Just over two weeks to go to the NBA draft, and because we bloggers tend to think weâ€™re so damn smart, there are a few mock drafts coming out with bloggers serving as GM their respective teams. And Iâ€™m taking part in one (put on largely by the quality bloggers at Sports Blog Nation) representing the Lakers.
UPDATE: The picks in this mock draft have started, with the Tom and his blog Indy Cornrows as the host. The first two picks are what we all expected, then with the third pick Atlanta (represented by Chase Kuech from Impending Firestorm) took Al Horford. Keep checking in as the blog draft moves along.
So, what to do? Hereâ€™s the plan as I see it, but Iâ€™m looking for advice: 1) Iâ€™ve opened talks with Indiana about Jermaine Oâ€™Neal, but how high do I take that offer?; 2) Iâ€™ll ask about or listen to other trades that involve the pick (any ideas for Duhon â€“ the Bulls donâ€™t really need the pick); 3) draft somebody.
If it comes to drafting someone, well, my philosophy is the best available player is the call, you canâ€™t try to fit needs that deep. But if you’re Mitch (or me in the mock), who do you take? Iâ€™d love it to be Nick Young (friend of the site Nate Jones did a great interview with him recently) but I doubt he falls to 19.
Josh McRoberts could be around, but what I saw of him at Duke didnâ€™t impress me. On paper, well Chad Ford compares him Luke Walton. But McRoberts does what I donâ€™t like in college players â€” he took a lot of nights off. I want hustle guys, guys with big motors, and McRoberts is not that guy.
One guy the Lakers are scheduled to out that I like and could be around is Javaris Crittenton, the 6-5 PG from Georgia Tech. He shot 35% from three last year and had 1.31 points per shot attempts, both solid numbers, especially for a freshman. That said, he looked like crap in the Tourney. A bit of a project, perhaps, but heâ€™s athletic and a leader.
His teammate Thaddeus Young could be around, but Iâ€™m not as sold. Heâ€™s supposed to be a good passer but I saw him as a guy better in the open court than the half court (this based on like the 6 quarters I saw him play on TV and notes from that, so weâ€™re not talking a lot of data). He also struggled in the tournament, I prefer guys who do well under pressure. But, is he a project who will blossom in a year or three?
Then there is Rodney Stuckey, who could turn out to be a steal in the NBA. Combo guard with potential, but because he didnâ€™t play against good talent in college what I would get from scouts at draft camp and see in workouts would be huge. If he performed, heâ€™d be worth a shot. Draft Express suggested he could be a Ben Gordon type guy in the NBA, and the Lakers could use that.
Maybe Rudy Fernandez? Any thoughts from our European readers who have seen more of him than we have?
Just some first round thoughts, although this may all be moot if a trade comes down. This mock draft could also reach the second round, where the Lakers will take a couple fliers â€“ Iâ€™m really open to suggestions there.
Great comment from Reed regarding the Spurs:
The Spurs are better positioned to maintain and improve their roster than any other team in the league. They have managed the cap, free agency, and draft to utter perfection. So, I fear that no matter what the Lakers, do, it will be ultimately irrelevant.
Take a look at their cap situation:
(1) Every relevant player on their team is signed next season (with the possible exception of Jacque Vaughn â€” who is easily replaceable). So, they will bring their entire roster back and be the favorites again.
(2) After next season, EVERY playerâ€™s contract besides Duncan, Parker, and Ginobili expires. (Except for Jackie Butler, but his contract is so small it doesnâ€™t really matter). Brilliantly, the Spurs management constructed their team so that every non-core player was signed to a short, reasonable deal AND would expire all at once. Thatâ€™s right, eight contracts expire at once.
Duncan, Parker, and Ginobiliâ€™s contracts add up to 42M. This year, the salary cap was 53M, and it should be around 57-60M after next season. So after next season, the Spurs will be way under the cap (10-17M, depending on if they sign a draft pick and use their midlevel) and able to sign a max-level free agent to add to their trio of stars. They will also be able to resign their own free agents (such as Bowen, Oberto, Elson, Finley, Horry) without eating into this cap room.
I could contrast that roster management with an analysis of Kupchak/Jim Bussâ€™s decisions over the last few years, but Iâ€˜ll spare you the frustration.
I still expect Cleveland to win at least one, maybe two (just to make my prediction come through of six games), but their lack of options after LeBron on offense is both familiar and painful to watch. They really need a Lamar Odom, a potential second option the Spurs have to respect.
The Lakers, with Odom and the ball-movement of Luke Walton, are the better offensive squad. But the Cavs are playing still because they are a better defensive squad â€“ showing just how important that is and a reminder of what the Lakers need to focus on. Oh, and the fact Cleveland played in the East helped.