After the dust has settled, 25 observations from the NBA draft

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25 thoughts, observations, and wisecracks about the 2012 NBA Draft, now that there’s been some time to see the whole board.

 

1. I spent two months talking myself into the idea that Tyshawn Taylor was a first round pick because I was worried I was being overly harsh on his decision making late in games. Then it turned out I was giving him too much credit.

2. Harrison Barnes was essentially overrated in evaluations for two years, all the way up until Thursday at 7:00 EST. Then he was adequately rated by the draft process. Waiters may have been a reach by Cleveland, but Barnes going seventh was representative of where he should go overall. Enough of a risk to not go top five, enough of a talent to go top ten.

3. The bust likelihood on Anthony Davis is the basement. It’s sub-arctic. That’s such a luxury for the Hornets. Even if his offensive game never flourishes, defensively, he’s a franchise player. His ceiling is mega-star, his basement is franchise power forward. So that works out well for them.

4. I was vehemently opposed to the idea of Harrison Barnes going top four. But he would have been a better choice for Cleveland than Waiters. It’s not that Waiters doesn’t fill the need or won’t be a good player. He does and he will. It’s just such a reach. The Cavaliers spent all that time efforting to move up to No. 2, why not spend a little time moving back to get Waiters and pick up something else? It wasn’t a huge reach, it was a small reach, but it was still a reach.

5. But Sacramento reaps the benefits. All of your rebounds? They belong to the Kings. All of them. In two years, that’s the single nastiest frontcourt in the NBA. Just nasty. Cousins and Robinson are going to flat out beat up on other frontcourts.

6. How about Portland showing common sense? Addressing need while taking arguably the two best players at their positions? Some common sense in a rare showing.

7. I love John Henson as a draft prospect, I hate him as a Milwaukee Buck. Ekpe Udoh, Larry Sanders, Samuel Dalembert… why do you need to add John Henson to that mix? What does he do for you in Skiles’ system?

8. Detroit couldn’t get away from Drummond’s hypnotic effect. No matter what they did, they just landed back there. Unfortunate, really. (File this under: things to throw back in my face if Drummond reaches his potential and shows that every single piece of evidence about his mental approach is flawed.)

9. The only thing, the only thing that gives me pause on Royce White is the fact that he said he might rather play music than play basketball. It’s a totally fair position. A lot of people would rather do other things than what they do. It’s just that so few NBA players are truly great with that mindset.

10. I had all these wonderful words prepared for whoever took Terrence Ross in spots 13-18, and then the Raptors went and reached for the sky on him and now I don’t like the pick at all. That’s just aggravating. He was best available at the position, but it’s such a “competent role player with a top-10 pick” feel.

11. “Philly drafts Moe Harkless so surely they’re going to trade Andre Iguodala!” #thingswehavethoughtforthepastfiveyears

12. Houston managed to get three great players in the draft and still come out a loser because they yet again whiffed on the big pitch. Graded. On. A curve.

13. I want you to imagine a frontcourt of Glen Davis and Andrew Nicholson. Rolly, polly, big, and aggressive as everything holy.

14. You know, if you combine both of Boston’s picks into one player, you really start to have something.

15. Oh, what’s that, you can’t do that due to NBA regulations and basic laws of science? Oh, then that’s a terrible 1-2 set. Great for value where they were at, though, even if Melo was a bit of a reach.

16. OK, Dallas. Whatever.

17. Very excited to attend the Grand Opening of the Denver Nuggets new department store: “Versatile Wings Outlet Store,” since they can open it now by owning approximately 1,100 of them.

18. Perry Jones III went from being that pick that you were anxiously dreading a team taking too high to that kid you felt sorry for dropping so low. The draft, she is a cruel mistress.

19. Kendall Marshall to the Suns makes so much sense and you nod along and nod along and then you look at the draft board and go “Wait, Marshall went No. 13? That high? Really?”

20. The Ben Gordon trade helps my “MKG is going to have too many expectations to do things he can’t even though he’s a phenomenal player and a great kid” blood pressure stay down. That’s one of the weirdest sentences ever written.

21. Washington: Daring the fates and skating by since… 2012. But still!

22. An Austin Rivers-Eric Gordon backcourt should just be called The Hunger Games.

23. Teague may have been the slightly better, maybe safer pick for Memphis, but based off their need for a combo guard, he fits well. They still will not be able to shoot. At all.

24. Philadelphia really sneakily managed their way into a tremendous draft.

25. Robbie Hummel getting drafted is just a good thing for this world. Congrats to that kid.

Giannis Antetokounmpo: I could never see myself playing for Los Angeles

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All-Star Weekend was (at least) an implicit recruiting tool for the Lakers and Clippers. The host teams could show off Los Angeles – the beautiful weather in middle of winter, the nightlife, the glitz and glamour.

LeBron James‘ praise drew the most attention:

I think L.A. is a perfect place to host All-Star Weekend. It’s one of the few cities that we have in our league that can accommodate all of this. And when I mean all of this, you have over 200-plus countries that’s covering the game. You’ve got so many people from all over the world coming to watch our game and just be a part of All-Star Weekend. And we know the traffic. We understand that. But traffic is traffic and — but L.A. can accommodate that. It’s built for stars. It’s built for entertainment. It’s built for cameras and bright lights, and it’s a great place for it.

Of course, we already knew LeBron was partial to Los Angeles. He has a house there.

But not every All-Star raved about the city.

Bucks forward Antetokounmpo, via Matt Velazquez Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

“I could never see myself being out there,” Antetokounmpo said. “It’s great for two, three days but it’s a little bit — things are going a little bit crazy.

“Of course, because of the All-Star Game, there was a lot of people there. … In Milwaukee — I love Milwaukee — it’s low-key. I can walk down the road, down the streets without anybody bugging me — nobody interrupts my conversation or anything. I love how quiet and calm Milwaukee is.”

The Bucks ought to appreciate this outlook. Antetokounmpo once said he wanted to stay with them forever, and – as rumors swirled about his future in Milwaukee, he tweeted, “I got loyalty inside my DNA.” But he has since explained how important it is for a team to do right by its star player, supporting him with a winning supporting cast.

Maybe Antetokounmpo will eventually leave the Bucks, but it seems unlikely that’d be just to reach a bigger market. Milwaukee can’t change its location. The Bucks can somewhat control whether they put a winner around Antetokounmpo.

Still, other teams will try to poach Antetokounmpo – like Joel Embiid‘s 76ers. Antetokounmpo, via Velazquez:

“He told me I should trust the process and come play for Philly,” Antetokounmpo said with a chuckle, drawing a laugh. “That was my reaction — I just laughed.”

PBT Podcast: What to watch during stretch run of season

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Are the Cleveland Cavaliers for real? And by “real” do you mean best in the East or threat to Warriors?

Who is going to make the playoffs in the West? Is Utah going in? Portland? The Los Angeles Clippers?

Is James Harden going win MVP? Is it Ben Simmons or Donovan Mitchell for Rookie of the Year?

Those are just some of the storylines as the NBA races down the stretch run of the season (most teams have around 25 games left). Kurt Helin and Dan Feldman of NBC Sports break down all the things to watch from the end of the season, including if Detroit can climb up into the postseason, and how the top of the East is going to shake out.

As always, you can check out the podcast below, listen and subscribe via iTunes at ApplePodcasts.com/PBTonNBC, subscribe via the fantastic Stitcher app, check us out on Google play, or check out the NBC Sports Podcast homepage and archive at Art19.

Suns, Hawks say they won’t change strategy to tank

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Phoenix shut down healthy players in a transparent bid to tank last season. But Suns general manager Ryan McDonough said not to expect a repeat.

Scott Bordow of azcentral:

Wednesday, McDonough told azcentral sports that the Suns won’t approach the final 23 games of this season the same way. In other words, Phoenix isn’t tanking in order to improve its chances of landing the No. 1 pick in the May 15 draft lottery.

“We’re planning on doing what we have been doing, that’s playing our young players. For us, that’s not a change,” McDonough said. “… We want to continue to have them improve and get minutes and try to win as many games as we can.”

The Mike Budenholzer-coached Hawks also won’t sit their top players.

Michael Cunningham of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

Some other teams near the bottom of the standings have publicly proclaimed they will favor youth over experience for the final four-plus weeks of the season, but Budenholzer said he will stay the course.

“I think we’ve been a mix of young and veteran guys all year,” he said Wednesday. “I think the way we progressed through the season — of course when you start the season you think it could be a little different — (but) right now but I think the way we’ve played, and the way we continue to play, won’t be that much different.”

To some degree, McDonough and Budenholzer are just trying to avoid a Mark Cuban-esque fine. The NBA discourages most talk of tanking.

But Phoenix and Atlanta don’t need to change their rotations to tank. They’re already good at losing! Both teams are a league-worst 18-41.

Some teams will get more serious about tanking down the stretch. The Suns and Hawks are already there. That doesn’t make them more virtuous than the Mavericks.

Still, this is a tight race for the top of the lottery. Four other teams have just 18 wins. Another has only 19, and one more has only 20. If the Suns and Hawks need to get worse to improve draft position, I wouldn’t put it past either team.

By the way, that headline can be read a couple different ways. That’s intentional.

Report: Kyrie Irving requested trade after ‘sloppy’ discussion by Cavaliers’ front office

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The Cavaliers reportedly explored trading Kyrie Irving in June. He requested a trade in July.

Since dealt to the Celtics, Irving has said he’ll never pinpoint his precise reason for leaving Cleveland. But he also said the Cavs “didn’t want me there.”

Did the Cavaliers push him out?

Dave McMenamin of ESPN:

On the day of the NBA draft back in June, just days after Cleveland parted ways with former GM David Griffin, a robust Cavs contingent made up of front-office personnel, coaches and team support staff members held an impromptu, “what if?” discussion about Kyrie Irving’s future, multiple team sources confirmed to ESPN.

The discussion, characterized as “small talk” by one source familiar with its content, was less a formal straw poll of what the Cavs should do with their All-Star point guard should trade opportunities present themselves, and more a thought exercise anticipating what the market could bear for a player of Irving’s caliber.

The talk got back to Irving, multiple team sources told ESPN, and that served as the tipping point that led to Irving formally requesting a trade a little more than two weeks later.

“It was sloppy,” one league source familiar with the draft-day discussion told ESPN, adding that any talk about trading a player of Irving’s ilk — however informal it might be — should be handled strictly between the GM and owner, because of the sensitive nature of its content.

While Altman was involved in the meeting, he and Mike Gansey — at that point officially the head of the Cavs’ G League team — were only keeping the ship afloat on an interim basis and had yet to be formally elevated to their current roles as GM and assistant GM, respectively.

This is one spin on the story. Yet another: Irving initially requested a trade before the draft and considered requesting one in 2016.

Both sides are trying to blame the other for the disintegration of their relationship.

It can be difficult to read how serious the draft-day discussion was. Maybe Irving interpreted ut correctly. Maybe he didn’t. Maybe he just used it to justify a trade request he wanted to make anyway.

What’s more clear: Communication hasn’t been as strong between the front office and players under general manager Koby Altman as it was under Griffin. McMenamin:

While the Cavs were struggling in late December through early January, LeBron James questioned Altman’s absentee status on a long Cleveland road trip, team sources told ESPN.

Altman helped repair that relationship leading up to the trade deadline, looping LeBron in on discussions that culminated with three trades. LeBron appears more invested in the Cavaliers, just in time to keep him next summer.

But some mistakes can’t be fixed before it’s too late. Maybe those Irving trade talks in June were one of them.