A Daily Babble Production
Whoa. How we suddenly became five days removed from the NBA draft so quickly, I'll never know. It seems like it's absolutely flown by (which means five fewer days until opening day of next season!), but we at the NBA page have been so enraptured with chronicling the experiences of draft night itself and scouting the Celtics' picks that we haven't really had a chance to just go through the ins and outs of the selections from Thursday night.
It is time to do just that. So without further ado, to the bullet points we go to highlight some of the possibly more intriguing ramifications of the entrance of the class of '08 to the Association:
- I love what the Blazers did in the first round. My pal Acks the Unabashed Kevin Pritchard Basher has been in my ear for most of the last year about the Portland GM's unmatched ability to bring in mediocre stopgaps to play the point. Acquiring Jerryd Bayless gives the Blazers the best shot they've had in quite some time at a true long-term solution at the position. Of course, Acks isn't thrilled because of Bayless' possession of the dreaded combo guard label, but the fact remains that this guy has more of a chance to become a big deal in this league than any of his recent predecessors (Jarrett Jack, Steve Blake, Sergio Rodriguez) in Portland. He has adequate size and the ability to be an explosive scorer, and the presence of captain Brandon Roy in the back-court alongside him means that there will be two guys that can handle the basketball and facilitate the offense, thus perhaps turning Bayless' versatility into even more of a help than a hindrance. In a draft full of players with the combo label, the Blazers went out and got one of the best available and in Brandon Rush gave up a nice player but not a piece they needed. This Portland team now has four very solid young contributors in Bayless, Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge and Greg Oden. The pieces only continue to fall into place.
- Last Thursday morning, the Bucks had a hole at the small forward position. By Thursday night, they had Richard Jefferson, Joe Alexander and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute. Now, rumor is that they are trying to trade their two (Michael Redd) and four (Charlie Villanueva). As usual, label me confused by the goings-on in Milwaukee.
- Good-bye, Raymond Felton. Or at least that would seem to be what the Bobcats were saying when they drafted Texas point guard D.J. Augustin with the ninth pick. Felton is just three years removed from being the fifth overall pick out of North Carolina, and his scoring and assists numbers have risen each season. Though he shot a career high from the field this season, that only amounted to 41.3 percent, and his inconsistency and inability to score with efficiency or defend all that well at this level seem to have finally been too much for the 'Cats. One would have to imagine they were really tired of him if a Charlotte team with a Tar Heel executive and Tar Heel coach was willing to show such little faith in a former Heel point guard. Too bad. Felton has exciting quickness and can really push the ball up and down the floor. Here's hoping he gets a chance to get some serious minutes elsewhere this season. He's still got the potential to become a very nice player in this league.
- The fallen stock of DeAndre Jordan remains a shock to me. I'll have to eat some crow here given that I rather roundly guaranteed in the forums that there was no conceivable way Jordan would be available when the Celts were picking at thirty. As usual, shows what I know. As raw as Jordan is -- and I certainly wasn't wowed by his game when I saw him play in person this year -- in a league so obsessed with physique and combine scores, it's still hard to believe that no one wanted to take a chance on this guy prior to the Clippers with the 35th pick. He has an enormous wingspan, superb leaping ability and good quickness and strength for a man who stands 7 feet tall and some 250 pounds. Alexis Ajinca and his five points per game in France had more appeal to the 'Cats than this guy? The we're-officially-playing-for-LeBron Nets didn't want to take a shot on a guy who could become a monster on the interior? The Pistons aren't looking for a long-term center project? Certainly, we've seen more than enough players fall victim to that dangerous 'p' word and what happens when it never gets realized, but this is still a surprise. It would be nice to see him turn into a solid player out in LA for the little brother Clippers.
- Not entirely sure what's ultimately going on in Indiana, but credit Larry Joe Legend for his willingness to change direction and shake things up. With T.J. Ford, Jarrett Jack, Brandon Rush and Roy Hibbert all coming aboard, this Indy team is going to look very different next season. Ford loves to run, and Rush has made it clear that he has no qualms about getting up and down either, so both should fit very well in Jim O'Brien's run-and-gun system. Hibbert is another story, and one wonders how much of a hindrance his lack of athleticism will be for Obie's crew.
- Having done a lot of ripping on O.J. Mayo for all the stories about his misconduct and ego that came out through the beginning of his tenure at USC, I feel obliged to mention that from listening to both of them talk between media day and the draft, it seems worth admitting that Mayo strikes me as considerably more put together than Michael Beasley does. Just the vibe I'm getting right now.
- Speaking of Beasley, Brandon Guarneri over at Men's Fitness theorizes that MB is the player in this draft who could be most snakebitten by the fact that he's had such an easy time this far in his basketball career. Brandon Rush talked on media day about how effortless Beasley made the game look in college, and Guarneri wondered aloud to me at the draft as to whether Beasley will have a tougher time adjusting to the NBA than many expect because he may not be ready to really put in the work needed to become a big-time player in this league. Personally, here's thinking the guy is already too good to be much in the way of a bust, but he certainly could be the sort of dude who always leaves us wanting more. This will be particularly worth monitoring over the first couple of years of MB's career.
- One more note on the number two pick: Friday morning's column featured a mention of a discussion with Ric Bucher in which the ESPN analyst suggested that we should be looking out for a Beasley-for-Mayo swap that may be yet to come between Miami and Memphis. In the interest of diversity of opinion, I brought this up to the Miami Herald's Sarah Rothschild, who isn't buying: "I still think Beasley is in a Heat uniform opening night. The Heat seem high on Beasley and realize he could be a fixture for the next 10-15 years. I think the Heat liked Mayo but also wanted to try to show as much interest in him as possible in hopes of attracting more trade offers."
- Chalk up Mario Chalmers for "second rounder most likely to become an immediate NBA mainstay" honors. He's a point guard from a winning college system with a high basketball IQ, adequate size (6-foot-2, 170 pounds), excellent judgment (2.3:1 assist-to-TO ratio last year), no fear of the clutch and high efficiency from the field. In his final year at Kansas, this guy shot 51.6 percent from the field and 46.8 percent from deep. His scoring, rebounding, field-goal shooting and three-point shooting improved every year in college. His turnover numbers dipped every year in college. He's a steal for the Heat, who got him at 34th overall from Minnesota. Just because a guy isn't projecting to be a star doesn't mean it isn't worth having a likely very solid player on the team at the point.