February 17, 2009

2004 NBA Draft Revisited

I just got done watching parts of Dwight Howard's utter destruction of Emeka Okafor to the tune of 45 points, 19 rebounds and 8 blocks. Wow. Meanwhile, Okafor mustered up a 14 and 9 while fouling out after getting abused by Howard. Kind of got me thinking about two things. The overration (is that a word?) of UConn big men over the years (Okafor was strongly considered for #1 - can you imagine the reversal of fortunes of Charlotte and Orlando if Okafor went to the Magic and Superman came to Charlotte?). Josh Boone and Hilton Armstrong have both been first round busts, and Charlie Villanueva has not been a whole lot better. But UConn guards like Rudy Gay, Rip Hamilton, Ben Gordon and Caron Butler have all been really good pros. Just kind of weird. UConn always seems to have big athletic guys in the middle who block shots but can't really do a whole lot on offense. Villanueva was really the only one of the group who was more prolific with the ball in his hands, and his game has translated well at times in the league.

Also, one of my favorite things to do and read are redrafts a few years down the road. Did you know that Luke Jackson was 10th pick in the draft that year? Can you imagine if the Cavs had picked a guy like Josh Smith or Al Jefferson? How good would they be right now. Anyway, the '04 NBA Draft was actually semi-loaded with talent, so here's one man's opinion of how it would have gone down if there was a redraft today. Actual pick listed second.

1. Orlando - Dwight Howard (Howard) - No surprise here. Only the best big man to come into the league since Timothy Duncan.

2. Charlotte - Al Jefferson (Okafor) - I just spent 35 minutes going back and forth with this pick. Okafor has averaged 14 points and 10 boards along with 2 blocks for his career. Not bad. But he's never really been the type of guy you build around - and he's never gotten significantly better. He's pretty much put up the same numbers for the last 3 years. Jefferson meanwhile, is a legit building block. He was averaging 24-11 with 2 blocks before he got hurt this year. Last year it was 21 and 11, the year before that, 16 and 10. In other words, he's getting better. And he's two years younger.

3. Chicago - Okafor (Ben Gordon) - Strongly debated Josh Smith or Andre Iguodala here, but Okafor is too consistent to pass up. I just think that he's been playing out of position his whole career. He's really a 4.

4. Clippers - Josh Smith (Shaun Livingston) - Livingston was probably a reach to begin with, but after suffering a disgustingly horrific knee injury, his career was effectively ended. The curse of the Clippers.

5. Washington - Andre Iguodala (Devin Harris) - Iggy is one of the more maddening players to root for, because he fancies himself a jump shooter when he's really a slasher. But, when you look at the numbers and watch his game, he is like a cross between a poor man's and homeless man's Lebron. For his career, he's averaging 15-6-4-2, per game, and he's gotten better every year, culminating in last years 20-6-5-2.1.

6. Atlanta - Luol Deng (Josh Childress) - Atlanta went with the best 'fro available. Apparently, the strategy should have been best Brit available between Deng and Gordon.

8. Toronto - Kevin Martin (Rafael Araujo) - Toronto, Toronto, Toronto. What the heck were you thinking? I remember when they made this pick and laughing along with everyone else. This guy never had a chance. As for Martin, do you realize that he has averaged 20 a game for the last three years, and is currently putting up almost 25 a game. He's been on some terrible Sacramento teams, and has a little too much of the Ray Allen stat line going (3 boards and 2.5 assists a game), but I'll take the points at the #8 spot in the draft.

9. Philly - Jameer Nelson (Iguodala) - I debated here between Gordon and two late bloomer point guards in Devin Harris and Nelson. I just had to go with the hometown guy who has always been solid, but this year has taken 'the leap' until he blew out his shoulder. He was averaging 16 and 5 while shooting over 50% and an incredible 45% from 3.

10 - Cleveland - Ben Gordon (Luke Jackson) - I'm probably underrating Gordon by dropping him to 10. He seems to have gotten the 6th man label stuck on him, but he's averaging 20 a game and 18 for his career. Not too shabby. I'm sure Cleveland could have used his shooting the last few years.

11. Golden State - Andris Biedrins (Biedrins) - What the heck - I'll give Golden State exactly who they drafted. He's still only 22, he's 6"11, and is averaging 13-12. Plus, he can run, so he fits in well into NellieBall instead of a traditional center.

12. Seattle - Devin Harris (Robert Swift) - Another colossal bust. Yo, NBA GM's, do you sense a trend here. All three of the busts were white guys, and two of them were big men. Harris has resurrected himself in New Jersey and is now a legit Top 10 NBA point guard. I bet you didn't know he's averaging 22 a game for the Nets.

13. Portland - Anderson Varejao (Bassy Telfair) - Varejao has never had to play big minutes, but he's always productive and his rebounds per 40 is off the charts. He's 6"10, and though limited offensively, will provide hustle, defense and rebouding that few can provide. Plus, he has to lead the league in overdramatic injuries and ridiculous flops.

14. Utah - Delonte West (Kris Humphries) - Lots of ways the Jazz could go here, with JR Smith, Sasha Vujacic, Trevor Ariza and Chris Duhon still available. Delonte has averaged 10-4-3 a game for his career and is playing a lot better with the Cavs now that he is not being miscast as a point guard. Wow, the talent really dropped off after Devin Harris. Delonte West should not be a lottery pick.

Well, there's the lottery. Besides Howard, there wasn't really another superstar in the draft, but there are a ton of second level stars and glue guys. Xavier was well represented in the 2nd round with Romain Sato and Lionel Chalmers. Still can't believe that Sato, being the freak athlete that he was, couldn't make a roster somewhere as a defense and rebounding type. When you can't shoot, it's really tough to make it in the league. It was really a putrid second round, with only Varejao, Duhon, Ariza and Royal Ivey still collecting paychecks. Lots of foreigners that never even sniffed American soil. Shockingly, the 7 foot 3 monster from South Korea, Ha Seung-Jin, never made it into the Association.


Doug said...

Wow, this list would be pretty depressing if you were a Charlotte Bobcats fan. If Howard had actually been drafted ahead of a four year "winner" like Okafor, Dickie V's head would have exploded on tv. If Dickie V wants to see the result of drafting only "proven" college players with limited upside, he can look no further than the Charlotte Bobcats (or maybe even the Chicago Bulls until they landed Rose).

I agree about the white big man. At this point, shouldn't the burden of proof be on the white big man proving himself rather than the other way around?? Why would any team take a white big man in the lottery when the vast majority of them are busts?? And what is the pot of gold that keeps luring these GMs in?? Just the possibility of finding the next Andrew Bogut?? I mean, what is the upside there??

NBA fans, what are your thoughts on Bosh to the Bulls?? Or Stoudemire for that matter??

I'd love to see Bosh somehow land on the Cavs. It's probably a pipe dream, but the Cavs would be monsters if that happened. A dominant low post man like Bosh would push them over the top. If I was the Cavs, I'd give up anyone on the roster not named LeBron Raymone James for Bosh or maybe even Stoudemire.

Matt said...

Part of the problem with the Charlotte franchise is that they have been insulting the intelligence of the basketball fans in the state of North Carolina for the last couple of years. They drafted Sean May and Raymond Felton waaaay too early, simply because they went to UNC. The message they sent was, 'screw the best player available, we think you'll come spend money on our tickets because we're trotting out a few UNC players.' They brought in MJ to run the front office even though he was a colossal failure in Washington. Meanwhile, he doesn't do squat as a GM, and yet the Bobcats think they'll sell some tickets because he's involved. And then they ridiculously draft Adam Morrison to capitalize on his marketing ability (Come see the white guy with the long hair and goofy mustache who just had a great NCAA tournament! Who cares if he can't play pro ball) instead of just taking a good player.

It finally seems like they might be on the right track, but there is a long way to go to getting basketball to succeed in Charlotte.

Anonymous said...

honestly if Dwight Howard was drafted in Charelotte and Emeka Okafor was in Orlando, the magic would be a horrible team!!! But the thing about people is that they think people should stay in collage for 3 or 4 years. it works for some p;ayers not all. If dwight howard actually stayed in college he would be even more of an animal in basketball than he already is. Howard flat out destroyed Okafor and his team with a 45 point 19 rebound and 8 block assault,Okafor aslo got fouled out because howard murdered him under the post. Superman rules!