Luke Walton is a fringe first-round draft pick. Despite many experts saying he is a steal, a ton of teams will bypass him for a similar, yet unproven European player. Walton is the best passing big man in the draft and is much bigger than many give him credit. His shot is shaky and injuries are a concern, but someone is going to get a nice player late in the first round or early in the second.
I see three teams as candidates. First off is Portland. It would love to market Big Bill's son, and adding a player who is a good guy could be another good P.R. move. The fact that he loves to pass could keep his selfish teammates happy as well.
Texas could be a more logical stop. San Antonio seems like a natural fit. Once again his passing would be very welcome with the Spurs. Think Tim Duncan would love getting fed in the post from Walton? You think he'd fit in well in the Spurs' locker room? AbsoLUTEly. The front office has done very well with players from Lute Olson's program.
Dallas is another logical destination. Don Nelson has always loved the point forward and Walton would fit that to a tee. He's also a tough player who could add some strength to the interior.
I'm not going out on much of a limb saying that Jason Gardner won't get drafted. What is a shame is that even five years ago Gardner would be a late first round pick. The availability of foreign and high school talent has made college seniors less and less desirable.
The sad thing is that Gardner won't be drafted, but Reggie Geary was. No offense to Geary, arguably the best defensive player to come out of the Pac-10 in 15 years, but he could bearly shoot. Gardner has to be as good a player as Lee Mayberry, Tyus Edney and Terrence Rencher, all smaller point guards who were selected in the draft.
Maybe I'm just a narrow-minded American, but I don't like all of the foreigners in the draft. It is not just the fact that I don't know Zarko Cabarkapa from Zaur Pachulia; it's that good college players won't get drafted because NBA GMs don't want to miss out on the latest trend. It's bad enough that I haven't seen any of the foreign-born players play, but to me it is even worse that college players who can flat out play are passed over for mobile 7-footers who average less than five points a game for European club teams. Someone outside of the Lottery is going to get a David West or Nick Colison.
What is even more baffling is that there has yet to be a huge impact from foreign players. Of all the foreigners only Dirk Nowitzki can really be considered a star. Players like Pao Gasol, Tony Parker and Pedrag Stojakovich are all very good players, but there seem to be more Dalibor Bagarics and Igor Rakocevic's than there are Hidayet Turkoglu's. Even players who have had nice careers like Toni Kukoc and Vlade Divac, haven't lived up to the hype that followed them into the league after their European careers.
My team, the Phoenix Suns, have been rumored to like Aleksandar Pavlovic, a 6-7 small forward from Serbia. No offense to Pavlovic, but the next great Serbian small forward will be the first. There is talk that Georgia's Jarvis Hayes will still be around by the 17th pick. To me that is a crime. You read it here first, Hayes will be this year's version of Caron Butler and Paul Pierce.
At this point Ebi is a fringe first rounder at best. If he does slip to the second round he made a huge mistake. Rashard Lewis is the exception that proves the rule, a high schooler better have three years guaranteed. There are few teams willing to stash a high school player at the end of their bench for two or three years at the same time they are locked into keeping all of their first rounders as well.
Frankly, if Ebi is selected in the second round he should go to Arizona. He could spend a year or two under Olson's tutelage and the team drafting him could evaluate him at the end of each season and essentially call him up when they think he is ready. The money would be the same and his free agency clock would not start, but by showcasing himself for a year or two in college, Ebi could better make a case for making a roster.
Now this is a moot point if a team takes a chance in the first round. Although it may not be the best decision in the long run, it would be a financially wise option. Ebi would receive guaranteed money and most likely get a free agent contract at the end of the three years. Even if he plays sparingly, a team will take a chance on him. Indiana did that with little used Jermaine O'Neal, and after the trade he developed into a top-flight big man.
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