Before we dive into the NBA Draft, a couple of trades worth commenting on:
Golden State Warriors trade Corey Maggette to the Milwaukee Bucks for Charlie Bell and Dan Gadzuric – THIS is a pretty clear talent win for the Bucks. Maggette gets a reputation as a loser and many critics point to his contract as being an albatross. Both of these reputations are stupid. Maggette has been on a lot of losing teams – he is not a transformative player, is a shaky defender and a less than enthusiastic passer. However, what he can do is flat out score – and he has always been able to flat out score … and does it so efficiently that he absolutely justifies his salary. The Bucks who need as much offensive punch (especially off the bench) that they can get need a professional scorer. And all they had to do was trade two crappy players. Thank God the Warriors are being run by retards (I’m sorry, that is an insult to the handicapped).
New Jersey Nets trade Chris Douglas-Roberts to the Milwaukee Bucks for a 2012 2nd rounder: Basically, the Nets had a team option on CDR, so they could have cut him. So instead, they trade him for a bag of basketballs. For the Bucks, who are trying to improve their wing punch with John Salmons testing out free agency – this is another possibility. CDR has some potential as a rotation player – and it costs them nothing so why not?
Miami Heat trade the 18th pick in the draft and Daquean Cook to the Oklahoma City Thunder for 32nd pick in the draft: The Heat are clearly setting their cap up for a mega free agent bid to play with Dwayne Wade. They did not need a guaranteed contract. The Thunder are still being smart so they collect assets.
Oh how the worm turns in the NBA. Just as rigor mortis is setting in on the corpse of the season past, we have next year to look forward to already. Fortunately, unlike the NFL Draft – we all know more of the players here. I mean I am not perfect here – but it’s not like there are interior linemen that I have to fake having a reasonable opinion on. Now – last year’s draft class at the time of the draft seemed pretty horrible. You had Blake Griffin and a bunch of chub. But as it turned out, Griffin missed the entire season while Brandon Jennings, Tyreke Evans, and Stephen Curry ended up making this one of the great depth classes of recent vintage.
So how did so many fans miss the boat? Personally, I blame college basketball – whose ego driven coaches, wildly physical post play and defense that discourages movement, have made it very hard to project kids. Never has the fundamental gap between the pro and college games been larger. I mean the 2010 National Champions contain a grand total of one player who I’d bet more than $1 on being a 10 year starter in the Association (hint: it’s not Singler). But the college game is slower, with more ways to clog the lane. It is great for shooters (look at how JJ Redick became a National Player of the Year) but real NBA friendly games can be squashed. (calling Ben Howland) The NBA has created a speed and rhythm game that just requires a different sort of ath-a-lete. So while this crop of kids seems meh on the surface – there could be a lot of good pros who are being stepped on by slow Hickory High-style college systems. This draft looks fairly thin talent-wise after five or six players – but let’s give some time. As always, this is a combination of should and will – I am not trying to GM 30 teams – but I have no inside info.
1. Wizards – John Wall, PG, Kentucky – the clear best pro prospect this year. He is big, he is fast, and while he is not a great shooter – his shot is not at a bad place fundamentally. The court vision is there, and at Kentucky he had a knack for giving the team exactly what it needed.
2. Sixers – Evan Turner, SG, Ohio State – mediocre athlete who can’t shoot – but has a load of basketball skills. He is the best college basketball player of 2009-2010. Really Sixers don’t need him – but Doug Collins is a terrible coach with projects. Evan Turner does not need much teaching. He has a Brandon Roy ceiling – and that is either a good thing or a bad thing depending on how you view it.
3. Nets – Derrick Favors, PF, Georgia Tech – Favors’ numbers are mediocre at Tech. His guards and coach were AWFUL. The talent is clear. Favors is not ready to dominate now, but neither are the Nets. But this gives the team a pretty good place to start.
4. Timberwolves – Wesley Johnson, SF, Syracuse – I am not really sure what the Timberwolves will do. If they move Kevin Love or Al Jefferson – DeMarcus Cousins makes sense here. That said, Johnson is a safe pick. Runs the floor, good defender. He is probably not an all star – but a good starter.
5. Kings – Greg Monroe, PF, Georgetown – The Vlade Divac comparison is apt. So is the homeless man’s Bill Walton. Super high basketball IQ. Not a great athlete, but everything he does well has value on a pro team.
6. Warriors – DeMarcus Cousins, C, Kentucky – The best talent in the draft and the biggest character risk. The Warriors are crazy too – this is a good match.
7. Pistons – Ed Davis, PF, North Carolina – Pistons want size and toughness. Ed Davis might be neither, but he is the best guy on the board to possibly do it. If he played with Ty Lawson he’d be a star – but he didn’t.
8. Clippers – Al Farooq Aminu, SF, Wake Forest – Really he is the best value bet for me in this draft. That is the odds that he can be a superstar that a bookie might give me could make this a real high expected value. He has the athleticism and shot blocking that tracks well. He also does not shoot well and has an iffy motor. But the Clippers should swing for the fences.
9. Jazz – Luke Babitt, SF, Nevada – Babitt is an elite shooter and scorer. The Jazz need some wing help, and some scoring off the bench. Also, he is a no nonsense kid – he and Jerry Sloan seem to just make sense.
10. Pacers – Gordon Hayward, SG, Butler – Hooray marketing! Really the Pacers want to deal this for some guard help. None of the bigs here are great values. And it would move merchandise.
11. Hornets – Paul George, SG, Fresno State – this is a ceiling pick. The Hornets need wing scoring – and when you play with Paul, the chance to be an explosive player are high. It’s a gamble but worth taking.
12. Grizzlies – Xavier Henry, SG, Kansas – Rudy Gay is almost certainly gone. There is an opening and Henry has the most upside.
13. Raptors – Cole Aldrich, C, Kansas – the Raptors need size badly. Aldrich is not a great athlete, but he has the basic skills to have a pretty good NBA career – or at least one with sustained employment.
14. Rockets – Ekpe Udoh, C, Baylor – Yeah he’s 23. But he is still learning the game and the Rockets need some size to make up for Carl Landry’s new home.
15. Bucks – Patrick Patterson, PF, Kentucky – Patterson is not special, but he has been productive and is a hard worker. Skiles will appreciate his coachability.
16. Timberwolves – Jordan Crawford, SG, Xavier – Wolves have a chance to load up on wings this draft – here they go
17. Bulls – Avery Bradley, SG, Texas – can back up both guard spots. Good defender and can shoot at the NBA level
18. Thunder – Daniel Orton, C, Kentucky – Orton is RAW but the athleticism is there. Thunder have 3 picks and so can shoot the moon a bit.
19. Celtics – Damion James, SF, Texas – Celtics could move out of the draft and try for a title in 2011 – or they could try to move up using Rasheed Wallace’s contract and pending retirement. Bledsoe has a bit more ceiling possibly and James is a bit of a tweener. But his motor, defensive skills and maturity make him a fit here. He can step right in to a good team and be credible.
20. Spurs – Solomon Alabi, C, Florida State – Obviously this is not Tim Duncan’s replacement. But it might be Antonio McDyess’. Alabi has a good hoops IQ and has good shot blocking skill.
21. Thunder – Kevin Serraphin, PF, France – Somebody they can store overseas given three picks.
22. Blazers – Lance Stephenson, SG, Cincinnati – Blazers have enough size. What they could use is some wing help – Stephenson had an up and down year at Cincy, but the talent is there possibly.
23. Timberwolves – Tibor Pleiss, C, Germany – three picks available, they will stuff one in Europe
24. Hawks – Craig Brackins, PF, Iowa State – his desire is a question, but his inside/outside game isn’t. He could really thrive and the Hawks could use the versatility, especially on offense.
25. Grizzlies – Larry Sanders, PF, VCU – has raw skill and could be a shot blocking force. Grizzlies have 3 picks, can afford to take a flyer.
26. Thunder – Devin Ebanks, SF, WVU – Ebanks can’t shoot. But he can defend, is an elite athlete and tracked REALLY well last year as a prospect. There is something there. So why the hell not?
27. Nets – Jordan Crawford, SG, Xavier – The Nets need TALENT. Crawford might have attitude problems – but he can score and provide energy.
28. Grizzlies – Greivis Vasquez, SG, Maryland – Vasquez is slow and can’t defend. But he is a winner – and has so much versatility on the court. He is a good attitude player.
29. Magic – Dominique Jones, SG, South Florida – the kid stays home. He might not be a great shooter, but a streaky one. Magic like floor spacers.
30. Wizards – Dexter Pittman, C, Texas – this is a heart pick. Obviously his weight is a huge issue. He had to cut out of the combine process due to an unfathomable tragedy. But in the right program – and Leonsis and the Wizards can be this program – his talent is undeniable. Just watch his good games at Texas for proof. He could be the biggest home run swing of the night.