I did not like the first round of yesterday's draft one bit. I am in the camp that sees Cousins as the fat angry son of God sent to earth to smite the surplus of soft dandies that occupy the paint in today's NBA, and until he fails to live up to those expectations in Sacramento (which he won't) I will be very angry. I also really didn't like the Webster trade in several directions. I don't see what value Webster adds over guys at 16, I don't think we got best value even if he improves, and I think we were in a position where we needed to roll the dice rather than settle for known mediocrity. I also was just disappointed by the lack of anything exciting and unexpected. I really didn't expect yesterday to be such a whimper.
However, I did walk away contented with several things, and I want to focus on them for a little bit:
1. I'm going to start with the weakest positive I walked away with. Lazar Hayward. Less because I like Lazar's game, and more because I like the strategy behind the selection. As a 1st round pick, Lazar is going to see guaranteed money, which makes the 30th pick in the 1st a different creature from the 1st pick in the second. This is not necessarily a pick to really role the dice on. The high upside guys at this point are going to be very low-probability and slow progression towards success, so if you do roll the dice, you are very likely to get stuck with a serious dud. And even if they do pan out, by the time they get there, they are off of their rookie contract, and you need to pay out your ass to keep them around. Kahn decided to go the complete opposite direction, and use that pick on a player that has received 4 years of high caliber college coaching, and is ready to contribute to the team, at some level, throughout his cost-effective rookie contract. Basically a low-cost filler free-agent pick up. I like this approach.
2. Wesley Johnson might be really good.
Unfortunately most of the prognosticators that I respect have been pretty down on him. For example:
But the truth is Wesley Johnson looks like nothing more than a very good NBA role player at this point. He never has shown the type of scoring ability that has been necessary to become a star and expecting as much from him will only hurt his career.
3 Wesley Johnson J.R. Giddens (97.2)
A considerably less favorable comp. Johnson's age (he'll be 23 by the time summer-league play tips off) is a red flag.
However, Wesley is a very weird case, and he likely causes some problems for analysts that rely on comps to predict success. Wesley is a Junior, which typically means that a player just wasn't good enough to attract attention until their 3rd year in college, which is not a good thing. While this was absolutely the case for Wes his 1st year, he didn't have the opportunity to be noticed his sophomore year. Wes is highly athletic, and in addition, was a very productive player last year (unlike our last Syracuse mistake). He scored efficiently, got boards, got steals, got blocks... he was really good. The problem is that he was really only doing all of this for about 2 months of his 3 year college career, that is really scary. While most people see Wes as a "safe" pick, I see him as potentially being a serious bust, but I also think that if the first 2 months of last season were the real Wes, he could be a serious stud.
3. We didn't trade Love. This has been my biggest fear and I am really happy that, not only have we not traded Love, but there seems to be little or no chatter about likely trades. This is a big positive for me, because I am really concerned that Kahn undervalues him considerably.
4. The Euro stashes. These guys got lost in the outrage over the 1st round, but I really love both of these picks. Paolo Prestes I really liked for awhile, and I really like Nemanja Bjelica after researching him. These are exactly the kind of guys I was counting on the Ronzone/Philo team to bring in.
DX did a great write-up on him a few weeks ago that got me interested. Long-story short, he is raw but productive. The best rebounder in Europe with a simple but effective post game.
Exactly the kind of guy that I have been concerned Kahn avoids. BBIQ, vision, creative.. the kind of guy that could form an awesome on court relationship with Love and Rubio. I don't agree with all this talk about an athletic running team being fun to watch, I want a smart spontaneously creative team to watch. While it sounds like Nema has a lot to work on, his upside is that kind of a player. I would love to see him evolve into a 3-4 offensive creator off the bench.
So there you are. Those are my positives coming out of yesterday's draft. In my opinion, they do not begin to outweigh the negatives, but there still are some happy things to talk about. Anybody have any more to add?