On the heels of the NBA Draft Lottery, teams are probably starting to rack their brains out trying to position themselves to make the most out of their selections. Fortunately, a know-it-all-like myself has never had a problem giving my two cents on what each lottery team should – or should not – do when the draft night rolls along.
These picks, however, are chosen without consideration to any potential trades. If any trade happens with at least one of these 14 teams, then all bets are off.
So without further ado, here’s my take on what each team’s General Manager should do to strike gold in the draft.
“IF I WERE…”
The Chicago Bulls – I would take Michael Beasley. I know it’s really tempting to take hometown kid Derrick Rose to appease the fan base, but Rose doesn’t fill a need. Beasley does. The reason why Chicago bombed so bad this season was because they didn’t have a post presence that could bail them out when their plays broke down – which happened just about every other possession. Beasley not only gives them somebody that can create his own shot, but he also has a great knack for swallowing up rebounds – another area the Bulls were being bullied – no pun intended.
The Miami Heat – I would happily take Derrick Rose and sent John Paxon a `thank-you’ card for passing up on the electrifying point guard. With Rose on-board, the Heat are in a situation where they can go back to being top-tier contenders in no time, supposing Dwyane Wade doesn’t become Penny Hardaway Redux. I won’t bet on it, though, and I’ll be looking forward to Miami’s “Illinois-Connection” to spearhead this team back to the play-offs.
The Minnesota Timberwolves – I’m taking Brook Lopez only because it frees up Al Jefferson to become the monster that he is. This is a “need” pick for the Timberwolves because with Lopez manning the pivot, Jefferson can move back to his natural `4′ position, where he can have a relatively easier time dominating the competition. This also ensures him that he won’t gas himself too much guarding the West’s other centers. Some might say that they need help in the backcourt and wing positions but I’m still not throwing the white flag on Randy Foye. After all, he played great down the stretch for the Timberwolves after he got back from his injury. A full season from him will really gauge just how good a player he can be in this league. In the meantime, Al Jefferson is about ready for prime time and with Lopez on board, he’s about to be unleashed.
The Seattle Supersonics – I’m taking OJ Mayo. I know the Sonics are apprehensive about taking someone with a `red-flag’ on the character department but Mayo is too good a prospect to pass up. He can score, he can play defense, and most importantly, he can sell tickets. A Durant-Mayo combination is going to form a great 1-2 punch for the Sonics – wherever it is they play next year.
The Memphis Grizzlies – Memphis is in a catch-22. The best prospects still available in the draft play positions they don’t really have a need for. The Cubs…err…Grizzlies need a post presence and I’m almost quite positive that Kwame Brown and Darko Milicic aren’t the answer. So out of necessity, I’m taking Kevin Love. Love doesn’t have that star quality that Rose, Beasley or Mayo have but he’s got about everything else. He has range on his jump shoot, he can bang in the post and he’s got a knack for always finding the open guy. Plus, his basketball IQ is off the charts – something their general manager obviously lacks.
The New York Knicks – The choice here is between Jerryd Bayless and Eric Gordon, and I’m taking the sparkplug from Arizona. Let’s face it, Stephon Marbury is dead man walking in Gotham and the sooner they get a legitimate replacement for him, the better it is for Mike D’Antoni’s system. Bayless is not Derrick Rose but he’s also not Marbury. He’s going to make sure to look for his teammates but at the same time be aggressive to look for his own shot. Contrary to popular belief, I think he’s the best fit -with the exception of Derrick Rose – to run D’Antoni’s offense.
The Los Angeles Clippers – I’m taking Eric Gordon. First of all, he shouldn’t have fallen this far and he’s infamous struggles down the stretch during the college basketball season shouldn’t be as big a factor as people are making it out to be. His size, coupled with Shaun Livingston’s uncertain future, might force him to learn how to run a team, which I think he’s capable of. But his scoring ability is his calling card and it’s a welcome addition to a team that struggled mightily in putting the ball through the hoop.
The Milwaukee Bucks – Here’s another team that’s in a bind. On paper, they have the talent to become a play-off team in the East. What they lack is team chemistry – something Andrew Bogut proved when he high-fived Casper after making a free throw. That being said, I’m taking Danilo Gallinari. I know they have a glut at the small forward position but let’s be honest, Bobby Simmons has been a bust, Desmond Mason is better coming off the bench, and Charlie Villanueva is wildly erratic. With Gallineri, they have another playmaker that can provide versatility and smarts in a Bucks team that seems to fall short on both areas.
The Charlotte Bobcats – I’m taking DeAndre Jordan. The Bobcats are primed-up for a play-off run sooner than later, and with Larry Brown on-board, they just might be able to sneak in next year. What this team needs is a tag-team partner for Emeka Okafor. Jordan has the size, the length, the athleticism and the upside to become the Bobcats’ slot man for years to come. If for nothing else, everyone’s going to have a field day when one Jordan drafts another Jordan.
The New Jersey Nets – With Lopez and Jordan off the board, I’m taking the next best available big man. That being said, I’m taking Darell Arthur. Arthur has the potential to be the Net’s first legitimate post player since Kenyon Martin left. With Krstic’s health still up in the air, the Nets need someone that can get points in the paint to ease the burden on Vince Carter and Richard Jefferson. With all due respect to Josh Boone and Sean Williams, neither have the offensive skill that Arthur possesses.
The Indiana Pacers – I’m taking DJ Augustine. The Pacers already have a chalk full of scorers but what they don’t have is someone who can get them the ball in positions where they can score. DJ Augustine fits this role perfectly because he’s a pass-first point guard that has the knack of finding open guys in places where. The injury that is Jamaal Tinsley is about two hang nails away from breaking down so the sooner they can get a replacement for him the better it would be for them.
The Sacramento Kings – I’m taking Russell Westbrook. The Kings lost a lot of close games last year due to poor execution down the stretch. One of the biggest culprits is that they don’t have anyone that can set them up for a good play. More often than not, you saw Kevin Martin stumble his way toward the basket or Ron Artest launch an ill-advised three pointer when they only needed two to win the game. With Westbrook on board, they’re going to have someone that can facilitate their offense and distribute the ball in spots where they can be successful. Not only that, Westbrook also has the ability to erupt on any given night so he gives the Kings another offensive weapon opponents will need to worry about.
The Portland Trailblazers – I’m taking Brandon Rush. The Blazers are a scary team because their young, talented, and they genuinely like playing with each other. Now, there might still be other players available that have more potential but Rush is a perfect player for what the Blazers are trying to become. He’s athletic, he has shooting, he can play defense, and most importantly, he’s a model citizen. Rush can fit right in the rotation and become Brandon Roy’s primary back-up to prevent Roy from playing too many minutes and saves him from the plethora of injuries he suffered last year.
The Golden State Warriors – I’m taking Marreese Speights. Don Nelson’s run-and-fun style is suited for the players in Golden State. That being said, the Warriors’ undoing has always been a lack of post presence, especially when they’re playing teams with able bigs. With Speights on board, the Warriors will have someone that bang in the post and at the same time have the athleticism to keep up when they eventually run teams out of the building.