Portland, Seattle: Draft Winners
Derrick Rose
Derrick Rose
Scout National Basketball Columnist
Posted Jun 29, 2007


Let's offer a tip of our caps (and that includes you, Joakim Noah, with that Bulls' cap perched on that rocking hair) to the prep Class of 2006, which made its presence felt in a big way Thursday night at the NBA Draft.

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 10.

 

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 college hoops.

 

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 talent.

 

*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 Philadelphia, respectively.

 

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 first-round commitment.

 

Anyway, he’ll get to team up in Portland with a former running mate on Indianapolis’ Spiece traveling team – Oden.

 

*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 use.

 

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 2.

 

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?

 

Sure:

 

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, doesn’t it?

 

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 evening.

 

Let’s see who tries to top you next year.



 

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 frank.burlison@presstelegram.com. Read more of Burlison’s pieces at www.frankhoops.com



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