Plissken proudly presents its commentary on the 2007 NBA Draft. Apologies for the delay, but we wanted to get the best product possible out there. A word on the format: Carter and I discussed each team at length, I wrote the thoughts up, he script-doctored it, and then I went through one last editing round before bringing it to you. It's a team effort. We'll be covering each conference in a separate post. In this post, the West. You can find the East here.
Portland Trailblazers: This is going to take a while. Let’s deal with it piece by piece.
Oden is obviously a great pick. As I’ve been saying since February, I think he wins at least two championships. As for personality, I hope he starts a Fox Force Five gimmick where he has a new one-liner for each halftime interview. They can all have something to do with hygiene or protecting your face from the sun. Honestly, he might be a bigger dork than Tim Duncan.
The Knicks trade is weird. I understand that they’re trying to dump Z-Bo’s contract, but they took on another huge one (albeit a shorter one that Allen might buy out) with Franchise. Frye is good but their need is at the three, not the power positions. Seems like they could have gotten more. Although the report that they're going after a small forward might make sense of all this.
Rudy Fernandez will be indistinguishable from Sergio Rodriguez for me, and I don’t think they look alike. As for their other first round get, let the Petteri Koponen Experience begin! My new favorite non-Warrior not named Gilbert or J-Rich, and I’ve only seen him make one play.
I’m on record as not being a huge Taurean Green fan, but in the second round I think he’s great value. Josh McRoberts is garbage, he’s clearly only there so Oden has someone to go to Powell’s with.
Basically, Kevin Pritchard is a mad genius. We’re getting League Pass.
Seattle SuperSonics: Durant is a no-brainer. I still say it takes him a few years to adjust to NBA strength, but when he gets there shit is going to rock. Also, his spots with Gil may have been the most entertaining non-Joakim related parts of the night.
The Ray Allen trade is highly questionable. Green is alright, but they only got him, Wally, and Delonte for an all-star (an injured one, granted)? I'm not sure either team did really well on this one. Seems like they could have gotten more. I actually think this is a good place for Green; his issues have always been about stepping up in crunch time and now he’s on a team with a guy who loves getting the ball when it matters. I still would have preferred to see EEE here. Isn't an SF, more upside, fits well in Seattle, and less likely to cause an international incident.
When you get right down to it, though, they’re asking a hell of a lot of a rookie if they can’t resign Rashard. I love that a Spurs guy wants to build around a bunch of 6-9 guys (Nellie Revolution!), but this team is in for a long year or two without a veteran scorer.
Memphis Grizzlies: Mike Conley is perfect for this team, although it won’t happen for a year or two. I’m damn excited to see an awful team running all the time; they’re going to have some serious growing pains but the flashes will be worth it. Warrick and Gay just high-fived everyone in sight. It would be incredibly hilarious if Oden and Conley turned terrible without each other, though. Conley’s a dork, too, by the way.
Minnesota Timberwolves: I like Corey Brewer more than most seem to; I think he’ll end up one of the four best guys in this draft. Awesome perimeter defender, runs, enough of an offensive game to matter.
I like Chris Richard with the second round pick, but mostly because I think he was underrated and not because I think he should have been picked at 41. You can get worse things than two winners, though.
Sacramento Kings: Taking Hawes is such a Kings pick: heaven forbid they do something exciting. This is more George H.W. Bush than George W. Bush. Here’s hoping Spence gets to hang out with Arnold.
They didn’t have a second rounder, which is also boring.
NOOCH: Julian Wright is good and versatile, a guy being talked about as a potential Top 5er before people realized he couldn’t shoot and plays a shooting position. More importantly, why would they not take Nick Young? They need a scorer. Julian is a playmaker who can’t shoot. They have Chris Paul to make plays. Ugh.
One of my favorite parts of the ESPN telecast was Stuart Scott asking Julian about his bowling ball. Real probing query, there, Stu.
Adam Haluska in the second round is somewhat intriguing; he can jump a little and shoots enough to possibly stick.
Los Angeles Clippers: I like Thornton to them, although they have enough scorers now that Maggette might get moved for sure. Acie would have been a good fit here—bummer he went three picks earlier.
Jared Jordan in the second round made all the guys who want 11-foot rims happy.
Golden State Warriors: Well, I’ll have multiple posts on this one later, but here’s some quick thoughts that I’ll flesh out in the future. I’m excited to get Wright; he’s way raw but he can run and is athletic enough to thrive in the Nellie system. Bottom line: during the college season people were saying Wright was going to go 3rd and he's been called a Chris Bosh clone for at least three years (the first time I heard about him). Gotta be happy with that. The Biedrins/Wright combo will bite heads off. Keep in mind this clip is from his fourth college game ever:
The other possibility is that this will be part of a KG deal, but with the J-Rich contract gone I think it would almost certainly have to involve a third team. I guess the trade exception could get worked in there somehow, but, as I understand it, that only applies to contracts worth less than the trade exception.
As for trading J-Rich, I can’t help but feel there will be karmic retribution. He loved playing here, the fans love him, and he’s just a good guy. However, I’m slightly okay with that because this move at least shows a willingness to put the team in a situation where they’re not struggling for a playoff spot every year. Also, many Warriors fans (read the comments, too) vastly overestimate how good he actually is. There's a reason every analyst thinks this was a good deal for GSW. (Again, I'll be more in depth about this later in the weekend.)
I’ve said before that I’m really excited about watching Marco Belinelli play, and that holds even more true now that he’s coming to Oakland. (Disregard what I said in that post about possibly not wanting him here; I'm officially sold.) This is the kind of pick that makes being a fan of this Warriors team more fun than being a fan of any other team. Have you seen his YouTubes? The guy is awesome! The Italian Kobe! Er, the Super Italian Kobe! Seriously, though, he can shoot, and we like to take threes. Plus his YouTubes clearly show that he can drive on little Italian white men. I won’t even care if he busts. If you’re going to fail, do so in an awesome way. (Can't help feeling bad for Carter, though; he wanted him so bad.)
My only criterion for a good second rounder is that he has the potential to do one thing very well in the NBA, and Stephane Lasme has the chance to be a really good shot blocker off the bench. So no complaints here. Plus, I love that we’re continuing to add to the UN locker room with Gabon, now.
Los Angeles Lakers: An unedited Carter says, "At first I was a little bummed by the Javaris pick. But I’m feeling much better about it now. Thinking back to Chad Ford's tier article, Javaris was the only "tier 4" guy who slipped through the cracks to 19. So in that sense he was definitely the best available, perhaps most importantly from the perspective of other GMs. While having two young PGs competing for minutes might not be the worst thing, I think Crittenton makes the most sense here as a future trade chip. Outside of Conley he supposedly has more upside than any point guard in the draft, which makes him a valuable trade piece, especially because the teams the Lakers look to deal with (Indiana, Minnesota) have needs for young points with potential if they're looking to rebuild. If they do end up keeping him and losing Farmar, which would be stupid, I guess there's an added bonus that he learned the triangle in HS and is supposedly Phil's type of point."
In the FD comments, T. called Sun Yue a bad Steve Smith. I guess there are worse things to be. His favorite rapper is Usher, who is not a rapper. In the great words of Stop Mike Lupica, Marc Gasol is the NBA’s Jeremy Giambi.
The real story of this draft for the Lakers was the Mitch Kupchak interview. Dude looked like his grandma just died. Dr. Jerry really threw him under the bus (har!) on this one. "He looked like he was ready to cry and I don't blame him." Probably the only good thing SAS said all night.
Phoenix Suns: First off, they need to stop trading picks. I know ownership wants to stay under the cap, but they’re not going to get any better if they’re not bringing in fresh blood. KG would solve that, of course, but that’s not set in stone and they need to explore other options.
Not sure why Kerr drafted Alando Tucker. Wings in their offense need to shoot the three and Tucker doesn’t do that. Why not just take Derrick Byars there? With their six-man rotation it's highly doubtful Alando will ever see the floor.
DJ Strawberry was the best all-around athlete at the camp and was a stellar defender at Maryland. Good value for the penultimate pick of the draft.
Utah Jazz: Only Utah would take two black guys named Morris Almond and Herbert Hill; it’s like they had to offset roster integration by taking two guys who sound like they’re old white men.
The Almond pick is nice if only because it fills their pressing need of an outside shooter. They traded Hill to Philly for Kyrylo Fesenko, who has the shortest nbadraft.net profile in history.
Houston Rockets: A team that realizes something’s not working and adjusts accordingly. Drafting Aaron Brooks is the right move; that’s how you inject some excitement. And he inexplicably turned clutch this year after three years of being the Anti-Law, which shows signs of maturity.
Landry was good enough at Purdue, but I’m not sure his game translates easily. I know nothing about Brad Newley.
San Antonio Spurs: Drafting Splitter is good insurance for when Oberto retires, although that might be in a while. Fraschilla said that’s it’s bad he won’t be able to come over for at least a year, but it’s not like they need any more bodies inside.
Marcus Williams is the anti-Spur; I wouldn’t be surprised if he got cut.
Dallas Mavericks: Fazekas is not that exciting to me; I guess he’s been lighting it up from outside at workouts but this team doesn’t need that at all. Reyshawn Terry is really good to get as late as they did.
Denver Nuggets: No draft picks. Best of luck to JR Smith—he screwed up bad, but he’s got a tough year ahead of him and we wish him the best.
General Thoughts: Apparently Bilas thinks Seattle and Portland were "perhaps" the biggest winners. That's a little bold for our tastes. We're both currently downloading the All-American Rejects discography.
Plissken proudly presents its commentary on the 2007 NBA Draft. Apologies for the delay, but we wanted to get the best product possible out there. A word on the format: Carter and I discussed each team at length, I wrote the thoughts up, he script-doctored it, and then I went through one last editing round before bringing it to you. It's a team effort. We'll be covering each conference in a separate post. First, the East. You can find the West here.
Atlanta Hawks: God bless the Hawks for taking Al Horford. They still fucked this up by not taking Amare, but their commitment to the Forward Apocalypse needs to be respected. I don’t think Conley is the savior here, although you couldn’t really have argued with it.
As for Acie Law, I just hope the Hawks are close enough at the end of games that he can make some plays. It would be a waste of the best clutch college guy I’ve seen in the last few years. The IV also saves this lottery from being one of the dorkier classes in recent memory. This man doesn't smile and I like it.
The new Hawks logo is questionable. It looks like the Arizona Cardinals dealie, which is not a comparison you want to make.
Boston Celtics: Ray Allen and Paul Pierce are not bad guys to build around for a year or two. If Ainge wanted to show people he was committed to making the playoffs, then this deal did it. If we’re talking about pure value of players involved, I think they made a great deal, but I still think the best thing to do would have been to trade Pierce and figure out a way to get back to contender status in three or four years. Although I guess that’s what the plan was this year, just with Oden or Durant involved. To be honest, I’m only really excited in the deal as it applies to Seattle; I could give a shit about the Celtics. Put them in Memphis and no one cares.
Big Baby Davis in the second round, which, as FD explained the other day, is awesome. I don’t have anything to add to what I’ve already said about Gabe Pruitt.
I hope Ray’s daughter can adjust to being a Connecticut Sun fan.
Milwaukee Bucks: EEE decides Milwaukee is the new Vancouver! If WW3 starts over this pick, it will be funny until the nukes go off. Also, I think Fran Fraschilla described him by using “50 Cent” as an adjective, which makes it even worse. Shit reminds me of “Rap: The Musical.” I LOVE the idea of Yi hanging out with Bogut, although it looks unlikely to happen. Larry Harris hasn’t seen him play yet…and this is a good strategy why?
During the interview, Stu slowed down and raised his voice when he asked Yi the first question. Gold. He also asked him his favorite thing about America, like it was a TOEFL test essay. Can't stop picturing EEE going to the Shrek premiere totally shrekified.
Ramon Sessions in the second round. Quick guy, good value that late.
Charlotte Bobcats: I’ll cover Wright when I get to the Warriors, but a few notes on J-Rich. He’ll give them a productive scorer and an amazing guy, but the Warriors already proved what happens when you make him the best player on a team. It’s not pretty. He’ll average over 20, but will it matter? Maybe that gets them into the playoffs this year, but the Magic were stomped as the 8th seed. I’d rather build up more college guys, see which pan out, and wait for a lucky free agent steal. Sinking so much money into a fringe star was problematic once—it can happen again. This also might mean they don’t resign Multiplicity, which would be a shame. Jordan was rightly questioned by the ESPN crew.
Jared Dudley with the second first rounder is more like it. College star who won’t fail too miserably. These moves work, and it’s resulted in a pretty entertaining team.
Chicago Bulls: They have a ton of high-energy bigs, and they took Joakim Noah. When you're only real problem is scoring, why pick the one lottery guy guaranteed to never average 10 a game? Anytime Ben and Joakim are on the floor together, it will be 3v5 on offense. How does that help them? Why not trade the pick for someone who can score inside, even if they wouldn’t get exact value for it? They’re a playoff team on the precipice of contention; it’s not the time to shore up strengths. Why not take a chance on Hawes? (These points become unimportant if they move any of the big men for Kobe.)
Now let’s tackle the real issue: Noah’s awesomeness last night. That suit made up for all the annoying crap he pulled this season; I just forgot about it instantly. Also, a quick glance made it seem like his sister was pretty hot. "Oh, I feel so marketable, you have no idea."
The Aaron Gray second round pick is hilarious because they finally took a lethargic big. I’m surprised JamesOn Curry got drafted, but I liked him a lot at OK St. and am glad he’ll get a look.
Philadelphia 76ers: I’m a little surprised they didn’t take Al Thornton, but I really like Thaddeus and am glad he’ll get to play with a real point guard. You don’t want to waste athletes like this guy.
Picking up Jason Smith in the trade with Miami is a non-issue as far as I’m concerned—let this be a glimpse of how boring my comment would have been if the Warriors had picked him up. I approve of getting Derrick Byars in the Portland trade because he can shoot, but it’s a shame to have to give up Petteri Kopenen to get him. You don’t trade away liquid excitement like that. Herbert Hill’s comparison on nbadraft.net is John Salley, so I hope he’s hosting Best Damn Sports Show next to Jason Giambi in ten years.
Detroit Pistons: It was nice to finally see some Stuckey highlights, and sweet jesus does he play like a poor man’s Dwyane Wade. Makes you wonder why people made any other comparisons in the first place. Anyway, I think he’d be good for them if I had any confidence in the Pistons being a real contender next year.
Afflalo seems to fit in well there, and I’m happy he got guaranteed money. Sammy Mejia is about as second round as you can get.
Washington Wizards: Based solely off of players I like, the Wizards probably had my favorite draft. Nick Young will be a steady scorer in this league for a long time, and his smoothness provides a nice complement to Gilbert. That’s four legitimate offensive options, if you’re keeping score. No defense, of course, but who cares.
Dominic McGuire is the poor man’s AK, and you could do worse than that. If he develops a jumper I think he becomes a legit role player, but that’s a big “if.”
New Jersey Nets: When you’re drafting at 17, I think Sean Williams’s potential reward outweighs the risk. If he hits you did well, if you draft Jason Smith you’re not getting much either way.
I’m a little worried about Dick Vitale, though; he seems to think that Sean will have trouble living in a big city. What, he can’t get weed anywhere other than Washington Square? This is more proof for my “Dick Vitale Is Actually Mentally Retarded” theory, which will be unveiled at some point in the winter, I’m sure.
Miami Heat: I’m pretty sure David Stern laughed when he announced the Jason Smith trade. So that’s how exciting it was.
New York Knicks: This trade is pretty great for them and anyone who watches them. The Z-Bo/Eddy frontline will be pretty tremendous and hilarious. I hope Isiah throws them on opposite blocks and just sees what happens for a little bit.
Wilson Chandler got fewer boos than you'd expect from the New York fans given he’s not a lottery pick who went to a big time school. I saw him play once in person at the Pete Newell Challenge last year, but I was paying more attention to Sammy Mejia and have no clue what Chandler did. I’ll assume Isiah holds to his recent draft day success and this move works out.
I like that they got Demetris Nichols, who can shoot, at least.
Orlando Magic: Maybe Ben at Third Quarter Collapse has something to say about Milovan Rakovic, but I’m at a loss. Their draft pick is Darko, which they’re probably happy about. Although Nick Young was on the board at 15 and they could use him.
Cleveland Cavaliers: No draft picks. Enjoy Eric Snow, LBJ.
Indiana Pacers: I like the idea of Stanko Barac hanging out with Murphy and Dunleavy. Here’s hoping they trade Jermaine O’Neal for a box of saltines.
Toronto Raptors: I know Bryan Colangelo has his own Euro fascination, but trading for foreign guys drafted by the Spurs is a great strategy in any situation.
First off, I couldn't agree more with the Debriefing's complaint about Bucher's trying to ruin our fun by leaking that Oden's the pick. It comes as no surprise, but I was still dissapointed that the suspense that Pritchard's managed to sustain this far had to wasted the night before. All that got me thinking about a tension that exists in the draft junie's relationship with the draft. For a moment I'll adopt the first-person plural because I believe I share the feelings of many another draft follower. On the one hand, we spend hours pouring over every rumor that leaks through Draft Express , Hoops Hype, etc. trying to accumulate as much knowledge as possible about the draft. We love hearing about the secret workouts, the inner-office tensions between prospects, and the rumored promises to various players. But on the other, spoilers like Bucher's undoubtedly take some of the fun out. We're torn between wanting to know as much as we possibly can about every player and every team, without actually knowing anything definite. We want to be able to predict the trajectory of every player, but if given the chance to take a sneak peak on how many championships Durant or Oden will accumulate in their careers, I have a hunch that most would pass on the opportunity. It's sort of like being adamant about not wanting to hear any spoilers for an upcoming movie, but then going out of your way to read every review possible. To be honest, I'm not sure I fully understand this dynamic myself, but think it's one of the more interesting quirks involving the draft.
A couple other random thoughts about the draft: I'm growing increasingly certain that the Lakers are going to draft McRoberts and have removed all sharp objects from my vicinity as a precaution. I think Ty has had to do the same out of fear that the W's will give up Monta for Yi TEE-an-LEE-an. Honestly, I think I'll cry vicariously on his behalf if that happens. Monta has already begun to realize the huge upside he has. Trading him would be stupider than trading Devin Harris for a lottery pick (which would be pretty f-ing stupid). Also, as a Laker fan, I am encouraged by the Papaloukas news. He sounds as good as anyone we could get domestically for the MLE.
Quick recap of my hopes and dreams for the Lakes: for the first round, I'm still holding onto hope for any of Nick Young, Acie Law IV, Rodney Stuckey, or Julian Wright. Wishful thinking I know, so I'll settle for Sean Williams, Tiago Splitter, Rudy Fernandez, or Marco Bellinelli. For the second, I'd be thrilled with Dudley, Koponen, or Big Baby, and happy with Dowdell, Fazekas or Afflalo.
Finally, expect a recap of our thoughts on at least the first round sometime later tonight.
It bears noting that Free Darko ran something similar to this feature earlier in the week, although their piece was by general FD principles and thus has more deliriously awesome picks like Glen Davis to Boston with #5. Our inaugural post for this blog said that we wanted to be the second-best basketball blog on the internets online, and having the same idea as Shoals and Brown Recluse clearly shows that we have achieved that goal. Expect a retirement press conference soon.
Without further ado, the rest of the fake first round:
16. Washington: Josh McRoberts, Bitch, Duke. We were split between wanting to give Gil a partner in crime or someone that would be fun to torment. We ended up deciding that Agent Zero rides alone. We’re already excited about the prospect of reading on his blog about the agony he'll inflict on this goober with his practical jokes. With any luck, McRoberts will start his own blog just to complain about the incessant hazing. Fun all around.
17. New Jersey Nets: Thaddeus Young, SF, Georgia Tech. If VC leaves this offseason, that’s one less guy for Jason Kidd can run with on the break. I know that Kidd’s not the same as he used to be, but he deserves guys like Young for all that he’s done over the years. As for Thaddeus, we like him and he could use the value inflation that the best point guards give their teammates.
18. Boston Celtics (acquired in trade with Golden State): Jason Smith, PF, Colorado St. The Yi trade brings in the veteran talent (Jason Richardson, at least) that Paul Pierce so desperately wants, freeing up Danny Ainge to draft a player who can help and make the fan base happy. Kevin Garnett and Shawn Marion have made it abundantly clear that Massholes hate black people, but Smith is a tall white guy with a jumper, giving him all the requisite traits to vaguely remind Sully in Natick of Larry Bird. Everyone’s happy.
19. Los Angeles Lakers: Marco Belinelli, SG, Italy. As YouTube has already shown, Marco is the next Kobe. Giving Kobe a paisano to relate to might help placate the superstar. Also, Marco, Ronny, and Kobe could have fun adventures dressing up as Harry Potter and shit (Marco definitely gets to be Hermione).
20. Miami: Rodney Stuckey, SG, Eastern Washington. In keeping with the theme of matching players with their ceilings (KG/Brandan Wright, Cassell/Acie), we give Stuckey to Dwyane. The only difference here is that Stuckey will never approach Wade, dooming Rodney’s career to a series of minor improvements and endless grasping at what he could have been with more athletic ability. A bummer, to be sure, but with a little luck Dwyane’s presence will push Stuckey to a level he otherwise wouldn’t have reached.
21. Cleveland (acquired in trade with Philadelphia): Javaris Crittenton, PG, Georgia Tech. After watching the last half of the Ga. Tech/UNLV tourney game, in which Crittenton and Paul Hewitt both decided that the Yellow Jackets shouldn’t try to score, we hope that Cleveland decides to trade up to snag Javaris at 21. He fits perfectly with an indecisive roster terrified to step up in the big moment.
22. Charlotte: Derrick Byars, SG, Vanderbilt. In the SEC Player of the Year the Bobcats get another guy that fits the mold of a guy who’s had success in college. He's also a proven scorer, which they could definitely use. If MJ holds on to Multiplicity, this will be one of our favorite teams to watch in the East next year.
23. New York: Tiago Splitter, C, Brazil. After the Fredric Weis debacle, it’s a foregone conclusion that a Euro (again, this term knows no continental boundaries) will get booed mercilessly on draft night. So that’s comedy right there. But in keeping with Isiah’s under-the-radar picks from the last few years, this guy can actually play, and he’s limber enough to not get jumped over by Air Canada. It’ll be worth it just to see the Knicks fans slowly warm to him.
24. Phoenix: Nick Fazekas, PF, Nevada. Though we're not entirely sold on him yet, if the reports about his ability to consistently shoot 75% from three in workouts across the country have any bearing on what the future holds for him, the Suns could be a great fit. We see him filling the vacancy Tim Thomas left this year, giving them five three-point threats on the floor at once. The corners would never be safe with a Nash/Barbosa/Bell/Marion/Fazekas lineup on the floor.
25. Utah: Sean Williams, PF/C, Boston College. Apocalypse Now! Imagine putting a lazy, pot-smoking, giant black man in the middle of Mormon Country. Imagine him calling Boozer an Uncle Tom. Imagine Sean and AK-47 blocking everything around the hoop by day and hitting up SLC by night. Imagine Sean cuckolding Okur. Imagine Sloan telling Sean to get off his lawn at every opportunity.
26. Houston: Dominic McGuire, SF, Fresno St. The Adelman hire signals that Houston’s committed to getting more exciting, but at this point in the draft you’re not going to find many ready-made scorers or playmakers. McGuire is raw as fuck, but if you commit to watchability you have to draft guys like this and watch them grow (or fall flat, as the case may be). Houston needs a jolt, and an Arron Afflalo-type isn’t going to give it to them.
27. Detroit: Arron Afflalo, SG, UCLA. While we hold out hope that they read the writing on the wall and blow this team up, Afflalo as a potential Bowen/Raja guy will fit here well as a guy committed to defense. But while we're on the topic, how much more awesome (and by awesome we mean interesting, not necessarily good) would Rasheed be on any other team? Same goes for Tayshaun and Rip. Chauncey, it's up to you to take the plunge.
28. San Antonio: Petteri Koponen, PG, Finland (Honka Playboys!). Script treatment for Finnish Flavor: The Petteri Koponen Story. Defending champion drafts for need, thinking they can mold the brash young point guard into their system. Petteri arrives on scene, is much crazier than anyone expected. Convinces players who used to be off the wall (Parker, Manu, the older but wise Oberto) to cut loose and have fun. Eva introduces Petteri to young Scandinavian cheerleader named Ingrid. Established star and no-nonsense coach prove harder to convince, shackle young point to bench. Petteri eventually teaches them how to love again, bringing the team to new heights as they embrace the fun aspects of the game. Petteri proposes to Ingrid. Last shot freeze-frames as entire team throws Petteri into Riverwalk after victorious Game 7. Roll credits.
29. Phoenix: Aaron Brooks, PG, Oregon. If Kerr's not willing to already, his hand needs to be forced in this case to use one of their two picks on Brooks. As if the Suns need to get any more entertaining, the Brooks/Barbosa backcourt would be irresistible to watch. While Brooks probably doesn't have the playmaking abilities to replace Nash down the road, the sheer speed they could put on the floor would create match up nightmares for every team in the league.
30. Philadelphia: Morris Almond, SG, Rice. Philly needs all the scorers it can get at this point, and Almond can certainly score. Throw him in there with Thornton, Iggy, and Andre Miller and you’ve got a team that could challenge for a playoff spot.
In deciding how to put together one last preview of the 2007 NBA Draft (a.k.a. Boner Jams ’07), Carter and I considered writing a rote predictive mock draft, a poorly edited AIM conversation about each team, and even more thoughts on players that neither the Warriors nor Lakers have much chance of taking. In the end, though, we decided that each of these options failed to articulate why we consider the draft one of the more exciting moments on the league calendar. After all, most of these players will never play for our teams, more than half of them won’t become very good players, and many will just be boring to watch. After an exceedingly average playoffs, every writer and talking head has tried to put forth a plan to save the league, to save the fans from the boredom that attaches itself to every boat parade down the Riverwalk in San Antonio. Our answer is that the draft—and this draft in particular—can bring some salvation. While the NBA clearly has some problems that go beyond what can be fixed on one summer night in Manhattan, the influx of fresh blood carries hope for the future, specifically the hope that things can get more interesting. With that in mind, this mock draft explains not what we think will happen, but what we hope will happen for the good of the league. In a perfect world, all these moves would make League Pass a necessity.
1. Portland: Kevin Durant, SF, Texas. While Oden going to the already-promising Trailblazers would seem to make championships inevitable down the road, we decided Durant would be the more intriguing pick for a few reasons. First, the ballsiness of passing up the next franchise center was appealing. Unlike the Carmelo vs. LeBron "rivalry" that's never really been validated by anything, Durant passing up Oden, who's been penciled in at #1 for as long as people have heard about him, would put a different perspective on their potential rivalry. No one would view it as Oden being passed over, but Durant going first would shock some people, and anytime the two were on the floor together it would be viewed slightly differently because of this pick. Perhaps most importantly, since SF is Portland's obvious hole, the Jack/Roy/Durant/Aldridge/Randolph line-up, while not as destined for success as an Oden-led team would have been, would have to struggle for greatness in a way that would make eventual glory that much more exciting. Finally, between the two, Durant is more fun to watch, so having him in a situation with potential for success is preferable.
2. Seattle: Greg Oden, C, Ohio St. With the franchise in shambles and likely moving soon, it’s tempting to give Seattle nothing out of fear that whomever they pick will break down in that mess. But that’s what makes a big man like Oden such a good fit for the Sonics: big men prospects of this caliber are so likely to succeed that he could give the residents of whichever city ends up with this team a contender for years, ensuring that fans will come out to games. Additionally—at the risk of providing even more justification for the first pick—Oden is more likely to succeed in any environment just because he plays at a position where quality engenders stability, while Durant’s particular brand of genius will likely require less of a clusterfuck.
3. Atlanta: Corey Brewer, G/F, Florida. Seriously, how badly does this team need a lengthy versatile forward/wing? No joke, we actually think this small-forward experiment needs to continue in as absurd a direction as possible. Plus, the Brewer/Smith frontcourt is legitimately terrifying, especially defensively. Speaking of Brewer, how is his wingspan under 6'7"? You couldn't go two minutes watching Brewer before someone reminded you how "long" he was, or thinking yourself, “Damn, that dude's long.” More evidence from the School of Charles that your actual measurements are far less important than how you play.
4. Memphis: Mike Conley Jr., PG, Ohio St. For some reason, the Iavaroni hiring has us irrationally excited about the Memphis Grizzlies (never thought I'd be saying that). We basically just want this team to be as speedy as fuck, and no one can accomplish that like Conley. Adding him to the promising athleticism of Gay and Warrick will definitely make this a team to watch. Bring the revolution.
5. Golden State (acquired in trade with Boston): Yi Jianlian, PF, China. It is in the NBA’s best interest for its high-profile foreign players to succeed. Simply put, the Warriors are the best fit for Yi, assuming he’s as good as advertised. First, the Asian-American community in the Bay Area will welcome him with open arms, meaning that he will come into an overwhelmingly friendly situation. Second, Don Nelson has plenty of experience dealing with foreign players. Third, Yi’s skills suit Nellieball’s open offense. Last, it’s imperative that Celtics fans remember this draft as both the year they lost out on Durant/Oden and the time they traded away an international superstar.
6. Milwaukee Bucks: Al Horford, PF, Florida. Some teams just aren't that interesting, and there's not much even the draft can do to save them. In Horford, The Good Land’s getting way more talent at #6 than they realistically should. Plus, while extremely good, he's not one of the more thrilling players from this class, so we don't feel that bad sending him to Milwaukee.
7. Minnesota: Brandan Wright, PF, UNC. Wright’s body type screams Kevin Garnett, making him an interesting pick for the T-Wolves no matter what they do with KG. If McHale trades him, he just drafted a Garnett clone, someone he can convince the fans (and himself) about just on the grounds that KG was once a raw, willowy four, too. If they keep KG, Wright will be groomed (for one year, at least) by his ceiling. This situation sets Wright up for failure or disappointment, but it will be interesting.
8. Charlotte: Joakim Noah, PF, Florida. He jives with the organizational draft philosophy (college star, winner, somewhat local) so perfectly that there could be no other pick. Adding Noah’s personality to this mix can only make things more interesting, too; he and Morrison would have pubescent facial hair contests within a week.
9. Chicago: Spencer Hawes, C, Washington. While definitely fitting their biggest need of post-scoring, we also like this pick because the Bulls aren't a team that needs someone with the high ceiling of some of the other guys left on the board (Al Thornton, Nick Young, Jeff Green). If Hawes isn't a smashing success, it's not like anyone will feel too bad for Chicago. If he succeeds, they have the piece that could turn them into a viable contender (that is, if they don’t trade for Kobe).
10. Sacramento: Jeff Green, SF, Georgetown. We’re both sorta in denial that Sacramento is in California. They’re boring even with Artest and Kevin Martin, and we’d both prefer the Kings continue to be dull. What better player for them than a guy who couldn’t get excited to play in the Final Four.
11. Atlanta: Julian Wright, SF, Kansas. We’re really serious about this whole SF thing.
12. Philadelphia: Al Thornton, SF/PF, Florida St. Iggy needs another alley-oop-catching partner in Philly pretty bad, and Thornton could be that guy (plus there’s all the other scoring he does). That the Sixers have the potential to be this exciting less than a year after trading Iverson is dumbfounding.
13. NOOCH (they will always be NOOCH): Nick Young, SG, USC. The Hornets desperately need a scorer who can benefit from the opportunities that Chris Paul creates. Nick Young has the style and the flash to fit nicely playing alongside Paul in New Orleans. This backcourt could be as scary as any in the league in a couple years.
14. LA Clippers: Acie Law IV, PG, Texas A&M. With Cassell on the decline and Livingston's future exceedingly uncertain, they obviously have a desperate need at point. Not having a PG could potentially waste all the solid pieces that this team has. Plus, like with the Garnett/Wright situation, we look forward to the idea of Acie being groomed by his clone in Cassell, learning how to make those huge balls sway even more than before.
15. Detroit Pistons: Rudy Fernandez, SG, Spain. These guys have a glaring need for a bench scorer, but I doubt that picking up someone like Rodney Stuckey will make them especially more fun to watch; he’s filling a need with little regard for anything else. The fact of the matter is that the Pistons are on the decline, and one potentially exciting player wouldn’t have much of a place on a veteran-based team slowly sliding off the list of contenders. As such, we’re giving them someone who might not even play in the NBA for a few years, if ever, in order to facilitate the rebuilding process. Maybe he’ll come over when the Pistons have blown things up and have the potential to be exciting again.
Part 2 coming up soon.
Aaron Brooks, PG, Senior, Oregon: Most mocks have him going at the end of the first round now, but I wanted to mention him just because I really hope Phoenix picks him up with the #29. A Brooks/Barbosa bench backcourt will strike fear into all the plodding teams in the league. (On the NCAA front, Oregon is going to miss Brooks more than most realize. More on that in upcoming weeks when we finally get around to making college posts.)
Aaron Afflalo, SG, Junior, UCLA: I see no reason why he can’t be Raja Bell. Granted, Afflalo struggled mightily against Corey Brewer in their two meetings, but when he’s not the focal point of every team’s defense I think he’ll have a chance to be a solid NBA player for a while.
Alando Tucker, SG, Senior, Wisconsin: The other week, Carter mentioned Tucker as this year’s potential “Solid College Guy Who Falls into the Second Round and Succeeds Anyway.” I don’t see it. Kammron Taylor was this team’s best player by the end of the year, and when Tucker was scoring he was doing his best work from the post, which he won’t be able to do in the NBA.
Morris Almond, SG, Senior, Rice: He can shoot and score. That will buy him a career.
Marcus Williams, SG, Sophomore, Arizona: No work ethic—I think Lute wanted him to leave. Regularly got outplayed by less talented players in college. Flashes of brilliance. Looks somewhat like Jason Kidd’s son (mostly the mustache).
Jared Dudley, SF, Senior, Boston College: You don’t make All-American teams for three years by accident. Like many others, I don’t know why people are surprised he’s impressing at workouts and camps.
Gabe Pruitt, PG, Junior, USC: Apparently people are under the impression he’s a really solid shooter. That is not quite true; he’s a streaky shooter…from the college three. Solid college player, pretty tall for a point, but not strong. There’s not anything I think he does particularly well. Also a victim of the greatest college sports prank in history.
Reyshawn Terry, SF, Senior, UNC: Every time I saw him at Carolina, he looked really talented but out of place because they were playing a college game and not an NBA game. So his numbers are lower than his talent would suggest. Weirdly, those guys tend to not do so well one they get to the real league.
Aaron Gray, C, Senior, Pitt: The definition of stiff. I hope he somehow sneaks into the first round just so I can write a paragraph-long screed against whoever takes him.
Petteri Koponen, PG, Born 1988, Finland: I really want to see him succeed. Check out this awesome video of him throwing an alley-oop to Nicholas Batum (the real Air France). Now, that’s the only thing I’ve ever seen him do, but it’s awesome. And he’s Finnish! The best since Paavo Nurmi! And his team is the Honka Playboys!!! I kinda want to see the Warriors get him just so I can buy a Honka Playboys throwback.
Taurean Green, PG, Junior, Florida: Yes, all he did was win. But when you watched the Gators play, did he ever really impress you? He always seemed like the fifth-most important player on the floor to me, and with the emergence of Chris Richard in the last tournament Green might have been the sixth-most important guy. Now, obviously, he’s the point guard, and he deserves some credit the supernatural chemistry they had. I don’t think he’s any better than Aaron Miles, though, and he didn’t get much more than a little stint with the Warriors. You could do worse in the second round, but I don’t understand the first round talk. There’s a reason he’s not in this goofy picture.
Nick Fazekas, PF, Senior, Nevada: Really should have come out earlier. His stock dropped oncec people realized he's not a banger. He has good range, but it’s not that good—he seems more like a good shooter for a big guy than an actual good shooter.
Dominic McGuire, SF, Junior, Fresno St: One of my favorite players in the draft. With a jumper, he’s a clear first-rounder. Fantastic athleticism, does a little bit of everything. His inability to perform consistently at Cal is yet another example of how Ben Braun doesn’t know how to coach offense.
Glen Davis, F, Junior, LSU: Needs to lose weight, but if he does that he’s not nearly as intriguing. Like Fazekas, I think he gets press because he’s good at stuff that people his size don’t usually do. Not really sure where he fits in: he would be a small four but he’s not fast enough to play that regularly. One of my favorite NBA Comparisons on nbadraft.net; I’m pretty sure they list him as Rodney Rogers just because they’re both 6-8 and fat.
The draft is next week, and I haven’t yet discussed what the Warriors can hope to do at #18, #36, and #46. Instead of crafting a well-written piece, I’ll just run through all the possible players for the sake of covering all the possibilities before next Thursday. That way, everyone will have something to judge me against when I feign excitement over our eventual draftee.
I’ll be covering the first round pick in this post and the second-rounders soon. The 18th pick should be more about taking the best guy available as opposed to the best fit for the team, so these comments skew more towards general impressions than in-depth analyses of these guys’ futures with the Warriors. So, really, I’m doing an incredible service to any fan of a team with a pick in the last half of the round. Let’s begin:
Thaddeus Young, G/F, Freshman, Ga Tech: One of my favorite players of anyone that’s been linked to GSW. I love this athleticism and build, but the guy is insanely raw and won’t be able to contribute immediately. I would’ve liked to have seen him dominate more at the college level, although it’s tough to do that without much of a jumper. Part of me thinks I’d rather see him struggle for a while on another team. Would be a good replacement for Pietrus if Mullin lets him leave.
Javaris Crittenton, PG, Freshman, Ga Tech: Crittenton’s name has been mentioned a lot because he’s 6-5 and plays the point, but anyone who saw the second half of their NCAA game against UNLV should seriously question this guy’s ability to run a team. They had no idea what they were doing in the most important minutes of the season. Maybe the Cavs can trade up, he seems to fit in there.
Nick Young, SG, Sophomore, USC: I hated Nick Young when he was at USC, mostly because he torched Stanford regularly. That said, I would love to land him at #18 and would jump for joy if he somehow fell. Incredibly smooth with the ball, pretty mid-range game, good enough athleticism. He will be a capable scorer for a while. Looks vaguely like Nick Cannon.
Derrick Byars, SG, Senior, Vanderbilt: Didn’t see him much outside of the tournament, but he can clearly shoot. Defense apparently doesn’t exist much for him.
Rodney Stuckey, SG, Sophomore, Eastern Washington: Carter already discussed him quite a bit, so I don’t want to steal this thunder. I won’t comment on him until I actually see him play. If we pick him, I’ll carry the hope that you always do when you hear good things about someone you haven’t seen.
Rudy Fernandez, SG, Born 1985, Spain: I hear good things. Apparently he can shoot, which is enough to make him intriguing. Again, I don’t like talking about guys I haven’t seen, so I’ll point you to nbadraft.net’s really thorough scouting report. Coincidentally, they have Mullin selecting Fernandez.
Jason Smith, PF, Junior, Colorado St: The last time I saw Smith play was in his freshman year, where he looked like a skilled big man. Of course, that’s because college teams force seven-footers down to the block. Apparently he likes to shoot jumpers and lacks post moves. Sounds like a Nellie guy to me, but I’d rather pick a dude with some toughness.
Acie Law, PG, Senior, Texas A&M: Biggest balls of anyone in college last season. Not really a true point, but good enough to bring the ball up and hit a jumper in the NBA. That makes him a pretty capable point guard. Not really the right guy for the Warriors, but he’ll make someone very happy.
Tiago Splitter, PF, Born 1985, Brazil: Video I’ve seen makes him look kinda like a stiff in the NBA, but that’s just YouTube dunks. There weren’t many defensive or rebounding highlights, and that’s what I’m most interested in with a guy like Splitter. (Nbadraft says he runs the court better than most, so shows what I know.) There have been reports that he won’t leave his contract with Tau Ceramica for another year, so that must be taken into consideration, as well. His name gets him extra points, so I won’t cry if we take him. DraftExpress says we do.
Marco Belinelli, SG, Born 1986, Italy: Carter sent me some of his YouTube videos last week. I don’t actually think the Warriors will take them and I’m not sure I really want them to, but he looks fucking awesome on YouTube, like the next Kobe or something. It’s incredible. There are a bunch of great ones with some really fantastic songs in the background. This one is a joint Belinelli/Bargnani mix with Christina Aguilera underneath, but the first half is all Marco. They even put it in some Kobe clips to make it seem like they’re comparable players. Needless to say, I can’t wait to see this guy actually play a game.
Sean Williams, PF/C, Junior, Boston College/Weed: The most compelling player in the draft outside of the Top 10. Shot-blocking monster at BC before they kicked him out for too many weed violations. Now, pot shouldn’t be a big deal for an NBA player, but Williams is considered pretty lazy and doesn’t work hard. That’s a problem. He’s either great value or a total bust. I’d like the pick if only because it shows a willingness to take a chance. He’s also being talked about as a second-round pick, so maybe I’ll write another post on him later!
Breaking News!!! DraftExpress has Williams going to the Jazz! Oh my god! Make it happen!
Josh McRoberts, PF (nominally), Sophomore, Duke: Oh my god, I hate him so much. DraftExpress has him going to the Lakers, which would certainly be enough to convince Kobe to stay.
As San Antonio marches one step closer towards the foregone conclusion that many have had since the All-Star break, draft fever is officially sweeping the country. Indy Cornrows are hosting a mock draft with blog writers acting as GMs, and Kurt from Forum Blue and Gold is representing the Lakers. The always lively comments section over there has been bubbling with suggestions on how best to acquire Jermaine O'Neal, who to draft at 19, who to use the MLE on, etc. The one question under-addressed is what to do with the Lakers' two second round picks at 40 and 48. As a comment, I began putting together a list of potential second rounders I'd like to see in a Laker uniform, before quickly realizing it would be long enough to deserve its own post here at Plissken.
Because it's so much harder to project how guys are going to go in the second round, I'm going to write this under the assumption that any guy Draft Express has going in the second round could potentially be there at 40. With that qualification in mind, here's some players I'd like in approximately reverse order:
- Gabe Pruitt - I have no real expectation that he'll be on the board at 40 still, but DX inexplicably has him going 44th. I've heard people talking about using the first round pick on him which I'm not buying at all, but if he's around in the second round it seems like a pretty easy call.
- Arron Afflalo - I know it's the sentimental pick, but his perimeter defense was among the best in the NCAA. He's also a decent outside shooter with a lot of versatility. You never know with most guys in this range anyway, so why not take the chance on the local favorite and pair him back up with Farmar.
- Zabian Dowdell - Brown Recluse has already claimed Zabian as his sleeper, but in this post-Smush era, any lengthy combo guard with terrific D and a solid outside shot has my ears perked. I realize at 40 you typically shouldn't draft for need, but our need for someone who can defend the point and drill 3s is huge enough that I wouldn't mind spending all 3 picks on guys that could potentially fill that niche with the hopes that at least one of them pans out.
- Alando Tucker - I feel like every draft there's the guy who was so good in college but everyone passes on him because of things like positional concerns, and then it turns out that, not a fluke, the guy's a true competitor. Anyway, Alando single-handedly was the (albeit overranked) #1 Wisconsin team, so I don't think it should be a surprise if it turned out he could play at the next level.
- Petteri Koponen - To be honest I know very little about this guy, but a 6'5" PG with great athleticism from Finland? Sounds intriguing.
- Sean Singletary - This is who I hope we take the chance on with the 48th pick. Concerns about his size, health, and ball-handling (all valid) have him slipping off the board, but I watched this guy torch too many teams to not think he has a shot at making it. You have to respect anyone with the balls to take this shot (I'm just sad this clip doesn't have the into-the-camera sneer):
Just to show how hard it is to predict who's going to be around in the second round, if I had used guys going in the second round at NBADraft.net instead of Draft Express as the requirement, other guys I would have included would be Sean Williams, Jared Dudley, and Taurean Green. DX projects all these guys in the first round, but a draft day tumble is never out of the question. Sean Williams in particular is worth paying attention to: Jones on the NBA makes the case that the Lakers should use the 19th pick on him. DX has him going at 30 while NBADraft pegs him at 36. Is it possible that concerns about his work ethic and off court behavior scare teams away from his Tyrus-like leaping ability and he slips as far as 40? I say highly unlikely, but that doesn't mean you can't cross your fingers.
Well, after a long period of immersion in LeBronorama and draftomania, it’s time for me to focus on the Warriors once again. I’d originally planned on covering the free agent outlook and my strong dislike for the current salary cap rules, but too many people have been discussing the prospect of the Warriors trading up to get Yi Jianlian, and it's my job to talk about it.
Chad Ford has been Yi’s biggest proponent in the mainstream press (FYI: link is ESPN insider), likely because he’s one of the few people in the mainstream press to have seen him play. Ford gets a lot of flack for repping Darko hard before the 2003 Draft, but he still knows his stuff, so we shouldn’t assume that any Euro (this term knows no continental boundaries) is going to fall on his face. Ford seems to think Yi’s a star in the making; he’s rated him as the #3 prospect in the draft and seems to think he’s the next Dirk.
Yi looks like an athlete with solid—but raw—skills. He seems to have a pretty solid handle for someone his size, and the YouTube above shows that he can unleash some pretty fantastic dunks. But plenty of overseas folks have been able to do that—the real issue is if he has a mean streak and a willingness to do whatever it takes to get better. Those things might not become clear until he struggles against people close to his level, and the Chinese league just doesn’t have those kinds of players.
Then there’s the whole age issue. China says Yi’s 19, but several sources have said he’s actually 22, with nbadraft.net going so far to just list his birth year as 1984. Obviously, he’s not as good a prospect at 22 as he would be at 19. At the same time, 22 is college-senior age, and they’re not ancient men.
So let’s assume that the reports are true, and that the Warriors are willing to move into the Top 5 to get Yi. Any trade would certainly have to involve some combination of Monta Ellis (don’t take away my baby!), Jason Richardson (as I said earlier, I’m willing to trade him for the right player), Al Harrington (I would shed no tears), and the #18 pick (no problem at all). Any trade would likely have to happen with
But why would a team looking for rebounding and interior defense move up to get a versatile scorer with questionable skills in the paint? If Mullin wants to trade up, wouldn’t Al Horford, a bruising power forward who can rebound and defend, be a much better fit? Come to think of it, I’d rather have Corey Brewer, who I see becoming the next Josh Howard. Yi could eventually become an all-star, but he’ll get there by being an offensive threat. Is it worth selling off proven players for an unproven player with tons of question marks?
The fact of the matter is that the Warriors go as Baron Davis goes, and he’s an injury prone player who could fall apart at any minute. With that in mind, the front office should focus on
maximizing the years he has left. Let us not repeat the mistakes of years past.
Acie Law IV seems to be the consensus dream pick among Lakers fans, although no one seriously believes he'll still be on the board. The potential of either Thaddeus or Nick Young would be exciting, but they similarly seem to be creeping towards lottery territory. So the challenge seems to be finding someone who's realistically going to available at 19 that has the right mix of proven qualities and tantalizing potential. One prospect I've heard Lakers fans floating around quite a bit that seemed to fit the bill was Rodney Stuckey. DraftExpress has him going 21st and NBADraft has him at 19th. His college numbers were obviously phenomenal, and scouts seem to be sold on them not being the result of merely weak competition. A 6'5" combo guard with range started to sound like a perfect fit for a lot of the Lakers needs. But what finally sold me on the idea was reading what Nate Jones had to relay about him in the Free Darko comments: according to Stuckey's agent, Aaron Goodwin (LeBron's agent pre-Worldwide Wes), "[Stuckey]'s the truth. He's a combo guard like Wade, Billups, and Foye. But he's just not as athletic as Wade, and more of a scorer than Billups."
At that point I was positively giddy about the possibility of getting this kid. What's not to love (other than his supposedly mediocre D and average athleticism)? Then DraftExpress had to go and ruin my fun with the rumor that the Pistons have promised Stuckey at 15. His agent denies it, but supposedly at least one NBA team is claiming that "Stuckey is privately claiming to have received the guarantee." Even if it isn't true that the Pistons have made such a promise, I feel like this at least confirms it's a lot less likely he'll be around at 19 than the draft sites have been speculaing. Just like the other 20 draftees I've been wasting my excitement on.
Anyway, all of this is likely moot because I feel there's a good 60% chance that pick is going to float off to Indiana who, you've been reminded no doubt, don't have a first round pick this year. Other potential happy homes for our pick might be the Suns or the Sonics (neither of whom have a pick in the 3-24 range), who are working out Stuckey indicating the possibility of a move. Even more noteworthy in my view, Portland is working out Javaris Crittinton, who it's safe to say is much more likely to go in the 19 range than either the 1 or 37 vicinity. Does this signal the possibility of Kwame+19th pick for Randolph to anyone else? How I love the draft. The speculation game really is endless, and I'm more than happy to play it, and will likely continue doing so on here for the next couple weeks.
Kevin Durant did a bit worse than Oden. His sprint and agility times were fairly solid, but definitely not the sorts of numbers you want to see from a prospect of his level. Most troublingly, KD was the only player who lifted not to complete one rep. Now, everyone knows Durant is skinny and needs to put on weight, but, for the love of god, HE COULDN'T COMPLETE ONE REP. That seems like a sign that he'll get pushed around for at least a year whenever he goes inside. Durant should still average 20 ppg as a rookie just on his ridiculous skills, but don't expect any instant savior shit.
I've been falling back on my Warriors posts because of LeBron and the top of the draft, but I'll be back soon with something on GSW in free agency this summer.
Great post on the power of Bonzi over at freedarko, which captures a lot of the reasons I've been hoping the Lakers consider using the MLE or part of it to get him in L.A. If we could then get Artest with Kwame+picks+filler, I'd be officially stoked. I am well aware that neither of these moves help our most immediate needs at point guard or center, but just don't care. After watching Golden State and Utah recklessly throw the concept of positions in the air, I'm hoping the Lakers take the plunge. If they can top it all off by getting Jermaine O'Neal for Bynum/Odom/filler, it would be an extremely compelling team at the very least.
The frontcourt of JO, Ronny, and Mihm would be dangerously thin, and this puts a lot of faith in FarmarSuperstar at point. Nevertheless I'd go through with these deal because we gotta:
- Appease Kobe. All 3 of these moves would go a long way to cooling off Kobe. Artest apparently at some point expressed his desire to be a Laker to Kobe and management not acting on that (or Boozer or Baron) seemed to be one of his bigger gripes. Kobe's been friends with Jermaine since they came into the league together. Peter Vecsey has already theorized that management's plans to acquire JO were what caused Kobe to relax his demands mid-day. And as FD pointed out already, Kobe would love a guy like Bonzi on his team. These moves are all risky, but they're the kind of swing-for-the-fences attitude that it seems like Kobe wants to see from front office.
- Ease his burden. All 3 of these guys can help bear the scoring burden on nights when Kobe doesn't feel like killing himself to get 50. But more importantly, Artest helps ease Kobe's defensive duties by letting him escape some of the tougher assignments, and finally having a legitimate shot-blocker with Jermaine would go a long way to helping some of our defensive woes at other positions.
- Put on a show. Because of a geographic quirk, the Lakers (but not the Clips) are required to be entertaining. And with Bonzi, Artest and JO riding with Kobe, the Lakers would be thrilling to watch on and off the floor. Trying to navigate all those personalities would be one of Phil's toughest challenges yet. The potential storylines could be hilarious and awe-inspiring.
I guess I'm not too worried about the PG situation because I think there would be enough versatile guys available that Phil could find creative ways to make it work. When Farmar's not on the floor, I have no problem with letting Kobe carry those duties. There were times last year where it felt like Smush or Shammond were out there simply because the staff felt like they needed someone with PG next to his name on the floor. I think the depth of the frontcourt would only really become an issue against teams like San Antonio (and eventually Portland) that still play two legitimate big men. The presence of Artest would probably make Luke expendable, so maybe we sign-and-trade him to bring back a body. Although losing Luke and Lamar could be dangerous for our ball movement and stifle the triangle.
Obviously each of these moves faces serious obstacles. Now that Adelman's in Houston Bonzi isn't nearly as up for grabs as he could have been. Sacramento is still deluded into thinking a rivalry exists and will be hesitant to dump their problem child to us, especially for the crap offer of Kwame and picks. Getting the contracts to work with Indiana probably means them taking on Vlad which would be hard to swing; plus they seem to want to include Tinsley in the deal which would almost certainly require Kwame's contract.
Nonetheless, I think some variation of these deals remains possible, and I wouldn't mind if Bonzi is the starting point. Sign Bonzi, then make a run at Zach Randolph with Kwame's contract, and let the headcases go wild. Who wouldn't be intrigued by the Farmar/Bonzi/Kobe/Lamar/Randolph lineup? Let the madness take over.