I contemplated punting my annual draft review because...well...I didn't feel like it! Then the Joe Johnson/Dwight Howard thing is happening and...well...I'm going to work on this super Fact or Fiction!
Cleveland had a bad draft.
Fiction-ish: I'm going to be an analyst and not a fan (in fan-mode, I did curse a few...hundred...times). I do believe you should draft your guy, regardless of draft position, unless you know you can trade down and get him. You don't want to out-think yourself. In this case, the move was to draft either Harrison Barnes (I do not like) or Thomas Robinson (I do like). I would have got Thomas Robinson and traded Anderson Varejao to a contender for picks and pieces. Then trading the rest of the draft for Tyler Zeller (I do like) seemed unusual, since centers are an acquired taste. You don't need them and Zeller will be a rotation guy. I don't think you trade your draft for that. I go with it here because it is unfair to judge a draft when guys haven't played yet. I will be paying attention to Dion and Tyler, though.
New Orleans had a good draft.
Fact-ish: This is really dependent on how you see Austin Rivers' career. Right now, he has no position in the NBA. This is why people are divided. People who like Austin like his moxie, his slashing, and his ability to "make big shots". People who dislike him say he's an unwilling passer, he's a streaky, volume shooter, and he's undersized as a 2-guard. I watched too many Duke games this year, and I see Austin as needing some seasoning, so I expect him to be a late bloomer. The success of this draft is how late a bloomer he is. I was listening to the Jalen Rose podcast on Grantland (I really like Jalen Rose as an analyst) and he made the point that Anthony Davis' skillset is more like Chandler right now (and that's a good thing). I think New Orleans did what they needed to do.
New Jersey will be in the hunt after all the moves.
Fiction: After the dust settled they have Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries, and Brook Lopez for around $65 million...and that's it. You can fill the backup point guard and Wallace can play the power forward for you in a small-ball situation (more common). The JJ trade doesn't really cripple the team from a manpower standpoint. But the dollars are basically poison. Johnson is on the books for 90 million for the last 4 years. And that may not be the worst deal! Howard's deal will likely be slightly higher than Deron's deal. I heard the trade could be modified to include Wallace and Lopez for Howard (with Wallace in a sign-and-trade as well as Lopez). That's more palatable. Either way, it's a cap-crippling splash! Thank you Brooklyn for making the offseason more interesting!
Charlotte made a smart draft pick.
Fact: I think Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is great! And Charlotte did pick the second best player. So that was smart. Even smarter, they moved Corey Maggette to make room at the small forward. This is just a start. It will take awhile to flush out the crappy players and contracts. There's not a lot to keep on this team. The jury's out on Kemba Walker and not even sure you should keep a team together that won 7 out of 66 games. That's not good. But Kidd-Gilchrist is a great start.
Atlanta made several smart moves.
Fact: They passed on Perry Jones (more on this later) and basically execute a super-dump of Johnson and Marvin Williams. The super-dump alone makes this good. They have Josh Smith in a contract year and are really only committed to Al Horford. They can go a lot of different directions. You should notice that new GMs are not married to current rosters. Therefore, they are more willing to trade guys in the short term. I thought JJ's contract was untradable, but as I keep forgetting, no contract is untradable. Dumping Williams for the equally-dumpable Devin Harris is interesting (from Utah's perspective). I don't see it for Utah, but whatever. Whether these moves are TRULY good will depend on what Danny Ferry (a questionable GM) does with the newly-created cap flexibility.
Boston got better with their moves to date.
Fact: Interestingly enough, the Fab Melo dumb-pick is not as dumb with Kevin Garnett coming back. He can yell and slap the Brazilian into submission like Chael Sonnen is going to try to do with Anderson Silva (Silva is going to destroy Sonnen). Jared Sullinger is interesting. All his pics as a kid he was overweight. He's smart, talented, and understands basketball. He'll either maintain his health, or washout fantastically. I think being in Boston where Pierce (a notoriously out-of-shape guy), KG (and his Malibu-running) and Allen (he's coming back) could make Sullinger completely confused. Their plan is to fill holes with young pieces and ride the Rondo-Pierce-KG-Terry train off tot he sunset. I like that plan so they are a Fact.
Fact-ish: It really depends on what goes where. I'm not a fan in this case of picks changing hands. So, I think Nikola Pekovic (solid banger), Derrick Williams (tough to let go), Wesley Johnson (a write-off at this point) for Pau Gasol makes sense to me. I know there are some cap balances in there (I'm not versed enough yet on the new cap, working on it). In the case of Minnesota, they need to solidify the foundation. Love, Gasol, and Ricki Rubio is a nice foundation. I do not expect Batum to be on the team, so really a Mayo signing makes for a good starting lineup. After next season, they can really start to meet holes. In LA's case, they need to make a move. The Howard acquisition may not be good for LA only because he doesn't seem to be the guy to carry a major franchise on his shoulders (especially with a bristly Kobe) so getting Derrick Williams and Wes Johnson is a good haul for a guy who is basically done being a Laker. And Pekovic can help on the interior. In that scenario, I would re-sign Jordan Hill to play the 4.
Toronto can resurge.
Fiction: OK, I like where people are finally going. The player we SHOULD have draft #4 last year coming in this year with Andrea Bargnani, Demar DeRozan, and Terrence Ross (another over-reach pick but a necessary skillset), they have a nice team. Interestingly, they have a nice little team. Not great, not bad, but nice. They will need to tweak soon, and Bargnani is the player that needs to be looked at hard. He isn't a #1 guy. That's for sure. But he's paid like one, so Toronto needs to figure out if they need to trade him. But I picked Fiction because there are too many other good teams ahead of them.
Andre Drummond will be good.
Fact-ish: Detroit is the right team. They have other good players, so he doesn't have to be good immediately. Greg Munroe looks to be a solid player and can help Drummond with passing. And Drummond's athleticism will allow him to be able to defend worst-case scenario. My pause is when i watched him play in college, he had absolutely no feel for the game whatosever. That's why he vanished from games despite being significantly physically better than most players. That's an issue because some players never develop feel for the game ever, especially big guys. And if he doesn't...he'll be a journeyman at best. So Detroit will need to be patient, coach this kid, and let him learn. He seems to be not terribly confident either. So he will need somebody on the team to stay close to him (Munroe is a good candidate for that). If Detroit is interested, I'm available!
OKC got the biggest steal!
Fact: This is not a super-FACT. I watched Perry Jones III and walked away not having a clue what he does for a basketball team. He's a confounding talent. He's got skills, hops, quicks, and all the other plurals. When a guy has that big a toolkit yet doesn't perform, it means something is wrong. In Perry's case, his heart is questioned. I love stories like this because you get to find out about a guy. The reason the "knee" injury freaked out teams is because people questioned if he'd put in the work to get rehabbed (a heart issue). Little known fact: Coach A questioned to my face whether I'd make it back from ACL surgery. He may not have meant it, but the psychology of having to prove someone wrong was so great, it allowed me to show the work ethic I have. I was able to come back. Perry has that chance with a team who works their ass off to get better and win. And a team that believe they SHOULD have won the title this year. He can't come into camp and pussyfoot around. He's going to have to bring it. So we'll know if he's an NBA player based on that. I'll be watching closely.
Harrison Barnes will be better than Bradley Beal.
Fact: I'm losing steam so I'm lumping stuff together. Washington made some sneaky good moves. By getting Emeka Okafor, Nene Hilario, and Trevor Ariza, they have proven playoff guys in their frontcourt. Beal and John Wall in the backcourt is exciting (although, I'm lukewarm on Beal. The one skill he's supposed to have he didn't show in college...not a good sign). Barnes is a workout king who underwhelmed at UNC. Folks have said he overthinks. I sympathize with that because I did that too. However, driving around someone is not thinking, it's going. And he couldn't consistently. That makes me nervous. He jumps stupidly high and is agile. He should join the Olympic team (can't wait for the Olympics after watching Euro 2012...I love international competition). It matters what you do with a basketball in your hands. I think he can figure it out. Beal on the other hand looks a little...hefty...to me. I'd worry about his size (same concern for Eric Gordon who he's compared to alot). So I'm less confident.
Houston f***ed up.
Fiction: I don't think so. Swing for the fences. That's what you're supposed to do. They got hosed once Stern vetoed the Gasol deal. They had no Plan B because Plan A worked. Years of patience to pounce and when they did, screwy crap happened. Fast forward to trying to get Howard. I think they still could assuming the Nets, Mavs (possible) or LA do not. But they would need to really think about how they would go about convincing Orlando to not take a center back. So they grossly overpay for Asik. This is what happens when your Plan B doesn't work. Obviously Morey is a guy I watch because of the MIT ties, but his performance is at best a C+. And if after all this you get Asik and a C- draft...that's fireable. But he didn't f*** up because he was bold. I can always credit a GM for disregarding his/her employment status and swinging for the fences!