Pick 31: Atlanta get at least five minutes to make the 31st pick, although it’s nearer fifteen minutes by the time deputy commissioner Adam Silver makes it out. When he does, Silver is greeted to the biggest cheer of the night, and takes it well with a wave and a big grin. The man who looks like a freshly-goosed Henry Abbott then announces that Atlanta, who obtained the 31st pick from New Jersey in the Damion James/Jordan Crawford swap, use it to draft German big man Tibor Pleiss.
Pleiss takes almost the full two minutes just to make it to the podium. He waits twenty seconds before even standing to acknowledge his selection, and then is forcefully dragged to the stage by an angry-looking official that kind of looks like Dale Davis. Before he’s even got to the stage, Pleiss has been sold; the Hawks have decided to sell his draft rights to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Fittingly, the Thunder (in their Sonics guise) were the team that drafted Peter Fehse back in 2002.
Pleiss should be an obvious draft-and-stash candidate. He is underdeveloped, both physically and skill-wise. Now that he has “drafted in the NBA” on his CV, Pleiss should be able to score a move to a better non-NBA league; the Spanish ACB, for example, should be easily able to toughen him up a bit. His highlight montage involves only six clips from the same game, two of which are uncontested routine dunks with no defensive players in the paint. Must Improve: Highlight video.
There are only 51 seconds on the clock before the next pick when Pleiss finally gets to the podium to receive his drain-unblocking handshake from Silver. This doesn’t bode well for his chances of keeping up with the speed of the NBA game.
Pick 32: Speaking of players unable to keep up with the pace of the NBA game, the Miami Heat pick Dexter Pittman with the 32nd pick, and instantly all the talk is about his weight loss. Pittman once weighed over 400lbs, and is now down to about 300; as is always the case with people who used to be fat, it’s the first thing you have to mention. They’re the rules.
(Do people who lost a ton of weight deserve more credit than people who never ballooned to 400lbs in the first place?)
Overlooked in all the talk about Pittman’s weight is his abilities. They just aren’t that good. Losing weight will help Pittman cope with the speed of the game, run the court, and finish around the basket against NBA defences, but it won’t help him cope with a double team. Nor will it stop him getting stripped all the time. Nor will it develop him a jump shot or any perimeter game. The counter argument goes that if Glen Davis can do it then Dexter Pittman could do it too, and that counter argument may be valid. But Glen Davis became a useful (and amusing) backup when he developed a mid-range jump shot, a baseline reverse and the ability to get open without the ball. Pittman does not have these things yet. It’s perfectly fine to pick a project at #32, and particularly fine if that project produces the kind of per-minute numbers that Pittman did. But it’s important that we acknowledge he is one.
Two minutes between second rounders seems too long. Fire this bad boy up. Make is 14 seconds. Additionally, I hereby vote that the “_______ is not here” catchphrase be done for every pick in the second. Even the 60th. Make them squirm.
After the Pittman pick, ESPN cut to something completely different; an interview with new Nets coach Avery Johnson. Johnson speaks excitedly of his new player Derrick Fayfurs, lauds the job done by Nets President Ride Thawn (twice), and finally commends Brook Lowpass. This must be what Eric Cartman will sound like when he’s gone through puberty.
The awkward interview ends even more weirdly when Avery says “I miss you guys” with way more sincerity than any of us were expecting, before offering Jon Barry and Jeff Van Gundy assistant coaching jobs. Barry deflects the issue and tries to make a joke about tickets; curiously, Van Gundy says nothing. This leads to a “JEFF VAN GUN-DY!! *clap* *clap* *clap-clap-clap*” chant from the Madison Square Garden crowd. Van Gundy stays quiet.
If there was a third round, who would present it? And how many rounds would we have to do before Joey Crawford did one?
Pick 33: Sacramento drafts Hassan Whiteside from Marshall, a man who would have been a sure-fire first rounder had he not loafed through workouts and done nothing to dissuade the aura of his supposed immaturity. Question marks aside, it’s a decent pick for the Kings, potentially getting them the next Keon Clark.
Whiteside’s draft caption is a swift kick in the nuts to any onlooker; “Must improve: Maturity.” Ouch. Marshall doesn’t help himself by loafing up to the podium like a petulant schoolboy and then trying to greet Adam Silver with a homie shake. But Silver takes it well, turns it into the business shake, and acts as if all is well. If Hassan can find that much guidance and patience throughout his career, he might be just fine.
The quote about Marshall’s maturity also overlooks the holes in his skill set, particularly his offensive game. How often does an extremely athletic big man with little offensive game ever develop the kind of offensive game teams envision when they draft them? Not often. Stromile Swift didn’t. Jamal Sampson didn’t. Cheikh Samb didn’t. Pape Sow didn’t. Et cetera. It works out sometimes – Andray Blatche is one such example – but the miss rate is far greater than the hit rate. And having owned both Clark and Justin Williams in recent years, Sacramento know what it’s like.
Between Whiteside and DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento’s big man coach will get no day’s of holiday over the next two years.
Still, at #33, the risk is justified. Even if he needs to develop any kind of consistent offence and touch around the basket, while putting on 40lbs of muscle, learning how to keep possession when blocking a shot and growing up, it’s a pick worth making. But just so that we don’t forget it, Jay Bilas cements our awareness of his bust potential with the timeless quote, “He could be Patrick O’Bryant.” Nut punch of the year right there.
The camera cuts to a shot of many Kings fans looking very happy with the pick. The Maryland dancer of before manages to sneak into the background of the shot, milking some more airtime. Amazingly, John Calipari does not.
Pick 34: Adam Silver is quickly becoming a cult hero, for reasons I hope are obvious enough that I don’t need to explain them. The crowd agree, and they serenade his lovely self with a seminal chant of “A-DAM SIL-VER!!” *clap* *clap* *clap-clap-clap*. This briefly makes Adam giggle his cheeky giggle, but he recovers his composure enough to announce that Memphis have traded the rights to Dominique Jones to Dallas for cash. And cash only. If you thought that cash was referring to “Ca$h Money”, then start despairing, because it wasn’t. Oh well. With that money, Memphis can now cover the cost of Steven Hunter, whose deadweight salary they took on to get the pick. A good move wasted by a financially motivated one.
Silver then announces Portland’s selection of Armon Johnson from Nevada. It’s an interesting pick, because while Portland needs a backup point guard, Johnson isn’t really one. Nor is Jerryd Bayless, their other incumbent option. Nor is Patty Mills, who is a free agent anyway. Nor are Rudy Fernandez or Elliot Williams, their current backup two guard options. And nor is Petteri Koponen, who just re-signed in Italy for a year anyway. So unless Portland can begin tidying up, or know something that I don’t, they’re now fully overstocked at the guard positions, while still also needing a guard. It’s a strange position to be in.
(Of course, it’s perfectly possible that they know something that I don’t, for I don’t know anything. If this post had its own draft capsule, it’d say “Must Improve: Jokes and analysis.” And it’d be a good point well made.)
Pick 35: As Silver again slinks to the podium like a lizard, the crowd switches up the chant to something infinitely funnier; “SE-XY-SIL-VER” *clap* *clap* *clap-clap-clap*. Adam is again reeling, and this time is unable to recover his composure. He savages Nemanja Bjelica’s name mercilessly, resulting in a puerile concoction that resembled something like Pneumonia Beeyelleetsa. And because of Sexy Silver’s misstep, that poor man will now always be associated with abnormal fluid build-up and inflammation in the alveolar. Bad times, Sexy.
As evidenced in part one, I am not high on Nemanja Bjelica. It is not a baseless opinion; because of international commitments and the fact that he played for my favourite non-NBA team last year (Crvena Zvezda), I’ve seen Bjelica about 25 times. And he is not a young Toni Kukoc, not matter how much you hear that inevitable comparison batted around. (Well, he sort of is, but only because Toni Kukoc is now 41.) Bjelica is instead more like a young Robbie Hummel, and no one gets excited about Robbie Hummel. He’s a better pick than Loukas Mavrokefalidis was, and is acceptable at #35, but it is my opinion that you should temper your enthusiasm.
However, since I’m trying to be nice about prospects, I shall say no more about him. So instead of cynicism, here’s a clip of Australian children’s entertainment group, The Wiggles, performing the most seminal of all their smashes, “Hot Potato Hot Potato.”
I warn you now that it’s not a good idea to watch that just before going to bed. That will haunt your dreams and you will never sleep properly again.
Also, I don’t want to get too preachy or anything, but someone had better draft Solomon Alabi soon, or I’m going Hulk smash.
Pick 36: Stu Scott congratulates Sexyback on his pronunciation of Bjelica’s name, even though it was terrible, and Fran Fraschilla does his usual act of simultaneously heaping praise on the drafted player and the hierarchy that drafted him. Detroit then takes Terrico White with the 36th pick, which is a bizarre choice for them.
White made my steals list for a reason; he’s a good player. He’s a big two guard with NBA athleticism, and the ability to masquerade as an occasional point guard. White can shoot, create his own shot, and even post slightly, with the size and athleticism to defend his position. He is not exceptional at any facet of the game, but nor does he have any gaping flaws. A player like that was born to be drafted 36th.
But…why Detroit? The same team that really could use Solomon Alabi there. The same team that already has so much invested in Ben Gordon and Rip Hamilton at two guard. The same team that is already struggling to cope with the fact that Rodney Stuckey isn’t a point guard, and who also have Will Bynum, albeit as an unrestricted free agent. Detroit did not bring in White to play backup point guard, and as such, it is not immediately obvious why they brought him in. Especially since they need so much up front. Replacing Chucky Atkins should have been a ways down the priority list.
Nevertheless, it’s a solid pick, and particularly for a team that could use scoring from any source. It also gives me an outlet for the following amazing joke: U-G-L-Y! You ain’t got no Alabi! You ugly! You ugly!
(Please don’t stop reading.)
Pick 37: With the less-threatening Adam Silver chant back in effect, Sexy announces that the Bucks pick Darington Hobson at #37, an interesting choice for the team already with Baha Mootay, Carlos Delfino and Turk Nowitzki. Hobson is a good player, in many ways the entry level version of Evan Turner. He’s not the halfcourt creator that Turner is, and he is similarly lacking in elite athleticism and jump shot; that said, Hobson is a stat-stuffer and a talented passer that will rebound, drive and willingly move the ball. Europe might be better suited to Hobson’s talents, as might the Lakers, but the Bucks have something to work with here nonetheless.
Additionally, Stu Scott informs us that Hobson’s nickname is “Butta.” This partially assuages any doubts I may have had earlier about the player with two surnames, and it also makes Hobson the first NBA player since his current team mate John “Johnny Fish” Salmons to have a foodstuff in his nickname. Can’t be bad.
(“Big Snacks” Jerome James doesn’t count as a food. That’s a mealtime. Or a lifestyle choice.)
You will notice, of course, that it’s been pretty decent picks thus far in the second round. But things are about to get weird.
Pick 38: With their first pick in the draft, the Knicks make the draft’s first unbelievable pick, picking Syracuse guard Andy Rautins at #38. Desperately needing cheap NBA calibre players to round out a roster that doesn’t even have a core yet, the Knicks had a prime opportunity to get one, and yet they didn’t get an NBA-calibre player. And I say this as one of the world’s biggest Andy Rautins fans.
If he comes into the D’Antoni system, hits a few threes, and maybe cranks off a couple of 20 point nights, maybe it will look like the pick is a good thing. But that honestly won’t change much. There are a great many quality shooters in this world, if not a great many in this draft, and they need to be able to do more than just shoot. Rautins can’t.
Andy Rautins is small for a two guard, underwhelmingly athletic, can’t defend one on one, and does literally nothing in the lane. He shot only 56 two-pointers in 35 games, panics as soon as he gets into the paint (even on the break), and the only reason he got to the line 81 times was because he was often the team’s designated foul shooter down the stretch. All he can do is shoot threes, make some nice passes, and defend in the zone. And this guy is drafted ahead of Solomon Alabi? In fact, this guy is drafted at all? I love Rautins, truly and deeply, but this is not an NBA calibre player.
To make matters worse, Stu Scott mentions that Rautins and his dad Leo have matching tattoos. To make matters worse still, Stu Scott then says this is “very tight.” This was a low point of the draft, ladies and gentlemen. Let’s not talk about it.
Pick 39: The Knicks then immediately pick again, with another terrific opportunity to add either Alabi (run and gun teams need interior defence too) or Stanley Robinson (who struggles with the gunning part, but who would do an awesome impression of an entry-level Shawn Marion in the Knicks’ system). However, the Knicks again fail to deliver, drafting Landry Fields of Stanford about 12 places too high. The reception for Rautins was lukewarm, but the crowd’s reaction to Fields was simple bewilderment, as the director cut to shots of fans sprinting for the exits. Running. Sprinting. Couldn’t get out of there fast enough. A reaction previously thought impossible from a #39 pick.
This can only mean one thing; it’s time for more from The Wiggles.
Those who sprinted out of there missed Landry’s highlight video, the second clip of which involved Fields making a layup on a broken play that his bad pass had broken. The pick wasn’t as bad as the fan’s reaction made it seem, and the ever-positive Jay Bilas tried to satiate the wound with his analysis, but the boos rained down anyway.
With the crowd now much reduced in size, and the picks starting to get really weird, maybe I was wrong earlier. Maybe we don’t need a third round after all. Although we might need one if it’s the only way to get Alabi drafted.
The only saving grace was the drafting of back-to-back fauxhawks.
Pick 40: Indiana’s drafting of Lance Stephenson at #40 was missed due to a barrage of Michael Buble music, presumbably at the behest of Stu Scott, who really does love saying the word Buble. Lance Stephenson’s best case scenario is a 42-year-old Jason Richardson. Or a 14-year-old Jason Richardson, perhaps. His best career arc would be staying in the league for four years. He’s another man who should not be here.
The Stephenson pick leads to this exchange:
Stu Scott: “Jay, his nickname is ‘Born Ready.’ Is he ready?” Jay Bilas: “Well, he’s got a lot of ability.”
That’s a no, then. Bilas then follows this up with the comment that Stephenson “needs to learn how to play”, which, while true, is still a damning slant on any draftee. You can certainly continue to learn the game in the NBA, but you shouldn’t have to learn all of it.
Pick 41: After officially announcing the Martell Webster trade, Sexual Silver announces the Heat’s pick at #41; Mississippi State’s Jarvis Varnado. It’s a decent if not optimum pick that stabilises a draft that had wobbled slightly – if Hassan Whiteside doesn’t really develop much in his next two years, Varnado is what he will resemble.
Bilas says that Varnado needs to learn how to shoot, and get stronger. They are both valid criticisms. But 95% of NBA players do both of those things once they get here, and so while Varnado will never be big, he should also be a contributor.
Jeff Van Gundy hasn’t said a word for about an hour now.
Jarvis Varnado is the NCAA’s all-time blocks leader. Don’t think Andy Rautins is an all time anything. Except maybe an all time J.E. Skeets lookalike. Or all-time thin nose champion.
Pick 42: To follow up the Varnado pick, Miami makes another safe and sensible pick of a four-year college player out of a good program when they choose Da’Sean Butler of West Virginia. Immediately, Bilas jumps in with the confusing analysis “he’s not a good shooter, but he makes shots.” I think I can see what he’s getting at. For example, I’m not a good blogger, but I make blogs.
Butler is a good pick. He is not exceptional at any one thing, but he is smart, versatile, and has no discernible weaknesses. He can shoot, drive, pass, defend players similar to he, chip in with the rebounding, will do his best, do his duty to God and to the Queen, help other people, and keep the Cub Scout Law. Maybe he can do what the comparable Kasib Powell never did, and stick in the NBA for more than an hour. (Perhaps fittingly, Powell’s only NBA minutes have come with the Heat.)
Tom Penn, the only man quieter than Jeff Van Gundy, is brought in to talk about the impact of second-round draft picks on a team’s salary cap number. He ends up recapping the exact same speech that he made before the drafting of Tibor Pleiss about 4,000 words ago. For those who weren’t listening – twice – unsigned second-round picks do not have cap holds. But unsigned first rounders do. This only matters if you have cap space aspirations, but since the Heat do, this is why they traded down from 18 to 32 last week, shifting the 32% shooting Daequan Cook in the process.
To compliment Penn’s speech, ESPN flashes up a graphic detailing the amount of cap space teams will have heading into this offseason. A more detailed and accurate version of said graphic will appear on this website tomorrow. Or Monday. Or Tuesday.
Stu Scott proposes whether a Dwyane Wade/LeBron James/Chris Bosh trio, which Penn alluded may be possible, would be successful in Miami. You could actually see Jeff Van Gundy suddenly bolt upright and grab the initiative before either of the JB’s could steal his thunder from him. The man is in his element right here. This is why he’s here. Watch and learn, everybody.
By the way, we’re currently in an era that features Jon Barry as a lead analyst in both NBA Finals games and the NBA draft. That’s all I can say about that without having to resort to another Wiggles video. Beauty mate!
Pick 43: Still not quite recovered from his bout of Pneumonia, Sexy Silver announces that Atlanta has traded Damion Jones to New Jersey, not Damion James. He then announces that the L.A. Lakers have picked Butler’s WVU teammate, Devin Ebanks.
Ebanks can’t dribble or shoot, and thus will always need the benefit of a good system if he is to shine. However, he is a good and versatile defender, who can and will run the court, score from within 15 feet, and pass reasonably well. The Lakers and the triangle are a good fit for him in this regard, just as they were for Ariza and Shannon Brown before him. Unfortunately, his highlight montage includes a clip of him being called for a foul on Tyler’s brother Ben Hansbrough, but never mind.
Silver also announces, as expected, that the Hawks have traded the rights to Tibor Pleiss to Oklahoma City for “financial considerations.” The word “considerations” seems unnecessary there. Makes it sound like they’ll think about paying them in the future. And that’s not how it works.
In his first half an hour in the NBA, T-Bone has already been on three teams.
Pick 44 and 45: The next two picks were missed due to a commercial break. I don’t know what you saw in America during that break, but here in England, we watched a montage of Australian people fighting. True story.
At #44, Milwaukee picked Jerome Jordan of Tulsa, who has a similar body type to Dan Gadzuric but who plays in the opposite fashion. Milwaukee later trades this pick to the New York Knicks, who don’t seem to care that their centre rotation for next season, as things stand, reads Jerome Jordan and Earl Barron. There’s scoring, size and shooting there, but they might need some physical play in there somewhere. Speaking of physical play, the Timberwolves addressed a need there by drafting Brazilian big man Paulao Prestes, who has all the athletic ability of a stubborn bunion, but who can flat out rebound the ball. Fran Fraschilla praises Prestes relentlessly – specifically his feet, for some reason – but avoids waxing too lyrical about the people that drafted him. He would, of course, but he already did it when the Timberwolves caught Pneumonia.
There are ways to make Prestes look much better than his highlight montage, which just showed a series of very grounded lay-ups. But he can play. He’s a rebounder. A very good one. And the league always needs those.
Stu Scott ruins the moment by calling Leandro Barbosa “Leonardo.” He instantly realises his mistake, pauses, but doesn’t correct it. I think he wants to go home. He’s said more words tonight than I’ve written.
Pick 46: Steve Kerr is a good drafter, and he makes one more sensible pick before leaving the Suns. Gani Lawal is a talented player and great value at #46, a player who fell about seven places too far due to the crazy nature of this second round. His athletic style suits the Suns, and he doesn’t need to be a polished offensive player to run the court, get open, and dunk with authority. (Which is lucky, because he isn’t.)
The Suns would also have benefited from drafting Stanley Robinson, who, as mentioned earlier, was born to run. In fact, if the draft gets the walk-up music it so badly needs, that must be Stanley’s tune. And everyone else’s must be The Final Countdown. Maybe we could actually book Europe for the night.
There’s also Solomon Alabi left standing, of course. I cannot believe Solomon Alabi has not been drafted yet. He might be dead. San Antonio are up soon, however, and they have a tendency to get things right in the draft. It will be lauded as a great pick if the Spurs pick him, but it won’t be. Well, it will, but it’ll be more down to the 17 bad picks before it.
Rachel Nichols gets her second airing of the day, where she interviews Mike D’Antoni and unfurls a propensity to nod religiously, and ever so slightly patronisingly. She also smiles constantly, laughs excessively, flicks her hair, and ends the interview with a cheeky wink. I know what she tried to do there, and I know it worked.
In other news, the German basketball league has a “Most Likeable Player” award, which is maybe the best idea I’ve ever heard.
Pick 47: The Milwaukee Bucks draft Tiny Gallon from Oklahoma, which is bizarre for hundreds of reasons. Well, just three reasons.
1) Tiny Gallon got drafted?
2) Tiny Gallon got drafted by the team coached by Scott Skiles?
3) Tiny Gallon is here?
Gallon is an overweight 6’9, yet fancies himself as a jump shooter. He is not a polished post-up player, not a good defender, nor a good shooter, and he manages to turn it over an incredible amount for a guy who does not dribble. He can rebound the bejeezus out of the ball when he so chooses, but that isn’t always. And he won’t have a 100lb size advantage nightly in the NBA. James Lang needed more than just his weight, and so will Tiny Gallon. In fact, it would help Gallon if he played more like Lang. At least Clubber knew not to take jump shots.
Just by being at the draft, however, Tiny Gallon gets to hear his name turned into a chant by a room full of strangers. See, this is why you have to go. Even if you run the risk of humiliation by not being drafted, it’s worth it.
Stu Scott announces that Gallon has a tattoo on his neck that says “misunderstood.” Maybe so. But the fact that it’s on his neck suggests that saying Gallon is a questionable decision maker is entirely factually accurate.
I guess Adam Silver’s not getting called Sexy any more, then.
Pick 48: Never one for doing much with the D-League before now, the Miami Heat switch things up as they draft Latavious Williams from the Tulsa 66ers. With this pick, Williams makes history as the first player drafted exclusively out of the D-League. (Mike Taylor was previously drafted after playing in the D-League; however, he had previously played at Iowa State. Badly.)
Williams is a prospect, but he’s one that developed quickly. He is not much more than an athlete and a rebounder right now, but as long as he does not make too many mistakes, that could well be enough. If he improves his finishing around the basket, and maybe adds a bit of a jump shot, he could be the next Donnell Harvey. This is a compliment.
The selection of Williams creates a problem for the panel. They have Bilas as an NCAA expert, and Fran Fraschilla as an international expert, but they have no one to talk about the D-League. To be fair, they haven’t needed one before. The task of describing Williams to the audience arbitrarily befalls Bilas, who talks about Williams’s rebounding, athleticism, underdeveloped offence and movement without the ball. He basically just recapped the highlight montage, but it’s accurate, and order is ensured.
Solomon Alabi is still on the board, and San Antonio is up next. DraftExpress reports that the reason Alabi is plummeting is due to a medical red flag; after the draft, we later find out that this is due to him having hepatitis B. Nasty, and definitely significant. However, as I understand it, his case of hepatitis is entirely treatable (albeit not curable), and should not present a problem in his basketball career. If this is accurate, therefore, then Alabi’s plummeting stock seems unfair.
To put it into contrast, Da’Sean Butler (drafted six picks ago) is recovering from a severe knee injury at the worst possible time, and will be out of action for a good while yet. But if it did affect his draft stock, then it did so negligibly, because he still was drafted in a position befitting of his talent by a team not prone to rash decisions. However, Alabi’s stock is freefalling like an overfed paraplegic pachyderm in a nasty skydiving accident, when he has an illness that is unusual yet which should not present a problem. It is the fault of neither party, and yet it seems ludicrously unfair that one suffers so much more.
But that’s just how it is. People fear what they don’t understand. And they always will.
Still needing drafting; Alabi, Stanley Robinson, Alexey Shved, Hamady N’Diaye, Willie Warren and The Skillz Train, Luke Harangody. And about a dozen others. Maybe a third round really would be a good idea.
Pick 49: Rather than go down their best-player-available route, the Spurs chose their other tack and decided to draft and stash a random athletic foreigner. This particular random athletic foreigner happens to be an Englishman, Ryan Richards.
This is another reason why all potential draftees should be forced to attend the draft. Had they done so, Richards could have danced bracingly to the stage and saluted Adam Silver, all whilst wearing sunglasses, to remind the world than the Sun never sets on the British Empire. Rule Britannia.
(Once a year, we get together and sing about how brilliant we are. There’s nothing wrong with it whatsoever. At least we don’t do it two thirds of the way through every baseball game. And at least this wasn’t a Wiggles video.)
Richards is highly underdeveloped, but he’s in the Gran Canaria youth system. And as evidenced by his countryman and fellow draftee Joel Freeland before him, that’s a fine place for any young player to develop. Lefty Richards can’t do much at this point outside of his athleticism, but he has a good jump shot, and sports NBA athleticism in a school of fundamentals. It’s a pleasing combination for the future, and even if his NBA career is ultimately only equal to that of Ian Mahinmi, is that so bad from a 49th pick?
Naturally, Fran Fraschilla loves the pick, and loves the person who made it. Fran also uses Richards’s selection to take the night’s second unprovoked pot-shot at O’Bryant, claiming that Richards “is not Patrick Ewing, but he’s also not Patrick O’Bryant.” Two punches to the scrote in such quick succession. POB is down.
As a fellow Englishman, expect to hear lots more about this man down the road.
Picks 50 and 51: Off-camera, Alabi is finally drafted, going to the Dallas Mavericks. Almost as quickly, my sources (i.e. Twitter) say that Alabi is being trading to the Toronto Raptors. This is a very good pickup for Toronto. Even if Alabi flakes out in the NBA, or goes the other way and never joins it, he is the right kind of player for Toronto at a very good price. With the drafting of Alabi and Ed Davis, Toronto have identified their biggest flaw and taken steps to rectify it. Neither will provide any significant short term help, but if Toronto are to rebuild – and they should do – then short-term help doesn’t really matter. Regardless of what else they do, it’s a step in the right direction.
Sexilver also announces that Oklahoma City have drafted Magnum Rolle, an athletic forward out of Louisiana Tech, with the 51st pick. Rolle is OK, but many better players exist in this draft pool, including most of the names I have already mentioned. Rather than taking one of them, though, Oklahoma City have taken a fifth-year senior whom the aforementioned Latavious Williams will resemble if he doesn’t develop for the next four years. It’s a strange choice.
Magnum Rolle is quite obviously the best name of the draft, if not the best name of the decade. Unlike previous years, there’s not enough ammunition for an all-porno-name starting five this season, but with a name like Magnum Rolle in the mix, one is no longer needed. I just wish UCLA’s Michael Roll was more athletic, so that he could be here too.
Additionally, Ryan Thompson had better be drafted tonight so that I can use my “Ryan Thompson is an anagram of horny postman” gag.
Pick 52: Boston drafts The Skillz Train, Luke Harangody. Why am I determinedly calling Luke Harangody, The Skillz Train? Well, because, you know. Just look at him.
That man is certainly skilled, but he sure doesn’t look like he should be.
The Skillz Train plays a lot like Glen Davis. This would be good for his NBA prospects, were he not on the team that already has Glen Davis. Gody never really posted up a great deal at Notre Dame; instead, he knew how to float to get open, and could make shots around the basket with those cack-handed hook shots of his, and hit some outside shots with that cack-handed jumper. He is no slasher and as of right now is no three-point shooter; then again, neither was Matt Bonner back in the day. If Skillz Train takes that career arc instead, it might not be a bad thing.
Who’s he going to defend in the NBA? Simple. No one. He’ll just have to score enough for that not to matter. And if he can’t, then he just won’t stick.
Harangody being drafted by somebody was inevitable, given the magnitude of his numbers in such a big conference over the years. But there was nothing inevitable about this next pick.
Pick 53: Atlanta drafts Pape Sy, a player that literally nobody has heard of. And when I say “literally nobody”, I do mean literally nobody. There was not a draft board in the land that this guy was on. This is much more of an obscure pick than Christian Eyenga. Sy is just your average, every day, run-of-the-mill French league backup. And now this.
Strange times. Really strange times. But therein lies the fun. So let’s learn.
22-year-old Sy has spent his entire career with French team Le Havre, who this year finished 13th out of 16 teams in the French ProA with a 10-20 record. Sy played in all 30 games backing up former Texas A&M guard Bernard King – not THE Bernard King – and averaged 14.2 minutes, 5.2 points, 1.7 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.9 fouls and 0.6 steals per game. Sy shot 55% from two-point range, 42% from three-point range and 71% from the foul line. and he shot 69 free throws to 93 total field goals. He clearly has no problem getting to the line, and the three-point percentage also came on a healthy 29 attempts. He didn’t play much, and he played only in a league with particularly bad defence, but he scored efficiently nonetheless, with 155 points on 93 shots as a 6’6 shooting guard.
However, there’s no pedigree here. The French league is not a great league, and yet Sy was a mere backup in it. He played briefly with the French Under-20 national team, yet averaged only 2 points per game in the 2007 U-20 championship for a disappointing French team. (For comparison’s sake, Nando De Colo averaged 17.9 ppg in the same tournament). Sy has played significant minutes in only one professional season, and that was this past one. He is 22 years old, has not cracked 6 ppg in the French league, and has not exactly got a storied history of tearing up draft camps for many years like so many other draft picks with limited professional experience have done in the past. Pape Sy’s draft selection has literally come from nowhere. And it could only have come from Rick Sund, a man who just loves to take flyers on international players.
The only person who seemed to know that Sy would be drafted was Pape himself, because he’s here, along with the four people he brought with him. Pape spends so long hugging them that it takes almost the full two minutes to even get to Silver. It would be good comedy, were it not truly awkward.
Is this the world’s biggest steal, or the world’s biggest reach? It’ll take some kind of turnaround to be the former. But it’s definitely not the latter, because in four picks time, an even weirder pick is made. Read on, dear viewer.
(Pape Sy is pronounced, by Sexy Silver at least, to sound like “Pepsi.” The endorsement opportunities are obvious.)
(Wait, who went 1st overall again?)
Picks 54 and 55: A more familiar name is drafted 54th, as the Clippers select Willie Warren from Oklahoma. Jay Bilas is again called upon to put the necessary work in. With all these familiar names from the NCAA falling so far down the draft, Bilas is having to stay on his grind. He probably thought he could knock off early. Not so.
It’s a pretty terrible year for Warren to be declaring, as the Sooners put on quite a fail this season. They lost Blake and Taylor Griffin to the NBA, and Austin Johnson due to graduation, yet they scored two big name recruits in All-Americans Tiny Gallon (already drafted) and Tommy Mason-Griffin (who was never going to be; hey Tommy; if Willie Warren can barely get drafted, you had no chance.) But both left after one season, one of them dragging a tasty scandal behind him. With the Sooners additionally losing seniors Tony Crocker and Ryan Wright (who couldn’t really play anyway, but who represented some size at least), as well as backup guard Ray Willis transferring out of the program and backup centre Orlando Allen leaving the team to start a family, the program was left with but the barest of bones. At one point this year, Oklahoma were down to four scholarship players. And that’s partly why Warren is here tonight.
In amidst all the turnover, the Sooners failed on and off the court as well. Gallon’s scandal was preceded by the arrests of Willis, freshman guard Steven Pledger and freshman big Andrew Fitzgerald. Warren himself is no stranger to scandal, being arrested just after the season finished, and creating locker room turmoil in the final few weeks of his freshman season by knocking off teammate Austin Johnson’s missus. (….allegedly.) Warren, Mason-Griffin and fellow guard Cade Davis took it in turns to not pass to each other, and Warren didn’t improve his play in this time. Not helped by injuries, Warren shot the jump shot worse than last year, turned it over at a high rate, made no improvements defensively, didn’t show any signs of wanting to play any D, took more terrible shots, and didn’t have a growth spurt. So he’s a shot-happy undersized two guard with bad defence, a fear of spiders (hat tip to Stu Scott’s trivia sheet), a poor jump shot, and a chequered past. Good to know.
Nevertheless, this is a man once considered to be a top-10 pick we’re talking about here, and so Warren was always going to be drafted. For all his faults, he’s a good slasher and an athlete, who can get to the basket and finish, and who is also a good passer when he wants to be. Warren regressed badly last year, but he wasn’t as wild and inefficient in 2008-09, when surrounded by better players and a far stronger team. The Clippers perhaps aren’t the best team for him right now in that regard, but they, like every NBA team, have many players better than Warren. They also have Warren’s former teammate Blake Griffin, which might not have been a coincidence. (And which, if Blake is still mad at Willie for ruining their Big 12 Tournament run, may not have been a great idea.) If Willie can play more like he did in his freshman season, when he was surprisingly well-grounded in spite of his reputation as a chucker, then perhaps he can begin to live up to the as-yet-unfulfilled potential that has seen him this far.
But there’s red flags there.
Jay Bilas talks so much about Willie Warren that the Jazz’s drafting of Jeremy Evans of Western Kentucky with the 55th pick is completely missed. It’s not even mentioned. Evans averaged only 27 minutes per game as a senior in the not-very-good Sun Belt Conference, and averaged only 10 points, 7 rebounds and 2 blocks. Because of this, a player of Evans’s calibre would normally not be on the radar, yet apparently Utah saw enough athleticism in him to overlook the fact that he can’t dribble, shoot, or weigh over 200lbs. Maybe they too wanted Latavious Williams and decided to draft a replica.
This is what I don’t get, though; if you want a 6’9 athletic forward, why would you take Jeremy Evans and not Stanley “AAAAAAAAAAARGGGGGGGHHHHHHH” Robinson? (So nicknamed because he can’t help but do this on every dunk:)
(….And I do mean every dunk.)
Pick 56: With their 14th pick of the night, Minnesota (picking for Washington) select Hamady N’Diaye from Rutgers.
I like this pick. N’Diaye shares more than a nationality and an apostrophe with Boniface N’Dong. He defends around the basket, rebounds sufficiently, blocks shots, is athletic, has a huge wingspan (as Jay Bilas naturally saw fit to mention), run the court, has some rudimentary post-up offence and can also run the pick-and-roll. Washington has a made a good late pick here; even though N’Diaye is still raw and about to turn 24, he could potentially be an NBA player.
The Timberwolves/Wizards trade now reads Trevor Booker and Hamady N’Diaye for Lazar Hayward and Nemanja Bjelica. I would rather have the former duo.
Pick 57: This second round has seen a few weird picks, not least among which have been Rautins, Fields and Sy. However, this is where it has its weirdest one of all. For reasons known only unto themselves, the Indiana Pacers – as we find out later, acting on behalf of the Oklahoma City Thunder – draft Ryan Reid out of Florida State.
Reid is a “little things” player. He sets screens, he occasionally rebounds, he can score if you double off of him, and he’ll push you back if you push him in the post. But that’s about it. And there is no point in being a little things player if you can’t do the big things. Reid’s nickname is “Big Ticket”, but that ends the list of anything big about him. Despite Stu Scott calling him a freshman, Reid is a freshly graduated senior, and yet he just averaged 7/4 in 23 minutes per game in his senior season. He is a strong but undersized power forward with average athleticism, no NBA calibre offensive talents and a bad rebounding rate. He also manages to turn it over amazingly often for a man who should not be getting touches. Put simply, the drafting of Ryan Reid makes no sense. And it makes particularly no sense when you have other bigs such as Artsiom Parakhouski, Brian Zoubek, Stanley Robinson, Mac Koshwal, Omar Samhan and Samardo Samuels on board. Even Wayne Chism would have sufficed here. Or Deon Thompson. Or me.
Jay Bilas tries to complimentary about the Reid pick, congratulating on him on achieving the unexpected, but he can’t mask his shock and notably states that he didn’t have Reid in his “top 90”. You could probably prefix that number with a 1 and it would still ring true. Ryan Reid’s best case scenario is Udonis Haslem, but Ryan Reid’s worst case scenario is the Czech Republic second division. There’s a hell of a lot of middle ground in between those two extremes, and somewhere within it, you will find Ryan Reid. I would not be surprised if Reid goes to the D-League next year and performs similarly to how Raymond Sykes of Clemson did; however, I would also not be impressed.
What an amazingly strange pick. The strangest of the decade. Of the millennium. Stranger than Pape Sy, even.
Pick 58: The L.A. Lakers pick Derrick Caracter, the player with the most apt surname since Byron Eaton. The Denver Nuggets have been said to covet Caracter very much, and given the Lakers’ aversion to young players, it is assumed that Caracter’s rights will be sold to the Nuggets. But for whatever reason, they are not, and Derrick Caracter is now a Laker.
This seems strange, because Derrick Caracter really doesn’t have the usual profile you’d expect in a Laker. He is, by all accounts, a prospect, a man told to leave Louisville because of his lack of dedication, weight problems, bad attitude, underwhelming play and off-court troubles. Even when he begged to stay and vowed to change, Rick Pitino would have none of it, and banished Caracter forever.
(About twenty thousand people have already made the “Caracter issues” pun, so that’s that out of the way. Ho hum.)
To his credit, Caracter has done only good things since. He transferred to UTEP, where he played by the rules and played rather well. He took too many jump shots and turned it over an unbelievable amount of times, but Caracter stayed out of trouble, lost some weight, and was arguably the most important player on the best team in the decent Conference USA. Caracter is big, athletic, and can finish around the basket with both finesse and brute force; if he was two inches taller, was coming straight out of high school, used to be a gymnast and was available in a draft where Jerry Krause was present, he might have gone top five. (That’s an Eddy Curry reference.)
However, Caracter is far from ready to contribute, and especially to the two-time defending champion Lakers. He’s a better draft pick than Chinemelu Elonu was, but Caracter has considerable ways to go before he is an NBA player. He has come a long way in the last 18 months, but it’s not nearly far enough yet.
He also has a fauxhawk. Good second round for the fauxhawk.
We’re nearly done now.
Pick 59: Orlando are lucky enough to pick at #59 the man they should really have picked at 29, as they draft Stanley Robinson from UConn and stop the freefall.
Great pick. Robinson could be the draft’s best steal. About 35 picks too low. An extremely obvious pick, of course, but everyone else managed to overlook him and Orlando could easily have done the same. Robinson runs the court, rebounds, dunks, blocks, can play terrific and versatile perimeter defence, and post up a touch. He is not much of a ball-handler, shooter or creator, but even though those skills are kind of fundamental, you can easily contribute without having them. And as Matt Barnes himself has proved, jump shots can always be learnt.
Robinson improved considerably last season when he learned to stop shooting his jump shots on the way down. Imagine when LeBron James learns to do the same.
Had Stanley been here, I’m sure he would have yelled.
Pick 60: After four and a half hours and about 20,000 words, it’s finally time for the final pick. Sexgod closes affairs with the announcement that the Suns pick Dwayne Collins out of Miami, a man who, if his arms shrink and he forgets how to catch, could provide a decent replication of Brian Skinner for a few years. The drafting of Collins completes the second round, and ensures that it is bookended by sensible picks.
But man, did it get weird in between.
Thus ends another NBA Draft Night, perhaps not as big-trade laden as others before it, but just as exciting in its own special way. With an unprecedentedly awesome free agency period upon us, it would perhaps have been selfish to expect an all-time calibre draft night as well.
The real winner in this draft was the fauxhawk. The real loser was Patrick O’Bryant. And the word Xavier. And the Knicks. To use the quick grade-style format that would have meant you didn’t need to read all of that bobbins above….
Atlanta – C (Crawford’s OK, but Sy’s just weird, and why did you sell Pleiss? Would have been a B had they used the #31 wisely.)
Boston – B (Skillz Train doesn’t make a huge amount of sense considering the roster make-up, but Bradley was the right pick.)
Charlotte – DNP
Chicago – A (Maybe I’m biased, but the sheer unexpectedness of that Hinrich trade cannot be overstressed.)
Cleveland – DNP
Dallas – A- (Buying Jones as a long-term role player was sensible in every sense of the word, although keeping Alabi would have been too.)
Denver – DNP
Detroit – B (Good players for good value.)
Golden State – B- (Big fan of Ekpe Udoh, but that might have been too high.)
Houston – B+ (The right player at the right draft spot.)
Indiana – B (Not seeing the logic behind the Stephenson pick, but George represented the best remaining chance at stardom at #10, and that’s what Indiana sorely need.)
L.A. Clippers – B- (It’s not the most fundamentally friendly team they’re building there.)
L.A. Lakers – B- (Ebanks was right, Caracter will be meaningless.)
Memphis – C (Marked down severely for selling the #25. A team that self-prescribes building through the draft turns down the chance to build through the draft. It just doesn’t compute.)
Miami – B (Should have kept Latavious, but a decent selection of second-round picks.)
Milwaukee – B (Keeping Gallon and trading Jordan seems like it’s the wrong way around, but Sanders suits.)
Minnesota – D (Took the wrong guy on five separate occasions, which is hard to do, and made a really terrible trade that serves no obvious purpose.)
New Jersey – B- (Is Damion James the most value you can get from the 27th and 31st picks in a draft? Probably not.)
New Orleans – B (Would have been nice to have kept Cole Aldrich, but they bettered their team, saved money, and may have filled a long-term hole. The only downside is that the other really big hole was neglected.)
New York – D (Picks in the thirties should be much, much more valuable than this.)
Oklahoma City – C+ (In keeping with tradition, Presti acquires assets better than he later utilises them. The pick of Aldrich was correct, but the trade to get him effectively ends their offseason. The Clippers’ first-round pick may prove useful, or it may prove uneventful. And the Ryan Reid thing was ridiculous.)
Orlando – B (Right guys, wrong way around….close enough.)
Philadelphia – A (Largely arbitrary grade awarded for doing absolutely nothing wrong. Then again, it wasn’t hard to do anything wrong when the only pick you have is the #2 in a two-person draft.)
Phoenix – B (A couple of decent second-rounders, although I still insist Stanley Robinson was right at #46.)
Portland – B- (Won the Minnesota trade by a long way, and will win it by even more if they don’t waive Gomes. Their other picks, however, are a touch underwhelming.)
Sacramento – A- (Great value for their picks, but the reason those picks were possible were because of the significant implosion possibilities. Risks worth taking, however.)
San Antonio – B+ (Right player in the first round, right nationality in the second.)
Toronto – A (Couldn’t have done more.)
Utah – C (Love Hayward, but its a reach until further notice.)
Washington – C (Wall pick, self evidently good. Trade with Minnesota, good. Trade with Chicago, incredibly bad. Worst move of the night. The only blessing is that it won’t cost them too much in the long run.)
The undrafted free agent class from this draft is simply unbelievable. Even when forgetting overseas players, the list is a stunner; in no particular order, we have Jerome Dyson, Sherron Collins, Gavin Edwards, Artsiom Parakhouski, Mac Koshwal, Samardo Samuels, Jerome Randle, A.J. Slaughter, Charles Garcia, Jeremy Wise, A.J. Ogilvy, Mikhail Torrance, Jon Scheyer, Matt Bouldin, Tyler Smith, Omar Samhan, Jeremy Lin, Scottie Reynolds and Deon Thompson. There’s the ambitious entries, such as Tommy Mason-Griffin and Courtney Fortson, who also didn’t get picked. Miroslav Raduljica didn’t want to get drafted, and by my troth, he did not. Nor did Alexey Shved. And that’s before we even get to the “seniors who didn’t really have a chance, but I like them anyway” list, a list featuring big names such as Tweety Carter, Obi Muonelo and Ish Smith.
Can you not see at least five of those players cranking out a couple of years on an NBA bench? Can you see Pape Sy doing that?
That’s one of the best undrafted classes of recent years. And to think Stanley Robinson was almost on it. This simply unbelievable second round perhaps provides a fitting climax to this frankly weird season NBA season. In a year featuring the world’s weirdest NCAA bracket, more basketball player penis pictures than in every other year of the sport’s history combined, and Adam Morrison winning his second championship ring, the drafting of Andy Rautins at #38 starts to make sense. As Kevin Garnett once annoyingly said; Anything is possible.
I am continuously intrigued by the esoterica and minutiae of all the aspects of building a basketball team. I want to understand how to build the best basketball teams possible. No, I don’t know why, either.