I Believe, Now Do It, So Let’s Get It On!
Your 2010 NBA Draft Preview
“I Believe, Now Do It, So Let’s Get It On!”
- Sign Man, Circa 2005 Playoffs
What everyone already said already.
Derrick Favors/Evan Turner
Honestly I like Cousins more than I like Turner, but I’m pairing these two together because I think they prove an interesting point. I’m fond of using the word substantive, particularly in regards to basketball. I think Petrie makes substantive personnel decisions. I think Ziller makes substantive Kings’ commentary. I think Voisin makes substantive insights in general (or the inverse). In any case I’d like to believe that, ultimately, it’s the substantive players we tend to gravitate toward in a draft that are also the players that pan out in the Association. I mean that’s why everyone likes Turner. He’s a proven commodity. A tough guy. A jack of all trades, master of some. For every Favors who skates through one year comparatively unimpressively and leaves because scouts still salivate (TM Chad Ford Hyperbole Factory LLC) over his McDonald’s All American performance (because there certainly hasn’t been much to gauge, guard play be damned, during his sole season with the yellow jackets) there’s a Turner who weathers through 3 years of Kosta Koufos and BJ Mullens and carries a less hyped Ohio State team substantively to an Elite Eight appearance. By all rights Turner should have the better NBA career. But he probably won’t. History has proven otherwise. The Magic took Dwight Howard over Okafor the year Okafor carried Connecticut to a Tournament Title. The decision was panned by any number of people and Okafor’s rookie of the year season validated said panning. But subsequently? Ugh. Why? Because the Magic were invested in Howard. They had time to fix his bad habits, time to mold him. Okafor’s bad back and physical limits couldn’t be fixed. Particularly not when Okafor was already four years further into his basketball development than Howard was. Raw and willing to learn always pays off better than seasoned and limited. Because you can teach Favors the game. But you can’t teach Turner range and above average athleticism. (Note, most will argue shooting is the one thing a player absolutely can fix, an ability that
All the talk of Cousins purported attitude problem to me misses the point. Which is, dude does have other liabilities. In theory Cousins makes sense for the team because he brings a level of toughness and rebounding the Kings have heretofore not had. And he would. Which is why I’d be a strong proponent of his drafting. However he’s not particularly fast, he’s not a finisher (despite the Wildcats being an excellent in transition club), he’s not a shot blocker, he hovers around the perimeter entirely too often. Those of us who’d lobby for him over Monroe would do so under the assumption he’s more physical than Monroe. Because he is. But he’s not much more athletic than Monroe and I’m not convinced I’ve entirely processed that. However, his low-post game, when on, is on and, in an era of bringing new era players to Sacramento’s roster he’d be an ideal addition to Team Tyreke.
I don’t really buy that we already have a bunch of other Johnson’s on the roster. I also don’t buy that you can have too many swing-men. If you’re worried about Johnson because he makes Casspi or Greene expendable I appreciate those worries and sympathize even if I disagree. If you’re worried about Johnson because he makes Garcia expendable you forget that Garcia is already expendable. To me Johnson is a better Garcia. He can handle similarly, he’s at worst a comparable shooter and he isn’t eternally infirmed (owed largely to the fact that he’s a zillion times stronger than Garcia, though so is my sperm.) Besides, he takes care of two current outstanding Kings deficiencies, potential three point threat and full-court athleticism. No, he can’t create, but given you’d frequently be pairing him with Evans in the back-court that’s a deficiency I can handle.
I thought the best point made by Section’s piece on Petrie’s picks is that the reality is a “Petrie player” is whoever he feels is the most talented player available. Now yes, when he was drafting later in the first round he had the luxury of finding undervalued players that potentially better fit his “preferences.” But as the Evans pick proved he’s not a slave to neurosis, particularly since much of said neurosis has been a creation of our collective fervent imaginations. Point being (I promise there’s a point), while I don’t doubt Petrie likes Monroe, admires his ability and versatility, appreciates his connections to Coach Carrill’s system, I don’t think he likes him more than he does Cousins. Which is why I’m as certain as nbrans is inversely that Petrie won’t draft him if Cousins is there. If he’s gone, however, I don’t know. Because after the Big Four (transcontinental railroad shout-out!) the second tier of players, in my opinion, is Johnson and Monroe and that’s it. And at that point neurosis may potentially kick-in. And, realistically, both players fit any number of the attributes we’ve assigned to “Petrie players.” Namely they both play basketball.
I like Bledsoe better than most because I A) think he’s understandably underrated and B) genuinely feel he fulfills a need for the Kings. His numbers are underwhelming. But he spent the season second fiddle to the second coming. Additionally he carried that team, with all of its vaunted talent, for stretches of games and stretches of seasons in early winter and early spring (he was sort of the proverbial draw that stirred the drink.) Further, he’s proven he’s capable of sharing the ball, and effectively contributing, when playing with another ball dominant guard. He’s also fast as hell, albeit sloppy when speedy, and over time his ability to run could open up the offense markedly. And he’s the sort of 3 point-shooter, not necessarily good but JR Smith style capable, we haven’t seen on a Kings roster in a long time. I think Bledsoe is going to go much higher than most assume ultimately. And quite honestly, I wouldn’t be that shocked to see the Kings take a look at him at 5.
The oddity antithesis of the rest of the Kentucky kids, Patterson is the grounded, well-rounded, seasoned professional to the hyperbole hype machine of Wall-Cousins-Bledsoe-Orton. Patterson reminds me a bit more of Zach Randolph than Cousins does (of course those Cousins/Randolph comparisons are owed mostly to attitude issues, something Patterson is seemingly bereft of). While the collective is fond of comparing Turner, from his game to his professionalism, to Brandon Roy, it’s actually Patterson’s basketball journey that bears the strongest resemblance to Roy’s: highly touted high schooler who would have flirted with the prep to pro option had it been one; a few good but not great years that made the early assessments seems excessive; and a third year where seemingly everything came together and the player found themselves once again firmly entrenched in the lottery conversation. My gut feelings is his professional career will further resemble Roy’s.
Player of the Year in a pretty good conference, who had a historically good 3-year career at a historically good basketball school. To me Anderson is prototypical of a substantive player whose substantive collegiate contributions should correspond substantively to substantive professional contributions. Which is why he’ll probably fall to a team like San Antonio while everyone fights over Luke Babbitt.
The big criticism with Henry is that he’s one-dimensional. A criticism I don’t think entirely fair given that his role at Kansas was relegated to one dimensionality, in part owed to the supposed depth of that roster and in part owed to the reality that, if one of your talents has matured preternaturally, and it happens to be a talent in comparatively short supply in college basketball, there’s no reason not to exploit the hell out of it. Now does a collegiate license to gun haphazardly foretell a short-lived NBA career of jacking up 3’s 3 seconds into a shot-clock? Perhaps. And is that concern exacerbated by character concerns on par with Cousins (and in Henry’s case including intrusive, media hungry parents)? Absolutely. But it’s those latter issues that would have me far more wary of Henry than the former.
So Bradley could be this year’s Russell Westbrook or Jrue Holliday or even Darren Collison? I’d buy it, save one reality. Bradley didn’t go to UCLA. Ben Howland’s slog system, inarguably successful though aesthetically unpleasant as it is, is the sort of She’s All That of college hoops. Pete Maravich could have spent his collegiate tenure with Howland and left Westwood averaging 13 pts 5 rbs and 2 asts. Yes Bradley didn’t play a ton this year. And yes Bradley played for Rick Barnes. But there’s a big difference between playing for a good coach who happens to run a bad offense and a bad coach who happens to run a bad program. Have Barnes’ Texas teams historically underwhelmed and underachieved? Indeed. But it hasn’t been for lack of gaudy statistical performances by his star players. Howland’s defensive nurturing, paired with Westbrook and Holliday’s size, allowed their physicality to overshadow their early offensive growing pains. I don’t know that anyone’s attributed anything that even rhymes with defense and nurturing to Ricky Boy Barnes.
I preferred Hayward when he was hovering in the late lottery mix because I thought it indicated the collective had a fairly good grasp of his abilities. Now that there are those who think he may be a mid-top 10 pick I’m not nearly as enthusiastic. The problem with white players, particularly white players with floppy hair from Indiana who play for mid-majors and generate Jimmy Chitwood comparisons, is that while they’re entirely too easy to elevate, they’re equally entirely too easy to dismiss. Yes Hayward’s an Indiana folk hero thanks to his high school antics and that near buzzer beater in April’s title game. But that doesn’t change the fact that he’s a pretty good basketball player. There’s a reason, beyond a fucked up tournament, why Butler was in said title game. And when a mid-major with a majority mid-major roster pulls off that kind of run someone is going to be doled some excessive level of credit, irrational or otherwise. It’s not impractical to think that the best player on a National Championship runner-up, assuming he has some skills translatable to the pros, is going to get a long look in the late lottery. It’s entirely possible Hayward is next in the line of the Steve Alford/Mike Dunleavy/Adam Morrison great white hopeless but its equally possible, race removed, he is what he is (as much as I loathe that phrase) a decent late lottery pick.
Ekpe Udoh/Cole Aldrich
Pick your poison Sacramento, would you rather relive the Brian Skinner Era, the Scott Pollard Era or the Tony Massenburg Era. Though there’s no one in this draft who reminds me of Massenburg (unlike Udoh and Aldrich and the aforementioned) I’m sure Tony is still looking to play. And the Kings could use his toughness.
The Alphabet Soup:
Al-Farouq Aminu-Luke Babbitt-Paul George-Hassan Whiteside-Ed Davis
I don’t doubt that some of these kids can do something professionally. But I don’t know who and I don’t know what. Seriously am I going to lie to all of you and tell you why I really believe Luke Babbitt is the next Keith Van Horn after I watched a half of a UNR game all season? My abilities as a You Tube analyst are at best passable.
And to be honest that’s the reason I’m glad Sacramento is drafting in the top 5 this year. If you told me every player after Monroe went bust (and Monroe, and Johnson, and Turner, and Cousins, and Favors, and really everyone other than Wall) I’d believe it. I’d also believe at least 8 of these guys could end up All Stars. But what the fuck do I know? I bought a Morrison jersey the day the Bobcats drafted him. Which reminds me, if anyone is interested, I own an authentic, little worn (not unlike the player’s actual jersey) Adam Morrison Bobcats jersey. I tried giving it away on Craig’s List with a used sponge and a half finished 12 pack of Olympia but people only wanted the sponge and the Olympia.