One of the first articles I wrote on this blog was about called "Did David Kahn Redeem Himself?" David Kahn's 2011 draft. At the time I said that the draft wasn't really good enough to redeem himself (mostly because he chose to make more churn-the-hamster-wheel trades with the 17th pick, rather than draft the amazing Kenneth Faried, and yes, I called him amazing back then). So it seems appropriate to re-visit the issue in the 2012 Draft.
Of course, the Wolves didn't draft a player in the first round. Instead, they traded the 18th pick in the draft (which was really Utah's pick) for wingman Chase Budinger. This is a pretty good trade for the Timberwolves. Budinger is exactly the kind of player the Wolves lack -- a competent wing man who can knock down three point shots. He isn't amazing, but, as I keep saying, upgrading from 'terrible' to 'average' at any given position will net you just as many wins as replacing an average player with a star:
Incidentally, from Houston's perspective, I think this is a defensible trade as well -- Budinger will likely get too expensive for a backup after next year, and Chandler Parsons looks like the better player. Of course, then the Rockets passed on Jared Sullinger when he was still on the board at 18, so they blew a chance to make this trade look really good in 3 years.
So, for the 18th pick, we give Mr. Kahn a B, because it only took him 4 years to finally acquire a productive wing player. Not exactly a redemption. Let's look at some other winners and losers in the draft:
New Orleans: I am honestly aghast at the pundits who put this team in the 'winners' column because they chose Davis. If I were a team captain at a YMCA in 1983 where Magic was playing, and I say "I'll pick Magic", does anyone say "OOOOH, nice choice man, I can see you know what you're doing"? It is truly a colossal achievement for a team to screw up this badly in in a draft with a future superstar big, when they hold #1 and #10 AND have a great salary cap situation, but somehow NOLA management pulled off an ingenuous magic trick and snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. Hell, I would have trusted Michael Jordan or Isiah Thomas not to bungle this one, but the Hornets have somehow managed to turn an opportunity to field a 50-win team this year into dush and ashes. Going into this offseason, the Hornets had a couple of problems: 1) 2 of their good players were bigs (Ayon and Okafor), and they are drafting Davis, and 2) they had no all-star level talent (Gordon is not there yet, and there is no guarantee he will be, yet they will have to pay him as if he is if they want to keep him). Davis is going to fix the all-star talent problem (seriously, he'll be amazing), and the log-jam at 4/5 problem is easily fixed on the trade market. Instead the Hornets chose to package their best wing player (I realize this isn't saying a lot) with Okafor for Rashard Lewis, who is terrible, and muddle their cap room this year. I agree that this team did not need Okafor but um, what the hell? They're forced to give him away for an expiring contract? AND throw in a functioning wing? What? The? Hell?
Then, to make matters worse, they use the #10 pick to draft easilty the worst player in the entire draft -- Austin Rivers is a shooting guard who can't shoot. Yeah, that'll end well. The whole thing is just head-scratching. What they should have done is something along the lines of:
- Offer Okafor, the #10, and Aminu to Philadelphia for Iggy. Philly always seems to be shopping Iggy, they must undervalue him.
- Or, if that does not work, consider that if Gordon wants to leave, he will likely sign the qualifying offer to play one year, rather than signing an offer sheet as a FA with some other club, hoping that NOLA will trade him to his desired team, where he can make more money. If he does this, use him as part of a package to GET. IGGY.
- Plan B: Trade Okafor, one of Jack, Ariza, or Aminu, and the #10 pick for Pau Gasol. The Lakers probably don't want to pay a lot for Sessions and PG is a sore spot for them, so the middling Jack has value for them. The internets claim that they wanted an "established player" and a top 10 pick (hint: they were not going to draft Rivers with the pick they got).
- Do NOT re-sign Landry or Belinelli
Then, get creative:
- Offer $20 million for 2 years to Steve Nash (who outbids you for a 38 year old?)
- Offer the midlevel to: Matt Barnes, Landry fields, Andre Miller, and/or Ray Allen, (the exact players depending on if they got Iggy or had to trade Gordon)
- If they got iggy, offer a buttload of cash to Kris Humphries. If they got Pau, offer a buttload of cash to Gerald Wallace. He has an option, right? Is it illegal for us to wink at his agent so that he opts out?
In the 2nd round, pick Marcus Denman or O'Quinn, rather than Miller. By the way, why do teams keep letting the Spurs pick the best players with the last picks?
Depending on how many of these pieces fall together, it would be easy to field a team that wins 50 games. The presense of Davis alone (and the absense of Kaman, who "lost" them 4 or 5 games) probably nets them 15 more wins than last year.
But hey, I guess winning 35 games and having your brand-new superstar hate losing so much that he leaves when he's 24 is an option as well. If that's your thing, go for it.
Warriors: Harrison Barnes *could* become a good NBA player someday, but all the evidence points too him being an inefficient scorer who brings nothing else to the table. Worse, Lacob tweeted that his phone was exploding with people that wanted to trade for Barnes, but he doesn't want to, thus proving yet again that most NBA decision makers place far too much value on potential; many GMs will trade good players for other players who might someday become....um....good players.
Pistons: Dave and Ben both are having a rough time as Pistons fans lately. This pick is just terrible. The Pistons did alright unloading Ben Gordon's awful contract, and Detroit needs a big to go with Monroe, but Zeller, Sullinger and Henson are all much better and were all still on the board. Also, I don't know, has anyone told Joe that Tayshaun Prince is terrible and that the team could use some help at small forward? To be honest, if they did not want Sullinger, the right play is to trade down and pick up multiple quality players. Then, in round 2, they pass on WILL ****ING BARTON at number THIRTY ****ING NINE. FFFFFF DOUBLE MINUS.
Nuggets: What? The Nuggets pass on Sullinger to draft Fournier? When they have Al Harrington playing substantial minutes at Power Forward? At #19?
Did they let George Karl take over the draft room?
Bulls: So I get it, the MVP point guard will miss most of the season, sure. But honestly, if Anthony Davis were not a Wildcat, could you find one person on the planet who believes that Teague would have been an NBA player (Teague's parents don't count)? And by the way, didn't the Bulls get so desperate at shooting guard last year that they paid an ungodly sum to Rip Hamilton?
Did I mention that WILL ****ING BARTON was still on the board?
Bucks: Great draft day for Milwaukee. John Henson falls to them, and they get Dalembert from Houston (a monumental upgrade over Houston and worth giving up a good prospect in Leuer). The addition of Henson also probably means that Gooden plays fewer minutes, and plays those fewer minutes at his more natural PF. Big win all around for them and I expect them to be a playoff team next year.
Mavericks: Sort of. Zeller would have been a great addition, but moving this pick makes tons of financial sense, and then they end up with Jae ****ing Crowder (he doesn't get all caps like WILL ****ING BARTON). Crowder will be a fantastic value for the money a 2nd round pick gets and the Mavs are getting rid of Odom so they need some help at SF. Cunningham and James are both very meh, but won't cost much money.
Spurs: They picked next-to-last and they still get Denmon? 29 teams passed on him in the SECOND round? At this point it is embarrassing how the Spurs are schooling everybody.
Magic: Getting one good big in a draft is good. Getting 2 good bigs in the draft is robbing the other teams blind. The new management might just possibly have a plan.