Thursday, April 05, 2007

'06 NBA Draft Lottery: Perceptions into Reflections

We all know it isn’t completely fair to judge an entire draft class, no less the lottery (aka “teams who weren’t very good that year”), only one-season after the draft. It might be even more unfair to do it only 75 games into their first-season. Yet, it’s fun. Not to mention that, news flash, the majority of these players have seen limited playing time, had a limited impact, and been a part of one of the weaker & quieter draft classes in recent memory.

Of course, this could - and most likely will - change. Maybe not immediately, but give them some time. If you want a real laugh, take a look at the second-round. Find me someone who’s not a reach, overachiever in college, physical-freak, or a foreign-born project you’re rolling the dice on. That’s what makes the first-round so interesting, as teams are often targeting the more sure-thing, impact players.

Or so they hope.

Upon even the briefest of reflections, it seems consistently apparent that none of the fourteen first picks from the 2007 NBA Draft have had much of an impact so far this season. That is, for a playoff-bound team (sorry Brandon Roy). In fact, only two of them [Chicago’s Tyrus Thomas & Orlando’s JJ Reddick] are playoff-bound. The status of Bargnani is in the air; however, I do owe him some conciliation as he may play a rather important role if he can become healthy enough to be inserted back into Sam Mitchell’s playoff-rotation. As for Redick and Thomas, enjoy the bench most of this post-season.

Without too much more banter, let’s take a quick peak into the top fourteen picks, a brief prognosis of their current progress (or lack thereof), and who I would’ve taken (not in hindsight, but then and there). Remember…I’m not a stat-geek either.

Been hard to be geeked-up for a rookie, other than Roy, as of late.

Note: I know a majority of these picks were via trades and whatnot; yet, I’m going to assess each pick as if the team had that selection and could’ve tabbed any (available) player it saw fit.

Lottery Selections: [in order]
1) Toronto Raptors: Andrea Bargnani [Italy via Benetton Treviso]
-Averaging a quiet, yet confident 13 points a game, Bargnani settled well into the Raptor-rotation. Fortunately for Andrea and the team, their GM has swung some amazing moves since joining the reigns (including the drafting of the 7-foot Italian). While he won’t be the next Dirk, this kid has shown confidence inside and outside the 3-point line in key moments during his rookie season. Despite a major setback from an appendectomy, Bargnani could see 20+ minutes/game in the playoffs as a bench-contributor for a young, potent team.
Who I Would’ve Selected: Andrea Bargnani [The best selection for #1 was the Italian.]

2) Portland Trail Blazers: LaMarcus Aldridge [Texas]
-Slow to adapt to the NBA pace, and perhaps the buzz from the sticky-icky in the
Portland locker room, LaMarcus has slowly developed into a minor contributor; especially during the recent, and untimely, absence of their top big-man, Zach Randolph. Seeing around 20 minutes a night as of late, Aldridge appears to be a strong compliment who should develop into a 15 and 8 guy most nights in a year or two. The key for him will be developing more post-moved and toughening up, both on defense and on the boards.
Who I Would’ve Selected: LaMarcus Aldridge [The team had a pretty stellar draft in ’06. Please don’t sleep on Span’s Sergio Rodriguez. Tabbing this 7-footer was a great start, as they’re not easy to find with athleticism like he often displays.]

3) Charlotte Bobcats: Adam Morrison [Gonzaga]
-I hate how the Bobcats draft and HERE is a perfect example. While a confident shooter in college, Morrison has struggled with real-defenders lined up against him. These “great college-talent” picks aren’t always the correct move. His FG% has dipped well under 35% the majority of the season, which is as unacceptable as his disturbing pale-complexion or that ridiculous mustache he rocks. While it may have sold a few tickets after draft day (or so ESPN said to DEATH), this team is in much greater need for a playmaking 2-guard.
Who I Would’ve Selected: Brandon Roy . He’s the playmaking 2 they desperately need, and may not find picking AGAIN in the top 5, in the 2007 draft. Matt Carroll isn’t a starting #2. Okay?

4) Chicago Bulls: Tyrus Thomas [LSU]
-Trading down from the 2-spot, which they acquired in the infamous Eddie Curry-deal, the Bulls eyed Thomas from start-to-finish. While his attitude and lack-of-an-outside-shot prevented him appearing on-court much of the first-half of the season, Thomas has come on of late and even poured in some rather impressive performances.
Chicago is a team loaded with talent who doesn’t require many more lottery picks. While Thomas is an interesting fit, he really doesn’t seem to fit the Scott Skiles-mold more often than not.
Who I Would’ve Selected: LaMarcus Aldridge. Stick at 2 and draft the 7-footer. They could’ve avoided Ben Wallace or just used another big-body to tutor behind PJ Brown.

5) Atlanta Hawks: Shelden Williams [Dook]
-Recent reports have finally leaked that Williams was “promised” by Hawks management to be drafted here. Why? I have zero idea. The team was clearly in desperate need for a true point guard or a true center. Often closer to the D-League than 10 minutes a night on the court, Williams has struggled to adapt to NBA offensive and defensive schemes. Viewing this guy more than an 8 and 6 guy, best-case scenario, is a little difficult for me honestly.
Who I Would’ve Selected: Randy Foye or Marcus Williams. Trade down and take your pick of a true, confident point guard. Unless you think Anthony Johnson is your future.

6) Minnesota Timber Wolves: Randy Foye [Villanova]
-KG needed a big-name to join; yet, there wasn’t one in this draft. Yet, there were two steady performers who could become confident #2s behind him in 2-3 years in Brandon Roy and Randy Foye.
Minnesota has a plethora of 2s and 3s, yet no true #1. Foye seemed an obvious pick. Foye has been quiet, but will be find a T-Wolf. Whether or not KG sticks around to help him…is another story.
Who I Would’ve Selected: I would’ve stuck with Brandon Roy. Sure, he isn’t a PG. But he’s a dynamic scorer and playmaker, much more so at his size than Foye. KG played best with a healthy Cassell, who I see much more of in
Roy than I do Foye, even if he isn’t a PG like Foye.

7) Portland Trail Blazers: Brandon Roy [Washington]
-Two top seven picks is enticing, regardless of the draft. Not to mention that they actually sold
Boston on trading FOR Sebastian Telfair (among some other minor details) for this pick. With the knowledge of Aldridge already locked in, this selection was eased with the knowledge that they could pull a trade for Brandon Roy. At #7, especially with who follows in the draft, this was a silly-steal of a selection. In case you didn’t know, Roy is the runaway Rookie of the Year…and the only real stud from this draft thus far.
Who I Would’ve Selected: Brandon Roy. And I would’ve got down on my knees and thanked somebody important for this golden opportunity. Stupid Danny Ainge. Check that: MORONIC Danny Ainge.

8) Memphis Grizzlies: Rudy Gay [UCONN]
-Some were shocked by the Battier/Swift deal for this selection. Some thought it was brilliant. I didn’t think it was the right move for the Rockets.
Houston could’ve said goodbye to Rafer Alston and welcomed Marcus Williams. As for Memphis, selecting Gay (with tons of upside) was the easy selection. With Hakim Warrick in-tow, the team didn’t need another big-man right next to Gasol with this pick, and a swing-man like Gay seemed the right pick.
Who I Would’ve Selected: Rudy Gay, for all the reasons stated above.

9) Golden State Warriors: Patrick O’Bryant [Bradley]
-A high riser due to a solid NCAA Tournament, O’Bryant has been plagued by injuries all season long. Yet, he isn’t a lost cause NOR is he a diamond in the rough waiting to be exposed. TBA is the best description.
Who I Would’ve Selected: I would’ve made a MAJOR move. Trade B-Diddy (fast!) and move this pick with him if needed. Or keep it and select Marcus Williams, a true PG, to run the point. Erase Diddy’s bad health and try and allow guys like Ellis to flourish with a pass-first PG.

10) Seattle SuperSonics: Mouhammed Sene [Belgium via RBC Verviers-Pepinster]
-Just lot their previous “big-man project selections” [Robert Swift & Johan Petro], Sene can’t find minutes and can’t find the tools necessary to work with whatever system the Sonics are running these days. I hated this pick and still do.
Who I Would’ve Selected: Rodney Carney could be a nice 3 to replace Rashard Lewis next year. Ronnie Brewer could be a nice tough-guy to add into the rotation. Cedric Simmons has plenty of “upside” as a big-man. I just hope they draft Hasheem Thabeet next year and then trade up for Roy Hibbert. What a big-man lineup that’d be alongside Ray Allen.

11) Orlando Magic: JJ Redick [Dook]
-Oh goodie, it’s JJ-time. He got over that DUI/DWI early in the year, but will struggle mightily in the NBA over the years. He can’t put the ball on the floor, against a defender outside of the ACC and its officials, and often is a step, or three, behind.
Orlando really goofed up a lottery pick that could’ve aided a developing, young team.
Who I Would’ve Selected: I would’ve taken Marcus Williams and allowed him to team with Jameer Nelson in a sick-backcourt duo. Either that or draft an athletic-freak like Carney or potentially a solid-6th man like Simmons/Armstrong/Brewer.

12) New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets: Hilton Armstrong [UCONN]
-With guys like
Chandler and David West, it’s hard for Hilton (and 15th pick Cedric Simmons, out of NC State, to grab much PT at all). While everyone can use big bodies, Armstrong isn’t very meaty and the duo-picks of potential-based big-men seemed a little odd. Realizing that Peja is so soft (ditto for Bobby Jackson) more could’ve been done with these picks.
Who I Would’ve Selected: Combine the two first-rounders and move way up OR tab Carney (again, I mention him) or Brewer to be a more athletic or tougher compliment to a young, talented team.

13) Chicago Bulls: Thabo Sefolosha [Italy via Angelico Biella ]
-Another part of a trade, the Swiss was a nice upside-pick for the Bulls. They easily could’ve dealt the pick, but liked the potential in the young guard who handle the ball well and appeared to be a competent defender. With Duhon ahead of him as the #2 PG, he still has slid into the rotation here and there enough as a rookie.
Who I Would’ve Selected: With a luxury pick like this, I like taking the pick laden with potential. However, I also like stockpiling big-men if you can. Cedric Simmons would’ve worked here or potentially grabbing Marcus Williams, if only for trade-bait for later.

14) Utah Jazz: Ronnie Brewer [Arkansas]
-A complete, 5-tool player in college, everyone knew Brewer had upside. Most of us also knew it’d take a bit of time. It’s hard to judge the limited time Brewer sees on a very strong, capable Jazz lineup. Yet, this is the type of depth you like to have and the correct pick for a team that never seems to have a true grasp on a starting 2-guard as of late.
Who I Would’ve Selected: Nice pick here.

So that’s the first-round. I talked up Marcus Williams and Rodney Carney plenty, two guys who have looked solid as of late. Ironically enough, the biggest losers of the lottery were probably the Celtics. Although, as usual, the Hawks gave them a run for their money. I don’t see any picks quite as idiotic as the Hawks passing up on Chris Paul in ’05…but as always, only time will tell.

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