He didn’t get the No. 1 draft pick, but after everything Michael Jordan was controlling Thursday’s NBA draft as of late Wednesday night.
No, Jordan didn’t have a trade for Chicago’s Anthony Davis. Davis is so assured to be the No. 1 overall pick in the draft that he’s become the forgotten man of the draft with no one much mentioning him. At least not outside New Orleans, anyway, which will select the unanimous player of the year and have the franchise’s future in good stead.
The Bobcats with their historically poor season were devastated not to land the No. 1 pick in the basically one player draft. Not to say there aren’t other good players and future All-Stars. But drafts are often defined by their superstars, and there generally projects to be just one this year with Davis. And that remains hardly assured.
So then comes Charlotte and Jordan after earlier in the week trading for former Bull Ben Gordon.
Florida’s Bradley Beal is generally regarded as the second best talent, but after taking on Gordon and his $25 million owed the next two seasons, the Bobcats aren’t looking for a shooting guard like Beal. The talk is Jordan likes Kentucky’s Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. And he fits, as Kidd-Gilchrist is an exciting, athletic player in the mold of Jordan. Kidd-Gilchrist has sunk some among the draft experts because he is a poor shooter. Of course, they also said that about Jordan in 1984, which was another reason he fell to the Bulls at No. 3.
The jockeying thus is to get to No. 2. The Bobcats would gladly give it up if you’d take Tyrus Thomas, please. Not bloody likely. The Cavs with Nos. 4 and 24 are said to be interested in Beal. So is Washington at No. 3. Will one blink?
After Davis, the next level of this draft is Beal, Kidd-Gilchrist, Thomas Robinson and Harrison Barnes. They are expected to go in some order two through five.
What usually slows down maneuvers as it gets closer to the draft is teams having looked at these kids and projected them so much they begin to way overvalue the lottery picks. So teams begin asking others to take on large contracts, like the Bobcats, Kings and Warriors are. The Warriors are anxious to be a playoff team after promising it last season and have been trying to move No. 7. Similarly the Raptors, who have No. 8, feel if they can make a deal for a veteran like Pau Gasol it would help persuade free agent Steve Nash to sign with them. They are believed to be the favorite to sign Nash.
The saddest spectacle in all this has been watching Houston flail around again collecting pieces to trade, this time for Dwight Howard. No, not happening. Other than the logic — new GM isn’t going to at least ask Howard to stay? — this is an annual rite for the Rockets of pretending to go after some big name and ending up with a bunch of spare parts.
Who knows by Thursday afternoon how many more picks they’ll have with little to show. They’re like the desperate kid going around to ask every girl to the prom. No, no one wants to dance with Houston. I think they keep bringing the All-Star game there to show them what All-Stars look like.
The Bucks, though, seemed to make out pretty well getting center Samuel Dalembert and the Rockets’ No. 14 pick for their No. 12 pick and some reserve players.
There are always stages of talent in the draft and this one basically is Davis the first stage, then two through five or perhaps six with Damian Lillard. Then it’s seven through 13 and another drop off to 14 through 20, which is regarded as the potential starting level talent. Then it’s said to be the proverbial “crapshoot” of 20 through 30 where players could go anywhere depending on the eye of the beholder.
Anyway, it’s finally time to start putting on those dorky baseball caps. And with the No. 1 pick…
- New Orleans: Anthony Davis, Kentucky, power forward/center, 6-10 ½, 222. I’ve heard comparisons to Bill Russell. It’s safe to say those are wrong, but he does Russell-esque block shots to teammates instead of admiring them. A terrific defender to build around who’ll need to get stronger and wider. Projected as the star of the class.
- Charlotte: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, small forward, Kentucky, 6-7 ½, 233. Again, there could be movement that gets Beal here. But if Charlotte cannot do anything he looks like he could be exciting, which is something the Bobcats need. Of course, their best player is small forward Gerald Henderson. One GM, though, told me Jordan most liked Harrison Barnes and another said he’d take Thomas Robinson. Whatever.
- Washington: Bradley Beal, Florida, shooting guard, 6-4 ¾, 202. A terrific shooting prospect who’s been likened to Ray Allen. The Wizards are dreaming of him getting to them and the question is whether they’ll be panicked into trying to trade with Charlotte.
- Cleveland: Harrison Barnes, North Carolina, small forward, 6-8, 228. They want a shooter, and if they can’t get the shooter they’ll take the next one of high level talent, which is supposed to be Barnes. He’s considered a safe, sure starter for years to come.
- Sacramento: Thomas Robinson, Kansas, power forward, 6-8 ¾, 245. A safe pick if not a star type talent. He’ll work hard and has developed a better shot. He’s stable and they don’t have much of that. As Jack Nicholson said in As Good As it Gets, “Sell crazy someplace else, we’re all stocked up here.”
- Portland: Damian Lillard, Weber State, point guard, 6-2 ¾, 190. The top all around point guard prospect who’s not exactly John Stockton, but can run a team well, make the plays and score.
- Golden State: Dion Waiters, Syracuse, shooting guard, 6-4, 221. A talented guard who’s strong and in the Rodney Stuckey mold as he can play some point guard as well. Would be an ideal third guard for them, though they are said to be intrigued by the big kid, Andre Drummond.
- Toronto: Austin Rivers, Duke, shooting guard, 6-5, 203. Doc Rivers’ son who’s moved up as teams have accepted that arrogance is a good thing. Teams were cautious feeling he’d need the ball too much, but it also means he can play both guard spots, is not afraid of the pressure and has grown up comfortable with the NBA.
- Detroit: Tyler Zeller, North Carolina, center, 7-0 ½, 248. A skilled big man who’ll become a starter. Zeller would enable them to move Greg Monroe back to power forward and give them much needed interior size with all their guards. A solid guy who won’t fail.
- New Orleans: Jeremy Lamb, Connecticut, shooting guard, 6-5 ¼, 180. Yes, they are going to bring back Eric Gordon. And Lamb’s the Reggie Miller version shooting guard. They wanted Zeller and will take him if the Pistons go for Henson. Henson seems too similar to Davis as a defensive power forward. You can always use shooting with Davis.
- Portland: Andre Drummond, Connecticut, center, 6-11 ¾, 280. Perhaps the biggest risk/reward of the draft along with Perry Jones. Drummond’s got Dwight Howard type talent at center with athletic ability. Someone likened him to Shawn Kemp the day he got into the NBA as a No. 17 pick. Kemp matured. Will Drummond?
- Houston: Meyers Leonard, Illinois, center, 7-1 ¼, 250. Who knows what they’ll end up doing with three picks in the teens going into draft day. They need size, so Leonard is worth a shot. He’s been a perimeter big, but things were sort of backward at Illinois. Maybe Kevin McHale can make him a post player.
- Phoenix: Terrence Ross, Washington, shooting guard, 6-7, 197. Big, athletic shooting guard who plays the wing. He’s a talent who is exciting and can shoot. A good talent to begin their latest rebuilding.
- Milwaukee: Moe Harkless, St. John’s, small forward, 6-8 ¾, 207. Versatile player who runs the floor and has a solid mid range game, a good defender and slasher who could be an exciting player.
- Philadelphia: Andrew Nicholson, St. Bonaventure, power forward, 6-9 ½, 235. Stretch four who also has postup ability. Skilled player who makes plays. Not a great athlete, but makes up with work effort and being in the right place.
- Houston: Perry Jones, Baylor, power forward, 6-11 ¼, 234. The other great upside player. Has that weak motor label, but is an unusual talent who could be a 6-11 version of Scottie Pippen the way he handles the ball and runs the court. They are into taking chances.
- Dallas: Terrence Jones, Kentucky, small forward, 6-9, 252. Athletic southpaw who can make plays off the dribble and make the face up shot. Another interesting talent who also can play small forward. He’d be a nice matchup problem if Don Nelson were still coach.
- Houston: Jared Sullinger, Ohio State, power forward, 6-9, 268. What, them again? We know they’re not using three first round picks. We assume, anyway. Sullinger was the big red flag guy, but teams are saying there were maybe a half dozen first rounders red flagged in some way. Just some of the reports were leaked. So Sullinger slipped, and some wondered about his below the rim game. But at this point he’s a worthwhile risk.
- Orlando: Kendall Marshall, North Carolina, point guard, 6-4 ¼, 198. Your classic distributing point guard. They have Jameer Nelson one season maximum if he opts in. New management, new coach coming. Dwight Howard going? It could be a whole new game. Like Casey Stengel said with the original Mets when he was asked why he drafted a catcher first, “If you don’t have a catcher the ball rolls to the backstop.” You need someone to dribble the ball upcourt.
- Denver: Arnett Moultrie, Mississippi State, power forward, 6-10 ¾, 232. Offensive big man who might be an intriguing pairing with JaVale McGee if he resigns. Has some small forward-like skills, though there’s lots of talk they’ll trade the pick.
- Boston: Feb Melo, Syracuse, center, 7-0, 255. Defensive oriented big man who’ll block shots. They don’t have anyone in the middle and you assume Kevin Garnett is deciding whether to return if he can get back to power forward instead of center.
- Boston: Doron Lamb, Kentucky, shooting guard, 6-5 ¼, 180. With Ray Allen likely going, perhaps to Miami, they’ll need some perimeter replacement and he’s an excellent long distance shooter. Not much of a ball handler, but would fit well with their structured offense.
- Atlanta: Royce White, Iowa State, small forward, 6-8, 260. Unusual athlete given his size. Can take the ball off the backboard and go full court. Can pass well and fundamentally sound. Some see a lottery level talent, though questions regarding an anxiety disorder.
- Cleveland: John Jenkins, Vanderbilt, shooting guard, 6-4 ¼, 212. A high level shooter as Anthony Parker is retiring and he’d be a good fit with Kyrie Irving to space the court with his classic shooting stroke.
- Memphis: Tony Wroten, Washington, point guard, 6-6, 203. An attacking guard who has the size to defend those guards they’ve had trouble handling. Gets on the boards, but needs to improve shooting.
- Indiana: Will Barton, Memphis, shooting guard, 6-6, 175. Long, thin guard they’d like to compare with Reggie Miller, though he isn’t that kind of shooter. But a good slasher and unusually good guard rebounder.
- Miami: Draymond Green, Michigan State, power forward, 6-7 ½, 235. The undersized four, though he can play three as well. Sort of a Udonis Haslem type for them who can come off the bench and will be ready to play a role for them with their thin bench with forwards.
- Oklahoma City: Marquis Teague, Kentucky, point guard, 6-2, 180. Maybe he doesn’t fall this far. A quick, slashing point guard who can run a team. They’re getting Eric Maynor back, but you never know after an injury and he’ll be a free agent.
- Bulls: Jeffery Taylor, Vanderbilt, small forward, 6-7 ¼, 213. He'd be the Bulls’ kind of player if he gets here, and he shouldn’t go higher than the late 20’s, anyway. He’s been likened to Wilson Chandler, which would be nice. He’s a senior and native of Sweden who is a much improved shooter, though his specialty is defense and he is relentless. Not a great wingspan, but amazingly low body fat for a mature player. Runs the floor well and fundamentally sound and probably could fill in right away some if Luol Deng is a late starter. I’ve got John Jenkins gone, who probably would be my second choice. For the Bulls I also like Jared Cunningham, Will Barton, Khris Middleton and Darius Miller. It’s pretty clear with one pick they won’t get all six. If they get Taylor, they’d be doing pretty well.
- Golden State: Quincy Miller, Baylor, small forward, 6-10, 219. Long wingman who might be worth a shot. They’ve been said to be looking for small forwards, and though he’s hardly ready to play regularly in the NBA, he’s an intriguing prospect who handles the ball well and makes plays for his size.