A few thoughts from the NBA Draft, my favorite draft of the year, for reasons you can find here.
I’ll be checking in every so often throughout the draft, happy in knowing that this will be a Tar Heel-free draft tonight. This is already a good day, even if you take away the impending doom Michael Jordan is about to lay onto the Charlotte Bobcats franchise.
7:30 p.m. Here comes David Stern, who instead of saying this has been one of the most trying NBA seasons ever, that it’s been one of the most exciting. Glass half full there.
7:37 p.m. So the Bulls surprise no one and take Derrick Rose, the point guard from Memphis, with the top pick. I love how everyone is already comparing Rose to Jason Kidd. I think Rose is going to be pretty good, too, but Kidd? A triple-double machine? I don’t think so. He’s 6-foot-2, not 6-5. How come nobody talks about that?
Still, this is the right pick. Which brings us to…
The Miami Heat at No. 2, who, according to everybody in the world, is shopping the pick because team president Pat Riley doesn’t like Michael Beasley, the 6-8 forward from Kansas State.
Personally, I think the fervor of the last two weeks is a smokescreen to try to drive up the price for the second pick. Riles probably isn’t crazy about Beasley, so if he can get something to wow him, he’d do it. But I think it’s all overblown. We’ll find out soon enough.
7:42 p.m. And the Heat do select Beasley. Kevin McHale is weeping openly.
7:43 p.m. Analyst Jay Bilas says “wingspan” for the first time tonight.
7:49 p.m. The Minnesota Timberwolves select USC guard O.J. Mayo with the third pick. I love this pick for Minny because I think he’s most the NBA-ready player.
Throw away all the YouTube clips. He plays team basketball, he plays defense, he has a nice mid-range game to go with his jumper and he will actually play defense (did I mention that?), which is something that Beasley doesn’t do. (I think there’s at least a chance Beasley becomes Glenn Robinson.) The T’Wolves’ backcourt is undersized with Mayo and Rashad McCants, but it’s explosive, too. And after the year Minny had, at least this team might be worth spending money to watch.
NOTE: The T’Wolves, near 1 a.m. look like they’ll be trading Mayo and others to the Grizzlies for Love, Mike Miller and others.
7:54 p.m. The Oklahoma City SuperSonics take UCLA guard Russell Westbrook with the fourth pick. Westbrook has been the biggest mover since guys started declaring for the draft. When a guy is a “late-bloomer,” isn’t there a chance he could be the next Antonio Daniels?
8:01 p.m. The Memphis Grizzlies select Rope Beard, aka Kevin Love, with the fifth pick. I don’t think Love’s NBA numbers will reveal just how valuable a player he will be. Good pick for this team. See above note.
8:04 p.m. Knicks fans are getting ready to boo.
8:06 p.m. Danilo Gallinari is the pick at No. 6. Knicks’ fans hate it because he’s an international player, but he doesn’t play like one. He’s not soft like Pau Gasol and is young and a versatile scorer. I like this pick as well.
8:07 p.m. We learn that “gallo” means “the rooster”, and that Reebok already has a shoe called “The Rooster”. Um, I’m liking him a little less now.
8:08 p.m. Stephen A. Smith asks two different questions that get the same answer from Gallinari. “I like to win and play hard.” Not a good start to the young man’s career. He might get eaten alive in New York.
8:12 p.m. The Clippers take Eric Gordon, the guard from Indiana. Of course. Need a short (6-3) shooting guard who shot 33 percent from NCAA 3-point range and folded down the stretch? Eric Gordon’s your man. Oh, and he can’t dribble. Just put “Bust” on the back of his jersey.
8:14 p.m. Gordon does have this going for him — he’s won the Worst Suit Award for the night with his white and navy blue two-tone thing. Eccchhhhh.
8:18 p.m. The Milwaukee Bucks take Joe Alexander, the forward from West Virginia, with the eighth pick. Everybody’s saying Alexander’s a “freak of an athlete” (in fact, Bilas just did). I think he’s a wait-and-see guy. Maybe he’s Dirk Nowitzki. Or maybe he’s Mike Dunleavy Jr.
8:19 p.m. The Charlotte Bobcats are on the clock! How will Jordan screw this one up?
8:25 p.m. And MJ lives up to the billing. Texas point guard D.J. Augustin is the selection, all 6-feet, 172-pounds of him. Didn’t the Bobcats already have this guy in Brevin Knight? Or Raymond Felton? And wouldn’t Jacque Vaughn or Mateen Cleaves been cheaper?
Indiana president Larry Bird just did a blackfip as well. Arizona’s Jerryd Bayless is about to fall to the Pacers at 11.
ESPN’s Chad Ford writes that “Augustin has a chance to be special.” Good, but Ford said the same thing about Darko Milicic.
8:30 p.m. The New Jersey Nets, who traded Richard Jefferson to the Bucks for Yi and Bobby Simmons, take Stanford center Brook Lopez at 10. Bilas is in love with him, probably because Lopez looks like he should’ve been playing for Duke.
Bilas: “He plays mean.”
And, “The one knock on him — he’s not very athletic.”
8:35 p.m. The Pacers passed Stern the note before he left after the Nets’ pick. It’s Bayless, and Jamaal Tinsley’s days are numbered.
Of course, Tinsley’s days are numbered every time he goes into a nightclub. Good pick for the Pacers.
8:40 p.m. The Sacramento Kings take 6-11, 250-pound forward Jason Thompson from Rider. Feel free to comment on this one. Even I don’t know much about this guy.
8:44 p.m. Ford is reporting that the Pacers may be sending Bayless to Portland for the 13th pick and Jarrett Jack. I don’t know about that one.
8:47 p.m. The Blazers take 6-7 Kansas guard Brandon Rush at 13. Don’t the Pacers already have him in Danny Granger? I like Rush in Portland, which is really building something with Brandon Roy (OK, so maybe Portland already has Rush as well), Greg Oden and LaMarcus Aldridge.
8:51 p.m. The Golden State Warriors take LSU big Anthony Randolph, who barely weighs more than me (6-10, 197 pounds — him, not me). An upside pick here, but an athletic one. He’ll fit in well in Nellie’s system. But that does give the Warriors two Brandan Wrights.
8:52 p.m. From Ford: “The Blazers will send the rights to Rush and Jarrett Jack to the Pacers for the rights to Bayless and Ike Diogu. I think this is a great pick for the Pacers. Rush should be a great fit in the backcourt with T.J. Ford because he defends, shoots the ball and has great size in the backcourt. Rush is one of the most NBA-ready players in the draft.”
There you go.
8:57 p.m. The Phoenix Suns take the other Lopez, Robin, at 15. Isn’t this a little high for him? And the days of the Suns running and gunning are gone, officially. But they did need some interior defense, and Lopez does that.
9:04 p.m. The Philadelphia 76ers select Florida big man Marreese Speights. Kind of a project guy, right?
9:08 p.m. All eight Bobcats fans can relax a little now. The Toronto Raptors just took Georgetown center Roy Hibbert, all 7-feet-2-inches, 275 pounds and six points against Davidson of him, with the 17th pick.
I guess Rafael Arajuo wasn’t working out.
9:10 p.m. My bad. The Hibbert pick is going to Indiana in the Jermaine O’Neal trade, right?
The Pacers have been looking for an answer for the Rik Smits era for a while now.
9:14 p.m. At No. 18, the Washington Wizards select JaVale McGee, the 7-footer from Nevada. He’s the one who was supposed to have been killing himself in draft workouts. Are we sure MJ didn’t return to D.C.?
9:18 p.m. The Cleveland Cavailers take N.C. State freshman J.J. Hickson at No. 19, killing MJ’s plan for another ACC underachiever on his roster.
Here’s what I had written here before the pick: Ohio State center Kosta Koufos at No. 19, the same Kosta Koufos who found Tyler Hansbrough to be too athletic for him. At least the Cavaliers can still use that “he’s a hometown guy” for Ohio-born Koufos when LeBron bolts for Jersey, err, Brooklyn.
That means the Bobcats are gonna take Koufos, aren’t they?
9:26 p.m. Yup, it’s Koufus. Oh wait, no, it’s Alexis Ajinca, the 7-1 center from France. Didn’t the Bobs once have this guy, only his name was Primo Brezec?
Why would any NBA team want a soft international big after watching Gasol wither in the Finals this year? Why? Why? Why?
Sell those season tickets, boys.
9:31 p.m. The Nets are on the clock again with the 21st pick. Does anybody else realize right now that, with Jefferson gone, Vince Carter is the team’s go-to guy?
9:33 p.m. New Jersey just took Ryan Anderson, a 6-10 forward from the basketball factory of Cal.
9:34 p.m. So, to recap, the Nets, in one day, have gone with Brook Lopez, Yi and a shooting 6-10 dude from Cal. With VC on the roster.
Gee, no team is going to try to be physical with these guys.
9:36 p.m. This just in — Ajinca averaged a whopping 5 points per game in France? Five?! FIVE?! The Bobcats just took Frederic Weis, but with a pick they traded away a future first-rounder for. Even Isiah’s Knicks weren’t this stupid.
Can they just fire MJ now? Please?
9:38 p.m. Just to rub even more salt into the wound of J.J. Redick’s ego, the Magic take another shooting guard, Western Kentucky’s Courtney Lee.
9:42 p.m. Utah, at 23, takes Koufus. He’ll fit in well there — and he may help the basketball team, too.
9:44 p.m. From Ford again: “In the history of the NBA Draft, has there ever been a player that averaged 5 ppg or less who turned into a decent player?”
Let’s ask His Airheadedness that.
9:49 p.m. Serge Ibaka from the Congo goes to Oklahoma City at 24. We may hear from him in three years. Or we may not.
9:50 p.m. Stu Scott on Ibaka: “His mother and father were basketball players.”
Yeah, from the Congo. My dad was a basketball player from MInnesota. In high school.
9:51 p.m. Kansas’ Darrell Arthur is still sitting in the green room. Maybe now he wishes he would’ve played hard every time out.
9:53 p.m. My buddy Fisher is a lot funnier than I’ll ever be. Check out the comments.
9:56 p.m. Houston. 25th pick. Nicolas Batum. OK.
He averaged 8.5 ppg for France. Too many for MJ.
10:01 p.m. The Spurs just took George Hill from IUPUI with the 26th pick. I think the Spurs thought “IUPUI” was a foreign country and that they could stash Hill away for two years before bringing him over to win another eight titles.
10:05 p.m. Apparently Arthur has a kidney issue, which is keeping teams from drafting him.
Funny, Alexis Ajinca has a scoring issue, but he got drafted.
10:08 p.m. New Orleans is drafting for Portland here, and selects Arthur. This is a good fit for both. Arthur has a chip on his shoulder to go with his kidney, he doesn’t have to be The Man on what is an emerging team, which fits his personality. And if he’s a bust, they’re covered. Look out for the Blazers.
Hey, um, a good question was raised by my buddy Neil. We’ve been told that Arthur’s mother quit her job as a truck driver to follow all of her son’s games at Kansas. Um, either I need to quit my job and go to truck-driving school tonight, or something funny is going on here. Maybe the NCAA ought to look into Kansas when it’s done with Indiana and USC.
10:11 p.m. Where’s Erin Andrews?
10:15 p.m. Memphis takes Donte Greene from Syracuse in a pick they got from the Lakers in the Gasol trade. Who will they be gift-wrapping him to next year?
10:17 p.m. I just found a bench-worn Redick jersey on eBay.
10:19 p.m. The Pistons have to trade Rasheed Wallace now, right? And they could draft DeAndre Jordan. That makes sense, right?
10:22 p.m. The Pistons take D.J. White instead. OK, a bigger Jared Jeffries. Yawn.
10:24 p.m. Has Mark Jackson not liked a pick yet? He’s too worried about potentially miffing a GM who could hire him next year as a head coach.
10:29 p.m. From Ford: “Detroit is selecting White for the Seattle Supersonics, a Pistons source told me. The Pistons will get two of the Sonics’ second-rounders — the 32nd and 46th picks. This is a very solid pick for the Sonics. White is a excellent rebounder and a good low post scorer. He’s also young for a senior. He helps the Sonics get tougher up front.”
10:31 p.m. The Celtics take Some Guy with the 30th pick.
OK, there’s the first round. The second round is looming, but since the Bobcats already took a second-rounder in the first round, there’s really nothing to look forward to. Looks like Mario Chalmers, Chris Douglas-Roberts and DeAndre Jordan made the wrong choices, though.