June 30, 2007
Before the free-agency period begins tomorrow, let’s take a final overall look at how all 30 teams fared in Thursday’s NBA draft. We’re very happy to welcome a bunch of fabulous guest writers into the fold to help us out, too; please be sure to click on over to their respective websites. And, of course, you can find ETB’s snap judgements of all the first-round picks here.
Rumors were flying that ATL’s player evaluators–the ones who are paid to do what they do, and do it well–had long settled on Al Horford as the pick at #3 over Mike Conley, Jr., but that Atlanta’s always-dysfunctional ownership “team” would override it in favor of Yi Jianlian. You see, there’s a pretty decent Asian population down in Hotlanta, and marketing is king, so…
In the end, though, Horford won out, and the logjam at forward gets even tighter. Josh Childress could be dangled as trade bait this summer, and if I’m an NBA GM, I get Billy Knight on the horn immediately–the asking price is bound to be low right now.
Acie Law IV is brought in to save the perilous point guard spot that has long troubled the Hawks. He probably won’t start right away, but Speedy Claxton and Tyronn Lue seem to always be a slight misstep away from a stint on the DL; expect Law to be the starter by mid-season, if not earlier. He has his flaws, but the Hawks absolutely had to take him at #11 to address this position of dire need.
Boston Celtics – from John Karalis for RedsArmy.com
We like the deal to get Ray Allen. The overwhelming sentiment in Boston after the season was to trade the pick for a veteran if we didn’t get Oden or Durant. Well, we didn’t get them… so we traded the pick for a veteran who can average 20+ ppg. Not only that, we did it without giving up Theo Ratliff’s expiring contract or our most promising young players (Gerald Green, Al Jefferson).
If Jefferson improves on his 16-10 pace from the end of last year, things can really open up. Gabe Pruitt has the potential to replace Delonte West’s production, and Glenn Davis would have been a first rounder last year… so now we get a free look at him. The bottom line: The Celtics–with Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Al Jefferson–have the pieces to win their division.
ESPN was really pumping the “Michael Jordan is very involved in this draft” angle as their coverage kicked off at 7pm, and we wondered why perhaps the greatest NBA player in history, no matter what he does, elicits more yawns than excitement so far in his front-office career. I mean, does anyone really care that he’s trying to play an active role with the Bobcats?
The ‘Cats landed an awesome veteran scorer in Jason Richardson, who we’ve read a lot of criticism about today. Whatever–this team needs some seasoned veterans, and when Richardson is healthy (not a given) the man can absolutely light it up. Overpaid? Maybe. But at least they won’t have to put that idiot Morrison at the two-guard very often for awhile. Forward Jared Dudley could be a nice defense guy, and 6-10 Jermareo Davidson also came over in the Richardson deal.
The Cavs did not have any picks going into the draft, and didn’t end up trading for any, either. For the record, though, John at Fear The Sword volunteered to cover his team in case they got into the mix. Thanks anyway!
Another “high-energy” guy in Joakim Noah heads to the Windy City, giving the Bulls one of the most defensive-minded frontcourts in the league and one still seriously lacking in offense. They also grab a seven-foot stiff in the second round named Aaron Gray, who will likely make the team but never set the world on fire, as well as a guard with a name rife for misspellings (JamesOn Curry). If Noah turns out to be as good of a pro as he thinks he will be, the Bulls did relatively well here.
The Mavs didn’t have a first-round pick, but their enigmatic owner did his best to keep the team in the headlines. They did nicely in the second round with their first pick of the draft, however, taking 6-11 power forward Nick Fazekas from Nevada. He’s a bit of a plodder, but has one of the sweetest strokes from the floor of any big man in the draft, and could be a solid backup for Dirk in a year or so. A few Europeans were taken late (Renaldas Seibutis and Milovan Rakovic) that won’t be in the NBA anytime soon.
The Nuggs didn’t have any picks, but expect head coach George Karl to pull the family card and bring in his son, Koby Karl, as an undrafted free agent (and to give him a roster spot).
We’ve known for weeks that GM Joe Dumars and his staff were enamored with Eastern Washington’s mega-scorer combo guard, Rodney Stuckey. As the draft approached, Stuckey’s stock was rising by the day, and there were some indications that he would not fall to the Pistons at #15. Well, in the end they got their man, and it seems like a good fit for both parties. Detroit gets a kid who can shoot with range, draw the foul, and create his own shot; it looks like they’ll first try to groom him as a point guard, but he’ll also get minutes behind Rip Hamilton at shooting guard. For Stuckey’s part, he’s happy to land in Detroit.
While most NBA observers have praised the Stuckey pick, the Pistons’ selection of 6-5 UCLA guard Arron Afflalo at #27 overall has been just as equally panned. But while we feel there were too many quality big men left on the board to reach for Afflalo here (namely Nick Fazekas and Glen Davis), Dumars must feel like he has a shot to address his backcourt depth for years to come in one fell swoop. And while his early first-round picks haven’t always worked out, Dumars has a great track record drafting late in the first and in into the second (Tayshaun Prince, Jason Maxiell, Mehmet Okur, maybe Amir Johnson), so we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and wait to see what Afflalo can do before we totally condemn the pick.
With the #57 overall pick, 6-6 G Sammy Mejia from DePaul was taken. He probably has about a good a chance as making the Pistons’ roster this season as I do. Actually, Chris McCoskey for The Detroit News confirmed he will play in Europe next season.