Draft Open Thread

Kurt —  June 28, 2006

NBA draft day is about hope, about the promise of the future. Hope is a good thing. Maybe the best of things. And a good thing never dies.

For the Lakers, the hope is that a raw prospect at 26 this year could become a key cog in just a few seasons. That a gamble at 51 pays off like hitting the number at a roulette wheel. Hope can be fun, and this draft should be fun.

The place to get your draft day information is at True Hoop — Henry has gone plum loco today with more posts and detailed information on potential picks (and we’re talking second round guys, plus some fun stuff on Jordan Farmar) than you’ll be able to read. If you’re not here, you should be there.

Start your comments below, we’ll be here during the draft adding our thoughts and some good links as the day goes on — and especially once the fun starts tonight. Updates on the Laker picks, and any other big news, will get live blogged right here. Come on in and pull up a chair for a fun — and hope filled — evening.

UPDATE: UCLA’s Jordan Farmar! I’m not sure I love him in the Triangle, but I love the guy. Jones on the NBA knows him and speaks very well of him. Here’s what I had to say about him earlier on True Hoop:

For guys like me who prefer things quantified it’s hard to admit, but sometimes we are drawn to the guys with the intangibles. They are the leaders, fearless about taking big shots, taking charge on the court — and their teammates rally around that. They provide a confidence and a swagger otherwise lacking.

Jordan Farmar is that guy for me. I’ve watched the majority of his games the last two seasons and he’s been my favorite Bruin. I’ve also seen enough to know there are key areas he as to improve to make and impact, or even to stick around long, at the next level. He’s not a consistent jump shooter, shooting just 48% (eFG%) overall last season, he had a pretty weak offensive rating of 99.3 (points per 100 possessions used) and a frightening number of possessions he used ended in a turnover.

But he has the intangibles — and a few tangibles — that I love to watch. You saw that if you watched the NCAA championship game against Florida, Farmar almost single handedly kept the Bruins in the game for the first half. I’d describe him as a “crafty veteran” already, both in his moves and leadership.

He is a solid to good defender, both man and in a team defense system. He is a floor general in the classic sense. His first step is quick and he can get into the lane. He plays well up-tempo. He has great court vision and he can thread a pass, both on the move and standing still. He set the table for lesser players like Arron Afflalo and Ryan Hollins, each of whom had huge seasons. Luc Richard Mbah a Moute learned to move without the ball as a freshman because he found that when he did Farmar got him the rock for an easy bucket. More importantly, when it was time for the big shot, Farmar was willing to take it — and if you doubled him too soon you paid with a great pass. He the focal point of a team that went to the NCAA Finals.

If you’re the focal point of a major sports program in LA you get noticed — Matt Leinart walked on water here, or got into the Hyde Lounge without waiting, which is about the same thing — but Farmar lived relatively under the radar. Well, unless you talk to my daughter.

True story, back in early 2005 my wife, one-year-old daughter and I flew to Phoenix for a family reunion. We came back to LAX on a Sunday night, but our paid-for ride is nowhere to be found. So I’m on the cell phone berating a poor dispatcher when my wife taps me on the shoulder and says, “isn’t that the UCLA coach?” Sure enough, Ben Howland, tie stretched out and top button on the Oxford undone, was standing 25 feet away from us, with the rest of his team not far behind, wearing UCLA sweats, returning from a weekend in the Bay Area.

Most of the team headed for the charter bus going back to Westwood, but a few guys split off to be picked by family or girlfriends. I wasn’t paying much attention, my ride still was not there after 30 minutes of waiting and some poor shlub at the dispatching headquarters was going to listen to me vent whether he could solve the problem that second or not.

Then I turn around to see my daughter, who cis strapped in her seat, doing all she can to get the attention of — and flirt with — Farmar, who is leaning against a post waiting for his personal ride. Kids can be remarkably effective flirters, pretty soon she and Farmar are making faces at each other, and he smiles at her as he gets in the car with a coed. I’m not sure what a one year old can see in a guy but intangibles, but that elusive “it” quality. Farmar has that and every UCLA fan, and my daughter, could see it. (I realize that story really points to a future of fretting about this daughter as she grows up. All I can say is at least she went after a guy with NBA skills.)

And Farmar has NBA skills, they just need a lot of polish and more control. That will come with a few years experience, preferably time (at least at first) not as a starter but coming off the bench. He has to learn to harness his skills.

The intangibles he has down.

UPDATE: Cheick Samb from Senegal with the 51st pick. No, I’ve never heard of him either. He’s 7-1, 195. NBA.com says “Raw, lean shot-blocker who has tremendous upside as a prospect.” He apparently played for Barcelona, where I know we have a couple readers, so maybe they can help us out. Draft Express has a little on him, saying nothing good about his offense. And that he’s rail thin — he weighs the same as me but is a foot taller, which speaks poorly for both of us. More here, making me think NDBL.

TRADES UPDATE: In a great move, the Lakers traded likely-never-to-pan-out Samb to Detroit Maurice Evans, a guy who could be a solid 15-minute-a-game backup for Kobe. Also, they traded a future second round pick to Dallas for Danilo Pinnock, a combo guard out of George Washington. More on him and everything tomorrow.