Tyreke! Tyreke! Tyreke!
Forced to record the NBA Draft and work I was in the middle of a dinner program surrounded by 50 somethings politely nibbling on their strawberry spinach leaf salads, I slyly pulled out my iPhone to check the draft results: I couldn't believe my eyes. I yelped and pumped my fist, then sheepishly looked around as the other guests expressed their disdain through winkled smirks as if I was at the Arden library circa 1979 looking for the latest issue of Sports Illustrated still on the shelf.
Petrie picked Tyreke with Rubio still on the board, Oh My God! it really happened. Petrie picked my guy! It took another day before I could pull an all nighter and read through the abyss of part timers weighing in, venting, feigning disgust and bewilderment, while others stepped up and respectfully believed TEVO (try it on...if you no likey you may like Te-Rex, still no? I come back later, ok?) was the BPA, while still others conceded in GP we trust. Now I am all caught up and have a lot to say.
Before I delve into Tyreke and some other draft/trade observations, let me digress a little to put to bed (yeah right, I wish) GP's decision not to draft Rubio.
I was confident that Rubio, the obvious pick to most, would not be Petrie's selection. I did post several pieces alluding to this but I am no Nostradamus and was as clueless as most as to whom I thought would end up a King. I would never have guessed Tyreke was it. I wished it but I didn't post why because I am very superstitious when it comes to my Kings (as some of you have read before) and subsequently didn't vote the other day because I was afraid if I voted for Tyreke, Petrie would not pick him--as he had yet to pick anyone that I was enamored with until now.
While Tyreke was a surprise, upon closure inspection we should have foreseen that Rubio was not it. Huckleberry Hound Reynolds hinted on the type of player we might draft not too many picked up on that. Other STR brethren commented Geoff has a tendency to take a lot of stock in the pre-draft workouts and the Rubio camp not being proactive in Petries' PG Palhoopsa might have backfired. The return trip and last ditch shooting drills by Rubio probably just sealed his fate something Amick's cell phone interview seemed to subtly capture.
In Amick's interview, Rubio admitted that he hadn't picked up a ball in a month. Really? On the eve of the biggest event of your life you weren't hiding out like a gym rat working on your 18 footer to mask your few but noticable flaws? His interview at the airport reminded me of the video ride in the limo after a contestant is knocked off of the Apprentice (insert your reality show plug here). He definitely was tired, but his somber looked like The Kings didn't give him the thumbs up.
Then he all of a sudden meets with Kahn down in LA? Fegan must have been like, "Mr. Kahn, yeah, sorry I am just now getting back to you. Turns out Rubio is available for a quick chat if you are still interested...REALLY? er really, ok. We will see you at 8, it's gonna be great."
If you watched the workouts, Tyreke looked solid--aside from his release--the shots were falling. He obviously was able to dispel the concern to the staff about him playing or defending the one. Compared to Harden, Flynn and Holliday he looked like a stud. Tyreke stated one of his goals was to keep hitting the gym hard this summer. Tyreke, I'm not using my 24HR fitness membership, it is all yours. Here is the catch, ya gotta show some leadership and get KMart and Cisco to spot you in hopes it inspires them to add some muscle to their slight albeit wiry frames.
Other clues included a closer peek at Petrie's Draft History which I posted last week--thanks to both of you that read it--I am still trying to get off the Trolls Most Wanted list. It detailed that we can expect him to do two things: Pick a contributor and pick someone we didn't expect.
J-Will, Peja, Hedo, Hawes, Thompson, Douby, the list goes on and on on guys that we first went huh?. Everyone can argue that a different pick might have had an equal or greater result but Quincy and OMSJ aka Tariq (note to GP - No more draft choices with a Q in the name) aside, Petrie has consistently made our team better through the draft.
So knowing Petrie likes to pull the rabbit out of the hat and given all the national attention and the dare I say consensus belief that Rubio was the next best thing to Griffen and who the Kings should select, you had to know Petrie would pick elsewhere. In fact the more the King's scouts, ownership and media gravitated towards him the more Petire seemed to distance himself. I suspect he saw enough of him to formulate an opinion. I bet he was not even keen on him coming to Sac for a workout adding fuel to a fire he wasn't flaming.
I was blasted in my post a month ago that compared him in part to Jason Williams. As an aside, I spoke to Eddie Jordan the day after J-Will came in for his rather hush hush workout and learned he lit the net up from 25 feet all over the floor and showed some sweet alley oops and good court vision. He was a risk reward type of guy and the King's staff was in love with his upside.
Maybe there was enough of a resemblance to scare Petrie away. In reality they are completely different players. Rubio is taller, better IQ, longer and stronger, has more defensive potential, better finisher, more mature, less turnover prone, nicer, better looking, more marketable, yada yada. Got it. Here is how they are similar.
Here are J-Will's career NBA avgs. .396 FG%, .325 3FG%, 2.4 RPG, 6.3 APG, 1.3 SPG., 11.4 PPG.
Here are Rubio's stats in the Olympic Games: .35 FG%, .167 3FG%, 4 RPG, 3.0 APG, 2.1 SPG, 4.8 PPG.
And Rubio's stats for Spanish League '08: .391 FG%, 41.7 3FG%, 2.7 RPG, 5.8 APG, 2.4 SPG, 9.8 PPG.
I think we all know Rubio has more upside than J-Will, but that is partly because we know how J-Will ended up. If you rewind to his auspicious start most of us were loving the ESPN highlights featuring White Chocolate and figured he was going to be great.
Finally, some have argued point guards that lack a consistent outside shot and cannot defend their position don't become all-stars. Our experiment with flash and sexy did bring excitement but it didn't bring us championships either it did provide us trade value for a PG that almost got us to an NBA Championship, but as many have pointed out a capable PG to facilitate the offense and is not a defensive liability is really the baseline.
Rubio won't be great next year. He will have to adjust to life in the US, the NBA, the NBA game, and not least of which the language. I spoke with Peja outside of Harlow's one night between after his third season and he said he was just finally feeling settled and the transition of having parents very involved in all of his basketball decisions to being really isolated from home and family was a long process.
He will likely be very good but in a few years, Peja and Hedo really shined in years 3 and 4. But I don't think the Maloofs, Petrie or even Westphal with his anemic two year $1.5M a season contract can be patient enough for Spanish Chocolate to let it rain at newly appointed Arco III, Cal Expo Redux or the Raley Center in West Sac if one of those palaces ever get built.
No, unfortunately we need to get to the playoffs in two seasons and versatile players that can help us rebound and defend will likely take precedent.
I am sure most of you agree that Petrie deserves our respect since his picks beats our picks right? Heck I won't bore you with my draft choices over the last several years because only Rajon Rondo (I still like the dude, he will steal you blind) fared better than Petrie's Doubyious selection in 2006. So he picked Tyreke Evans. Take your picture and let's move on, nothing more to see here folks.
The folk who blasted Petrie should hold their judgement since the Draft is really only the start of the whole off season shuffle. In other words, Petrie and other GMs in the leagure including Minnesota's ' David Kahn have not played their final hand. "This is only the first period of activity...no matter what occurs (in the draft Thursday), training camp doesn't start Friday. We have all summer to continue to explore some opportunities and to address the roster, and three months is a long time."
By Petrie not selecting Rubio, he has a chance to have his cake and eat it too. He had to know the odds of Rubio opting to stay in Europe if drafted elsewhere and the likelihood most GMs are going to draft the BPA. If you look at Minnesota's situation they had the same purview hence the multiple PG picks. Kahn is going to wheel and deal and one of his point guards will likely end up elsewhere given they currently have Bobby Brown, Kevin Ollie (hmm where have I heard of these guys before), Wayne Ellington, Jonny Flynn, Ricky Rubio and Sebastian telfair. Other than Love and Jefferson they have more holes in their roster than the swiss cheese at Tony's Deli.
Now that Rubio is following suit by vocalizing a desire to stay in Spain expect the horse trading to begin. We have a glut at the 3 spot. Garcia/Nocioni/Greene/Casspi. I know Garcia can play the two, Nocioni can play some 4, Greene can play some four and Cassp allegedly is a four but I seem him being more like a slasher spread the floor 3 than a back to the basket 4.
Since we are in a rebuild/save money mode, I prefer Greene>Casspi>Nocioni>Garcia. I would like us to package Beno and say Garcia a future 2nd rounder for Rubio a big like Etan Thomas with his expiring contract. Minnesota might also be interested in Sergio/Nocioni for Rubio, Ryan Gomes and Brian Gomes' expiring contracts.
We could also package Sergio and Garcia to Orlando for Hedo who is opting out of his contract. My point isn't to take control over the trade discussions in this thread but merely mention that Rubio landing in Sacramento is still possible via a trade given Minnesota has way too many 1/2s and 4/5s. Surprisingly when you consider Sheldon Williams and Darius Songalia, the T-Wolves look like Sacramento's JV team.
Anyway, so we now have Tyreke in a Kings Uniform and I am excited. I think he provides us an immediate lift, will be be able to step in and compete for a starting spot right away. I don't think Rubio could have done that and I don't think Curry or Flynn could do that immediately (although certainly mid year or by next year Flynn and Curry could).
The last few seasons with injuries we have at best been inconsistent offensively and even when we scored we let the other team score more, sometimes a lot more. If Martin plays 82 games regains some lateral quickness maybe we don't need to worry about the 2 position except of course when we have to defend the 2.
When Kobe Bryant, Dwayne Wade, Tracy McGrady, Andre Igoudala, Joe Johnson, Corey Maggette, Jason Richardson (just to name a few) come to town, our defensive counter of Martin and Garcia is just not working. Tyreke gives us a better match up switching up coverage on defense while still being able to facilitate distribution of the ball on offense. We suffered with Garcia and Martin trying to do that and if we have BJax, he is much better as a spark off the bench.
While Tyreke may not be a pass first point guard, he is comfortable bringing up the ball, can effectively work the pick n roll around the high post, take his defender down to the low post, drive and kick to the open man or take the ball strongly to the hoop.
Probably more importantly we can expect better rebounding on both ends of the floor (IMO he will out rebound Kevin, Francisco and be close to Nocioni) while effectively contesting shots and stealing at an above average clip with those 7' arms of his.
He will be able to present match up problems for the opposing speedy PGs who won't be able to defend him, in the same way Baron Davis, Chris Paul, Jason Kidd among others took advantage of our PGs in the past and depending on the match ups Tyreke can defend the 1,2,3. position--especially any teams that utilize a point forward half court game.
A combination of Tony Parker scoring instincts in a Latrell Sprewell body, expect Tyreke to be awhile to develop a solid assist/turnover ratio like Parker or an outside shooting touch like Sprewell, but possess their gift at scoring.
I expect the following productivity from him next year:
25 min., 12 ppg., 4.5 apg., 4.8 rpg., and 1.6 spg., 1.5/assist to turnover ratio.
Long story short, I love this pick, I appreciate Petrie's decision making and expect that with Sergio Rodriguez as a true PG option we have the best of both worlds. And just wait; when Petrie is done with another trade or two everyone will be able to put their worries on the shelf until our first loss.