Monday, July 2, 2007

2007 NBA Draft Rants and Ramblings

Here are some various thoughts I had on the 2008 NBA Draft, including which teams made the best picks, which clubs might have chosen future busts, and much more.

- Obviously, the first thing anyone thought of was Joakim Noah—and what he was wearing. Seriously, what was that? A bow tie? And why did he all of a sudden scare everyone and let his hair down? He said he wanted to represent New York in the right way with his outfit—the whole state should probably be ashamed right now. Dude looked like a complete circus.

- Atlanta basically passed on Amare Stoudamaire to get Al Horford and Acie Law. Amare is a game-changer and can dominate games—I don’t see either Horford or Law becoming nearly the impact player that Amare is.

- I don’t really like either side of the Boston-Seattle deal. Boston gets an aging shooting guard in Ray Allen to pair with another shoot-first wing in Paul Pierce; and a player without a position in Glen Davis. On the other side, Seattle gets a huge contract with Wally Szczerbiak; a solid guard in Delonte West; and another tall, versatile forward in Jeff Green (sounds a lot like Kevin Durant and, well, Rashard Lewis). I guess you can say it’s a fair trade, since both teams came out on the losing end.

- Sprite was clearly paying Yi Jianlian to drink its soda during the Draft. He fidgeted with the cap for at least ten seconds during the intro, and was never seen without it the rest of the Draft. Terrific product placement.

- By far the funniest moment (besides Stephen A. Smith’s general commentary throughout the show, of course) was when Kevin Durant’s mom wiped off his cheek and mouth while the camera was on him. I’m sure teams will be intimidated by him now.

- As a Knicks fan, you have to LOVE the trade for Zach Randolph. He and Eddy Curry down low will form arguably the best big man duo in the Eastern Conference—if not the entire league. They combined to average 43.2 points and 17.2 rebounds per game last season. One problem is that both kind of do the same things offensively—neither of them really steps out for jumpers to bring defenders away from the basket. However, if Randolph stays out of trouble, this trade is perfect. Steve Francis brought nothing to the table in New York, and while I will miss Channing Frye, I’d rather have Randolph any day of the week. To top it off, Fred Jones provides athleticism, and Dan Dickau can give some good minutes off the bench at the point—no more Nate Robinson running the show when Stephon Marbury needs a break is wonderful.

- While on the Knicks, though, I hate their pick of Wilson Chandler. It had been talked about for several days that he had received a guarantee from Isiah Thomas at the No. 23 spot, and I still haven’t found one reason to like the pick. The Knicks need a shooter from the wing who can score and create his own shot. Rice’s Morris Almond was sitting on the board—but no, Isiah wanted a forward who think he’s better than he is and doesn’t work hard. Remember, though, Isiah had said all along he was willing to take risks in the Draft, since he picked up Randolph Morris in free agency. Yup, Thomas drafted Wilson Chandler because Randolph Morris is on the team.

- One more trade (not counting solely in-Draft trades) to discuss: Golden State sending Jason Richardson and Jermareo Davidson to Charlotte for Brandan Wright. I think it’s a good trade for both sides. Golden State has tons of guards and perimeter players, and Monta Ellis can easily slide in to fill Richardson’s spot. Furthermore, Wright’s athletic, long frame should fit in very well with the Warriors’ up-tempo style. On the other side, Richardson immediately becomes the go-to-guy on the perimeter for the Bobcats. He and Gerald Wallace will form a supremely athletic duo at the wing positions. The Bobcats could have used Wright in the frontcourt, though. However, if Sean May and Emeka Okafor stay healthy, GM Michael Jordan will be fine up front.

- Back to Noah for a second: I don’t get why Chicago would use its pick on him. They need a big man that can score—not an energy player who likely won’t average double-figures. As much as I thought Spencer Hawes should have returned to Washington, he would have made sense with the ninth pick. However, I do think that Noah is a decent fit for the Bulls’ system. I’ve said for months that Noah would not be a great NBA player—unless he got drafted by Phoenix or maybe Chicago. He will be able to run with Kirk Hinrich, Luol Deng, etc.—he just won’t be able to start as long as Ben Wallace is around.

- Milwaukee will have an interesting situation with Yi. His representatives have been saying that he won’t play in Milwaukee—that’s quite a risk that the Bucks took with the sixth pick in the Draft. They could always trade him, however. Stay tuned.

- Philadelphia had an awful Draft—until their trades almost evened things out. They drafted two players who I think should have stayed in school another year in Thaddeus Young and Daequan Cook, and Petteri Koponen, who is still a few seasons away from contributing. Young is not ready for a starring role yet, and Cook is poised (in my opinion) for a career as a benchwarmer. However, they turned things around in trades. They dealt Cook for Jason Smith, who should help immediately with his all-around game, and then picked up Derrick Byars, a player who some thought could go in the first round, for Koponen. I still don’t think the Sixers draft was very good, but it wasn’t as bad as it originally looked.

- Nick Young, my favorite player in the Draft, dropped too far, in my opinion. He has plenty of offensive talent, and will make an immediate impact in the scoring department. Luckily for him, though, he gets to develop next to Gilbert Arenas in Washington. However, I didn’t think he was going to drop to sixteenth in the first round, and I was more surprised that a team like New Orleans passed on him. I think that the Hornets are going to regret it.

- I wonder if Phoenix realizes they are going to have to actually draft someone eventually. They sold their first pick once again, making it the fourth season in a row that they have sold or traded their top pick in the Draft. The Suns need bench help for Steve Nash, and continuing to miss out on quality talents in the first round will hurt them.

- If Sean Williams leaves his off-the-court troubles behind him at Boston College, he could turn out to be a terrific pick for New Jersey. His athleticism and shot-blocking ability inside makes him the perfect fit for the Nets, who have been lacking someone like that for several seasons.

- Did last year’s Draft not happen or something? What was the high amount of teams selecting players from a position that they drafted for last season as well. The Lakers took Jordan Farmar last year, Javaris Crittenton this year; Utah chose Ronnie Brewer last season, Morris Almond this season; Memphis drafted Kyle Lowry a year ago, Mike Conley on Thursday; Atlanta did the same thing with Shelden Williams and Al Horford; and Philadelphia, who seems to want to stockpile small forwards, took Thaddeus Young this year, and Rodney Carney and Bobby Jones last season. I guess GMs are developing more of a short leash on their rookies.

- San Antonio will continue its reign over the league, if smart drafting as anything to do with it. Tiago Splitter has been projected as a lottery pick for several seasons now, and will help once he comes over from Spain after next season, and Marcus Williams has a lot of talent if he can learn to play team ball.

- Why did Houston draft Aaron Brooks at the end of the first round? The Rockets already have three point guards in Mike James, Rafer Alston, and Luther Head—and Brooks is better suited to score the ball rather than create for teammates. 6-0 scoring guards don’t make it in the NBA.

- Why did Detroit draft two shooting guards in the first round in Rodney Stuckey and Arron Afflalo? Stuckey I can understand, but why Afflalo? He may help with his defensive abilities, but I don’t see him getting a lot of playing time in his first couple of seasons, especially with Rip Hamilton there.

- Boy, did Josh McRoberts’ stock drop over the past couple of seasons—and past couple of weeks, apparently. He was a lottery pick after high school, a possibly lottery pick after last season, and even a mid-first round pick once he declared for the Draft after this past season at Duke. But the No. 37 pick on Draft day? I don’t care too much for him, but he still has plenty of talent and should be able to contribute for the Trail Blazers.

- Speaking of the Blazers, they clearly had the best draft of the night. Getting Oden was the obvious pick, but Rudy Fernandez should be an immediate help in the backcourt, and Petteri Koponen will help in the future. More importantly, McRoberts was a great pick in the second round, and Taurean Green is capable of running a team at the point. They also got rid of team cancer Zach Randolph.

- I don’t see why Carl Landry was the first pick of the second round. He’s a 6-7 power forward that can’t really shoot beyond the foul line. He lacks explosiveness and great leaping ability—I don’t think he’s going to be a very good NBA player.

- While on the Big Ten, Adam Haluska? He didn’t get invited to the Orlando pre-draft camp, but New Orleans took him anyway. The Hornets needed an explosive wing that could score the ball—they didn’t get it with either of their picks, passing on the likes of Nick Young in the first round and a host of players in the second round.

- I like the Clippers’ draft. Al Thornton will make an immediate impact as an athletic scorer who can fill it up, and Jared Jordan has the vision to become a quality point guard as his career moves on.

- Couple of random comments about some second-rounders: Aaron Gray’s stock dropped big-time since last season...I like New York getting Demetris Nichols from Portland—he’s a tall shooter, which is exactly what the Knicks needed...D.J. Strawberry could become a good Phoenix player in a couple years—he’s athletic and a terrific defender. On a different note, the Suns’ pick of Alando Tucker in the first round will render immediate results...Dominic McGuire should help Washington at both ends of the floor...Reyshawn Terry is a great, great pick for Orlando. He’s athletic and can score with ease—he just needs to become more consistent

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