Zzzzzzz. Zzzzzzz. Is the draft over yet? Man, that was a snoozer. I think ESPN should re-hire Stephen A. Smith just to give the draft a jolt. That was like watching paint dry. Or, maybe ESPN should hand the draft over back to TNT so we can listen to Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley make fun of all the picks.
Outside of Jeff Van Gundy, who was easily the funniest guy on the set, the draft coverage put me to sleep, not to mention the inordinate amount of sleeper picks (sleeper in a bad sense) NBA teams kept writing down on the card for Commissioner David Stern, and the bald guy who took over later in the evening, to read and announce to a very intoxicated crowd at Madison Square Garden who kept chanting “Jeff!…Van!…Gundy! “Jeff!…Van!…Gundy!”
The NBA Draft was the same old story: the good teams did well and the bad teams … well, to quote Barkley, they were terrrrrible! It’s impossible to opine how well or how poorly each did based on one night, but I’m going to do it anyway because it’s entertaining. OneManFastBreak.net breaks down the winners and losers of draft day.
— Sacramento Kings: GM Geoff Petrie is one of the best talent evaluators in the business and he landed the second-best player in the draft in Kentucky big man DeMarcus Cousins with the No. 5 pick. The Kings play in a division that includes the world champion Los Angeles Lakers, who boasts one of the biggest and tallest frontcourts in the league, so it was extremely important for the Kings to get bigger and stronger up front to compete with the Lakers. Cousins (6-11, 290) can complement 2010 Rookie of the Year Tyreke Evans, giving the Kings a solid inside-outside punch for the next 10 years. There were questions about Cousins’ lazy attitude, but as Van Gundy pointed out, you can’t be lazy when you average 10 rebounds in 23 minutes. The Kings also took Marshall center Hassan Whiteside (6-11, 215) with their second selection, adding more length to their roster.
— Washington Wizards: The Wizards instantly became better by selecting Kentucky point guard John Wall (6-4, 195) at No. 1. Wall is not only the best player in the draft, but he is also the most charismatic. He is a leader and plays with a ton of energy, which the Wizards severely lacked last season after Gilbert Arenas was sent home for bragging about his gun collection in the arena. Washington also improved its roster by reportedly bringing in guard Kirk Hinrich, who is expected to be dealt next month by the Chicago Bulls to the Wizards in a cap-clearing move. With Wall, Arenas (assuming he’s on board with the team this season) and Hinrich, the Wizards have a dynamic three-guard rotation. The Wizards also added two physical frontcourt players in Clemson’s Trevor Booker (6-7, 240) and frenchman Kevin Seraphin (6-10, 255).
— Oklahoma City Thunder: OKC enters the 2010-11 season one big man away from seriously contending for an NBA title. Heck, they took the Lakers to six tough games with Nenad Krstic as their starting center so anyone with a pulse should be an upgrade. Thunder GM Sam Presti picked up Kansas center Cole Aldrich (6-11, 245) via a trade from New Orleans and then traded for 20-year-old center Tibor Pleiss (7-0, 220) of Germany. Aldrich is a strong rebounder and defender, and should contribute immediately for head coach Scott Brooks. Pleiss is a project they can stash in Europe for a year or two. Euroleague guru Fran Fraschilla compares him to Rik Smits. And for their second-r0und selection, the Thunder drafted Louisiana Tech’s Magnum Rolle (6-11, 225). You can’t go wrong drafting a guy named Magnum.
— Los Angeles Clippers: This is the only time of the year when the Clippers trump the Lakers on the front pages of the L.A. sports sections. The Clippers hold a draft lottery party every year, it seems like, and most of their picks normally end up as fodder for stand-ups at The Laugh Factory on Sunset Strip. But this season, whoever is doing the picking, the Clippers made some solid decisions. Wake Forest’s Al-Farouq Aminu (6-8, 205) is a capable small forward and Kentucky’s Eric Bledsoe (6-1, 190) is not a starting point guard, but he could be a decent backup. But the biggest news of the day in Clipperland is that Blake Griffin, last year’s top overall pick who missed the entire season because of a knee injury, has been cleared to play.
— San Antonio Spurs: Year in and year out, head coach Gregg Popovich and GM R.C. Buford make excellent picks in the draft and this season is no different. With the 20th overall selection, the Spurs took Oklahoma State shooting guard James Anderson (6-5, 210), who many consider as the best shooter in the draft and San Antonio badly needs guys who can put the ball in the basket. Then, with the 49th pick, the Spurs nabbed center Ryan Richards (6-11, 230) from England. San Antonio has a history with picking international gems, and Richards could turn out to be a steal.
— Portland Trail Blazers: Billionaire owner Paul Allen fired GM Kevin Pritchard on the day of the draft. Then, to add salt to the wound, he made Pritchard work the rest of the night. On his final shift as Blazers GM, Pritchard selected Memphis guard Elliot Williams (6-4, 180). A lame pick for a lameduck GM. But who could blame him? The Blazers also traded small forward Martell Webster to Minnesota for forwards Luke Babbitt (6-9, 225, Nevada) and Ryan Gomes. Gomes could be a nice player, but Babbitt could be another Luke Jackson.
— Minnesota Timberwolves: The Timberwolves keep taking athletes who like to run, but then they try to fit them in a triangle. It won’t work. I’d like to think Syracuse forward Wesley Johnson (6-7, 195), taken fourth overall, will be a stud but, for some reason, I keep seeing Hakim Warrick or John Wallace. Outside of Carmelo Anthony, Syracuse players tend to flame out in the NBA and Johnson could fall into that category.
— Orlando Magic: The Magic selected Kentucky center Daniel Orton (6-10, 255) in the first round. Orton averaged 3 points a game as DeMarcus Cousins’ backup and had trouble with keeping his weight down. Now, unless Orlando has plans of trading Marcin Gortat, they now have a logjam at the center position. Dwight Howard, obviously, is the starter and Gortat is an excellent backup. So where does that leave Orton?
— Atlanta Hawks: The Hawks not only didn’t address their needs in the frontcourt, but they seem to be planning for life without All-Star Joe Johnson. Atlanta swapped first-round picks with New Jersey, acquiring scoring guard Jordan Crawford (6-4, 195), and then took Pape Sy (6-7, 225) from the Senegal in the second round. Jordan Crawford is basically Jamal Crawford, so the Hawks have too many Crawfords on the roster.
— New York Knicks: The Knicks might as well have taken the day off because they basically have put all their chips in the LeBron James sweepstakes. Andy Rautins (6-5, 193) and Landry Fields (6-5, 185)? Are you kidding me? That’s the best they can do? It’s LeBron or Bust in NYC.
— University of Kentucky: Coach John Calipari was shedding a tear a little bit Thursday night. For one, he was happy his guys all went in the first round. Secondly, he knows he’s got some serious rebuilding (or reloading) in Lexington. But don’t feel too bad for Coach Cal because he’s got another stout freshman class coming in this season.