The 2012 Draft Expresso

Dave Murphy —  June 27, 2012

Instead of the usual Wednesday Storylines, presented for your reading pleasure is the Forum Blue and Gold “draft preview” by Dave & Emile plus the staff’s lucky longshots: Shout out to Draft Express by the way. There’s a lot of data and draft sites out there but Jonathan Givony goes way above and beyond. He’s on it all year long.

Dave Murphy – By a confluence of events including overall record, trade-aways, give-aways, and sheer dumb luck, the Los Angeles Lakers possess the worst possible draft scenario in the entire league. One pick only and it’s #60 – butting right up against nothing. The Lakers are trying to improve their lot of course, but at this point we don’t know if they’ll find any givers or takers and we probably won’t know until either Stern or Silver steps up to the mic.

That said, we thought we’d toss some names against the wall. The last slot’s pretty much a crap shoot – it’s most definitively getting somebody that nobody else wanted. Still, Isaiah Thomas fell to #60 last year and there’s always the story of Manu Ginobili who was taken at #58. And of course, Jeremy Linn, who wasn’t drafted at all. So, never say never. We’re due for a miracle.

Emile Avanessian – Not gonna lie, at first blush, the idea of handicapping the final pick in the NBA draft struck me as slightly nuts. That is, however, until one remembers that last June’s second best player slotted in at #60. That same evening, the Lakers cashed in four second-rounders of their own, with Darius Morris (hope springs eternal, but man…), Andrew Goudelock (presumably deported in March – wait, he was still there?), Chukwudiebere Maduabum (take it away, Dave), and Ater Majok (I got nothin’).

It’s hardly reasonable to look ahead to a draft in which a team is not slated to belly up to the bar before last call with legitimate expectations. More reasonable, however, is the assertion that at least one player – and probably two or three – whose name is not among the first fifty called on Thursday night will not only succeed in earning a place on an NBA roster, but will carve out a career as a professional rotation player.

Why not us? Let the brilliance begin.

Dave – my first inclination is to look for backcourt help, somebody who is rabidly dedicated to at least one thing – passing, shooting, or defending. It’s either that or pick someone who’s halfway competent across the board which will mean a seat on the bench or a ticket out of town. Tu Holloway seems to be a guy that everyone’s keying on as being right on the bubble. Atlantic-10 player of the year for Xavier last season, barely six feet, led the conference in assists.

Somewhere up the ladder is Scott Machado, a four-year point guard from Iona College who led the nation in assists at 9.9. Again, on the small side and I can’t image he’ll be available when it comes our turn. Certainly a possibility if we can leapfrog up about 15 slots or so. Machado was a finalist for the Cousy Award and the Wooden Award his senior year, and was named MAAC (Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference) Player of the year. He’s got good three-point range and has worked out for a lot of teams, including the Knicks, Celtics, 76ers, Nets, and Spurs.

I’m intrigued by Tomas Satoransky from the Cech Republic. He’s still only 21 and has been playing in Spain for the past few years, most recently with Banco Civica Sevilla. He’s a 6’7” combo guard and has been described as one of the best euro prospects in this year’s draft. Video shows that he has great passing skills. He’s skinny at about 200 lbs, and doesn’t have consistent shot mechanics. Tomas has been making the rounds for workouts, was in L.A. very recently and then was headed back to Spain where there’s an offer on the table from Turismo de Merida. Hus plan was to come back for more workouts and the draft – he’s projected around the middle of the second round.

I’ve been living in Austin the past few years and J’Covan Brown is well-known around here as a member of the UT Longhorns (hook ‘em horns!). He’s a pick and roll combo guard, 6’3”, played mostly off-ball in college but doesn’t have the size for that in the NBA. Mostly a pull-up jump shooter, fairly decent from beyond the arc but gets a bit wild sometimes. Definitely likes to score the ball, passes well off the dribble-drive. A lot of the boards have him right around the upper 50’s.

Given the latest Mo Williams rumors, I should probably back up my guard selections with a few bigs. Leon Radosevic, 6’10”, playing PF/C for Milano by way of Croatia, has some nice paint moves but isn’t particularly strong. Dusan Cantekin, a Serbian who’s playing for Mega Vizura, is extremely tall, 7’4” and 245, and mobile, with a nice shooting touch. He doesn’t appear to have any backdown moves whatsoever though. Getting away from the euro bigs, Miles Plumlee out of Duke could easily be available at the tail end of the draft. Good size at 7’0” and 247 lbs, has a knack for offensive boards and putbacks and probably wouldn’t be a huge gamble. He’s my sleeper pick.

Emile – This feels like a pretty good time to point out that when it comes to the draft, I am far more “ideas man” than “problem solver.” Like any consultant worth his salt, vague solutions to difficult problems with little in the way of personal risk are my stock in trade. So, what the hell, right?

Many will look at the Lakers’ roster and conclude that Jimmy Buss and his mixologist must look to (again) address issues at the point (especially should Ramon Sessions opt to move on this summer) and with size off the bench (ditto for Jordan Hill). And they would be right.

In response, Texas’ J’Covan Brown, a 6’1” combo guard probably best suited to the point at the pro level – is worth a look if he is on the board when the Lakers step to the podium. A bit reliant on the jump shot (per Draft Express, 68% of his shots in 2011-12 were jumpers) despite not being the most accurate shooter (41.5% FG), Brown is by all accounts supremely confident at the offensive end. He stepped up admirably (20.1 points per game, 86.3% FT) for a Longhorn team that had lost Tristan Thompson, Avery Bradley, Jordan Hamilton and Corey Joseph to the last two NBA drafts. He’s got NBA range and is an effective ball-handler in the pick-and-roll. The more I learn about J’Covan Brown, the more visions of Nick Van Exel dance in my head.

Should Brown be off the board as the draft winds down, another possible option for the Lakers is Georgetown big man Henry Sims. Though he is raw offensively and is still learning to rebound, Sims is an intelligent player, has an extremely live body, is an able and willing passer and possesses a 7’4” wingspan. These will qualities will make him an asset at the defensive end of the floor and allow him to quickly carve out a niche for himself coming off the bench.

Should the aforementioned duo no longer be available come pick #60, I will toss my support behind Tomas Satoransky, Furkan Aldemir (Turkey), Leon Radosevic (Italy), Tornike Shengelia (Republic of Georgia) or Josep Franch (Spain). Not because I know anything about any of these guys or their games, but because I feel like it’d be fun to be “stash a guy overseas.” Y’know, all slick, Bufordy.

As much as I hate the idea of surrendering even more assets (remember the first round pick it cost to land Sessions) to maybe address the point guard situation, if the persistent (though unsubstantiated and wildly speculative) rumors of the Lakers moving into the first round prove accurate, I would love to see either UNC’s Kendall Marshall or Kentucky freshman Marquis Teague draped in purple and gold.

In their absence, Michigan State senior Draymond Green. At 6’7’”-235, Green has an NBA-ready body to go with his solid ball-handling skills and high basketball IQ. This dude can score (16.2 per game on 44.9% FG), board (10.6 per game), pass (3.8 assists per) and shoot from distance (38.8% on 3-pointers). The greatest flaw in his all-around skill set is the lack of a single, elite skill.

On a related note, my greatest fear heading into the draft is that the Lakers will in fact trade into the first round to draft Perry Jones, III. Not that he wouldn’t be the perfect modern day Laker – talent to spare but iffy on the effort.

Rounding the clubhouse turn, we’ve got our crack staff handicappers’ picks.

Darius’s Double-Down Doozy: Darius Johnson-Odom (with a name like that, how could he fail?) 6’3” SG, Marquette.

Phillip’s Lucky Lefty Long Range pick: Hollis Thompson, 6’8” SG, Georgetown (because my nickname is Lefty and this guy can really shoot).

JM’s Just Money (trademarked) Longshot Bet: Alex Young. 6’6” SG, IUPUI. Boom!

RR’s Railbird Special: Kostas Papanikolaou (because he has a long name – remember last year’s Chukwaiarjeaijiaiaj teaitjaeiot io jaji?!) 6’9” SF, Olympiacos, Greece.

Jeffrey’s Stop Watcher: Mike Scott, 6’9” PF, Virginia (good motor, rebounds hard, plays D – sounds like Josh Powell 2.0 to me).

Emile’s Trade-Up Trifecta: Draymond Green (sans the one elite skill) 6’7”, PF, Michigan State.

Dave’s Daily Dime: Tomas Satoransky (because he reminds me of Kiovanic Atomik), 6’7”, PG/SG Sevilla, Spain.

Now it’s your turn. The FB&G commenters have been bringing it home all season and we appreciate you! Tell us who and why you’d draft – for talent, for position, or for any particular skill. And more than anything, give us names!


Dave Murphy