Sunday, June 17, 2007

NBA Draft-Winners and Losers

This is a topic that should have either been addressed several weeks ago, or within a period of several years. An integral part of good drafting, of course, is the ownership of good positions within said pool, with which one can employ the practice of good scouting to obtain the future of a franchise. So in many cases, histories are written on the back of draft lottery programs. However, scouting and foresight is just as big a part-hence, my suggestion of several years' hiatus pending a review. However... I lacked the presence of mind necessary to write extensively on the outcome of the ping-pong balls and therefore will do so now; in lieu of a time machine and with a desire to write about -cue Norm drop- Interesting Kids! So here, I present to you,
The Chronologically Out of Place NBA Draft Lottery Lucky List!

#1: Portland. It seems redundant to even say so.Portland somehow managed to procure the most coveted draft position since the year of King James whilst establishing themselves as a young team to be trifled with. They now have the rookie of the year playing shooting guard, one of the top post scorers in the league paying power forward, and an emerging talent in Tyson Chandler playing beside him. Oh yeah, and in case I neglected to mention as such- they're all youthful. Landing this draft pick is a dream come true- an occurrence which should turn turn them into a truly top team for the next 10 years. It would take a true buffoon to mess up this situation, and frankly I'm not too fearful for their sake-more for the rest of the league's sake. Adding Oden to the mix makes a lot more sense, as they are in need of a center far more than a forward. I'd put the odds at about 5:1 that they take him. Not a knock on Durant, but It's a position of need and-quite frankly- Oden's a 5. Durant isn't.

#2: Atlanta. I know what most are thinking. The top two in this draft are spectacular talents, beyond that the players are not perennial franchise cornerstones! But the reason I rank Atlanta this highly on the Four-Leaf-Clover list is the fact that they managed to procure a top pick, rather than surrendering it to Phoenix as part of that travesty of Joe Johnson signing. The Hawks will still manage to obtain a very, very serviceable piece here. Cory Brewer, Joakim Noah,Brandon Wright, Al Horford, Mike Conley, The-Chinese-dude-who-some-compare-to-Pau... you get the point. Slight hitch, however: If Atlanta has a strength It's the team's depth and talent at the forward positions. They've invested vast resources into those spots already, and a majority of the top talent this early beckons from that plateau. So if any team will trade their pick-It'll be Atlanta. Keep in mind they have another choice at #11, where maybe-just maybe- they could take Conley (But most likely will settle for Acie Law or Spencer Hawes). Much gratitude to the Hawks, though, for nabbing the #3 selection- Adding a fledgling prodigy to the Suns would have given the other 29 Association clubs endless nightmares.

#3: Seattle. Once you saw that Atlanta and Portland were already secured firmly in their places, I'm quite certain you didn't need Miss Chloe to predict the next team on the list. Seattle, very much like Portland, lucked into a superstar whilst putting a not-entirely-horrible team on the court. Sure, they had problems. Myriads of them. But bottom line, they've got Ray Lewis. They've got Rashard Lewis. They have tradable parts like Earl Watson and some salary cap wiggle room. They will now have the most talented shooting forward to come along since Dirk Nowitzki. Mark my words on this one- Seattle will be a prodigious force for years to come. And it will all be attributed to Durant-because he has it. He's not the guy who wants to be the first NBA millionaire (Hallo there, Bron-bron) nor the dude who changes his mind with variations of the weather (That's you, Mr. Laker wearing a number nearly identical to the King's). He just wants to play basketball-and look good doing so. He'll put up his share of 40 point games, but he won't gloat about them or walk away without an assist. But I digress... the Sonics are a bunch of lucky SOBs. This may be just the ticket to keep them in Seattle.

Nelson Muntz
: "Ha-Ha!"

#1: Phoenix. They weren't anywhere near the worst team in the league. So why are they bemoaning their fate? Because they lost out on a possible top 5 pick due to Atlanta-no pun intended- winning the lottery. While it is true that they receive an unconditional first rounder next year, the sense of immediacy that lingers due to Steve Nash's inevitable aging prompted Suns fans to cross their collective fingers-and utter collective profane statements. Getting an OJ Mayo next year would ease the pain, but... if he's not paired up with the conductor of the whole operation, they are not even breaking even. So bemoan your fate, Phoenix fans! I gloat in your sorrow and still shiver in realization of what nearly became a reality.

#2: Memphis. I shall refer to them by a new moniker: Team that tanked a majority of their closing games, A. The truly humorous part is that they were not the most erroneous perpetrators of this crime-that being our next entry. Back on track, though- they held the greatest probability of winning the jackpot. And instead, they dropped to... number four. That hurts. And if they trade Pau Gasol this offseason, It'll hurt a lot more. They could field a team as awful as Atlanta's '04-'05 squad (the same team that won less games than 3 NFL franchises that year). I am quite certain that Jerry West will be more than pleased to depart.

#3:Boston. Team that tanked a majority of their closing games... center stage, posing for that mugshot with David Stern casting a stern glare over its management....and inwardly gloating at their misfortunes. The franchise long known as the league's pride and joy went so far as to bench their top player whilst holding a second-half lead. A truer embarrassment to the collection of organizations we know as the NBA does not come to mind. Very fittingly, they got their just desserts. Projected to wind up with aforementioned highly hyped UT star Durant,they will now have to settle for a lesser forward. I feel very much justified in deviating from the norm-and in this case, not offering any words of consolation to the Celts. A well deserved streak of bad luck; and may it plague any others who throw games.

Honorable mention: Philly. The 76ers managed to drop (or is it rise? hrmm) to #12 despite fielding one of the worst teams I can ever recall seeing. I remember a game in which the Mavs played them last season-I had to see the extraordinarily exasperated but resigned to his fate coach on the sidelines to reassure myself that it wasn't a D-League team. They need help... badly. And It's a shame they didn't catch a break in a draft class this good.

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