The Guru Predicts The 2008 NBA Draft Lottery
The ping-pong balls are done bouncing and the Association has once again found a way to make all the conspiracy theorists, like myself, concoct new assumptions about its self-serving manipulation.
But far be it from me to ever question Mr. Stern or the integrity of his league, you know the league with the betting refs, the painfully predictable games, and the one that once employed Tom Tolbert; that league.
But I digress. The next crop of “one-and-dones” is ready to start collecting millions of dollars while trying to avoid the ranks of Kwame Brown, Darius Miles, and Michael Olowokandi. But unlike the aforementioned busts, this next generation of kids can at least say they know what a college gym looks like.
I still think the NBA should extend the age limit rule to two years removed from high school, forcing these kids to actually take notes in class instead of doodling sketches of their first ugly, over-priced shoe.
There I go getting off topic again…
Here’s how I think June’s lottery will shake out:1) Chicago Bulls: Michael Beasley F (Kansas State) – This pick will be up for big debate for the next month and a half, but I think it is very simple. Take Michael Beasley. The knock on the Bulls for the past four seasons have been their lack of a low post scoring threat. Plus, they are very guard heavy (Hinrich, Gordon, Hughes, Nocioni) and it would be a lot easier for them to package together two of their current bigs than it would be try to ship out multiple guards. Beasley going about 6’10” 240lbs, can be an around the basket scoring “beast”. He has a great presence on the court that garners the attention of the defense. He can score either with his back to the basket or facing up. Now, I am not saying that Beasley will be Shaq, but he can become a consistent scoring threat down low that can warrant a double team; opening the court for Deng, Gordon and Hinrich.
2) Miami Heat: Derrick Rose G (Memphis) – If I am Pat Riley, I am hoping that the Bulls take Rose instead of Beasley. So Rose falling to #2 might not be a good thing for Miami. Even though Rose may be the rookie that will have the biggest immediate impact, I don’t know how well he will fit in with this Heat team. Rose is Jason Kidd with a better jump shot, or a more physical Steve Nash, take your pick. Point guards are the new flavor of the month in the NBA, but all the PG’s that everyone is lathering up play on teams that do not have a dominant 2-guard in the backcourt. Dwyane Wade is a guy who is better with the ball in his hands, and Rose is best when he is controlling the ball. I think the Heat have to bite the bullet and take Rose because he’s the best player available.
3) Minnesota Timberwolves: O.J. Mayo G (USC) – Mayo’s draft stock has been going up and down more than Space Mountain. The T’Wolves already have a nice inside scorer in Al Jefferson. What Minnesota lacked was a consistent scoring threat from the wing. Mayo has the offensive talent to explode for 30 or 40 points on any given night, something the T’Wolves have never had. He can put an end to the offensive lapses that oft-happened in Minnesota last year. Not only does Mayo fit here from a talent stand point, he can re-generate a buzz around that franchise. Since shipping KG earlier this year, the Wolves have fallen back into anonymity. Mayo combined with Randy Foye in the backcourt, along with a developing Ryan Gomes and Corey Brewer in the frontcourt gives Minnesota a young core for fans to get excited about.
4) Seattle/Oklahoma City Sonics: Brooke Lopez C (Stanford) – I’m not sold on the Lopez Twins. Brooke or his less talented brother Robin. But they have something that you cannot teach. Height. You can teach someone how to execute a drop step, a spin move, or a hook shot, but you can’t teach someone how to be tall. The Sonics have lacked consistent rebounding and a post presence since Shawn Kemp left town. The 7-foot Lopez has shown that he can score the ball with some regularity, but he will have to work on his footwork and develop a go-to move. And with the way Kevin Durant pitches up shots, Lopez has a chance to average at least 12 rebounds a game right out the gate.
5) Memphis Grizzles: Danilo Gallinari F (Italy) – Gallinari is the top player coming from abroad this year. He reminds a lot of people of Andrea Bargnani, mostly because they both are Italian. Gallinari has a pretty high basketball IQ and is very fundamentally sound, like most International players. He is built similar to Bargnani, 6’9″ 210lbs, and has shown the ability to hit the NBA 3-pointer with semi-regularity. He will have to improve on his strength and toughness to be a real factor.
6) New York Knicks: Eric Gordon G (Indiana) – The Knicks have to get players that fit coach Mike D’Antoni’s scheme, that is if he brings his Phoenix scheme to the Big Apple. If he does, taking Gordon is a step in the right direction. In terms of the Phoenix fast-paced blueprint, Gordon resembles Leandro Barbosa. An undersized 2-guard that can score in a hurry. It doesn’t look like Gordon is going to be able to play any significant time at point guard at the pro-level due to his average ball-handling skills. He has a great shooting touch and has a NBA-ready frame that should allow him to get his shot off.
7) Los Angeles Clippers: Jerryd Bayless G (Arizona) – The Clips have to sure up their point guard position in a hurry with Sam Cassell gone championship hunting and Shaun Livingston still nursing a gruesome knee injury. I don’t see them trading up to get Rose, so they go after probably the second or third best point in the draft. Bayless didn’t prove a lot at Arizona in terms of winning, but he is super quick and knows how to put the ball in the basket. He will have to convert to being a full-time point guard standing only 6’2″ and show he can give more effort on defense. He tends to get sticky hands with the ball and not set up the offense, but the Clips need points and Bayless can give them that.
8) Milwaukee Bucks: DeAndre Jordan C (Texas A & M) – The comparisons to Dwight Howard are inevitable for DeAndre Jordan. He is 7’0″ and weighs 260lbs and is very athletic. However, he looks to be a boom or bust type of player. His physical ability is leaps and bounds ahead of his ability to play basketball. He didn’t really dominate at the college level, nor does he show consistent tenacity. But he will have at least one highlight reel dunk in every game. If he focuses on defense and rebounding he can develop his offense slowly with the right coaching.
9) Charlotte Bobcats: Russell Westbrook G (UCLA) – Westbrook is another 1-2 guard tweener, meaning that his versatility can either be a gift or a curse. He has Tony Parker-like quickness and has consistently shown the ability to finish in the lane amongst heavy traffic. He’s not going to be on any And-1 tapes for his ball-handling, but he can get past defenders fairly consistently. The Bobcats only have two point guards listed on their roster (Raymond Felton & Earl Boykins) and could use a defensive minded Bruin to bolster their backcourt.
10) New Jersey Nets: Kevin Love F (UCLA) – Kevin Love just may be the smartest player in this year’s draft class. He has a tremendous feel for the game and just knows how the game is supposed to be played. His performance in the pre-draft workouts will tell whether or not he slips this far or further. He is reported to have shaved off 10 pounds and is working extensively on his athleticism and explosiveness, two major knocks on his game. The Nets current big men probably couldn’t score in a whore house on payday, so bringing in Love would give them someone they could throw the ball in to in the post and get points.
11) Indiana Pacers: D.J. Augustin G (Texas) – Even though Augustin stands only 5’10”, he has the right skill set to be successful in the NBA. Probably a top five player in terms of talent. I love his ability to read defenses and game situations and know what to do with the ball. He has a very pure shooting stroke that can stretch defenses. He will have to show the ability to get steals on the ball and play in the passing lanes because he will get posted up almost every trip up the court. But if the guys like Muggsy Bogues and Earl Boykins can have long careers, so can Augustin.
12) Sacramento Kings: Anthony Randolph F (LSU) – I have Randolph slipping to the Kings on my board due to his lack of knowledge of the game. He has outstanding physical skills and great size (6’10” 215lbs), but he hasn’t shown much basketball polish. He can definitely come in right away and provide Sacramento with a lengthy and rangy defender who can guard multiple positions on the floor; a major plus in the Pacific division. If he can get out on the break and do most of his scoring from the free throw line – in, he can be good rotational player in his rookie season.
13) Portland Trailblazers: Chase Budinger F (Arizona) – Budinger could be the missing link to a team that doesn’t even know they have missing link. When Greg Oden returns next season, he is going to get doubled, and what do teams do when they have a player getting doubled? They kick the ball out to a shooter. Enter Chase Budinger. Budinger is a lights out shooter that can also finish at the basket when teams chase him off the 3 point line. He has the size (6’7″) to bother most 3’s and 4’s, and he can guard in the post if necessary. He did disappear at times while at Arizona, but he won’t be asked to carry the Blazers, especially with Oden returning and Brandon Roy another year wiser.
14) Golden State Warriors: Donte Green F (Syracuse) – As long as Don Nelson is coaching the Warriors they are going to be a “small ball” team. With that, Donte Green would be the perfect combo 4-5 man for their system. He has the ability to score the ball as far as 20 feet from the basket. He also is a very underrated rebounder, and the Warriors sure could use more second chance point opportunities. He can get out and run as well as finish strong at the basket when on the break. If he can add on about 10 pounds and block at least 2 shots a night, he could be a major steal.