The sights of the 2007 NBA Draft.
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Feeling a Draft

NEW YORK, June 28, 2007-- What's the NBA Draft like? Picture a packed high school auditorium on the last Friday afternoon before summer vacation. Everybody is hot and restless and anxious.

Now add two dozen near 7-footers in expensive suits and beer vendors ...

Welcome to draft time at the WaMu Theatre at Madison Garden.

You have most of the ESPN crew -- Tirico, Stephen A., Bilas and Mark Jackson -- propped up on a stage, Andy Katz peeking out from the balcony and announcing trades as if he's some omnipotent god on high and Stuart Scott down with the players ready to interview crying mamas when their babies are picked.

Seeing as it's New York, most of the crowd is in Knickerbocker garb, but in this hoopaholic crowd you see some great jerseys like an authentic throwback Magic Johnson Michigan State No. 33, T-Mac's Auburndale High School No. 3, MJ's USA No. 6 and classic Bird and McHale Celtics threads.

And who could forget "Liberty Queen," the buxom blonde who drapes herself in the American flag and holds up signs that range from reading "Natural Big Assets" (referring to her stock portfolio, I'm sure) to "Hey Rookie, Welcome to the NBA!"

But the crowd isn't the story here. It's the players, and the possibilities that arise when a new player is added to the mix with four other guys and it's the hope that a round peg will be found to fit your team's round hole.

When I watched the draft as a kid I used to have 28 index cards representing every NBA team, (this was before the Grizzlies and Raptors existed), and on them I would scribble down what I thought their new starting lineup would look like on the front of the card and I would write down the top five bench players on the back of the card.

Then I'd take the whole pile of index cards and rank them 1-to-28. Sure, I probably always had my Sixers about 10 spots too high, but the NBA Draft was like Christmas for me and my present came in the form of hope that some 20-year old draft pick would help Philly turn it around.

(I am embarrassed to admit that I actually thought Shawn Bradley would be our savior. Shawn freakin' Bradley. I don't know if I should be divulging this, there is probably something in the fine print of my contract with that automatically gets me fired if it turns out that at any point in my life that I was a Shawn freakin' Bradley fan.)

And now, these are the 10 things I learned from the 2007 NBA Draft ...

1. 1-2 Punch

It was leaked on Wednesday night that Portland had indeed settled on Greg Oden with their choice with the No. 1 pick. That left Seattle's GM Sam Presti with the easiest choice to make since Lisa Marie Presley decided to break up with Michael Jackson. Kevin Durant will trade in burnt orange for the green and yellow of the SuperSonics. Those two precocious freshmen have been the story in the months leading up to tonight, so it's only fitting to start in this space with them.

After Oden was selected he said of Durant, "He's a really, really good player. I'm a pretty decent player," while Durant said of Oden, "I know we are going to be linked for a long time. We are one and two."

2. Shift of Power Balance?

Listen, I love my friends who follow the NBA. I can spend hours catching up on emails and talking about potential trades and debating who is the best dunker and close-out defender, etc. etc. But one thing that bugs me is when one of my friends say that the West is so strong that the East doesn't stand a chance. I mean, come on, two out of the last four NBA Finals champs have been from the East.

I hope tonight's trades appease them. The West sent three marquee names to the East including: Ray Allen, who has the purest stroke I've ever seen; Zach Randolph, who was one of only five players to average 20 points and 10 rebounds last season (KG, Duncan, Bosh and Boozer were the others); and Jason Richardson, who is about to enter his seventh season which is just the beginning of a four year window when most superstars hit their prime.

The Knicks and Celtics have to be considered playoff contenders. Start with New York having Randolph and Curry on either block to go with Marbury and Crawford in the backcourt, Jeffries or Balkman at the three and Q-Rich and David Lee coming off the bench and that should be a 41-45 win team. Then consider Boston whose 2-3-4 is killer in the established vets Allen and Pierce and an emerging Al Jefferson. Then you got Rondo or No. 32 pick Gabe Pruitt at the point, Perkins or Ratliff at the five and the ultra athletic Gerald Green coming off the bench. They could also get to the 41-45 range.

Don't forget Charlotte either. If they can resign Gerald Wallace then their starting five goes Felton, Richardson, Wallace, Hermann and Okafor, with May and Morrison as reserves. Where are those index cards when I need them?

3. Yi-Hah!

The strangest sight of the night had to be seeing Yi Jianlian making his way through the tunnel of fans to the media circuit in the back of the house space after being selected by Milwaukee with the No. 6 pick. When the five players selected before him made the same trip they hammed it up for the fans, slapped high fives and signed autographs. Not Yi. He looked like he was on a conveyor belt as he made his way through the crush with a placid look on his face and his hands at his side and left everybody hanging.

Maybe it had to do something with not wanting to play for the Bucks. Maybe slapping five isn't common practice in China. Maybe he had to go to the bathroom. Who knows? The pick seems a bit curious by Bucks GM Larry Harris at first, but remember, his dad Del was the coach of the Chinese National Team. You think if Del is telling his son that Yi is an absolute, can't-miss prospect that Larry isn't going to take a shot and hope he warms up to bratwurst and gives it a shot?

4. A Different Shade of Green

So when Jeff Green was drafted by Boston all I could think of how coincedental it was considering his surname and the Celtics' color were one in the same. I thought back to the day when the ultimate name/team combo occurred as Penn State's Courtney Brown was selected by the Cleveland Browns in the NFL Draft a few years back. I mean really, what are the odds?

Green didn't stay a Celtic for long, but he is assured of wearing a green jersey next season (barring anymore trades that is) as he was moved to the Sonics in the Ray Allen trade.

5. Blazing a New Trail

Portland parted ways with Zach Randolph, Dan Dickau and Fred Jones and welcomed in more new faces than a midwife does in a month.

Oden, Channing Frye, Steve Francis, Josh McRoberts, Pettri Kopanen, Rudy Fernandez and Taurean Green were all folded into the mix.

Not to mention Demetris Nichols and Derrick Byars were both drafted by the Blazers, but traded shortly thereafter. That's 12 names associated with one team. You could group them all together and form another whole team completely! If nothing else, Portland GM Kevin Pritchard provided the big trade release that basketball fans have been searching for over the last couple weeks with all the unfulfilled Kobe, Kevin, Shawn and Jermaine trade talk.

6. Best, Worst Dressed

You got to give Joakim Noah credit for trying something different at least. He may have been selected ninth by the Bulls, but I guarantee you he was the first player ever selected while wearing a seersucker suit and a bowtie. I can't fault Noah's suit, but having the hair down instead of back in a ponytail was a questionable move. Nick Young (No. 16 - Wizards) had on a white sports coat and black slacks, bringing back a young Elvis look and Rodney Stuckey (No. 15 - Pistons) went with an off-white and cream colored ensemble. Marco Belinelli (No. 18 - Warriors) wore a black suit and black shirt, but it was the beautiful lady that he wore on his arm that seals the McTen Best Dressed award for him.

7. Florida Beats Ohio State Again

The Gators beat the Buckeyes in the NCAA Championship back in April, and they beat them in the draft on Thursday. Florida became the first school to have three players go in the first 10 picks (Al Horford to Atlanta No. 3, Corey Brewer to Minnesota Timberwolves No. 7, Noah to Chicago No. 9) and tacked on two more with Chris Richard (No. 41, Minnesota) and Taurean Green (No. 52, Portland) to make it five Gators moving on to the league. Ohio State, meanwhile had the No. 1 in Oden, the No. 4 in Mike Conley Jr. going to the Memphis Grizzlies and the No. 21 in Daequan Cook who was drafted by Philadelphia and traded to Miami. Even though Florida had five picks and Ohio State had three, give the Buckeyes' crew credit as all three were freshmen, making the feat more impressive and surely making the night bittersweet for coach Thad Matta who was in attendance.

8. Sixers Report

Let's just say I don't think I'll be putting their index card near the top of the pile this year. Maybe Thaddeus Young will become the next Antawn Jamison, Jason Smith will become the next Chris Kaman and Derrick Byars and Herbert Hill become the best second-round steals since Gilbert Arenas and Carlos Boozer. Or as Wayne Campbell would say, maybe monkeys might fly out of my butt.

9. Guarantees?

There were three picks that were widely rumored to have guarantees attached to them: Acie Law IV to the Hawks at No. 11, Rodney Stuckey to the Pistons at No. 15 and Wilson Chandler to the Knicks at No. 23.

Guess what? All three of those picks happened.

I either attribute this to quality reporting, quality guessing or just the power of coincedence taking over again like when Jeff Green ended up on two teams with green jerseys.

10. Grading the Mock

As a website, I have to say I'm a little disappointed in our guys that participated in the Mock Draft. We got embarassed by the Fan Voice Mock Draft! The only picks we got were Horford to Atlanta, Conley Jr. to Memphis, Stuckey to Detroit and Nick Young to Washington (thanks to yours truly). And I'll give Mo Brooks a half a point for predicting that Philly would take Derrick Byars, because even though the Sixers didn't draft him, they traded for him and ended up with him on the squad. That's 4.5 points out of 30. Gross.

Meanwhile, the Fan Voice contingent got all top four picks, plus called Law to Atlanta, Chandler to New York and Jason Smith to Miami. That's a much more respectable 7-for-30. They almost did twice as good. I'm going to subtract a half point from the Jason Smith pick, because even though Miami did indeed take him at No. 20, the Sixers traded for him too.

So the final score was Fan Voice 6.5, 4.5.

I'm still going to take pride in my Nick Young prediction, even though we lost. Although, I probably need to predict all 60 picks correctly for the next 60 years to gain back my credibility after telling you all that Shawn Bradley story.

Have a question or comment for The McTen or care to share what you learned this week? Get at me.


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