Sunday, June 29, 2008

Draft Wrap

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.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Things Have Gotten Really Weird Lately

Awesome USA! will be delving into some new territory for the next little bit. Notice that “next little bit” does not tie us into any sort of set time period. To be honest, this is the first blog post I’ve done in like a year or something, and I probably won’t do another one for at least that long. So whatev. Anyway, Bigfeet is going to be conducting some interviews with various famous people. I was going to get a funny picture off of google images to be Bigfeet, but I’ve gotten super paranoid lately, and I don’t want to get sued and/or killed. Plus, Bigfeet is super image-conscious, going so far as to provide us with his head shot for the blog. He also sucks and is a douche bag. So, without further ado, here is Bigfeet’s first interview. A little background info: Bigfeet is a 28-year old bachelor. He has a degree in interior design and is a freelance writer. He lives with his border collies, Brodie and Kool-Aid, in suburban Atlanta. He enjoys skiing and eating new foods. (I don’t know if that means trying new types of food or just eating fresh food, as opposed to stale or rotten food.) The Awesome USA! staff appreciates his willingness to lend his talents to our blog.

*A side note: Apparently, his name is “Bigfeet” and not “Bigfoot.” When I told him that that was stupid – kind of like the guy from my hometown people call “Scopions,” as opposed to “Scorpion” or “The Scorpion” – he said, “Well, why isn’t your name ‘Person.’” Needless to say, I felt like saying, “But my name isn’t ‘People’.” Rather than cause a big fuss, I just dropped it. Like I said, Bigfeet sucks and is a douche bag. Still, I think he’s a pretty darn good investigative journalist.

In this first (and probably last) installment of Bigfeet’s interview series, Awesome USA! has somehow lined up a discussion with Robert Mugabe, President of Zimbabwe. Mugabe has been in the news a lot lately, as his Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) party has come under international scrutiny for its violent suppression of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) opposition party and its nominee Morgan Tsvangirai, in the run-up to the 2008 general election. Awesome USA! would like to thank Mr. Mugabe for taking time out of his busy schedule to sit down for this intimate discussion.

Bigfeet: Good afternoon, President Mugabe.

Mugabe: Good afternoon.

Bigfeet: You, my friend, have been busy as of late.

Mugabe: Yes, well, it is hard work, you know, running a nation.

Bigfeet: Yes, I’m sure it is. So, Mr. Mugabe, you are quite the center of attention, the darling of the international media if I might say.

Mugable: Hardly. We have been demonized, made out to be demons.

Bigfeet: I’m sure that doesn’t surprise you, what with the whole taking the lands of the white man, supervising the armed suppression of the MDC, your chief political rival, driving the MDC’s presidential nominee, Morgan Tsvangirai, out of the country and into exile, and generally abandoning any semblance of democratic legitimacy.

Mugabe: Listen. We are acting on behalf of the good of the people. I am protecting the …

Bigfeet: OK. OK. Mr. Mugabe, you have been the leader of Zimbabwe since 1980. At some point, do you think you should step down, allow for a transfer of power, walk off into the sunset?

Mugabe: No, and for two reasons. One. This country, my people are still babies.

Bigfeet: Babies? How so?

Mugabe: They are not fully formed. But they also do not know their own strength, their own potential. But they need guidance.

Bigfeet: Powerful babies?

Mugabe: Enormously so.

Bigfeet: Ah, yes. Powerful, stainless steel robot babies.

Mugabe: You see, they need a strong leader, someone who will protect them from the colonialists. Bigfoot, …

Bigfeet: It’s Bigfeet.

Mugabe: Bigfeet?

Bigfeet: Yes, like more than one.

Mugabe: This makes no sense.

Bigfeet: Well, you’re one to talk.

Mugabe: Well, Mr. Bigfeet, there are other activities that a nation’s leader could be…

Bigfeet: You’re right. I’m sorry. And the second reason you would not step down to from your two-decade reign?

Mugabe: Oh, yes. You would never let me.

Bigfeet: I assure you, Mr. Mugabe, I would let you. In fact, I implore you, please step down, retire, move to Florida.

Mugabe: Not you, Bigfoot, I mean Feet. But the Americans, the West, the international community, the damned United Nations. I would be tried, brought up on charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity. That whole mess.

Bigfeet: And so you will wall yourself up in your presidential palace in fear of prosecution?

Mugabe: Of course it is not fear. And I am not, how did you say it, “walled” up in my presidential palace right now, am I? Besides, I have done nothing wrong, nothing that would ever cause me to be convicted in one of your international courts of justice.

Bigfeet: Then, why not step down?

Mugabe: Because the moment I step down. The moment I show weakness, Mr. Bigfeet, that is the moment that the UN, the international community, the human rights groups comes across our borders and we have colonialism all over again.

Bigfeet: But the international community does not want to intervene. Rwanda taught us that. The rest of the world would be happy if you would just allow the MDC and Mr. Tsvangirai to run for election against your ZANU-PF in a truly free and fair election. Without suppression.

Mugabe: Who is suppressing?

Bigfeet: Mr. Mugabe, let me read a few reports to you.

Mugabe: Who wrote these reports, the damned Red Cross?

Bigfeet: Are you kidding me? Who doesn’t like the Red Cross?

Mugabe: Pawns of the imperialists. Locusts of disease and famine. Purveyors of homosexuality.

Bigfeet: What? The Red Cross? I’m not sure I follow. I know that you have said in the past that there was no homosexuality in Zimbabwe before colonialism, but come on…the Red Cross?

Mugabe: I said it then and I stand by it now. Colonialism introduced the African to homosexuality.

Bigfeet: So, you mean to tell me that there wasn’t even one homosexual in the history of Africa before the colonialists set sail?

Mugabe: Not a one.

Bigfeet: Wow. That is completely insane. Anyway, back to these reports that I want to read to you. On June 27, the BBC reported that the MDC claims that “86 of its supporters have been killed and 200,000 forced from their homes by militias loyal to ZANU-PF.” In response, Mr. Tsvingirai pulled out of the election and has gone into exile. As it stands, you will win the election as the lone candidate, the only option for the people of Zimbabwe. The New York Times reported that villagers were being forced to chant pro-ZANU-PF slogans. They were then rounded up and taken to the polls to cast ballots for you – the only candidate running for election. Those that would not comply faced beatings and, in some cases, worse. It is also being reported that militias loyal to your presidency are demanding that villagers show them ink-covered fingers, indicating that they have voted. Your legacy is one of barbarism, corruption, and …

Mugabe: Now wait just a minute…

Bigfeet: And these are only your most recent atrocities, Mr. Mugabe.

Mugabe: Bigfeet, Bigfeet, I must stop you. Do you realize who ruled Zimbabwe before me, before the ZANU-PF? The colonialists. The white man. They weren’t even Africans. The ZANU-PF, like the ANC in South Africa, the party of Mandela, is the party of liberation, the party that gave the people of Zimbabwe its first taste of freedom after so many years of imperialistic oppression. Don’t you see?

Bigfeet: Mikhail Bukunin once wrote, “[T]he people will feel no better if the stick with which they are being beaten is labeled ‘the people’s stick.’”

Mugabe: I’m not sure I follow. Bigfeet, have you ever heard the story of the Dolphin Fish? My story of the Dolphin Fish.

Bigfeet: No.

Mugabe: I think this will clear some things up. When I was just a young boy. Before I became a man I was laying in a hammock eating some turds. I must have passed out or unintentionally poisoned myself, I really can’t say. Well, while I was out or whatever you want to call it, I had the most vivid dream I’ve ever experienced. It was more vivid than life. I could see all of the colors.

Bigfeet: I don’t mean to interrupt, but two questions. First, what does that mean, “I could see all of the colors?” Can you not normally see all of the colors? I guess I don’t understand. And second, did you say you were eating turds?

Mugabe: After I answer these two questions, I want you to allow me to finish my story. Afterwards, you can ask all the questions you want. I doubt you will have any, though, as I feel confident this story will illuminate everything. As for your first question, I don’t understand what I said – because I can see all of the colors of the spectrum normally, and I’m sure that I did not somehow see new colors during the dream-slash-poison sequence. And, as to your second question, yes. Most of my friends shunned me for doing so, but I guess I couldn’t help myself.

Bigfeet: Wow.

Mugabe: Anyway, back to the story. So I’m out cold or dazed or poisoned or what have you, and I have this crazy dream. Like I said, I could see all of the colors, very vividly. I was in some sort of desert forest inside what I think may have been a spaceship. At first I could only see it in the distance, but there it was, tiny at first, the top of a pyramid. I knew I had to get to the pyramid, to climb to the top. It was a feeling I had, a feeling I felt in my loins region. While I’m walking in the desert forest, though, these old people keep coming up to me asking for directions and food and stuff, and I’m like, “Hold on, people, I’ve got to get my ass to that big pyramid.” And they just keep calling out to me saying things like, “Hey, Robert, why don’t you give me a big handful of food to eat.” They’re starting to get on my last nerve, so I kill a few of them, which seems to make them realize that I really do have to get to the pyramid. But when I get closer to the pyramid, it dawns on me, and I start to realize that I am the pyramid and I’m already there. You know, one of those “it is I” moments. So, instead of spending my time traveling to where I am, I just jump in the big water tank and make love to the dolphin fish. I think it may have peed in my mouth, but I have since realized it was just a light beam it was shooting at me. I think that the dolphin fish uses its light beam to tell if someone has good in their heart. After we got done, I could tell that it had answers to a whole bunch of questions, so I tried to ask it questions, but it told me that it could only transmit the truth to me underwater. We go back under water, and I’m starting to get all weirded out because I’m starting to wonder if the dolphin fish is a boy or a girl. Finally, I realize that a fish isn’t a boy or a girl, so I realize that it doesn’t matter, and that it’s OK that I made love on it. Anyway, d-fish tells me that I’m going to do great things and have great responsibility one day and that the fate of a nation will rest on my shoulders. D-fish also tells me that it is the will of the people that I lead them out of bondage. Then, D-fish tells me that it is pregnant with our child. And, Bigfeet, do you know who that child became?

Bigfeet: OK, well, I think that is all the time we have. Mr. Mugabe, it has been really fun. Thanks for your time.

Mugabe: I think you know you that child is.

Bigfeet: I don’t think I do. Thanks again, President Mugabe.

Mugabe: Thank you, son, and, by son, I mean Zimbabwe.

Bigfeet: I know that it’s pointless for me to ask you this, but are you saying that I am your son? Or that I am Zimbabwe? Or that I am your son, Zimbabwe? Or that Zimbabwe was the offspring of your affair with the dolphin fish and your reference to me as your son was merely some sort of red herring?

Mugabe: You tell me, Bigfeet…you tell me.

Bigfeet: No, you know what, Mr. Mugabe? I’m not going to tell you anything. That story didn’t make any sense. And it was horrible. You’re a big-time idiot. This interview is over.

Mugabe: I thought you were supposed to ask me some questions about the NBA Draft.

Bigfeet: Well, yeah, but I can just make something up. The web site this interview is for has a lot of sports content. Most of it is crap, but I think they want me to somehow make this interview fit within the parameters of their blog.

Mugabe: I watched the draft.

Bigfeet: Really, during your run-off election? Well, what did you think?

Mugabe: A few things. First, how does Chris Douglas-Roberts not get picked until the second round?

Bigfeet: Preaching to the choir there.

Mugabe: And Gary Forbes doesn’t get picked at all, but Patrick Ewing, Jr.’s name gets called. There is no justice.

Bigfeet: You said it, Mugabe.

Mugabe: I’ll tell you who is thanking their lucky stars that Pat Ewing got picked – Joe Crawford. Because otherwise, he’s the head scratcher of the night. I mean did you see that guy play at Kentucky. Stevie Wonder has more court vision. Canaan Banana has a higher basketball I.Q.

Bigfeet: I’ve never been high on Doctor Professor, either.

Mugabe: Doctor Professor?

Bigfeet: Yeah, that’s what I call Joe Crawford, because he’s such a stupid basketball player. Get it? I know, it’s kind of a silly nickname.

Mugabe: No, no, I get it. That’s good. You’re being ironical. I like it. I might use it, if you don’t mind.

Bigfeet: No, not at all. Well, any other thoughts from the draft?

Mugabe: I think Kevin Love is a winner. Obviously, as a white man, he is the devil, but I’m pretty sure he adds ten wins to any team he’s on.

Bigfeet: Couldn’t agree more – about the wins, not about the whole all white people are devils thing.

Mugabe: And I love the Lopez twins.

Bigfeet: Same here. I have to say that I was feeling really bad for Darrell Arthur.

Mugabe: Me, too, but, when you think about it, it doesn’t matter that much. He got picked in the first round, so he’s got a guaranteed contract.

Bigfeet: True. Listen, Mugabe. You really know your hoops. I hate your politics, what with the whole bulldozing of the slums and exacerbating an already out-of-control refugee crisis in sub-Saharan Africa, but I’ll talk roundball with you any day of the week.

Mugabe: I’m going to take you up on that. Don’t think for a second that I won’t. One more thing, if he ever gets his head on straight, J.R. Giddens could be the steal of the draft, but that’s a big “if.”

Bigfeet: You’re a big “if.”

Mugabe: And how.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

NBA Draft Diary!

Seems like a good night to do an NBA Draft Diary. Leonard, Natty, and I collaborated on this, and Thelonius functioned as our muse, so if it ends out shitty, blame Thelonius for not musing good.

Derrick Rose goes first to the Bulls, so he should be getting lots of calls from all his high school buddies who aren’t millionaires.

Beasley goes to Miami, which makes Pat Riley a liar. Pat kept indicating he wouldn’t take Beasley with the second pick. All these years of Pat being honest, like when he honestly told everyone that Stan Van Gundy was resigning midseason so he could spend more time with his family.

O.J. Mayo just got drafted third by the T-Wolves, but he sent Farnsworth Bentley as his proxy to shake hands with David Stern.

Russell Westbrook was the third best player on his college team but now he’s the fourth pick in the draft. We are bemused by this choice. Brook Lopez was a lock for this pick ever since he declared. There’s nothing the Sonics have enjoyed more over the last five years than spending a top ten pick on a big man (Johan Petro, Saer Sane, Nick Collison, Robert Swift).

The fifth pick was Kevin Love, which is great…like his chin strap.

D’Antoni takes an Italian with the sixth pick, because he’s a racist. I don’t know what her name is. Donnie Walsh justified the pick by saying the Italian is an “unusual package.” We all know there’s nothing more appealing to Donnie Walsh than unusual packages. They showed a team photo from when Gallinari’s dad and D’Antoni played on the same team, and it looked like it was from last season. Gallinari was greeted with merciless booing by the Knicks’ fans…this would have been an amazing opportunity for him to go Ivan Drago and exclaim in Italian, “I play for me! For me!!”

At seven, Eric Gordon and his big baby face.

Joe Alexander to the Bucks? After the Dick Jefferson trade? That make no sense? They did show four West Virginia fans who were cheering their asses off, and someone was holding a “Joe Alexander…Vanilla Sky” poster. Seriously.

Why in the hell did the Bobcats pass on Brook Lopez? Bunch of crap. I like D.J. Augustin, but why go with Augustin when you have Ray Felton and need a center.

Pick of the night. Brook Lopez. The golden age of professional basketball begins. Seriously.

Pacers take Skip Bayless’s son, but the kid didn’t even pick a fight with Steven A. Smith. Guess the apple fell a ways away from the tree.

The Kings made the safe pick and took Jason Thompson from Rider. Rider has long been known as a Basketball powerhouse and their guys always do well at the next level.

Blazers take Brandon Rush. Outstanding. He has the whole package: perimeter shooting, defense, rebounding, and a nice fade. We also have it on good authority that his grandmother volunteers at the Kansas City VA Hospital. Leonard wishes he was Brandon’s grandmother. The Blazers are becoming my favorite team. They just need a little more at point guard and they can contend for a title. I hear Ray Felton and Kirk Hinrich might be available.

*Oooh, a juicy little trade: Looks like Rush could be heading to Indy in exchange for Bayless. I’m not a big Bayless guy, but I think this could really work out well. This is similar to when the Cavs drafted Daniel Gibson, except Bayless is more talented than Gibson. Portland basically runs its offense through Brandon Roy, and Bayless gets to effectively play two guard, but he can defend the other team’s point guard, so that he won’t be an undersized defensive liability. Now Portland’s starting lineup figures to be Bayless, Roy, Travis Outlaw (who had a very solid season last year), LaMarcus Aldridge, and Greg Oden. Roy and Aldridge are both good for twenty plus a night, and that’s going to leave Oden, Bayless, and Aldridge plenty of room to operate. And I think that makes Roy the oldest starter at around 25 (“around” means I don’t have seven seconds to look up his actual age).

Golden State takes Brandan Wright’s twin brother, Anthony Randolph. Stu Scott says, “They go big and they go young.” That’s our best “that’s what she said” moment of the night. Jay Bilas just added that last season some bigger guys in the SEC really got into Anthony’s body. Apparently his freshman year hazing was worse than most.

Robin Lopez to the Suns. He looks like he’s making fun of himself wearing that hat over his big goofy mop. The Lopez twins are going to have a Disney movie marathon to celebrate tonight. He’s being brought in because Amare plays no defense. When was the last time a team drafted a white guy for defensive purposes to compensate for their super-athletic black guy at that position? Steven A. Smith called him bold, as opposed to Brook, who is smooth, and has no after taste.

Sixers are up, this is always good for a laugh….they played it safe and take Marreese Speights. Basically the question on him is if he’s too lazy. Luckily, when you give lazy guys lots of money, then tend to work harder. We’re also worried that nobody is going to be able to tell Speights and Sam Dalembert apart. Speaking of Big Sam, Natty just pointed out that he’s from Haiti, thus the nickname, Papa Doc Dalembert (we concede that’s politically incorrect, because Papa Doc was a butcher and everything). And props to Natty for the highest brow joke of the evening, collaborating with this guy is like creating a draft diary with one of the writers from “Frasier.”

Toronto has the seventeenth pick and uses it on Roy Hibbert. Roy would have been a top five pick last season. This pick should go to Indiana, which gives them Bayless and Hibbert…not a bad upgrade. Roy wasn’t there because he’s working on his booger collection. Stu Scott keeps the hits coming by saying they used to call Roy, “The Big Stiff.” A creative and informative nickname, thanks Stu! Seriously, I think I’m a lazy eye away from being eligible to host the NBA Draft. The big news in this trade is that it means Maceo Baston is still in the league.

Seventeen picks seems like a good stopping point. We don’t want to contradict our traditionally half-ass approach to this blog.

  • Gotta say that Chris Douglas-Roberts slipping into the second round is the biggest head scratcher of the night. Especially when the Bulls had the chance to add him to go alongside his college teammate, Derrick Rose, but went with Sonny Weems. Weems is a nice prospect but I can’t imagine anyone watching both of those guys last season and deciding that Weems is a better prospect. The Bulls continue to amaze with their complete abhorrence of finding a scorer. I guess they’re really banking on Rose being the second coming of Jason Kidd. Way to put all your eggs into one basket, that usually works out in team sports.
  • The Kings easily had the worst draft. They took a kid from Rider in the first round, Sean Singletary (who is less than six feet tall), and Patrick Ewing, Jr. Ewing’s accolades include being a fifth year senior who didn’t start on a team that lost to Davidson in the NCAA tournament.
  • If you're like me, sometimes you wonder why the Sonics aren't good. Well let's exclude Durant and take a look at who they've used their first pick on for like the last fifteen years: Russell Westbrook, Saer Sane, Johan Petro, Robert Swift, Nick Collison, Peter Fehse, Vlad Radmanovic, Desmond Mason, Corey Maggette (who never played there), Vlad Stepania, Bobby Jackson, Joseph Blair, Sherell Ford, Carlos Rogers, and the other Ervin Johnson. Out of all those guys, Bobby Jackson and Carlos Rogers were the only ones who were definitely the best player on their college teams (and Carlos Rogers played for Tennessee State).
  • Love the Mayo for Love trade for both teams. Maybe the Wolves won't be athletic enough on defense, but Al Jefferson and Kevin Love are going to be extremely difficult to guard. Mike Miller also gives Minny some extra shooting and whiteness. Memphis secured what should be its back court of the future with Conley and Mayo.

Friday, June 20, 2008

The Game That Made Us Men (Almost)

Editor's Note: Though all of my sociological, psychological, biological, and anthropological knowledge stems from watching Seinfeld this post will delve into the masculinity underpinnings of college male behavior in most likely a completely illogical manner. Though my knowledge of a subject is limited, I promise the readers of this blog I WON'T NOT PRETEND TO KNOW ANY(EVERY)THING ABOUT A TOPIC SOMEWHAT RELEVANT TO A STORY. Remember a double negative cancels itself out.

. . .College males are one of two things: they are either 1) naive, or 2) an asshole. None of my friends were naive. The only exception was The Puppet Master, he was both naive and an asshole, but his story is for another time. It's been difficult for me, now 24 and often thinking back to the days of college, to fully understand why college males behave the way they do, characterized best as narcissistic assholes. It has a lot to do with the combination of newfound freedom, immature young adults living together, sexual exploration, (some more than others - specifically, Once-Balding Itallion and the midget, or was it a dwarf, I'm not really sure how to tell them apart) and older guys showing us. These factors, with more, explain the alcohol, drug, and sex culture found at so many universities, but I don't see them as necessarily explaining the narcissistic asshole.

It was the weekend before our last regular season game and we already had a place locked up in the playoffs so the importance of this game was minimized. Though, we were still excited about the possibility of an undefeated season, we were also facing one of the best teams in the league and needed to assert a dominant presence over them in case we met again in the playoffs. Two friends from highschool, Whaleface and Long-Term Boyfriend, came into town on Saturday to watch The Greying Writer in a school play. We went out to grab some pizza and reclaim our masculinity after watching The Greying Writer prance around stage for two hours. Though we were glad our old chums made the trip, we informed them that not a lot of activity was going on at campus because the previous night had hosted a large party in which a lot of people made a lot of mistakes and were now deciding to stay in and reevaluate things. Whaleface and Long-Term Boyfriend suggested we all make the trip back to Louisville for a big party. It sounded like a good idea, and we had yet to visit their place. We paid the bill, tipped 8%, and returned to the dorms. We called The Athlete who immediately joined the trip. Several months prior to this he and his highschool fiancee had broken up. The previous night, Friday, he met a girl from Louisville, in for the party, and they engaged in dorm floor making out and then crashed on The Greying Writer and I's couch. It was a good site to see for a friend and we all wanted to give him the chance for a quick reunion. He called the girl, but couldn't remember her name, and set up a meeting time and place in Louisville. We loaded up the two cars with beer and yagermeister, better known as the "FreshmanYearLet'sDestroyThings Mix." We had one more friend to call before our way out who was always up for a good time, The Baseball Player.

The Baseball Player was the first of us to get a legitimate college girlfriend and they had been dating for several months prior to this weekend. He was spending the evening with her in the dorm room for a romantic night in. He brought over some movies and she bought a large Dontoe's pizza. They dimmed the lights, put on a chic flic, and held each other on the futon. This all began because she had been upset with him for a few weeks because he was spending less and less time with her and she had even said to some friends around campus, "If he just thinks he can come over at night, get a handjob and leave, he's got another thing coming." Yep, you guessed it - she was a feminist.

There have been three waves of feminism in our relevant history. The first wave began the 20th century and resulted in women's suffrage. It was a really disappointing time for feminists after struggling so long for political rights to only end up in a state of suffrage. Luckily, there were sympathetic congressmen in office at the time who didn't think it was right for women to have worked so hard and still be in suffrage, and as a result decided to give women one significant right - the right to vote. The second wave came in the 1960's and focused primarily on discrimination of women. They saw the cultural view of women inextricably linked to the political rights of women. The third wave began in the 1990's and focused on the juxtoposition with males. It sought to define the woman by comparing and contrasting females and men. Gay rights and debates on sexuality of men and women emerged and the traditional ideas of men and women began to fade. As you can see I'm a huge fan of feminism, evidenced by this extensive reasearch through a great site called wikipedia.

Back to topic, the more I have thought about the role of feminism in our culture, the more I see it as linked to the narcissist asshole emerging in the college male. College, for most men I think, becomes one of the first settings where we experience an entire culture of strong, independent woman who are no longer defined by the males in society. It's not scary for us, but I think as a response we attempt to assert our masculinity in this environment. This is seen through the forms of beer drinking as a competition, many drunken fights, seeing sex as a conquest, bragging about drinking, partying and sex. It's quite juvenile, immature, and quite surreal when looking back after the experience, but it's fun and is a defining moment in the journey to adulthood. With that said, we are still assholes for at least a couple years, if not more.

So we decide to call up to The Baseball Player, ten minutes after he has left to spend the night with his girlfriend, without any regard for his need to patch things up with his girlfriend and his intense hatred of having to miss a good time with the guys. We are literally sitting in the cars outside of the front door of the girls' dormatory. I make the call:

Me: [name redacted] what are you doing?
The Baseball Player: Watching a movie, just got some Donatoe's.
Me: We are on our way to Louisville for a big party. You want to come? We are sitting outside.
The Baseball Player: On man, I just got up here.
Background: What? Who is that? [name redacted]?
The Baseball Player: Who's going? Is this a big party?
Me: Me, The Greying Writer, Whaleface, The Athlete, Long-Term Boyfriend. Yeah, real big.
The Baseball Player: Hold one one second.
Background: [inaudible conversation lasting 10 seconds]
The Baseball Player: I'm in. You guys got beer?
Me: Yeah and yager.
The Baseball Player: Fuck yea. Hold on one more second.
Background: [inaudible conversation for three seconds]
The Baseball Player: You guys want some pizza for the rode?
Me: Fuck yeahs, we are right downstairs.

As I tell the guys the story we all begin laughing, but it's when see The Baseball Player, running out of the dorm with a beer and a pizza box in hand, that we absolutely lose it. He hops in and we take off to Louisville. Asshole . . . yes. One of the funniest things I saw in college . . . yes. We were men, drinking the night away with little regard for others.

The following Wednesday we began the game in front of a raucous fraternity crowd cheering on their brothers against the undefeated team. We built a 7 point lead and were never really challenged much throughout the game. Most significantly though, during the second half The Insane Fifth-Year Senior was hounding the point guard in a man to man full court press. The point guard got upset and when he had to pick up his dribble he pushed The Insane Fifth-Year Senior. We all knew this was not something he should have done. The Insane Fifth-Year Senior snatched the ball from his hands and threw it at his face. They pushed and got nose to nose in a battle of whose masculinity would hold up longest. The fraternity on the sidelines came onto the court and their biggest player intervened. We all rushed to the center of the court where the altercation occurred and began pushing and pulling, all the while talking more shit than a Wesley Snipes/Woody Harrelson movie (Don't forget about Money Train). Everything settled down, because no one really wanted to get sucker punched in the face a la Carmelo Anthony, Jermaine O'Neal, and Kermit Washington. We won the game, but most of us were much more pleased with the effort displayed during the altercation. The narcissist asshole persona is useful in sports and would be useful in the playoffs. Luckily for 11 college males it wasn't hard to channel.

The party in Louisville wasn't much fun and we all became pretty bored by 1 am. We headed back to the dorms and continued to get plastered while watching Martin Lawrence's You So Crazy standup. The Athlete climbed in through a window at about 5 in the morning after a horrible night where the girl's car broke down, was pulled over by the cops, and without the effect of as much liquor, had a much harder time "connecting" with her. The Baseball Player and his girlfriend did not last much longer and he pursued other endeavors that led to much better sexual stories shared over drinks in the dorm room.

We have all grown up a lot since graduating college, and though by no means are accomplished adults, we have a better sense of understanding and can put our actions from those years into perspective. But at the time we had just finished an undefeated regular season, were considered the best team entering the playoffs, and had large amounts of alcohol to consume and girls to fondle.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

All Aboard the Joe Alexander Bandwagon

If you haven't seen Joe Alexander's combine numbers let me put them into comparison for you. He recorded the second fastest 3/4 court sprint at 2.99 seconds. He was the second strongest guy in benchpress (185 lbs - 24 times). He had the seventh highest vertical jump at 38.5 inches.

Sonny Weems was the only guy faster than Joe Alexander at 2.98 seconds. Josh Duncan was the only one stronger at 26 reps. Patrick Ewing Jr., Eric Gordon, OJ Mayo, Deron Washington, Derrick Rose, and Mike Taylor were the only guys who jumped higher.

Sidebar: Patrick Ewing Jr. had the highest vert at 42 inches, but he only benchpressed 185lbs two times. OJ Mayo was second with 41 inches. Derrick Rose and Eric Gordon both had a 40 inch vertical.

Finally Joe Alexander measured in at 6'8 with a 7'0 wingspan. He weighs 220 and will be able to add 15 lbs of muscle before the season begins. If this guy isn't a top ten pick some scouts will be fired by next summer.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

The Game Where I Could Get Off at Any Time

. . .Before every big game there is an excitement that seems to build all around you, in everything you do for the entire day. It was the third week of the season and we were facing what many considered to be the other top team in the league. They were the good ole' boy fraternity and had a lot of ex-highschool, and a few ex-college athletes as members. In this case, good ole' boy means somewhat racist.

For the past few weeks my romantic life had grown stagnant. In this case, romantic life means getting piss drunk and trying to bring girls back to my dorm room. I had been striking out Friday and Saturday nights on a consistent basis. In this case, striking out means either passing out with mad mushroom cheesesticks in my mouth or taking home the most-tolerable looking girl left at the end of the night. Tack that on wich my less than inspring play so far and a guy's confidence starts to fail him.

It was a Wednesday morning and I was sitting in Introduction to Political Science with Dr. Halfbeard. We were discussing the vicious circle effect in American politics. Apathy begets non-involvement in government which begets less interest in government which begets mistrust of government, etc., etc. eventually creating a viscious circle downward until something extraordinary breaks the cycle. (Sidebar: Barack the vote!). I was able to find this on the internet (just read italics if you want): http//

I began to realize the same was happening to me and a few of my friends. It could be my own self-destructive pattern of drinking begetting hall parties which beget drunkingly hitting on girls which beget striking out which beget a loss in confidence which beget more drinking.

It could be Once-Balding Italian's consumption of two forties begetting a hall pary begetting his full-bodied girlfriend breaking up with him begetting him calling girls fat asses begetting a general disdain for his company throughout most of campus begetting more forties.

It could even be seen with The Greying Writer's not washing his sheets all year begetting a horrible infection in his eye begetting long trips to the doctors begetting expensive medicine begetting less time in the day begetting unreturned public library cd's and Mr. Tuxedo rental tuxes, and not washing his sheets.

It's easy to fall into a destructive pattern during college. It is often the reason you see 250 pound Seniors who could once run 6 minute miles as freshman.

We had the middle game of the night, which meant the largest crowd of around 15 people. But it also meant we would be missing The Greying Writer to play practice because it didn't end until close to the beginning of the third game. With everything else going on I hadn't prepared well enough for the game and didn't feel ready when the ball was tossed. Four minutes in the first half went by without anybody on our team being able to put the ball in the basket. Everyone was playing tight. The Good Ole' Boys got out to a quick eight point lead and The Baseball Player called a quick timeout. He took Slow-Release and Long-Armed Hippie out of the game and with that I became one of the only shooters on the floor. On our first offensive set I ran my man off a screen and popped out for a 14 foot baseline jumper. A few plays later I got some daylight at the top of the key from a screen and knocked down a three. On the next possession I cut through the lane and got a great feed from V-Neck that I was able to put in with my right hand. Our opponents called a timeout and our bench rushed the court to encourage the lineup on the floor. Slow-Release pulled me to the side and said in my ear,

"You're carrying us and you're going to have to keep on carrying us." It was the single greatest moment of my life. I had never carried a basketball team before. But I liked the feeling. I finished the first half with 16 points and felt something like this: We had a 5 point lead after the first half and extended it to nine by game's end. Everyone else got going in the second half and I only added 5 points to the total. Most importantly, we got a great win against a really good team. Other than that, I was able to break out of a shooting slump. I could only think this confidence would permeate throughout the rest of my social endeavors.

After the rah, rah, rah's I returned to the dorms. As I approached our dorm room I began to hear subtle female moans. I listened through the door and could distinctly pick up a female's voice. Had my individual performance caught the eye of a young impressionable female who was awaiting my return? I opened the door, but it was The Greying Writer, returned early from play practice and watching Latino Lesbian Amateurs.

Friday, May 30, 2008

The Game That Kick-Started the Season

. . .Once-Balding Italian's roommate, our other neighbor, Buttercream had recently lost his virginity during first semester. Understandably, he was proud of this milestone. We called him Buttercream because his initials were B.C., the same initials used to denote the 'butter cream' at a local bakery The Greying Writer had worked at for a period of time in the fall. For undisclosed reasons he was fired before Christmas. He began calling him Buttercream and the rest of us followed suit, mostly because The Greying Writer had a way of pushing people's buttons for the amusement of others. But Buttercream enjoyed the name after a while, and sadly it has become one of the more sensible nicknames any of us have once had.

Buttercream had also recently activated into his fraternity and was unable to play on our intramural basketball team. He learned a handshake and a couple of songs about drinking beer in the process. This they felt would lead to being drunk and sleeping with loads of women. I preferred to skip the middle step and go right to the drinking and trying to sleep with loads of woman. To save any suspense, I failed on the latter. Buttercream was enjoying his freshman year, and when not playing baseball, was attending different fraternity functions. He would take different girls on weekend getaways with the fraternity and then return on Monday to tell us of upon the sexual escapades he had embarked. Apparently these fraternities were on to something with weekend getaways.

It was the second week of the season and we had added two new guys onto the team. The Long-Armed Hippie was an extremely talented player, and competed with Slow-Release each night for top player honors. He was extremely long, a great shooter from anywhere on the court, a decent ball handler, good passer, and great defender. He had recently deactivated from his fraternity. Mute Bruce Bowen was a good friend of Slow Release and a cousin of Metrosexual Cowboy. He never spoke, and only shot threes from the corners. However, that's where the comparison to Bruce Bowen ends because he played shit defense. Metrosexual Cowboy was just about my least favorite person on the planet during that time. He played little, shot too much, and spray-tanned twice a day. His own stories are left for another time and place.

We were playing an athletic fraternity team without much basketball experience. It would be a different test for us, but a chance to play more organized basketball and work on our half-court defense and zone offense. I'm not an advocate of any zone in any pick-up basketball game, but I have to admit that it's a smart move in a C-League game because the chances that we shoot well from behind the arc is slim. The Baseball Player and The Athlete noticed the zone right away and called a timeout to get us set up in a zone offense. It consists of three guys quickly moving the ball around the perimeter with one guy running baseline and another cutting to the elbow of the lane. We ran it effectively, but still had to settle for looks from three. Luckily, V-Neck, Mute Bruce Bowen, Long-Armed Hippie, and myself were able to knock down some open looks and give us a comfortable 20 point lead to maintain throught the game. I only contributed 6 points, but it felt good to feel like my shot was starting to drop and I felt more comfortable in the course of the game. Any of our misses were cleaned up by The Insane Fifth-Year Senior and Faceman. It was a dominating performance, against a good group of athletic guys. It gave us the confidence we needed to carry into next week's battle against one of the best teams in the league. But for the time being we celebrated our win back at the dorms.

Buttercream convinced me to throw in a dip while we played some video games and drank a few beers in his room. After hearing of his sexual explorations through heavily trampled area over the weekend, I did the usual, and began trying to convince him he had either 1) gotten someone pregnant and would have to drop out of school to support the child, or 2) had contracted an STD and would be rotting in two months. After a while, he visibly seemed nervous, and it was satisfaction to know he would have trouble sleeping that night after laughing his ass off at the agony I was in after dipping.

But no matter what I said had had gotten off to a great start in college. Only in terms of sleeping with promiscuous woman whom he barely knew, but it was still a good start. Likewise we had handedly beaten a team that could have given us a much better game. We also felt like we were off to a good start.