What up world! Welcome to yet another edition of The Blog About Nothing. I’ve been a bit serious in this blog space the past few weeks, and while I like stepping out on the serious tip, I ensure you that this week I’m going to keep it light and breezy. I’m steering this blog back in to the world of sports. This week I’m going to give my NBA Draft recap edition.
Before I give y’all a draft recap I’m going to start off this blog by saying: I’m getting old. Growing up in New York City the NBA Draft typically fell on the last day of school. So, I knew growing up I could watch the Draft because I didn’t have school the next morning and my Mom was cool with me staying up late. I’m a draftnik and have been watching the proceedings for as long as I can remember.
I even attended the Draft one year. Yup, I was at the NBA Draft back in 2001. That was the year Michael Jordan and the Washington Wizards selected Kwame Brown as the number one overall pick. I will say that attending the draft is a fun experience. You can hear all the audio commentary from the TV crew, the fans are pretty lively and the players in the house will walk through and meet the fans.
That’s how I met the now deceased Eddie Griffin. That night the former Seton Hall player was drafted by the New Jersey Nets (his rights were traded to the Houston Rockets later that night) and he walked up and down the aisles shaking hands. When he got to me, he tried to son me. Basically, he talked down to me like I was a little kid. That’s when I had to hit ’em with the facts: I was older than him! He might have been 6’10 and I was all of 5’7″ but I was a few months older. He looked shocked when I told him my age. Overall it was a fun night, and I’m thankful my old boss decided to treat me to a night at the Draft.
Now, though? Now that I’m 33 years old, and a working man I got to keep it real: I can’t stay up late no more. The young kid that would stay up past midnight to watch the Draft is now the cranky old man who fell asleep by the 20th pick! 15 year old me would have been embarrassed at myself last night. Shoot, I was fighting off the sandman around pick number 13. Pick number 13! I feel real bad about not at least making it to the end of the 1st round, but now that I have caught up on the Draft and the picks I missed while my eyes were closed (and the TV was on) I can say that one team got it almost right.
That team? The Los Angeles Lakers. Look, I’ve been a fan of the Forum Blue (Purple) and Gold since I was throwing up skyhooks at the hoop in my back yard. I might have had a Detroit Pistons poster on my wall, and I wasn’t all that hurt when Michael Jordan and the Bulls started winning titles in the 90’s, but through it all I liked the Lakers. I mean I’m a kid who cried when Magic Johnson announced he had H.I.V., and I didn’t even know what that meant. All I knew was that one of my favorite players couldn’t play the game anymore (well he did but I didn’t know that at that time). Anyway, I’m still Forum Blue (Purple) and Gold and despite some lean seasons the past two years I didn’t waiver. I might have bashed the Lakers harder than I should have, but I didn’t waiver.
So in passing up Jahlil Okafor and taking D’Angelo Russell, the Lakers organization has me feeling 10 feet tall this morning. Okafor will be a fine NBA player. He isn’t going to the best situation in the Philadelphia 76’ers but the kid is flat out a beast on offense and he should make a nice tandem with Nerlens Noel. While Okafor would have continued the Lakers tradition of talented big men, I can’t help but think Russell is the better pick.
D’Angelo isn’t a great athlete but he has supreme knowledge of the game. In his one year at Ohio State he came in and led from day one, and he put himself and his teammates in the right positions on offense and defense. He can shoot some, and he’s a big point guard at 6’5″. He’s also down right charasmatic. Look, you don’t need to be charasmatic to be a star in the NBA, but in Los Angeles that should go a big way once the Kobe era comes to an end.
Let us remember that this season is the last year on Kobe Bryant’s contract. Now, whether he retires or not after the upcoming season remains to be seen but as long as Kobe is a Laker, Russell needs to attach himself to Kobe’s hip and learn as much as possible. If anyone can teach Russell the in’s and out’s of the NBA and how to take advantage of your talents it’s Kobe Bryant. This might be a bit of a stretch but looking at Russell’s play at Ohio State, and reading some of the things said about him in the draft process I see a bit of young Kobe in him. He’d be a fine player to pass the torch on to.
The rest of the Lakers draft? I’m not crazy about Larry Nance Jr. who was selected near the end of the 1st round but I get it. The Lakers need everything and Nance will be a backup power/small forward but I would have gone with UCLA power forward Kevon Looney who was still on the board. Looney was a scoring and rebounding machine for the Bruins and he even has a decent perimeter game. The only knock I can think about on Looney is that he’s a “young” 19. Russell is also 19 years old but he appears to be more mature than Looney. So, the Lakers might have felt more secure in taking the older Nance. It’s a minor quibble.
I also like the choice of Anthony Brown in the 2nd round. The shooting guard/small forward out of Stanford can shoot the ball pretty well and the Lakers, as I said before needs everything! A shooter off the bench isn’t a bad thing for the squad. Filling out pieces of the roster on the cheap is also a smart decision with free agency coming up.
Free agency and the Lakers is the elephant in the room. Drafting Okafor would have made sense for the Lakers but the fact is there are some big men about to hit the free agent market. Kevin Love, LaMarcus Aldridge, DeAndre Jordan, and Marc Gasol are all about to become some wanted men in a week’s time. Now I’ll eliminate Marc Gasol right away. While he was a Laker at the start of his career, he has a good thing in Memphis and I can’t see him walking from the Grizzlies. However, I can easily see Love, Aldridge, or even Jordan as a Laker. Well, maybe not Jordan. While I kind of look at DeAndre and the Clippers as a weird fit, and I understand that there are some chemistry issues with Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, I don’t think DeAndre switches from the Clippers to the Lakers. I don’t think it’s impossible but I think it’s unlikely.
However, as of right now I think the odds are pretty good on Love and Aldridge. LaMarcus Aldridge and his people are making it clear that he wants out of Portland and if the Lakers can fight off the Texas trio of San Antonio, Dallas, and Houston (assuming the Rockets can either clear cap space or get the Trail Blazers to agree to sign and trade) I think the Lakers will land their next great big man in Aldridge. However, if LaMarcus decides to go back to his native Texas, I think Love can come back to Los Angeles. The former UCLA Bruin still spends a good chunk of his offseason in L.A., and despite him getting a taste of winning with the Cleveland Cavaliers, he isn’t a great fit with them.
Plus, the Cavs still have to pay Tristan Thompson and piece together a roster. It might be in their best interest for Love to leave, and agree to sign and trade him to his new team. The only knock on Kevin Love and the Lakers is that he can’t slot into the center position as easily as Aldridge has, and the Lakers do have Julius Randle, who is making a recovery from a season ending injury, but Love and Randle would be a good front court. Undersized but talented.
Personally, if I had a vote and I could holla at General Manager Mitch Kupchak I would tell Mitch that it’s LaMarcus Aldridge or bust. LaMarcus is a superstar and with Randle, Russell, and whatever you can get out of Kobe you might not go from second to last in the West to a playoff team overnight but it would be a huge step in the rebuilding program of the Los Angeles Lakers.
When Magic walked away, and Kareem retired the Lakers went through a bit of a dull period. They still were a playoff team with Vlade Divac, Nick Van Exel, Eddie Jones and etc… but they were lacking stars. Until the summer of 1996. That summer the organization traded Vlade for the draft rights to Kobe Bryant and signed Shaquille O’Neal as a free agent from the Orlando Magic. The summer of 2015 might not bring the same glory as the summer of 1996 did but I’m optimistic that the future for the Lakers is going to be very bright and the drafting of D’Angelo Russell is the first step.
So, that’s it. I’m done. Sike! Nah, I ain’t done. I’m bringing back something I started this blog series with and that’s rapid fire bullet points. Let’s do this!
- Justice Winslow falling to the Miami Heat at number 10 was a shock but it’s a great pick from the Heat. Winslow could be a shooting guard, or a small forward but either way he can be a great replacement for either Dwyane Wade or Luol Deng in the next season or two. Winslow is a solid athlete, and he works hard. It’s a fine piece for a team that can make some noise in the East when healthy.
- I feel sorry for Jahlil Okafor because the 76’ers are just not that good. I understand that the organization believes in collecting assets but the Sixers badly needed a point guard and passing on Emmanuel Mudiay is a big mistake. Okafor is going to get big minutes and the opportunity to play in Philadelphia but he’s playing for an organization that looks to not have a plan and may end up just dumping him for a bag of beans just to collect another asset. So, I understand the news that he’s not to thrilled to be a Sixer because I wouldn’t be too thrilled if I was him either.
- The New York Knicks left me scratching my head last night, but I think I like their draft. Porzingis is raw. He looks to be a great athlete and at 7’1″ he looks to be a matchup nightmare but he is rail thin and looks like he’s going to get pushed around early in his NBA career. Dealing off Tim Hardaway, Jr. to the Atlanta Hawks for the draft rights to Notre Dame point guard Jerian Grant also seems suspect but I think Grant will be a better fit in the triangle and Hardaway Jr. might be better off away from the bright lights and destractions of New York City.
- Finally I think I really like Emmanuel Mudiay. Yes he is unknown to American audiences because he chose to play a year in China instead of playing for Southern Methodist University and head coach Larry Brown, but Mudiay looks to be super athletic and can get to the rim with ease. In an uptempo system I think Mudiay can put up eye popping numbers and eye popping highlights, but I’m not crazy about head coach Mike Malone. The former Sacramento Kings head coach seemed hesitant to go uptempo in Sac Town but he inherits a roster in Denver that will thrive on the run. Hopefully after seeing Mudiay’s talents he makes that decision to run run run!!
That’s it. I really am done this time. I see my word count has well exceeded 2,000 words and my wrists are starting to hurt. Thanks for reading and thank you for supporting all the excellent work we do here at www.7poundbag.com.
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