Are you blown away by yesterday’s draft?!?! Yeah, me either, but hey, that’s alright. We had a couple trades, a few interesting picks and a glut of guys who will end up mediocre NBA players getting one step closer to employment, at least for a little bit. We will touch all the bases of the guys who made news, the trades, the steals, the busts, the winners and the losers. And go!
Milwaukee-Sacramento-Charlotte Ménage à trois
Stephen Jackson, Shaun Livingston, 19th pick from Bobcats (Tobias Harris), Beno Udrih from Kings
Corey Maggette from Bucks, 7th pick from Kings (Bismack Biyombo)
John Salmons and 10th pick from Bucks (Jimmer Fredette)
I am biased as a guy who sees a lots of Bucks basketball, but I love this trade for the Bucks. Corey Maggette was a complete drain on that team with his ball-stopping on offense and remarkably bad defense. Even with all those free throws, he was a negative influence on that team. John Salmons was a great Bucks player once upon a time, but that time is over now. Just like his previous stops, the second year of Salmons was a complete letdown, especially in comparison to his first year where he led the charging Bucks to the brink of the 2nd round of the playoffs. Add to this the contract situation with both of these guys, which was ugly to say the least, and everything leaving the organization should be viewed as a positive. Stephen Jackson should be a great leader on a team that seems to lack leadership at times, and can help score the ball (like Maggette while still playing solid defense and being a leader (unlike Maggette). Stephen Jackson and Scott Skiles is going to be one of those weird marriages that just works, assuming Skiles sticks around. Beno Udrih is no superstar, but he is a more-than-capable backup that might remind fans of Luke Ridnour. Livingston is an alright guy to take a flyer on too, and the better news is that it almost definitely means Keyon Dooling getting traded, who I am not a fan of. The Bucks ended up taking Tobias Harris with the 19th pick, who will (insert awesome Arrested Development joke here).
I did not like it for the Kings initially, but I liked what they turned it into. I am not sure how thrilled Sacramento will be to see Salmons again. The following comment was a top comment on a Sactown Royalty thread:
The Sacramento Kings fanbase isn’t happy with the re-acquisition of John Salmons. They would have rather collectively burned out their eyelids with a series of matches then watch Salmons dribble the ball into the floor. -user VenomySnicket
Yup, think that captures the essence of it. If not, try this. However, I loved what they did with the Jimmer pick, especially with Paul Westphal running the show. Westphal has a run and gun background and with a lineup of Jimmer, Tyreke, Salmons, Cousins/Thompson, and Dalembert, potentially playing Cousins and Thompson side by side, you can run and score all day, which would at least give the tortured Sacramento fans some entertainment value. If Jimmer can learn to play off-the-ball a little, he and Tyreke can be a fantastic pairing in the backcourt. If nothing else, they will be a lot of fun.
I do not love it for the Bobcats, because I really dislike Maggette and his contract, but I liked everything else they did in the draft, so we will focus on those positives a little later. They turned the pick into Bismack Biyombo, who I am not so sure on, but at least can be some defense at the rim. Don’t worry, Charlotte, more Bobcats talk later.
That is my favorite non-brawl related “we ride together” video. You are welcome.
Kawhi Leonard (15th pick), Davis Bertlans (42nd pick), Erazem Lorbek (picked in 2005, still in Europe)
Everybody wins! The Pacers gave up a lot there, and I am always scared of trading with the Spurs as they tend to come up roses on trades like this, but the Pacers desperately needed backcourt scoring, and George Hill is definitely better than the upside of a mid 1st round pick, especially when it is a guy like Leonard, who while talented and solid, lacks a real offensive game and does similar things as Danny Granger. Hill will form a nice backcourt quartet with Collison, AJ Price and Paul George, who are all young and pretty solid with upside. If nothing else, Hill will score, and that was desperately, desperately needed last year. The offense had a tendency to just stagnate (watch the 4th quarter of any game in the Bulls series), and Hill can help fix that. Doesn’t hurt that Hill is an Indianapolis kid either. Really like this trade for the Pacers.
The Spurs get a little more athletic, and offload a guy they must have felt had hit his ceiling. I am sure Leonard will be a good player for them, because they seem to win a lot of trades, but what does this mean for Tony Parker? Maybe a trade with the Suns for Steve Nash at some point? I have no idea, but they are probably still going to try and move him, but now it has to get them a PG in return. The Spurs are not done making moves either, but we will see what they do once the lockout fog lifts.
Ok, time to get to the actual picks. Just for the record, I would have taken Derrick Williams first, if only because his ceiling is sky high and Irving’s is considerably lower. The home run potential of the Williams pick is absolutely there, and while I do not think he is a lock to be a star, he has a pretty solid shot. Just what I would have done, no idea if it is right or not.
It has been widely publicized that this was a two-man draft with s significant drop-off afterwards. It is true, but there was still plenty of opportunity to mess up or help yourself out within the top 10. We will get to talking about who “won” and “lost” a little bit later, but for now, lets just look at how it played out. So with Irving and Williams off the board, the Jazz went with Enes Kanter at 3, which I think was the right pick and a good one. He has fellow Turk Mehmet Okur to mentor him, and with Favors and Kanter, the future looks bright in the Utah frontcourt. The Cavs then got a little crazy and took Tristan Thompson at #4. It is hard to say that it was a really bad pick when he was a top 10 guy and no one was a sure thing, but he is definitely not who I would have taken. He is athletic and long (thanks Jay Bilas), but without any really developed offensive game. Sounds like a younger, more talented version of Carl Landry to me. I would have 1) tried to trade the pick and 2) taken Jan Vesely to play with my new PG. See, if you take Derrick Williams first, there are good PGs still on the board here to team him up with, but there are not a ton of really good big men with Kanter gone and Valancunias maybe staying in Europe another year. Regardless, after Thompson, the Raptors had most of their top choices fall in their lap. Naturally, Colangelo opted for a European player in the aforementioned Jonas Valancunias. He kind of has the same game as Bargnani, but when has that ever stopped Colangelo from drafting soft big men who don’t like to rebound? Now he is a lefty, which does mean he will probably be successful and a great shooter, but it might not be enough to overcome the hilarious comparison NBADraft.net made of projecting him as Spencer Hawes/Primoz Brezec. Jonas also set the bar for awkward interviews entirely because of bad English, so he’s got that going for him. Shoot for the stars, Raps!
Anyway, the Wizards then made the pick Toronto probably should have made and grabbed Jan Vesely from the Czech Republic. Kid has hops, and how he has John Wall throwing him oops until the slivovitz is gone. That’s a Czech Republic joke for those of you staring blankly. Sacramento (picking for Charlotte because of the trade earlier) took Bismack Biyombo in what was an ok pick, but would soon become a much better one. The Pistons took the best available (probably) with Brandon Knight, though you never would have known he got drafted by looking at him. He made the statues on Easter Island look charismatic, but in his defense, I wouldn’t want to go to Detroit or play for the Pistons. Charlotte then used its next pick on Kemba Walker, which was a terrific pick, especially teamed up with Bismack Biyombo. They are both charismatic guys, which really shouldn’t mean much, but they both just seem like guys who will succeed and lift their team with them. Bismack’s presence also means that they no longer have to use Nazr Mohammed, and can have the best shot-blocking duo in the league with Tyrus Thomas and Biyombo. If Kemba can keep the scoring up just a little, the team should be much improved next year. Hats off to the ‘Cats on these two picks, but there was more to come.
Jimmer went next (to the Kings via the Bucks), and I have already talked a little about how well I think he can match up with Tyreke Evans in the backcourt. If Jimmer can learn to play without the ball, that’s a potentially fantastic scoring backcourt, and while Jimmer’s defense leaves a lot to be desired, he may not be asked to play a ton of it for the Kings, who should probably go up-tempo. I never really got on the Jimmer train when I was in Spain so I am much less attached to all he is than most. Accordingly, he is just a kid who can shoot the lights out and can’t play defense to me, not a phenomenon. I almost wish he had dropped another spot to Golden State where he and Steph Curry could team up to create the worst defensive backcourt of all-time. I can just see it now: Mike Bibby at the top of the key, and he BLOWS BY Curry for the easy layup, and next possession (somehow) Derek Fisher drives by Jimmer, prompting Marc Jackson to say “MOMMA, THERE GOES THAT MAN” and then openly weeping for the next 5 minutes.
Golden State ended up taking Klay Thompson instead, who was, in my opinion, clearly the best player on the board. I would have loved to see him fall to 15 for my Pacers, but he just fits with the Warriors too well (assuming Monta Ellis is indeed moved). He is a true 2 and his game should translate well as long as they run screens for him, and why wouldn’t they? I like the pick, the Warriors, AND Marc Jackson saying the Warriors will make the playoffs next year. Why? Because I think they will and will consider guaranteeing myself after all is said and done this offseason.
Not going to summarize from here on out, but it was cool to see the Morris twins get picked back to back (Siamese picks?) and then watch the Pacers take Kawhi Leonard, a guy who didn’t really fit at all, and knowing they had something in the works. Feels like the Pacers never make good draft-day deals (Jerryd Bayless comes to mind, a guy I would have given a chance), but I really liked what they did with this.
I also want to defend the Iman Shumpert pick a little. Knicks fans are irrational and sensationalistic so I wasn’t too surprised to see them dying before our eyes when Shumpert’s name was called. He is big for his position (whatever it is), can defend, and can be a solid scorer. That is the kind of guy D’Antoni likes. Shawn Marion wasn’t really a guy that would have gotten cheers on draft day either, but he turned out pretty well under D’Antoni. I am predicting Shumpert is one of the surprise guys of the early part of the 2011-12 season and gets a little cult-following going in NY.
I would also like to criticize the Wolves. You had better have a good reason if you are going to pick up Brad Miller and give away more than you get in return. I would have kept Motiejunas around if I were them, and I think Jonny Flynn can be alright in Houston now that he is free of the Bermuda Triangle offense. It is like the triangle, but you dump it into Beasley and the ball disappears along with any chance of getting into a rhythm. Good deal by Daryl Morey as usual.
Liked the Kenneth Faried pick too, though I think everyone liked the pick, nominating him for the annual “everyone outside draft rooms was so universally sold on him that the GMs knew something we didnt and we forgot about a vital missing part of his game”. Of course, we could just be right too and Denver could be a sneaky contender next year. I could definitely see them getting a 6 or 7 seed and upsetting the Lakers in round 1. That’s all I got for round one apart from congratulating Jimmy Butler on finding a good team and match and congratulating Shelvin Mack on finding a good backup spot where he can play combo guard for the Wizards.
The Bobcars did a good job with this draft after having a pretty crappy roster at the end of last year. Granted, they took a flyer on Jeremy Tyler, which I was lukewarm on at best, but the Kemba-Biyombo synergy is going to pay off. I have to pause a little about MJ’s talent evaluation but it looks like he did a good job here. I think the Bobcats are a playoff team next year, though really that just means I think they will be 7 games under .500.
The Bucks and Pacers were draft-day winners, but not winners in the draft really. Close enough.
I like what the Wizards and Jazz did as well, but with a class like this (which isn’t as awful as it sounds) it isn’t going to transform their teams over night. I see a lot of improvement out of the Wizards, and a Jazz team that is better than you think despite Deron Williams’ absence and the uncertainty without Sloan.
I am going to call the Cavs losers in the draft, but please don’t take it personally, Cleveland. Didn’t love Kyrie Irving and I didn’t like Tristan Thompson, so I guess I am classifying them as the loser entirely on them not agreeing with me, but c’est la vie. I actually liked the players the Timberwolves took, but they are seemingly just automatic losers. They also traded for a washed-up Brad Miller to get rid of a young point guard (they admittedly have a ton) and get rid of a draft pick. Why? I get you had too many PGs, but you don’t just dump multiple talented guys for Brad Miller. The Thunder are also losers, but just because they didn’t pick and that seems like something a loser would do. This section seems way too short, but the column is 3200 words long so you will thank me later.
Grand Theft Lotto
Just to clarify, the steal of the draft doesn’t have to be from the lotto, I just liked the sound of it. There will be many guys who outperform expectations, but my job here is to pick out the one guy who will so vastly outperform the pick that for years down the road, announcers at the draft are obligated to remind you of the good draft pick. Also take note that I am not choosing a 2nd rounder here where any production is seen as a steal, I am going to challenge myself to 1st round guys. I think Kemba has the tools to make it happen, but without quite enough around him he will not be our big steal. Jimmer will be a great offensive addition to the Kings at #10, but will make Mike Dunleavy look good defensively so it isn’t going to be him. Klay Thompson will be an excellent player, but without doing anything really other than what we expected. So who is it?
Iman Shumpert. Part of the logic here is that he was beaten up so badly on draft day by fans and his expectations are so low. I do not think he will be an All-Star in the near future or anything, but I think D’Antoni knew exactly what he was doing with that pick and the kid is going to turn heads. That’s right, the Knicks are going to be excited about someone they drafted! Iman Shmpert is not my pick for Rookie of the Year or anything, but he is going to end up the steal of the draft among 1st rounders.
Accepted to Kwame Brown University
In today’s world, buxom is good. Sadly for NBA players, being a big bust is very different from having a large bust, and one of our higher picks is headed for the House that Kwame Built. It is hard to really find a big bust in a draft like this because expectations are pretty low on almost everyone and most failures wouldn’t be considered overly shocking. In other words, if Marshon Brooks is still shooting off-balance jumpers and suddenly they aren’t falling, people will blink but they will not do too much else. So it probably has to be a top 10 pick that we over-estimated as far as how their skill-set would translate to the NBA game. Valancunias could be a candidate but he might not be in the NBA for a year or so, so it will be hard to tell if I had anything to my argument. Honestly, Jimmer is a front-runner here too given the expectations on him and the possibility that he won’t just be able to get his own shot whenever he wants, but I think Tyreke will open things up and he will learn how to play with the ball just enough.
Sorry, Cleveland, but I am going to go with Tristan Thompson. I don’t think he will be awful but I think that he will get outperformed by just about everyone drafted next to him and he is still kind of a project. The problem with projects in the NBA is that once training camp is over, there are very limited practices, which is really the opposite of college. I think he will be useful but will get off to a slow start and never really recover from it. Tristan Thompson is this year’s bust.
A Few Thoughts
- Andre Iguodala and Monta Ellis’ names are getting floated around. There has got to be a 3rd party out there willing to take on Ellis to make this 3-way happen. Go, you Trade Machine addicts, and find one.
- Prediction: Lockout will happen and it will last past January.
- Derrick Williams is my Rookie of the Year, followed closely by Kemba Walker (assuming there is a season)
- The Magic might be in the top 5 of most screwed franchises around. Dwight is gone and they have very little besides him. Reminds me of Cleveland, except in sunny and beautiful Orlando.
- We want your comments! Tell us how you felt your favorite team did below.