Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Draft Central

Can I use that term? Has it been copyrighted already? Whatever. Got a different take on some of my calls? Think Deron Williams really is the next Jason Kidd, or TJ Parker is gonna be better than his brother (or at least less whiny)? Is Andrew Bogut the next Joel Przybilla? Love big, slow, undeveloped Europeans with tremendous "upside?" Weigh in with questions or comments, now that I'm finally working, I should respond pretty quickly.


Jeff Dritz said...

Figured I'd discuss the recent hot rumor that the Celts are gonna trade Paul Pierce to Portland for the #3 and Nick Van Exel. This would signal a rebuilding for the Celtics, which seems like a good plan to me. Though I usually support Chicago products, I think Antoine Walker's not a winning player, he has a bad attitude and shoots too much. A team built around him and Pierce doesn't seem good enough to advance past the first or second round of the playoffs, anyway. However, trading a proven star for the chance to draft perhaps Chris Paul is risky. Still, it might be the best move for the Celtics.

The Blazers, meanwhile, seem interested because they appear to have soured on Gerald Green. Originally, they were high on him, but his refusal to work out with other players makes him a big risk at #3, perhaps one the Blazers aren't willing to take. Having drafted Telfair last season, they'd have no need for Paul (presuming Marvin Williams and Andrew Bogut go 1-2), so they're shopping the pick to teams like Boston and Charlotte. The Bobcats, who got hosed in the lottery, supposedly want to trade up to take Paul or Williams. They have the #5 and #13 picks. However, they shouldn't trade both picks just to move up a couple spots, since they need good players to fill out their moderately whack roster.

OB said...

Bracey Wright a sleeper??? He could barely shoot in college, and will be even more tragic when he doesn't get to play the likes of Purdue, Penn State and Northwestern a few times a year!!! I also question the Julius Hodge call... He has "great college player who doesn't fit in the NBA" written all over him. "He's a player", says the guest draft guru. If I wanted insight like, "He's a player", I could have asked David Witten. I think the comparison to Marquis Daniels is totally arbitrary, as Daniels is more athletic and Hodge seems a step slow and a bit slight.

I agree with the players who should have stayed in school group, and many of the other predictions, but again, a few jump out as off base.

The guest draft guru seems to totally ignore the requirements of NBA size, speed and strength, and predicts that smooth/successful college guys will succeed at the pro level. That is simply false. (See Christian Laettner or Will Avery or Trajan Langdon or some guys who didn't play at Duke...) Sean May IS wayyy small to be a center and a defensive liability at power forward. Deron Williams on the other hand, plays dynamic defense has NBA size and strength, and can play with his back to the basket. His shooting was underrated in college and his speed, which was never his strength, will not hurt him. I think Paul his a stronger chance to fail as a high PG draft pick.

The Taft and Villanueva hate, again show the author's naive focus on "heart and attitude and motivation"... Ever seen Randy Moss or Nick Van Exel play? Supposed issues with "heart" and "motivation" greatly affected their draft status, but sometimes skill is too important. The draft is about upside for many teams looking to make a jump from also-ran to playoff team or from playoff team to championship contender. These teams would often rather swing for the fences and hope that they can straighten out "cancerous" issues, rather than draft a more mediocre player. I agree with that philosophy. I also respect the knowledge level and writing ability of the guest draft guru and just like giving him a hard time. Oh ya, and the Pistons will win tonight, you can print that...

Jeff Dritz said...

Haha, this is what I get for encouraging friends to post. You may be right about Wright (yes! worst pun ever!), but I feel he has the shooting skills and athleticism to come off the bench for somebody and provide an offensive spark.

As for Hodge and May, I'm glad I've got you on record here, so I can throw this back at you in two years. Hodge does everything well, works hard, scores, defends, and will be a solid rotation player immediately for whatever playoff team drafts him late in the first round. I used Daniels as a comparison because he's a similar sort of accomplished college player who NBA teams overlooked in trying to draft the next superstar. A better comparison might be Josh Howard, a guy who was the focus of a big college program for four years, yet dropped in the draft because he wasn't a prototypical player. Teams often look for players who have the physical tools made for a specific position, and ignore guys who may be "tweeners" and out of position a bit, but can flat-out play. Hodge is one of these guys, and so is May. He can score at will, hit the boards, and defends better than he gets credit for. Two inches taller, and he's top-5. Won't matter, he'll play some center and some PF. His only problem will be coming out to guard 4s who can hit the midrange, but there aren't many who can. And he'll make up for it by putting up at least 15/8 per, 20/10 if he gets enough PT. These aren't one-dimensional players like Langdon or William Avery, but guys with strong games who can keep up in the pros.

I "suspect" your love of all things Illini may be clouding your judgment on Williams. I'm not saying he'll be bad, but he won't be the fourth-best player in this draft. He'll be a decent point guard, solid enough to run a team, but he doesn't score well enough to be a star.

Regarding Taft and Villanueva, they are simply not as talented as Moss or Van Exel. Every year there are a couple talented but lazy guys, and they don't all get attitude adjustments and immediately become superstars. What I am lamenting is the fact that NBA GMs overlook good players who can contribute immediately for "prototypical" players with all the tools but none of the intangibles. They look too much at a player's "upside" while ignoring the reality of the here-and-now. I believe they often build players with decent talent up to being potential superstars, even when they haven't done much yet. Why take that huge risk, when you can have a solid contributor right away? Especially with free agency, when the more raw players don't develop for a few years (see: T-Mac). Regarding Taft and Villanueva, what have we seen from them that warrants this risk? Not a whole lot. If taken high, these guys will disappoint.

Any other opinions on the "upside" vs. current skills debate?

Anonymous said...

Sean May sucks. No team will let him on the court because he's not tall enough to guard centers and he's too slow and fat to guard power forwards. He's the next Oliver Miller.

Adam Hoff said...

Sean May doesn't suck, but it is true that he has some shortcomings defensively. I probably overlooked those in the column, but I should be forgiven since the majority of NBA writers overlooked defensive shortcomings when voting for the MVP this year. So I get a free pass. There is more to it than just assuming he'll get abused defensively though. For starters, he will get in better shape. He already made huge strides last year and an NBA team will really go to work on that soft frame. He may never look like Carlos Boozer, but he will be a better player. Not only that, but he's smart. He will struggle on the defensive end of the court, but he knows the game and will be able to minimize the negative effect.

Finally, how well he does (and how much playing time he gets) will be determined by where he ends up. His best bet is Toronto. Chris Bosh has the length, shot blocking ability, and weak side help skills to play center, but not the bulk to actually lean on big guys. May has the size to put an initial body on someone, but not the other stuff. So pairing him with Bosh makes perfect sense - they compliment each other nicely. I think May is going to surprise people in all facets of the game, but particularly if he lands in the right spot.

Anonymous said...

Bogut will be lucky to be the next Joel Pryzbilla, as was (I'm sure) meant to be a mocking question on the front page. Pryzbilla plays very hard, blocks a ton of shots, and controls the boards. When he learns to avoid fouls and to stop goal tending, he's going to be an anchor for that Blazers team. Seriously, it is like he got a shot of coordination sometime last winter. What happened there?

Bogut will probably make a few more 15-footers, but that's it. He'll be lucky to be half as good as a Divac type big man. He has a few skills that people seem to love, but what good is a big dude that gets shoved out of bounds on rebounds. I say he goes the way of Big Country ... some decent offensive games early in his career before everyone realizes he gives up a 15 and 15 every night to the likes of Kelvin Cato and Adonyl Foyle (and a 30 and 15 to good centers) and sits him on the bench in favor of a gritty shot blocker. Seriously, this dude is going to suck.

Anonymous said...

You guys didn't really talk about Warrick at all. Bust or sleeper or somewhere in between?

Jeff Dritz said...

I think Bogut is better than he gets credit for. A lot of people knock him because they fear he will just be another "Big White Stiff," but he has much better skills than a Big Country, and better D. And don't forget the big game he had against Duncan in the Olympics. While I don't expect him to be a star, he will be a solid starter for years, and anchor the middle for either Milwaukee or Atlanta.

As for Warrick, I like him, but he's too highly touted to be a sleeper. He's extremely athletic, but not very strong. Nobody's sure whether he's a 3 or 4. He'll run the court well, but get knocked around in the post. He lacks a good enough handle to play the 3. Still, I think he'll be a solid pro. Needs to hit the gym hard and work on his post moves if he's gonna play 4, or work on his ball-handling skills if he switches to the 3.

Andrew Lipsman said...

Here is my list of the 30 best players in this year's draft:
1. Chris Paul
2. Marvin Williams
3. Sean May
4. Andrew Bogut
5. Danny Granger
6. Joey Graham
7. Jarrett Jack
8. Gerald Green
9. Wayne Simien
10. Roko Leni-Ukic
11. Deron Williams
12. Julius Hodge
13. Francisco Garcia
14. Hakim Warrick
15. Martell Webster
16. Ike Diogu
17. Yaroslav Korolev
18. Rashad McCants
19. Ray Felton
20. Fran Vazquez
21. David Lee
22. Channing Frye
23. Travis Diener
24. Charlie Villanueva
25. Antoine Wright
26. Ronny Turiaf
27. Ryan Gomes
28. Alan Anderson
29. Kennedy Winston
30. Nate Robinson

Most overrated: Deron Williams, Ray Felton, Channing Frye, Charlie Villanueva, Andrew Bynum, Andre Blatche

Most underrated: Sean May, Julius Hodge, Joey Graham, Travis Diener, Wayne Simien, David Lee

Jeff Dritz said...

Nice list, I think we're on a similar page. For my part, I like Ike more than Simien. I also think Channing Frye is probably in the top 10-12, and Antoine Wright's going to help somebody soon, too. Finally, as much as I hate to admit it, Chris Taft should probably be on there somewhere, though I like that you show him and his disinterested counterpart, Villanueva, no love.

Andrew Lipsman said...

Frye's stock is high ONLY because he's tall. Yet another example of NBA GM's way overvaluing height. Doesn't surprise me one bit that Isiah will be the one making this mistake. Frye is solid, don't get me wrong, but he's not a difference maker and I think you need to pick a difference maker in the top ten.

I think Simien is being very underrated. He will come into the league with a lot of polish. His midrange jumper is money. He will have no problem putting up some numbers right away and has a good head on his shoulders to boot.

I have no major issues with Antoine Wright, but somehow I just don't see him being any better a player than Gerald Wallace. He'll produce some stats if he's given minutes, but I don't think he's a difference maker either.

Guys like Taft and Villanueva get no love from me because I can see their careers going right down the shitter. Players who don't care become cancers in the lockerroom and are more trouble than they're worth in the end. Talent is a dime a dozen in the NBA, I want a guy on my team that knows how to compete. I'll take a scrawny whiteboy like Diener over those two any day of the week.

Jeff Dritz said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jeff Dritz said...

Frye isn't just tall, he's also athletic and has good moves with his back to the basket. He runs the court well and blocks shots, and put up 3 double-doubles in the tourney this year, including a monster 24/12/6 blk game against Illinois (though he, along with the rest of his team, disappeared at the end). I think his athleticism will make him a decent player, though he won't be a star.

Agree with you on Simien, he is a solid player, and tough. He'll be able to contribute right away, though he lacks the athleticism to be a star.

The difference between Wright and Gerald Wallace is that Wright can hit the side of a barn with his jumper. He's lights-out at times, which will help teams needing someone to hit shots. Also, Wallace seems to check out a lot.

Feel you on Taftanueva too, the NBA has no room for somewhat talented players with attitude problems (see: Isiaih Rider). If someone as talented as Kobe can still poison a team with his attitude, the much less talented Taftanueva will have even more trouble. Recent mock drafts have Villanueva moving up and Taft falling out of the first round. It will be interesting if that really happens, as perhaps GMs may finally be wising up to choosing commitment over raw skills.

Andrew-my place for the game tonight, perhaps?

Travis Dowdy said...

I'm in support of just about everything said in the column and in the blogs, but I think one player not being given the credit he deserves is Raymond Felton. As good as Sean May is, Felton was the catalyst of the UNC offense. May was extremely important because of UNC's lack of big men on the bench. And not to take anything away from May, because I have argued that he should be in the consideration, at least, for the #1 pick in the draft regardless of who won the lottery. But Felton was pure dominance on the offensive end. The knocks on him were that he couldn't play defense, and that he couldn't shoot the jump shot. But when it came down to it and UNC needed a stop, he never let them down. It was never the PG that scored on UNC. But if you watched him in March, he was nailing the 3s. He might not be a 3 point shooter in the NBA right away, but he will not be able to be left alone.

Also, one of the only losses for UNC was when he was not in the lineup and they lost to Santa Barbara of all teams. He was that important to their offense. UNC had depth at guard, including 2 or 3 players on the bench that could've started for about 60 of the NCAA teams in the tournament. But they were nothing compared to Felton. That's how good he is and that's how good I think he'll be in the NBA. I think he's going to be as good as Baron Davis, although possibly not quite the shooter that Davis is right away. But keep in mind that Davis wasn't the greatest shooter his 1st season in the league either.

Adam Hoff said...

I agree, I tabbed Felton as one of the most underrated players in this draft. Two things impress me about him: 1) He couldn't hit water if he fell out of a boat his sophomore year, so he went home in the summer, shot 1,000 jumpers a day, changed his shooting technique, and became a very good deep shooter last year. 2) He's a stone cold killer in the clutch. I think he's got that Chauncey Billups swagger that is going to make him lethal in the the fourth quarter. Good call giving Felton some love. He can't jump like Baron though, so even if he's as good, he'll be a different kind of player.

Anonymous said...

Andruw Bogut is the best player in the draft and does not give up boards and get shoved out of bounds. He will rarely give up 15 if he even gives up ten. He will grab 15. I don't know how much you watched him in college or in the olympics. But in the olympics against the best player in the world (Tim Duncan) he scored 20+ and out rebounded Duncan grabbing 18 or so.

Andrew Lipsman said...

The Ray Felton lovefest bewilders me on many levels. He's a classic case of people seeing what they want to see and overlooking his warts.

Sure he's lightning fast. Sure he can run a great break. Sure his jumper has improved a lot.

But he has way too many negatives for me to ever want him running my team. He commits turnovers like it's his job. His sloppiness set the tone for all the underachieving his over-talented UNC team did the past few years. That fact will likely be forgotton since they won the title, but believe me when I say that they won in spite of him, not because of him.

I highly doubt he'll ever be able to effectively lead a halfcourt type of offense. He only knows one speed and that is UP-TEMPO, and in the NBA that will be a detriment.

He's definitely got some intriguing talents, and I can see why some GMs like him, but at the end of he day I'd put him in the "more trouble than he's worth" category.

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