|Do NOT mess with David Stern! He will have you killed!|
Draft day is finally here and there is still plenty of uncertainty surrounding tonight’s draft. Will Kyrie Irving go #1? Will Minnesota find a taker for the #2 pick? Will the world be set straight as Jimmer ends up in the one place he truly belongs; Utah? Will Isaiah Thomas sneak into the building and attempt to sabotage the Knicks draft? Will David Stern have him, or anyone else, killed? These are all legitimate questions (Yes! All of them!) heading into tonight’s draft.
With all this uncertainty, I have a few questions of my own:
Why can’t Cleveland swing the #4 pick for Tony Parker?
I heard this presented on several local radio outlets yesterday, and it’s a scenario that makes complete and total sense. Cleveland insists they need a PG and seem all but set on taking Kyrie Irving. I would be curious to know just how sold they really are on Irving. Do they feel he’s a superstar in the making? Do they see him being an All-Star mainstay? If so, then I guess I can’t blame them for taking him…but I’d say they’re very wrong.
Here’s my issue; while having a stud PG is a great thing, it’s infinitely more important to have a go-to scorer. Looking back at NBA history, there have been more than a few examples of teams winning despite not having stellar PG play. The Lakers won five championships with Derek Fisher at the helm. Miami won a championship with Jason Williams and the rotting corpse of Gary Payton. Chicago won six championships with an assortment of players like B.J. Armstrong, Steve Kerr, and random guys from the front row. Houston won two championships with an aging Kenny Smith and a young, not quite that good yet, Sam Cassell.
Now, it certainly helps that those teams were led by the likes of Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, Dwyane Wade, Hakeem Olajuwon, and Michael Jordan. The strong likelihood is that Derrick Williams will never be on a level with any of the above players; but then again, the same was true for #5 overall pick Dwyane Wade. The point is, Derrick Williams has the talent and potential to turn into a go-to scorer and I just can’t fathom how Cleveland can turn that down. In reality, THAT is their biggest need.
Not only can they accomplish that, but they can also address their PG concerns. At this point, Cleveland needs to ask themselves this; if Kyrie Irving ends up being as good as Tony Parker, will we be happy? The answer, especially in this draft, has to be a resounding yes. Let’s be honest; Tony Parker might be the biggest dope alive for cheating on Eva Longoria, but he’s one of the best PG’s in the league…and a proven winner at that! Personally, I’d much rather have Tony Parker (already an All-Star) rather than the unproven Irving, who's best case scenario is probably turning into Tony Parker...only without cheating with his teammates wife. In reality, a starting five of Tony Parker, Anthony Parker, Antawn Jamison, Derrick Williams, and Anderson Varejao isn’t that bad…especially considering last year’s debacle. Heck, you could even play Parker and Baron together!
Cleveland has a big opportunity here to right the ship, No, the above team isn’t winning a championship, but they could definitely compete for one of the last couple playoff spots while laying the foundation for future success. And, if Derrick Williams really is a superstar, then you’ve absolutely struck gold. The pieces are all there; they have the pick San Antonio wants, and they have the giant Lebron trade exception to absorb Parker’s contract. Would you rather have Kyrie Irving and Jonas Valanciunas or Derrick Williams and Tony Parker?
Why is Minnesota insistent on not keeping Derrick Williams?
Of course, the real answer to this question is because David Kahn is running Minnesota. Still, this seems dumb even for him. From what I’ve gathered, Minnesota is wary of drafting Williams because they already have players at his position. Those players are Michael Beasley, Wesley Johnson, and Anthony Randolph. So…what am I missing here? Let me read those names again…nope, they still suck.
Look, I happen to like Michael Beasley. That’s mostly because I traded for him in my fantasy basketball league and he immediately blew up for a couple months, but still. He’s obviously got a lot of talent and the potential is there if he can put it all together, but that’s a huuuuuge if. Regardless, even if he can stop jacking up shots like there’s no tomorrow, he still doesn’t rebound or play a lick of defense. That wouldn’t be that bad if it weren’t 50% of the game. Then there’s the Johnson/Randolph duo…well, I don’t think we need to waste our time commenting on them.
If you’re a perennial loser that just finished with the worst record in the league after years and years and years of rebuilding, it makes very little sense to stick with “the plan.” It makes more sense to conclude that your plan isn’t working and that you need to blow it up. So maybe you don’t get great value for Beasley…so what? You spent a freaking 2nd round pick on him! Let him come off the bench if you’re that concerned! And seriously, why are you concerned with blocking Johnson’s and Randolph’s playing time. Shouldn’t you WANT to block their playing time? Cleveland is about to present you with a golden opportunity to draft the one guy who could be a franchise player...and you’re going to balk because of Michael Beasley? Simply incredible.
How in the world does David Kahn even have a job?
Since taking over in 2009, Kahn has fired two coaches, drafted three PG’s in the first round of the 2009 draft (one of whom has yet to play), traded the best of the three PG’s (Ty Lawson) immediately after drafting him, drafted Wesley Johnson over DeMarcus Cousins and Greg Monroe, gifted Al Jefferson to Utah for a bag of sunflower seeds, signed Darko Milicic, and openly called the lottery a rigged system (which may actually be true…but not really). So, what am I missing here? This guy is still employed?
At this point, Kahn’s inept management is ruining any chance Minnesota might have had at getting fair market value for this pick. There are plenty of teams out there who are very interested in Derrick Williams, but so far the best offer is headlined by Marcin Gortat. With such players as Josh Smith, Andre Iguodala, Pau Gasol, and Monta Ellis all on the trading block, it seems like it shouldn’t be that difficult to throw something together. Kahn strikes again!
Do the Spurs know something we don’t?
It’s a widely known fact that San Antonio has been offering Tony Parker around the league in order to move up into the lottery. Now, it’s being reported by ESPN’s Chad Ford that San Antonio is also shopping George Hill to several teams in the late lottery. At this point, I’m extremely confused. Parker has been a key cog in the Spurs championship runs and is still only 29, albeit with a ton of mileage on him. However, considering Parker’s offseason comments, and his embarrassing affair with Brent Barry’s wife, it makes sense that they would look to cut ties and move in a different (read: younger) direction. Here’s where the confusion kicks in, because we all assumed George Hill was that younger direction. Hill’s emergence over the last couple years has led to constant speculation of Parker’s future with the team, so the Parker trade rumors weren’t really out of the blue. So, it came as quite a shock to learn Hill was being shopped too.
My big question is, why are the Spurs so gung-ho about landing a lottery pick? Draft experts and fans alike have lambasted this draft class for nearly a year now, calling it the weakest lottery in years. So, why do the Spurs want to part with an extremely valuable asset in order to take part in it? At this point, it’s difficult to question San Antonio due to their stellar track record. They almost never screw up! There must be someone in this draft they feel strongly about. If they do indeed get into the lottery, I’ll be very curious to see who they take.
Who would be best suited to move up for Derrick Williams?
If I were the GM of Utah, Toronto, Washington, Detroit, Charlotte, Milwaukee, Golden State, Phoenix, Houston, Indiana, and Denver; I’d be working overtime on moving up to #2. I’ve already talked about how dumb David Kahn is, so it’s more than feasible for any of these teams to work out a favorable deal for the pick. Of those teams, Houston seems to be in the best position to make a move. They have a plethora of tradable assets that would surely entice Minnesota. For example: (and yes, I used the Trade Machine…please don’t tell Bill Simmons)
Houston trades: Kevin Martin, Patrick Patterson, Chase Budinger, Jordan Hill, #14 pick
Minnesota trades: Jonny Flynn, Martell Webster, Nik Pekovic, #2 pick
That’s just one idea. After that, maybe they could turn Luis Scola into something. All I’m saying is Houston would be much better off with a stud like Derrick Williams than with a pile of talented rotation players. While I’m at it, here’s one more idea:
Indiana trades: Danny Granger
Minnesota trades: Jonny Flynn, Martell Webster, #2 pick, #20 pick
This one would obviously be a dramatic move for the up and coming Pacers, but it makes total sense. No matter what anyone says, Danny Granger is not a superstar and Indiana isn’t going anywhere with him as their #1 option. Considering Granger’s injury history (38 missed games in the last 3 seasons), his poor FG% (under 43% the last two seasons), and good but not great production (17.9 PER last season); this isn’t too much of a stretch. In the NBA, it’s certain death to be stuck in the middle, and that’s where Indiana finds themselves. A shakeup like this might be difficult to sell to their fanbase, but there might not be much of a transition period. Paul George showed a lot of promise during his rookie year and he should have no problem making up a decent part of Granger’s production. And, while Hansbrough showed marked improvement last season, Derrick Williams would be a major upgrade at the PF position, providing much needed rebounding and shot blocking to go along with his scoring. All in all, this would be a fantastic move for the Pacers, if they had the cajones to pull it off.
Who will be the Brady Quinn of this draft?
We all remember Brady Quinn sitting in the green room long after everyone else had been taken, right? So, who will be sitting at his table far too long tonight? My first inclination would be Jonas Valanciunas (he’ll likely be in Europe next year due to a contract snag) or either of the Morris twins. However, the buzz is that Kemba Walker may be that guy. Andy Katz reported yesterday there was significant concern Walker might fall out of the lottery entirely if Sacramento passes on him at #7. I must say, I’m extremely surprised to hear this given the players who would end up being taken ahead of him. While I have my reservations about Walker, he’s undoubtedly one of the best players in the draft. My fear is that NBA teams have determined he has a low ceiling since he played three years of college ball. Considering the massive improvement he’s made each and every year, I’d say that’s a fairly ignorant viewpoint. Maybe Kemba won’t make an All-Star team, but I feel confident he’ll still be in the NBA ten years from now. Can you really say that about the guys who’ll go ahead of him?
Who will be the Renaldo Balkman of this draft?
This is the Renaldo Balkman memorial award for the player who stupidly gets drafted 20 spots too high. My nomination goes to Iman Shumpert out of Georgia Tech. Mostly because I’m a basketball junkie (and I have too much time on my hands), I’ve watched a lot of Georgia Tech over the last couple of years. I can honestly say that I’ve never once been impressed with Shumpert. He can’t shoot, he looks lost most of the time, he isn’t a great passer, and he turns the ball over like he’s playing in my Wednesday night open gym. You can imagine my shock when I saw him going as high as #17 to New York. This would, of course, be fitting, since New York was the team that also took Balkman at #20 in the 2006 draft. While reaching this high for Shumpert wouldn’t be quite as bad (Balkman wasn’t even listed in the NBA’s draft guide, which included 300 players!), it would still be a completely bizarre decision for a franchise in desperate need of quality role players. Shumpert is not a quality role player, and I’ll say, with complete confidence, that I don’t expect Shumpert to be in the league after his rookie contract expires.
Other possible Renaldo Balkman’s include Greg Smith, Jordan Williams, and Chandler Parsons.
Who are some potential 2nd round steals?
There are several players I like in the 2nd round. It’s highly doubtful another Gilbert Arenas (pre-guns, pre-knee) or Michael Redd (pre-knee) is available, but landing a key rotation player like Big Baby Davis is a huge get this deep in the draft.
PF JaJuan Johnson, Purdue
I took Johnson mid-first round in my mock draft, so that tells you how I feel about him. He clearly needs to add strength, but the NBA game is tailor made for bigs like Johnson, who can step out and knock down perimeter shots. A team early in the second round (or late 1st) would be wise to scoop up Johnson, as he could develop into a quality starter down the road.
SG/SF Tyler Honeycutt, UCLA
He’s being projected as either a late 1st rounder or an early 2nd rounder, so I went ahead and included him. Here’s the thing; how many 6-8 shooting guards are out there? Especially ones that can shoot?! Also, there’s a pretty strong track record of UCLA players performing well in the NBA. John Hollinger was even forced to include a Ben Howland-UCLA variable in his Draft Rater. A team like Chicago would be foolish to pass on a perimeter threat like Honeycutt late in the first.
PG Josh Selby, Kansas
There’s been a lot said about Selby already. He struggled last year and he’s free falling down draft boards because of it. My opinion is that injury was the main reason for his lack of production and that his game is well suited for the NBA. He’s likely a bit of a project, but he has the potential to make an Arenas-like impact out of the second round…if he can get out of his own way first!
PG Darius Morris, Michigan
Here’s something I keep hearing about Morris; “if he had stayed one more year at Michigan, he could have been a lottery pick next year.” OK, so what you’re saying is, he has clear lottery talent but you think he’s a second rounder? Hmm. That seems weird to me.
C Jeremy Tyler, Japan
The former top recruit out of San Diego has made a lot of really bad decisions, and he’s now paying the price. His talent suggests top ten, but his brain suggests Wal-Mart greeter. Still, he’s extremely young and he’s showed a lot in coming through adversity, even if he was the one who caused the adversity. There’s a pretty good chance Tyler ends up as a D-League lifer or a superstar in the Swedish leagues, but there’s also a chance he puts it all together and turns into an All-Star. In the second round, it’s worth a shot.
PF Jon Leuer, Wisconsin
He graded out much bigger and much more athletic than expected. He probably has too many holes to become a starter (rebounding), but his deft perimeter touch should make him an ideal pick-and-pop forward off the bench.
PF Trey Thompkins, Georgia
He was a borderline lottery pick a year ago…then he got fat and stopped caring. That’s certainly a big question mark, and many big men never overcome weight/conditioning questions. Still, the same talent that made him a potential lottery pick a year ago is still there. Thompkins is a legit 6-10, has the requisite strength, and has the ability to play in the post and on the perimeter. He could turn into a nice pick-and-roll player down the line.
SG Travis Leslie, Georgia
I’m very wary of including him on this list since he has no idea how to play basketball and can’t shoot a lick. However, there aren’t ten people currently in the league who are more athletic than Leslie. If you could get him late enough, he’d be worth the gamble.
SF Jereme Richmond, Illinois
Richmond made a horrible decision to leave Illinois after only one year. He’s got a world of talent, but he’s nowhere near ready to play at this level. It will take a lot of patience to develop him, but a team like Boston, Dallas, or Oklahoma City could potentially hit the jackpot with him.
SG DeAndre Liggins, Kentucky
Here’s a little bit of a homer pick for everyone! Look, I’ve been nothing but honest about Kentucky players in the past. I’ve already expressed a ton of concern about Brandon Knight’s NBA potential, so hopefully you can take me serious when I say Liggins is a fantastic late 2nd round investment. He’s been extremely slow to develop, and there have been several roadblocks along the way (attitude, grades, suspension). It says a lot about DeAndre that he never quit and made himself better. The main reason I love him at the next level is that he has one elite NBA level skill; defense. Liggins is a tenacious on the ball defender and can effectively guard multiple positions. In addition, he’s an underrated shooter, a solid ball handler, and an improving overall offensive player. I’d really be shocked if he didn’t crack a rotation in the next year or two.
All right, that’s all I have. Tonight is the night! I hope everyone enjoys the draft, because the NBA will effectively die one week from the end of tonight. At that point, Boris Diaw Time will probably slow down a bit as there is simply no way I can keep up this pace.
On that note, I want to throw out something. I badly need another writer to help me out. Casey is generous enough to write things every now and then, but I need someone who is able to write once a week and who knows basketball well. If you’re interested, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. All I will need is some contact info and a writing sample. Also, if anyone wants to submit anything, I’m more than happy to look it over and put it up on the site if it’s good enough. Again, you can submit anything to me at email@example.com.