Five teams who had good reason to stage those goofy, awkward draft-room celebrations, and four players who should go buy themselves something pretty …
1. Toronto Raptors
They had one glaring need — an athletic SG/SF who can score — and filled it with DeMar DeRozan, who could be the second-best player in this Draft when it’s all said and done. The 6-7 highlight machine will sell tickets, too, which every NBA team could use right now.
2. Stephen Curry
We’ll have to wait and see what happens with the rumored Amar’e Stoudemire trade, but basically it means Curry either stays in Golden State, where he’s got the perma-green light to shoot, or he gets traded to Phoenix, where he’s got a perma-green light to shoot and learn how to play PG from Steve Nash.
3. Los Angeles Clippers
They didn’t f*** it up, which is about all you can ask for from the Clippers. They had one pick, and they used it on the right guy in Blake Griffin. Now just keep Blake in a bubble until training camp and you’re good.
4. Ty Lawson
He gets first-round guaranteed money, and he walks onto a championship-contending team with athletes and scorers all around him to boost those assist numbers and fit his fast-paced game. Lawson can learn behind Chauncey Billups, and conceivably take over in a few years once Mr. Big Shot retires.
5. Oklahoma City Thunder
Looks like they killed the draft again. James Harden will be a star, B.J. Mullens could have gone in the Lottery but fell to 25th, and even Robert Vaden has potential to be a rotation guy. If we were talking about the Sonics, I’d have put them #1 on the list.
6. Chris Paul
The Hornets got two candiates to battle for the job of backing up CP. Darren Collison is more of a true point guard, while Marcus Thornton is closer to the Jannero Pargo-type volume scorer/floor leader. Whoever wins the job, CP wins in the long run.
7. Sacramento Kings
In a couple of years, the Kings will have arguably the NBA’s most explosive scoring backcourt with Tyreke Evans and Kevin Martin. Over the last four years I’ve always said 2nd-round find Jon Brockman isn’t that much worse than Pacers’ Lottery pick Tyler Hansbrough, and from what I’ve seen and heard, Omri Casspi could be a poor man’s Hedo.
8. DeJuan Blair
No, he didn’t get that first-round money or security, but if Blair makes the Spurs roster — which he should — he’ll be one of those 2nd-rounders who makes everyone feel dumb for passing him up and will eventually own a championship ring.
9. Cleveland’s layup line
Forget all the hype about LeBron and Shaq’s pre-game comedy act. If you need a reason to get out to a Cavs game early, it’s the nightly dunk contest they’ll put on during warmups. LeBron breaks out his best stuff from time to time, but then 2nd-rounder Danny Green can also get up. And 30th pick Christian Eyenga? Well, check this out: