2010 NBA Draft Winners and LosersPosted by zhayes9 on June 25th, 2010
Zach Hayes is an editor, contributor and bracketologist at Rush the Court.
Now that the Draft is complete, time to look back at Thursday night’s winners and losers, from coaches to NBA teams to players to conferences and everything in between:
Big 12 – One of the premier college basketball conferences has gained quite a surge of momentum in the last few weeks. Big 12 commish Dan Beebe convinced Texas it was in their best interests to keep the league in tact even after the defections of Colorado and Nebraska, two of the more downtrodden BCS-conference hoops programs in the country. After chopping off those two anchors, a ten-team, 18-game round robin format has been agreed to starting in 2012. The Big 12 momentum only continued at the draft on Thursday where an astonishing seven of the top 24 selections reside from the conference (and Kentucky isn’t even a member). Baylor’s Ekpe Udoh, Kansas’ Cole Aldrich and Xavier Henry, Texas’ Avery Bradley and Damion James, Oklahoma State’s James Anderson and Iowa State’s Craig Brackins, not to mention Cyclone transfer Wes Johnson, were all nabbed in the first 24 picks. The Big 12 barely trailed the ACC in terms of overall conference strength last season and the results of the first round only confirmed those numbers.
John Calipari – As Fox Sports Jeff Goodman astutely pointed out, expect plenty of John Calipari mug shots in near future drafts unless he bolts for a dream NBA job. Five of his Kentucky Wildcats from one recruiting class were taken in the first round on Thursday, from John Wall at #1 overall to Daniel Orton at #29. Next year could see two more Kentucky players announced early in the draft in center Enes Kanter and point guard Brandon Knight with forward Terrence Jones another potential first rounder. In 2011-12 when Marquis Teague, Michael Gilchrist and another top ten recruit TBD join Big Blue Nation, it’ll be the same Calipari hugging his revolving door of players on a June night in NYC. Don’t think this is just Calipari doing this for his departing players or that recruits are not noticing. He’s fully aware of what his face constantly showing up on ESPN’ s cameras means: furthering his reputation of sending talented players to the riches of the NBA. And quickly.
Paul George – It’s been a quick ascension for George, a workout wonder who saw his draft stock shoot up in the last few weeks until he landed to Indiana at #10. It’s doubtful even George saw this coming after being lightly recruited out of Palmdale, Calif, and settling on Fresno State for his college choice. George saw both his FG% and 3pt% plummet from his freshman to sophomore seasons and he only upped his PPG by 2.5 and RPG by 1.0 along with very low assist totals. He also played for a 15-18 WAC team against far more inferior competition than, say, Kansas’ Xavier Henry, who went one pick later to Memphis. Henry averaged 13.5 PPG, shot 46% from two and 42% from three on a team filled with players who needed touches.
Greivis Vasquez’ reaction – I don’t think anyone who watched Greivis Vasquez play four years at Maryland was surprised when they saw the emotional Venezuelan surrounded by family and friends in the crowd at Radio City Music Hall waiting for his name to be chosen. Vasquez has been projected as an early-to-mid second round pick- a scorer, leader and improved floor general that simply lacks the lateral quickness to defend NBA guards. Yet rumblings surfaced that Memphis loved Vasquez at #28. Sure enough, when he was pegged at that exact spot, the only outward, raw emotion we saw Thursday night emerged as Vasquez pumped his fist, hugged his family and practically sprinted to shake David Stern’s hand on the draft stage. Congratulations to Greivis.
College seniors into the first round – It wasn’t a particularly memorable night for some accomplished seniors, but five of them ended up being selected near the end of the first round, more than was anticipated just a week or so ago when Damion James was the only sure pick. Instead, Clemson’s Trevor Booker actually went one spot ahead of James. Washington’s Quincy Pondexter, the aforementioned Vasquez and Marquette’s Lazar Hayward were also pegged in the opening round. To see these college seniors (especially Hayward, whom I know personally is a fantastic kid) rewarded for sticking it out in school for four years is one of the reasons why we watch the NBA Draft. Seeing five seniors picked in the first round was truly one of the more pleasant surprises of the night.
Da’Sean Butler – Speaking of seniors who represented their program with nothing but grace, class and heart, Da’Sean Butler was picked at #42 by the Miami Heat just two and a half months after that crushing ACL tear ended a remarkable West Virginia career and sent his basketball future into serious question. If this Outside the Lines feature gives us any hint into his road to recovery, it appears Butler may be ready to contribute this season either in the D-League or even with the Heat. Butler provided the Mountaineer faithful and college hoops fans around the country with countless clutch shots and unforgettable moments. If you want to root for someone from this draft, it’s Da’Sean Butler.
Miami Heat – Speaking of the Heat, Pat Riley and his fellow Miami front office cohorts made another big stride towards bringing an Eastern Conference powerhouse to South Beach. By sending three-point specalist Daequan Cook to the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Heat were left with just two players under contract- Mario Chalmers and Michael Beasley- before the draft got underway. More importantly, this now allows them to sign three max free agent contracts this summer. Anyone up for a Wade-Amare-Joe Johnson trio surging to the top of the East?
Los Angeles Clippers – No, that’s not a typo. The Clippers had a fantastic draft night. I’m the last person to be grading draft performances the day after (we should be grading the 2006 Draft right now, not 2010), but the Clippers grabbed three players at tremendous value for their spots: Wake Forest’s Al-Farouq Aminu at #8 as a rebounder and leaper with a high ceiling, a trade for Eric Bledsoe at #18 who is a fantastic third guard with an NBA ready frame and Oklahoma’s Willie Warren at #54, an ultimate buy-low selection who was projected to be a lottery pick at this time last year but fell due to an illness and injury plagued combustive season in Norman. He could be a deadly shooter for the Clips right away.
NCAA Tournament heroes of the past – Omar Samhan emerged as the most memorable personality of the Tournament in Saint Mary’s unexpected triumphs over Richmond and Villanova. Jon Scheyer and Brian Zoubek formed the inside-outside duo for a team that won the national championship in dramatic fashion. Sherron Collins made the famous falling down pass to Mario Chalmers. Scottie Reynolds coast-to-coast layup to topple Pitt was the shot of the 2009 Dance. None of these players heard their name called last night, meaning they’ll either try to start a career overseas or latch on to a Summer League squad in an attempt to make a positive impression.
A.J. Ogilvy – Many times we judge early entry players that are projected to go second round or undrafted without knowing their personal circumstances. Some players need the money for their family (Samuels), some can’t survive another year in the classroom (Bledsoe) and some just didn’t mesh with their college coach and didn’t feel like enduring the transfer process (Landesberg, Fortson, Harris, Warren). That’s fine. One of those reasons could apply to A.J. Ogilvy, I’m honestly not sure. But the 6’11 Australian big man bolted Nashville after a disappointing season and not one expert thought he’d be drafted. Rather than return to school, make an all-SEC preseason team and pair with Jeffrey Taylor, Brad Tinsley and John Jenkins for a likely top-25 squad, Ogilvy will now likely have to make due overseas, an opportunity seemingly lost.
Memphis Grizzlies – I don’t necessarily dislike the Grizzlies three first round draft choices of Xavier Henry, Dominique Jones and Greivis Vasquez. Here’s the problem: they all play the same position (unless they view Vasquez as someone that can run the point). Normally with three picks in the opening round, nabbing a big man, guard and wing is the strategy unless there’s a glaring weakness on the roster that needs to be overhauled. Last time I checked, O.J. Mayo is a shooting guard and it’s Rudy Gay, the 6’8 small forward, that could leave town in free agency. While I feel like Henry should have been a top ten pick, Jones can score with just about anyone in the Draft and Vasquez certainly has his skills, it’s a puzzling strategy to use those valuable picks in this fashion.
Solomon Alabi – The biggest slider of the night was Florida State’s Solomon Alabi. A raw shot blocker and rebounder with pretty much no discernable offensive game other than open dunks that are less plentiful in the NBA, Alabi decided to forgo his final two seasons in Tallahassee for a likely late first round selection at Thursday’s draft. Only issue is that the 7’1 Alabi went #50 to Dallas after being picked to go as high as #19 to Boston in a Chad Ford mock draft this week. Quite the slide for Alabi, who probably thinks losing in the first round at Florida State in 2011 looks pretty good right now.
Rick Barnes – Texas had a relatively big night on Thursday with three of their starters going in the top 32 picks- Avery Bradley at 19, Damion James at 24 and Dexter Pittman at 32. This makes their unexpected collapse last season, one in which they plummeted from #1 team in January to unranked and beaten in the first round by Wake Forest as a 8-seed, all that more staggering. What does it say about Rick Barnes that his team underachieved so dramatically with all of that talent? While I’m sure Barnes and the Texas faithful were proud to see three of their players drafted early, they have to wonder what could have been in 2009-10.
Pac-10 – Ragging on the Pac-10 is like taking candy from a baby at this point. Still, it has to be pointed out this supposed power conference only produced one first rounder (Pondexter) and one second rounder (Stanford’s Landry Fields, who wasn’t even expected to be selected, thanks Knicks!) in last night’s draft. It doesn’t look great for next year’s draft either. UCLA’ s Malcolm Lee? Washington State’s Klay Thompson? Washington’s Isaiah Thomas? Arizona’s Derrick Williams? I realize these things go in cycles, but it’s been a brutal last 24 months for Pac-10 basketball fans in terms of breadth of talent.
Paul Allen – Firing your GM the day of the draft and then forcing him to make the picks? A GM that helped bring the franchise out of the depths of the Jail Blazers era and traded for Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge (the Oden pick wasn’t nearly as indefensible when it happened)? As Seth Meyers and Amy Poehler would say…really Paul Allen?!?
Wes Johnson’s checkered pants – Easily the most hideous look of the night went to Syracuse’s Wes Johnson, who received some horrible advice and opted to wear his pajama bottoms, a yellow undershirt and a suit with puzzling button placement to the draft festivities. Even Jalen Rose was laughing.