King Kaufman's Sports Daily

Lucky Bucks get the No. 1 pick and a chance at a big screwup, like picking Andrew Bogut. Plus: New feature. Waltonism of the night.


Salon Staff
May 25, 2005 11:00PM (UTC)

The Milwaukee Bucks got lucky in that Ping-Pong ball thing Tuesday night and will have the first pick in the NBA draft next month. Most observers believe the Bucks will take either center Andrew Bogut of Utah or small forward Marvin Williams of North Carolina.

Williams is clearly the better talent, but as of last season Bogut, a sophomore, was a more developed college player. Williams didn't even start for the NCAA champions as a freshman, though he'd have started on just about any other college team and been the star of most of them.

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Including Utah, it says here.

I'd take Williams. One could argue that a good true center is better than a very good small forward, but that's the kind of thinking that led to the Los Angeles Clippers picking Michael Olowokandi over Antawn Jamison and Vince Carter in 1998. Not that the Clippers are known for thinking about basketball.

Of course, you can also ask the Washington Wizards, who took Kwame Brown over Pau Gasol, Jason Richardson and Richard Jefferson in 2001, what going for raw upside can get you.

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It gets you Darko Milicic when you could have had Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade or Kirk Hinrich. Nikoloz Tskitishvili when you could have had Tayshaun Prince. Jonathan Bender when you could have had Rip Hamilton, Andre Miller, Shawn Marion or Ron Artest. I could go on.

Then again, going for developed game gets you Mike Dunleavy, Drew Gooden or Chris Wilcox when you could have had Amare Stoudemire. And so on.

Maybe you should try to fill a need with a top pick. But as soon as you start thinking that way, someone reminds you that the Portland Trailblazers took Sam Bowie over Michael Jordan because they already had Clyde Drexler and you break out in this cold sweat that isn't attractive on television.

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Trading that top pick is an option, but unless you make a killing, it pisses off the home fans, and you aren't likely to make a killing.

The Philadelphia 76ers traded the No. 1 to Cleveland in 1986 for Roy Hinson. Bad move. The Cavs took Brad Daugherty, who was an All-Star for them while Hinson did nothing for Philly. In 1993 the Orlando Magic traded top pick Chris Webber to Golden State for No. 3 Penny Hardaway and three future No. 1 picks. Hardaway was terrific for a few years, but Webber was always better, and none of the future picks were impact players.

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So the top pick is a roll of the dice. It's nice to have, but you have a not-insignificant chance of screwing up with it.

In the last 10 years James has been a teenaged success as the overall No. 1, Brown a flop. Dwight Howard looked pretty good as a rookie. Elton Brand, Tim Duncan and Allen Iverson have come out of college as the top pick and succeeded, Olowokandi was a bust.

College boys Kenyon Martin and Joe Smith have been in between, Martin good but not great, Smith ordinary but not bad. Yao Ming, a 22-year-old international wild card when he was drafted, has been very good.

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The third name mentioned as a possible top pick is Chris Paul of Wake Forest, thought by many to be the best of a strong crop of point guards, though I think Raymond Felton of North Carolina will end up being better. That's one of my two big predictions about this draft.

Here's the other, which you can clip and save for five years: Andrew Bogut will end up as no better than the fifth-best NBA player in this year's pool. Best-case scenario is that he's the next Vlade Divac, which would be pretty good but not worth a top-three pick. Worst case: Luc Longley.

Choose carefully, Bucks.

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Waltonism of the night [PERMALINK]

"Why are you flopping? This is the Western Conference finals!"

That was the Big Redhead's question when Shawn Marion of the Suns flopped and didn't get a call in the third minute of the first quarter of Tuesday night's Game 2 loss to the Spurs. Good question.

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The answer, of course, is that flopping usually works.

Less than a minute later, Steve Nash grazed Manu Ginobili, who went flying as though he'd been cross-checked by a gorilla. "Offensive foul, Nash," Walton scolded. "Easy play to call."

See?

Walton did say, upon seeing the replay, "Manu Ginobili: Not a lot of contact to get knocked down by little Stevie there." But he didn't make the connection to his earlier question, didn't notice that the answer was right in front of him.

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By the second quarter, Walton was praising Ginobili's "ability to flail his arms" to draw fouls.

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Walton asked another good question. "What do you think Tony Parker Sr. and Eva Longoria are talking about?"

ESPN's camera had found the San Antonio point guard's dad and girlfriend sitting together in the stands, and they weren't talking at all. They looked like they were re-creating one of Longoria's "Desperate Housewives" scenes with her character's hated mother-in-law.

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Parker Sr. looked like he was thinking that if he just ignored Longoria long enough, she'd go away. Longoria looked like she was thinking she was going to make Parker Jr. pay for something Parker Sr. had said.

"Desperate Housewives" is a pretty amusing show, but it's never had a moment as funny as that shot.

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Let's talk it over [PERMALINK]

Join me in this column's Table Talk thread Wednesday from 1 to 2 p.m. EDT to talk about whatever you want to talk about.

Previous column: Dwyane Wade vs. the Pistons

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