Unsung Knick History – The Knicks’ Version of Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery”

This is the third in a series (of indefinite length and regularity) of examinations into different games, events and decisions that impacted Knicks history in some way, shape or form. Stories that are not as famous as, say, LJ’s 4-point play or Willis Reed playing Game 7, but still have a place in Knicks history, especially for die-hard fans. Here is an archive of all the stories featured so far.

If you are unfamiliar with Shirley Jackon’s famous short story, “The Lottery,” well, you should probably stop reading this piece and go off and read that short story first, as A. It’s awesome and B. I’m about to spoil it for my analogy. In any event, in Jackson’s story, the reader discovers that the “lottery” that a small town is holding is actually to determine who gets stoned to death to ensure a good harvest for the town. Well, that was basically what the Knicks used their draft for over a strange five-year period from 1960-1964 where their five first round draft picks (all among the top three picks in the draft) played a combined eight seasons for the Knicks!! Getting drafted in the first three picks is normally a good thing, but for the Knicks draftees, like the “winners” in Jackson’s lottery, it was a sign of impending doom!
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Robinson’s DNP A Test For D’Antoni

According to the Daly News, Mike D’Antoni said the following about his decicision to bench Nate Robinson against the Orlando Magic:

“We want to win, and if he’s conducive to winning then he’ll obviously be back in the lineup. If not he’s not.”

D’Antoni’s case is that the diminutive guard is not conducive to winning, but that really doesn’t hold water. The Knicks have gotten off to one of the worst starts in team historically, and Robinson hasn’t played that much in that span. Nate has missed 12 of 19 games and has only seen 30 minutes or more in 2 games. Last year he played in 74 games and averaged 29.9 minutes per game.

The biggest irony is that there is a guard that’s unconducive to winning: Chris Duhon. The Knicks point guard is shooting 40.8% ts% and averaging 7.5 pts/36 yet is first on the team in minutes played. Although not a pure point guard, Robinson blows Duhon’s productivity out of the water (54.1% ts%, 17.9 pts/36). Last year with Robinson in the rotation, New York was 17th on offense. This year they are 22nd, even with Danillo Gallinari playing excellently on that end of the floor.

If Coach D’Antoni is making the case that Robinson’s benching is solely related to the team’s ability to win games, then it begs the question “Why is Chris Duhon leading the team in minutes?” Obviously the real issue is personalities; D’Antoni has been visibly upset with Robinson on a few occasions. Fortunately conflicts can resolve in a manner that’s positive. Robinson and D’Antoni could come out of this with greater respect and understanding of each other. But disputes like this can also end ugly, and Nate could see himself on the end of more DNPs or even traded.

How this plays out will give us a little insight on D’Antoni. He has a reputation for being a player’s coach, but perhaps underneath that veneer is a little bit of a disciplinarian. A few fans have voiced that this team is reminiscent of Larry Brown’s Knicks, and perhaps this feud is D’Antoni’s version of Brown’s “playing the game the right way.” Clearly the Knicks need Robinson’s production, and if they don’t receive it you have to wonder if D’Antoni isn’t the type of coach that can motivate players of all types.

Pre-Draft Camp Mock and Draft Thoughts Part II: L-O-T-T-O!

If you haven’t already done so take a look at Part I, done prior to the lottery.

Now that the ping pong balls have bounced, leaving our beloved Knickerbockers no better or worse off than they’d have been just based on record, I’ll re-work the lottery picks and post the remainder of this first round mock.

1. LA Clippers – Blake Griffin, PF, Oklahoma: If Mike Dunleavy’s recent declaration of undying love for Blake Griffin is true then he’ll probably trade players to clear room for his new beloved. If it’s not true then the #1 pick may represent a rare opportunity to clean up a roster that is a mess, possibly in one fell swoop. (Previously: Ricky Rubio)

2. Memphis – Ricky Rubio, PG, Spain: Choosing Rubio has its advantages, regardless of whether he wants to play in Memphis. His rights become an asset for the asset-starved Grizz. Even though Memphis should do this, no player in this draft generates more ambivalence for me than Rubio. The talent is evident, but there are lots of reasons it may not work out for the team that drafts him. (Previously: Demar DeRozan)

3. Oklahoma City – Hasheem Thabeet, C, UConn: Thabeet may be a one-trick pony but his trick is precisely what OKC needs. He’s a defensive anchor, with a decent shot at becoming a more athletic Mutombo. The downside is that he will probably never be even an average offensive player. But, in this draft there’s something to be said for being fairly certain of a player’s “floor”. (Previously: Brandon Jennings)

4. Sacramento – Brandon Jennings, PG, Italy: Sactown will most likely take the best PG left on the board. I suspect Rubio would prefer Sactown over Memphis, and perhaps a deal can be struck. (Previously: Blake Griffin)

5. Washington – Jordan Hill, PF, Arizona: The Wiz is the team I think most likely to deal its pick. If they keep it they’ll be looking for depth that could help in a pinch, but with some upside. Hill is a lot like Chris Wilcox. (Previously: Hasheem Thabeet)

6. Minnesota – Tyreke Evans, G, Memphis: I think Minny opts for the highest upside player on the board regardless of position. It could be Evans, depending on workouts. It could also be Hill, Jennings, DeRozan, or Lawson. Almost literally nothing they do would surprise me, which I hope they interpret as a challenge. (Previously: Evans)

7. Golden State – James Harden, G, Arizona State: I’ve loved to watch this kid play since he was a junior in high school. To me he’s the 6’5″ Paul Pierce. Other mocks have him higher right now, but I expect that on draft night he’ll slide in between 5 and 8. (Previously: Jordan Hill)

8. New York – Ty Lawson, G, UNC: I almost pulled the trigger on Lawson in the previous version. Now that I think Nate Robinson most likely will be signed-and-traded this July, Lawson becomes a better fit. He used to be just a fly-down-the floor guard (and frankly, there is something to be said for that) but his screen roll game has really evolved. I expect him to shine in workouts. He may be this year’s Westbrook–an already well-regarded player who vaults up the board based on superior workouts. Oh, and I really hope Walsh can find a 2nd round pick this year. This draft has some potentially very useful role players. (Previously: James Harden)

9. Toronto – Stephen Curry, G, Davidson: Is it possible to NOT love Steph Curry’s game? He fits Toronto like a glove, even down to his weaknesses (i.e., lateral quickness, overall athleticism, defense). He’s also the right kid to play outside the lower 48. This is a makes-too-much-sense-NOT-to-happen move if Curry is available. (Previously: Stephen Curry)

10. Milwaukee – Dejaun Blair, PF/C, Pittsburgh: Blair’s rebounding and long arms may get him to the top ten. (Previously: Ty Lawson)

11. New Jersey – Demar DeRozan, SF, USC: I think DeRozan is the biggest gamble this draft. It’s just not clear if he’s really good at anything yet. Add to that, he may be leaving town one step ahead of the sheriff with allegations of payola hanging over Tim Floyd at USC. Having said that, I’d honestly be a bit surprised if someone doesn’t pull the trigger on him earlier. (Previously: Jeff Teague)

12. Charlotte – Gerald Henderson, SG, Duke: With Larry Brown making personnel decisions, there is simply no way to anticipate what he’ll do. What I can probably write down is “scrappy, hard-nosed defender with a high basketball IQ” and just wait to fill in the name. I like Henderson as a solid sixth man who plays both ends. (Previously: Gerald Henderson)

13. Indiana – Jrue Holiday, G, UCLA: Holiday was probably among the most shocked when Darren Collison return to UCLA for his senior season. That moved Holiday to SG, where he struggled playing limited minutes out of position for a team with a style that doesn’t exactly fit his strengths. I’m not an “everyone should play one year!” guy, but Holiday should go back to school for another year. He’d definitely move to PG this year and could vault himself into the top 5 of next year’s draft. He may yet do so in this draft based on workouts, but the new format doesn’t allow as many chances for teams to see players as in the past. As of this writing he hasn’t hired an agent, but everything I have read suggests that he’s in the draft to stay. (Previously: Earl Clark)

14. Phoenix – Johnny Flynn, PG, Syracuse: The rumor mill says that Phoenix likes him. We’ll take that as a baseline pick. (Previously: Johnny Flynn)

15. Detroit – Earl Clark, F, Louisville: I am not a fan of Clark’s offensive game, particularly shot selection, but he’s a good defender. (Previously: Wayne Ellington)

Once we get out of the lottery, beauty will be in the eye of the beholder. I expect trades galore and one or two “who the hell is that guy!?” selections as well.

16. Chicago – Jeff Teague, G, Wake Forest: Teague is an undersized SG, a high-usage player both years at Wake but improved his TS% from 59% to 62% almost exclusively by getting to the line. He looks like Ben Gordon with a clue.

17. Philadelphia – Chase Budinger, SG/SF, Arizona: I posted a fairly extensive take on him at Arizona Desert Swarm. At this point in the draft he’s a bargain as a 6th or 7th man. It’s also worth noting that Philadelphia currently puts absolute blechhh! on the floor at SG.

18. Minnesota – BJ Mullens, C, Ohio State: This would be a reasonable gamble on size, athleticism, and potential in the high teens.

19. Atlanta – Terrance Williams, SG/SF, Louisville: Like his Cardinal counterpart, Williams brings much more to the floor in defense and other areas unrelated to scoring. For its part Atlanta doesn’t need another mouth to feed on offense. Williams could bring back a little of what they miss since Josh Childress left for Greece.

20. Utah – Sam Young, SF, Pittsburgh: He plays a similar game to Matt Harpring; a little jump shot and a lot of bruises.

21. New Orleans – Marcus Thornton, SG, LSU: I’m not a huge fan of Thorton as a playmaker, where he was often miscast in college. As the new (better) Janero Pargo I like him a lot better.

22. Dallas – James Johnson, F, Wake Forest: I think the Mavs take the most athletic front court player they can find at 22.

23. Sacramento – Tyler Hansborough, PF, North Carolina: Hansborough isn’t a first or even second option in the NBA, but he will rebound, run the floor, get to the line, and should be a decent pick and pop player. DraftExpress’ comparison to Luis Scola sounds about right.

24. Portland – Jermaine Taylor, SG, Central Florida: What Portland needs is a slashing small forward to better compliment Roy, but they won’t get one unless they trade. They’ll probably end up moving this pick, but if not Taylor is a player that could develop into the kind of slasher they need.

25. Oklahoma City – Darren Collison, PG, UCLA: He would join former backcourt mate Westbrook, and projects to a very solid backup PG.

26. Chicago – DaJaun Summers, SF, Georgetown: Gamble on upside.

27. Memphis – Wayne Ellington, SG, UNC

28. Minnesota – Eric Maynor, G, VCU

29. LA Lakers – Jodie Meeks, G, Kentucky

30. Cleveland – Gani Lawal, PF, Georgia Tech

Note: Austin Daye would definitely be in the first round, but right now I am unsure about whether he’ll return to Gonzaga. I hope he does. I love his game. He just needs to put on some muscle.

Knicks 2009 Season Preview Part I

Just about every season preview begins with a wrap-up of the last year. I’m going to assume that if you’re here reading this, you don’t really need a review of last year. In fact, if you’re a Knick fan, you probably don’t want to review any recent history. So with that said let’s continue with what we might expect this year.

GUARD:
For 2009, the guard position should be the Knicks deepest. Duhon and Crawford will start, at least for now, while Marbury, Robinson, and Collins will provide ample depth. Even though D’Antoni says he likes to keep the rotation short, I envision a scenario where the top 4 will see a lot of playing time. In fact it’s entirely possible that all 5 will be in the rotation. Between D’Antoni’s predilection for going small and the fast pace the Knicks will play, it makes sense that they’ll need as many guards as possible.

Newly acquired Chris Duhon will supplement Marbury as the starting point guard this year. In Chicago Duhon was below average offensively but was an able defender in the backcourt, something the Knicks have been sorely lacking. He’s a capable long range shooter (35.6% 3P%), but is a poor finisher around the hoop. According to 82games Duhon had 24% of his “close” shots blocked, nearly double that of Stephon Marbury (13%). Think of Duhon as the NBA’s version of the game managing QB (Trent Dilfer). He’ll run the offense, take the open three, play half decent defense, but not score many points.

Some people mocked New York for giving Duhon an $11M dollar deal, including a few of Duhon’s former fans. The good news is that the deal is only 2 years, so the Knicks are looking at him as only a stopgap fix at point guard. New York isn’t going to contend for much over the length of his contract. The Duhon’s deal is a far cry from the 5 year (Jeffries & James) and 6 year (Curry & Crawford) contracts that were handed out by Isiah Thomas.

Jamal Crawford remains the incumbent at the shooting guard position. Many Knick fans still have hope that Jamal will shed his poor shot decision making ways and become a more efficient player. Under D’Antoni’s seven second offense, many assume that Crawford would blossom into a more efficient scorer. ESPN’s Daily Dime called Crawford the Knicks sleeper pick for fantasy basketball.

However it hasn’t turned out that way in preseason (TS%: 51.6, eFG%: 45.2, through 6 games), and Crawford may not flourish in this offense. Jamal’s strength is being able to create his own shot in the half court set, but D’Antoni’s offense uses movement to make shots for everyone, hence it diminishes Jamal’s contribution. Crawford, much like Zach Randolph, likes to hold ball and dictate the offense, and he has never been a great catch & shoot guy. His best season occurred under Larry Brown where he took 21% of his attempts from “inside” as opposed to only 14% last year.

Time will tell if Jamal will progress under D’Antoni, or if he’ll be the same frustrating off-balance shot taking player he’s been for the last 8 years. Considering the Knick coach doesn’t need his skill set on offense, and will expect more from Jamal on defense than the previous Knick coaches it’s possible that Crawford will see a reduction in minutes this year. Certainly Crawford isn’t likely to average the 39.9 minutes per game he played last year, and that will hurt his per game averages.

NBA Mock Draft, v 2.0

If you missed my last mock prior to the Orlando pre-draft camp you can see picks 1-14 here and picks 15-30 here .

The ground rules: this mock is less a prediction about what I think teams will do and more about what I would do as GM for each team. Although I anticipate that trades will change the draft order, perhaps radically, my interest is in matching players and teams. Therefore I keep the teams in their given draft order but highlight spots where I expect trades. (In other words, I’m notoriously bad at this so I’m trying to hedge as best I can.)

Note: ESPN.com is reporting a deal involving New Orleans trading its 27th overall selection to Portland for cash considerations. So I will insert Portland into the 27th spot.

1. Chicago Michael Beasley, Kansas State, PF (Version 1.0: Derrick Rose)
The statheads have convinced me that Beasley is the better prospect. No matter who Chicago selects it’ll be interesting to see what Paxson does with the roster this off-season.

2. Miami Derrick Rose, Memphis, PG (Version 1.0: Michael Beasley)
I think the Mayo talk is mostly smoke screen, but I think Miami would much rather be in a position to choose between Rose, Mayo, and an offer that sweeps them off their feet than simply choosing between Rose and Mayo.

3. Minnesota O.J. Mayo, USC, G (Version 1.0: O.J. Mayo)
Mayo seems to be the consensus #3 talent in the draft and easily its most polarizing. A basketball mercenary since middle school, his much anticipated but mediocre “one-and-done” at SoCal has pit statheads against the traditional scouting types who love him. An oversimplification? Yes, but not an entirely inaccurate one.

4. Seattle Jerryd Bayless, Arizona, G (Version 1.0: Jerryd Bayless)
Keep moving people; nothing to see here.

5. Memphis Kevin Love, UCLA, PF (Version 1.0: Brook Lopez)
Love may be the next most polarizing player in the draft after Mayo. Statheads and scouting types both agree that he’s super skilled and hyper-productive, but is he athletic enough? The Grizz are likely to move if things don’t fall just right for them. One rumored deal involves the Knicks trading David Lee for this pick.

6. New York Russell Westbrook, UCLA, G (Version 1.0: Russell Westbrook)
I am going to stick with Westbrook should NY stay at six. To me, he’s the right kind of gamble on upside. He uses his athleticism on defense and doesn’t try to play outside his limitations. All he really lacks is experience. Although I wouldn’t be incensed about Westbrook, I’d rather see a trade down in search of some low-cost gems in the late teens (e.g., Darrell Arthur, Mario Chalmers) or 20s (e.g., Ryan Anderson, DeVon Hardin, Richard Hendrix), especially if we can dump a bad contract in the process.

7. LA Clippers Danilo Gallinari, Armani Jeans Milan, SF (Version 1.0: Kevin Love)
The Clips are another team that may be looking to deal. One rumor has Maggette going to Phoenix for Barbosa. Either way LA needs shooting in the worst way.

8. Milwaukee Joe Alexander, W. Virginia, SF (Version 1.0: Danilo Gallinari)
Alexander is a late bloomer with athleticism and a nice stroke, but lacks some skills and experience. He’s a solid gamble for Milwaukee, but too big a risk for the Knicks at six I think, though this is Hollinger’s pick.

9. Charlotte Brook Lopez, Stanford, C (Version 1.0: Anthony Randolph)

10. New Jersey Eric Gordon, Indiana, SG (Version 1.0: Donte Green)
It’s hard to anticipate what NJ is going to do with its roster overall. I doubt they’ll really know until the off-season starts to heat up. So if I were Rod Thorn I’d go best available. (I feel like I’m penciling Gordon in here because that’s what I’m supposed to do but I really don’t understand what I’m missing that other people are seeing in him.)

11. Indiana Marreese Speights, Florida, PF (Version 1.0: Eric Gordon)
For my money Speights, not Anthony Randolph, is the high upside forward out of the SEC mid-lottery teams should be gambling on in this draft.

12. Sacramento Alexis Ajinca, Heyeres-Toulon (France), C (Version 1.0: Darrell Arthur)
Ajinca likely won’t play immediately, but may be ready just as Kenny Thomas and Shareef Abdur-Rahim are coming off the books after 2009-10.

13. Portland Anthony Randolph, LSU, SF/PF (Version 1.0: Chase Budinger)
The Blazers are one of the few teams with the patience to wait on youngsters to develop. However, after acquiring the #27 pick from New Orleans I won’t be surprised to see Portland go international and look to stash yet another youngster overseas.

14. Golden St. DeAndre Jordan, Texas A&M, C (Version 1.0: Joe Alexander)
Mine may be the only mock where Jordan actually improves to #14 from the previous version. Although I maintain serious doubts about his work ethic, he may be best suited to play on a running team where he’s only asked to block shots and rebound.

15. Phoenix Brandon Rush, Kansas, SG/SF (Version 1.0: Brandon Rush)

16. Philadelphia Donte Green, Syracuse, SF (Version 1.0: Marreese Speights)

17. Indiana (f/ Toronto) Robin Lopez, Stanford, C (Version 1.0: D.J. Augustin)
The rumored deal sends this pick to Indiana as part of the Jermaine O’Neal for T.J. Ford swap.

18. Washington Darrell Arthur, Kansas, PF (Version 1.0: Nicolas Batum)

19. Cleveland Roy Hibbert, Georgetown, C (Version 1.0: Chris Douglas-Roberts)
Cleveland could use a center with more offensive skill than Varajao, who could be moved this off-season, to eventually take over for Big Z.

20. Charlotte (f/ Denver) Kosta Koufos, Ohio State, C (Version 1.0: Courtney Lee)
Denver dealt this pick to Charlotte for a future first (protected through 2014). DraftExpress is saying that Larry Brown made this deal for Roy Hibbert. So if he’s still on the board that may be where he goes.

21. New Jersey Mario Chalmers, Kansas, PG (Version 1.0: DeAndre Jordan)
I understand that NJ is not happy with Marcus Williams’ development. Chalmers would provide some flexibility. His shooting makes him a better backup to Devin Harris than Williams. (Yeah. I do think Chalmers is better than D.J. Augustin.)

22. Orlando D.J. Augustin, Texas, PG (Version 1.0: JaVale McGee)

23. Utah Courtney Lee, W. Kentucky, SG (Version 1.0: Roy Hibbert)

24. Seattle J.J. Hickson, N.C. State, PF (Version 1.0: Davon Jefferson)

25. Houston Richard Hendrix, Alabama, PF (Version 1.0: Kosta Koufos)

26. San Antonio Chris Douglas-Roberts, Memphis, SG (Version 1.0: Alexis Ajinca)
His body of work and workouts say mid-first, but virtually no one is projecting him there. I think his game fits San Antonio really well.

27. Portland (f/ NO) Ryan Anderson, California, PF (Version 1.0: Ty Lawson)
I am curious about why Portland acquired this pick. I wonder if they’ll keep it.

28. Memphis JaVale McGee, Nevada, PF/C (Version 1.0: Ryan Anderson)

29. Detroit DeVon Hardin, California, C (Version 1.0: DeVon Hardin)

30. Boston Jason Thompson, Rider, PF/C (Version 1.0: Robin Lopez)
Almost whomever Boston drafts will have a shot to get some burn as a rookie, especially if PJ Brown retires.

Final thoughts: I’ll repeat from Version 1.0 that I expect to see a fair amount of wheeling and dealing in this draft. If you are in the market for a rebounding big man this is the draft for you, even into the second round. If you’re in the market for a G, as are the Knicks, the pickings are much slimmer. If Donnie Basketball thinks he needs another guard—and he does, if not to contribute this year then down the road—he may be forced to look to the trade or free agency market.

Pre-Orlando Mock Draft, v. 1.0: The Lottery

2008 NBA Mock Draft

I’ll update the mock from time to time as the process unfolds but I wanted to get something up prior to Orlando and team workouts. This mock is less a prediction and more a record of what I would do as the GM of each team. Although I anticipate that trades will change the draft order, perhaps radically, my interest is in matching player and team. Therefore I keep the teams in their given draft order but highlight spots where I expect trades.

1. Chicago Derrick Rose, Memphis, PG

Rose is the best overall prospect in this draft. Although Beasley might fill an immediate need for scoring Rose creates scoring opportunities for teammates. And what really moves him ahead of Beasley for my money is his defensive value. I think he’s the 2nd best perimeter defender in this draft (behind Russell Westbrook).

2. Miami Michael Beasley, Kansas State, PF

Beasley is the best offensive talent in the draft. Although he seems more of a mid post than a low post player he gets to the line an impressive amount (.59 FTAs/FGA or 10 FTAs per pace-adjusted 40) and is a beast on the boards (14.6 rebs per pace-adjusted 40).* On the other hand, though I have seen Beasley play only infrequently, he seems like an indifferent defender. Perhaps no franchise is better than Miami though at getting indifferent defenders to exert effort on that end of the floor.

3. Minnesota O.J. Mayo, USC, G

This is obviously where the draft gets interesting. No consensus has emerged on who the 3rd best player in this draft is. Mayo could easily solidify this spot with stellar workouts despite his so-so freshman season. He is very strong, unselfish, and a good defender, all underappreciated aspects of his game that may serve him well in workouts and interviews. He’s also, I think, a better complement to Randy Foye than is Jerryd Bayless. Kevin McHale is close to Mayo’s now-former agent Bill Duffy and has scouted Mayo extensively.

4. Seattle Jerryd Bayless, Arizona, G

Seattle is likely to select whichever of the three top guards remains on the board. Bayless might be the perfect combo guard to complement Durant. Bayless plays well without the ball, shoots a high percentage (.61 TS), and lives at the free throw line (.59 FTA/FGA).

5. Memphis Brook Lopez, Stanford, C

I like Brook Lopez better than many, but I expect him to slide a bit based on workouts. He lacks elite athleticism and has pre-existing back problems, which make him a prime candidate for a slide. What he brings to the table are good footwork and hands. I think he projects to a more-than-competent-but-less-than-All-Star center that provides Chris Kaman-like production.

6. New York Russell Westbrook, UCLA, G

I doubt Westbrook goes off the board at #6. However, none of the remaining forwards (Gallinardi, Randolph, Love, or Greene) after Beasley strike me as having higher upside than Chandler or Lee. I suspect the new brass will try to package this pick with a bad contract (e.g., Randolph, Jeffries, Snacks) and flip it. The player I’d target in a trade down scenario is Westbrook, who has all-NBA defensive potential. If he had any PG skills he’d be a lock for the top ten. I fully expect his stock to rise once workouts start because his athleticism and motor are tailor-made for that process.

7. LA Clippers Kevin Love, UCLA, PF

Love is all over the place in terms of how he’s regarded. Certainly, the gushing about his outlet passing is a bit overdone by his supporters but the concerns about his athleticism are a bit overstated too. Lots of guy that are not cloud-piercing athletes play PF in the NBA. Love does not project to be a primary offensive option because his post offense doesn’t translates all that well, but his emerging mid-range jump shot, his excellent rebounding and interior passing absolutely do. Some teams will not place a premium on such a skill set but Love is perfect for LA, who may very well lose Elton Brand and/or Corey Maggette this off-season. He doesn’t need a lot of shots to provide value and they don’t need another guy who demands the ball.

8. Milwaukee Danilo Gallinari, Armani Jeans Milan, SF

Perhaps the most impressive thing I have seen about Gallinari is that he took free throws on 59% of his FGAs in just under 34 minutes per game. That’s 8 FTAs per pace-adjusted 40. For a teenager without otherworldly athleticism or size that is an impressive feat. Draftexpress compares him to Hedo Turkoglu.

9. Charlotte Anthony Randolph, LSU, F

Larry Brown isn’t going to play any rookie chosen at this spot anyway, so if Randolph is available at this point in the draft it seems wise to gamble on his upside. He has a lot of tools but doesn’t know how to play the game just yet. The best situation for him is one where he can sit and watch for a while (and keep Adam Morrison company).

10. New Jersey Donte Greene, Syracuse, F

I doubt Rod Thorn keeps this pick. He appears ready to blow up that roster. So, I see #10 and 21 packaged to get a player or to move up. Like Randolph, Greene is a high upside forward with size and skill but lacking experience.

11. Indiana Eric Gordon, Indiana, SG

I think Gordon’s skill set translates best to running teams. He is not a Nate Robinson combo guard that can run the point passably. He is more like Ben Gordon (i.e., strictly an undersized SG). Gordon is a shooter that unfortunately shot poorly in the second half of the season (coinciding with the Kelvin Sampson furor). I see him as one of the bigger gambles among the players that appear destined for the lottery. For its part, Indiana’s entire backcourt situation is unstable. So I would not be surprised to see Indiana move down and perhaps target a point guard (e.g., Augustin, Chalmers).

12. Sacramento Darrell Arthur, Kansas, PF

Sacramento has a gaggle of part-time post players (i.e., Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Mikki Moore, Kenny Thomas, Spencer Hawes, Shelden Williams, John Salmons, and Ron Artest). So Darrell Arthur would fill a clear need and is a much better prospect than any of the available centers. He is a solidly built PF who can post up and step out to shoot the mid-range jumper. He can become overly reliant on that jumper as evidenced by a low number of fouls drawn (.29 FTA/FGA). Though talented, he is a bit of a gamble because he disappears for stretches but is probably worth a look late in the lottery for a team desperate for youth in the frontcourt.

13. Portland Chase Budinger, Arizona, SG/SF

Budinger is an uber-athletic wing that definitely should have stayed in school. He runs the floor, plays without the ball, and shoots well but appears to lack the aggressive makeup typical of focal offensive players. He seems more like a late bloomer who will develop into an excellent complementary scorer, much like former University of Arizona and Spurs great Sean Elliot. Budinger doesn’t defend yet, but should work out well enough to get into the fringes of the lottery or just outside.

14. Golden St. Joe Alexander, W. Virgina, SF/PF

Alexander is something of a ‘tweener with an excellent mid-range game and jump out of the gym athleticism. He would work well in Nellie’s fun-and-run system.

Next: The rest of the first round

* Stats from player profiles at Draftexpress.com