Posted Jun 24 2011 1:20PM
Welcome to the recap of the NBA 2011 Draft, also known as What Did David Kahn Do This Time?
We'll get to that wacky Wolves general manager later. But first, we do have 10 questions about a delirious day where, as usual, players and picks scattered in all sorts of directions.
Question No. 1: Did the second-worst offense in the league just get weaker?
Michael Jordan's single-game career high is 69 points and you wonder if his team will average that next season. The answer, after a dizzy Draft orchestrated by new general manager Rich Cho, is an absolutely, positively, maybe not.
However ... the Bobcats are finally getting around to assuring they won't be sputtering years from now. They're in full throttle rebuilding mode. Gone are Larry Brown, Stephen Jackson and Gerald Wallace, the three amigos of Charlotte's lone playoff run two seasons ago.
Welcome Bismack Biyombo, Kemba Walker and a tough road ahead.
The Bobs essentially traded Jackson, their leading scorer, for indifferent swingman Corey Maggette, who'll be their leading snorer. But such was the price to pay for an extra lottery pick to help fill the toughest positions on the floor: smart point guard and aggressive big man. As a bonus, by assuring that they'll struggle in 2011-12, the Bobcats will likely keep their protected No. 1 pick from the Bulls (from the Tyrus Thomas trade), which will be valuable in a deep 2012 Draft.
Biyombo is raw and Walker is small. Still, for a team that once drafted Adam Morrison and gave away Tyson Chandler last summer, this feels a lot better.
Question No. 2: Will Bryan Colangelo be around to see his latest pick suit up, or at least develop?
Well, Colangelo did sign an extension with the Raptors, but that won't mean much if the Raptors don't show progress between now and the time Jonas Valanciunas arrives. Which might be two years from now.
Basically, by skipping the chance for more immediate help, the Raptors assured themselves of a bottom-five finish -- and no rookie to groom for the immediate future.
Question No. 3: Who was the MDP (most desired player) of the draft?
From a cost standpoint, the Kings sacrificed much to satisfy their jones for Jimmer Fredette, who is being asked to save a franchise, as if he won't feel enough pressure next season.
First, the Kings traded for John Salmons, who had some decent seasons in Sacramento in the past but is now older and more expensive. In the process, they moved down in the Draft but still grabbed Jimmer, who'll nudge Tyreke Evans to the two-guard. Which is good, since that's probably Tyreke's natural spot.
Still, it's all about whether Jimmer, who averaged almost 29 points a game and became a college basketball folk hero last season, can translate his star power to the NBA and rescue a flailing franchise that nearly moved to Anaheim. Good luck with that.
This will either wind up the boldest move in Kings' Draft Day history ... or kick-start the dismantling, from the top down, of a once-proud franchise. Welcome to the NBA, Jimmer. Hope your shoulders are broad enough.
Question No. 4: When will the Morris conspiracy theories begin?
Really, it looked too good to be true: Markieff Morris goes to the Suns at 13, followed immediately by his identical twin brother, Marcus, going to the Rockets.
For Draft intrigue, this ranks right up there with the frozen envelope theory about the 1985 Draft. You can almost see a Discovery Channel documentary in the making.
Did the Suns and Rockets get together and map this thing out beforehand? Did Mom Morris initially concoct the master plan when she gave birth? Will Markieff sneakily report to the Rockets and Morris to the Suns, and would anyone realize it?
Seriously: This was the best story of the Draft. Here's to hoping Markieff and Marcus become the Williams sisters of the NBA.
Question No. 5: Who covered their tracks better than anyone?
Has to be John Hammond, the Bucks' GM, who erased a summer's worth of mistakes in one day.
Roughly a year ago, Hammond traded for Maggette and gave a big contract to Salmons in a ballyhooed move to bolster a developing team coming off a promising playoff appearance. The Bucks instantly got worse and those players were big reasons. So it's not really about who the Bucks gained on Draft day (Jackson from the Bobcats, Beno Udrih from the Kings, Tobias Harris from Tennessee via the Draft). Like Jenny Craig, it's all about what they lost.
Question No. 6: Will Miami have Mario Chalmers to kick around some more?
Looks like it, because the Heat didn't address one of its two biggest needs (center being the other) on a day where four experienced point guards were traded and four more were drafted in the top 10.
Miami was in no position to offer anything for Andre Miller, Raymond Felton, George Hill or even Jonny Flynn. Pat Riley did work out a deal with Minnesota and Chicago that eventually meant Cleveland State point guard Norris Cole lands in Miami. He may become a decent player down the road. But Miami is a win-now team. Which means they'll have to try to win with Chalmers.
Question No. 7: When will we know if the Cavs did the right thing?
Once we get the verdict on point guards in this Draft, and whether Cleveland took the right one.
If Kyrie Irving has a better career than Brandon Knight and Kemba Walker (and even Jimmer), who all went in the top 10, then yes, the Cavs' strategy was correct. If not, then they'll always regret not taking Derrick Williams first, and then using the No. 4 pick on Knight, Walker or even trading down to get Jimmer. That's assuming Williams turns out better than Tristan Thompson, the forward taken by Cleveland at No. 4, who's somewhat of a project.
Only then will we know if Dan Gilbert's promise to win a title before LeBron James was downright silly or amazingly realistic.
Question No. 8: Did the Hornets do anything to reassure Chris Paul, who becomes a free agent next summer?
Without a No. 1 pick, and a second-rounder they later sold to the Knicks ... um, no.
Question No. 9: Why are the Clippers smiling?
Yeah, why? They surrendered what became the No. 1 overall pick to Cleveland just to get rid of Baron Davis.
But ... they found Georgia's Trey Thompkins, an athletic forward, in the second round. They own Minnesota's No. 1 pick next summer, in what will be a better Draft, from the Sam Cassell trade five seasons ago. And they'll have an estimated $12 million in cap room next summer. Also, Blake Griffin and Eric Gordon will be better. Future's not so bad.
Question No. 10: Who retained his title as Mr. Draft Day Drama King?
Well, David Kahn. Of course.
Although this time, Kahn's manic maneuvers for Minnesota actually made sense. After taking Williams at No. 2, the Wolves, armed with the No. 20 pick, kept trading down and right out of the first round, stockpiling future second-rounders (and a 2013 protected No. 1 from Memphis). Why? Well, players taken in the bottom of the first rarely stick around, and meanwhile, their contracts are guaranteed. Five of the last 8 players in the first round were traded by teams unwilling to absorb contracts. Plus, the Wolves are already loaded with young players.
But lost in their sensible shuffling was what the Wolves didn't do: make up for their previous mistakes.
By essentially surrendering the No. 20 pick, they have nothing significant to show for Al Jefferson, formerly their franchise player, except Utah's protected 2012 first-rounder. And they have even less to show for wasting a No. 6 pick (and passing Stephen Curry) on Jonny Flynn, dumped Thursday to Houston for a protected future first-rounder. Kahn got 50 cents on the dollar for those guys.
All told, the Wolves have cap flexibility, which is good. And also Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio, Williams and Wes Johnson, but without any proof those pieces fit together.
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