Sunday, June 29, 2014

NBA Draft in Review

I did a live blog of the draft right below here, sort of, but due to stupid kids and a stupid new cat the thing wasn't up to par.  I think the previously mentioned entities were having a contest to see who could break me, and the winner was my son who made me give up on watching the draft so somehow negotiate a truce between not letting the cat in his room and not having his door closed.  An impossible problem, to be sure, but luckily I am a genius and also a 6-time winner of dad of the year at my house, so I managed.  However since I was unable to give the draft my full attention I will rectify that now, mainly because there's no world cup on this afternoon and no baseball so I'm cranky.  Let's look at what a few teams did that seemed noteworthy.

-  First, you have to start with the hometown 9, and though I don't particularly like the Wolves' draft I can't really blast them either because I understand their thought process.  Adding Zach LaVine and Glenn Robinson 3 certainly increases the athletic ability of the team, even if neither put up primo college stats or have, you know, skills.  I also think Robinson's athleticism is overrated, and given that he doesn't really have a true NBA position and has a tendency to not try real hard all the time I'm not very optimistic with that pick.  LaVine has more potential, and everything I'm reading says he could be one of the top 5-10 players out of this draft, and unlike Aaron Gordon, who sucks at basketball, he does have some skills to go along with that athletic ability.  I know potential is potential until something actually happens, but the Wolves have to hit on something at some point, right?

-  The Sixers are starting to remind me of the Kansas City Royals.  Remember when the Royals had all those top prospects and everybody said in 3 years they'd be great, including myself?  Sixers are giving off that vibe, and last night they took Joel Embiid, who is likely at least a year away, and Dario Saric, who will probably stick in Turkey for a couple of years.  They also got back a first round pick they had given to the Magic to help facilitate the Dwight Howard trade.  Basically they're stockpiling "assets" while assuring themselves of another horrible season upcoming and another high lottery pick - another "asset."  At some point you have to actually start doing something, but at least they have a clear plan.  It may not work - the Royals are 4.5 out of first place in a bad division and are just 2 games over .500 - but at least it's a plan.

-  Sadly, nobody really screwed up their draft which, along with the lack of any real meaningful trades, made it a very boring night.  The closest thing to a screw up was the Raptors taking Bruno Caboclo at #20, but I can't pretend I know who he is or if he's any good, I just know he wasn't projected as a first rounder.  Their GM seems to pretty much know what he's doing and #20 is a crapshoot anyway, so whatever.  Plus who cares?  It's Canada.

-  Can't believe Bill Simmons is allowed to be such a raging homer on TV.  I know people are human and are going to have allegiances, but when somebody like Jalen Rose pulls for Michigan guys he does it in an understated, human way.  Simmons is a complete spaz who belongs on a couch watching the draft.  Did you see his eye roll when the Hornets traded Napier to the Heat?  I don't know, maybe I'm being oversensitive but it just bugs me.  Plus when he's on site he can't do his running draft diary, which was always a good time back when he was actually a writer - something he's good at.

-  After watching the Spurs dismantle the Heat after coming out of the supremely difficult Western Conference, you'd think teams might take a look at the Spurs business model and try to emulate them.  Maybe draft some high basketball IQ guys who will buy into the team concept, pass well, and can shoot.  Two guys who fit that model perfectly fell to the end of the first round, both who would be perfect for the Spurs in Kyle Anderson and Cleanthony Early.  The Spurs went Anderson, and the Knicks were lucky enough to get Early in the second round (Early could end up the steal of the draft - mark it down).  Anderson's going to thrive in San Antonio.

-  If you read ESPN too much, you've probably stumbled across John Hollinger's prospect ranking formulas, which generally do a pretty decent job of projecting future value of incoming players in the NBA draft.  Hollinger now works for Memphis, but Kevin Pelton still runs the same column and I'm assuming uses the same formulas, or at least very similar maybe with some of his own tweaks.  Memphis took Jordan Adams at #22 in a bit of a surprise, then traded a 2016 first round pick to get an early second rounder from Utah to take Jarnell Stokes.  Looking at Pelton's column, Adams ranks fifth and Stokes ranks twelfth.  Interesting.  Last season they didn't have a first rounder, but at pick #41 took Jamaal Franklin, who ranked 21st using Pelton's formula.  Seems like you could get a pretty good handle on what Memphis is thinking just by checking out Pelton's column before the draft.  I have no idea what you'd do with that information, but I'm going to figure out how to use it for gambling.

-  Congratulations to Khem Birch, Chane Behanan, Jabari Brown, Jahii Carson, Alex Kirk, James Michael McAdoo, LaQuinton Ross, Jakarr Sampson, and Roscoe Smith - your early draft entrants who went unpicked.  Wait, not congratulations.  The other thing.  When is the NBDL draft?  I bet Carson goes first.

-  Did you notice the Charlotte Hornets are starting to do some good things?  I mean, a lot of it was luck having Noah Vonleh slip to them and then having PJ Hairston slip to them, but it could get interesting.  The talk was they needed a shooter bad and would be very happy to get either Stauskas or McDermott, but then Vonleh was sitting there and they did the smart move, shocking in the NBA I know, and took a potential star in him over getting the shooter they needed in McDermott.  Then they were lucky enough to snag Hairston, a great shooter (potentially) and picked up a couple picks from Miami in the process because they were so hot to trot for Napier.  So now the Hornets look like this:  Kemba/G. Henderson or Hairston/MKG/Vonleh/Al Jefferson.

Jefferson and Vonleh should compliment each other well since Vonleh can do perimeter/high post stuff despite Crean's strategy of never giving him the ball, and Hairston can help open things up since neither Henderson or MKG can shoot.  Then they still have Cody Zeller who I haven't given up on, especially since he and Vonleh can talk about how much Crean sucks.  Plus they're in the East.  I mean it's not great or anything, but at least they're moving in the right direction.  Seriously I'm realizing how screwed up the Wolves are since I seem to be totally impressed by any team that seems to have a plan.

-  The team I'm not sure has a plan is the Sacramento Kings, and I think it's been that way for a while.  They drafted Stauskas the year after drafting Ben McLemore the year after drafting Jimmer Fredette, who is now a Bull.  Meanwhile their starting PF is currently Derrick Williams, who did not improve with a change of scenery, and they're paying a lot of money to Rudy Gay (who did, to be fair, play a lot better once he got out of Toronto).  Their point guard is Isaiah Thomas, who is a restricted free agent and they're almost going to have to match any offer because their other point guard is Ray McCallum, who I like, but I wouldn't exactly hand the car keys too.  Add in their best player is DeMarcus Cousins, who has been a model citizen but has the potential to explode if things keep going shitty, and ti's looking like they will.  It's at least comforting to know there's a team that's a mess besides the Wolves.  Then again, Cousins hasn't demanded a trade while the GM decides he's just going to stick with him and hope everything turns up sunshine and lollipops.  Stupid NBA.

-  So to sum up, I hate this draft for the Wolves, but I understand why they did it.  I don't expect it to workout, but I'm hopeful.  I also desperately want this Kevin Love trade to happen so I can move on and start figuring out how to fix the team, rather than having zero clue where they're going.  I mean, you need an entirely different mindset and strategy if if you trade him to Golden State than if you trade him to Boston, and a whole new plan if you trade him to Denver (please god no don't do this).  Let's get on with it already, ladies.

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