Apologies in advance, because this might get very long. I suppose I should probably split it up into multiple posts, but I'll just put all my thoughts here. First, just some general thoughts:
- The NBA Draft is so much easier to watch then the NFL Draft because of the time factor. After sitting through 15 minutes per pick at the NFL Draft, only having 5 minutes between each pick is extremely nice.
- Here are some of the phrases used to describe players that I heard from Jay Bilas (more than once for each of them): 'Speed merchant.' 'Absolute scorer.' Huh? What the heck is a speed merchant? What's the difference between a scorer and an 'absolute scorer'? Those phrases don't have upside.
- The 'absolute highlight' of the night for me came right towards the end of the draft, when Fran Franschilla used this direct quote to describe the Spurs second round draft pick Damir Markota: "Big guy that can play away from the basket. Also runs and jumps." I heard he even has arms.
- While we're on the subject of Fran Fraschilla, I don't think it's right to call him a guru at anything. Even if he has spent like the last 10 years studying foreign guys.
- The draft was about 100x better when it was on TNT, and we got to listen to Chuck Barkley, EJ, and "The Jet." Instead, we got STEPHEN A. SMITH (in caps to symbolize the yelling that Smith does). As TrueHoop said, Greg Anthony was the most sensible guy on TV tonight. And that's not a good thing.
1. Toronto Raptors - Andrea Bargnani - As expected, Bargnani was the pick. I would have gone with Thomas myself, but this is a nice pick. The Darko/Skita comparisons are inevitable, but flawed. Bargnani is more polished, experienced, and has the better skill set. He should be able to contribute some off the bench in year 1, and he will be a solid NBA player.
2. Chicago Bulls - LaMarcus Aldridge (PICK MADE FOR PORTLAND) - I guess I don't really understand why the Blazers moved up to pick Aldridge, but that's neither here nor there. He is a solid player on both ends, and a good character guy, with further goes to help the Blazers image. If I'm the Blazers, and I need to get the fan base back, I think Adam Morrison may have been the better option there. But I do like Aldridge.
3. Charlotte Bobcats - Adam Morrison - From a basketall standpoint, I don't really like the move all that much. Gerald Wallace was their best player last year, and he happens to play the same position Adam Morrison does. I would have gone with Brandon Roy... not quite the scorer that Morrison is, but a better all-around game.
4. Portland Trailblazers - Tyrus Thomas (PICK MADE FOR CHICAGO) - Nice job by the Bulls, who trade down 2 sports, still get their guy and a guy whose last name is Kryhapa... now that's solid. As for Thomas, I've been saying he was #1 on my board. He brings much needed athleticism, and should be a nice piece in the rotation for a young and talented Bulls team. Bulls could be scary in a couple years.
5. Atlanta Hawks - Shelden Williams - For the second straight year, they passed on a talented PG. This year at least, the pick does do well to address needs - defense and rebounding. Atlanta was bad in both areas, so Williams, who may be the most NBA -ready player in the draft, should step in immediately and be a nice contributor. Although I do think that was a little high for him.
6. Minnesota Timberwolves - Brandon Roy (PICK MADE FOR PORTLAND) - Now this is a move I really like for the Blazers, who eventually wound up with Roy. A solid player in the backcourt that is ready to play and contribute immediately. Everyone's pick for ROY, especially Critical Fanatic, who had #1 on his board.
7. Boston Celtics - Randy Foye (PICK MADE FOR MINNESOTA) - If I were the Wolves, I would have held on to Brandon Roy instead, but that's just a minor complaint. I think Foye will be a very good player - he's got a decent outside shot, he can create his own shot better than anyone in the draft, he makes good decisions, and he plays good defense. In other words, he's a definite upgrade over Marko Jaric. Which isn't saying much, I guess.
8. Houston Rockets - Rudy Gay (PICK MADE FOR MEMPHIS) - And this is where things got really interesting. Although it can't be officially announced until sometime in July, all reports are that Gay is headed to Memphis in exchange for Shane Battier, which is a very interesting deal. On the one hand, I really like Gay (I had him above Morrison), he has loads of talent, and his game is suited to the NBA. On the other hand, McGrady's back isn't getting any better, and Battier is a lot better suited to help them win now.
Initial reactions were that Memphis got the better end of the deal. Although I heard Stephen A. saying the Rockets should have stuck with Gay because he is a better scorer, and that is what Houston struggled with last year... but that doesn't make too much sense to me. Of course Houston struggled last year offensively, because McGrady wasn't really himself all year. Actually, with Battier in the mix, I think Houston can potentially be a scary team if T-Mac is healthy. Look at Miami this year - they had a star Guard (Wade), a good but declining Center (Shaq), and a bunch of role players. Houston potentially has a star Guard (McGrady), a good and improving Center (Yao), and a bunch of role players. And I do think Battier is an underrated commodity - a guy that will play tough defense, contribute offensively in an efficient manner when called upon, play his hardest no matter the circumstances, and basically do whatever he needs to do to win. And he can hit an open shot, which he should get a lot of with T-Mac and Yao. If McGrady is healthy, the Rockets are a top 4 team in the West.
Of course, the one thing missing in the Rockets/Heat comparison is that Pat Riley is a far better coach than Jeff Van Gundy. But well, you can't have everything. I thought it was a pretty good deal for both sides, with maybe a slight edge to the Grizz.
9. Golden State Warriors - Patrick O'Bryant - Nothing really to get excited about here. O'Bryant can be a good center in time, but he's not at all ready to contribute right away. Jay Bilas said it best here - O'Bryant will either become a really good player or he'll be ok. At this pioint, speculation is just that, speculation.
10. Seattle Supersonics - Saer Sene - Supersonicsoul said it best: "Wait a minute, didn't we already draft this guy? Like four times? I guess you can never have too many 7-foot "projects" that no one has ever heard of." Absolutely, positively, the worst pick of the lottery. The Sonics have picked centers for like 4 straight years now, what's the point of drafting an African center that's at least 3 years off from doing anything in the NBA? How'd that DeSagana Diop pick work out for Cleveland?
11. Orlando Magic - JJ Redick - I liked Ronnie Brewer or Rodney Carney here because they can just do more things well than Redick can, but Redick's not a bad pick by any means. At the very least, he should help in the development of Dwight Howard and Darko because he'll open up the floor for everyone else. Still, a little high for a one-dimensional player with a bad back.
12. New Orleans Hornets - Hilton Armstrong - Not much to say about this one. We pretty much know what Armstrong can do - block shots and rebound, and what he can't do at this point - contribute much if anything offensively. But hey, if you're looking for a good defensive center, Armstrong's the best option in this draft after Shelden Williams.
13. Philadelphia 76ers - Thabo Sefolosha (PICK MADE FOR CHICAGO) - After this pick was made, and I thought it was for Philly, I became almost depressed (which my sister can definitely confirm!!), but then immediately brightened up when I found out they made the pick to trade it for #16. I'll admit I don't know a lot about Thabo, but I think Brewer would have been the better option.
14. Utah Jazz - Ronnie Brewer - I really like this pick for the Jazz. They're a solid team now, but Brewer should provide nice athleticism, defense, and scoring for them. A backcourt of Deron Williams and Ronnie Brewer to go along with a nice frontcourt (Kirilenko, maybe Boozer, Okur), and the Jazz are once again on track for the playoffs.
15. New Orleans Hornets - Cedric Simmons - I would have thought New Orleans would have gone with Rodney Carney here to provide Chris Paul with another running mate, but they decided to go big again. With PJ Brown aging, and David West already in place, the Hornets will have some great depth and talent in the frontcourt after drafting Armstrong and Simmons.
16. Chicago Bulls - Rodney Carney (PICK MADE FOR PHILADELPHIA) - I was so close to getting my wish, but I guess it wasn't meant to be. But I'll admit, if you had told me before the draft that the Sixers would get Carney, I wouldn't really have been disappointed. Carney is potentially a lockdown defender, a "world-class athlete" (thanks Jay Bilas), and a pretty good shooter. Sure, he has shortcomings - he doesn't have much of a midrange game and he's not all that great at creating his own shot off the dribble, but paired up with Andre Iguodala, and you're looking at one of the most athletic wing combos in the NBA. Keep AI around, and now this is a real fun team to watch.
17. Indiana Pacers - Shawne Williams - I think Williams has the potential to be a nice player in time here, but I'm puzzled as to why they passed on Marcus Williams. Jamaal Tinsley is not a good PG, and Marcus Williams would have been a nice fit, especially since the Pacers took Danny Granger last year. Regardless, Larry Bird said he thinks S. Williams can develop into a 4, and if he can, then it's a better pick. Although the Pacers did just love Peja to free agency, so this is not a bad pick by any means, but I think Marcus would have been a much better option.
18. Washington Wizards - Olexsiy Pecherov - I don't know much about him, except that he's big, talented, and can hit from outside. I'm not sure if he'll be ready to play this year or not, but with no real glaring needs (except maybe a center), not a bad pick by any means. Although he does kind of look like he's on some type of hard drug.
19. Sacramento Kings - Quincy Douby - Another team that could have potentially used Williams, but I do like Douby, especially since Bonzi Wells is likely gone. Douby looks a lot like Leandro Barbosa to me, a combo guard that can score in bunches off the bench. And we saw how effective Barbosa was off the bench this year for Phoenix. I like the pick.
20. New York Knicks - Renaldo Balkman - Pass. Sometimes Isiah makes it too easy.
21. Phoenix Suns - Rajon Rondo (PICK MADE FOR BOSTON) - Ok so let me get this straight, the Celtics trade for Sebastian Telfair before the draft, they already have Delonte West, and now they take another PG? I heard a rumor that they might have gotten this because Philly liked Rondo, and it's more things that Boston could have in a potential trade for Allen Iverson, and my only reaction to that is: Please God no. Rondo does some things well: like play defense, rebound as a guard, and get to the hole. But he can't shoot. Like at all. And that's pretty important.
22. New Jersey Nets - Marcus Williams - Great, great, great pick for the Nets. With Ason Kidd (he's still got no J) slowly dying at PG, an eventual successor/guy to reduce Kidd's minutes was needed, and the best PG in the draft fell into their laps. Other than the fact that Williams obviously won't be starting, it's a great situation for him - uptempo team, great wing players etc. That's exactly what Williams thrives in.
23. New Jersey Nets - Josh Boone - A little high for Boone, but he's what the Nets needed. A good defensive and rebounding big man. I'm not a big fan of Boone, but I can't argue with the pick.
24. Memphis Grizzlies - Kyle Lowry - Great pick for the Grizz. Maybe the toughest player in the draft. Very good defensively, great rebounder for his size, and a guy that won't complain if he doesn't get too shoot all that often. Jerry West hasn't had the greatest drafts the past few years, but coming down with Rudy Gay and Kyle Lowry is a pretty impressive haul here.
25. Cleveland Cavaliers - Shannon Brown - Another nice pick. Brown's another of those athletic guards, with good shooting range, and the ability to help Cleveland out right away. I might have gone with a PG here, because Snow/Jones combo isn't all that frightening, but Cleveland has to be pleased that Brown fell to them here.
26. LA Lakers - Jordan Farmar - As a UCLA fan, I love Farmar's game and what he does, which is why I like this pick for LA. The numbers don't really jump out, but he's a solid, heady player and good leader who will do what he has to to win. Last year the Lakers had Smush Parker at PG, and that basically cost them the series against Phoenix. If Farmar can step in, he'll create depth in the backcourt and another option in the triangle.
27. Phoenix Suns - Sergio Rodriguez (PICK MADE FOR PORTLAND) - Ah yes, "Spanish Chocolate." The bad news is that he's not ready for the NBA year. The good news is that with Blake and Jack at PG (and Roy can step in there), he doesn't need to be. A nice value pick.
28. Dallas Mavericks - Maurice Ager - Ager's a nice player, but I just don't see how he's going to get minutes. With Jerry Stackhouse, Josh Howard, Adrian Griffin, and Marquis Daniels basically playing the same position as Ager, I'm hard-pressed to believe he has any shot at cracking the lineup next year.
29. New York Knicks - Mardy Collins - From Chad Ford: "Mardy Collins? He doesn't have a position, is a below average NBA athlete, and he can't shoot. And he's the Knicks' sixth combo guard. Let's just get it over with -- Isiah's getting an "F." I don't think the pick's quite that bad, but let's face it, this wasn't one of Isiah's best days.
30. Portland Trailblazers - Joel Freeland - Another guy with potential that the Blazers can just keep overseas for a while. For all the mockery the Blazers took from all the trades, I do like what they did.
Other quick thoughts:
- Really like the Steve Novak pick for Houston early in Round 2. He's not athletic at all, but he can shoot the lights out, and when he's playing he should plenty of open looks with T-Mac and Yao.
- How does a guy like Danilo Pinnock get drafted bu Mike Gansey and Kevin Pittsnogle do not? I'm as big on athleticism as anyone else, but Pinnock is better suited to contribute than more skilled players like Gansey or Pittsnogle? Really?
- As a Sixers fan, I appreciate the deal for Bobby Jones. The Sixers was atrocious defensively last year, and Jones is a hard-nose defensive player. Can't have enough of those types of guys.
- A lot of people really like the pick of Daniel Gibson to the Cavs at 42, but I'm not a big fan of Gibson. Not to harp too much about Gansey, but well, I didn't see much from Gibson that makes me think he's better than Gansey.
- The other 2 second-round picks I thought were superb were the Clips taking Guillermo Diaz at 52 and the Nets taking Hassan Adams at 54. Both of these guys are talented, athletic, and can play on both ends of the floor, and both can contribute soon (especially Adams)
- I think that I do think a lot more things about the draft, but by this point (actually that point probably came a long time ago) you don't want to read anymore. So I'll stop right now!