Friday, June 25, 2010

The Spectacular Seven: NBA Draft 2010 Wrap Up

In my last article I projected the 2010 NBA Draft.

I did it by taking only the best players available, the "Spectacular Seven," and putting them onto rosters according to my own analysis of where they should go based on winning now, team needs and real player analysis minus hype.

Now that the draft is over, it is time to discuss where the players actually landed and look forward to the upcoming NBA season.

The members of the Spectacular Seven are John Wall, Evan Turner, Wesley Johnson--The Matrix: Reloaded, Gordon Hayward, Paul George, Luke Babbitt, and Hassan Whiteside. Trevor Booker was also a sleeper added to the list.

Click the link on the players' names to see their highlights.

Only one of my projections was accurate, Johnson to the Timberwolves, but as I stated in the article, it was never my intent to predict the draft, only to give my thoughts on where the players should go using the above method of thinking.

So let's take a look the Spectacular Seven and their new digs.

1) Washingtion Wizards--John Wall, Kentucky

This was expected months ago. The "experts" have been telling us all along how great John Wall is and how he is the undisputed best player in this draft and how it is not even close.

Either the Wizards believed the hype, they plan to get rid of Gilbert Arenas or they think Wall and Arenas can play together in the same back court.

I have a lot of respect for Wizards' GM Ernie Grunfeld from the Sprewell-Camby team he built with the New York Knicks, a team which went to the Finals in 1999.

He is a great evaluator of talent, so it is hard for me to believe that he bought into the John Wall hype.

It is equally hard for me to believe that he thinks Arenas and Wall can play together in the same back court. That leaves only one conclusion: The Wizards plan to get rid of Gilbert Arenas.

This is supported by the fact that Washington also acquired point guard Kirk Hinrich from the Chicago Bulls on draft day.

I can't say that I blame Grunfeld.

As much as I love Arenas, I wrote in my last article that when healthy and not involved in antics from the OK Corral, Arenas is one of the best players in the NBA. The problem is that his health and his Wyatt Earp shenanigans have kept him off the court basically for the last three seasons.

That is a very long time, and when you have the number one pick in the NBA Draft, you can't wait around for your superstar, no matter who he is, to get his act together.

Arenas is no longer dependable, and the last thing anyone wants is to have to depend on someone who can't be depended on. Grunfeld had to make a move.

The Wizards also got my 2010 sleeper, Trevor Booker from Clemson (23). Booker has a chance to start right away at power forward for Washington because the team desperately needs a rebounder and Booker's toughness.

I like both picks, but I won't know how good the the team will be until they finish making their moves and clear the logjam at point guard (Arenas, Kirk Hinrich, Wall).

2) Philadelphia 76ers--Evan Turner, Ohio State

The worst part about the Wizards' selection of John Wall is that the Sixers don't get the point guard they need.

Jrue Holiday is about as fast as Mark Jackson.

I've never liked slow point guards, so I desperately wanted Philadelphia to end up with Wall. That way, Holiday could be moved to shooting guard.

Unfortunately, it didn't work out that way.

Fortunately for them, Evan Turner was available. He is as good as any player in this draft, and Philadelphia is lucky to get him.

I've continued to watch video on Turner over the past several days and have come to the conclusion that he is even better than I thought he was.

He has a level of cleverness to his game which is very sneaky and gives him even more of an edge beyond his skills and athleticism, and his streetball dribble moves, incredible at his size, make him almost unstoppable.

The Sixers have many bodies at the two and three spots, and with a mediocre coach like Doug Collins, all that does is increase the likelihood that he will make the wrong playing-time decisions.

I see Holiday as more of a two than a one, so I'll still say that the Sixers need a point guard to reach their ultimate potential.

As it stands, they look like a team which can make the playoffs.

4) Minnesota Timberwolves--Wesley Johnson, Syracuse

One of the most beautiful things in the world is when exactly what you need falls right into your lap. That is what happened with Minnesota and Wesley Johnson.

Minnesota needed a small forward who could put the ball in the basket, and that is exactly what they got.

They now have four magnificent pieces in place--Johnson, Jonny Flynn, Kevin Love, Corey Brewer--not counting Ricky Rubio, and are ready to take the next step by competing to make the playoffs.

Johnson will improve their defense as well.

In order to become the best player he can be Wesley Johnson will need work on his dribble-penetration moves.

When he develops the ability to put the ball on the floor and dribble past opponents for dunks and layups, he will be a complete player and an unstoppable force in the NBA.

9) Utah Jazz--Gordon Hayward, Butler

I wrote that there weren't ten players in this draft better than Gordon Hayward, and the Jazz apparently agreed with me.

I had him going to Indiana (10) because I had hometown syndrome and wanted to see him play for the Pacers, but I knew all along that Utah or the Clippers could throw a monkey wrench into the program.

I felt that Utah would be a great fit for him but had the Jazz taking Luke Babbitt so each player could play close to his hometown.

Although it didn't work out as I had hoped, it still worked out perfectly.

Hayward gets to play with Deron Williams, who will help Hayward improve his much-too-talked-about sophomore season three-point shooting by getting him the ball where he needs it to get good shots.

Hayward shot 44.8% from three as a freshman and 29.4% as a sophomore, and much has been made about this decline.

This is much ado about nothing.

What makes Hayward a great player is the fact that he is gritty. Whenever there is a loose ball on the floor, Hayward is diving all over it. Add that to his skill and basketball IQ, and you begin to understand what all the fuss is about.

He reminds me of Larry Bird in that sense, known for the glamour plays; but when you look closer you see someone who loves to mix it up and just makes whatever play is necessary to win the basketball game, be it a steal, a save, a rebound, a pass or whatever.

What was great about the Butler basketball team was the fact that they competed for every inch. Their whole team was like this. They were a bunch of bulldogs, and Hayward was right with them, making him the perfect kind of player for coach Jerry Sloan and the Jazz.

As far as his shot goes, he has great form and technique. It will come around.

This was a great pick by the Utah Jazz.

10) Indiana Pacers--Paul George, Fresno State

With Gordon Hayward off the board, Larry Bird and the Indiana Pacers took the best available option in Paul George.

Hometown sentiments aside, this looks like a better fit for Indiana. They now have a team which is ready to go to the playoffs.

George and Danny Granger are a great look. Jordan and Pippen?

With George, Granger and Roy Hibbert, the Pacers have drafted their way to future success. TJ Ford happens to be one of my favorite players.

Indiana is easily playoff team with those four players starting and playing long minutes.

Ford may not fit in coach Jim O'Brien's offense though. He seems to like three-point shooters, something Ford is not. Ford is a playmaker, a playmaker now with many exciting options and possibilities.

All they have to do is come to some sort of agreement between coach and point guard, and Indiana will be a playoff team for many years to come and may even have a NBA title in their future.

16) Portland Trail Blazers--Luke Babbitt, Nevada

This was easily one of the steals of the draft.

Luke Babbitt couldn't have landed in a better situation. He gets to play with a fantastic point guard in Andre Miller and play off of an established offensive threat in Brandon Roy ... not to mention LaMarcus Aldridge.

Babbitt will probably be wide open all season long.

All he has to do is beat out Nicolas Batum, which shouldn't be hard, and he'll be in the starting lineup.

Portland was already in the playoffs last year, and this pick elevates them to another level.

In order for Babbitt to get the most time in coach Nate McMillan's lineup, he is going to have to play defense.

Nothing makes coach McMillan angrier than when one of his players allows someone to drive past them for an easy basket. So the first thing Babbitt has to dedicate himself to is keeping his man in front of him at all times.

This will maximize his time on the court because Babbitt's offensive game is there and can't be questioned.

This was a great pick by the Blazers, a trade to be specific, and Babbitt should advance them at least one round further in the playoffs. He is going to be a rock star in Portland.

33) Sacrament Kings--Hassan Whiteside, Marshall

I suggested that Golden State draft Whiteside at number five and still say that is the move they should have made rather than Ekpe Udoh from Baylor.

Instead of being the big man on campus for the Warriors, Whiteside now enters a crowded frontcourt in Sacramento with DeMarcus Cousins, Jason Thompson and Samuel Dalembert.

He and Stephen Curry could have played together for a long time.

There aren't any players for the Kings who I am excited to see play. They are a long way from being a real NBA team.

This looks like nothing more than a development opportunity for Whiteside. We can only hope the Kings continue to build their roster and become competitive sometime soon.

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