Huzzah, my first guest blog. I’ve been meaning to do this for a while, but I just haven’t had the time before now (actually, I didn’t really have the time now, but I sacrificed the unimportant things. You know, friends, sleep, etc.) This isn’t as in-depth as I like to go with my draft preview, but it’s what I could get finished. Enjoy!
The NBA Draft is nearly upon us! Few things in sports simultaneously inspire as much hope and dread as the NBA Draft does. Win big in the draft, find that quality sleeper late in the draft, and you may set your franchise on a winning path for years. Screw it up, and you could derail your franchise’s entire rebuilding process.
The draft is an inexact science, about as inexact as you can possibly get. However, I am vain enough to think that I’m somewhat of an expert on the subject. While declaring yourself an expert on the draft is akin to pronouncing yourself Lord of the Idiots, I’ll gladly take that title. Anyway, this is a general overview of the draft: Teams that could do big things, prospects to watch for, trades that might happen, etc.
- Don’t expect to see a lot of overseas guys going late in the first round like we have the past few years. Because of the rookie pay scale and the amounts European teams are offering now, less and less guys are coming over (Fran Vasquez and Tiago Splitter, to name 2) if drafted in the first round. In the second round, however, teams aren’t restricted to the rookie pay scale, so they can pay enough to bring guys over. Because of that, expect to see a lot of overseas guys (Ante Tomic, Serge Ibaka, Omer Asik, etc.) taken at the top of the second round.
- There’s a definite trend away from international prospects and towards quick, defensive-minded guards. The NBA is a league of patterns, and GMs often overcompensate for past mistakes. Some high European picks have failed recently (Bargnani, Darko), so there’s been somewhat of a backlash against foreign players, even as Manu, Parker and Dirk continue to be extremely successful. Teams watched Chris Paul dominate the NBA and Rajon Rondo help lead Boston to a title, so there’s a trend toward athletic guards who can get into the paint.
- There are two elite prospects in this draft (Beasley, Rose), one player on a tier below them (Mayo), and then about 7 more extremely solid picks (Westbrook, Lopez, Bayless, Gallinari, Love, Gordon, Alexander). After that, you’re looking at about 25 different players who range to wildly different degrees depending on whose draft board you’re looking at. There are a lot of high-risk, high-reward guys in that space, and a few somewhat safer picks. If you’re a team at the top of that range, you’re probably trying desperately to move up and make sure you can get one of those more solid picks.
These are the teams that have the potential to shape the entire draft with what they do. Whether it’s holding a crucial pick, or being loaded with tradable assets, these are the teams to watch closely as the draft unfolds.
-It’s sad to watch this franchise, it truly is. They’re loaded with tradable assets and a valuable pick, but the only thing they seem intent on doing is trying to use their pick to shed Brian Cardinal’s contract and save some money. While they should be trying to package one of their young point guards with their pick to move up and grab Michael Beasley (really, you don’t need Lowry, Conley and Crittenton on the same team. I promise), we’ve instead heard rumors about them trading down to unload Cardinal on someone. Sigh. If I were any team with a low lottery pick and an expiring contract, I’d have the Memphis Grizzlies on speed dial. Seriously, getting Chris Wallace to GM your team is like getting a narcoleptic to guard your store. You shouldn’t be surprised when everything valuable ends up gone.
- And now, for a direct contrast, we go to the team with my favorite GM in the league. With Kevin Prichard at the helm, Portland had their fingers all over the last draft. This year, they’re poised to do the same. With 4 of the first 36 picks and a glut of young talent, you can bet that Prichard will be working hard to either acquire a solid young player or move up in the draft to grab one of the elite prospects. They’ve been rumored as having talks with New Jersey for the 10th pick (ostensibly to get D.J. Augustine) and with Memphis for the 5th pick (Russell Westbrook or Danilo Gallinari probably).
- As of right now, all signs point towards them taking O.J. Mayo, despite it not really being a position of need. However, several teams would be interested in moving up to get Mayo (chiefly the Clippers). You can never be sure what the Wolves are going to do with Kevin McHale at the helm, and trading that pick could mix things up in a big way.
Guys I Like (Potential First Rounders)
Michael Beasley – Just want to throw it out there, Beasley should be the first pick. I think NBA GMs and analysts have seriously overthought this and are making a huge mistake. It’s an overreaction to the Chris Paul-Marvin Williams thing. Lets be clear here. Derrick Rose is not Chris Paul. He is not the second coming of Jason Kidd. As a prospect, he compares much more closely to Mike Conley than to either of those guys. Michael Beasley is not Marvin Williams. He’s a terrific athlete coming off one of the all-time great freshman seasons in the history of college basketball. He’s versatile, and prolific and efficient scorer, and a dominant rebounder. Sorry, you don’t throw that out because of some minor character issues.
Danilo Gallinari – I just want to say something about him because I think people are going to lump him in as a “typical European player”, when that isn’t really the case. He’s not a 6’10 guy who shoots the lights out. He’s a 6’10 guy who has ridiculous ball-handling skills for his size and gets to the rim all the time. He’s more like a taller version of Manu than the next Dirk (he’s got that long step-through on his drives that Manu does which allows him to slip by help defenders). He passes the ball extremely well and he’s great at getting to the free throw line.
Joe Alexander – I think worst-case with him is that you get a fantastic role player who’s a beast in transition and a very good defender. Best case, he’s a sane version of Ron Artest.
Chris Douglas-Roberts – I think there’s no way he doesn’t catch on as at least a solid bench player in the league. He’s got a very herky-jerky, creative, playground type of game, and ugly as it looks sometimes he just knows how to score. Guys like that are extremely hard to defend against because they’re tough to anticipate and they have counters for everything. He’s also a very good defender. He’ll be a great pick for someone late in the first round (Boston, maybe?).
Jason Thompson – Chances are good you’ve never seen Thompson play. You’ve seen the kid from Rider on mock drafts and wondered if he’s really any good. The answer, my friend, is “yes”. You want to know if he can hold up against top competition? Well, in his game against Kansas State this year, Thompson had 24 and 7 with 4 blocks while holding Michael Beasley to his second lowest point total of the year. He’s got an NBA body, he can score inside and out, and he’s one of the best post defenders in this year’s draft.
Guys I Don’t Like (First Round)
Anthony Randolph – He’s 6’10 and weighs less than I do. That’s ok if you’re Kevin Durant. Anthony Randolph, you are no Kevin Durant.
Russell Westbrook – As I’ve said before, if you’re a point guard prospect and your two biggest problems are (according to Chad Ford) “still learning how to play point guard,” and “ballhandling needs improvement,” you might not be a top 5 pick. You know how every year teams get excited about a really athletic big man, even though he doesn’t really know how to play? Well, we’ve wised up on that (see: Jordan, De’Andre) and we’re now moving on to guards. Westbrook is the equivalent of that athlete who gets everyone really excited.
Brook Lopez – When was the last time the “unathletic white center” lottery pick worked out well? Sorry, not buying it.
Alexis Ajinca – Repeat after me. “Being tall does not make you a basketball player.” “Being tall does not make you a basketball player.” “Being tall does not…got it now? Think maybe we can beat that into NBA GMs? What’s the draft record for guys who are ridiculously skinny and average 5 points a game in the French league?
Guys I Like (Second Round)
Richard Hendrix/D.J. White – Both very similar prospects. White is a bit more polished, Hendrix is a better rebounder. Both are very good athletes, but they’re a bit undersized. Both are mortal locks for the Carlos Boozer “Undersized PF Who Fell Way Too Far” Award (past recipients include Paul Millsap, Glen Davis and Craig Smith). Just remember this next year when John Hollinger is writing some article on how ridiculous their per 40 minute averages are.
Bill Walker – I know he’s got knee issues. I don’t really care. In the second round, you’re getting a shot at a player who realistically could turn into one of the 5 best players in this draft. Not even kidding, that’s where Walker’s ceiling is at. There were times I watched him last year when it amazed me that he was as strong, quick, and explosive as he was. Of course, the odds are against him reaching all that potential with his injury history, but there’s a reason people compared him to Vince Carter in high school.
Sasha Kaun – If for no other reason than he has the best name in the draft. Really, I just want to see him in the NBA so that when he checks into the game they can play that Star Trek clip of Kirk going “KHAAANNNN!!” on the Jumbotron.
Joey Dorsey – He’s got huge potential as a defensive game-changer. He’s never going to be an offensive option, but if he cuts down on his fouls and commits to giving a solid effort, he could be a Ben Wallace type of player.
Trades So Far
I’m not going to give a full recap for each trade, but a quick synopsis to keep you up to date on which draft picks have been moving around.
Indiana trades Jermaine O’Neal and the 41st pick to the Raptors for T.J. Ford, Rasho Nesterovic, Maceo Baston and the 17th pick.
Charlotte trades a future protected first rounder for Denver’s #20 pick.
New Orleans trades their #27 pick to Portland for cash considerations.
If O.J. Mayo is taken with the 3rd pick, the Sonics and Clippers will be swapping their picks. We’re not sure what else is included in the deal, but expect the Clippers to grab Eric Gordon if this goes down.
It doesn’t involve draft picks, but the Yi era is over in Milwaukee just one short year after it so unwisely began. The Bucks have shipped him to New Jersey for Richard Jefferson. That could significantly change what each team is looking for from their picks.
Trades That Might Be Made
Memphis is talking to both New Jersey and (surprise surprise) Portland about moving the #5 pick.
Washington also apparently wants to unload their pick and are in talks with Houston about it.