Coming off a marathon two-hour ping-pong session tonight, you would imagine I could not have a better night planned for tonight. You would be wrong my friends, because tonight is the night that I look forward to more than any, the return of the NBA Draft. Say whatever you want about other sporting events, but none combine the excitement of a new era in sports with the utter and complete absurdity of new, excited money than the NBA Draft. It is a brilliant display from every angle and is one that I have not missed in something like 20 years. Tonight we are doing something special on this site as well as we will do the first ever NBA Draft Live Blog (with an ode to Bill Simmons) that will be done by multiple posters from the site. We are going old school as Mosley, Tomlin, the Turkey Hunter, Intern and I will each be putting our absurd thoughts on the blog during the activities live from Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Lexington, Charleston, SC and Louisville respectively. If you are looking for hardcore draft analysis, go elsewhere tonight. But if you want a group that appreciates the absurdity of the moment, check it out. It should be a great deal of fun and I hope you will join us tonight. Five notes for the big day:
(1): We of course care initially about the fates of our own Joe Crawford and Ramel Bradley. I have spoken with both young men in the last couple of days and both are nervous about the beginning of the next phase of their life. Crawford’s chances of being drafted are around 50-50 and he believes that there are a few teams who may pick him up in the second round. In my view, Joe is destined to play in the league, but whether he will actually hear his name called remains to be determined. I say he goes late in the draft, and his saga will be one we follow throughout the night. Ramel is unlikely to get drafted, but believes there are a couple of teams who will attempt to sign him to a Summer league deal if not drafted. Ramel will have to have a great summer to make it, but I know he is focused and his scoring and shooting ability are NBA-worthy. Not too many guys can put up 102 points in a game, no matter what the opponent. We wish both young men luck on the next few days.
(2): In my view, this draft will be the culmination of potentially the best Freshman class of the last 20 years. Look at the names of the Freshmen who are in this draft:
Jerryd Bayless, Arizona
Michael Beasley, Kansas State
Eric Gordon, Indiana
Donte Greene, Syracuse
J.J. Hickson, NC State
DeAndre Jordan, Texas A&M
Kosta Koufos, Ohio State
Kevin Love, UCLA
O.J. Mayo, USC
Anthony Randolph, LSU
Derrick Rose, Memphis
Bill Walker, Kansas State
All of these guys except Walker played in Louisville for the McDonalds All American game (Walker finished high school early) and all have great potential on the next level. I cant wait to watch this draft in part because this is the group I know the best of any high school group ever. Many of them were on our show over the last few years, I have met all except Walker and Beasley, Love, Mayo and Gordon have all been in-studio on our radio show. Watching these guys get picked will be very exciting as this site has seen them go from the camps all the way to the Draft. Our little boys have all grown up….well except Jai Lucas. 🙂
(3): In my view, the draft is in four tiers. Only one tier has guaranteed NBA stardom: Beasley, Rose and Mayo. Unless any of these guys completely screw up, they will all be NBA stars. If I had the #1 pick, I would take Beasley as I think he has been the best player on every level of the group, from AAU to high school to college. That is a threesome that makes him a cant miss star to me. I actually think Mayo is the second best in the draft and is (shockingly to those that dont know him) the most mentally ready for the next level. This guy has prepared for this day since he was in 8th grade. He wont screw it up….at least not for a while. Rose is guaranteed to be really good…but he cant shoot….which means that while he will be an NBA star for years and potentially an All-Star, he wont be transcendent like Beasley and Mayo can be. So he would go third for me. But all three are locks, and should go 1-2-3 no matter what else happens.
(4): The next group for me is the “likely really good NBA players unless their games dont translate well.” For me, this group is Jared Bayless, Eric Gordon and Kevin Love. I like all three guys, but all three have holes in their game. I put Bayless as the fourth best player, and if he were a little better passer, he would be in the first group. Gordon is an explosive scorer and could have been the best college player in America if not for the travesty in Bloomington…but he doesnt play defense and is a bit short. And Kevin Love….well old people like him, but he is slow and not that athletic. But he will find his nice and will work hard to be a star. I like all three and they would go 4-6 for me.
(5): The next group is the hodge-podge group of guys who could either be really good or busts depending on how it works out. Russell Westbrook, Brook Lopez, DJ Augustin, Joe Alexander, the Italian guy, Anthony Randolph and Kousta Koufos make up this group for me. The first three will all be solid NBA guys, but not likely stars. Lopez and Westbrook will play in the league for 12 years, but will never crack an All Star game. The last four have a lot of talent, but could easily never be heard from again if they get in the wrong system or find trouble. This is the risky group and is the place where the draft gets tricky.
The rest of the draft is a crap shoot. I have guys that I know will be busts (Mario Chalmers (aka Ed O Bannon), any other foreign guy) and those that are sleepers to me (Chris Douglas Roberts, the kid from Rider, Bill Walker). I cant wait to see what happens to Courtney Lee, who I like a lot. I think Donte Greene will make someone look smart. JJ Hickson could go either way if he gets a team that takes care of him. The end of the draft is a guessing game and that is why I like it. Here is what I do know however….tomorrow night will have lots of “UPSIDE”, players that are “LONG”, have “BASKETBALL IQ” and full of “VERSATILITY.” Bilas is there, which I love….Stuart Scott is there, which I dont. But regardless, it will be entertaining and doing the live blog should be great. So tune into the show, pull for Joe C and Ramel and sit back and enjoy the greatest absurd show on Earth.
And oh yeah, more on the football recruiting scores later on Thursday.