So it's a couple days after the NBA Draft, and I haven't posted anything yet. Maybe it's because I'm upset with the Nets and Knicks. Maybe it's because I'm mourning the departure of Vince Carter...or maybe I just don't care.
Regardless, people have been asking for my thoughts on the shakedown of the draft; ask, and you will receive. Here they come:
No major surprises in the first round, except maybe the fact that the Minnesota Timberwolves drafted THREE point guards. Sure they traded Randy Foye to the Washington Wizards earlier in the week, but they still had Sebastian Telfair heading into the draft. Telfair is coming off his best season as a pro, one in which he showed excellent assist-per-minute ability.
Still, can't go into the year with only one usable floor general. With that in mind, we all KNEW that Minnesota would select one point guard, but...three? Really?
The three in question are Ricky Rubio, Jonny Flynn, and Ty Lawson. And what a mess that situation has become since the evening of the draft. That night, Lawson was dealt to the Nuggets for future considerations. And then there were two...
Now, Rubio's camp is saying they don't want him in Minnesota. And really, can you blame them? A franchise in disarray with Flynn and Telfair both in the picture? Not an optimal situation for Ricky, and Minnesota isn't exactly a major market. And it's cold; who can forget about that? Ricky and his family hate the cold. Seriously, they said that.
So now the Timberwolves franchise has a mess on its hands. It's unfortunate, too, because I could see Lawson being as effective as Flynn in the long run. This was a draft class with little differentiation between the supposed "cream of the crop," and the "what if's" and "maybe's." Minnesota doesn't have a reliable perimeter scorer on their roster, and yet they take a trio of point guards and essentially give the third first rounder away.
What they should have done is take Rubio or Flynn with the fifth pick (though it looks like Flynn would be the no-brainer at this point), a scorer with the sixth pick, and if they were THAT concerned with point guard play they could have taken Lawson at 18 and kept him. Stephen Curry or DeMar DeRozan would have been nice at the six spot.
But hey, it's the Timberwolves. What do you expect? The mess is normal.
Moving on, the Knicks were essentially forced into the Jordan Hill selection at No. 8. I said in the opening that I'm upset with the Knicks, but it's not because of this. I'm just still upset about tanking this past season and likely doing the same this season. Part of me hopes that we DON'T get LeBron James or Dwyane Wade in 2010, so Donnie Walsh can get burnt for building a franchise on a guessing game.
Anyway, the Knicks HAD to take Hill after Flynn and Curry were off the board. Some scouts had Hill as a top five career projection (for the class), and he's one of the only near-legitimate big men of this particular draft pool. The Knicks continued to add to their frontcourt Thursday night, when they traded bust Quentin Richardson to the Memphis Grizzlies for Darko Milicic. That trade, I liked. The Knicks needed size, obviously, after they had a 6'8" guy playing center for the majority of the '08-09 season.
Then there's my Nets at 11. I don't hate Terrence Williams, but I wanted Gerald Henderson OR Tyler Hansbrough. Of course, I got neither. This coming after the front office traded Vince Carter -- my favorite Net -- to the Orlando Magic for Rafer Alston, Courtney Lee, and Tony Battie. The Nets are doing the same thing as the Knicks, essentially, which is clearing space for a free agent shopping spree in 2010.
The reason why I prefer the Nets' version of a two-year tank job is that they have legitimate pieces in Devin Harris and Brook Lopez. Now we can add Courtney Lee to that mix. The Knicks, on the other hand, have David Lee and Nate Robinson, but don't intend to keep either one of them. Where are Donnie Walsh's pieces? What will he have, a Tabula Rasa (blank slate)?
That remains to be seen. But I don't like it. This is some organizational gamble.
Didn't love the Austin Daye pick by the Pistons at the 15 spot, but the insiders are saying that he's a better shooter than people think. When I saw him play the UConn Huskies (my alma matter) this season, he was basically invisible. Has good length, but seemed soft as hell for a 6'11" guy. Could be quite awhile for him to turn into anything.
The best picks of the latter portion of the first round were Taj Gibson and Wayne Ellington. The Bulls can add Gibson to their talented young frontcourt that already includes Tyrus Thomas and Joakim Noah. I like Chicago's collective athleticism, and they certainly appear to be headed in the right direction. They have length, size, and versatility.
With Ellington, the Timberwolves redeemed themselves a little bit. Here's the scorer-type that they probably should have entertained with an earlier pick. For some reason, they didn't like Stephen Curry or DeMar DeRozan. As for Ellington, he's a better shooter than DeRozan, so if they were looking for outside touch, they waited on the right man.
Ellington can stroke it and he shoots it well off screens. Minnesota needs anyone on the perimeter that can knock down a shot, which certainly wouldn't be the case if Telfair and/or Rubio end up starters. I like a potential backcourt of Jonny Flynn and Ellington, though I doubt the organization would go THAT young, this quickly.
The second was the more interesting of the rounds this year. So many of the second round selections seemed interchangeable with mid-to-late round firsts.
Jermaine Taylor can't be as good as Toney Douglas, or better? Same with Dante Cunningham and DeMarre Carroll. When it comes to Carroll, the same can be said of DaJuan Summers and Sam Young in the second round. What about DeJuan Blair and Tyler Hansbrough? And that's not to devalue Hansbrough -- because I'm a big fan -- I just think the Spurs picked up a steal in Blair. Imagine the rebounding possibilities with Tim Duncan and Blair on the front line for San Antonio.
Loved the Jodie Meeks pick by the Bucks at 41. Meeks didn't test particularly well athletically, but the kid scored over 50 points in a Division-1 game. That's pretty absurd. How often does that happen?
Certainly not often. Meeks can fill it up and he's a streak scorer, which makes him a nice option as a potential sixth man/offensive boost off the pine. Is Meeks really THAT much worse than Ellington, DeRozan, and Harden in the first round?
Speaking of Harden, everyone seems to be down on him. I thought he was supposed to be an "incredible athlete," but I heard Rod Thorn saying that he wasn't at all impressive in athletic testing. That bothers me because he's an inconsistent shooter, and his basketball IQ is questionable, so where is his value at No. 3 overall? Very peculiar. I prefer DeRozan's upside to Harden's; nonetheless, Oklahoma City needed someone to play between Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant, and they think they've found him. I'd beg to differ, but we'll see.
Loved the Hornets trading for Marcus Thornton at 43. Thornton's kinda small for an NBA shooting guard (6'4" 194), but he can really catch fire. I like his athletic ability for the position, and his shooting stroke has an awful lot of potential. The Hornets need SG's, as that has been their ultimate weakness the past couple of seasons. Rasual Butler did step up in the second half of this past season, however.
Chase Budinger was an excellent value for the Pistons at 44. A couple of years ago, given his offensive skills, size for his position, and finishing ability, Chase was a projected lottery pick. That has since changed because of his questionable footspeed and porous defensive skills, but Detroit needs offense. It seems as if they had an excellent all-around draft. Budinger could be a double-digit scorer, eventually, in the NBA.
Danny Green was a great pick for the Phoenix Suns at 46 (is he really that different from Terrence Williams or Gerald Henderson?), and I liked Goran Suton to the Jazz at 50. He fits Jerry Sloan and the philosophy of that organization.
Looking for thoughts on other aspects of the draft? Let me know.
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