Well, as always our NBA Draft buzz died when it was announced, preemptively, that Greg Oden would indeed be Portland’s choice at #1. This happens every year, and it’s somewhat bothersome to me. At least let us go into this thing with but a mere hint of uncertainty, even if its as obvious as taking Oden.
But it’s late June, and unless lounging on the couch decked in your Wimbledon whites, sipping mimosas and eating scotch eggs is your idea of quality television (which it is by the way), then this is pretty much all we got, at least until Gillispie snags another 5-star (Gillipie reference +1; Gillispie in reference to recruiting +5). But hey, we have all the suspense we need in the form of Safari Alleyne, and there’s plenty of other motives to watch, such as:
—I’m assuming Joakim Noah will be a lottery pick, thus will be in attendance tonight. So, it begs the question, what will Joakim do to make us hate him even more? You know he’s simply not going to stroll up there in tasteful suit, shake hands, smile, and be done with it. Maybe he’ll have a dress on, maybe his hair will be hosting a flock of bushtits, or God help us, unleashes the SEC-Championship shimmy. Something, you know he’ll do something.
—Yi Jianlian, or “the Chinese guy”, is expected to be taken pretty early in the show. This of course means we’ll have the pleasure of watching David Stern suffer through the foreign elocution, trying desperately not to offend anyone as he continues to sell his league across the globe, consequently funding terrorism in the process. The fun thing about Yi is nobody can seem to figure out how old he is. He says 19, though some reports say 22, even 24. Come on, he’s from China, just let it go, don’t dig too deep. Some other good potential tongue trippers to watch for: Stanko Barac (named for his father, a famed Russian clown), Kyrylo Fasenko, and Aaron Afflalo (3 times fast). But my favorite name in this year’s draft is by far, Brazilian big-man Tiago Splitter, which I believe was the name of Guventud Guerrerra’s finishing move.
—Unless any team is currently hiring for a keyboardist with a sweet March-touch, Kentucky will not be sending anyone to the league this year. However, there are still a handful of familiar foes from around the SEC expected to hear their name called tonight. The Florida trio of Horford-Noah-Brewer are all projected to be gone by pick #11. Vandy’s Derrick Byars is projected in the first round as well, and Taurean Green and “Big Baby” Davis shouldn’t have to wait long if they slip into the 2nd round. With his size, athleticism, and stroke, I think Byars would be a great pickup late in the first round, and will be a solid-to-good performer for several years. Height and weight issues are obvious with “Big Baby”, but I’d love to have him on my team. The guy is a bull, and he may not look like Rick Fox, but he plays his ass off every night, and possesses the strength to body among professionals (never thought I’d type that sentence).
—Then there’s the awkwardness of the “slipper.” The one who was assured a spot in the lottery, flies into New York with his entire family, only to fall out of the lottery, or better/worse yet, out of the first round. It’s always painful to watch as the constant attention from the camera pretty much forces the person to feel like a disappointment. Potential slippers: Brandan Wright, Daequan Cook, Alando Tucker.
—The Draft also encourages a little gamesmanship between teams, as players and picks are swapped sometimes dramatically altering the makeup of the NBA. Kevin Garnett is the player du jour thus far, but nobody really knows until it happens, or ESPN announces it before it happens, rather.
Discuss all things Noah, Yingling, and Tiago Splitter below.