Monta Ellis

NBA Draft Recap 2011

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!

The Trades

Milwaukee-Sacramento-Charlotte Ménage à trois

Bucks Get:
Stephen Jackson, Shaun Livingston, 19th pick from Bobcats (Tobias Harris), Beno Udrih from Kings
Bobcats Get:
Corey Maggette from Bucks, 7th pick from Kings (Bismack Biyombo)
Kings  Get:
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.

Spurs-Pacers Swap

Pacers Get:
George Hill
Spurs Get:
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.

The Draft

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 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!

Look out below

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.

Let's hope he isn't as nuts as the last GT PG in NY.

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 Winners\

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.
Oh, and just because you know you wanted to see it again. Has literally nothing to do with sports, but I will probably get half my hits off it.

2010-11 NBA Preview: Pacific Division

Los Angeles Lakers (57-25 last season)

The reigning champs would love for a three-peat.

Projected Starting Five:

Point Guard: Derek Fisher

Shooting Guard: Kobe Bryant

Small Forward: Ron Artest

Power Forward: Pau Gasol

Center: Andrew Bynum

Key Reserves:

Guard: Steve Blake

Guard-Forward: Matt Barnes

Forward: Lamar Odom

I believe this Laker team only got better by adding Steve Blake and Matt Barnes.  Blake will prove to be a much better backup to Derek Fisher than Jordan Farmar.  Blake is a savvy veteran with a solid shooting stroke and will run this team very well.  He will also help the Lakers dismal three point percentage that they had last season.  Kobe Bryant will be Kobe Bryant, regardless if he’s hurt or healthy.  The man is the closest to Jordan that I have seen.  If Ron Artest can play like he did in the playoffs for the entire season it’s game over.  The Lakers are still the best team, even after the moves the Heat made, and they will prove it with their third title in a row.

Phoenix Suns (54-28 last season)

When will the "fountain of youth" run out of water.

Projected Starting Five:

Point Guard: Steve Nash

Shooting Guard: Jason Richardson

Small Forward: Grant Hill

Power Forward: Hedo Turkoglu

Center: Robin Lopez

Key Reserves:

Guard: Goran Dragic

Guard-Forward: Josh Childress

Forward: Jared Dudley

The Suns have improved in some areas and in others they are going to be drastically lost.  Losing Amar’e Stoudemire is going to be tough to get over, and Robin Lopez must step up big time if Phoenix wants to prove they can still play in the West.  Rebounding will be an important stat to keep in mind, because even with Stoudemire they weren’t that great.  Channing Frye, Hedo Turkoglu and Hakim Warrick all need to bring down more rebounds than they are used to doing.  I still have faith that this new look team can make the playoffs, but will they make it past the first round?  For more on the Suns check out this article: Planet Orange Shining Bright

Los Angeles Clippers (29-53 last season)

Healthy and ready to show why he was the No. 1 pick.

Projected Starting Five:

Point Guard: Baron Davis

Shooting Guard: Eric Gordon

Small Forward: Ryan Gomes

Power Forward: Blake Griffin

Center: Chris Kaman

Key Reserves:

Guard: Eric Bledsoe

Forward: Rasual Butler

Forward: Al-Farouq Aminu

The Clippers are going to be a much improved squad this year, and it really can be thanks to a healthy Blake Griffin.  He is an immediate impact player and will be a significant boost to the chemistry of this team.  The starting lineup for the Clippers seems solid, but the reserves will be a little shaky.  None of them have really proven to be NBA dependable and there are also a lot of rookies on the roster (Eric Bledsoe, Al-Farouq Aminu and Willie Warren).  Ultimately, the Clippers are going to go as Baron Davis goes.  He will have the ball in his hands a majority of the time trying to set up other players, and if he’s off then the rest of the team will be out of sync.  I see the Clippers missing the playoffs, but not by a whole lot.

Sacramento Kings (25-57 last season)

The catalyst of this youthful team.

Projected Starting Five:

Point Guard: Tyreke Evans

Shooting Guard: Beno Udrih

Small Forward: Omri Casspi

Power Forward: Carl Landry

Center: Samuel Dalembert

Key Reserves:

Guard-Forward: Francisco Garcia

Forward: Donte Greene

Forward-Center: DeMarcus Cousins

A lot is going in the right direction for the Kings: Tyreke Evans is turning into a superstar, they are stacked at the power forward and center position, and the losing ways could be over this season.  This team reminds me of the 76ers though.  They have no shooters.  Tyreke is improving but still isn’t quite there.  Omri Casspi is a streaky shooter and same with Beno Udrih.  Both Donte Greene and Francisco Garcia have a chance of cracking the starting lineup and shooting consistently will be the key.  Also look for DeMarcus Cousins to slowly start taking more and more minutes away from Samuel Dalembert as the season progresses.

Golden State Warriors (26-56 last season)

Out of New York and out of the pressure.

Projected Starting Five:

Point Guard: Stephen Curry

Shooting Guard: Monta Ellis

Small Forward: Dorell Wright

Power Forward: David Lee

Center: Andris Biedrins

Key Reserves:

Guard: Charlie Bell

Guard-Forward: Rodney Carney

Forward: Louis Amundson

David Lee must provide for this team.  The Warriors shipped three players away to acquire Lee and they are looking for something in return.  Stephen Curry is proving that he can play in the NBA and he is coming off an impressive rookie season.  His continued development will be the main focal point because who knows how much longer Monta Ellis will be around.  Golden State should have no problem rebounding with Lee and Andris Biedrins and their defense should be much improved by adding Louis Amundson.  With a few bright spots, I still feel this team will finish last in the division.

Ross Geiger’s 2010-2011 A Trade-Away From Being A Good Player Team

Find him consistent minutes & he too will become consistent

PG: Jerryd Bayless, Portland Trail Blazers

If there’s one player in the league that I know best regarding game play and ablities (outside of the Milwaukee Bucks players) it’s Jerryd Bayless. He’s one of the hardest working players in the NBA and staying committed to improving upon his game has been a habit since childhood. Having grown up in Arizona playing against Bayless and seeing his progression into an NBA lottery pick, it’s very hard to watch him getting limited minutes in Portland. Not only has Bayless never really fit into Portland’s plans but with the recent draft selections in Elliot Williams and Armon Johnson, it looks as though there’s no hope in seeing Bayless get significant floor time. A good NBA comparison to Bayless would be Golden State’s Monta Ellis, Bayless is great off the dribble, has tremendous lift of his pull-up, and can get to the basket. Reasons he doesn’t see the floor include not finishing when he gets to the basket, not a true point guard and he’s an undersized combo-guard. Systems that’d Bayless could really be beneficiary in include teams such as the New York Knicks, Golden State Warriors, and Phoenix Suns. Any team that has any interest in going up-tempo should consider trying to deal for Bayless, let him for once show you what he can do. That opportunity in finding consistent minutes night in and night out has never been awarded to him.

Gilbert Arenas + John Wall = Not a Good Fit nor Opportunity for Hinrich

SG: Kirk Hinrich, Washington Wizards

So you may be thinking, didn’t Hinrich just get traded? Well yes, but no. Hinrich once again is in a situation where he’ll be forced to play tandem guard off the bench with John Wall and Gilbert Arenas. While Hinrich has no problems defending most shooting guards in the league, it kills his potential playing a swingman position on the offensive end of the floor. Hinrich must find a situation where he can once again become a starting point guard. A few teams that stand out as good fits for both Hinrich and the team would be the Memphis Grizzlies, Miami Heat, New York Knicks, and if they weren’t so caught up in bad point guard contracts, I’d also include the Toronto Raptors.

Potentially "The Next Rashard Lewis"

SF: Earl Clark, Phoenix Suns

The Phoenix Suns organizations have struggled in the player development department ever since the signing of Mike D’Antoni. When the Suns hired Alvin Gentry to takeover as head coach, player development improved slightly but they still struggle to find their young talent some minutes in the rotation. While I understand with the emergence of Jared Dudley’s play off the bench backing aging veteran Grant Hill made it difficult to find the rookie forward out of Louisville some time, he wasn’t given enough time to even be fully evaluated in NBA game situations. For the sake of the Suns future, I’d encourage them to give a better effort in finding time for Clark as they did with Goran Dragic. Slowly it looks as though the Dragic experiment is about to pay huge dividends as a young guard they can lean on moving forward into the coming years and truthfully Clark, if given the right opportunity, could give them the same type of feeling. Not only is Clark a perfect small forward in the Suns system, but he’s got the perfect size, strength, and abilities to become the next Rashard Lewis. Both Clark and Lewis stand at an even 6-10 with Clark just 5 pound lighter than the proven, veteran sharp shooter. Due to lack of minutes and a small window of opportunity, Clark happened to be of quietest lottery pick rookies last season.

"Play Me or Trade Me"

PF: Brandon Bass, Orlando Magic

One of the more shocking developments of the 2009-2010 NBA regular season was the lack of playing time Brandon Bass received as a first-year member of the Orlando Magic. After signing a 4 year, $18 million dollar contract with Orlando, it was assumed he be a prime time factor off their bench, but Bass never seemed to be even close to part of Stan Van Gundy’s game plans. I can’t help but think of Bass’s few years with Dallas leading up to his signing with the Magic and how big of a role he played in games off the Mavericks bench. I can only scratch my head and wonder why on earth he wasn’t given a chance. Bass’s game is one that team’s interested must proceed with caution due to his playing ability and it looks as though Orlando doesn’t see him being a piece to the puzzle. Despite his considerably large contract for his type of talent, Bass potentially is a diamond-in-the-rough trading piece for other team’s should consider dealing for.

DeAndre Jordan Can Do Move of This

C: DeAndre Jordan, Los Angeles Clippers

Jordan is the only player that’s included in both Part 1 and Part 2 of my 7-Part Blog Series and that’s something worth noting. Considering the idea of him being traded to another franchise scares me because he has the size and the raw talent to be on the absolute verge of breaking out. Best fits for Jordan must be teams that already have an established big man or superstar type talent that he can compliment nicely. Teams he could become a border-line All-Star with include the San Antonio Spurs, Atlanta Hawks, Cleveland Cavaliers, Utah Jazz, and probably the scariest destination would be the Oklahoma City Thunder.

This is Part 2 of Ross Geiger’s 7-part Blog Series covering the NBA’s most prominent young players. Be sure to be on the lookout for Part 2 that’s coming soon! In the mean timefollow Ross Geiger on Twitter: @RossGeiger.