I want to look at tonight’s NBA Draft a bit, but first a couple of quick stories to touch on:
- I love the Shaq trade for Cleveland. He’s obviously not the man he was, but he’ll fit well with LeBron, they gave nothing of significance up for him, and they aren’t tied to him long term. The guy knows how to win, and he’s hard to contend with inside. I could see him liking the idea of going out on top, and this is as good a spot as any outside of the Lakers or the Spurs (two places he really isn’t going) to do so.
- I was very interested to see Lleyton Hewitt pull a big upset of the number five seed off today, and look pretty darned good doing it. He’s in a soft draw, and could easily get to the quarterfinals. He’s traditionally been good at Wimbledon, and he has rediscovered some lost form recently. He’s not going to win it, but I see him winning a few more games.
Now for the draft. I don’t love mock drafts unless the writer has inside knowledge, and I don’t. Skipping that, then, I wanted to look instead at three guys who I think will turn into top pros, three guys who I think will be busts, and one good sleeper pick. I’ll leave Blake Griffin off the list – we all know he’ll be good, and saying nice things about him makes me ill.
Stephen Curry – The guy is undersized and hasn’t been tested by top talent as much as I would like. I’m not worried, though. The guy is a pure baller , he’s intensely creative, and he has an incredible knack for getting open. I’m not convinced that he’ll be the star in the pros that he was in college,but he’s going to be a very useful offensive piece to the right team in the right system. He’s going to be very fun to watch.
Tyreke Evans – Evans is versatile – he can readily play at least two positions. He’s ridiculously athletic. He excelled in the same system that Derrick Rose shone in, and Rose made the transition to the pros pretty darned well. He’s the kind of guy that has a high basketball IQ, and the creativity and talent to realize that vision.
Jrue Holiday – This is a guard-heavy draft, so it’s no surprise that all three players on my list are guards. I like Holiday for three big reasons – he’s ridiculously athletic, he has a body to grow into, and he is very sound defensively. I thought that Holiday was misused all year at UCLA, so I don’t have a lot of concerns that his college year wasn’t stunning. He’ll get a chance to play right away because he defends so well, and I think he can grow into a very nice, well rounded player.
Hasheem Thabeet – I think that Thabeet can be a decent pro – a role player. I don’t think, though, that he can play up to the level of a guy who could be the number two pick. When he is on his game he’s great, but he has an incredible ability to disappear completely. Teams that shouldn’t have been able to contain him were able to. I also don’t like his chances of holding up under the strain of a long NBA season – he was fading badly late in the season. I think that the chances are good that he’ll be a disappointment.
Ricky Rubio – Any time that someone is called the next Magic Johnson I get nervous. I have no doubt that the guy has skills, but this isn’t thefirst time that we have heard about a European guy who is a lock to be a star over here, and it rarely works out as it should. I’ve never seen the guy play outside of the Olympics, so this is based more on history than the player himself, but I can’t help but be skeptical.
B.J. Mullens – I watch a lot of Big Ten basketball, so I have had a lot of opportunity to see Mullens play. I am not sold at all. He’s big, but he isn’t a natural player. He often looks confused and out of place, and he wasn’t nearly as dominant as a guy that big should be. Teams repeatedly get sucked in to drafting a guy who is raw but tall. That almost never seems to work out. I don’t see Mullens as an exception to that rule.
Jack McClinton – I saw Miami play a couple of times last year. Both times, McClinton jumped out. He’s small, but he can shoot the lights out, and he’s shifty and creative. I don’t see much to differentiate him from some of the lottery guys, and I see him as a real second round steal. I’d even go so far as to say that I like McClinton better than James harden – a guy I am not high on at all.