June 29, 2007

Not a Good Draft, a GREAT Draft

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I wrote my mock draft last Sunday, but by yesterday, it seemed as dated as Austin Powers. Rumors were flying that Kevin Garnett would be traded to anyone from Boston to Phoenix to Los Angeles to Golden State to Peoria. Indiana was trying to play the Lakers and the Nets off one another for Jermaine O’Neal. Prospects such as Sean Williams and Glen Davis were shooting up mock drafts, as general managers apparently instantly forgot about Williams’s drug troubles and Davis’s weight problems. Other guys such as Julian Wright and Thaddeus Young, once locks for lottery picks, possibly might go in the 20s. Finally, the draft is upon us, and here are my thoughts about the big issues as the draft unfolds.
Ray Allen Trade – The Celtics traded their No. 5 pick overall, as well as Wally Szczerbiak and Delonte West, to the Supersonics for Ray Allen. Seattle then used the pick on Georgetown forward Jeff Green. From the Sonics perspective, this is a great trade. They obviously want to rebuild, and a nucleus of Green and Durant could lead the franchise for years to come. In addition, with Durant now on the team, Allen is a luxury as they do not need two scorers. I am not sure how much sense this makes from Boston’s perspective. For the second straight year, the Celtics have traded away a top-10 pick and a chance to get younger. Allen is on the downswing of his career, and I am not sure how much he has left. If Boston wants to win a title, why build around two aging swingmen? Look at the Nets; they have Vince Carter, Richard Jefferson, as well as Jason Kidd, and they can’t even make the finals. So how could the Celtics possibly succeed with two older small players without a marquee point guard? I just don’t understand this move. I think they should have gone younger with either Corey Brewer or Green himself.
Yi Jianlian to Milwaukee – According to ESPN’s “Minister of Foreign Relations” Fran Franchilla (how does one get that title?), Yi is “all hip hop, 50 Cent.” Wow, I bet he can’t wait to live it up eating bratwurst in Milwaukee. Also, he apparently does not want to play for the Bucks because Milwaukee does not have enough Asian-Americans. Wow, another reason not to draft him. In addition, Larry Harris, the GM of the Bucks, had not even seen Yi play. And yet he is staking the future of the franchise on him. To make matters worse, didn’t Milwaukee acquire a power forward in Charlie Villanueva last year? Seriously, did Sean Williams lend Larry Harris some of his marijuana?
Jay Bilas’s Syntax – ESPN’s Jay Bilas really likes saying “he’s not a good [insert characteristic]; he’s a GREAT [characteristic].” The funny part is that he says the first part really seriously, like he is trying to fool us into thinking that the player is a really bad [characteristic]. For example, Jeff Green “isn’t a good passer [pauses as people wonder if Green is a horrible passer]; he’s a GREAT PASSER.”
Brandan Wright – The ESPN analysts made a big deal of how Charlotte wanted to contend immediately and wanted a good college player. Therefore it made sense to take Joakim Noah with the No. 8 pick. Of course, the Bobcats threw a curveball and picked Brandan Wright of North Carolina. No one doubts Wright’s skill; he has the ability to make a difference one day. But Wright is young and very raw; by the time he becomes an All-Star, Dakota Fanning might have four children. Charlotte better be looking to move Wright.
Wright Trade – I wrote the previous paragraph after Charlotte took Wright. I am now writing after he was traded to Golden State for Jason Richardson. ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith hated this deal, and was so adamant that the other commentators seemed to cower in fear as if Smith was Darth Vader. I personally like the deal from Charlotte’s perspective. Wright is a long way away from being good and Richardson gives Charlotte a scorer who will help it win now. The Bobcats will now have a good rotation with Felton, Richardson, May, Okafor and Mr. Sensitive (Adam Morrison).
Joakim Noah – A lot of people have been criticizing Noah for months. They say he is just a college player; they say he plays with too much emotion and that he cannot score. But I like this pick for the Bulls. Noah seems like a great guy to play with, and he wore a seersucker suit to the draft. Tell me you wouldn’t want to play with this guy.
Stuart Scott – He has been interviewing every player in the draft. Except for his awkward encounter with Yi Jianlian, he has been doing a pretty good job of delving into the personalities of the players. However, somebody pointed out to me that Scott is at the same height as all of the players. Either Scott was put on the torture rack from The Princess Bride or his chair must be really high.
Nick Young’s Fall – I have previously said how much I think Young is going to be a great player. Unlike a lot of the players in this draft, he can actually create his own shot. I see him as a great scorer in the future. For a long time, people said that he was going to go No. 13 to New Orleans, which would have been perfect considering the Hornets’ dire need for a shooting guard. In fact, the other day, there were rumors that Young could go as high as No. 5 to Boston. However, he actually fell to Washington at No. 16. This is a great pick for the Wizards. Gilbert Arenas’s time might be limited, but for the meantime, they will pair to form one of the best backcourts in the Eastern Conference.
Sean Williams to the Nets – Celebrate good times, come on! I would have liked to see an elite player like Nick Young slip to New Jersey for the second straight year (Marcus Williams slipped last year), but no such luck. Williams is an intriguing player, though. He was kicked off Boston College for marijuana and despite his prowess as a rebounder and shot-blocker, teams were scared of character issues. For weeks, many mock drafts did not even have him going in the first round. When I made my mock draft, I echoed that sentiment. Suddenly though, starting around Tuesday, Williams became the hottest name in the draft. There were rumors that teams were frantically trying to trade to the late teams to get him. It was like Williams received the Lodovico Treatment from A Clockwork Orange and improved his character. For the Nets, he was the best player available at No. 17. With Nick Young and Rodney Stuckey gone, I am glad the Nets did not reach for a big man who cannot rebound like Jason Smith. Williams is an outstanding big man, and it is worth the gamble to take him.
Zach Randolph to the Knicks – I don’t even know what to make of this. My first instinct was that this was a good trade for the Knicks. Randolph is a 20 point, 10 rebound guy who will instantly be the best player for New York. On the other hand, Randolph is definitely a head case. He has gotten arrested multiple times, and was once suspended for punching a teammate in the head. If Randolph had gone to another, veteran-oriented team, he may have changed his ways. But on the Knicks, a team with no leadership and no direction? And what are they going to do with Eddy Curry? He plays the same position as Randolph. I can see a potential conflict there. Furthermore, Randolph has a gigantic contract, and New York has enough of those. Since the Knicks didn’t give up that much to get him, it probably was the right move to make, but in the long run, I am not sure this is the best plan for the Knicks.
Morris Almond to Utah – This is the first pick I have gotten correct in my mock since No. 11. Good job for me.
Hope everyone enjoyed the draft. I will be back next week with more thoughts.