To start, a link back to the beginnings of my blogging life and my 2003 draft breakdown. I just reread it and it’s fun, especially my panning of Miami drafting D. Wade. I actually have a few decent observations in there. And a lot of inside stuff that makes no sense A) nine years later and B) without watching the draft.
Last night I only watched bits and pieces of the draft, so this year’s summary will have less snarky comments about suits, crying mothers, bad commercials, etc.
As I’ve documented, I paid less attention to college basketball this year than in the past.1 But I have to say I’m not impressed with this year’s draft class. I think there are a few solid players in there, but I don’t see guys that have a clear path to becoming stars. Sure, a Michael Kidd-Gilchrist could blow up, but it’s far from a sure thing with him or anyone else.
I’m even less optimistic about Anthony Davis than most. People keep throwing around the Tim Duncan comparison, but Duncan was a much better offensive player in college. I think Davis will be a defensive force, but I’m not convinced he’s going to become the cornerstone player New Orleans is hoping for. One of my NBA buddies told me I was crazy for thinking that, but I’ll throw it out there anyway so we can make fun of it in nine years.
I’ve been a fan of the Sacramento Kings twice in my life. They were my first favorite team when still playing in Kansas City. I remember watching them play on weekends before we even moved to KC, and once we arrived there, my mom snatched up any free tickets she could find to games at Kemper Arena. My favorite was a game against the Celtics in 1981. Larry Bird hit a long jumper with a couple seconds left to give the C’s the lead. After a time out, Phil Ford took the inbounds pass, one dribble, and drilled a long three to win the game. That was back when NBA players took like 20 threes a year, so it was a big deal.
I readopted them once they got good in the C-Webb years and thanks to some prodding by my boy E-bro who lived in Sacramento. But that didn’t really last.
Now I suppose I’m back on the bandwagon with the Kings taking Thomas Robinson. Thus officially ends the college career of one of the most beloved Jayhawks ever. I loved watching T-Rob grow up, learn the game, and turn into an absolute beast. At his peak, from late December to early February, he was the best player in college. He faded a bit, partially because his teammates picked up their games, and Anthony Davis blew up to take the player of the year honors, but T-Rob grew as much as any player who played at KU. And, of course, he dealt with a lot of stuff that had nothing to do with basketball. I think he’s going to be a solid NBA player, assuming Demarcus Cousins and Tyreke Evans don’t ruin him, and am very proud of what he’s accomplished.
Also very happy that Tyshawn Taylor is going home to play in Brooklyn. We all know what Ty brings to the table, both positive and negative. If he can play under control, I think he’ll be a solid rotation guy for many years.
I know John Calipari has to self-promote at all times, but I get tired of his draft night act. It’s not like he took a bunch of scrubs and turned them into one-and-doners. The expectation was that Davis, Kidd-Gilchrist, and Teague would all be gone after one year in Lexington. Yes, he coached them well and won a title. But this whole meme that he’s some kind of guru who can get you to the NBA faster than any other coach is nonsense.
Larry Bird’s goodbye gift to Pacers fans? A first round pick that is, at best, intriguing, and at worst totally insane. Miles freaking Plumlee? The two texts I got after the pick were “He was supposed to go late in the second round” from a Pacers fan and “Terrible” from an astute NBA observer. Yes, it was a weak draft and perhaps Bird looked at Plumlee as a low-risk pick. But why not take a shot at Perry Jones III or Arnett Moultrie? You’re picking 26th, it’s ok to take a flyer.
Afterward the organization kept comparing Plumlee to Jeff Foster, who retired during this past season. Foster was a freak, a longish guy with solid hops and a tireless motor who somehow stuck around in the league for a long time until his back gave out. He was kind of a white Dennis Rodman. They keep throwing around Plumlee’s size, motor, and huge hops. But if he was that freakish, wouldn’t he have dominated in college?
This pick also points to the Pacers being committed to overpaying to keep Roy Hibbert around. I’m not sure Kevin Pritchard is stepping into the best situation.
Best pick of the draft: OKC taking Perry Jones III. Maybe he’s never going to get it, but what a terrific situation to step into. No pressure, he can learn from Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. He can provide energy off the bench while he’s learning the pro game and getting bigger. And when the time comes, in another year or two, for the Thunder to move one of their second-tier players who is getting expensive, he could be ready to step right in. But only if his attitude is right and if that mysterious knee issue doesn’t get worse.
Most likely lottery bust: It would be easy to go with one of the three, flawed big men: Andre Drummond, Meyers Leonard, or John Henson. I would be surprised if any of them have significant NBA careers. Terrance Ross is another candidate, having been drafted too high and possessing a body that isn’t ready for the NBA. But I’m going to go with Dion Walters, the Syracuse guard who went #4 to Cleveland. I’m always suspicious of the guys who jump up the draft charts the way Walters did. And I’m also suspicious of Syracuse players once they get out of Jim Boeheim’s system.
Most likely star: Kidd-Gilchrist.
Most likely first rounder that, in five years, we’ll wonder why he went so low: No one jumps out at me, so I’ll go with everyone’s favorite pick, Royce White, with one caveat. Houston either needs to trade him or move some of their other 83 forwards so he has space to play.
- At least until mid-March. ↩