Archives For June 2005

Draft Notes

Kurt —  June 29, 2005

Just a collection of thoughts:

• We’ve all got questions about Andrew Bynum — is he the next Shaq or (as Dan R. put it) the next Stanley Roberts? The first look at him will be at the Summer Pro League in Long Beach, which I will be attending as much of as I can. The league starts July 8 so check back here, I’ll post notes and thoughts on players from the Lakers and other teams (or, at least I’ll post the stuff I remember before I have the sixth beer of the night).

• Some great stuff in the live draft chat during the David Stern Show last night, thanks to those that came (and put up with technical difficulties at peak times). Best line of the night goes to the very clever Matt from Bulls Blog (talking about the ubiquitous commercials with the Duke coach):

Coach K! Did you help Jay Williams learn motorcycle safety? (yes, I’m bitter)

• Think of it this way, we traded Kareem Rush for Ronny Turiaf (he was taken with one of the picks we got from the Bobcats for Rush). I’d make that deal again.

• Because he’s a high school product there aren’t good numbers on Bynum, but I was able to get them on Ronny Turriaf (thanks Hoopsanalyst): He shot 50.8% on the season and averaged 17.8 points and 10.7 rebounds per 35 minutes (with the pros we tend to break that down to average per 40 minutes, but with college that would be the entire game). He also averaged 1.6 points per shot attempt, a good number, made better by the fact he gets to the free throw line often. Finally, he had 2.1 blocks per 35 minutes, but he’s not expected to be anywhere near that in the pros.

• I searched the Web and found some video clips of Bynum, but I’m not sure they show much since every other player on the court comes up to his shoulders.

• I think now we can all agree that the best part of the NBA draft was Deron William’s girlfriend.

• Bill Simmons (aka The Sports Guy) has his Draft Diary up at ESPN site, this is traditionally his best column of the year.

• How far was Von Wafer off the radar? He was not even invited to the Chicago pre-draft camp.

• Finding info on Wafer has not been easy, but what I do find makes me question the pick even more. He was twice suspended early and often benched late in the season at Florida State. Everyone says he’s gifted offensively. This guy — a skinny guard who can shoot but not defend — is a classic Mitch K. pick up, ala Kareem Rush (except this guy is no Rush).

• What’s frustrating about Wafer is not taking the gamble on him, that’s what the second round is for, but other gambles that fit Laker needs like Chris Taft and Roko-Leni Ukic were still on the board.

• I am very saddened by the passing of Shelby Foote. Count me as one of the few people who, after seeing him in the Ken Burns documentary, purchased his epic Civil War trilogy and read it. I then met him briefly when he got an honorary doctorate from Notre Dame (at the same time my brother was getting his MBA). He brought history to life in a way I wish more books and educators could.

Laker Draft: First Impression

Kurt —  June 28, 2005

Since the Shaq trade, Laker fans have had to be patient and point to the 07-08 and 08-09 seasons, when (with the right moves) the Lakers could be back.

Andrew Bynum fits right in with that. If he grows into his potential, in 08 he is going to be a force to be reckoned with inside. He will anchor the team inside (with Mihm at the four or as a backup) to go with Kobe outside. If this works, Mitch Kupchak will have the steal of the draft and be hailed as Westian. But, it could flop as Bynum never develops (or has weight issues), at which point, Mitch will be thrown into a shark tank at the Long Beach Aquarium. As Tenlay said in the comments during the draft, Mitch may well be remembered for how this pick pans out.

What this pick does not do is help the Lakers much next year — Bynum is raw. The Lakers are going to have to make trades or get free agents to fill the obvious needs for a point guard who can defend and a shot blocking/rebounding presence inside. Next year’s Lakers are no better than last year’s Lakers after draft night. Phil Jackson does not like playing rookies much, so maybe going the free agent/trade route is what he wants in the short term. But bringing in the needed players is a set of moves only the most optimistic (or drunk and deluded) Laker fans have complete confidence in Mitch pulling off.

Bynum is the long term. He overpowered kids in high school (he’s 7-0, 300), using his size and not needing to develop polished post moves. Now, every night, he’s going to see players close to his size and just as strong. There are questions about his footwork, and because of that his ability to defend active NBA big men. But there is time to improve all that. If he can polish and add to his game, he can become a great force. — I like what he said to AP after being drafted:

“I want to bring back the skyhook, which Kareem left behind there. That’s one of my favorite shots.”

I also love the first of the Lakers two second round picks, Ronny Turiaf. The Gonzaga star is not going to be an NBA star, but he works hard and plays with a nasty streak in the paint. A guy like that, coming off the bench, is something every team can use, particularly the Lakers who kept bringing in Brian Cook as a power forward to hang out at the three-point line. He’s not going to get a lot of playing time in the triangle, but like Luke Walton a couple of years ago he fits a need and his effort may get him more time as the year goes on.

My guess is Von Wafer will be the first Laker sent to whatever NDBL team they hook up with. The Florida State product is a Phil-style guard in that he’s 6-5, and he was his team’s three-point specialist. The down side is that he is considered a defensive liability. If he wants it, if he goes down to the NDBL and busts his butt, there is room on every team for a guy who can drain the three consistently. You just can’t be a black hole at the other end.

Draft Party: Going Big and Young

Kurt —  June 28, 2005

With the 10th pick the Lakers passed over the heralded Gerald Green for Andrew Bynum, a 7-0, 300 pound high school kid who, if he had gone to UConn may have been the number one pick next year. That said, he’s a project, raw but with a big potential payoff. Read an interview with him here. Come into the comments and talk about it.

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We’ve got a sweet little party set up here — there’s beer in the fridge, wings are set out and I even went to the cheese shop to get a nice assortment. Make yourself at home.

The draft is about to get underway and there will be a running comentary in the comment thread below, just click on it and join in. Everyone is welcome, even Clipper fans. I will post any news updates on this part of the site as well.

• The first big trade of the day was Portland sending the third pick overall to Utah for the sixth and 27th picks, plus a conditional first round pick next year. I think Portland may win out in that deal.

Rumors Gone Wild

Kurt —  June 27, 2005

Update: The latest Laker draft rumor wrap up is at Hoopsworld, and the theme seems to be “what can you get at 10?” Not to be too Zen about it, but the Lakers are going to make a trade or they are not, and on Tuesday morning I’m not even sure Mitch knows which that will be.

For fun, here’s who the Lakers take at 10 in a few last mock drafts:

Hoopsanalyst: Charlie Villanueva
Draft Express: Martell Webster
Hoopshype: Raymond Felton
NBADraft.net: Charlie Villanueva
Basketball draft central:Andrew Bynum
Inside Hoops: Martell Webster
Yahoo: Raymond Felton
ESPN: Charlie Villanueva

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While I may take a more levelheaded, analytical approach to fandom, I like the NBA draft rumor games more than just about any other Rumors. Along those lines, here are some thoughts and draft rumors heading into the Tuesday event, plus any other thoughts that pop into my head. If any new rumors get hot in the next 24 hours or so, I’ll post updates here.

• Rumors that are out there (read while eating something salty): Dan, the Indiana/Lakers deal (Devean George, Slava and a second round pick for Jonathan Bender and the 17) is still out there but it’s not done yet, and now the New York Daily News has it (which may not be a good sign); The Lakers and Portland have talked about trading so Los Angeles can move up to the three, but apparently the Blazers want to move Ruben Patterson as part of any deal (maybe something like the 10th pick, Caron Butler and Vlade for Ruben and the three); The Lakers also have talked with New Orleans (the fourth pick) and Charlotte (the fifth pick).

• My hunch is that the Lakers are more likely to make a trade than not, but you’re not going to a see a trade until draft day or during the event itself. For example, Charlotte may be willing to move their pick but only if a player they want (Chris Paul?) doesn’t fall to them. We shall see what happens. As a side note, I think trades not involving draft picks may be pushed back a little just because of the new CBA (there’s no pressure to get things done before it expires and GMs want to see what their new cap figure is).

• Some of the best player breakdowns are at Hoopsanalyst, where all five positions are now up. They love the potential of Charlie Villanueva and they think Andrew Bogut compares well to what the NBA’s current top centers did in college. Worth the reads.

• One interesting mock draft is up at the Lakersground.net message board, posted by one of the moderators and better posters on the site, who goes by Dancing Barry. I don’t know that his is more (or less) accurate than anyone else posting mocks, paid sites or not, and nobody can predict the trades that will happen. What this does have is good player breakdowns. Also, this site has a new look that is a huge step up.

• Would your vote for MVP change if it was taken after the playoffs rather than before? Roland Beech, the man behind 82games.com, asked that question on the APBR Board, and it’s an interesting query. Over the course of the playoffs, Tim Duncan was actually in the negative, meaning the Spurs outplayed their opponents with him off the court but not on. My vote, which would have been Dirk Nowitzki before, very likely would have changed.

• I had said the biggest advantage to bringing Phil Jackson on board in LA is that at least there would be a plan in place to get better and it would start with defense. Right about now, Knickerblogger is wishing Isaiah Thomas had one of those “plans” for New York.

The Others

Kurt —  June 25, 2005

Sure, right now the Laker roster has more small forwards on it than Lindsay Lohan has pictures on the Internet. Well, at least it seems that way. But I would not be shocked if come draft day the Lakers add another one, even in the first round.

And it may not be a bad thing. The Lakers may have a ton of threes, but if they end up trading Butler and another couple guys (despite Mitch Kupchak’s denials) adding a versatile athlete who can fit in the triangle with Kobe and Lamar is not a bad idea. There are a couple of options out there.

While we’ve looked at players that fill a need (point guards and power forwards), here is a quick look at other potential draftees for the Lakers.

Gerald Green. Remember when Jerry Buss sent Kupchak into the lions’ den late last season, telling him to preside over a meeting with season ticket holders? Among the most interesting things Mitch said that night was he was very interested in a particular high school player — I thought it was a smoke screen at first, but it appears not. If the Lakers end up trading up to the 3/4/5 spot, Green may be the Lakers choice (if not a point guard). This is a 19-year old high schooler (the new draft rules would not have affected him) who is considered maybe the best athlete in the draft but very raw. Last year he averaged 33 points, 12 rebounds and 7 assists per game. Here’s my thing with high schoolers — it’s more about their mental makeup. They’ve got to have the physical skills or they wouldn’t be considered, but does the kid have maturity about him and a good work ethic? Kobe did. Garnett did. LeBron did. You get the idea. I don’t know about Green, but the Lakers need a good answer to this question first.

Danny Granger. He would fit the triangle well because his game is versatile — he can distribute the ball and hits the boards hard. Also a good shot blocker and defender. Oh, and he can score, too. Everybody likes him, the only knock may be he’s had some back issues in college. I’m not opposed to this, but if you take him you’ve got to clear out room on the roster for him.

Martell Webster. Another high schooler who may go in the lottery, and whose stock is rumored to be rising. Webster is considered less athletic but a better pure shooter than Green. However, his defense is questionable. Good NBA body. Hmmm, a good shooter who doesn’t care about defense in the triangle? Maybe he is the second coming of Glenn Rice. While not a bad pick if the Lakers take him I’d be surprised.

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In my look at point guards I mentioned a couple of potential second round picks for the Lakers. Here are a few more names just for fun.

Salim Stoudemire, PG. He may not be on the board when the Lakers draft in the second round, but if he falls that far how can you pass up a guy at that point you know can score? Scouts say he’s the best shooter in the draft, and after watching him torch UCLA for a couple of years I know he can hit the NBA three consistently. He may be a three-point specialist, but that’s not a bad thing. He may well not be around, though.

Randolph Morris, PF/C. He’s just a freshman out of Kentucky, but at 6-10, 260 the Lakers can wait a year or two for him to develop. He shows flashes but then takes games off, is that youth or his personality? With the new NDBL rules this might be a great second round pick, take him and let him develop in another league and bring him up if and when he’s ready.

Dwayne Jones, PF/C. Played for St. Joe’s in Philly so we out West don’t see him much if at all. Thin but tall, 6-10, 240. He plays defense and rebounds, but is offensive game is weak. However, a big guy who could play good D and grab some boards for 10-15 minutes a game (in a year or so) isn’t a bad second round grab.

Mile Ilic, C. The last Yugoslavian center the Lakers drafted turned out pretty good. He’s 7-1, 240, so some bulk would be nice, especially since the book is he’s soft. This would be another draft of potential, someone who needs a few years to see if he can play in the NBA.

Ronny Turiaf, PF. I loved his energy and attitude at Gonzaga — he’s got a mean streak. Scouts say he’s raw and inconsistent, but this is a guy who is going to work hard (you can teach skills). He’s what you want in an 11th or 12th guy on the bench because he’ll bust his butt in practice. I like the guy, but in the NBA his best case scenario is still energy guy on the bench, if you’re drafting on potential there is more out there.