If you missed Chris' Draft predictions yesterday, click
here for them.
Detroit Pistons. I won't even pretend to know much about most of
the foreign players selected in the draft. However, I've seen enough tape
of Darko Milicic and, to a lesser extent, Carlos Delfino to opine that they were
outstanding choices. Milicic will form an amazing post tandem with Ben
Wallace. While the choice of Milicic at #2 was an obvious one (Carmello Anthony was a distant third), and I'm not inclined to give Detroit props for
making the obvious choice, the selection of Delfino is what gets Detroit on this
list. He'll be a fine perimeter threat to complement Wallace and Milicic,
so credit Detroit with doing an excellent job of addressing an area of need.
Los Angeles Lakers. Let's face it, despite having Stanford grad
and fan favorite Mark Madsen, the Lakers are relatively weak at the power
forward position. Madsen, the frequently clutch but aging Robert Horry,
and Samaki Walker have really just been role players for Los Angeles. The
Lakers addressed their need for a solid four by taking Illinois product Brian Cook. Though unlikely to be a breakout player, especially on a team with
Shaq and Kobe, Cook should provide Phil Jackson a solid starter. Although
I don't think Luke Walton's game will translate well to the NBA generally, he's
at least reasonably well-suited for the Lakers' style of offense, where his
passing skills in the halfcourt offense can be utilized.
Cleveland Cavaliers. LeBron James was the obvious pick at #1, so
I won't give Cleveland any particular credit for doing what every other NBA team
with the possible exception of the Clippers would have done. However,
taking Jason Kapono in the second round was an inspired choice, and you have to
give the Cavs credit for using a second round pick to fill an area of need.
Kapono should fit in extremely well as a deadly shooter who will get plenty of
open looks with LeBron in the lineup, even if he comes off the bench.
Golden State Warriors. The Warriors woeful track record in the
NBA draft and in trades has a distinct pattern to it, and the same mistakes are
seemingly repeated year after year. Those mistakes include drafting
tweeners (guys who don't have a true position), drafting shooting guards who
can't shoot, and drafting or trading for one mediocre point guard after another.
After giving fans a brief glimmer of hope last year with a solid draft, the
Warriors reverted to form. Mickael Pietrus is a good player by most
accounts, but was he worth the eleventh pick overall? Do the Warriors
really need another 6'6" off guard who everyone agrees can't shoot?
When asked why he chose Pietrus, Garry St. Jean responded by citing the
Frenchman's athleticism and big hands. Gee, Gary, I didn't realize big
hands were so important for a shooting guard. Amazing that a guy like Clyde Drexler had a hall of fame career despite being unable to palm a basketball.
And goodness knows it's hard to find good athletes in the 6'6" range these
days; when one is available, you really need to jump on him! Picking
point guard Derrick Zimmerman in the second round is equally questionable.
He may well have gone undrafted had the Warriors not taken him, and at the risk
of asking the obvious, do they really need another so-so point guard?
Heck, the Warriors would have been better off taking a flier on a big man and
going after Zimmerman or Julius Barnes as a free agent if they felt they needed
another point guard. (For more on Barnes and the Warriors, click
Boston Celtics/Memphis Grizzlies. Perhaps the Celtics were so
convinced that one of the top 5 point guards would be available to them that
they didn't have a contingency plan. Whatever the reason, taking Troy Bell
so early in the draft (#16) is baffling, though perhaps less so when you
consider that the Celtics once deemed Michael Smith worthy of a first round
selection. To make matters worse, the Celtics followed up the selection of
Bell by taking Dahntay Jones #20 overall. One draft summary described
Jones succinctly as a highlight reel dunker. Pretty good summary,
actually. Jones might have been a decent second round pick, but there were
many better players available at #20, including several wing players.
Perhaps the Celtics were inspired by the Warriors selection of Pietrus at #11,
and felt that the supply of athletic guys in the 6'6" range is so small
that they just had to have one of their own. WHOA! Hold the presses,
we have a trade . . . the Celtics are shipping Bell and Jones to Memphis for
Marcus Banks, Kendrick Perkins and Brandon Hunter. I'm not sure how much
better off the Celtics are for making the trade, but at least Banks has some
real upside, even if he's somewhat of a question mark as a floor leader.
Since Memphis was crazy enough to take Bell and Jones off the Celtics' hands,
add them to the list of draft losers.
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