Monday, May 9, 2011

NBA Draft Mockery 1.0

As more and more teams see their seasons end, and the slightly disturbing spectacle known as the "draft process" kicks into full gear, I find myself engrossed, in all the word's various possible meanings. Due possibly to the uncertainty concerning the existence of next year's NBA season, or the gods of basketball frowning on '92 babies, this year's draft has been described in terms like "historically weak".

This being a blog at least nominally focused on the history of the NBA, I'd be remiss in not mentioning the granddaddy of weak drafts, 2000. That was the draft in which Kenyon Martin was the best player taken. The best of the rest from that draft class was Michael Redd, Hedo Turkoglu, Mike Miller, and Jamal Crawford. For those concerned about the lack of poetry emanating from NBA circles, though, the draft was considerably more successful.

Which brings us to this year's draft. What follows is what I would do in each (lottery) team's situation, not what I think each team will do.

#1 MIN: Kyrie Irving, PG. Another point guard? The top two prospects right now are Irving, a point guard, and Derrick Williams, who looks like a more efficient Michael Beasley. Whichever pick they end up with, I wouldn't be surprised to see them choose an international big, probably Enes Kanter or Jonas Valanciunas. As for Irving, he's the closest thing to a sure bet in this draft, even if he doesn't have elite potential.
#2 CLE: Derrick Williams, PF. Cleveland needs everything, so they'll go for BPA here. I suspect Williams will mostly play at SF in the NBA, giving a team an efficient 20 and 7 with mediocre defense.
#3 TOR: Enes Kanter, C. Somewhat of an unknown quantity, but according to all reports, he's a polished scorer and all around player, by the standards of 18 year old centers. He won't be great, but Kanter and Ed Davis would give Toronto a frontcourt notable for something other than jump shots.
#4 WAS: Bismack Biyombo, PF. The player I'm highest on in this draft. His backstory reads uncomfortably like a sports movie, but watching him on YouTube it's hard not to get excited. He looks like an NBA player, he has DPOY potential, excellent intangibles, and he's playing excellently in the ACB as a raw 18 year old, a league featuring much tougher competition than the NCAA.
#5 SAC: Jonas Valanciunas, C. It seems like the Kings have talented young players at every position, they just need to figure out how to play together. At this point, with no elite talents on the board, the best option might be to take a Euro who won't be ready to come over for a couple years, when the Kings hopefully won't be developing eight players at once.
#6 UTA: Kemba Walker, PG. They've had good luck drafting point guards in the past, and Devin Harris' fate seems to involve being repeatedly unseated by a better, more famous replacement. Who am I to argue with fate? If Walker improves in the NBA like he did in college, he could be the next Terrell Brandon. I'm a bit leery of guys who weren't great until their junior year, though.
#7 DET: Kawhi Leonard, SF. Another team that needs everything. Leonard won't be a great scorer, but he can play defense, rebound, and slash.
#8 CLE: Brandon Knight, PG. Well, Cleveland desperately needs a guard that can create his own shot. I'm not sure what to think of Knight. He could be anywhere from CJ Watson to Chauncey Billups, depending on how much he improves.
#9 CHA: Marcus Morris, PF. The Bobcats need players who can put the ball in the basket competently, and Morris seems a decent bet to put together a steady string of 16 and 8 seasons with average defense.
#10 MIL: Alec Burks, SG. I think the Bucks are a scorer away winning games in the playoffs again. Burks is the best two guard in the draft, damning with faint praise as that may be.
#11 GSW: Jan Vesely, SF. He's big, athletic, exciting, and has questions concerning rebounding and man to man defense. Moving along...
#12 UTA: Jimmer Fredette, SG. Couldn't resist. The Jazz actually could use a bench gunner, FWIW. Davis Bertans (SF), the latest Peja clone, is a possibility here.
#13 PHO: Kenneth Faried, PF. An undersized four who can play defense, rebound like crazy, and run the floor? Seems like a good fit for the Suns.
#14 HOU: Chris Singleton, SF. He might be the best perimeter defender in the draft. If he can develop into a reliable catch and shoot three point shooter, which he showed flashes of in college, he could be an intriguing player.

If I had to pick one team to trade up, it would be Houston moving up for Biyombo, although that's really nothing more than a gut feeling. The Kings at #5 seem like a likely candidate to move down, those teams like to trade together, the Rockets have assets, and they desperately needs an interior presence/shot blocker.

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