Do you like the NBA draft?
I like it very much.
Granted, in recent years due to the massive flurries of trades and wheelin’ n’ dealin’ (Stepien Rule notwithstanding) we Knicker-backers often have our grubby noses pressed firmly against the storefront window, befogging it and greedily eyeing all the shiny new 1st round toys just waiting to be snapped up, wrapped in their finest, Big n’ Tall suits and festooned with a New Era cap proclaiming their undying fealty to Cablevision and its affiliated companies.
In case you’ve gone through a few years of heavy therapeutic/self-administered (possibly extra-legal) medicinal treatment, despite a steady parade of Lottery-worthy Knickerbocker models, we’ve given away picks like so much manna from heaven. Oh sure, Iman Shumpert is still around, flat-topping and accidentally revealing an alternate orange uni hither and yonder, but even when an ephebe has managed to sneak onto a cap-bloated roster, those able-bodied young men upon whom we placed so many of our hopes and dreams—Messrs. Gallinari, Fields, Lee, Balkman, et al.—are all plying their trade elsewhere in the far-flung corners of professional basketball.
So yay. Barring any last minute front office machinations, (knock on every three-dimensional object within striking distance that even vaguely resembles wood) the Knicks will sit patiently until it’s their turn and snag themselves a junior member of what is undoubtedly still a very senior-ish roster.
But I not only fancy the draft because of the untold, undefined promises of future glory, but because we, the hardscrabble, unwashed fans really do seem (emphasis on seem) to be on equal footing with the bespoke-suited professionals in the front office. We can read a bajillion mock drafts (and I do), peruse hours upon hours of YouTubed scouting tapes (and I do), parse the tea leaves of rumors and leaks and debunked rumors and unleaked leaks (PRO TIP: If you plan on watching the draft on the teevee machine, stay FAR AWAY from Woj’s Twitter feed. So. Many. Spoilerz.) and proudly declare that, “Player X is a late-round steal!” or, “Player Y is a draft bust waiting to happen, if TEAM Z takes him I will rend my Modell’s-purchased team garments!” and say so with total assurance that even if the scenario doesn’t come remotely true, for the next few weeks—you know, when they start playing actual games—you or I are completely wholly right.
But I digress.
Our man Dan Feldman, of the TrueHoop Network blog, Piston Powered has put together a mock draft. We bloggers all made picks for our various teams and yours truly got to dress up in Glenn Grunwald drag. Here’s how this imagi-draft went down (the blogger making the pick is in parentheses, lest you care to lambaste/deride him):
1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Alex Len (Colin McGowan, Cavs: The Blog)
2. Orlando Magic: Nerlens Noel (Eddy Rivera, Magic Basketball)
3. Washington Wizards: Otto Porter (Kyle Weidie, Truth About It.net)
4. Charlotte Bobcats: Victor Oladipo (Spencer Percy, Queen City Hoops)
5. Phoenix Suns: Ben McLemore (Ryan Weisert/ Kevin Zimmerman, Valley of the Suns)
6. New Orleans Pelicans: C.J. McCollum (Ryan Schwan, Bourbon Street Shots)
7. Sacramento Kings: Trey Burke (James Ham, Cowbell Kingdom)
8. Detroit Pistons: Anthony Bennett (Dan Feldman, PistonPowered)
9. Minnesota Timberwolves: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (Steve McPherson, A Wolf Among Wolves)
10. Portland Trail Blazers: Cody Zeller (Danny Nowell, Portland Roundball Society)
11. Philadelphia 76ers: Kelly Olynyk (Tom Sunnergren, Hoop76)
12. Oklahoma City Thunder: Steven Adams (Royce Young, Daily Thunder)
13. Dallas Mavericks: Michael Carter-Williams (Ian Levy, The Two Man Game)
14. Utah Jazz: Shabazz Muhammad (Andy Larsen, Salt City Hoops)
15. Milwaukee Bucks: Shane Larkin (Jeremy Schmidt, Bucksketball)
16. Boston Celtics: Dennis Schroeder (Brendan Jackson, CelticsHub)
17. Atlanta Hawks: Rudy Gobert (Bo Churney, HawksHoop)
18. Atlanta Hawks: Jamaal Franklin (Bo Churney, HawksHoop)
19. Cleveland Cavaliers: Sergey Karasev (Colin McGowan, Cavs: The Blog)
20. Chicago Bulls: Giannis Adetokunbo (Michael Pina, Red94/CelticsHub)
21. Utah Jazz: Lucas Nogueira (Andy Larsen, Salt City Hoops)
22. Brooklyn Nets: Tony Mitchell (Jeremy Gordon, Brooklyn’s Finest)
23. Indiana Pacers: Reggie Bullock (Jared Dubin, Hardwood Paroxysm)
So that’s where things stood. On my many legal pads and soiled cocktail napkins I’d scribbled the names of a bunch of players I had in mind, but I was sorely miffed that a couple of my fave targets, namely Tony Mitchell and Reggie Bullock, were snatched away seconds before I could gobble either of them up like so many delicious, athletic, sweet-shooting, ridiculous upside-ery bon-bons. Thanks a lot, Dubin. Be warned, my reasoning for liking or not liking players, despite the mountains of information I consume prior to the draft, has ZERO basis in logical, well-reasoned thinking. There are guys I just like. Sometimes, I end up smelling like a rose. I desperately wanted Faried in ’11 (though I was happy with Iman Shumpert, mainly because I thought his name sounded like some kind of obscure Jewish delicacy. “Try the Shumpert. It’s a pickled herring in heavy cream sauce. You’ll love it!”), and I was screaming my lungs out that the Knicks should take Jrue or Ty Lawson at #8 in 2009. Other times…well…not so good. I thought Renaldo Balkman was going to be a sneakily brilliant move, even if this lanky PG who couldn’t shoot out of Kentucky was still on the board. I forget what happened to him. As we know, for the actual gentleman making the selections, tonight’s draft represents untold hours of study, analysis, research, background checks and unauthorized NSA metadata wiretaps. And yet, teams still fornicate with the canine. So, we’re gonna Istick with my mystical, right-brained approach here in this mocking.
Anyhoo, knowing all that, I went with…
24. New York Knicks: Ricky Ledo (Robert Silverman, Knickerblogger)
BRING ME YOUR HATE.
Here’s my thinking (as it were). Yes, there are a couple of 23-year old Center/Power Forwards who could certainly provide solid minutes off the bench still on the board, namely Gorgui Dieng and Mason Plumlee. With regards to the former, I got scared away by the knee issues that have been cropping up and the outright horror of imaging the malapropistic knots Clyde Frazier would twist himself into trying to pronounce his name. Plumlee? I don’t like him. I can’t say why, other than ‘eff you, Duke/I didn’t like his brother Miles. Consistency, y’all. Plus, most mocks have him landing somewhere in the 17-21 range, and if my wise fellow bloggers are passing him by, they MUST KNOW SOMETHING. He can pout in the green room a few mins longer.
Then there’s the, “There’s a piece missing/one-dimensional wings” group—Alan Crabbe, Tim Hardaway Jr., and Tony Snell. I just don’t like the cut of any of their respective jibs. Especially Hardaway. I still loathe Tim Sr. And yeah, I know, “Sins of the Father” is so much bunk, but that’s how I rolls, when it comes to truly meaningless things like mock drafts.
So, my personal draft board came down to Ricky Ledo and Nate Wolters, and in this instance, I actually considered some basketball reasons.
Yes, with Prigs free agency and Jason Kidd’s decision to go eat artisanal cheeses and wear ironic T-shirts in BK, the Knicks are suddenly pretty thin at the point (Ray Felton’s midriff notwithstanding. BOOM.). The two-PG lineups were a key component of the team’s success, so picking up a young lead guard capable of pushing the pace would be of serious interest. Wolters by all accounts is a terrific ball handler and deadeye shooter with boffo range. At 6’5”-ish, he’d certainly be capable of lining up next to either Felton or Prigioni (Yes, I’m going to assume that Pablo’s coming back. I can’t begin to stomach contemplating the alternative.). The downside is, he’s considered a subpar athlete and a meh defender at best. Given that the Knicks allowed approximately 24 points/36 to opposing floor generals, Wolters’ difficulties staying in front of his man would only be exacerbated in New York.
That leaves Ledo. This would certainly be a risky move. He didn’t play at all at Providence last year because of the dreaded red flag-waving “disciplinary reasons” and is generally perceived to be something of a bad seed. The most common name tossed around when making comparisons is Qyntel Woods, animal lover. That said, he’s a phenomenal athlete and can get to the bucket at will. He’s also a solid shooter who can play some point. On pure upside, he’s probably a lottery-level talent. Granted, that sounds a heckuva lot like a couple of players already on the roster (Cough…J.R. Smith….cough, cough, hack, sputter, wheeze), but in this draft, I think it’s a lot better to swing for the fences than settle for a cat whose upside is an end-of-the-rotation guy at best. You know why?
I’m sure all of you far-more-informed folks (or at least the ones not using Charlie Day’s exploits as his/her planning strategy) have better choices given how the board played out. Let’s hear ‘em. HAPPY DRAFTERDAY, EVERYONE!