The NBA's evaluator evaluates the 2005 Draft
Marty Blakeís Take
June 30 -- For more than 28 years, NBA teams have relied on Marty Blake, the NBA's director of scouting services, to find the answers. NBA general managers enjoy Blake's honest assessments of players, including, "He's a seven-footer with one notable attribute: He's alive!" and, "He's a three-point shooter, not necessarily a three-point maker."
Blake, who recently celebrated his 78th birthday, has a quick wit matched by few. His evaluations are still sought out and respected, and he retains his zest for the game that has been his life's work. Equal parts trusted advisor to NBA decision-makers, fervent last hope of college coaches, savvy bird dog scout and sage storyteller of the NBA's past, Blake is savoring his place in NBA history as he continues to scour the world to find the NBA players of tomorrow.
With the 2005 NBA Draft in the books, Blake offered an assessment of this year's roll call:
Blake: Overall, I thought it was one of the strangest and best drafts in years. Itís an interesting draft in that itís the last year of the high school player. And the majority of the high school players were picked, many in the second round. I heard someone comment on television after the Draft that this year marked the end of the international player trend, but I donít think he actually looked over the results, because we had 19 international players taken, 13 of which didnít go to school in America.
We had nine college seniors in the first round, nine juniors; we had four sophomores, one freshman, three high school players, seven international draft eligible players and three international early entry players. I think everybody is going to come away satisfied. Some, perhaps, did better than others.
Milwaukee -- The Bucks took Andrew Bogut, the only real legitimate center in the draft. In the second round, they grabbed Ersan Ilyasova from Turkey, whoís a 6-9 small forward, a guy that eventually will be able to play in the NBA.
Atlanta -- The Hawks went with Marvin Williams, who everyone feels has a big upside. He has great star quality, and then Atlanta with the top pick in the second round took Salim Stoudamire from Arizona, whoís a great offensive player. He shot the ball very well during drills in Chicago, then had to shut it down with an ankle injury. I donít know if heís a true point guard. I donít know if theyíll try to play him at the point. But, despite his 6-1 height, heís a guy that can put points on the board.
Utah -- Utah moved up. They gave away a couple of picks in the first round and a conditional first rounder to Portland in order to get Deron Williams, who earlier this year, I picked as the number one point guard in college basketball. Iím not saying that because they solidified my opinion of him, but they were looking for another great point guard, and they take a guy who should start for them right away. The Jazz then took C.J. Miles, a high school kid from Dallas, and with another second pick, they took Robert Whaley, who had a very fine season at Walsh in the NAIA. He played reasonably well in Chicago.
Charlotte -- The Bobcats took two North Carolina products in Raymond Felton and Sean May. They will help them on the court, and they should be a gate attraction, because the Tar Heels are the number one attraction down there.
Portland -- They went into the draft thinking they were going to take Martell Webster. Heís young, but he should be a player that helps them tremendously in the years to come. They also got a solid point guard in a trade with Denver, Jarrett Jack, a guy we scouted a lot and we think has a good future.
Toronto -- They took a guy with great natural ability in Charlie Villanueva. With the 16th pick, they took one of the better defensive players in college basketball, Joey Graham from Oklahoma State, who can step in and play a couple of positions for them. In the second round, they took Roko Ukic of Croatia, a big point guard.
New York -- The Knicks had an interesting draft. The fans here in New York were cheering for Channing Frye. I though Frye could possibly go to Toronto, but New York took him and New York also got Nate Robinson in a trade with Phoenix. Heís one of the toughest players Iíve seen in recent years. Heís a former defensive back. He was very impressive in Chicago in 2004. With the last pick in the first round, they get a player in David Lee who I feel has great pro potential. He came to Chicago this year and was probably one of the three or four best players in the camp.
Golden State -- The Warriors changed the draft somewhat. They took Ike Diogu, who was the top player in the Pac-10, player three years at Arizona State. Heís a rough and tumble guy. I think this was a good pick for them. In the second round, they took Monta Ellis, one of the top high school scorers, a guy some felt would make it into the first round. Later in the second round, they grabbed Chris Taft, a 6-10 athletic forward. He needs to polish his game a bit, but he has some great athletic skills for a player his size.
L.A. Lakers -- The Lakers went with a high school kid in Andrew Bynum, whoís lost 30 pounds recently. As Frank Layden said, ďYou canít teach height,Ē and he certainly has that. They get Ronny Turiaf in the second round. Heís a guy I like, because he doesnít give you any trouble. He goes in there and throws his body around. With their other second round pick, they took Von Wafer from Florida State. They think he can fit in as a shooter perhaps.
Orlando -- They took Fran Vazquez from Spain. A lot of people saw him in Spain and liked him. I think they had one of the better drafts, because they also grabbed a verty good point guard in Travis Diener in the second round.
L.A. Clippers -- Yaroslav Korolev plays for CSKA Moscow, one of the premiere teams in Europe. He may be a work in progress. I donít know what his contractual situation is. Eventually, heíll be a fine player in the mold of Andrei Kirilenko. In the second round, they took Daniel Ewing, whoís a combo guard who I think has a good NBA future.
New Jersey Ė The Nets get a good one in Antoine Wright, one of the best pure shooters in the draft. In the second round, they took Mile Ilic, who they may seek to develop in the way they dealt with Nenad Krstic and let him stay overseas until heís ready.
Indiana -- The Pacers lucked out, I thought, that a player of Danny Grangerís caliber was still available. I thought he was one of the premiere small forwards in the country. I think he could easily develop into a starter for them.
Boston -- The Celtics had a very unique draft. They took Gerald Green in the first round. They get Ryan Gomes, one of the better players in the Big East in the second round, and also Orien Greene, a big point guard from Louisiana-Lafayette, who played his first two seasons at Florida.
Memphis -- The Grizzlies get Hakim Warrick. People were asking me what type of player is he. Is he a small forward, a power forward? All I said, just let him play. He can block shots, he can run the court. I think Memphis lucked out here. They also made a trade in the second round for Lawrence Roberts, who didnít have as good of a season as he did last year when he was a first-team All-American. He put his name in a year ago and didnít get the assurances heís be a first-round pick after competing in Chicago
Denver -- They made a lot of moves. They get Julius Hodge, a versatile guard with some toughness. Then they wound up with Linas Kleiza and Ricky Sanchez in a trade with Portland in which the Blazers got Jarrett Jack. Kleiza was one of the toughest two or three players I saw this past year in college basketball. Heís physical and can make shots from the outside. I like him. I think he can help anybody. I saw Ricky Sanchez once last year, a native of Puerto Rico. I think heís a few years away.
Sacramento -- Francisco Garcia has solid all-around skills and should be able to give them some minutes right away.
Houston -- The Rockets took one of the stars of the Chicago Camp in Luther Head. I think the fact he came to Chicago and was so impressive earned him a spot in the first round.
Detroit -- Jason Maxiell was the only guy who played in Portsmouth that wound up getting drafted. One of the reasons is the preponderance of international and high school players. He was impressive in Portsmouth and the Pistons get a physical guy who should fit in well. In the second round, they wound up with Amir Johnson, a high school kid and Alex Acker, a versatile guard from Pepperdine who showed enough in Chicago to earn a shot in the NBA.
San Antonio -- They took a flier on Ian Mahinmi of France, who was a relative unknown. But, the Spurs have been down this road before and made out okay, getting Manu Ginobili late in the second round, and Tony Parker a few years back.
Miami -- Wayne Simien is a very talented player who was handicapped somewhat during his college career with some shoulder injuries. Heís a two-time All-American. Heís got a long NBA career ahead of him because heís a very polished player.
All in all, I thought it was a deep draft. It was such a deep draft that, in talking with some teams after the draft, they were already on the phone trying to talk to the players who were good enough to play in Chicago, and were considered draft possibilities, and theyíre trying to get some of these players signed.
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