2011 NBA Draft Rankings – TOP 25
As it’s well understood, the best college basketball players don’t always make the best NBA players. This is my Top 25 rankings of the current former NCAA players in the NBA Draft Class, based on how I believe they’ll perform in the NBA.
Since I don’t just read off some list, and haven’t really seen the foreign players play, I don’t feel good about including them in this list. I know I’ve read great things about all of them, but I have to rank the guys I’ve actually seen play. That being said, Enes Kanter looks like the real deal, and I’d have a tough time ignoring him at the top of the draft. A couple other big time foreign talents like Jan Vesely and Jonas Valanciunas look to make a splash in the lottery as well. But I’m sticking to what I know.
At the top of my list is star potential/starters all the way to the bottom where I think guys will stay on NBA rosters/get some tick. It’s my projectile big-board, so to say. I’m betting my bankroll that you’ll see some surprises on here, and hold me to them down the road.
Top 25 Draftees
1. Kyrie Irving – Irving was a blur when he played this season. He played so well that despite missing 3/4s of the season, he’s still considered the top pick in the draft. I don’t know how much better I think he is than Williams (or Kanter, for that matter) but I would take my chances with a great kid with a good basketball IQ, a solid jumper, and speed to burn. He’s impressive in just about every area, reliable, good size and safe; tough to beat that with a top talent.
2. Derrick Williams – I know Derrick Williams is supposed to be an undersized 4 or an oversized not quick enough 3, but all I see is a damn good basketball player that has a great shooting touch from anywhere on the floor and the athleticism to impress at the next level. I see him as an athletic and taller/longer version of Paul Milsap. Maybe he’s not as crafty, yet, but he’s still a starting power forward that can open up the game in a lot of different ways, running the floor, helpside defense, and spreading the floor with a nice touch from long range.
3. Klay Thompson – Thompson might be the biggest surprise on my list. Nobody has him as a Top 3 player in this draft. It could be because I’m on the West Coast and have seem Klay play many times, but that usually works against they hype for me. Not with Klay, however, who was easily the best player in the Pac-10. I don’t think he’s getting near enough credit. He might be the best shooter in the draft, has great size, and plays the game smart. He will fit in any offense because he doesn’t need to dominate the ball to be good and he can help any team with his ability to shoot and be natural cog in any offense.
4. Jimmer Fredette – Jimmer is an amazing player, and while I’m not quite on board with the NBA guys who’ve been saying that Fredette is going to be a star in the NBA, I’m certainly closer to that belief than the one going around claiming he’s too small and slow for the league. He’s fast and stout, and he’s not short by any means. He can score on anyone, and if he gets in a spot where he can have the ball in his hands, he’s going to be good. I can’t wait to watch him prove critics wrong at the next level.
5. Kemba Walker – Kemba Walker is a winner, he plays at NBA speed, and he understand angles and one of basketball’s most underrated talents, how to draw a foul. Walker is always thinking, always finding ways to catch the defense off guard and I think he can be a solid small defender (not useless like Nash or Ridnour or Carmelo Anthony). Kemba hits big shots all the time. If LeBron had his huevos, the King would have a couple rings by now. He’s very quick and his 1 on 1 game could impress at the next level if he gets the chance to handle the ball. If he gets stuck as a Ben Gordon type player that only gets to come in for minutes at a time and jack shots, well, he’ll be like Ben Gordon. Hopefully he gets option A.
6. Brandon Knight – Knight scares me a little bit, but just because Kentucky seemed like the perfect fit for him, and still sometimes he disappeared. He’s a smart player, though, and is as athletically gifted as any guard in this draft. He really can shots when he’s on, and plays at an NBA speed with nice size.
7. Chris Singleton – Singleton seems like a better version of Keith Bogans or any other shooting guard that excels as a defensive player that doesn’t kill you on offense. Singleton is a much better offensive player than Bogans, but his length and athleticism also project as a very good defensive presence on the defensive end of the floor. I wouldn’t be stunned if Singleton turns into a starter during his first year, or at least is a key contributor to a good team. Players that help you evenly on both sides and don’t need the ball in their hands are quite valuable.
8. JaJuan Johnson – Imagine if Marcus Camby didn’t get injured very often and he could shoot. Johnson has that kind of upside. Johnson is longer than his height insists, and at 6’10” he’s no shorty anyway. He can really shoot the ball, and he plays smart. If he’s 75% of what Camby is as a help defender, he’s easily a Top 10 player in any draft. I don’t think he’ll be drafted as such, but I don’t see why he’s being ignored in that capacity.
9. Kenneth Faried – Faried can come in and rebound well at the NBA level. He has a contagious motor, and will be a great option on a young team (because his effort will motivate others to get after it) or an old team (because his effort will be needed). He may be just 6’8” and doesn’t quite have that power game yet, but he has a decent jumper touch, and his timing and anticipation are assets.
10. Marshon Brooks – Brooks can really fill it up. People like to say that he won’t be able to score like that in the NBA, but I don’t know why he won’t. He has solid size for a shooting guard, his 7’1 wingspan is amazingly long for his 6’5” frame and he’s improved his field goal shooting each of his 4 years in college. This last year he finished at 48% from the field and 34% from long range. He’s a lanky scorer who will help any team that needs points off the bench. He might very well be a Top 5 talent from this draft, he has so many good aspects of his game. I just feel more comfortable with him at 10.
11. Kawhi Leonard – Leonard is a nice prospect with explosive jumping ability, a great motor, nice timing, and very long arms that make up for his 6’7” tweener 3 or 4 man size. I think the NBA has proven that there is plenty of time for tweeners to succeed. Kawhi could grow into a great player, but I watched him disappear in games, and while he was on a very strong team where he wasn’t relied upon to be the only guy, I just don’t know if he has that great player upside in him. I hope so, though, he’s fun to watch.
12. Alec Burks – There are a lot of guys I liked better as college players, but Burks seems like a perfect fit for the NBA game (that being said, I think just about every rule change the NBA has to make it different than college basketball, stinks – but that’s a different fight). Burks is a long and athletic slashing guard that has streaks where he scores effortlessly. He finishes very well, shoots free throws well, and really only struggles from deep – and I think that’s a fixable offense, but he’ll need to fix it.
13. Marcus Morris – Morris definitely has an old-man game as a big man. He’s a little undersized and isn’t going to out-jump anybody for rebounds. He can face up and hit jump shots for days, and has worked hard on his perimeter shooting. He can certainly spread the floor as a stretch 4, and while he might not be an ideal size, he’s still 6’9” with a solid motor and a good enough rebounder. I especially like his fade away from the block. I don’t know if he’ll be good enough to get that shot in the NBA, but he sure used it effectively in college.
14. Charles Jenkins – You may not have heard much about Jenkins, rocking the Hofstra blue during his college days, but the 6’3” combo guard can fill it up, that’s for certain. He averaged 19.7, 20.6, and 22.6 points per game respectively over his final three years in college. His three-point shooting percentage went up every one of his final three seasons, going from 31% to 41% to 42% his final year. He’s a very good free throw shooter as well, and while some aren’t certain that he’s more than an undersized 2-guard, I think Jenkins has starter possibility as a late 1st round pick. I understand that he’s scary because he was a one-man show at a small college, but I think he has the basketball IQ needed to know when to share.
15. Reggie Jackson – I’m loving this kid right about now. I’m not sure he’s ready to come in and lead a team, Hoops-IQ-wise, but if he’s in the right situation where someone is working with him, he’ll eventually get there – then that team will have a 6’3” point guard that is freakishly long and athletic (7’ wing span). He has a very good floor vision, something that is tough to teach. I’ve struggled with where to put Jackson, even thinking about moving him into the lottery – and I’m still unsure he’s not higher than this. Somebody might end up with a steal here.
16. Jordan Hamilton – Like many 20-per-game guys in college, Hamilton’s shot selection can be a bit poor, but that’s nothing a good coach can’t fix. He’s a solid scorer, flashing a very good jump shot with deep range. He can handle the ball well and run the floor effectively. He may take bad shots, but he’s a solid passer. What I like most about Hamilton is his aggressiveness – he certainly doesn’t seem afraid of the moment, and works hard on the floor.
17. Tobias Harris – Harris gets the tweener label, but like I’ve mentioned, tweeners have a spot in the NBA. He shoots the ball well, is an unselfish teammate that isn’t afraid of big moments. He handles the ball well with a good brain for the game, and doesn’t hurt you in any one area on the court. He might not be a lock down defender against any one position, but I think he could guard 3s alright, and man up against 4s in some cases. The elite players at both positions will get the best of him, no doubt, but I’m not ranking him in the Top 3. He’ll help a team.
18. Josh Selby – As a 6’3” shooting guard, I’m not sure Selby is a Top 15 player and I’m not sure that he isn’t. If he can prove to be useable as a point guard, he’ll be alright. He kind of reminds me of Tony Douglas, a little bit, and that’s interesting because a handful of mock drafts have Selby headed to New York. He’s not a pure point, but his long-range stroke and solid jump shot should transfer well. He should make up for his lack of size by being a strong and quick plus defender. His attacking/slashing style could make him a better NBA player than a college guy. Still a work in progress.
19. Kyle Singler – Singler’s offensive game might be too streaky for him to be a crunch time player night in and night out, and examples of his struggles against better athletes aren’t difficult to find, but Kyle does a lot of things right – he shoots the ball pretty well, and should stretch the floor for teams with heavy ball handling/driving point guards. He makes the right plays a lot. He’s a team guy that works his A off, and his basketball skills are good enough to make him a reserve in the league. Reminds me a little bit of Josh Howard coming out of college, but with a more polished offensive game, and maybe a little less athleticism – but pretty close!
20. Jon Leuer – Leuer is super athletic, easily more-so than either of the Morris brothers. He’s longer, and while he may not be stronger, he certainly has room to grow into that body. Leuer seems to have a game tailored for the NBA – he looks like a nice player in a pick and roll, shoots the ball well, can really run the floor, and can post up and score on the block. It doesn’t look like he’ll be picked in the 1st round, but it wouldn’t stun me if he got major minutes early in his career.
21. Tristan Thompson – Thompson could be a Top 5 pick, and I get it. He’s super long and athletic. He has a great motor, some versatility in his offensive game, and good timing as a helpside defender on the other end. He can also handle the ball alright, though I don’t expect him to be relied upon for that. As many have said, he has solid all around tools – I just don’t know how that transfers to the next level because I haven’t seen him be great at any one thing. He’s an NBA body with NBA athleticism, however, and he’ll have a spot in the 1st round.
22. Jamie Skeen – People knock Skeen for his age (he’s 23, so a year older than other seniors), lack of great quickness/explosion (he doesn’t play above the rim like many NBA-level players), and injury history (he’s had a knee surgery). But that all seems ridiculous because he’s very efficient at what he does do, and he played amazing basketball in the NCAA tournament. Skeen is a very good stretch 4, he’s a good shooter from long range, and proved to be a clutch player in big games.
23. Nolan Smith – I don’t know how Smith doesn’t get more love. He’s not an ideal size for a shooting guard, but he’s 6’4” and an underrated athlete. He shoots the ball well (and like all Dukies, can be very streaky from deep) – hitting 46% of his shots and over 34% from the 3 point line every single season of his 4 years at Duke. He gets to the rim well and sets up his teammates. He’s a very good defender, and I don’t see how he doesn’t find minutes at the next level.
24. Shelvin Mack – These last 3 guys were all guys that held it down in college, stepped up in huge moments, and became leaders of very good teams. Shelvin Mack might have been the biggest big time guard of the bunch – he hit some amazing shots and never once showed a shy side on the floor. There has to be a place for that guy somewhere, and I’d say the chance of 1 of the last 3 guys on this list end up sticking and contributing on an NBA roster is damn near 100%.
25. Isaiah Thomas – Thomas may be small, but he’s very explosive and showed he can run the point at a high level. The cool thing about playing at UW was that they really didn’t run anything, just ran around looking for Thomas to create and pass to super athletic players that finished near the rim. Sounds like his college days prepared him perfectly for the NBA. Thomas is streaky, but he can score. He makes up for his lack of size with great angles and ability to put up perfectly timed shots in the paint. He may go in the 2nd round, but he’s a Top 25 guy from the college ranks.
I think too much can be made of game 1 in this series. I’ve heard plenty of people say, “Chauncey Billups and Carmelo Anthony went 8 for 29 from the field and the Knicks still only lost by 2. That may be true, but a poor Knicks defensive unit held Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Glen Davis and Rajon Rondo to 17-52 shooting and 10 turnovers between the four of them, and the Celtics still won. Now there’s a statistic.
Also, Amar’e Stoudemire was unstoppable for big chunks of the game, shooting 12 of 18 from the floor and scoring 28 points. Ronny Turiaf shot 4-5 and had 9 points with 4 blocks, and I doubt either of those numbers are matched the rest of this series. Chauncey Billups is not playing in this game, and while Toney Douglas certainly has the ability to put points up on the board, a Knicks team without Mr. Big Shot just isn’t nearly as scary.
The Celtics defense did a solid job in Game 1, and while I don’t expect much better in Game 2, I do expect much of the same. The Knicks aren’t a good half court offense, and the Celtics do a good job of forcing their opponents to be efficient in the half court setting by getting back well defensively, stopping the fast break.
I don’t think -7 is a great number for Boston, but if I’m picking a side, it’s the better team playing at home in good health against a bad defensive team playing without their point guard.
New York Knicks @ Boston Celtics (-7)
Want to see how I predicted Round 1 before the games started? Click HERE!
Here it is, one game for all the glory. It’s really a nice thing to see, a do or die situation in the NBA Finals – for both teams. How rare are these things? Really rare, so rare in fact that I don’t even care to look up any numbers about the rarity of the situation because I know it’s very rare and that’s good enough for me. This is what makes many playoff situations great, that last game with everything on the line, both teams playing at their best, do or die.
So far, the Lakers and Celtics have been pretty even. The road team has won a game in their opponents’ house, and each has taken two at their own place. This game is being played in L.A. where the Lakers bench seems to do better work than the Celtics’ reserves. Kendrick Perkins, the Celtics best post defender, has been ruled out for this contest after spraining all the CL’s in his knee area – and that guy has huge knees. So yes, this game looks to be favoring the Lakers.
But the bench for L.A. played so well a couple nights ago – can they really do up the Celtics twice in a row? Can Ron Artest hit pull up threes in his defender’s face? Can he hit fadeaway jumpers that rattle home? Will Pau Gasol flirt with a triple double? Will Rajon Rondo shy away from the paint after getting dome shotted by Artest in Game 6? Will Paul Pierce struggle to find his touch? And what about Ray Allen? Record setting Ray-Ray and his beautiful J… Where has that been this series? Did he use up all his good ju-ju in Game 2?
I want to take the Celtics, I really do. 7 points is an awful lot to give in a Game 7 situation, but I guess I give a lot of credit to Kendrick Perkins. If the big man was in a green and white uniform tonight, I’d be taking Boston to cover in a close game. But without Perkins defending Pau Gasol and/or Andrew Bynum, that post up game advantage gets just that much better for LA.
If I was picking the Celtics, it would be an “against all odds” pick. They have an injury problem, playing on the road, struggling offensively, on their last legs – nothing is looking good. But I know they’re fighters, and they certainly have their back against the wall. But L.A. should win this game. They have better, younger players. I’ll take them to cover the touchdown spread.
Boston Celtics @ L.A. Lakers (-7)
A few games ago I couldn’t have imagined the Orlando Magic winning even one game, let alone two games, and now three? Yikes, I’m teetering like a kindergartner here. But it’s impossible for me to ignore what I’ve seen – two teams that completely flipped for real, Orlando taking on the confident, unbeatable, and aggressive persona that Boston used to run out to a 3-0 lead in this series. And it’s that switch that has me on the move, taking Orlando to win Game 6 and wiggle one game closer to history.
Somewhere along the line (I’m thinking between Game 3 and Game 4) the Magic decided to test the Celtics where Boston struggles most, attacking the basket. Boston’s rotations are really good, they move to the open shooter well, but with guys running out recklessly they are relatively easy to drive past. Orlando has attacked, and thus they are winning.
This game will be closer, no doubt about it, Boston isn’t going to just give up in a big time must win Game 6 at home. And they might very well win this game – I give it almost 50-50 here. But with Rasheed Wallace hurting, Big Baby in limbo, and Rajon Rondo not playing that elite basketball that skyrocketed his name to “The Best Point Guard in the NBA” lists everywhere – the 0-3 to 4-3 no chance in hell might just get Boston in the gotcha… I’ll take the points, as few as they may be.
Orlando Magic (+3.5) @ Boston Celtics
I liked the Suns to go for a cover in Game 1, but the Lakers looked like the Thunder Cats, The Bulls circa the 90′s, and Gladiator all fit into one purple and yellow uniform. And the Suns went the way of the toilet water – it wasn’t pretty. But that’s just one game, right? This won’t be a sweep, will it?
Phoenix Suns (+6.5) @ LA Lakers: No way. The Suns have played too well over the last few months and the Lakers have played too mediocre to continue to dominate in the fashion they handed out butt kickings in Game 1. At one point the game was 23-24, and after that, it was no longer a game.
But I expect Game 2 to be a little different. Game 1 was a perfect scenario for the Lakers and everything went wrong for the Suns. The Lakers shot lights out. The Suns didn’t. The Lakers hit lots of threes, even Kobe was draining from deep. The Suns had their lowest 3pt % of the playoffs. Freaking Lamar Odom had 19 and 19 – are you serious?
The Bigs are going to give Phoenix trouble, no doubt about it. Pau Gasol is awesome (and that’s something I hate saying because of his dumb whiney-pouty-10-year-old-face). However, the Suns still have a solid game plan to give the Lakers trouble. No way Kobe goes for 40 again while everyone else in LA’s line-up plays flawlessly. I just hope the Suns stick to their guns and find out what happens.
I think they have a chance, even though Phil Jackson is 46-0 in playoff series where his team has won the first game of the match-up.
Listen, I believe the Magic will even out the series. I’m pretty big on giving a percent of likeliness, and I’d say the Magic have a 70% chance to win on Tuesday Night. They are playing at home, down 1-0, have rest and youth on their side, and the Celtics have been known to put up questionable performances here and there. This might be here, and it’s definitely there.
I don’t see the Orlando Magic going 5 for 22 from three-point-land again. And despite the Celtics quality defense, the Magic are going to cut down on those 18 turnovers.
There are lots of things that are going Orlando’s way, everything besides the fact that Boston is playing Championship level basketball, and right now, they are as good as they’ve been since their title run in Year 1 of the Big Three. KG and Rasheed still pull Dwight away from the key (despite his 5 blocks last game) and they can play great post defense as a team (Dwight 3 for 10 from the floor in Game 1). The Celtics are old, and haven’t gotten the rest that Orlando has been afforded after sweeping the Hawks…
But I don’t see the Celtics coming out flat against the Magic – it just doesn’t make sense. They aren’t favored in this series, and they know they can’t take the Celtics lightly. I’m giving Boston a 30% chance to win outright, and those 7.5 points just barely give them the edge over Orlando against the spread. These two teams have played a lot of close games, and I wouldn’t be surprised if another one came right down to the wire.
Boston Celtics (+7.5) @ Orlando Magic (5-18: 8:30 PM ET – ESPN)
I swept Monday’s match-ups, kind of like the Lakers and Magic did to the Jazz and Hawks – I was undefeated. As for the entire run of games from last week’s “Just Picks” newsletter, well, I finished 10-3 ATS – not too shabby. The Lakers finished off the Jazz behind Kobe’s 30 points – and what’s new, the guy is an assassin with a masters in closing it out. The Hawks never had a shot, as they showed in Game 1 – but it happened again tonight – and one has to wonder if that Atlanta team stays together next year. Hmm…
I’ve been making a killing on the favorites in Round 2 of the NBA playoffs, but that doesn’t mean I’ve forced my hand. The Celtics have played three of the four games better than Cleveland Cavaliers has, and the match-up problems they give Cleveland still exist – so I might just be taking the dog on Tuesday Night.
Boston Celtics (+7.5) @ Cleveland Cavaliers (5-11: 8:00 PM ET – TNT): This is a tough one – I fully expect LeBron and the Flying LeBron’s to come out geeked to beat the Celtics in Game 5 – as this is almost a must win for the home team – but isn’t it a must win for Boston too? I don’t know the numbers, but something like 90% of Game 5 winners (in a 7 game series) end up taking home the W in the end. I give the Cavaliers a 60% chance to win Game 5 – but the Boston Celtics look like the better bet with a 40% chance to win and 7.5 points to play with in a close loss. Too good for me to pass up. The C’s might not have the better team, but unless Mo Williams starts producing like he should, Boston has the advantage in the match-up portion of the show. With a starting line-up that really spreads out the Cavs’ team defense, and bigs that pull Cleveland’s posts away from the key – the Celtics have a punchers chance in any game against Cleveland. Sometimes a puncher wins a round their not supposed to, and sometimes a puncher wins a fight they were expected to lose… I’m just saying, 7.5 points seems to small.
I finished last week’s NBA playoffs at 8-3 after I split Sunday’s playoff action. The Spurs got swept and while I ended up being wrong about that game, I couldn’t be happier about my failure. Steve Nash got his eye smashed shut and the guy still came out in the 4th and ran the Spurs’ show right out of their own gym. A couple real questionable plays late had the Spurs with a chance, but Steve shut them down at every turn. As for the Celtics, well, they did what I thought they’d do, and I was right about LeBron, he didn’t come out and blow up the spot like he did in Game 3. He can’t do that every game. Rajon Rondo was filthy for Boston, he dropped a triple double and was grabbing rebounds like he was Wilt Chamberlain. Crazy. Here’s my thoughts on Monday’s games…
Orlando Magic (-6) @ Atlanta Hawks (5-10: 8:00 PM ET – TNT): I could go into great detail about the infinite wall the Hawks are trying to climb. I could dig into the terrible match-up problems that the Magic give them. I could even talk about how Joe Johnson told Atlanta that he doesn’t care if the fans show up. But screw all that stuff. The Magic are just going to beat the pee out of Atlanta to finish up the series.
LA Lakers (+2.5) @ Utah Jazz (5-10: 10:30 PM ET – TNT): Utah had a win last time out, and it’s really amazing how the Lakers can just play well enough to win like they have been. But this is Game 4, and LA can close it out now and make sure they get as much time off as Phoenix. Utah is outmatched down low, and that, again, will be the difference in this one.
This has been quite the week for me in NBA action: the Orlando Magic and LA Lakers covered on Saturday to bring my record to 7-1 this week. I’m not going to say it’s been easy, but come on, the match-ups are set for the public to win big, and I’m just following the favorite and looking good because of it.
On Saturday, the Lakers fought back after being down by double digits and won by a point in Utah. The Lakers were dogs in this one, and that made it even easier. It was a 1-point game down the stretch, and while LA did their best to give Utah a shot to win it, that wouldn’t have meant anything to me. In fact, I was rooting hard for Matthews to tip the game winner in. Nothing’s better than betting on the Lakers, winning, and having them lose all in the same breath.
The Magic destroyed the Hawks… Again. Any of you Hawks’ fans that like Joe Johnson, you better get the TV on for his LAST GAME in Atlanta. Here’s what I think of Sunday’s games.
Cleveland Cavaliers @ Boston Celtics (+1) (5-9: 3:30 PM ET – abc): So, LeBron went nuts last time out. I’m betting he won’t hit every jumper he takes in Game 4, and I think somebody besides Rondo will play very well for the Celtics. I still think the Celtics are a tough match-up for Cleveland, so the C’s +1 to even out the series is a good enough bet for me.
Phoenix Suns @ San Antonio Spurs (-3.5) (5-9: 4:30 PM ET – TNT): There’s nothing more that I’d like to see than a sweep of the Spurs – well, maybe a sweep of the Lakers, a sweep of the Yankees, and a #1 seeded Duke Blue Devils loss to a #16 team that you’ve never heard of – but the Spurs are definitely somebody on my top 5 favorite to see get swept list. Anyway, this is the toughest one for me all week -but I’m going with San Antonio to win at least one game at home in this series. I expect Manu Ginobili to have a big game, Parker to play well – but most of all, I expect the Suns bench to not go nuts on Sunday. Dragic won’t be good for 26, and that should make the difference as the Spurs make it 3-1. But I hope not!
Here are my picks for Saturday’s NBA Playoff Games. Lots of these series are getting very interesting. Charlotte gets their first home game against Orlando, as do the Bucks. Portland and Oklahoma try to even up their respective series after winning one out of the first 3 games.
Orlando Magic @ Charlotte Bobcats (+2) (4-24: 2:00 PM ET – TNT): It almost seems wrong to take the Bobcats, but I’m not letting the first two outcomes sway me. I still think Charlotte matches up fairly well with the Magic, and playing their first ever playoff game at home should get them pumped to play, and maybe start out the game not getting behind big early. That has been the difference, so I’ll take the Bobcats to start better and upset the Magic.
Phoenix Suns (+1.5) @ Portland Trail Blazers (4-24: 4:30 PM ET – TNT): I think Phoenix has the Blazers figured out a bit, and playing away from home isn’t going to hurt them. They won easily two nights ago, and the Blazers aren’t getting Brandon Roy or either of their two centers back anytime soon, so they’ll continue to struggle. If Jason Richardson continues his stellar play, the Suns will win by double digits again. More on NBA playoffs odds for Suns V Trail Blazers.
Atlanta Hawks (+1) @ Milwaukee Bucks (4-24: 7:00 PM ET – ESPN): Playing in Milwaukee doesn’t mean Bogut will heal miraculously – so just like the last couple games, this is Atlanta’s to lose. I see the Hawks sweeping the Bucks.
LA Lakers (+2) @ Oklahoma City Thunder (4-24: 9:30 PM ET – ESPN): The Lakers lost last time out despite Durant struggling from the floor, again. He made some really big shots down the stretch. but his teammates really helped him out. Russell Westbrook had about the sickest playoff dunk I’ve seen this year as he dunked all over every Laker in the history of the franchise. But again, if the Lakers just go to their bigs, they should win fairly easily. I’m hoping I’m wrong, and I’m hoping I’ll be wrong every time I ever pick L.A. but I have a feeling the Lake-show goes up 3-1 in this one.