NBA Roundtable

Draft Day Winners

In Draft on June 25, 2010 at 2:31 pm

New Jersey Nets

Take a second and consider this lineup

  • Point guard – Devin Harris
  • Shooting guard – Joe Johnson
  • Small forward – Damion James
  • Power forward – Derrick Favors
  • Center – Brook Lopez

The Nets have $27.5 million in cap space this summer. I don’t think they have a good enough, or better said an established enough, talent base relative to the competition (Chicago, Miami, maybe NY) to get one of the major free agents (Wade, Bron, Bosh).

However, I do think they have a very good chance at a second tier (JJ, Amare) and/or third tier (Boozer, Lee, Gay) free agents. So let’s say that the Nets manage to pry Joe Johnson away from Atlanta for a max contract (decent chance of happening) and imagine the lineup that that would create.

New Jersey would have five above average defenders and five players who are either solid to very good on the backboards. They would also have three go-to offensive threats in Lopez (low post scorer), Johnson (multi-dimensional wing) and Harris (scoring point guard). As well as two glue guys in the forward slots and that is completely ignoring Favors’ offensive potential who could become a bonafide go-to scorer himself.

That starting lineup could contend for an NBA championship and be a contender for the next 5-6 years. New Jersey can accomplish that right away, this summer, with one (specific = JJ) major free agent signing.

In summary, the additions of Damion James and Derrick Favors have given the Nets a major defensive backbone and presence on the backboards. As well as a lot of athleticism and size at the forward positions. Add another high quality offensive threat to pair with them and the Nets will be in great shape.

It’s incredible to see the progress New Jersey has made in 12 months. They have given themselves a realistic chance to put a Championship Contender on the floor next season. That is a remarkable achievement and a testament to the work GM Rod Thorn has done this season in creating cap flexibility + making good draft day choices.

Sacramento Kings

Sacramento just created a beautiful foundation for the future

  • Tyreke Evans = a dynamic guard who can dominate games in multiple ways
  • DeMarcus Cousins = a low post scoring center who can become a 20/10 threat

Both players are on rookie scale contracts and give the Kings a huge number of options in adding further talent to their roster.

My first preference would be Sacramento to add a scoring wing player via free agency this summer, say Rudy Gay, giving them an impressive young troika to build around for the next decade. Tyreke Evans, DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay.

Some other notes

  • Omri Casspi is the perfect role player to slot in alongside those three players.
  • Jason Thompson isn’t an ideal starting power forward, at least not at the moment, but he would be a very impressive lead backup big men.
  • Carl Landry is a very good trade asset
  • A decent prospect in Donte Greene
  • Some dead weight that needs to be moved along — Fransisco Garcia + Beno Udrih
  • More cap flexibility in the summer of 2011 with Sam Dalembert expiring. If the Kings managed to move another contract (Garcia or Udrih), they would be able to make another impact signing.
  • The Kings ideally would like to add an athletic power forward who can shoot the ball from the perimeter and play defense to slot in alongside the other three/four starters. They want a shooter to free up the low post for Cousins and to create open lanes for Evans to slash. A defender to help make up for Cousins’ questionable defensive impact.

In summary, the addition of Cousins has created a wonderful foundation along with Tyreke Evans to build the franchise. The Kings can now, over time, turn this foundation into a title contender.

Oklahoma City Thunder

The addition of Cole Aldrich has given the Thunder a big presence on the interior. Both defensively and on the backboards. Aldrich’s length, shot blocking, post defense and rebounding will be a major addition to the Thunder and now creates real balance throughout the team.

  • Guards — Russell Westbrook + Eric Maynor
  • Wings — Kevin Durant + Thabo Sefolosha + James Harden
  • Combo Forward — Jeff Green + Quincy Pondexter
  • Big Men — Cole Aldrich + Serge Ibaka + Nick Collison + Nenad Krstic

The cost of adding Aldrich was to take back another $8 million in salaries which pretty much eliminates the Thunder’s cap space. Their best chance to make further improvements to their team is via a sign and trade with Jeff Green + Krstic and maybe Collison used as bait.

I would like to see the Thunder try to upgrade Jeff Green at their starting power forward position.

Chicago Bulls

The Bulls made a draft day trade

  • Kirk Hinrich + #17 to Washington in exchange for improved cap flexibility

Consequently, the Bulls now have $30 million in cap space. Almost enough to offer two max contracts and considering they’ll have to make one or two sign and trades to get their first choice targets … they’ll definitely have enough money to sign two max contract players.

They also retained the slim possibility of hanging onto Derrick Rose, Luol Deng and Joakim Noah while adding those two max contract players. Unfortunately for Chicago, Noah appears to be the Raptors asking price and Deng may become the asking price for the Cavaliers … so it’s a little too early to be counting their chickens. Chicago may not be able to hang onto all three players while adding two max contracts.

In summary, excellent move by Chicago. They have seriously strengthened their hand in free agency and thus have given themselves a much improved chance at winning (multiple) Championships.

Miami Heat

Miami made a smaller trade to give them a similar opportunity to the Bulls by moving Cook + #18 pick to Oklahoma for cap flexibility. Now, if the Heat move Michael Beasley, they will have just about enough cap space to offer three max contracts in free agency.

A smaller move and draft day winner but a noteworthy one nonetheless.

Editor’s Note: Portland Trailblazers

We may have another major winner on draft night with the Portland Trailblazers acquiring Luke Babbitt.

I am not confident enough in the scouting reports to say for sure but they could have a steal on their hands. Looking forward to seeing Babbitt play in summer league to get a better feel for him.

  1. Dave,

    1. When it comes to acquiring young talent via the Draft, Kevin Pritchard knows what he’s doing.

    2. Martell Webster is a very solid all-around NBA player.

    3. For Portland to give up Martel Webster in return for Luke Babbitt and Ryan Gomes, should tell you everything you need to know about just how highly thought of LB is by the Trail Blazers.

    With a personnel roster that looks like this:

    Andre Miller
    Brandon Roy
    Nicolas Batum
    LaMarcus Aldridge
    Greg Oden [pending his return from injury]
    Jerryd Bayless
    Rudy Fernandez
    Luke Babbitt
    Dante Cunningham
    Marcus Camby
    Patrick Mills
    Elliot Williams
    Ryan Gomes
    Jeff Pendergraph
    Juwon Howard
    Joel Przybilla [pending his return from injury]
    Nate McMillan

    this is an outfit that will be loaded for bear next season … despite the fact that they are now GM-less.

    IMO, those who think that Luke Babbit somehow resembles Luke Jackson … are little more than “stat-heads” without actual knowledge about the game.

    e.g. Jackson could not get his shot off in the NBA. Babbitt can get his shot off at-will, can get to the FT Line, and is a tougher than you think rebounder and defender.

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