Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Here & Now...

You may not think that you remember this song by Letters from Cleo, but I assure you, you do. It’s the mid/late 90’s song that is most famous for the girl singing extremely fast jibberish all throughout it’s refrain. As I was listening to it play on my radio on the way to lunch, it struck me that this song was perfect for tonight’s upcoming NBA Draft. Why? Because tonight’s draft can best be summed up by the two most recognizable lines (other than the song title, of course) in the entire song.

First, there’s the line “You’ve got much to think about” which accurately sums up each and every GMs position at this point. Unlike most drafts (even the abysmal 2000 Draft Lottery) there isn’t a single GM out there right now who possesses absolute certainty on whom they will select during this evening’s first round. The second (and even more famous line) is the aforementioned jibberish which goes something like, “yodeberebersunaneverwitadun….”. Of course, this line applies to people like us, the fans, who have no goddamned idea who their favorite teams will select this evening. Just like none of us ever knew what that chick was actually saying during the chorus. This draft is truly one of a kind…and I don’t mean that in a good way. Sure, there's some real depth in this draft and they’ll be some players who end up being steals but, the fact remains, this draft (like Duper) just isn’t sexy.

With that in mind, I set forth with my draft preview. This won’t be a mock draft or anything like that, rather my thoughts on some of the players and rumors that will meet this evening in NYC. (Disclaimer: I haven’t read any of the new mock drafts or columns as of today. Hell, I’ve got to have something left to help me waste away the remainder of the afternoon).

Biggest Moneymaker: Sadly, I’m not talking about the Mike Sweetney kind of moneymaker here. Rather, the player who has made the most money over the last month of so. Surprisingly this is a rather easy pick: Shelden Williams.

Not only has Williams apparently secured a promise at #5 from the Hawks (thank god the Hawks are around to make the Magic look mildly competent) despite being undersized and underskilled (offensively) but he’s also managed to make even more millions in the process. Not millions for himself but millions nonetheless. While both Cedric Simmons and Alexander Johnson had good years for their respective teams, does anybody actually believe that they’d have gotten the level of pre-draft hype that each of them has had they not each lit up Williams on separate occasions this spring? I don’t doubt that each of these guys were on the NBA’s radar prior to torching Williams. I just feel like killing the two time National Defensive Player of the Year has raised each of their profiles considerably. If I was Williams I’d have my agent request at least 15% of these guys’ signing bonus.

Biggest mistake: The Celtics NOT drafting Marcus Williams. It's gonna happen too, just wait. We’ve all heard the knocks on Williams. Too slow, not athletic enough defensively, questionable character and jumpshot. How about focusing on what this guy does well for a change? He’s by far the most natural PG in the draft, he’s clutch, he plays with great pace and poise.

He’s is the perfect player for the Celtics as they’re currently constructed. You’re telling me that Paul Pierce wouldn’t love playing with this guy? Williams would take a lot of the ball handling pressure off Pierce while still getting the ball to Pierce in his comfort zones. If Williams made Armstrong and Boone look good at UCONN then what could he do for the confidence of young bigs like Kendrick Perkins and Al Jefferson. Finally, Williams would allow the Celtics to move Delonte West out of the starting lineup and into the role he’s best suited for: combo guard off the bench. West would end up playing the same amount of minutes but he’d be splitting time between the point and two while getting a chance to score more against second unit guys thereby maximizing his effectiveness.

The Magic: I’ve been dreading tonight since, oh…the moment that the Magic drafted Fran Vasquez last year. The Magic don’t have what I’d called an illustrious history of draft day steals. Basically, unless a Shaquille O’Neal or Dwight Howard fall into their laps the Magic front office have no clue how to properly evaluate talent with regard to their overall needs as a team. It’s been said for quite some time that the Magic covet Brandon Roy. Well good luck because he’s not going to be available at #11. Now, unfortunately, it’s looking as if maybe neither of the Magic’s backup options (Ronnie Brewer, Rodney Carney) will be available either. I’m not sold on either of these players but I would be able to rationalize their selections based on their overall ability and the Magic’s desperate need for a shooting guard.

I don’t know who I “want” the Magic to select if those two aren’t available but I DO know who I don’t want them to select: JJ Redick. I know that he is NOT Trajan Langdon and I know that he’s going to play in the NBA for ten+ years. I also know that he isn’t the right player for the team that the Magic are currently building. If the Magic had an already established two then I’d be on board with the JJ pick as he could ably fill the role of off the bench assassin. However, the Magic don’t have any two guard (Keyon Dooling are you listening?) and I don’t need to see both JJ and Hedo Turkoglu in starting lineup in Orlando. Finally, there is one player out there who, as Jerry predicted, could send me into a fit of arson inducing rage. That player’s name is: Thabo. It’s not that I’m a racist (though I am a bit of a timesist), it’s just that I can’t possibly take the thought of the Magic drafting a raw two guard with language issues who I’d never even heard of before the beginning of June.


God, if you’re out there, you won’t do this to me.


Finally, I’d like to end this column with some comparisons and suggestions. These are players in this year’s draft who I have yet to specifically mention in this (or any other previous column) and the players that I feel they most closely resemble as an NBA player. Or, the players and teams who form the best fit for one another in this years’ draft.

Comparisons:

JJ Redick: I can’t take credit for this one as my buddy Pat mentioned it a couple of weeks ago while we were drinking and talking basketball. Of all the ridiculous comparisons that I’ve heard between JJ and any number of players, Pat’s pick rang the most true to me.

Comparison: Dell Curry

Dell was a little taller than JJ. However, their wasn’t a deadlier three point marksman around during his prime than Dell. He could drop 25 on you on any given night. If you drafted JJ mid/late first and ended up with something like Dell over the next decade, wouldn’t you be happy?

Shawne Williams: 6’8”, athletic, good shooting touch. He’s also a guy without a true position (at this point), he only played one year of college (in Conference USA) and he managed to do a whopping zero reps of 185 lbs. on the bench (Are you kidding me?). I’m sure he has a ton of upside and he may develop into a heck of an NBA 2/3 but everything about this kid just screams bust to me.

Comparison: Rodney White

Kevin Pittsnogle: He’s seven feet tall with a great jumper and a hair trigger release. He lacks great athleticism but is still far from being a stiff. He’s also an underrated passer and an improving rebounder. While he may never start on a great team, he could easily be a major player off the bench of a title contender or even a starter on a lower tier playoff team. If he grew up in Europe instead of West Virginia then he’d be going in the late first round.

Comparison: Mehmet Okur

Team/Player Fits- 1st round

Good: Alexander Johnson & NJ Nets

Johnson was under the radar at FSU due to a combination of lackluster physical conditioning and the sorry state of Seminole basketball. However, once he got a trainer and started working out regularly he quickly changed his body and impressed NBA GMs with his 40” vertical leap. While it’s always risky to draft a player who has shot up due to his pre-draft workouts, I’m going to give Johnson the benefit of the doubt here because he was stuck playing with guards for the last three years who couldn't differentiate an entry pass from a shovel pass. Plus, in NJ all Johnson has to do is run the floor, catch alley-oops and grab rebounds. He would be a starter from day one in the Meadowlands.

Bad: Guillermo Diaz & Miami Heat

Evidently Pat Riley has a man crush on Diaz that’s reminiscent of Jerry’s undying love for Quincy Douby. Let me be the first to say: I don’t get it. Diaz is an unbelievable athlete without question. Given his relative inexperience in organized basketball it stands to reason that he has much more improvement ahead of him. However, even with marked improvement I still don’t see how he fits on the Heat. He’s 6’1” and he’s an average ballhandler at best. He doesn’t see the floor all that well and will never be a combo guard on even the level of a Jason Terry. So why would you want to pair this guy in the same backcourt as Dwayne Wade? If you’re drafting a guard (or trying to trade up to draft a guard) wouldn’t you want somebody who can take some of the ballhandling pressure off of Wade? Or at least a guy who has shown that he can continually and consistently knock down threes? The Champiosnhip has made Riley drunk on power…that is my only explanation.



Clearly hammered at this point...

Good: Quincy Douby & Cleveland Cavs

I know that I’ve already talked about this but I just wanted to go on record as believing that Danny Ferry should lose his job if he passes on Douby. I don’t even want to talk about what should happen to Ferry if he passes on Douby for Daniel Gibson, who he reportedly has promised at #25.

2nd Round

Good: Renaldo Balkman & Phoenix Suns

The ultimate energy guy on the league's fastest team. Balkman could probably average double figures as a rookie in the Suns' system. He would bring toughness and rebounding to Phoenix while also adding some much needed depth. He'll never be a star but his energy and ability to finish on the break would make him an immediate impact player (and fan favorite) on Team D'Antoni.

Good: Josh Boone & Orlando Magic

Apparently Josh has a confidence problem. That's the story that Jim Calhoun is telling everybody anyway. His down year couldn't possibly be a byproduct of Josh being a lazy slug could it? While Boone lacks the motivation and desire to be a dominat NBA big man, he does have enough size, athleticism and defensive ability to be an impactful front court sub. What would be a better spot for him than Orlando, where he could come off the bench for a franchise with traditionally low expectations. The fans' focus would be on the continued development of Dwight and Darko which would allow Boone to develop at his own pace. Furthermore, the small market of Orlando and his role off the bench would keep expectations low for Boone so that he could continue to grow as a player without shattering his confidence by playing against the likes of Duncan, Garnett, and Nowitzki for 30 minutes a night. Is this just wishful thinking on my part? Probably.

Oh yeah, my pick for most ridiculous suit of the night goes to...Cedric Simmons. Just makes sense, doesn't it?

25 comments:

Jerry said...

Thabo is BLACK. Shows what we know. He has that Swiss/South African flavor. T-H-A-B-O

Jerry said...

0 for 1. Cedric is dressed like Geoff.

Greg said...

I missed most of the draft. I went to a Toto concert.

TJ said...

The Magic PR guys better grab all the R Kelly CDs they can...

Mark said...

Taht would be great if some teams'in-game sound guy played Chapelle's "Piss on You" when Redick came to the line on the road.

Toto? Really? What's with you and all these 80's concerts lately? Do you have a season pass or something? I'm not mocking (God knows I love the 80s), just curious. At least you didn't ahve to hear Screamin' A. give his (completely) uninformed opinion on every single player in his normal defiantly correct manner. It's alwasy annoying. It's far more awful when you're certain that he has zero idea of what he speaks.

Greg said...

The picture says "Letters to Cleo", but right next to it, you say it's called "Letters FROM Cleo".

And no, I don't remember that song. Maybe if I heard it, it would refresh my memory.

Greg said...

They're playing down here in Richmond (where I live & work during the week) for $10 a show.

Foreigner is coming next month.

TJ said...

Whoa...slow down...when exactly is Foreigner in town, cause I'm hot blooded, check it and see, I've got a fever of a 103...

Mark said...

Nice work TJ...AWL.

Mark said...

Greg,

The song's really not that memorable unless you hear it. Had someone tried to describe it to me yesterday I can't say that I'd have picked up. Once you hear it, you'd know exactly of what I speak.

TJ said...

Mark, don't tease me, you know you're cold as ice, you're willing to sacrifice our blogs...

In fact, you never take advice, someday you'll pay the price, I know...

Greg said...

TJ,
I've seen it before, it happens all the time.

TJ said...

Greg, you're closing the door, leave the world behind...

You're digging for gold, yet throwing away, a fortune in feelings, BUT SOMEDAY YOU'LL PAY...

CFunk28 said...

Is it bad that the most memorable part of the draft for me was the reinforcement of how much I hate ESPN analysts? Greg Anthony actually made the comment that its rare to find a starter w/ the 25th pick after the Cavs took Shannon Brown. Really, and where is Mr. Brown going to start. Ahead of LeBron or Larry Hughes? Last time I checked Eric Snow is still our starting PG and w/ Farmar still on the board (not to mention Dee Brown in the 2nd round when we took Daniel Gibson)I was a little irritated to say the least.

Greg said...

COLD (cold) AS (as) ICE (ice) You know your are: COLD (cold) AS (as) ICE (ice) Cold as Ice to me...

Mark said...

You watching this Germany game Greg?

Greg said...

I DVR'd the Germany game and watched it at home. The problem with DVR is that it records the game and stops, so I totally missed the OT and the PKs.

Mark said...

Yeah, that sucks. Whenever I DVR a game I always make sure to DVR the program thats on afterwards as well. That way you catch an overrun that normally comes with sporting events.

Greg said...

I learned that lesson. The hard way.

TJ said...

You know what else sucks...having to work today. A real thorn in my balls.

Greg said...

How about some draft analysis? Hmmmmmm? Maybe some World Cup reaction? Mmmmmm? Maybe?

TJ said...

France is gay. How's that?

Mark said...

Is this what you do "Greg"? Jump on the comments section of peoples' blogs when you're bored and looking to be unproductive at work? That sort of behavior will get you nowhere...fast. Seriously though, I'll try and get some post Independence Day wrapup together tomorrow.

Greg said...

I don't care if it gets me nowhere, as long as it's fast.


ahhhh fuck it. I want France to beat Italy.

Mark said...

I'm pulling for France too. As much as I hate the French, I really, realy enjoy watching Zidane and Henry play. It doesn't hurt that all the "italians" who root for Italy once every four years annoy the ever living shit out of me.