NBA draft

Rose goes first, Riley takes Beasley after all, and the New York fans boo the Knicks' choice, as always.


King Kaufman
June 27, 2008 3:00PM (UTC)

Thirty thoughts on the NBA draft, 28.5 more than I had on the average Thursday, 2004-2007 inclusive.

1. Chicago Bulls: Derrick Rose, G, Memphis
Not a thought but a horrified reaction: Stephen A. Smith is doing the onstage interviews?!

Rose is from Chicago, and he says, "It feels great knowing I'm in his presence." Then, realizing he's not, in fact, in Jordan's presence, he says, "I'm not even near him now, but it feels great to play back at home." Jordan's a part owner of the Charlotte Bobcats.

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So, Derrick Rose. Yeah. Great player. Of course. I mean, that's what all the experts say. What, I'm going to sit here and say the guy going at No. 1 isn't great?

2. Miami Heat: Michael Beasley, F, Kansas State
Interesting. Heat honcho Pat Riley had been spreading the word all week that no way, no how was he going to take Beasley because of the one-and-done's character issues. Not that he's a bad kid, but that, as Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski put it, officials from various teams feared "Beasley is resigned to living life as the clown, the wise guy, an immature kid who’s never had boundaries in his life."

"He'll never grow up," Wojnarowski quotes a source saying. "I doubt Michael is ever going to get it."

Which is nuts. Michael Beasley is 19 years old. How can anyone look at a 19-year-old and say, "He'll never grow up." Nineteen-year-olds are years from growing up. If you'd met this column at 19, you'd never have predicted it would become the sagacious, sage, sapient, scholarly, sensible, shrewd, sophisticated, subtle soul you now know. That kid didn't even have a thesaurus.

Riley made a big show of working out O.J. Mayo and pretending he was going to draft the USC guard. But Beasley was the guy, if not to suit up as a Heat than to trade away down the line. You just don't let a player like that go because he's a goofball and didn't give the right answers when you interviewed him. Riley's smarter than that. Beasley's a monster player.

3. Minnesota Timberwolves: O.J. Mayo, G, USC
Mayo goes to Minnesota. It's the first time the first three picks have been freshmen, but it probably won't be the last if the NBA's silly age limit sticks around for a while. Mayo became a celebrity six years ago when he was putting up huge numbers as a seventh-grader in Kentucky.

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He's from West Virginia, but he went to Kentucky to play middle-school basketball. You know, just like you did.

Mayo's public image has taken a hit because of a controversy involving him taking gifts from an agent while he was at Southern Cal, in violation of NCAA rules. That'll fade, though, because there really aren't many people not in the media or involved with the NCAA who give two figs about that stuff.

Giving two figs to an NCAA player is a violation, by the way.

4. Seattle SuperSonics: Russell Westbrook, G, UCLA
Big finisher, great defender. The people of Oklahoma City are going to love this kid.

5. Memphis Grizzlies: Kevin Love, F, UCLA
Two Bruins in a row. Kevin Love looks to me like a similar but better player than Andrew Bogut, who was the top pick three years ago. Love's a great passer who can shoot, and while he's smaller than Bogut, he looked stronger and more fluid even before he slimmed down over the last few months. A guy like that is a nice pick at No. 5.

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At the end of the night, Love and Mayo will be traded for each other as part of an eight-player deal.

6. New York Knicks: Danilo Gallinari, F, Italy
Now that Isiah Thomas is gone the Knicks can finally start the rebuilding process. The draft is always held in New York these days, so it's a rare opportunity for Knicks fans to cheer. Of course, they usually end up booing. "Is the crowd ready to roar?" asks ESPN host Stuart Scott just before the pick is announced. "Or do whatever it is they're going to do?"

They boo like crazy. Most of them have never heard of Gallinari and were no-doubt hoping for a college star they know like Jerryd Bayless of Arizona, Eric Gordon of Indiana or D.J. Augustin of Texas. Fran Fraschilla, a former college coach who covers international ball for ESPN, says Gallinari's "a guy that you can build a program around. He's not going to be a superstar, but he's going to be a very, very solid player for the Knicks."

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Huh. If I'm building a program, I think I'd like to build it around a superstar, thank you very much. "I really think in time, he could become like a Derek Jeter or a Tiki Barber in this town," Fraschilla says. And those guys are ... superstars.

I've never seen Gallinari play except in highlight clips, but going just on Fraschilla's defense of him, I'd have picked Bayless.

7. Los Angeles Clippers: Eric Gordon, G, Indiana
Whew. If the Clippers had taken Bayless I'd have really doubted myself.

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That's a joke. I never doubt myself. Here's something I wrote on draft night in 2006 about the Boston Celtics: "The Rajon Rondo pick's going to look pretty silly in a couple of years."

See? No doubt. I'm an idiot.

8. Milwaukee Bucks: Joe Alexander, F, West Virginia
I like this guy. He strikes me a little bit as one of those guys who looks great in college and turns out to be an ordinary pro player, highlighting the huge gulf between the NBA and everywhere else, which we always get to around the 15th pick, when it becomes clear that the whole wide stinking world can barely spit up a dozen players a year who look like they belong in the NBA for sure. But he doesn't strike me a lot that way.

He'll evidently team up in the front court with Richard Jefferson, acquired earlier in the day in a trade with New Jersey. The Bucks, as usual, seem to be doing everything they can to aim for that eighth playoff spot.

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9. Charlotte Bobcats: D.J. Augustin, G, Texas
A terrific scoring point guard who would have been a really nice idea for the New York Knicks, and would have caused a positive uproar in the building, for once.

Does this mean the Bobcats have given up on Raymond Felton?

10. New Jersey Nets: Brook Lopez, C, Stanford
The ESPN cameras caught the 7-footer on the verge of tears after Augustin's name was announced. The drop of one pick will probably get him to the playoffs at least two years sooner.

The Nets made a trade earlier in the day, sending forward Jefferson to Milwaukee for 7-foot forward Yi Jianlian and journeyman wing Bobby Simmons. Yi was the sixth overall pick last year, and he held his own as a 20-year-old this season. The Nets are getting younger, bigger and cheaper, with an eye toward making a splash in the free-agent market two years from now, when they're ready to move to their new home in Brooklyn. That splash would answer to the name LeBron.

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11. Indiana Pacers: Jerryd Bayless, G, Arizona
The Pacers have spent the day denying that they've made a deal with Toronto that centers around Jermaine O'Neal going north for T.J. Ford and Rasho Nesterovic. If that trade is happening, which it is, the Pacers are going to have a whole bunch of point guards, because they still have Jamaal Tinsley.

However it shakes out, I think the Bayless pick is going to look pretty good in a couple of years.

Just trying to reverse the Rondo mojo there. But I do believe it. I'd have taken Bayless with the Knicks pick. He's a good one. And he's about to get traded to Portland.

12. Sacramento Kings: Jason Thompson, F, Rider
If this draft were being held in Sacramento, the fans would be booing right now. Thompson's the first senior to go off the board. Don't the Kings know that if a guy stays in college through his senior year, he can't play?

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Thompson's the first guy picked who isn't in the room.

13. Portland Trail Blazers: Brandon Rush, G, Kansas
Rush is still recovering from the knee surgery that knocked him out of last year's draft and sent him back to Kansas, where he won a national championship. We're already getting toward the end of the list of players who look like a good solid bet to do well in the NBA. And the end of the lottery.

Rush is about to get traded to Indiana.

14. Golden State Warriors: Anthony Randolph, F, LSU
The Warriors are so sure about Randolph that David Stern hits the podium more than a minute before Golden State's five-minute clock expires.

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Randolph is 6-10 and doesn't crack 200 pounds. He's a bit of a project, but he's a great athlete who can dribble and create his own shots. If the NBA doesn't squash him like a bug.

15. Phoenix Suns (from Atlanta): Robin Lopez, C, Stanford
Brook's brother. The one with the hair. Robin's more of a defender and banger than Brook. That's right. The Suns take the banger. These are not the same old Suns. Do they play Lopez and Shaquille O'Neal at the same time?

16. Philadelphia 76ers: Marreese Speights, F, Florida Speights is a good athlete with a great-looking jump shot who's been criticized for not being a gamer, for being soft. We're 16 picks into the draft, and NBA teams are betting their future on big guys who might or might not settle for a jumper when they should bang. It's just amazing that there aren't 15 players, worldwide, who look like slam-dunk locks.

17. Toronto Raptors: Roy Hibbert, C, Georgetown
The Raptors are sending this pick to Indiana in the Jermaine O'Neal deal, which the Pacers and Raptors still can't confirm for picayune bookkeeping reasons, though O'Neal says it's a done deal. The Raptors are saved the charade of making the pick and dressing Hibbert up in Raptors gear, even though everyone knows the kid's going to be playing for the Pacers, because Hibbert isn't there.

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Hibbert's going to be an ordinary NBA player at best. The Pacers had better hope all those guards do something big.

18. Washington Wizards: JaVale McGee, F, Nevada
The Portland Trail Blazers have made a trade! Ah, feels like old times. Remember a few years ago when the Blazers traded their whole roster for itself?

This time around they've landed Bayless, who has to leave his Indianapolis home after 40 wonderful minutes. Bayless goes west along with forward Ike Diogu for point guard Jarrett Jack, center Josh McRoberts and Rush, who was picked two spots after Bayless.

I like this trade for the Blazers because I like Diogu, don't think Jack or McRoberts are anything special and believe Bayless is better than Rush. Bayless and Brandon Roy could be a heck of a backcourt.

19. Cleveland Cavaliers: J.J. Hickson, F, North Carolina State
I don't have anything to say about LeBron James' new playmate so I just want to mention how much I hate this era of innovation in paper towel dispensers.

Every time I go into a public restroom, there's a new device for dispensing paper towels. Sometimes you have to pull the paper towels out of a little round hole in the bottom of a cylinder. Sometimes there's a lever to push or pull or bang on. And then there are the motion-detector dispensers, which you have to wave your wet hands in front of before they deign to let you have a few inches' worth of pulp.

What all these devices have in common is that they don't work. A nation of public restroom users is even now contorting itself in front of motion detectors in the vain hope that a little bit of paper will zitz out. It's disturbing.

Where was the demand for this? Who were the people saying, "You know, if I could have one thing it would be a new way of getting paper towels when I use a public restroom. This metal box on the wall with the slot in the bottom that feeds out paper towels, the one that's been serving humanity just fine for decades on end. It's no good. I want a new way of getting paper towels every few weeks. I want moving parts. I want electronics, dammit!"?

20. Charlotte Bobcats (from Denver): Alexis Ajinca, C, France
This is the first instance this year of the five-minute clock expiring with no sign of the commissioner at the podium. Is there really a five-minute time limit or not? Evidently not. Stern finally wanders out a minute and a quarter late.

Ajinca's a 20-year-old project who needs to put on weight, according to Fraschilla.

21. New Jersey Nets (from Dallas): Ryan Anderson, F, California
The Nets have the Mavericks' pick from the Jason Kidd trade. Anderson's a shooting and passing big man from the old alma mater, and now he gets to team up with college rival Brook Lopez.

Do the Nets have anyone over 6-9 who can legally buy a drink?

22. Orlando Magic: Courtney Lee, G, Western Kentucky
Here's another good one, from 2003: "Prediction: Nick Collison will be a better pro than Kirk Hinrich."

23. Utah Jazz: Kosta Koufos, C, Ohio State
Koufos is the ninth freshman taken in the first 23 slots. This is definitely so much better than when NBA teams had to take players directly out of high school and you didn't know anything about them. You know all about Koufos after his one season at Ohio State, right?

24. Seattle SuperSonics (from Phoenix): Serge Ibaka, F, Congo
He's only 18 and he's going to spend the next few years playing in Spain. Fraschilla says he's a great athlete.

25. Houston Rockets: Nicolas Batum, G, France
Jeff Van Gundy on the Rockets: "I like what they've done in the past year with Scola, Landry and getting Rick Adelman instead of me."

Update: The Rockets sent Batum to Portland as part of a three-way trade that got them two Memphis Grizzlies picks: Syracuse forward Donte' Green, the 28th pick, and University of Memphis forward Joey Dorsey, who went 33rd overall, the third pick of the second round. The Grizzlies got Kansas forward Darrell Arthur, the 27th pick, from Portland to complete the deal.

26. San Antonio Spurs: George Hill, G, IUPUI
Sometimes I get it right. This is from 2003 also: "18. David West, F, Xavier, New Orleans Hornets: Here's another one of those guys I think is going to be better in the pros than all the experts think."

West is playing well for New Orleans. He went right after Zarko Cabarkapa, and also after Nick Collison and Mike Sweetney. Cabarkapa and Sweetney are already out of the league. Collison's an ordinary rotation guy in Seattle. I'm not the only one who doesn't know what he's doing on draft night.

27. Portland Trail Blazers (from New Orleans): Darrell Arthur, F, Kansas
The Hornets make this pick for the Blazers, who have bought it from them. These draft-day trades have to go through league bureaucracy before they become official, which is why you have Bayless sitting there in a Pacers hat talking about how excited he is to be going to go play for the Blazers.

Arthur's been the last man sitting in the green room for about two hours, and the crowd gives a cheer when his name gets called. There are reports that he has some kind of kidney problem that has scared teams off. If his health isn't an issue -- Arthur says he's fine -- this could be a steal of a pick.

Of course Arthur has to sit around in a Hornets hat and talk about the Blazers.

Update: Arthur goes to Memphis in the three-way trade mentioned above. When last seen, he was two hats behind.

28. Memphis Grizzlies (from Los Angeles Lakers): Donte' Greene, F, Syracuse
The Griz got this pick in the Pau Gasol trade, so let's see who they take so we can really judge that baby. We have to wait while the five-minute clock is ignored again, and now here it is: Donte' Greene.

A freshman wing who'll have to develop, Greene won't make 'em forget Gasol in Memphis even if he does.

Update: Greene goes to Houston in the three-way trade mentioned above, so it's Arthur who'll go into the Gasol-trade evaluation, and Arthur looks like a better prospect, health allowing. But you also have to include the loss of Dorsey, the second-rounder, into that evaluation.

29. Detroit Pistons: D.J. White, F, Indiana
They're not even pretending to stay on the clock now. Stern comes out two minutes after the clock expires to announce the injury-prone Hoosier, who quickly gets traded to Detroit for two second-rounders.

Update: The Pistons shipped White to Seattle for the 32nd and 46th picks, with which they took forwards Walter Sharpe of Alabama-Birmingham and Trent Plaisted of BYU.

30. Boston Celtics: J.R. Giddens, G, New Mexico
It was a year ago at this time that the Celtics made one of the moves that led to their championship. They traded for Ray Allen on draft night, which seemed nuts at the time, adding an aging veteran shooter, a final piece type, to a 24-win team, but looked a lot smarter when they traded for Kevin Garnett the next month, completing a new Big Three.

It seems like a year ago that the Celtics' five-minute clock expired and still no sign of Stern. What's the point of that clock again? Almost four minutes late, Stern announces Giddens' name. He's an athlete who transferred from Kansas and had some off-the-court problems.

After the conclusion of the two-round draft, the blockbuster Love-Mayo trade is announced: The Timberwolves send the No. 3 pick, Mayo, to Memphis for the No. 5 pick, Love, in an eight-player deal. Antoine Walker, Greg Buckner and Marko Jaric also go south. Mike Miller, Brian Cardinal and Jason Collins go north.

And that'll be a good learning experience for Michael Beasley. See?


King Kaufman

King Kaufman is a senior writer for Salon. You can e-mail him at king at salon dot com. Facebook / Twitter / Tumblr

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