Saturday, June 30, 2007

2007 NBA Draft Analysis

by Chris Clement and Paymon Hashemi

After a whirlwind of rumors gone amok, the 2007 edition of the NBA Draft finally came to a close late on Thursday night at Madison Square Garden. In between elated cheers from Knick fans (mostly due to the trade for Zach Randolph with Portland), there were 60 picks. While every team didn’t have a say in the night, plenty of noise was made.

Since Pay was kind enough to tackle the even-numbered selections, I (Clement) suppose it’s only fair that I try my best to analyze the odd-numbered selections as well as the trades that took place.

Without further adieu…

1st-Round Selections:
1) Portland Trailblazers select Greg Oden [C, Ohio State]
-First off, I’m a huge fan of Oden’s character on the court. While sensational scorer Durant is more than tempting, the Blazers had the easiest pick of the night, at least in my opinion, as 7-footers who love to fill the paint, block shots, and rebound are nearly impossible to find. Nobody will look back at this pick and regret it. Nobody.
Grade: A+

2) Seattle Supersonics select Kevin Durant [F, Texas]
- In most years, Durant is the top selection, so let’s just lay that out there. The Sonics get a natural replacement for the likely-departing Rashard Lewis, who opted out of the final two years of his contract. In Durant, the Sonics get a leader who the coachless team will look to from day one as a source for inspiration … and points.
Grade: A+

3) Atlanta Hawks select Al Horford [F, Florida]
-I understand that Horford was clearly the best prospect left on Atlanta’s board. I also understand Josh Smith/Josh Childress need new contracts next season and Marvin Williams/Sheldon Williams aren’t as polished as the Gator. However, Atlanta had a real chance to grab an electric, dynamic point guard. Upset with his streaky jumper, Atlanta talked themselves out of finding a guy with amazing court speed and vision in Conley Jr. He never asked to be a point who would take 10-15 shots, so why fret over it?
Grade: B

4) Memphis Grizzlies select Mike Conley Jr. [G, Ohio State]
- While I love the prospect of Conley Jr. running the show in Memphis and the Grizz adding an actual defensive presence to the backcourt, his skills do not differ too greatly from Kyle Lowry, who the team was very high on prior to his season-ending injury. At this pick, the Grizzlies really could have benefited from an inside to shore up the leaky defense that made many fantasy owners happy whenever their players went against Memphis.
Grade: C+

5) Boston Celtics select Jeff Green [F, Georgetown] (rights traded to Seattle)
-I’m not gonna analyze the trade itself; instead, just the selection of the Hoya. While I may give Green too hard of a time for becoming completely absent, for over thirty minutes, in the Final Four…I realize he could be a great asset to place right next to Kevin Durant. However, he is not the 1B to 1A (Durant). A nice 3 or 4 piece on a contender, Green will have to step up quite a bit, especially if Durant starts cold, on an extremely young Seattle roster. While I would’ve preferred selecting Brewer (who I see more as a hybrid 2-3) or Brandan Wright, Seattle did well to grab youthful supporting talent for its mega-star Durant.
Grade: B+ [Seattle selection]

6) Milwaukee Bucks select Yi Jianlian [F, Guangdong Tigers - China]
-I love the courage behind this pick. It’s not necessarily because since I think Yi is the right piece for this team, which had a major aversion to playing individual and team defense. It’s because Yi’s representation did everything they could to prevent the Bucks from seeing Yi work out. As a business decision, I love it, because the man will be marketable be he 19 or 22 going on 23. In basketball terms, the Bucks would have been better off drafting Corey Brewer.
Grade: B+

7) Minnesota Timberwolves select Corey Brewer [F, Florida]
-While I am a huge Brewer fan, I was left with a bit of a sour taste with this selection. While the Wolves obviously can use his perimeter defense, I feel they needed a better playmaker on offense. With Randy Foye the new point guard (Mike James was sent back to Houston a week earlier), I really would’ve liked to have seen Julian Wright selected here. While I had Wright rated as many as 10 spots higher than some mocks, I love his potential at the 3-spot a little more than Brewer’s. Nevertheless, this is a smart pick for a Wolves franchise. Even if Brewer isn’t a franchise player. (Neither is J. Wright though, in all fairness)
Grade: B

8) Charlotte Bobcats select Brandan Wright [F, North Carolina] (rights traded to Golden State)
- Jay Bilas was spot on when he said that the Bobcats front office should have worn masks when they made this selection, because this selection was a steal. As for Wright, he’s a long defender who’s an excellent alternative to oft-injured Sean May, who lacks the necessary wingspan and defensive presence. Not to mention, playing alongside Okafor, he can dominate inside eight feet. However, as with any good front office decision made by Michael Jordan, he botched it by trading the pick for a fading star with plenty of mileage and $48 million worth of salary over the next four campaigns.
Grade: A [on Charlotte’s selection]; D- [on the trade]

9) Chicago Bulls select Joakim Noah [F/C, Florida]
-I hate agreeing with Stephen A. Smith, but he nailed it on the ESPN telecast. Scott Skiles clearly needed an inside scoring presence and not another Skiles-type guy. As useless on offense as Ben Wallace (except from the charity stripe, of course), Noah shouldn’t take away minutes from the progressing Tyrus Thomas. While Hawes also seemed fuzzy (as he couldn’t be on the court with Wallace most likely), I felt the Bulls needed to do their best to either move this pick for a veteran or potentially consider selecting either Al Thornton or a potential replacement for potential trade-bait Ben Gordon. While I don’t think Noah will be as useless as I project him to be, he won’t be the factor Paxson is eyeing him to be.
Grade: C

10) Sacramento Kings select Spencer Hawes [C, Washington]
-Hawes is a very skilled interior player who’s been groomed for the NBA since his childhood. After a year of grooming under the watchful eye of Lorenzo Romar, Hawes has improved in terms of shotblocking, but does not rebound well for a true 7-footer. The Kings needed this pick, though they could’ve gone the Al Thornton route.
Grade: B-

11) Atlanta Hawks select Acie Law IV [G, Texas A&M]
-While I loved watching Law all season long, this seems ridiculously high for him (especially considering Atlanta’s gaping need for a legitimate starting point guard). I even wonder just how different he may end up than Salim Stoudamire. In the end, they’ll always regret passing on Chris Paul/Deron Williams and, most likely, Randy Foye. However, at the least the Hawks took a PG. Look for them to be back in the lottery next season and selecting one of the many ’08 PGs likely to be lottery-bound (Collison, Lawson, Rose, Gordon, Mayo, etc.).
Grade: C+

12) Philadelphia 76ers select Thaddeus Young [F, Georgia Tech]
- Young is Mr. Upside in this draft and his draft position reflects that despite what many insiders thought was a down first year at Georgia Tech. Little known fact that was mentioned at the draft – Young had a killer GPA in high school (above 4.0). Unfortunately, his skills resemble that of Iguodala and Carney too closely, so I was scratching my forehead during this pick despite my obvious excitement at the rebuilding project in Philly.
Grade: B-

13) New Orleans Hornets select Julian Wright [F, Kansas]
-Never a Jayhawk supporter, even I won’t deny I view Julian as top-5 talent. While New Orleans couldn’t have expected to select him, Wright almost became this year’s Marcus Williams after being passed by a few earlier teams who might’ve used him well. I think this is the first step in the Hornets not re-upping with Desmond Mason (good) and building a better nucleus around Chris Paul and David West. Ironically, a lot of Wright’s minutes may be determined by how last year’s two top selections – Cedric Simmons and Hilton Armstrong – fare over their summer vacations.
Grade: B+

14) Los Angeles Clippers select Al Thornton [F, Florida State]
-I’ve been touting Al since before the 37 and 15 game at Cameron Indoor Stadium which put him on the national basketball map. The Clippers were somewhat cursed by their draft position, because they lack the ammo to trade into the top 10 where they could’ve selected a big (power forward or center) sans the tweener label. I love Thornton as a player and selecting the best player available was a good decision. I will say that I was surprised by the non-selection of Javaris Crittenton, though, it is fairly evident that he will need a year or two for grooming prior to gaining heavy minutes.
Grade: B+

15) Detroit Pistons select Rodney Stuckey [G, Eastern Washington]
-One of the more solidified projections over the past week or two, Detroit fell in love with Stuckey’s physical play and desire to make big plays. While there were plenty of talented guards surrounding him – ala Nick Young, Jarvis Crittenton, and even the two Euro swingmen – GM Joe Dumars made the right call selecting the former Big Sky standout.
Grade: B+

16) Washington Wizards select Nick Young [G, USC]
-Ernie Grunfeld goes with the best player remaining on the board. Nick Young fits right into the Wizards system and his selection signals that both DeShawn Stevenson and Jarvis Hayes may be on their way out. His defense has come into question much like the team that selected him. Although I think Young fills some needs, Italian stallion Marco Belinelli would’ve filled more and possibly better.
Grade: B-

17) New Jersey Nets select Sean Williams [C, Boston College]
-There should be no surprise that Rod Thorn was willing to take a gamble, even at 17, on the kid. Former Coach John Lucas gave him a thumbs-up and his talent seemed to win out over his more than questionable behavior. I personally think this is the right spot for him to land. While I doubt projections, specifically from ESPN’s Jay Bilas, tabbing Williams, if he was a good-boy, as a late lottery selection…I do believe Williams can form a rather strong supporting core duo, off the bench mind you, with last year’s big-man selection Josh Boone. With a team getting older by the minute, this was a risk worth reaching for. I’d like to put some fat clauses in the contract to protect myself though.
Grade: B

18) Golden State Warriors select Marco Belinelli [G, Climamio Bologna - Italy]
- I gushed over this pick when it was announced because the Warriors have a defined system and they are selecting the best players possible to fit that system. In addition, some of these guys actually play defense. Belinelli is vastly skilled and should feel at home in a wide open system. Caution: Flammable.
Grade: A

19) Los Angeles Lakers select Jarvis Crittenton [G, Georgia Tech]
-Don’t write off Jordan Farmar as a mistake last season. He started in the 1st round of the playoffs and performed as most rookies would’ve. However, the Lakers couldn’t pass up on the Yellow Jacket, who slipped past the Clippers (who couldn’t pass up on Thornton), and seemed a relative steal at 19. The combo guard has size and really came on as a freshman. Ironically enough, this guy may not be ready to play next year; especially with the drama that is the saga of Kobe Bryant. Nevertheless, between Farmar/Crittenton (and the departure of Smush), the Lakers have the point guard position looking relative solid in the years to come. Don’t try and pretend there was a playmaking pick that would’ve appeased Kobe either.
Grade: A-

20) Miami Heat selects Jason Smith [F, Colorado State] (rights traded to Philadelphia)
- I yawned during this selection and proceeded to change the channel. The ESPN panel made yet another great point in that if Smith is so good, then why did his team not even worthy of NIT talk? Clearly, Smith is talented and has a solid game extending out to 18 feet and he will undoubtedly benefit from Shaq’s tutelage. I’m just not sure where the upside is.
Grade: C-

21) Philadelphia 76ers select Daequean Cook [G, Ohio State (rights traded to Miami)
-I don’t buy this kid being a total malcontent. However, if he stayed at Ohio State, there’s little doubt in my mind he could’ve been the top 2-guard in next year’s draft. He has that much potential. Ironically, I wonder if South Beach is the best place for him to land. If Shaq can adopt this kid, even for a season, don’t be surprised if Cook scores double figures coming off the bench for the Heat. Call it a wild hunch.
Grade: Incomplete. [I stink, I know.]

22) Charlotte Bobcats select Jared Dudley [F, Boston College]
- It’s a good thing that Clement didn’t get this pick, because he would rail on the BC star for about ten lines calling him a whiner. Dudley is a gamer and will contribute almost immediately for the swingman-heavy Bobcasts. With Herrmann, Mr. Fear the ‘Stache, JRich, and now Dudley, the Bobcats have too many swingmen.
Grade: C-

23) New York Knicks select Wilson Chandler [F, DePaul]
-Hold your breath fellow Knick fans. I wholeheartedly support the pick. While I wanted Belinelli to drop here (he was gone at 18), everyone in the building knew the Blue Demon was gonna be drafted. Fortunately, he has excellent size and seems quite versatile. While still developing, he adds to a rather interesting young nucleus of bodies including David Lee, Renaldo Balkman, and Marty Collins. While I would’ve loved a gamble on Rudy Fernandez, even with the buyout in Spain, I like the depth Chandler offers more than enough. Although passing on Morris Almond may hurt in a year or two.
Grade: B

24) Phoenix Suns select Rudy Fernandez [G, DKV Joventut] (rights sold to the Portland Trailblazers)
-Let me state my man crushes on Kevin Pritchard and Paul Allen. At pick 24, they realize there’s a lottery talent still on the board and Pritchard goes to Allen and asks him for $3 million to buy the pick. As for Fernandez, Clement and I both love the guy. The Ginobili comparisons are legit and despite his tender age, he has plenty of international experience on a fantastic national side. Fernandez does have a large buyout, but the Blazers can be patient given their guard depth.
Grade: A+

25) Utah Jazz select Morris Almond [G, Rice]
-While I overestimated Ronnie Brewer’s impact (which can still change for the better), I don’t feel wrong in stating that Almond is a great 2-guard for the future for the Jazz. While still young and potentially untested, Almond has a sweet stroke and loves to take the big shot. Miss or make, I love that attitude from a college kid.
Grade: A-

26) Houston Rockets select Aaron Brooks[G, Oregon]
- Why would the Rockets select Brooks despite having Rafer Alston and recently re-acquired Mike James already on the books. Brooks is a playmaker but this team really needed a power forward to play alongside Yao.
Grade: D

27) Detroit Pistons select Arron Afflalo [G, UCLA]
-Get ready for the NBDL, Arron. While he may one day fit into the Pistons lineup, I don’t see him overcoming what most people dog him for: inability to create his own shot consistently and being a step behind on defense. While Pay and I differ on his potential, Afflalo is a class-guy and a potential solid reserve, in a few seasons potentially, for the not-so-young Pistons.
Grade: C+

28) San Antonio Spurs select Tiago Splitter [F/C, Tau Ceramica - Spain]
- Hate on the Spurs. Do it. They needed a big and they had their pick of the litter with Splitter, McRoberts, and Big Baby. Splitter has a huge buyout and that’s the reason for the major drop. He won’t play in the NBA soon, but when he does, he’ll be a Top 5 European league talent rather than just one of its rising stars.
Grade: A

29) Phoenix Suns select Alando Tucker [F, Wisconsin]
-I suppose Grant Hill’s desire to be in Phoenix is TKO’d. While I like the player, I don’t like the pick. More beef was needed inside and a more target-shooter could’ve been used from outside the perimeter. His speed may come into question too. Can you think of more polar opposite system’s than that of By Ryan’s in Wisconsin and D’Antoni’s in Phoenix? Good luck trying. I’m still smarting they didn’t risk waiting a year for Fernandez at pick #24 (trading him to Portland for straight-cash).
Grade: D+

30) Philadelphia 76ers select Petteri Koponen [G, Honka Playboys - Finland] (Rights traded to Portland)
- What Portland wants, Portland gets. Koponen is a tall guard who has plenty of potential despite competing in one of Europe’s lower leagues. I’d be remiss to mention that he shares Finnish roots with our very own Chris Clement. Well, kinda. Koponen is a proven playmaker with a lot of room to grow. His defense has been suspect to say the least. With Jarrett Jack and Sergio Rodriguez at the point, was this necessary?
Grade: C

2nd-Round: [No grades for Round 2]
31) Seattle Supersonics select Carl Landry [F, Purdue]
-With their quagmire of underdeveloped talent at the 5-spot, I kind of like this pick of the Boilermaker. While there were plenty of other options, if Landry stays healthy, he will be a nice physical presence to offset the incoming rookie duo of Durant/Green. It’s a definite reach, but one I feel may work out.

32) Boston Celtics select Gabe Pruitt [G, USC]
- Pruitt is the natural replacement for Delonte West, who like Pruitt, was a point guard out of necessity. Pruitt will need to add weight to his 170-lb frame and become a more disciplined defensive player, though the potential is definitely there.

33) San Antonio Spurs select Marcus Williams [F, Arizona]
-With already an intriguing selection in Brazilian Tiago Splitter, the Spurs snagged a real sleeper in Williams. Regarded as a potential top-10 talent before his freshman year in Tucson, Williams may turn out to be a rather solid contributor with an imposing blend of size and skill at his position. As always, RC Buford makes it look easy for the Spur front office.

34) Dallas Mavericks select Nick Fazekas [F, Nevada]
- Fazekas has the skills to pay the bills at this level and will learn a lot from playing against Dirk Nowitzski. At the next level, he’ll definitely be serviceable. In the immediate, he’s a natural replacement for Austin Croshere, whose disgusting contract is finally over. I foresee a career somewhere between Jack Sikma and Frank Brickowski.

35) Seattle Supersonics select Glen Davis [F, LSU] (draft rights traded to Boston)
-Pay’s nickname (“Sprained Ankle”) is borderline classic. While I have my doubts, I don’t believe Big Baby is the next Tractor Traylor. However, he had better toughen up and work hard over the summer to earn minutes next season. With plenty of odd bodies already on the roster, Davis may have the finesse needed to find solid minutes in the Celtics regular rotation before season’s end.

36) Charlotte Bobcats select Jermareo Davidson [F, Alabama] (draft rights traded to Charlotte)- - This put on a smile on my face. Davidson’s last year has been a real-life tragedy, losing those closest to him. Thankfully, the NCAA got its act together for once and let him play this season. He will serve the purpose that Brandan Wright would’ve served in a lesser capacity had the Bobcats held onto him. As for his basketball skills, he’s long which lends itself to a game inside the paint and Davidson showed off his improving jump shot.

37) Portland Trailblazers select Josh McRoberts [F, Duke]
-While it’s not a Terrence Morris-like drop, it’s close. Touted as a sure-fire lottery pick around 24 months ago, McRoberts sank and sank down draft boards in ’07. While the Portland roster is stacked with young big men on the bench (Outlaw and Udoka come to mind first), McRoberts possesses great hands and surprising vision (at times). If can wake up, and maybe get lucky with a trade, he may not be washed out already.

38) Philadelphia 76ers select Kyrylo Fesenko [F/C, Cherkassy - Ukraine]
- Fesenko is a very raw player with excellent size. The Pistons were the first to scout him but were unable to hide it from the rest of the NBA. Go figure. At age 20, he lacks experience, but he has a NBA body (6’11” 250) with very good strength, hustles, and is active on the boards. Fesenko will need more time (my guess is 2-4 years) to develop in Europe prior to his NBA arrival.

39) Miami Heat selects Stanko Barac [C, Siroki Prima - Bosnia and Herzegovina] (draft rights traded to Indiana)
- Barac is your classic European 7-footer – he has the fundamentals down pat, demonstrates adequate basketball IQ and he can shoot. In fact, he shot 35.9% from behind the European arc. The best part about Barac is that he’s very coachable. On the flipside, he lacks an inside game and is slow to get off of the ground. His inability to pass out of double team also leaves plenty to be desired.

40) Los Angeles Lakers select Sun Yue [G/F, Aoshen Olympian - China]
- Sun wasn’t even on my top 65 and I was shocked by this selection. Of course, the Buss family doesn’t give a damn about what I think. The Lakers will take a liking to Sun because he’s an unselfish player who loves to pass and has great vision. At 6’9”, he creates mismatches and uses his long arms to cut off passing lanes. Usually the case with pass-first players, he lacks shooting ability and still needs to develop a mid-range jumper. I hope this was more than a marketing ploy by the Lakers.

41) Minnesota Timberwolves select Chris Richard [F, Florida]
-A little early in my opinion, the Wolves now have another interesting big body to plant onto its bench (Craig Smith was a gem by late last season). While his actual offensive game comes into heavy question, I like his body size and his ability to play physical when necessary. This is the type of 2nd round pick that a lot of contenders, which Minnesota clearly isn’t, should’ve considered.

42) Portland Trailblazers select Derrick Byars [G/F, Vanderbilt] (rights traded to the Philadelphia 76ers)
- The pick speaks for itself. Byars is a top 25 draft talent. The trade makes little sense, because the Sixers needed a young point guard to develop and the Blazers major remaining hole was at small forward (Udoka, Outlaw, Webster, etc. hardly excite me). Fundamentally, he’s as gifted as anyone in this draft class. He knows pressure, as he was only the SEC player of the year and took every big shot for his team this season. On defense, Byars has the tendency to reach and be overaggressive despite being able to stay in front of his defender. Add another swingman to Mo Cheeks’ arsenal.

43) New Orleans Hornets select Adam Haluska [G, Iowa]
-Limited exposure, at least for me, had me surprised the guy went this early. While Chris Paul does need some shooters, I really wonder if they would’ve taken Derrick Byars, even with Julian Wright incoming, if he had slipped just one more spot. Call me a homer, but I think Syracuse’s Demetris Nichols, a much better shooter than outgoing free agent Desmond Mason ever was, should’ve been gone here.

44) Orlando Magic selects Reyshawn Terry [F, UNC]
- At UNC, Terry was a gem lying in wait following the championship run of 2005. When watching Terry, his athleticism and ability to make an impact on defense even when he’s ice-cold on offense stand out. Terry has struggled with confidence issues and his development will hinge upon how well he is coached. For Orlando, this pick signals the end of Grant Hill’s stay and starts a new chapter. I would’ve considered Nichols or Fresno State’s Dominic McGuire at this selection.

45) Los Angeles Clippers select Jared Jordan [G, Marist]
-I had a sneaking suspicion that somehow, he’d be drafted. No way did I expect it to the Clippers a 45. I’m not going to ramble on this reach, except that both Taurean Green and Ramon Sessions would’ve been much smarter picks.

46) Golden State Warriors select Stephane Lasme [F, Massachusetts]
- Simply put, I jock this pick so hard. In the playoffs, it was evident that the Warriors needed a defensive specialist who can rebound and block shots. Offensively, Lasme needs retooling despite steady improvement to his footwork, but that’s not why he was drafted. He could easily be the 3rd or 4th guy off of the bench who can come in and change the landscape of a game.

47) Washington Wizards select Dominic McGuire [F, Fresno State]
-I’m always a little too touch on Fresno State Bulldog players. Yet, I do wonder if McGuire, who seems to me a 3, was the best pick here. Especially with the contract of Jarvis Hayes to deal with and a complete lack of interior post depth, that is at least credible when on the floor, in the nation’s capital. I would’ve reached for my boy Herbert Hill here or potentially Ali Traore. On a side note, the NBA Live spots with Arenas and Durant didn’t progress well. Clearly, Gilbert should’ve written the scripts and directed it himself.

48) Los Angeles Lakers select Marc Gasol [C, Akasvayu Girona - Spain]
- Excellent value at 48. In most other drafts, Gasol is a late first-round selection. His continuous improvement demonstrates his ability to be coached and that’s music to Phil Jackson’s ears, should he remain coach when Gasol is ready to play. Athletically, Gasol is lacking and must trim down in order to adjust to the new, quicker NBA.

49) Chicago Bulls select Aaron Gray [C, Pittsburgh]
-Good value right here. He may be the opposite of almost-drafted Spencer Hawes skill-wise, but Pay was right in noting that Gray has the size and stature to last in the NBA. He won’t get a ton of minutes, but he’ll be effective enough to stay out of the NBDL the majority of this season.

50) Dallas Mavericks select Renaldas Seibutis[G, Maroussi Athens - Greece]
- The Mavs go with the exciting Lithuanian slasher who can play either guard position. Rumored to go at pick 35, the Ray Allen trade went through and Seattle gave up that pick. Seibutis still needs to work on his outside shooting, defense and overall body strength.

51) Chicago Bulls select JamesOn Curry [G, Oklahoma State]
-Why come out this early exactly? The Bulls delivered on their promise, but never said anything about Curry being in the developmental league (I think). With too much depth at guard already, don’t expect his tenure in Chicago to be memorable…or lengthy.

52) Portland Trailblazers select Taurean Green [G, Florida]
- A part of Green must have regretted this decision. Of course, Portland isn’t complaining. For the fourth time in as many picks, they reap amazing value. Though Green is destined for the NBDL or the last spot on the bench (unless there are injuries), his leadership skills and desire to win are unquestioned. Green has to cut down on the unforced errors.

53) Portland Trailblazers select Demetris Nichols [F, Syracuse]
-I expected him to be mid-to-late 40s, but not to Portland. What does this mean for Martell Webster? Might Nichols automatically face being cut from the entire team? While his length and shooting ability are assets, where are any type of minutes, or even the potential for them, on this squad. A shame.

54) Orlando Magic selects Brad Newley [G, Townsville Crocodiles - Australia] (rights sold to the Houston Rockets)
- I have no idea what Houston is playing at right here. This is looking more and more like the four-guard offense with hints of Chuck Hayes coming off the bench should he be re-signed. Newley can shoot with the best of them and is a solid character guy. He’s down on chips in the foot speed department and needs to add body strength. He also has an interesting hairstyle should you decide to google Newley's image.

55) Utah Jazz selects Herbert Hill [F, Providence]
-While my buzz spelled doom for Avis Wyatt, Hill recovered from a borderline hellacious camp experience to still be drafted. Ironically, Hill might be the perfect practice-buddy for last year’s 2nd-round big man, Paul Millsap. While he won’t garner any type of real minutes, it’s a smart pick by a smart organization. There really wasn’t a 2 or 3 worth taking this last in the game.

56) Milwaukee Bucks select Ramon Sessions [G, Nevada]
- Not only will Sessions make the team, he will become a key contributor and a possible starter by midseason. Sessions is an excellent floor general and should’ve been drafted much earlier. As I’ve said, Sessions has the best combination skills of scoring, passing, and rebounding of any point guard in this draft.

57) Detroit Pistons select Sammy Mejia [G, DePaul]
-Pleading the fifth. I had to research Chandler enough as it is due to DePaul being the quietest of the Big East bubble teams all season. I doubt this guy makes the team honestly.

58) San Antonio Spurs select Giorgos Printezis [F, Olimpia Laresa - Greece]
- Known for his hustle and energy, Printezis is a hard worker who’s not afraid to attack the basket. He’ll need to improve his overall shooting in order to make the jump. Side note: You have to love the fact that Printezis shows up at the draft paying his own way, waits more than four hours for his name to be called and has the biggest grin in the world. Again, hate on the Spurs.

59) Phoenix Suns select DJ Strawberry [F, Maryland]
-If he makes the team, good luck finding more than a minute or two a game. Send him to the NBDL and see what happens. At least the “Darryl” chants in the Garden woke up the crowd before the final pick was made.

60) Dallas Mavericks select Milovan Rakovic [F, Mega Ishrana - Serbia]
- If Rakovic ever makes the squad, it’ll be after years and years of honing his game in Europe. The Mavs like his explosiveness, but he remains very raw offensively in all facets.

Draft Day Deals:
I’ll spend the briefest of times on the draft-day deals. Why? Because they affected several picks, their subsequent impacts and a half-dozen at teams (at least). I’ll even try and go in order of importance too.

Boston & Seattle
Boston receives: Ray Allen and the 35th pick (Glen Davis, LSU)
Seattle receives: 5th pick (Jeff Green, see above), Delonte West, and Wally Szczerbiak

Boston’s take – They finally find a tandem All-Star player to put next to Paul Pierce. But for how long? While the 5th pick offered potential, Boston is plenty young. Rajon Rondo is now clearly their future PG. Dumping Wally’s contract helps. They’ll miss West’s effort and the depth he provided.

Seattle’s take – They are starting from scratch, which I respect. However, Durant could’ve leaned on Allen his rookie campaign. Green is a good supporting cast member and West provides depth with Ridnour & Watson at PG and can play the 2 as he did at St Joseph’s. Wally isn’t a lost cause either. Seattle needs to figure out their centers NOW (Wilcox, Swift, Sene & Petro).

Winner: Push.

Portland & New York
Portland receives: Channing Frye and Steve Francis
New York receives: Zach Randolph, Fred Jones, and Dan Dickau

Portland’s take – They move Randolph and allow Oden & Aldridge to be the core nucleus. They also pick up valuable depth in Frye. Most importantly, they accept Francis’s money for 2 years over 4 for Randolph. That’s saving $28 million, meaning they could conceivably buy Phoenix’s unprotected pick from Atlanta next year and have some cash left over.

New York’s take – Interior presence to aid Eddy Curry (especially in the rebounding department). Jones and Dickau have expiring deals and they dump the Franchise. Not to mention, the move definitely excites the fan base (myself included).

Winner: New York. (But it’s not a wash.)

Charlotte & Golden State
Charlotte receives: Jason Richardson and the 36th pick (Jamareo Davidson, Alabama)
Golden State receives: 8th pick (Brandon Wright, UNC)

Charlotte’s takeRichardson, and all that money, slide into the go-to-guy 2-guard spot in the Bobcat rotation. He will now be leaned on as a leader, much more than ever before. He is officially MJ’s boy. Mind you, MJ’s boy made the playoffs for the first time this season … in his career.

Golden State’s take – His health an issue, Richardson departs and the Warriors don’t ship Monta Ellis anywhere (interesting to see if they keep Matt Barnes though). Picking up Brandan Wright gives him an interior presence (who unlike Al Harrington, won’t always leave the area) and plenty of talent to cultivate (especially alongside 1st-round selection Marco Belinelli).

Winner: Golden State (This could be another one of MJ’s downright disasters.)

No other trades were major enough to include. Although there was one of those annoying, “I’ll trade you my pick at 21 and some cash for yours at 20.” Probably netting Miami a total of $250,000, or whatever. Also, some guy named Stanko Barac (yes, Stanko) was traded, to Indiana from Miami. I like him already.

While the draft buzz, as always, was more bark than bite. At least some big-time deals went down. The draft itself lost some steam, I feel, after the early teens, but there was plenty of interest throughout. Plenty of people slipped (Byars, McRoberts, Crittenton) and plenty of people rose as well.

In the end, it’ll take at least four to six years to make any real assessments.

Until next time ...

Thursday, June 28, 2007

2007 NBA Mock Draft - Version 5.0 (FINAL)

We are just hours and minutes away from the NBA Draft and we finally have the FINAL edition of the mock draft. There’s no going back, so I don’t care if the NBA announces a deal between now and the start of the draft. We have predicted a few trades that may occur, but this mock draft does not include any of the blockbusters that have occupied ESPN’s airwaves the last few days.

The drama begins at pick 3, where we’ll holding firm to Al Horford despite the Yi Jianlian reports. If Yi is taken, the Grizzlies must heavily consider Horford in lieu of Mike Conley Jr., who we have as the fourth pick. This speculation, if it comes to fruition, will cause a ripple effect taking shape throughout the duration of the lottery. Every lottery has a player who slips out and our final mock shows that it will be Al Thornton, who may be drafted as high as 10th, but may fall to the Wizards at 16. Beginning in the mid-teens, there will be a steady run on shooting guards, many of whom have all-star potential for many years to come.

Being that this is the deepest draft in recent memory, the second round has plenty of talented players, especially at point guard and power forward. Similar to last year’s draft, we have 10 internationally-based players being selected this year in the second round.

Going along with reports, we have Phoenix selling away one of its first-round picks to Cleveland. While Toronto was considered as a potential buyer, Cavs owner Dan Gilbert has given Danny Ferry the green light in terms of going over the salary cap, signifying that they may buy into the draft. Also, New York has the perfect opportunity at the 38th pick to nab Taurean Green, who Isiah Thomas is enamored with. There’s also the Pacers, who have been rumored to be interested in entering the draft, and I expect them to do so in the second round. And, of course, there’s Portland, who have four second-round draft picks, all of which they will not use. There is also the Houston Rockets, who are looking to wheel and deal with new head coach Rick Adelman in charge.

With that said, we know a few things that I will reiterate. First, the draft will be exciting. Anticipation does it by itself. Expect David Stern to make a smart remark at least once during the course of the first round. Second, there will be sheer amazement expressed by the pundits who will hear coherent English from at least one internationally-based player. Jim Grey will then break the story on how that player has a second cousin he visited every year who is American. Third, prepare to be pissed off by your team’s front office, who made a promise to a player who wouldn’t be drafted for another 15 picks. This is because many members of the front office (i.e. the decision makers) are made up of people who got their job from the old boy network rather than any merit-based work. In spite of this, the draft will be an awesome four-and-a-half hours of television.

Phoenix trades the rights to the 29th pick to Cleveland for cash.
Philadelphia trades the rights to the 38th pick to New York for two future second-round picks (unprotected).
Golden State trades the rights to the 46th pick to Indiana for a future second-round pick (unprotected).
Portland trades the rights to the 52nd pick to the LA Clippers for a future second-round pick (unprotected).

1st Round

1. Portland. Greg Oden, C, Ohio State. We’ve known this for weeks. As of last night, it’s official. Let the Przybilla trade offers begin.
2. Seattle. Kevin Durant, SF, Texas. No brainer here. Durant goes first in most other drafts. Truckload of talent and very underrated 7’5” wingspan to boot.
3. Atlanta. Al Horford, PF, Florida. Belkin’s blocking the Amare/Garnett 3-way and Atlanta forgets that they lack a point guard. Horford’s a steep upgrade over Shelden “Bust” (formerly “Forehead”) Williams.
4. Memphis. Mike Conley Jr., PG, Ohio State. Iavaroni wants a point guard badly and he’ll get Conley if he so wants him. Questionable shooting but a great perimeter defender who’ll harass ball handlers.
5. Boston. Yi Jianlian, PF, Guangdong Tigers (China). It’s a toss-up between Yi, Brewer and Green in that order.
6. Milwaukee. Corey Brewer, SF, Florida. Defense, defense, defense! If you watched a Bucks game last season, you’re nodding. Solid pick by the Bucks brass.
7. Minnesota. Brandan Wright, PF, North Carolina. Despite being labeled as a tweener, Wright can be dominant in the post at both ends and will be an immediate defensive presence.
8. Charlotte. Jeff Green, SF, Georgetown. It’s a toss-up between Green and Joakim Noah. Before yesterday, I liked Noah in this spot, but Gerald Wallace opting out of his contract opens up a gap that Green can better fill.
9. Chicago (from New York). Spencer Hawes, C, Washington. Lack of low-post scoring is the reason why the Bulls couldn’t beat the Pistons. The Bulls are also high on Julian Wright.
10. Sacramento. Joakim Noah, PF, Florida. This may be ill will coming to fruition, but Noah fits the bill for the need at power forward. Al Thornton is also heavily considered at this pick.
11. Atlanta (from Indiana). Acie Law IV, PG, Texas A&M. Billy Knight is so bad that a good move is when he pulls a bad trade off the table (like Ridnour for the 11th pick). Law will start in Atlanta barring injury.
12. Philadelphia. Julian Wright, SF/PF, Kansas. Wright declined workouts with the Clippers and Pistons, so he might have a promise from either Chicago, Sacramento or Philly. Philly makes the most sense.
13. New Orleans. Nick Young, SG, USC. Need over size??? Yes, the Hornets actually go with a shooting guard.

14. LA Clippers. Javaris Crittenton, PG, Georgia Tech. Shawn Livingston’s career is in doubt after a brutal injury that has already ruled him out for next season. Word on the street is that the Clips may consider a swingman like Crittenton’s collegiate teammate, Thaddeus Young.
15. Detroit (from Orlando). Rodney Stuckey, SG/PG, Eastern Washington. I smell a promise. Stuckey fills the hole left by the Delfino trade and possibly the exit of Billups.
16. Washington. Al Thornton, PF/SF, Florida State. Washington GM Ernie Grunfeld has said in local radio interviews that the Wizards are content to sit and wait to see what develops at this pick. Best player available is selected.
17. New Jersey. Jason Smith, PF, Colorado State. The baggage of Sean Williams appears a bit much to the Nets front office. Glen “Sprained Ankle” Davis is also considered.
18. Golden State. Thaddeus Young, SF, Georgia Tech. With two crucial small forwards who can rebound on the go, Young is a great find and excellent value at pick 18. Jared Dudley, workout warrior, will also be considered.
19. LA Lakers. Rudy Fernandez, SG, DKV Joventut (Spain). Rudy is the truth and the Lakers know that they need a playmaker who’s drawn Ginobili comparisons. If I were GM, I’d go with Derrick Byars.
20. Miami. Marco Belinelli, SG, Climamio Bologna (Italy). Huge upside and no foreseeable buyout issues. The Heat really need a point guard, but doing so would mean severely reaching for Gabe Pruitt, in my humble opinion.
21. Philadelphia (from Denver). Sean Williams, PF/C, Boston College. Williams is troubled and we know that. He’s a defensive stud who will fortify the 76ers frontline.
22. Charlotte (from Toronto). Morris Almond, SG, Rice. Sharp-shooter with skills to pay the bills. He’ll certainly have a stronger supporting cast than he did at Rice.
23. New York (from Chicago). Wilson Chandler, SF, DePaul. Ugh. I’m giving Zeke a mulligan on this one because he shut us up with the picks of Lee, Balkman and Collins.
24. Phoenix (from Cleveland via Boston). Josh McRoberts, PF, Duke. This is exactly the tempo that suits McRoberts, who has amazing athleticism despite his awkwardness in the half-court set.
25. Utah. Derrick Byars, SG/SF, Vanderbilt. Major slippage and for no good reason. His lack of foot speed has been overblown by the haters. He’s a legit 2 and can play the 3. 26. Houston. Glen Davis, PF, Louisiana State. The sprained ankle was scary but that should not affect his draft positioning that much.
27. Detroit. Tiago Splitter, PF/C, Tau Ceramica (Spain). Possibly, playing on a good team may help his buyout situation. You never know. He’s one of the best players in Europe and still a very young man. Don’t be absolutely shocked if the Pistons reach for Kyrylo Fesenko.
28. San Antonio. Jared Dudley, SF, Boston College. The workout warrior has proven why measurements are just that. Like him or hate him, Dudley is a heady player who rarely makes bad decisions.
29. Phoenix - traded to Cleveland. Daequan Cook, SG, Ohio State. Cook isn’t exactly what the Cavs need, but he is explosive and can hit 3s, and what LeBron wants … LeBron gets.
30. Philadelphia (from Dallas via Denver and Golden State). Gabe Pruitt, PG, USC. Philadelphia gets its SF, PF, and PG combo that they badly wanted. Petteri Koponen may be an option.

2nd Round

31. Seattle (from Memphis). Petteri Koponen, PG, Honka Playboys (Finland). The perfect guy to stash away for a few years while he grows in Europe with Ridnour, Watson and Wilks already on the roster.
32. Boston. Kyrylo Fesenko, C, Cherkassy (Ukraine). The C’s are rumored to be taking a European center. Stanko Barac could also be considered, but Fesenko is the better prospect.
33. San Antonio (from Milwaukee). Arron Afflalo, SG, UCLA. Afflalo goes to a solid team after all despite slipping into the second round.
34. Dallas (from Atlanta). Alando Tucker, SF, Wisconsin. Alando is an excellent heir to taking the Stackhouse role.
35. Seattle. Renaldas Seibutis, SG, Maroussi Athens (Greece). If this doesn’t happen, blame HoopsHype, who cited that many NBA teams are suggesting the Lithuanian gets drafted here.
36. Golden State (from Minnesota). Dominic McGuire, SF, Fresno State. Averaged double-digits in rebounding and was an excellent shot blocker for the Bulldogs.
37. Portland. Demetris Nichols, SF, Syracuse. It’s between Reyshawn Terry and Nichols, and Portland chooses the Syracuse stroker.
38. Philadelphia (from New York via Chicago) - traded to New York. Taurean Green, PG, Florida. There’s mutual love between Green, who wears #11, and Thomas. Green is a playmaker and a conductor at the same time. At this spot, he’s of great value.
39. Orlando (from Sacramento via Utah). Aaron Brooks, PG, Oregon. Another steal at the point guard position. However, Brooks may go to a team drafting late in the first round. If Brooks were two inches taller, he’d be drafted in the early 20s.
40. LA Lakers (from Charlotte). Marcus Williams, SG/SF, Arizona. Another fall guy. Williams is a solid scorer who can hit open shots. His defensive acumen has come into question more than once.
41. Minnesota (from Philadelphia). Marc Gasol, C, Akasvayu Girona (Spain). Pau’s younger brother has improved and still has room for improvement. Minnesota will consider Visser and Fazekas.
42. Portland (from Indiana). Zoran Erceg, PF, Zeleznik (Serbia). Another European stash-job in Portland, who have 4 (count ‘em, 4) second-round draft picks. Funny thing is that on some sites, he’s 196 pounds and on another, he’s 235.
43. New Orleans. Nick Fazekas, PF, Nevada. Major slide for Fazekas, who might get drafted in the 1st round for all I know. Visser will also be considered at this pick.
44. Orlando. Kyle Visser, PF/C, Wake Forest. Visser provides interior support for Dwight Howard. Even better news for the Magic is that former first-round draft pick Fran Vasquez wants to play for the team this season. Isn’t that nice of him?
45. LA Clippers. Aaron Gray, C, Pittsburgh. And there you have it! The run on big white men is complete. Gray will provide support for Chris Kaman.
46. Golden State (from New Jersey) - traded to Indiana. Ramon Sessions, PG, Nevada. The Pacers are getting sicked and tired of Jamaal Tinsley’s constant indiscretions, be it on the court or off of it. Sessions has the best combined skills of scoring, dishing and rebounding of any point guard in this draft.
47. Washington. Carl Landry, PF, Purdue. Injury problems slowed Landry, but he’s a proven low-post scorer who can rebound. The Wizards must be prepared to lose some of their inside players to free agency.
48. LA Lakers. Zabian Dowdell, PG/SG, Virginia Tech. Solid who made the transition to point during the pre-draft camp and workouts.
49. Chicago (from Golden State via Denver, Boston and Phoenix). Marko Tomas, SG, Real Madrid (Spain). Talk of JamesOn Curry’s promise at 49 has died down this week, so the Bulls go international with the lanky Spaniard.
50. Dallas (from Miami via LA Lakers). Stanko Barac, C, Siroki (Bosnia). Dallas is counting down to the end of Dampier’s contract … which is neverending. They also get a decent prospect in Barac, who’s a legit 7-footer.
51. Chicago (from Denver). Stephane Lasme, PF, Massachusetts. Awesome rebounder to fill the holes left by the departing PJ Brown and Mike Sweetney.
52. Portland (from Toronto) - traded to LA Clippers. Reyshawn Terry, SF, North Carolina. Major value here for the Clippers, who get a four-year college player minus half of the mileage.
53. Portland (from Chicago). Shagari Alleyne, C, Manhattan. Space eater, plain and simple. He can block shots too. Can you see the excitement?
54. Orlando (from Cleveland). Giorgos Printezis, SF, Olimpia Laresa. Solid prospect for the future who emerged at the Reebok Eurocamp. Printezis knows how to attack the basket, crash the boards and hustle.
55. Utah. Ivan Radenovic, PF, Arizona. Excellent collegiate career for Radenovic who showed he was worth second-round consideration during workouts.
56. Milwaukee (from Houston). Ali Traore, PF, Le Havre (France). After excelling at the pre-draft camp in the US, Traore was iffy at best at the aforementioned Eurocamp. His stock drops as a result.
57. Detroit. Jermareo Davidson, PF, Alabama. The last year’s been a nightmare for Davidson, who can take solace for one evening that all of his work was for something.
58. San Antonio. Milovan Rakovic, PF, Mega Ishrana (Serbia). How many power forwads and centers can the Spurs have on reserve in Europe? I’m serious. Yet another reason to hate the best organization in the NBA.
59. Phoenix. Herbert Hill, PF, Providence. Why not? Hill stunk it up at the pre-draft camp, after getting lots of love in preliminary draft talk.
60. Dallas. Russell Carter, SG, Notre Dame. It’s between Carter, DJ Strawberry and Trey Johnson, but Carter wins out.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

NBA Mock Draft Version 4.0

Due to the rumors running rampant across the air waves, we are doing a more simple version of the mock draft including all 60 picks and a few trades.

Chicago trades the rights to the 9th pick (projected: Jeff Green) to Sacramento for the rights to the 10th pick (projected: Spencer Hawes) and cash considerations.
Phoenix trades the rights to the 29th pick to Cleveland for cash.
Philadelphia trades the rights to the 38th pick to Indiana for two future second-round picks (unprotected).
Portland trades the rights to the 52nd pick to the LA Clippers for a future second-round pick (unprotected).

We'll do our best to have a mock with more deals tomorrow as they become closer to fruition or even finalized.

1st Round

1. Portland. Greg Oden, C, Ohio State.
2. Seattle. Kevin Durant, SF, Texas.
3. Atlanta. Al Horford, PF, Florida.
4. Memphis. Brandan Wright, PF, North Carolina.
5. Boston. Yi Jianlian, PF, Guangdong Tigers (China).
6. Milwaukee. Mike Conley Jr., PG, Ohio State.
7. Minnesota. Corey Brewer, SF, Florida.
8. Charlotte. Joakim Noah, PF, Florida.
9. Chicago (from New York). Jeff Green, SF, Georgetown. à rights traded to Sacramento
10. Sacramento. Spencer Hawes, C, Washington. à rights traded to Chicago
11. Atlanta (from Indiana). Acie Law IV, PG, Texas A&M.
12. Philadelphia. Al Thornton, PF/SF, Florida State.
13. New Orleans. Nick Young, SG, USC.
14. LA Clippers. Javaris Crittenton, PG, Georgia Tech.
15. Detroit (from Orlando). Rodney Stuckey, SG/PG, Eastern Washington.
16. Washington. Julian Wright, SF/PF, Kansas.
17. New Jersey. Jason Smith, PF, Colorado State.
18. Golden State. Thaddeus Young, SF, Georgia Tech.
19. LA Lakers. Josh McRoberts, PF, Duke.
20. Miami. Derrick Byars, SG/SF, Vanderbilt.
21. Philadelphia (from Denver). Sean Williams, PF/C, Boston College.
22. Charlotte (from Toronto). Rudy Fernandez, SG, DKV Joventut (Spain).
23. New York (from Chicago). Wilson Chandler, SF, DePaul.
24. Phoenix (from Cleveland via Boston). Marco Belinelli, SG, Climamio Bologna (Italy).
25. Utah. Morris Almond, SG, Rice.
26. Houston. Glen Davis, PF, Louisiana State.
27. Detroit. Tiago Splitter, PF/C, Tau Ceramica (Spain).
28. San Antonio. Jared Dudley, SF, Boston College
29. Phoenix à traded to Cleveland. Daequan Cook, SG, Ohio State.
30. Philadelphia (from Dallas via Denver and Golden State). Gabe Pruitt, PG, USC.

2nd Round

31. Seattle (from Memphis). Petteri Koponen, PG, Honka Playboys (Finland).
32. Boston. Kyrylo Fesenko, C, Cherkassy (Ukraine).
33. San Antonio (from Milwaukee). Arron Afflalo, SG, UCLA.
34. Dallas (from Atlanta). Alando Tucker, SF, Wisconsin.
35. Seattle. Nick Fazekas, PF, Nevada.
36. Golden State (from Minnesota). Dominic McGuire, SF, Fresno State.
37. Portland. Demetris Nichols, SF, Syracuse.
38. Philadelphia (from New York via Chicago) à traded to Indiana. Taurean Green, PG, Florida
39. Orlando (from Sacramento via Utah). Aaron Brooks, PG, Oregon.
40. LA Lakers (from Charlotte). Marcus Williams, SG/SF, Arizona.
41. Minnesota (from Philadelphia). Marc Gasol, C, Akasvayu Girona (Spain).
42. Portland (from Indiana). Zoran Erceg, PF, Zeleznik (Serbia).
43. New Orleans. Kyle Visser, PF/C, Wake Forest.
44. Orlando. Aaron Gray, C, Pittsburgh.
45. LA Clippers. Carl Landry, PF, Purdue.
46. Golden State (from New Jersey). Ramon Sessions, PG, Nevada.
47. Washington. Ali Traore, PF, Le Havre (France).
48. LA Lakers. Zabian Dowdell, PG/SG, Virginia Tech.
49. Chicago (from Golden State via Denver, Boston and Phoenix). JamesOn Curry, SG, Oklahoma State.
50. Dallas (from Miami via LA Lakers). Stanko Barac, C, Siroki (Bosnia).
51. Chicago (from Denver). Stephane Lasme, PF, Massachusetts.
52. Portland (from Toronto) à traded to LA Clippers. Reyshawn Terry, SF, North Carolina
53. Portland (from Chicago). Shagari Alleyne, C, Manhattan.
54. Orlando (from Cleveland). Trey Johnson, SG, Jackson State.
55. Utah. Ivan Radenovic, PF, Arizona.
56. Milwaukee (from Houston). Jermareo Davidson, PF, Alabama.
57. Detroit. Renaldas Seibutis, SG, Maroussi Athens (Greece).
58. San Antonio. Milovan Rakovic, PF, Mega Ishrana (Serbia).
59. Phoenix. Herbert Hill, PF, Providence.
60. Dallas. Russell Carter, SG, Notre Dame.