"Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the 2010 NBA Draft..." -- David Stern
I'm not going to lie, those words give me a tingly feeling every year that I hear them. It never gets old -- like reruns of The Sopanos or seeing that Bree Olson just tweeted, you just know that when the NBA Draft gets rolling, good times are about to begin.
Last night was no exception.
Was it a great NBA Draft, from either a talent or an entertainment standpoint? No, not great. But like pizza or sex, even average NBA Draft watching is better than anything else you'll find on the tube.
So without further ado, some observations from last night NBA Draft, we'll go "Winners and Losers" format today, and these are in no particular order....
1. JOHN CALIPARI -- With a record five players selected in the first round of the draft (and four of them being "one and done" guys), Calipari cements his reputation as both an elite conduit to play at the next level and a college basketball mercenary. Fortunately for Calipari, the former reputation is the one that pays the bills and keeps the recruiting pipeline flowing to Lexington. Also, for those keeping track, this is the third straight year that the top point guard has been a Calipari-coached "one and doner" -- Derrick Rose in 2008, Tyreke Evans in 2009, and now first overall pick John Wall in 2010. Now if he could tell us how a team with four of the top 18 players doesn't make it to the Final Four....
2. SACRAMENTO KINGS -- Speaking of Coach Cal's brigade of here-today/drafted-tomorrow youngsters, the Kings have to be ecstatic with the way the draft unfolded last night. They got DeMarcus Cousins, who may be the most talented player in the entire draft, with the fifth pick. Cousins is certainly the most talented big man in this crop, and -- BONUS POINTS -- he's always a hair trigger away from decapitating his coach! SWEET!!
The Kings also nabbed Marshall center Hassan Whiteside (a top-15 pick in many mock drafts and a potential Marcus Camby-type) with the 33rd overall selection. Add to this the fact that they have Samuel Dalembert's soon-to-be expiring contract as a chip come trade-deadline time and the Kings' frontline situation looks sort of promising all of a sudden. Yeah, it feels weird.
3. JAMES ANDERSON -- With most draft grades on specific players, it's about the player himself, but the Spurs are one of the few teams in my mind where the team drafting him actually elevates the player's grade. Any team that has filled in around Tim Duncan with a bunch of players ranging from All-Star (Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker) to rising star (George Hill, DeJuan Blair) picking at the back end of the first round and in the second round...well, they know what they're doing and that has a "rub" on the grade of the guys they choose every year. It just does.
Anderson, like Whiteside, was another guy who was considered top 10 by some and was slipping down the board before a nice soft landing in San Antonio at #20. With the Spurs, Anderson can be groomed behind Ginobili, who just recently extended his deal for what will probably be the final three years of his career.
4. MAGNUM ROLLE -- Honestly, he was (**yawn**) the 51st pick, he's going to a struggling Pacers franchise...but damn, his name is MAGNUM ROLLE. Best porn name in sports since Bubba Franks.
5. MIAMI HEAT -- Let me go on record as saying that there's a big part of me that hates the way business has to be conducted in the NBA due to the salary cap rules. If it's the price we have to pay for competitive balance, then so be it I guess, but when teams are trading first round picks AND players to get a second round pick just to clear out cap space...eh, just too weird. That said, those are the rules, and Miami is clearing out cap space like the Baby Ruth cleared out the pool in Caddyshack...by the time Pat Riley is done, all that will be left is Dwyane Wade munching on a candy bar in the deep end saying "It's no big deal."
In all seriousness, the Heat got out of the first round and added three second-round guys with upside -- Dexter Pittman, Jarvis Varnado, and Da'Sean Butler. If two of the three stick (and I think all three will), it'll be home run. Pittman needs to drop more weight and get his mojo back, but Varnado was the best shot blocker in the draft and Butler is a high character kid with first-round talent and a rehabbing knee.
6. WWE FANS IN HOUSTON -- As soon as the Rockets drafted Patrick Patterson with the 14th pick, I got a text from Brandon Strange (one of our producers at 1560) surmising that the Rockets might select Gerald Brisco in the second round. If you're not a WWE fan, that's not funny -- if you are, it's hilarious. Just know that there is a former wrestler and now WWE Hall of Famer named Pat Patterson who is French Canadian, around 70 years old, and openly gay...
See? It is pretty funny, huh?
7. PAUL GEORGE -- The fastest riser on draft boards heading into Thursday night, he was the anti-Hassan Whiteside -- he was a guy who everyone had in second rounds up until like a week or two ago who is now a guaranteed multi-millionaire. More than anything else, he managed to overcome self-inflicted comparisons to Tracy McGrady, which should have been the kiss of death. Thankfully, central Indiana doesn't have the internet yet, so no one there knew.
8. "JUMPING FROM ONE FOOT, JUMPING FROM BOTH FEET" -- Following in the illustrious footsteps of "length" and "popability," Jay Bilas unleashed his unbridled enthusiasm last night for a handful of guys who were good jumping off one foot and off both feet. It was unclear how impressed he was with their ability to spell their first AND last names or breathe through both their nose AND their mouth. Needless to say, I'm already giddy for the 2011 Draft.
1. JOHN CALIPARI - Showing his transcendent skills of simultaneously being uber-salesman and clueless verbal diarrhea spewer, Calipari called last night the "greatest night in the history of Kentucky basketball." While having five guys drafted in the first round is a great night for any program, my hope is that diehard Kentucky fans pelted Calipari's Twitter account with tweets like "1948, 1949, 1951, 1958, 1978, 1996, 1998." Those are the years that Kentucky won national titles in men's basketball.
Call me old school, but I'd like to think the goal of a program is still to put up banners, not act as a rest stop for guys marking off the days between high school graduation and Stern proclaiming "Welcome to the 2010 NBA Draft"....please, tell me you got caught up in the moment when you said that, Cal.
2. EARS -- We all make fun of announcers, particularly announcers on ESPN. We're highly critical of them, and honestly I don't think we realize how difficult their job is. It's not easy. (I know, it's not roofing in the 98-degree heat or defending our country either, I get it, but few could do it.)
That said, Stuart Scott at this point is beyond the "caricature" stage; Stuart Scott legitimately ruins broadcasts for me, and I don't think that my feelings on him can be contained in one paragraph of a "Winners and Losers" column. You suck, Stuart Scott. Your tired act is an assault on the ears of sports viewers worldwide.
For the record, if we could put together an NBA Draft dream team for coverage it would be Ernie Johnson hosting (pro's pro), Bilas giving the in depth "I've seen all these guys play" view, Hubie Brown with the cagey veteran NBA viewpoint, and Charles Barkley for humor. That combo would crush.
3. CHEESE DOODLES - No Stephen A. Smith at the draft means no heckling about Smith munching on Cheese Doodles, which had rapidly become one of the highlights each year. I'm hoping the Stephen A. Smith sock puppet still made the trip to the draft....
4. CLIPPER FAN -- Elgin Baylor or no Elgin Baylor in the general manager's seat, you know that the Clippers' brass came away after trading for Kentucky's Eric Bledsoe thinking that they pulled one over on everyone because they landed "that Kentucky point guard" and they won't realize until like September that it was the wrong Kentucky point guard.
5. KEVIN PRITCHARD -- If you were a salesperson, how would you like to be fired an hour before making a big presentation, and still be asked to do the presentation? Well, that's what happened to Pritchard who was canned by Blazers' owner Paul Allen last night just before the draft kicked off, and stuck around to handle draft duties. I would have paid anything to see Pritchard go saboteur on the Blazers' draft by using the 22nd pick on Clay Aiken and the 34th pick on The Situation. Alas, Pritchard's career now joins millions of sets of eyeballs whose existences have been terminated by The Oden.
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6. TYPISTS OF ESPN TICKER GRAPHICS -- The rights to 15 of the 60 picks in last night's draft were traded during the draft. That's a whopping 25 percent, for those of you who played for John Calipari and didn't have to stick around for math class. The draft ticker was tiring to look at last night, I can only imagine the carpal tunnel syndrome setting in with the poor, unpaid interns who had to "sweat shop" their way through typing it!
7. ANDY RAUTINS and LANDRY FIELDS -- Selected at 38 and 39 in back-to-back picks by the Knicks, the reaction by Knick Fan was...well....predictable. Andy...Landry...it's cool, fellas. Don't feel bad. The Knicks could have drafted Derek Jeter and Spike Lee in that spot and it would have gotten booed. When it comes to Knick Fan, it's not you, it's them.
8. BRIAN SCALABRINE -- "Pale skinned, redheaded, towel-waving 12th man" is a very specific role that only a few NBA teams even bother to fill. Understandably, Boston is one of those teams. (Incidentally, Utah and Indiana are typically the other two.) Scalabrine has filled that role to much critical acclaim the last five seasons in Boston. Last night, the Celtics used their second-round pick on Notre Dame's Luke Harangody. Harangody happens to be pale-skinned and redheaded -- so Scalabrine is basically one Harangody towel-waving lesson away from being kicked to the curb. Nice knowing you, Scally!
Listen to sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from 3-7 p.m. weekdays on the "Sean & John Show" and follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.