The draft is finally over. The picks have been made, the suits have been mocked, and the hats have been traded. To help recap the night’s events, we here at Portland Roundball Society invited Coup and SJ from the always excellent Rip City Project to participate in the first ever PRS Draft Round Table. The result is a three thousand word monster spanning a dozen questions. Please enjoy responsibly.
1. Best Draft Team:
NATHAN: Well, I’m torn on this one, because as far as landing players, I thought the Kings had the best draft. I think that DeMarcus Cousins and Hassan Whiteside are both very talented, albeit troubled, players that could be the steals of the first and second rounds if they fulfill their potential. I am concerned that along with Sammy Dalembert, the Kings have cornered the market on temperamental big men. On the other hand, you have to consider it a major victory for both the Heat and the Bulls to clear cap space the way they did. Miami and Chicago put themselves in contention for two or more of the very best players in the league; I consider that a successful draft night.
COUP: I’m going with the Dallas Mavericks here. Obviously Washington did very well for itself and they didn’t screw it up, while Sacramento got great value with Cousins, but for Dallas to begin the night with no first-round picks and finish it with Dominique Jones at No. 25 and Solomon Alabi at No. 50 is fantastic. After that, just for sheer quantity of talent, Portland did well grabbing guys who all have translatable skills, and Miami kept it’s financial flexibility while still giving itself some options to round out a bench if they use all their cap space on All-Stars. That’s some shrewd roster building.
SJ: I liked Sacramento’s job but then again they got players that just landed into their lap. I’m going to actually give props to the New Orleans Hornets. I thought the deal that sent Cole Aldrich and Morris Peterson to OKC for Craig Brackins and Quincy Pondexter was a real good one. They got rid of MoPete’s contract, which if I remember what Tom Penn stated got them out of the luxury tax. They also got two young guys who stayed in college for a while and are ready to contribute. Really underrated job, Monty’s got a nice core of Paul-Collison-Thornton-West-Brackins-Pondexter-Okafor to work with. I also like the sneaky good job Toronto did on the low with Ed Davis falling into their lap and stealing Alabi in the second round. Also underappreciated: Milwaukee.
2. Worst Draft Team:
NATHAN: It’s a tie here for me between Golden State and Minnesota. I feel like Golden State blew their pick by taking Ekpe Udoh, an older player with limited upside who I don’t think will be a starter in the league. Udoh is a great person from all reports and will probably be a rotation player, but that’s not what you want at #6. Minnesota had a ton of picks and came away with Wesley Johnson, Martell Webster, two wings who can’t create their own shot, and a couple players to stash. In addition, the Wolves had to give up Ryan Gomes’ valuable contract in the process.
COUP: Minnesota all the way. David Kahn apparently has no plan other than to bulk up on one position a year. I don’t love Johnson at No. 4 when there were better players on the board, taking another SF, as much as they need wings, at No. 30 looked silly, and the Martell Webster trade makes absolutely no sense on their end. Much as I like Webster, the guy is inconsistent and doesn’t make plays with the ball. Minnesota needs the opposite of that. Considering Babbit would have been cheaper and they sacrificed Gomes’ contract on top of it all, it’s a head slapper of a deal. Then again, they could’ve drafted Cousins and traded for Michael Beasley to reenact the Bash Bro’s from D2: The Mighty Ducks.
SJ: Golden State tops my list. I like Ekpe Udoh but #6 was a reach and just an overall bad pick for them. They should have either traded down or taken Monroe if you ask me. He just seems repetitive with all the big guys they have drafted and failed with… Anthony Randolph, Brandan Wright… not to mention Andris Biedrins. I just don’t see room for him to grow there. I won’t pick on Kahn, instead I’ll say I don’t like what Indiana did in the 2010 Draft. Don’t get me wrong, Paul George is talented and Lance Stephenson is a steal in the 2nd round…but did you need two more perimeter players? Paul George has to remind the Pacers front office of Brandon Rush…who by the way is still on the roster.
3. High Rising Player:
NATHAN: Epke Udoh. I liked him at pick number 17, not at 6.
COUP: Craig Brackins at 21 and Trevor Booker at 23 both went higher than expected. The Udoh pick made little sense for that Warriors roster, but the highest riser was Ryan Reid at No. 57. The guy wasn’t even supposed to be drafted.
SJ: Absolutely, positively has to be Greivis Vasquez. Very talented player, but I don’t think anyone actual thought he would be a first-rounder. Landry Fields gets second place, I mean the reaction from Knicks fans was priceless.
4. Sliding Player:
NATHAN: Willie Warren. If Warren had come out last year, he’d have been a lottery pick. At the start of the year he was in the top ten on most everyone’s draft board. To slide from top ten to nearly undrafted is just a colossal tumble. As far as sliding on the night of the draft, Solomon Alabi apparently had some medical red flags and slid from the middle of the first to the end of the second.
COUP: Solomon Alabi. For awhile it appeared as though he was going to be this year’s DeJuan Blair, but then he kept slipping and slipping and even the Spurs passed on him. Turns out he supposedly has Hepatitis B, which turned a lot of teams off. Dallas finally took the risk for the measly cost of a 50th pick.
SJ: Solomon Alabi went from lottery to “what is going on?” territory real fast. The medical situation really scared off a lot of people and I hope that situation works out for him. I want to throw out the name Stanley Robinson who went from projected lottery, to projected mid-to-first round to the 59th pick in the Draft.
5. Player drafted to best situation for them:
NATHAN: James Anderson, San Antonio. First and foremost, the Spurs are a great organization from top to bottom and any player they pick is coming into a model franchise. You can count on Greg Popovich to get the most out of James Anderson’s shooting and overall scoring ability and the Spurs team defense can cover most of his defensive shortcomings.
COUP: The Nets coming to their senses and pairing Derrick Favors with Brook Lopez was the best and most obvious fit in the draft. It’s no forgone conclusion it will work, of course, but if Favors is the player we think he can be, that frontcourt compliments itself very well with the raw, mega-athlete next to the slower, fundamental center. Jordan Crawford also got a nice deal going to Atlanta with Joe Johnson possibly on the way out, and Daniel Orton slipping to Orlando could help him avoid being a bust.
SJ: I like Cole Aldrich in Oklahoma City a lot. They needed a big man in the worst way, so he fills that void. He’s a young, mature talent on a team whose culture is full of young, mature talent. Not only that but he goes into a situation where he does not have to be the man. I think going to Detroit would have been terrible for him. In Oklahoma City he can be a garbageman, rebound, defend and grow with time.
6. Player drafted to worst situation for them:
NATHAN: Al-Farouq Aminu; No, not just because it’s the Clippers either. Aminu is currently best suited to play power forward where his rebounding and shot blocking are valuable and Aminu can use his athleticism to out quick slower fours a la’ Josh Smith. Unfortunately for Aminu, the Clippers already have a very good power forward in Blake Griffin who does everything Aminu does, but better. Now Aminu will be shoehorned in as a small forward when he does not have the ball handling or the shooting ability to succeed there.
COUP: Ed Davis. Let’s take a guy who was criticized for not pushing himself in college and playing every night and put him on a team that doesn’t push itself, doesn’t put any effort into defense and airmails a handful of games across the border. Yeah, that will work.
SJ: Daniel Orton to the Magic. Mainly because he should have stayed in school, but he’s entering a situation where he’s going to be the #3 center for a while. Dwight Howard is not going anywhere, and they are committed to Gortat for a little bit at least. Unfortunately, for some reason I just see him losing favor with Stan Van Gundy early, getting in the doghouse and that being the end of that. I mean remember Brandon Bass was supposed to change their world and ended up pouting in the playoffs until his crazy dunk in garbage time against the Celtics. Runner up is Dominique Jones. Great talent, but in Dallas he’s behind Jason Terry and Rodrique Beaubois who got inconsistent playing time last year.
NATHAN: Well, this draft was so unpredictable (Stanley Robinson with the next to last pick!) that it’s really hard to qualify anyone as a sleeper. It might be homerism, but I’m going to go with Elliot Williams here because apparently he’s very athletic and has a lot of upside. Traditionally, the Blazers have been shrewd evaluators of talent, so for them to have locked on to him so quickly gives me hope.
COUP: He’s a little trendy as a sleeper, but Eric Bledsoe going at 18 and getting swung to the Clippers could be a great situation for him considering how often Baron Davis gets hurt or just doesn’t seem to care. I could see Bledsoe riding pine for awhile and then having a minor-break out once Davis twists an ankle, similar to the arcs taken but this year’s crop of guards.
SJ: I have to go with Gordon Hayward, and I hate myself for it. But I think that’s just the perfect place for him to go. He’s a hard nosed, hard working kid going to play for Jerry Sloan? Are you kidding me? How is that not going to turn out well? Not only that but the fans are absolutely going to love him. He’s my first round sleeper. Second round, I’m going with Luke Harangody. Make all the Scalabrine jokes you want but I feel like he can produce in the NBA. He’s a banger, he works hard, remember how Jon Brockman wowed everyone despite his looks. I foresee the same with Luke Harangody.
NATHAN: Gordon Hayward. He landed with a good organization in the Utah Jazz, but I think that he was a reach and will be underwhelming for a #9 pick. Especially considering the players Utah left on the board.
COUP: Paul George, Indiana. With the right team, George could have been very, very good. I just don’t see him improving with Indiana, outside of putting up some decent numerical nights. It feels sort of like Gerald Green going to the Boston Celtics when they were terrible.
SJ: Ekpe Udoh. He’s a guaranteed bust at #6. I just don’t see him having the talent (or the time) to put up the kind of numbers necessary to justify being drafted there. Especially when you consider he’s going to be compared to big men lower than him who are going to have impacts on their teams. I feel very Jon Barry-esque in this paragraph, but I just don’t see him being anything higher than solid.
9.) Are we happy with what Portland did?
NATHAN: Draft wise, I think so. Martell Webster needs minutes to produce and therefore wasn’t a good fit behind Nicolas Batum. I’m going to be watching a lot of tape on Luke Babbitt, but there seems to be a disconnect between how he tested athletically in the combine and what he showed at the college level. Most scouting reports called him slow and doubted he could defend NBA small forwards, however, Babbitt had one of the top five lane agility scores at the combine and showed solid leaping ability, though his sprint time wasn’t great. If Babbitt can defend his position and stretch defenses, then he’ll be a good fit behind Nicolas Batum.
Elliot Williams and Armon Johnson seem to be able to do a lot of the same things Jerryd Bayless can do and they don’t seem to counteract any of Bayless’ weaknesses. On the down side, Portland could really use some shooting in the back court; on the upside, maybe they’ll just get everyone on the opposing team into foul trouble.
As far as acquiring Ryan Gomes, he’s about as good as Webster, so to get him talent-wise in a trade that also netted the #16th pick is a very good deal and to get his only partially guaranteed contract is a steal. Gomes can only be traded by himself in a couple months, but a few interesting names that he could be traded for include: Michael Beasley, Nenad Krstic, Mickael Pietrus, Jason Maxiell, Reggie Evans, J.R. Smith, Ronny Turiaf, Kendrick Perkins, Brandon Bass, Rasual Butler, Mike Conley, Ramon Sessions, and Antonio Mcdyess. If Portland turns Martell Webster into Luke Babbitt and Michael Beasley or another talented player, you’ve got to like this draft.
Regarding the Kevin Pritchard situation, whether he should have been fired or not, I don’t think anyone is happy with the way that went down.
COUP: Value-wise, they made out. I’m not super high on Luke Babbitt, but his advanced numbers are off the charts and I can see exactly why Portland’s staff loves him. The guy is efficient as heck, and should compliment whoever doesn’t get traded of Bayless and Rudy in that bench group. On top of that, as long as he doesn’t turn out like Josh McRoberts, he adds a good amount of lineup flexibility and could possibly play 3/4 with Cunningham in some short-run smallball type lineups.
Williams is tough to get a read on because his college experience was all over the place, but I get the sense he had the talent to be a lottery pick if he stayed another year. I’m not sure how well he fits with the current Blazers, but the talent, and the defense, is there. Of the three picks, he’s the one I could see traded because of his athletic upside, despite the fact that it seems like Kevin Pritchard went through a lot of effort to make sure Williams stayed low on draft boards.
As for Johnson, he’s the type of combo-guard we imagined Portland grabbing when we had Dom Jones slotted at 22 for so long. He’s a bulldog who can get to the line, and is very cheap Bayless insurance if they want to explore trades. But again, I’m not sure how well he fits with today’s roster, and he’ll probably be riding pine for a good while.
SJ: I think you have to be happy with what Portland did. They got three really talented young players, and set themselves up very well for the future. They also provided themselves insurance at key positions and made guys more expendable. They also got rid of Martell Webster’s inconsistency and contract. My favorite part about these guys is they all will have time to grow. I think Babbitt is an excellent grab, the kid has lottery talent. He can really boost that second unit offensively. Elliot Williams was KP’s pet and with his athleticism, effort and willingness to attack will only help. Armon Johnson is a big strong guard who can just attack the basket and make plays for himself and others. He’ll be key when Miller is gone or if Bayless does not pan out. Williams and Johnson do seem redundant but they give Portland flexibility, youth and most importantly athleticism.
10. Who should Portland have taken?
NATHAN: I can’t see anyone that Portland is really going to regret not taking at #16, #22, or #34.
COUP: I thought at first the Blazers were going to trade up to 14 with Houston to grab Patrick Patterson, but Houston was probably too smart for that. Otherwise, Portland seemed to grab guys just as a certain tier of talent was drying up, so they didn’t miss out on much. Terrico White vs. Armon Johnson could garner a debate, though.
SJ: This is nitpicking… if they were going to go the perimeter route, I would have suggested Dominique Jones over Williams.
11. Most surprising trade?
NATHAN: Ryan Reid for Magnum Rolle. I’m surprised anyone cared. Why didn’t the Pacers just pick their obscure guy of choice in the first place? Did they forget the other guy existed?
COUP: Minnesota grabbing Webster. Kahn doesn’t appear to function correctly.
SJ: The Clippers getting Eric Bledsoe for a future first round pick. I was just surprised the Clippers made a really solid move.
12. How trades and picks will impact free agency?
NATHAN: Obviously, the Bulls and Heat trades are going to have a huge impact on free agency. The bidding wars for the best players on the planet starts July 1st.
COUP: The Heat were after Gomes’ contract for Beasley, so it will be interesting to see how that changes their plan to clear the last bit of cap space. Will they be calling to offer Beasley to Portland on the super cheap?
SJ: It’s all about the money. Hearing Tom Penn talk about how Miami could potentially have enough room to go after three MAX deals was jaw-dropping. Chicago, dropping Hinrich has put them in a great position. New York seems ready to pick up the pieces. It’s going to get really interesting in the next week or so.