In 2006 the Celtics had the #7 pick. In 2007 they had the #5. In those years the lottery and draft were objects of long, passionate anticipation. This year it was different.
First off you couldn't even begin to guess who Danny Ainge might choose at spot #30 (no one did). Second, if you were like me you were so wrapped up in the title run you didn't even watch college ball. Third, there was only a week between the trophy and draft, not months like the last few go-rounds.
Because of all this the 2008 NBA draft had a completely different feel from previous incarnations. We all just got to sit back, relax, and watch the other teams struggle to become as good as the World Champion Boston Celtics.
Having a top pick is exciting. Having the title is bliss.
2) Draft Coverage
ESPN surprised no one with their typical More-Is-Less coverage. As expected there was too much noise, too much many lights, too much annoying background music, too many distractions, and very little insight. That ought to be the motto of the entire network. Or how about this: "ESPN: We Have Attention Deficit Disorder!"
When Dickie V. and Stephen A. came on I automatically turned off the sound. I'm sorry you two. I'm sure you're both fine gentlemen, but I just can't listen to you any more. (It wouldn't shock me that when the full story of Guantanamo comes out, that it's revealed that the prisoners have been forced to listen to Dickie and Stephen for hours at a time without commercials.)
As far as the rest of the broadcast: No ESPN, 80% of these guys are not great picks that are really going to help their team.
And hey, since they instituted the no high school rule only TWO years ago it's NOT a big revelation that this draft set a record for the most freshmen selected. That's inevitable, not something you have to discuss with helpful on-screen graphics 15 times during the broadcast.
Breathe breathe. OK I'm done complaining, though I do hope TNT gets the TV rights back someday.
3) The Celtics Draft
I don't know anything about these players (Wouldn't it be nice if the ESPN guys could just admit that too?) but I do know this: Danny Ainge can draft. My, my, can that guy draft.
So if Danny says JR Giddens' personal foibles will not be an issue, I believe him. If he says Bill Walker is similar in value-due-to-troublesome-knees to Leon Powe (47th pick vs 49th), I believe that too.
In fact until proven otherwise I believe every Ainge pick will blossom like Perkins, Rondo, Gomes, Baby, etc. It would be foolish to think otherwise.
4) The 60th pick
...including Semih Erden. This is from Steve Bulpett in the Herald: "Ainge insisted he couldn’t believe Erden was available with the 60th and final pick of the draft. The 6-foot-11 banger still has one year left on his contract with his Turkish pro team, which may have helped account for his slide.
"He’ll be our first-round pick next year," Ainge said. "We don’t have a first-round pick, but he’s our guy. We think he’s got a terrific upside."
(Remember no 2009 first rounder. That went to Minnesota in the Sebastian Telfair trade.)
It's too early to think about who will do what in the East next year, but since I'm only up to 5 things I'll do it anyway. The World Champion Celtics come in as heavy favorites. Detroit and Cleveland will be there. So will Toronto. The other playoff spots are up for grabs. Only Indiana and the two teams from NYC have no chance at the post season.
Speaking of the Knicks: I love D'Antoni, but he and Donnie Walsh have a lot of work to do. I just don't see the twin greyhounds Eddie Curry and Zach Randolph routinely leading the fast break. D'Antoni is going to have the same pained expression on his face that Tommy Heinsohn had during the Sidney Wicks/Curtis Rowe period.
Portland keeps buying picks, wheeling and dealing, and making people in other metropolitan areas very nervous. Why doesn't the league just give the Blazers two extra draft choices every year and be done with it? Why torment fans in fine cities like New Orleans?
Boston did it too: "The Celtics receive the rights to Bill Walker, Kansas State University for cash." We're going to miss cash. Cash meant a great deal to the 2008 championship run. Cash was the 16th man (Thank you again Wyc and friends.) When Washington comes back to visit the Garden this season, I hope cash gets a standing ovation.
Still it feels wrong even though it feels so right. You shouldn't be able buy and sell picks. There's a salary cap for players; there ought to be a player cap for cash too.
7) The Flame
Now that the Celtics are on top again, Boston is a primo free agent destination. Remember after Bird left the Celtics were spurned by Detlef Shrempf. Detlef freakin' Shrempf was suddenly too good for us. Man was that demoralizing. (Not surprisingly my spell checker doesn't recognize the words Detlef or Shrempf.)
But now everybody loves Boston. Everybody wants a Duck boat ride (Eddie Albert the guy who played Oliver on Green Acres was a Duck boat pilot in World War 2. I bet you didn't know that.)
When you win a flame is lit. Winning attracts good players. The longer you win, the easier it is to keep winning. Welcome to heaven.
I really want to say something bad about Chris Wallace but the man had a good day. Give him his due.
9) No Summer League
No problem. It's only three months to training camp. I'm sure we all have 95 days of basking-in-the-glow in us.
10) The World Champion Boston Celtics
I've only used that phrase three times in this piece so far. That's about seven less than I intended. Still we can all use it for a full year at least. In every situation, whether appropriate or not, no matter who it drives crazy.
The World Champion Boston Celtics. There I said it again.