NBA Draft 2011: Home Runs, Hits, And Misses From Thursday Night In Newark

A roundup of the NBA Draft that we'll update throughout the day, looking back on the best moments, the biggest hits, and the decisions that didn't really make sense. Photos, video, Cleveland jokes, and so much more!

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NBA Draft 2011: 'The NBA Is Stupid', And Other Stray Thoughts

Here's one thing about the NBA Draft that bugs me every single year. Why does the league insist on waiting until the end of the first round to consummate every NBA Trade? At first, it's funny, because watching top ten picks pretend to be excited about [City X] when they know they're going to [City Y] is pretty great.

But especially as the round goes on and we're already processing like ten different trades and twenty different names, trying to remember who's going where becomes pretty much impossible.

Again, this is something the NBA could solve instantly. Just let the NBA prospect wear the hat of whatever team is really picking him. And if the trade falls through afterward? BOOM. We get to enjoy the comedy of reliving all the stupid photos and interviews, just like we're doing today. Except today, all the photos of Jimmer Fredette in a Bucks hat are mostly just a reminder that the NBA's stupid.

With that, some other leftover thoughts on the draft...

Brandon Knight will end up being really good. He looked pissed to have fallen to the Pistons, but it's probably a blessing. Instead of having to live up to the expectations of, say, going no. 3 to Utah, he has added motivation to kick ass, and less pressure to deliver immediately. 

It's true, Knight looked like a mess about 50% of the time at Kentucky, and he probably needed another year in school. But now that he's in the NBA, he's still a great athlete, he's smart, and he's still the guy who was insanely clutch in the NCAA Tournament this past year. He'll need time to blossom, but other than Derrick Williams, he's probably the player from last night's draft who's most likely to make an All-Star game one day. Yes, including Kyrie Irving.

Speaking of Derrick Williams... Things couldn't have gone better for him Thursday night. By going no. 2, he avoids all the added scrutiny that comes with going number one, still gets paid almost as much, and winds up going to a much better situation than Cleveland. Minnesota's not exactly a playoff team, but assuming Rubio's half as good as David Kahn has advertised, the T'Wolves core is looking pretty great right now.

"It's only a matter of time before David Kahn screws it up," you say.

Yeah, but still.

Who's excited for Jimmer Fredette to hang out with Tyreke Evans? Also, who's excited for the first-ever on-court fistfight between teammates? You know, after Jimmer has his first 20-shot game while Tyreke fumes in the background. And what are the odds that the Sacramento Kings have a fistfight between teammates that doesn't involve DeMarcus Cousins? I'm tellin you, it could happen.

The line of his night. After Jonas Valanciunas stumbled his way through an interview with ESPN's Mark Jones, one of the ESPN analysts explained, "Good on his feet, he'll get better at his English." The only line that compares was when Jay Bilas called Dontas Motiejunas a "conscientious objector on the glass", but that one's not as good because it came from Jay Bilas, who was definitely way too pleased with himself for the cleverness.

Finally, the Draft was completely forgettable, but these lapels are forever.



Screw It, Let's All Become Bobcats Fans

Kemba Walker can contribute immediately, Bismack Biyombo will be good eventually, and together, BISMACK AND KEMBA just made Bobcats fans excited about their team for the first time in... Forever, maybe? Probably forever. This is what happens when you hire a GM, Michael Jordan.

Kemba Walker may not turn into a superstar, but he's a solid piece to build on for the Bobcats. Likewise, Biyombo may never turn into a dominating force on the offensive end, but given time, he could turn into a pretty deadly weapon on the boards and on defense. Besides, this wasn't a draft with many superstars. What the Bobcats got instead were two solid role players, both of whom could turn into starters on a playoff team. It's a step in the right direction.

The Bobcats will lose again this year, and that's okay. Without Stephen Jackson, they'll probably lose a lot. That's even better. Ultimately, it'll give them a better chance at the lottery next year, when the draft will be loaded with superstars who went back to school in 2011.

In other words, the Bobcats just got the two best names in the draft (BIYOMBOOOOOO), two guys that everyone wants to root for, and two guys that could be perfect role players on a great team. KEMBA AND BISMACK. It's a good start. Then, when they get a superstar in next year's draft, the sky's the limit. (Like I said, we should all become Bobcats fans.)


NBA Draft 2011: The Spurs And Pacers, And The Perfect Trade

The San Anotonio Spurs spent most of the week trying to trade into the middle of the NBA Lottery, and they failed. Then Thursday night, they wound up getting a lottery talent, anyway, and still kept Tony Parker, the player they'd been dangling in front of all those lottery teams. Not bad, right?

The Spurs management's gotten the benefit of the doubt for way too long, and when you add up some of the moves they've made in recent years (trading for Richard Jefferson, choosing Tiago Splitter over Luis Scola, banking on Antonio McDyess as a difference-maker, etc) the end result is a net zero at best. The Spurs may not have gotten worse, but they haven't gotten better in a long time. At some point, that's on management.

Having said that, trading for Kawhi Leonard was the best case scenario for San Antonio. Rather than giving up Tony Parker for 30 cents on the dollar, they get a player that most projected to go as high a 6 (albeit in a terrible draft), and finally get some athleticism on the wing. They had to give up George Hill to do it, but if the Spurs didn't shake things up, they be signing their own death certificate. So would you rather give up George Hill, or Tony Parker?

For San Antonio, rather than getting fleeced for Parker, they may as well take the chance that he bounces back in 2012, and go from there. It's not ideal, but it's their best shot.

As for the Pacers? Leonard's a solid prospect, but he's a lot more of a sure thing in San Antonio (surrounded by veterans, great point guard, won't have to do as much) than he would be in Indiana (young team, questionable point guard situation, Danny Granger plays the same position). So swapping him for George Hill is a huge win on their end. Now they have an up-and-coming point guard, they continue to be remade into one of the league's most underrated rosters in the league. George Hill makes them younger and more athletic, and at the same time, his point guard play will make them more coherent. All around win. For both sides. How often can you say that on draft night?


NBA Draft 2011: The Knicks Are Just Screwing With Everyone

That's the only possible explanation for the Iman Shumpert pick. Seriously, the Knicks have already realized that no matter what they do, fans will still pack Madison Square Garden, superstars will still want to play there, and this little cycle of teasing can continue it perpetuity.

Either that, or Donnie Walsh took a page of out Kevin Pritchard's book from last year, and deliberately tanked the draft. Either way, the Knicks wound up with the biggest head-scratcher of the night. Literally, anyone that's ever seen Shumpert in college is like, "Really?!" From Eammon Brennan at ESPN:

The problem -- and college hoops fans already know this -- is that Shumpert has always been a great athlete. He's always "tested well." Between the lines, though, he's never played up to potential. He's never shot the ball well. He's never been an effective distributor. With Shumpert at the helm -- and this isn't entirely his fault; Paul Hewitt shares this blame, too -- Georgia Tech's offense has often looked downright lost.

It would be one thing if that's where they stopped. But then the Knicks bought a second round pick, and--with Josh Selby, Scotty Hopson, and a handful of other solid gambles still on the board--drafted Kentucky center Josh Harrellson. Yes, that Josh Harrellson, the feel-good story of Kentucky basketball, and perhaps the least athletic player in the history of the NBA Draft.

If the Knicks hadn't bought that second round pick, is there any reason to think he'd have been drafted by someone else? If anything, he's the type of guy New York could have signed as a free agent. It just made no sense. All of which leads us back to the original conclusion: The Knicks didn't buy a draft pick and draft a player because they thought he was good.

It's pretty simple, actually. The Knicks probably just wanted to screw with their fans.

And it worked, just like it does every year.


Jan Vesley, The Washington Wizards, And A Kiss

Jan Vesley, come on down! The Wizards had a chance to take Bismack Biyombo at no. 6, and that would have been the smart play. His shotblocking and rebounding are guaranteed commodities, and he's the sort of player that seems destined to become an unsung hero on a playoff team one day. But my Wizards took Jan instead, and... Well, thank God for that kiss.

Had it not been for the kiss, I might have been tempted to ramble on about how he's an elite athlete that can't shoot, and if he weren't European, people wouldn't be nearly as convinced that he could suddenly develop that quality in the NBA. Think about all the athletes that've come along over the years who just never figure out how to shoot the ball. But hey, Jan won a European dunk contest once!

[slams head on desk]

But really, the kiss saved everything. Instead of whining for another 50,000 words about how stupid it was to pass on Biyombo, we can just wait and see and enjoy the kiss, because A) his girlfriend seems pretty great and B) That was definitely the best moment of the night.

Other than that, the Wizards did well for themselves later on. They got lucky when the Knicks passed on Chris Singleton at no. 17, and instead of overthinking things, they played it smart and took the best guy available at no. 18. Singleton's actually a lot like Biyombo. He may never be more than a solid role player, but the role he plays will be invaluable to a good playoff team. He can defend three positions, he works, and with any luck, he can eventually make Andray Blatche expendable. Pretty awesome, and if you can be a little optimistic about Vesley's potential, the Wizards draft looks pretty great.

And if you can't be optimistic about Vesley? Just watch the kiss again.

[watches kiss again]


Photos From The 2011 NBA Draft: Jan Vesley, Kemba Walker, And More

We'll get back to real "analysis" soon enough, but the best part of the draft is always the other stuff. You know, the awkward interviews, the absurd fashion, the staged photoshoot that each draftee has to go through after he meets with the media. It's quite the spectacle.

With that in mind, here are a few photos that made me smile. First, Kemba Walker's shoes.


Who knows whether Kemba Walker will pan out as an NBA point guard, but damn. Whatever happens, he clearly had the most swagger of any prospect at the Draft. It takes a lot of self-confidence to rock those shoes anywhere outside of Nantucket, but Kemba did it with ease.

That photo comes courtesy of Sports Illustrated's Luke Winn, who was at the draft in Newark, and also passed along this snapshot, which provides some "General Information" on the Utah Jazz that the team wanted Enes Kanter to know. The best one: "Team is located in Salt Lake City, Utah."

Sorry, Enes. It's true.

Then there was the photo series set up by the NBA, where each player was handed a whiteboard and asked to write what he's feeling. Yes, it was every bit as awkward as it sounds. Most players took the easy way out and went with "Blessed", so this one was my favorite:


JAZZY! He may not pan out in Utah, but Enes Kanter will make the Chris Kaman Awkward Photo Of The Day at least 25 times next season. Seriously, just look at all these amazing portraits.

Via @ESPNForsberg, here are some Knicks fans after their first round pick:


Really feel like Knicks fans have been stuck in that pose for a solid decade. And while we're on the subject of malcontents, who could forget Brandon Knight's "I'm moving to Detroit" face?


Finally, the photo of the night has to go to Jan Vesley, the newest Washington Wizard.


Outstanding. More on him and the Wizards in a few minutes.

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