Dennis Velasco

Dennis Velasco

DV is a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association, and has contributed to ESPN/TrueHoop, SLAM, Yahoo! Sports, Hoops Hype, and The New York Times Company among other dope spots in the NBA blogosphere. Paz.

Recent Posts

2013-nba-draft-class

In a world full of NBA draft grades and performance projections immediately after said NBA draft, I thought I would do things differently and shirk all responsibility as a competent writer, if I ever truly was one to begin with, and not give you grades or timeliness. Instead, I will give you some slightly analytical, but mostly emotional prose to read. Why so unconventional? Because the 2013 NBA Draft was both unconventional and nuts.

I’m not really sure what the expectation is for Anthony Bennett from the Cleveland Cavaliers, but they truly succeeded in screwing a lot of mock draft guessers with the selection. I’ve read where they’re thinking of him kind of as a Charles Barkley type, but I’m not sure if that’s more playing ability or physique. I’m thinking the latter.

It’s fine to go against the grain, which Bennett will probably need to eat less of to get to his optimal playing weight, but I think it’s a solid gamble since Bennett was touted as one of the players to possibly be called the best in his draft class. And, for the record I did say this:  “…I think the Cavs bust out another Tristan Thompson-type draft move where the team drafts a player many didn’t see coming.” I just thought the crazy would be Ben McLemore.

Speaking of McLemore, how absolutely freakin’ lucky did the Sacramento Kings get? McLemore was touted as a potential first overall pick and he dropped to seventh? SEVENTH?! Orlando drafted a two-guard in Victor Oladipo who has more years in college than McLemore, and according to reports, impressed a lot in interviews. McLemore didn’t impress as much during his talks with NBA teams’ top personnel. But seventh? Are you telling me the Charlotte Bobcats couldn’t have used McLemore, a Ray Allen-type with dumb athleticism? The same goes for the Phoenix Suns who picked fifth after the soon-to-be Hornets.

And, I know that Cody Zeller was rising up some spots in the draft, but did Michael Jordan or Rich Cho make the pick? It definitely seems like the former and that “former” should also be followed by “owner” when it comes to Jordan before he totally destroys his legacy in basketball. It’s almost a sad mockery, this juxtaposition between player and owner. In all seriousness, it’s bad when your own fans boo your pick. And trying to please and increase the fanbase should be important to a team like the Bobcats. Vanilla-flavored Kwame Brown?

I don’t know, Alex Len seemed overly happy to join the Phoenix Suns in his interview. He knows he’s joining the Suns, right? I guess it’s just joy in joining the league, but that joy will turn into being jaded. Or maybe I’m just jaded.

So, the Philadelphia 76ers traded a young NBA All-Star point guard (Jrue Holiday) to acquire a center with injury questions in order to replace their own center with injury questions who never played for them last season? Now, that’s just lunacy! I think a saving grace will be that the Sixers also get a likely lottery pick in next year’s jam-packed draft if all assumed players actually come out. Still, if I was a Sixers fan, I’d be scratching my head, even though I like Nerlens Noel. But hey, if Michael Carter-Williams can find a consistent jumper and not turn the ball over so much, the trade of Holiday will be wash. I’m so kidding right now.

Read the rest of this entry »

2013 NBA Draft: Final mock

2013-draft-class-being-cool-guys

The 2013 NBA Draft happens tonight and in recent days, I’ve been thinking that this draft is just like “The Facts of Life.” Yeah, you can hate me for embedding the theme song in your brain later. Of course, I don’t expect many of you to remember the show because I’m old, but humor me for a minute.

Nerlens Noel has been the most talked about player and is the most intriguing, but at this point is known more for one thing — blocking shots like a hot chick blocks dudes on Twitter. Noel is the Tootie of the draft, just looking cool on rollerskates, but really, what else? Ben McLemore is like Blair with his pretty jumper and ridiculous athleticism, looking all attractive to NBA GMs all around the league. However, many feel that he needs to be more aggressive and not prim and proper like Blair was all the time. Anthony Bennett is like Jo, a bad ass that can do everything, but keeps people at a distance in the beginning sort of like Bennett to some teams because of his tweener status. Jo could look pretty and beat you up like Bennett’s ability on the perimeter and post. Easy comparison.

Every single bust to come in this draft is like Natalie. Just really annoying. Every single star to come out of nowhere from this draft is like George, who was played by George Clooney. Do I really need to explain this one?

And, of course, David Stern is Mrs. Garrett, a cool character from another era and show (Diff’rent Strokes … hate me again) who lost some gusto towards the end. Luckily, in comes Beverly, I mean Adam Silver to take over and close things out.

In the first season, there was a bigger cast of characters that just fell off and who seemed a lot more interesting — Nancy (a Katy Perry lookalike before Katy Perry), Sue Ann (seemed like it had to be her or Blair that moved forward in the show; too many blondes!), Cindy (an energetic blonde; more blondes in the 1980s, what a surprise!) and Molly, played by Molly Ringwald before she became the “it” girl of the 1980s and a personal crush of mine. I’m sure there will be some players that fill in these “lesser” characters, but enough reminiscing and let’s get mocking!

1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Ben McLemore, SG, Kansas

There have been a few names mentioned at this spot, primarily Nerlens Noel, along with Alex Len and Otto Porter. However, I think the Cavs bust out another Tristan Thompson-type draft move where the team drafts a player many didn’t see coming. Although, both NBA TV and I do. Regardless, I thought in terms of, do I want a player whose ceiling is Dikembe Mutombo or Ray Allen with fictional, but actual, Jesus Shuttlesworth athleticism? I love Geico commercials, but not that much.

2. Orlando Magic: Nerlens Noel, C, Kentucky

Some people say that the Magic have their center for the future in Nikola Vucevic, but I’m not buying it. Great season, no question, but I do think Noel can be pretty damn good in this league if he doesn’t go the Greg Oden route with injuries. However, I’d keep Vucevic because after four years, Noel will follow the trend of Magic centers and leave anyway. Kidding! I think.

3. Washington Wizards: Otto Porter, SF, Georgetown

Porter has been moved around, up and down, all over mock drafts, but I think he’ll settle in where most initially had him anyway. It just makes too much sense. It’s like something the Wizards haven’t had in a while: perfect harmony.

4. Charlotte Bobcats/Hornets: Anthony Bennett, SF/PF, UNLV

I have faith in Rich Cho and I think his modus operandi will be to draft BPA (best player available) for the foreseeable future. I’m sure he’s hoping for some redemption and the team to win next year’s lottery and take Andrew Wiggins, but it’s kind of obvious the basketball gods hate the Bobcats/Hornets when it comes to odds. In any case, Bennett is one of a few players that could end up being the best player of this draft.

5. Phoenix Suns: Victor Oladipo, SG, Indiana

I’ve never changed my opinion of whom the Suns will draft. I’m stubborn like that.

Read the rest of this entry »

otto-porter-dunking

What time is it? Time to play pretend with the added bonus of making intangible judgements. Yippee! I love this time of year when the weather gets warmer, you question if the New York Mets are a real MLB team, and us “draft experts” come out of the woodwork to guess which players end up where in the upcoming 2013 NBA Draft. It’d be cool if an NBA Draft was ever Nate Silver-ed, wouldn’t it?

As a sort of primer, check my thoughts on the needs of Eastern and Western Conference teams. Below are my picks… as of now.

1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Otto Porter, SF, Georgetown
What? Not Nerlens Noel? No, not Nerlens Noel. It’s okay, the world will still continue to ride its own way into becoming the world of “Idiocracy” thanks to Twitter (how dare I!), TMZ, and the non-separation of church and state. Damn, got deep. Anyway, Noel’s name has been buzzing around the interwebs as not being the consensus number one after all because Cavs owner Dan Gilbert wants to make the playoffs now, and with Noel’s injury concerns the team could be going another direction. Of course, they could always trade the pick instead of making a selection, but if they do the latter, I’m thinking Porter since he fits in better with the current Cavs personnel. Ben McLemore might have been an option, but thanks to Dion Waiters, it’s less likely.

2. Orlando Magic: Ben McLemore, SG, Kansas
Rumors are spreading, as they are apt to do during this time of year, that the Magic are open to trading Arron Afflalo, which would open up the two-spot for McLemore. If they do trade Afflalo, the Magic better get back a point guard or a high enough pick in the lottery to nab one of the several point guards that stand out from the rest.

3. Washington Wizards: Anthony Bennett, SF/PF, UNLV
The Wizards were surely hoping to draft Porter, the local Georgetown product, but they’ll have to “settle” for the player some say will end up being the best player in the draft. He’s a tweener at this point, but is ridiculously talented, and can fill in spots at the three and four.

4. Charlotte Bobcats/Hornets: Nerlens Noel, C, Kentucky
If they had to choose, I’m sure Michael Jordan and the rest of Bobcats Nation (or would it be more like Bobcats Town?) would rather have won last year’s NBA Draft Lottery when they had the best chances and select Anthony Davis. But, they’ll have to settle for another shot-blocking menace, despite the presence of Bismack Biyombo. Noel is too good of a talent to let slip past here.

5. Phoenix Suns: Victor Oladipo, SG, Indiana
In my first NBA Lottery Mock Draft, I thought Oladipo would the Suns’ pick and I still do. Much needed athleticism.

Read the rest of this entry »

pavel-podkolzine

The 2013 NBA Draft goes down on June 27th at the Barclays Center and many fans are looking forward to checking out what their respective favorite team does. However, this year’s draft is widely-considered to be weak, but I say let’s check it again in three-to-five years. Regardless, drafting is always a hit-or-miss proposition, and unless there’s another LeBron James coming out, decisions should mainly be based on what a team needs.

All free agents are listed as restricted (R), unrestricted (U), owning a player option (P), team option (T) or an early termination option (ETO).

Dallas Mavericks
Projected Draft Picks:
2 – 1.13, 2.14
2013 Free Agents: Rodrigue Beaubois (R), Darren Collison (R), Elton Brand (U), Mike James (U), Chris Kaman (U), Anthony Morrow (U), Brandan Wright (U), O.J. Mayo (P), Shawn Marion (ETO)
2014 Free Agents: Josh Akognon (R), Bernard James (R), Vince Carter (U), Dirk Nowitzki (U)
Team Salary: 2013-14: $48,489,849; 2014-15: $7,798,000

Team Needs: Probably point guard, especially when you consider that their current ones — Rodrigue Beaubois, Darren Collison and Mike James — will all hit free agency this offseason. Now if only “Shark Tank” wasn’t shooting that day Deron Williams came to visit last summer. Of course, they’ll want to be players for the services of Chris Paul. But there’s no guarantee that the Mavs will sign CP3 either, so it may be a safe bet to draft a lead guard this year. Unless they feel good about matching any offer to Beaubois and/or Collison in case Paul says no. However, if Mark Cuban is feeling really cocky about the CP3 situation, maybe he drafts one of the talented centers in the draft. Oh wait, he’ll get Dwight Howard too. Nevermind.

Denver Nuggets
Projected Draft Picks:
1 – 1.27
2013 Free Agents: Timofey Mozgov (R), Julyan Stone (R), Corey Brewer (U), Andre Iguodala (ETO)
2014 Free Agents: None
Team Salary: 2013-14: $72,600,276; 2014-15: $46,905,628

Team Needs: The guard positions should be solid going into next year because I kind of doubt Andre Iguodala will terminate his contract to get a bigger one this offseason. Just not going to happen. Corey Brewer might have priced himself out of Denver with his solid play off the bench, so getting a back-up three late in the first round might be in order. There are some quality Euro-stash players whose value may be around where the Nuggets are picking if they want to save money next season. The roster going into next season is really solid, so it may be the “best player available” route for Denver.

Golden State Warriors
Projected Draft Picks:
0
2013 Free Agents: Jarrett Jack (U), Richard Jefferson (P), Carl Landry (P), Brandon Rush (P), Andris Biedrins (ETO)
2014 Free Agents: Kent Bazemore (R), Scott Machado (R), Andrew Bogut (U), Dwayne Jones (U)
Team Salary: 2013-14: $74,885,328; 2014-15: $25,641,213

Team Needs: It hella don’t matter because they don’t have any hella picks! Shout out to all my friends and fam in Fog City aka The Bay Area! Thizz, Mac Dre stylo (NSFW lyrics)! Actually, don’t thizz because it’s bad for you and I can’t publicly advocate it. Good looking out, Gilgamesh!

Read the rest of this entry »

hawks-draft-board

The 2013 NBA Draft goes down on June 27th at the Barclays Center and many fans are looking forward to checking out what their respective favorite team does. However, this year’s draft is widely considered to be weak, but I say let’s check it again in three-to-five years. Regardless, drafting is always a hit-or-miss proposition, and unless there’s another LeBron James coming out, decisions should mainly be based on what a team needs.

All free agents are listed as restricted (R), unrestricted (U), owning a player option (P), team option (T) or an early termination option (ETO).

Atlanta Hawks
Projected Draft Picks: 4 – 1.17, 1.18 (from Rockets), 2.17, 2.20 (from Rockets)
2013 Free Agents: Ivan Johnson  (R), Jeff Teague (R), Devin Harris (U), Dahntay Jones (U), Kyle Korver (U), Zaza Pachulia (U), Johan Petro (U), Josh Smith (U), Anthony Tolliver (U)
2014 Free Agents: Shelvin Mack (R), Mike Scott (R)
Team Salary: 2013-14 – $18,483,800; 2014-15 – $17,450,000

Team Needs: The Hawks have three key players hitting free agency this summer and we’ll see how important Josh Smith, Jeff Teague, and Kyle Korver are in the Hawks’ plans. It’s pretty much the consensus that J-Smoove will be let go into the stream of free agents with the hopes of landing a player like Dwight Howard and/or Chris Paul. I think they’ll match any offer for Teague, so their draft needs will likely be for a big of some sort at the four or five. They could try to wheel and deal to move up in the draft, owning two first-rounders and two second-rounders.

Boston Celtics
Projected Draft Picks: 1 – 1.16
2013 Free Agents: Chris Wilcox (R)
2014 Free Agents: Avery Bradley (R), Jordan Crawford (R), Paul Pierce (U), Shavlik Randolph (U), D.J. White (U), Terrence Williams (U)
Team Salary: 2013-14 – $73,064,519; 2014-15 – $52,050,000

Team Needs: This is the offseason where the franchise will have to think hard on Paul Pierce. They will be over the salary cap (whenever the official number comes out, they’ll still be over) and have Jeff Green ready to take over at the three if need be, so do they trade him in the last year of his current contract or try to make another run with a healthy Rajon Rondo and still-effective Kevin Garnett? Either way, the team will likely draft a center if one of the few intriguing center prospects is there at 16. Or maybe a small forward to develop as they will likely try to do with Fab Melo and Jared Sullinger (when healthy) at the four and five.

Brooklyn Nets
Projected Draft Picks: 1 – 1.22
2013 Free Agents: Andray Blatche (U), Keith Bogans (U), Jerry Stackhouse (U), C.J. Watson (P)
2014 Free Agents: Kris Joseph (R), Tornike Shengelia (R), Tyshawn Taylor (R), Kris Humphries (U)
Team Salary: 2013-14 – $89,549,044; 2014-15 – $77,896,864

Team Needs: A back-up center. Athleticism. Someone to space the floor for Brook Lopez, as well as receive passes from Deron Williams and Joe Johnson when he’s not in iso-mode. Since the core roster is basically set, the Nets will likely look to take the best player available that fills in the three aforementioned needs and decide which has better potential and fit for this team. Euro-stashing is also possible with this pick in order to save money and have a player develop overseas. Don’t be surprised if they buy one or two second-round picks as well to Euro-stash, as it’s been their modus operandi the past couple of drafts.

Read the rest of this entry »

dan-gilbert-nick-gilbert-2013

Last night, the NBA held its annual pinging and ponging to determine the draft spots of the upcoming NBA Draft, which will be held on June 27 at the Barclays Center. And it’s safe to say that if the Cleveland Cavaliers avoid the NBA Draft Lottery next year, one of 14 teams will be adopting Nick Gilbert. It is known.

As most hoops “experts” are wont to do soon after the lottery, this is my initial mock draft (just the lottery teams). However, please understand that “experts” are like Jon Snow and really know nothing. Here’s the proof, and while I did relatively well in predicting the 2012 NBA Draft, there are a plethora of factors going against draft prognosticators. Maybe we should have Nick Gilbert standing next to us whenever we write these up.

1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Nerlens Noel, C, Kentucky

Noel has been the favorite to go first in this draft for months now. He’s also injured and likely to miss significant time this upcoming season. What does that say about this draft class? Noel could be a default “Never Nervous Pervis” Ellison type of pick where it’s like, “Hey, he’s tall, long, can defend, has potential, and has a cool nickname/haircut.” And like Ellison, Noel will likely miss a good portion of his rookie year. But, let’s look at the positives for Noel — super athletic and quick, can block and steal the ball at a high level and should be fun to watch on a break. However, because of his offensive deficiencies, Noel won’t be a true franchise player although there’s a great possibility 20 years from now that he does Geico commercials wagging his finger.

2. Orlando Magic: Trey Burke, PG, Michigan

Yes, this could be a stretch, I’ll admit that. But, I’m looking at team need here and drafting the reigning Player of the Year isn’t a bad thing. That said, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Magic try to trade down with the next four teams already having their point guard position on lock. Burke would inherit the position currently held by Jameer Nelson, who has a year left on his contract with a team option the following year. Burke has high-grade intangibles and leadership ability, can hit the J, create for others and would be an excellent young player to add to the Magic core.

3. Washington Wizards: Otto Porter, SF, Georgetown

Big fan of Porter! He’s fundamentally very sound and can do a lot of things well. Porter would fit right in with John Wall and Bradley Beal because he doesn’t need to shoot the rock to be effective and can facilitate the offense. Porter has an excellent mid-range game, coming off screens and utilizing ball fakes with one or two dribbles to create space. He’s one of the more NBA-ready players in this draft and could fit in just about any system.

4. Charlotte Bobcats/Hornets: Ben McLemore, SG, Kansas

If there’s any team that might bite on a potential Magic trade-down, it could be Charlotte, who got shafted out of the top three spots after being shafted out of the top pick in last year’s draft. The team would be ecstatic to get McLemore, who could still go higher based on his skill set and ridiculous athleticism. He can rain Js and bring the thunder when attacking the rim. McLemore has the potential to end up being the best player of this draft and a true franchise player.

5. Phoenix Suns: Victor Oladipo, SG, Indiana

The Suns could go with Anthony Bennett here, but I’m going on a hunch that they’d rather shore up their backcourt and add an athletic defensive stopper in Oladipo. He improved his shooting last season and Goran Dragic will love to pass to a super athlete with non-stop motor charging the rim and finishing, something the team currently lacks. Oladipo also has the ability to board because he’s always active and could be a fan favorite.

Read the rest of this entry »

durant-and-lebron-leaning-on-each-other

Well, it’s over. Pretending to be a NBA general manager during the regular season has come and gone, so now we take a look back at the season that was.

Durant or LeBron

These two players started the preseason as the top two fantasy ballers and finish the season as such. This should go on for the next few seasons, at least.

So, who is really the top fantasy player and should be the top pick next season? Durantula. This season, he scored more points (28.1 versus 26.8), hit more treys (1.7 versus 1.4), blocked more shots (1.3 versus 0.9) and was basically a wash in rebounds (7.9 versus 8.0).

Yes, LeBron had more dimes (7.3 versus 4.6), steals (1.7 versus 1.4), and shot better from the field (56.5 percent versus 51.0 percent), but the the most overwhelming advantage for Durant is at the free throw line — 90.5 percent versus 75.3 percent. While that’s impressive enough, KD also holds a significant advantage in free throw attempts (9.3 versus 7.0). Going to the charity stripe prolifically and making them just as prolifically puts Durant over the top as the number one ranked player in most leagues for the foreseeable future. Or at the very least, 1A.

The Top Five

Recently, I was asked by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association to pick five nominees for Fantasy Basketball Player of the Year to put to a member vote. Durant and LeBron were easy. I added Chris Paul because he’s Chris Paul, but if I actually had to validate his nomination, CP3’s ability to score, shoot excellent percentages, drop dimes and steal the rock puts him in this group. Stephen Curry was fourth in my mind, especially with him seemingly putting his ankle problems behind him while hitting threes like a mad man (3.5 per game at 45.3%) and setting the single-season record for makes. Add the points (22.9), rebounds (4.0), assists (6.9), steals (1.6) and percentages (45.1 FG%; 90.0 FT%) and Curry solidifies his place in this group.

The fifth spot is where it got tricky for me as the following players were all deserving: Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony and James Harden. In the end, I chose Harden because the point difference wasn’t significant enough between he and Kobe and Melo and I liked the defensive stats from Beard a lot (1.8 steals and 0.5 blocks), which led the trio. Harden led the group in triples (tied with Melo at 2.3 makes per contest) and the deciding factor, hitting shots at the line. He hit 85.1 percent versus Kobe’s 83.9 percent and Melo’s 83.0 percent, but more importantly, Harden led the league in free throw attempts (10.2 per game), which impacts the FT% category in a big way. Again, it was close, but Harden gets the call.

Read the rest of this entry »