Friday, June 29, 2007

Draft Madness, the Day After

Nobody Drafted Me
One thing should be crystal clear after last night’s NBA draft and that is that NBA GM’s clearly do not give a flying fuck what S.O.L. says.

I’d like to go on record as saying that this is most definitely a good thing.

First things first. The Trailblazers played it safe by picking the one thing you can’t teach – size – in selecting Greg Oden at number one. From everything I read, it was a tough decision for Portland GM Kevin Pritchard who had to make the seemingly impossible choice between Oden and Kevin Durant, who Jay Bilas on ESPN called a “scoring savant” which is not only right on but a great line to boot. By the way, S.O.L. wants to give props to Bilas who far outshined the crew they had for ESPN’s NBA draft coverage.

If your panel of experts includes Steven A. Smith and Mark Jackson, it’s not like you have to do that much to stand out, but Bilas routinely provided hype-less reads on each pick. He was fun to listen to and I’m pretty sure unlike Steven A., he didn’t blow out his microphone speaker once. Meanwhile Steven A. and Dick Vitale (who made some cameo appearances from his home in Sarasota, Florida) seemed intent on having seeing who could scream the loudest. This is another historic moment in the History of Television when it’s okay to bow down a kiss the floor and praise God for the mute button.

But I digress. Durant would have been a solid pick for the Blazers but they went with the sure thing in Oden who by all accounts is the same type of character guy as Tim Duncan. The one thing Bilas did hype up was his belief that Oden will hang a championship flag in Portland. It’s a lot to put on even the very ample shoulders of a 20-year-old before he’s even played one minute of NBA basketball, but I don’t think there’s anybody around the NBA who doesn’t agree that Oden is that once a decade pick that can turn a losing franchise into a perennial title contender.

Durant ain’t half bad either. It’s true that the Sonics had the easiest pick in the draft’s history. At number two, all they had to do was sit back, wait for Portland’s selection, then pick whoever the Blazers passed up on.

Durant is an unstoppable scorer in the mold of a Kobe Bryant, although he has much better range than Kobe did at his age (18 at the moment) and not so much of what New York Times columnist Selena Roberts calls “gall” in a very biting column published this morning.

Both teams made big trades during the draft with Seattle sending Ray Allen to the Celtics for the number five pick which turned out to be Georgetown forward Jeff Green. Not sure why Seattle chose Green and not a guard but Green is a serious talent and the right coach (the Sonics don’t have one at the moment) might really make something special out of this pairing.

Meanwhile, Portland sent troubled forward Zach Randoph to the New York Knicks, who at this point appear to be willing to take anybody. The trade destroys any hope that my hometown Knicks will be under the cap through the next millennium. But heck, if Randolph and Eddy Curry can find a way to work together, the Knicks will have an extremely formidable front line. Starbury is still a serviceable point guard if not the star everyone once anointed him to be and Jamal Crawford emerged as a go-to guy before he was hurt last year. David Lee at the forward. Some hardworking energy guys off the bench. Heck, in the Easy East, the Knicks could easily be playoff bound.

I think the Celtics helped themselves in the short run and time will tell if they helped their future with second-round picks of Greg Pruitt and Glen “Big Baby” Davis. Both guys could make an impact in the NBA some day. Or they could fade into obscurity. Like I said, time will tell.

I think the Golden State Warriors got better with their trade of Jason Richardson to the Bobcats for the no. 8 pick, which was North Carolina forward Brandon Wright. Anytime you can get a lottery pick when you make a deep run into the playoffs is a great thing and this is the type of pick that could really help the Warriors in the short run. I do think they will be active in the trade market once free agent signings begin and now they have themselves $10 million to spend since they were able to dump JRich’s contract for a lottery pick who they can pay much less obviously.

I’ll have more on the draft in the coming days but I would be remiss in not grading out the L.A. Lakers draft. A lot of folks think they did okay with their two picks but I think they could have done better, which what was out there. And them not making a trade for a guy like Randolph, who apparently was available for not much (the Knicks sent overpriced Steve Francis and the underachieving Channing Frye), is just more proof how ineffective Mitch Kupchak is. There’s still Jermaine O’Neal out there for the taking – if the Lakers are willing to part with Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom in the same deal but right now they say they won’t do that.

Whatever. Kobe Bryant probably threw a chair through his plasma t.v. last night. Cause if one thing’s for sure, Black Mamba isn’t going anywhere this summer.

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