Friday, June 27, 2008

2008 NBA Draft Thoughts

  • Despite all the predraft hype and talk leading up to the draft, there were really no shocking surprises. Chicago takes Derrick Rose, Miami settles for Michael Beasley, and Minnesota drafts O.J. Mayo only to trade him to Memphis for Kevin Love, who went fifth.

  • What was an eyebrow raiser to others was the Seattle Sonics selecting UCLA combo guard Russell Westbrook at four. My perspective of Westbrook is skewed, because I watched a lot of him at UCLA, especially during their tournament run where he really shined.
  • The Sonics had six picks in this draft, yet after a few trades came away with four players, including three first round picks. The folks in Seattle, though, are less than pleased.The
  • Sonics selected a point guard for the future, and three more project big men with "potential." Again. Ugh.
  • The reasoning behind picking Westbrook is that he gives the Sonics a lockdown defender. The Sonics are one of the worst defensive teams in the league and routinely lost close games last season because they were not able to get stops down the stretch. General manager Sam Presti comes from the Spurs front office, which won championships based on players making those defensive stops in those critical situations.
  • The base case dream scenario is that Westbrook turns out to be the next Gary Payton. Payton was always a great defender, but took years to develop an offensive game before becoming the best player in Sonics history. What is more likely is that Westbrook is like an Antonio Daniels, another player drafted fourth overall who is a good defender and loves to attack the rim. After watching the Celtics win a championship with Rajon Rondo, the Sonics will look to develop Westbrook as a similar point guard. Both are excellent perimeter defenders who cannot shoot, but can occassionally make good plays by penetrating.
  • The decision on the future of the Sonics will be decided next week, so keep an eye out for that.

  • The Portland Trail Blazers had another great draft. Remember, the Blazers are already expected to make a huge leap this upcoming season with Greg Oden joining last year's breakout stars Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge. They then pulled off a trade with Indy to bring in Arizona stud Jerryd Bayless, whom many believe was the one of the best point guards in the draft. When Kansas forward Darrell Arthur fell into their lap because of a kidney issue, they traded him for French phenom Nicolas Batum to stash in Europe for another year or two, adding even more potential to an already bright future. What is most amazing about this all is that the Blazers still have less than $20 million on the books for 2009-2010.

  • The New Jersey Nets may look back on this draft as the beginning of something special. They have completely blown up their roster, essentially trading away Richard Jefferson for Yi Jianlian to clear more cap room. At number ten, they took Stanford center Brook Lopez and got a second round steal in Chris Douglas-Roberts. But the grand prize may be Lebron James, who happens to be a free agent in 2010 when the Nets will have enough money to throw at him along with an attractive new home in the large market of Brooklyn, New York. Oh, and then there is that well documented friendship between Lebron and Nets part owner Jay-Z.

  • I love ESPN bringing along Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson to analyze the draft. They brought great perspectives and insights as a recent coach and player, respectively. Plus, the hilarious split screen interview of the Van Gundy brothers was utterly priceless.