Tag Archives: NBA draft

Do NBA Draft “Projects” Ever Work Out?

It was probably all the European players selected in the NBA Draft, but one phrase I heard a lot was, “won’t be able to help right away.” This is a relatively new phenomenon for professional basketball, since it used to be the one leage where your draft picks were expected to make a sudden impact. Not so much anymore. When I do a quick recap of players in the past that weren’t expected to contribute right away but had successful careers, I immediately think of Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett. But they both became legit players in just their second year. Since then, I’m left coming up with names like Korleone Young and Hasheem Thabeet. Was Thabeet even supposed to be a project in the first place? I thought he was supposed to be able to contribute right away. Instead, he spent the majority of the season in the D-League, before being traded with a future first round pick for Shane Battier. Obviously the move seemed to pay off for Memphis, but what a quick decline that was for Thabeet! Let’s take a look back over the last 10 years or so at guys who were drafted with the hopes of them contributing for their team a few years down the road. I’ll leave out Hassan Whiteside, who just over a year ago was projected as a lottery pick. When he slipped to number 33, he was considered to be a steal. In his rookie season, he only saw two minutes of action, and his only statistical contribution was a pair of fouls. Here are some guys who had a bigger pair of shoes to fill….

Michael Olowokandi, 1998 – I think the Kandi Man was supposed to make an impact right away, but the Clippers still drafted him on potential. He put up decent numbers in five seasons in LA, but the team gave up on him after 5 years. His career began its rapid decline as soon as his stint with the Timberwolves began. Clipper fans will always wonder what if they had selected Paul Pierce or Dirk Nowitzki, and would happily settle for Vince Carter, Antawn Jamison, or Mike Bibby.

Al Harrington, 1998 – Harrington may be one of the few exceptions. Drafted out of high school, it took him about four and a half years to hit his stride, but he’s carved out a pretty decent NBA career.

Rashard Lewis, 1998 – Up until a few years ago, Lewis was the perfect success story for draft projects. It took two years of work, but he blossomed into an all-star for Seattle.

Jonathan Bender, 1999 – It’s been said that injuries kept Bender from becoming a great NBA player, but in seven seasons, he never really got over the hump. At least the team that drafted him, Toronto, quickly flipped him to Indiana for Antoni Davis. At least that selection didn’t haunt them, like if they had taken Trajan Langdon or William Avery.

Darius Miles, 2000 – Another blown pick by the Clippers. He seemed to finally come into his own five or six years in, but then injuries derailed his career. Instead, his best performances will be forever be remembered as his roles in Van Wilder and The Perfect Score.

DeSagana Diop, 2001 – I don’t remember what exactly was expected of Diop at the time, but with the number 8 pick, you probably expect more than a career 2 pt, 2 reb player.

Nikoloz Tskitishvili, 2002 – I probably don’t even have to explain how this one went.

Amare Stoudemire, 2002 – Stoudemire went four slots later and was a 20 pt scorer in his second season. Obviously this was a pick that paid off. Cleveland and the Cippers also passed on Amare, for the likes of Dajuan Wagner and Chris Wilcox.

Darko Milicic, 2003 – Not needing help right away, the Pistons swung for the fences with Darko and whiffed badly. Even though they were already a contender, they would have been better off trading the pick, or as big of a problem as it would have been, drafted Carmelo Anthony or Chris Bosh… or Dwyane Wade or Chris Kaman.

Ndudi Ebi, 2003 – Who actually remembers this guy? I remember reading about him in SLAM magazine when he was probably like five years old. He may have been a little older, but he was supposed to be a future star. Looks like he’s found a gig in Europe these days.

Shaun Livingston, 2004 – I don’t even know why the Clippers try. I mean, I guess it could have been worse. They could have gone for Robert Swift instead.

Doin Work NorCal NBA Draft Preview

The NBA Draft is becoming more and more like the MLB Draft with all the unknown players. These days, it’s pretty much one-and-done college players and international guys who most of us have never heard of. Fortunately Chappy still keeps up on his scouting and put together a mock draft for us, but I’m going to zero in on the Kings and Warriors. I’ll start with the Kings, mainly because they pick first out of the two teams. Also because at number seven, there will be fewer players off the board, so it’s easier to narrow down the search.

# 7 pick – Sacramento Kings: If ONLY one of the following names is available at number seven, it’ll be Brandon Knight, Kemba Walker, Kawhi Leonard, or Jimmer Fredette. I’d like to think those names are also in order of preference, but of that, I’m not so sure. The main area of need for the Kings to address in the draft is the point guard position. The verdict is in from last season and it looks like Tyreke Evans would be more effective off the ball. Marcus Thornton is locked in as a building block for the team as well, but after the opening tip, there’s no reason both of those guys couldn’t play with a third guard on the floor. Brandon Knight is the top PG in the draft, but also widely considered to be long gone before the Kings make their pick. That’s why it’ll likely come down to whoever is available between Walker and Leonard. Personally I hope it’s Walker. The Kings desperately need a small forward, but they need to get a veteran who can step in right away. They simply can’t afford to roll with Francisco Garcia and Omri Casspi at the three this season. Leonard’s defense and rebounding would be much-needed, but unless he can produce right away, it’s going to leave a gaping hole at the wing. The wild card pick would be Jimmer. Most people think he’s a stretch at number seven, and some even question whether he can be effective in the NBA, but the Maloofs may not be able to resist the fanfare that is Jimmer Fredette. One of the greatest draft picks in Kings history was also a reach of sorts, taking the iffy Jason Williams at the same slot back in 1998, which in a way, kickstarted the Kings into contention. Maybe a quick little white guy who can pull up from 28 feet on a fast break is what a team needs to get over the hump. In all seriousness though, I really think his shooting is exactly what the doctor should be ordering for them. They are awfully short at long range shooting, and adding Fredette would seemingly help extend the defense. With guys like Evans and Demarcus Cousins, who are already elusive in traffic, Jimmer could be the most impactful selection should the team go in that direction. It will probably take a perfect storm to happen, but I would welcome the consolation, should the other two more highly-touted guards, Knight and Walker, go off the board.

# 11 pick – Golden State Warriors: It’s a lot tougher to call who the Warriors are even considering, let alone who they may take at number eleven. Most of the chatter out of Oakland these days is in regards to how many trades they propose with Monta Ellis, or how many trades are proposed to them for Stephen Curry. The Warriors obviously need size, but they try that every year and it never really seems to work out. It’s been 10 years by my count since the W’s had a successful selection at power forward or center – that’s if you count Troy Murphy (which I do). The list of name since then includes Andris Biedrins, Ike Diogu, Patrick O’Bryant, Brandan Wright (acquired by draft day trade), Anthony Randolph, and Epke Udoh. Most don’t expect the W’s to break this lineage either, with Bismack Biyombo the most popular choice. If not Biyombo, it will likely be another international big man. However, guys like Klay Thompson and Alec Burks are getting a lot of hype of late, probably due to the likelihood of an opening down the road at the shooting guard position. Monta Ellis’s departure seems more like a matter of when, not if, so the front office seems poised to find a bigger replacement to plug into the lineup once that happens. I think the team would be best served trading the pick for a veteran big man. I don’t think this year’s #11 pick would make the Ellis-Biedrins-Udoh for Dwight Howard offer any more enticing, but maybe it would be enough for the 76ers to throw in Marreese Speights or Thaddeus Young in that Ellis for Iguodala deal. If they don’t trade the pick, I expect Jerry West to put his stamp on the first draft pick of his Warriors tenure, whoever it may be.

May The Worst Team Lose

Last year I wrote a pissed-off mock draft after the NBA Lottery was drawn. This year I just turned my TV off and left my house. Not surprisingly, neither the Warriors nor Kings moved up, but that’s nothing new. And fortunately, the talent this year is so dreadful, that it’s not like I feel like they’ll be missing out on anyone. But it just never ceases to amaze me how the NBA Lottery can defy mathematics nearly every year. I really thought Stern was going to throw the Kings a bone this year, but I should have known better. The Lottery left me scratching my head though, and wondering two things: One, what were the odds of winning for the team that won the lottery each year? and Two, how many times in the last 15 years or so has a Northern California team moved up into the top three? The only time that comes to mind was 2002 when the Warriors got Mike Dunleavy at #3. (I have since gone back and discovered that they tied Chicago for the worst record in the league that year, but Houston got the #1 pick to take Yao, so the W’s actually moved DOWN). With all this curiosity in mind, I’ve decided to go back year by year and see who got the #1 pick, and how amazing it was that they got there….

2011 – Cleveland. They finished with the second-worst record, but won the lottery with a pick that had less than a 3% chance.

2010 – Washington. Tied for 4th worst record

2009 – Clippers. Tied for 2nd worst record

2008 – Chicago. Jumped 8 other worse teams to land hometown star Derrick Rose.

2007 – Portland. Jumped 6 worse teams to assume the Greg Oden burden.

2006 – Toronto.  5th worst record

2005 – Milwaukee. 6th worst record

2004 /2003 – Orlando and Cleveland actually had the worst records in those years.

2002 – Houston. 5th worst record

2001 – Washington. 3rd worst record in a terrible draft

2000 – New Jersey. 7th worst record

1999 – Chicago. 3rd worst record.

1998 -Clippers. 3rd worst record.

1997 – San Antonio. 3rd worst record.

Things Are Looking Good In Sacramento

The Sacramento Kings have a pretty strong reputation when it comes to drafting. They’ve certainly had more Stojakovics, JWills, Tyrekes, and KMarts than they have Pervises, Abdul-Wahads, and Doubys. Either way, I don’t think I’ve ever seen the entire city, from management to the media to the fans, collectively on the same page. This is the same fan base that booed the selection of Peja Stojakovic in 1996. But this year, at every level, the sentiment was the same: get Cousins. The Kings did that, which wasn’t too much of a surprise due to the predictability of the first five picks, but it was the second round selection that really had fans buzzing. Hassan Whiteside was a lottery pick in many mock drafts, and a first rounder in the rest of them. Somehow, though, he slid all the way to number 33, and suddenly, a risky first round pick turned into a steal in the second round. The Kings have been trying to get bigger for years now, and in a matter of a week, they can boast a frontline of Samuel Dalembert, Carl Landry, Jason Thompson, and DeMarcus Cousins. By the end of the night, they have another 7-footer, Whiteside, to add to their depth. Now set at the 4 and 5, there are two glaring holes on the roster: Point Guard and Small Forward. Now, I’m not convinced that Tyreke Evans can’t be a point guard in this league, and you can do worse than Beno Udrih, but the Kings desperately need a true point guard to run the offense. Out on the wing, a trio of Francisco Garcia, Donte Greene, and Omri Casspi is a pretty solid unit, but they need a guy who can consistently put up 15-20 points, rather than having to roll the dice each game trying to figure out which one of these three guys is going to show up that night. But this is all okay with me. Now that the frontcourt is set, the needs are clearer than ever for the franchise. The best part is, there’s plenty of assets, both financially and personnel-wise, for the front office to acquire some quality players to fill those holes. With the much anticipated draft in the books, let’s turn our attention to offseason frenzy that’s about to ensue – one that the Kings aren’t projected to be major players in, but can easily make some significant moves.

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Quickest NBA Mock Draft Up on the Web

Well, another rigged NBA Lottery is in the books. To no one’s surprise, two East Coast franchises leapfrogged the likes of Minnesota, Sacramento, and Golden State. Fans across those three cities are moaning and groaning while Wizards and Sixers fans are wondering how they got such good luck. Fortunately, the two best rookies from last year’s draft ended up in Northern California despite David Stern’s best (or worst, depending on how you look at) efforts. No need to worry Kings and Warriors fans. The two best players came at picks number 4 and 7…. No reason to think they can’t come at the 5th and 6th position.  Let’s break down how this year’s draft is going to pan out….

1. Washington Wizards – John Wall – Part of me thinks that the late Abe Pollin made this happen from up above. The other part of me thinks Stern did this from down below. At any rate, the Wizards will win the John Wall sweepstakes, but it’s not going to change their fortunes. This franchise has found a way to lose under any circumstance. They had a solid core with Gilbert Arenas, Antawn Jamison, and Caron Butler and still managed to be a lottery team. This year, they’ll try to ease Wall along, if only to keep Arenas happy. John Wall will go on to have an Antonio Daniels like career and the Wizards will be back in Secaucus next year….and the year after that….and the year after that.

2. Philadelphia Sixers – Evan Turner – Evan Turner is the consensus #2 pick, but his game is strikingly similar to Andre Iguodala. He’ll also fight for playing time on the wing with Thaddeus Young. In the end, the Sixers will keep Turner on the court to try and prove that they drafted better than last year with Jrue Holiday, and they’ll miss the playoffs once again. I’m setting the over/under on Evan Turner’s rookie season right at, let’s say, Corey Brewer.

3. New Jersey Nets – Derrick Favors – The Nets have a solid 1-2 in Devin Harris and Brook Lopez. Therefore, they look to the wing and select Derrick Favors. Problem is, no one’s really sure that Favors really likes playing basketball. Prediction: Favors and Terrence Williams still make little to no impact on the Nets in 2010-11.

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RFP of the Day: Dwayne Schintzius

A couple weeks back, I alluded to the 1990 NBA Draft as being one of the greatest RFP draft classes EVER. Today’s man of the hour was the 24th overall pick that year by the San Antonio Spurs. Schintzius was a relatively solid prospect coming out of Florida, where he averaged over 19 points and 9 rebounds per game through the first 11 contests of his senior season, before his infamous departure from the Florida Gators. He quit the team on account of his conflict with his new coach, noting that he couldn’t “sail under the authority of Captain Ahab.”

Nonethelss, Schintzius went on to play 8 seasons in the NBA for the Spurs, Kings, Nets, Pacers, Clippers and Celtics. His most productive year came in 1991-1992 in Sacramento, where he average 3.3 points and 3.6 rebounds per game. Acquired in a trade for fellow RFP, Antoine Carr, he also averaged a career high 12 minutes per game that season, however, he was also released by the Kings during the season. Enough on-the-court facts though, Schintzius was better known for his off-the-court achievements.  His Captain Ahab quote firmly ranks third on the list of most notable Schintzius accomplishments.

#2 – His role as Russian center, Ivan Radovadovitch, in the 1996 critically acclaimed Whoopi Goldberg film, “Eddie.”

#1 – His mullet. Simply one of the greatest mullets in sports of ALL TIME.

NBA Draft Reactions – California Edition

The 2009 NBA Draft featured something we haven’t seen since 1998: Three California teams picking in the top 10.  That year was highlighted by the Sacramento Kings’ selection of Jason Williams, an unfortunate swap of Vince Carter of Antawn Jamison (which didn’t really turn out that bad) and a Clippers’ pick we’ll touch on in a minute.  Once again this year, the San Diego Clippers chose first, the Kings picked fourth, and the Golden State Warriors held the 7th selection.

Los Angeles Clippers #1: Blake Griffin, Oklahoma

From the producers of Michael Olowokandi, in came the consensus #1 pick.  I’ve been a long-time skeptic of Blake Griffin.  This past season, I was finally sold on Griffin being a solid all-around player.  He’s been dubbed as the “can’t-miss” selection of the draft.  What I’m not sold on is him becoming a great player.  Most will agree he’ll be a “long-time NBA starter.”  What that will translate to, I’m not sure.  All we can go on is the facts.  They are the Clippers.  Elton Brand managed to lead the Clippers to one postseason berth in his time in LA.  He set the bar pretty high.  I’m not sure if Griffin can lead them to the postseason, but they do also have Baron Davis, Zach Randolph, Eric Gordon, and Al Thornton.  Problem is, the losing culture of the franchise will overshadow all, including Griffin’s performance.

Sacramento Kings #4: Tyreke Evans, Memphis

Local sentiment favored Ricky Rubio, for the simple fact that many around here saw him as the next coming of Jason Williams.  J-Will didn’t single-handedly turn the franchise around – he had some help – but he was probably the most responsible for generating excitement and fan support.  It seemed like a match made in heaven.  Sac needed a point guard, and Rubio wanted to come here.  The Kings, however, instead opted for Evans.  I have to agree with the pick.  I have stated for a while now that Evans probably has the most star potential in this year’s draft.  How he’ll work out at PG I’m not sure, but he gives the Kings a much-needed scoring threat.  While I definitely see them improving on their impressive 17 win total from a year ago, the possible outcomes are many.  His production will constantly be compared with Rubio’s, as many will wonder what could’ve been.

Golden State Warriors #7: Stephen Curry, Davidson

I have wondered for a long time if Curry would be able to succeed at the elite level.  I’m still not sure if he can.  He impressed everywhere he worked out leading up to the draft, but many of those workouts are based largely around shooting displays – something we know Curry exceeds at.  The Warriors’ front office proclaims that he is the perfect fit for their system.  His game is so similar, yet different from Monta Ellis.  He does give them a much needed shooter.  Regardless of what happens, I love this pick for two reasons.  He’s not Jordan Hill, who was probably the W’s backup choice.  Second, I loved it simply for the reaction it got from Knicks’ fans.  I loved seeing their player get snatched up right before their pick, and then watching them settle for Jordan Hill.  Many thought Curry would be dealt, most likely to Phoenix.  However, Don Nelson today stated on the record that Curry could “unpack his bags, even buy a house,” because he “ain’t going anyplace.”  Problem is, Nellie’s word doesn’t carry much weight.

Los Angeles Lakers #59: Chinemelu Elonu, Texas A&M

Does it really even matter?