Shanoff's Wake-Up Call: Nets Draft ... LeBron?

↵Today's Calls: 2008 NBA Draft vs. 2010 NBA Free Agency, Pat Riley vs. Michael Beasley, O.J. Mayo vs. Kevin Love, Twins vs. Rays, Rich Harden vs. Cliff Lee, Maria Sharapova vs. Andy Roddick and More! ↵

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↵The Opening Pitch: The Nets might as well have drafted LeBron James yesterday. ↵

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↵The Nets were the big winner of draft day, and it only partially had to do with the draft. You have to look at the bigger picture: ↵

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↵*They traded Richard Jefferson for Yi Jianlian, which gives the Nets an instant foothold in China. And LeBron LOVES the Chinese market. ↵

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↵*The move will free up a lot of cap room by 2010, positioning the Nets to be able to pay LeBron his max. ↵

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↵*And they capped the day by getting the steal of the first round in Brook Lopez, the top true center and an ideal post complement for a team featuring the league's most versatile player. Um: LeBron. ↵

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↵(The Nets even snagged BOTH of SN's sleepers: Ryan Anderson at 21 AND Chris Douglas-Roberts, the steal of the second round. Sheesh: With this many sleepers, Woody Allen is rooting for the wrong New York-area NBA team.) ↵

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↵To review: The Nets entered China, got loads of 2010 cap room and drafted a 20-year-old 7-footer and two versatile sleepers. (Oh, and team owner Jay-Z is still LeBron's mentor, and the team is still scheduled to move into the center of the NBA's biggest media market.) ↵

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↵Connect the dots, friends: It's all about LeBron. The Nets want LeBron. The Nets are now in a perfect position to lure LeBron. When the Nets eventually sign LeBron, we will look back and say that the 2008 NBA draft was a critical moment -- perhaps THE critical moment -- in that process. ↵

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↵Timberwolves and Grizzlies create blockbuster: Minnesota gets Kevin Love and Mike Miller (and parts); Memphis gets O.J. Mayo (and parts). It's a win for both teams: ↵

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↵Kevin McHale gets the draftee he really wanted (his heart was never in Mayo) and, in Miller, a bona fide stud -- Mr. Outside to Al Jefferson's Mr. Inside (with Love as the connective tissue). ↵

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↵The Grizzlies get a Face of the Franchise: Neither Rudy Gay nor Mike Conley was going to be that guy, although Memphis is now awfully perimeter-heavy, particularly when you add in extra draftee Donte Greene. ↵

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↵Three other big storylines: ↵

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↵(1) Freshmen rule: 10 freshmen in the first round, a new record. Wow, David Stern, that age limit SURE IS WORKING! It is arguable the one-and-done rule has made things worse; expect even more frosh to bolt next year. ↵

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↵(2) Pat Riley backs down, drafts Beasley. In the end, of course he didn't take Mayo over Beasley, a once-a-decade talent (well, twice, if you want to count Kevin Durant). This was the right pick, although Riley didn't seem particularly ecstatic about making it. ↵

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↵Three other big storylines: ↵

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↵(1) Freshmen rule: 10 freshmen in the first round, a new record. Wow, David Stern, that age limit SURE IS WORKING! It is arguable the one-and-done rule has made things worse; expect even more frosh to bolt next year. ↵

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↵(2) Pat Riley backs down, drafts Beasley. In the end, of course he didn't take Mayo over Beasley, a once-a-decade talent (well, twice, if you want to count Kevin Durant). This was the right pick, although Riley didn't seem particularly ecstatic about making it. ↵

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↵Other picks I liked: Derrick Rose, obviously. ... Jerryd Bayless, because "fit" matters, and playing next to big Brandon Roy -- after the Pacers traded Bayless' draft rights to Portland -- is a perfect match for this undersized combo guard. ... In the same trade, Brandon Rush to the Pacers, where he is an all-rookie team sleeper. ... Courtney Lee, who instantly fills a need for the Magic (and was a rare rep for the senior class). ↵

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↵(3) Knicks get booed. If the Knicks were going to take Danilo Gallinari, they should have done a better job through the media to prep fan expectations. Fans HATED the pick. ↵

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↵(I do not buy the canard that Knicks fans demand winning now. In fact, it's that mentality that has ruined the franchise. All they want is to see a plan; I'm not sure they saw how Gallinari fit into that plan.) ↵

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↵Other picks I didn't like: Hard to keep count. I love Joe Alexander, but how will he fit with Richard Jefferson? ... MJ ruins another one: Why replace Raymond Felton with another short PG (D.J. Augustin?), and Alexis Ajinca averaged 4.7 ppg (in France) and defines "project." ... Really: Jason Thompson?!?! JaVale McGee?!?! ... Anthony Randolph is yet another big man project for a Warriors team that wants to win now. ↵

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↵Second-round sleepers: Mario Chalmers -- drafted 34th by the T-wolves, then traded -- was a steal for the Heat; he could step in and play next to Dwyane Wade immediately. ... I already mentioned Chris Douglas-Roberts. ... Bill Walker is a top 10 talent with a questionable knee; as a Wizards fan, I was bummed to see him traded to the Celtics, who can afford to take a risk. ↵

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↵Draft Fashion: O.J. Mayo earns "Best in Show," both from me and the Head Chick in Charge at Leave The Man Alone. (The "Bar Mitzvah Boy" Award goes to Eric Gordon; he just looks 13.) ↵

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↵Everything else, very quickly ... ↵

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↵MLB Instant History: The Twins are on fire, with their ninth straight win. ↵

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↵The Rays are on fire, too: Matt Garza pitched a one-hitter (10 Ks) for the Rays' best pitching performance of the season, completing a sweep of the Marlins. ↵

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↵Fantasy Studs: Cliff Lee (11-1) and Rich Harden (5-0) both had 11 Ks and both should make the AL All-Star squad. ↵

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↵Walkoff Watch: Gotta love the walkoff walk; Tigers edge Cards. ↵

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↵Astros oust Shawn Chacon: Apparently, the team didn't like the way the pitcher beat down the GM. ↵

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↵Indiana AD Rick Greenspan resigns: Well, it's about time. Because he hired Kelvin Sampson, the AD had to assume major responsibility. ↵

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↵Wimbledon upsets: Maria Sharapova and Andy Roddick both ousted. That is two less reasons to watch. Two big reasons. ↵
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↵Euro 08: Spain trounced Russia 3-0 to set up an intriguing final matchup with Germany. ↵

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↵Shaq resumes celebrity-sheriff duties in northern Alabama: The sheriff's department there didn't seem to mind Shaq's rapping. ↵

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↵The Last Word: Bon voyage to Deadspin's Will Leitch on his final day as full-time editor. He has had a wild ride, from its launch on September 8, 2005 until today, establishing Deadspin (and himself) as the preeminent sports blog (and sports voice). All best to Will at New York magazine (and, soon, for the relaunched Sporting News magazine!), though I hope to see him slumming it at Deadspin regularly. ↵

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↵Dan Shanoff writes The Wake-Up Call every weekday morning for SportingNews.com and blogs daily at DanShanoff.com. Got any comments, questions or feedback? Email Dan at shanofftsn-[at]-gmail-[dot]-com. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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