2006-07 Rookie Watch: Draft Redone
By Ryan Reed
With the season approaching it's end, I decided to revisit the draft. Rather than rank each pick, let's step into a time machine and redo the top 5 picks for those interested in revisionist history. Oh what a difference 9 months makes!
[img_assist|nid=3925|title=Andrea Bargnani|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=270|height=240]1. Toronto Raptors: Andrea Bargnani
The only thing stopping Bargnani in the second half of the season was his appendix. Bargnani was putting up big numbers following the all-star break (14 ppg and 5 rpg) and was a real threat to steal the Rookie of the Year award from Brandon Roy's grasp.
To evaluate Bargnani's year we must rewind back to the expectations that most had for him. To listen to some people talk, you would think that the Raptors selected the second coming of Darko Milicic. Other pundits felt that he was the most polished big to come from Europe in a long time. What we got was somewhere right in between. Bargnani was spectacular at times and invisible at others. Overall, the Raptors brass has been widely acclaimed for their selection of Bargnani. While he won't win the rookie of the year award, you would be hard pressed to find a GM who wouldn't select him first overall if the draft were to be redone.
2. Portland Trailblazers: Brandon Roy
Thanks to the genius that is Danny Ainge, the Trailblazers were able to secure the heady Washington guards services by dumping Sebastian Telfair later on in the draft. If they were to do it all over again, Roy should have been the second name called in the draft. Easily the most polished guard in the draft, Roy has proven that he will one day be an NBA All-Star.
Now for my rant! How come every year we have to sit back and wonder why players like Brandon Roy always get selected 4 spots too low? What degree do NBA GM's get that makes them allergic to common sense? Have they all attended the Billy Knight School of blowing up a basketball team? Did Rob Babcock sit in as a special advisor to the Hawks when they passed on Chris Paul and Brandon Roy in successive drafts?
Brandon Roy is athletic enough to play the two spot, a good enough shooter to stretch NBA defenses, has a great body, tested well in all the physical tryouts and yet was passed on for prospects like Tyrus Thomas and stiffs like Shelden Williams. It comes as no surprise to me that he will be taking home the Rookie of the Year award this spring. It's just a shame that Billy Knight couldn't see that too (that's the second consecutive ROY that he has passed on). Atlanta fans (if you still exist) you must mobilize and do something about this. Seriously, it's getting out of control.
3. Charlotte Bobcats: Rudy Gay
I've been riding Morrison fairly hard in this space all year, but it was still difficult to pass on him at the 3 spot. The reason I believe the Bobcats should have selected Gay ahead of Morrison is the impending departure of do everything forward Gerald Wallace. Gay is so much more athletic than Morrison and proved to be a better shooter in his first season. It's not so much his ability to shoot, but his ability to get shots, which is where Morrison struggles.
Charlotte was in a tough spot this year. They still have to see if their previous draft picks turn out (see Raymond Felton, Emeka Okafor and Sean May) but they also needed to draft the best player available, as they were in no place to fill in needs. That led them to select Morrison, who they felt would give their offense the shot of life that it needed. A lineup that features Felton, Gay and Okafor could drive opponents crazy with their athleticism. Throw in Matt Carroll (who was way more consistent than Morrison) and banger Sean May and you have a decent foundation.
Gay was under the radar for much of the year since Memphis was eliminated from playoff contention when they hired an Elvis impersonator to coach their squad. What fans missed was a versatile player who showed that he could shoot the ball consistently from anywhere on the floor (37% 3PT, 43% FG, 73% FT) and wreak havoc on defense (1.0 bpg, 0.9 spg). Given the choice, the Bobcats should have made the less popular choice and gone with Gay over Morrison.
4. Chicago Bulls: LaMarcus Aldridge
The Bulls drafted Aldridge and moved him to the Blazers for Tyrus Thomas and Viktor Khryapa. In my opinion, they should have kept him. Thomas has impressed with his athleticism and energy, but Aldridge has proven to be the better NBA prospect. Showing a deft touch around the hoop and a solid stroke on his jump shot, Aldridge has given fans in Portland something to look forward to in the future. Along with Brandon Roy, these two should help lead the Blazers out of the misery they have found themselves in.
Take a closer look at Aldridge's numbers for the year and you'll quickly see that his 9.0 ppg and 5.0 rpg are quite deceiving. While he started the year off really slow, his numbers in March were terrific (14.7 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 52% FG, 1.6 bpg). He did have to end his season prematurely with an irregular heartbeat, but his recovery time was estimated to be quick. If Aldridge continues with his late season performance, the Blazers will have the long armed presence in the middle they've missed since Rasheed Wallace left.
5. Atlanta Hawks: Randy Foye
This pick obviously made way too much sense, so the Hawks reached for big man Shelden Williams instead. Foye would have given the Hawks an instant floor leader. The combination of Foye, Joe Johnson, Marvin Williams, Josh Smith, and Josh Childress could give all 13 Hawks fans something to cheer about. Instead, they are stuck hoping their pick lands in the top 3 so Phoenix doesn't snag it. I seriously think the selection of Foye could have helped Atlanta compete for a playoff position this year.
Foye was underachieving early in the year, but as Dwayne Casey gave him more minutes, his production increased. He had a knack for stepping up big in clutch moments and proved to be able to handle the point. The Villanova grad is not a natural point guard but he would be a huge upgrade for the Hawks.
Now for some awards:
Best Pick: Toronto Raptors, Andrea Bargnani
Runner Up: Utah Jazz, Paul Milsap (47th overall)
Bryan Colangelo immediately put his stamp on the franchise by selecting the unknown big man. By taking a huge risk (at least publicly) Colangelo again reminded us all why he is the best GM in the league.
The Jazz got a gift late in the second round with Paul Milsap. It would not be fair to the rookie if I didn't mention him here. He has turned into a solid and efficient NBA forward who will be in the league for a long time.
Worst Pick: Atlanta Hawks, Shelden Williams
Runner Up: Picks 9 - 11 (Patrick O'Bryant, Saer Sene, JJ Redick)
As stated earlier, the Hawks have had terrible luck in the last two drafts. Don't let Williams' 5.1 ppg and 5.0 rpg fool you. He was incredibly average this year. The Duke grad reached double figures in points 14 times this year, with 4 of those performances coming in garbage games in April. When you take someone fifth overall and they play to their potential and that is 5 and 5, you are in trouble, especially when such an obvious need could have been filled with Randy Foye.
Picks 9 - 11 were horrendous. O'Bryant spent the entire new year in the D-League, Saer Sene was up and down between the D-League and the bigs, and Redick struggled through a injury plagued season.
For nbadraft.net, I'm Ryan Reed.