Wednesday, June 28, 2006

NBA Draft Preview

Tonight marks the greatest night of the year for the designers of twelve button suits. That's right, it's Draft night. This year is probably the most unpredictable draft I can ever remember, so we should certainly have some memorable moments. Not to mention that we could certainly see Mark Cuban show up to challenge David Stern to a Hamilton vs. Burr type duel. Seriously, nothing would surprise me on draft night. Anything is possible.

In an attempt to provide you with a preview of what might go down tonight, I have taken the projected top ten picks from Chad Ford's latest mock draft on ESPN.com, and I have set them out below with a little analysis of what each guy might bring to the table, and what they might take off the table. Then, if all goes according to plan, you can check back in tomorrow to for a retrospective look of how the WAD's favorite guest, Drew Barry, felt about my projections. I had hoped to include Drew's analysis with mine, but our schedules just made it impossible for us to get it together in time. But, I'm sure reading Drew's total shredding of my analysis a day after the fact will be no less entertaining.

So, here you have it, The WAD on this year's top draft prospects:

1) Toronto - Andrea Bargnani - 7'0", 225 lbs. from Italy.

Here's the good: He is young (20 years old), he's long (7 feet with an enormous wingspan), he's supposedly versatile, and can take his game inside and out ( shot over 40% from 3 pt. range in the Euroleague). Also, unlike most young Europeans, he's got solid experience. He logged significant and solid minutes for one of Italy's top teams, Benetton in Treviso. A couple of years ago, I would have rolled my eyes at the thought of using the top pick in the draft on a European. Now, however, after we've seen the impact of guys like Krilenko and Nowitzki, it doesn't seem like such a bad idea, especially in this year's less than stellar draft.

And, now the bad: In addition to the fact that he's European, the Raptors already have two young guys, Villanueva & Bosh, that are pretty similar players to what Bargnani purports to be. Plus, there is a lot of P.R. downside to choosing a European this high if he turns out to be more Darko than Dirk. For these reasons, I wouldn't be shocked to see Toronto do everything they can to trade out of this spote, but the problem is going to be that there may not be many takers. In the end, they may just have to take Bargnani and hope for good things.

2) Chicago (from the Knicks) - Tyrus Thomas - 6'9", 225 lbs from L.S.U.

The good: I've seen this guy in person, and I can tell you he is an athletic freak of nature. He can run, he can jump, and he looks like he plays at a faster speed than everybody else on the floor.

The bad: In a nutshell, if Thomas goes this high (or even higher) it will be a perfect example of why the NBA Draft can drive me certifiably insane. Yes, he's an amazing athlete, but he's not a great basketball player. He has limited offensive skills (that's being kind), and while he has the athleticism to play great man to man defense, he doesn't seem to understand the concept of team defense. Then again, playing for John Brady at L.S.U., he didn't really have to understand many concepts at all. In the end, there is a reason you had never heard of Tyrus Thomas before L.S.U. beat Duke. But luckily for him, NBA scouts drool all over potential, and he's got an enormous amount of that. Best case scenario, he could eventually become a Shawn Marion type player, which ain't bad at all. Worst case scenario, he could be logging minutes in Senegal in three years!

One more thing about this pick: I think we can all agree that it's a real shame that the Knicks don't still have this pick. Sure, Eddie Curry was certainly worth giving up this pick, but wouldn't it be great to see Isiah work his magic here? Who says sarcasm doesn't translate in writing?

3) Charlotte - Adam Morrison- 6'8", 205 lbs. from Gonzaga

The good: Everybody is born with a gift. Morrison's gift is that he can put the ball in the basket from just about any where on the floor at just about any time. I don't think that is going to change at the next level. He's creative offensively, he has a quick release, and he moves beautifully without the ball. I think he's going to be a big time scorer in the League.

The bad: He might give up as many points defensively as he scores offensively. I just don't know if he can guard anybody at the next level. Then again, people asked the same questions about Larry Bird 27 years ago, and he ended up becoming one of the greatest team defenders of all time. Now, I'm not by any means predicting that Adam Morrison is the second coming of Bird, but I am saying that this pick could work out pretty nicely for the Bobcats. That is, unless Morrison breaks down into a bizarre and demented crying fit on the floor every time the 'Cats lose a game. I guess I forgot to mention that Morrison appears to be NUTS!

4) Portland - LaMarcus Aldridge - 6'10", 240 lbs. from Texas

The good: Again, sometimes it's all about potential. Aldridge, however, unlike Thomas, was consistently solid for Texas over two years. He's got all the physical attributes.

The bad: In the Final Eight against L.S.U. I wasn't sure if I spent the entire game trying to figure out how Malcom Mackey had lost 100 lbs. and slipped into a Texas uniform. For those of you that didn't suffer through the Mackey experience at Tech, that simply means this guy is SOFT. Granted, LSU was hacking the hell out of everything that moved on the floor that day, but still....big players must step up in big games. And Aldridge, simply didn't step up. Plus, I don't know if he's a good fit for the Blazers. Last time I checked he hadn't been so much as accused of a felony much less convicted.

5) Atlanta - Sheldon Williams - 6'9", 250 lbs. from Duke

The good: Uh....um....yea.....oh, I almost forgot, he looks like a hammer head shark.

The bad: Well, he's not a point guard and he's too small to play center, so he makes no sense for the Hawks. Besides that, here's a list of some of the first round picks to come out of Duke in the past fifteen years: Christian Laetner, Bobby Hurley, Grant Hill, Cherokee Parks, Rashown McLeod, Elton Brand, Trajan Langdon, Corey Maggette, William Avery, Shane Battier, Jay Williams, Mike Dunleavy, Dahntay Jones, and Luol Deng. So, Brand and Hill were/are legit impact players. Maggette has had his moments, and Deng has potential. So, that leaves 10 other guys that have either made no impact and/or been huge flops. You want those odds Billy Knight? Go right ahead, and please kick me in the nuts when you are done making this pick.

6) Minnesota - Randy Foye - 6'4", 205 lbs. from Villanova

The good: Randy Foye was absolutely my favorite college player for the past two years, so I'm incredibly biased here. By all accounts, he is a tremendous kid, and he is undoubtedly a gritty competitor. This kid is a classic scorer. At his best, he reminds me a little of a smaller version of Bernard King. In other words, when he decides he is going to get to the rack, there isn't much you can do to stop him. Not to mention, he is a great on the ball and team defender.

The bad: He's not a great shooter. Actually, he's not even a really good shooter. Also, given the size of NBA power forwards and centers, I'm not sure he is going to be able to finish around the basket like he did at Nova. At the end of the day, part of the reason I love this kid's game so much is that he reminds me of Brian Oliver of Lethal Weapon III fame. An all around really good basketball player, with an intense competive streak. He's probably quicker than Brian was, howerver, so he has a chance to make an impact as a defensive stopper and a nice offensive compliment, and he will likely have a longer run in the League than Brian did. I, however, don't think he will be a star. But know this, wherever he ends up, I'm buying a jersey.

7) Boston - Cedric Simmons - 6'9", 235 lbs. from N.C. State

The good: See LaMarcus Aldridge above.

The bad: I saw this kid play about 12 games this past year, and I never once said to myself, "hey, that kid is going to be a first round pick." I'm not claiming to be an expert, but this still can't be a good thing.

8) Houston- Brandon Roy - 6'5", 195lbs. from Washington

The good: I have no idea. I don't watch Pac-10 basketball, and I'm not going to pretend like I do.

The bad: He played in the Pac -10.

9) Golden State - Rudy Gay, 6'9", 222lbs. from UConn

The good: There were times that you watched Rudy Gay at UConn and he looked like a man among boys. He was silky smooth, and he dominated games for moments at a time. At times, he looked like a bigger and stronger version of Ray Allen. In fact, just a few months ago, some pundits were referring to this year's draft lottery as The Rudy Gay Sweepstakes.

The bad: Those times when Rudy Gay looked like a man among boys were usually followed by about ten minutes of wondering where in the hell Rudy Gay went. He took the Mike Maddox disappearing act to a whole new level. (Sorry for all the G. Tech references). Oh, and just a few months ago, some pundits were referring to this year's draft lottery as The Rudy Gay Sweepstakes. Now, he is projected to go #9. Yea, that's not good.

10) Seattle - Hilton Armstrong, 6'11", 235 lbs. from UConn

The good: He's really big, and he got great experience at UConn.

The bad: He's really raw, and not much more than a shot blocker. It's hard to imagine that he will evolve into much more at the next level.


Before I call it a day, here are a few lingering thoughts about the draft:

  • Yes, I was terribly disappointed that Chad Ford didn't have J.J. Reddick in his top 10. I had already given a lot of thought to what I was going to say about him. Needless to say, it had a lot to do with poetry, getting tatoos with his grandmother, a slow release, and drunk driving. Yup, not a huge fan.

  • It is completely inexplicable that ESPN hasn't found a way to incorporate Charles Barkely into its draft coverage. Actually, it's not inexplicable, it's unforgivable.

  • I've got my money on LaMarcus Aldridge as the guy with the most outrageous suit. I have nothing to base this on other than pure instinct. That same instinct tells me that Randy Foye will have the classiest looking suit. He's a total chief...all class.

Okay, I'm out, but don't forget to check in tomorrow for Drew's much anticipated return to the WAD.