Welcome back Sports Fans! Picks 11-20 are not reserved for the leagues bottom rung. The teams involved in this stage of the draft are typically teams that either just fell short of their playoff aspirations or they made the playoffs and were eliminated because their ingredients were not up to par with the leagues elite. The draft at this point, is about stepping back and reevaluating the talent on your team’s roster. Teams that are donned with any of these picks are keen on acquiring a player based on need for a position, their system, best player available or as or most of these picks are about, at least until they find their way, adding depth to your squad through versatility.
Terrence Williams- G- New Jersey Nets
The New Jersey Nets punctuated their rebuilding process by trading Air New Jersey (Vince Carter) to Disney World for Courtney Lee, Tony Battie, Rafer Alston and two Mickey Mouse Collectible Cups. I recently read an article on ESPN.com that was about to talk about the Nets but then said “no one watches the Nets anyways, so let’s move on”. Well, I watched the Nets last year and they’re not all that bad, even after trading VC. They are nowhere near playoff contention but their are some strong, young pieces in important positions and as noted by Brandon previously in POTENTIAL DEAL MAKERS, they have the cap space to make a splash next season. Terrance Williams brings a dynamic elements to the Nets. Williams is a 4 Year College Player, who was a leader of Big East League Champion Lousiville, making First Team All Conference in leading Lousville to the #1 overall seed in the NCAA tournament. Williams is a Point-Forward who stands at 6 foot 6 and can do a little bit of everything. It is his overall game that lead GM Rod Thorn to grab the sweet shooting, skilled ballhandler and hard nosed defender for the reclamation project in New Jersey/Brooklyn. It is the hope of Thorn and Coach Lawrence Frank (who is back after being on the hot seat for most of the season) That playing T. Williams at the 3 while being draped with floor general and All-Star Devin Harris, newly acquired, second year stud Courtney Lee at the 2, Chinese Project Yi Jianlian at the 4 and the most pleasant surprise of last year’s draft class, 2nd Year Center Brook Lopez. Terrence Williams will most certainly see playing time this year, but how much is the question. Coach Frank is used to mixing and matching veterans from his roster, dividing playing time amongst them to try and maximize their skill set. Jarvis Hayes, Trenton Hassell and Bobby Simmons all play the SF position that T. Williams will be eyeing, so he will need to earn every minute this season and learn from these veterans. It is the hope that Terrence Williams is up to the challenge and that his wide-ranging skill set and maybe he can, but I myself on wary that he will be the next Antoine Wright rather then the next Richard Jefferson.
Early Verdict: Could Get Ugly
Gerald Henderson- G- Charlotte Bobcats
When the Bobcats duo of Michael Jordan & Larry Brown, Alumni of the University of North Carolina decided to take the leading scorer from Duke (especially when UNC Champs Ty Hansborough & Lawson were still on the board), you knew it had to be because Gerald Henderson can be a special kind of player. It is well chronicled that rookies do not usually crack Coach Larry Brown’s rotation but with PG extraordinaire D.J. Augustin, logging some solid PT last season, there is hope for Henderson this year. With incumbent SG Raja Bell getting older, look for Henderson to display a similar type of skill set, with a highflying act, mid range game and fast break savvy that will either compliment or clog the progress of star SF Gerald Wallace. Henderson should thrive in the half court set, playing with the unselfish likes of Center Emeka Okafor and SF/PF Boris Diaw, who will be looking for Henderson all year on backdoor, baseline baskets for him to dunk home. The Bobcats are trying desparately to re-sign leader Raymond Felton, but if they can strike a deal remains to be seen. This team lacks depth. Henderson at #12 provides depth and another serviceable option on both sides of the ball, while bringing Cameron Crazies to the stands. Larry Brown will have his hands filled this season in trying to bring the much improved Bobcats to the playoffs. If Gerald Henderson can continue the progression that he showed at Duke for 3 seasons, then there is reason to be optimistic about the upcoming season and seasons to come for a young squad looking for it’s way.
Early Verdict: Good
Tyler Hansborough- PF- Indiana Pacers
Tyler Hansborough is one of the most decorated college athletes to enter the NBA in recent memory. Throughout his Four Year Career at UNC, Psycho T was drapped with every accolade that the ACC and NCAA could bestow him with. Rookie of the Year, First Team ACC, First Team All-America, John Wooden Award Winner as a Junior and NCAA Champion, Hansborough made great use of his college basketball career. In College, Hansborough’s glass would overflow with compliments but in the circles of the NBA GM, criticism was more often then not what would tip Tyler’s glass. Many feel as though pick #13 was too high for Hansborough, that the Pacers reached for a high energy player, that does not have STAR written all over his forehead. In many ways Hansborough epitamizes this Draft Class, which is littered with underappreciated players who have fallen under the “weak draft” moniker. I for one did not and do not believe that this is a weak draft class and Hansborough has an opportunity to prove a lot of people wrong. He will get a chance to prove his worth for the Indiana Pacers, with Most Improved Player from last season, Danny Granger at SF, two talented but injury prone players in Mike Dunleavy Jr. & T.J. Ford, a duo of underrated players in Troy Murphy, and newly acquired Dahantay Jones, as well as two talented and on the rise Sophomores in Brandon Rush and Roy Hibbert. After letting Jarret Jack and Marquis Daniels slip away, playing time will be up for grabs and Hansborough will have the chance to showcase his abilities. The teams who passed on him will be watching with a close eye because he has the ability to make a lot of General Managers look bad, as his GM Larry Legend looks on lovingly.
Early Verdict: Good
Earl Clark- F- Phoenix Suns
Earl Clark dropped out of the lottery, but dropped into a perfect situation for his talents in the NBA. It is true that the Phoenix Suns are not the same run and gun team that they once were, but Clark can be Shawn Marion 2.0, with a better jumper if given the opportunity to shine in the desert. There will be ample opportunity for minutes throughout the season as a backup to Grant Hill or potentially as a starter to replace the departed Matt Barnes (who signed with the Magic for 2 Years). With Steve Nash agreeing with to a 2 year extension, there is peace in Phoenix who can build with a skilled roster going forward. Addition by subtraction by dealing Shaquille O’Neal, who was the complete opposite of how the Suns play basketball. Couple that with the signing of PF Channing Frye, who’s game should be in full force in this system, as well as the return of talented guards Barbosa and J. Richardson. The Suns are still going to be burning brightly in the West, but they are an Amar’e Stoudameire clean bill of health away from being a playoff team again. The Suns picked up a valuable and versatle piece in Earl Clark on draft night, who’s strength will be to cause matchup problems on both ends of the floor for opposing teams. Early Verdict: Good
Austin Daye- F- Detroit Pistons
Austin Daye would not normally be drafted as the #15 pick in this or any draft after 2 mediocre seasons at Gonzaga but since you can’t teach height and the Pistons still think that Rodney Stuckey is a point guard, Daye heard his name called by David Stern, sending him to Motown. Those who find the pick to be suitable, point to Daye’s ability to stretch the floor by bringing bigger players out to guard him and liken his body type to Pistons star Tayshaun Prince. Prince is 2 inches shorter but weighs 15 pounds more the Daye, who stands at 6 Feet 11 inches and 200 lbs. It’s not that I don’t think Daye can be a good player in the NBA, it’s that I don’t think he fits into Detroit’s brand of basketball. They are a hard nosed, physical team that plays team defense and controls the ball, which doesn’t exactly fit into Daye’s skill set. I thought that James Johnson would have been the pick here, but the Pistons lucked out in grabbing a similar physical specimin in DaJaun Summers in the 2nd round, who based on his Summer League performance, may be closer to helping the Pistons then his lottery companion. Austin Daye had a fine summer league as well, impressing players and scouts alike with his range with had to be a pleasantry for the Detroit brass. Daye will be on the bench for the most part because the Pistons signed Charlie Villenueva to a big contract, to do the same thing Daye would be doing, only better. Austin Daye is a project and so are the Detroit Pistons at this point. The core of Richard Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince, Ben Gordon, Villenueva, Stuckey with Maxiell coming off the bench, can still play major minutes, but over an 82 game span, there will be an opportunity for Daye to play as a 2nd, 3rd or 4th option off the bench, I just think the Pistons would have been better suited to have selected someone else.
Early Verdict: Bad
James Johnson- F- Chicago Bulls
James Johnson was an all around presence for Wake Forest for the past 2 seasons. Johnson was the muscle of a young but skilled Demon Deacons team that was a team to watch entering the NCAA Tournament, especially because of their NBA talent. Unfortunately for the the Deacons and all those who wanted them to go far (including me), if only to see if their pegged NBA prospects were legit. With the loss, teams were lead to look at the facts and the information about James Johnson was that his body and game are NBA ready. With a report like that, Johnson spent a lot of time being pegged as a lottery pick by teams such as the Nets and Bobcats but was unable to impress them enough to warrant a selection. In coming to the Bulls, Johnson is stuck behind a number of young, yet experienced veterans at the forward spot such as Luol Deng, Tyrus Thomas, John Salmons and Joakim Noah. Where Johnson will rank as the season inches closer will depend on if the Bulls end up making a splash in the market and trade for Carlos Booker. Johnson is a do it all kind of player with strength and poise to create matchup problems for the other team. The only problem for the Bulls is that they already have a number of players similar to him, but I cannot fault them for grabbing him, since he was the best player available considering that Chicago doesn’t need a PG with Derrick Rose in town.
Early Verdict: Good
AND THEN THERE WERE THE POINT GUARDS
Jrue Holiday- PG- Philadelphia 76ers
Ty Lawson- PG- Denver Nuggets
Jeff Teague- PG- Atlanta Hawks
Eric Maynor- PG- Utah Jazz
Here are 4 Point Guards, who have the skill level to have terrific careers and were the right fit for each of the teams who chose them. These 4 were the best available players, all with great low risk, high reward potential, which led to these teams drafting them consecutively. At the time of the draft, each player was in line to be backing up a proven NBA PG in Andre Miller, Chauncey Billups, Mike Bibby and Deron Williams. It was not until today that Jrue Holiday found out that his predacessor would not be there to teach him a lesson or two in training camp. Andre Miller was given a 3 Year $21 Million Dollar contract by the Portland Trailblazers and in leaving, left the keys to Sixers to Holiday. Jrue Holiday was a prime prospect who was being spoken about being drafted by the Knicks at 8, which shows that he has great talent, but him falling to 17 shows that GM’s were wary of his skills and the fact that he didn’t even have the keys to his own college team. Regardless of this, he is a big guard, who can dazzle.
From a big guard to a small guard with a big heart. Ty Lawson, Starting PG for the NCAA Champion UNC Tar Heels. A toe injury and many scouts claiming that he does not have a high ceiling, led to him being drafted by the T-Wolves and then traded to the Nuggets. The Nuggets come out smelling like a rose in this pick because it just adds to their depth. Anthony Carter is a servicable player in backing up Chauncey Billups but the speed and leadership qualities that Ty Lawson posseses, may lead him to be a fan favorite in Denver long after Billups has left the team. Lawson has shown a lot of heart playing injured, but it is his bruised ego that may light a fire under him to be great and lead the Nuggets to another run at playoff promenence.
The Atlanta Hawks made the mistake of passing up PG Chris Paul and it has been well chronicalled ever since. In drafting PG Jeff Teague from Paul’s alma mater, it shows that they are taking their PG deficiencies more seriously. The Hawks were hoping that Speedy Claxton or Acie Law would end up being their floor general but they did not play up to expectations and had the Hawks trading for Mike Bibby, who has perfomed very well for the Hawks and was rewarded with a contract extension for doing so. Jeff Teague is a flash and could create a spark off the bench and a change of tempo for an already athletic squad everytime he steps onto the court. The Atlanta Hawks have been a steadily improving team every year and Teague will make them an even better all around team by adding depth to their bench.
Eric Maynor was unheralded when he came to VCU to be their PG but after two gutty and sensational performances in consecutive NCAA tournaments, NBA teams knew that they had a rocksteady point guard to bank on if Maynor was available. Deron Williams is in the top 2 Point Guards in the league, so it would not seem that Maynor will get a lot of playing time but this may not be the case. Williams was injured for a large portion of the regular season last year, leading Coach Jerry Sloan to look towards his bench for Point Guard guidance, but mostly would come up empty. The Jazz are a team that go as their star goes, so Maynor may end up becoming an invaluable pick at #20 if he can spell Deron Williams for a few minutes each game, just to make sure that he stays fresh and healthy for the postseason run.
Early Verdict in PG Kingdom: Good
That concludes picks 11-20! Stay tuned for the rest of the first round analysis which will be coming soon to a computer screen near you!
Be well and enjoy your Friday!
Your Buddy Blogger,