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NBA Draft Recap: The Unpleasant Draft Night Hangover

Dave Dulberg |
June 23, 2011 | 11:11 p.m. PDT

Staff Writer

Commissioner David Stern was booed each time he took the stage. (Cody Mulcahy via Wikimedia Commons)
Commissioner David Stern was booed each time he took the stage. (Cody Mulcahy via Wikimedia Commons)
If the 2011 NBA Draft was the last taste of basketball before what looks to be an extended lockout period, it sure left much to be desired.

From the lack of star power to David Stern’s foreign name butchery to Jon Barry’s ill-fated attempts to provide scouting reports on college players he had neither seen nor heard of before, this year’s amateur selection lived up to its hype-less billing. So much so that comedian Louis C.K.’s second attempt at a sitcom on FX, though poorly written, had me more captivated.

Nonetheless, it’s important to put lipstick on a pig if need be. And trust me, last night’s draft needed it.


Cleveland Cavaliers

He’s not a franchise or city savior, in fact I don’t even think he will begin his rookie season as a starter, but Kyrie Irving gives Byron Scott’s team something they lacked en route to a 19-win season a year ago: someone who can get to the basket off the dribble and score. Throw in Tristan Thompson at the No.4 pick, who has been compared to Charles Smith and Tyrus Thomas albeit with a higher basketball IQ, and Dan Gilbert’s staff can’t complain about the night they had. It won’t change the culture of the organization overnight, but the team added two pieces that provide depth and optimism for the future.

Minnesota Timberwolves

It’s hard to put anything David Kahn is associated with in the winner’s column, but for once (aside from his traditional three draft night trades) he played it safe. The most coveted pick leading up to the draft was the No.2 selection Minnesota held. And despite their best efforts to shop the pick for absurd reaches like Steve Nash and Andrew Bynum, the T’Wolves took arguably the best player available in U of A forward Derrick Williams. He’s not quick enough to guard the small forward position, and he doesn’t have back-to-the-basket moves to warrant him beginning his career at power forward. But aside from the potential matchup issues he may face down the road, the sophomore sensation showed off his rare athleticism and touch from the perimeter as the Wildcats reached the Elite 8 in 2011. If nothing else, he has the Twin Cities excited for Wolves basketball, which at least for next season features the nice quartet of Rubio, Beasley, Love and Williams.

Indiana Pacers

Hats off to GM David Morway and Larry Legend, because somehow without even making a meaningful selection for itself on Thursday night, Indiana improved their roster with a proven and talented young player, George Hill. Although they gave up this year’s No.15 pick (Kawhi Leonard) to get the former IUPUI guard, in Hill the Pacers get a more polished point guard who at 25 fits in well with the team’s core young nucleus of Granger (aged 28), Tyler Hansborough (25), Roy Hibbert (24) and Paul George (21). Not to mention, having Hill (11.6 PPG, 2.6 APG, 2.5 RPG AND 37 3-PT% in 2010-2011) start allows Darren Collison an opportunity to fill a role they desperately needed: a sixth man who provides energy at both ends of the floor off the bench.


Dallas Mavericks

It’s hard to criticize a team that seemed to shut up every doubter the last two months en route to their first NBA championship, but maybe the organization’s brass had a little too much bubbly over the last two weeks. I get that J.J. Barea may no longer be a realistic option in Big D as he is set to become a free agent after the new CBA gets hammered out. But if there is one thing the defending champs needed going into this draft, it was an offensive-minded small forward who could provide insurance for Caron Butler (who hasn’t played since January due to a season-ending injury) and Shawn Marion, who is a year or so away from being considered long in the tooth. Drafting Texas’ Jordan Hamilton made sense at No.26, but it turns out he will be taking his talents to the Mile High City as part of a three-team trade with the Nuggets and Blazers. In return, the Mavs received one-dimensional shooting guard Rudy Fernandez. Dallas already has that player in Jason Terry. Not to mention, he does his job off the bench a lot better than the Spaniard.

Brandon Knight

Apparently, UK’s super frosh was not stoked about beginning his professional life in Detroit. It seems someone isn’t fooled by Chrysler’s spin doctor-esque car commercials. Regardless of the fact that Knight saw his stock drop slightly (he was projected to be a Top 5 pick) when he was taken 8th overall, the native of Fort Lauderdale couldn’t have looked sadder upon hearing his name read. On what should have been the happiest day of his young life, Knight chose to take a slightly different approach. One filled with teary eyes and body language which suggested he didn’t want to even be at the Prudential Center. If the now-rookie takes any advice in the next few months, it should be to man up and accept the cards you’re dealt. Oh, and smile. YOU GOT DRAFTED IN THE TOP 10!!!

Charlotte Bobcats

Kemba Walker. (Keith Scheller via Wikimedia Commons)
Kemba Walker. (Keith Scheller via Wikimedia Commons)
Kemba Walker is a winner. We saw it not only for the entire month of March but more or less the length of the 2010-2011 college basketball season. With that said, I don’t see his game translating to the pro level. He’s a combo guard in a point guard’s body, and he possessed the ability to get off his own shot at UConn. The difference is in the NBA, he will be guarded by grown men three to four inches taller than him. Plus, name me a guard who’s had a thrilling pro career after being selected by the Bobcats. Add in the fact that Michael Jordan doesn’t exactly have a knack for picking big men (think Kwame Brown) and you have their second 1st round pick, Bismack Biyombo (who they acquired in a three-way deal  with the Kings and Bucks)  from Congo. Think of the second coming of Hasheem Thabeet, with possibly less raw talent at the offensive end.

Intriguing Moments

“The Kiss”- The only thing more enjoyable than the sight of Adam Silver’s annual 2nd round appearance was the make-out session Jan Vasely had with his girlfriend after being selected 6th overall by the Wizards.  It had passion and flair for the dramatic, with a hint of awkwardness. Vasely also happens to be the only pro-ready foreign player selected in the Top 10.

Oh, Brother- Can you name the only NBA team that in the last four years has used up three selections on the lesser of two brothers eligible for the draft? If you said the Ringley Brothers Circus also known as Robert Sarver’s Phoenix Suns, you are correct. On Thursday, Phoenix took Markieff Morris from Kansas with the No.13 pick, despite the fact his brother Marcus (who was a more productive scorer and rebounder for the Jayhawks) was still available. Joining Morris on the dubious side of the brother talent pool are former Suns picks Robin Lopez (still with the team) and Taylor Griffin (now just trying to get an autograph from his brother).

Boilermakers Reunite in Beantown- Coming in at No.2 on the most romantic love stories ever told in Boston history (of course Fever Pitch is No.1) Danny Ainge orchestrated a draft night trade to reunite Purdue stars JaJuan Johnson and E’Twaun Moore. Unfortunately, Celtic green is a putrid color for a love story.

So You Think You Kahn Draft? Ready for a mind game? What do you get when you trade Johnnie Flynn and the rights to the No.20 pick for Brad Miller and the rights to the No.23 and No.28 only to ship off the No.23 (Nikola Mirotic) and No.28 (Norris Cole) picks for a future first-rounder and a future-second rounder, cash considerations and the No.31 pick (Bojan Bogdanovic)? The answer: another draft in the mind of David Kahn.


Reach Dave by email.



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