1) New Jersey Nets
Sure, it can’t be denied that the Nets practically fell into quite possibly the two steals of the night, but you have to show New Jersey a little respect considering all the teams that passed on Brook Lopez (#10) and Chris Douglas-Roberts (#40). Lopez falling to tenth is unexpected, but CDR dropping to the second round, let alone fortieth is one of the all-time draft head scratchers. I could write an entire article on just how good I think these guys are going to be, but I’ll get to the Lopez, CDR, and the Nets other first round pick, Ryan Anderson, later.
To start things off, though, I think I need to address the biggest story coming out of the draft – the fact that New Jersey has positioned itself as the inevitable future home of Lebron James.
Just look at how things have fallen in place for the soon-to-be Brooklyn Jigga Men. The Nets move Kidd to Dallas and bring in Devin Harris, a promising young point guard that can push tempo and doesn’t need to dominate the ball, and DeSagana Diop, who surprisingly developed into one of the more serviceable backup centers in the league during his time in Dallas. Then, the Cavs, coming off a trip to the Finals, bow out in the second round. In the meantime, Cleveland also manages to make moves that bring in Joe Smith, Ben Wallace and Wally Zwycrkbrzykiak (who, incidentally, plays like that frat guy you can find in any intramural league on any campus in America – you know, the one that played a semester of D-III basketball and now feels entitled to hang around the perimeter throwing up errant threes and exerting absolutely no effort on defense while making sure that the gel he put in his hair before the game doesn’t get in his eyes, yeah, that guy). While the acquisitions may have marginally improved Cleveland in the short-term, it also effectively makes the Cavs one of the older teams in the league, at least when it comes to its everyday rotation. Not to mention that a starting backcourt of Delonte West/Daniel Gibson and Devin Brown is a joke. Who is Devin Brown anyway? There are better starting backcourts in the D-League. In the frontcourt, Big Ben, Big Z, and Big Joe Smith will be a combined 175 years old when LBJ comes up for free agency. Plus, Anderson Varejao looks like he’s on his way out. In fairness, I understand Cleveland is doing everything it can to acquire P.J. Brown and talk Xavier McDaniel, Tyrone Hill, and Kevin Willis out of retirement. Unless J.J. Hickson lives up to the potential possessed by a player with more potential than J.J. Hickson, things could be looking a mess. Upon review of this pathetic excuse for a roster, I challenge anyone to make a compelling case that any of these guys deserves the title of second best player in Cleveland.
So, what’s a Global Icon to do? The Nets are making this one a no-brainer. They added Brook Lopez, the best center in the draft (shades of Tim Duncan I might add), a two-guard in CDR who can take scoring pressure off Vince Carter (aka the really lazy guy with no heart who is keeping the small forward position warm until the Chosen One arrives) and Ryan Anderson from Cal. Anderson is an excellent scorer with a diverse offensive game. If he proves that he can play even marginal defense, he’ll be a nice pickup and possibly a rotation player. The backcourt features Harris, CDR, and Marcus Williams. New Jersey’s frontcourt is even more impressive. Sean Williams fills the roll of the shot-blocking defensive specialist. Lopez adds an offensive presence on the block. Diop provides girth (shout out to Notorious Third Leg on the girth reference). Josh Boone provides rebounding, toughness, and a woman’s haircut. And, on top of this, the Nets get rid of Richard Jefferson while he has his highest possible trade value, getting Chairman Yi and Bobby Simmons in return. Yi, like all Chinese basketball players, has both upside and an enormous ass. (Yi’s ass isn’t really all that big, but it would be funny if it was.) And perhaps most importantly, New Jersey will be moving to Brooklyn. With Jigga Man at the helm, it is quite possible that the Nets will become the Netz or the Ballerz or some other nickname ending in “z.” Regardless, it’s now official, James will reach Global Icon-status in the Big Apple. At this point in time, feel free to download Hova’s “You Belong to the City” off itunes while rereading these last few paragraphs.
2) Minnesota Timberwolves
Minnesota gets credit for drafting O.J. Mayo at three and then moving him to Memphis in a multi-player trade that brings Kevin Love and Mike Miller to the Twin Cities. Keeping Mayo would have created a glut of young perimeter players in Minny. Randy Foye, an improved Rashad McCants, and Cory Brewer, who is still trying to find his way, will get a dose of veteran leadership from Mike Miller. Despite all of the funny things that could be written about Miller’s face, he will help to take some of the scoring burden off of Al Jefferson, and he’ll provide much-needed outside shooting. OK, he’ll also provide a face only a mother could love. Are you happy?
After Beasley and Rose, I believe Love is the best player in the draft. And even more so than Beasley and Rose, I think he improves his team immediately. Expect at least ten more wins for the Wolves, which would be a tall over given the competitiveness of the Western Conference. Love is as intelligent a player as I have ever witnessed. And please note that I didn’t include any caveat limiting that statement to players his age. He’s already as good a passer as C-Webb in his prime, and he’s not just an underrated defender, he’s an excellent defender. Kevin McHale basically drafted a slightly overweight version of himself. Between Al Jefferson and Love, that is a whole lot of beef for teams to contend with in the paint. Make no mistake, Minnesota is ready to mash bodies. It should also be noted that the T-wolves got rid of the disease that is Antoine Walker and picked up some guy named Nicola Pekovic from Serbia with the first pick in the second round when they could have taken Chris Douglas-Roberts. I guess two first-team all-Americans in the same draft is just overkill. For this misstep alone, I probably should have dropped the Wolves a couple of spots.
3) Portland Trailblazers
Maybe Portland should be rated even higher. It’s just that I’m starting to think Portland might have too much young talent. I really liked the Brandon Rush pick at thirteen, but the trade for Jarryd Bayless makes sense. Bayless is a shooting guard with point guard size. I’m not sure he successfully transitions to the point on another team. However, he has a chance to work in a system that runs its offense through Brandon Roy. The Rush trade made even more sense after the Blazers used Darrell Arthur to get Nicolas Batum from Memphis. Going into the draft, I thought Batum was a top 10 talent. An absolute gazelle on the floor. He’s silky smooth and is reported to be a lockdown defender. Unfortunately, there are concerns that the kid has some medical issues with his heart, as opposed to some Vince Carter problems with his heart. I would have loved to see Batum in a San Antonio uniform, as he would have been the logical heir to the throne of Bruce Bowen. I realize that this last comment may trigger a string of responses (that is, if we have any readers left) accusing Bowen of being a dirty play and the Spurs of ruining basketball. Let me save you the trouble. Yes, you’re right the Spurs have ruined basketball. All they do is flop. Soccer is gay. Obama is a Muslim. Blah blah blah. More on Batum later.
4) Memphis Grizzlies
Not sure getting rid of Mike Miller’s scoring was the best idea ever. Still, you pick up O.J. Mayo, which may end up saving professional basketball in Memphis and you add Darrell Arthur, which fills a glaring need for low-post scoring. While I’m not completely sold on Arthur, the Antawn Jamison comparisons are intriguing.
5) Los Angeles Clippers
Yes, I realize that, despite the Clippers strong draft, they will continue to pile up losing seasons. Still, picking up Eric Gordon at seven and DeAndre Jordan in the second-round is pretty impressive. Gordon’s built like a running back and will provide instant scoring help. He also has a big, meaty babyface. Make no mistake, Jordan sucks right now. And, as a general rule, I believe potential and upside are overrated in the context of players who suck. Had Jordan been taken in the Top 10 as many draft analysts had been predicting early in his freshman campaign, it would have been a joke. But for Jordan to fall to the second round is more than a little surprising. In any other organization, I could really see Jordan blossoming into something special, but at the Island of Misfit Toys, no one really gets better. Jordan may very well end up a less expensive version of the Kandi Man. To top it off, he may not even enjoy the benefit of playing next to Elton Brand. Oh well, DeAndre can always hunt human beings in the offseason with Chris Kaman.
The Clips also picked up Mike Taylor from Iowa State/the D-League. Not really sure how that works. Even though he lacks true point guard skills at this point, if you watched any of his pre-draft camp games, you know he provides Rajon Rondo-level athleticism at the one.
6) Miami Heat
I’m rating Miami this high in spite of myself, considering Pat Riley’s nonsense about taking O.J. Mayo with the second pick. Michael Beasley will be a star in this league. He’s an absolute natural. If he wasn’t playing on a team with Dwyane Wade and Shawn Marion (and possibly Elton Brand), I’d put him down for 20 and 10 a night. Regardless, he’ll get there soon enough. I think he compares favorably to Carmelo Anthony but with a more post-oriented game and better rebounding skills. If the Heat can pick up Brand and Wade can stay healthy, they could contend in the East (as the Celtics age, pretty much every team in the East is one or two moves away from contending; obviously, this doesn’t apply to the Knicks). That being said, they have to improve their bench, because it is quite possibly the worst in the league.
The Heat also picked up Mario Chalmers. I’m not as high on Chalmers as some, as I’m not convinced he can play the point. Still, he has quick, active hands that make him a defensive force capable of applying pressure to ball-handlers. That last sentence is a joke waiting to happen.
7) Indiana Pacers
Indiana made the right move in getting rid of Jermaine O’Neal. He had a great career as a Pacer, but we were nearing Last Days of Vince Carter in Toronto status. On second thought, that might not be fair, but you get the idea. Indiana is in full-out rebuilding mode, and things are progressing rather nicely. I’m not a huge fan of T.J. Ford, and things would have gotten really interesting if D.J. Augustin had still been available at the eleven spot. As it turned out, Jerryd Bayless somehow dropped to eleven. The Pacers snatched him up and then shipped him out to Portland in exchange for Brandon Rush. The Pacers turned their second first round pick into Roy Hibbert, who couldn’t be at the draft because he was working on his booger collection. Rush and Hibbert are nice pickups for Indiana. Both should be able to contribute immediately. A Jeff Foster-Roy Hibbert pivot is better than one might think.
The only problem I see with the Pacers roster at this point in time is that so much of their talent is at the two and three. Sure, Danny Granger can play a little four, but do you really want your best player and one of the brightest young stars in the league playing out of position too often. Mike Dunleavy can play a little two, but with the acquisition of Rush, he’ll probably have to play more three. For those of you who just think of Mike, Jr. as an overpaid bust who used to date Dead Girl, you might be interested to know that he averaged 19.1 ppg for the 07-08 campaign, all without playing even a second of respectable defense. The odd man out here might be Shawne Williams who may very well become trade bait in an attempt to acquire another point guard or a middling power forward.
8) Toronto Raptors
Not so much for what they did during the draft but for what they did leading up to it. In a multi-player trade with Indiana, the Raptors sent T.J. Ford and their first round pick to Indiana for Jermaine O’Neal. I think it is quite possible for Toronto to get up to three more good years out of O’Neal. Playing alongside Chris Bosh should rejuvenate Jermaine. I don’t think it’s too far-fetched to predict that Toronto will contend in the Eastern Conference next year. Toronto’s biggest weaknesses are its bench and their lack of a scoring wing. Anthony Parker (Candace’s brother and, therefore, Five-Head’s future brother-in-law) is solid, but the Raptors could have used Chris Douglas-Roberts. Still, Nathan Jawai, a 6’10, 270-pound Australian provides the Raptors with a semblance of low-post toughness.
9) Charlotte Bobcats
Charlotte’s not higher because I’m still having trouble believing the Bobcats have already given up on Raymond Felton. That being said, I’m a big D.J. Augustin fan, and think he will be better than Felton before his second season comes to an end. We know how hard Larry Brown is on his point guards, but Augustin is a real student of the game, watching hours of Steve Nash game film at a time, and could flourish under Brown’s tutelage. Still, I can’t believe they passed on Brook Lopez with the ninth pick. Charlotte has been trying its hardest to find a way to limit Emeka Okafor’s clock at center, and drafting Lopez would have achieved just that. That being said, the draft really came together for Charlotte when it nabbed Alexis Ajinca with the 20th selection. Ajinca, like most young, foreign players, has some developing to do, but he has the potential to be the center of the future in Charlotte. Now, if the Bobcats could just find some low-post scoring.
I also like the Kyle Weaver pickup. He’s a long defender who can do a little bit of everything. Wouldn’t be surprised at all if he ends up a regular in Charlotte’s rotation.
10) Boston Celtics
I really like J.R. Giddens in Boston. And I really like Bill Walker in Boston. I’m just not sure I like Giddens and Walker in Boston. There are at least a few character questions with both of these guys. On any other team, I would think that the combination amounted to a disaster waiting to happen. The reason why the Celtics brass should sleep easy, however, is quite simple – Kevin Garnett. You know, it’s odd, because I’m really not a huge Garnett fan. Sure, I love his defense and his desire to win. It’s just that he’s a little goofy, and I’m not completely sure his whole “insane guy that loves to win more than anyone else ever” shtick is totally genuine. But, you have to give the guy credit. His enthusiasm is infectious, and he commands nearly universal respect around the league. Hell, Rasheed Wallace basically made out with him before the Boston-Detroit series was even over. Back to the picks, though. Giddens has an extremely mature offensive game and elite-level athleticism. Walker is built like a tank and might eventually be able to fill a James Posey-type role with the Celtics. Boston also picked up Semih Erden with the last pick of the night. I could probably write an entire book on that guy, but now is not the time.
11) Phoenix Suns
The Suns took Robin Lopez at fifteen, and traded their second round pick, Malik Hairston to San Antonio for Goran Dragic from Slovenia. I don’t know much about Dragic and I’m not all that high on Hairston, but it sure seems like Phoenix could use a young athlete on the wing who can shoot the three-ball. I think they’ve missed the Joe Johnson-Quentin Richardson-James Jones factor the last couple of years. Still, I liked the Lopez pick. He’ll be a rugged defender down low from day one, and I think he can become an effective offensive player. Most importantly, the Lopez twins are awesome. Their voices are awesome. Their obsession with Walt Disney and Michael Jackson is awesome. And their overall weirdness is awesome. On a number of occasions, my friends and I have talked about how we would behave if we were professional athletes. (I’m sure you’ve had similar conversations. I, for one, would like to think I would act like Steve Nash.) Anyway, someone always points out that there aren’t enough eccentric professional athletes. We complain that players are far too worried about putting up a front, acting cool, and being perceived as tough. Well, the Lopez twins are the answers to our complaints. They obviously don’t care what people think about them. They are tremendously strange, to a point that is almost impossible to convey to the uninitiated.
12) New York Knicks
Nice solid pick by New York. I was pretty sure the Knicks were going to go with Danilo Gallinari, but a small part of me thought D’Antoni would reach and take D.J. Augustin. Ultimately, I think the Knicks made the right move. The limited tape I’ve seen on Gallinari is impressive. Looks like he can put the ball on the floor and pull up. A number of analysts have compared Gallinari to Toni Kukoc. While Kukoc was a good player, it seems like people remember him as being far more talented than he actually was. Also, Gallinari kind of looked like an Italian Clark Kent on draft night.
13) Orlando Magic
I’m not even sold on Courtney Lee being a first round talent, but I like the fit here. Orlando has holes in its roster at two guard and power forward. (They’re going to cut about three years off of Rashard Lewis’ career if they keep making him play the four.) Anyway, Lee satisfies a need – an athletic, slashing scorer on the wing. Keith Bogans and Maurice Evans are talented and underrated shooting guards, but they are basically identical in both skill set and physical appearance. Neither provides much offensive firepower, and, unfortunately, one may be looking for employment elsewhere. Darrell Arthur may have been a nice fit here. I can see Arthur being a bust, but his unorthodox face-up game and ability to get out on the break would have been a nice compliment to Dwight Howard’s power game. Go Hilltoppers!
14) Dallas Mavericks
I know, I know. How can I possibly have Dallas rated this high when they didn’t even have a first round pick? Well, I would answer that question with a question. That question being: did you see Shan Foster getting dirty on the keyboard? In all seriousness, though, I really like this pick. Foster is extremely limited athletically, and I’m not sure he makes a number of teams in the league. However, I like the fit in Dallas. Foster is a tremendous shooter, an absolute natural from deep. If he can make the Mavs’ roster, he’ll provide some much-needed scoring punch, as the Dallas offense seemed to stagnate at times last year. I think Dallas is putting together a pretty nice Bench Mob of its own – with Jerry Stackhouse, Brandon Bass, and Shan Foster. Now, if only they could acquire Pau Gasol for Jose Barea and a pair of cut-off jean shorts, the Mavs would be in business.
15) Chicago Bulls
Yes, the Bulls got Derrick Rose, and I think Rose will turn out to be a fine point guard. In fact, I think he has the potential to be a great point guard. Like Beasley, he makes the game look easy, and, on top of that, he’s a winner. I’m not big on Kirk Hinrich, so I’m not blasting Chicago for upgrading at the point. Still, I have two problems with Chicago’s draft, one major and one minor. I have a small problem with the Bulls picking Rose over Beasley. I’ll leave it at that, since I can see both sides of this argument. I have a very large problem, however, with the Bulls decision to take Sonny Weems (who I happen to like) in the second round with the thirty-ninth pick. Apparently, Weems has since been traded for the rights to Omer Asik. So, what’s the problem? Well, Chris Douglas-Roberts was the fortieth pick in the draft and was, thus, available at thirty-nine. CDR was Derrick Rose’s backcourt running mate at Memphis and would have been a ridiculously nice pickup for a team banking its future on its new point guard’s smooth transition to the NBA. The sheer stupidity displayed by the Bulls here garners them a much lower rating than would have otherwise been assigned to them.
16) Golden State Warriors
Anthony Randolph has as much upside as any player in the draft save Rose and Beasley. However, Golden State is the premier collector of upside and potential in the NBA. In fact, they like upside and potential so much that they rarely develop it. I admit that I like Randolph more than Brandan Wright already. (I always thought that Wright, Channing Frye, and LaMarcus Aldridge were better suited for the WNBA. Then again, we’ve seen how wrong I was about Frye and Aldridge.) Still, Golden State already has a stable of long, lean, athletic thoroughbreds which includes the likes of Matt Barnes, Stephen Jackson, Mickael Pietrus, and Wright.
While Randolph is more of the same in Golden State (with admittedly a ton of potential), I love the Richard Hendrix pick. He reminds of a more explosive but probably less driven version of Leon Powe. Hendrix was ultra-efficient at Alabama and will provide the Warriors with some much-needed bulk. I expect Hendrix to be a double-digit scorer within a few years if he gets a fair shake. I thought he was a first round talent. Could end up being a huge steal.
17) Atlanta Hawks
The Hawks had no draft picks. I actually think this was the right decision for Atlanta, considering just how young their team is. No reason to bring in more youth when you’re oldest player is younger than Frankie Muniz. Obviously, Atlanta serves as a sort of dividing line between those teams that had nice drafts and those that did not.
18) San Antonio Spurs
OK, before you decide to blast my decision not to rate the Spurs dead last (or at least close to it), let me save you the trouble. Bruce Bowen is dirty player, and the Spurs are ruining basketball. All they do is flop. Soccer is gay. Oh, and Obama is a Muslim. Happy? Oh, so you also think George Hill sucks because you’ve never heard of him. Well, I’m going to give the Spurs the benefit of the doubt here. From what I understand, Hill is truly a combo guard – not a shooting guard that isn’t big enough to play the two in the pros but one who is athletic enough to play the two if need be. Readers should note the fact that the pool of point guards in this year’s draft was extremely shallow, and the Spurs backup is Jacque Vaughn. Additionally, I understand he has 3% body fat. While I realize this doesn’t mean he is going to excel in the NBA, it is interesting. And yes, the Spurs are ruining basketball. And most foreigners are cowards. When I heard David Stern announce the Spurs pick name, the first thing that popped into my head was Derek Fisher out of tiny Arkansas-Little Rock. Call me crazy, but I think the Spurs have earned the benefit of the doubt. That being said, they are obviously both ruining basketball and running arms into Red China.
The Spurs also picked up Malik Hairston, which will provide them with youth, athleticism, and shooting from the wing – all good things, unless of course they’re happening in San Antonio, the place where basketball died. Hairston failed to live up to his potential in Eugene, but I really think Coach Pop will get something out of him. However, that’s more than I can say for James Gist, who the Spurs nabbed with the fifty-seventh selection. Unlike Hill, I am familiar with Gist’s game (or lack thereof). I can’t imagine that even the Spurs will be able to make Gist a productive NBA player.
19) Philadelphia 76ers
Marreese Speights has loads of upside, and I can see him becoming a very effective scorer on the blocks. I just can’t get past some of the things I’ve heard about Speights’ laziness and conditioning. Plus, as much as I like Mo Cheeks, he doesn’t seem to be much of a drill sergeant. One nice thing for the Sixers is the position shift that will be created by adding Speights to the lineup. Rather than having to start Willie Green at the two, Andre Iguodala at the three, and Thaddeus Young at the four, Speights can be inserted, which will allow Iguodala and Young to slide into their more natural two and three positions respectively. What was a very undersized lineup will be much more formidable. Plus, Green can come off the bench and provide some scoring pop – something that was lacking during Philadelphia 07-08 campaign.
20) Houston Rockets
After some wheeling and dealing, the Rockets ended up with Donte Greene, Joey Dorsey, and Maarty Leunen. The only reason the Rockets are this high is Donte Greene. Greene is a long, athletic three that can shoot from deep (too often for the most part) and score on the blocks (when he’s actually on the blocks). Still, Greene could one day take some scoring pressure off T-Mac. Could end up being one of the better players from this draft.
As for Dorsey and Leunen, I can’t say I understand Houston’s thinking. They have too many fours as it is. Chuck Hayes is probably their third best power forward. Carl Landry came on strong at the end of last year and may actually have surpassed Luis Scola as the Rockets best four. So, with three power forwards that just about any team would love to have, why would Houston feel the need to take Joey Dorsey. Apparently, it’s because Houston’s management thinks he is the best defensive player in the country. Seriously, that’s what they’ve said. Well, Landry and Hayes aren’t too shabby on the defensive end of the floor, and Dorsey disappears for games at a time. He’s not nearly talented enough to be a head-case at the professional level, but that’s exactly what the Rockets are getting. It’s funny, though, if Joey Dorsey was in Boston, I’d predict great success for him. That’s the KG effect, though. There are so many young players who could benefit from some time with him. DeAndre Jordan and J.J. Hickson also come to mind. When KG’s playing days are over, he should open some sort of apprenticeship/ workshop for wayward souls and players lacking heart.
Oh, and as for Maarty Leunen, he was a nice college player, but I was extremely surprised to hear his name called.
21) Utah Jazz
Utah picked up three white guys on draft night: Kosta Koufos, Ante Tomic, and Tadija Dragicevic. I’m not really a Koufos fan, but I think he fits in nicely with Utah’s system. Kind of a more athletic Mehmet Okur, but his range doesn’t extend all the way out to the three-point line. A number of scouts were high on Ante Tomic, and I can see him panning out down the road. I know nothing about Dragicevic. At this point, I’m starting to think that the NBA is really a big game of NBA Live, and the guy controlling Utah thinks it would be funny to construct a team of nothing but white guys. He’s almost there.
22) Seattle Supersonics
I actually like the haul the Sonics came away with from the draft – Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka, D.J. White, DeVon Hardin, and Sasha Kaun. However, I have a couple of pretty significant problems with the Sonics picks. First, I really like Russell Westbrook. An athletic finisher and an incredible lockdown defender. The degree to which he bottled up O.J. Mayo this past season was nothing short of work of art. Still, while I really like Westbrook as a late lottery pick, I don’t like him much at all at number four. Kid Nut Raven needs some scoring help, and I’d be surprised if Westbrook ever averages 15 ppg. Plus, Jeff Green already fits the role of unassuming sidekick that doesn’t need the ball to be effective. Additionally, I’m not at all convinced that Westbrook can play the point. My other problem with the soon-to-be Oklahoma City Supersonics is their decision to bring in this many young players during KNR’s formative years. Sure, Ibaka will probably stay overseas, Hardin doesn’t have a guaranteed contract, and Kaun is apparently going to be paid a ridiculous sum of rubles to play in Russia, but I just think Durant could use some roster stability. A few notes on the picks: D.J. White is going to be a nice post player in the Sonics rotation and may one day be a reliable starter. Hardin could be a nice shot blocker off the bench, but he seems like one of those guys who looks like he should be able to play but just never figures it out. Ibaka is said to be a freak of an athlete, but the available footage on Ibaka appears to have been shot at a local YMCA and suggest that Serge was playing against the Awesome USA! staff.
23) Milwaukee Bucks
Joe Alexander and Luc Richard Mbab a Moute aren’t bad pickups, but I’m a little confused as to why Milwaukee decided to add three small forwards in the span of like three days (Milwaukee shipped out Bobby Simmons and Chairman Yi for Richard Jefferson). Plus, their presumptive power forward, Charlie Villanueva, plays more like a three, and Desmond Mason has never had the shooting ability to spend much time at the two. I’m just not sure why the Bucks didn’t go with Jerryd Bayless here, especially since Mo Williams or Michael Redd may be in a different uniform next year. I like Alexander, but I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he was a complete bust. I think he might be the NBA version of Matt Jones (the former Arkansas Razorback and combine warrior).
24) Detroit Pistons
I don’t really like the Pistons picks – Walter Sharpe, Trent Plaisted, and Deron Washington. I especially don’t like the Pistons trading D.J. White for Sharpe and Plaisted. White would have fit nicely into Detroit’s post rotation. Still, I kind of get the rationale here. With the moves Joe Dumars is expected to be making this offseason, Detroit wanted to ensure maximum roster flexibility. With no guaranteed contracts, the Pistons accomplish just that. A few notes on the picks: Sharpe apparently has narcolepsy, which could make for one of the best YouTube clips ever at some point during his career; Plaisted provides viewers with the opportunity to see the first white guy in a Pistons uniform since Bill Laimbeer (Walter Hermann doesn’t count because otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to work a Laimbeer reference into this post); and Deron Williams is a Jerome “Junkyard Dog” Williams clone with more ups and less defense. It should also be noted that if Deron and Jason Maxiell ever take the court together, the Pistons may want to invest in super-reinforced rims, as both try to dunk the ball on every possession.
25) Sacramento Kings
I realize that everyone hates what the Kings have done, and I’ll admit that I don’t like it. But I still don’t think they had the worst draft (even if they had far and away the single worst pick in draft history). Jason Thompson was probably a reach at twelve. But he’s a productive big guy who can run the floor with an NBA body. If he hadn’t been taken at twelve by Sacramento, I think Golden State would have given him a hard look at fourteen. Sean Singletary was a nice second round pick up in a point guard-thin draft. Singletary’s senior year didn’t live up to the hype, but I think he can challenge for the starting PG spot in Sacramento this year (which tells you something about the Kings’ situation at point guard).
Which brings us to Patrick Ewing, Jr. How did this happen? Do the Maloof brothers owe the original Patrick Ewing money? Rather than giving the worst basketball player ever drafted more unwarranted attention, I’ll spend the next couple sentences talking about those players that should have been drafted. I thought USC’s Davon Jefferson was a first round talent. I think a veteran team needing an athletic wing (Pistons, Spurs, or Suns) could have used this guy. Gary Forbes from UMASS would have been a nice bottom-of-the-rotation player, a slashing wing who has a high basketball I.Q. Houston’s Rich McIver, potentially an explosive scorer off the bench in the mold of Eddie House, should have been drafted, but didn’t even show up on most analysts’ radars. Xavier’s Josh Duncan, Colorado Richard Roby, Nebraska’s Aleks Maric, and Rhode Island’s Will Daniels were also nice prospects who got passed over.
26) Denver Nuggets
Denver has a number of holes in its roster and a limited window of time in which to compete for a championship (until AI hangs up his laces/demands a trade). Yet somehow, the Nuggets come back from the draft with … Sonny Weems. I actually like Sonny Weems a lot, but I think Denver would be well-served by acquiring a post player that possesses something even superficially resembling a low-post move. Camby is still looking for his first basket after twelve years in the league. All of K-Mart’s career buckets have come on the receiving end of Jason Kidd alley-oops, which means he hasn’t scored during his tenure in Denver. When Nene does score, it’s the result of bulldozing opponents and slinging up off-balance shots.
27) Los Angeles Lakers
For all of my making fun of Joe “Doctor Professor” Crawford and his lackluster basketball I.Q., I have to admit that this pick makes a little bit of sense. In fact, it’s probably the only team that could use Joe Crawford. As talented as the Bench Mob is, they really don’t have a guy who can put the ball on the floor and get to the hole. For those handful of minutes that Kobe is on the bench, Dr./Prof. may actually be able to prescribe the antidote/deliver the lecture. Sorry.
28) Cleveland Cavaliers
I’m ranking the Cavs this low without even penalizing them for New Jersey’s draft success. Cleveland took J.J. Hickson with the nineteenth pick in the draft. I don’t like Hickson at all. He’s built like a bull but has nothing close to a post-up game and suffers from Vince Carter’s heart condition. Speaking of Vinsanity, rumor has it that Cleveland contacted the Nets in an attempt to acquire the Heartless One. Needless to say, whoever picked up the phone in New Jersey laughed and then said, “I don’t think so. We’re not going to give Lebron a reason to stay in Cleveland, especially considering he’s going to be a Net in two years.”
Darnell Jackson isn’t a bad second round pickup. He plays hard and is efficient around the basket. Will likely be more productive than Hickson.
The Cavs really should have chosen Nicolas Batum at nineteen. I really think he could have played Pippen to LBJ’s Jordan. Not taking Batum may have been the proverbial last straw.
29) Washington Wizards
JaVale McGee’s mom played in the WNBA. He apparently has a lot of upside but is also described as being soft and needing to gain weight. Just when Andray Blatche is starting to show signs of becoming a productive player, the Wizards draft him all over again. Washington would have been better-served drafting a bruiser capable of contributing from the get-go. The Wizards are a bench away from becoming contenders in the East. Blatche and Nick Young were steps in the right direction, but McGee represents a step backward. Washington also loses points for shipping Bill Walker to Boston for cash considerations.
30) New Orleans Hornets
I need to temper this ranking with the following caveat: I believe New Orleans could be one of the best teams in the West for the foreseeable future (along with Los Angeles, Utah if the Jazz can keep Boozer in Salt Lake City, which, inevitably, they will not be able to do, and Portland, if the Trailblazers continue to make smart decisions). That being said, I don’t understand the Hornets’ rationale for leaving the draft empty-handed. Unlike the young Hawks who don’t need anymore young talent, the Hornets have a good mix of veterans and young players. Plus, the Hornets are almost always at a disadvantage in terms of athleticism at both wing positions (Morris Peterson and Peja Stojakovic). When Peja Stojakovic is your most athletic starting wing player, something is wrong. Especially considering he is slowly developing cankles. I like Mo Pete and Peja just fine, but, in a draft as deep as this one, you can take a stab at a Courtney Lee/J.R. Giddens/Chris Douglas-Roberts/Bill Walker-type player. And, if New Orleans really does prefer to start wings that are not able to slam dunk a basketball, they could go for a post player. If you have enough money to pay Chris “The Birdman” Andersen to make a fool of himself on a nightly basis, do you really need to be selling your first round pick for cash considerations? Me thinks not. And I’m not even penalizing New Orleans for missing out on Darrell Arthur, since they apparently agreed to the deal with Portland in advance of the draft. That being said, however, in the future, the Hornets might want to refrain from selling Scottie Pippen to the already-talented Trailblazers for a little bit of dough. Have to say that this act of greediness might come back to bite them in a Western Conference Finals about four years from now.