A draft like no other
It was great, little stood out, every year these brand new NBA people and their families make me smile until my cheeks hurt.
I’ll be the jerk that points out that a very, very good NBA draft cut-off point is around 25 OK players. There are a couple of 30s floating around in this league’s recent history, but also a few where we barely cobbled together a lottery’s worth of OK guys.
It’s usually twenty, twenty-one guys, and then a severe drop-off where the 22nd-best player in the draft is, like, Travis Diener. Fine as a basketball player, not OK as an NBA player. Rare is the NBA draft with a first-round board’s worth of mainstays.
This was, hopefully, a rare NBA draft.
The pandemic changed everything, and extracting value from the stats scribbled by mask-wearing scorers on an empty sideline seems a bit spurious. Demanding form and function from a teenager after a single season of college ball is pushing it in most instances. After these 17 months, absurd.
I just like them as friends, so far, all smiling and full of grace and humility and also that Turkish kid in the polyester denied each of Adam Silver’s attempts at an orthodox greeting:
What do I know about him? I know I’ll read a lot about him, while we try to figure out if all his points and rebounds are good or bad.
Detroit did well, Cade Cunningham will be tall and great.
Jalen Green already played his ass off against adults, you’ll love him in an instant, Houston.
Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen will figure it out, or they won’t figure it out, doesn’t matter, when given an NBA draft pick you select Evan Mobley and think about everything else later.
If Toronto thinks it can turn Scottie Barnes into “Boris Diaw, but mostly into it,” then I want to let Toronto try.
Golden State did marvelously picking up the two swings, Moses Moody and Jonathan Kuminga (who stunk against adults last year, like you’re supposed to), and, Bulls fans, Sean Keane just reminded me that Orlando used the Nikola Vucevic-pick on Franz Wagner!
Wagner! It’s not like someone fell to them, like when the perfect Jalen Suggs dropped to Orlando at No. 5 because Toronto took a shot at Barnes. Franz Wagner might be the most productive of this bottom-half bunch, who knows, on this long weekend he is Franz Wagner as we know him currently, nothing for Chicago to lose sleep over. Not when you have that 31-year old center to lean on.
It was fine. They brought Richard Jefferson in to talk about Twitter while we were looking up from our Twitter, on purpose, choosing to watch TV.
Kendrick Perkins amazed.
The guy is 36, Katy Perry and Ashlee Simpson and T-Pain are all a month older than Kendrick Perkins, what is Kendrick Perkins going to be like when he’s actually old?
OKC GRABBED MORE PICKS
Good on them. (Australian).
Via RealGM, the two selections now due to the Thunder, who dealt the No. 16 pick (Mr. Turkish Handshake) to Houston:
Detroit's 1st round pick to Houston protected for selections 1-16 in 2022, 1-18 in 2023, 1-18 in 2024, 1-13 in 2025, 1-11 in 2026 and 1-9 in 2027; if Detroit has not conveyed a 1st round pick to Detroit by 2027, then Detroit will instead convey its 2027 2nd round pick to Houston [Detroit-Houston, 11/24/2020]
Washington's 1st round pick to Houston protected for selections 1-14 in 2023, 1-12 in 2024, 1-10 in 2025 and 1-8 in 2026; if Washington has not conveyed a 1st round pick to Houston by 2026, then Washington will instead convey its 2026 2nd round pick and 2027 2nd round pick to Houston [Houston-Washington, 12/2/2020]
The Thunder now have ten incoming first-rounders, plus two pick swaps. Josh Giddens will be a lot of fun and he worked quite well against adults last season but the Thunder need to miss the playoffs next year in order to avoid giving their own first-rounder to Atlanta, so, the teenager helps.
Charlotte got Mason Plumlee for the No. 57 pick because Plumlee is great offensively and Michael Jordan sure does like the same sort of players that HEY Cleveland picked up Ricky Rubio for Taurean Prince, also, let’s just stick those two transactions together without any break in the sentence.
The good-enough-to-get-traded Landry Shamet got the boot, again, out of Brooklyn and onto his fourth team since entering the NBA in 2018. Shamet will fill out Phoenix, fearful of Cameron Payne’s departure, in exchange for the barely-used (but beloved, here) Jevon Carter, who we hope actually plays in Brooklyn.
Monty Williams worked with Shamet in Philadelphia and remains a big fan. Shamet is good, this was an enjoyable deal for both sides.
The Nets also grabbed the No. 29 pick from Phoenix and used it on Tar Heel Day’Ron Sharpe, an offensive rebound machine (that now you’re allowed to put dollar bills in).
I can’t imagine any of 2021’s draftees celebrating their selections with a city league game in Indiana, against competition featuring exquisite Indiana mullets.
Stacey King. Bulls took Stacey King.
THE PELICANS AND GRIZZLIES TRADE
From earlier. Turns out, the Pels traded down to grab Trey Murphy III, the Grizz ended up dealing up for Ziaire Williams at No. 10.
“Down for need and up for speed.” — Jackie Stewart
The Grizzlies deserve the benefit of our doubt, they know how we think they should feel about Moody and passed. Every other team in the late lottery picked for “want,” why couldn’t the Grizz pick for “need” at the slot they targeted and traded up for?
Teams outscored the Pelicans by 92 points per game via three-pointer last year so adding Trey Murphy III for three years and Jonas Valanciunas for one season is a good enough start for the Pelican front office.
WHILE WE’RE AT IT
Jackie Mason just now died? In 2021? Thoughts to those he left behind, my best to the missus, but, I just assumed this guy went out with Dinkins still in office.
You’ll have to pardon my knowledge of NYC celebrities, I’m often tasked with both corn receiving and shucking duties and the arts page typically goes scarce before they let me get round to the paper, what with all the shucking.
Indiana dealt Aaron Holiday, who is an NBA player but not yet a particularly good one, to Washington for Isaiah Jackson.
Mark Deeks thinks the Wizards’ GM — what’s the guy’s name, Randy Bachman? — he thinks Wizards GM Tommy Sheppard is off his rock and roller::
Shams Charania @ShamsCharaniaWizards send No. 22 (Isaiah Jackson) to Indiana for Aaron Holiday, sources said. https://t.co/AL16Q42AFN
Tommy Sheppard is ex-Savoy Brown.
The Pacers also picked up Chris Duarte, who is nine months younger than Aaron Holiday, a three-year veteran with 182 NBA games under his belt.
Duarte also does a lot of the same things with his facial hair as Malcolm Brogdon, if Carlisle is on board, the guard is a good grab in a year gone sour. Isaiah Jackson jumps higher in his sleep than JaKarr Sampson does during actual games, his scant minutes will be fun.
Again, there are like 20-some players in these drafts. I’m not going to commit to a ten-year career from a guy (“Isaiah Jackson, PF, Kentucky”) that I hope Shams is correctly telling me exists and not made up.
THE BIG ONE
The Los Angeles Lakers will test the rims next season, bricks by the boatload, way uglier without Kyle Kuzma and KCP and Montrezl Harrell and, presumably, Dennis Schröder.
Kuzma did so much for them, KCP was integral on both ends without needing the ball, Schröder bailed the Lakers out all the time. All of them plus Buddy Hield shoot way better than Russell Westbrook’s 31 percent mark from long range and that paper doesn’t take into account the way Russell shoves three of his night’s four three-point attempts into the game’s final 90 seconds.
Also, Russell turns 33 in November. How long do we pay running backs for?
Don’t care. Find some other way to approximate Buddy Hield. Russell Westbrook is absolute sort of stalwart you need for these season-long bouts with attrition.
October starts sooner than you think and by March all these rehabbing All-Stars (Murray, Kawhi) will begin sniffing around and the Lakers need someone to hold up ratings every night. A championship requires what Westbrook brings. He treats every game like there are only 16 to a season.
Westbrook dragged Houston to its last credible run with James Harden and he pulled an exhausted Wizards club to the actual playoffs last spring. He’s the absolute best man to carry the load with LeBron James in and out, with Davis in and out. If you’re going to shoot three-for-one, you better get someone great. Westbrook is better than that.
The Lakers didn’t stop at Buddy Hield, and now they’ve got half a basketball team to still put together. We wish them limited success.
Listen to Ian Dury albums!
Thank you for reading.