The mood is just right. A cup of mint tea. A big bottle of water. Stuart Scott is talking his stuff. NBA draft day--the last big day for the league until the 2008-09 season gets underway--an event, incidentally, that I'm already looking forward to with much anticipation.
I'm going to share my evening with you, dear Prospectus reader, offering up my reactions to the events as they unfold. I've already set my baseline for expectation in my preview piece. My colleague Kevin Pelton has translated the college stats of the leading prospects for you, as well. Ken Pomeroy has provided us with any other data we might need. I think that's about everything. Let's get to it.
7:01: Yes! Van Gundy and Jackson, together again. I've missed those guys over the last week. One thing about my draft piece. The Bucks/Nets trade changes things, obviously. I'd projected Joe Alexander for Milwaukee at No. 8. Now that Richard Jefferson is on board to take the place of Desmond Mason and Yi Jianlian has been shipped off the Nets, opening up the power forward spot in Milwaukee, this is an opportunity for the Bucks to go big. I'm starting to realize that I seem to like Roy Hibbert a lot more than most of the draftniks out there. Assuming that's a reflection of the league's general evaluation of Hibbert, then I'd peg JaVale McGee or Robin Lopez to go to Milwaukee. My preference would be McGee, who would allow Andrew Bogut to slide over to power forward.
As for the Nets, the rebuild continues. Going to Yi can work but he makes Vince Carter's presence on the roster seem a little incongruent. I'd guess that they'd now go for a small forward. If Milwaukee passes on Alexander, that'd be a nice fit for the Nets, at least on the offensive end. If the Knicks grab Alexander at No. 6, maybe Danilo Gallinari jumps into that slot. We'll know soon.
7:08: Just checking the baseball scores. The Rays are awesome. A one-hitter from Matt Garza? Wow. Who would have thunk it. Oh yeah--these guys.
7:09: They're talking about the Bulls' pick like it's a done deal, and it looks like Derrick Rose will be the guy. There are more moves to come in Chicago. I'd love to see Rose paired with Kirk Hinrich, who I think would make an excellent full-time off-guard. John Paxson will have to choose between Larry Hughes and Ben Gordon, though. I don't know what you can get for Hughes at this point and I'm not sure you really want to get locked into Gordon for a long period of time. Between Gordon and fellow restricted free agent Luol Deng, I value Deng much more. I've had the same subjective observations about Derrick Rose that lead to so much of the hyperbole that accompanies his name. The difference in productivity between Rose and Michael Beasley makes me nervous. My gut just tells me that Beasley is going to be the best player in this draft. Does he fill a bigger need for the Bulls? Perhaps not, but if Paxson is making this choice based on need, then he's saying that Drew Gooden is his power forward of the future. That'd make me nervous. All that said, it's still not official.
7:16: They're trying to get Rose's reaction. He didn't even come close to answering the question:
Q: "What have the Bulls told you?"
A: "It would be a dream come true to play in my hometown."
Good stuff. Bulls lineup: Rose, Hinrich, Deng, Gooden, Noah. Hey, O.J. Mayo looks sharp in those glasses.
7:20: Knicks fans are booing a shot of Danilo Gallinari. Come on. Wendy Nix's predraft report from the Knicks' war room was intriguing. She said Donnie Walsh has zeroed in on the point guard New York covets and that it looks like he's going to be there at No. 6. To me, that's got to be Jerryd Bayless. That's the way my draft fell, too.
Here are my revised selections after the Bucks-Nets deal:
1. Chicago Bulls--Derrick Rose
2. Miami Heat--Michael Beasley
3. Minnesota Timberwolves--O.J. Mayo
4. Seattle SuperSonics--Kevin Love
5. Memphis Grizzlies--Brook Lopez
6. New York Knicks--Jerryd Bayless
7. L.A. Clippers--Eric Gordon
8. Milwaukee Bucks--JaVale McGee
9. Charlotte Bobcats--Roy Hibbert
10. New Jersey Nets--Joe Alexander
11. Indiana Pacers--Kosta Koufos
12. Sacramento Kings--Russell Westbrook
13. Portland Trail Blazers--D.J. Augustin
14. Golden State Warriors--Robin Lopez?
15. Phoenix Suns (from Atlanta)--Anthony Randolph
16. Philadelphia 76ers--Brandon Rush
17. Indiana Pacers (from Toronto)--Danilo Gallinari [THIS WON'T OFFICIALLY BE INDIANA'S PICK ON DRAFT NIGHT]
18. Washington Wizards--J.J. Hickson
19. Cleveland Cavaliers--DeAndre Jordan
20. Charlotte Bobcats (from Denver)--Mario Chalmers
21. New Jersey (from Dallas)--Marreese Speights
22. Orlando Magic--Darrell Arthur
23. Utah Jazz--Jason Thompson
24. Seattle SuperSonics (from Phoenix)--Nicolas Batum
25. Houston Rockets--Chris Douglas-Roberts
26. San Antonio Spurs--Ryan Anderson
27. New Orleans Hornets--Donte Green [THIS PICK WAS REPORTEDLY TRADED TO PORTLAND ON WEDNESDAY BUT I GUESS IT'S NOT OFFICIAL]
28. Memphis Grizzlies (from LA Lakers)--Richard Hendrix
29. Detroit Pistons--Joey Dorsey
30. Boston Celtics--Trent Plaistad
Changes: McGee at No. 8; Alexander at No. 10; Lopez at No. 14; Speights at No. 21; Anderson at No. 26 (With Yi on board, I wouldn't want the Nets to take Anderson as per my original board).
7:32: We're on the clock. Bulls up first. My pick was Derrick Rose and that's who they're projecting. The Bulls were dreadful on offense last season, ranking 27th in offensive efficiency and 28th in eFG%. The offense was just a weird hodgepodge of one-on-one basketball, no flow or rhythm. Ugly. Nothing to get Red Kerr hollering like a banshee. Rose should help sort things out and get the others better shots. I'm just hoping Vinny Del Negro keeps a fast pace. You wouldn't think it, but the Bulls were ninth in tempo...Rose it is. You gotta be happy for the kid, getting to play in his hometown and all. Though, if hometown was so important, why didn't he go to DePaul? That's geographical hypocrisy.
7:39: The Heat are on the clock...we think. Most of the trade rumors have swirled around the Heat. This is really pretty simple, though. Just take Michael Beasley...and they did. Dwyane Wade, Beasley and Shawn Marion is an awfully nice core trio, though there are potential complications with Wade's health and Marion's contract. Getting a scorer like Beasley allows Marion to be the third option on offense, a slot to which he's much better suited. Now they just need to get to work on the rest of the roster.
7:45: The real intrigue begins with the Timberwolves. If the answer is anyone but O.J. Mayo, Kevin McHale should be fired on the spot. And the winner is: Mayo! Good job, Kev. I guess if you want to look for reasons not to like the pick, Mayo has a reputation for being Big Time and Minneapolis is kind of an outpost. (Hey, I live in Kansas City. I know how the Midwest is viewed by you coasters.) Can he deal with that and a losing team both? I like the match of Mayo and Randy Foye in Minnesota's backcourt. They join Al Jefferson in a new core trio. It's a start.
7:52: The Sonics are next and I suspect will be the first pick I disagree with. Kevin Love not only fills a need there, but he's my No. 4 guy on this draft board. (Pat Riley mentioned statistical analysis playing into his choice of Beasley. I'm physically excited.) Russell Westbrook! Wow, that is a reach. Yeah, he can defend and that's no small thing. But he's just 6'3" so it's not like he's going to guard the other team's top perimeter scorers. My biggest bone to pick with his game is his questionable shooting--a 49.8 eFG% last season. Plus, for a guy with a reputation for taking it to the hoop, his foul-drawing rate (38.4) wasn't that great. I thought the Sonics should go big, but if they wanted to go for a point guard, how do you take Westbrook over Jerryd Bayless? In Pelton's translations, he had Bayless at a .529 true shooting percentage and Westbrook at .462.
7:57: Well, now that Love has slipped, that's who Memphis should grab here...and they do. A great break for the Grizzlies, who needed one. That gives them a lineup of Mike Conley, Mike Miller, Rudy Gay, Kevin Love and Darko Milicic. Nice. That's team I'll go out of my way to watch.
8:02: The Knicks. Always a good scene at the draft. I'll be shocked if it's not Jerryd Bayless, which I suspect will be a popular choice among the rabble in the pit. And Stern says: Danilo Gallinari! Ooooo. Ballsy move by Donnie Walsh. Knicks fans are unhappy, but this is a guy who will fit Mike D'Antoni's system. But how soon? Can he survive a couple of 18-minute/7.8 points-per-game seasons in the Big Apple? D'Antoni still needs his point guard and, to be fair, a combo guy like Bayless might not be the best fit. That leaves him for...
8:11: The Clippers. They need a point guard but they need most everything else, too. They take Eric Gordon, which is the way I had it but wouldn't have in this scenario. Gordon's got a lot to prove in my book but I will allow for the fact that his wrist injury skewed my impressions of his game as well as my take on his stat line. I guess if all goes perfectly for Clippers fans, you could have a lineup of Chris Kaman, Shaun Livingston, Eric Gordon, Corey Maggette and Elton Brand. Which sounds nice, but the chances of that lineup actually coming together and lasting beyond this season is almost nil.
8:15: So the Bucks are now on the clock. Brook Lopez and Jerryd Bayless are both still on the board. I don't see how they could pass up Lopez. He trumps JaVale McGee. Bayless is the best player still remaining. Mark Jackson's point about Knicks fans being too impatient to wait on a guy like Gallinari to develop is cogent, as Jackson's points tend to be. However, I don't think any NBA exec can let something like that influence his decisions. If Donnie Walsh thinks Gallinari is his man, then so be it. Besides, there is no quick fix for the Knicks' roster. Walsh has a major rebuilding job ahead of him and Gallinari will have time to develop as the cast around him is turned over. Van Gundy brought up Stephon Marbury, who I don't think is a starting NBA point guard at this point in his career. The Bucks take...Joe Alexander. Another surprise. That's who I thought they'd take before getting Richard Jefferson. I guess Alexander could play the four but that's not how I see him. What troubles me is that the Bucks, who desperately need to get better on defense, haven't really improved themselves in that regard.
8:20: Brook Lopez and Jerryd Bayless are still out there, which is very surprising to me. The Bobcats are next. Surely THEY will take Lopez, right? I guess Bayless is a possibility, if they are concerned about Ray Felton's long-term viability. Myself, I'd still take Roy Hibbert here. That's not going to happen. Drafting Lopez accomplishes the goal of getting Okafor back to the four-spot. Jay Bilas has zeroed in on Lopez. Let's see: D.J. Augustin! Un-freaking-believable. I'd don't see it. I just don't see it. Lopez and Bayless are still out there and this is a huge break for the Nets, up next, who will surely nab Lopez. (Though I keep saying that.) I think Augustin is going to have trouble getting his own shot in the NBA and (this is responding to Bilas) I do NOT think he is better than T.J. Ford. This is really a poor draft pick.
8:28: OK, the Nets will take Brook Lopez. They have to, right? Yes, finally. A steal for the Nets at No. 10. Brook Lopez is just what the doctor ordered. Lopez, Devin Harris, Vince Carter, Bostjan Nachbar and Yi Jianlian look to comprise the starting five. Marcus Williams, Josh Boone and Sean Williams will make an energetic trio off the bench. The Nets still have another pick in the first round, too.
8:33: The Pacers have to take Bayless. Yes...of course they did. That's great break for Larry Bird. Is Bayless the best fit for Indiana's system? Sure, why not. He is a flat-out deadeye from the perimeter and the Pacers chuck it up there with the best of them. He might not be a pure point, but in a fast-paced system, he can push the ball down the floor. T.J. Ford will run the offense anyway and the pair will drive opponents crazy pushing the ball. They better play some pressure defense, though, because they'll get killed in the halfcourt.
8:38: There's a little bit of a dropoff in talent at this point, I think. Robin Lopez, Darrell Arthur, Mario Chalmers, Brandon Rush, Anthony Randolph and Kosta Koufos are all worthy players. I like J.J. Hickson, as well, and love Rider's Jason Thompson. Don't forget about Ken Pomeroy superstars Ryan Anderson and Richard Hendrix.
8:41: The Kings are up. They need a point guard, so it cold be Chalmers but there's better value in a remaining big, like Koufos or Robin Lopez...Jason Thompson! Yes! Bless Geoff Petrie. I love this pick. He steps right in to replace the Mikki Moore/Sheldon Williams duo at power forward. Rookie of the Year candidate.
8:43: Hmmm...Portland. I had them taking Augustin but the Bobcats messed that up. You know what, former Jayhawk Kevin Pritchard is calling the shots for the Blazers and with Arthur, Chalmers and Rush all still on the board, there's no way he passes up a KU product. I'll guess Chalmers...nope, it's Rush. Same difference. I don't know that Rush steps right into the starting lineup. In the short term, he seems kind of redundant to Jarrett Jack but Rush is better. He should be better as a pro than he was as a collegian. Can he play next to Brandon Roy, who is better at the two-guard?
8:50: Golden State will take Kosta Koufos. It's just too perfect a fit...Yuck. Anthony Randolph. Don Nelson loves his projects and he has a big one on his hands. Randolph and Brandon Wright together weigh less than Robert Traylor.
8:52: Phoenix is up. This should be interesting. I think maybe Robin Lopez? I really don't know here...Hey, Dickie V. is on board with my Kevin Love to Seattle plan....Bilas is right, after Chalmers, there are mostly a bunch of big guys left right now....Yep, Robin Lopez is the choice for the Suns. The thing is, he'll play a lot as the Suns will have plenty of minutes to fill when Shaq is sitting. Lopez is another shot blocker on a team that was the second-best shot-blocking team in the NBA last season. He should help on the boards, which Phoenix needs. Nice pick.
8:58: Philadelphia is next. They need a two-guard. Chalmers could work here, playing alongside a big point guard in Andre Miller. Ah, Marreese Speights. He's a talent, with the potential to be a post-up scorer which is something Philly needs. It doesn't fill their biggest hole, though: the spot that Willie Green occupies.
9:05: Toronto is up but really it's Indiana. I guess Koufos--nope, it's Roy Hibbert. I can see that. A defensive anchor, trapping guards. Help on the boards, a little post scoring. Works for me.
9:09: The Wizards, a team in turmoil. With all of the big men left on the board, they have to protect themselves against Antawn Jamison's departure. My choice was J.J. Hickson, which still works, but with Kosta Koufos still available, I'd lean towards that...and it's JaVale McGee. Kind of a surprise, but a nice pick. They say his mom played in the WNBA. An unusual legacy. Who was the Expos player whose mom played in the women's league portrayed in "A League of Their Own"? Ah yes, it was Casey Candaele. Trade alert!
9:15: The Pacers aren't going to play Jerryd Bayless and T.J. Ford together after all. Bayless is headed to Portland, Brandon Rush and Jarrett Jack are headed to Indiana. Rush will join his brother Kareem there and, actually, could pull a Jered Weaver in usurping his older brother's roster spot. So, Larry Bird envisions a backcourt of Ford and Brandon Rush? Does Danny Granger go back to the full-time three, and where does that leave Mike Dunleavy Jr.? Does it really matter? As for the Blazers, are you kidding me? What an embarrassment of riches. Check out this lineup: Jerryd Bayless, Brandon Roy, Greg Oden, LaMarcus Aldridge and a small forward. Even if that last slot is still Martell Webster, that's still awesome. With Bayless and Roy on the perimeter and Aldridge on the inside, Portland really only needs a defensively-oriented three-man anyway. Look out for the Blazers.
9:18: Hey, I like to see a Jayhawk squirm just like anyone else, but my heart bleeds for Darrell Arthur. I'll tell you what, unless I'm 100 percent sure I'm going in the top ten, there's no way in hell they're getting me into that green room. I mean it--don't even ask. There are still some nice players left. This is a deep draft....So who is up? LeBron. They'll take Koufos. Nope, Hickson. I'd have taken Koufos, which would have gone over well with the Ohio fans. I like Hickson though, a productive freshman with a lot of upside. He won't start as a rookie, but Cleveland is a good place for him to develop. This is a player that would have been a lottery pick in any upcoming draft if he had stayed at N.C. State.
9:23: Charlotte again. They still need a big. Koufos is still there. Not ideal but an excellent value for this slot. No telling what these guys'll do though...Alexis Ajinca. Ooookay. So much for the win-now mentality. The Bobcats have botched this draft big time. Unbelievable.
9:30: Nets again. Why not take Koufos? Two young big men like Koufos and Brook Lopez to team with the very raw Yi, Josh Boone, Nenad Krstic and Sean Williams. Koufos won't be ready to play right away so this is a good fit for him. Ryan Anderson is the pick. Excellent, excellent stuff. Great pick. Super efficient, good length. He'll be a 15-18 points per game scorer eventually with upside from there.
9:34: Will someone please take Darrell Arthur? Please? But, you know, Orlando is up and this is where I had him slotted...Van Gundy is right, the Magic need a starting two-guard, but I don't see that guy here. You can't team Mario Chalmers with Jameer Nelson. That's too small. Chris Douglas-Roberts? Maybe...Courtney Lee. Wow. They went for the two-guard, bypassing better-value big men who would have filled a need. Lee did not impress me when I saw him in the NCAA tournament, but I guess he sparkled during workouts. I'd like to conduct a study on players who moved up because of workouts. Guys, guys...always go with the larger body of work.
9:40: My Jazz are up. They need a shot blocker, but Koufos might be too good to pass up. Kevin O'Conner said that they will go with the best available player, not need. DeAndre Jordan is a possibility, too...Uh, Mark Jackson is wrong. The Jazz are fixed up fine in the backcourt, with Deron Williams, Ronnie Brewer, Ronnie Price, Kyle Korver and Morris Almond. They need another big...it's Koufos. Finally. Not exactly what they needed, but a very skilled player with a lot of upside. He can block shots but he's no Elmore Smith in that regard.
9:46: Has a player ever just burst out crying because he wasn't getting picked? I want to. I want to weep for Darrell Arthur...and I can't stand the guy. Oh, I'm sure he's a nice kid and all, but that damned bird logo just makes me insane. Kevin O'Conner's daughter is an assistant coach for the KU women's team. She probably will be giving him the cold shoulder for not taking Arthur or Mario Chalmers. Best players still out there: Nicolas Batum, DeAndre Jordan, Arthur, Chalmers, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Donte' Green (glad the teams are seeing what I saw), Richard Hendrix and Jamont Gordon. Seattle on the clock. Courtney Lee is the lowest player on my board to be selected so far. Other guys to watch for are Kyle Weaver, Will Daniels, DeVon Hardin, Ante Tomic, Bill Walker, Joey Dorsey, D.J. White and Trent Plaistad.
9:48: Seattle has to go big after taking Russell Westbrook, shockingly, at No. 4. Since they're building for the long haul, DeAndre Jordan is the logical choice...Serge Ibaka. Wishcasting. Fran Fraschilla says he'll probably stay in Spain. I don't get it. I'm losing faith in Sam Presti.
9:52: Oh, no...it's a Darrell Arthur interview. The interviewer is trying to boost his spirits but he doesn't seem happy. At all. Ugh...OK. That was weird. I've always been befuddled by the lack of physical similarity between Jeff and Stan Van Gundy. It's been a real issue for me and ESPN has to go and put them up side-by-side in a split screen. I paused my DVR and took a real long look. Those two cannot possibly be blood relatives. Is one adopted? Seriously? There's no shame in it. This really bugs me.
9:53: The Rockets need to improve their depth at the wing spots. Nicolas Batum or Chris Douglas-Roberts both make sense. Chalmers? I don't know. They have too many similarly-sized guards in Rafer Alston and Aaron Brooks. I'm not a big Luther Head guy, so I'd go for the pure two-guard...Batum is the choice. Not sure how ready-made he is, but he's talented. Batum had been projected as a top-ten pick but he ran into some issues with his heart rhythm. Could turn out to be a steal. The Rockets have spots that can be upgraded but, at the same time, they have enough depth to allow a guy like Batum to develop.
9:59: Ric Bucher says an "undisclosed kidney problem" is what caused Darrell Arthur to drop. I ain't buying it...Spurs are up. Arthur fits here...George Hill slips into the first round. Incredible. Hill was Pomeroy's national leader in offensive rating among high-usage players, but he did it in the Summit League. Interesting pick...another one for the stat mavens.
10:03: This is Portland's pick after all. The Blazers have a chance to add even more quality talent. They can't go wrong here. Will Kevin Pritchard throw a rope to fellow Jayhawks Darrell Arthur or Mario Chalmers? Yep, Arthur. Finally. Whew! College ties aside, let's remember that Arthur is a player that was in the top ten of many a mock draft. Pritchard continues to build a powerhouse roster in Portland. I already sketched the starting lineup, but dig this second unit: Sergio Rodriguez, Steve Blake, Joel Przybilla, Darrell Arthur and Travis Outlaw. Channing Frye is still there, as well. Outstanding.
10:12: Memphis is back on the clock. I'll stick with my Richard Hendrix pick, but DeAndre Jordan works here, too. Still, can they pass up a hometown talent like Joey Dorsey or Chris Douglas-Roberts? That would buy some much-needed goodwill from the fans down there on Beale Street. Oh, they blew it. Donte' Green is a wasted pick. Yeah, he likes to shoot from the outside, which fits with Marc Iavaroni's style. He just can't make them.
10:17: Pistons are up and they have several quality prospects to choose from. I'm just not sure they have room for one, unless Joe Dumars follows through on his threats to break up the roster. Douglas-Roberts could work or my original choice, Joey Dorsey. Maybe Omer Asik works here as a guy Detroit can leave overseas for a couple of years. They go with Indiana's D.J. White. Experienced, productive, very efficient in a second-tier conference. Another piece for the Pistons.
10:23: The champion Celtics are set to close out the first round. I, personally, don't see how they can pass up DeAndre Jordan. A total project once thought to be a possible top-six pick. J.R. Giddens. We know him all too well in the Kansas City area. Coming out of high school, you would have thought he'd turn into a surefire lottery pick. He's athletic and can shoot from deep. He'll get a chance to develop in a fertile environment with all of those Boston veterans. A surprising pick, though. I had him pretty far down on the board.
10:31: Minnesota leads off the second round. They have to take Jordan. Have to. Well, Nikola Pekovic as a future pick works just as well. Nice pick. I'm too shortsighted sometimes.
10:33: Seattle again. I thought they should have taken Jordan last time and he's still there. Ooops, a trade. D.J. White is headed to Seattle. This pick is now Detroit's...Walter Sharpe. Talk about a Jiminy Cricket pick. Sharpe wasn't even the best NBA prospect on the UAB squad. That would be Robert Vaden, who withdrew from the draft a couple of weeks ago. Sharpe played 12 games last season as a sophomore and posted a 94.6 offensive rating. His block rate, on the other hand, was pretty good. I can't mock the pick because Joe Dumars is really good at this draft stuff.
10:36: Portland. I am shocked...shocked!...that DeAndre Jordan is still out there. A potential top-five pick down the line. He must have some serious head issues to fall this far. The Blazers don't need him but, why not? They could use a 12th man. Well, that 12th man is going to be Joey Dorsey. He can play a role, too. A rebounding enforcer off the bench. Another pawn for Nate McMillan; he's got a lot of them now.
10:40: Jordan...Douglas-Roberts...Chalmers...Hendrix...there are some names still out there. Minnesota is picking yet again and they can get a keeper here. Mario Chalmers. Tough draft night for KU guys. Arthur and Chalmers slip; Rush doesn't but gets traded right away. Chalmers is going to give Randy Foye a run for his money at the point guard spot. Neither player is a pure lead guard.
10:43: Clippers. There's a DeAndre Jordan sighting. Finally. Worth a shot at this juncture for sure.
10:48: Portland again? There's no more room! Omer Asik is the choice--appropriate because he's staying overseas.
10:54: The Bucks take Luc-Richard Mbah a Moute--a defensive player for a team that needs one.
10:56: Charlotte back on the clock. Kyle Weaver. I'm getting tired, so I'm just going to pull out my prospect notes: He has a well-rounded floor game and inconsistent shot. He's long enough to be a factor defensively but needs to get stronger.
11:02: It seems like it's been two weeks since the Bulls took Derrick Rose. They should jump on Chris Douglas-Roberts. They need a backcourt guy with size...so they take Sonny Weems. I'd rather have Douglas-Roberts, but John Paxson and I were sort of on the same wavelength.
11:06: The Nets have taken...Chris Douglas-Roberts. A steal. The Nets have netted Brook Lopez, Ryan Anderson and Chris Douglas-Roberts. That's a really impressive draft for Kiki Vandeweghe.
11:08: Indiana again, then Sacramento. Indiana drafts Nathan Jawal, the Australian center, and they are expected to flip him to Toronto. The Kings get Patrick Ewing Jr. I'm a little surprised he got picked. I don't see much upside; maybe he can be a defensive specialist.
11:10: Utah is back up. Let's see who's left...Richard Hendrix. The Jazz are pretty stocked, though. Maybe they should go international. And they do...Ante Tomic. San Antonio goes the same route and takes Slovenia's Goran Dragic. I don't much about him, I must admit. Seattle then picks for Detroit and takes Trent Plaisted. I had him going No. 30. Not sure where Detroit is going to put him. OK, I'm now officially on the Richard Hendrix watch. He's the last of my first-rounders still out there. Whoever gets him is going to be committing larceny.
11:14: Washington takes Bill Walker. The kid should have stayed in school. They talk about his explosiveness but it's just not as awe-inspiring as it's touted as being. The knee injuries have robbed him of that and I don't know that you can get it back. I don't think Walker is an NBA player.
11:17: Phoenix takes Malik Hairston. From my notes: Hairston is a solidly built swing guy with a terrific scoring package. He gets his own shot, shoots with an eFG% on the good side of 60 and draws his share of fouls. He's active on the defensive end but a little slow afoot.
11:18: Richard Hendrix! Golden State gets a steal and he has a skill set that the Warriors can really use. Now I'm happy. Hey, Jay Bilas stole my Paul Millsap comparison. Chris Mullin gets a project--Anthony Randolph--and a player who can contribute right away in Hendrix.
11:20: A trade...Darrell Arthur to Portland. We already knew that.
11:21: Sonics get Ryan Anderson sidekick DeVon Hardin. Solid defender and rebounder off the bench.
11:24: Dallas has a pick. Shan Foster from Vanderbilt. He's a designated shooter and an extremely efficient one at that. Jay Bilas correctly points out that he'll have to stretch his perimeter game out to the three-point line. Oooooo--he's a good singer, too.
11:33: A couple of picks rapid fire: Miami takes Darnell Jackson, the fourth KU player taken and a longshot to stick. He's efficient and a hard worker but has tweener size and limited athleticism. Utah then goes international again and takes Serbian Tadija Dragicevic.
11:40: The Kings take Sean Singletary. He'll make the squad and, as I learned during the tournament, has a lot of advocates among college basketball followers. Sacramento has landed Jason Thompson, Pat Ewing Jr. and Singletary. A nice haul.
11:42: Houston takes Maarty Leunen from Oregon. He is the second Duck senior, along with Malik Hairston, to go. They had a third--Bryce Taylor--who I actually think is the best player of the three. If you drop all usage-rate thresholds, Leunen had the second-best offensive rating in the country last season.
11:45: Another trade...Mario Chalmers to Miami for a pick and cash. Chalmers can start for Miami. Three KU players have been picked and traded tonight.
11:46: Mike Taylor was drafted out of the D-League by Portland. It's an exhausting explanation but interesting. I didn't like his game when he was at Iowa State. (He was later traded to the Clippers.)
11:47: The top players left on my board are Jamont Gordon, a Lafayette Lever-type guard from Mississippi State, and Davon Jefferson from USC.
11:48: And another KU player is picked--Sasha Kaun to Seattle. That's five Jayhawks, if you're keeping score. And, yes, it's making me a little nauseous. Guess Kaun is going to play in Russia to start out.
11:49: Closing out the draft: San Antonio gets Maryland's James Gist as a perimeter defender off the bench. The Wizards sell Bill Walker to the Celtics. The Lakers go for Kentucky's Joe Crawford, don't know that he'll make it. Detroit takes Virginia Tech's Deron Washington. Boston will close it out. They've already added J.R. Giddens and Bill Walker. Whoever goes here is a longshot to make the team but I'd like to see Jamont Gordon get a shot. They go international with Semih Erden from Turkey.
Lo and behold, perhaps the most troubling move of the entire draft came after ESPN turned off the lights and I collapsed into a lifeless lump on the futon in the attic, where I was banished for the night because I'd spent the entire evening watching the NBA draft. The Timberwolves traded O.J. Mayo, Antoine Walker, Greg Buckner and Marko Jaric to Memphis for Kevin Love, Mike Miller, Brian Cardinal and Jason Collins. My initial reaction was incredulity. Talent for talent, this move doesn't make any sense.
Minnesota now pairs Love with Al Jefferson. The Knicks proved how difficult it is in today's game to operate a double-post. The middle gets clogged and the offense loses its rhythm. Jefferson will still be the main man in the low-post and, yes, Love can probably develop a face-up game, but what sense does it make to do that? Not when you have already landed a dynamic talent like Mayo, the third-best player in the draft at least, and maybe better than that. I had Love as the fourth-best, but there was a considerable gap between three and four. The Timberwolves also add Miller, who can provide some of what Mayo can at the two-guard, but the difference in upside is monumental. Instead of a dynamic young backcourt of Foye and Mayo to combine with a go-to big man in Jefferson, you end up with a maybe above-average backcourt in Foye and Miller, with Love trying to share space with Jefferson and a prayer that Corey Brewer can turn things around from his terrible rookie campaign. I'd have preferred a combo of Mayo/Foye/Jefferson/Brewer/Chris Richard, which doesn't roll off the tongue as well but instead of having a pair of possibly elite feature talents in Mayo and Jefferson, you end up with Jefferson and two second-tier threats in Miller and Love. That doesn't work for me.
On the Memphis end, the trade destroys what I thought was a really nice lineup in Mike Conley/Miller/Rudy Gay/Love/Darko Milicic. Still, the Grizzlies win this trade because of the acquisition of Mayo. Now Memphis, which plays at a very fast pace, has perhaps the most exciting young backcourt in the league in Conley and Mayo, with Rudy Gay running alongside them. That combination will put up a lot of points, but it's not going to stop anybody. Milicic will again be on his own in defending the middle--we saw how well that worked last season. The Grizzlies will have no post scoring to speak of, although the hope would be to fill that hole down the line.
The other factor in the trade is the respective cap situations of each franchise. This is what likely motivated Kevin McHale to make this deal, not that he accomplished anything. Minnesota's cap situation was pretty grim, with McHale on the hook for bad contracts to Walker, Jaric and Buckner (all Memphis' problems now). The Wolves also have about $11.4 million cap dollars going to former Wolves Troy Hudson, Juwan Howard and Mark Blount. By my crude ciphering, this deal actually raises Minnesota's cap figure to $67.1 million in the coming season. However, that number falls to $44.4 on the books for the season after and only $24.5 million for the summer of 2010. That's supposed to be a banner free-agent season, which is all well and good. However, several teams--the Nets, Knicks and Heat among them--are gearing up for that talent crop and the premium talents aren't going to Minnesota. Or Memphis, for that matter. These are two franchises that should not be making choices based on making a run at premium free agents--it's just too big of a gamble.
The trade doesn't significantly alter the Grizzlies' salary structure for the next two seasons but their contract obligations for the 2010-11 season balloon from $18.5 million to $41.6 million. Of that, $22.4 million is tied up to those terrible contracts Chris Wallace just acquired from Minnesota; two years down the line, those will be expiring contracts, which are always valuable assets. The same would have held true for Minnesota. So all in all, the salary cap situations of both of these teams are not much different than they were before the trade. The deal can be evaluated on a talent-for-talent basis. The old adage is that the team that got the best player in an NBA trade wins the trade. I agree with that truism with the addendum that the move also has to be looked at through the salary cap prism. That doesn't matter here so the end result is that Minnesota got fleeced. Again.
You have to draw the line somewhere, but these moves just keep on coming. Darrell Arthur's night was even more insane than I originally thought. After being drafted by New Orleans, he was immediately dealt to Portland for cash. We knew that one was coming. Then, after the draft, Portland shipped him to Houston along with second-round pick Joey Dorsey for Nicolas Batum--a great move for the Blazers, who drafted and traded two KU players on the same night. Channing Frye steps back into the Blazers' second unit and Batum will have a chance to develop as the 11th man on very deep and talented squad. Houston gets another rebounder and defender in Dorsey, who goes into the hopper off the Rockets' bench with Carl Landry, Mike Harris and Chuck Hayes.
However, the Rockets still needed a shooter and so they flipped Arthur--his third trade of the night--to Memphis for Donte' Green. I've been pretty clear on my feelings about Green, so I don't get Daryl Morey's strategy here. In the long term, I think you regret trading Batum.
As for Memphis, the last deal marks a stunning recovery from a blown pick. Arthur steps into the shoes left empty by the Grizzlies' trade of Kevin Love and will have a real opportunity to start for Memphis. This gives the Grizzlies a lineup of Mike Conley/O.J. Mayo/Rudy Gay/Darrell Arthur/Darko Milicic. Milicic will be the grand old man of that group when the season starts. He'll be 23. Roy Williams may have an older lineup next season at North Carolina. Marc Gasol could work his way into this mix as well and will at least provide some of the interior defense that they'll need. If I'm a Memphis fan, I'm a lot happier today than I was at this time yesterday.
Bradford Doolittle is an author of Basketball Prospectus.
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