Somehow, we salvaged an NBA season out of that lockout. It was good, too. Whether you liked the outcome or not, the storylines – the good guy/bad guy Finals, of LeBron finally winning, the brief Celtics resurgence and the unflappable-until-they-were-flapped Spurs – wrote themselves rather nicely. As soon as that weren’t supposed to happen go, that one was pretty good.
Of course, to get to that point, we have to suffer through a lot. The lockout burned and burned badly, a scarring five months of indecisiveness and stagnancy that sullied reputations and left thousands out of pocket. Worse still, the party stopped. The NBA and the Players Union refused to give up their seats to pregnant women, gave Chinese burns to school children and punched puppies in the face, so determined were they to ruin everyone’s fun. After achieving a great high in the 2010/11 season, the NBA decided it had to hurt itself.
Regardless of what happened in the past, though, we now get to look forward. The NBA Draft of last year had something of a Thelma and Louise feel to it, yet despite driving itself off that cliff, the NBA still lives on. This year’s draft will be more of a Disney epic, or a Steve Carell comedy caper. Men and women will fall in love. Anthropomorphic animals will smile and embrace and then go on impossibly happy jaunts to soothing walking-away music. Everything will resolve itself in the happiest possible way from the most unlikely scenario. And no one will die.
(This post is long. Very long. If you don’t have 90 minutes to kill, skip to a certain pick number below. Once there, click the pick number to return to the top)
As ever, ESPN carries the draft night coverage, but this year they have switched it up. After two years ago drowning out the entire broadcast with his heavy breathing, and last year undermining it all with a variety of basic factual errors, awkward silences and forced punch lines, Stu Scott has been replaced by the unfailingly-smooth Rece Davis. Davis doesn’t have much experience with the NBA, but he doesn’t need it – all he needs to do is bring his chemistry with Jay Bilas from College Game Day broadcasts, help Jeff Van Gundy pick his perfect spots, and keep the whole thing flowing. Even those who love the NBA Draft so much that we’re prepared to write 11,000 words about TV coverage of it acknowledge that it flags a bit at times, and needs an ultra-smooth link man to power it through. In 2011, Stu Scott wasn’t that. Indeed, Stu was so off his game last year that a small patch of brown liquid would have been more beneficial to the broadcast. However, instead of a small patch of brown liquid, we have Rece Davis. And Rece Davis is good.
The other significant change to the line-up sees Jon Barry replaced by Chris Broussard. Barry has done the last few NBA Draft broadcasts, and yet, for such a strong NBA role player, he never found his role on the draft team. Whereas Bilas did all the scouting reports, and Van Gundy did the funnies, Barry was left ostensibly to analyse the NBA’s team needs. Unfortunately, he didn’t do it very well. This is a man who last year said that Cleveland doesn’t need a point guard because they had Baron Davis, only for Davis to be paid $29 million to go away two working weeks later. He then said having Anthony Randolph was a good reason for not taking Derrick Williams. Jon Barry’s role had become taking fleeting looks at NBA depth charts and seemingly basing everything he said around them. Van Gundy was doing a better job of the NBA analysis than he was, and at least had the dignity to not make wild stabs in the dark as to what the draft prospects were like. (Know your limits.) Barry just didn’t bring anything to the table. And so he’s no longer at it.
Barry’s absence might create a lack of things to be dumbfounded at, which is good news for the viewer, but not such good news for the person who writes an NBA Draft Diary. Mercifully, into his place steps Broussard, who provides plenty of potential for such, and who also seems to have dyed his hair black for the occasion. Heather Cox once again is deemed to be the cream of the ESPN interviewer crop, winning the rights to bounce around the green room (or “black plaza,” as it perhaps should be known) taking in incoherent thoughts from people too happy to talk. Ric Bucher and Andy Katz are positioned far away from the set, ready to break news of trades and transactions long after anyone who’s got a Twitter feed will have already learnt about them. And Mark Jones retains his place as the sideline-interviewer-so-far-left-of-stage-he-may-as-well-be-outside man, a role he won off Stephen A. Smith two years ago and has thrived in since. Jones will once again be forced to conduct standing interviews with men far taller than him shot with an unnecessarily close-up lens; this is big news for ergonomics fans and ardent chair haters, but not such good news for us purists who like to see interviewer and interviewee be at least in the same atmospheric level. Jones isn’t unduly short, but he is still towered over, nothing that standing a little further back couldn’t fix. Alas, it does not happen.
It seems that every year, we know who the first pick will be from the minute the NCAA Tournament ends. Normally, we still have to go through something of a will-they-won’t-they pretence, just as we briefly had to do last year before Cleveland inevitably took Kyrie Irving. It’s hilarious. It’s not.
This year, though, seemingly we were saved the bother. We still had Hornets War Room shots – potentially tantalising glimpses inside the inner chambers of an NBA team’s executive offices that only turn out to be shots of men in suits staring at TVs – but it is refreshingly acknowledged that the decision has already been made. The only reason we weren’t given official word that the New Orleans Hornets were going to take Anthony Davis is because we weren’t allowed to, due to some NBA gag order thing in place. (God forbid someone ruins the drama of who might go first.) The fact is not published, but it is known. Indeed, the entire 30 minute build-up was devoted to this very subject. Maybe the only person who didn’t know was Anthony himself, who turned up in Mavericks colours.
Included in this build-up show was a rather forced graphic that attempts to describe how, every five years, a dominant NBA big man is chosen first overall in the draft. The graphic starts off well, as it shows us David Robinson in 1987, Shaq in 1992, and Tim Duncan in 1997. But it wavers slightly with the presence of Yao Ming in 2002 (who, while awesome, wasn’t those guys), and then Thelma and Louises itself by mentioning Greg Oden in 2007. Under pressure to justify it, Davis scrambles to point out the problems Oden has had in his NBA career, without going as far as to mention that his NBA career is essentially dead. But he also doesn’t point out that Oden wasn’t even dominant in college to begin with. And the need for symmetry overlooked Dwight Howard going first overall in 2004. Rece Davis isn’t going to succeed if the graphics guys work to undermine him like this. Just let it flow.
This montage is follow soon after by an advert break, which advertises a “Miami Heat Championship Pack” for the amazingly uncompetitive price of $89.99. For that money, you can get a DVD (which presumably is of highlights and player interviews done to the tune of uplifting string music, and not like Under Siege 2 or something), a towel, a hat and a t-shirt, all emblazoned with Miami Heat symbols. If you’d rather save your money, and yet still want to share in the magic, the always consumer-friendly ShamSports.com recommends the following steps:
1) Buy a plain white t-shirt. Arbitrarily, lets say a Fruit Of The Loom one from QTag.com. This will cost roughly 99 cents.
2) Forgo the towel. You don’t need corporate iconography when drying yourself.
3) Buy some special t-shirt pens for roughly $5.
4) Use the pens to draw this on the t-shirt:
Your child won’t be the envy of the rest of the school like this, but then, he wasn’t going to be anyway. And you were only going to buy it for your child, right? Right.
[NB; Product ideally suited for those with unusually wide necks.]
The intro show deals almost exclusively with Davis (Anthony, not Rece), although a fleeting run-down of the other lottery picks is given. One storyline given a bit of focus is the plummeting draft stocks of both Perry Jones III and Jared Sullinger, both projected high lottery picks last year who returned to school, only to have injury red flags kill their draft stock this year. Action is thrown over to Andy Katz, who explains that Sullinger is red flagged due to “bulging dicks.”
And NOW, we’ve started.
Pick 1: David Stern comes out to the podium to announce that the team who made its decision four weeks ago now has five minutes in which to make a decision. He does so to a special kind of booing – not the usual level of booing we see for Stern, but an extra vitriolic, heartfelt, passionate boo, one of those ones which so much depth and feeling that it almost creates its own vowel sound. Last year, in the run-up to the inevitable and ugly NBA lockout, David Stern was booed vociferously; this year, in its aftermath, the booing is less playful. Misplaced wife-beating jokes and all, Stern built the league that we know and love, and yet in return, we boo him as loudly as we know how. And he LOVES that, else he wouldn’t keep mentioning Miami. He might as well embrace it fully, turn heel, ditch the suit, don a cape, and suplex Adam Silver. (Who, incidentally, needs some entrance music of his own.)
For the purposes of drama, New Orleans takes those full five minutes. This gives Jay Bilas – who clearly won the panel’s internal “who can best pull off the top pocket silk look” sweepstake – a lot of time to break down Davis’s game. He does so citing the usual factors and employing all the usual Bilasisms – athleticism, wingspan, second jump ability, every possible physical characteristic you can think of – while also detailing Davis’s smooth, well developed skill set. There is seemingly so much to praise about Davis that at no point is his rebounding mentioned, despite Davis grabbing one rebound every 3 minutes last season. All the while, Davis is seated in the black plaza, listening to the broadcast being pumped throughout the arena. It must be a weird and polarising experience to be seated maybe 50 feet away from a group of people praising you relentlessly to an international audience of millions, when you have no right to reply or means of interacting with them in any way. Mind you, it probably has its advantages.
Eventually, the Hornets complete the formalities and pick Davis, thereby ensuring all our mock drafts are still intact. In a break from protocol, Stern doesn’t announce which school Davis played for, but he could not be less bothered about it. Davis uses his long wingspan, athleticism, second jump ability and explosive first step to bound up to the podium, whereupon he is greeted by Stern in the traditional fashion. The microphone picks up what Stern says: “congratulations, you’ll always be number one. Now look straight ahead and then to the right.” An insight into what really goes on up there. How….anticlimactic. Davis then interviews with Mark Jones, giving some of the most boring, cliché, non-confrontational answers out there. This is to his utmost credit, even if my description doesn’t sound like it.
Davis (Rece) tells the story of how Davis (Anthony) was only 6’2 in high school, and played the point guard position before his growth spurt, which may explain where his passing, shooting and court vision skills (as well as preference for facing up) all come from. True enough. But you know who else this is true of? Tyrus Thomas. I present that without comment. Because, well, obviously not.
For all the lauding of his play, no mention is made at any time about Davis’s legendary, spectacular, and completely unjustifiably insane unibrow. Davis is so synonymous with this brow, and such a poster child for having one, that he now heads up the Wikipedia page for them, and yet somehow ESPN declines (or is ordered not) to mention it. The same will not be true of this blog, however. Here is what two minutes in MS Paint suggests Davis would look like if that thing was the other way up.
Pick 2: There is some genuine drama to be found as early as pick two. Charlotte owns this pick, but they don’t want it, or at least, they want to trade down to bag extra talent and still get the player they covet. Cleveland is the trade partner with whom talks go down to the wire, yet not even the internet (who knows everything about such matters) reports a deal getting done in time. Charlotte, then, holds onto her own pick.
Charlotte and Bob Katz famously presided over the worst season in NBA history last year, and famously still didn’t land the first overall pick in the total-fix-that-totally-wasn’t-a-fix non-fix fix. Nevertheless, it’s always fun to kick a man while he’s down, and Rece Davis seizes the opportunity to point out that Charlotte’s .106 winning percentage looks more like a breathalyser test result. Davis is already forty times better at this gig than Stu Scott, who probably would have made a zip code joke.
During a montage of Bobcats personnel looking sad – in reality, a blatantly blatant manoeuvre to get on TV a picture of Michael Jordan’s new model fiance – new Bobcats head coach Mike Dunlap is also pictured. All I take away from the experience is that, with his live-in star and significant side parting, Dunlap faintly reminded one of Christoph Waltz’s character in Inglourious Basterds. If that doesn’t make you play hard, nothing will.
The Bobcats then shatter any and all previously unbroken mock drafts, picking another Kentuckian, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. The pick is met with some surprise, not least of which is felt by Michael himself, who is barely able to go through the process. He is on the cusp of tears during his time on the podium with Stern, and remains so during his interview with Mark Jones, where he is barely able to get a word out. Those that he does manage are mostly “wow,” and for no apparent reason, two of the others were “Anthony Davis.” MKG wears his emotions on his face, and in this instance, there’s rather a lot of them – combined with a stuttering problem he has long battled, MKG’s time with Jones is endearingly, heart-warmingly awkward. It is the polar opposite of the Anthony Davis interview, and yet this too is to his utmost credit. After all, he’s only saying what we all were thinking.
Bilas recovers quickly from the surprise of the pick and launches into an appraisal of MKG’s game, one that is highly complimentary. For the most part, Bilas focuses his analyses on his body type and “relentlessness,” going out of his way to point out the innate nature of someone’s motor. Anyone can be motivated by money, fame or what have you, but only a few have that other-level energy level that separates them. Just like apathy, you either have it or you don’t.
Unfortunately, by going to such extremes to point this out, Bilas implicitly makes another pertinent point. Kidd-Gilchrist is a good player and will continue to be so, but his physical tools and motor are listed ahead of his skillset for a reason. His upside may be more equal to that of Gerald Wallace than that of Scottie Pippen. This is fine, because Gerald Wallace has long been a very good player. Charlotte, of all teams, knows that. But with the second pick in the draft, you need to be sure you’re landing the likely second-best player. Will a man with Gerald Wallace’s upside be that? We’ll know in time, but it trusts an awful lot to luck for it to be the case. Nevertheless, a team staggeringly short of talent just got some, and Kidd-Gilchrist becomes by default the best player Charlotte has ever drafted. A Kemba Walker/Ben Gordon/MKG/Bismack Biyombo line-up is starting to take shape. It’s not much, but it’s a start.
Pick 3: Washington does the expected and shores up its weakest position with one of the draft’s better prospects. They take Bradley Beal, who is instantly lauded as one of the draft’s better shooters and more efficient scorers, despite hitting only 34% from the college three-point line last year.
Washington certainly needs more shooting. John Wall is the foundation, and John Wall can’t consistently shoot from three, but neither can those around him. Of the accompanying pieces, Jordan Crawford might be the best shooter, and yet his career-high three-point percentage is all of 28.9%. If Beal brings his high school jump shot, he’ll be an instant help in this regard. And if he does, we can start calling him the BB Gunner. (Thus creates the first terrible nickname of this diary. Beal’s own choice for a nickname seems to be Real Deal Beal, but frankly, I’m not listening.)
Beal’s interview goes the way of Anthony Davis’s, steeped in clichés and vows of working hard, whilst never directly answering the questions posed of him. This, while boring to the casual fan, is somewhat comforting, as it demonstrates a good understanding of professionalism in a league where nothing less than that is acceptable. Rece Davis throws it back to Broussard, who, for the second time in the broadcast, pronounces Nene’s name as “Nay Nay.” So I’m not the only one out there, then.
Broussard then talks in reverential tones about Beal as a “man,” just as the panel had also done previously about Davis and Kidd-Gilchrist. He then talks about the Wizards’ need to resolve what he calls a “knucklehead factor,” something JVG piles on with, saying to call it that is to be kind. The players who left the Wizards in the last few months = JaVale McGee, Nick Young, Roger Mason. Have those guys been stabbed in the back? No. They’ve been stabbed in the front. Without ever naming names of who is meant, reputations have just been blackmarked indelibly forever. And I don’t mean Roger Mason’s.
A graphic flashes up that shows how the 2012 Draft is the first since 1986 to have all of the top three picks come out of the same conference. The three in 1986 – Brad Daugherty, Len Bias, Chris Washburn. One managed only eight years due to chronic back trouble, one died of a cocaine overdose before ever playing a game, and one averaged 3.1 points and 2.4 rebounds for his career, playing less seasons than he had failed drug tests. Let’s hope for slightly more here.
Pick 4: The Twitter era is great, but it’s trying its best to ruin the NBA Draft. Multiple figures, most noticeably the venerable Adrian Wojnarowski, are scooping picks a matter of seconds before they are officially announced, which rather pisses on the chips of those of us purists who still try to read Stern’s body language and lips as he makes the pick in the blissful ignorance of his authority. Since you can’t help but find out these things by accident if you’re on it, it’s impossible to use Twitter at this time.
That said, even when you know who it is, the pick can sometimes still be a surprise. And that’s what happens here. Cleveland takes Dion Waiters from Syracuse, a man adjudged to be barely a first-rounder a few months ago, coming off a 12.6 point per game season as a score-first type of player. A suitably damning assessment of the pick was made by Jonathan Givony back before the pick was even made:
I can only imagine the conversation an owner will have with their GM in two-three years if Dion Waiters ends up being a bust… “So you took a 6-3 SG 6th man who everyone had in the 20s in May in the top-10 despite no workout, physical or interview? You did that why?” “But, a front office with a history of bad decisions promised him at the end of the lottery! I figured they HAVE to know something we don’t” If he was some kind of long-armed athletic freak with a superb attitude and intangibles, I could maybe understand. But of course he’s not…
In essence, then, Cleveland just picked Voshon Lenard with the fourth pick. You can see why they wanted to trade up.
Givony is not the only person to be denouncing the pick, or the idea of Waiters going that high before he had even done so. It probably doesn’t help that Mark Jones further points out Waiters’ problems with “maturity,” which is totally what you need to hear from a man with a questionable skillset and average physical tools. But not even the most cynical of men had him going as high as number four. Cleveland made a similar shocker of a pick at this spot last year when they took Tristan Thompson. in a move that’s going okaayyyyyyyyyish, but now they’ve done it again. And this one is rather harder to justify. Waiters may well go on to be a capable scorer in the Gary Neal mode, but that is no justification for picking him so far ahead of tangibly, measurably better prospects.
Still, the Draft has at least spawned some controversy. In a largely trade-free build-up, that’s something.
Pick 5: Right after Cleveland picks Voshon Lenard at four, Sacramento picks Kris Humphries at five. Kris Humphries in this instance is Thomas Robinson of Kansas, and the Kings are extremely pleased about it. Not only do they get the opportunity to bag the draft’s second-best big man when they didn’t think they would have the opportunity to do so, but they also had the awkward should-we-take-Dion-Waiters decision taken out of their hands. Because they really would have gone there. You know it. (And I base that on absolutely nothing.)
Sacramento is thrilled with the pick, as well they should be. They get the second-best big in the draft when they really shouldn’t have been able to, and also now have an excuse to not pay Jason Thompson, which should please ownership. Robinson should be a double-double guy in the Humphries mould for many years, and if a Humphries comparison is interpreted as a pejorative, it really shouldn’t be, as Kris Humphries can play. Robinson should also surpass Humphries as a player, as he is better on both ends of the court. There’s no reason why, with a clean bill of health, Robinson couldn’t put up 14/10. Or maybe more. He has the physical tools, the skill, and the motor to do so. And between him and DeMarcus Cousins, they won’t miss a rebound all year.
Upon being drafted, Robinson cries, and is lauded for his high character. Robinson raises his younger sister as though he were her father because he lost much of his family within a three-week span last year – it is, by all accounts, completely true to say he is a high character guy. Yet everyone thus far – apart from perhaps Waiters, who nonetheless received praise for maturing somewhat – has been lauded for this reason. Whose decision is it to place such an emphasis on that this year? Was it ESPN, an NBA directive, or merely the panel’s own imperative? Whichever it is, it is overused to the point of being strained. Surely we should already be assuming that people are nice until we learn otherwise.
In previous years, draftees have commemorated their selection normally by hugging and kissing people, rather than breaking down in tears. This was punctuated by Jan Vesely, who last year all but frottaged this cheeky young thing:
There’s been none of that this year, and the voyeur in me misses that. There’s also been little by way of awkward handshakes and bro-fives, which the awkward man in me also misses. Indeed, the closest thing we’ve had to awkward celebratory interaction came inevitably from the chair-jumping John Calipari, a man who always knows where the camera is and who always wanted to be in its line of sight. After the Waiters pick, we were subjected to a behind-the-scenes clip of Coach Cal telling Davis and Kidd-Gilchrist quite how and when they were to get him into shot. It was in jest, yet it wasn’t. Bad times. The draft has started badly.
What we do get instead is our first pre-teen interview of the night, as Heather Cox draws the tough assignment of interviewing Robinson’s young sister. Understandably crippled with fear, the sister manages few words, the awkward silences harkening back to the Stu Scott era. The talk in NBA circles is always about “putting people in a position where they can succeed,” and neither Heather nor the sister were put in such a position. Nevertheless, Heather succeeded.
About this time, Jonathan Givony tweets that a backstage Thomas Robinson “looks PISSED.” Maybe they weren’t happy tears after all.
When questioned about Portland’s possible intent, Chris Broussard mentions that they should go for a point guard. It is certainly true that they need one, after the Raymond Felton experiment went so horribly wrong. But one of two things is happening here. Either Broussard is falling into the Jon Barry trap of believing all picks should be made with an eye to balancing the depth chart, when in reality it is very difficult to imagine a situation in which anything other than the best player available should be taken, or he happens to know that Portland are likely to take a point guard here.
Given what we know of Chris Broussard – who all night has spoken only in definitive statements of what teams think, rather than opinions, thereby constantly reaffirming himself as a guy who knows guys and is unwilling to engage in independent thought – it is clearly the latter. Portland does not disappoint by taking Damian Lillard, who has been on a meteoric rise up draft boards over the course of the year, in a way not entirely unlike Dion Waiters has. Lillard clearly knew this was coming, resplendent as he is in Trail Blazers colours, but I fear he may have over-accessorized the outfit:
What Lillard has that Waiters doesn’t is many years of quality production. It came against weakened opposition, but is huge production against average opposition better than average production against quality opposition? Yes, if you have the prerequisite skills and physical tools to make it translate. And Lillard does. A graphic flashes up that shows Lillard and Rodney Stuckey as being the only two players drafted out of the Big Sky Conference in the last 36 years – not only is it a nice piece of trivia, it’s also quite a good comparison.
In Lillard’s interview with Mark Jones, Mark asks him what he learnt from speaking to Gary Payton. Lillard’s response: “GP never talked to me about being successful.” Gary Payton can now be found walking the streets of Seattle, again with a knife in his chest. We’re selling some people out here tonight.
Tom Penn is also in on tonight’s broadcast, and is getting better at it year on year. His peripheral role once again involves standing off in some unknown part of the auditorium, pointing at a screen. At least this year, the font size is legible. What kind of NBA franchise could you make with Tom Penn as GM, Van Gundy as head coach, Bilas as head of scouting and Davis/Jones as announcers? A likeable one, that’s for sure.
When Lillard is drafted, an almighty scream goes up, and the camera cuts a few seconds later to a slavering bunch of females cheering and jiggling at Lillard’s success. They must hunt in packs.
Still no tongues since in this draft. Still no trades, either.
Pick 7: There won’t be a trade here. Golden State has been oft-rumoured as trying to trade this pick for a small forward, but now they don’t need to, as Harrison Barnes falls to them and is quickly snapped up. Barnes struts to the stage like a panther, and then proceeds to give the most clichéd interview possible. There’s been two types of interview tonight, the cliché and the tearful. It’s good, but it also makes me miss the third way – the broken non-English speaker. Jonas Valanciunas may have inadvertently retired that last year.
Barnes will join Klay Thompson on the wing in Golden State, giving the Warriors two good offensive components. But both are finishers rather than creators, scoring in the teens without ever being a go-to player, and it’s difficult to project either Thompson or Barnes as ever becoming one. Given a clean bill of health, a Steph Curry/Thompson/Barnes/David Lee/Andrew Bogut lineup is pretty solid, one that has enough both inside and out, a legitimate defensive anchor with just enough help on the wing to put together a decent unit on that end, and no offensive holes. The floor will most definitely be spaced. But it’s also a team with a probable upside of a late-seeded playoff team. Late playoffs is better than late lottery, but it’s not great either.
Enough of that, though. I know you’re more interested in how Harrison Barnes would look with Anthony Davis’s eyebrows.
Bad day for Harrison Barnes’s reputation as a hat wearer.
Pick 8: Another surprising pick comes in as Toronto drafts Terrence Ross from Washington. The consensus best wing players left on the board were Duke’s Austin Rivers and UConn’s Jeremy Lamb; nevertheless, Toronto takes Ross, perhaps with an eye to a potential pairing with DeMar DeRozan in mind. (Taking players on account of their fit is justifiable only if all else between two prospects is equal, or very close to it.)
Jay Bilas immediately trolls the pick by pointing out how Ross averaged 25 points per game last season……in the NIT. Designated international expert Fran Fraschilla, who hasn’t had anything to talk about yet, reminisces about Jonas Valanciunas, picked the year before. Long night for Fran Fraschilla. Dude’s lonely right now.
The reaction to Ross’s pick is the closest thing yet to stunned silence. Even more so than for the Waiters pick; at least that one was vaguely rumoured. It’s also perhaps still in the minds of the audience that the last time the Raptors surprised us at #8, they picked Rafael Araujo, a man who recently retired from the game in order to write a book about how unpleasant the game was for him. (True story.) Nevertheless, Ross’s selection is only a bit of a reach, and he has upside to his game – frame, athleticism, a sweet shot and a decent basketball IQ. The holes in his skill set can come later – in fact, even if they don’t, and he makes his living as a shooting specialist, it’ll do.
If you’re a firm believer in the idea that you can tell when a player knows they’re going to a particular team based on the colour of the outfit that they are wearing, then it is safe to say that Terrence Ross had no idea. His Vaudevillian porn star outfit combined a green bowtie with a blue-and-white shirt and a grey jacket – when the ensemble was topped off by a red Raptors hat, Ross now had a colour for every occasion. And looked ridiculous doing so.
Despite his mispronunciations – spotlighted again by an unnecessarily-syllabled attempt at VAL-AN-CHOON-ASS – Broussard nevertheless provides a role in this draft. He is plugged in, and he does know what teams intend to do, even if he can’t (or won’t) rationalise it. On one hand, this helps him blend into proceedings and carves him the niche Jon Barry so sorely lacked. On the other hand, he’s making Ric Bucher redundant.
Pick 9: Andre Drummond goes next to Detroit, a risky pick with a possibly high reward that a team so thoroughly moribund until this point can afford to make. Drummond, who looks like the love child of Amar’e Stoudemire and Al Horford, takes to the stage to the sound of his own biological field notes, as Jay Bilas goes to town with the phyical description of this unpolished athletic specimen. Bilas’s penchant for doing this led to a drinking game being created in his honour a few years ago, and Bilas, a man of the world, knows about it. He even referenced it in last year’s broadcast. Jay Bilas, it seems, wants to get you drunk.
(Remember Amar’e and Al’s wedding? I do. Cracking afternoon. Good buffet spread, I seem to remember. Oh no wait they hate each other.)
Drummond joins the growing list of criers tonight, while Mark Jones describes how Drummond first left high school early to go to UConn, and now leaves college after only one year to come to the NBA. This is potentially disconcerting news framed in a positively light (heartbreaking loyalty, etc), and the only real surprise comes when Drummond doesn’t walk off from his interview half way through.
(This would have been the worst joke of the night had Jones himself not topped it, first asking Andre about his questionable motor, then wrapping things up with the punchline “Detroit knows about good motors, right?” I really like Mark Jones in this role, but not even my dad would laugh at that. Still, cheers for falling on your sword for me there.)
Pick 10: The running message we get on draft nights, and thus the running joke that stems from it, is that every team is amazed that the player they wanted was still on the board when they picked, and that they’re overjoyed to have landed the one player they wanted all along. This is the story we get even in those instances (like, say, Cleveland above) when a team clearly tried to trade its way out of that spot but got stuck with it anyway. It is very true at the moment, however, as New Orleans bags the terribly-facial-haired Austin Rivers at #10, a man they probably didn’t think would be there then. And who arguably shouldn’t have been.
Rivers, who likely won’t have to do the traditional draftee thing and buy his parents a house, now pairs up in New Orleans with Eric Gordon. Gordon is a restricted free agent this summer, and, as the only top quality shooting guard on the market, might not be easy to retain. But if New Orleans pays whatever it costs to keep him – and they really must – they now have a strong young core of him, Rivers, the aforementioned Anthony Davis and the always-underappreciated Gustavo Ayon (who will be so much better than you expect next year). What isn’t obvious is how Rivers and Gordon will pair – both are undersized twos that can’t really play point guard, and yet unless they want to spend a year subbing in for each other, one of them will have to. However, acquiring talent and taking the best player available is always the right way to go, and Rivers is that. Something akin to the Gilbert Arenas/Larry Hughes backcourt of yesteryear, back when both were good, may just work.
With that in mind, Jarrett Jack is now back in his rightful position – as the league’s best backup point guard. It’s where he should always have been.
ESPN’s on-screen graphics have carried a feedback poll on every pick made so far. For the Rivers pick, fans have voted for a rather high 14.7% F-rating. This seems bafflingly high. Then again, even Anthony Davis got 5.3% F’s. The lesson, as always – people are dumb.
In keeping with their policy of signing brothers, Phoenix will now sign Jeremiah Rivers.
Pick 11: Portland are up again, this time with their own pick – their previous #6 pick came via the hands of the newly-Brooklyn Nets, who gave up a high lottery pick in a deep draft for a short-term rental of Gerald Wallace whom they can then renounce in order to have the cap room for Dwight Howard, should they be able to trade for him, which they can’t, because they haven’t the assets, because they gave their best one to Portland in exchange for a short term rental of Gerald Wallace. (It’s genius, really.) Needing a bit of everything, the Blazers opt for a centre, reaching slightly to pick Meyers Leonard.
It is of note that Leonard has gone before Tyler Zeller, a man to have outperformed him at every level they have played at in their careers to date. This, then, is an upsidey-pick, made on the basis of Leonard’s superior size and athleticism. Indeed, “upside” is the general theme of Bilas’s blurb, in which he also cites Leonard as needing to “get nastier.” Soft and raw, then. Good stuff.
Leonard is a genuine offensive talent, which is rare to find in a seven-footer. He should be better than B.J. Mullens in all facets of the game. But I suspect he’s going to go through his career flawed, permanently tantalising, never quite maximising what he’s got. At #11, however, you can live with that. And anyway, centres always maximise their potential in Portland.
Like Damian Lillard before him, Meyers’s fashion choices, while questionable, suggest that he knew this was coming.
Jay Bilas really is invaluable to these broadcasts. He does the vast majority of the actual analysis, thereby letting Van Gundy thrive and pick his spots, and is the most irreplacable person there. All in all, the trio of Bilas, Davis and Van Gundy have struck quite a harmonious trio. Broussard isn’t really fitting with the conversational chemistry, but he is at least playing a role.
Between picks, Wizards head coach Randy Wittman is interviewed, where he reinforces everything previously said about the Wizards’ determination to build character and improve the locker room. If you mean it, amnesty Andray Blatche.
Pick 12: Recent years have seen remarkably few quality shooting guards taken, but this year bucks that trend. Houston takes Jeremy Lamb at #12, when he probably should have gone at #8. Or #4, considering he’s better than Dion Waiters in all facets of the game.
Apart for one more airing for the phrase “fine young man,” every single aspect of Lamb’s breakdown is saved for his offensive game, yet this ignores his defence; when he’s in the right mind to play it, as he was more regularly in 2010, Lamb can be a highly effectively two-way player. Combine that with Courtney Lee (solid in all aspects of the game), and Houston have a solid tandem at the two guard spot.
Of course, they also have a third guy. With the Dwight Howard thing not likely to work – thereby making the trade with the Bucks even more pointless, as they essentially traded a starting centre in order to move up two spots for a guy who was likely to still be there at #14 anyway – Houston is now said to be going the other way, possibility amnestying Kevin Martin in order to open up cap room for Deron Williams. This would be an amazingly risky thing to do, and for that reason, a completely unnecessary one. Martin has value outside of that. Here’s my idea: trade him to Chicago for Kyle Korver and a signed-and-traded Omer Asik. If the Bulls will pay a little tax, it’s a win win. Maybe.
At this point, I am struck by the realisation that the NBA’s logo looks like a merman taking out the trash.
Pick 13: Phoenix avoids picking an inferior sibling (Marquis Teague) by picking a different point guard, Kendall Marshall, who managed the rare feat of recording more assets than points last season. Others to have done this include Dontell Jefferson and Doug Gottlieb. But Marshall is not those guys. Marshall isn’t readily comparable to anyone at all, really. He plays like Jason Kidd, yet to compare him to Jason Kidd instantly reads as though you’re saying he’s as good as Jason Kidd, which can never be true. What he is the ultimate pass-first point guard. Who just so happens to be a little slow.
Marshall is not at the draft, so the camera cuts to his college coach Roy Williams, whose teeth are so white that they’re actually a little blue. I can’t help but wonder how this must feel to those who ARE here, when a player considered unlikely enough to be drafted high that he wasn’t even invited to appear still somehow gets picked ahead of you. I also wonder why anyone who knows they are guaranteed to be drafted, if not where exactly, would not go to the draft. Party with your family later. Just get there and do the damn thing. It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Baseless prediction: Steve Nash will not re-sign with Phoenix this summer. As a result, nor will Grant Hill. Shannon Brown will, as will Aaron Brooks. Those two will pair with Marshall and Jared Dudley to create a backcourt and wing rotation that will be fun as hell. This rotation will also feature Josh Childress, the forgotten man, who hasn’t been good for four years (and somehow set an NBA record this year for most minutes played without making a free throw) but who must surely still have a spark on the fire. In addition to drafting Kendall Marshall, therefore, the Suns also effectively drafted Josh Childress tonight.
Another baseless prediction: Childress will be amnestied this summer. Now my bases are covered.
Between those two and Ekpe Udoh, Milwaukee has an exceptional shot-blocking trio of length and athleticism, if not a great deal of girth. And between those three, Larry Sanders just lost his job. Henson also continues a strong Milwaukee pedigree of right-handed big men who are really better with their left hand. This seems relevant.
Tyler Zeller remains on the board. Someone’s going to get five years of solid, unspectacular contribution late in this thing. In unrelated news, I think Zeller should add a consistent three-point shot and go for a Raef LaFrentz thing. I miss Raef LaFrentz.
Whilst picking for need over quality is not really the way to go, it’s always nice if you can pick players who are both. The Sixers have obvious needs – anyone who can consistently score, some outside shooting, an athletic shot-blocker and a big man with plenty of bulk. Inevitably, then, they just someone who is none of those things; the artist formerly known as Mo Harkless (who now wants to be known as Maurice), who can learn how to be the next Thaddeus Young under the direct watch of Thaddeus himself.
The panel unanimously agrees that this duplication doesn’t matter, as long as the player involved is the best available and/or has the highest upside. This is a frankly refreshing viewpoint that I guarantee Jon Barry doesn’t share.
After spending all of last year’s draft hanging outside the side door of the Cavaliers office, without so much as an interview with Chris Grant or an upskirt shot of Moondog getting out of a taxi, Jeanine Edwards is again standing outside the war room of the team who picked first, waiting for a tepid interview. She finally bags one with Hornets GM Dell Demps, and she promptly makes the first unibrow reference of the night. This throws up the first chink in Rece Davis’s unflappable armour, as he admits that, before the broadcast began, Davis warned the panel not to make any puns about it, as he “owns the trademarks to some of the phrases.”
I guess the unibrow is here to stay. By the way, here’s what Fab Melo would look like with only one eyebrow.
Pick 16: Royce White goes next to Houston, whom Jay Bilas instantly compares in style-of-play terms to Charles Barkley. I would counter and say he’s more of a Pero Cameron. But then, that’s the kind of guy I am. One who makes Pero Cameron references. Never apologise for who you are. Unless you’re a psychopath killer.
White is a very talented offensive player who will struggle to utilise his great talents in the NBA in anything approaching an optimum way because he’s too slow and can’t guard anybody. (You know who he needs behind him? OMER ASIK. Morey, Chicago will probably match any free agency offer, so you’re going to have to trade Kevin Martin for him. It’s how it is.) Nevertheless, White will produce numbers across the board….if he gets to play. Houston now has three backups to Luis Scola, including Marcus Morris and Patrick Patterson, their late lottery picks of the last two years. You’d better believe Scola is looking over his shoulder now.
This news might be bad for White’s oft-documented fear of flying. According to Weakside Awareness, Houston fly the third-most miles of any NBA team in a season. Van Gundy and Davis rather flippantly dismiss the issue by pointing out how nice NBA charter planes are, which they reason should help cure White’s problem, but Bilas cuts them down, pointing out the possible severity of the problem and White’s role model status for those who also suffer from it. Jay Bilas = analyst, humanitarian, lad.
(On the flip side, is there a more inappropriately named team for a man with a fear of flying than the Rockets?)
Pick 17: Zeller finally goes, picked by the Mavericks at #17, where he will not stay. In its continued bid to ruin the surprise, Twitter (with the assist to Woj) announces that Zeller will be traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers, the first trade of the day.
Of course, Zeller doesn’t know this, and talks in his interview about how much of a work ethic he will learn from Dirk Nowitzki. Zeller also talks about his brother Luke (whom Phoenix are now desperately trying to sign), and states how “he’s played in the D-League and knows the NBA lifestyle.” It’s like knowing what heaven’s like because you spent two years in hell. It’s not the same.
(Brothers normally play similarly in style, but the Zellers couldn’t be much more different. Tyler is a seven-footer who does a bit of everything inside the arc except shooting from deep range; Luke is a seven-footer who only shoots from deep range. You know what you’d have if you blended them together? Raef LaFrentz. I miss Raef LaFrentz.)
Pick 18: Seemingly not satisfied with the four power forwards they already have, Houston adds a fifth in Terrence Jones. He replaced Patrick Patterson at Kentucky, and now has the chance to dislodge him here. He also absolutely has to dislodge him here, or else he’s not seeing a single minute.
(Of course, Houston will probably have made 14 extra trades by opening night. But still. As of right now, that’s a hugely unbalanced roster.)
Jones now becomes something of a poster child for “players who shouldn’t have returned to school,” as he was projected to be a top five-to-ten pick last year who now finds himself out of the lottery altogether. The same is true of his namesake, Perry, who continues to sit in the green room and looks apathetic about it all. Every year, it seems, there has to be one fall guy. This year, it seems, it’s Perry Jones.
The draft so far has consisted of a couple of surprising picks, but few shockers, scant little in the way of accidental humour, and only one trade. Right on cue, Ric Bucher walks into shot carrying Adrian Wojnarowski’s bags, announcing the Zeller trade for the TV audience. In exchange for this rotation centre, Dallas receives the #24, #33 and #34 picks, and presumably a lesser player. Why? It probably has something to do with the fact that the cap hold for the 17th pick is $1,302,600, while the cap hold for the 24th pick is $963,600. In an offseason where cap space is imperative, that is not insignificant.
But here’s my question – if cap space is that important to Dallas, why was Kelenna Azubuike signed to a guaranteed minimum-salary contract for 2012/13 so late last season? And why was Vince Carter signed at all?
Pick 19: The first international player is taken, but not really. Orlando takes Andrew Nicholson from St Bonaventure, and Jay Bilas immediately launches into another detailed physical profile. I’m teetotal, yet even I’m getting drunk off of it now.
After Bilas is finished, we cut immediately to a commercial, which means Nicholson mustn’t be here. (Seriously. Why wouldn’t you go?) Upon returning, Jeff Van Gundy, unaware that the broadcast has started, can be overheard making an overdue joke; “his last name should be Meyers and his first name should be Leonard.” I agree. And I think the same about Harrison Barnes.
Interspersing the broadcast tonight is a very tenuous ladder motif, in which players walk around with a ladder, occasionally opening it up into its A-frame shape to help spell the word “DRAFT.” I have now watched the draft twice and I still don’t see the significance.
|This is what a Leonard Myers should look like.|
Pick 20: The NBA draft usually attracts some form of xenophobia, which this year’s broadcast has so far lacked. But an opportunity presents itself when the first truly international player, Evan Fournier, is picked by Denver in an apparent draft-and-stash. Denver once took a foreign bust in the first round, so it follows that because Skita was bad, so will be Fournier. Danilo Gallinari? Danilo Schmallinari. Europe sucks. Or something like that.
Fran Fraschilla finally has a shiny new toy to play with, but isn’t especially fawning of Fournier, other than to cite his potential. This is fair enough, since Fournier, while thoroughly projectable, is the rawest player picked so far other than perhaps Harkless and Drummond.
A group of French people are shown. They are promptly booed for being French.
Pick 21: Boston are now on the clock. Jeff Van Gundy, who has been very limited in the last few picks, now gets something in his wheelhouse – an analysis of the future of a decent NBA team. He is nonetheless overshadowed by Broussard, who does the same thing, but seemingly basing it exclusively off of what he has been told by others.
Boston makes a great value and highly popular pick in Jared Sullinger, whose slump is finally ended. Jay Bilas describes him in a way that makes him sound more Brian Scalabrine than Marcus Fizer, neither of which is the ideal prognosis. Glen Davis is a better comparison, which Bilas also brings up, taking care to point out that Sullinger is actually better than Baby. That, ultimately, will be determined by his back.
At this point, it bears repeating quite how much better Rece Davis is than Stu Scott at this. There are no cheesy gags, no unnecessarily awkward set-ups, and no dead air. This does mean less things to take the mickey out of, but I’m OK with that.
Pick 22: Boston picks again here, yet for some reason we have to wait another five minutes and change before they do. (Couldn’t they call in the two at once?) Moments like this are why the draft starts to drag. Nevertheless, the Celtics eventually pick Fabulous Carmelo, giving themselves a product big with Mouhamed Sene or Omer Asik potential (or, if you’d rather think highly, Dikembe Mutombo potential).
Melo went from being a complete disappointment in his freshman season to a partial disappointment as a sophomore. He finally figured out how to defend in the zone, which won’t help him much in Boston but which did at least mean production, yet he developed little offensively, fouled a ton, and rebounded fairly sedately for one so physically dominant. Furthermore, as his production increased, so did the drama, including being suspended for the NCAA Tournament due to academic issues. Relative to expectations, Melo didn’t really work out in Syracuse. At least by being drafted this late, expectations in Boston are quite low.
If Kevin Garnett returns for Boston, and Melo (and to a degree Sullinger) want it enough, they’re about to get quite the education.
Jay Bilas continues to get to do all the talking (much of it negative in his Melo analysis) as no trades are coming in. It’s been a bad night for Bucher, and especially Katz, what with the bulging dicks and all.
Tom Penn then confuses Tristan Thompson and Tyshawn Taylor. Not his best night either.
Pick 23: Right after Penn champions the logic of looking for specialists in the late first round, the ultimate specialist is selected as John Jenkins goes to Atlanta. Jenkins is the best shooter in this draft; indeed, he could be the best shooter in most drafts. But he is also the very definition of a one-dimensional player, as the rest of his game is somewhat average. So much so, in fact, that scant little time is dedicated to his analysis. It doesn’t take long to cover one dimension.
Tangenting significantly, an interview with Christoph Waltz/Mike Dunlap takes place (bizarrely with NFL reporter George Smith), one which prompts Van Gundy to talk about Michael Kidd-Gilchrist instead. JVG warns that he doesn’t know if MKG will be a star. This isn’t what you want to hear about a number two pick, and it’s made doubly weird by the phrasing of this as being a good thing. Charlotte at this point needs absolutely everything. But you know what they need most? Stars.
Pick 24: Dallas, now picking here post-Zeller trade, takes Jared Cunningham from Oregon State, giving an old team a fresh set of athletic young legs. If they do turn over their backcourt, lose Vince and the Jasons, and bring in Deron Williams, then he, Cunningham, Roddy Boobwar and Dominique Jones will make an exciting, dynamic and good backcourt. But if Cunningham alone is asked to push the tempo, it might make little difference. Who else will run with him? Shawn Marion and….Brian Cardinal?
Apropos of nothing, ESPN really should bring back the “must improve” captions.
Pick 25: With Memphis on the clock, a long discussion takes place as to what the Grizzlies need the most. It is concluded – rightly – that they need a shooter. The Grizzlies were one of the worst shooting teams in the league last season, and have just let their best shooter become an unrestricted free agent, for fear that he might accept his QO were he offered. With Jenkins having just been taken, then, attention turns to the other good shooters out there.
Naturally, then, Memphis takes Tony Wroten, one of the worst jump shooting guards out there. To further emphasis quite how much Wroten needs to work on, Bilas points out problems with his decision-making, shot-making, and work ethic. Let’s call him a project, then.
It is difficult at this point in the draft to strike a balance between “best prospect” and “most helpful tomorrow,” especially as we are now dealing with players who likely won’t manage more than a few years in the league, if that. It is also true that Memphis regularly prioritises athleticism above all else, which again seems to be the case here. Nevertheless, backup point guard has long been a problem for Memphis, especially in the wake of Jeremy Pargo’s bizarre ineffectiveness in the NBA. So they do still scratch an itch.
Andy Katz cuts in to explain Perry Jones’s plummet down the draft board as being due to possible health issues with his knee. He definitely said “knee.” Not “dick.” Katz’s night is improving.
Pick 26: Unusually for them, Indiana is the next team to overvalue athleticism. They pick Miles Plumlee out of Duke, who just completed a 6.1 ppg senior season, his main offensive weapon being the alley’oop. Just like the Zellers, the oldest of the three brothers is the weakest.
That said, Plumlee produced what he did at Duke because he played a role there, and he’ll only be playing one in the NBA too. Sometimes it makes more sense to make role players into role players rather than trying to turn stars into them. At best, he projects to be Jeff Foster’s replacement, or P.J. Brown once P.J. got old. At worst, Plumlee will be what he already is – a physical specimen of size and athleticism who can’t do much other than rebound.
In trying to be complimentary, Bilas rather trolls the pick, stating that Plumlee is only good when he doesn’t think about what he’s doing..
Pick 27: Not an awful lot of time is spent talking about Plumlee because Miami are on the clock, and ESPN needs to get in some more Heat love. They get in a montage and some chatter – in which Van Gundy advocates playing Chris Bosh full time at centre – before Stern comes out to announce the pick. Stern’s been booed all night, but the boos are slightly more pronounced this time – a double-stamped boo, incorporating boos for David Stern and boos for the Miami Heat. Stern pauses to let the boos die away, but all this does is reinforce the boo, and the double-barrelled boo gets a second wind, creating a four-part booathon. It’s a tough moment, then, for Arnett Moultrie to realise his NBA dream and be drafted.
Ric Bucher hasn’t told us this year, but Twitter announces that Moultrie won’t stay with the Heat for long. He’s instead off to the Sixers, where he’s either going to try and become the shot-creating scoring two-guard they sorely lack, or join an incredibly packed rotation already full of physical athletic rebounding fours. Time will tell.
I lied about quitting Twitter.
Pick 28: Fittingly, but awkwardly, Oklahoma City picks next. Jeff Van Gundy points out how the Thunder built what they currently have; by landing Kevin Durant and continuing to suck for two more years in order to get Russell Westbrook and James Harden. This, then creates a juxtaposition. If we hate the Miami Heat for the way they built their team – the suspected collusion and definite buddying-up – why do we not harbour similar resentment for teams who make themselves deliberately terrible in order to land top talent? What makes one more noble than the other? Both teams did what they could, and while a good guys/bad guys storyline is inevitable and not unwelcome, the Thunder deliberately took many steps backward in order to take a giant leap forward. It’s no more honourable than the other.
That said, OKC have long had a simple way of doing things that largely involves choosing the best players available. They do again by salvaging Perry Jones’s night. As the last man in the black plaza, Jones is still here, and he takes to the stage with a facial expression drizzled in apathy and resentment, with a creamy topping of relief. He seems similarly antagonised in his interview with Mark Jones, who is also still here, not quite able to knock off for the night.
Fran Fraschilla is called in to analyse this Big 12 player, and calls a Jones a possible Serge Ibaka replacement. This is true if you discount Ibaka’s shot-blocking, which is to say, it isn’t true. Broussard goes Barry on us and says the Thunder need a backup point guard because Eric Maynor was injured last year, overlooking the importance there of the word “was.” And Jay Bilas provides another refreshing take – while many fault Jones for his supposed passivity, Bilas says that it’s fine. In a way, it is. Jones’s main crime is not being as good as everyone else says he should be, yet in over-emphasising that, we can readily overlook quite what he does do. For some people, we instinctively look for the positives, and some the negatives. That’s just how it is.
Here’s Perry Jones, again, deficient in the eyebrow department to the tune of one:
Pick 29: Only one pick all night has not been leaked in advance, and it comes from the notoriously tight-lipped Chicago Bulls. That said, it was still a predictable one – the minute it became obvious Marquis Teague was falling that far, it should have been obvious that the point guard-less Bulls would take him.
Teague has more upside than a lot of the players who were still available at this slot. That said, his usefulness is extremely limited, particularly in Chicago. If Teague wants to push the ball, Joakim Noah (who runs the fast break better than any other centre alive, particularly as a decoy) and Luol Deng (who runs a lot without being fast) will happy go with him. So will Rip Hamilton, if he’s able to take the court. But in the half court, where the Bulls need the most help, Teague will provide little. The Bulls sorely lacked offensive creators even before Derrick Rose went down – now that he has, they have precisely zip. Bar a massive infusion of scoring talent (see also – Kevin Martin trade idea), which they can’t afford due to luxury tax concerns, it will be like the Chris Duhon era all over again, and without a Ben Gordon to occasionally bail them out. Whoever plays point guard for Chicago is unfortunately but inevitably charged with being the answer to this problem. And Marquis Teague likely won’t be.
The reason for the prioritising of the short term prognosis here is deliberate, because the Bulls need short term help from a point guard, and only short term help. If Teague can run some basic pick-and-pops with Carlos Boozer, and dribble the ball until his hands turn orange waiting for Hamilton to get open off a screen, then he might be all right. But then, surely any NBA point guard can do those things. And surely many other point guards could do so while demonstrating better understandings of time and score, while not driving wildly into traffic, and while shooting better than this. There’s a very good chance that Teague gets overused and thus exposed next season, which will not be fun.
The long term aspect cannot be completely overlooked. Teague represents excellent value for his draft slot, and his physical tools and age give him tremendous upside potential. He can already impact the game for the better through his transition game and good defensive intensity, which, if he gets the right veteran to platoon with (i.e. not Kirk Hinrich), will see him effective in a backup role. If asked to just come in, press, break, hit open J’s and not bog down the offence, Teague may succeed. But this would be easier to do on a team featuring star wing players who can take more than two dribbles. This is absolutely not the case in Chicago, where the point guard exclusively dominates the ball.
If this pick was a pancake, it would be a good pancake, or at least a pancake with potential to flourish into a good all-around breakfast. But we don’t turn to pancakes for every meal.
Pick 30: The last pick in the first round is Festus Ezeli, who has outperformed Fab Melo in their careers to date, but who disappointed in his senior season, not helped by injury problems and a ridiculous suspension. Ezeli isn’t here, which is just as well, because the David Stern quad boo was again in full effect, which would have tarnished things for Festus.
Ezeli struggles badly with turnover and foul problems, yet the latter of these is less problematic in a limited minutes player, which Ezeli will be. Golden State’s long time search for a centre – which this year included the bizarre signings of Mickell Gladness and Mikki Moore – looks to be over, with Andrew Bogut the starter and Ezeli the projected backup. Now, they can finally use the amnesty provision on Andris Biedrins.
Oh no wait, they already used it Charlie Bell. Good talk.
The second round begins with a typically raucous reception for Adam Silver, who, like the French people who were booed simply for not being American, is cheered simply for not being David Stern. In a way, this is problematic for Adam. It is already common knowledge that Stern will retire at some point in the next five years, with Silver succeeding him, but Silver must consider if that is really what he wants. Right now, the man is really, really popular. When he becomes the face of all that is wrong with basketball, real or perceived, this popularity will decline sharply. In fact, it’ll be the complete opposite. Sexy Silver needs to consider whether the increase in pay, responsibility and authority is worth the decrease in respect. I wouldn’t do it.
Time constraints, unfortunately, prevent a similar breakdown of the second round of the draft beyond Silver’s intro. (To be honest, without Targuy Ngombo or Chukwudiebere Maduabum in it, the second round was destined to flag anyway.) We conclude this post, then, with an answer to that age-old question – what would NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver look like not only if he had Anthony Davis’s unibrow, but if he had a second smaller unibrow as a pencil-thin Poirot moustache and a flower pot on his head?
ShamSports.com – NBA News That Doesn’t Really Matter.
Thank you for reading.