Friday, June 24, 2011

BDT -- NBA Draft Review Part I: Eastern Conference (June 24)

You gotta respect a guy who uses his first NBA interview to rip on Chris Bosh.
I don’t know about you, but I absolutely nailed last night’s draft…you know, if you don’t count getting all the picks wrong or anything. OK, so maybe a six year old would have had more success figuring out last night’s draft than me! In all fairness, it seemed an awful lot like several teams actually went ahead and let that very same six year old run their draft war room.

Given some of the bizarre selections, last night might have been the single most confusing night in my NBA life (don’t pay attention to that…I say it every year…just let me have my fun!) . Garbage players got drafted way too high, good players fell far too low, and David Kahn wreaked a previously unheard of amount of havoc. All in all, a successful night! Still, there’s a lot of things that need sorted out. While I’m certainly not the one to look to for such things, I sense you have too much time on your hands…which is pretty evident by the fact you’ve even read this far. Here’s my draft review:

(Note: These are not draft grades. It hasn’t even been 24 hours! None of these guys have played a game! Stop grading them! Early opinions are fine, grades are kinda dumb. What’s that? Opinions are pretty much the same thing as grades? Hmm…fair enough.)

On second thought, let’s just give out one quick grade…

ESPN’s draft coverage
Grade: F--

Let’s see; ESPN makes $167,894,410,584,112,096,638 per year (approximate). ESPN pours a solid chunk of that into the draft coverage. ESPN fills a booth with Stuart Scott, Jon Barry, Jeff Van Gundy, and Jay Bilas. ESPN has reporters like Andy Katz filling everyone in on “insider” news throughout the draft. ESPN pays those people more money in one night than I’ll see in a full year. I know all the trades a full seven or eight minutes before ESPN. HUH?! CAN SOMEBODY PLEASE GET THESE GUYS A BLACKBERRY WITH A TWITTER APP?!?!?!?

Maybe I’m being a bit petty here, but it frustrated me to no end to hear about Minnesota making a pick when they’ve long since dealt that pick to Houston. That happened all night! They wouldn’t catch on until picks later, and, by then, they’d already given us their wonderful analysis on how Nikola Mirotic makes no sense for Houston…and he’s already been swung from Houston to Minnesota to Chicago! Seriously guys, you can do better than that. Next year, they need to throw a fifth guy in the booth to sit and stare at Twitter all night.

All right, let’s move on to the actual picks. We’ll split this up into three parts, starting with the Eastern Conference here in Part I.

Atlanta Hawks
C Keith Benson (#48)

Ehh, not much to see here. Atlanta had previously sent their first rounder to Washington in the Kirk Hinrich trade, which is why they only had pick #48. Benson is a nice potential pick, as he has the height, athleticism, and skill set to be successful in the NBA. He was extremely productive in his four years of college, averaging a 17-10 in each of his last two seasons. However, he’s got a reputation as a guy who doesn’t work hard and takes plays off. Also, he only weighs 217. Maybe he’ll figure it out and put in the work, but I’m not betting on it.

Boston Celtics
PF JaJuan Johnson (#27, from NJ)
SG E’Twaun Moore (#55)

Just a warning; if you don’t care about the Celtics then you should probably just skip ahead. I’m a Celtics fan and I’m spending some time here.

As if I wasn’t already anxious enough about the future of my beloved Celtics, Ainge had to go ahead and put me through the ringer here! #20 is where things got hectic for me. At that point, it struck me that Kenneth Faried, Jordan Hamilton, and Marshon Brooks were all still on the board. My dream pick was Faried, but I didn’t figure he’d get past Portland at #21…and then they took Nolan Smith! I know I shouldn’t have gotten my hopes up, but I did anyways, and my spirit was quickly crushed by Denver at #22. Still, Hamilton was on the board and, as you know, I love him. #23 goes by, Hamilton’s still on the board. #24 goes by, Hamilton’s still on the board. He’s all ours! And then we trade back to #27…for a freaking second round pick. Marshon Brooks (another guy I like) gets taken for NJ at#25 and Hamilton goes #26, causing me to stroke out and have visions of running down Danny Ainge in my car.

Amidst my Jordan Hamilton lust, I forgot about JaJuan Johnson still being available. You know what, I love the pick! Don’t believe me? Check out some of my previous comments on him:

                #15   Indiana Pacers – PF JaJuan Johnson, Purdue
SURPRISE! Bet you didn’t expect to see Johnson this high, did you? Honestly, neither did I…until I went through the prospect list and realized I hated everyone. Honestly, I love JaJuan’s game and I think he’s extremely underrated. His ability to step out and hit mid range shots will be extremely valuable. In Indiana’s case, they have bigger needs elsewhere, but my hatred for Jimmer (and my belief he will suck) prevents me from going that direction. Still, you can never have too many bigs, and Johnson’s length, shot blocking, and scoring touch would add a lot to their frontcourt.

Yes, I liked him so much that I took him #15 in my mock. One more:

                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.

So yeah, I’m pretty happy about this pick. His game is very reminiscent of KG, and he should greatly benefit from the type of mentoring he’ll receive.

In the bigger picture, this likely spells the end of Big Baby Davis. I’ll be slightly sad to see him go since he’s contributed so much in his four years, but we desperately want Johnson can bring to the table. Shot blocking and frontcourt scoring is a major problem and Johnson’s ability to provide that will do wonders for our second unit. Down the road, Johnson projects as a solid replacement for KG (not as good, obviously).

As for E’Twaun Moore; it’s a solid pick, but I’d be surprised if he made the team. I suppose he could be a slight upgrade over Von Wafer, but I’m not holding my breath. Moore is undersized, doesn’t have great handles, and struggles to get his shot off against bigger, more athletic defenders. That sounds like an NBA player to me!

Charlotte Bobcats
PF Bismack Biyombo (#7, from SAC)
PG Kemba Walker (#9)

Here’s my professional analysis of Charlotte’s Biyombo selection; HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! Seriously Michael Jordan, what the heck are you doing? You trade your best player, Stephen Jackson, to land a guy who has no clue how to play basketball, couldn’t hope to score outside of a dunk, and can’t even figure out his own age (lots of questions about that). That’s just dumb…pure stupidity. Instead, you could have taken Chris Singleton, Kawhi Leonard, Klay Thompson, or Alec Burks to pair with Kemba. Heck, if you really wanted a “Ben Wallace” player, just draft Kenneth Faried!

On the positive side, Charlotte made a good decision in taking Kemba; especially after going super risky two picks earlier. Kemba should be a pretty safe bet, and without Stephen Jackson or Gerald Wallace around, Charlotte badly needs his scoring and playmaking. On a personal note, I have a great deal of respect and admiration for Kemba Walker as a player. I don’t know what he’s to end up being, but I’m rooting hard for the guy to succeed. Even if that obstructs my dream of seeing the Bobcats contracted.

Chicago Bulls
SF Nikola Mirotic (#23, from HOU)
SF Jimmy Butler (#30)

I obviously haven’t seen Mirotic play, but a lot of scouts raved over him the past few weeks. According to reports, he has major contract issues that will prevent him from playing in the NBA any time soon (possibly 4 years!), but it’s totally worth it for Chicago to take a risk on a Euro-stash this late in the draft.

At #30, Jimmy Butler could prove to be a solid rotation guy. While some are going crazy about Butler’s “potential” because of his amazing story, my complete and utter lack of a heart prevents me from taking it into account. He’s a jack of all trades type of player who has great size for the 3 (6-8), but isn’t overly athletic and doesn’t shoot it particularly well. Honestly, he might be a poor man’s Ronnie Brewer…and I don’t mean that as a compliment.

Cleveland Cavaliers
PG Kyrie Irving (#1)
PF Tristan Thompson (#4)
PF Milan Macvan (#54)

As predicted, Cleveland did, indeed, take Kyrie Irving first overall. As I’ve said before, they should have taken Derrick Williams. However, as strongly as I may feel about that, I’m not down on Cleveland’s draft at all after they took Thompson #4. That selection alone allayed my fears that Cleveland was only taking Irving due to pressure. Clearly, Chris Grant wasn’t making a “job security” pick at #1 if he was willing to go against the grain and snag Thompson at #4.

On the court, Irving and Thompson present a major upgrade for Cleveland. It’ll be interesting to see what they do with Baron, because I’d be shocked if Irving wasn’t the starter from day one. While Thompson still has a lot of work to do, especially on the offensive end, he and Irving could form a potent pick-and-roll combo down the road. Also, Cleveland fans have to be excited about the idea of Varejao and Thompson going to work on the boards. Last year, Cleveland ranked 27th in the NBA in rebound rate, and the addition of a fierce rebounder like Thompson is exactly what the Cavs needed.

While I still have to wonder if, down the road, Cleveland will regret passing on Williams, there’s no reason to not be optimistic going forward. They finally have some quality building blocks for the future and a solid direction for the franchise. After “The Decision” and “The Debacle” (which I have cleverly named last season), that’s more than Cleveland fans could have hoped for.

Detroit Pistons
PG Brandon Knight (#8)
SF Kyle Singler (#33, from TOR)
PF Vernon Macklin (#52)

While I’ve expressed my concerns/doubts about Knight’s NBA future, this was an absolute no-brainer for the Pistons. Given their crowded backcourt situation, it would have been easy for Dumars to pick for need instead of talent, so kudos to him on finally making a good decision (before you get angry Pistons fans; Ben Gordon, Charlie Villanueva…enough said). It’ll be interesting to see how they make things work with Rodney Stuckey and Ben Gordon, since all three are similar combo-guards, but the value was just too high to pass on Knight.

Also, I hate Kyle Singler. No surprise there. He’ll never be a starter in the NBA, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him crack the rotation and contribute off the bench. Still, I hate him. Also, Vernon Macklin is fat and not that talented. I’ll eat a horseshoe if he makes the team. Seriously, I will.

Indiana Pacers
Traded Kawhi Leonard (#15) to SA for G George Hill

If I was doing a winners/losers article, the Pacers would be right near the top of my winners. Let’s look at it this way; if present day George Hill were in this draft, where would he go? Would he go ahead of the Morris twins? Yes. Would he go ahead of Alec Burks or Klay Thompson. Probably. So, at the worst, you dealt the #15 pick (overrated Kawhi Leonard) for a top ten pick. Nice work Larry!

The last thing Indiana needs is another young project. This move doesn’t make them a championship team or anything, but it cements them as a perennial playoff team. I’m not sure exactly how the rotation will play out, but Hill is a great compliment to the smallish Darren Collison. Awesome, awesome move.

Miami Heat
PG Norris Cole (#28, from CHI)

Overrated shooter, high usage rate PG. Sounds like a great fit for Miami.

Milwaukee Bucks
PF Tobias Harris (#19, from NO)
PF Jon Leuer (#40)

First, let’s take into account the acquisition of Stephen Jackson in return for John Salmons and moving back from #10 to #19. Salmons was brutal last year, continuing his amazing streak of only playing good after being traded, and Milwaukee desperately needs scoring after finishing dead last in the NBA. Jackson is an aging, overrated shooter, but he still represents a significant upgrade…yes, that’s how bad Salmons was.

As for the actual draft, I hate Tobias Harris. He’s kinda fat, he’s a bit short to play PF, and he’s too unathletic and slow to play SF. I’ll be shocked if he’s in the league in four years. Honestly, I like their second round pick more than their first! Leuer has his limitations, and he’s likely to be a career backup, but he’s got terrific length and he shoots it so well. They already have Ersan Ilyasova, who does many of those same things, so the fit is a bit curious, but I’m sure they’ll find a place.

New Jersey Nets
SG Marshon Brooks (#25, from BOS)
SF Bojan Bogdanovic (#31, from MIA)
C Jordan Williams (#36)

While my opinion is still a bit colored by my Celtics bitterness, I have to admit I like the move for New Jersey. Brooks is too good to be available at #25 and, given New Jersey’s gaping hole at SG, this pick fills a big need. I am, however, surprised New Jersey went with a Euro-stash at #31. There was still value left on the board (Tyler Honeycutt, Josh Selby) and New Jersey needs help now rather than later. I’ve never seen the guy play, so it’s hard for me to judge…perhaps Big Red (Prokhorov) is good friends with his parents or something.

Also, Jordan Williams is fat. He’ll be a force in the Greek leagues. Just wait, you’ll see.

New York Knicks
PG Iman Shumpert (#17)
C Josh Harrellson (#45, from CHA)

Shumpert is probably the clubhouse leader for Worst Pick (coming in Part III). He can’t shoot, has below average handles, and is a turnover machine. Still, he’s tall! I cracked a joke yesterday about Isaiah Thomas sneaking into the building to ruin the Knicks draft…perhaps next time I should call to warn someone.

And then there’s the Josh Harrellson pick. I fear I’m far too biased to accurately analyze this, but I don’t care. I LOVE HIM! In all honesty, he has some pretty severe limitations and he’s never going to be a starter in the NBA. However, there’s a lot to be said about a player who works as hard as he does and plays as hard as he does. Beyond that, he has some legitimate skills and an NBA ready body. I honestly and truly believe he’ll be getting some solid burn off the Knicks bench next season (if there is a season).

Orlando Magic
PF Justin Harper (#32, from CLE)
SG DeAndre Liggins (#53)

Again, I’m extremely biased here on Liggins. I was high on him going into the draft as a guy who would be a solid rotation player. You just don’t find defenders like him this late in the draft. Ironically, he’s already Orlando’s best perimeter defender! The underrated thing about Liggins is his shooting. It’s gotten infinitely better over the last three seasons and that could be the difference between him being a D-League player or an 8th man.

Harper’s an interesting pick as a stretch 4, especially considering they already have Ryan Anderson. I’m not sure what the point of that pick was.

Philadelphia 76ers
C Nilola Vucevic (#16)
PF Lavoy Allen (#50, from NO)

Vucevic is definitely big, but I’ve got a feeling he’s going to end up like all the other 7 foot stiffs who get drafted way too early. I may be wrong, but it’s just hard to get too excited over a guy who’s best NBA comparison is the hardwood floor underneath him.

Toronto Raptors
C Jonas Valanciunas (#5)

I love the fact that Valanciunas called out Chris Bosh for having a “not so strong body!” Five seconds into his career and I’m already a fan! Unfortunately, Valanciunas likely won’t be playing in the NBA next season (really, who will?) due to his contract situation. Even when he finally does, I’m not sure what Toronto is getting. Haven’t we all been burned by Euro prospects enough? Maybe he turns into the next Pau Gasol…or maybe he turns into the next Nikoloz Tskitishvili. Who knows? Seems awfully risky when Brandon Knight’s still on the board though.

Washington Wizards
SF Jan Vesely (#6)
SF Chris Singleton (#18)
PG Shelvin Mack (#34)

I really don’t know how this happened, but I managed to talk myself into Jan Vesely last night. It makes no sense, but I did it anyways. I know, I know; I’m the one who keeps talking about not getting sucked into these guys because of a few highlights…but watching a 6-11 guy run and jump the way he does is hard to resist. I have no idea if he can do anything else (heard he’s a terrible shooter), but fast breaks with him and Wall should be fun.

Of course, if Vesely crashes and burns (85% chance of that?), there’s always Chris Singleton. To be honest, I was shocked he was still available at #18 and I think he’s a wonderful pick for Washington. They ranked 23rd in defensive efficiency last season, and Singleton is probably the best on-ball defender in the draft. Beyond that, he gives them a lot of flexibility with their lineup. At 6-9, he can likely slide over and play some PF with Vesely alongside him.


 I’ll hopefully be posting Part II (Western Conference Review) later on today. After that, I have some awards to hand out in Part III.

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