One thought for each pick in Tuesday night’s NBA draft, which adds up to 29 more thoughts than I have on a normal Tuesday night.
Listen to Mike Tirico on ESPN. Really. I never say this. Listen to Mike Tirico. He just pointed out that the last time a team had the No. 1 overall pick and no coach on draft night, which is the situation you’re in, it was the Clippers, and they picked Michael Olowokandi.
You remember Michael Olowokandi, don’t you? Center. People were talking about him all that previous season as a surefire No. 1? Well, not everyone. Not me. I said don’t take him. The Clippers took him.
He was a stiff. He was a robo-stiff. In Latin he would be called “stiffia majora.” If he were a president he would be Stiffraham Lincoln.
Don’t take Andrew Bogut. You’ll be sorry. You won’t be as sorry as the Clippers were but it’s hard to be as sorry as the Clippers. Bogut will probably be fine. He’ll score some, make some nice passes. He’ll get worked on the defensive end. He’s no overall No. 1.
Oh. They took him. Milwaukee Bucks: Andrew Bogut, C, Utah.
Six years isn’t that long, really, but it’s long enough so that the next time the Hawks are even decent, flirting with .500, it’s going to seem weird.
Someday in the not-too-distant future, Bucks fans aren’t going to want to talk about this draft.
Dick Vitale just got done saying the Hawks will regret not taking Chris Paul of Wake Forest rather than Marvin Williams. I presume he thinks the same about the Jazz, since Deron Williams plays Paul’s position. The Hawks need a point guard, but Williams vs. Paul is kind of a toss-up. Either one could end up being better. They’re both very good. But I think Vitale’s wrong about Paul vs. Marvin Williams.
4. New Orleans Hornets: Chris Paul, G, Wake Forest:
I wonder where Paul and the Hornets will be playing in a few years.
5. Charlotte Bobcats: Raymond Felton, G, North Carolina:
Wow. Felton jumps way up because the Bobcats need a point guard and Williams and Paul are gone. I’m a fan of Felton’s. I think he’s going to be a good player someday.
I don’t know, though. The Bobcats need so much. It’s not like they’re going to be contending for a title right away. Point guards are out there. I think I’d have looked for some front-court help for Emeka Okafor rather than reaching for Felton. On the other hand, he’s a North Carolina kid who led the Tar Heels to the NCAA title, so he’ll sell some tickets.
I have a hunch Felton’s going to take a while to find his NBA game.
6. Portland Trail Blazers (from Utah): Martell Webster, G, high school
It’s a whole new era here, isn’t it? Five straight college boys at the top of the draft before the first high schooler goes.
Of course, the new 19-year-old minimum age, which doesn’t go into effect until next year, will be remembered as the thing that got NBA teams to stop drafting high school kids so high.
Whoa, Grandma’s wearing a crazy church hat. It looks like a chef’s hat that’s melting.
7. Toronto Raptors: Charlie Villanueva, F, Connecticut
Another guy moving way up from his spot in all those mock drafts. The talking heads on ESPN are just beside themselves with how shocking this pick is, given the players still on the board. “Sean May! Are you kidding me?” says Vitale.
Villanueva has size and athletic ability, but didn’t dominate in college the way you’d think he ought to have done. The book on Villanueva is he doesn’t work hard enough. I suppose that could change.
8. New York Knicks: Channing Frye, C, Arizona
Another college kid, seven out of eight. Good thing they have that minimum age now.
The draft is once again being held in New York City, boringly, though that does mean we get to be entertained by the annual ritual of Knicks fans booing their team’s pick. Relatively speaking, Frye seems to be pretty popular.
Frye also didn’t dominate in college the way he should have. He’ll go to the Knicks and, you know, lose.
9. Golden State Warriors: Ike Diogu, F, Arizona State
Diogu’s stock has been rising lately, but the Warriors really seemed to reach here. I don’t think Diogu is big enough to take his in-the-paint game to the NBA. He’ll be a role player, a rebounder off the bench, another Warriors pick who didn’t perform up to his spot in the draft.
10. Los Angeles Lakers: Andrew Bynum, C, high school
A 7-foot high schooler from New Jersey. Bynum’s not even 18 yet. Mr. Bynum, meet the 12th chair on the Lakers bench, where you’ll be for the next few years.
11. Orlando Magic: Fran Vazquez, F, Spain
The good thing about having Stuart Scott do this gig is that the players he’s interviewing aren’t huge stars yet, so the jock-sniffing is kept to a minimum. All the better when there’s a translator involved.
12. Los Angeles Clippers: Yaroslav Korolev, C, Russia
I don’t know anything about this 18-year-old, and I know this already: He’s a better pick than Michael Olowokandi was.
13. Charlotte Bobcats: Sean May, F, North Carolina
Very interesting. I guess the Bobcats can’t resist May as long as he’s still available at No. 13. He’s got an NBA-ready body, big-game experience and enough skills and smarts to be a solid player in the league. Maybe more important, he’s another Tar Heel for Charlotte.
I think I’d have gone with either Hakim Warrick or Danny Granger here, but I don’t have to sell tickets.
14. Minnesota Timberwolves: Rashad McCants, G, North Carolina
The 14th pick is the last lottery pick, and four of them are members of this year’s NCAA champion North Carolina team.
Why was David Stern still standing at the podium when McCants got to the stage? McCants had to tap him on the shoulder. Yo, commish.
Where’s Gerald Green?
15. New Jersey Nets: Antoine Wright, G, Texas A&M
Big-time scorer, a small forward who was pretty much the whole show at A&M.
16. Toronto Raptors (from Philadelphia via Denver, New Jersey): Joey Graham, F, Oklahoma State
Graham’s not in the hall? An athletic star on a very visible college team for the last few years. I’d have invited him.
17. Indiana Pacers: Danny Granger, F, New Mexico
Dick Vitale line of the night: “I know one guy that knows talent, and that’s Larry Bird and Donnie Walsh at Indiana.”
18. Boston Celtics: Gerald Green, F, high school
Not quite a LeBron James white suit. Light gray. The suits haven’t been very interesting. Green was a top 10 pick in a lot of mock drafts.
19. Memphis Grizzles: Hakim Warrick, F, Syracuse
I think Warrick’s going to be a very good pro player. I was afraid the Warriors were going to pick him, which would have meant I was wrong, he’s not going to be a good pro player. Now I’m hoping the Grizzlies pick him, which means Jerry West thinks he’s going to be a good pro player.
20. Denver Nuggets (from Washington via Orlando): Julius Hodge, G, North Carolina State
Ooh, really almost a white suit. Damn, this show is missing Charles Barkley.
21. Phoenix Suns (from Chicago): Nate Robinson, G, Washington
Makes sense. These guys need a point guard bad. The rumor is Robinson will be traded to the Knicks with Quentin Richardson for Kurt Thomas. Too bad. A Robinson-Steve Nash backcourt would be fun, and you know Suns coach Mike D’Antoni would put them both in there at the same time at least a little bit, just ’cause he’d want to see it.
22. Denver Nuggets: Jarrett Jack, G, Georgia Tech
This guy’s better than a 22 pick, I think, but ESPN’s reporting that the Nuggets might flip him for a pair of later picks. (This later happens.)
23: Sacramento Kings: Francisco Garcia, G, Louisville
Garcia can play if he doesn’t get beat up. He’s Brent Barry, more or less.
24. Houston Rockets: Luther Head, G, Illinois
For much of their time together in the Illinois backcourt, Head, not Deron Williams, was considered by many to be the better pro prospect. I never understood that. I don’t see Head doing a lot in the NBA.
25. Seattle Sonics: Johan Petro, C, France
Gosh, European basketball is ugly. Between the uniforms and the trapezoidal key, it’s just an eyesore.
Petro is the third player to walk onstage and shake hands with Stern since ESPN made a big deal of Warrick being the last player in the room. Warrick was just the last invited player. Others made their own way there. The non-invited players don’t get to sit down with Stuart Scott. No great loss there.
26. Detroit Pistons: Jason Maxiell, F, Cincinnati
If I’m the Pistons, I take Salim Stoudamire here. The Pistons could use a backcourt shooter coming off the bench. I was never terribly impressed with Maxiell at Cincinnati. I know he fits the Pistons’ tough, overachieving M.O., but I don’t have a good feeling about this pick.
27. Portland Trail Blazers (from Dallas via Utah): Linas Kleiza, F, Missouri
It never ceases to amaze me how, with all of the basketball being played, high school and college ball, international ball, the world cannot annually spit out 30 players who are obviously ready for the NBA. That’s how good the NBA is.
We’re at the 27th pick, and we’re already at total hit-or-miss guys and have been for a while.
The Blazers trade Kleiza and second-round choice Ricky Sanchez to Denver for Jarrett Jack.
28. San Antonio Spurs: Ian Mahinmi, F, France
At this point in the draft, you’re just trying to get lucky, to find a surprise, a Tony Parker or even a Beno Udrih. The Spurs, clearly, are very good at this sort of thing.
I don’t want to doubt San Antonio’s ability to find international gems — Manu Ginobili with the 57th pick, anyone? — but who the heck is Ian Mahinmi? Where’s Wayne Simien?
29. Miami Heat: Wayne Simien, F, Kansas
Oh, there he is. If he can stay healthy, which has been a big if for him, he should be able to help right away.
30. New York Knicks (from Phoenix via San Antonio): David Lee, F, Florida
That’s more like it. Knicks fans are booing lustily.
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