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Friday, December 19, 2014

Looking at the 2005 NBA Draft (Part II)

In part one I evaluated the Knick?s draft night based on their strategy, a blend of best player available and need. Now, let?s take a look at the other teams in the East. To review briefly, I will review each team?s draft based on its apparent strategy (best player available or need/fit) and categorize it as ?Accept,? ?Revise and Resubmit,? or ?Reject.? Players are listed by overall selection number, name, height (with shoes), wingspan (if available), weight (lbs.), position, and school.

Eastern Conference

Atlanta Hawks

* Strategy: Best Player Available

* Review: Reject (Getting a talented player is not enough)

2. Marvin Williams (6-8-1/4, 7-3-1/2, 228.2#), F, N. Carolina

31. Salim Stoudamire (6-1-1/4, 6-4, 185.6#), G, Arizona

59. Cenk Aykol (6-4, NA, 195), PG, Turkey

The evaluation has little to do with Williams or Stoudamire, both talented players. It certainly has nothing to do with 18 year old Cenk Aykol. It has everything to do with the Hawks. The Hawks are like the NBA?s version of George Castanza. They can?t get a 2nd date yet somehow manage to have commitment issues. Perennially in the market for a new ?savior,? Atlanta has a fear of commitment worthy of a few couch sessions with Dr. Phil. They seem uniquely unable to forego their infatuation with the next ?great? player long enough to get on with the business of building around real live players. Last season Atlanta acquired talented veteran forward Al Harrington, who is just entering his prime. Atlanta also drafted the raw-but-freakishly athletic youngster Josh Smith along with jack-of-all-trades swingman Josh Childress (who sports the league?s best Afro since Dr. J). Weren?t these the building blocks of the future? I suppose, but in “The City too Busy to Hate” those guys were so five minutes ago. The Hawks appear to be starting all over with Williams as the new centerpiece; I?ve heard little from them about how these pieces are supposed to fit together. Is Williams worth it? Perhaps, but it seems just as likely that once the chinks in his armor are revealed during the course of yet another 50-60 loss season this summer?s ?it girl? will be supplanted by the next young stud forward next June.

Boston Celtics

* Strategy: Best Player Available/fit

* Review: Accept (with minor changes)

18. Gerald Green (6-7-1/4, 6-9-3/4, 192#), SG, Gulf Shores Academy HS (TX)

50. Ryan Gomes (6-7-3/4, 7-2, 248#), F, Providence

53. Orien Greene (6-4, NA, 208#), PG, LA-Lafayette

In one respect the Celts got lucky when Gerald Green fell to them. Still, credit Danny Ainge for exorcising the ghosts of the 2001 draft when the Celts chose Joe Forte, Johnson, and Kedrick Brown. I bet the Celtics wish they?d hung on to Joe Johnson now rather than trading him for Rodney Rogers and a sack of fool?s gold. Green may not end up being the next Tracy McGrady but I wouldn?t be surprised if his career travels a path similar to Johnson?s. Getting Ryan Gomes at #50 may have actually been a much better indicator of Ainge?s front office skill than acquiring Green, who fell into their laps. Gomes is a skilled ?tweener who couldn?t play on every team. But what team has done a better job than Boston of getting the most out of ?tweeners in recent years (think Antoine Walker, Eric Williams, and the aforementioned Rogers)? Gomes, who played his college ball down the road at Providence, is a nice fit on that team and should contribute as an undersized PF on the second unit. Orien Greene could use some seasoning in the NBDL or Europe but his defense could get him on an NBA roster eventually, even if it?s not in Boston.

Charlotte Bobcats

* Strategy: Need/fit

* Review: Revise and resubmit (with major changes)

5. Raymond Felton (6-0-1/4, 6-4-1/4, 199.2#), PG, N. Carolina

13. Sean May (6-8-1/2, 7-1-1/4, 258.8#), PF, N. Carolina

Though I am not one who thinks Raymond Felton is a reach at #5 based on talent I don?t think he could be equally impactful on every team. Felton excels at pushing the tempo. However, Charlotte?s roster doesn?t appear to be equipped to play that style. While Gerald Wallace and Okefor can fly up and down the floor, starters Kareem Rush (UFA) and Primoz Brezec are halfcourt players. It would have seemed to make more sense for Charlotte to select one of the SGs (most likely Wright or McCants) to pair with Felton rather than a power forward. With Brezec, Okefor, Malik Allen, and Melvin Ely all splitting minutes between the 4 and 5 May could have a difficult time finding minutes. On the other hand Wright or McCants could have easily ended up as the starter after training camp. I love the Felton selection if the team is committed to running but they?ll need to move another player or two for the May selection to make sense to me.

Chicago Bulls

* No selections in this draft

Cleveland Cavaliers

* Acquired the rights to F/C Martynus Andriuskevicius (the 44th overall selection).

Detroit Pistons

* Strategy: Need/Fit

* Review: Revise and resubmit (with major changes)

26. Jason Maxiell (6-6-1/4, 7-3-1/4, 257.6#), PF, Cincinnati

56. Amir Johnson (6-10, NA, 220#), PF/C, Westchester HS (CA)

60. Alex Acker (6-3-3/4, 7-0, 183), G, Pepperdine

If this were anyone but Joe Dumars this draft haul would warrant a flat-out ?reject.? Maxiell is a classic case of choosing a player who fits a particular role on a team. Joe Dumars certainly could have gotten better talent at the same position by choosing Wayne Simien, an accomplished defender and rebounder but much more polished scorer, who was drafted by Miami three picks later. Maxiell is an athletic but undersized forward who is something of a Reggie Evans clone, though a tad shorter. The big risk with Maxiell is that he?s undersized and one-dimensional on a team that already has a lot of what he does. Also, since the team can hardly find spare minutes for Darko Milicic it?s unclear where Maxiell?s minutes come from unless someone gets hurt or dealt. Detroit?s 2nd round picks appear destined for the D-League, though Acker may be able to contribute.

On a whole other level, the conspiracy theorist in me suspects that the Maxiell pick is a loyalty test from Joe Dumars. If Larry Brown returns to coach and subsequently plays Maxiell more minutes than Milicic Dumars will simply have him killed. Never go against the family Larry.

Indiana Pacers

* Strategy: Best Player Available

* Review: Accept

17. Danny Granger (6-8-1/2, 7-1-1/2, 225.4#), SF, New Mexico

46. Ezram Lorbeck (6-10, NA, 240#), PF, Slovenia

Granger is a true small forward without any glaring holes in his game. His ceiling may be lower than some other players in this draft but he is virtually bust-proof (barring injury) because of his defense, passing, and overall basketball IQ. Jonathan Bender may have played his last game in an Indiana Pacer uniform; or perhaps I should stay spent his last stint on the Pacer injured list. I doubt the addition of Granger would compel the Pacers to move Ron Artest but they could certainly entertain offers. Lorbeck is a nice choice late in round 2. He may never come back to the states but he?s a nice chip to have.

Miami Heat

* Strategy: Best Player Available/Need

* Review: Accept

29. Wayne Simien (6-9, 7-0, 255.8), PF, Kansas

Upgrading from Damon Jones, a solid 3rd guard, is in my estimation Miami?s first order of business. However, short of trading way up, Miami was not going to do that in this draft. Choosing Wayne Simien that late in the first round leaves little room for criticism. Simien most likely won?t need to start since Miami is not likely to lose Udonis Haslem (since he’s not going to get more than the MLE) but Simien will probably be counted on to provide 10-20 minutes per night. Simien steadily improved at Kansas, going from a strictly back-to-the-basket scorer and putback artist to a steady mid-range jump shooter. He boards, runs the floor, is tough as nails, and solid from the FT line. He also measured 6?9? in shoes; where his height had been a concern. The troubling issue with Simien has been his inability to stay healthy. Guys rarely come to the pros and get healthier than they were in college.

Milwaukee Bucks

* Strategy: Need/fit

* Review: Revise and resubmit (See comments on Atlanta Hawks)
1. Andrew Bogut (7-0-1/4, 7-3, 250.6#), C, Utah

36. Ersan Ilysova (6-9, 7-1-1/4, 208.8#)

My issue with the Bucks is somewhat similar to my issue with the Hawks, though not to quite the same degree. I don?t have a quarrel with selecting Bogut. A big man who passes well can always help a team even on nights when he?s not scoring. In fact, Bogut’s passing and ability to play in the high post may well add 2-3 ppg to Desmond Mason?s average. But what is the Buck?s vision? I don?t understand the firing of Terry Porter?or at least its timing. (Was he a Marvin Williams man?) I want to see what the Bucks are committed to putting around Bogut to maximize his talents before I buy into them. I was not all that taken with Milwaukee?s 2nd round selection, Ilysova, when they could have taken Croatian playmaker Roko Leni-Ukic to backup Mo Williams.

New Jersey Nets

* Strategy: Best Player Available

* Review: Accept (minor changes)

15. Antoine Wright (6-6-1/4, 6-8-3/4, 202.6#), G, Texas A&M

43. Mile Ilic (7-1, NA, 240#), C, Yugoslavia

I like the selection. New Jersey’s bench is woeful. Wright gives them depth as well as a player who can create his own shot, something that only Vince Carter does currently. The only other player the Nets might have considered here is Hakim Warrick, a power forward who could also bring a lot of energy off the bench. Warrick, a classic ?tweener, is less of a risk in New Jersey because anyone who can run and catch the way Warrick can will look good on the floor with Jason Kidd. Ilic is another big kid they can develop overseas at no cost.

Orlando Magic

* Strategy: Best Player Available

* Review: Reject

11. Fran Vasquez (6-11, NA, 230), PF, Spain

38. Travis Diener (6-1, 5-11-3/4, 165.2), PG, Marquette

While Toronto?s Rob Babcock took the lion?s share of the draft night grief I thought Orlando had a much worse draft. At least no one is questioning the talent of Babcock?s selections this year. Orlando?s situation seemed to be one tailor made for trading down or out of this draft. It?s not clear to me what Vasquez brings to Orlando that they aren?t already getting from Tony Battie. What they really needed from this draft (a big point guard) they weren’t going to get at #11 without trading up or reaching. Furthermore, Vasquez?s buyout from his Spanish team may be more complicated than originally thought. Travis Deiner, the team?s second round pick is an even smaller version of last year’s first, Jameer Nelson, and the second coming of Scott Brooks. I have a difficult time seeing how these two players help Orlando, either as talent for the future or by filling specific roles. If you?re a Magic fan you are hoping hard that the front office is working on some other moves.

Philadelphia 76ers

* Strategy: Best Player Available

* Review: Revise and resubmit (major changes)

45. Louis Williams (6-1, NA, NA), PG, S. Gwinnett HS (GA)

Armed with only a second round pick the Sixers took a flyer on a high schooler; but the wrong one in my opinion. Even if they re-sign Samuel Dalembert why not take a chance on one of the high school big men, Andrey Blatche or Amir Johnson, rather than the 6-1 SG Williams? Guards are a lot easier to find.

Toronto Raptors

* Strategy: Best Player Available

* Review: Accept

7. Charlie Villanueva (6-9-1/2, 7-0-1/4, 236.6#), PF, Connecticut

16. Joey Graham (6-6-1/2, 6-8, 216.6#), G/F, Oklahoma State

For all the ?hootin? and hollarin?? that went on surrounding the 7th pick I didn?t necessarily see the big problem with it. Clearly, Villanueva and Bosh have overlapping skills. However, it appears that Toronto has come to the conclusion that Bosh?s future is at center, not power forward. Villanueva, a big kid with a lot of skills who virtually no one projects as a center, will be asked to play Bosh?s old power forward spot. It?s hard to see how Channing Frye or any other choice made between 8 and 16 would have been a significantly better choice in terms of talent and fit. Toronto also benefited big time from the fact that the wing players slid down as a group, helping them to acquire Joey Graham at 16. I have questions about how much offense Graham will provide. He has limited range as a shooter and doesn?t handle the ball particularly well. However he?s a very good defender, rebounder, and he runs the floor well. Overall, Toronto got two pretty talented players who should be able to contribute right away.

Washington Wizards

* Strategy: Best Player Available

* Review: Accept

49. Andray Blatche (6-11, NA, NA), PF/C, S. Kent Prep HS (CT)

It?s hard to fuss with getting a big kid with some talent at #49. He could turn into a player with a couple seasons in the D-League and a substantially lower set of expectations than those that dogged Kwame Brown. It?s hard to see a downside.

Up next: The Western Conference (Part III)

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