To start this off, let's just say we were a LITTLE excited about the draft. Sure we thought that Bargnani was the top pick for Toronto, but after that, we were ready for anything...
Here are some of our highlights:
-All of us present were a bit astounded that Colangelo was working the ticket-holding crowd at the ACC 15 minutes before the draft instead of working the phones. Then we realized what was really going on...OF COURSE...A HOLOGRAM! Wow, Rob Babcock never would have thought of that!
-Thoughts on the ESPN crew...never mind, not necessary since we won't see them again.
Halfway through the draft, after pointing out the negatives of nearly every pick, David Stern gave them the death stare. He might as well have been Darth Vader with the invisible "dark side of the force choke grip." They were all pretty quiet after that...and as one of our readers in attendance "skywalker" pointed out, Greg Anthony and crew may turn up in a meat-locker somewhere. In fact, we would bet our lunch money that ESPN is being reprimanded by Stern for this fiasco they call "draft coverage." And the second round was even worse! There were more commercials shown than picks! Watching a re-run of Hanging With Mr. Cooper would have been more educational.
-Speaking of the ESPN crew...this is where we get our Stephen A. Smith hate on.
Maybe last year, prior to his tirade against the Raptors, we thought that Smith could provide some insight or at least a different and slightly educated opinion. However after watching back-to-back drafts with Smith, it's now brutally clear that Smith is ONLY THERE for entertainment purposes so viewers can watch him "go off" on teams. And each year he picks one particular squad, after they make their pick, to focus his venom on. Last year it was Toronto, this year, Atlanta. Problem is his rants don't even make sense.
Take this year's selection of Bargnani. Smith didn't like it because he thought that Tyrus Thomas would have been a better choice. Oh really? Um...correct me if I'm wrong Stephen but wouldn't Thomas play the same position as Chris Bosh and CV Smooth? And isn't that what you hated about the CV Smooth pick last year? Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight. Smith also said that Bargnani was too thin and so was Toronto's whole team...guess he's never seen Joey Graham up close.
And furthermore, besides Jay Bilas, why are the rest of these clowns even on the show? It's a DRAFT SHOW not a discussion of current NBA players. The only people who should be allowed to talk are Bilas, Fran and Dickie V and even he wears on you. Smith even admitted to not have any knowledge of Bargnani so how than can he comment on things? Come on ESPN...bring back Barkley and co...at least they didn't pretend to know the prospects and were just there to keep things rolling.
-Debate over best suit of the night.
We thought it would be Rudy Gay but in the end, Saer Sene may have had the best "pimp suit" and Brandon Roy definitely took the "pure class" award. In fact crazy "Jalen Rose-esque" suits were few and far between and this may have been more of a reflection of the fact that no one knew where they were going to be drafted. None of those guys wanted to be dressed like the Riddler while hanging in the Green Room with Aaron Rodgers...I mean Marcus Williams...Incidentally, our money was on Morrison to show up in a beater and Redick in a back brace.
-Speaking of these two, the clips of them playing head-to-head video games were priceless. It wouldn't have surprised me if they both had passed on their "Green Room" invites to unlock the secrets of the new edition of Tomb Raider.
-One of the funnier things from the draft in our opinion was Portland basically taking a Mulligan on their 2004 draft.
After their draft night deals (someone enter this team on "Deal or No Deal" please!) they had moved all of their first round picks from that year basically admitting that they had screwed up royally taking Telfair and the Russian Mob. And actually speaking of Portland's draft, one final nail in Stephen A. Smith's coffin. He continually dissed and dismissed Portland as the night wore on even though the rest of his ESPN compatriots didn't agree with his rationale. We donâ€™t agree either. Your team just walked out of a draft with Aldridge, Roy, Freeland and Rodriguez. You got rid of Telfair and some other past mistakes. You already have some prospects in Jack, Webster and Outlaw and you add these new prospects. I donâ€™t know but three years from now this sounds like a solid foundation. And sure theyâ€™re probably the leagueâ€™s worst team next year, but that just gives them a great shot at Mr. Odenâ€¦
-Great work by ESPN getting some "random notes" on the draftees (to be read with sarcasm.)
Morrisonâ€™s favourite book was The Art of War. Think Jordan immediately drafted him after learning this? I guess it beats last year when one of the Euro's notes were that his â€œfavourite foodâ€ was soup! This year's winner though for "ridiculous things you didn't know about the player being drafted?" - Cedric Simmons...who apparently likes to build tree houses and hunt squirrels and rabbits...
-The first "Moms" appearance of the night was when Portland took Tyrus Thomas for the Bulls...with the shaved blond hair, you know she was keeping it real.
-Jay Bilas called Randy Foye the rookie of the year.
-Paging Marcus Williamsâ€¦
-Nother great ESPN blunder this time courtesy of ESPN.com. Soon after the top few picks their headline was "Coming to America." Um...they DO KNOW that Canada is not part of America and that we didn't draft Eddie Murphy right?
-Ok...Sacramento just passed on Marcus Williams...time to send out the search party.
-The Knicks first pick was the highlight of our evening.
We just don't ever remember such an "out of left-field" pick. Even Hoffa wasn't this much of a reach! I mean, this guy only made it on most mock drafts' second round because of his Orlando camp performance! The Knicks passed on a number of decent prospects (including Marcus Williams) at this spot so hopefully Isiah knows what he's doing. Oh...and this was actually Toronto's pick from Denver via the Vince Carter trade at one point. Think the Knicks' got their full value out of it? Think Colangelo would have taken Renaldo Balkman over Rajon Rondo, Marcus Williams, Josh Boone, Kyle Lowry, Shannon Brown, Jordan Farmar, Sergio Rodgriguez or Maurice Ager if he had kept the pick? Would he even have taken him over PJ Tucker? Isiah Thomas could sink a life jacket.
-The worst part about the night was New Jersey's draft. Considering where they were picking, they got a STEAL in Williams even if he only becomes a backup in the league. And Josh Boone actually might be a great fit for this club and gets to play with his UConn teammate Williams. Oh...and speaking of Marcus, we just received word that after his stock drop he's sent his resume to Dell.
All in all, one of the most entertaining and random drafts we can remember. It would have been more fun to see Toronto do some wheeling and dealing, but as one of our readers put it, "sometimes the best trades are the ones not made." And speaking of which, it was great to meet a bunch of you at Harbour Sports. We'll probably be doing this again periodically through the season so hopefully we'll see you again and meet some more of you.
So those were some of our thoughts on draft night...what were some of the media's takes? From what we've seen, it appears that there are two pretty distinct camps; those like ESPN's Chad Ford who think Toronto should get an "A" for their work, and those who think Colangelo and co. could have done more therefore earning about a "C" grade.
How do we think Toronto fared? Well, grading a draft at this point in time is an exercise in futility. Sure you can have a hunch, and in some cases everyone knows what teams really got an A, years like Duncan and Lebron. It is easier to predict the weather for the next five years though then how these players will turn out. The bottom line is that we have faith in Colangelo's masterplan. The Bargnani pick was expected and could turn out to be a really solid pick. If it means we trade Charlie some of us here are totally against it. If the now big three can stay together, mesh and develop as a unit, FANTASTIC. One of the reason's it COULD work is because of CV Smooth's passing game. If he stays on the same learning curve in the next two years or so he could be a triple- double threat on a nightly basis.
The problem with the Bargnani pick as a Raptors fan, is that we don't think 99 per cent of us know enough about him, us included. That probably contributes to the division we've seen in many of our readers' comments. Some or you think the pick could be great, and in that comment is a great deal of faith in BC (likely properly placed), the others, like all of us at some point, are more skeptical until we see something on the court. (That old "seeing is believing" adage.) The problem is that it could be a long process before "believing"...perhaps at least two seasons. Amongst the three of us here, Howland is on the fence with the pick as he liked some other guys more, (Morrison and Aldridge) because he had seen them play a lot more frequently than Andrea. Chapman, still scouting resorts and daiquaris in Cuba, has yet to give us his full opinion but we know he was more of an Aldridge fan. Franchise liked the potential and defense of Tyrus Thomas but has faith in Colangelo and really likes the pick overall. So you see even here, we are pretty divided. (PS - Chapman, we tried giving you a call after the draft but were unable to connect. We even phoned the operator for assistance!)
What will be very interesting to see is how Bargnani's game develops. A 5 with skills? An oversized 3? Or an all-around 4? We don't think anyone knows and think that's why CV is around for at least this season, if not the long haul.
The disappointment for us was Tucker. We are simply skeptical as to how his game is going to translate in the NBA. He's like a mini Joey Graham and will probably have a difficult time matching up against quicker guards and taller post-players. He's a hard-working, blue-collar guy from a winning program so there is hope. It's just that we had our hearts set on a few other guys who we thought were less of projects (Bobby Jones.) All hope may not be lost though, some interesting guys were passed up in the second round that could get invites to Toronto's summer-league squad.
And finally, besides the Raptors we also have some thoughts on how other teams did in the draft as some true-blue NBA players were moved.
Although Houston appears to have given up a lot in Gay and Stro-Show, getting Battier was huge for them. Stromile was useless on that team...or pretty much IS just useless, and provided T-Mac can stay healthy and they add a player or two, they could be right back in the mix in the West. Battier is a glue guy, a guy I always wanted to see in a Raps uni...except when he was at Duke. The character of that team got a boost and he will be great under JVG.
Portland, outside all the draft dealings did acquire and dispose of NBA talent. Trading Telfair and Kryapa left them with none of their three first round picks from the 2004 draft. If you remember the 2004 draft (many Raptors fans have erased it from their minds) Portland also reached at 13 when they took Bassy. He was supposed to be their answer at the point for years to come. Then Steve Blake and Jarrett Jack leap-frogged him on the depth chart...pretty sure that was not supposed to happen. Kryapa and Monia are still looking to develop. They also traded away a Mr. "shell of my former self" in Theo Ratliff - a guy that has seen all the valley's and peaks when it comes to being an NBA player. They brought in Dickau (whose hot season just a year ago is strikingly familiar to what is going down with Marcus Banks), and LaFrentz. LaFrentz will never get you over the top, but not a guy to cause issues either. One thing he won't do is teach young Aldridge how to play in the paint which may impair the Longhorn's development. And speaking of impair...Darius Miles and Zach Randolph HAVE to go now.
For Boston, Ratliff saves them a year of cash and with the trades they made, they bring in two interesting players in Rondo and Telfair. Telfair could still be a player but just seems like one of those guys that will finally get his head right when it is too late and then demand to play for a championship team. He has talent, just no concept of what a priviledge it is to play in the NBA. We're not sure how the Iverson deal would make sense for the Celtics. Iverson and Pierce? Pierce needs a big. A PP with KG combo would be DEADLY.
In quieter deal, the Lakers picked up Maurice Evans. He's a quality player and adds some depth to that team costing them almost nothing in return. What they didn't do is really upgrade the PG position. Although they took Farmar, we're not sure how much better he is going to be than Smush, especially at this point in time. Smush was great in the regular season but ghastly in the playoffs. And since we are on the topic of the Lakers, our thoughts and prayers go out to Lamar Odom's family after losing their six-month old child.
Free-Agency period begins tomorrow and we'll set things off with our first look at potential future Raptors and the various other players available. We're all about the Mike James for Marquis Daniels idea but it probably depends on what type of money Jason Terry is looking for and how badly Dallas wants to retain him. Daniels would be a great addition due to his defense and ability to play multiple positions and this would still leave us significant cap room...even after a Garbajosa signing. Yes, it appears that the rumours are true and as soon as tomorrow Toronto will have yet another Spaniard on the club.