Friday, June 25, 2010

Musings on an Odd Draft Night

I would have to say that that was one of the odder NBA Drafts I can remember, what with one of the league's best GMs getting fired at its outset, multiple teams playing a "Can You Top This?" game of thoroughly denuding their rosters in pursuit of sacred cap space, so many middling trades that it was hard to remember who had landed where by the end of the night, and Otis Smith even pitching in with the surprising news that the Magic have explored a Hedo Turkoglu return.

And, I think we're going to be looking at an odd rookie class, in that I believe two players who weren't even drafted tonight - Blake Griffin and Tiago Splitter - will be All-Rookie First Team players next season.

For further oddities, this has to be one of the strangest college conference breakdowns I can remember (total picks, 1st rounders in parens):
    Big East: 11 (4)
    Big 12: 10 (7)
    ACC: 9 (5)
    SEC: 7 (5)
    International: 6 (1)
    [SEC - Kentucky: 5 (5)]
    WAC: 4 (2)
    C-USA: 4 (1)
    [SEC - non-Kentucky: 2 (0)]
    Pac-10: 2 (1)
    Big 10: 1 (1)
    A-10: 1 (1)
    Sun Belt: 1 (0)
    D-League: 1 (0)
    Mountain West: 1 (0)
    Horizon: 1 (1)
    Colonial: 1 (1)
The night was dominated by the Big East, Big 12, ACC and Kentucky.

- Kentucky alone had as many draftees than the Pac-10, Big Ten and the rest of the SEC combined. Kentucky also had 3 lottery picks, while those other three entities had 1 combined.

- The WAC and Conference USA each had more draftees than the Pac-10 and the Big Ten combined. 8 picks from the WAC + Conf. USA; 5 picks from the Pac-10, Big Ten and non-Kentucky SEC combined.

As far as some quick winners and losers:
- Washington: Yes, the Kirk Hinrich contract is onerous, but in the big picture, I still think it was a banner night for the Wizards franchise, as they added the most likely superstar of the evening in John Wall. I also thought they accumulated talent with good value picks of Kevin Seraphin and Trevor Booker later in the 1st.

- Sacramento: The Kings win just for having DeMarcus Cousins fall to them at 5, though I was struck with a flash of "Oh yeah, that's right..." when highlights of Seraphin scoring over a decidedly lethargic Cousins at the 2009 Hoop Summit were shown later in the night. I like Hassan Whiteside's upside as a 2nd-rounder, too.

- Winning Cap Spacers TBD: Everyone is ready to roll for July 1 now, baby. I have no idea what's going to happen, and don't know if it's possible for anyone to know, but...

...I did find it intriguing that respected veteran Chicago Tribune beat writer K.C. Johnson said this: "As someone who covered Jalen Rose during his Bulls days, know this: He doesn't talk out of school. So his LBJ intel shouldn't be discounted," after Jalen's breathless tweets saying, "(research/sources say) It is almost CERTAIN that LEBRON JAMES WILL NOT be returning to the CAVS! (Bulls/Heat/Clips)". We gunna see.

- Oklahoma City: Sometimes it feels like Sam Presti's playing chess while everyone else is playing checkers. He turns 21 and 32 into Cole Aldrich (whom I like as a rebounder and defender) and Daequan Cook (a good value as a shooter with a reasonable contract). Also, my colleague Jay Aych likes 7-2 Tibor Pleiss's potential.

- L.A. Clippers: Not a home run by any means, but two good value picks IMO with Al-Farouq Aminu at 8 and Eric Bledsoe at 18. Clips continue to stockpile young talent.

- San Antonio: Like the value in James Anderson at 20. Plug in Tiago Splitter at C, and these guys are right back near the top of the West if they stay healthy.

- L.A. Lakers: A very mild winner given that it was pick 43, but I think Devin Ebanks is a real sleeper as a defensive specialist. Wall, Evan Turner and Wes Johnson were a combined 17-42 vs. West Virginia this year, while Stephen Curry went 9-27 against them last year.

- Minnesota: Wes Johnson is the El Busto of the evening to me. Statistically, his closest similarity is J.R. Giddens. Have to take Cousins there, he's too talented. I know that that's a lot of defensively-challenged bigs, but make a deal for a better wing than Johnson. I do like Nemanja Bjelica's upside; maybe Tony Ronzone should make all the picks.

- Portland: What a disaster, to can one of the league's best GM's - the man who expertly transformed the team both on-court and off-court - at the start of the draft. Inexplicable and classless. I actually liked KP's last moves in Portland, maneuvering for Luke Babbitt and Elliot Williams, but it still has to be considered a depressing day in the Rose City.

- New Jersey: In general, I really like Derrick Favors a lot and I support the pick. But after watching several of his games, I have some concerns about the quality of his hands. He just seems to drop or mishandle too many passes/rebounds that he shouldn't. It's tough to be an effective big man offensively without good hands. I still think Favors has great upside and the chance to be an disruptive defensive player with the right coaching, and I think he's a good fit with Brook Lopez. I'm still in the pro-Favors camp, and I take solace in the fact that statistical analysts love him, but color me concerned.

OK, start that clock ticking toward July 1.


At 7:27 AM, Blogger MuslimFirst said...

Portlander here - I'm in Europe and returning to Portland after 10 months on Sunday and I'm angry and depressed - I can't imagine how my fellow Portlanders feel right now, being there. If the firing was just because of who got credit - then that is just sad - I mean - Paul, you are the bank and we appreciate that - but KP is the one who made the changes that brought us some great recent years - so YES, he DESERVES THE CREDIT! KP never got arrogant or anything. ARGH!!! I can still remember when people in the league and those within the organization were hyping up KP as it was only a matter of time before he got the GM job. I didn't know much about him, but as things started, I could see we had a special guy running the draft and personnel side of things.

Just when I thought we had moved away from the inner turmoil, the Trader Bob-type days, this happens. I believe this will be remembered as one of the worst, if not THE worst day in Blazers history - not the Sam bowie selection, not the GO injuries, nothing, compares to this - KP gave his all for the team - and what does he get? To see the project through (=champtionship or at least getting close) or leave the team when he thought it was right? BIG FAT NO!! I know Mr. Allen is suffereing from Hodkins (I'm a med student, so I can appreciate what he is going through), but this is just nonsense in terms of a basketball decision.


At 12:51 PM, Anonymous Howlin' T-Wolf said...

I totally disagree with your thoughts on the Wolves. First off, Wes is the farthest thing from J.R. Giddens. Giddens was a thug teen with crazy athleticism and no consistent jump shot. Wes, in my opinion, was the second best athlete in the draft behind Wall. He even has a sweeter shooting stroke that translates to the NBA more-so than Evan Turner's. Wes could struggle on defense more than people think and it will take him time to adapt to the hybrid triangle offense that Rambis hopes to play. Eventually, they hope to become a full-out running team like Phoenix and having Wes brings them one step closer to having that.

But probably most important of them all is the fact that the Wolves grabbed another high character kid; the only difference is that this one is actually NBA ready as opposed to being a project like Corey Brewer and Jonny Flynn. A sore thumb was not needed in drafting Cousins. Sure, it could bite us in the butt later but I believe Wes has a solid career ahead of him. Cousins was more risk/reward and by that I mean higher risk/higher reward and didn't fit what the Wolves see themselves as in the future. It'd be hard to see Cousins "Run with the Pack" for years to come.

Wes was a safe yet logical pick at 4. Maybe a reach, but GM's weren't denying his maturity nor his basketball talent.

The Webster trade, that's a little different. I'll need more convincing on that one until I can say I loved it.

Bjelica was a good value pick and everyone knows that it was to satisfy new-comer Tony Ronzone, who will one day be a great NBA GM in this league, I guarantee it. And you're right, he should make more picks like this and rightly will in the future.

At 5:36 PM, Anonymous Filipe said...

I'd include Warriors among the losers. If you are going to do that, why not offer the #6 to Utah (who really wanted Monroe) for te #9 and something.

I like both Wolves stash picks a lot, but the first round was beyond awful.

At 5:46 PM, Anonymous Filipe said...

I'd include Warren at #54 as prt of Clippers very good night. Guy would have being a lottery pick last year and at least we know he and Blake Griffin play well together.

At 8:51 AM, Blogger said...

I'd include Warriors among the losers,nice...
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