Friday, June 26, 2009

Draft Post-Mortem: Quick Thoughts

Posted By on Fri, Jun 26, 2009 at 9:50 AM

I'll have a report from this afternoon's press conference later and will probably wait until this weekend to deal with the aftermath of the draft in War and Peace form, but for now some quick thoughts:

1. Hasheem Thabeet: I'd voiced my opposition to the Thabeet pick here, but clearly my "value" objection was not, um, valid. Last night's draft made it clear that the #2 pick, and the rights to Ricky Rubio, did not have the trade value that many assumed (or maybe hoped). Sacramento clearly wasn't going to offer a significant package to get Rubio at 2 when they weren't even going to take him at 4. The Knicks never had a compelling package to offer. As for Minnesota, there were some reports yesterday that Hasheem Thabeet was their target at #2, but if it was Rubio they were clearly right in not making a significant offer to move up. They got him at #5 anyway.

Via a combination of his legal issues in Spain and taking a closer look at his game, the shine clearly came off Rubio in the run-up to the draft. Did teams like Memphis, Oklahoma City, and Sacramento make a big mistake in passing up Rubio? Time will tell.

My other objections to the Thabeet pick are interrelated: There's a long history of teams making a mistake by reaching for size high in the draft. Taking out the few centers considered obvious franchise players (Shaq, Yao), the bust-to-star ratio is something like three-to-one. And I especially didn't like the Grizzlies taking the risk when center was not a position of need with Marc Gasol already in place.

That said, the pick is understandable: I think Tyreke Evans, Stephen Curry, and even James Harden are safer bets to be good pros, but I'm not completely sold on any of them. Given the Grizzlies defensive problems and the lack of a clear-cut alternative, I can see why they did it. But it wouldn't have been my pick.

2. Demarre Carroll/Sam Young: I didn't like the Carroll pick because, in addition to Young, who ended up falling to #36, I liked Derrick Brown from Xavier better (and Wayne Ellington and Dajuan Blair, for that matter). Brown and Carroll are similar as 6'8" defenders and both worked out for the team. But I thought Brown would have been a better bet because he's a superior pure athlete and seems to have more potential as an outside shooter. It was explained to me that Carroll got the nod because his surefire energy and toughness was deemed more important than what was considered Brown's marginal upside advantage. The Grizzlies apparently think Carroll can defend the 2, 3, and 4.

Young was almost the pick at #27 and the team was thrilled to get him at #36. My prediction is that Young has a bigger impact next season than Carroll.

3. The Darko Deal: For all Darko's issues, I'd rather have a rugged, defensive big man than a declining undersized shooter, which is what the Grizzlies got in return in the form of Quentin Richardson. But, once Thabeet was added, the team was looking at Darko as a third-string center. Essentially the team traded a third-string center on a large expiring contract for a second-string wing player on a large, expiring contract. The deal makes sense in terms of balancing the roster.

4. What's Next: I'll get into this more in the coming days, but in my mind this draft still leaves the team with two obvious needs (discounting just "more talent") — an upgrade at starting power forward and more backcourt firepower off the bench. The big question now is how aggressively the team will try to fill these needs via trade or free agency.

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