You may have noticed that I've been less of a presence around here than normal lately. There are myriad reasons for this that include, but are not limited to a new job, a neck injury that made sitting at a computer a little slice of hell, long stretches of therapy at the gym and, of course, apathy. Well, nothing can shake me out of that apathy like one of my (and TJ's) favorite "events" of the year...the NBA Draft.
I love the NBA Draft and, frankly, I like to think I'm pretty good at evaluating much of the talent in each year's Draft. Part of this comes from watching tons of college basketball. However, there is another ingredient that comes from having played thousands upon thousands of hours of basketball over the last 20 years. Just two years ago, I told you that Michael Beasely was soft (check), would eventually end up as a small forward (check) and that the player he reminded me most of was Wayman Tisdale. Look at those stats. Pretty comparable aren't they? Now, if Michael Beasley starts a second career as a music producer, we all might need to start worrying about his long term health. Now, I don't mean to come off as arrogant on this topic. I was just trying to make my point. I've certainly had plenty of misses over the years (Reece Gaines represent!) but I'm confident that my successes far outweigh my failures. Now where's my cushy professorship at the University of Hawaii?
This year's Draft promises to be unique for one (actually two) very different reason(s): The biggest free agency period in league history is a week away AND there are a number of teams shedding salary due to a terrible economic climate in the NBA that could very well lead to a lockout. What does this mean? It means that you'll see far more trades of (it's already started) significant players and picks than is standard for the NBA Draft. It also means that this Draft that is low on bankable and recognizable stars will get a shot of excitement. Hell, I'm already excited.
5 guys I Love (well, like a lot):
John Wall: Freak athlete, long arms, immediately fastest guy in the league, unselfish, better than average passer, and a chance to become an elite defender. Downside: His jumpshot isn't a jumpshot. It's basically a set shot and that shit will not fly in the NBA. That's teachable though. Nobody will be able to guard him in the open court.
Evan Turner: The draft's most versatile player and a guy who could immediately make nearly any NBA team better due to this. His jumpshot needs work but he's big, skilled and can get into the lane. He's also shown an ability to create for himself and others. Super tough. Downside: Does his fractured back have long term durability implications?
Damion James: He won't ever be a star but he'll rebound at a high rate and defend multiple positions for 10+ years. If he ever develops a 3 point shot, I could see him becoming a James Posey type. Downside: Never took the next step to be a star while at Texas.
Darrington Hobson: Kind of a poor man's Evan Turner. Super versatile, big and very skilled with the ball, carried New Mexico to a great season last year. Downside: Lacks great athleticism or else he'd be a top 10-15 pick. (I'd like to see the Magic grab him).
Avery Bradley: He had an up and down freshman year at Texas but much of that was due to the composition of a veteran laden (and very up and down) Texas team. He's not really a point or a two (then again neither is Russell Westbrook) but he's got elite athleticism and he's already a terrific perimeter defender. It's been proven that athletic guys who can create off the dribble can find a role for themselves in today's NBA. Bradley is no different. Downside: What position?
5 Guys I Don't Like:
Derrick Favors: Extremely raw, somewhat underwhelming year at Georgia Tech, did a lot of whining through his agent during the workout process.
Gordon Hayward: Sorry, I don't see it. He's
an average athlete, has no bulk and isn't a good shooter. I know that everyone says he had "an off year" shooting the ball last year but shooting 29% from 3 is what it is. And what that is, is terrible. He reportedly shot terrible in workouts as well.
Solomon Alabi: Not just because he's a Nole either. He's got all the tools but he was never, ever dominant at FSU. He's still very raw and he's soft to boot. I wouldn't go near this guy. He's got Sam Dalembert written all over him.
Hassan Whiteside: I've never seen him play but he's supposed to have serious attitude issues and not be very coachable either. He's said to have Marcus Camby like ability but that's a long way away for a guy who played at Marshall. Did I mention he played at Marshall? Yeah well, that too. His adjustment to the NBA will take a while, if he lasts long enough.
Al-Farouq Aminu: Besides being the ugliest player in the Draft, he's also a man without a position. A little too small to be a 4 and not nearly a good enough shooter or handler to be a 3. He has great long term potential if he can become proficient enough offensively to be a 3, but I have my doubts on that one.
5 Guys Who I Can't Predict at All:
Demarcus Cousins: Will he be a 20-10 guy and an eight time All-Star or will he be convicted of running a 5 state marijuana ring? Both?
Ed Davis: Everything you want in a 4, on paper. He has too show at least some level of consistency though. I want to love Ed Davis but he's not making it easy.
Greg Monroe: Super skilled with a motor that revs about as fast as TJs, and he's a very average athlete. He's somewhere between Lamar Odom and Vlade Divac in both size and skills. Will this translate at the next level or will he get dunked on constantly and become a running joke?
Wesley Johnson: I like Wes but not as the third pick in the Draft. He can't create for himself off the dribble at all. That's something I like in my small forwards. I'd love Johnson at the 7th pick but 3 is just too high for a guy with as many holes in his game as Johnson. Again, I like Johnson a lot but he's going to go too high in this Draft.
That's all bitches. See you in the comments.