All across the country there were,
unquestionably, the likes of O.J. Mayo, Derrick Rose, Michael Beasley, Kevin Love and gosh-only-knows how many other recent high school graduates watching
and thinking, “Yep – next year that’s going to me up there on that stage,
wearing a slick suit and shaking hands with David Stern!”
But Thursday night in Madison
Square Garden in New York City, the NBA Draft, in large part, belonged to the
high school graduating Class of 2006.
Did it ever!
Eight 2006 McDonald’s All-Americans
were first-round selections, including the top two (guys going by the names of
Greg Oden and Kevin Durant) choices and four of the next
And if anyone wondered what effect
the institution of the “we’re not going to let you exercise your constitutional
right to earn a living until at least one full year past your high school
graduation” legislation by the NBA powers-that-be was going to have, we saw it –
full blown – Thursday night.
It made the 2006 draft pickings a
lot slimmer than they would have been without the “straight-outta-high school”
ban, which probably would have resulted in Oden, Durant and at least five of
their McDonald’s buddies – Brandan Wright (who went No. 8 to Charlotte Thursday
before his rights were traded to Golden State), Spencer Hawes (No. 10 to
Sacramento), Thaddeus Young (No. 12 to Philadelphia), Javaris Crittenton (No. 19
to the Lakers) and Daequan Cook (No. 21 to Philadelphia before his right were
dished to Miami) – dispensing with the formalities of freshmen seasons of
But it made the 60-player Talent
Dispersal that took place Thursday night potentially, at least, one of the
league’s deepest in a while.
And the Portland and Seattle
franchises seemed to take the biggest gulps out of that pool of
*The Trail Blazers not only picked
up the league’s next dominant center (for, say 12 to 14 years, health and desire
permitting) in the person of Oden but picked up two more first-rounders in
guards Rudy Fernandez (Spain) and Petteri Koponen (Finland) by way of owner Paul
Allen opening that hefty checkbook of his and buying the picks from Phoenix and
And, in a nearly mind-blowing bit
of good fortune, they were able to pick up Josh McRoberts with the choice they
already possessed in the No. 37 slot in the second round.
By the way, I’m looking forward to
the day when a reasonable explanation can be offered as to why the bouncy lefty,
the MVP in the 2005 McDonald’s All-American Game, wasn’t deemed worthy of a
Anyway, he’ll get to team up in
Portland with a former running mate on Indianapolis’ Spiece traveling team –
*Seattle got that cool runner-up
prize at No. 2 – Durant, who could evolve into the NBA’s leading scorer at soon
as Kobe Bryant’s right wrist, elbow and shoulder start to get numb from over
And then the Sonics dealt Ray Allen, one of the more underrated two guards in all of basketball, to Boston in
exchange for the rights to the player they instructed the Celtics to pick for
them: Georgetown forward Jeff Green.
So, if the Seattle head coach –
whoever that ends up being – decides to go all “Nelli-ball” next season, ala Don
Nelson’s Golden State Warriors, he could put a frontcourt of Rashard Lewis,
Durant and Green on the floor.
Yeah, they’ll be tough to guard out
on the perimeter.
And, as if we needed further
evidence, the biggest reason the University of Florida Gators won consecutive
national championships was put on display Thursday night.
Five of Billy Donovan’s players
were selected, three of those (Al Horford, No. 3 to Atlanta; Corey Brewer, No. 7
to Minnesota; and Joakim Noah, No. 9 to Chicago) among the first nine
selections, with point guard Taurean Green (No. 52 to Portland; I’m not sure he
makes the Blazers’ roster) and burly reserve post Chris Richard (No. 41 to
Minnesota; he could make the Timberwolves’ roster) being picked up in Round
By the way, shall we revisit how
much talent was on that Georgia Dome floor when the Gators took on Ohio State in
the NCAA title game on April 2?
There were five of the first nine
selections (the Florida trio plus Oden and fellow frosh Mike Conley), as well as
Cook, along with the second-round Gators.
It pays to have players,
And I can’t sign off on this early
Friday morning without giving my props to the natty attire and truly outrageous
– and I mean that in a good way, of course – hair that Noah brought to the
Let’s see who tries to top you next
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
firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more of Burlison’s pieces at