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Draft Views from all over the Wild West — part 1

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Well, St. Kevin's Day 2009 is over and it's time to see what everybody got this year from the Rookie Fairy and whether they're happy with their presents or ready to riot... In keeping with the general theme of my "beat," I'm going to examine the views of everyone BUT the Lakers — who essentially sold all their picks this year anyway.

Lakers did pick up gangly 6'10" Power Forward Chinemelu "Junior" Elonu, a Nigerian who went to school at Texas A&M. He's a project at best, no better than even odds to even make the team as a 12th man. The fact that the Lakers sold their other picks doesn't hurt so bad given that they would have missed out on UNC Shooting Guard Wayne Ellington by one pick anyway. That guy would have really been an asset. So it's all good.

There's your "Laker Fan View" if you are missing that, ha ha.

This review of cheering and hissing among the Lakers' Western Conference rivals is gonna be done in two parts: Blazers, Clippers, Grizzlies, Hornets, Jazz, Kings, and Mavs tonight; Nuggets, Rockets, Spurs, Suns, Thunder, T-wolves, and Warriors tomorrow.

I'll need to give the Eastern Conference a miss since after that I'm heading for Cali for a few days with a friend from Finland who's coming out to visit. Gonna go see the trees, one of the best places in the world. If you haven't ever seen the redwoods, you need to make a point of coming out...

Anyway, with this little two-parter I'm going to try to concentrate on the underappreciated bloggers, who are less beholden to the teams they cover than the professionals and thus more apt to voice pointed criticism of the good old home team... I've spent a few hours really searching for URLs and tricking out my browser, it will be entertaining to me just to see what's out there...

Just for fun I will add my own smartassery at the end of each team's comments.

Okay, let's get to work. This is alphabetical by team nickname... Skip to the teams that interest you if you don't wanna spend 3 hours reading...

Click on through for the content...

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Blazers.

I Think I Got Pritch-slapped

by T-for-3, posted to Blazers Edge (SBN)

So last night during the draft and just before the Blazers come up at 22 I'm looking at my laptop and ESPN is showing the players that are still available. I see DeJuan Blair and I think ok it's either him or Casspi. And as I know KP has a fever for international flavor I figure he's going to snag the boy from Israel over DeJuan Blair's bionic ACL's. I wouldn't be mad. Casspi could be a good player, I think he could have some upside and feel he's going to be a significant role player on a good team (and it won't be with Sacramento I assure you) and I hear him go with Claver.

Claver? CLAVER?? What the hell does this guy bring to our team? Seriously?! CLAVER!!?? I went on a tirade of Facebook status updates lashing at the pick and Twitter posts to Bill Simmons and John Hollinger hoping they could make sense of this. Of course no one is there to explain this to me so I had to do it on my own.

So here's what I came up with and just to give you heads up, there is a loud SMACK at the end of this from you know who.

By picking Claver, the Blazers will be able to stash Claver over seas and free up even more money in cap space of over a million dollars. So by most peoples estimates of the new salary cap we could be upwards of 9 or 10 million available. So instead of making this team younger we now have a better opportunity to make this team more mature with a good free agent. Add in a little trade for Hinrich and we have ourselves a very solid squad that, dare I say, would beat the crap out of last years amazing Blazer team.

So ladies and gentlemen.... That's how I got Pritch-Slapped. *  *  *


Making Sense of the Draft

by Dave Deckard, Blazers Edge (SBN)

* * *
Ben [Golliver of BE] reports that the Blazer brass were clear all along that Jeff Pendergraph was a strong target. The Sergio Rodriguez deal was specifically to get that 31st pick in order to take him. Apparently a decent amount of cash went along with Sergio to sweeten it for Sacramento.

Coach McMillan anticipates that both Pendergraph and Cunningham will make the team. They both worked out on the same day...and both impressed. Pendergraph has the skills for the reserve power-forward role while Cunningham might be more of a swing guy. It's hard to avoid the impression that these are younger, cheaper (and obviously not as good yet) replacements for Channing Frye and Travis Outlaw. Both making the team certainly frees Outlaw for trade purposes. Both will participate in Summer League providing their contracts are signed.

Patty Mills was a nice pick-up late in the second round. Ben quotes KP as saying Mills "has a passport", likely indicating that he'll play overseas. Certainly he's no threat to Jerryd Bayless as the primary reserve point guard. Indeed the Sergio trade appears to put more pressure on Bayless, at least for now, pending other moves.

Beyond that, Ben reports both Kevin Pritchard and Nate saying that Nate and Tom Penn had to rein in KP and Paul Allen a little bit when their aggressiveness would have added more youth — likely second-round — to an already young roster. Clearly for the top guys the draft is a buffet. Coach and Penn play Jenny Craig. * * *


Blazers 2009 NBA Draft Recap

by Sheed, Bust-a-Bucket (Bloguin)

The 2009 NBA draft is over and some Portland fans are left scratching their heads. Over the past few seasons we've seen Kevin Pritchard make legendary moves to acquire the current members of the Trail Blazers. But was this draft really so boring? Doesn't it just appear as though the organization is setting up to make moves in free agency?

If they had moved up to draft Stephen Curry or Ricky Rubio, this summers moves would be done. But now we have July to look forward to. I don't know a ton about every guy we drafted, but I'm okay with the moves made. * * *

The Bottom Line:

Portland had a really good draft (again) but it's still painful to have missed out on Blair. Then again, Blazer fans were in love with Adam Morrison, too, so there ya go... Demerits for Pritchard spending two 2nd Rounders to jump 2 places in the 1st Round just to draft a guy who would have been there two picks later anyway and for having to PAY Sacramento to take back up PG Sergio Rodriguez. Bizarre.


Clippers.

Lawler's Law

by Ralph Lawler, Lawler's Law blog

Today marked the third in the Clippers' 25 years in Los Angeles that the team owned the first overall pick in the NBA Draft. There was no hesitation, no consternation, no deliberation this time. They didn't need the league allowed five minutes to decide. Head Coach and General Manager Mike Dunleavy immediately barked into the hot-line phone to New York : "BLAKE GRIFFIN."

It took the league the full five minutes to announce the pick to a nationwide TV audience, but the local draft room was filled with smiles and handshakes.

When Commissioner David Stern announced the pick on ESPN, the Clipper Draft room erupted in happy applause. The coach immediately went on the air on ESPN and then moved downstairs to address the local media. He was clearly anxious to get back upstairs where he hoped his day's work was not over.

The team would love to acquire a later pick in the first round. It was clear the ballclub was not in a "Salary Dump" mode. They turned down more than one opportunity to give up a salary without getting substantial basketball help in return.

But this is now official, the consensus College Player of the Year from Oklahoma will be a Clipper. No. 1 in the land has reason to be surprised. Some say this is a one-man draft. While that may be something of an over statement, but Griffin is the one sure thing in the 2009 Draft. * * *


Draft Day at Playa Vista

by Clipper Steve Perrin, Clips Nation (SBN)

This is the third time I've been to the Clippers training facility as a member of the media. This one is a little more 'official' feeling — they even set up the podium style press conference with microphones and everything.

Among the media members in the house are Eric Pincus of HoopsWorld, Ben Maller of FoxSports, Mark Heisler of the LA Times, Ramona Shelburne of the Daily News, Jim Alexander of the Riverside Press Enterprise, Jim Hill of Channel 2, and lots of other people I should probably recognize.

Of couse, there wasn't really anything for the Clippers to talk about, since the pick was pretty much old news. So Shelburne and Pincus and Heisler asked the same questions that we've been asking for several weeks, and MDsr gave the same answers he's been giving the whole time. * * *

The Bottom Line:

It's nice to be able to pick #1 overall, but why does Blake Griffin feel like just a "pretty okay" player to me? I guess I need to see the dude play or something...


Grizzlies.

Draft Post-Mortem: Quick Thoughts

by Chris Herrington, Memphis Flyer Beyond the Arc blog

I'll have a report from this afternoon's press conference later and will probably wait until this weekend to deal with the aftermath of the draft in War and Peace form, but for now some quick thoughts:

1. Hasheem Thabeet: I'd voiced my opposition to the Thabeet pick here, but clearly my "value" objection was not, um, valid. Last night's draft made it clear that the #2 pick, and the rights to Ricky Rubio, did not have the trade value that many assumed (or maybe hoped). Sacramento clearly wasn't going to offer a significant package to get Rubio at 2 when they weren't even going to take him at 4. The Knicks never had a compelling package to offer. As for Minnesota, there were some reports yesterday that Hasheem Thabeet was their target at #2, but if it was Rubio they were clearly right in not making a significant offer to move up. They got him at #5 anyway.

Via a combination of his legal issues in Spain and taking a closer look at his game, the shine clearly came off Rubio in the run-up to the draft. Did teams like Memphis, Oklahoma City, and Sacramento make a big mistake in passing up Rubio? Time will tell. * * *

2. Demarre Carroll/Sam Young: I didn't like the Carroll pick because, in addition to Young, who ended up falling to #36, I liked Derrick Brown from Xavier better (and Wayne Ellington and Dajuan Blair, for that matter). * * *

Young was almost the pick at #27 and the team was thrilled to get him at #36. My prediction is that Young has a bigger impact next season than Carroll.

3. The Darko Deal: For all Darko's issues, I'd rather have a rugged, defensive big man than a declining undersized shooter, which is what the Grizzlies got in return in the form of Quentin Richardson. But, once Thabeet was added, the team was looking at Darko as a third-string center. Essentially the team traded a third-string center on a large expiring contract for a second-string wing player on a large, expiring contract. The deal makes sense in terms of balancing the roster. * * *

The Bottom Line:

Thabeet is gonna be pretty much a nothing player, Carroll is forgettable, and Quentin Richardson is a small net gain over the completely and totally useless Dorko. But Sam Young is gonna be a player. Still, given the picks they had ya gotta give this draft a fairly huge thumbs down for the Grizz.


Hornets.

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Collison

by AtTheHive, At The Hive (SBN)

Lots of haterade being drunk in re: this Darren Collison fellow ("9th best PG", etc).

You know what? It was a great pick. This really isn't spin or anything. Last thing I'm going to do is spin the Hornets' front office after the disaster that was Summer 2008.

First, consider the options. It was down to DeJuan Blair or a point guard. Marcus Thornton wasn't in the equation at 21, because no other teams valued him that high. If the Hornets really wanted him that high, they'd have traded down and gotten a 2nd rounder tossed their way. Internally, the front office had made the Blair vs. point guard decision (which turned out to be the right call, as Thornton hung around till 43).

Let's start with Blair. I was super high on him. His rebound rates were mind-boggling, he'd dominated a 7 footer in Thabeet before, and he had apparently gotten into terrific shape. When the decision was made to pass him over, I was startled. Blair filled our biggest need, and some statistics indicated he might be the second best big in the entire draft. How could you possible pass on that? I was not a happy camper.

Then Portland — widely rumored to have traded up to get him — passed on him. Sacramento passed on him. Dallas passed on him. Oklahoma City passed on him. Chicago- widely rumored to be drafting Blair at 16- passed on him at 26. Even the staunchest advocate of Blair had to have recognized something here. And then ten more teams passed. Fifteen times in all, he was passed over.

There's some identified or unidentified issue with Blair that teams are scared of. It might be his knees. It might be the fact that his ACL's are supposedly not visible in MRIs do not exist. It might that people don't think his sudden and huge weight loss is sustainable. It might be that he lived on a mostly junk food diet for most of his college career. Sure, the Spurs wound up taking him. They've been absolute geniuses at drafting. But this smells more of "he couldn't have dropped any lower" than it does of the Spurs knowing something nobody else does. * * *


Come Play for Us, Kids! We Have 104 Degree Heat! And Free Hats!

by Ticktock6, Hornets Hype

* * *
I have to admit I was unenthusiastic about #21 pick Darren Collison. I know next to nothing about him. Well, I know next to nothing about college ball in general, so that's hardly a surprise. But I really thought we should've take DeJuan Blair, who ended up falling into the second round presumably because teams were scared off by his knee surgeries.

I am fairly sure I managed to control these opinions when some cameramen came up and shined a light on me and asked me what I thought. I am also fairly sure I talked for a while. I am also fairly sure the two Jager shots had a significant effect on the fact that I kinda forgot about this whole experience....

Anyhow, I feel a lot better about the Collison pick today, having checked out At the Hive's post regarding his stats (they're right up there or better than some lottery PGs). He was a 4 year college kid and didn't have the hype of some of the others, but I think we'll all remember we have a guy named David West who was in a similar situation when we drafted him and turned out all right. * * *

The Bottom Line:

The Chris Paul Team drafts a Point Guard???

F A I L.

There were lots of good players in this draft that came after #21. Collison went nearly 6 or 8 slots too high to a team that didn't even need him... D'oh!


Jazz.

The Jazz select Eric Maynor — Fans can start liking the #3 again.

by Basketball John, SLC Dunk (SBN)

Everyone know that the Jazz needed someone that can play some D. Sam Young would have filled that role. But for whatever reason, either Young slid in the draft, and well below #20. So either some underlying issue was there that we didn't know about or the front office simply valued Maynor more.

I thought our other need was an athletic scorer on the wing that could create his own shot. That's why I liked Johnson. After that though was the issue of backup PG. Sloan has had three PGs for as long as I can remember. The most likely scenario is the Price is re-signed and Maynor becomes the third option, maybe even taking over for Price in some cases. I don't see Sloan letting a rookie PG be the backup. Heck, look what it took for Deron to crack and keep his spot in the starting lineup.

My gut feeling is that he's going to turn out well. * * *

If there is any position where your talent is magnified in the Jazz system, it's the point guard. It turns lower-level players into competent backups. And it can turn stars into greats. There have been those that didn't pan out. The secret ingredient to succeeding in the Jazz system as a PG seems to be what they call a high basketball IQ. You have to have the physical skills as well, but your decision making skills, bowstaff skills, and court vision are what's important.

And guess what has been said about Maynor? Basketball IQ, great passing skills, court vision, passing skills. He will succeed as a backup to Deron Williams. Will he ever become good enough to be a starter somewhere else? I wouldn't put it past him. * * *


The Newest Jazzmen — Eric Maynor & Goran Suton

by UtesFan89, True Blue Jazz (Bloguin)

#20- PG Eric Maynor, VCU

Quite simply, he is best known for this. He also has a twitter page (@EMaynor3), though he hasn't updated much (yet?). Quite simply...

Quick summary: Crafty, clutch true point with excellent quickness and a well-rounded offensive game, although he committed too many turnovers in college. The biggest knock on him is high slight build (6-2, 175).

I'll admit, I was stoked. (I figure letting everyone know this is important, because most people seemed pissed off that the Jazz didn't trade up for Blake Griffin or something.) After seeing Lawson & Teague go in quick succession right before the Jazz, I was afraid they'd reach for BJ Mullens or something. Luckily they didn't, and Maynor did enough in his last second interview yesterday to become the pick.

He might not be Ricky Rubio, but he'll be a solid back-up to Deron. He's the "true PG" J-slow loves, and is able to find his teammates when they're open. The team really needed a back-up... and you're not going to find many takers in the FA market that are willing to come in to play behind Deron. The draft is the way to go, and the Jazz found a great guy here.

Maynor isn't a guy I had originally considered for the Jazz, largely because I thought a different PG would fall, or they'd go elsewhere, but as the Jazz pick got closer, I started hoping he was the guy. And when Lawson went and Atlanta came up (I was certain they would go with Teague), I decided that Maynor would be the best pick (even though everyone seemed to the think the Jazz would take Sam Young). Simply, there was no clear cut choice. Every team had the guys they liked, and you took them. This wasn't a normal draft, where 28 teams have some guy ranked as being "top-5". It literally changed by team. Maynor was the best on the board for the Jazz when the pick came, and they took him. * * *

#50- C Goran Suton, Michigan State

I don't really follow Michigan State basketball (sorry if that offended anybody). But I did catch a couple of their games over the last couple of seasons (Big Ten tourney last season, I think, and March Madness games the last couple of years). And whenever I'd see Suton, I'd think that his shot had a range that reminded me of Okur's, and that it would be awesome if he ended up on the Jazz. (True story.) I didn't think much about it, though I did get my hopes up a bit when I saw he'd worked out with the Jazz.

But then I saw they liked Taylor Griffin (who was picked before #50) and had worked out Luke Nevill (undrafted, unfortunately for him) and the likes, and decided it wasn't very likely. So when Kevin O'Connor announced his name to the Jazz crowd at the ESA (and over the radio), I seriously became overjoyed. Getting another big that can shoot and rebound... and one that played for a great coach in Tom Izzo... and has a kinda-present post game, that's huge for the team. A duo of him & The Koof, while potentially down on strength inside, have the ability to play good defense, and make the other guys step out on defense to guard them (Suton has range out to 23-feet).

He'll work well with the Jazz loving the pick-and-roll and the pick-and-pop. * * *

The Bottom Line:

This was a PG mania draft and I suppose everybody needs a backup PG — but with the mocks predicting Tyler Hansbrough for Utah, Eric Maynor seems like a big downgrade. Meh.


Kings.

High Hopes for Omri Casspi in Sacramento

by Ziller, Sactown Royalty (SBN)

Israelis love basketball. Gross generalizations are often, well, gross. But I feel comfortable in this blanket statement: Israelis love basketball. Israel is a basketball country.

The Kings made Omri Casspi the No. 23 pick in the NBA Draft at about 6 AM local time in Israel. By 7 AM Israel time, I had received an email from Eran Soroka of the Ma'ariv Sports Newspaper. We discussed Omri's NBA chances, and Eran -- who said he has covered Casspi for several years -- offered this assessment.


"Casspi is a great guy to deal with, as a start. Smiling, talkative, ambitious. But on the court, he's always driven. He brings energy and intensity in every step on the court. He's a good athlete comparing to some of his European colleagues, he's fast and runs the fast breaks to finish with authority. He hustles for loose balls, moves very well without the ball and have a knack for finding the basket." * * *


Breaking Down the Draft: 23rd Pick, Omri Casspi

by Zach Harper, Cowbell Kingdom (True Hoop)

The worry about the 23rd pick in the draft started to come about when the Portland Trailblazers leapfrogged the Kings by trading three picks to the Mavericks in order to move from the 24th pick in the first round to the 22nd pick. It was widely rumored that they did this in order to take Omri Casspi before the Kings could add him to their franchise. When the 22nd pick came up in the draft, there was a certain malaise throughout the minds of the Kings fans I was around and in contact with as they assumed PDX would screw over the franchise in the draft. But that didn't happen. Surprisingly, the Blazers drafted Victor Claver out of Spain to be their international small forward of the future.

And that left the Kings with plenty of options considering how the night was playing out. They could go with Casspi, whom they loved in the workouts and pre-draft interviews. There were interesting players like Toney Douglas and Wayne Ellington on the board to add to the depth of the backcourt. They could have grabbed a proven commodity with the 24-year old Sam Young, who probably won't get much better than he is now but can definitely add some consistent scoring off the bench at the small forward position. DeJuan Blair was still on the board due to issues with his knees (they're shredded like barbacoa) but he would have brought some much-needed toughness to the frontcourt along with one of the best rebounding motors in the draft.

But instead they stuck with Omri Casspi as the guy. He was probably the guy all along. Casspi is a wonderful kid who is one of the trailblazers (not in the NBA team sense) in this draft. Along with Hasheem Thabeet (first Tanzanian), he is the first person representing his native country in the NBA. He'll be the first Israeli born player in the NBA as he'll come over to join the team right away, instead of waiting a couple of years in European play. He'll add to the toughness mentioned in the Tyreke Evans analysis that this team has been desperate for. He reminds me of Matt Harpring, only he's never been an American football player and he's not quite the shooter that Matt is.

Casspi has a questionable jump shot and limited range on said-jump shot. But he's a classic slasher at the small forward position who does a great job of getting to the basket and moving without the basketball. He's a strong finisher around the basket and has the body control of Rudy Fernandez when trying to score around the hoop. He's a staunch defender as well who is plenty physical with his opponents. His rebounding skills and instincts are also solid. * * *

The Bottom Line:

Tyreke Evans AND Omri Casspi AND Jon Brockman — wow, that's what you call a draft!  A+.


Mavericks.

Mavs Swap 1st Round Picks With Trailblazers

by Maxfieldnathan, The Smoking Cuban (Fansided)

According to Mark Cuban's Twitter account the Mavericks have traded their 22nd pick for the Trailblazer's 24th and a 2nd rounder for this year and next.

I usually don't like trading down in drafts but with the Mavericks not having a 1st round pick next season thanks to the truly awful trade that Avery Johnson insisted on to acquire Jason Kidd they will need all the picks they can get. They were also without a 2nd round pick this year so that will allow them some flexibility. The "you never know when 2nd rd picks can come in handy." makes me think (HOPE!!!) that this isn't the end of the Mavericks wheeling and dealing. I can only hope the best is yet to come. * * *


The Mavericks Draft

by Andrew Tobolowsky, Dallas Mavericks Examiner

Henry Abbot more or less summed up my thoughts: "Rodrique Beaubois was not in any of Ford's six tiers. Thunder take the title from Portland for Euro-reach of the night...Marc Stein has sources saying that Beaubois is actually going to Dallas (with a future second-rounder)...."

I really did not get into this business to insult or demean anyone. I'm not in this business, I get paid approximately what the coke machine at a small business gets paid for this. For those of you who read the Dallas Morning News sports pages you know that it is a haven of the bitterest, most nit-picky, tear you down kinda reporters who think they know everything, even the personal things, about the people they're talking about- — I hate that kind of thing.

But I do really think Donnie Nelson, as a GM, doesn't get it, and I think he's kept his job so long, with so little scrutiny because one time he managed to pick Dirk with his "always going for a homerun" strategy and because Mark Cuban seems to run the whole ship.

The Mavericks and the Cowboys have been sort of similar these last couple of years in terms of stockpiling useless picks because they don't feel like taking any reasonably sure thing. They're sort of like that guy in your fantasy baseball team who tries to trade you three decent players for one really good one and you're like, dude, I can fill that stuff from the waiver wire and this is a position game, man.

So the Mavericks first traded the 21 for the 24 and the second to last pick this year, and the 2nd round pick of an alright team next year. Since the Mavs have never turned a second round pick into anything, this didn't seem to make the most sense, but hey, at least it's the exact same guys who have failed to pick anyone useful but Josh Howard in the last decade, picking tonight.

Then the Mavs first picked a tremendoulsy raw center who apparently doesn't feel like playing hard but at least COULD develop into a force at aposition the Mavs have NEVER had a player at, and then traded him for, as usual, Some Guy You've Never Heard Of, Rodrigue Bobois.

Scouting report here. Rumor is it that he can jump out of the gym, has arms as long as the guy from the Fantastic Four, etc. But he's rough. Carlisle said that Bobois will be here next year, in contradistinction with ESPN which would send him overseas to get some polish. What are the odds that they picked a quick point guard just to stop getting burned by, say, Tony Parker? What are the odds that Some Guy You Never Heard Of is going to be real competition for TP? There is stuff to like here. But not now. I think that's a problem. * * *

The Mavericks also traded for Nick Calathes who is really a pretty good value for a 2nd round pick but already has a contract with a Greek team. And has some areas of concern at the pro level. There's some hope here, he's supposedly quite the passer. * * *

Oh well. You have to give them credit for taking a borderline second round pick in the first round--and a borderline first round pick in the second. * * *

 

The Bottom Line:

Mullens is a stiff, but Beaubois and Calathes are both highly regarded. Dallas also milked three 2nd Round picks; bear in mind that the Lakers sold the #29 this year to the idiot Knicks for 3 million bucks. Gotta give this draft a "pretty okay" rating, but I think the Mavs faithful are less that joyous.

 

 

Here's how I rank out the drafts of this group of 7 Teams:

1. Kings. (One great trade and 3 good picks).

2. Clippers (Hard to go wrong with the #1 overall).

3. Blazers. (Two keepers now and one star in a couple years).

4. Mavericks. (Milked 3 bonus picks and scored two good Euros).

5. Jazz. (They're hoping on Maynor).

6. Hornets. (A backup PG for 6 minutes a night?)

7. Grizzlies. (Dorks.)