By now we have all seen the draft grades and heard the commentary regarding this year's draft. In a draft that had a plethora of Hondas and Toyotas there seemed to be very few Beamers and Benzes, at least on the surface that is. This draft did have some future All-Star caliber players, but unfortunately there destination will be the deciding factor on how successful they will be in the league.
Unless you are seven feet tall, or a European player you have to be good to make it to the NBA level. So the notion that players lose their talent, or just are not good enough is more times wrong than right. Now there are exceptions to this theory: Greg Kite, Tyronn Lue, or Damon Jones have all proved they belong in Y.W.C.A recreation league and not the NBA. Yet, in a ironic twist these "players" prove my point.
The NBA is about right place right time almost as much as it is about talent. Players are like any other man when they are in a bad relationship. They lose interest, focus, and become zombies looking for anything and everything to take their mind off the fact that she is not the one.
So rather then label a player Halle Berry or Amy Winehouse, let us look at where they are headed and see if this situation will enable them to reach their full potential.
Hasheem Thabeet: This is the best possible place he could have gone. He will play alongside the walking mobile home that is Marc Gasol and will be allowed to roam. Thabeet should be able to avoid being Shawn Bradley and manage to be somewhat effective.
James Harden: Many people have labeled him overrated, but I am not one of them. I see a player who will take control of a passive NBA team. His reaction to being drafted and his comments after being selected suggest he has just the right amount of dog in him. Harden will be a surprise to his doubters from the start and look for him to be a solid pro.
Tyreke Evans: It is not that he is good, it is just that Sacramento is that bad. He will start and he will be effective. It is mainly because he will get minutes and he will be well coached by Paul Westphal and Pete Carril.
Jordan Hill: Mike D'Antoni's system will allow him to be active on the offensive end and allow him to sleep walk on the defensive end.
Terrence Williams: Williams should get plenty of playing time. Also, with Devin Harris and Courtney Lee playing alongside him, he should get very little defensive attention.
Eric Maynor: Maynor is a tough player who is going to a guard friendly system. If he can deal with Coach Sloan, which I think he can, he should get minutes.
Taj Gibson: Gibson is a solid player who should see plenty of minutes with Chicago. He is not flashy, but should have success rebounding and blocking shots.
Jermaine Taylor: This is a great fit for Houston. Taylor should start if Ron Artest does not come back. Rick Adelman is one of the best coaches in the league and he will get the most out of Taylor. Taylor will be the reason the Rockets let McGrady walk. Look for Taylor to be a darkhorse for R.O.Y and appear in a few All-Star games.
These players landed in perfect spots for their skill set. They should have no problems being solid contributors to their new franchises. Now for the guys who were not as lucky.
Ricky Rubio: First, Rubio is not that good. Second, he is going to a team that has nobody to run with him outside of Corey Brewer, and he is not known for his offensive prowess. Third, the Wolves do not have a Head Coach. This means whoever they hire will be forced to play Rubio because the G.M. wants to look smart.
Jonny Flynn: This could get ugly for Flynn. He is going to have to fight Rubio and Sebastian Telfair just to see practice time. Then, he has to hope the Head Coach trusts him enough to play him. Once he does play he is going to have to slow his game down so Al Jefferson and Kevin Love can keep up. On top of all that the guy who drafted him thinks he can play shooting guard at 5'10''.
Stephen Curry: Stephen Curry is one of the best players in this draft and Stephen Curry went to possibly the worst place he could have gone. At first glance you see Don Nelson and think Curry should be a monster in this offense. There are to many factors that will impede the progress of this young man. From Stephen Jackson, Corey Maggette, Don Nelson, and Monta Ellis, Curry will be fighting an uphill battle just to see the ball. In order for Curry to reach his max potential the Warriors are going to have to clear that backcourt out and allow him to take advantage of his high basketball IQ. It is difficult to see that happening though and it will be Curry's next team that he flourishes on.
Brandon Jennings: Bad team, tough coach, and cold cold weather. These three things will be too much for Jennings to overcome.
Jeff Teague: Teague is a good player who is going to get caught in a numbers crunch in the ATL. Unless the league decides to play with two balls, there will not be enough shots to go around for the Hawks. Joe Johnson and Jamal Crawford will see the bulk of the minutes and the bulk of the shots. What is left will go to guys who can guard multiple positions. This does not bold well for Teague, who is a really good player.
Blake Griffin: Again this is more of an indictment against the team not the player. Griffin is walking into hell with gasoline on him. Zach Randolph, Marcus Camby, and Chris Kaman are three big men who command major minutes and are not going to take to kindly to having their minutes cut. Zach Randolph is one of the most talented big men in the NBA, however his teams never seem to win. Then you add a disgruntled point guard in Baron Davis and you got; well, you got the Clippers.
But wait it gets worse.
Coach Mike Dunleavy is facing the biggest conundrum possible. It was no secret that Davis was not happy with Coach Dunleavy, or his offensive philosophy. Davis wanted it changed and Coach refused and so the Clippers sucked. Well, now you have a guy who flourishes in the same system that you refused to change to. Coach Dunleavy has to decide if he wants to anger Davis more and change his system for Blake, or run the same offense that gave them a strong 19 wins last year. All the while getting Thornton his touches, Randolph his touches, Davis his touches, and Griffin his touches. By the All- Star break we should have our results, if it even takes that long.
These were just some of the more high profile players selected in the draft. Every draft has its horses and donkeys, but it is the general managers and coaches who play the ultimate role in a players development. In five years people will look back and say this guy was "wack" or this guy was a waste, hopefully the general managers who selected these players are unemployed as well.
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