Masai Ujiri Isn’t Worried About Being Popular

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“For me, I’ll always go with the best (available) talent. We did our due diligence. I went to Brazil three times to see him. Jeff (Weltman) went a couple of times. Our scouts went a few times to see him. We felt comfortable. A few days ago we took Coach Casey and we worked him out in Houston. Coach Casey and Jama (Mahlalela) worked him out and felt comfortable, too.

“I’m not here trying to be popular; that’s not what’s important to me. I’m trying to look out for the organization long-term and I think long-term we’ll look at Bruno (Caboclo) and say at least he has a chance (to be something special).”

Masai Ujiri Talking About Critics Who Claimed Bruno Caboclo Was A Reach

Dwane Casey Raves About Tyler Ennis And Bruno Caboclo

Dwane Casey talked with the media after the Toronto Raptors drafted Bruno Caboclo and DeAndre Daniels.

Casey raved about what he saw during a workout from Caboclo in Houston last week, admitted Toronto tried to grab Ennis and Caboclo, admitted Toronto was worried about Phoenix stealing Caboclo after Leandro Barbosa gave the Suns some valuable intel and he expects Caboclo to contribute next season for the Raptors.

2014 NBA Mock Draft

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1. Cleveland Cavaliers | Joel Embiid | C | Kansas | Yes, I know that injury issues might scare teams off, but the Cavs need to draft the best player, and the best player in this draft is Embiid. The chance to add Wiggins should be too much for the team to pass up, but with Anderson Varejao getting older – and already being injury-prone – they could draft Embiid as their center for the next decade… that is, assuming his body holds up. The past few drafts (Anthony Bennett and Dion Waiters) have shown this franchise is anything but predictable.

2. Milwaukee Bucks | Jabari Parker | SF | Duke | Parker might slip to Philly, but Parker is a “hometown” guy as he grew up just over a hour away from Milwaukee. He’s also the most NBA ready player in the draft and will average better than 20 points at least a handful of seasons in the NBA. Getting the chance to pair Parker with Giannis Antetokounmpo gives the Bucks a fantastic duo to build around.

3. Philadelphia 76ers | Andrew Wiggins | SF | Kansas | Somehow the player the Sixers covet will fall into their laps. Philly hasn’t been shy about their torrid love affair with Wiggins, and despite the Embiid question marks, they won’t have to trade up to get their man. Having the chance to build around current Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams, Noel and Wiggins is a great foundation for Philadelphia.

4. Orlando Magic | Dante Exum | PG | Australia | The chance to pair Victor Oladipo and Exum is a match made in heaven for the Orlando Magic. Julius Randle will probably win Rookie of the Year, but Exum is the better long-term fit.

5. Utah Jazz | Noah Vonleh | PF | Indiana | Utah will probably flip this pick for veteran help, but, if they do keep this pick, Vonleh could step in immediately and play alongside Derrick Favors. The two twin towers would give the Jazz a big edge on the glass. Julius Randle is the better player, but not a good fit on Utah’s roster.

6. Boston Celtics | Julius Randle | PF | Kentucky | This would be a great pick for the Celtics.. if they keep the pick. Look for Boston to be aggressive in trying to obtain Kevin Love and using this pick as leverage.

7. Los Angeles Lakers | Marcus Smart | PG | Oklahoma State | Smart is one tough hombre and he’s a sponge. Look for the Lakers to draft their point guard of the future and for Kobe Bryant to act as a great mentor for Smart.

8. Sacramento Kings | Aaron Gordon | PF | Arizona | Having Gordon drop to Sacramento – when he could go as high as #5 to Utah – is like manna falling from Heaven. Gordon is a bit undersized to play the 4 in the NBA, but when sandwiched between DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay he’ll fit in just fine. Gordon’s height (6’8″) scares me because he’ll have the dreaded tweener label, but at this point in the draft, he’s a nice pick.

9. Charlotte Bobcats | Dario Saric | PF | Croatia | I was tempted to give the Hornets another wing – Gary Harris and James Young are options here – but the Hornets need more bigs. Enter Sandman Saric.

10. Philadelphia 76ers | James Young | SF | Kentucky | Gary Harris is a player I’ve been high on all season, but his draft combine measurement of 6’2″ isn’t going to cut it in the NBA as a shooting guard… even if Philly’s point guard has height to spare. Young is a player who can step in right away and start for Philadelphia.

11. Denver Nuggets | Doug McDermott | SF | Creighton | This might be a bit high for McDermott, but he could also be great insurance for if danilo gallinari isn’t able to return to form after issues with his ACL’s that kept him off the court all of last season.

12. Orlando Magic | PJ Hairston | SG | NDBL | A bit of a stretch, but Orlando needs another young wing and Hairston is the best on the board.

13. Minnesota Timberwolves | Rodney Hood | SG | Duke | Kevin Martin will likely be packaged with Kevin Love this summer, so Hood could step in and start for Minnesota next season. Hood could also be long gone as he will be an option for Charlotte at #9 Philly at #10.

14. Phoenix Suns | Gary Harris | SG | Michigan State | Harris be a little small, but that won’t matter as the Suns rolled with two point guards for most of last season. He could act as insurance in case Eric Bledsoe bolts town or act as a perfect third guard.

15. Atlanta Hawks | T.J. Warren | SG | North Carolina State
16. Chicago Bulls | Nik Stauskas | SG | Michigan
17. Boston Celtics | Adreian Payne | PF | Michigan State
18. Phoenix Suns | Jerami Grant | SF | Syracuse
19. Chicago Bulls | Jusuf Nurkic | C | International
20. Toronto Raptors | Tyler Ennis | PG | Syracuse
21. Oklahoma City Thunder | Kyle Anderson | PG | UCLA
22. Memphis Grizzlies | Clint Capela | PF | Switzerland
23. Utah Jazz | Shabazz Napier | PG | UCONN
24. Charlotte Bobcats | K.J. McDaniels | SF | Clemson
25. Houston Rockets | Clearanthony Earl | SF | Wichita State
26. Miami Heat | Jahii Carson | PG | Arizona State
27. Phoenix Suns | Zach LaVine | SG | UCLA
28. Los Angeles Clippers | Spencer Dinwiddie | PG | Colorado
29. Oklahoma City Thunder | Damien Inglis | SG | France
30. San Antonio Spurs | Jabari Brown | SG | Missouri

The Cleveland Cavaliers’ Dilemma

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In two weeks, the Cleveland Cavaliers will enter the 2014 NBA draft with the first overall pick for the third time in four seasons.

Last season the Cavaliers felt their days of drafting in the lottery were behind them. When they went out and added Andrew Bynum to the core of Irving, Thompson, Waiters, and Varejao, many felt Cleveland would be back in the playoffs for the first time since “the decision”.

Unfortunately for Dan Gilbert and Co., the Cavaliers season nose-dived and consisted of the following highlights:

• Andrew Bynum was a malcontent and was eventually traded for 2014 free agent Luol Deng
• There was a reported beef between Dion Waiters and Kyrie Irving during the season
• Number one overall pick, Anthony Bennett, looked lost and was a non-factor
• Head Coach Mike Brown was fired one year into a five year deal
• Key free agent signing, Jarrett Jack, was a bust after inking 4 year, $25 million deal
• The team finished 10th in the Eastern Conference with a 33-49 record

As bad a season as it was, there once again is now a light at the end of the tunnel for Cleveland. The basketball gods have decided to give the Cavaliers another chance at redemption, as they will now have their choice of Embiid, Wiggins or Parker on draft night.

Based on Chris Mannix’s latest mock draft, it appears the Cavaliers are down to either Embiid or Wiggins with the first pick and according to Chris Sheridan, Cleveland would even consider dealing the first overall pick for Kevin Love if they could.

But who should the Cavaliers draft? Or would they really consider trading the first overall pick?

Drafting Joel Embiid

When you look at the front line for the Cavaliers, you can make a strong case that Embiid is the right pick. Anderson Varejao will be 32-years-old next season, and has only played in 44% of games since 2010.

Recent draft picks, Tyler Zeller and Tristan Thompson are solid forwards, but don’t appear to move the needle, and their trade deadline acquisition, Spencer Hawes, is an unrestricted free agent.

Although Embiid has only played serious basketball since he was 16, he would step in right away and be an upgrade to the Cavaliers front court. According to NBA.com, the Cavaliers finished 17th in defensive rating this past season. The addition of Embiid would most certainly improve this ranking, and if Varejao can stay healthy to pair with Embiid, the Cavaliers would have a nice duo on the defensive end.

However, out of Embiid, Wiggins and Parker; Embiid is the riskiest pick. If the Cavaliers do draft Embiid, they will need to be certain that he has a clean bill of health. After the Bennett pick last year, the Cavaliers can’t afford to draft “Greg Oden”, instead of “Kevin Durant”.

Drafting Andrew Wiggins

Making the case for drafting Andrew Wiggins is very similar to that of Embiid. When you look at the Cavaliers wing players, an upgrade is needed. Luol Deng is a good bet to leave via free agency, Dion Waiters seems to have worn out his welcome, and the reserves consist of Alonzo Gee, C.J Miles and Anthony Bennett – not guys who put fear in opposing teams.

Like Embiid, there would be a learning curve for Wiggins, but with his speed and athleticism, he automatically upgrades the Cavaliers perimeter defense and will now make opposing guards work at both ends of the floor.

With a Wiggins and Irving backcourt, the Cavaliers would be set and can look to add pieces up front this offseason. According to BasketballInsiders.com, the Cavaliers could have up to 23.4 million dollars in cap space this offseason, and could also use Waiters, Thompson and Zeller as trade pieces to land a free agent.

Landing a Pau Gasol or Marcin Gortat in free agency would be an upgrade on the front line, and they could also possibly sign and trade Deng to bring in another starter like Chandler Parsons from Houston.

A starting line-up of Irving, Wiggins, Gasol/Gortat, Thompson and Parsons would get the Cavaliers back into the Eastern Conference playoff picture.

Trade the Pick

One of the gutsiest moves the Cavaliers could pull off is trading the pick. If I’m David Griffin, the only chance I trade this pick is if I am blown away with an offer that would put my team into the Eastern Conference elite for not only next season, but for years to come.

The Kevin Love rumours are circulating, but there is zero chance he signs on with the Cavaliers after this season. So unless I get a guarantee from Love, I’m not even thinking of doing a deal with Minnesota.

Cleveland is not a prime destination for players, so the only chance they trade the pick is if they are able to acquire a superstar, with time left on his deal. Right now, when you circulate the market, there really is no big name superstar that is available, and worth the risk of trading the first overall pick. Of course there is LeBron and Durant, but we both know they are not being traded to Cleveland.

The only real name right now is Kevin Love, and with his sights set on LA in 2015, I think it’s a safe bet for Cleveland to stand pat.

Kyle Anderson’s Media Scrum After His Pre-Draft Workout With Toronto Raptors

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Kyle Anderson talked about playing for a Hall of Fame coach in Bob Hurley, how he improved his three-point shooting last season, teams doubting his ability to play point guard in the NBA, how he will improve his lateral quickness this summer and what feedback Dwane Casey gave him this morning after his workout.

DeAndre Daniels’ Media Scrum After His Pre-Draft Workout For Toronto Raptors

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DeAndre Daniels talked with the media about winning a National Championship this past season, taking a selfie with Barack Obama when he visits the White House next week, the pre-draft workout process, and talking with Shabazz Napier during the pre-draft process.

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DeAndre Kane’s Media Scrum After Workout With Toronto Raptors

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DeAndre Kane talked with me about how much fun the pre-draft workout process is, what he’s learning from NBA coaches, and he explained why he’s enjoying the opportunity to compete against other talented players in these workouts.

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Catching Up With CJ Fair

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CJ Fair talked with me about his pre-draft workouts, getting the chance to learn from a lot of different NBA coaches, if he’s feeling any pressure leading up to the NBA Draft and he shared what it’s like to chase his dream of playing in the NBA.

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2013 NBA Re-Draft

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The current NBA season is already one third over, and we have been given a pretty good look at the rookies from the 2013 NBA Draft. Although it was considered one of the “weaker” drafts in recent history, it seems to be full of role and rotation players, something that is always necessary have for good NBA teams.

So, I will be going over the first 15 draft picks with some analysis on each pick, and then just give you my final 15 picks. I will also keep all trades the same. Enjoy!

1. Victor Oladipo, SG – Cleveland Cavaliers | Original Selection – Anthony Bennett, SF/PF

I was a big Oladipo guy from the beginning of the draft, and even though I thought Nerlens Noel was going to be the number one guy, I felt Oladipo was going to be one of, if not, the best player from this draft. He has definitely shown it this year with the Magic, averaging a solid line of 13/4/3/1.5 all while playing very good defense.

The Cavs missed out here on getting a starting shooting guard, and being able to move Waiters to the bench, where he is more suited to play.

The Cavs have seriously messed up at the top of the draft board, too many times.

2. Michael Carter-Williams, PG – Orlando Magic | Original Selection – Victor Oladipo, SG

I guarantee you the Magic are very happy with Oladipo right now, but they really need a point guard, now that Jameer Nelson is likely on his last legs as a starter in this league. Carter-Williams has been up to this point, the Rookie of the Year in almost everyone’s eyes, so he would be the pick, even if he would split most of his time with Nelson. If he was with the Magic, he might not be putting up the same scintillating line of 18/8/5.5/3 on 41% shooting, but he would still be a major upgrade at the position, and help solidify that young lineup for years to come.

3. Giannis Antetokounmpo, SF – Washington Wizards | Original Selection – Otto Porter Jr., SF

We will call him ‘Po for short considering that is a horrific name to spell repeatedly. While many thought ’Po was going to be a long term project, he’s managed to become a quality player for the awful Bucks, providing great minutes at the small forward position. He is a freak athletically, ridiculous wingspan and is the youngest player in the NBA. The Wizards biggest position of need was the small forward entering the draft, and while Otto Porter Jr. may turn into a solid player, ‘Po has been the better player, and has shown great POtential.

4. Ben McLemore, SG – Charlotte Bobcats | Original Selection – Cody Zeller, PF

Cody Zeller was a decent selection here, but as of right now, he is a deer caught in the headlights, playing timid, and even lost his starting job to Josh McRoberts. I am going McLemore here because the Bobcats could be losing both Gerald Henderson and Ben Gordon this offseason.

I love McLemore and still think he could be the best guard in the draft, and he will be a great running mate for Kemba Walker.

5. Otto Porter Jr., SF – Phoenix Suns | Original Selection – Alex Len, C

The Suns selected Len knowing his injury past, and even thought they have the best staff in the NBA, it hasn’t helped Len much, as he has missed a lot of time already. Instead Miles Plumlee has stepped up as a legitimate NBA center, burying Len on the bench. The Suns biggest need now is small forward, and with Antetokounmpo taken by the Wizards, that leaves Porter Jr. here to be snatched up, something I’m sure the Suns would love to see.

6. Nerlens Noel, C – Philadelphia 76ers (Via New Orleans) | Original Selection – Nerlens Noel, C

I am keeping this the same because I believe the 76ers will let Hawes walk if they do not deal him, and hand over the keys at center to Noel. Noel is still injured, but with GM Sam Hinkie’s plans, the 76ers do not mind this, as they can continue to blissfully tank away.

7. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG – Sacramento Kings | Original Selection – Ben McLemore, SG

With McLemore already off the board, the Kings would grab Caldwell-Pope here to provide some shooting, considering that is one of the team’s biggest weaknesses. I would like CJ McCollum here for his defense, but of course, McCollum has not played this season yet, so Caldwell-Pope is the pick.

8. Trey Burke, PG – Detroit Pistons | Original Selection- Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

I think the Pistons would love this one. Bring home the Michigan boy, and place him alongside that monster frontcourt as well. Brandon Knight would fit better in this equation at SG, but Jennings could also work there, as he is a shoot first player, and let Burke handle the ball.

9. Nate Wolters, PG- Utah Jazz (Via Minnesota) | Original Selection – Trey Burke, PG

Let us reach all the way into the second round for this one, for the third best rookie point guard right now, in Nate Wolters. He does not have the most upside, but is a great ball handler and passer, and has been great for the Bucks this year. However, the Jazz will really miss Trey Burke.

10. Tim Hardaway Jr., SG- Portland Trail Blazers | Original Selection – CJ McCollum, PG/SG

I am sure the Blazers would love to see what they have in McCollum, but these injuries are a real concern. Hardaway Jr. has managed to make Knicks fans abandon their love affair with Iman Shumpert and JR Smith, so the Blazers would love to add them to their already potent offense.

11. Cody Zeller, PF- Philadelphia 76ers | Original Selection – Michael Carter-Williams, PG

76ers fans would be devastated to see Carter-Williams leave, but there is now some value down here. Plenty of big men to pair of with Noel, and Zeller is the best of the rest. This would make Thaddeus Young more expendable, and probably easier to move.

12. Alex Len, C- Oklahoma City Thunder | Original Selection – Steven Adams, C

Adams is a very nice tough guy, but Len, if healthy, would give the Thunder their center of the future. Give him one year to get healthy, then Perkins contract is off the books, and Len is ready to be the big man Perkins was supposed to be.

13. Steven Adams, C – Boston Celtics (Via Mavericks) | Original Selection – Kelly Olynyk, C

I am a huge fan of Adams. Love him as an energy, hustle, tough guy, who loves to rebound and get physical down low. The Celtics need size and aggression, and while I still like Olynyk, Adams better fits the Celtics right now.

14. CJ McCollum, PG/SG – Minnesota Timberwolves | Original Selection – Shabazz Muhammad, SF

I flip-flopped on this pick here. Considering Anthony Bennett and even sticking with Muhammad, but I went with McCollum just because I think he was the best talent. Shooting, defending, scoring, the Timberwolves would like this from the swingman capable of playing both point and wing.

15. Anthony Bennett, SF/PF – Milwaukee Bucks | Original Selection – Giannis Antetokounmpo, SF

Falling a full 14 spots, the Bucks would grab Bennett here, because the guy still has talent. He has not worked out as the number one pick, and being buried behind the waves of forwards in Cleveland, but he would get a lot more leeway down here. That would be the best thing for him right now.

16. Kelly Olynyk, C – Atlanta Hawks (Via Boston)
17. Shane Larkin, PG – Dallas Mavericks (Via Atlanta)
18. Dennis Schroeder, PG – Atlanta Hawks
19. Shabazz Muhammad, SF – Cleveland Cavaliers (Via Lakers)
20. Tony Snell, SF – Chicago Bulls
21. Lucas Nogueira, C – Minnesota Timberwolves (Via Jazz)
22. Jeff Withey, C – Brooklyn Nets
23. Sergey Karasev, PG – Indiana Pacers
24. Rudy Gobert, C – New York Knicks
25. Tony Mitchell, PF – Los Angeles Clippers
26. Archie Goodwin, SG – Oklahoma City Thunder (Via Minnesota)
27. Gogui Dieng, C – Denver Nuggets (Via Jazz)
28. Allen Crabbe, SG – San Antonio Spurs
29. Ray McCallum, SG – Phoenix Suns (Via Oklahoma City)
30. Isaiah Canaan, PG – Golden State Warriors (Via Phoenix)

2011 NBA Mock Draft

1. Cleveland – Kyrie Irving PG
18 years old; 6’2″; 185 lbs.
Duke, Freshman

2. Minnesota – Derrick Williams PF
19 years old; 6’8″; 235 lbs.
Arizona, Sophomore

3. Utah – Enes Kanter C
18 years old; 6’9″; 250 lbs.
Kentucky, Freshman

4. Cleveland – Tristan Thompson PF – Audio from after his pre-draft workout in Toronto
19 years old; 6′ 8″; 235lbs.
Texas, Freshman

5. Toronto – Brandon Knight SG - Audio from after his pre-draft workout in Toronto
18 years old; 6′ 3″; 170lbs.
Kentucky, Freshman

6. Washington – Jan Vesely SF
20 years old; 6’11″; 240 lbs.
KK Partizan Belgrade, International

7. Sacramento – Bismack Biyombo PF/C
18 years old; 6′ 9″; 240lbs.
Baloncesto Fuenlabrada

8. Detroit – Kawhi Leonard SF – Audio from after his pre-draft workout in Toronto
19 years old; 6′ 7″; 225lbs.
San Diego State, Sophomore

9. Charlotte – Kemba Walker PG – Audio from after his pre-draft workout in Toronto
20 years old; 6’0″; 180 lbs.
Connecticut, Junior

10. Milwaukee – Jonas Valanciunas PF
18 years old; 6’11″; 240 lbs.
Lietuvos Rytas, International

11. Golden State – Klay Thompson SG/SF
21 years old; 6′ 6″; 187lbs.
Washington State

12. Utah – Alec Burks SG
19 years old; 6′ 6″; 200lbs.
Colorado, Sophomore

13. Phoenix – Marcus Morris PF – Audio from after his pre-draft workout in Toronto
21 years old; 6’9″; 225 lbs.
Kansas, Junior

14. Houston – Markieff Morris PF
21 years old; 6′ 10″; 235lbs.
Kansas, Junior

15. Indiana – Jimmer Fredette PG
22 years old; 6′ 2″ 195lbs.
BYU, Senior

16. Philadelphia – Tobias Harris SF - Audio from after his pre-draft workout in Toronto
18 years old; 6′ 8″; 210lbs.
Tennessee, Freshman

17. New York – Jordan Hamilton SF
20 years old; 6′ 7″; 210lbs.
Texas, Sophomore

18. Washington – Chris Singleton SF
21 years old; 6’8″; 210 lbs.
Florida State, Junior

19. Charlotte – Donatas Motiejunas PF/C
20 years old; 7’0″; 215 lbs.
Benetton Treviso, International

20. Minnesota – Marshon Brooks SG
22 years old; 6’5″; 195 lbs.
Providence, Senior

21. Portland – Josh Selby SG
20 years old; 6′ 1″; 180lbs.
Kansas

22. Denver – Kenneth Faried PF
21 years old; 6’8″; 225 lbs.
Morehead State, Senior

23. Houston – Tyler Honeycutt SF
20 years old; 6;9″; 180 lbs.
UCLA, Sophomore

24. Oklahoma City – Reggie Jackson PG
20 years old; 6’3″, 208 lbs.
Boston College, Junior

25. Boston – Jeremy Tyler C
19 years old; 6’11″; 260 lbs.
Tokyo Apache, International

26. Dallas – Nikola Mirotic PF
20 years old; 6′ 10″; 210lbs.
Real Madrid

27. New Jersey – JaJuan Johnson PF
21 years old; 6’10″; 215 lbs.
Purdue, Senior

28. Chicago – Justin Harper PF
21 years old; 6′ 10″; 225lbs.
Richmond, Senior

29. San Antonio – Charles Jenkins PG/SG
22 years old; 6’3″; 220 lbs.
Hofstra, Senior

30. Chicago – Nolan Smith PG/SG
22 years old; 6’3″; 185 lbs.
Duke, Senior

In The Scrum With Kawhi Leonard

San Diego State alum Kawhi Leonard spoke to the media in Toronto after working out for the Raptors on Wednesday. Leonard, who could be an option for the team at No. 5, talked about some of his NBA player comps and offered his thoughts on the draft experience.

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