When I think of tonight’s 2015 NBA Draft, all I can think of is Drake. Let’s completely forget that Drake is the Toronto Raptors’ Global Ambassador. I’m talking about that classic Started from the bottom anthem. I feel all of tonight’s draftees can relate to that track, well, to a certain degree.
By simply calling out their name during the draft, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver will turn a select few from being unpaid student athletes/student employees to professional basketball players in the world’s best basketball league, and finally earning money they deserve. That truly is starting from the bottom and ending up at the upper echelon.
You might note that I referred to the draftees, or more specifically those who are coming out of college, as student employees. This could not be truer. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is multi-million dollar, well-oiled machine. It’s actually closer to a billion dollar industry citing its 2014 fiscal year revenue estimated at a whooping $989 million. That’s a lot of capital for not-for-profit organization.
The NBA Draft is a high energy affair with lots of young guys with high hopes. This year’s draft doesn’t have the dramatic Andrew Wiggins – Jabari Parker debate of who goes No.1 overall and who goes No.2, but there are enough pieces involved to make it interesting.
I’m really curious to see what the Los Angeles Lakers do with its No.2 overall pick. Rumours have been swirling all week that it may be traded away for current Sacramento Kings Center DeMarcus Cousins. A move like that would dramatically change the current dismal LA situation. With an aging Kobe Bryant in the twilight of his career and the need for the Lakers to take advantage of whatever is left in his tank, the beast of Cousins would certainly have an immediate impact unlike a draft prospect. It’ll be interesting to see, and I like to be entertained, so I’m leaning towards Cousins in a Lakers uniform next season.
Looking for a dark horse? Have a look at Latvia’s Kristaps Porzingis; a 7-foot-1 big man of mystery, much like other draftees from Europe. It all depends on if teams feel like gambling or picking a player they’ve seen countless times in the NCAA. The one-and-done players coming out of college and turning Pro tonight will set the stage for another exhilarating season of NBA basketball.
If you don’t know who Matthew Dellavedova is you’re not alone. The undrafted, unknown 24-year-old Australian Cleveland Cavaliers guard could very well still have been in the Southern Hemisphere prior to the 2015 NBA postseason for all I knew. When you’re backing up one of league’s top three point guards in Kyrie Irving, you’re not going to get much of the spotlight – or minutes. Well, that’s all changed after Irving suffered a season-ending left kneecap fracture, sidelining him for the next 3 – 4 months.
Cue Crocodile Dunkdee. It’s not the most accurate nickname considering that I haven’t seen him dunk, but it’s the best basketball/Australian joke I can make at the moment. I’d also like to take this opportunity to discuss another Australian in the finals, the Golden State Warriors’ starting centre, Andrew Bogut. I would compare his play and intensity in the NBA Finals to that of the lovable koala; he’s slow, looks half asleep out there, and is mistakenly referred to as a bear.
If Bogut is to have any use in this series, he must defend the paint and attempt to stop Lebron James from attacking the rim, something he did at will in Game 3. Personally, I believe the Warriors’ David Lee should be given the benefit of a doubt and be inserted into the lineup. Yes, he’s undersized at the centre position (he plays the forward position as well) but he’s a good player that’s been buried at the end of a talented bench all season long. He made his first Finals appearance in Game 3 and played reasonably well. Tonight is Game 4 and the Warriors are down two games to one, and the sand is slipping through the neck of the NBA Finals hourglass – it’s time to try something new.
Dellavedova or ‘Delly’ to the 20,000 roaring Cleveland fans chanting his name during Game 3 is gaining popularity (and notoriety) for his gritty all-in hustle/borderline dirty style of play. He’s been doing it throughout the playoffs in a backup role, but now with the departure of Irving, he must continue to play his all-or-nothing style. Championship runs always seem to have a moment like this, an underdog Cinderella. The interesting part is that this particular Cinderella is already matched with the well-established King of the hardwood in Lebron James. This combination has all the momentum in the world at the moment, and if you couple that with another gritty hustle player in Brampton, Ontario’s Tristan Thompson, the Cavaliers certainly have the advantage in that category.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t note that Stephen Curry put up a bunch of points in a hurry in the 4th quarter of Game 3. The Warriors were down 20 and quickly cut that lead to 1 before eventually dropping the game. In tonight’s Game 4 showdown look for the Warriors to come out shooting – and hitting – while also trying to keep Lebron out of the paint; look for the Cavaliers to continue doing exactly what they are… hustling.
With the devastating news of Cleveland Cavaliers’ starting point guard and three-time NBA All-Star Kyrie Irving’s season-ending injury, the logical assumption would be that the Cavs would be the team needing to play with a sense of urgency.
To me, this is not the case. The Golden State Warriors have a window that is wide open and they must do what is necessary to become a champion. Now is the time to show up at Oracle Arena ready to play some ball. The Warriors cannot come into Game 2 with any sort of relaxed mindset. The Cavs, who were already injured, now have a gushing wound to tend to – and are vulnerable.
I want to see two-time NBA All-Star and reigning league MVP Stephen Curry and his backcourt partner, first-time NBA All-Star Klay Thompson, come onto the court and play to the best of their abilities. Nothing is guaranteed in sports, especially on such a high profile stage. The Warriors had a slight advantage coming into The Finals, but now they’ve been given a boost.
Unfortunately the boost came at the expense of Kyrie Irving’s first trip to the NBA Finals. This year’s postseason has been riddled with injuries, so it doesn’t even come as much of a surprise that this will be part of the NBA Finals storyline.
Lebron James, on his ridiculous fifth straight appearance in an NBA Final, put up 44 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists in a Game 1 loss – with 23 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists from Kyrie Irving. If you’re the Warriors, you give Lebron his 40, 50, hell, 60 points a game and you put the clamps on the other four players on the court. One man, even the best player in the world, cannot beat a team on his own. It’s even harder when it’s against a team that plays great basketball and has incredible talent.
Now is the time for the Warriors to come out of the corner swinging, looking for that knockout punch.