Postgame Spread
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Friday, June 27, 2008

NBA Draft    

Goddamn, this is one wacky game show.

I missed the draft. But considering all the trades that went down, it makes just as much sense to sift through the leaves instead of taking Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. Then again, everyone loves Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. (Two... two Mallrats jokes! Ah ah ah!)

So, thought I'd have a quick, half-assed looksy at some winners and losers, taking trades into account as best I can:


This roster is absolutely TERRIFYING right now from a youth and potential perspective. Roy, Aldridge, Webster, Oden, Outlaw and Frye are all going to demand your attention in some way. Now they've added a stud point guard prospect to hold it all together. And it's not like the Blazers have a lot of recent busts. This team is going somewhere big.

Their GM, Kevin Pritchard, is doing as good a job of NBA management as I've ever seen. They're doing with their youth what the Celtics were supposed to do with all of theirs... i.e., win with it, not trade it all away for 30-somethings... piles of youngsters instead of piles of money. There's something to be said for the organic approach. Huge, HUGE props to Pritchard for doing it the right way. (So far.)

Basketball is relevant again in Minnesota. O.J. Mayo kind of addressed a need, but they needed depth more than talent. When you can get the guy you're after (Kevin Love), AND pick up a legitimate perimeter scorer in Mike Miller, AND dump both Marko Jaric and Antoine Walker... you do it. This team might actually be free of their post-KG misery.

When I saw Jerryd Bayless had fallen to them at #11, I assumed they'd won the draft. Turning him into two valuable players in Jarrett Jack and Brandon Rush was just as huge a move. Of course, they also drafted Dr. Hibbert, which seems to be the comedy moment of the draft. (I would have shit a gold brick if they'd drafted both Dr. Hibbert and Superintendent Chalmers.)

They were supposed to trade up to #4. But the Sonics surprised everyone by taking Westbrook, which in turn led the Clippers' guy (Eric Gordon) into their hands. Well-played. Now there's no pressure on Shaun Livingston to regain his form right away. Unless Eric Gordon pulls a Khalid El-Amin and gets season tickets to the In 'N Out Burger...

Wow. Douglas-Roberts at #40 is a second-round wet dream. Ryan Anderson and Brook Lopez are front-court depth at worst, which won't hurt. And they ditched the monstrously overrated and replaceable Richard Jefferson. If they can do something about the cancerous Vince Carter, they might just have a real team again...

Simply having Jose Calderon on the floor 40 minutes a night and letting Jermaine O'Neal distract a defender or two from Chris Boshgives them more value than T.J. Ford and the #17 had. Well done.

This incomplete motherfucker owes Rajon Rondo half his salary for the next three years.


Lehr covers this angle about as well as possible from the fan perspective. And I love a good draft-day boo as much as anyone. But these things can just as easily become infamous as expressive.

In this case, there are several things missing from the equation:

1) They're booing the fact that Walsh and D'Antoni passed on the fourth PG on the board in a draft with only two great point guards (Rose, Mayo), neither of whom were available to New York. The Westbrook/Bayless/Augustin/Gordon group could have gone in any random order from 3 to 6... and in many ways, they did. We're booing people who don't settle for the bronze now? No wonder we lose the Olympics every year.

2) The Knicks need EVERYTHING. No team in the draft was in "best player available" mode more than New York.

3) Just because Knick fans boo doesn't mean they made the wrong move (see Balkman, Renaldo and Frye, Channing)

4) Name ONE person whose hands you'd rather have Gallinari in than Mike D'Antoni. If this guy's got it, Euro expert D'Antoni will get it. Worst case, they're probably getting Boris Diaw, whom one must admit is an awfully nifty player.

But boo them anyway. Fuck 'em. Makes for great TV!

That they're losers, despite landing O.J. Mayo and dumping Brian Cardinal, is a testament to how shoddily their roster is built right now. Four point guards, and no forwards of note (for the right reason) besides Rudy Gay. They're like the bizarro Hawks, except that the Memph also have zero leadership. Their current veteran leadership? Antoine Walker. This is not how one teaches O.J. to pass the rock.

Also, they missed out on a big opportunity, according to the Sports Guy:

5:23: Just took a quick look through reader e-mails from the past hour and everyone seems to agree: We're all excited for the Gay-Love Era in Memphis.

It's official: worse than the Pau Gasol trade.

What the hell are these guys thinking? Augustin?!? And a project at center? We know how well Larry Brown works with projects. What a nightmare. Given that Michael Jordan's in charge, this doesn't surprise me in the least.

Richard Jefferson? Are you guys even trying anymore?!? Not that Simmons/Jianlian is a king's ransom or anything, but christ. And the guy from West Virginia? You suck. Revive the "Simmons for GM" cries.

Is this the Five O'Clock Free 2-Guard Giveaway?

Because fuck 'em, that's why.

This, of course, is the best thing about any NBA draft:


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  • I'll Kill You! It was the perfect pick. Seattle uber alles!


    I don't know man. It's hard for me to quantify, or explain might be a better word, just what this Sonics lease situation has done to my perception of the NBA, and ultimately pro sports more generally. We'll know more in a year, but right now my bitterness and my exhaustion outweighs everything else... It's hard to talk about how I feel about choices like this.

    But I like this nucleus, and I think I'm going to root for it, for the players, against the larger reality, which says in certain ways more about my disaffection with that larger reality than anything else. I'm increasingly viewing the situation with Bennett and Seattle's only championship team more as endemic to the entire enterprise than anything specific to Seattle .

    Watching my Holland boys be ousted from the Euro, unexpectedly, makes me feel tired more than anything else (except shocked, though I can recognize that Russia played a fucking brilliant game, and that that's the normal, fleeting, impossible nature of international futbol). The Sonics situation has infuriated me on a such a deep level, despite feeling like to a weird degree that Bennett probably does have the superior legal case (and rightly so), that my sports-following life feels in flux in a way I couldn't have anticipated or identified with previously. It's put the whole enterprise in a serious kind of doubt, though it's hard to disentangle that from the Mariners horrendous season.

    In conclusion, I still love sports, and I love this Sonics nucleus, in a way that more closely approximates my annual ritual of loving some collection of young NBA talent than anything truly local. But Ray-Ray and KG got their rings, and Boston got a legendary performance out of the one guy they didn't kinda luck into, and I'm happy for everyone involved. So, maybe the NBA and pro sports aren't shit. I don't know. I'm confused, and I've been trying to express this in a real post, but haven't yet felt like I've articulated something in a way that anyone should really care about.

    I dunno... I'm waiting, and watching, and expecting to develop a true stance, but I still can't quite see what that might be. In the mean time, I still dig these Chicago kids, and my hypothetical Bulls "Obama '08" jersey looks better and better (and more and more inevitably disappointing) with every passing day. We'll fucking see I guess. I guess y'all can finally welcome me to the club of sports fans who have really seen the down times. We'll see how I respond. Suerte.

    By Blogger Jesse, at 3:16 AM  

  • I don't dislike the pick at all or think he won't pan out; I actually like Westbrook a lot.

    I was just saying that without Rondo to set the example for success, Westbrook would have gone in the 20s. And that he's incomplete; Westbrook's jump shot could end up being the best thing that ever happened to Chris Wilcox's rebounding numbers.

    I was also saying fuck the Sonics. Seattle uber alles, sure, but not so much the Sonics uber alles. Their asses sleep on the couch until they announce that the move has been aborted. And I've got a long memeory; I still look at the Ravens with a wary eye, and it's been over 10 years.

    Speaking of which, just to further complicate your feelings, consider the history of your beloved Colts. The Mayflower vans leaving in the middle of the night for Indianapolis and whatnot. Taste the blue-and-white guilt!

    By Blogger Jeff, at 11:18 AM  

  • Oh, I wouldn't defend the Colts against those kinds of charges... if anything that move was more individually craven than this one, because it was less deeply connected to the fabric of the league at that point, so they were breaking with acceptable behavior in a different way. But my memory isn't that long, and I've never felt in control of my appreciation for the Colts anyway.

    As for the Sonics now, I'll be bitter at the ownership and OKC for a long time, to be sure, but in a lot of ways I think no one should be surprised by what Bennett is trying to do. It's the NBA that is prioritizing luxury boxes over having basketball in Seattle. I think this is the business model of the NBA now, to extort new stadium money from taxpayers to support a bad product, and it's a travesty.

    But more than that, I think the level of blackmailing of municipalities that's involved here may be endemic to pro sports more generally (or maybe even this entire moment of Anglo-American capitalism). It's made the entire enterprise of watching pro sports feel a lot less... I don't... ethical? It's something I couldn't have imagined two years ago, but it's all changing for me right now, and I don't know the endgame yet. At the least, it all feels much more trivial.

    By Blogger Jesse, at 12:02 AM  

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