Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Of Sam Dalembert's Value, Cole's Thumbs, and Jeff's Doghouse

Srikant and I have been discussing the NBA draft since our teams were eliminated from contention, roughly November 3rd for me. Like the Super Draft, we’re going to go back and forth, and will critique each other’s selection. I’ve drawn the long fry and will pick first.

Jeff, Pick 1: Blake Griffin

Only a retard would pass on a 6’10” forward with equal parts production and projection. While Griffin is certainly a special player and an outright banger, the player comparables for him have gotten a bit out of control. One read “a more athletic Karl Malone”. Now I’d buy a “less fertile Karl Malone” or an “environmentally conscious Karl Malone”, but comparables are supposed to be a player’s most likely career path not their absolute upside. Chad Ford’s comparable is “Carlos Boozer meets Amar'e Stoudemire”. This projects roughly to:

Amare: “Hey Los, how’s Utah?”
Booz: “You know it sucks ‘Mar‘e. How’s the microfracture?”
Amare: “Small. Broken. Screw over any blind people today?”
Booz: “Yes, several. Thanks for asking.”
Amare: “Well, I gotta go add another apostrophe to my name; ahoy hoy.”

Srikant’s Take: There is no argument with this pick. He is the consensus number 1 and it’s not even close. It’s a shame that such a great talent has to go to a succubus like the LA Clippers (stupid lottery), but maybe he and Baron Davis develop chemistry. Maybe the Clippers are able to unload Zach Randolph to Isaiah Thomas and FIU. Maybe Marcus Camby accepts his role as a 6th man, and we see a front court of Chris Kaman and Griffin giving team’s fits. That’s only the start of the maybes, and I don’t believe any of them. Who’s the real loser in all this? Griffin? The NBA? I say it’s those two loveable ligaments, born and bred in Oklahoma, Blake’s ACL and Blake’s MCL. I would be astounded if Griffin plays 50 games this year. The poor kid and his millions of dollars…

Srikant, Pick 2: Ricky Rubio

In an ideal world Rubio goes number 2 (he won’t Thabeet will, and he will bust). He has tremendous upside, and is just scratching the surface of his talent. A simple look through youtube, and images of Pete Marovich are conjured. Yes he is young, yes he has questionable range, and yes Brandon Jennings could beat him one on one. Still when it comes to vision, anticipation, and basketball IQ, no one in this draft compares to him. He plays basketball like a soccer player would, seeing cuts and through balls before anyone else does. Plus he has been playing against pros for most of his basketball life, and as we learned last year, the difference between Europe and the NBA is a lot smaller than we all think.

Jeff’s Take: The best basketball playing Spanish teenager in this draft is yours. I actually don’t have any problem with the pick. I do have a problem with GMs saying a pass-first point guard performed mediocre in one-on-one or one-on-none workouts. In a related story, the Kings are implementing their new NBA Jam offense. Carril you magnificent bastard.

Jeff, Pick 3: James Harden

Number 3 is a toss-up for me between Tyreke Evans, the guy I want to pick, and the guy I should pick, Jimmy Harden. Safety wins out over potential. Despite bearing an uncanny resemblance to the bastard child of Elton Brand and my old neighbor Tim, Harden is a do everything-guard that will fill up a stat sheet and play a lot of years in this league. He might never be an all-star, but his game reminds me of a cheaply made American version of Manu Ginobilli: a tough lefty that can get to the basket and can take over down the stretch. Despite the fact that neighbor Tim spent one cruel summer living in my parent’s doghouse (like there was evidence this happened), I’d be ecstatic if Harden ends up on the Wizards. Plus, the commute from my parent’s backyard can be made in under an hour.

Srikant’s Take: I will disagree and say that I think Tyreke Evans belongs here. I can’t really say that I don’t like Harden as a player, because he was spectacular this past year in the PAC-10. I even would go as far as to say Harden is probably better than Evans right now. However, in 2-3 years I think Evans will be one of the best combo guards in the game. I would take Evans ahead of Harden slightly on potential (basically a toss-up between the two).

Srikant, Pick 4: Tyreke Evans

I distinctly remember Jeff and I coming to work on the Monday after the first weekend of the NCAA tournament, and both going “Man I love Tyreke Evans.” He just wows you with his ability to get to the rim at will, his speed, and his size (measurables in Kiper lingo). Like previous Memphis star Derrick Rose, he seems to be they type of uber athlete that could cause a matchup disaster for opponents (especially if he plays at the 1). As an aside, how great of a name is Tyreke. It allows you to go with the traditional moniker of Ty if you want, or if you what to be a free spirit you could go with Zeke or Eke, or even Reke. The possibilities are endless.

Jeff’s Take: Needless to say, I love this pick. While his basement is Larry Hughes, the Jerry Stackhomes comparison seems legit to me. I really have no problem with him going as high as #2. His defense and mid-range game will play immediately. I think an OJ Mayo rookie year is likely.

Jeff, Pick 5: Steph Curry

The best shooter since Ray Allen with range like Rocky Gorge. With the exception of Griffin, Curry seems least likely to bust, only because his shot will play, even if his ball handling prevents him from being an elite guard. Fun fact on Davidson, which makes me wonder why it’s not a better sporting school, all students get their laundry done at no additional charge.

Srikant’s Take: Dell’s kid? He can shoot the lights out, but so could J.J. Reddick. This is a tough call. He is a really likeable player, who just about lit up every team he played, but I have concerns about his size and handle. Still, I am not sure I like the other guards much better (Flynn, Jennings). I like the pick if he can make the transition to PG, otherwise I think you have to hope he turns into an effective set shooter in the Steve Kerr mold. One of my favorite comments in re Stephen Curry being a lottery pick came from a co-worker, “I once knew a kid who was the best player at Davidson (Ian Johnson)…he plays intermittently in Sweden.”

Srikant, Pick 6: Hasheem Thabeet

So I lose the contest of who breaks first and takes Thabeet. I am going to come out and say that I think Thabeet is one of the most over-rated prospects in years. DeJuan Blair, who was measured at 6’5 and played at 300+ pounds, absolutely dominated him. His main offensive move is to catch and dunk, and all he really did at UConn was just roam around and block shots. So why am I taking him here? It’s just that he is tall, seems adept at timing shot blocks, and is pretty athletic for a guy is size. So…I guess there is an outside chance he could be Dikembe Mutombo, a defensive stopper who rebounds, and gets you 10-15 a night. While I think he more likely will be like Sam Dalembert (which would be fine, except that Sam was picked 26th overall), I think you have to take a shot with him at 6. As low as I am on him, other people seem to be high on him, so everyone can’t be wrong, can they? (I wonder how many GM’s think this way…certainly Chris Wallace).

Jeff’s Take: It only makes sense that the president, founder, and lone member of the Samuel Dalembert Fan Club takes Thabeet. You argue against Steph Curry for being one dimensional, then take a seven footer from Dar Es Salaam because GMs of terrible teams that consistently have top 5 picks like the guy? Somewhere Manute Bol is plowing a field he doesn’t love…

Jeff, Pick 7: Ty Lawson, b*tches.

Why the most productive college point guard on the National Champion with pro-game is a mid-to-late first rounder is beyond me. John Hollinger confirmed what I thought all along, “his shooting numbers (47.1 percent on 3-pointers), strong assist rate and microscopic turnover ratio (9.1, first among point guard prospects) all point to him as an NBA keeper.” If you want a safe point guard, Lawson’s the pick. He’s a sure-fire NBA starting point guard. You have to love a league that criticizes players like Brandon Jennings and Jrue Holiday that had trouble earning consistent minutes and then put up mediocre numbers when they did play, and yet is so intrigued by their mystery and upside that they take them 10 spots ahead of player like Lawson. You know with three years of college there’s a good chance Brandon Jennings would’ve been the best point guard in college… sort of like Ty Lawson was this year. HUH?!

Srikant’s Take: Lawson is explosive, and would be great on a team like Philly or Golden State. I agree that for some reason teams don’t seem as high on him as they should be, especially considering that he had arguably the best year of any player in the NCAA last year. Quickly back to Sam Dalembert…how dare you! What’s not to like about a 6’11, 250 pound Canadian. He almost averages a double-double (8 and 8), and he runs the floor like a gazelle. I will not have you using this blog as a forum to disgrace his good name. No Sir.

Srikant, Pick 8: Brandon Jennings

I think Jennings and Johnny Flynn are pretty much in a dead heat at this point. Jennings gets the nod because I think that we can chalk up his struggles this year in Europe to growing pains, and I think he has the potential to be better than Flynn. I also respect the hell out of his decision to call out David Stern’s ridiculous rule regarding the entry of HS athletes into the draft (which has created a new era of 1 and done college hoops). As a player, Jennings is a bit flashy, and I think he could turn into a Stephon Marbury clone, which scares me. However, he is freakishly athletic, can play well above the rim, has great range, and when he is on, he can make the jaw dropping play. Another plus, he seems to be coachable, according to one scout, "In every area he's gotten better. You can't say the same thing about Jrue Holiday or Jonny Flynn or whoever you want to put up there. This kid's learning curve has been dramatic. The numbers are just a part of the story." So here is hoping that I didn’t just draft Jamal Crawford/Stephon Marbury/insert “I needs to get mine” guard.

Jeff’s Take: How can I knock a shit talker with a flat top this smooth that said FU to the NCAA? Look, the kid was smart to do what he did. He averages more fouls than assists per game in college and he goes undrafted, but in the Euroleague he’s mature. But dude couldn’t get on the floor in Italy, not sure how he does in the big league? He could be good, obviously, he’s a likely lottery pick, but it seems to me you’re talking three years before you start seeing anything from the kid. If you’re a GM living one season to the next, do you take that risk?

Jeff, Pick 9: Earl Clark

You know I’m taking Earl Clark. In five years Earl Clark is going to either be a unique NBA player in the Lamar Odom mold with unreal passing skills and a matchup nightmare or dominating midnight basketball versus his fellow janitors. Simply put: I like both of these scenarios. I love this kid’s low post game and even though he gets a little lazy at times, what midnight janitor doesn’t? Also, let me be the first to lobby for Earl Clark to put his full name on his jersey. EARL CLARK. Beautiful.

Srikant’s Take: Oh the glorious janitor’s game. I remember watching those back in college. The few times I had to play because there weren’t enough janitors, I stood in the corner and passed the ball. A noble end to humbled basketball dreams. Man those janitors could flat out ball. Earl Clark, hmmm…Well, Earl (saying Earl never gets old) is a bit of a turnover machine, and sometimes he can’t match the other team's physicality and toughness (oddly this happened to him in Louisville’s blow out loss at the hands of Notre Dame, where Luke Harangody outscored him 32-11). I am not even sure he is the best player on his college team (Terrance Williams?). He has a good deal of potential, but this seems awfully high for him. I would take Johnny Flynn, Terrance Williams, Gerald Henderson, Jrue Holiday, and Demar DeRozan ahead of him probably. Also, I am not sure I would take Earl Clark, with the guy I am about to select still on the board….

Srikant, Pick 10: DeJuan Blair

As a University of Pittsburgh fan, I watched a lot of DeJuan this year. This kid is a beast, end of story. He is relentless on the offensive glass, and he just out muscles everyone he plays. He basically had his way with players 6 or 7 inches taller than him. He has a long wingspan that makes up for his shorter height, and he has giant hands that act like “suction cups”( quoting Bill Raftery). Here are his splits against notable college big men:

Hasheem Thabeet: 22 and 23.
Derrick Brown: 10 and 17
Luke Harangody: 22 and 23
Lazar Hayword: 23 and 9
Dante Cunningham: 20 and 10

I really think Blair could be a lot like a combination of Paul Millsap and Chuck Hayes (or even better). Indications are that he has lost weight and is down to a sleek 275 (with a body fat % under 8%). Worst comes to worst, I think he ends up like Craig Smith. I realize this is high for Blair, as most mock drafts have him between 11-20, but aside from some concerns about his knees, I think he is one of the most productive and fierce players in the draft. Doesn't hurt that he comes from the City of Champions. In a related note, I am really glad the NBA has finally come to its senses, and realized that under-sized 4’s shouldn’t be automatically relegated to the FA pool. In recent years we have seen Glen Davis, Paul Milsap, and Chuck Hayes all succeed as shorter post players. I think with the pace of the game today, combined with the realization that girth, will and determination can trump height, we will see a lot more undersized 4’s coming into the league in coming years.

Jeff’s Take: You simple, predictable man. Jonny Flynn should be the pick here, but I love taking a 6’5” power forward with terrible knees and at pick 10. I know you just wanted to get a plug in for Blair, and I can’t fault you for that; heck, I took Harden over Evans because I today realized he looks like my old neighbor! One of the more enjoyable subplots for me during the draft process has been following DeJuan Blair's medical reports. In the past month it’s gone from tearing an ACL in high school to multiple ACL tears to “troubling knees” to “red-flag injury” to this most recent report “it's only come to light in recent days that those concerns have to do with the fact that doctors can't seem to find his ACLs in the MRIs they've taken”. Srikant, who am I to argue? As you mention, Blair DOMINATED your boy Thabeet, and let’s be honest, Cole don’t need thumbs.


Ryan Smith said...

Splendid. I demand an entire post dedicated to janitor basketball.

Ryan Smith said...

Let me preface this by saying that I didn't watch a lot of college basketball this year, so I was unaware of DeMarre Carroll's medical condition... but after the Grizzlies drafted him, the best thing Stu Scott could say about DeMarre was that he "might need a liver transplant in 20-25 years." HUH?

Then Jay Bilas said that DeMarre "brings intangibles."

Congratulations, Memphis. You've locked up a player with a liver disease whose game is allegedly chock-full of qualities that cannot be perceived by the senses.

The NBA Draft is gold.