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.
Golden State Warriors
They get both Brandan Wright (see Amare Stoudemire) in the Richardson deal and Italy’s Marco Belinelli in the first round. Love both of GM Chris Mullin’s acquisitions, but though overall the team and its all-psyched-up fanbase should be pleased, they weren’t able to land the player they most coveted in Yi Jianlian. Then again, word is that Jianlian and his peeps aren’t thrilled about the idea of him playing for the Bucks (no one is, actually), so stay tuned.
Rookie GM Daryl Morey spends the 26th overall pick on Oregon point guard Aaron Brooks, who at 161 pounds weighs slightly less than your local high-school’s starting point man. Last time we checked, Houston still employed another incredibly tiny point guard named Rafer Alston. In the second round, they draft Brad Newley, a star in Australia who has absolutely no reason to defect to the NBA. Move along… absolutely nothing to see here.
Larry Bird and the Pacers didn’t have any picks, but they were involved in a massive draft-day trade that everyone is still talking about. That’s right, they acquired the rights to somebody named Stanko Barać (Croatia) from Miami. Uh, yeah.
Los Angeles Clippers – from Steve for ClipsNation
The Citizens of ClipsNation were in unfamiliar territory Friday morning. The day after the draft, there was nothing to complain about. Elgin Baylor and Mike Dunleavy Sr. hadn’t screwed up. In fact, they had come through with flying colors. Unlike two years ago when top 10 prospects Gerald Green and Danny Granger were still on the board at 12 while Dunleavy remained tunnel-visioned on his pre-determined selection Yaroslav Korolev, this time when the Clippers choice came up at 14 and Al Thornton of Florida State was available, the team reacted quickly, changed course and snapped up last season’s ACC leading scorer.
A 23-year-old senior, Thornton would at first appear to be the mature, sensible choice. But he also happens to be a freak of an athlete with NBA three-point range. So I guess he’s both sensible and sexy. Although the Clippers’ more immediate need is at point guard, Thornton was just too good to pass up. And with Corey Maggette likely to opt out of the final year of his contract next June, he provides depth and hopefully future stability on the wing.
In the second round, with the 45th pick, the Clippers tried to address their point-guard situation with Jared Jordan from Marist College. Relatively unknown to casual basketball fans because he played in the tiny MAAC, Jordan was the first player since Avery Johnson to lead the nation in assists two seasons in a row. I’ve been touting him for about a month, so needless to say I am THRILLED with this pick. He’s too small and too slow to play in the NBA – you know, just like Steve Nash. All he does is step on the court and lead teams, which is really what you want from a point guard. A long shot to make the team, as is always the case in the middle of the second round, Jordan will have a chance to prove he can play against NBA talent starting next week in Summer League play in Las Vegas.
Los Angeles Lakers – from Don for With Malice
Whilst the Los Angeles Lakers performance would do nothing huge to appease Kobe, there are elements there that I like… and the off-season has only just begun, dp hopefully there’ll be more action from the LA war-room.
So, the draft: with the 19th pick, the Lakers took Javaris Crittenton. With the Lakers not enthused about re-signing Aaron McKie smf Smush Parker, a point guard was a necessity. And without a doubt, Crittenton was the best player at that position still on the board (after Acie Law IV & Mike Conley). Whilst he might be a bit of a project, the Lakers must look to the future and life beyond Kobe, despite his angst at another ‘project’ joining the team.
As the draft progressed past the 11th pick, I had a feeling about Crittenton dropping this far (and as we got to the mid-teens, was pretty sure he would: Washington, New Jersey, and Golden State all have established PGs). He’s young, has good skills and vision, and will (eventually) make a good point guard. If necessary, he will have good value in trades that may evolve this summer.
The 10th pick of the 2nd round (40th overall) shocked me somewhat: Sun Yue. Not having heard a lot about him other than he’s fast, can jump, and is really, really skinny, I did a bit of research on him. Definitely a project, but he’s (apparently) 6’9″ with “point-guard skills”. A point guard that tall is definitely worth investigating, even if he’ll need to bulk up considerably before being able to compete in the NBA.
With the Lakers last pick (18th of the 2nd round, 48th overall) the Lakers got Pau’s lil’ brother Marc. Marc Gasol comes ready to play… and whilst he’s not necessarily his brother, he does have skills, and this was one of the guys I targeted in my preview with this pick, so I’m pretty happy with this. Gasol Junior at the Lakers would also perhaps hint at the front office having ‘other’ plans for Andrew Bynum; perhaps that’s good news for one disgruntled superstar, but that’s a story for another day!
Memphis Grizzlies – from Ryan McNeill for HoopsAddict.com
Memphis played it safe and went with Mike Conley Jr, and I’m still not sure what to make of this pick. When it was announced on Draft Night I was excited about Memphis having a point guard to build around in Conley, but later into the night I realized that the team will now have a healthy Damon Stoudamire and Kyle Lowry in training camp, savvy vet Chucky Atkins, and a rookie in Conley thrown into that mix.
Last year the Grizzlies brass heralded Lowry as their point guard of the future, so one of these young cats, Conley or Lowry, will be left as the third-string point guard next season. I can’t help but think Memphis would have been better suited by addressing their needs at shooting guard by drafting someone like Jeff Green or Corey Brewer–who could have been a starter for them next season–instead of adding another young player at a position where they have filled that need.
Miami Heat – from Darren Heitner for I Want to be a Sports Agent
All I can say is wow. The Heat blow an opportunity to upgrade in two important positions with this draft (PG and PF/C), and in my opinion did not adequately address either slot. The big news leading up to the draft was the new, high-second round pick that we acquired for shipping Van Gundy to Orlando. What do we do with that pick? We select a guy named Stanko, and then cannot even stand the stench to keep him on the team for more than 5 minutes. He gets traded to the Pacers, and the Heat are left without upgrading the big-man position.
But the real sadness came in the 1st round, when the Los Angeles Lakers took our man with the 19th pick. Javaris Crittenton was our dream pick and it looked like he was falling to us, but was snagged before we could grab him. Who do we take instead? Jason Smith… of course! Terrible selection, which the Heat quickly realized and traded to the 76ers for their 21st pick, Daequan Cook. He better serve up something to Wade and Shaq, or Heat fans will be questioning this draft for a long time.
So they took Yi Jianlian against the entire continent of Asia’s wishes, and it looks like there’s a chance the Chinese big man refuses to suit up for them. This will be a story worth keeping an eye on. But we wanted to use the rest of this space to call out Yahoo! Sports’ Dan Wetzel for a very poor attempt at comedy that falls very, very flat in his “Draft Day Winners and Losers” column.
Normally we don’t like to overly harp on lazy sportswriters who crack themselves up, but it’s tired “city-wide stereotypes” such as the following that really bother us. So here’s to you, Dan Wetzel, for your Bush League commentary.
“Yi has no choice, so he’ll probably play for the Bucks and learn to love beer, cheese and brats as much as the next guy. Heck, one tour of the Mars Cheese Castle ought to do it (get him the beer bottle-shaped salami or the “Cheddar Christmas Tree”).”
Minnesota Timberwolves – from Sonia for I Heart KG
Rashad McCants didn’t look too happy at the Wolves draft party when the selection was made, but fans rejoiced knowing the team was getting a solid defender with potential to be an offensive threat in the team’s #7 pick, Corey Brewer. In explaining his picks, Kevin McHale referenced the unselfish play and “winning attitude” of both Brewer and his former teammate Chris Richard, a forward/center taken in the second round.
While there was immense relief among some that there was no trade involving Kevin Garnett, the fact that no other draft night moves were made was a bit of a disappointment. Both draft picks are excited to be playing with Garnett, but should learn to get used to the trade rumors that will surely continue to follow the player.
New Jersey Nets – from Hooplah Nation
Sean “Weed Boy” Williams was basically the best talent available defensive wise on the board, so it was a no brainer taking him. He’s happy to be here, and the staff is happy with him, and I can’t see anything bad with risking a mid-first round pick for a guy with possible lottery talent.
Even if he ends up as a bust, the Nets would be well-served getting even if he’s giving the team some Desagana Diop-like numbers. After all, the chair that Yi worked out against apparently is better than Jason Collins.
New Orleans Hornets
Pardon the redundancy here: I’m lifting the following directly from our draft-night coverage. 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. 6-5 Iowa guard Adam Haluska was taken in round two; he seems like a bit of a reach at 43rd overall (ahead of Jared Jordan, Marc Gasol, Taurean Green, etc), and check out his photo.
New York Knicks
Oh Isiah: all the criticism you bear upon your shoulders like a cross aside, you sure are good at making headlines. Though his free-agency signings and most of his trades end up being bonafide turds, Thomas does have a decent track record in the draft, landing David Lee, Mardy Collins, Channing Frye (now traded), and Renaldo Balkman in the last few seasons… all guys that are going to be in the league for a long time. So while first-round pick Wilson Chandler is yet *another* 6-8 forward to throw into the logjam, we’ll wait to pass judgement until he gets on the court. It does, however, make that albatross contract of Jared Jeffries’ look even worse though.
The big headline, of course, was the draft-night deal that sent Frye and Steve Francis to Portland for Zach Randolph, Dan Dickau, and Fred Jones. Randolph is a very legit scorer in the post, but he and Eddy Curry will now comprise perhaps the softest PF-C combo in the East on defense. It’ll be interesting to see how Randolph reacts to life in the Big Apple.
The Magic traded their first-round pick to the Detroit Pistons last year for Darko Milicic, who they’re hoping to resign this summer as a restricted free agent. In the second round, they spent their only pick of the night on 6-8 forward Reyshawn Terry from North Carolina. We honestly don’t know much about him, but DraftExpress says if “he works on his ball-handling and becomes more assertive in trying to get the ball, he could be a very good bench scorer relatively soon.” Fantastic.
Philadelphia 76ers – from Jon for Passion and Pride
The Sixers couldn’t trade up from 12 in the end and decided to pick the guy with the greatest potential – Thaddeus Young. Heading into the college season last fall, his name was being thrown about with the likes of Brandan Wright, Kevin Durant, and the guys of Lawrence North. Here’s the thing about Thaddeus though – he also fits the Sixers’ biggest need for a shooter. Billy King really wanted a long 6’8″ forward who could shoot to take the pressure off Andre Iguodala and Kyle Korver.
The next biggest need was adding a banger upfront to upgrade the center and power forward positions. Jason Smith also has a lot of potential and the Sixers may have lucked out if he turns out to be the next best big man to Greg Oden.
Derrick Byars answered a lot of questions about taking a flyer on Young. He’s a lockdown defender and intense competitor. Why did so many teams pass on him? The wing is getting awfully crowded in Philly…
Herbert Hill… eh… I liked Fesenko better (who was traded to Utah). Hill is extremely raw and worth a shot. After all, Steven Hunter ended the season as our starting power forward. I’d give this draft an “Incomplete” grade (or B+ if you must).
We wonder how much the Suns sold their 24th-overall pick to the Blazers for. I assume it’ll be an exchange of unmarked bills in a mid-sized manila folder between two masked individuals in an empty gym with all the lights on. The Suns have very little depth behind that fantastic starting lineup, and it’s becoming a habit of theirs to auction these picks off. Is the owner cheap?
They did, however, take Wisconsin’s Alando Tucker at #29, a guy who most don’t seem too high on but is certainly worth taking a flier on. Like we said on draft night, this kid was the Big Ten’s Player of the Year last season, and after four seasons playing college ball, he should be good to go off the bench immediately.
Portland Trail Blazers
We agree with everyone else: the Blazers had an awful night, again, for two years in a row now. Last year they fumbled away Randy Foye in exchange for Brandon Roy (who didn’t accomplish a damn thing in his rookie season), took some idiot European named Spanish Chocolate who’ll never amount to anything, and think they’re going to insert some kid named LaMarcus into the starting lineup for the next 5 – 7 years. The best thing they did was taking British sensation Joel Freeland.
This year was even worse. Greg Oden first overall? Never heard of him. An envelope full of cash to the Phoenix Suns for the opportunity to take 6-6 guard Rudy Fernandez 24th overall? Another worthless Spaniard. Petteri Koponen from Finland at #30? I can’t even pronounce his name, what was GM Kevin Pritchard thinking? 6-10 Duke forward Josh McRoberts was taken 37th overall (he’s white, so you know he’ll suck), Florida point guard Taurean Green 52nd (playground fodder), and Demetris Nichols 53rd. Sigh… when will the franchise ever get it?
Spencer Hawes is about exciting to us as his name sounds. The second-highest rated center behind Oden on most draft boards, but Hawes is our early choice as “The Lottery Pick Most Likely to Be a Bust.” Godspeed, Spencer Hawes, godspeed.
San Antonio Spurs
The team already rich in Europeans gets even richer with the addition of Tiago Splitter, whose contract situation scared off everyone else. You just knew this was where Splitter would end up. There’s a good chance he doesn’t join the NBA this season, but once he comes over, he should fit in rather well behind Tim Duncan (assuming he’s around for more than just another season). They also got a nice value pick in Arizona’s Marcus Williams, a 6-7 guard who can move over to small forward and could end up being a great asset off the bench in a year or so.
Fantastic job by 30-year-old GM Sam Presti in his first draft (I can’t believe the guy is less than a year older than me). Kevin Durant has all the makings of a legitimate superstar; give him a season or two, and he’s going to be damn near unstoppable. And though it always hurts to part with a proven All-Star like Ray Allen, the man is clearly starting to wear down some, and they totally pulled one over on the guy everyone loves to pull one over on, Celtics GM Danny Ainge, by getting the fifth-overall pick for him, not to mention ETB favorite Delonte West. Oh, right, they also got some schmuck named Wally in the deal, but we’re not talking about him.
With that pick, the Sonics took Georgetown’s best player from a season ago, Jeff Green. That gives the team some flexibility with the Rashard Lewis Situation–we expect him to leave via a sign-and-trade, though he could simply walk, too. The team is fully entrenched in rebuilding mode, and so far they’re definitely on the right track back to respectability.
No picks for Toronto this year.
Utah Jazz – from Daily Basketball
The Jazz selected Morris Almond, a player who has the offensive skills to contribute right away after playing four years of college ball. He’ll have the opportunity to help the Jazz at their most inconsistent position, and the team should be happy that one of the draft’s top shooters fell to them.
After any Jazz fan heard his interview last night, they should be sold if they had any doubts. While some say he’s a turnover-machine that needs to work on his defense, the same can be said of most draft prospects.
If/when Gilbert Arenas walks after the upcoming season, the choice of hard-working USC shooting guard Nick Young will be huge. We’re pretty high on the youngster and think he has all the potential in the world to eventually become an elite scorer at the next level. Plus, he’ll have that nut Arenas to learn from for at least another year. If Gil sticks around, this starting backcourt is going to be sick for quite some time. In the second, they went with the raw talent of 6-8 G/F Dominic McGuire from Fresno State, who DraftExpress says has the “tools to be a starter at small forward in the NBA, but needs to iron out some of the wrinkles in his game.”