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NBA Draft and Trade Reactions
by John Canton (NBA)
Posted on June 29, 2007, 11:47 AM

I love NBA draft night. It's always a good time. I figure why not write about what went down, try to offer some insight on the moves and then look back on this in a few years to see if I was right about some of it. What I'm gonna do is run through the first ten picks and then talk about the trades. Why just ten? Because after the top ten it's a tossup a lot of the time. Here she blows...

2007 NBA Draft - The Top Ten

1. GREG ODEN C Portland
No brainer of course. A starting lineup of Jack, Roy, Webster, Aldridge and Oden is pretty solid especially since they're such a young group. I guess Steve Francis could end up starting if he gets his act together, but I'm not a fan of him.

2. KEVIN DURANT F Seattle
Looks like they're cleaning house by dumping the salary of Ray Allen and letting Rashard Lewis, which sets them up for next summer when there are a lot more attractive free agents (KG, Arenas just to name a few) out there. This guy's rookie of the year because he'll have every opportunity to be the offense. Pencil it in.

3. AL HORFORD F Atlanta
He's a low post player that they need. I just think they have a glut of SF/PF players on this team and it'll be hard to find minutes for Josh Smith, Marvin Williams, Shelden Williams (who I don't like much at all) and this guy now.

4. MIKE CONLEY G Memphis
Their coach is Mike Iavaroni, former Suns assistant, so they're going to run. He's a solid player to team up with Gay, Miller and Gasol because those guys can score so he can be the distributor they need.

5. JEFF GREEN F Seattle (via Boston)
I like his game because he'll fit in right away. Since he and Durant are basically small forwards they'll probably play both at the same time and go small at the PF position I presume. Good thing about him is he should fit into the NBA game right away.

6. YI JIANLIAN F Milwaukee
Will be interesting to see how he fits in, or even if he wants to fit in there. Looks like he'll be a reserve backing up Villanueva and Bogut up front.

7. COREY BREWER F Minnesota
I love this guy. He'll score the second most points of all the rookies although the team is headed nowhere. That's a bad situation for one of my fave guys.

8. BRANDAN WRIGHT F Warriors (via Charlotte)
Nice trade by the Warriors. As much as small ball is fun, you do need some big guys and he's the kind of athletic big guy that will fit in. A rotation of Wright, Harrington and Biedrins should be good enough for them at the 4/5 positions. I like it.

9. JOAKIM NOAH F Chicago
They did need a post player, but it's hard to deny that this guy will succeed in the NBA. He's smart, he works hard and he'll be a great energy guy off the bench. Long term, though, Hawes may be the better fit since he's more of of a low post scorer.

10. SPENCER HAWES C Sacramento
I think they'll have to be patient with him. He may take a year or two to really develop, but since he's got a good back to the basket game already it's hard not to like his future.

After the top ten I like the Hawks getting Acie Law at 11 and Julian Wright to the Hornets at 13 because I think both will be solid pros. After that teams pick for needs and they just hope they work out. Never know how it'll work.

NBA Draft Night Trade Reactions

Seattle sends Ray Allen to Boston for Wally Szcerbiak, Delonte West and #5 (Jeff Green)

I'm not sure about this one for Boston. I think the Sonics are smart for clearing up cap space because they know they're going to lose next year anyway. As for Boston, they knew they needed to make a move and they did one without giving up on Al Jefferson. Thing is Ray Allen's a guy that needs the ball, just like Pierce and Jefferson are, so it'll be tough for me to say this is a great move. Who's going to get them the ball? Rajon Rondo and Sebastian Telfair? That's not a good combo at all. They'll be better than last year (can't be much worse), but I don't know how good they'll end up being. Despite their three best players being good, they're all scorers first. That doesn't always work out.

Winner: Boston in the short term. Seattle in the long term.

Portland sends Zach Randolph, Dan Dickau and Fred Jones to the Knicks for Steve Francis and Channing Frye

Randolph's the best player in the deal, so the Knicks should be applauded for getting him. Problem is, he's a person of questionable character that has had plenty of incidents in his life in a small city like Portland. How will he do in New York? From a basketball standpoint, he's a back to the basket big guy that plays bad defense, just like Eddy Curry. At least he can board, unlike Curry. Defensively they're not a good duo, but offensively they will kill teams in the post because of their muscle. Jones is a good energy player off the bench while Dickau gives them PG depth, which is fine.

I checked Francis' salary. He's got two years left on his overpaid contract (just over $15 million per). I guess Portland thinks they will give him a shot this year and then move his expiring deal next year. They can throw him into the starting lineup, see how he gels with the guys they currently have and if he continues to suck as he has the last couple years then you can get rid of him soon. Your first reaction when you see it is "why would you want Steve Francis?" but after his deal comes off the books in two years the only bad deal they have left is Darius Miles. That means they can entice free agents to come play with Oden & Roy. Not a bad strategy, really. These next two years will probably be building ones anyway, so it's an understandable move. Frye's a good player to bring off the bench because he can hit jumpers. That'll be big because teams will likely be doubling Oden down in the post sooner rather than later.

Winner: The Knicks, for now. Depends on what Steve Francis shows up. Since he hasn't had a great year in three years, though, I don't expect him to have one now that he's over 30.

Golden State sends Jason Richardson to the Bobcats for Brandan Wright

I like this move for both teams, but especially for the Bobcats. Their biggest need last year was having a guard that could score. Now they have a guy who can create his own shot and handle the offensive load. He'll pair up really nice with Ray Felton in the backcourt. I'm assuming they'll lose Gerald Wallace, so their starting five of Felton, J-Rich, Morrison, Okafor and Hermann (very underrated, quality player) is an improvement on last year. Plus J-Rich gets to leave all the tough players in the brutal West for the much easier Eastern Conference. He'll probably make his first all start team next year. Personally I think they should re-sign Wallace if they can because he's got the game that is needed on a winning team and I donít think Morrison's a good fit. Still, they can't give up on Morrison so soon.

Wright's a good fit for the Warriors. He's very athletic, he knows how to score and he can come along slowly because they got some good players at the 4/5 spots already in Harrington and Biedrins. The other reason for this trade was that it creates cap space for the Warriors. Now they can re-sign their impressive young dudes like Monta Ellis and Biedrins when their deals come up in a few years.

Winner: The Bobcats because they fill a big need for them by getting a proven NBA veteran scorer. They are closer to contending for the playoffs now. Wright may turn out to be a star, so it's not like the Cats got fleeced in this trade.

There were other trades, but those were the impactful ones. I don't really see a loser in any of the trades. Even though the Warriors, Sonics and Blazers all lost All-Star caliber players they did it to create cap space for flexibility in the future, which is a sound strategy that is going to benefit them in 2-3 years. The teams that received the star players needed to make moves and they did while not losing too much, so again I think they come out of it okay. I guess we'll see down the road who really won these days.

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Now that the offseason is over, the free agency is set to begin on July 1st (Happy Canada Day) and we could see some big names get traded as well. It will be an interesting offseason with the likes of Bryant and Garnett possibly changing addresses while quality free agents like Rashard Lewis (Miami maybe?) and Gerald Wallace (Orlando?) among others probably end up in new cities too. At some point in the summer I'll be back with thoughts on other happenings. For now, thanks for reading.

John Canton
oratoryjohn@gmail.com




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