CJ's Corner: Draft Aftermath

If you are a basketball fan, you were glued to the tube last night taking in all the happenings with the NBA Draft. Cardinalmaniacs paid particular attention to point guard drafts and how that might relate to Julius Barnes, as well as what the Lakers might do at the power forward (see: Mark Madsen). For Stanford fans and NBA junkies alike, here is the definitive take on last night's hysteria.

If you missed Chris' Draft predictions yesterday, click here for them.

Drafted well

Detroit Pistons.  I won't even pretend to know much about most of the foreign players selected in the draft.  However, I've seen enough tape of Darko Milicic and, to a lesser extent, Carlos Delfino to opine that they were outstanding choices.  Milicic will form an amazing post tandem with Ben Wallace.  While the choice of Milicic at #2 was an obvious one (Carmello Anthony was a distant third), and I'm not inclined to give Detroit props for making the obvious choice, the selection of Delfino is what gets Detroit on this list.  He'll be a fine perimeter threat to complement Wallace and Milicic, so credit Detroit with doing an excellent job of addressing an area of need.

Los Angeles Lakers.  Let's face it, despite having Stanford grad and fan favorite Mark Madsen, the Lakers are relatively weak at the power forward position.  Madsen, the frequently clutch but aging Robert Horry, and Samaki Walker have really just been role players for Los Angeles.  The Lakers addressed their need for a solid four by taking Illinois product Brian Cook.  Though unlikely to be a breakout player, especially on a team with Shaq and Kobe, Cook should provide Phil Jackson a solid starter.  Although I don't think Luke Walton's game will translate well to the NBA generally, he's at least reasonably well-suited for the Lakers' style of offense, where his passing skills in the halfcourt offense can be utilized.

Cleveland Cavaliers.  LeBron James was the obvious pick at #1, so I won't give Cleveland any particular credit for doing what every other NBA team with the possible exception of the Clippers would have done.  However, taking Jason Kapono in the second round was an inspired choice, and you have to give the Cavs credit for using a second round pick to fill an area of need.  Kapono should fit in extremely well as a deadly shooter who will get plenty of open looks with LeBron in the lineup, even if he comes off the bench. 

Drafted poorly

Golden State Warriors.  The Warriors woeful track record in the NBA draft and in trades has a distinct pattern to it, and the same mistakes are seemingly repeated year after year.  Those mistakes include drafting tweeners (guys who don't have a true position), drafting shooting guards who can't shoot, and drafting or trading for one mediocre point guard after another.  After giving fans a brief glimmer of hope last year with a solid draft, the Warriors reverted to form.  Mickael Pietrus is a good player by most accounts, but was he worth the eleventh pick overall?  Do the Warriors really need another 6'6" off guard who everyone agrees can't shoot?  When asked why he chose Pietrus, Garry St. Jean responded by citing the Frenchman's athleticism and big hands.  Gee, Gary, I didn't realize big hands were so important for a shooting guard. Amazing that a guy like Clyde Drexler had a hall of fame career despite being unable to palm a basketball.  And goodness knows it's hard to find good athletes in the 6'6" range these days; when one is available, you really need to jump on him!   Picking point guard Derrick Zimmerman in the second round is equally questionable.  He may well have gone undrafted had the Warriors not taken him, and at the risk of asking the obvious, do they really need another so-so point guard?  Heck, the Warriors would have been better off taking a flier on a big man and going after Zimmerman or Julius Barnes as a free agent if they felt they needed another point guard.  (For more on Barnes and the Warriors, click here.)

Boston Celtics/Memphis Grizzlies.  Perhaps the Celtics were so convinced that one of the top 5 point guards would be available to them that they didn't have a contingency plan.  Whatever the reason, taking Troy Bell so early in the draft (#16) is baffling, though perhaps less so when you consider that the Celtics once deemed Michael Smith worthy of a first round selection.  To make matters worse, the Celtics followed up the selection of Bell by taking Dahntay Jones #20 overall.  One draft summary described Jones succinctly as a highlight reel dunker.  Pretty good summary, actually.  Jones might have been a decent second round pick, but there were many better players available at #20, including several wing players.  Perhaps the Celtics were inspired by the Warriors selection of Pietrus at #11, and felt that the supply of athletic guys in the 6'6" range is so small that they just had to have one of their own.  WHOA!  Hold the presses, we have a trade . . . the Celtics are shipping Bell and Jones to Memphis for Marcus Banks, Kendrick Perkins and Brandon Hunter.  I'm not sure how much better off the Celtics are for making the trade, but at least Banks has some real upside, even if he's somewhat of a question mark as a floor leader.  Since Memphis was crazy enough to take Bell and Jones off the Celtics' hands, add them to the list of draft losers.

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