Biggest Steals of the 2011 NBA Draft

Whether they’ve begun to produce already or not, there are some notable draft picks in the 2011 NBA Draft that just aren’t getting the attention they deserve. Whether they garnered concern over injury, attended a less-reputable school, or are simply undersized, they all fell, for one reason or another. The question is, who fell for the wrong reasons? Furthermore, who will overcome such and emerge as one of the more memorable picks of this draft? Storm Sports answers those questions below.

JaJuan Johnson, F, Boston Celtics (First Round, Pick 27 from New Jersey Nets)
With the loss of Jeff Green, whether that be for one season or his entire career, JaJuan Johnson’s value has skyrocketed. He was the leader of a very good Purdue team, named Big Ten Player of the Year, and quite frankly, should have been a lottery pick. He can score, rebound, pass, and defend, and he’s a much better fit as the Kevin Garnett’s protege than Green was. While Green may be the better all-around player, Johnson is the more Garnett-esque player, and with the proper guidance from the future Hall of Famer, he should be the Celtics starter for years to come. If his work ethic reaches his talent level, he should be a starter on an All Star team someday.

Jimmy Butler, F, Chicago Bulls (First Round, Pick 30)
The final pick of the First Round was one that people didn’t feel would amount to much. Upon closer examination, one thing can be said to all of those people: if you actually watched Marquette play, you’d know how good this kid is. Butler can do a little bit of everything; he can shoot with decent range, he’s a 75-80% free throw shooter, and is an excellent passer. On the defensive end, Butler is the type of player who knows how to disrupt a team’s rhythm. He has great timing and anticipation thus forcing turnovers, blocking shots, and reading double-teams well enough to re-position himself quickly. Additionally, his rebounding is supreme for his size. He fits right into the Bulls’ defense-first system, and should emerge as one of their key role players by the end of his second year in the league.

Chandler Parsons, F, Houston Rockets (Second Round, Pick 38)
The former Gator has already surpassed expectations, starting games for the Rockets in his first year in the league. He’s shown better-than-expected rebounding, and between he and the Rockets’ First Round choice, Marcus Morris, has been the best of the Rockets’ rookie forwards. Parsons career may not bring him to any All Star Games, but he’ll certainly be a valued Role Player for quite some time if he continues to play with efficiency. The biggest knock on him may be the higher upside of his First Round counterpart.

Darius Morris, PG, Los Angeles Lakers (Second Round, Pick 41)
As the Lakers are desperate to find an improvement at Point Guard, which Storm Sports has suggested from the start, they’ve appeared to be blind to what they possess internally. The former Wolverine is capable of dishing and scoring, something neither Derek Fisher nor Steve Blake has been able to do over the past two seasons. That’s exactly breeding Morris as the Point Guard of their future should start right away. Fisher, who is an excellent leader and as clutch as any, can help Morris hone the intangibles. Blake is a reliable player with great range, thus making him a valuable player in helping Morris develop his shot. While Ramon Sessions is a player who has an upside higher than he’s given credit (Storm Sports projects him to be an All Star if given playing time), Morris is a few years younger and offers the Lakers a home-grown future starter.

Andrew Goudelock, SG, Los Angeles Lakers (Second Round, Pick 46)
For a team with no First Round Draft Picks, the Lakers are turning out to have had one of the best drafts in the league. Goudelock has been the best scorer on the Lakers outside of Kobe, Gasol, and Bynum, reaching double figures in 3 of his past 4 games. Already nicknamed “Mini Mamba” by the Black Mamba himself, Kobe Bryant, Goudelock has shown all the signs of being a lights out shooter. He’s also an intelligent player, which is why he’s been seeing such an increase in playing time. He needs to improve as a passer, and his height at 6’3″ is a concern, but overall, Goudelock is exactly what the Lakers need: a consistent shooter on the wing. He’s proving to be the biggest steal of the draft, thus far, as his talent meets the Lakers needs 100%.

Josh Selby, PG, Memphis Grizzlies (Second Round, Pick 49)
Selby is a freak athlete, one heck of a scorer, and an improving passer. It’s unlikely that the former Jayhawk will ever pry the starting job from Mike Conley, the player the Grizzlies have financially and verbally proclaimed one of the pieces of their future, but he has all the makings of a starter elsewhere. If his production is consistent with his talent, he has all the makings of a Star. Selby should be a valuable asset to the Grizzlies, offering them a solid 1-2 punch off the bench with O.J. Mayo. Supplanting Jeremy Pargo as the backup Point Guard goes a long way to assuring that.

Isaiah Thomas, PG, Sacramento Kings (Second Round, Pick 60)
The last pick in the draft has been playing just as well as any rookie taken before him. Thomas has averaged 18 minutes a night in December, and has reached double-figure scoring in 4 straight games. Over that stretch, Thomas has averaged 12.8 points per game, along with 4.5 assists, 2 rebounds, and 2.3 three-pointers made. He has done well to replace Marcus Thornton, who is out with an injury, and is proving that his talent is much more important than his size disadvantage. The question for Thomas will be whether he’s another Nate Robinson or if he can be a pure Point Guard. While neither are bad, he’s more likely to find success if he can be the latter. So far, he has been.

Article written in full by Maxwell Ogden, lead writer for Storm Sports. All statistics credited to ESPN.

NBA General

The Sonics Are Gone…On Vacation?

By David J. Cohen

The Sonics were just sold by the city of Seattle for $75 million. Seattle fans are devastated about the loss of their 41 year long basketball stronghold. Many NBA experts and reporters will tell you Seattle is a basketball town that loves their Sonics. And while attendance was among the worst in the NBA last year they were packing the house competitively in most years before that. There was even an organization formed, called Save Our Sonics, that ultimately failed in its efforts to keep the team in Seattle. It’s been a great run but now Sonics fans will forever go sleepless in Seattle.

Or will they?

LA Lakers

Striking Gold

Mitch Kupchak learned a lot from his mentor Jerry West. With the trade of Pau Gasol from the Memphis Grizzlies to the Los Angeles Lakers, you can say that Kupchak also learned the art of fleecing other teams from Jerry West.

For us who weren’t around when West dominated the NBA in the 60’s, the only memory we have of him was his cunning guile and craftiness as the general manager of the Lakers during the late 90’s. After all, he was the one who signed Shaquille O’Neal away from Orlando and duped the then-Charlotte Hornets to trade their 1996 first round draft pick – a tall, skinny high school kid from Philadelphia – for Vlade Divac.

Jerry West made the Lakers a championship contender with those moves. And now – after a history of questionable moves – the apprentice finally made the trade that would make his teacher proud.