Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Thoughts on the NBA Draft

As a certified college basketball fanatic, I love the NBA draft and I’d be watching it tonight if I wasn’t hosting a poker game. Here are some thoughts on the draft in no particular order:

1. If the Chicago Bulls take anyone other than Derrick Rose with the #1 pick, John Paxson (or his brother Jim, whichever one is running that franchise) should be fired on the spot. Rose is the definitive prototype for an NBA point guard. He’s got size, he’s got strength, he’s got quickness, he has the tools to become an excellent defender. Think Jason Kidd with (eventually) a jumpshot. There’s simply no way you take anyone else with that pick.

Then you resign Chris Duhon to be your backup point guard and you package Kirk Heinrich with one of your many power forwards to try and get a legitimate 2 guard (Ben Gordon is a great scorer off the bench, but he can’t defend 2s to save his life so you can’t play him 38 minutes a game and win; by the way, Corey Maggete is on the market) or a real low post scorer (so is Elton Brand).

2. If the Miami Heat don’t trade their #2 pick, Pat Riley should be packed away and sent to a hair gel museum to live out his golden years. He’s right not to be sold on Michael Beasley, a guy who will put up big offensive numbers on both ends of the floor. Beasley is going to be one of those guys who lights up your fantasy team and kills your real team. He’ll average 25 and 10, which is great, but he’ll give up 22 points a game to the opposing power forwards (28 points a game if he guards the small forward instead).

And it appears there are serious offers out there for that pick. There are two rumored deals here, either of which Miami should take in a heartbeat if they’re really offered. The first is Memphis sending them Mike Conley, Mike Miller and the #5 pick for the #2 pick, Daequan Cook and Udonis Haslem. If that’s offered, it’s a no brainer. They get a true point guard to take the primary ball handling duties away from Wade (Conley will be a top flight point guard for the next 15 years in the NBA), and you get a great outside shooter in Miller. And with the #5 pick you can take Brook Lopez and you’ve got a genuine center who will be solid on both ends of the floor. I make that deal in a heartbeat. And they’d still have Marion as trade bait to pick up another player that fits.

The other rumored trade is with the Clippers, who would send Elton Brand and the # 7 pick to the Heat for Shawn Marion and the #2 pick. I take that deal in a heartbeat too. Marion is not opting out of his contract, which means he becomes an unrestricted free agent next year and he isn’t worth the kind of money he’s going to demand. Elton Brand wants to play in Miami and he’s 22 and 12 every night (assuming the injury that kept him out this year is in the past). He would give Miami a serious low post scorer for the first time since Shaq turned 47 years old about a couple years ago.

And with the #7 pick they may still be able to get either Jerryd Bayless or DJ Augustin as their point guard. If neither is available, they could go with Brook Lopez to get a center to play next to Brand or with a scoring small forward like Danilo Gallineri or Joe Alexander. Either way, that team goes from the worst record in the league to a contender. A lineup of Conley, Wade, Miller, Marion and Lopez can’t at least put up a .500 record and make the playoffs in the east? Or a lineup of Bayless/Augustine, Wade, Davis, Brand and Blount (or alternately Williams, Wade, Davis, Brand and Lopez)? Either way, the Heat improve themselves immediately and still have a young team that will get better.

3. OJ Mayo is not a point guard. Any team foolish enough to draft him to play point guard will be sorely disappointed. He’s a 2, period. He’s got pretty good passing skills for a shooting guard, but he’s a shoot first, shoot second and shoot third kind of guy. Letting guys like that run the point is a recipe for remaining in the lottery forever. If Miami takes Mayo to play beside Wade, Riley needs his head examined; they’ll have two combo guards who dominate the ball and that is always a disaster. Same is true of Minnesota, where Mayo and Foye would form exactly the same kind of backcourt. Perfect place for him: Seattle or Memphis (preferably Memphis, which has a legit point guard – several, actually).

4. Kevin Love is going to be a very, very good NBA player. He can’t play in the middle, he has to be a 4 in the NBA, but he has the total package – can shoot from the outside, has all the moves in the post and then some, has great footwork and great hands, is a superlative passer for a big man and just plain understands the game. If he drops beyond the 5th or 6th pick, some teams are going to regret passing on him.

5. Jerryd Bayless is the 2nd best point guard prospect in this draft behind Rose. He is lightning quick and can shoot the lights out. As I said, teams that try to draft Mayo (or Westbrook) to be their point guard will be making a big mistake. DJ Augustin is the third best point guard prospect in the draft. If you need a point guard and can’t get one of those three, you’re out of luck (and no, Mario Chalmers can’t play point guard in the NBA other than in mop-up time).

6. No, Roy Hibbert will not be a serious big man in the NBA. The guy is 7’2 and 275 pounds and he could only average 13 and 6 against college players, for crying out loud. He’s a stiff, a poor man’s Jason Collins. When are NBA scouts and GMs going to get over thinking that just because someone is tall, they can play in the NBA? Yeah, I know; you can’t teach height. But you can’t teach motivation or desire either, and if you played four years in college at Hibbert’s size and can’t average more than 13 and 6, you have neither of those things.

Prediction: a crazy night of trades and picks. Don’t be surprised to see a whole bunch of teams swapping both picks and veteran players. The Pistons are actively seeking trades, as are the Clippers, Heat, Memphis, Indiana and Golden State.