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Friday, June 24, 2011

The Sportaholic 2011 NBA draft spectacular

Just like the general managers whose team are near the top of the draft, I have played it close to the vest on the draft this year. This was billed as the weakest draft class since the 2006 draft, that featured the Andrea Bargnani led class of a debacle. That class only saw two eventual all-stars (Rajon Rondo and Brandon Roy) and plenty of busts (Adam Morrison #3, Shelden Williams #5, and Patrick O’Bryant #9 sheesh those were some stinkers). This was definitely a down year in terms American born talent and was supposedly going to have a lot of international flavor. That notion held true to form as four of the lottery picks came from overseas, breaking an NBA record. Most teams had a plan and worked it to perfection but some failed miserably (I just don’t understand for the life of me why GM David Kahn of Minnesota still has his job.)

The Cavaliers selected Kyrie Irving with the number one pick which wasn’t really a surprise but their number 4 pick Tristan Thompson was. The Cavs have now created the new foundation for there future. The Jimmer was drafted by the Bucks but will take his talents to the Kings (He looked awkward in that Bucks hat with everyone knowing he was going to Sacramento). The Jimmer seems to be the most marketable player in this year draft as a Jimmer Jam was held in Glen Falls, NY in hopes that he would land with the Knicks, but to no avail. Speaking of trades, the flurry of established players moving was the biggest story this year’s aside from the foreign players’ takeover. It was too many trades to go over so I will list them at the bottom of this article.

Now for the biggest winners, losers, surprises and best laughs of the 2011 NBA draft:

Biggest Winners:

Washington Wizards: I am surprised to say the Washington Wizards had the best draft in the NBA this year. They drafted the freakishly athletic Jan Vessly at number 6 (Who has a very nice taste in women as ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla properly put it.) He will combine with John Wall and Javale McGee to form a devastating fast break for the Wiz. Washington selected defensive specialist Chris Singleton next with the 18th pick. Flip Saunders probably ran to get the pick in to David Stern and for good reason, Singleton was the highest rated defensive perimeter player in the entire draft this year. He is a pit-bull on defense and has a long wingspan (That Jay Bilas would not let us forget about, but more on that later) that should make him a pest on the wing for the Wizards for years to come. To put the cherry on top of their haul, the Wizards selected former Butler star Shelvin Mack. Mack may not be the most athletic or have the most upside but he will give John Wall a decent spell of the bench and run the second unit for Washington. Damn good draft by the Wizards

Sacramento Kings: With all the turmoil the organization is facing with the on again off again relocation talks, the Kings needed a star that could come in and make an immediate impact for them and they got one. As I stated earlier the most marketable player in the draft was Jimmer Fredette. The Jimmer is a one-man train of publicity and he already has an established fan base out west from playing at BYU. Fredette will move Tyreke Evans off the ball as he takes over at the point which I think he can excel at. He will have some problems defending but he will be ok. The Kings have a chance to become an offensive juggernaut with Fredette, Evans, Demarcus Cousins, Marcus Thornton and the recently acquired John Salmons. The relocation talk may never come to fruition with the Jimmer in town. (Now if they can only get a new arena but that’s another subject for another day)

Biggest Losers:

New York Knicks: I know the Knicks usually boo their picks every year because lets face it; it’s the thing to do as fans for this once proud franchise. But they may have a valid point this year with the Knicks selecting Iman Shumpert from Georgia Tech. Shumpert has all the measurables, jumps out the gym and seems like a nice guy but that’s not what New York needed. They could have went in so many different directions and they had so many needs that Shumpert doesn’t fit. Kenneth Faried and Chris Singleton were still on the board and both would have met an immediate need for the Knicks. They already have a guy in Landry Fields that does the things Shumpert does well. I was booing just like you New York fans as this was just an all around bad pick.

Minnesota Timberwolves: If anybody could explain to me what the hell is going on up there with general manager David Kahn then I would really appreciate it. They continued to stockpile young front court players and future draft picks but they don’t seem to have a concrete plan on what to do with them. Drafting Derrick Williams at #2 was no-brainer since they couldn’t move the pick in a trade but now that gives them Kevin Love, Michael Beasley, Anthony Randolph, Wesley Johnson and now Williams as combo fowards. Don’t forget they have Ricky Rubio also as he finally agreed to come over and play which adds to the chaos that is Minnesota’s locker room. They did trade former first round pick Jonny Flynn and the 20th pick Donatas Motiejunas to the Rockets for Brad Miller and some draft picks but I just don’t get a sense of direction from the front office. They have some talented players but you have to settle on a core and let them develop. And to top everything off, they have an uncertain coaching situation as Kurt Rambis remains in limbo. It’s just a mess in Minne these days. I have to admit that I do like Kevin Love’s “Love in the shower” Old-Spice commercials though.

Biggest Surprise:

Tristan Thompson goes 4th: I could go a lot of different direction here including Markeiff Morris being drafted ahead of his more polished brother Marcus, or the fact that Michael Jordan and the Bobcats had a pretty good draft but it has the to be the selection of Tristan Thompson at the #4 slot. There were rumors swirling that the Cavs were enamored with the former Texas star, who is a bit undersized at 6’8 for power forward and doesn’t have the offensive game to match his rebounding and defensive talents just yet. They had to hope that Enes Kanter, the big man from Turkey would be there at #4 but of course he wasn’t as the Jazz took him at 3. Thompson will pair with the #1 pick Irving and provide a new era for the Cavs but I know they are somewhat disappointed they couldn’t turn this pick into a trade or draft a more skilled big man to compliment Irving.

Best Moments:

Morris twins go 13th and 14th: It’s almost as if all that were watching last night was duped by the producers at ESPN. First, Markieff is drafted and cameras instantly pan to older brother Marcus. He delivered to as he had one of the best lines of the night when asked what it will be like not to play with his twin whom he has played with his entire life. I mean, I'll send him flowers or some fruit. It'll be good." Said Marcus. And right after little brother is picked by the Suns 13th, the Rockets select big brother at 14. If they couldn’t play together I guess the next best thing was being picked one after the other. I posted on twitter (@thesportaholic) that I would wager anyone that the Morris twins would have better careers than the Collins and Lopez twins but no one took me up on the offer. I wonder why not?

Kenneth Faried gets his due: This was sentimental for me as I am friend of Demonte Harper who is the best of pals with Faried. He has come a long way and endured many things that I wouldn’t wish on anybody but he now can say he is a NBA player. It was even more special that the draft was in Faried’s hometown of Newark and his entire family was in attendance. I had the pleasure of interviewing Faired and Harper at a local college basketball all-star game and you could see the hunger and determination in his eyes.( He is a guy that plays with his emotions on his sleeve and that reverberates with fans. The standing ovation he received was well deserved and from me personally Kenny, I hope you have a long and productive career.

Worst Moments:

Jay Bilas’s description of players: Bilas must have been under the impression that we don’t know these guys have long arms because he gave us the wingspan of seemingly every player drafted. I like Bilas’s commentary on ESPN but maybe he could get a little more creative in the player description field.

Jonas Valanciunas’s interviewing skills: I know this kid is just becoming accustomed to speaking English but lord have mercy that was a terrible interview he had after being drafted 5th by the Toronto Raptors. His English was limited at best and he seemed to have a hard time understanding what ESPN analyst Mark Jones was saying to him. Even Jones himself had to acknowledge that Valaniciunas was still learning his way around the language. It was painfully comically to watch.

That does it for my NBA draft spectacular. And to think I got through this entire article without mentioning Lebron James. Wait… ok so now I just did. Hopefully the NBA doesn’t go down the lockout road as the NFL but all signs point in that direction. So this may the last actual basketball related talk we have for a long time. As they say always hope for the best but always expect the worst.


  1. The rebuilding starts for Cleveland. The Bulls didn't do much, but they drafted low.
    Now, we play the waiting game as the NBA appears to be ready to do their version of the "lockout."

  2. Hey Jim, your guys actually may have landed a potential impact player in a few years with the trade the Bulls got for Nikola Microtic. He was a projected lottery pick in a couple of years after his contract situation with Real Madrid clears up. When he does make it stateside he should immediately get playing time and blossom into an even bigger role. Your front office guys are smart they knew what they were getting from that idoitic David Kahn and the T'Wolves. Hopefully he pans out. As far as the lockout goes it feels like Deja Vu all over again for us sports fans. I'm so tired of lockouts at this point.