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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sham's unnecessarily long 2009 draft diary, part 2

Part One
Part Three

All times are BST, by the way.



01.27: To the surprise of literally nobody, Toronto takes DeMar Derozan with the 9th pick. As unimpressed as I am by a shooting guard with little offensive skill, no range outside of 16 feet, inconsistent defense and thoroughly unimpressive production, it's still the right pick here, because he has a chance to be something, and the Raptors definitely need something. Their shooting guard depth chart was also to being Quincy Douby and Quincy Douby only, which is even worse than Minnesota's was. Derozan has completely butchered the knot on his tie, though, which is never a good first impression to make.

01.28: Jay Bilas tells us that Derozan penetrates easily enough, but can't shoot. There's pills you can take for that.

01.29: An advert comes on that says "Kia - Official Automotive Partner Of The NBA". Yes, NBA players are often to be seen in Kia's, rolling on dubs, checking out them tight whips, and hooking up their Sorento's with fat chrome. They're the new Maybach's. They really are.

01.30: (They're not.)

01.31: Mark Jackson - whose first initial and surname are quite chilling considering the night's events - says that Milwaukee's biggest need in this draft is a point guard. They need a backup, sure, because Luke Ridnour is no good and everyone else is a free agent. But there aren't a great many young point guards in the NBA better than Ramon Sessions, who just put up 12.4/3.4/5.7 in only 28 minutes per game, while also making strides with his defense. There's not a point guard left in this draft better than him, and so no, Mark Jackson, I do not agree that Milwaukee need a point guard.

01.32: Apparently it doesn't matter what I think, because Milwaukee just picked Brandon Jennings (a point guard) with the 10th pick. I might as well just not bother, really. Jennings chose not to attend the draft, because he figured he'd slide right out of the top 10 and be embarassed with how late he was drafted. I guess that him being picked earlier than he thought means this was a somewhat last-minute pick. Nice to know that at least some war rooms have activity in them.

01.33: The panel credits Jennings' "major physical ability". This lavish description is often used as a synonym for "he can't play". And if you watch Jennings in Italy last year - and I did - then you'll know that that's true. Admittedly the odds were stacked against him in a European game that absolutely does not suit his style of play, and his coach seemed to use him off the ball more than was advisable, but Jennings threw up an absolute stinker and murdered his own draft stock, which was once that of a top 5 pick. I don't see this ending well, but I do see it ending quickly.

01.34: By the way, even if Milwaukee did need a point guard, this wasn't the best one left. Also, nothing grinds Scott Skiles' more than mistake prone rookies (see also: Joe Alexander and Tyrus Thomas), so Jennings is in for an equally rough season next year too. Especially if Ridnour isn't traded. Go easy on him, Scott.

01.35: New Jersey picks next, and Stu Scott drops this bombshell of a stat: Lawrence Frank is the longest tenured coach in the Eastern Conference. Wow. Hadn't noticed that before. I guess they just don't want to pay someone else. It was not a very well kept secret that the Bulls have been trying to trade up for this 11th pick for quite a while, and so if the pick here is James Johnson, then I think we'll know that they did it.

01.37: Nope, they didn't. The Nets picked Terrence Williams out of Louisville instead, and that means they're keeping the pick. Probably best. Jay Bilas immediately announces that Williams is not a very good shooter, and Stu Scott's obligatory trivia informs us that Williams used to carry his books around at Louisville in a Barbie-emblazoned backpack. Hmmmm. Barbie backpack and shooting problems. Good thing he's in the NBA now, or Terrence might have some problems with the ladies. (Proud of this joke.)

01.38: What I think about Terrence Williams; a decent player, but probably picked too high. Can be a very disruptive defender when he asserts himself on that end, but the offense is going to suffer at the NBA level. There's no shot that you can call "his" shot, and his passing ability, while nice, will be negated somewhat by the fact that he won't have the ball in his hands much. Thabo Sefolosha seems like a good comparison, but the fact that Thabo Sefolosha is still only a backup calibre player three years down the road probably isn't a good omen. In a good defensive system, however, Williams could be a good player to have alongside Devin Harris and Brook Lopez; he doesn't have the complimentary jumpshot yet, but as a part of a faster paced offense, and a defense that relies on aggressive perimeter defense and quick close-outs, he could be a solid contributor.

What I would have thought about Terrence Williams last year: "Nice suit."

01.40: The revelation about Williams' Barbie backpack leads to a discussion between me and Luke about homosexuality in the NBA. It doesn't last long, though, because a highly distracting advert appears on the telly. I missed the opening, but it featured someone called A. Partridge ("A-HAAAAAAA!!!!!!!") eating a burger while writhing around in a bikini. And they were staggeringly hot to boot. I need to see this again before the night is over. Simply. There's some things I need to know, and this is one of them.

01.44: Charlotte picks Gerald Henderson with the 12th pick, which seems to be about 5 picks too high. Then again, you could say that about the last 11 picks. It's just one of them drafts. Gerald Henderson fact: he and his dad (Gerald Henderson Sr) are both actually called "Jerome". How did they get Gerald out of Jerome. I don't know. And I only want to know if it's interesting.

01.45: Jay Bilas points out that Henderson can't shoot. There's a lot of impotent men being drafted tonight, it appears. He then congratulates Henderson on his penetration, and his "middle game", which I consider to be my weak point. Talking her into bed is easy and fun, and so's the foreplay, but after the penetration begins, I'd rather just hurry things along and cut out the middle game. Oh, and I realise it's childish and predictable to turn everything into a bad sex joke, but when one man talks about another man's "penetration" and "ball handling" in the same sentence.....well, I feel like they're making me do it. Cut me some slack.

01.47: Two things about Gerald Henderson that I didn't know before draft night:

1) Gerald and his dad sound exactly the same, and give exactly the same interviews.
2) He once participated in the World Junionr Golf Championships.

It is because of things like this that draft night makes for unmissable television. Well, these and all the transactions.

01.50: Bilas is having a great night. There's only been two foreigners picked so far, and even one of them is American. This is Jay's night to shine.He'll shine even more now that the Indiana Pacers have picked NCAA mainstay Tyler Hansbrough with the 13th pick. Before the Pacers pick, the analysts had talked about how the Pacers needed an upgrade at the point guard spot, and an overall upgrade to their defense. I don't think Hansbrough counts as either of those. As Hansbrough makes his way to the stage, the crowd shout at him that he's overrated. That doesn't seem like his fault, somehow.

01.51: Thinking about it, Rasho Nesterovic and Josh McRoberts are free agents this summer. This would have left the Pacers with only two white big men. Now it makes sense.

01.52: Hansbrough's 'Must Improve' graphic says that he needs to improve "finishing above the rim". Basically Tyler, we're saying that you need to suddenly get really athletic. Do you think you can do that for us? Do you think you can somehow reverse-engineer your body into that of Josh Smith, and then we can start afresh? No? Why not? Because it's impossible? Oh. Right.

01.53: The man with the nickname Psycho T just informed us that he's a "hard worker." Phewph. Also, Ric Bucher just announed that Amare Stoudemire is not being traded tonight. More phewph.

01.55: With the 14th pick, Phoenix takes the other Louisville standout, Earl Clark. However, it takes Clark all of about 4 seconds to become yesterday's news; like Jennings before him, Clark didn't show up to the draft, but in a dramatic turn of events, Jennings made his way to the draft after being picked 10th, and saunters through the mythical "Stern's Door" to join big Dave out on the stage. The New York public, scared of a change in routine, boo him vociferously. For about the fourth time this month, Brandon Jennings has set himself up to fail in the public's eyes, and he hasn't even played a game yet. His time in Milwaukee is going to go much the same way, I reckon.

01.56: The following joke is stolen without permission from Kelly Dwyer: "Earl Clark's nickname is "E5?" I thought that was Aramis Ramirez's nickname?"

01.57: You know who Earl Clark reminds me of slightly? Boris Diaw. Just firing it out there.

01.58: The last few picks have seen Jay Bilas' mock draft fall apart, and the faintest hint of a sulk can be seen to be spreading across his face. In contrast, my draft board is now doing rather well; with the last two picks, it is guaranteed that the Bulls will be able to pick one of James Johnson, Ty Lawson and Dejuan Blair should they so wish. Despite them having no need for Lawson barring a Kirk Hinrich trade, those are my three. And even though it's inevitably going to be Johnson, it's going to happen.

01.59: I'm telling you what you already know here, but one in every three Mark Jackson sentences starts with the opening gambit "You talk about". It makes me wants to kill him. That is all.

02.00: I kind of miss Stephen A. Smith, actually.

02.01: The Pistons pick Austin Daye with the 15th pick, taking a flyer on an athletic player with a fine jump shot who hasn't done much yet to suggest that he's not just the next Darius Rice. Daye brings to the table potential, if scant little production to show for it, and the Pistons could use some genuine potential if they're ever going to start this rebuild. More importantly, though, Daye brings to the table a frankly rakish turquoise V-neck sweater, a pioneering fashion choice that puts him on a pedestal from which it'll be hard to fall. I don't think much of the pick with multiple more skilled players on board, but I do like the sweater. And that counts for a lot.

02.03: Dick Vitale is dusted down and fired up for his second airing of the night, a 65 second outburst interspersed with Tyler Hansbrough clips and mercifully cadence-free. However, I can't help but noticed how much he moves his hands when he's talking. Next time he comes on, I'm counting the hand gestures.

02.05: Excited for the Bulls pick. Truly. Even though I know it's going to be James Johnson, I'm excited anyway, because this is the first draft handled by our new de facto GM, Gar Forman. I want to see if he makes a splash in some exciting and dynamic way, by buying some picks, trading up, making a blockbuster deal....anything, really.

Jeff Van Gundy wants the Bulls to "bridge that gap". I don't know what he's asking for.

02.07: Sure enough, the Bulls pick Johnson, just like we knew they were going to. It's kind of typical, really - this is the first year that I've been watching the NCAA, and my team manages to pick the first guy so far that I haven't seen play. How inevitable.

Still, that's not all bad. That means I can get to evaluate someone based off of the 25 seconds of clips that accompany their drafting. Just like old times. It's nice not to know something. An oft-heard comparison that I've heard for Johnson is that of Ryan Gomes, and the clips seem to verify that. Ryan Gomes, I've heard. Ryan Gomes, I see. Ryan Gomes, I like. Therefore, James Johnson, I like. Good times.

(Kelly Dwyer is less pleased. He likes James Johnson to "a kickboxing Rodney Buford." I don't think that statement's desired effect was to make me like Johnson more, but it did.)

02.10: Despite still having two picks to make, Steve Kerr finds time to pop in for an interview. He is his usual overly candid self, talking at willl about how he's talking about trading Amare Stoudemire with many teams, mercifully stopping short of mentioning any specifics. This would appear to be a downside of hiring a General Manager straight out of a frontline media position.

02.12: Next up, the Philadelphia 76ers, the worst outside shooting team in the NBA. Last year's starter at point guard, Andre Miller, is an unrestricted free agent who made clear his stance on potentially re-signing by refusing to turn up for his exit interview. His backup, Louis Williams, just had a really terrible year and isn't even a proper point guard in the first place. And the third stringer, Royal Ivey, just opted out of a guaranteed contract and will be another unrestricted free agent. Therefore, regardless of Jeff Van Gundy's redundant theory about whether Elton Brand can play center, I'm leaving if the Sixers don't take a point guard. It has to be done.

02.13: Fortunately, I'm staying. The Sixers take Jrue Holiday with the 17th pick, and Jay Bilas is pleased that the man he had down as being the 8th best player in the draft is finally off the board. Relieved, Bilas calls Holiday "a point guard for a long time", which is comforting information to anyone who feared that Holiday might try and reinvent himself as a power forward at any point. The Holiday pick also signifies the departure of the last of the 'green room' invitees (by the way, for those who have never watched the draft, the green room is neither green nor a room), which means we can avoid any embarassing Darrell Arthur-like situations this season. That's good news.

02..14: (EDIT - Luke asked me to point out that this is when he went to bed. Happy now, flowerpetal?)

02:15: The NBA is a weird entity. Holiday came off the bench all of last year, behind starting point guard Darren Collison. Collison is also draft eligible, and will be drafted at some point in this first round no doubt. Yet now, wherever he's picked, he will be picked behind Holiday. Holiday came off the bench behind Collison because the UCLA coach felt that Collison was more likely to help the team win, and yet now he's going to be drafted behind Holiday because the Philadelphia 76ers think that Holiday is going to be more of a help in the NBA. The games aren't significantly different, yet the assessment of who will help more is. It's odd. I don't necessarily disagree with it - in fact, I agree with it, as will any fan of "tremendeous upside potential" - but it's still pretty weird. Epiphany over, let's move on.

02.16: In his post-selection interview, Holiday thanks God for him being alive. I don't think this needs a follow-up comment.

02.17: Upon closer inspection, it's not just Mark Jones' table; the whole draft night studio is decked out in jigsaw motifs. I still don't get it. Presumably it's something about "missing pieces". Ha bloody ha.

02.17: Just read that the Blazers are trading Sergio Rodriguez, cash and the 38th pick to Sacramento for the 31st pick, filling a Sacramento roster spot on the cheap at one of their positions of need while opening up more cap room for themselves. Figures. This deal, though, does mean that Rodriguez isn't going to the Knicks, as was previously reported by Yahoo Eurosport. The lesson, as ever; Europeans don't know a damn thing about NBA basketball and they should be roundly denounced accordingly.

02.18: The Michael Jackson jokes have started to flood in: "Jackson 5 tickets!! 20% off!!!"

02.19: Minnesota are certainly enjoying themselves tonight. They just picked their third point guard in three picks, this time taking Ty Lawson at #18. At this point, it seems like a good time to mention that the Wolves traded Rashad McCants at the deadline to Sacramento in exchange for Bobby Brown, a solid second-and-a-half-string point guard, a move which further opened up the shooting guard whole that they still haven't filled. Brown now stands to be a fifth stringer next season. I wonder what they would have done if they'd kept Mario Chalmers like they meant to.

I do like the pick, though. Lawson is a good player for an 18th pick, and personally, I'm not even sure that he's any worse than Jonny Flynn, the cat murdering bastard that Flynn is. Flynn has the upside advantage with his athleticism, but Lawson is a solid all around player with quite a hefty defensive advantage over Flynn, who doesn't seem to understand defense or to want to try to. Drafting for need with #18 picks when you suck is usually a flawed premise anyway, so drafting another point guard is fine by me as long as that player is the best player left on the board. And Lawson could well have been that.

02.21: No, wait, scratch that; Ric Bucher's hair is informing us that Lawson is being traded to Denver in exchange for the Bobcats' protected 2010 first round pick, one which they gave to Denver last season in exchange for the draft rights to the thoroughly uninspiring Alexis Ajinca. There's some logic in there for Denver, given that they've just suffered through yet another season of big minutes for Anthony Carter, but wouldn't you want to keep onto any Bobcats first rounders right now? They still haven't ever made the playoffs, and despite the protection on the pick (top 12 protected in 2010, top 10 protected in 2011, top 8 protected in 2012, top 3 protected in 2013, unprotected in 2014), it might still be a lucrative down the road. Do you really want to give it up for a number 18 pick in a weak draft? I wouldn't. But then again, I'm European, so I'm to be denounced accordingly.

02.21: By the way, the Nuggets once traded away the draft rights to Jameer Nelson for a future first round draft pick. It all comes full circle in the end.

02.22: Bilas is agreeing with me about Lawson and his virtues. I'm both honoured and worried.

02.24: The now Jamal Crawford-lead Hawks add Jeff Teague with the 19th pick, making it three point guards in a row and seemingly spelling the end of the Mike Bibby regime. This may or may not be a bad move; having not seen a Wake Forest game (see also; James Johnson) it's hard for me to say. Also, I'm European. But what I do know is that Teague's post-draft graphic shows him rocking a well-groomed moustache that makes him look a little bit like a sex criminal. I like him already.

02.28: I wonder what Michael Jackson's penis and scrotum looked like. How far did he really take that skin bleaching thing? Isn't bleach a bad thing to have in close proximity to your penis?

02.29: It would be a little bit hilarious if Utah picked B.J. Mullens right here. Him and Jerry Slaon are made for each other.

02.30: Sadly, it didn't happen. The Jazz draft Eric Maynor with the 20th pick, doing the sensible thing of filling their gaping backup point guard whole with the best available point guard. Good teams drafting for need. It's the future. Maynor now gets to play for the coach who once waived his dad, which should give Jerry an instant reason to dislike him.

Jay Bilas is a big fan of this pick, and credits Maynor for his "athleticism", "speed", "pace", "agility", "understanding of the game" and "ability to hit big shots", stopping just short of crediting his charm, grace, penache and unselfish lovemaking technique. It's basically the exact same speech that he gave over Ty Lawson.

02.31: ESPN cut to an interview with Larry Brown, whose very presence on the screen makes Knicks fans boo. Brown then name drops Michael Jordan, who illicits even more boos from the crowd. This is still funny.

02.32: Within a thirty second span, I was told by two different people that actor Jeff Goldblum had died, and from a third person that said that the story was merely a hoax. It was definitely a strange thirty seconds. By the way, you can safely assume right now that all semi-famous celebrities are wrapped up in a mountain of cushions, avoiding all dangerous activities and mildly unhealthy fatty foods. This is not the time to be dying. (He's really not dead, by the way.)

02.32: If Dejuan Blair gets beyond the Hornets pick at #21, he might fall to #26. He could still be a Bull. Fingers crossed. New Orleans are also in the unenviable situation of needing help at all five positions, which means that they can't really go wrong just as long as they draft a good player. Every hole's a goal. Any depth at all would be a bonus for a team that featured Devin Brown, Hilton Armstrong, Antonio Daniels and Sean Marks way too heavily in its rotation last year. But a decent wing player wouldn't be a bad start, and nor would an extra big man.

02.33: Naturally, they take Darren Collison, a point guard. Ah well. T's the season.

02.34: The 22nd pick belongs to Portland, after they traded up from the 24th pick on the day before draft night. Presumably they have someone in mind for the 22nd pick, someone whom they figured Sacramento (who picked 23rd) would want rather badly. Given that Sacramento is a poor rebounding team, and one of the best rebounders in the draft (Dejuan Blair) remains on the board, maybe that trade will actually matter. Or maybe it has nothing to do with Blair at all. Either way, Mark Jackson's assessment of the Blazers roster says that they "need [the] best available player". The fact that this needs to be mentioned at all is evidence of how the draft plays out these days.

02.36: Not to be outdone, Jeff Van Gundy uses his moment of analysis to name as many Blazers players as he could think of. It's a noble effort that sees him stopping just short of saying Michael Ruffin and Shavlik Randolph. Jeff's earning his paycheck tonight, let me tell you. Not to be outdone, though, Jackson counters with a classic opening gambit, exclaiming how "you talk about LaMarcus Aldridge". Actually, Mark, I don't really. Not much. Not since the 2006 draft.

02.38: It turns out that Blair was irrelevant; Portland drafts Victor Claver, a forward out of Valencia, who won't be joining the team for a while. The funny thing is that I watched roughly five Valencia games last season, and yet I still couldn't tell you a single thing about Victor Claver. This might be because I spent so long trying to follow Albert Miralles' every move, yet it may also suggest something about Claver's minimal impact upon a game. More accurately, though, it's symptomatic of two key factors when watching European basketball:

1) Almost every team uses 10 man rotations in a 40 minute game, meaning no one ever stays on the court for all that long.

2) It's really hard to tell the players apart because the numbers are so small. (Seriously. When watching Valencia, I could only tell the difference between Shammond Williams and Kenny Gregory, because I knew that Shammond was the black guy with the headband on, and Gregory went without one. But when Gregory and Florent Pietrus were on the court at the same time.....well, then it was just downright difficult.)

02.39: Chicago pick in 4 picks time, and I really want Dejuan Blair to fall to them now. It looks pretty possible, too. Dallas pick 24th, and they intend to re-sign Brandon Bass, who is better than Blair and takes his spot in the rotation. Oklahoma City pick 25th, and they have D.J. White, who is also not entirely dissimilar and takes up their backup power forward spot. The only possible problem here is with Sacramento, who pick next at #23 and who sorely need some big men that don't suck. This is the team that finished last season with Calvin Booth, Ike Diogu, Kenny Thomas and Cedric Simmons on their roster. They're a real threat here.

02.40: An interview with Shaquille O'Neal goes a bit weird when Shaq mentions that he has had "mental conversations" with his new-fangled team mate, LeBron James. I have absolutely no idea what he meant by that. Maybe he was just trying to be quotabl, as per usual. And since I just quoted him, it worked.

Shaq is also quick to point out that Suns GM Steve Kerr was honest and up front with him about trade discussions from the start, and that he would be willing to come off the bench in Cleveland if need be, both of which are rather noble things for him to have said. Although I only believe one of them. Jeff Van Gundy also doesn't believe Shaq's sincerity in his statement about coming off the bench, but then gets ahead of himself when he congratulates Zydrunas Ilgauskas for the humility that he's shown in giving up his starting spot to O'Neal. Steady on there, Jeff. Z might not even know that there's been a trade yet.

02.41: Shaq also calls both Jeff Van Gundy and Stanley Roberts "the great" in that interview. I'm not sure whom that does the biggest disservice to.

02.45: The Kings throw me a bone by picking Isreli small forward Omri Casspi with the 23rd pick, despite having Andres Nocioni, Francisco Garcia, Donte Greene and even a helping of Jason Thompson already at the position. Meanwhile, the incapacitated Kenny Thomas remains their only backup power forward under contract. I really don't understand a good 75% of the moves that Geoff Petrie makes, but I'm sure some overly defensive Kings fans will set me straight on that in short order.

02.46: The Kings selecting Casspi means that, at the very least, one of Dejuan Blair, Sam Young and Wayne Ellington will be on the board when the Bulls pick. Good times. Blair at #26 will be the steal of the draft, I tell you.

02.47: There's an advert break seemingly after every pick now, but Audrina Partridge is not appearing in any of them. This isn't good enough.

02.50: Dallas picks B.J. Mullens with the 24th pick, moving the Bulls one step closer to my dream. Mullens always claimed that he could be compared to Dirk Nowitzki, and now he's going to join Dirk's team and realise how wrong he was. Sounds like karma to me.

By the way, B.J. Mullens sucks, and here's why:

1) He needs to improve both his overall offensive play and his overall defense play. He has good touch around the rim (as well as away from it, supposedly), but he has absolutely no moves or footwork with which to get these shots of. He gets tripped by little guys, blocked by big guys, outmuscled by sronger guys and confused by two guys at once. (Giggidy.) And his defensive instincts are about as intelligent as those of a hedgehog when confronted by a speeding car. It's not pretty, and he makes no effort to hide it either.

2) He rebounds worse than Jason Kidd.

3) He's been stuck by Jay Bilas with the slightly unfortunate tag of "he needs to learn how to play", which is always a worrying thing to find in a player when you're wondering whether they're worthy of joining the best basketball league in the world.

4) He came off the bench behind Dallas Lauderdale for a whole season. This is the same Dallas Lauderdale who boasts no offensive talent, a free throw stroke that borders on the criminally reckless, who averaged only 3.6 rebounds in 21 minutes per game and whose hefty blocked shots numbers stemmed largely from Ohio State's out-of-conference schedule. Yet in spite of all that, he was better for them than Mullens.

But maybe it's not a bad pick anyway. That's how starved for size we are this year; Mullens is only the second centre picked in the entire draft. Bad times.

Just one to more to go now.

02.57: Good news! Oklahoma City picks someone called Rodrigue Beaubois with the 25th pick, and Blair is now free to be a Bull. Stern stumbles over Beaubois' surname, and eventually manages a half hearted attempt that sounds a little bit like "boob war". This is what I'm calling Rod from now on. Ric Bucher quickly informs us that Boob War and B.J. are being swapped for one another (and, hopefully, jointly lending their names to one of the finest pornographic movie titles in the Western world), which undermines by Nowitzki joke of earlier a bit.

But, to the real issue here. The Thunder passed up on Dejuan Blair. And that means only one thing. We got Blair we got Blair we got Blair we got Blair we got Blair we got Blair we got Blair we got Blair we got Blair we got Blair we got Blair we got Blair we got Blair we got Blair we got Blair we got Blair. Yeahhhhhhhhhh boy. This is a good thing. The Bulls seriously need some interior muscle and rebounding, and the best player for that outside of the number 1 overall pick just fell into our laps. Inside, I'm dancing. Outside, I'm yodelling. Good times.

02.58: Can I just point out at this stage how much better it's going to be to have Dejuan Blair than it is Thabo Sefolosha. Thabo would have been earning $2.8 million next season just to be the 10th man, money which the Bulls can ill afford to spend on a surplus player if they are going to be able to re-sign Ben Gordon. Yet instead of Thabo, we're going to be paying a third of that price to a superior player, who plays a position of greater need and whose skillset fills this team's weaknesses almost perfectly. It's going to be bloody fantastic. What could possibly g.......

02.59: ........oh, clunge.

03.00 - 03.04: (Sulking.)

03.04: Taj Gibson??? Taj Gibson??? Why the hell would you pick Taj Gibson there? What does Taj Gibson do, exactly? He blocks shots. That's pretty much it. He's not a rebounder, he's not a scorer, he's too thin for his position and he doesn't have first round talent. He also somewhat duplicates the skillset of incumbent starting power forward Tyrus Thomas, and we're supposed to be UPGRADING Tyrus, NOT DUPLICATING HIM. Oh, and better still, Taj Gibson is already 24, severly limiting any upside his athleticism may otherwise have given him. To put that into some context, Taj Gibson is all of four days younger than Darko Milicic. And everyone knows that Darko Milicic ran out of potential three years ago.

Spiffing. Absolutely spiffing.

03.05: Memphis are up next, and I can only hope for some grave misjudgement on their part to cheer me up, still reeling as I am from the Taj Gibson selection. (It's not even about Dejuan Blair, really. Blair was the obvious pick, but there are others who would have done, others with first round talent and who fit the team needs. But Gibson? What good is he going to do us?) Jeff Van Gundy is straight back on the horse after a slight wobble, and launches into a meaningful and poignant diatribe about how the draw of having a team play an exciting brand of basketball is always going to be nullified if that team doesn't win games, and that "anything is exciting when you win". This point is way too salient for a draft night broadcast.

03.06: With big point guard and power forward holes still to fill, Memphis pick a backup small forward in DeMarre Carroll, who has long term health concerns about his liver and an underdeveloped perimeter game so depressingly consistent with a college power forward trying to make the switch to the perimeter. Groovy. I guess Hakim Warrick is walking, then.

03.07: Stu Scott really needs either a pop guard, or some basic presenting lessons. Just move the bloody microphone further away from your face for God's sake. This is day 1 stuff, surely.

03.08: No matter how bad Dejuan Blair's knees are, they aren't as old as Taj Gibson's. Just saying.

03.10: Minnesota are on the clock for their fourth first round pick of the night, and it is said that they wanted James Johnson with the 18th pick had the Bulls not taken him. This seems a little bit weird considering that Minnesota are the current owners of Ryan Gomes, the man to whom Johnson apparently projects so accurately. Not sure what to make of that.

When it's their turn to draft, however, they don't disappoint, and after a brief flirtation with David Stern's playful side (more of this, please), the Wolves select Wayne Ellington with the 28th pick. Wayne Ellington is the next Voshon Lenard. You heard it here first. Unless I'm wrong. In which case, you heard it from someone else, so laugh at them instead.

03.12: I'm the same age as Taj Gibson, fackricesakes. This isn't on. I need some Doris Burke or something to get me through this. Or Audrina Partridge. Or anything, really.

03.14: Lisa Salters interviews North Carolina head coach Roy Williams, who is at the drafting watching three (and soon to be four) of his players getting drafted. Williams clearly hasn't been paying too much attention, as he didn't know about Ty Lawson being traded to Denver. Gotta love those interviews with coaches. They're really the driving force behind the drama tonight.

03.15: New York will be picking 29th instead of the Lakers - even though it will be announced as a Lakers pick - after agreeing to buy the pick before the draft started. The Bulls could have bought this just as easily. I'm just saying.

Speaking of New York and of Darko Milicic, a long rumoured trade has officially been announced that sees Darko being sent to the Knicks in exchange for Quentin Richardson. Both contracts are expiring, but Richardson is to earn more than Milicic next season. The Grizzlies just took on some money. I'm shocked.

The Knicks then pick Toney Douglas with the 29th pick, who is sort of a little bit like Stephen Curry if you try to be really optimistic about things. Either way, it looks like it might be goodnight Nate.

03.25: Stern takes forever to appear for the 30th pick, leaving Stu Scott having to think up some spontaneous comedy magic. You may as well have asked Brandon Jennings. When Stern does finally appear, he somehow manages to balls up a simple speech that he's made hundreds of times before ("'with the ____th pick in the ____ NBA draft, the ________ select........."), and has to talk his way out of it. He finally does so in a painfully awkward fashion, and then manages to bugger up the draftees name. I guess he got on the piss a few minutes too early. Somewhere in there, the Cavaliers drafted Christian Eyenga with the last pick of the first round.

The Eyenga selection stuns literally everyone. The crowd do not discernibly cheer nor boo, his name is not placed on the draft board because there's no board available with his name on, and there's over a minute of dead air as ESPN frantically scramble for something to say about him and someone to say it. The broadcast is literally silent as Andy Katz is hurriedly contacted for insight, and for some Eyenga clips to be fashioned out of his ass. The silence is hectic.

The only person who knew that Christian Eyenga was going to be drafted was Christian Eyenga himself, who flew mercurially to the stage like an oversized lapwing and got in his photo with a still-drunk Stern. Then again, maybe not even Christian Eyenga knew he was going to be drafted. I'd instead like to believe that Danny Ferry was at the draft, panicking slightly, not knowing who to draft, and asking all the non-English speakers if they've ever played ball before, then just drafting the best one.

"Hey, you any good at basketball?"
"I play Spain three division?"
"Mint. Congratulations. You're now a Cav."

That's my fantasy, you choose you own.

03.28: I'd never heard of Christian Eyenga before tonight, and neither had you, probably. So here's what I've just read up about him: Eyenga is from the Congo, and turned 20 last week. He is the property of DKV Joventut Badalona - the team that won't let Ricky Rubio leave - and spent the last two seasons at their feeder club, CB Prat Juventud, in the LEB Silver (which is the Spanish third division). Last year he averaged 13.3 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game, and was also fourth in the league in blocks with 1.6 per game. Not bad defensive numbers from a 6'5 shooting guard. But also a throoughly mediocre scoring output from a low standard of basketball.

03.29: The clips of Eyenga's play all come from the same game, where he makes a dunk and a step-back three in a gym full to the brim with about 18 people in it. If only they knew they were watching future NBA first round talent they'd have turned up in droves. Eyenga still doesn't have the dignity of his name being put on the draft board.

03.29: Stern announces that he's off to get drunk, and that Adam Silver will handle the difficult job of talking for the second round. The following people are going to be second round steals: Dejuan Blair, Sam Young, Nick Calathes, Patrick Mills, Danny Green, Marcus Thornton and Chase Budinger. Book it. Book it all.

03.29: By the way, this draft is not sufficiently weak that we have to resort to the Spanish third division in the first round. Danny Ferry, I think you may have shot your bolt prematurely. Giggidy.

2 comments:

  1. What bothers me most about the Christian Eyenga selection is that the Cavs just shed a massive amount of expiring contracts for the services of Shaquille O'Neal. To me, it seemed obvious that the Cavs were putting everything on the line to win this year, salary cap ramifications be damned. So why not pick Blair, who provides insurance against injury to the frontcourt (as he perfectly replicates Ben Wallace's skills from last year's squad, and can replace a lot of the production of Shaq or Varejao if one of those were to fall)? Or one of any number of athletic swingmen who might be able to fill the role of defensive stopper? This upset me even more than the Bulls re-drafting Ty Thomas.

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