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2012 NBA Draft – Draft Grades

The 2012 NBA Draft is in the books.

We expected a lot of trades tonight, but only minor trades occurred. The usual drama that surrounds early picks wasn’t there. Overall, this draft was uneventful and fairly boring.

Even if the public deemed this draft to be a bit bland, it doesn’t mean that this draft wasn’t important. Many teams improved their teams by making smart draft picks and some teams left fans scratching their heads.

I go team-by-team and give out draft grades for the entire league. Which teams make the honor roll and which teams are doomed to repeat the year?

Atlanta Hawks – #23 John Jenkins (Vanderbilt) & #43 Mike Scott (Virginia)
Jenkins is the best 3-point shooter in the draft and Scott is one of the most consistent scorers. If the Hawks were looking to improve their offense, they would have had a difficult time beating the duo they picked. Draft Grade: A-

Boston Celtics – #21 Jared Sullinger (Ohio State), #22 Fab Melo (Syracuse), & Kris Joseph (Syracuse)
The Celtics were already the best defensive team in the NBA, but by drafting Sullinger and Melo, they got much better. Sullinger is the best low-post scorer in the draft, but with his size disadvantage, that skill may not translate to the NBA. Joseph doesn’t have a position in the NBA, but he a student of the game. They needed to address their offensive woes in the draft, but only called Sullinger’s name to help. Draft Grade: C+

Brooklyn Nets – #41 Tyshawn Taylor (Kansas), #54 Tornike Shengelia (Georgia) & Ikran Karaman (Turkey)
I am already deducting point for including their first round pick in the trade to rent Gerald Wallace for one-third of a season. Taylor is a nice pick and would be a nice backup point guard behind Deron Williams (if he signs back with Brooklyn). Shengelia and Karaman are nice Euros to stash away. ‘Toko’ Shengelia has the most upside of the pair. Draft Grade: D+

Charlotte Bobcats – #2 Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (Kentucky) & Jeff Taylor (Vanderbilt)
Kidd-Gilchrist is a gifted athlete and a plus defender. Taylor is a gifted athlete and a plus defender. Are you noticing the similarities? I feel like Charlotte came into the draft with a defeatist attitude. They didn’t get the #1 pick and had many opportunities to move out of the #2 position and get more picks to help their team rebuild. Draft Grade: D

Chicago Bulls – #29 Marquis Teague (Kentucky)
The Bulls needed backcourt help and they drafted the best point guard available. They could have opted for a three-point threat here, but with Derrick Rose due to miss a huge chunk of the 2012-13 season, Teague was the smart choice. If he would have stayed in school one more year, he would have been a lottery pick. Draft Grade: A-

Cleveland Cavaliers – #4 Dion Waiters (Syracuse) & #17 Tyler Zeller (North Carolina)…plus Kelenna Azubuike 
Cleveland concentrated their talent by trading some late draft picks to Dallas for the rights to Zeller. They also drafted Waiters at #4, even though they were rumored to be in love with North Carolina’s Harrison Barnes. I really like the moves they made. The Cavs could be pretty interesting in a couple seasons with a nucleus of Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson, Waiters, and Zeller. Draft Grade: A

Dallas Mavericks – #24 Jared Cunningham (Oregon State), #33 Bernard James (Florida State) & Jae Crowder (Marquette)
Dallas turned one draft pick into three draft picks with a trade with Cleveland. They basically traded the rights to Tyler Zeller and Kelenna Azubuike for the three picks. I don’t understand the thought process in picking Cunningham, James, and Crowder. Cunningham could be an elite defensive backcourt stopper, James can play right away, but lacks upside, and Crowder is a 6’5 power forward with no position in the NBA. Dallas needed to fill out their roster, but I believe they missed with this trade. Draft Grade: D-

Denver Nuggets – #20 Evan Fournier (France), #38 Quincy Miller (Baylor) & #50 Izzet Turkyilmaz (Turkey)
Fournier is a talented shooting guard who could come to the NBA right away or could stay in France to add strength and experience. Miller had ACL surgery before his freshman year and didn’t look like he was healthy all season. He was one of the best players in his high school class, so if he gets healthy, this could be a steal. Draft Grade: B+

Detroit Pistons – #9 Andre Drummond (UConn), #39 Khris Middleton (Texas A&M) & #44 Kim English (Missouri)
Detroit had a need for a dominant big man, mid-range offense, and a three-point scoring threat. I believe Drummond, Middleton, and English fill all those needs. They did the best they could do with those picks, but the Middleton pick concerns me a little with his past injuries. Draft Grade: B

Golden State Warriors – #30 Festus Ezeli (Vanderbilt), #35 Draymond Green (Michigan State) & Ognjen Kuzmic
Golden State picked Ezeli before Green, which is confusing. Green is more of a sure thing than Ezeli and I’m fairly certain that he would have been there at #35. The reason that is important is that first round picks have guaranteed contracts. It is a small error that could come back to do some harm. Draft Grade: D+

Houston Rockets – #12 Jeremy Lamb (UConn), #16 Royce White (Iowa State) & Terrence Jones (Kentucky)
The Rockets have been the most active team since the NBA Lottery. They were trying to get enough assets to acquire Dwight Howard, but fell short. They ended up with three quality draft picks in the middle of the first round and added a ton of talent. Lamb is a proven winner that could turn into a Tayshaun Prince/Rudy Gay type player, White who can do things with the ball in his hands or in the post, and Jones who is a jack of all trades. I love what Houston did in this draft. Draft Grade: A+

Indiana Pacers – #26 Miles Plumlee (Duke) & #36 Orlando Johnson (UC Santa Barbara)
The Pacers will have another big white guy from Duke on their team. They were finally free from them after not re-signing Mike Dunleavy and Josh McRoberts, but apparently there was a void. Plumlee was a reach at #26, but they needed to replace the retired Jeff Foster. They bought the #36 pick from Sacramento and picked a sharp shooter from a small school. Indiana is gathering pieces that could make Danny Granger expendable in the near future. Draft Grade: C-

Los Angeles Clippers – #53 Furkan Aldemir (Turkey)
Aldemir has a lot of potential, but he will need to mature overseas before the Clippers even ponder bringing him over. Draft Grade: Incomplete

Los Angeles Lakers – #55 Darius Johnson-Odom (Marquette) & #60 Robert Sacre (Gonzaga)
The L.A. Lakers only had the #60 pick going into the draft and they used it wisely. Sacre is a guy who can make an NBA squad or be assigned to the NBDL for a bit to get some seasoning. The Lakers traded Dallas for the rights to Johnson-Odom after the draft…presumably for the younger Kardashians to marry. DJO is a solid player and a value pick so late in the draft. Draft Grade: B+

Memphis Grizzlies – #25 Tony Wroten Jr. (Washington)
I do not understand Memphis drafting Wroten Jr. He is a pass-first point guard, which is good…but lack any offensive skill past eight-feet. Mike Conley doesn’t have the best skills on offense, so Memphis will not upgrade the position with Wroten Jr. A player can be taught to shoot, but at this point, he is a project that will take time to develop. Draft Grade: D+

Miami Heat –  #45 Justin Hamilton (LSU) & a future first-round pick from Philadelphia
Hamilton has a big body the Heat covet. They lack size and the jury is out on Dexter Pittman being a productive big man. The biggest asset the Heat earned in this draft is a future first-round pick from the 76ers. Philadelphia is a volatile team and if they suffer a few key injuries, they are a lottery team. Draft Grade: B-

Milwaukee Bucks – #14 John Henson (North Carolina), #42 Doron Lamb (Kentucky) and Samuel Dalembert via trade 
The Bucks rolled the dice with Henson at #14. He is a top-10 talent but has a lot of the same skills as Ekpe Udoh. Henson will need to add muscle for this pick to pay off. I love the Lamb pick  in the middle of the second round. He is the second or third best shooter in the draft and will pair nicely with Monta Ellis. Draft Grade: B+

Minnesota Timberwolves – #58 Robbie Hummel (Purdue) & Chase Budinger via trade
I love, love, love Minnesota’s pick here. Hummel was an elite talent at Purdue before he suffered a pair of knee injuries. At #58, there is zero risk by drafting him there. The trade for Budinger was a no brainer for Minnesota. Draft Grade: A

New York Knicks – #48 Kostas Papanikolaou (Greece)
Papanikolaou was my favorite Euro going into the draft. He had an amazing Euroleague Final Four and reminds me of Andrei Kirilenko or Omri Casspi. He could end up being a nice player, but will stay over in Greece for a minimum of one year. Draft Grade: B-

New Orleans Hornets – #1 Anthony Davis (Kentucky), #10 Austin Rivers (Duke) & #46 Darius Miller (Kentucky)
The Hornets did the most in this draft to drastically improve their team. It helped that they had the #1 overall pick, but the picks of Rivers and Miller really made sense for the team. Rivers was the #1 overall talent going into the college season and Miller was the veteran leader on a National Championship team. I love the draft and New Orleans set themselves up to win soon. Draft Grade: A+

Oklahoma City Thunder – #28 Perry Jones III (Baylor)
Jones III was a top-five talent going into the college season, but concerns about his knee and inconsistent play made him fall in the draft. The Thunder know how to draft and this was a no-brainer. PJ3 is a safety net in case OKC can’t re-sign Serge Ibaka. I’m also glad the Thunder didn’t make a hasty move by trading James Harden for a lottery pick. Draft Grade: A

Orlando Magic – #19 Andrew Nicholson (St. Bonaventure) & #49 Kyle O’Quinn (Norfolk State)
Orlando clearly used their picks to attempt to replace Dwight Howard. Nicholson and O’Quinn won’t be able to fill his shoes, but could make the transition a tad easier. Nicholson has a nice shooting touch for a big man and O’Quinn is a hard worker who has some skills in the paint. Neither of these players are freak athletes, but they leave everything on the court. Draft Grade: B-

Philadelphia 76ers – #15 Maurice Harkless (St. John’s) & #27 Arnett Moultrie (Mississippi State)
Philly’s draft strategy was confusing. Harkless has the same skill-set as most of their current players (a slasher who is a tweener). They had to give up a mid-second rounder and a future first round pick for Moultrie. He is a big man with deep range who can rebound the ball well. Draft Grade: C-

Phoenix Suns – Kendall Marshall (North Carolina)
Marshall is the contingency plan in case Steve Nash bolts for greener pastures. He could end up as the starting point guard at the beginning of the season. Marshall has plus ball-handling skills with a strong knowledge of the game. I like this pick a lot, but he needs to improve on the defensive end. Draft Grade: B

Portland Trail Blazers – #6 Damian Lillard (Weber State), #11 Meyers Leonard (Illinois) & #40 Will Barton (Memphis)
Portland had a busy draft and they picked up some good players. Lillard was coveted by nearly every team in the back-half of the top-10. Leonard is a legit seven-footer that could turn into something special. Finally, Barton was a top high school talent going into college, but took a little time to develop into a plus scorer. I like what Portland did in the draft, but it lacked the instant star power fans expected from their high picks. Draft Grade: B+

Sacramento Kings – #5 Thomas Robinson (Kansas)
Robinson is my sleeper pick to be next season’s Rookie of the Year. He has an NBA-ready body with skills at the power forward position that no other talent had in this draft. He will pair nicely with DeMarcus Cousins and be a high character guy that franchise needs. Draft Grade: A-

San Antonio Spurs – #59 Marcus Denmon (Missouri)
It is hard to give out a high draft grade to a team that only had the second-to-last pick. The Spurs makes smart picks in the draft, but I expected a ‘draft and stash’ player here. I loved Demon in college and think he was a steal for the Spurs at #59. Draft Grade: B

Toronto Raptors – #8 Terrence Ross (Washington), #37 Quincy Acy (Baylor) & #56 Tomislav Zubcic (Croatia)
Honestly, I have no idea what the hell Toronto was doing here. They drafted Ross about ten spots too high, Acy is a guy who loves to dunk everything with little fundamental skills, and Zubcic will never play in the NBA (at least not for the next four years). Ross is a good shooter and is athletic, but I don’t know how he will pair with DeMar DeRozan. Draft Grade: D

Utah Jazz – #47 Kevin Murphy (Tennessee Tech)
If I said ‘Kevin Murphy’ and you had to guess which team drafted him, without any knowledge of draft position or skill…you would say the Utah Jazz, right? He is a nice college player at a small school. He was a standout there and he can shoot the ball from all over the court. It’s a nice sleeper pick with little to no risk. Draft Grade: C+

Washington Wizards – #3 Bradley Beal (Florida) & #32 Tomas Satoransky (Czech Republic)
Beal has the skills to be an elite player in the NBA. His long-range shooting will help open up lanes for John Wall to drive to the basket. They were very lucky that he fell to them at #3. Satoransky won’t be in the league for a couple years, but he has enough upside that he could have been taken in the first-round. Draft Grade: A-


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Why Was Jared Sullinger Medically Red Flagged?

The 2012 NBA Draft is only a couple weeks away and teams are having prospects come in for personal workouts. Teams want to see the player workout in person, but they also do a lot of medical tests by their team doctor. If a negative results comes from the workout or physical exam, a player could drop a lot in the draft. It is something that usually sticks until they have a breakout game in the NBA.

Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger has been going through a rotating door of NBA Lottery teams. He has visited New Orleans Hornets, Golden State Warriors, and Portland Trail Blazers with upcoming visits to Toronto Raptors, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Detroit Pistons.

ESPN is reporting that numerous team doctors have found something in Sullinger’s physical examination. What is alleged problem? Could this be the reason for Sullinger’s poor play against Kansas in the NCAA Tournament.
Sources are telling ESPN that multiple team doctor have reported that Sullinger’s back could shorten his NBA career. Some team doctors have even advised their team to not draft him in the first round (First round draft picks have guaranteed contracts unlike Second round picks).

The specific injury appears to be a set of bulging discs in Sullinger’s back. His agent, David Falk, didn’t comment on ESPN’s article. His father Satch Sullinger told ESPN that the bulging area was due to his hamstring and quads being so tight. He says that it pulled on his hip flexor, but his son has been taking care of it with yoga and deep tissue massage.

DeJuan Blair had a lot of negative buzz going into the 2009 NBA Draft because of his lack of ACLs in both knees. He wasn’t picked until the beginning of the second round because every team was scared to give him a guaranteed contract. Blair went on to have a good rookie season with the San Antonio Spurs and has been a solid player in the NBA.

I have been a fan of Sullinger’s since I saw him play his freshman year. He had some explosion going to the hoop and I was expecting big things from him. My opinion started to become less favorable towards the end of his freshman year and throughout his entire sophomore season at Ohio State. He was playing below the rim and did not seem to have a vertical jump of more than 12 inches. The explosion wasn’t there and I suspected a nagging injury to be the problem. He had less than stellar reviews from his predraft agility tests. I hope this is an issue that can be resolved and we see the player who was lights out during the first half of his freshman year.

In my NBA mock draft, I have Sullinger drafted #12 by the Milwaukee Bucks. Milwaukee has yet to have him in for a workout and with this news, he could free fall out of the first round. I don’t believe that will happen, but he may drop out of the Lottery. If a team is serious about drafting him, they will make sure to get a second opinion and even a third.

I believe that Sullinger’s “ceiling” is a more offensively gifted Anthony Mason. If his becomes and issue and he has weight issues in the NBA, his basement is Sean May.

I’m hoping the Phoenix Suns draft him and their training staff can work another miracle.


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2012 NBA Draft – Lottery Mock Draft

The New Orleans Hornets won the most important NBA Lottery since Lebron James was available. Anthony Davis was going #1 overall in the 2012 NBA Draft no matter which team won the lottery. He will direct the Honets in the right direction. They had the fourth best odds of winning the first pick.

I feel sorry for the Charlotte Bobcats, who had the best odds of wining the #1 pick. They had the worst winning percentage in NBA history and missed out on the biggest prize. They will still get a good player, but all their fans wanted Davis.

The order of the NBA Lottery is officially set in stone and the teams are looking towards to the future. Who will your team pick and how will that player improve their team? I breakdown the NBA Lottery and present you with my first 2012 NBA Lottery Mock Draft.

1. New Orleans Hornets – PF/C Anthony Davis (Kentucky)
This is the easiest pick to forecast in my mock draft. New Orleans won the Anthony Davis lottery. They will enjoy this more than a Mega Millions purse. The Hornets are a team that lack identity. They had to part ways with Chris Paul and David West because of salary cap issues and the team being owned by the NBA. Tom Benson stepped in and will be the future owner. Davis is the new face of the franchise and a new beginning for fans. He is the best low-post defender to come out of the draft in many years. He needs to add a lot of weight. A 220 lb. 6’10 power forward/center isn’t going to be able to do everything that he wants.

2. Charlotte Bobcats – SF Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (Kentucky)
I feel sorry for Charlotte fans. They have struggled over the last few years and their team lacks a star. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is the Bobcats star of the future. As soon as he puts on a Charlotte uniform, he will be the team’s best player. He is a nice complement to Kemba Walker and Bimack Biyombo. He can defend well and out-hustle everyone on the court. He is a proven winner and will continue to improve.

3. Washington Wizards – PF Thomas Robinson (Kansas)
Washington fell a bit short and missed out on Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. MKG would have been a good fit on their team, but Thomas Robinson is more of a finished product. He can help the Wizards instantly and will be an impact player and starter in his first game. He will help in every facet of the game. John Wall will love having an inside scorer to feed all game.

4. Cleveland Cavaliers – SG Bradley Beal (Florida) (or Drummond if Beal is gone)
Cleveland was leapfrogged and fell to #4, but will still get their guy. Bradley Beal is the first tweener in the draft and fills a need for the Cavs. He is a prototypical shooting guard and has some ball handling skills if they wanted to pair him up with the second unit as point guard. He is only a year removed from high school, so he will need some molding to become a franchise player.

5. Sacramento Kings – C Andre Drummond (UConn)
The Kings have Demarcus Cousins, why would they need Drummond? Drummond is a true center and Cousins has the skills to better fit at power forward. He’s a freak athlete with a 7-foot-5 inche wingspan. He is a shot blocker and can pass out of the post. If he hits his ceiling, he could be the steal of this NBAdraft.

6. Portland Trailblazers – SF Harrison Barnes (North Carolina)
Why didn’t Harrison Barnes dominate in college? This is the question that every NBA team will ask themselves while evaluating him. He has a nice outside jumper and a high basketball IQ. He doesn’t have the athletic ability that jumps off of the paper like most #6 picks and higher have. Portland can really improve their team in this draft with two lottery selections. They can afford to gamble a little by picking Barnes at #6.

7. Golden State Warriors – PF Perry Jones III (Baylor)
Perry Jones III is listed as a power forward, but he plays more like a guard. I would compare him to Lamar Odom, since he still has rebounding ability. He is very streaky and should have dominated in college. He is a guy that scouts have mixed feelings about. He disappears in games, but with the right coaching, he can get rid of those issues.

8. Toronto Raptors – SG Dion Waiters (Syracuse)
If a player is getting comparisons to Dwyane Wade and Tyreke Evans, he definitely has a shot at being a star in the NBA. He is an explosive scorer who is a bit undersized for his position (i.e. Wade & Evans). The Raptors are in need of a player like Waiters. They struggled to put points up on the scoreboard. He needs to improve his jumper…a recurring theme in this draft.

9. Detroit Pistons – C Tyler Zeller (North Carolina)
When he chose to play at North Carolina, Tyler Zeller was a lock to leave school after his freshman year. He had all of the accolades and talent, but he lost most of his freshman year to injury. He waited his turn and developed into a better player by staying in school. The Pistons need another big to put besideGreg Monroe. They have different styles and it would be a nice marriage in the paint.

10. New Orleans Hornets – PG Damian Lillard (Weber State)
A lottery pick from Weber State?! Don’t let the small school throw you, Lillard has NBA talent. He can shoot from long-range and limits turnovers on the offensive end. The only knock on him would be that he is a tweener. The emergence of Russell Westbrook has definitely helped his stock. Every team is looking for his clone.

11. Portland Trailblazers – SG Jeremy Lamb (UConn) 
You first heard of Lamb last season when his UConn Huskies won the NCAA Tournament. He could have went out last year and been a higher pick in a much weaker draft. He is a talented two-guard that impresses with his defensive ability. He has a long wingspan and reminds me of a Tayshaun Prince coming out of college. Portland will always miss Brandon Roy, Lamb can help them move on.

12. Miluwakee Bucks – PF Jared Sullinger (Ohio State)
He’s one of the best low-post scorers and rebounders in this draft. He is too small to play center (6’9) and plays low to the ground. He has a low center of gravity and can defend players taller than him. He struggled against Kansas in the NCAA Tournament. If he had a solid game, you would be picked higher in the draft. His talent ceiling is Charles Barkley to Anthony Mason and his basement is Sean May.

13. Phoenix Suns – SG Austin Rivers (Duke)
If high school players were still allowed to be eligible for the NBA Draft, Austin Rivers would have been the #1 overall pick last year. He will help the Suns get back to their old offensive ways. He is great at going to the hoop, but is very streaky. His free-throw shooting percentage is not where you would like it to be for his position. Rivers has all of the tools to be an star in the NBA, but he’s very young and will need some molding.

14. Houston Rockets – PF Terrence Jones (Kentucky)

He is one of the most versatile players. He can help you in many ways around the court. He can rebound, block shots, and even has 3-point range. He is a player who has a position and could draw out defenses from the paint. He is another player that can disappear and have scouts scratching their heads. He would have been a top-3 pick in last year’s NBA Draft.

Next 10 Best Players Available:
PG Kendall Marshall (North Carolina)
PF John Henson (North Carolina)
SF Terrence Ross (Washington)
SF Quincy Miller (Baylor)
SF Moe Harkless (St. John’s)
PG Marquis Teague (Kentucky)
C Meyers Leonard (Illinois)
SG/SF C Evan Fournier (International)
PF Royce White (Iowa State)
C Fab Melo (Syracuse)


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Home Sweet Home

Home-court advantage has played a very significant role in the NBA playoffs this season. In the conference semi-finals the home team is 15-1 (the Orlando Magic had to mess up the perfect record). The Celtics did look like the team to beat, until they arrived in Cleveland. Boston appeared like they had too many 23 cent pizzas on thursday and look sluggish. Lebron James hasn’t played very well at all, yet they tied the series 2-2 tonight. The Celtics are getting flashbacks of the Atlanta series, but Cleveland is an actual NBA team, not an NBA D-League team that currently plays in Atlanta. Ray Allen has disappeared and Pierce looks like Antoine Walker lately. If the trend of home teams winning stays true, this series should go seven games.

The New Orleans/San Antonio series looked like a possible sweep after the first two games. Tim Duncan played like Jerome James and he wasn’t getting help from Manu Ginobli’s bald spot or Mr. Eva Longoria. Chris Paul was playing his best in the biggest games of his career so far. Peja Stojakovic was forgot that he was washed up and playing like he did while with the Kings. Unfortunately for the Hornets, Duncan woke up and the Spurs had hard to beat at home. The Hornets/Spurs series appears to be a possible seven game series.Kobe Bryant at the Lakers have their hands full with the Utah Jazz. The Jazz didn’t show up in Los Angeles, but Utah only lost four games at home all season. Kobe injured his back in Game 4 and had to stand up during the post-game conference. If Kobe isn’t 100% for Game 5, I think Utah could sneak a win and clinch the series in Utah. David Stern will probably hate to see Utah advance, but Andrei Kirilenko started actually playing again and he will break you.

The Detroit/Orlando series will not go seven games. Orlando is a good team, but Detroit’s experience is proving to be too much for them to handle. The Magic will be a contender next season, but Dwight Howard needs another big man to help him in the low-post. Howard’s offensive skills start and end with his dunking ability. If they draft or sign a free-agent who can score 15 a game and can hit a 20-foot jumper, Howard will benefit. They need a player like Mehmet Okur, who can take shots from the outside that would leave Howard one-on-one to fight for the rebound.

I would like to see Jazz/Hornets and Celtics/Pistons Conference Finals, but I am afraid I couldn’t stomach another Pistons/Spurs in the NBA Finals. They are both good teams and deserving to be there, but I would like to see something new and fresh. I feel like the NBA Finals have been stuck on repeat the last few seasons and I want to push the shuffle button and see what happens.

A Sports & Entertainment blog that focuses on absurdity in sports, snarky banter, updates on Tim Tebow’s virginity, and decent sports gambling advice.