A few thoughts on the draft lottery, if you will.
I know that several fans are unhappy with the results of Tuesday night's NBA Draft Lottery. I'm not among them. In fact, when Chip asked me what my preference was prior to the lottery taking place, I told him that I wanted the #2 or #5 pick. My reasoning for the #2 is simple and should be obvious: With the #2 pick, the Grizzlies get to select whoever remains from Michael Beasley/Derrick Rose. I know that most teams (other than Minnesota, who doesn't need a PF like Beasley) would be happy with either of those players, despite what Pat Riley has intimated about trading the pick if Derrick Rose isn't there (total poppycock, by the way -- more on that later).
If the Grizzlies had been fortunate enough to receive that pick, then the decision would have effectively been made for them, similar to how Seattle recently wound up with Kevin Durant, after Portland selected Greg Oden #1 overall. Of course, having the #1 pick would have had a lot of extra pressure given that Derrick Rose is Memphis' favorite son after leading the Tigers to the national title game less than two months ago. The Grizzlies selected Mike Conley with the #4 pick last year and took Kyle Lowry with the #24 pick the year before that, so they have some quality PG's already on the roster. At the risk of drawing Zack's ire, I'll also mention that both Javaris Crittenton and Juan Carlos Navarro are capable of filling in at PG if needed, in my opinion. So if there is one position that the Grizzlies shouldn't be looking at when assessing their draft needs, Point Guard is that area. I know that some people will clamor that there is no way you can pass up a "potential Hall of Famer" just because you have a good, young player already at that position. I agree with that stance -- I just disagree that Derrick Rose fits that label. (Ducking beer bottles being chucked at me by Tiger fans everywhere.) My evaluation of Rose is that he will be a great player in the league for the next decade, but I do not believe that he will be the Top 5 player overall that so many fans have rated him to be already. I'll gladly go point-by-point on his strengths and weaknesses in my pre-draft rankings that will be coming soon, so save your howls and jeers for that future post.
Now that we have that out of the way, let me explain why I wanted the #5 pick, instead of the #3 or #4. There are two players currently being rated in the Top 10 by many draft sites and experts that scare the ever-lovin' crap out of me: Brook Lopez and O.J. Mayo. I said in a previous post that when I look at Brook Lopez, I see a solid starter, but nothing special -- certainly nothing transcendent that is worthy of a top five selection. Lopez's game is based upon achieving great positioning around the basket. He was able to do that in college due to having superior size to many of his opponents, but the NBA is full of guys that are every bit as big and strong as he is. He won't be Michael Olowokandi, Eric Montross, Cherokee Parks or Jerome James, as he does possess some quality basketball skills, but he's not going to be David Robinson either. I see him being a solid big man like Zydrunas Ilgauskas as a best case scenario. If he can concentrate on rebounding and develop the wide range of offensive moves that Big Z has, then he could wind up matching his career averages of 14.5 ppg and 7.9 rpg, which is a very solid career indeed.
I also said that when I look at O.J. Mayo, I see Steve Francis. Stevie Franchise was a great player at one time -- but he was never a "winner". He put up tremendous stats for the first 7 seasons of his career, but the fact remains that Houston got markedly better and Orlando got noticeably worse after the Francis for McGrady trade. I see several of the same attributes in Mayo that I witnessed in Francis, both in terms of skillset and personality. With the right mix of players and coaches surrounding him, Mayo could turn out to be a tremendous, MVP-level player. But unless that "perfect scenario" happens, I don't see it happening and would rather not have this franchise set back by making the wrong choice with another high lottery pick. We already selected Steve Francis once -- remember?
Earlier, I said that Riley's assertion that he would be open to trading the pick if Rose wasn't available, because "they have a pretty good PF" already was ludicrous. Here's why: Shawn Marion is a great all-around player, let there be no doubt about that. Even if he doesn't opt out of the last year of his contract, Shawn Marion just turned 30 years old this month and there have been whispers about his athleticism starting to wane, which is a very bad thing for a player whose game is predicated on being more athletic than an overwhelming majority of his opponents. Furthermore, why wouldn't a team want to take the talented Michael Beasley, who appears to be capable of playing either forward position, meaning that the Heat could trot out Wade/Beasley/Marion in the same lineup if they desired. Of course, I fully expect the Chicago Bulls to take Beasley at #1 overall, so Miami will likely get the player they appear to covet, which will (as usual) render all my ramblings meaningless. The point is, either Pat Riley is full of mularkey or he truly has gone insane and believes that he'll be able to duplicate what the Boston Celtics did this past offseason in turning the worst team in the Eastern Conference into a title contender practically overnight. At this juncture, I'd make that bet a 50-50 proposition, since the hair gel has to be affecting his brain waves by now.
Rest assured, we'll have plenty of player evaluations, mock drafts and the always entertaining "what Team X should do/what Team X will do" posts for the next month. And, of course, I'll be sure to talk endlessly about who I think the Grizzlies should select with each pick or if they might be better off trading down. Make sure to vote in the polls on the right-hand sidebar so that we know who you think the "right" pick is and, as always, let me know what you think in the Comments.
Thursday, May 22, 2008
A few thoughts on the draft lottery, if you will.