Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Draft night

So the Draft Night finally arrived.

Little suspance for who would be picked at number one and two, as it was known for months already. But a lot of curiosity for everything else: will finally the Hawks select a PG? where will the Chinese forward Yi Jianlian end up? who will select Italian guard Belinelli? who will be the number 3 selection? what kind of deals will be consumed on draft night, which superstars will change team?

So here we are, with some of the answers, but first the picks of the lottery:

1. Portland - Greg Oden, C, 7-0
2. Seattle - Kevin Durant, SF, 6-10
3. Atlanta - Al Horford, PF, 6-10
4. Memphis - Mike Conley, PG, 6-1
5. Boston - Jeff Green, SF, 6-10 (traded to Seattle)
6. Milwaukee - Yi Jianlian, PF, 7-0
7. Minnesota - Corey Brewer, SG, 6-8
8. Charlotte - Brandan Wright, PF, 6-10 (traded to Golden State)
9. Chicago - Joakim Noah, PF, 7-0
10. Sacramento - Spencer Hawes, C, 7-1
11. Atlanta - Acie Law, PG, 6-4
12. Philadelphia - Thaddeus Young, SF, 6-8
13. New Orleans - Julian Wright, SF, 6-9
14. LA Clippers - Al Thornton, SF, 6-7

Let's see:
at number one Portland, OBVIOUSLY, selected Oden. He will be the franchise center for the next 12 years. Having Oden, Aldridge, Roy and a bunch of young guards, plus having traded away Randolph (who would have taken space away from Oden) for Frye makes this team a possible contender few years down the line, and a lot of fun to watch.

at number two, Seattle picked Durant. Also obvious. Probably the most entertaining, best scorer of the draft. Trading away Allen to Boston for number 5 pick Green is a good move for the future. Allen is a star, but he has bum knees and ankles, and an overinflated salary. With Durant and Green the foundations for the next decade are set, although I'd like to see where Rashard Lewis fits into this, being as well a 6-10 forward, just as Durant and Green are. Is it a sign and trade waiting to happen to bring a center or a star PG to Seattle?

at number three, Atlanta selected Al Horford. Unanimously the 3rd best player, no surprises here. Just interesting to see who Atlanta will try to move, as they are fully packed at the wing with Al Horford, Josh Childress, Josh Smith, Shelden Williams and Marvin Williams. At number 11 the FINALLY got a much needed PG in Acie Law, arguably the 2nd best PG of the draft. So, overall, a good draft, although I wonder IF it's true that the Hawks were offered Amare Stoudemire by the Suns, why in heaven didn't they accept in a millisecond?

at number four, Memphis selected Mike Conley. He is regarded as the best PG of the draft, and although Memphis is far from being a top team, they can floor a team with Mike Conley, Rudy Gay, Mike Miller and Pau Gasol. That should be fun to watch and can't be nearly as bad as last year.

at number six, Milwaukee selected Yi Jianlian. The best talent left after the top 5 picks, but also a big risk. The entourage of Yi all along said he wouldn't want to play for Milwaukee, if it's true that he refused to work out for the team before the draft, as he was hoping to end up in a city with a large Asian community, like Golden State for example (which would have been a great fit as well, from a playing style point of view). At this moment, I believe Yi will end up playing for the Bucks, but a trade is always possible and he could still end up in a team he favours. Only one last remark: how this Chinese idiot (cos this is what he is) can dictate where, how, when and for who he wants to play without having played or proved how worthy he is in the league? If I was the Bucks I would keep him. If he wants to be an NBA player, he plays for the team who selected him, otherwise if it were for me, this ungrateful unthankful person (have you seen his sad look when his name was called?? Millions of people would have jumped to the roof in his place!!) would NEVER play one single NBA game.

at numer seven, Minnesota picked Corey Brewer. What can I say? Is this a pick that will change the history of the team? Of course not. A solid pick, but unless Brewer turns out to be the next Michael Jordan, Kevin Garnett will still leave Minnesota and its mediocrity, thanks to Kevin McHale, recently named the worst NBA general manager, and rightfully so.

at number eight, Charlotte picked Brandan Wright just to exchange him with Jason Richardson from Golden State. Great deal for Golden State: clears a big salary, has an athletic powerful PF to play along Andris Biedrins. But it just hurts to see my idol Michael Jordan, for as amazing as he was as a player, to be this bad as a manager.

at number nine, Chicago selected Joakim Noah. Great fit for the style of energetic unselfish play both the team and the player have, plus Noah gets the chance to go from a great system at Florida to a great system in Chicago. But with Ben Wallace, Tyrus Thomas and Joakim Noah, is there ANYONE who can actually score??

at number ten, Sacramento selcted Spencer Hawes. The next Brad Miller. Won't be bad, but won't be the player that turns this franchise around. And I personally don't like white centers.

at number twelve, Philadelphia picked Thaddeus Young. I don't really know him, but his position and height are the same as Andre Iguodala. They say they complement each other, let's wait and see.

at number thirteen, New Orleans selected Julian Wright. He has a lot of upside, and hopefully he will benefit by playing with a great PG like Chris Paul, with a wing who can open the floor as Peja Stojakovic and a good paint player as David West. He has a great opportunity.

at number fourteen, LA Clippers selected Al Thornton. A SF, said to be the 2nd best athelte of the draft, this probably makes both Corey Maggette and my own town favourite James Singleton redundant.

The rest of the 1st round:

15. Detroit - Rodney Stuckey, SG, 6-5
16. Washington - Nick Young, SG, 6-7
17. New Jersey - Sean Williams, C, 6-10
18. Golden State - Marco Belinelli, SG, 6-6
19. LA Lakers - Javaris Critterton, PG, 6-5
20. Miami - Jason Smith, PF, 7-0 (traded to Philadelphia)
21. Philadelphia - Daequan Cook, SG, 6-6 (traded to Miami)
22. Charlotte - Jared Dudley, SF, 6-7
23. New York - Wilson Chandler, SF, 6-8
24. Phoenix - Rudy Fernandez, SG, 6-6 (traded to Portland)
25. Utah - Morris Almond, SG, 6-6
26. Houston - Aaron Brooks, PG, 6-0
27. Detroit - Arron Afflalo, SG, 6-5
28. San Antonio - Tiago Splitter, PF, 7-0
29. Phoenix - Alando Tucker, SF, 6-5
30. Philadelphia - Petteri Koponen, PG, 6-4 (traded to Portland)

The big winners of this draft were obviously Portland who got Oden, Frye and Fernandez to start building a real powerhouse in the northwest together with Seattle having Durant and Green, but it will also depends how the Rashard Lewis story will unfold.
Memphis did well with Conley, Golden State very well if both Wright and Belinelli turn out to be what everyone expects.

The Atlant Hawks did fairly well, although they could have been big time winners with Amare Stoudemire.
Teams that did rather well considering what they could do, are Philadelphia, New Jersey, LA Clippers and Detroit.
Also on the winning side is San Antonio, who got a solid big man in Splitter so late in the draft and Washington with an exciting player to put next to Arenas.

Boston is not going to win a championship with Allen, as it was not going to win it had it kept Green. So why pay 100 times more for not winning? Or why not select Yi, we might have had a chance to see if this dude can actually smile.
New York took Portland's Zach Randolph, a 20+10 player. But can he mesh with Eddie Curry? Who will defend down low????? Will they take space away from each other in the low post? Isiah isn't new from taking players who don't belong in the same team... I fear it's the same case, unless they will trade Randolph for a better fit.

Phoenix is the big time loser. Not only was unlucky that the Hawks got number 3 pick (it was top three protected, so it would have been Phoenix's if only Atlanta would draft 4th or lower...), by now they would have Kevin Garnett in their roster. And exactly for the inability to nab Garnett that I rank Phoenix as a loser, cos they need to move Marion for salary reasons. They may end up losing him for peanuts, or losing Stoudemire which would be even more disastrous. There is still a lot of time till September to pull a trade for Garnett, but it seems more unlikely now, and like this (or even without one of the Marion-Stoudemire duo) their chances to win are much lower than with Garnett in their roster. Plus, for as much as I love Phoenix, the team, the coaching staff and their style of play, what is wrong with their draft inabilities?? I mean, in 2004 they drafted Luol Deng and gave him to Chicago. In 2005 Nate Robinson and gave him to New York. In 2006 Sergio Rodriguez to Portland, and this year
Rudy Fernandez to Portland again. Looking back, they should have kept them all. Plus, this year they selected Alando Tucker and DJ Strawberry, two guards who can't shoot. Not really what I call a great fit for their system!

Other losers, Houston, Charlotte, Miami and Sacramento.

The other teams I presume won't change the history of the upcoming season through this draft.

Now let's see if the free-agency market will be more interesting and lively than last year's. I really hope so.

One last note: have you seen the new Atlanta Hawks' jerseys? I tried, but they were so boring and dull, I fell asleep and I can't remember them!


So here we are, the 2007 NBA Champs are the San Antonio Spurs.

As predicted, after commissioner Stern wanted them to beat the high flying Phoenix Suns in the West semifinals.

I don't want to spend too much time on this subject for few reasons:

- Stern robbed every single NBA fan of a possibly to watch an epic and FAIR battle between Spurs and Suns by blindly suspending 2 of the 5 starting players of the Suns for doing basically nothing wrong, thus handing the series to San Antonio. So, Cheap Shot Rob, who flagrantly fouled Steve Nash, and the Spurs, had the better part of the deal instead of being the ones paying the hefty price for it.

- Stern robbed the Suns of the possibility to win the championship.

- Stern sucks.

- Cleveland was NOT an NBA finals-ready team, and they don't have a top coach, and were swept away in easy fashion. Regardless of LBJ.

- Both Cleveland and San Antonio play boring basketball, and the lowest TV rates ever for the finals combined with the second lowest scoring totals, and the lowest scoring for a team (Cleveland) stand all as a sad proof for it.

So, I'm heading into the summer without the flow of emotions that normally the NBA finals leave deep in me. What a bitter disappointment.

So, to end this short entry, is San Antonio a Dynasty? My answer is NO. Sure, they they won a title in 1999, 2003, 2005 and 2007. But, first of all, the 1999 came in the shortened season of the lock out and the 2007 was a present of Stern. Plus, they never won back-to-back. Plus, they never had to beat MJ, they never beat Los Angeles when Shaq and Kobe were playing together. They won by being a good team, not a dominating one. My guess is, if they are a dynasty, so are the Lakers who won the 2000-2001-2002 titles. But for me, neither team is a dynasty.

The Minneapolis Lakers who won 5 titles in 6 years were a dynasty.
The Boston Celtics who won 11 titles in 13 season (and 12 finals) were a dynasty.
The Chicago Bulls who won 6 titles in 8 seasons (and if MJ hadn't retired, they would have won all 8) were a dynasty.

The Los Angeles Lakers who won 5 titles in 9 finals in the 80s were a very very good team, but no dynasty.
The Boston Celtics who won 3 titles in 5 finals in the 80s were a very very good team, but no dynasty.
The Detroit Pistons who won back to back (appearing in 3 straight finals) in the early 90s were a good team, but no dynasty.
The Los Angeles Lakers who won 3 straight in the early 2000s (with a loss in their 4th final) were a good team, but no dynasty.
So, San Antonio who won 4 titles in 8 seasons are a good team, but definitely no dynasty, and no team that will be remembered as one of the greats neither.

Now let me focus on the summer trades rumors and the draft night on the 28, they are definitely more interesting than this year's finals, and they should not be!!