Saturday, July 7, 2012

Rebooting the 2007 NBA Draft

Durant should have gone first. 
It continues to amaze me that the major media outlets insist their NBA writers give grades to teams the day - or week after the NBA Draft. It is just ridiculous. In the name of what is right - please stop it. 

What we have done each year instead is to review the draft that happened five years ago. By now you can give grades (if you want to. I don't.) and come up with a data-driven, common sense, idea of what the order should have actually been. But even five years later - it is not easy. 

Players are STILL evolving. If you judged Brandan Wright, even after his first four seasons in the NBA at Golden State, and in New Jersey - you would not rate him where you might rate him today after an efficient, healthy, productive season in Dallas. Clearly, Wright is ascending. The same can be said for Tiago Splitter, who by efficiency (per minute) ranked eighth at Center in 2011-12. 

The 2007 NBA Draft has produced three All-Stars to date. Without question - if we re-drafted today, the number one pick would be Kevin Durant (2) * we will put in parenthesis the number where the player was actually selected in 2007. There was a healthy debate at the time about whether or not Greg Oden or Durant should go first. It seems doubtful that Nostradamus could have foreseen all of Oden's injury problems. Five years later - Oden is a free agent trying to come back from multiple surgeries. In hindsight, the second pick should have probably been Al Horford (3). Although Marc Gasol has been an All-Star, we will give the third choice nod to Joakim Noah (9). Pau's "little" brother Marc goes fourth in this re-do. In hindsight - the Marc Gasol pick, 48th overall, in the second round - was the "steal of the draft". 

The order is certainly debatable. I had a hard time deciphering the differences in potential vs. accomplishment for selections five through 13. Keeping in mind that this draft reboot is as if we are drafting today - with the unknown future still ahead, I would gamble a bit on Splitter (28) as my fifth pick. With the same rationale, that I'm sure has many of you readers thinking I am nuts, I would reach for Wright (8) sixth.  

Spencer Hawes (10) would be the seventh pick, followed by Jared Dudley (22), Aaron Afflalo (27), Mike Conley (4), Rodney Stuckey (15), Wilson Chandler (23) and Ramon Sessions (56). The last pick of the lottery in the 2007 re-do is Thaddeus Young (12). 

Depending on who is drafting - the order would likely find Nick Young higher than 15th - but that is where he falls in this re-draft. Carl Landry (31) goes next. Corey Brewer appears to be improving still after a slow start to his NBA career. He was the seventh selection in 2007 on the heels of winning back-to-back NCAA titles. Looking in the rear-view mirror, he should have probably fallen ten spots further to 17th. 

Jason Smith (20), Rudy Fernandez (24), and Aaron Brooks (26) complete the top-20 in our re-draft. This is the time where even with all his injuries, Greg Oden would come off the board. He is the 21st pick in this re-draft on the slim hopes that he can one day return to the NBA and contribute. 

We are into thin-ice and marginal guys now. Coaches love Dominic McGuire (47) so we will swing for him 22nd, followed by Marco Belinelli (18), Josh McRoberts (37), "Big Baby" Glen Davis (35), Daequan Cook (21), and Yi Jianlian (6). 

Jeff Green (5) who sat out last season with heart issues will go 28th in this re-do. Aaron Gray (49) is the next to-last first round pick, and we close it out with Al Thornton 30th. Thornton is till trying to find his way in the league. He is proof that even the most hyper-athletic players, on the wing, can and will struggle if they do not have a reliable jump-shot. 

Sean Williams, and Julian Wright are both still battling to find a stable home in the NBA. They would be the first two-picks of the second round, and after that - there is a wasteland. The highest drafted player in 2007 that was not picked in our re-do was Acie Law. He was picked eleventh. Four other guys in the 2007 first round that were not chosen in the re-draft are: Javaris Crittenton, Morris Almond, Alondo Tucker, and Petteri Koponen. 

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