Thursday, June 29, 2006

2006 NBA Draft Analysis

Here it is, my first draft analysis of the clippernation blog era. Of course, I've done a draft analysis every year for several years now, and just for grins, I thought I'd post my 2005 analysis for everyone to reference, and to marvel at how right I was.

First things first - barring some off season grooming, Kaman will now have competition in the 'goofy head and facial hair' department. What is the deal with Morrison's 'stache? Can he seriously not grow it thicker than that? How about some mascara?

As always, you should check out the Sports Guy's draft diary. Always good stuff, if a little heavy on the Celtics and Isiah-bashing (not that there's anything wrong with Isiah-bashing.)

I've got to admit, I watched very little of this draft. The wife is away on business, I'm doing the single dad thing, and I have less control of the TV than I like. Meanwhile, unlike the Sports Guy, I haven't quite sunk to the level of TiVo-ing the NBA draft. How sad is that? What does he do - replay the Steven A. rants in slow motion?

Overall, this FEELS like a down draft. I mean, a really down draft. Which is why there were so many trades of picks. No one seems excited about anyone. With good reason, right? I mean, I know next to nothing about Bargnani, but the things people say about him don't really make you drool. And the college guys in this draft have ALL got some pretty glaring shortcomings. Morrison is a terrific scorer, one of those throwback, gym rat, get the ball in the hole scorers, but who the hell is he gonna guard in the NBA? As for LaMarcus Aldridge... Please. He never looked like the best big man on Texas, and was about the 4th best player for the Longhorns. And Rudy Gay clearly has all the talent in the world, but was pretty much disinterested his entire time in Storrs. What makes anyone think it will be different in the bigs?

Of course, the new NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement has a lot to do with the lack of quality in this draft. With high school seniors off-limits for the first time, this is the 'catch-up' draft. The guys that would have gone in the lottery this year (like Greg Oden) will make cameos on college campuses nationwide before being in the 2007 lottery. Meanwhile, we're stuck with a number one overall pick named 'Andrea'.

Portland's behavior in this draft is a riot, and deserves a really good line. The Sports Guy went with "They're like a drunk college kid randomly putting together an NBA Live team at 4 a.m." That's really good. I can't top that, but of course he actually gets paid to write. I was thinking they were like a 5 year old with ADD watching Nickelodeon - whatever commercial they just saw, that's what they want for Christmas. Of course, once they have it, it turns out to be not that great, and they want something else.

At the end of the day, after 6 trades and 3 picks in the first 31, where did the Blazers end up? Pretty much no where. They lost Telfair and Ratliff and Khryapa, and added Dickau and Lafrentz, Aldridge and Roy and Freeland (I think - it's hard to tell for sure.) I mean, it's no secret that I think Dickau could be a star in the NBA, and with Dickau and Roy, they have two Pacific Northwest guys that could conceivably put butts in seats (and who actually have a chance of staying out of jail). (Also, in a happy sidenote, Dickau is re-united with his Trailblazer cheerleader girlfriend, although I'm guessing that relationship is long over.) But Dickau is in a log jam at the point with Steve Blake, Jarrett Jack and even Juan Dixon. Meanwhile, I know that Ratliff was getting older and was overpaid, but if Aldridge is EVER as good as Theo, I would be shocked. And getting rid of Ratliff's contract isn't even a plus when you take back Lafrentz's WORSE contract in return.

As of right now, the Blazers 4 highest paid players, all making more than $7M per, are all guys they've either given up on or soon will give up on - Zach Randolph $12M, Lafrentz $11M, Derek Anderson $10M (released under the amnesty clause) and Darius Miles $7M. Ouch.

It will be interesting to see what Telfair does in Boston. The C's desperately need a point guard, and it looks like he's the starter going into camp. But whenever I've seen him, it seems like he can't shoot and he can't play defense. Last I checked, those two things were important.

Looking at this draft, the real question has got to be... HOW DID UCONN NOT WIN THE NCAA TITLE? Hmmm... UConn has 4 first rounders, 5 in the top 40 and 2 other guys who got sniffed at. George Mason has some guys who MIGHT be able to play in Belgium next year. You gotta love college basketball!

With no high schoolers in the draft, and only 6 foreign players in the first round (also partly a factor of the rule change, as the best foreign players were often drafted at the age of 18), that left an astounding 24 college players drafted in the first round. I kept wondering why Jordan Farmar was still in this draft, but now I know.

Seattle set a record, drafting a 7 foot project for the third year in a row. They now have 3 (count 'em, 3) guys who are 7'0", around 240 lbs, and 20 years old. I'm no expert, but USUALLY, you might want, say, one of those, and then some other guys, maybe older guys, to also play, and maybe the younger guys could learn from the older guys. Not in Seattle. Maybe they wanted somebody else the same age and body type for Swift and Petro to drink coffee with. They're all 20! None of them can even buy beer! They're going to have to get Nick Collison to buy beer for them. That ain't good.

I don't know if JJ Redick is worth the 11th pick, but I do know that he is a can't miss pro. If you can shoot, you can play in the NBA, and he can shoot. That Orlando team could be a lot of fun next year, especially if they can convince Fran Vazquez to come over from Spain. Imagine a starting lineup of Jameer, JJ, Darko, Vazquez and Dwight Howard. It could happen. I'm all a-twitter!

Simmons already stole my Renaldo Balkman / Rolando Blackman joke. OK, it was inevitable. Interestingly, the draft has been the one area where Isiah has done OK up to this year. It's everything else that has been a disaster for the Knicks.

Phoenix was strange. I mean, I know that you just went to the Conference Finals WITHOUT Amare, so you're thinking you don't need much help. But why not draft some young Euro types and leave them playing in Europe? They trade a first round pick for cash? Cash? Are you kidding me? Having trouble paying the bills, Sarver? And then they trade this year's 21st pick for a future pick from Cleveland. Last I checked, Cleveland had LeBron James and was getting pretty good. When you trade for a future pick, don't you usually want it to be better than the one you're giving up? These things have value!

I got pretty much nothing else on the first round. You want my sleeper pick? I ain't got one. You want my pick for rookie of the year? How about Fran Vazquez!

Since this is a Clippers blog, I should say a little about their picks. I've never been a Big Ten guy, and Michigan State in particular has always irked me, at least since Magic left East Lansing. But Paul Davis at 34 seems like a pretty good pick. Of course, in the NBA of 2006, I'm not really convinced that you NEED more bigs than Chris Kaman and Elton Brand, but I guess someone could get hurt, and the Clippers don't seem convinced that Zeljko is ever going to be whole again, so I guess Davis is the insurance policy.

As for Diaz at 52, I have three words for you - THREE POINT SHOOTING. There is no guarantee the Clippers will re-sign Radmanovich, and Mobley was something of a disappointment, resulting in the Clippers being the worst shooting team from three of all the teams in all the cities less than a mile high. Diaz shot 46% 3 seasons ago, but you have to be concerned with a guy whose percentage goes DOWN in college. How about Mike Gansey or Kevin Pittsnogle? Hell, how about Mike Gansey AND Kevin Pittsnogle as an alternative to Davis and Diaz? I sure hope some shooters get invited to camp as free agents, because I really think Brand and Kaman need someone to stretch the defense. Especially as Livingston (who can't shoot) takes more and more of the minutes from Cassell (who can shoot).

Only 9 days until Summer Pro League starts!