- The Season's Over -

So, How’d Your Team Do in the NBA Draft?

June 30, 2007

Greg Oden headlines another great Blazers draft

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.

Atlanta Hawks

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.

Charlotte Bobcats

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.

Cleveland Cavaliers

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!

Chicago Bulls

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.

Dallas Mavericks

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.

Denver Nuggets

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).

Future stud Rodney Stuckey

Detroit Pistons

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.

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8 CommentsPosted by Brian Spencer on Jun. 30, 2007 at 1:42pm in ETB Articles, NBA

ETB to be Temporarily Shorthanded

June 30, 2007

See you in August

Just wanted to drop a quick update to you, loyal reader, about one half of Empty the Bench’s whereabouts. I’m heading overseas tomorrow for about 5 weeks, and will not be posting any content while away. Never fear–ETB is *not* shutting down. Andrew will be assuming full-time duties and gracing you with all kinds of memorable content that won’t soon be forgotten.

I’ll be back August 7; until then, please direct any and all questions and concerns to Andrew at [email protected] With playoff baseball and new NFL and NBA seasons in the offing, late-summer on into the fall is our favorite time of the year. Empty the Bench looks forward to getting back to full strength in plenty of time to have it all covered.

Until then, I bid you a great July. Enjoy basking in the comedic, analytical stylings of ETB’s other self-made man, Andrew Thell.


[email protected]

1 CommentPosted by Brian Spencer on Jun. 30, 2007 at 9:16am in Administrative

Stephen A. Smith Regrets the Cheese Doodles

June 29, 2007

Stephen A. Smith and Stuart Scott get nailed. Over-the-top, definitely, but that’s the beauty of it. As Clancy Wiggum would say, “Bake ‘em away, toys.”

1 CommentPosted by Brian Spencer on Jun. 29, 2007 at 11:26pm in NBA

ETB’s 2007 NBA Draft Dance Party

June 28, 2007

ETB's #1 Talent

1. Portland Trail BlazersGreg Oden, C, Ohio State: We all knew this pick was coming. It’s the right choice for a franchise that has done a wonderful job of engendering a culture of winning and responsibility after too many years of the Jailblazers. Oden’s defensive prowess should translate to the NBA right away and pair extremely well with LaMarcus Aldridge’s offensive skills. Coupled with emerging superstar Brandon Roy outside, this nucleus will be starting a decade-long playoff run in the next two years.

Seattle has traded All-World shooting guard Ray Allen to the Boston Celtics for the 5th overall pick, Wally Szczerbiak and Delonte West. Seattle will define their franchise with this evening’s choices and their long-term future suddenly looks a lot brighter. We’re big Delonte fans, but does this mean Ridnour is on the way out? And is Boston finally serious about winning NOW?

2. Seattle SuperSonicsKevin Durant, F, Texas: Another shocker here. This is perhaps the easiest pick in the history of the NBA draft. Durant is going to be an absolute beast, regardless of his inability to lift 185 pounds. Why would Stu Scott even bring that up? Aren’t these supposed to be all feel-good interviews? It’s an obvious sore spot for the young man. Anyways, great pick for the Sonics. I’ll be shocked if the kid isn’t one of the top-10 players in the NBA before his rookie contract expires.

3. Atlanta HawksAl Horford, F, Florida: After passing on Chris Paul and Deron Williams two years ago, you know Conley was tempting. This could mean that the rumored deal with Toronto, sending Josh Childress for Jose Calderon, is in the works. It could also mean Acie Law will be their 11th overall pick. What does this say about Sheldon Williams? What the rest of us knew a year ago, that it was a wasted pick. Still, if they thought Al Horford was the best player on the board, they had to make it.

4. Memphis GrizzliesMike Conley, Jr., Ohio State: The Chucky Atkins era is over, as the Grizzlies have finally landed their point guard to build around. The Grizz haven’t had a quality point man since Damon Stoudemire was still considered a viable starter. (**Thanks to commenter Chris for reminding us Stoudemire was the 1996 ROY with Toronto, not Vancouver.**) Conley running the floor with Warrick and Gay will be fun to watch, and he also has the ability to consistently feed Gasol in the post; remember, he fed Oden at Ohio State. This pick was a no-brainer.

5. Seattle SuperSonicsJeff Green, F, Georgetown: Boston is making this pick for Seattle… and it means goodbye, Rashard Lewis. The rebuilding has begun in full force in Seattle. NC’s Brandan Wright couldn’t check him in the NCAA Tournament, and at times Green outshined Georgetown teammate Roy Hibbert last season on both ends of the floor. His versatility on the front line will prove invaluable.

6. Milwaukee BucksYi Jianlian, F, Guangdong Tigers: This is a bit of a surprise after Yi refused to work out for the Bucks. Yi’s people and the CBA did NOT want him to end up in a small market with a small Chinese population that far from the West coast. At this point I think something might be in the works, perhaps with the Warriors involving Monta Ellis? If Yi stays he’ll eventually provide a dynamic inside-outside scoring punch with Redd.

7. Minnesota TimberwolvesCorey Brewer, F, Florida: While Ricky Davis is capable of big games on the offensive end, his defensive lapses and character leave a lot to be desired. Brewer represents a major upgrade in both respects and will give Foye a much-needed hand outside. This could be the first time McHale has actually taken the guy I wanted, but there’s still time for him to trade Brewer for the 8th pick and some baseball cards. I’ve pretty much been counting on Brewer for the last two weeks, but the time it will take him to adjust just means a KG trade makes even more sense. As a KG and Minny fan, hopefully the chance to trade him hasn’t passed. I want to see KG win a title somewhere and I want the Wolves to finally have a long-term plan again.

Breaking News: Stephen A. Smith is a grade-A jackass.

8. Charlotte BobcatsBrandan Wright, F, North Carolina: The 6-10 power forward with Amare Stoudemire-esque upside is still just a teenager, but he can flat out ball. This kid needs a few seasons, but the ‘Cats have enough guys on the frontline to hold down the fort down for awhile while he develops a more consistent jump shot and polishes his overall game. Could Wright still be dangled as trade bait? Michael Jordan really, really tried to trade this pick. **UPDATE** Jordan succeeded. Wright is heading to Golden State in exchange for veteran shooting guard Jason Richardson. The move makes a lot of sense for the uptempo Warriors, but is Richardson the guy who can push the Bobcats into the playoffs?

Corey Brewer heads to Minneapolis

9. Chicago BullsJoakim Noah, F/C, Florida: Normally we wouldn’t endorse spending a lottery pick on a guy whose primary asset seems to be “energy,” but the seven-footer has the tools to average a double-double, is a surprisingly good passer, and always gives it his all. It looks like he’ll (eventually) be Ben Wallace’s successor, but while the Bulls just got even more athletic, they still don’t have a consistent scoring threat in the post.

10. Sacramento KingsSpencer Hawes, C, Washington: There have been rumors that both Mike Bibby and Ron Artest could be pushed out the door, but they don’t draft a replacement for either of them here. Widely considered the second-best center prospect in the draft, Hawes will challenge Brad Miller for minutes (starter minutes?). Shareef Abdur-Rahim also underwent surgery recently, so what this all spells is a frontline that’s in major flux. This seems like the right pick, but something about Hawes just doesn’t sit well. With such limited upside, the hope is to get at least modest returns at one of the hardest positions to fill in the NBA.

11. Atlanta HawksAcie Law, PG, Texas A & M: If Atlanta hadn’t drafted Acie Law here, someone would have been fired. His haircut needs work and his defensive numbers are underwhelming, but Law could bring swagger to a PG position in Atlanta that’s been a sore spot for years. Plus, after four years in college he’s ready to contribute right now alongside all the high-upside ‘youngins ATL has accumulated in recent years. I’m a Hawks fan, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect a first-round playoff elimination this year. Law will take a lot of ball handling pressure off of Joe Johnson and his considerable late-game skills fill a major hole for this inexperienced squad. A lineup of Law, Johnson, Marvin Williams, Josh Smith and Zaza Pachulia with Josh Childress, Sheldon Williams and Speedy Claxton coming off the bench sounds competitive in the East. Still, they’ll be a year away and need to move some of their redundant talent.

12. Philadelphia 76ersThaddeus Young, F, Georgia Tech: Young is inexperienced and unpolished, but his upside is extremely high and his skill set pairs well with the 76ers franchise player- defensive-minded and slashing Andre Iguodala. Young’s touch will be a welcome addition to a team that relies too heavily on professional turd Kyle Korver when they get down. He may not be ready to contribute right away, but this team won’t be ready to compete for three years at least, so that’s just fine.

13. New Orleans HornetsJulian Wright, F, Kansas: The Fall from Grace Award this year goes to Julian Wright, who in some circles was considered a top-five pick at one point. He’ll benefit from playing alongside Chris Paul; expect to see this kid get some monster dunks off the alley-oop pass. New Orleans is pretty stacked now at the SF/PF spot with young talent that needs time to develop. And, ESPN tells us he likes to go bowling.

14. Los Angeles ClippersAl Thornton, F, Florida State: In Mike Dunleavy’s Fantasy World, Thornton builds on his already above-average, mid-range jump shot to give the Clips another outside shooter that will demand opposing centers follow them out of the lane. Thornton will get pushed around far too easily, but he’ll bulk up and he’s a damn hard-worker. You know the Clips decided to take the best available player instead of drafting for need (at the guard spot).

15. Detroit PistonsRodney Stuckey, G, Eastern Washington: GM Joe Dumars gets his pick of the top three guards left on the board, and goes with the guy everyone had pegged to go here for the last, oh, month. The Eastern Washington combo guard has been compared (compared) to Dwayne Wade in that he can hit the outside shot and get to the hole with abandon. The Pistons needed a legitimate scorer/slasher to come in off the bench, and Stuckey could be that guy. He certainly won’t have much competition for backup minutes behind Rip Hamilton (Flip Murray? Lindsey Hunter? Please.). I really, really like this pick… and the other good thing is that he actually wanted to play in Detroit.

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13 CommentsPosted by Andrew Thell and Brian Spencer on Jun. 28, 2007 at 6:40pm in ETB Articles, NBA

Greg Oden Officially a Trivia Question Answer

June 28, 2007

Oden looks to be a slam dunk to go #1 tonight

Fifteen years from now, when you dust off the 2020 edition of Trivial Pursuit and force your friends to indulge your inner trivia nerd for a few hours, the answer to “Who was the first-overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft?” is Greg Oden. Of course, Portland Trail Blazers GM Kevin Pritchard, not to mention the ever-growing Blazers faithful, hope their big man turns out to be worth much, much more than a pie in a Trivial Pursuit piece.

ESPN The Magazine’s Ric Bucher says that Portland has contacted Oden and his peoples, and told him that they will make him the top pick in tonight’s draft. This despite the fact that by all accounts, future Seattle SuperSonic Kevin Durant outshined him across the board in preparations for tonight. Hey, everyone needs a legit big man to win a title, right?

“You can see why he’d be a No. 1 pick,” Durant told reporters. “I think he’s one of the best centers to come out of college. He’s quick and agile, he’s 7-feet, 250. I’ve never seen that in a center before.”

Players like Durant don’t come around often, either. The swingman from Texas was the college player of the year after averaging 25.8 points and 11.1 rebounds, ranking fourth nationally in both categories. And if he indeed falls to Seattle at No. 2, he’d make a terrific consolation prize.

“Without question, Kevin Durant’s the most talented player in this draft,” Texas A&M point guard Acie Law said. “But if I’m building a franchise, as most teams at the top of the draft are, you can’t pass up a guy you can just build your team around. Because there’s guys in the league that can score 20, 25 a game, like Kevin Durant can, but you’re not going to find a 7-foot manchild that can just patrol your line for 10, 12 years.”

For his part, Law is also a lottery-pick hopeful himself, and most likely will end up either in Atlanta, Los Angeles (with the Clips), or Detroit. Please check back at Empty the Bench for coverage of tonight’s happenings; we’re not sure if we’ll be writing in real-time tonight or not, but we *do* know that we’ll have post-draft reactions from a few guest writers either tomorrow or Saturday, at the very least. Enjoy the draft.

And by the way….

Empty the Bench will be participating in a “NBA Bloggers Live Draft” this evening on ESPN.com, along with a slew of other fantastic writers. We’ll be covering the Timberwolves, and are thrilled to have the opportunity to second-guess Kevin McHale’s every move. For more on what to expect, please click here. Not coincidentally, that’s also where you’ll “tune in” to see what ETB and everyone else has to say. Bookmark this link and check back tonight!

No CommentsPosted by Brian Spencer on Jun. 28, 2007 at 2:18pm in NBA

Atlanta Hawks Really Want a Point Guard

June 27, 2007

Ridnour on the move?

When Speedy Claxton and Tyronn Lue are currently your only options to start at the pivotal point guard spot, even the most incompetent GM knows an upgrade is in order.

ETB previously reported on one of the many offseason, pre-draft rumors making the rounds, one that would see the Trail Blazers’ Jarrett Jack move to Atlanta in exchange for a pick. The latest update now has the Hawks chatting with the Sonics about swapping the #11 overall pick in tomorrow’s draft for four-year veteran Luke Ridnour. According to “three NBA sources,” the Sonics have actually put the deal on the table and are waiting for a response:

The Sonics are eager to begin the restructuring of their roster and have offered the Atlanta Hawks point guard Luke Ridnour for the No. 11 pick in Thursday’s NBA draft, and the trade could be consummated Wednesday, according to three NBA sources.

If the Hawks accept Seattle’s offer, the Sonics would own two of the first 11 picks and four of the first 35, and potentially could deal the Nos. 31 and 35 picks for perhaps another first-rounder or future picks.

Atlanta is seeking a pure point guard who can serve as a distributor. The best-case scenario for the Hawks is that he turns into a Steve Nash type who becomes a master of running their up-tempo offense. Atlanta wants to compete in the East immediately and taking Crittenton or Ohio State freshman Mike Conley Jr. is a pick for the future. Ridnour, 26, could be entering his prime and has proven to be a solid passer with a dependable jumper — when he is at his best.

Are the up-and-coming Hawks better off landing a still-youngish point guard with NBA experience, or rolling the dice on a guy who could eventually dwarf Ridnour in terms of production and overall talent? It’s hard to say. Ridnour is coming off a disappointing season in Seattle, and struggled to stave off Earl Watson for starter minutes. Still, he would provide some stability for Atlanta, and could greatly benefit from a change of scenery. The alternative is for Atlanta to spend either the #3 pick on Mike Conley Jr. and hope he catches on quickly, or use it on a, say, Al Horford and wait to pick the best available PG prospect with the #11 pick (likely Acie Law or Javaris Crittenton).

It’s true, the Hawks already have a bevy of young players, and if they feel like a vet like Ridnour can help them win now and legitimately compete in the playoffs now, they should consider pulling the trigger. For our money, however, Jack is a better option, though that option may be off the table at this point. Too bad a potential deal for reigning Most Improved Player, Golden State’s Monta Ellis, apparently fell through–that would have cemented Atlanta as, perhaps, the most exciting young team to watch in the NBA next year. Stay tuned.

2 CommentsPosted by Brian Spencer on Jun. 27, 2007 at 11:36am in NBA

Will the KG Rumors Lead to a KG Trade?

June 27, 2007

KG is King of the Rumor Mill

**UPDATE** Yes, they did lead to a trade.

We’re starting to feel a little silly for updating the ongoing KG rumors. It’s become an annual tradition in the NBA for “league sources” to tantalize us with news that a mega-trade involving Garnett is impending, about to happen, being heavily discussed, etc. And, of course, it never happens. The Timberwolves back down from the magnitude of trading a bonafide superstar and taking proper steps towards rebuilding a more complete team, they flirt with the playoffs, and ultimately end up preparing for another summer of rumors.

But this time, it truly feels like the big man is on the move (no, really).

We’re not going to rehash every single scenario that’s been floated by the media over the past few weeks. You’ve heard he’ll land in Los Angeles, Boston, Phoenix, maybe even Atlanta. You’ve read that he’ll very likely stay in Minnesota. Who knows, but one thing seems certain: if he does get traded, it will happen sometime before the 2007 NBA Draft which, of course, is tomorrow night.

Now this is something to be psyched about: within the span of 48 hours, we’ll see a gaggle of exciting young talent storm the NBA via the draft. We could also potentially see a slew of superstars trade in their current jerseys for new ones: Garnett, Shawn Marion, Amare Stoudemire, Al Jefferson, Jermaine O’Neal, maybe even Kobe Bryant. We’ve said before that player movement is a good thing for the NBA right now, and we sincerely hope a few deals are struck in the next few days.

Incoming Phoenix Suns GM Steve Kerr has something in the works, without question. This week, the team worked out a bunch of lottery prospects–Joakim Noah, Corey Brewer, Jeff Green–even though they do not pick until #24 overall. They could look to deal with Charlotte and jump up to the #8 slot. Another possibility, however, is much more intriguing: KG could join buddy Steve Nash in Phoenix in a three-team deal.

With the Los Angeles Lakers’ attempts to construct a multi-team deal or a direct trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves collapsing, ESPN’s Jim Gray reports that talk of a potential three-team trade that would involve Minnesota, Boston and Phoenix has been rekindled, in which the primary cost to the Suns would be All-Star forward Shawn Marion moving to the Celtics.

In the scenario reported by Gray, Garnett would go to Phoenix, Boston would land Marion and the Wolves would receive a package featuring the No. 5 overall pick in Thursday’s draft along with undisclosed players from the Celtics and Suns.

Yet an even bigger trade concept, ESPN.com has learned, was hatched Tuesday by the Wolves, in which Phoenix would likely be asked to trade away the player it has been trying not to trade, All-NBA center Amare Stoudemire, who would go to the Atlanta Hawks.

Stoudemire in Atlanta w/ Joe Johnson, Josh Smith, Marvin Williams, etc? H-O-T. Al Jefferson, Gerald Green, and another lottery pick or two to Minnesota? H-O-T. KG to Phoenix? Whatever. At the moment, these scenarios basically amount to a well-known sports conglomerate reporting on conjecture–nothing more. Still, the talks seem to be getting rather far along, and we wouldn’t be surprised if something was done. McHale, Ainge, Kerr: get it done.

According to Adrian Wojnarowski for Yahoo! Sports, the proposed Minnesota/Atlanta/Phoenix trade would send Stoudemire to Atlanta, Garnett to Phoenix, and the #3 and #11 picks in the draft–along with ZaZa Pachulia and Anthony Johnson–to the Timberwolves. That would give McHale three of the top eleven picks in the draft to screw up.

Two more interesting nuggets from the article:

Minnesota owner Glen Taylor has delivered a mandate to his basketball executives to get a deal done, one league executive said.


The front office and coaching staff had settled on Florida power forward Al Horford, but a faction of the Atlanta Spirit ownership group, with business interests in China, is pushing them to take Yi Jianlian.

3 CommentsPosted by Brian Spencer on Jun. 27, 2007 at 9:17am in NBA

ESPN Ranks Your Favorite NBA Prospect Low

June 26, 2007

Durant rates highest on Hollinger's board

Or, maybe he ranks higher than you thought. Today on ESPN, John Hollinger unveiled his intriguing methodology for evaluating college players and projecting how they’ll fair in the pros. And in conflict with ESPN.com’s mission statement of making you pay for most mildly interesting content on their site, the entire article is free to the you’s and me’s of the world.

For his ranking system, Hollinger has whittled down the basic stats, thrown them into a strength-of-schedule grinder, and applied age, steals, blocks, rebounds, three-pointers, and what he calls “pure point rating.” THEN (hang with us here) he threw in four “red flags:” short player, 7-footer, perimeter guy with poor three-point shooting, and lousy rebounder.

After *all* that, Hollinger gives some perspective of his formula based on prior drafts, and, of course, his rankings for Thursday’s big one. In the end, Kevin Durant is ranked first by a landslide, followed by Greg Oden, Mike Conley Jr., Thaddeus Young, and Brandan Wright. Check it out for yourself, but here’s two other interesting finds:

Rodney Stuckey looks like the real deal. The unheralded guard from Eastern Washington actually had even better numbers in 2005-06 and rates as one of the 10 best players in this draft. Fans also might be surprised to see Duke punching bag Josh McRoberts so high, but he had the assist ratio of a point guard and fairly high rates of blocks and steals. Boston College’s Jared Dudley finishes out of the top 10 — it’s a bit troubling that he blocked only 10 shots all year, but he shot well from distance and has strong previous seasons helping him out.

Acie Law and Spencer Hawes are best to be avoided. Both are viewed as late-lottery picks, but they look like solid second-rounders from here. Hawes has an unimpressive rebound rate, which is a huge red flag considering he was bigger than everyone he played against. And for all the talk of his great post skills, he had a run-of-the-mill 55.0 true shooting percentage and didn’t even have the best PER on his mediocre team (that belonged to Jon Brockman). A lot of folks think he can become a quality pro post player; based on his numbers, I just don’t see it.

As for Law, his athleticism is a major question mark. He had 39 steals and one block, a pittance for a 6-3 guard. His 5.3 rebound rate is another poor indicator, while his age (22) only adds to the list of negatives. Additionally, Law’s pure point ratio was only average, and he doesn’t seem to be nearly dangerous enough a scorer to make up for it.

The 2007 NBA Draft will be aired on ESPN this Thursday, starting at 7:30pm.

2 CommentsPosted by Brian Spencer on Jun. 26, 2007 at 8:25pm in NBA

10 Darts at the NBA Board

June 26, 2007

- A very minor trade is being discussed between four, potentially five, NBA franchises.

That Darko--such a kidder!

- The Orlando Magic have money to spend, and come hell or high water, they’re going to spend it. First, hulking center Dwight Howard will be inked to a multi-year extension at a crazy-ridiculous number. That’ll be easy. Next, GM Otis Smith will make an offer to Human Victory Cigar restricted free-agent Darko “Just Play Me” Milicic, who has a history of overvaluing himself and his skills, so we’ll see what happens. The biggest news, however, will come when the Magic land a marquee free agent, which they almost assuredly will by mid-July. According to the Orlando Sentinel, players on Smith’s short list include Rashard Lewis, Gerald Wallace, Chauncey Billups, and Vince Carter.

- Speaking of free agency, Detroit Pistons point guard Chauncey Billups officially opted out of his contract this week. Today, everyone from my boss to a trainer at my gym was hounding me about “what’s up with Billups?” and “Chauncey is leaving Detroit, eh?” Through gritted teeth, I calmly explained that all parties involved–Billups, his agent Andy Miller, Pistons GM Joe Dumars, probably my orthodontist from fourth grade–knew this move was par for Chauncey’s free-agency course. No surprise. ETB still believes Billups will be back in Detroit for the foreseeable future.

- About that minor trade being bandied about: I was thinking this afternoon that Lakers’ brass probably feels like adding a KG to the squad would not only appease the split personalities of Kobe, but also make them a legitimate contender again. I don’t feel that way, at all. For one thing, KG is a proven liability during pressure situations (blame it on playing under Flip Saunders during his formative years if you will). Yes, yes, I know, Kobe will still be the one taking the big shots. That’s fine. But we’re still not sold on it, especially when they give up Odom and Bynum. MSNBC’s Michael Ventre agrees with me, but for the record, I thought about this first, Mike.

- A week or so ago I mentioned that I was working on a Pistons draft preview for Daily Basketball. Well, procrastination got the better of me (or was it this god-awful heat in NYC?) and I didn’t wrap it up until yesterday. In all its glory, here’s the draft preview. Here’s more draft previews from some great NBA writers.

- FanIQ puts into words what we’ve also been wondering about. This kid from Wisconsin has a very good chance of being the most productive second-round pick of the 2007 class, at least in the short term.

- One marriage between two individuals whose first names are collectively five letters long.

- In today’s “Rising, Falling, Trading” column, DraftExpress president Jonathan Givony says the Nets are willing to part with Boki Nachbar and the #17 pick for oft-injured, seemingly always out-of-shape Sean May (Charlotte Bobcats). Am I missing something?

- Indiana Pacers PF/C Jermaine O’Neal, once considered a franchise-type player, is enduring somewhat of a fall from grace this summer. While we don’t think it wise to put too much scoring pressure on O’Neal, and cannot deny the health issues that always seem to dog him, this kid is still in his prime and is one of the better shot-blockers in the league. When he’s on, he can be unstoppable in the post. Here’s hoping he gets the hell out of that disaster in Indiana and finds himself on a team where he’s not relied upon to be Mr. Everything all the time.

- We hate to link to the same site twice in one post, but FanIQ is just so damn timely with their list of the 10 Worst Draft-Day Trades of the Last 10 Years. Whew, I don’t know–Dirk Nowitzki, reigning league MVP, for Robert “Tractor” Traylor seems like #1 to me.

No CommentsPosted by Brian Spencer on Jun. 26, 2007 at 4:22pm in NBA

The 2007 ETB Fantasy Football Invitational

June 24, 2007

ETB Friends, Followers, and Readers:

Kickoff for the 2007 NFL season is still about 2 1/2 months away, but planning for the real reason we all keep up with the league–the fantasy season–is already underway here at Empty the Bench.

It's time to nerd up for fantasy football

That also means we’re gearing up for the first-annual Empty the Bench Fantasy Football Invitational. It promises to be a grand olde time, we’d like you to be a part of it, and are now accepting applications.

Everyone knows that the key to a fulfilling fantasy season is that all participants stay engaged from draft day on through the playoffs. If you’re the kind of person who drafts Daunte Culpepper in the third round, inserts him as your starting quarterback in Week 1, then leaves him in there for another 10 weeks while he’s on the Disabled List, this league probably isn’t for you.

However, if you wake up on Sunday morning (after a sleepless night filled with nightmares about who to start at your W/R and W/T flex spots) and immediately scour injury reports, change parts of your lineup at least 10 times before 1pm, then spend the rest of the day clicking refresh on your StatTracker every 5 seconds, then you’re an incredible dork, just like we are. You’re the kind of person we’re looking for.

Draft day has not yet been determined, but will likely be on a weekday night after 8:30pm during the week of August 13 or August 20. Once the league has formed, we’ll propose a few dates and agree on an amicable one for everybody. We have 10 open spots in the 12-team league, as of course you will be competing against “The Twin Towers” of Empty the Bench, Andrew and Brian. Unfortunately, that of course means you are ensured of nothing higher than third place overall.

Silly Prerequisites:

- You must have participated in at least two prior fantasy-football seasons, preferably on Yahoo! Sports–that’s where we’re doing it. Your application scores bonus points if you have some trophies in your Yahoo! profile. God, I feel like a huge dork typing that.

- You don’t have to be a writer with your own website or blog to be considered, but we’d like as many as possible to join and will admittedly reserve at least a few spots for those folks. Oh, don’t bitch, it’s only fantasy football, you’re going to be in five other leagues anyway.

- No particular aversion to using the message board from time to time is a good thing, and so is responding to trade requests within a reasonable timeframe.

How to Apply:

- If you think you’re man enough to man up for the manly 2007 ETB Fantasy Football Invitational, email us at [email protected] and/or [email protected] Please include the name of and link to your website if you have one and, ya know, your name.

We’re not sure how many applications will flood our inboxes, but we’ll try to do it on a first-come, first-serve basis, with the above silly prerequisites in mind. Please don’t be offended if you don’t get a chance to participate this year. We hope to greatly expand the number of fantasy leagues run through ETB in the future.

ETB plans to cover the goings-ons of our league and share news and trends we see that could be of note for other players out there, as well as hold regular “roundtable” discussions about various issues in the NFL fantasy season throughout the year. We’ll also come up with some kind of *sweet* prize/trophy if any of you manage to beat us.

And, geez, we’d really love it if you could help come up with a better name for all this than “fantasy football.” It’s embarassing enough to actually be involved in it, but “fantasy” makes it sound like “football with a Dungeons & Dragons spin.” Okay, that’s actually what it is.


Your Friends at Empty the Bench

6 CommentsPosted by Andrew Thell and Brian Spencer on Jun. 24, 2007 at 7:44pm in Administrative, NFL Fantasy News

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