The Obligatory LIVE Draft Column
Adding to an already massive file of draft articles, I've decided to come out of seclusion to speak on some of these selections.
PICK 1, BULLS - First, I don't want to speak at length about the number one overall pick because we knew who it was going to be; and as expected G Derrick Rose went number one to the Bulls.
Last year when Rose was deciding where he would play his one year of required collegiate basketball his final two were Memphis and Indiana. Eric Gordon and Rose are friends, and it seemed like a dream scenario for Hoosier fans, he instead decided to go to Memphis and subsequently, the title game. Rose was considered as one of the top four high school seniors along with O.J. Mayo, Gordon, and Michael Beasley. His desire and skill set is perfect for the NBA and he was the unquestionable leader of the Memphis team. If he has a weakness it is probably that he is not considered a natural shooter, despite the fact that he is a productive one. Easy pick here, he defends, plays hard, and can get to the rim.
PICK 2, HEAT - F Michael Beasley of Kansas State. A highly debated pick leading up to the draft because Pat Riley didn't seem sold on Beasley. I suppose that a guaranteed 20/10 per game immediately isn't a priority for Riley. There must be some character issues already in Miami for Beasley's character to be questioned as much it was. Beasley has never done anything except for dominate the Big 12 and play with confidence. His defense is bad at times, but defense is a want-to attribute for a guy with his athletic ability. If he wants to he will become a solid defender and he will be an outstanding rebounder regardless.
PICK 3 - TIMBERWOLVES - G O.J. Mayo of USC. Not a surprise especially since Beasley went second. If there is anyone who should have their character questioned it should be Mayo. Considered a cocky hothead in high school, he was suspended for part of his senior year because of an altercation with a referee, Joey Crawford, take notice. Mayo probably has the highest ceiling in terms of offensive ability of anyone in the draft. His athleticism is amazing and he can shoot. Probably could improve taking it to the basket.
On a side note, it wouldn't surprise me if Stephen A. Smith has an ether-soaked rag in his sport coat so he can take Jackson's place during a commercial break. He doesn't seem happy to be doing the puff-piece interviews, definitely a demotion from past years.
PICK 4 - SONICS - G Russell Westbrook of UCLA. I consider this a head-scratcher. Westbrook was definitely a fantastic college player, but I am not sure he projects as a stud NBA point guard. I believe this is a knee-jerk reaction to the league becoming so guard-oriented. He seems to be the quintessential jack-of-all-trades master of none. This has bust written all over it.
PICK 5 - GRIZZLIES - F/C Kevin Love of UCLA. Two Bruins in a row. I don't have a problem with this pick. He automatically becomes the best H-O-R-S-E player in the NBA, which is huge. People question his athleticism, which is silly, he can clearly play at a high level against top competition. I don't think you're looking at a perennial all-star but he will definitely be in the league as a contributor for years to come.
PICK 6 - KNICKS - F Danilo Gallinari of Italy. It was hard to hear the interview over the chorus of boos from the Knick skeptical (faithful just doesn't work here). I did hear him mention that New York was the greatest city in the world, but the fans were too smart for that (or they just didn't care). I am not sure if they allowed Isiah in the war room but he somehow phoned this one in.
If you're the Knicks you must take a known commodity, regardless of how good this guy ends up being. If you play for the Knicks how does look to you? They pass on Gordon and Bayless despite the fact they desperately need guard help. If all of this Donaghy stuff isn't in the open I think Stern changes this pick at the podium. Bottom line, the Knick administration is embarrassing. One day Stern is going to have everyone in The Garden killed by an outbreak of a mutated strain of polio.
PICK 7 - CLIPPERS - G Eric Gordon of Indiana. Gordon goes from one dysfunctional team to another. At least he should get an opportunity to prove himself early, it's just unfortunate it will probably be at the point. The Clippers get a player who was projected in the top two last December at seven, so good for them. His biggest knock is his handle, which does need to improve, but the talk that he is just a "jump shooter" is incredulous at best coming from so-called professionals. He was top ten in the country at getting to the line and he already becomes one of the strongest guards in the league with eye-popping athleticism. His potential is limitless, I just don't know if we'll see it in LA.
PICK 8 - BUCKS - F Joe Alexander of West Virginia. Ridiculous athlete and competitor, should be everything people hoped Adam Morrison could be. Good stroke. I don't know how much of an impact he will have in year one but watch out down the road. Could be the next great white American NBA star.
PICK 9 - BOBCATS - G D.J. Augustin of Texas. I like Bayless better here but you cannot question Augustin's fire. He hits big shots, is a fantastic leader, and has a good handle. I think he will struggle from three point land starting off. He will benefit from having a true head coach instead of Rick Barnes, who could get out-coached by a wicker basket.
PICK 10 - NETS - C Brook Lopez of Stanford. I love this pick. You can see him holding down the paint with Lebron controlling everything else in two years (let's just go ahead and officially add him as a "future" Net). Better offensively than his twin, excellent post defender and shot blocker. Good anchor for the Nets as they rebuild their team around King James. The Nets will be very good in several years, I can see Lopez playing a pivotal role.
PICK 11 - PACERS - G Jerryd Bayless of Arizona. Great pick for the Pacers, if they didn't just acquire T.J. Ford. Bayless has been up and down with his projection in the NBA. This clears the way to send Tinsley somewhere, anywhere else. The Pacers are cleaning house to once again become relevant after their title hopes were stolen from them by unruly fans and quick tempers several years ago. Bayless is a great leader with high confidence.
PICK 12 - KINGS - F Jason Thompson of Rider. I do not know him. Can't even come up with a joke. What does this mean for Vlade Divac? Best I got.
PICK 13 - BLAZERS - G Brandon Rush of Kansas. The Blazers continue to draft wonderfully. Rush is a leader and a winner. Sometimes too shy with the ball but that can and will change. Best player on the best team in the nation, not rocket science.
PICK 14 - WARRIORS - F Anthony Randolph of LSU. Interesting pick. Randolph has all the potential in the world. Very thin, which is maybe not as big of a concern as in previous years. Good pick for an uptempo team.
Bilas rarely says anything bad about anyone. If they're not strong they're long, if they can't shoot they are great "court generals." I'm also certain that Stephen A. is on a mild dose of pain killers or something, he isn't holding up to the caricature that he has so carefully created.
Van Gundy is struggling to get a word in, unfortunate because I like his outlook on things. He has the perfect mix of dry humor/realism that is necessary when dealing with the ugly beast that is the NBA. The NBA has a tendency to think it is way more important than it actually is, so it's good to have Van Gundy to hold things in balance.
PICK 15 - SUNS - C Robin Lopez of Stanford. Earlier than I expected. The Pac-10 is looking amazing right now. They should just run this draft on a non-stop loop on their website. Lopez is the "lesser-twin" which will work for him. Never underestimate the revenge factor. He is also heading to play with Nash for at least a little while, that helps anyone. I think he has every ounce of ability as his brother does. Solid pick for the Suns.
PICK 16 - 76ers - F Marreese Speights of Florida. Another surprise big man. Good offensive skills. Thin frame. Not a great defender, never dominated on the offensive end. I am not on the "length/no strength big men who aren't really big men" bandwagon. This is one of the reasons I think guys like D.J. White are undervalued. Who would you rather have: Tyson Chandler or Carlos Boozer?
PICK 17 - RAPTORS (heading to the PACERS) - C Roy Hibbert of Georgetown. Limited player but you know what you are going to get. Better offensively than one would think. Above average defender with below average footwork. Hopefully will help fill the void left by Jermaine O'Neal's impending departure.
UPDATE... The Blazers trade Brandon Rush, Josh McRoberts, and Jarrett Jack to the Pacers for Bayless and Ike Diogu. Brandon Rush heads off to play with his brother Kareem.
PICK 18 - WIZARDS - F Javale McGee of Nevada. Probably a reach.
PICK 19 - CAVALIERS - F J.J. Hickson of NC State. Strong and athletic post player. If he develops quickly he could really turn into a big help for Lebron before he bolts to the Nets.
PICK 20 - BOBCATS - French player who will never play a minute in the NBA.
PICK 21 - NETS - F Ryan Anderson of California. Led the Pac-10 in scoring. Bilas defends the pick to the booing masses. I tend to agree. He has a more stable frame than most Euro-style forwards of his size. Apparently the Nets have no West Coast bias, this is their second Pac-10 frontcourt player in this draft. Outstanding range, we are told he needs to improve strength, I say defense.
PICK 22 - MAGIC - G Courtney Lee of Western Kentucky. Lee put on a show during the NCAA tournament, he made the biggest shots on the biggest stage against very strong competition. I seem him making an immediate contribution, he's a determined scorer and very competitive. Wouldn't surprise me if he is the "small school all-star" of this draft like Stockton, Bird, etc.
PICK 23 - JAZZ - C Kosta Koufos of Ohio State. Good stroke, comfortable around the basket, stronger than most think. This would qualify as the steal of the draft if it weren't for Darrel Arthur's exclusion. Every time they show Arthur and his family I think he is one step closer to running on the stage anyway and taking the hat from Stern's hands, he would of course be executed, but he is nearing that point. Koufos will be a good pro.
PICK 24 - SONICS - F Serge Ibaka of The Congo. Stuart Scott tells Van Gundy that he has tremendous upside leading to the ESPN Must Improve: Experience.
Van Gundy: "...how do you improve experience (followed by mass laughter)?"
Van Gundy should have his own sitcom.
PICK 25 - ROCKETS - F Nicholas Batum of France. They showed Yao Ming working out in a pool, most of this segment was about Yao.
PICK 26 - SPURS - G George Hill of IUPUI. I am pulling for him. Putting IUPUI on the map, my little brother is heading there in the fall before he transfers to IU so it's good for the school. I think they are the newest Division One team. Bilas said that he has the opportunity to be a special defensive player.
PICK 27 - BLAZERS - F Darrell Arthur of Kansas. It was reported that he fell because of a possible kidney problem. Bill Self apparently texted Andy Katz and said that it's a non-issue. Texting has revolutionized communication. We are getting news via text now. Texting, it's not just for booty calls anymore.
Arthur is a great talent and Portland continues to stockpile players like canned goods in a bomb shelter. This kidney thing will probably not be a big deal and the previous 18 teams will feel like massive idiots in two or three years. The Blazers are going to be the most fun team to play on NBA Live for many years to come.
PICK 28 - GRIZZLIES - F Donte' Greene of Syracuse. I agree with Bilas, he's probably not ready yet. Athletic and long with a good touch shooting the three. He does force bad shots. It could take a while but he will be a consistent contributor/role player in the league if he improves the intangibles and becomes a smarter player.
PICK 29 - SONICS (via PISTONS late) - F D.J. White of Indiana. Maybe the best advanced scouting in the draft. Of the available players, White was the best choice here. He will rebound, score in the post, and knock down the occasional jumper. If Gordon hadn't been at IU he would of scored about 25 a game to go along with 10.5 boards. Despite Gordon winning the conference scoring title, he still won Big Ten Player of the Year. I don't know if he'll be a star but he will contribute immediately.
PICK 30 - CELTICS - G J.R. Giddens of New Mexico. Mountain West player of the year, started college at Kansas. ESPN's Must Improve: Professionalism. Excellent.
Something like nine freshman drafted, a record. The rule needs to be adjusted, one and done is hurting college basketball more than when kids went straight from high school. At least the kids who did go to school stayed for a while. The GM's did a decent job of drafting except for some curious selections when better, more proven players were available.
I hope Arthur is an all-star.
"What the hell, buy the ticket, take the ride."
Hunter S. Thompson
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