does. This guy pours everything he has into the game, and it shows, as you can never count Memphis out.

Randolph may be the best below the rim player at his position, but don’t let the lack of athleticism fool you. Zach is tough as nails, and if you get in his grill, you may have a boxing match on your hands. Randolph embodies bully-ball, whether it be hard play in the paint, or sheer intimidation.

10 – Pau Gasol – Chicago Bulls (Frank Santos) -1

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Fact: Pau Gasol, in an age of overly sensitive basketball players, may be the most sensitive player in the league.

Fact: Pau Gasol is still underrated as hell, and you guys need to stop sleeping on him.

Fact: Pau Gasol will play an important role in the Bulls run to the #2 seed, and possibly the NBA Finals for the Chicago Bulls.

Fact: I picked the Bulls to make the Finals last year too, and that didn’t go so well for me.

11 – Paul Millsap – Atlanta Hawks (Andy Flint) +1

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It’s about that time where I start to ask Paul Millsap what he’s actually worth. I like the guy and I like what he can do out on the hardwood, but It’d be nice to see a greater overall impact from him.

If you’ve been reading Frank and I’s drafts over the past few weeks, you’ve probably caught on to the fact that, while I love guys who impact the stat sheet, I also need to see the big moments, and much like I rode Ty Lawson for lacking these moments, I’ll ride Millsap for never seeing any from him either. Perhaps Jeff Teague can loan Paul some of the ice water he has flowing through his veins.

12 – David West – Indiana Pacers (Frank Santos) -1

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Andy says I am way too high on West, and thinks this is a reach. I don’t see it that way (obviously), as West is the one constant that keeps the Pacers afloat. It got so bad for the Pacers last year during the playoffs that West literally had to put the team on his back OFFENSIVELY to get them past the Atlanta Hawks. And he did, because he’s David West and if he wants something, he will bully his way there.

West has high basketball IQ, toughness, and is a great defender. What’s not to like?

PS I would have taken him over Millsap too, and I have a legitimate basketball crush on Paul Millsap.

13 – Greg Monroe – Detroit Pistons (Andy Flint) +2

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To be clear, I don’t hate David West or anything, and no, Frank didn’t claim that I do. I just know how your minds tend to work. I just don’t believe he’s top 15.

Greg Monroe on the other hand, has some real potential to be a huge impact for any team. Although, much like Paul Milsap, I need to see more of those big moments. I want to see Monroe’s 15 and 9 develop into 18 and 10, and I want to see his play translate into wins.

14 – David Lee – Golden State Warriors (Frank Santos) -4

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Lee was one of the losers of the Andre Iguodala addition to the Warriors last year, which explains his slight fall on this list. Then you combine that he can never seem to stay healthy, and that his defense continues to leave much to be desired, and 14 seems like a good home for him.

15 – Kenneth Faried – Denver Nuggets (Andy Flint) +4

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Faried is a dude that I’ve been highly critical of, but the skill is there, and I fully expect to see him have a breakout year in 2014-15.

His play-style fits this Nuggets’ team well, and the addition of a true shooting threat in Arron Afflalo should make it a bit easier on everyone, but particularly for Faried, who should suddenly find more space to move, as the floor will spread more for the Nuggets this season.

16 – Nene Hilario – Washington Wizards (Frank Santos) +9

Nene and Marcin Gortat were like those cousins that share the same birthday week: they just decided to have their coming out party at the same time to make things easier for us. We appreciate that, guys.

It has never been a question of talent for Nene, but rather consistency, and staying on the court. He still has issues with both, but certainly made strides last season, enough to earn him the biggest leap on this list.

17 – Josh Smith – Detroit Pistons (Andy Flint) -1

How the mighty have fallen. Could you have pictured Josh Smith not being in the top 10 or top 15 two years ago? Me neither. I always said that Smith needs to do a bit more, but I never imagined he’d become the third best player on his team. But that seems to be the case now with the arrival of both Monroe and Andre Drummond.

I wonder if Stan Van Gundy can find a way to squeeze the sponge and revive Smoove’s career?

18 – Thaddeus Young – Minnesota Timberwolves (Frank Santos) +N/A

You’ll notice we didn’t draft Thad Young last season… that’s because last season he was a small forward. Did we convert Thad to a power forward because that is the position he will play for the T’Wolves, and NOT because we forgot to draft him in the small forward draft?

Sure, we will go with that.

19 – Derrick Favors – Utah Jazz (Andy Flint) -2

Young kid still trying to figure out the league and the tremendous size and athleticism he possesses, or career 14 and 8 player? Listen, either way, Favors will find a job, but this kid has the size and tools to be a great big man. I just hope he realizes it soon.

Note: Favors is just 23-years old still. Seems like he’s been in the league for 8 seasons.

20 – Taj Gibson – Chicago Bulls (Frank Santos) +8

Poor Taj Gibson, man. He FINALLY gets Carlos Boozer out of town and thinks he is going to get the starting role he has long since earned, and what do the Bulls do? They bring in Pau Gasol, and now Gibson is relegated back to his backup role.

Taj Gibson should be a starter in this league, but them be the breaks, kid. I expect Gibson to perform at a high level once again, and be in contention for Sixth Man of the Year.

21 – Carlos Boozer – Los Angeles Lakers (Andy Flint) -8

Washed up? Boozer’s on the back nine, and getting away from one of the league’s top defensive teams will probably expose exactly how close he  is to sitting up at the clubhouse, enjoying dollar hotdogs and drinking whiskey sours.

The fact that he’ll have the young Julius Randle waiting to tee off behind him won’t make things any easier for the 32-year old. Doesn’t it seem like just yesterday Boozer was a 20 and 10 guy around the association?

22 – Tristan Thompson – Cleveland Cavaliers (Frank Santos) -2

I am very curious where Tristan Thompson fits into the Cavs new look. Playing him at center instead of Anderson Verejao is an option, but the Love/Thompson front-line isn’t exactly a defensive juggernaut.

However, Thompson should be able to find some easy buckets in transition with LeBron and Kyrie running the break. He has the potential to be one of the big winners of LeBron coming to Cleveland. Let’s see if he can capitalize.

23 – Channing Frye – Orlando Magic (Andy Flint) +N/A

Frye is a career small-forward, who isn’t graceful or quick enough to play the three, thus forcing him to be a power-forward. Good thing for Channing, the NBA loves stretch-forwards, who shoot a ton, and are generally unfazed by the concept of having to play defense.

However, as a Magic fan, this is the part where I say that I’m in love with him arriving in Orlando… yeah, let’s go with that.

24 – Luis Scola – Indiana Pacers (Frank Santos) -3

I don’t even want to talk about Luis Scola.

I just want to have a moment of silence for the 2014-2015 Indiana Pacers. We hardly knew you. Enjoy the couch while watching the playoffs.

25 – Jared Sullinger – Boston Celtics (Andy Flint) +1

22-years old and already making some impact on the block. I do like Sully as a throwback type of PF, but Boston is at a funny crossroads and I’m unsure where Jared fits in the long run. Perhaps he’ll end up being their longterm option at the four, but who knows with Boston anymore.

26 – Amir Johnson – Toronto Raptors (Frank Santos) -2

I feel like Amir Johnson has just found a great fit with the Raptors, and the role he plays is exactly what the Raptors need him too. In another situation, I am not sure if Johnson even sniffs this draft, but with the Raptors, he is clearly a starting caliber power forward in this league.

27 – Ryan Anderson – New Orleans Pelicans (Andy Flint) -9

I feel like Ryan Anderson was coming into his own and had found a solid home in The Big Easy, but he got injured, and then he found his girlfriend dead from a suicide. Ugh.. AWFUL!

Hopefully Ryan can turn it around and bounce-back in 2014-15. The tools are there.

28 – Kevin Garnett – Brooklyn Nets (Frank Santos) -5

Andy didn’t even have KG on his list… The Hate Is Real.

Okay, yeah its a homer pick. So what? For some reason, I feel like KG is going to go out with a bang in what is presumably his last season in the league.

29 – Kelly Olynyk – Boston Celtics (Andy Flint) +N/A

KG is trash. I’ve always wanted to say that, because I truly dislike the guy, but I had to keep it real, and the truth is, Kevn Garnett is one of the best to ever play this game. That being said, he’s not good anymore and I didn’t have him ranked inside the top 30.

Oh.. Kelly Olynyk. Yeah, he’s okay. Perhaps it will be him as the longterm fix in Boston and not Sully. Who really knows?

30 – Markieff Morris – Phoenix Suns (Frank Santos) +N/A

Markeiff is the good twin, right? Don’t look at me like you can tell them apart. You can’t.

 

TOP 30 CENTERS

1 – Dwight Howard – Houston Rockets (Frank Santos) Same

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I think we have gotten to the point with Dwight Howard where he was overrated, and now it has swung the other way. Now, everyone yells Dwight Howard is overrated to the point where he is underrated, and I still think he holds the crown as best center in the league.

I foresee a big season from D12 and the Rockets now that they have had time to adjust to each other. We may even see James Harden play something that resembles defense.

2 – DeMarcus Cousins – Sacramento Kings (Andy Flint) +1

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I had Boogie ahead of Howard this year, and of course, Frank acted disgusted, probably rolled his eyes, and then snapchatted with anyone who would listen, just so he could explain how terrible I am.

I just like DeMarcus Cousins. He does with ease what others his size struggle to even imagine on the court. He’s graceful, powerful, athletic, and mega-talented. He’s easily the best offensive center in the game right now. The ONLY issue with Boogie is his attitude. I truly believe we’ll see a more mature Cousins this season, after spending valuable minutes with Team USA this Summer.

3 – Joakim Noah – Chicago Bulls (Frank Santos) +1

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One day I need DeMarcus Cousins and Russell Westbrook on the same team just to see if Andy decides to abandon his family to travel the country with them for 82 games.

Remember when I said that Dwight Howard is underrated and everybody hates on him? Well, I may be a bit of a hypocrite who got caught up in Noah’s brilliance last season and said he was better than Howard. That doesn’t mean Noah’s 2013-2014 campaign wasn’t anything short of brilliant (that is before Marcin Gortat and NeNe took him to school in the playoffs), but he just has offensive limitations that make it hard to take him over Dwight.

Then again, I think Boogie has too many mental limitations to take him over Noah, so there’s that.

4 – Marc Gasol – Memphis Grizzlies (Andy Flint) -2

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Ha! Santos has a way with words. Always sitting on his high-horse. I recall a similar disgust with my taking Dwight Howard number one overall last season, but that’s none of my business.

As for Marc Gasol. He was a guy I really took a long look at for the number one overall pick last season, but fourth just feels very right for him this year. Not that he was bad last season, but missed time, and the Grizz only managed the seven seed in a tough, tough, tough western conference. It’s the post-Lakers Howard stepping up in Houston, the brilliant season from Noah, and the development with Cousins that really contributed to Gasol dropping from two to four in this draft.

5 – Al Jefferson – Charlotte Hornets (Frank Santos) +3

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Having to defend Al Jefferson for 40+ minutes has to be one of the worst propositions in all of the league right now. Every time I think I have seen every move in Big Al’s arsenal, he breaks out a new one. It’s truly a pleasure to watch him work on the block, and his throwback style in the post is refreshing.

He has slowly morphed into a competent defender as well. Not good, but he isn’t the James Harden of centers, either. That wasn’t always the case, so salute to Big Al there.

6 – Andre Drummond – Detroit Pistons (Andy Flint) +3

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I believe that Drummond is already one of the best defensive anchors in the league. His long, athletic frame stops players from driving to the lane, while his ability to use strength and athleticism on offense has really put him a step or two ahead of where I figured he’d be.

I look for Drummond to continue to improve under Stan Van Gundy. Hopefully the Pistons will figure out what to do with either Josh Smith or Greg Monroe. This team needs to swap one of those two players for a reliable wing scorer.

7 – Al Horford – Atlanta Hawks (Frank Santos) -2

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In typical fashion, I haven’t agreed with a single pick Andy has made yet. That’s just the kind of relationship we have. I especially think he may have been high on bath salts when he decided that Andre Drummond was better than Al Horford.

We have discussed this phenomenon in the past, but there is something about a guy going down with an injury that makes us forget him. In sports, there really a mixed  cocktail of “what have you done for me lately” and “out of sight, out of mind” mindset. I didn’t forget you, Al. I didn’t forget how the Hawks went from the 3rd best team in the East to only sniffing the playoffs because the East is so putrid because of you, Al. Keep your head up, let the hate breed a 22-10 season.

8 – DeAndre Jordan – Los Angeles Clippers (Andy Flint) +3

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Look, I like Al Horford as much as the next guy, but when you only crack 30+ games once in three seasons, I tend to become worried.

As for DeAndre Jordan, I had him above Horford as well. This game is all about “what have you done for me lately”, and lately, the Clippers have benefited more from Jordan than ATL has from Horford. Jordan has a different game from Drummond, but generally garners similar results. Both players are tremendous on defensive, long, and athletic. I have a special bias towards guys who protect the rim, and DeAndre Jordan is one of the league’s best.

9 – Brook Lopez – Brooklyn Nets (Frank Santos) -2

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If Brook Lopez has a healthy right foot, he is at least three spots higher on this list. For a long time, many thought that Brook Lopez was the most talented offensive center in the league. I was on that bandwagon as well, but it’s a tough argument to make in a league that also employs the aforementioned Al Jefferson.

I am just rooting for Lopez to stay healthy since as a Nets fan, he is my favorite player to watch. I think 9 is an appropriate spot for him, as there is a slight drop-off in talent after this, but I also understand that his injury history may have some see this as a reach. I would go into detail about how the whole “Brook Lopez doesn’t rebound” is a stupid argument, but we are trying to keep these write-ups reasonable in length.

Long Live The Brookie Monster. (He REALLY needs a new nickname.)

10 – Tyson Chandler – Dallas Mavericks (Andy Flint) +2

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Chandler appears to follow my trend of lanky defenders, who are defensive studs. The real difference with Chandler is that he doesn’t have the offensive game that Drummond and Jordan do. I know what you’re thinking, because Drummond and Jordan aren’t exactly offensive juggernauts. That’s my point. Chandler has a role, he knows that role, and he plays it perfectly. Last time he was in Dallas they beat the Heat and won a title.

I expect Chandler to guard the best big man on the floor, protect the rim, and set the tone defensively, as he roams the paint, cleans the glass and looks for easy cleanup buckets. The Mavs have many scoring options. Chandler’s defensive ways are needed to make this team legitimate.

11 – Marcin Gortat – Washington Wizards (Frank Santos) +4

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As I typed this pick, I didn’t really buy it myself. Then, I double checked the players left, and Gortat really does seem like the best center remaining from the bunch. Gortat and NeNe really stepped up last season, and both made big leaps in our drafts for good reason.

With the addition of Paul Pierce, and the continued emergence of those two guys paired with maybe the best back-court in the league (personally, give me The Splash Brothers), the Wizards are going to be a serious contender in the East.

12 – Nikola Vucevic – Orlando Magic (Andy Flint) +1

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The age old question of which Nikola goes first resumes in 2014-15. Look, I prefer Vucevic, and Frank prefers Pekovic. I don’t think you can really go wrong with either player. They both have loads of talent, but they both also have very different games. Vucevic is more of a typical rebounder/back-to-the-basket type, while Pek is a wide body, who has more offensive skill than you’d ever think just from looking at him.

The kicker for me really boils down to skill, as I believe Vucevic has more. Pekovic is more of a scrappy player, who earns his stripes doing the dirty work. Which I do love, but I like Vucevic’s ability to be a constant double-double player, who’s capable of running the offense, from the post, in spurts.

The Magic seem to agree, as they just locked Vucevic up on a four-year, $54 million deal.

13 – Nikola Pekovic – Minnesota Timberwolves (Frank Santos) +1

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The fall of Roy Hibbert continues. We like to keep the Nikola’s together, as we also took them back-to-back last year as well. Mostly I took Pek because I was scared that if he went any lower, he would put hits out on Andy and I.

I ain’t trying to die over a harmless centers draft.

14 – Jonas Valanciunas – Toronto Raptors (Andy Flint) +6

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I didn’t plan it this way, but I feel like Jonas really fits in well with the Nikola’ crew. I truly do love the fact that the NBA has seven foreign  centers worthy of being drafted in the top 15. Not to mention the fact that, without realizing it, Santos and I just drafted four international players in a row. This is why I love the NBA!

As far as Valanciunas goes, he’s put on good weight this off-season, appears more comfortable in the paint, and even took a run at Boogie Cousins when Team USA faced-off against Lithuania back in September. I actually liked what I saw in that video. It proves a point. Cousins is a top-tier talent in the NBA. He’s an absolute load down in the paint, and I feel like Jonas was showing that he’s all of those things as well. Next time, I’d just prefer that he doesn’t flinch when Cousins comes at him, but hey, I probably would too. That dude is nuts!

15 – Roy Hibbert – Indiana Pacers (Frank Santos) -9

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Right now, I am picturing Roy Hibbert as the dude in the green room during the NBA draft who was told he had a lottery guarantee, only to be sitting with his mom and his agent into the second round with the “what the hell happened?” face.

What happened is you went from someone who helped the Pacers go toe-to-toe with the defending champion Miami Heat to a dude who has a hard time putting up a stat. Like, ANY STAT. A point, a block, a rebound. ANYTHING. GIVE US ANYTHING ROY.

That being said, I can’t believe somebody can completely fall of the face of the earth like that, and I thought this was the lowest possible place he could go, as everyone behind him is either one-dimensional, not established, or has injury concerns.

16 – Omer Asik – New Orleans Pelicans (Andy Flint) +1

One quick thing about Roy Hibbert, before I start in with Asik. Most of Hibbert’s success was brought on by people who dislike Dwight Howard. Shaq included. People were acting like Hibbert was the best center in the league! Even when he wasn’t doing a whole lot, people would point out the things he does that don’t show up in the statline. I always felt like that was a HUGE farce. Doo doo!

As far as Asik goes. I’m not blown away by him or anything, but I do see him as a 15 and 12 guy, given the right situation. However, I do not feel like New Orleans is that situation. I believe Asik can be their difference-maker, because he’s a brute on defense, and more skilled that people give him credit for being on offense. I just feel like his current role with the Pelicans has to be only about defense and rebounding. That being said, this is the correct place for him. He can average eight points and 10+ rebounds in The Big Easy and help this young team to the playoffs, but he has to buy-into it.

Anthony Davis and Omer Asik may be the league’s best big-man duo (defensively) this season. YOU CAN’T SCORE INSIDE!

17 – Andrew Bogut – Golden State Warriors (Frank Santos) -7

In retrospect, 10 was probably a reach last year. Flint and I may have been caught up in that Warriors playoff run, with Bogut being at the forefront, and being praised as “the most important Warrior.” The team now has a new identity, and I am not sure that the David Lee/Bogut front-court really fits into it.

He also simply cannot stay on the court, and unlike Brook Lopez, he has been in the league long enough to know that will probably always be the case.

18 – Robin Lopez – Portland Trail Blazers (Andy Flint) +11

My (our) biggest regret from last year’s draft was sleeping on Lopez. I truly believe that he’s the real difference in Portland, although most brains will never process it that way. Not only did Robin’s presence move LMA back into his natural power-forward position, but the seven-footer has brought some defense into the middle for the Blazers.

I know we’re a sports’ society who really loves stats, so I don’t expect most people to give a hell about Robin Lopez. You’ll probably also point out how bad Portland was, defensively, last season, but trust me when I say that it would have been far worse without Lopez manning the middle. Respect.

19 – Anderson Varejao – Cleveland Cavaliers (Frank Santos) -1

I am still upset that we took Fropez 29th last season. I was SO upset I tried to take him again at 23 in this draft before Andy informed me he had already taken him. We owed him a double selection.

Rocking a respectable fro in his own right, Anderson Verejao is another guy who just can’t stay on the floor. I enjoy the 2-3 weeks I plug him into my fantasy lineup for 8 points, 20 rebounds before he goes down though.

20 – Enes Kanter – Utah Jazz (Andy Flint) -1

Kanter is rapidly approaching a crossroads with me. I like his size and ceiling, but is this dude every going to open up and let us see how good he can be, or nah? I can say the same thing about his buddy, Derrick Favors, too.

I keep Kanter in the top 20, but I’m expecting 15 and 10 this year. If I don’t get it, he can consider himself banned from my Christmas card list, moving forward.

21 – Miles Plumlee – Phoenix Suns  (Frank Santos) +2

Given his impressive season, I figured the older Plumlee would have leaped more than two spots. We must have been fairly high on him last season too. That’s a good job by us, and we don’t do that often. Also, just want to remind somebody that the Suns got Plumlee, Gerald Green AND A DRAFT PICK for Luis Scola. That is what the kids refer to as robbery.

The problem for Miles is I am just not sure how much his game can really grow from here. This may be his plateau, and it is a respectable starting center. Not too shabby at all.

22 – Steven Adams – Oklahoma City Thunder (Andy Flint) +N/A

I fully expect Adams to be the starting center for the Thunder this season. If not by opening night, then by the second or third week. Here are my reasons.

A) He has showed a knack for defense. Blocking shots, grabbing rebounds, and pissing off opposing players.

B) He’s better than Kendrick Perkins.

C) Kendrick Perkins is a bum.

D) Get Perkins the hell out of here!

23 – Spencer Hawes – Los Angeles Clippers (Frank Santos) -2

Give me all the white boys!!

Spencer Hawes is hard to place on this list because he doesn’t really play like a center. You can find Hawes spotted up at the three-point line more times than not. You can also find him with a dictionary trying to look up the word defense.

Offensively, he is legit though, and I like what he potentially brings to the Clippers roster.

24 – Nerlens Noel – Philadelphia 76ers (Andy Flint) +N/A

Before I start on Noel, I should mention that Frank claims that I have “Whiteboy Syndrome”, which apparently means I’m biased against white basketball players. I’m just here to say that the current count is six to five, in favor of me. Cured!

Nerlens Noel is probably the biggest reach for me during this draft. I’m not even sure what position he’ll end up playing in the long run, but I believe, at least for now, that he’s a center. He’s still too raw offensively to play PF, and he’s too long and defensive-minded to not man the middle for Philly, while they wait for Embiid and their 56 first-rounders to come to fruition.

I believe, a lot like MCW last season, Noel will thrive because he’ll have buckets full of opportunity on a team that should win 20 games next season.

Rookie of the year candidate!

25 – JaVale McGee – Denver Nuggets (Frank Santos) -3

JaVale McGee is just a shot in the dark here. He hasn’t been a factor in such a long time that he becomes one of those guys impossible to properly place. Still worthy of this list though.

26 – Tiago Splitter – San Antonio Spurs (Andy Flint) +N/A

Tiago Splitter gives me my seventh white guy!

I don’t have a much to say about Splitter, aside from the fact that he understands his role, and does a pretty good job not screwing it up.

The end.

27 – Mason Plumlee – Brooklyn Nets (Frank Santos) +N/A

What do you know about that MONEY MA$E work?!

If Brook Lopez can’t stay healthy, I expect Plumlee to play huge minutes for the Nets, and it will be interesting to see what he can do with them. He was one of the biggest surprises as a rookie last year, and he may be able to continue that success if he can develop an offensive game. The playoff spotlight seemed just a bit too bright for him last season, but hopefully his time with the US Olympic Team this summer helped him in that respect.

28 – Larry Sanders – Milwaukee Bucks (Andy Flint) -4

Sanders is certainly a dude I can see having a huge bounce-back season, but in the same breath I’d like to convey my worries, as some part of brain is telling me that what we saw from Sanders in 2012-13 was a lie.

Look, every player in the NBA is capable of looking like they deserve a starting position with a team. I feel like the common misconception is that some NBA players suck, and that isn’t the case. Given ample minutes and opportunity, Kendrick Perkins can make you believe that he’s a top 10 center. Wait, that already happened before.

The jury is out on Sanders. Let’s see what he has in store for 2014-15.

29 – Samuel Dalembert – New York Knicks (Frank Santos) -3

At this point, you know what Samuel Dalembert brings to the table. Rebounding, blocks, and every now and then, he can even get you 10 extra points on put-back efforts.

Most nights, you’re lucky he can catch the ball.

30 – Kendrick Perkins – Oklahoma City Thunder (Andy Flint) +N/A

Why does Perk have facial hair like a 16th century Spanish Conquistador?

Listen, I like to bag on Perk, because, well, he deserves it, but I may be the last person still breathing in oxygen, who believes Perkins does have a role on an NBA roster. I hate him as a starter, but he has a big body, and can contribute defensively against the big teams out west. Let him get 15-18 minutes per game, make him use some fouls and grab a few boards. He’ll be fine. Just get him to shave that ridiculous facial hair.

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