What is my initial reaction after
watching the 4 ½-hour NBA Draft Wednesday night?
It’s ``why doesn’t the NFL allot
only five minutes (instead of its tedious 15) between its first-round selections
like the NBA?”
The second is ``props to Chicago,
Indiana, Memphis, New Jersey, New Orleans, Portland and Utah.”
The third is ``what in the heck
were Boston, New
Let’s stay on the positive side of
things to start:
How about those
Courtesy the Eddy Curry trade to
New York, the Bulls picked up what
proved to be the second selection in the draft.
And they parlayed it into the
player they’ve wanted for the better part of the evaluation process, LSU forward
Tyrus Thomas, and veteran forward Viktor Khryapa of Portland.
How did they do that?
holding the No. 4 pick, had targeted 6-foot-10 LaMarcus Aldridge of
Texas, until very late in
consideration by Toronto for the top
overall pick, which decided Tuesday that it would use it on 7-foot Italian Andrea Bargnani.
Thinking – or, at least, suspecting
– Chicago would take Aldridge at No.
2, the Trail Blazers worked a deal with the Bulls to select Aldridge and
exchange his rights for Thomas, who they knew would be available when it became
obvious Adam Morrison was the apple
of the eyes of Michael Jordan, Bernie
Bickerstaff and the rest of the Charlotte organization.
The extra bait? It was the
23-year-old Russian Khryapa, who started 53 games with 5.8 points and 4.4
rebounds per game averages.
That, alone, would have made it an
immensely successful draft for the Bulls.
But, holding their original (No.
16) pick and fearing that the guy they coveted there, 6-6 Swiss guard Thabo Sefolosha, would be snatched up
at No. 14 by Utah, their front
office brain trust went to work again.
They hooked up with
Philadelphia, offering to draft Rodney Carney of
Memphis for the 76ers with their
pick (and some cash sprinkled in to sweeten the pot) in exchange for Philly
nabbing Sefolosha on the Bulls’ behalf.
Voila! The Bulls had their top two
targets on the night plus a forward (Khryapa) who could be able to work into
Coach Scott Skiles’ rotation next
Beautiful work, guys.
But this is not to suggest that
Portland got snookered by
It might have considered Khryapa
was a small price to play to ensure it could land Aldridge.
But its best of six deals Wednesday
night indirectly led to the Trail Blazers getting the most complete player in
college land season and a guy they gave plenty of though to selecting,
originally, at No. 4.
By sending second-year point guard
Sebastian Telfair (and veteran post
Theo Ratliff) to
Boston, they got the rights to the
Celtics’ No. 7 pick.
Portland wanted at that spot, guard
Brandon Roy of
Washington, was taken by
Minnesota at No. 6 before
Boston tabbed the second best guard
in the draft, Randy Foye of
The Blazers and Timberwolves
(which, sources said, liked Foye better than Roy, anyway) then swamped the
rights to those players – with Minnesota having to play a little less money to
Foye on the rookie pay scale.
also landed the top point guard in Europe, Sergio Rodriguez of
Spain, by buying
the rights to Phoenix’s No. 21 slot
in the first round, and then dipped into Europe once
again by drafting 6-10, 19-year-old Joel
England with the
30th and final selection in the first round.
The Blazers’ brass might have taken
a lot of hits from some of the fellows offering commentary during the draft
broadcast but it was more than a little misplaced.
When you consider that the
organization also picked up three future second-round picks via its selection of
James White of Cincinnati (a player
it didn’t need with Martell Webster
and now Roy on its roster) to open the second round, things couldn’t have gone
much better for Portland Wednesday night.
And Jerry West had another one of those
draft nights that have built his reputation as not only one of the greatest
guards of all time but also one of the sport’s best talent evaluators and
Houston, which picked Rudy Gay eighth, the Grizzlies were
able to acquire arguably the draft’s most innately gifted prospect in exchange
for forward Shane Battier.
I’ve written numerous times but it
bears repeating: Gay has more all-star potential than anyone who was drafted
West also had the point guard he
wanted (Villanova’ Kyle Lowry) and
was able to acquire Florida State forward Alexander Johnson – who he had given
some thought to selecting at 24 – from Portland (which got him from Indiana
after the Pacers drafted him in the second round) for future draft pick.
Way to go, Zeke from Cabin
Jersey (like most franchises) had Marcus Williams No. 1 on its point
guard pecking order but its evaluators and decision makers never dreamed he
would be sitting there for the picking when they were up at No. 22 and
The Nets then got a heck a lot of
more athletic up front by tapping a Williams’ teammate, Josh Boone, with their next
And, lo and behold, a guy that was
on their board at No. 23,
Arizona’s Hassan Adams, was there for the taking
at 54 in the second round.
They couldn’t have hoped for a
better “3 for 3” night, unless Hilton Armstrong (another Connecticut
product taken by New Orleans at 12)
had managed to slip all the way to 22.
The Hornets, with their pick at No.
15, picked up another of their most coveted post prospects when
State sophomore Cedric Simmons was still on the
Neither will pull a Chris Paul and be Rookie of the Year
next season. But there were still lots of smiles to be had by Byron Scott & Co. Wednesday
Another big winner was
Indiana, which – much to its front
office’s surprise – was able to pick up
Memphis freshman Shawne Williams, who could have gone
two spots before to New Orleans, at
And the Pacers picked up 6-7
swingman James White (the first pick
of the second round by Portland)
with a trade in which they sent their second-round pick, Alexander Johnson, and a future
second-round choice to the Pacific Northwest.
With the option of taking J.J. Redick (to
Orlando at No. 11) or Sefolosha
removed from the equation, Utah was still able to pick up one of the perimeter
prospects the Jazz most coveted – 6-6 ½ Ronnie Brewer of Arkansas. After
Roy, he was the most versatile
college player in the draft.
They also drafted two other
top-flight prospects with back to back (46-47) second-round choices. And guard
Dee Brown (reunited with college
buddy Deron Williams) and forward Paul Millsap (a three-time national
rebounding leader at Louisiana Tech . . . alma mater of a former Jazz forward
named Karl Malone) are strong
candidates to be on the roster when the regular season begins.
Who picked up the player who could
be the biggest surprise in his rookie season?
I’ll opt for
Sacramento, which selected the
second best scorer (after Morrison) in the draft in skinny (160 pounds splashed
over a 6-2 frame) Quincy Douby of
Veteran NBA talent scouts compared
him to Jason Terry of
Dallas and, of more ancient vintage,
Before touching upon the franchises
whose selections baffled many Wednesday, what are my thoughts on
Toronto’s No. 1 pick?
I’ll withhold passing judgment
until getting an extensive look at Bargnani in a Raptors’ uniform.
OK, now can someone please explain
to me why:
*Boston gave up the No. 7 choice
(which it could have used on Brandon Roy or Rudy Gay) in exchange for a
21-year-old point guard with a questionable jump shot, Sebastian Telfair and buys the 21st spot in the
first round from Phoenix in order to pick up another 21-year-old point guard, Rajon Rondo, with an even more
Is there a point Danny Ainge was trying to make there?
Sorry . . . couldn’t resist the pun.
after drafting big “projects” (Robert Swift and Johan Petro) in the
first rounds of the past two drafts takes another one in 7-footer Mouhamed Saer Sene of
If nothing else, Jack Sikma is going to be kept very
busy teaching Sonic big guys how to play.
*New York uses the 20th
spot in the first round to draft a 6-5 ½, 207-pound forward who doesn’t shoot it
much beyond the foul line in Renaldo Balkman when the Knicks would likely have been able to buy themselves a
second-round selection and picked him up with that?
Although, like Balkman (who led
South Carolina to consecutive NIT
titles in Madison
Garden – hey . . . maybe that’s why
the Knicks wanted him!), he had a nice college career, Mardy Collins of Temple was a guy that
most teams felt would be available within the first 10 picks of the second
York used the No. 29 selection in the round to pick him
up. He’s a 6-5 guard who isn’t particularly quick and hit .307 from behind the
arc and .596 from behind the free-throw line.
It wasn’t exactly the kind of Draft
Night production that is going to numb the pain of long-suffering Knicks’ fans
Inducted into the USBWA Hall of
Fame in April, 2005, Frank Burlison is Scout.com’s national basketball expert and is
also a columnist for the Long Beach (Calif.) Press-Telegram. He can be reached at
email@example.com. Read more of Burlison’s pieces at