One of these guys could go #1
Last year, I did a whole big mock draft. I asked a bunch of people who were fans of their various teams and we held a mock draft as if they were their team's GM. It went pretty well....and it went pretty wrong. As in most drafts, one wrench knocks out the entire machine.
I didn't do one this year because the 2006 NBA Draft is the ultimate crapshoot. This is the first draft since the ban on high schoolers entering. And because the last two years saw rumors of this rule coming....most of the top talent over the past two years jumped early. It has it's effect. The top high school player, Greg Oden, will be attending Ohio State in the fall. If allowed, he would have been the clear cut #1 pick in this draft.
So, this draft doesn't have any stars. It doesn't have any instant help. There are only a few guys that could possibly expect to start right away [Adam Morrison, Brandon Roy].
But it will be a deep draft. The kind of draft where we might see guys taken in the 2nd round last a long time. It could be similar to the 2001 draft. That was the last draft that didn't feature a set top pick [Yao Ming, LeBron James, Dwight Howard and Andrew Bogut have all been taken #1 since then]. The top pick was Kwame Brown...who did next to nothing in Washington and is trying to resurrect his career with the Lakers. Of the 1st rounders, only Pau Gasol and Tony Parker have made an All Star Game. Yet, the 2nd round featured Gilbert Arenas....one of the league's top scorers this past year.
It, again, should be that kind of draft. A very eccletic draft. The top pick could be a Euro [Bargnani], or a tall Texan [Aldridge] or a guy who made his name in the NCAA tournament [Thomas] or the NCAA's top scorer [Morrison] or a swingman with no real set position [Roy]. It could be dealt away. Who knows. But here are a few things that I'd like to say about the draft as a whole.
RAPTORS SHOULD MAKE THAT TRADE WITH CHARLOTTE: Toronto has the top pick, and there are rumors that the Bobcats would like it. In doing so, they may select Morrison or Roy. Either way, the Raptors could get that player [or Bargnani who they may really want] in that #3 spot....plus get Brevin Knight. Charlotte is offering up Knight, who in 2005 was 2nd in the NBA in assists. Toronto, make that deal.
JJ REDICK WON'T BE AN ALL STAR: Word is that Houston may take Redick at #8. Big mistake. First off, there are better players on the board at that spot. Second off, I think Redick is the next coming of Steve Kerr. That's not a bad thing....but you wouldn't pick Kerr with the #8 pick in any draft in the last 20 years would you? Redick is slow...cannot create his own shot....is a smallish 2-guard....can't defend....and won't get those ACC calls. Redick was a product of Duke as much as he was their star. Coach K ran everything he could for Redick. That won't happen in Houston or anywhere else. But Redick does have insane range...and that is always needed in the Association. Redick can make a career being a long range bomber....like Kerr....and stretch defenses out.
Since that 2001 draft I mentioned earlier, the best 4-year college guys that have played in the NBA are Kirk Hinrich, Tayshaun Prince, Shane Battier and Josh Howard. Each has found a niche in the league and stayed with it. In fact, of the 2006 NBA All Stars....only FOUR went the entire four years of college. If Redick understands and accepts his new life....he could have a long, albeit a non-star, career.
THIS BARGNANI CAT WILL BE OKAY: Alright. If you were a college basketball fan...you know who Brandon Roy is. Rudy Gay. LaMarcus Aldridge. Adam Morrison. But, then the draft rolls around and you hear that some Italian dude named Andrea Bargnani could be the top pick. Who is he? Drafting foreigners is about as risky as drafting high school players. You could get the next Dirk Nowitzki. You could get the next Nikoloz Tskitishvili. Or you could get the next Darko Milicic...which the jury is still out on. At least he came to America....not like Fran Vazquez who ripped Orlando's heart in last June's draft [he said, "no thanks" to the NBA after the Magic drafted him with the 11th pick].
I don't think Andrea will be the next Dirk. But he won't be the next Tskiti either. He could be the next Peja...and that ain't too bad.
HEY....I KNOW THAT DUDE: There will be plenty of names you do know in this draft. Especially once David Stern passes the mike over. Guys like Kevin Pittnogle who could sneak into the 1st round. There is Josh Boone, Dee Brown, Pittsnogle's teammate Mike Gansey, Paul Davis, Allan Ray [the dude who about had his eye poked from his head], Leon Powe, Gerry McNamara, Craig Smith, Nik Caner-Medley and Pops Mensah-Bonsu.
WHICH LIKELY 2ND ROUND PICK DO I LIKE: I love Leon Powe and I think he has a future in this league. He's a rebounding machine and loves to do garbage work around the basket. He has an array of offensive moves around the basket and has a nose for the ball. What he doesn't have is range....and a 6-7 forward needs that. If he can develop a shot....he can stick in the NBA. I really hope he gets a good look somewhere.
ADAM MORRISON WILL BE A DECENT NBA PLAYER: He is labeled the "next Larry Bird". I see him as the "next Keith Van Horn". Van Horn went with the #2 pick....and hasn't been much more than a journeyman who can get some points here and there. I see the same for Morrison. I like his skills...but I'm not sure how they'll translate to the NBA game. His ability to pass and create his own shot will help him...but can he play the defense needed from his position to make a difference??
I THINK RUDY GAY WILL BE THE STAR OF THIS DRAFT: There is always one guy who emerges to be the King of the Draft right off the bat. That guy could be Rudy Gay. Gay can come in and make a difference....especially if he goes to Charlotte or Portland where he'd get some playing time. He has an NBA ready body and the ability to see the entire game....not just what he does well. He isn't LeBron James....but he's kinda in that mold. If he went to Charlotte at #3, he'd be alongside fellow UConn alumnus Emeka Okafor and point guard Raymond Felton as the nucleus for the franchise.
I CAN'T WAIT FOR THIS GUY TO BE AN NBA PLAYER: I want to see Marcus Vinicius Vieira de Souza in the NBA. I guess in Brazil, either you go by one name or by several. I just wanna see "Vinicius Vieira de Souza" on the back of a jersey.
SPORTZ' "RED FLAG" AWARD: This goes to Joel Freeland. He is a forward from England. Yep, England. Sorry, but wasn't the last English player some guy named Michael Olowokandi??? Yikes! Don't worry. He's only played real organized hoops from one year, hoops at all for just three and has barely seen any NBA games. Not really what I'd like to hear in a prospect my team just drafted. But...he is a 7-footer and ya can't teach height. Eh, Kandi man???
GIMME SOME TIME!!!! AND I'LL HAVE MY OWN MOCK DRAFT UP HERE