As usual, the NBA draft had its share of surprise picks, trades and drama. The beginning of the draft started the way many mock drafts had predicted, with John Wall going 1st to the Wizards, followed by Evan Turner to the Sixers, and Derrick Favors to the Nets. First, I must say that I am glad the Sixers took my advice and drafted Evan Turner (quite possibly the only Ohio State Buckeye I will ever like). I think he has the potential to be a star in the league and gives them a player to truly build around for the future. He seems to be a stand up guy and plays well on both ends of the floor. The Sixers have struck gold with this pick. Given that his was the Sixers’ only pick in the draft, they made a splash. I know that it will create some over-crowding at the wing and guard positions, but this pick was the best for the franchise. Hopefully, Ed Stefanski isn’t done trading and can clear out some of that over-crowding while bringing in some new talent. As, I stated in a previous post, the gutsy move is to trade Andre Iguodala, who would likely fetch some good pieces (picks or players) in return.
Some other moves that I liked:
Oklahoma City Thunder – The Thunder were active in this draft. I liked what I saw from them. They had a total of 4 picks in the draft, but didn’t keep any of them. They spun their picks into: Daequan Cook, a young shooting guard who will give them depth in the back court; Cole Aldrich, a good, young big who will add depth to the front court, Morris Peterson (who will provide veteran leadership off the bench) and a future 1st round pick (lottery protected). The Thunder made these trades both for the future and in order to win now. They had 4 picks in the draft and already are loaded with young talent. They did their best to not overload themselves with players that are too young and not ready to contribute. This team can win now, they already have a talented core and gave the Lakers a run for their money in the playoffs. With their moves, I think they can push the elite in the Western Conference.
Miami Heat – The Heat made some shrewd moves in this draft. The first, As John Hollinger of ESPN wrote about their trade of Cook to OKC, “Miami is in the process of buying out James Jones, whose deal is only partially guaranteed next year, and if in addition the Heat can find a taker for Michael Beasley they’ll have enough cap space for three max contracts — allowing them to potentially unite the holy trinity of LeBron, Wade and Bosh on one roster.” Can you believe that? How crazy would it be if Miami had Bosh, King James and Flash on the same team? They would be unstoppable. In addition, the Heat made 4 picks in the 2nd round and like several of them. Getting Jarvis Varnado, the all-time NCAA leader in blocked shots, in the middle of the 2nd round is great value. He will be great off the bench as a defender/rebounder. The Heat also drafted one of my favorite players from the NCAA tournament, Da’Sean Butler. He injured his knee against Duke in the national semifinal, but will provide the Heath with good value when he recovers.
Utah Jazz – The Jazz picked Gordon Hayward, the unlikely star of this past NCAA tournament. I love what Hayward can do. He can shoot, play D and has a good motor and feel for the game. I think he fits in with this team perfectly.
Washington Wizards – Obviously, John Wall was a great pick. He allows them to move Gilbert Arenas to the SG position, which makes both the PG and SG positions better. I also liked their pick of Trevor Booker from Clemson. He adds size and toughness in the paint. Include their trade with the Bulls, where they got Kirk Hinrich (who can act as a mentor to Wall and provides a solid backup in the back court), and I think the Wizards have gone a long way to getting themselves back to respectability.
One move that I did not like was Portland’s firing of GM Kevin Pritchard. The way they fired him and the fact that they fired him at all is just ridiculous. Paul Allen, the Blazers’ owner, fired Pritchard just hours before the draft. Pritchard conducted the draft admirably, making a trade that makes the Blazers a better team. He was able to acquire Ryan Gomes and the rights to Luke Babbitt from the Timberwolves for Martell Webster. I like this trade because I am a fan of Gomes. I like him when he played for the Celtics and I think he is a great addition to the Blazers. I also like Babbitt, who played college ball at Nevada. Pritchard also drafted Elliot Williams, who will add depth to the Portland back court. Pritchard should be able to find work elsewhere as he was responsible for rehabilitating the Blazers’ image and rebuilding the franchise on the court. He did an excellent job in both departments and to see him go out like this is just pitiful. Could this be the start of the Pritchard Curse? It would serve Paul Allen right if it were, but the Blazer fans deserve better.