Tuesday, July 03, 2007

The Courtship of Kevin Garnett Continues: 2007 NBA Draft Redux

The best way to describe Thursday night’s NBA draft would be both logical and confusing at the same time. As far as the logical:

  • With so many quality players on the board, it was hard to fault anybody for making a reach. You could maybe say that they were bad picks – Noah to the Bulls or Hawes to the Kings – but they weren’t reaches as far as projections went. Was the Bucks taking Yi pretty stupid? Yes, but I think most Milwaukee fans were just hoping they were taking the pride of China to set up a trade later in the summer, possibly with Golden State. Perhaps not, but I surely, surely hope so for everyone’s sake.
  • The Hawks taking Al Horford and then getting Acie Law IV to fall to them. I actually think that Mike Conley, Jr., has a significantly higher upside than the Aggie without being too far behind him right now, but I’ve loved Horford since last March. The Hawks frontline, all of a sudden, is quite formidable defensively with Josh Smith, Shelden Williams and Horford, and when you throw in Law IV, Zaza Pachulia, Joe Johnson, Speedy Claxton and Josh Childress, that looks like an Eastern conference playoff team to me.
  • The Grizzlies taking advantage of Conley slipping and immediately snatching him up. Memphis now rolls with Conley, Kyle Lowry, Mike Miller, Hakim Warrick, Rudy Gay and Pau Gasol, which is pretty exciting, and if you don’t mind me say, rather FreeDarko. People forget that before injuries smote the Beale Street Bombers, they were in the playoffs back-to-back years. Things are much tougher in the West, but I doubt they sport the worst record in the league again.
  • The Trailblazers taking Oden. All of this talk of Durant this and Durant that is nice, and while I think he’s going to be amazing as his most lauding supporters say, you can’t pass up a player like Oden. On the floor he’s athletic, coachable and dominant on defense, while off the floor he seems like he has his head screwed on and has quite the charming personality in interviews. Does he lack the drive Durant has? Possibly, but 7’ makes up for a lot.
  • Josh McRoberts and Aaron Gray both falling into the second round. They were both projected in the first round at various points over the last year, so it’s good to see NBA GM’s at least watched tape of a few players and realized their weaknesses.

And the confusing:

  • The Celtics trade, of course now it’s settled more around the “What an awful trade”. When we first saw the trade reported, it seemed like a steal for Ray Allen – Jesus Shuttleworth! – but as Simmons pointed out, he’s 32, and even though Allen, Paul Pierce and Al Jefferson will get you to the playoffs in the East, the supporting players aren’t good enough to get them very far. Plus Doc Rivers is their coach. I’ve also had it suggested to me that Theo Ratliff’s contract and Gerald Green may be on the move, but I’ll believe it when I see it.
  • Michael Jordan trading Brandan Wright for J-Rich’s rather large contract. On one hand, you’re getting a pretty damned good 2-guard and veteran scorer in Richardson, but on the other hand, why clog up your cap space for the next four years when there should be a rather exciting free agent crop available next summer? Then again, how many free agents are going to want to go to Charlotte? Perhaps trading is the only way the Bobcats are going to build, but this doesn’t seem like too big of a step forward.
  • The Zach Randolph trade. On one hand, it seems like a steal for the Knicks to get a 20 and 10, double-team-demanding power forward for a soft big man, all while getting rid of Steve Francis’ massive contract. On the other hand, who the hell is going to play defense with a team of Randolph, Eddy Curry, Stephon Marbury, Q Richardson and Jamal Crawford on the floor for the Knicks? David Lee and Renaldo Balkman can’t get every rebound. While I think the Blazers could have gotten a lot more for Randolph, their primary concern was probably just to get rid of him, and for that, the trade was a success.
  • The Bulls drafting Joakim Noah. Unless he’s part of a package to acquire someone who can actually score in the post on something other than a wide-open dunk or offensive rebound, it’s not a smart pick, as he does exactly the same energy things that about every team needs other than the Bulls, who have a platoon of “Get on the floor for loose balls” guys on their team. I think Noah gets a bad wrap because of how hyped up he was after last season and then the pedestrian numbers he put up while winning a second consecutive championship. Plus, his mom is smoking.
  • The Kings taking Spencer Hawes. You already have one white center that can’t rebound and has decent offensive skills in Brad Miller, although he was nowhere to be seen at the end of the season, and of your other two best players, one (Bibby) is falling apart and the other (Artest) is crazy and wants to leave. I mean, it’s not like Julian Wright or Al Thornton is a franchise changer, but I’d bet quite a bit they end up better than Hawes.

The joyous:

  • Everyone who gets drafted to any team – save for your John Elways, Steve Francises and Eli Mannings – always claim to be ecstatic just to be drafted, whether that be to the defending champs, their hometown team or a team that’s had fourteen straight losing seasons. Imagine being drafted by Charlotte, and even though you attended North Carolina, then getting traded to play in Golden State with the perfect build and skillset for NellieBall. That’s Brandan Wright. Then imagine Nick Young, falling a few spots farther than most had you projected…but you get to play with Agent Zero. The joy on both players’ faces when they found out their final destinations was so evident you couldn’t help but smile and wish them the best.
  • Russell Carter ending up on the Cavs’ summer league team. If any squad needed a guy who can knock down open shots, run the floor and defend, it’s Cleveland.

And the stupid:

  • Phoenix selling their draft picks. This has been stated on numerous sites to the point I can’t even cite it – but just know this isn’t my original idea or anything – but if you want cheap players to stay under the salary cap, why not gamble on a few rookies? Steve Nash will immediately make them better, and it’s better than wasting money on people like Marcus Banks.
  • All the teams and players that wanted to make moves involving draft picks – Kobe, JO, KG, the Hawks, Suns, Lakers, Pacers, Celtics – not making any of the many moves that were mentioned before the draft. The T-Wolves and Pacers will suck again and the Lakers will stay where they are two rungs too low in the Western Conference with teams like the Warriors, Hornets and Grizzlies all seemingly improving.

And now my million-dollar question for the Suns and any wannabe GM’s out there: If you can trade Amare, Marion, Barbosa and the Hawks’ 2008 number one for KG and Kobe, do you do it? I still say try to keep Amare with KG, by moving Marion and the number one, but I don’t know if the T-Wolves will accept that or any other trade. KG needs to come out and say “If you don’t trade me this offseason, I’m walking” and force something to happen towards the Lakers, Suns or Bulls.

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