NBA MOCK DRAFT 1.0 PODCAST

In my first ever podcast we conduct an NBA Mock Draft with some of the biggest names from NBA twitter and Draft twitter. Listen below or find us on Spotify @ Arizona Sports Zone Podcast and iTunes (soon, awaiting approval).

Thanks again to all of our guests! Here is how the board panned out.

1. New Orleans Pelicans- Max: Zion Williamson
2. Memphis Grizzlies- David: Jarrett Culver
3. New York Knicks- Dave: Ja Morant
4. *New Orleans Pelicans- Cole: RJ Barrett
5. Cleveland Cavaliers- Eustacchio: Brandon Clarke
6. *New Orleans Pelicans- Sreekar: Cam Reddish
7. Chicago Bulls- Tankathon: Coby White
8. Atlanta Hawks- Kellan: De’Andre Hunter
9. Washington Wizards- Andrew: Jaxson Hayes
10. Atlanta Hawks- Kellan: Kevin Porter Jr.
11. Minnesota Timberwolves- Ale: Grant Williams
12. Charlotte Hornets- Strika: Bol Bol
13. Miami Heat- Gerald: Darius Garland
14. Boston Celtics- Ross: Goga Bitadze
15. Detroit Pistons- Mike: Romeo Langford
16. Orlando Magic- AZSZ: Tyler Herro
17. Brooklyn Nets- MavsDraft: PJ Washington
18. Indiana Pacers- Ben: Talen Horton-Tucker
19. San Antonio Spurs- AZSZ: Mattise Thybulle
20. Boston Celtics- Ross: Nickeil Alexander-Walker
21. Oklahoma City Thunder- Topic Thunder: Sekou Doumbouya
22. Boston Celtics- Ross: Chuma Okeke
23. Utah Jazz- Ryan: Cameron Johnson
24. Philadelphia 76ers: Tyler: Keldon Johnson
25. Portland Trail Blazers: Jackson: Jontay Porter
26. Cleveland Cavaliers- Eustacchio: Iggy Brazdekis
27. Brooklyn Nets- MavsDraft: Rui Hachimura
28. Golden State Warriors: Jacob: Nassir Little
29. San Antonio Spurs: Steve: KZ Okpala
30. Milwaukee Bucks- Trevor: Devidas Sirvydis

*indicates trade

Trades:

Cole & Max
Lakers: Anthony Davis
Pelicans: RJ Barrett (4th pick), Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball.
—————————-
Sreekar & Max
Suns: Jrue Holiday
Pelicans: Cam Reddish (6th pick), Tyler Johnson, De’Anthony Melton, Josh Jackson and Suns protected 1st, 2020 lottery protected, top 10 2021, unprotected 2022.

 

Three Headed Monster: Cardinals 2019 WR Draft Class Review

Cardinals Contributing Writer: Frank Ciriello. Follow him on twiter– @FrankCiriello

62nd overall pick: Andy Isabella

103rd overall pick: Hakeem Butler

174th overall pick: Keesean Johnson

Adding weapons to the offense was one of the major boxes that needed to be checked this off-season and I think GM Steve Keim did just that via the 2019 NFL Draft. Andy Isabella, Hakeem Butler, and Keesean Johnson are the trio of receivers hoping to fill that void for the Cardinals offense. One of the things I loved most about Keim’s approach to this years draft was the theme of production.

Every pick had a track record of production throughout their college careers. More specifically with the receivers, these three all ranked in the top 10 of receiving yards in 2018. Isabella led the nation with 1,698 yards, Johnson came in sixth with 1,340 yards, and Butler came in right behind him at eighth with 1,318 yards. While these three are similar when it comes to proven production, the thing that intrigues me the most is they all have their own unique ability that they will bring to the offense.

  1. With the 62nd overall pick in the draft, the Arizona Cardinals selected Andy Isabella out of Massachusetts. While he is a smaller wide receiver (5’9”, 188lbs), the guy is a straight burner. He ran a 4.31 and if that does not sell you on his speed, go to YouTube and watch him beat last years number 4 pick Denzel Ward in a track meet. That kind of speed can bring a lot to this offense. Whether it be to take the top off the defense or get them moving sideline to sideline with his jet sweep ability. After watching his tape, one of my favorite traits of his is his ball tracking ability. I saw a countless number of deep balls where he made very difficult over the shoulder catches. That will be huge with Murray’s ability to push the ball down field. I think his role in this offense will be similar to how the Rams use Brandin Cooks.
  2.  The next receiver the Cardinals elected to take was Hakeem Butler out of Iowa State with the 103rd pick. How he was still there in the 4th round is beyond me, but sometimes you need a little luck in the draft and that is just what the Cardinals got with him still being on the board. At 6’5” and weighing 227lbs, Butler is just what the Cardinals have been lacking ever since Michael Floyd has been gone. A big, physical, outside presence. I could very easily see Butler leading the team in touchdowns this year with that frame and physical nature. He will be a huge red zone target and due to his size, he turns 50-50 balls into 60-40. He has worked with Calvin Johnson this off-season leading up to the draft and they both have one thing in common, and that is they have something that cannot be taught with their size. I am extremely excited to watch his progression throughout the course of training camp and the season.
  3. The final receiver the Cardinals selected was with the 174th overall pick and that was Keesean Johnson out of Fresno State. I absolutely love this pick and think it was one of my favorite of the whole draft class. He is the all time reception leader and receiving yards leader in Fresno State history and was a four year starter. Johnson will not blow you away with speed, but Keim described him as the best route runner in the draft class. He has solid size at 6’1” and 201lbs and reminds me a lot of who he surpassed at Fresno State, and that is Davante Adams. I am interested to see how he will be used in this offense as I can see him being more of a possession receiver and intermediate route runner. The number one thing I loved about watching his tape was he was fearless going across the middle and making catches in traffic.

This three headed monster of receivers has a chance to come in and make an impact immediately. I expect all three to make the roster and see some major playing time, especially with how often the Cardinals offense is expected to go 5 wide.

15 Point Guard Targets for the Phoenix Suns

There’s no denying it. The Phoenix Suns number one priority this offseason is landing a point guard whether it comes through trade, free agency or the draft. The market for PG’s is actually rather deep on a broad scale, but when you use the process of elimination the options can dwindle quickly, so it’s important the Suns have a bulletproof plan in place entering the offseason.

There are three areas that they can tap into to find their guy; free agency, trade and the draft. If they decide on drafting a point guard I truly hope they sign a veteran stop gap to a one or two year deal to help ease Ja Morant or Darius Garland into a starting role. I’d prefer if they got an established point guard, because next year’s point guard draft class is absolutely stacked, so they can always go that route if they land an older point guard.

Unrealistic free agents that won’t be included; Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker.

The format for this will be 5 x 5 x 5. My five top targets from trade, free agency and the draft. If they fail to land one of these 15 point guards, then you can probably label this offseason as a failure barring some unforeseen major move happening.

5 Trade Targets:

#1: Jrue Holiday- If you’re sick of losing like me, this should be the number one target. Jrue is under contract for 3 more seasons and would instantly change the culture of the Suns with his tenacious defense and underrated scoring ability. He may not be a “true” point guard, but that doesn’t matter when you have a play-maker like Devin Booker. Could you imagine De’Anthony Melton getting to learn from him these next three years? It’s a match made in heaven. Jrue averaged 21.2 PPG, 7.7 APG, 3.9 RPG, 1.6 SPG, on a .555 True Shooting percentage last season for the Pelicans.

#2: Lonzo Ball- Ball might be the best fit in the long run, as his defense and elite passing/vision would be ideal additions to the team. Say what you want about his father, but I’m still a believer in Lonzo and think there’s a lot more untapped potential that he hasn’t had a chance to display just yet. His size, ability to defend at a high level and rebounding ability would all be welcome sights for the Suns, and his playmaking would help Deandre Ayton take a gigantic leap in year 2.

#3: Mike Conley- I’ve admittedly gone back and forth on Conley. I wouldn’t trade a top 3 pick for him, but if they fell further in the lottery down to 6 or 7 it’s something to think about. You’d obviously target Jrue and Lonzo first, but if you can’t strike a deal from that range then Conley is the next best thing available. I believe he still has a couple more years of high-level basketball to be played, and he’d form a very dynamic duo with Devin Booker in the backcourt and help change the culture in Phoenix.

#4: Kyle Lowry- If Toronto blows things up due to Kawhi leaving or just wants to unload Lowry’s contract and move another direction then Lowry could be an option for Phoenix. I’m not sure what it would take to get him, but they’d have to unload some salary to take on his $33,000,000 contract that expires after next season. If they could ship Tyler Johnson, TJ Warren, the Milwaukee pick and their 2019 2nd round pick for him that would be something to consider. At worst, Lowry is a test-run for a year to see what this roster looks like with a competent point guard.

#5: Spencer Dinwiddie- Dinwiddie is on a team-friendly deal and would provide a significant upgrade at the point guard spot. Brooklyn could be looking to shed some salary entering free agency with high expectations, so the Suns could benefit by taking on his deal even though it’s not a large contract. He isn’t a star and may not have the “big name” appeal as the first four guys on this list, but he’s a high-IQ guard that can score when he needs to, play off the ball and help space the floor. His assist to turnover ratio is always solid, and his steady play at the point guard spot would be a welcome sight in Phoenix.

5 Free Agent Targets:

#1: Malcolm Brogdon- I know what you’re thinking. “WHY IS BROGDON RANKED ABOVE DLO?!” Let me explain. Brogdon is likely to command at least $6-8 million less annually and offers a much better skillset to compliment Devin Booker than D’Angelo Russell does. He’s extremely efficient, can shoot from three, plays on and off the ball and is one of the better defensive guards in the entire NBA. From a value standpoint I’d much rather give Brogdon a 4/64 deal than pay Russell near-max money.

#2: D’Angelo Russell- Russell is coming off an all-star appearance while leading the upstart Nets to the playoffs and he’s best friends with Devin Booker. Easy choice to give him ALL the money, right? Not so fast. If you pay Russell near-max money which he will almost assuredly demand then you are financially strapped for the foreseeable future. Even if they moved a few contracts around and brought back Kelly Oubre Jr. as well they’d pretty much be done with roster moves outside of signing players to veteran minimums. If you believe a core of Russell/Booker/Ayton as your big 3 is good enough to develop into a title contender, then by all means go for it. I’m not sure I’m there yet, and it’s important to remember that defense kinda matters.

#3: Patrick Beverley- Beverley makes sense no matter what the Suns do in the draft. He would be the “Valley Man” that could groom the “Valley Boys” as they look to change the culture in Phoenix. He’s a disruptive defensive menace that challenges his teammates and can score when needed. His value isn’t so much in the per-game stats as it is from the eye-test and influence he has on others. He reminds me a bit of a point guard version of PJ Tucker in that sense.

#4: Ricky Rubio- Rubio is a steady veteran that would improve them from the spot they were at a year ago at point guard. I’m not sure how much steam this fit could gain now that Igor is gone (Utah connection), but if they pay him well and offer him a starting spot, it could be enough to make the veteran point guard feel wanted and help mentor a young Phoenix team.

#5: Darren Collison- Collison and Rubio are both in the category of veteran point guards that aren’t overwhelmingly talented, but could offer stability where Phoenix needs it most. He wouldn’t be a bad one or two year stop-gap option to target if they miss out of their top targets.

5 Draft Targets:

#1: Ja Morant- Morant is an excellent passer and he has a lot of flash to his game, but there are still concerns about his defense and finishing ability at the next level. I think he can easily develop into a star in 3-4 years from now, but the problem is the Suns want to get better now. If they take Morant the best route to go is to ease him into the league, bringing him off the bench for the first year or at least until he shows he’s ready to start.

#2: Darius Garland- Garland is one of the more interesting names in this draft from an upside standpoint. His untimely injury may have cost him from being a lock in the top 5 which I believe he would’ve been if he stayed healthy. The modern NBA is all about shot creation and creating for others. He has a little bit of Lillard in him, but that comparison is a bit much considering the tiny sample size we have of him. He is one of the few boom or bust candidates that I believe has true star-power in this draft. Any time a guard with excellent handles can hit shots from 30+ feet they have my undivided attention.

#3: Coby White- White has an interesting combination of size and quickness along with a balanced scoring attack. I’m not sure he’s the best playmaker in the world or as good of a defender as you’d like with his size/frame, but he could be someone to watch if Phoenix drops to 6 or 7 and keeps their pick. I prefer Morant and Garland over him pretty easily, but outside of those 2 he’s the clear number 3 point guard in this draft.

#4: Ty Jerome- After the top 3 PG’s in this draft, guys like Jerome and Ponds are early 2nd round targets to look at. I’m not sure they’ll draft a PG in the 2nd round given they just took 2 in last year’s draft, but if they do decide to go that route then Jerome is a name to watch if he slips into the early 2nd from a value standpoint. Ultimately, I don’t see it happening.

#5: Shamorie Ponds- Ponds may be one of the more under looked players in this draft. If I’m a team that needs a backup point guard in the early 20’s then I’m all over Ponds. He can score the ball from three levels, has great anticipation defensively and can make plays happen. He projects as a firepower sixth man off the bench with some starter potential if he hits. I do not see him as an option for Phoenix.

 

Five 2nd Round Targets for the Arizona Cardinals

Cardinals Contributing Writer: Frank Ciriello.

After watching the Arizona Cardinals last year, it was apparent that this team had a number of holes they needed to fill in the off-season. While I like what they have done thus far, there are still some glaring needs that need to be addressed making it crucial that they hit on their late round picks. Here are five prospects to keep an eye on in the second round to address those needs.

5 Targets for the 33rd pick:

1. N’Keal Harry (WR, Arizona State University)

• Outside of Larry Fitzgerald, the Cardinals have lacked size at the wide receiver position for the last few years now and Harry would change that from the second they select him. Standing 6’2 and weighing 228lbs, Harry has the size and strength to win any contested ball thrown his way while still having tremendous run after the catch ability. One of the most underrated aspects of his game is his physicality when blocking.

2. Chris Lindstrom (G, Boston College)

• Lindstrom is one of the more athletic offensive lineman in this years draft class and projects to be an interior lineman with the ability to play tackle if needed. He is more known for his quickness and agility than he is for his strength, but has just enough strength to get by.

3. Jerry Tillery (DT, Notre Dame)

• Defensive line is one of the deepest position groups in this years class and Tillery is one of the top prospects in that group. While he is best suited as an end in a 3-4 defense, he can be moved all along the line and can play all three downs. Tillery possesses a great combination of size and strength that allows him to rely on his bull rush to get to the quarterback.

4. Jaylen Ferguson (Edge, Louisiana Tech)

• Adding Ferguson to the group of Chandler Jones, Terrell Suggs, and Brooks Reed would give the Cardinals one of the best– if not the best– pass rushing groups in the NFL. Ferguson had an extremely productive college career totaling 45 sacks in four years. He relies more on instincts when rushing the passer as oppose to strength or speed. Extremely tough at the point attack making him a solid run defender and capable of setting the edge.

5. Taylor Rapp (S, Washington)

• The more I look at the Cardinals depth chart, the more I push up the need for a safety on the list of holes to fill. Budda Baker is moving back to free safety and I love them bring back Swearinger (who they should never have let go in the first place). Beyond those two, you have Rudy Ford and Ezekiel Turner, both of whom are on the roster due to their superb special teams play more than their safety play. Taylor Rapp would be able to come in and make an impact immediately as he was a three year starter and has the ability to cover tight ends and provide run support. Being able to make open field tackles is one of his best traits, making him extremely reliable at the tail end of your defense.

The NFL Draft will take place tomorrow at 8 PM Eastern Time on ESPN, be sure to tune in Cardinals fans!

Q&A with Channing Frye

First off I just want to personally thank Channing for taking the time to do this and hats off to him for a very respectable NBA career. If you aren’t already following him on twitter for some reason make sure you do so @Channing_Frye. As an Arizona native, it was really special to see someone go to high school in Arizona (St. Mary’s) then to college at UofA then later play for the Phoenix Suns.

First I’ll start with a shoutout from Channing to Phoenix fans:

” I wanna thank all the Suns fans. I love y’all, even when I got booed in the playoffs, I say that because I knew y’all knew I could do better and that motivated me for the rest of my career! Thank you.”

Q: What do you plan on doing with your career after retiring?

Frye: “I plan on doing a lot of different things but staying close to basketball.”

Q: Favorite Suns memory or moment?

Frye: “My favorite memory was beating the Spurs and going to the Western Conference Finals.”

Q: Who were your favorite teammates in Phoenix?

Frye:Almost every teammate I ever had was my favorite. The energy and environment (in Phoenix) was great to make best friends with. To this day I still talk to almost all of my old teammates.

Q: What did you enjoy about growing up in and living in Arizona the most?

Frye: “The people. I’m so proud to be from Phoenix, to be from the Wild West! I love my city and I love claiming it and I love where we’re going as a city right now.”

Q5: What are your thoughts on the James Jones hire?

Frye: “I love champ, he’s a winner and an amazing hire. You’ll love him for years to come because he wants to win and he wants to create a winning culture.”

Q6: What do you personally think Phoenix needs to do to take the next step towards being competitive again?

Frye: “Establish some solidity with the coach and upper management (stop with the changes). Also surround Booker with winners and you will be all good after that.”

Here’s the tribute video they showed to Frye before his last game in Phoenix:

There were plenty of great moments from Frye throughout his career in Phoenix and we wish him the best in his future endeavors.

Arizona Cardinals Draft Preview: Top 10 Prospects

Cardinals Contributing Writer: Frank Ciriello follow him on twitter!

With just a couple of weeks until the NFL draft, the Arizona Cardinals are running out of time to decide what they are going to do with their number one pick. Could they already have a deal in place for their pick? Could they have a deal in place for quarterback Josh Rosen? Could they still be deciding what to do? Those questions are certainly up for debate, but whatever route they take, they have played their hand perfectly by not giving anyone a clue as to what they are going to do.

Personally, I have been sold on the idea of keeping the pick and taking Kyler Murray number one overall. The hiring of Kliff Kingsbury was an outside the box hire and I think in order to give him the best chance at being successful, you have to give him the quarterback that he feels can run his offense to its highest potential, and all signs point to the 2018 Heisman Trophy winner being that guy. While I do think it is early to give up on Josh Rosen and do think that he will ultimately be a good starting quarterback in the league, Murray’s ceiling and fit for Kingsbury’s offense is something that I do not think you can pass up on. After watching a quarterback like Russell Wilson terrorize the Cardinals over the last seven years and seeing what a quarterback with elite athleticism, tremendous accuracy, and a strong throwing arm can do for your offense, you must swing for the fences with this pick.

You never know what can happen in the NFL draft and in the event that GM Steven Keim does decide to trade down, here are my top 10 prospects.

1. Kyler Murray (Oklahoma, Quarterback)

• See Above

2. Nick Bosa (Ohio State, Defensive End)

• Said to be better than his brother Joey at this point in their careers by some, Nick is the best edge rusher in this draft class and you can never have enough pass rushers. With Terrell Suggs certainly not being apart of the long term plans, a tandem of Chandler Jones and Nick Bosa would strike fear in opposing offenses every week for years to come. His injury history does scare me, but he is my number two prospect.

3. Quinnen Williams (Alabama, Defensive Tackle)

• Defensive line is one of the position groups where the Cardinals do not have much depth at. I love the signing of Darius Philon and bringing back Rodney Gunter on a one year deal. Corey Peters has been solid ever since coming to Arizona. Outside of those three guys, there is not much there. Robert Nkemdiche is coming off of an torn ACL and has not proven himself on a consistent basis. Quinnen Williams would have an instant impact from day one.

4. Josh Allen (Kentucky, Outside Linebacker)

• Allen is not as good of a pass rusher as Bosa, but can certainly get to the quarterback in his own regard. He is a versatile player that creates pressure as well as hold his own coverage. He reminds a little bit of Haason Reddick but more polished coming out with better production.

5. Devin White (LSU, Inside Linebacker)

• The best inside linebacker in this draft class, Devin White reminds a lot of Deion Jones. He has great size and tremendous speed. By pairing White up with newly signed Jordan Hicks, you have your linebacker tandem for years to come. While I like Reddick a lot, the inconsistency is a little concerning and he has not lived up to his 13th overall selection as of yet.

6. Ed Oliver (Houston, Defensive Tackle)

• Oliver, the second best defensive tackle in this class in my eyes, saw his stock begin to drop due to an underwhelming 2018 season. I think he was in the similar situation that Jadeveon Clowney was in during his final year at South Carolina where he may have been playing just to get through the season and make it to the draft as he knew his prior seasons were enough to speak for itself. Oliver tested well and had crazy production at Houston. A lot of people want to compare him to Aaron Donald, but for Cardinals fans, I see some similarities to Darnell Dockett.

7. Christian Wilkins (Clemson, Defensive Tackle)

• One of the leaders on the National Champion Clemson Tigers, Wilkins would bring a toughness and motor to the retooled Cardinals defense. Wilkins would be a plug and play defensive lineman from day one that can create pressure up the middle allowing Jones and Suggs room to work with on the outside.

8. Jonah Williams (Alabama, Offensive Tackle)

• I love what the Cardinals have done to address the offensive line so far this offseason, and much like with pass rushers, you can never have enough quality offensive lineman. With four of the five starting offensive lineman ending the season on IR last year and the history of newly acquired tackle Marcus Gilbert struggling to stay on the field at times, taking the best offensive lineman in the draft would be a solid pick. I like his ability to play tackle as well as potentially guard if needed so I have him ranked higher than Florida tackle Jawaan Taylor.

9. Rashan Gary (Michigan, Defensive End)

• Gary, the 2016 number one overall recruit, had a disappointing 2018 season due to a shoulder injury, but still has the talent and tools to be a top 10 pick in this years draft. He is an extremely versatile defensive lineman that can play both end positions and be moved inside in some packages.

10. Byron Murphy (Washington, Cornerback)

• Murphy, an Arizona product who attended Saguaro High School, is the top cornerback in this years draft class. While he does not have elite speed, he has tremendous instincts and ball skills. With Pro Bowler Patrick Peterson and the signings of cornerbacks Robert Alford and Tramaine Brock, adding Murphy would give you arguably the best cornerback room in the league.

Comment below with how you want the Draft to shake out.

2019 NBA Draft Board: Top 50 Prospects

Used “rows” instead of “tiers” because I know everyone in the draft community is sick of that term by now. This is not a mock draft, also keep in mind this draft will have quite a bit of fluidity and there will be more drafting for “need” than there typically is due to how little separation there is of certain prospects in the 5-12 range and again in the mid to late first round. Behold, here are my top 50 prospects for the 2019 NBA Draft. My next update will be May 14th with a mock draft once the Draft Lottery concludes.

Row 1: 

1. Zion Williamson

Row 2:

2. Ja Morant

3. Jarrett Culver

4. RJ Barrett

Row 3:

5. Brandon Clarke

6. De’Andre Hunter

7. Jaxson Hayes

8. Coby White

9. Darius Garland

10. Goga Bitadze

Row 4:

11. Cam Reddish

12. Grant Williams

13. Bol Bol

14. PJ Washington

15. Nassir Little

Row 5:

16. Cameron Johnson

17. Tyler Herro

18. Rui Hachimura

19. Romeo Langford

20. Mattise Thybulle

21. Talen Horton-Tucker

Row 6:

22. Ty Jerome

23. Nickeil Alexander-Walker

24. Tre Jones

25. Bruno Fernando

26. Keldon Johnson

27. Shamorie Ponds

28. Sekou Dombouya

Row 7:

29. Kevin Porter Jr.

30. Daniel Gafford

31. Killian Tillie

32. Dylan Windler

33. Deividas Sirvydis

34. Jalen Pickett

Row 8:

35. KZ Okpala

36. Luguentz Dort

37. Charles Bassey

38. Zach Norvell

39. Admiral Schofield

40. Markus Howard

41. Carsen Edwards

Row 9:

42. Chuma Okeke*

43. Isaiah Roby

44. Nicolas Claxton

45. Terence Davis

46. Jalen McDaniels

47. Iggy Brazdeikis

48. Caleb Martin

49. Jordan Poole

50. Luka Samanic

*recent injuries dropped them 5+ spots

NBA DRAFT LOTTERY- MAY 14th