2011 Draft (Part 1)

Because I fell so far behind in my blogging (due to a 3 week hiatus that included a trip to Montana, lots of pizza and an ungodly amount of AoE), I have yet to give my two-cents worth on the NBA draft.  So here goes:

First, let me give those of you who don’t really follow basketball (hi mom!) an idea of what happened, before delving into the mind-numbing and excruciatingly irrelevant details.  So, as I mentioned in my draft lottery preview, the draft lottery is a crap-shoot to set the order of the draft. Technically, the odds are supposed to favor the weakest team (this is more than a technicality – the odds actually do favor the weakest team), but what often happens is that the lottery, like all other games of chance, take odd, probability defying turns.  Anyway, here’s how the draft order looked going into draft day:

1) Cleveland

2) Minnesota

3) Utah(r)

4) Cleveland (again, yes.  This was their “actual” pick; the #1 pick was from a trade earlier in the season from the hapless Clippers)

5) Toronto

6) Washington

7) Sacramento

8 ) Detroit

9) Charlotte

10) Milwakee

11) Golden State

12) Utah (This is Utah’s real pick.  The #3 one is from New Jersey as part of the Deron Williams trade)

and I don’t care about the rest.  And since this is my blog, I can do that.  You can definitely find a complete draft recap online somewhere, so I’ll skip that.  Instead, I’ll tell you what I think about the draft.

With the first pick, the in the NBA draft, Cleveland selected Kyrie Irving (PG; Duke).  I only saw Irving play a couple games during the tournament, because I don’t generally follow the college game during the regular season and because Irving only played something like 8 games due to an injury.  Honestly, I’m really torn as to what I think about Irving.  Some of what I saw was very impressive with Irving dicing through defenses showing terrific speed, quickness and scoring ability.  However, here’s why I don’t like the pick for Cleveland: by draft day, it was pretty obvious that the first 3 picks would be Irving, Derrick Williams (PF; Arizona) and Enes Kanter (C; Turkey-ish), which would leave Cleveland at the 4 spot with the “best available player” being another PG in Brandon Knight (PG; KU).  So essentially I thought this pick was fine… but because you have to think big-picture, it didn’t work out as well as it could have.

With the second pick, Minnesota drafted Williams, which was the only player you really could take at the 2 spot, since it was beyond obvious that Williams and Irving were the best players in the draft (or so the stat/draft-heads kept saying).  So now the T-wolves have 3 PFs with no defensive ability and all of whom are too small to play center.  Congrats, but this team, with all its youth and energy, is just too much of a mess of players.  I am very thankful that I don’t have to try to solve the personnel issues on this team.

With the third pick, the Utah Jazz selected Enes Kanter.  I wish I knew what to think about this pick.  After agonizing over this pick for about 2 weeks (yeah, I know I have no input on the actual draft, but I have to have an opinion so I can play the “I-told-you-so” card if I’m right later), I settled on Kanter as being the right pick at #3.  He’s decently big (6’11”-ish) and even though he hadn’t played college ball (or, evidently any competitive basketball) the past year, looked very good in the couple significant games he had played recently.  Furthermore, KU (for whom Kanter was supposed to play in college) thought very, very highly of him, which is always a good sign.  I thought, then, that this was a great pick for the Jazz even though they have a glut of PF/C in Milsap, Jefferson, Okur, and Favors (not to mention Fesenko and Evans).  I think it was especially a good pick due to the glut of guards (both 1’s and 2’s) near their second pick.

With the 4th pick, Cleveland selected Tristan Thompson (PF; Texas) and I raised the “bust-alert” level to red.  Okay, that’s a little unfair since I’ve never seen Thompson play a single game, but this pick does have everything that I look for in a bust: a reach of a pick (all the draft-sperts agreed), he has zero offensive skills (otherwise stated as having tons of “potential”), hyper-athletic (which often blinds scouts to reality) and has no natural position (combo-guards, “tweeners,” point-forwards – none have really had much NBA luck).  This is what Grantland.com said about him before the draft, “it’s not clear exactly what he’ll be at the next level. At 6-foot-8, he’s not quite tall enough to play exclusively in the post, and although he showed flashes of a jump shot last year, he needs to develop a face-up game to keep defenders honest. Otherwise, he risks being swallowed up by bigger, stronger guys in the post.”  Sorry Cavs fans – that’s not what you want to hear.

Here’s another pick I didn’t like.  At number 5, Tornonto chose Jonas Valanciunas (C; Lithuania).  I watched about 5 minutes of highlights on the big V and was convinced this was a terrible pick.  First of all, he’s a center; Toronto already has a center.  They spent the 1st overall pick on said center just 3 (or 4) years ago.  Secondly, this center’s highlight film is a layup drill.  He’s supposedly 7 feet with great touch, which is fine if you’re Dirk Nowitzki, but when you have an entire highlight video of layups over guys 4-5 inches shorter (and you’re not dunking it consistently at that height), I’m terrified.  Finally, the guy was supposed to have great footwork (or some similar garbage scouts make up to make their prospect sound better), but the guy seemed clumsy and depressingly average for a 7-footer.  Oh, and I forgot, he can’t come to the NBA for at least a year, because his team is run by the mafia or some nonsense like that.  Toronto will regret this pick – a lot.

Anyway, I’ve decided in the spirit of keeping things “short,” I’ll break this bad boy into two parts.  So here’s looking forward to part 2 of my dismal draft report.

Yours Truly,

Basketblogger

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  1. July 5th, 2011
  2. July 5th, 2011

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