One of the compelling aspects of basketball (and most other sports) is that at the end of a game there is always a clear-cut winner and loser. There is no grey area; even the most ardent Miami Heat supporter (may God have mercy on your soul) can’t argue that the Heat won the NBA Finals. However, declaring winners and losers at the NBA Draft is a more difficult proposition, especially doing it only hours after the draft has finished. We truly won’t know who came out the true winners or losers until a few years down the road, but if the internet is good for one thing it’s knee-jerk reactions, so here’s this jerk’s knee reactions (wait, that doesn’t sound right):
Heading into the draft, Tristan Thompson looked like a late lottery to mid-first round pick. However, after very impressive showings at pre draft workouts, the Canadian big man jumped all the way up to the fourth pick with the Cavaliers. This huge leap up the draft charts will earn him around a $4 million raise over his first two seasons in the League.
Michael Jordan has been much-maligned as a basketball executive (and rightfully so), but he came out of last night earning plenty of praise. Charlotte is smartly rebuilding their team around young players. So they shipped out Stephen Jackson, Shaun Livingston and pick #19 and came home with Bismack Biyombo, Kemba Walker and veteran Corey Maggette. All in all, a very productive night for MJ.
After last season’s disaster, Pistons fans needed some good news and they got it last night as Brandon Knight, who was considered almost a lock to be gone by the third pick, fell into their laps at No. 8. While Knight still needs plenty of work before he is a legit NBA point guard, his skill set, size and athleticism make him a great pick.
If Bryan Colangelo is to be believed, NBA front office executives were falling over themselves last night praising the Raptors for their selection of Jonas Valanciunas at pick #5. After potential snags in securing a buyout with Valanciunas’s European team scared some teams off from picking him, Toronto got the player they coveted. While Toronto might have to wait a year or so before he suits up for them, his size, athleticism and defensive instincts will help them immediately.
Canada’s pro team got a potential steal in Valanciunas, Tristan Thompson became the highest selected Canadian ever in the draft (the previous highest selected Canadian was Steve Nash at pick #15), and then Thompson’s fellow Canadian and high school and college teammate Cory Joseph snuck into the first round and finds himself in a terrific position with the Spurs. A great night for Canadian basketball.
The Kings traded their starting point guard, Beno Udrih, for John Salmons AND they had to move down in the draft, from pick #7 to #10. Then they went and selected a player at #10, Jimmer Fredette, who looks to be a career NBA role player at best. However, the Kings look like they are going to try to make Fredette be something he isn’t suited to be – a starting NBA point guard.
His free fall out of the top three of the draft cost him plenty of greenbacks. Plus, he now joins the most dysfunctional team in the NBA, the Detroit Pistons. Not exactly the greatest position for a young, raw player to get his feet wet.
This was a truly weak draft class and most of the players picked last night aren’t transcendent talents who are going to make the game we love any better. But us, the fans, are truly the losers because last night probably was the last NBA “action” we’re going to get for a long, long time as the billionaires fight with the millionaires over how to share our hard-earned money we’ve handed over to them.