2007 Wolves Staff Draft
Who saw Rasheed Wallace whip his jersey behind his head after the Pistons lost to Cleveland on Tuesday evening? Well, that nasty, sweaty piece of clothing flew backwards about 10 feet before wrapping tightly around some poor dude's head.
The scent that surely emanated for hours in that guy's nostrils could be fairly compared to the aroma of the mock-draft craze floating about Target Center hallways in anticipation of the official 2007 Wolves Staff Draft.
As promised, 14 Wolves employees took on the general manager roles for respective NBA lottery squads and assembled in the Timberwolves' conference room. Starting with Portland in the No. 1 spot, each staffer had one minute and thirty seconds to write their pick down and place it in a highly-secure envelope before passing it to draft marshal and fan relations maestro Tony Wolverton for the announcement of the pick.
Accordingly, I've listed the representatives, gathered an explanation of their thought process in making their selection and subsequently offered my honest (or facetious) analysis.
Wolverton: With the No. 1 pick in the 2007 Wolves Staff Draft, the Portland Trail Blazers select...Greg Oden, Ohio State.
1) PORTLAND - Amy Taylor (Reception)
Greg Oden, 7-0 C, Ohio State
"One word: Championship."
Reaction: While there has been an ongoing debate involving who between Oden and Kevin Durant will go No. 1, to me it's a no-brainer; Amy Taylor made the right choice. Oden will dominate games defensively immediately, and his athleticism is freakish for such a huge beast. He played without his right hand for most of the year at OSU, and was less containable than Paris Hilton in a shopping mall with her American Express black card against four future NBA players in the National Championship game. NBA rings have long been dominated by legitimate big men...Wilt, Kareem, Parish/McHale, Hakeem, Shaq and Duncan. You have Jordan, Magic and Isiah as counterexamples, but nearly every truly dominant big man not named Patrick Ewing (thanks to Jordan) has won at least one title. Oden is next. Plus, he looks like he's 45. You gotta like that in a rookie.
2) SEATTLE - Brad Waldman (Sales)
Kevin Durant, 6-10 SF, Texas
"We took Kevin Durant for all the great assets he provides on the floor. We also are in dire need of keeping the franchise here in Seattle so we are "banking" on this kid being the new face of our organization. I am keeping my fingers crossed this kid stays healthy or we may not have a team here next season."
Reaction: An absolute no-brainer, Waldman turned in his envelope to Wolverton approximately .00034 seconds after Oden came off the board. With Rashad Lewis likely leaving town, the 18-year-old Durant should see a great deal of action immediately alongside Ray Allen. Everyone who watched him dominate the NCAA this past year loves his incredibly versatile game, but the rest of his new squad isn't very good. Also, there are some players in the Northwest Division (Garnett, Camby, Kirilenko and Aldridge) that can throw defensive looks at him that weren't close to there in the Big 12. Not so for Oden. Waldman's right to wonder if he can keep the Sonics in Seattle.
3) ATLANTA - Bryant "Ice" Pfeiffer (Ticket Sales)
Mike Conley, 6-0 PG, Ohio State
"In preparing for the draft we recognized that there have been some franchise changing players nabbed at #3 over the last 6-to-7 years (Deron Williams, Ben Gordon, Carmelo Anthony, Baron Davis, Pau Gasol). After passing on rising-star point guards Deron Williams and Chris Paul last year we feel we needed to get the most athletic point guard available who would make an immediate impact...Mike Conley Jr. He is the type of athletic, high-energy player that will make our fan base (and even the Human Highlight Film Dominique Wilkins) drool with delight. Soar with the Hawks in 07-08."
Reaction: In perhaps the most difficult draft spot of all, Ice did a solid job of addressing Atlanta's biggest need by getting the best pure point guard in the draft. At 19, Conley will need some time to learn the NBA's most demanding position mentally, but his game is already silky like Antonio Banderas' hair. I'd start branding "Come Fly With Us" if I were Atlanta. And remember, they pick again soon.
4) MEMPHIS - Jeff "Munn" Munneke (Fan Relations)
Spencer Tollackson, 6-9 C, Minnesota
We're not allowing a quote here. There's simply no possible explanation for this choice.
Reaction: On the real draft day, there is no way Tollackson will still be on the board at No. 4. Seattle loves him. That's if, of course, if Lindsay Lohan is making the picks from club "Area" in L.A. at 3:00 a.m. Furthermore, if David Stern saw Tollackson's name in the Memphis envelope on June 28, he would certainly vomit on the spot. "With the 4th pick in the 2007 NBA Draft, the Memphis Grizzlies select...bleehhhhhh." Munn is obviously trying to spark up some controversy by going with the homer pick, because it's certainly, without question, the worst pick in the history of the NBA draft. Sam Bowie, taken before Michael Jordan, would to this day make Tollackson look like Frodo from Lord of the Rings. Just a terrible, awful, ridiculous pick. But it was pretty funny that Munn wrote Tollackson's name on a white t-shirt to represent his selection. Full respect for that effort.
5) BOSTON - Scott "Spear" Spiridigliozzi (Interactive Services)
Yi Jianlian, 7-0 PF, China
"We really don't want to get into how we got hosed by a couple of ping-pong balls this year, but we are in fact happy with our pick in Yi Jianlian. His athleticism, size and basketball IQ will allow him to make a significant contribution his rookie year. Of course, we can't ignore the fact that bringing Yi to Boston will definitely boost visits to the website. China's big enough to have a couple stars over here on different teams and still have them in the All-Star game as the top two vote getters. Can you say "jersey sales?"
Reaction: For anyone who watched the SportsCenter piece on Yi, or read Chad Ford's report after following the Chinese hooper around for two days, Jianlian has some serious game. It's tough to pass on Brewer here, but sometimes you have to think about global marketing.
6) MILWAUKEE - Adam Rose (Public Relations)
Al Horford, 6-9 PF, Florida
"I know Al has big expectations to live up to with his father, Tito, coming to the Bucks in the second round out of Miami back in 1988, but we think he can live up to those expectations. We won't expect the 1.6 ppg, 1.4 rpg and .306 FG% (in 60 games, zero starts) that his father produced right away, but in time we think he can be just as, or maybe even more productive. Horford is one of the most NBA-ready players in the draft and his defense and toughness at the four spot will fit in nicely with the rest of our club. He gives us options in the front-court of moving other players around him to play big or small and his athleticism is a good match for the style we hope to play this year." "
Reaction: Hopefully Rose will be able to launch a PR campaign to make the Milwaukee fans forget about Tito. Perhaps he could simply get funding to saturate the Sconnies with brats and beer? Horford would certainly be a solid addition to any team, but Corey Brewer does fit nicely into that mix. Your starting line up could be Williams, Redd, Brewer, Villanueva and Bogut. Not bad in the East. Still, no hate for this pick from a former Bucks employee.
7) MINNESOTA - Crunch (Mascot)
Corey Brewer, 6-8 SG, Florida
"Corey Brewer was my selection as of the players on my board that were available at the 7th pick, he was the only one that when contacted agreed to use his signing bonus to purchase new wheels for my van. These are to be no less than 24s. It was an easy decision in the draft room once this information was at hand."
Reaction: You've all seen the Crunch van, right? Brilliant deductive reasoning from our favorite Wolf on this one.
8) CHARLOTTE - Amanda Neby (Community Relations)
Brandan Wright, 6-10 PF, North Carolina
"In continuing with our tradition of drafting from North Carolina, we are extremely excited about adding Brandan Wright to our team. He was thought by many of you "experts" out there to be the third-most talented guy in the draft, and we just couldn't pass him up at the No. 8 slot. Thanks to Jeff Munneke for this. Wright's athleticism and excellent rebounding abilities will compliment our low post play in Sean May and Emeka Okafor extremely well. While our team is quite young, we feel that by adding Wright we are one step closer to being a championship caliber squad."
Reaction: Key phrase there being "Thanks to Jeff Munneke for this."
9) CHICAGO - Mike Trudell (Me)
Jeff Green, 6-8 SF, Georgetown
"While we in Chicago need a low-post scorer to shore up what should be a title-contending team for years to come, Spencer Hawes (arguably the best low-post scorer still available) lacks athleticism, speed and strength, and you couldn't put him (or Joakim Noah) on the court with Ben Wallace at the same time. As such, we took the best available all-around player, Jeff Green, who can truly do it all: score, pass, rebound, and play defense. His toughness really fits the mold we've created under Scott Skiles here in Chicago, and keep in mind that we have plenty of pieces to trade for a low-post scorer. Also important: Green prefers Cheez-Its to Wheat Thins, which is the primary thing we look for in a future Bull. We had considered Julian Wright until we learned of his propensity towards Ritz Bitz snack packs."
Reaction: Brilliant, genius, experienced, thorough analysis here. What a great basketball mind; easily the best pick in draft history.
10) SACRAMENTO - Laura Jackacki (Fan Relations)
Julian Wright, 6-9 SF, Kansas
"In our best interest we needed to find someone who can be a player on both sides of the court. This is a guy that averaged eight boards a game for a very talented Kansas squad. Wright has long arms, which allow him to play much bigger than he is. If he develops a 15-footer this could be a steal for us."
Reaction: She said it. He will develop a J because he's extremely talented, and he is a steal at No. 10. His motor has been questioned a bit, but once he sees Brad Miller's offseason workouts, he'll realize that he's not about to let that happen to him.
11) ATLANTA - Dwane Toatley (Group Sales)
Acie Law, 6-3 PG, Texas A&M
"Point guard is the hardest position to learn in the NBA with all of the sets/plays/strategies etc. In drafting Acie Law we have obtained a proven, physically reliable and competitive point guard who thrives in the spotlight. He and Conley will not only make each other better players in practice every day, they will hopefully become great friends ala Joe Dumars and Isaiah Thomas. Law is a capable shooter with, probably, the highest basketball IQ in the draft. He's a floor general and a fearless leader who puts his teammates in positions to score. We have our backcourt for the future, and now have the ability to match up with any team in the NBA. We like that flexibility."
Reaction: Though Toatley is by far the best basketball player in the organization, his drafting a second PG in the top 11 is not something I can condone (please don't dunk on me in Lifetime, Dwayne). They have young talent at every position already due to their constant futility and consequent stockpile of high draft choices, and thus should have taken the best player available here -- Joakim Noah -- who would inject immediate and much-needed energy into a franchise that desperately needs it.
12) PHILADELPHIA - Lisa Bennett (Game Operations)
Al Thornton, 6-7 SF, Florida State
"Thornton starts with "thorn". A thorn is sharp and can give one an unexpected and horrible injury."
Reaction: Excellent point, Lisa.
13) NEW ORLEANS - Mike Amundson (Group Sales)
Nick Young, 6-6 SG, USC
"After spending two first round picks last year on big men (Cedric Simmons and Hilton Armstrong), we decided to address our swing position in hopes of becoming a faster, more athletic team. While Thaddeus Young was tempting at the #13 spot, we feel that Nick Young is ready to contribute immediately with the players we already have in place. He brings a very reliable mid-range jump shot, a variety of hesitation and jab moves, can consistently hit from the NBA 3-point mark, and has the physical and athletic tools to become a great defender on the next level. His athleticism will allow the Hornets to open up a little more on the offensive end, utilizing Chris Paul's playmaking ability and teaming with Peja, Desmond Mason, David West and the rest of the Hornets' young talent to spread the floor and offer a dynamic, dangerous offensive attack."
Reaction: Comprehensive analysis provided by Mike Amundson doesn't beg for too much on the reaction side, but Young seems to be more of a pure 2 guard than a swing player. Thaddeus Young may be a better option for the Hornets. Or, if Amundson makes himself available, he could catch at least one wide-open alley-oop from CP3.
14) L.A. CLIPPERS - Mike Welch (Corporate)
Joakim Noah, PF, Florida
"Never in our wildest dreams did we think that Joakim Noah would be available at #14. All along we had been looking at adding depth to our 1 or 2 position since we have a few question marks health-wise, but when the talent, energy, vivaciousness, raw-dawg mentality of a Joakim Noah is available, you don't ask questions. You select him and fit him in later."
Reaction: Welch is a great basketball mind, and he's right. If Noah's there, you grab him immediately.