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Friday, June 25, 2010

2010 NBA Draft Grades

Prayers are with Giants Rookie Chad Jones!!!!!

I thought the talent in this years draft was horrible. I don't think there are any major impact players that were drafted in the first round. I hope John W and Evan T prove me wrong, but I just don't see it and I am a major Buckeye. (sorry Evan)

2010 NBA Draft Team Grades

C+ Atlanta Hawks
A draft-day deal with New Jersey yielded Jordan Crawford, an explosive scorer who fascinated more than a few GMs before the draft. Crawford has 20-point potential but he doesn't get to the line much and tends to play out of control. Still, Crawford is extremely talented and as athletic as they come. Senegal's Pape Sy -- a complete unknown leading up to the draft -- was a bit of a peculiar pick, especially with proven talents like Willie Warren and Stanley Robinson still on the board.

B- Boston Celtics
Danny Ainge has had a bit of a man-crush on Avery Bradley for weeks, hoping the explosive combo guard would get to the Celtics at No. 19. While most believed Ainge was targeting a big man to fill in for the injured Kendrick Perkins or the just-retired Rasheed Wallace, Ainge was always after the best player available. Bradley was it. Bradley can back up Rajon Rondo and his slashing ability gives Boston a much-needed punch on what will likely be a revamped bench. Luke Harangody was an overachiever in college, but if he turns out to be a good practice player, Boston will keep him around.

Inc. Charlotte Bobcats
No picks for the Bobcats, and maybe that's a good thing for a team that has either whiffed (Adam Morrison, Alexis Ajinca) or barely put the ball in play (Gerald Henderson, D.J. Augustin) in recent drafts.

Inc. Chicago Bulls
The Bulls made one pick -- Kevin Seraphin -- and are sending him to Washington along with Kirk Hinrich in a deal that will expand their available cap space to close to $30 million this summer. If one of the big free agents signs, it's a great decision. If not, they wasted a pick in a pretty deep draft.

Inc. Cleveland Cavaliers
The Cavs were burning up the phones trying to get into this draft but couldn't make a deal. They have better things to worry about anyway. Like finding a coach. And re-signing LeBron James.

B+ Dallas Mavericks
The Mavs searched for weeks for a first-round pick to buy. When they got one, they spent it on Dominique Jones, a prolific scorer from South Florida who will have to fight for minutes behind Jason Terry and Roddy Beaubois. The Mavs also dealt second-round center Solomon Alabi to Toronto for future considerations. With Erick Dampier likely gone and Brendan Haywood a free agent, wouldn't it have made sense to hold on to someone like that?

Inc. Denver Nuggets
The Nuggets tried -- and failed -- to trade their way into the second round to grab one of the available big men (five of the 12 players Denver worked out went in the second round). It was disappointing, as Denver badly needed an infusion of youth in the frontcourt.

B+ Detroit Pistons
Greg Monroe fell into the center-less Pistons' lap at No. 7, and they pounced. Monroe is a terrific passer with burgeoning offensive skills and should instantly upgrade a Detroit lineup that was forced to give an aging Ben Wallace extended minutes last season. In time, Monroe could develop into a front-of-the-line starting center. Second-rounder Terrico White is a superb athlete who can play limited minutes at both guard positions. If he makes the team, White could provide added protection should the Pistons part ways with Richard Hamilton.

C Golden State Warriors
Ekpe Udoh is a 6-foot-10, 240-pound pseudo-center who isn't especially tough and isn't especially strong. The Warriors have plenty of those with Anthony Randolph, Brandan Wright and Andris Biedrins on the roster. Udoh possesses some offensive moves (he averaged 13.9 points last season at Baylor) and has a decent touch from the perimeter. But a more traditional big man like Greg Monroe might have been a better fit.

B- Houston Rockets
Patrick Patterson has an NBA body and is an above-average scorer in the post, so if he sticks in Houston, he should be a nice addition off the bench. But with the Rockets looking to be players in free agency, don't be surprised to see Patterson dangled in a deal that could recoup a top veteran like Amar'e Stoudemire or Chris Bosh.

B- Indiana Pacers
The Pacers had hoped to lock up a point guard (the Nets' Devin Harris) and a power forward (Derrick Favors) in one fell swoop when they dangled Danny Granger and the No. 10 pick to Jersey. The Nets didn't bite, though, and Indy was left with Paul George, a late bloomer (he didn't play AAU ball until his senior year of high school) out of Fresno State who compares himself to Tracy McGrady. He's a good transition player who can shoot the three, a must in Jim O'Brien's offense. Indy took a flyer on Lance Stephenson, a good-sized two-guard who lacks many offensive skills, in the second round.

A- Los Angeles Clippers
They are holding out the slim hope that LeBron fills their vacant small forward spot, but Al-Farouq Aminu isn't a bad placeholder. Something about his game -- versatile, good rebounder, finishes well at the rim -- screams Luol Deng, a player the Clips would be perfectly content with. Aminu's a bit of a tweener who doesn't shoot the three well (27.3 percent last season), but by all accounts he's a coachable player with a big upside. Second-rounder Willie Warren is a first-round talent with a third-round head but perhaps a change of scenery will make him see the light. And in L.A., Warren will be reunited with college teammate Blake Griffin.

B Los Angeles Lakers
Devin Ebanks is a solid wing defender with limited offensive skills but the real find could be Derek Caracter. He had a nightmarish two seasons at Louisville but appeared to turn around his career at UTEP, becoming (at least on the surface) a model citizen and a pretty good post player. He's a solid rebounder, too, and could become a quality backup to Pau Gasol.

B- Memphis Grizzlies
Rudy Gay might want to think about putting his house on the market. Xavier Henry doesn't have the size or athletic ability of Gay, but he's a lights-out shooter who, if combined with Ronnie Brewer, could form a decent replacement on the wing. Ideally, Memphis brings back Gay and adds Henry's punch to a lackluster bench. The Grizzlies sold a strong scorer in Dominique Jones to the Mavericks and picked up a so-so bench player in Greivis Vazquez, who won the unofficial Most Excited To Be Drafted award after he bear-hugged David Stern.

B Miami Heat
The Heat are another team trying to create flexibility, and following Thursday's draft, they opened up more salary-cap space than any team in the league. It all started on Wednesday when they dumped Daequan Cook and the No. 18 pick on Oklahoma City. Then they used the draft to take a few flyers on some big men. Dexter Pittman is a 300-plus-pound center who has potential if he can lose a few (or 30) pounds. Jarvis Varnado is a strong shot-blocker and Da'Sean Butler is a first-round talent who will be out the first few months of the season while he recovers from a torn ACL. Little risk for Miami, which can now offer Dwyane Wade about $127 million to stay and reel in a another max free agent (LeBron, Bosh, Stoudemire) and even then add additional talent.

B Milwaukee Bucks
Milwaukee's makeover continues. After acquiring a pair of wing scorers in Corey Maggette and Chris Douglas-Roberts in trades prior to draft day, the Bucks shored up the frontcourt with Larry Sanders, a skinny power forward with great defensive skills. He'll need to bulk up, but he could be a Kurt Thomas-type defensive stopper. Darington Hobson, Jerome Jordan and Keith "Tiny" Gallon are quality picks in the second round and if one can make the team, the Bucks will be happy.

B+ Minnesota Timberwolves
Here's all you need to know about Wesley Johnson: He enjoys playing in the triangle. Johnson told reporters on Wednesday that he felt very comfortable playing in the complex offense. And why shouldn't he? Johnson is a terrific shooter who should get a few open looks playing off Al Jefferson, assuming Jefferson is still a Timberwolf when the season opens. Johnson has star written all over him: He's efficient, a promising defender -- you don't know for sure with guys who played zone at Syracuse -- and a terrific rebounder at his position. Minnesota swapped the rights to Luke Babbitt to Portland for Martell Webster, a good deep shooter who could blossom outside of the Pacific Northwest. They also picked up Lazar Hayward, a limited player who will have trouble adjusting to playing small forward in the NBA.

D- New Jersey Nets
It would be one thing if New Jersey loved Derrick Favors and envisioned him as its power forward of the future. But the Nets entertained offers -- including a blockbuster from Indiana -- right up until they made the pick, and still could plug Favors into a megadeal. No one knows what Favors is going to be; he has a great body and tremendous defensive instincts, but he lacks polish and it's hard to project what kind of post player he's going to become. Jersey also acquired Damion James, a good transition player who comes up with a lot of hustle points. But it passed on Quincy Pondexter, a more accomplished scorer who can finish and knock down the pull-up jump shot.

B- New Orleans Hornets
There were a few "here we go again" moments when the Hornets traded the rights to Cole Aldrich (along with Morris Peterson's contract) to Oklahoma City for two late first-round picks. But New Orleans landed two potential quality role players in power forward Craig Brackins, a solid inside-out player, and Quincy Pondexter, a terrific athlete who developed into a capable scorer in four years at Washington. Worth Aldrich? Yes, and possibly more.

C New York Knicks
Second-round picks Andy Rautins and Landry Fields are one-dimensional shooter/scorers, but the bigger point is this: The Knicks got killed by Chicago and Miami. Donnie Walsh and Co. maintained their position of clearing cap space, but predraft trades left the Bulls and Heat in prime position to land not one, but two max free agents. Plus, they have support already in place (Bulls) or have enough left over to find help (Heat) in addition to signing two stars. With July 1 now a week away, the Knicks took a major step back.

B+ Oklahoma City Thunder
At some point in the next few years, Sam Presti is going to own all 30 picks in the draft. Oklahoma City's young, enterprising GM was wheeling and dealing on Thursday, sneaking into the lottery to pick up a potential starting center (Cole Aldrich), a solid veteran two-guard (Morris Peterson), a bruising power forward in Ryan Reid and a young center in German 7-foot-1 Tibor Pleiss, whom the Thunder will stash overseas for a few years. In addition, Oklahoma City got back Latavious Williams, a D-Leaguer who played for the Thunder's affiliate in Tulsa last season. Presti also secured a future first-round pick from the Clippers when he shipped Eric Bledsoe to L.A. He maybe should have kept the dynamic Bledsoe, but overall a strong night from one of the NBA's top GMs.

A Orlando Magic
Terrific picks. Daniel Orton was a big-time slider in the days before the draft. Clearly he needs coaching. Enter Stan Van Gundy, one of the best teachers in the game. He needs role models, too. Hello Dwight Howard and Patrick Ewing. Playing behind Howard and under Ewing's tutelage should accelerate the development of a young player with tremendous physical tools. And if the Magic like what they see of Orton, Marcin Gortat suddenly becomes a trade chip. As far as Stanley Robinson -- I watched most of the draft with ex-UConn star Donyell Marshall, who grumbled every time someone passed on Robinson. Marshall contends that Robinson's game is better suited for the NBA than college. If Robinson can polish his offensive game, Marshall could be proved right.

B+ Philadelphia 76ers
Is Evan Turner going to be a good player? No question. Was he the consensus No. 2 pick? Absolutely. Is he going to be better than Wesley Johnson in three years? Ehhhhh. Turner was a no-brainer: He's polished, mature and a natural two-guard who, along with Jrue Holiday, gives Philly a dynamic backcourt that will be entrenched on Broad St. for the next decade. But Johnson was the high-riser in the 2010 draft, with every team -- including the Sixers -- gushing over his workouts. Philadelphia was after another late first-, early second-round pick most of the night but struck out, a result it may regret if Daniel Orton or Hassan Whiteside turn out to be players.

B Phoenix Suns
One of Steve Kerr's last acts as Suns GM could be a good one. Gani Lawal didn't get a lot of press at Georgia Tech playing next to acclaimed freshman Derrick Favors, but he has excellent hands and what some scouts believe to be a burgeoning post game. If he develops, he could be a real steal in the second round. Dwayne Collins was a decent athlete at Miami but don't expect him to get much further than training camp.

B Portland Trail Blazers
Kevin Pritchard -- who was fired as the Blazers' GM an hour before the draft but remained involved in the decision-making process -- could have stuck it to his old bosses by mailing it in this draft. Instead, Pritchard helped orchestrate a deal that swapped Martell Webster for a crafty scorer in Luke Babbitt and a solid veteran in Ryan Gomes. Portland stole Elliot Williams, a potential point guard of the future, late in the first round and grabbed an intriguing prospect in Armon Johnson in the second round. As finales go, this one was pretty good.

B- Sacramento Kings
After acquiring the disgruntled Samuel Dalembert from Philly, the Kings drafted another disgruntled big man: DeMarcus Cousins. Hard to argue with Cousins' potential -- 6-foot-10 without shoes, with a gigantic 7-6 wingspan and a standing reach of 9-5 -- but he earned a reputation as a sulker with a questionable attitude at Kentucky. Will he mature in the NBA? If he does, he has scary talent and could blossom into an elite center. The Kings got a great value pick in the second round in Marshall's Hassan Whiteside, the NCAA's leading shot-blocker (5.35 swats per game last season) who was projected in some early mock drafts as a lottery pick.

A- San Antonio Spurs
James Anderson is a vintage Spurs pick. He didn't wow anyone in workouts but he was a consistent scorer in college (22.3 points last season) who has an NBA-ready jump shot. He'll probably contribute early to a Spurs bench that has needed an infusion of youth. English center Ryan Richards is a bit of an unknown, but when it comes to finding top overseas talent, the Spurs are second to none.

A- Toronto Raptors
It's easy to draft in the NBA when good picks slide right into your lap. Ed Davis was earmarked for Detroit before Greg Monroe became available, leaving the UNC power forward on the board for the Raptors to scoop up at No. 13. With Chris Bosh likely out the door, Toronto badly needed frontcourt help and Davis was one of the best options. Solomon Alabi slid more than most scouts expected, but athletic 7-foot-1 centers don't grow on trees and Toronto GM Bryan Colangelo was smart to acquire him from Dallas in the second round. Two picks, two pretty good ones.

B- Utah Jazz
Gordon Hayward is simply a risk. He's a 6-foot-9, 207-pound toothpick who parlayed a strong sophomore season and a fantastic NCAA tournament into a lottery selection. But for all the praise heaped on Hayward for his shooting, he knocked down only 29.4 percent of his threes last year. Still, he's going to the right system. He's smart, tough and should thrive -- and get a whole lot of open looks -- in Jerry Sloan's offense. He can't go one-on-one, but how many of Sloan's players can say they can? Second-round pick Jeremy Evans is athletic ... but not much else.

B+ Washington Wizards
The Wizards scored perhaps the draft's only franchise player when they nabbed John Wall with the No. 1 pick. Whether Gilbert Arenas is on the opening-day roster or not, this is now Wall's team and Flip Saunders will shape the offense in his image. That means you can expect a more up-tempo offense in D.C. this year. The agreed-upon acquisition of Kirk Hinrich -- who comes with a $17 million price tag over the next two seasons -- was a little puzzling, especially considering that as part of the deal the Wizards are getting Kevin Seraphin, a raw rebounder/shot-blocker from France with zero offensive game. The Wizards did manage to land Trevor Booker, a rugged, undersized power forward with above-average athleticism for his position.

And ... action: Draft Diary XIV
great article from Bill Simmons on the NBA Draft

One night before the 2010 NBA draft, I was reading mock drafts and Googling various prospects when the Sports Gal casually asked, "You care if I pay-per-view something?"
Before I knew it, she was ordering Robert Pattinson's movie "Remember Me." She loves Pattinson. So does my daughter, who brings a "Twilight" lunchbox to school every day with his face on it. My house is all Pattinson all the time. When I'm away, my wife and daughter lie in bed and fall asleep to "Twilight" every night. I stay out of it. I'm in six fantasy leagues; it's not like I can make fun of someone else's obsessions.
Just know that I'd never seen Pattinson act until "Remember Me." He's like a cross between Keanu Reeves, Tommy Wiseau and every athlete who ever made an "Entourage" cameo. He's fantastically, historically, mesmerizingly bad. He's so bad at acting that I couldn't stop watching the movie. I found myself rooting for him. Come on, Pattinson, you can pull this off -- just give us one scene. When the movie mercifully ended, I had the following exchange with my wife.
-- Me: "You realize how terrible an actor he is, right?"
-- Her: "He's young. He'll get better. He has potential. He's like one of your NBA picks."
Not a far-fetched analogy. According to her logic, Pattinson is like Derrick Favors: young, raw, all the physical tools, no polish at all. I see him more like Wesley Johnson: a fourth-year junior who can't get much better than he already is. Only one of us is right. You don't know for sure. You can't know for sure. That's the beauty of the NBA draft. If only she had said that Pattinson had tremendous upside. Without further ado, Draft Diary XIV.
4:30 p.m. PT: We're coming to you live from the New and Improved Man Cave. I'm joined by my pooch Rufus, a bottle of SmartWater and a bag of stale Baked Lays. My favorite moment from the pregame show with Stu Scott, Jon Barry, Jeff Van Gundy and Jay Bilas: Bilas ran down his "Best 15 Available Players" in the following order: 5, 4, 3, 2, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 15, 14, 13, 12, 11. I'm still confused. Also confusing: ESPN using Michael Buble's romantic swing music as the theme for tonight's telecast. I can't tell if we're drafting players or trying to roofie them.
4:31: Our first four GMs on the clock: Ernie Grunfeld (Washington), Ed Stefanski (Philly), Rod Thorn (Jersey), David Kahn (Minnesota) … or, as they're better known, "Mount Duncemore." Here's how the picks should go: John Wall, Evan Turner, Derrick Favors, DeMarcus Cousins. We'll see. Kahn is the wild card. The man fell out of the comedy sky. I'm excited about another draft with him. Titillated, even.
4:32: David Stern is booed by the New York crowd, calls the fans unruly, then cups his ears for boos after reminding everyone that the Lakers won the 2010 Finals by beating the Celtics. He's slowly morphing into the Mr. McMahon of the NBA. I love it. We might see him make a catty "By the way, I hope LeBron signs with Chicago" joke before the night's over.
4:34: ESPN whets Washington fans' excitement for their No. 1 pick by showing highlights of the Kwame Brown pick in 2001. That was downright cruel. Speaking of cruel, Portland fired GM Kevin Pritchard an hour before the draft. Hey, he's only a top-seven GM -- there are plenty of those. Does anyone else think Al Davis died a year ago and took over Paul Allen's body?
It's safe to say John Wall has already done more for the Wizards than Kwame Brown did in four seasons.4:37: Our No. 1 pick for Washington: John Wall. On the "Coming Into The League Can't-Miss Point Guard" Scale, I have Wall ranked behind '94 Jason Kidd and '08 Derrick Rose, but ahead of '05 Deron Williams, who's really good. As you know. Stern's handshake with him has a "Please, please, don't play cards on the team charter with Gilbert, I beg you" feel to it.
4:37: Bilas uses the word "tremendous" three times in a minute. I think he likes Wall. I'm almost positive. By the way, Washington's draft room had so many people in it that they may have had to hire a bouncer.
4:40: Mark Jones asks Wall what it means to be the first Kentucky player picked No. 1 overall. Um, I'm pretty sure it means nothing. He was there for eight months. We've had "Bachelor" relationships last longer than John Wall lasted at Kentucky.
4:43: The Sixers are on their fifth coach in five years (a guy who hasn't coached a playoff game since 1997); they never fired the GM who gave Andre Iguodala and Elton Brand a combined $160 million; they don't have a single trade chip; they won't have cap space for three more years; and the last time they picked second in an NBA draft they took Keith Van Horn. Needless to say, their fans are pumped. They take … Evan Turner. Phew. Smart pick. Not as much potential as Favors or Cousins, but he'll be better in the pros than people realize because he can play multiple positions. He even wore a gray suit with a bright red tie that goes nicely with his blue and red Sixers hat. I like him.
4:45: Stern's microphone is being left on when he greets every draft pick. Who else is hoping for a "mike stays on when he takes a leak" moment, a la Leslie Nielsen in "The Naked Gun"? Would that be the funniest moment in NBA draft history?
(The answer? No. It's still when Darius Miles gave Stern a full-body, belt-to-belt, genitals-to-genitals hug during the 2000 draft. That's the funniest draft moment ever. And also the funniest moment ever.)
4:49: Our first draft for Mutant Russian Mark Cuban and the Nyets! They grab Derrick Favors, the Georgia Tech freshman who might be the best 2010 rookie when everything's said and done. (Think Antonio McDyess pre-ACL surgery.) He played for a poorly coached team with bad guards, he's ambidextrous (or, as Mike Tyson would say, "amphibious") and as the 2010 Finals just showed, you need size to win titles. Favors and Brook Lopez are a nice start. My big concern: Does anyone else worry that Avery Johnson could single-handedly turn Favors into Kwame Brown 2.0 just by screaming at him in a squeaky voice for eight straight months?
4:49: Hold on, Josh Howard and Devin Harris are still nodding intently.
4:50: Mark Jones asks Favors about his "mentorship/pupil" relationship with Chris Bosh. This could be a long night.
4:53: On the clock: Our featured speaker for "Atrocious GM Summit II" next February, the one, the only, David Kahn! He's giving a lecture titled "How To Drive A Potential Franchise Guy To Europe For Three Years, Pass On Stephen Curry For An Undersized Point Guard Who Can't Guard Anyone, Then Convince Your Fans That Everything's Fine." We're delighted to have him.

I asked Mark Titus (Evan Turner's former OSU teammate, creator of the Club Trillion blog and a recent Globetrotters pick) to review Turner's draft night performance. Here's what he wrote:
Heading into last night's NBA draft, I was certain of two things about my former teammate: He has by far the best nickname of anyone in the draft (The Villain), and he is an avid fan of Lady Gaga. Knowing this made me uncontrollably excited about what he might wear, because a great nickname always comes with a little bit of swagger and any serious Lady Gaga fan just might be crazy enough to try to dress like her. Then I realized there was virtually no chance of Evan going over the top with his wardrobe, because pretty much nothing about Evan could be described as "flashy." On the court, the bread and butter of his game is his midrange jump shot (unexciting yet effective). Off the court, he's a well-mannered and respectful kid who can be found reading books, watching film, or working on his game in the gym on weekend nights. This substance-over-style attitude was reflected last night in demeanor and dress.

Evan only got flashy with his watch and custom Ohio State cufflinks, but virtually nobody saw them because his long sleeves and suit jacket covered them. He pushed the Ohio State theme by wearing a gray suit with a scarlet red tie, but to all non-Ohio State fans, it looked boring compared to Wesley Johnson's suit. While Al-Farouq Aminu regrettably wore glasses that made him look like Squints from "The Sandlot," Evan wore the same prescription glasses that he's worn for years. These glasses paired with this year's atrocious draft hats made Evan quite possibly the first top 2 pick in NBA history to also look like the draft's biggest dweeb. Sure it wasn't the Gaga-esque look I was hoping for, but Evan will probably tell you that he dressed that way because he didn't want to try to make the draft about him. One thing's for sure: He's come a long way from the hot-headed college freshman who, when told to wear dress clothes to team events, would show up in Jordans and blue jeans.
4:54: Minnesota's pick: Wesley Johnson, the Syracuse star and owner of tonight's best look (a blue blazer with checkered pants). The good news: He fills a need for the Wolves (a small forward who can rebound, shoot 3s and play right away) and puts every Syracuse fan on the sparsely filled Minnesota bandwagon (since they have Jonny Flynn as well). The bad news: For a team that's rebuilding and playing the "We're waiting for Rubio" card, he turns 23 in July and averaged just 16 points a game as a 22-year-old junior. He will never, ever make an All-Star team. So I don't know. You're telling me that Cousins (age 19) isn't going to be a better player in 2014 than Johnson is right now? Safe pick. A little too safe.
4:56: Highlight of the draft so far:
-- Mark Jones: "What did [Jonny Flynn] tell you about Minnesota?"
-- Johnson: "I mean, he loved it."
(Translation: "He loved running the triangle offense on a 17-win team that has no direction and plays in freezing cold weather! He kept telling me, 'I wish it were colder and we were winning even less!'")
5:00: The case for Cousins dropping to No. 5: He's so immature that (A) he's been most compared to Rasheed Wallace and Derrick Coleman; (B) Cousins and Minnesota would have been a worse match than Cisco Adler and Mischa Barton; and (C) John Thompson defended him as a top-five pick by saying, "You can calm down a fool before you can resurrect a corpse." Any time someone uses the word "fool" as he's defending you, there are probably some major red flags.
The case for Cousins haunting Philly, Jersey and especially Minnesota: He's the draft's most polished big man and a guaranteed 20/10 guy in the pros if his head's right. And also, in 2010: (A) Zach Randolph made an All-Star team; (B) Lamar Odom won his second straight title; and (C) Ron Artest made the biggest shot in Game 7 of the Finals. If there was ever a year to roll the dice with Cousins, it's 2010. We have a crapload of head-case momentum right now.
5:00: The Kings smartly grab him at No. 5. Cousins and Tyreke Evans in back-to-back drafts? Yikes. Major talent haul for a small-market team. I wish the Stern/Cousins handshake could have lasted for 25 minutes. Stern sized him up the way a lion looks at a potentially troublesome cub. That was great.
5:02: ESPN's graphics guy gives Cousins "MUST IMPROVE: MATURITY." Knew that was coming and it still made me laugh. That was like giving Ben Roethlisberger "MUST IMPROVE: OFF-FIELD CONDUCT."
5:04: John Calipari tries to claim with a straight face that, since Kentucky might have five first-round picks, it's the biggest day in the history of Kentucky basketball. Yeah, I'm sure it beats winning the title in 1996 or 1998. Go away.
5:05: Cousins on the general public's biggest misconception about him: "They think I'm a monster off the floor, I'm nothing like that. I'm just a kid that likes to have fun." I mean, he does have the nickname "Boogie." He might be right. By the way, I love whenever someone defends a head case (like we've seen with Cousins this past year) with the "He doesn't drink or do drugs" defense. Oh, even better … so he's NATURALLY a head case?
5:06: Van Gundy sums up the Cousins conundrum perfectly: "You need to rebound the ball, you need an interior presence to win in this league. … You can get a guy in shape. If he loves the game, he'll get in shape. If he loves to play, he'll be a good teammate. And you can't find guys who can rebound the ball like this guy does." Translation: In the right situation, with the right coach and supporting cast, this guy could be a monster. Maybe Minnesota passing on him was a blessing.
(PS: Sorry to spend so much time on Cousins, but he's the most important 2010 rookie. If he makes it -- a big if, but IF he makes it -- that's the home run pick. I like John Wall, but you can count the impact under-30 bigs like Cousins on one hand. And you wouldn't need to use all five fingers. I mean, Andrew Bogut made an All-NBA team last season. So … yeah.)
5:07: Golden State grabs Baylor shot-blocker Ekpe Udoh. It's going to be fun when Don Nelson plays him for three weeks, Udoh puts up huge rebounding/blocks stats, there's a fantasy hoops stampede for him and then Nellie inexplicably benches him for the next three months.
5:09: Just found out that Rasheed Wallace is definitely retiring. Gotta say, I respect Sheed for knowing when to call it quits … and then waiting two more years, getting two more paychecks, and finally calling it quits.
(Follow-up note: Apparently he's doing one last noble act, not filing his retirement papers right away so the Celtics can trade his cap figure for another player … which, ironically, gives him real value to teams looking to dump payroll and/or get under the tax. This reminds me of a dying Darth Vader being nice to Luke Skywalker at the end of "Return of the Jedi." I don't know where this is coming from, but thank you, Darth!)
5:12: Nice pick at No. 7: Georgetown's Greg Monroe (a quality passing big man) to Detroit (which desperately needed a power forward). Match.com made that pick. That's followed by a Flip Saunders interview that almost made me flatline. We're on pace for the most boring draft I can remember. Can you give me a drunk dad, a bad suit, a pithy Stern comment … anything???
5:18: Here come the Clippers at No. 8! Whose ACL is getting blown out this year??? And it's … Al-Farouq Aminu, the Wake Forest forward who kinda looks like Urkel. He sure seems happy for someone who's about to end up in a full-body cast. Nice pick for the Clips; they could use energy legs off the bench. As long as they're not dangling in the air over a hospital bed. And yes, if you're talking about the No. 7 pick in a draft being "a good energy guy off the bench," it's a pretty good bet that the draft sucks.
5:19: E-mail exchange with my buddy JackO:
-- Me: Did you know Al-Farouq Aminu means "the chief has arrived" in Nigerian?
-- JackO: "I'm screaming 'Al-Farouq Aminu!!!' during my next 25 orgasms."
We predict Gordon Hayward will make more Utah women swoon than Donny Osmond in his prime.5:24: Utah picks NCAA near-legend Gordon Hayward ninth. He was two inches away from being the real Jimmy Chitwood. I loved everything about that pick: Made sense for the Jazz (they needed a perimeter scorer); I can make Utah/white guy jokes about it (what's better than Utah stealing the best available white guy from Indiana?); and, by the way, if you don't think Hayward is going to cause a riot among Utah women, you don't know Utah well enough. They may as well have drafted Zac Efron and converted him to Mormonism.
5:26: Bilas says Hayward reminds him of "Luke Jackson coming out a couple of years ago." According to my Jay Bilas Thesaurus, that means "I think he'll be out of the league in three years."
5:31: I present two athletic perimeter guys for you, both freshmen:
• Xavier Henry (born March 1991), 2-guard: a top-3 college recruit in 2009, started on the No. 1 college team (regular season), averaged 13.4 ppg (27.5 mpg), shot 45.5 percent and 41.8 percent on 3s, didn't get a ton of touches on a veteran team, did everything he could to fit in.
• Paul George (born May 1990), small forward: not a top-100 college recruit, best player on a 15-18 team in the WAC, averaged 16.8 ppg (33.2 mpg), shot 42 percent and 35 percent on 3s, played inferior competition.
Whom did the Pacers take? Naturally, George. Did I mention that their best player (Danny Granger) is a small forward? I love the NBA.
5:32: Bilas just mentioned that George was 6-foot-8 with a 6-11 wingspan. According to the Google search I just did, the human wingspan is normally 1.07 times a person's height. So if George is 80 inches, and his wingspan is 83 inches, actually, that's a wingspan about 2½ inches smaller than it should be. I'm glad I'm here.
5:36: New Orleans picks Kansas center Cole Aldrich at No. 11, then deals him to Oklahoma City (our first trade!) with Mo Peterson's expiring contract for the No. 21 and No. 26 picks. I would have loved that move for OKC if Aldrich didn't measure 6-9 in street clothes during the combines; that triples the potential that he's just a shorter Joel Przybilla. On the bright side, he can bang the boards, set some picks, make a jump hook and give you six fouls. I know, I know … try to contain your excitement. Even the trades are boring in this draft. The fans are so zoned out they can't even remember to boo David Stern anymore.
5:42: First funny line of the night from Van Gundy (after Aldrich's interview): "[The Hornets] needed to trade him, he just compared Sherron Collins to Chris Paul."
5:44: Memphis happily takes Henry at No. 12. That was like last year's Hasheem Thabeet pick, only the complete opposite. Heather Cox quickly interviews Henry's dad under the NBA's little-known "If any lottery pick has a dad at the draft, you have to interview him" rule. By the way, Memphis is close to realizing a dream of mine: They could start three lefties next season (Zach Randolph, Mike Conley and Henry). I've always wanted to see an all-lefty crunch-time five; we're 60 percent there.
5:45: Forgot to mention, it's an emotional day: the 25th anniversary of Karl Malone's draft-day outfit!
5:48: Our "draft capologist" Tom Penn (the former assistant Blazers GM) explains how New Orleans got under the cap by dumping Peterson's body. Er, contract. I'm pretty sure I could have been our draft capologist while doing this diary and wearing jogging pants in my house. Why wasn't this job posted by HR? I would have applied!
5:49: Power forwards for the past two picks: Ed Davis to Toronto (decent value this late) and Patrick Patterson to Houston (liked that one). Patterson needed only three years to graduate from Kentucky. As someone who barely graduated college in four years, I'm always impressed when someone does it in three. I see him trying to learn Chinese from Yao Ming on team charters and stuff. Always fun to have smart guys on a team.
6:01: Stern blesses Milwaukee's pick of Larry Sanders by saying "Larry is not here." Hey, now.
6:03: Just saw a shot of the Minnesota draft room. How much would you pay for a live feed of Portland's draft room? Do you think Kevin Pritchard looks like the two guys tied to the pipes in "Saw" by now?
6:05: The T-Wolves take a second forward (Nevada's Luke Babbitt) at No. 16. On the plus side: He was a 50-40-90 guy in college. On the minus side: They're already horrible defensively, and now they're taking someone who can't guard anyone and putting him in front of two undersized big guys who can't block shots or protect him. I'm feeling a trade. Kahn's been quiet. He's like an earthquake -- he hits when you least expect it.
6:09: So Chicago traded No. 17 to Washington with Kirk Hinrich in return for the cap space to pursue LeBron and Bosh. This was funny because just four months ago the Knicks traded Jordan Hill (last year's No. 8 pick) and their 2012 No. 1, and agreed to swap No. 1s with Houston in 2011 so the Rockets would take Jared Jeffries off their hands (who makes less money than Hinrich, by the way) so they could also pursue LeBron and Bosh. Might be time to take Donnie Walsh to the GM vet and put him down.
6:10: I had my "Fitting that his year's Token French First-Rounder (Kevin Seraphin) didn't show up for the draft during the same week France didn't show up for the World Cup" joke all ready to go, but he actually showed up (Chicago picked him for Washington). Too bad.
6:11: I can't tell if I should be writing down Stu's obscure statistics or not. Is there a quiz after the telecast? Let me know. By the way, you know this draft sucks because I'm now irrationally excited that the Celtics (picking 19th) might get either Eric Bledsoe (my favorite remaining prospect) or Avery Bradley (ESPNU's No. 1 college recruit just 12 months ago) as Rondo insurance. I thought we'd have dreck left in this spot. This almost makes up for blowing a double-digit lead in the second half of Game 7 of the 2010 Finals against the NBA team I hate the most. Oh, wait, it doesn't at all. Not even a little.
6:15: Somebody could splice a pretty nice compilation on YouTube of Van Gundy (clearly bored by the lack of excitement tonight, and I don't blame him even a little) staring vacantly at Stu or Jon Barry after every one of their points. It's my favorite running subplot. This should be a game show: "Say Something Interesting Enough During A Deadly Boring Draft To Get Jeff Van Gundy To Blink."
6:16: Bledsoe's off the board. Damn. OKC just took him. Typically smart move by them. I'm starting to hate Sam Presti. Make a mistake already, Sam. If there were 30 GMs like you, I'd have nothing to write about. Meanwhile, Ric Bucher reports on another deal: Martell Webster to Minnesota, Ryan Gomes and Luke Babbitt to Portland. I knew it! Gotta say, nice move by Kahn! I'm a Webster fan. Good character guy, good defender, type of guy Minnesota needed.
6:17: Did I just compliment a Chris Wallace pick and a David Kahn trade in the last 30 minutes? I think I need some coffee.
6:19: Come on Celtics … Avery Bradley … Avery Bradley … Avery Bradley.
6:20: YES! Good value. And by the way, if you're betting on a No. 1 overall high school prospect whose stock dropped a little after one college year, you want it to be for a reason like, "Yeah, he played at Texas for Rick Barnes, OF COURSE his stock dropped!"
6:22: Just called my Dad for his Bradley take. "Did you hear them say he was ranked higher than John Wall heading into college last year?" he asks. Dad and I are moving on. We're totally over that Game 7 loss. As far as you know.
6:30: Buch reports on another trade: OKC traded the rights to Bledsoe to the Clippers for a future No. 1 because of the "any time you can trade for a future No. 1 from the Clips, you have to do it" rule. It's just the rule. Perfect third guard for the Clips. I'm a fan. By the way, the biggest upset tonight: Andy Katz (a +600 underdog) used more hair gel tonight than Bucher.
6:33: Weird one for me: I've learned never to doubt San Antonio's picks, but they just took someone I had penciled in as a bust (Oklahoma State's James Anderson). This is awkward.
6:38: As if Portland fans weren't bummed out enough about their owner losing his mind and firing an excellent GM, the ESPN guys just had an extended "What the hell is happening in Portland?" and "Will Greg Oden ever be healthy?" conversation. This is why they don't allow me on studio shows -- because I absolutely would have made the "If the NBA doesn't work out for Oden, he can always go into porn … I mean, did you SEE that thing, Jeff?" joke, followed by an unblinking Van Gundy staring at me for 20 solid seconds.
6:43: Our past three picks: Craig Brackins to New Orleans (some slight Carl Landry sleeper potential); Elliot Williams to Portland (blah), Trevor Booker to Minnesota (our first senior!). Can't get over the fact that Pritchard -- fired earlier in the day -- is still running Portland's draft. If I were him, I'd be in Portland's war room loudly calling other GMs and saying things like, "I have an offer for you: I'll trade you our No. 23 pick, and in return, YOU HELP ME PULL THE F****** KNIFE OUT OF MY BACK!!!!! Do we have a deal????"
6:45: Atlanta takes Damion James, the Texas scorer who has a hygiene fetish and showers four times a day. (Not making that up.) He's the Bizarro Pau Gasol. In other news, I went 6-for-24 in my mock draft. Where's my Finals MVP trophy?
6:53: Just had our sixth commercial for "Knight And Day" in less than 2½ hours. Always funny when studios do that -- instead of convincing you to see the movie, they convince you to actively hate it.
7:00: Our past three picks: Dominique Jones (Memphis), Quincy Pondexter (OKC for New Orleans) and Jordan Crawford (picked by Nets and swapped to Atlanta for Damion James and No. 31). Crawford was my last "I think that guy could be in a nine-man rotation on a good team" pick. Really like him. Scorer, gamer, head case … I'll put up with the last one if I'm getting the first two. And now that he's off the board, I'd take the 6-foot-9 tennis player who just won a 70-68 fifth set at Wimbledon over any of the remaining guys on the board. I'm not even kidding.
Greivis Vasquez salvaged the first round for viewers ... and he even appears happy to go to Memphis!7:05: Memphis is picking 28th with the final piece it received from the Lakers in the infamous Pau Gasol trade. The pick? A very excited Greivis Vasquez, who pops out of the stands for a hug/handshake with Stern. Fun moment. So if you're scoring at home, Memphis ended up with Marc Gasol, Darrell Arthur and Vasquez for the second-best center in basketball and someone who helped the Lakers to three straight Finals and two titles. There hasn't been a deal that unfair since Paulie became a partner in Sonny's restaurant in "Goodfellas," stole all of Sonny's liquor, bankrupted it, then had Henry and Tommy set it on fire for the insurance money. Actually, even that wasn't as bad as the Gasol deal. I hate everything.
7:11: The Vasquez interview cheered me up. Unlike just about everyone we've seen, he was delighted/giddy/candid and basically reminded us that, yeah, it's a big freaking deal to get drafted in the first round of the NBA draft. Highlight of a fairly tedious night.
7:12: Orlando takes Daniel Orton 29th so Kentucky can break the "five guys in the first round" record. So if you're scoring at home, the Magic took Kentucky's second-string center to be their third-string center. Their scouts loved the way he applauded teammates, played in garbage time and handled layup lines.
7:18: With the last pick, the Wizards selected swingman Lazar Hayward … and, of course, traded him right to Minnesota. So after drafting three point guards in 2009, David Kahn upped the ante by adding small forwards (Wes Johnson, Martell Webster and Hayward) in 2010. I continue to be glad he's in the league.
Something I'm not as glad about: what's happening to the NBA draft. Safe suits, safe interviews, safe analysis, safe everything. I've been typing, pausing, rewinding and fast-forwarding for the past six hours and the only three things I can remember are the "Knight and Day" commercials, Vasquez coming out of the stands and poor Van Gundy struggling to stay excited. My four suggestions to spruce it up …
Suggestion No. 1: Have real NBA players conduct the interviews with the rookies after they get picked. I'd pick three of the league's most gregarious stars (I'm thinking Dwight Howard, Kevin Durant and Grant Hill) and have them do it for every pick, almost like an NBA version of "The View." Wouldn't that loosen up the rookies a little?
Suggestion No. 2: Have two funny NBA players (I'm thinking Jared Dudley and Chris Kaman) rate the outfits of each pick as the draft goes along. Yeah, like you'd change the channel.
Suggestion No. 3: A David Stern cam. Put a camera on his tie and let's see where he goes between picks. I've always wanted to know.
Suggestion No. 4: We don't need a real sideline reporter for the draft. We're not breaking real news here. So what about Ron Artest? You're telling me he wouldn't want to prowl the crowd and interview parents, fans and coaches? Who's a bigger attention hog than him? More importantly, didn't we learn from the 2010 Finals that you can never have enough of this formula: "Ron Artest + live microphone"?
Here's the thing: It's not 1993 anymore. It's not even 2003. All the things that used to make the draft so entertaining (uncertainty of picks, bad wardrobes, lack of hard information, embarrassing interviews) have been slowly beaten out of the draft by wily agents, enterprising Internet reporting, 24/7 news coverage and an acquired sophistication among prospects who watched the previous generation of prospects shatter the unintentional-comedy scale every June. We need to keep pushing the envelope. We need to create the comedy. We need to make this a fun night again. I'll keep my fingers crossed. Until next year.

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