Before commencing an analysis of Tuesday's NBA Draft, this disclaimer must be made:
Nobody ever knows for sure.
Such No. 1 overall draft picks as Kwame Brown, Michael Olowokandi and Joe Smith in the last 10 years establish the truth of that disclaimer
There's simply no such thing as a can't-miss pick.
With that out of the way, here's a quick analysis of this year's draft:
As expected, the Bucks couldn't pass up a chance to get a dominant player in the middle and chose Utah's Andrew Bogut. ESPN "experts" Stephen A. Smith and Greg Anthony both expressed the opinion that Bogut won't be enough to get the Bucks to the playoffs, but they're forgetting that in the Eastern Conference, it doesn't take that much to reach the postseason. Bogut will tally some double-doubles this season, but a Bucks resurgence also presumes they will be able to hire a coach who can coach and hang on to Michael Redd.
The experts seem to think that down the road Tuesday's No. 2 pick, North Carolina's Marvin Williams, will be recognized as the best player of this draft, but don't discount the Atlanta Hawks factor. This is a poorly run franchise, and it will be a challenge for Williams to stay focused and develop while getting drubbed on a regular basis.
The Jazz obviously think they scored big in this draft, getting Illinois' Deron Williams. It's a good place for Williams to land, too, because the Jazz have a good track record for developing point guards.
The Jazz's pick left the next-best point guard in the draft, Wake Forest's Chris Paul, to go to the Hornets at No. 4. New Orleans desperately needed a point guard since the departure of Baron Davis, but he'll be facing an uphill battle. Unlike the Jazz, which has some talented offensive players to make Williams look good, the Hornets aren't a well-stocked franchise at this point.
Another Tar Heel, Raymond Felton, was a good pick for Charlotte at No. 5. The word on Felton is that he's a shoot-first, pass-later type point guard who will need two or three seasons in the NBA to develop. But in their second season the Bobcats aren't going anywhere soon, and Felton can develop right along with the franchise.
Mock drafts featured a lot of different choices for the Blazers, but they had been rumored weeks ago to be interested in high-schooler Martell Webster, and that proved true. This ending up being a good pick likely will depend on whether this franchise can get its act together and provide an environment conducive to the development of a youngster, and in recent years, Portland has proven to be anything but that.
The first surprise of the draft was the Raptors taking UConn's Charlie Villanueva with the No. 7 pick while there were several higher-regarded players at the same position still available. The mock-draft consensus didn't even have Villanueva being a lottery pick, much less No. 7. It's possible the Raptors are thinking of having the 6-11 Villanueva play center, which means former BYU center Rafael Araujo, last year's first-round pick by Toronto, could be on the way out.
The announcement of the Knicks' first pick, Arizona's Channing Frye, elicited a noticeable number of boos from the partisan Madison Square Garden crowd. At this point Frye is a strong but slim power forward with some shotblocking skill, and he'll probably be counted on to help replace the traded Kurt Thomas.
The draft's second surprise, albeit a mild one, was Ike Diogu, a 6-8 forward from Arizona State, at No. 9 to Golden State. He was widely considered to be a mid-20s pick, though ESPN's mock draft had him going to the Warriors. Diogu doesn't seem like the kind of player who will get Golden State over the playoff hump; by all reports there were players who might have given the Warriors more immediate help.
Drafting from an unusual lottery perspective, the Lakers at No. 10 had the choice of several players who were sliding, including Gerald Green, Danny Granger and Fran Vazquez. But they went with New Jersey high-schooler Andrew Bynum, a 7-foot project, which is weird since you've got to figure Kobe Bryant would prefer someone who could help now. This pick could make or break GM Mitch Kupchak, who has already taken a lot of criticism.
At No. 11, Orlando took Fran Vazquez, a power forward from Spain who was expected to go higher. He wasn't a big scorer in Spain's best league last season and reportedly needs development time on both ends of the court, but the Magic are in semi-rebuilding mode and should be able to provide that.
It had been rumored that some team had promised to take 6-9 Russian small forward Yaroslav Korolev in the first round, which is why he entered the draft, so it was no big surprise when the Clippers took him at No. 12. One analysis had him only the fourth-best small forward in the draft pool, though, behind two guys undrafted at this point, Joey Graham and Granger.
The Bobcats picked another Tar Heel at No. 13, Sean May. He has good bloodlines, played well in big games and should help attendance. But isn't Emeka Okafor a power forward, too?
Coming off a curiously disappointing season, the Timberwolves went for immediate help in the form of yet another Tar Heel, Rashad McCants, a 6-3 scoring guard. If this guy can play, Latrell Sprewell may have to find another team to put food on his family's table. McCants is said to have some attitude, but compared to Sprewell, he'll seem like a Boy Scout.
The Nets oddly went with a small forward at No. 15, Antoine Wright of Texas A&M. After letting Kenyon Martin walk last season, and with a terrific small forward in Richard Jefferson, you'd think the Nets would have picked a big man.
With their second pick of the first round, No. 16, the Raptors took a high-scoring small forward, Joey Graham of Oklahoma State, the kind of player they were expected to take with their first pick.
Granger, of New Mexico, finally saw his name come off the board at No. 17, to the Pacers. Folks who watched the MWC regularly were less high on him than others around the country, but at this point he's a solid choice.Comment on this story
The biggest slide of the draft went to high schooler Gerald Green, who was forecast to be picked as high as No. 3. He irked some NBA personnel types by setting workout conditions, which included only working out for lottery teams. The 6-8 small forward is supposed to be a spectacular athlete, however, and could prove to be a steal for the Celtics.
From 19 down there wasn't much of note, unless you count the slide of Syracuse's Hakim Warrick from potential lottery pick to the Grizzlies at No. 19, or the selecting of foreign guys who even the biggest draft geek couldn't pick out of a lineup.It is worth mentioning, however, that this year's Pavel Podkolzin, Serbian beanpole Martynas Andriuskevicius, who was forecast going as high as No. 5 in the mock drafts, plummeted all the way to 44 to the Orlando Magic.