- The Portland Trail Blazers were extremely active in Thursday's draft. Obviously, the Blazers selected former Ohio State Buckeye Greg Oden with the #1 overall pick. Big surprise. Oden will prove to be a dominating force, and an all-star for the next 15 years. I am positive of this. Zach Randolph was becoming too much off a nuisance for Portland, so, the team traded him along with Fred Jones, Dan Dickau, and the #53 pick (Demetris Nichols) to New York in exchange for the young Channing Frye, and Stevie Franchise. Francis no longer deserves the nickname, but I guess it is sticking. Randolph is a good player, but would distract and disrupt the reign of Oden. Rudy Fernandez was aquired by Portland. Fernandez is a young, promising player who will probably stay overseas for a year or two. Petteri Koponen came to the Blazers in a trade. His situation is much like Fernandez. Then with the #37 pick the Blazers selected Duke player Josh McRoberts. Well, I'm not too impressed with that, but with all the other moves it does not matter. Two time national champion Taurean Green was then drafted. Really, imagine how good this team will be for years to come. A possibly new version of Steve Francis running the point with capable backups in Jarret Jack and Taurean Green. Brandon Roy a soon-to-be All-Star at shooting guard. A young talent named Martell Webster at small forward. The #2 pick from last year's draft, LaMarcus Aldridge at PF. And of course, the next great thing, Greg Oden at center. Channing Frye and Darius Miles aren't too shabby to give the main guys rest as well. All are young, and all can be all-stars. This team no doubt will reach the postseason this year, and will contend and win titles in the near future. Certainly they will not be referred to as the "Jail Blazers" anymore.

- Another team from the Northwest Division made some big noise. That team would be the Seattle (soon to be ......) Supersonics. Kevin Durant and Jeff Green may experience extensive rain for one year, but soon enough the city and team will be in the process of upgrading. First, Kevin Durant is amazing. We all know. Great pick. But...after completing the Ray Allen deal, why would the Sonics select another small forward? Small forward is the only position both players play. I think the pick would have been better suited by choosing Brandan Wright, who can replace Rashard Lewis in the likely case that he skips town in free agency. I still see holes in this team but it's for sure they will have a playmaking star for years to come.

- Aside from the Trail Blazers, I think that the Atlanta Hawks had the best draft. The Hawks need players who can immediately perform, and that is exactly what they got by choosing Al Horford, and Acie Law the IVIVIVLVI. Both are veterans from the college game, and will most likely start right away. The young but promising Hawks team now includes, Law, Josh Childress, Joe Johnson, Josh Smith, Marvin Williams, and Al Horford. Sorry, but I am not counting Shelden Williams as promising (he stinks). A veteran guard and a backup center are the only things keeping this team from the playoffs.

- Losers of the draft included every team without a selection in the first round. Also the Bucks are losers only because it is in question whether or not Yi Jianlian will actually play for the team. They should have made sure that Yi was willing to play before they made the pick. (I'm saying this also because I wanted them to trade with the 76ers). The Bobcats are not neccessarily losers, but I do not think they made the "wright" decision by trading Brandan Wright to Golden State for Jason Richardson. Richardson is a nice player, but he is not a go-to scorer. Brandan Wright has the potential to be a great player. And I'm not just saying that because I'm a huge UNC fan.

- Winners included Portland, and Atlanta as already mentioned. Also, the Sonics did a nice job.

- Most teams did good, but it is hard to be a huge winner without a top 10 selection.

- As for the Philadelphia 76ers. At the moment the Sixers made the pick of Thaddeus Young, I thought it was a bad move. But after a while, I realized that I actually liked the pick. Al Thornton was solid, but lacked potential. Julian Wright needed help shooting. Thaddeus Young, is definitely young, but can score by means of shooting or driving to the basket. Rebounding can eventually be developed. I loved the pick of Jason Smith, simply because it finally adds a legit 7-footer into the Sixers rotation. Byars was a real good pickup for the second round. But after all that, do not expect the Sixers to be finished for this offseason. They need to move one of their wing players such as Rodney Carney or Willie Green. Other than that, the Sixers look pretty good.

Here are my playoff predictions for next year, based on the draft, and what is expected from the upcoming free agency period.

Eastern Conference

1. Chicago Bulls- If the Bulls can aquire Kevin Garnett, or even Kobe Bryant without giving up Luol Deng they should be ready to take the East. Even if neither comes to Chicago they still will have a great team.
2. Miami Heat- Signs point towards Rashard Lewis signing with the Heat, and if D-Wade and Shaq stay healthy, Miami can make another title run.
3. Detroit Pistons- The core is still intact (assuming Chauncey re-signs) so they will still put up a good fight.
4. Cleveland Caviliers- Will Daniel Gibson really resume his playoff performance? My guess is no, which moves the Cavs down a bit.
5. New Jersey Nets- Jermaine O'Neal could arrive in New Jersey giving the Nets an even more potent Big 3.
6. Washington Wizards- Just if everyone can stay healthy...
7. Philadelphia 76ers- Definite signs of improvement were made in the last two months of the season. Those signs will continue as Andre Miller, and Andre Iguodala put the team back in the playoffs after a two year absence.
8. Charlotte Bobcats- Finally!!!! The Bobcats are legit at every position now. Felton, Morrison, Richardson, May/Brezec, and Okafor. A possible addition in the offseason puts this team in the playoffs for the first time.
9. Toronto Raptors- Last year was a bit of a mirage.
10. Orlando Magic- The Magic have an off year, but expect big things from this franchise soon.
11. Atlanta Hawks- Steps are being made, however so lightly.
12. Boston Celtics- Aging stars are not the answer for the Celtics, leading to another dissapointing season.
13. New York Knicks- For some reason I just do not like the makeup of this team. Marbury and Randolph are hassles, and other than them it's just a bunch of so-so role players.
14. Milwaukee Bucks- Still one year away from being a true playoff contentder. Bogut and Yi must develop before this team gets better.
15. Indiana Pacers- Jermaine O'Neal seems to be on his way out, meaning the Pacers will struggle without a true star.

Western Conference

1. Phoenix Suns- Grant Hill could be on his way to the desert giving some veteran leadership. Oh, yeah, KG too. 2. San Antonio Spurs- This is whre they always finish. Right?
3. Los Angeles Clippers- Shaun Livingston will return strong and turn into a star player. Elton Brand will flurish with Corey Maggete and Chris Kaman.
4. Utah Jazz- Deron Williams, AK47, and Carlos Boozer. Enough said.
5. Dallas Mavericks- I just don't like them.
6. Golden State Warriors- Run-n-gun b-ball style. I like it.
7. Houston Rockets- A team that always is one player short of excellence.
8. Portland Trail Blazers- This is what Oden can do for you.
9. Denver Nuggets- Huh?
10. Memphis Grizzlies- Another team who will be up at the top in a few years.
11. LA Lakers- If he stays, Kobe won't be too happy.
12. New Orleans Hornets- Need to get some help for Chris Paul.
13. Seattle Supersonics- Just one more year.
14. Minnsota Timberwolves- Without KG.
15. Sacremento Kings- Artest and Bibby are probably gone. That leaves two tall white guys (Spencer Hawes and Brad Miller) to lead the team.


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