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Sunday, July 3, 2011

NBA Draft Report: Cutting the Malarkey

Report cards have never been a favorite of mine. Many of the marks I've received in the past have required me to justify the letter grade to my parents with some contrived and bumbling explanation.

NBA Draft grades, in my opinion, are quite similar. Though I'd be assigning the grades rather than receiving them, doling out scores to teams for their draft day moves would require me to pass immediate judgment on players that may need years to develop and others that I know nothing about (Chukwudiebere Maduabum?!?)

With that said, I marked this event on my calendar months in advance; it's simply against my nature not to fully scrutinize the draft. So I just cut out all the malarkey with the grades, predictions, and irrelevant selections and got down to some good old-fashioned speculating.

Cleveland Cavaliers
The Cavaliers had a pretty awful season in year 1 P.D. (Post-Decision) and despite making two of the top four picks, that is not likely to change drastically in 2011-2012 whenever NBA basketball resumes. Kyrie Irving was the safe pick at #1 and should be a solid piece to build around in the future. With the #4 pick the Cavs got their guy, Tristan Thompson, though the pick was widely considered a reach especially considering Thompson plays the same position as Cleveland's best young player, J.J. Hickson.

The Cavs addressed the frontcourt situation by shipping Hickson to Sacramento in return for Omri Casspi and the Rockets' 2012 first round pick. Still, a lineup of Irving, Anthony Parker, Omri Casspi, Antawn Jamison, and Anderson Varejao doesn't exactly strike fear in the heart of opponents. But, you've got to start somewhere I suppose. See you in the lottery next year.

Minnesota Timberwolves
Boneheaded draft night moves have come to define David Kahn's tenure as GM in Minnesota. On draft night, Kahn's kept things interesting by completing a whirlwind of trades but, in his defense, managed not to ruin the entire franchise in the process. The Wolves began with the 2nd and 20th picks, but by the end of the draft they had sent out Jonny Flynn (Kahn's #6 selection and the second of four guards taken merely two years ago) while adding Brad Miller, Derrick Williams, Malcolm Lee, and two future second rounders.

 If that sounds too good to be true for the infamous Kahn, it is. His obligatory blunder came as he bought the #57 pick to select Tanguay Ngombo out of Qatar. The only problem: Ngombo falsely stated his age as 21, when in fact he is 26 years old, thus making him too old to be eligible for the draft. A simple look at Qatar's national team roster would have confirmed his true age, but I suppose that would have been too much to ask. Oops!

Utah Jazz
Many experts are calling the Jazz the biggest winners in the draft, and I fully agree. Kanter doesn't necessarily fill a need but his selection provides a cheaper alternative to Millsap and Jefferson, which gives the Jazz the flexibility to trade one or the other for an established veteran. As for their #12 pick, Alec Burks gives Utah an athletic scorer whose skill set will complement CJ Miles and Gordon Hayward. I won't make too many bold predictions for this year's draft, but I do believe that Alec Burks will eventually become one of the elite players in the 2011 class. You heard it here first.

Washington Wizards
We'll hope this #6 overall pick nicknamed the Dunking Ninja turns out better than the last #6 pick and fellow Wizard known as the Dunking Ninja. (In fairness to Yi, I don't know if he's ever been called the Dunking Ninja, but he does bear a stronger resemblance to every ninja most ninjas than Vesely, so it's only logical.)

Charlotte Bobcats
Michael Jordan doesn't have the best track record when it comes to draft picks, so I'm hesitant to give him the benefit of the doubt on the trade up to get Bismack Biyombo. Biyombo averaged 6 points per game in the second division of the Spanish league, so I feel my skepticism is warranted. Yes, I am aware he recorded a triple-double at the Nike Hoops Summit, but the last African player (Mouhamed Saer Sene four years ago) with no offensive game whatsoever, that recorded double digit blocks in the Hoop Summit, and was selected in the lottery, is now playing for BCM Gravelines Dunkerque in France. Who? My point exactly.

Detroit Pistons
The Piston's were happy to have Brandon Knight fall to them at #8, but it was very apparent from his demeanor that he did not feel the same way about landing in Detroit. On the bright side, maybe he'll use that anger as motivation against opponents. At very least his tenure with the Pistons should be more productive than that of Darko Milicic.

Sacramento Kings
The Sacramento Kings landed the almighty Jimmer with the tenth selection, thus pairing him with Tyreke Evans in the backcourt. Though the two provide a sizable scoring threat, clearly there will not be enough shots available for Fredette and Evans to both hoist their desired amount. For the sake of the Kings, let's hope the new Collective Bargaining Agreement stipulates that the game be played with more than one ball. DeMarcus Cousins has been known to get quite aggravated even when he is getting touches, so I'd hate to see what materializes in Sacramento once their guards neglect to get him the ball.

Golden State Warriors
The Warriors added Klay Thompson at #11, which would seem to signal that Monta Ellis is on the way out, though the team continues to deny they are shopping him. However, this could be an acknowledgment by the Warriors that they are incapable of playing defense and will instead focusing on trying to win games by allowing Ellis, Thompson, Stephen Curry, and Dorrell Wright rip as many three pointers as they can manage in 48 minutes. 

Denver Nuggets
As far as my research shows, none of the players the Nuggets added on draft night have any tattoos. It remains to be seen how this may effect their team chemistry.

Miami Heat
You may have heard that the Heat added the best player in Cleveland last summer yet still fell to the Mavericks in the NBA Finals. Pat Riley's move to put them over the top? Add the next best player in Cleveland, Norris Cole. No word in yet on whether Cole will show up to play in the fourth quarter of tight games.

Court adjourned.

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