Happy NBA Draft week, you guys! With Joel Embiid almost a lock to slide down the lottery, all eyes will be on David Griffin and the Cavs as they navigate through questionable terrain. It seems like just yesterday that this draft class was the one everyone was gunning for. And sure, while there is undeniable depth, who the Wine and Gold take at the top will be praised my many, but panned by others.
Chad Ford’s latest has Jabari Parker as the name at the top of the team’s draft board, but cites a source who says that Andrew Wiggins will find his name in the mix before Thursday night. The Kansas product had a good workout for the team on Wednesday and Parker is reportedly tipping scales north of 240 pounds—with 11 percent body fat. For comparison purposes, Carrick Felix’ body fat before the draft was 3.3 percent. Parker’s offense is NBA ready, but I can’t think of a worse defensive unit than one led by Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters and the Simeon Academy product.
Of course, a trade can always go down, but I can’t think of a move that would be panned more than a trade down given the sudden two-player tier that comprises the top of this year’s class.
Speaking of, while I can obviously be a bit biased due to my fandom, I’m not sure I’m on board with this “worst drafting team” rhetoric. Sure, the numbers are there—whatever they mean—but several variables play into who is selected and when. The fact that Tristan Thompson is one of two players to have outplayed his draft slot speaks volumes to the criteria. (Two-time All-Star Kyrie Irving has somehow underperformed his draft position.)
I’d be curious to see how much the Cavs average is dragged down by last season’s freshman campaign for Anthony Bennett. If there were some factor adjustment made for quality of draft class, maybe I’d listen—especially since the piece in question decided to start after Cleveland drafted the best player in the world. And most importantly, that Jim Paxson drafted Lucious Jackson in 2004 does not imply that David Griffin will draft the next big bust 10 years later.
Looking for some David Blatt to tide you over? We got you covered.
Browns offensive lineman Joel Bitonio signed his contract over the weekend. I’ll use this space to not only remind you all to check out Colin’s excellent film study of the gargantuan second-round pick, but give a shout out to the new CBA that has allowed so many of these rookies to not only get into camp on time, but do so in a financial way that does not cripple a franchise in the event a player does not pan out as planned. Once Justin Gilbert’s slot is determined, he’ll be locked and loaded, and he’ll likely cost the Browns around $8 million in guarantees—not to bad for the eighth-overall pick.
I often use Twitter to share links to some of the better sports writing I stumble upon over the course of the week. Given that Twitter is essentially ephemeral to the eyes, I figured it would be beneficial to share a select few here every Monday as I spearhead WWW. That said, here are some of the best pieces of #ActualSportswriting I read last week.
“Train in Vain” by Brian Phillips (Grantland): “There is no time in Rio. Hours fall away in tracts, like trees disappearing in the Amazon. They fall away when you are lying on the beach at Ipanema, eating doce you bought from a shirtless little boy with a cigar box. They fall away when you are standing on the beach at Copacabana, in the purple glow of the FIFA Fan Fest, watching drunk fans slow-motion zip-line toward the blinding yellow figure of Fuleco, the cartoon armadillo who is the World Cup’s official mascot.”
“The sad last chapter of Sterling’s life” by Ramona Shelburne (ESPN): “There weren’t many ways to reach him, even if the business were urgent. An executive tells stories from over the years about walking the strand of beach in front of Sterling’s Malibu place, waiting until he came outside on the deck in the afternoon. If you were lucky, he came out wearing clothes.”
“A Place that God Forgot” by Wright Thompson (ESPN FC): “Nobody told them how long the autopsy would take. The mechanism of death in the murder capital of the world runs at its own pace — neither rushed nor ruffled — because the bodies don’t ever stop coming.”
“The Essence of Velocity” by Jason Turbow (SB Nation): “He was certain in the strength of his model. If somebody in baseball was willing to take a chance, Husband was convinced that the ensuing payday would be huge for everybody concerned.That was nine years ago. He is still waiting.”
And finally, Baby Got Back, as performed by Brian Williams: