Seven years ago (June 27, 2003 to be exact) I launched the first version of TBB. I kicked things off with an epic, Bill Simmons-style NBA draft breakdown. In fact, if you want to read it for old time’s sake, here it is.
For a few years it was my tradition to either keep a running diary of draft night, or do a breakdown the next day. But as we added more girls to the house and Ron Artest destroyed the Pacers and killed my interest in the NBA, I scaled back my efforts.
This year, the Mrs. was working and I spent most of the evening attempting to get our non-sleeping child to sleep. But I was able to follow along via Twitter. And I’ve read a number of post-draft articles and posts. So while this may not match the early years, I will share some draft thoughts.
I was following three things this year:
- Where the three Jayhawks would go.
- What the Pacers would do.
- If there were any blockbuster trades that would affect the LeBron sweepstakes.
So, in that order…
❖ Xavier Henry and Cole Aldrich kind of summed up what this draft was all about, after the first 3-4 players. Talented guys with holes in their games that will probably have solid, if unspectacular NBA careers. Neither will be an All Star, nor do I expect either of them be a bust.
Cole went first, to New Orleans at 11, and was then traded to Oklahoma City. Perfect. No pressure on him to do anything other than what he’s good at: rebound, swat a shot or two, and set some picks for Kevin Durant. It helps that Sam Presti is (arguably) the best GM in the league; that validates Cole’s value.
Xavier went a pick later to Memphis. Ironic, no? Remember, he had signed to play at the University of Memphis before John Calipari fled for Kentucky.1 I’m not sure if that’s karma or something else. Rumor has it Xavier looked less than enthused about playing for the Grizzlies. ESPN’s Chad Ford made a fine point on Bill Simmons’ podcast this week: players who don’t attack the basket in high school or college, despite being much bigger than the people that are guarding them, generally don’t become slashers when they get to the NBA. Xavier has a sweet shot. That’s how he’s going to make his money in the NBA. He’s going to be one of those physical studs that can play defense and crash the boards from the perimeter, but if he’s going to last for ten years, it’s going to be because he becomes a deadly outside shooter. He seems like a guy who might do well in a system like Phoenix’s. Memphis….?
And then there was Sherron. I was pulling for him, no doubt, but not surprised when he did not get drafted. I read the reports that he showed up for pre-draft workouts 10-15 pounds heavier than he should have been. I know Bill Self tried to help him, saying he had been battling some injuries, but I’ve heard that was nothing more than cover. Sherron, despite his height, can play in the NBA. But only if he can ever stay in shape. You can’t be fat and slow and expect to run an offense or get your shot off at that level. Hopefully he’ll figure things out, impress in the summer leagues, and stick with Charlotte or another team.
To be honest, I’m just thrilled the guy got his degree. Coming from his upbringing, that’s a far bigger accomplishment than getting picked in the NBA Draft.
❖ After years of playing it safe, Larry Bird got a little nutty this year. Paul George may have the biggest range of where his career could go of any player in the draft. Some have compared him to Tracy McGrady. Others think he has bust written all over him. I don’t know a thing about him, so it’s tough for me to say. Lance Stephenson in the second round was another interesting pick. So much for going the safe route, taking a guy who is certainly talented enough to play in the NBA, but had so many issues in high school that just about every major program in the country backed off of him at some point.2
Interesting picks, for sure, but I’m not sure what to make of them. If George works out, it could be brilliant and the draft that gets the Pacers out of that fighting for the last playoff spot limbo they’ve been in for three years. If he busts, that’s the end for Larry, for sure, and if there’s an investor in Kansas City or Seattle that can pay the bills, perhaps the end for the Pacers in Indy.
One thing is for sure, the pressure is on Brandon Rush. Two more perimeter players join the team and it’s time for B-Rush to decide if he wants to be a rotation player or ride the bench in the NBA.
Whatever, they still need a point guard.
❖ The only big trade was when the Bulls sent Kirk Hinrich3 to Washington, which got them the cap space to sign two max free agents. So there is a chance that when the season begins in the fall, we could see the Bulls trot out a lineup that features Derrick Rose, LeBron James, Joakim Noah, and Chris Bosh. Sick. A lot of people my age will be digging through their attics to see if any of their Bulls gear from the 90s still fits.
I suppose I’ll write more about LeBron once he makes a decision and signs somewhere, but I’m already sick of all the hype. Yeah, it’s a decision that will affect the course of the league for (perhaps) the next decade. But the wall-to-wall coverage of rumors and guesses when negotiations haven’t even begun is annoying.
So that’s it, I guess. It does kick off what should be a fascinating 18-24 months for the NBA. The LeBron sweepstakes, all the other free agent pieces, and the likely lockout a year from now as the owners and players attempt to cleanup the financial mess they’ve made for themselves. I’m hoping they just announce the lockout early so Josh Selby spends two years in Lawrence.
- Rumor has it Calipari was insufferable on draft night. I find that very difficult to believe. I’ve been kicking around a post comparing Calipari to Pete Carroll. Keep that in the back of your mind in case it actually happens. ↩
- I wonder how different KU’s season would have been with Stephenson rather than Xavier Henry. Xavier may have fit in to a fault. Might Lance’s bigger personality freed the team from Sherron’s a little, or would he have weakened them by adding another alpha dog? More importantly, would he have shit the bed against Northern Iowa or not? I’m going to my happy place now… ↩
- How about that, Hinrich was one of the important players in my first draft breakdown and here he is, seven years later, still playing a role! I did assert he was the best pick of the draft that night. ↩