10 Things I Learned From Watching The 2011 NBA Draft

Senior Writer
06.24.11 10 Comments

It’s finally over, friends. Possibly one of the worst, if not the worst, NBA Drafts in recent memory. The Cleveland Cavaliers ended weeks of speculation that they would either make Duke’s Kyrie Irving the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft or they would keep pretending like they were going to take Derrick Williams by selecting Irving. Meanwhile, the Minnesota Timberwolves managed to screw up the incredibly simple task of trading the No. 2 pick of Williams, a player they don’t need, for assets they do need and future picks. And there were plenty of trades that made little sense, European players we’ve never heard of, jackass fans booing every single pick, and a second round full of guys we will never hear from again. Ah yes, the glorious NBA Draft.
Now I’m no expert by any means, and I’m often wrong when it comes to projections and theories. But I have become quite a big NBA fan over the past few seasons, so I’m learning. And I think that this draft was an exceptional learning tool for the fan like me, learning to love a sport that has never been kind in parity, while also being completely aware that the league is locking out in 6 days. So I had some thought while watching this draft and I thought that I might share them. What can I say? I’m a generous lover.

When the Washington Wizards selected Belgrade’s Jan Vesely with the 6th pick, many of us wondered just who the F this lanky Euro was. Then he shoved his tongue down his lady’s throat and announced to the world, “I AM JAN, SCOURGE OF CARPATHIA!” or something like that. It was fun because I find Europeans to be so delightfully goofy, especially after he butchered his way through his post-pick interview (“I love the John Wall game!”).
But my favorite part of this pick was how he was described by the Keystone Cops of draft commentary, Stu Scott and Jay Bilas. They praised his dunking abilities, with Bilas shouting joyously, “This guy’s gonna win a dunk contest!” Then I imagined Cavaliers GM Chris Grant slamming his fists down on the table and shouting, “Damn it, we could have had a dunk champion!”
With the 56th pick in the draft, the Los Angeles Lakers selected Chukwudiebere Maduabum, prompting the greatest run of the same joke (above) in Twitter history, thanks to Ron Artest’s earlier name change announcement. Regardless, with solid component piece players available, the Lakers took the 6-9 Nigerian, presumably after he informed Mitch Kupchak that his relative, Kupchak Smith, recently died in a plane crash, leaving behind the sum of $19 million American dollars.
In the meantime, Lakers fans were momentarily super excited about a guy who averaged .7 points in three developmental league games, before he was traded to the Denver Nuggets. Basically, he’s the greatest name ever drafted that we will never hear called by a NBA team announcer.
There is only one Dirk Nowitzki. He is a once-in-a-generation perfect storm player with size, ability and heart, and no matter how many Europeans enter the draft, there will not be another Dirk anytime soon. Enes Kanter is probably going to be a very good NBA player, if the ESPN crew’s collective knob slob was any indicator. And like I pointed out before, Jan Vesely has the tools to win a dunk contest, so Washington can get excited about that. But for every analyst that kept invoking the Nowitzki prayer shared by 29 other NBA teams – just stop it.

I want Denver's Masai Ujiri to be my GM.

I’ve never been big on the whole “Winners/Losers” idea because, as I’ve stated, I’m not an expert, but more to the point, this draft was so full of random names that it’s hard to tell which teams actually improved and which didn’t until these guys actually start playing. But if you could see through the foggy frenzy of random, seemingly inconsequential trades, I think there were some teams that actually made progress, as opposed to the teams that seemed to be making trades just for the hell of it.
My Biggest Winner*: Denver Nuggets
The Nuggets had a few issues they were facing, and none of them involved Carmelo Anthony aftermath. First, Nene opted out of his final year and will probably be the most sought after free agent if the lockout doesn’t start next week (it will). Some GMs have said that Nene will get “Dwight Howard money” which is hilarious, considering the reason why the league is locking out, but the fact remains that the Nuggets had to fill that void and they did with Kenneth Faried. Plus, they dumped Raymond Felton’s attitude and contract on Portland for Andre Miller’s non-guaranteed contract, so they can either trade him easily or drop him. Either way, the league’s other GMs need to look at Denver GM Masai Ujiri and learn. I’m speaking to you, Otis Smith.
My Biggest Loser*: Portland Trail Blazers
I don’t have a feeling on the Nolan Smith pick, as it could be great or he could be like most other Duke draftees and just fizzle out. I don’t like what Portland did because they were trying desperately to move Andre Miller, which most teams should have been biting on because of his empty contract, and they ended up looking desperate by taking Felton. I get that Rudy Fernandez was unhappy and pissing and moaning, but they still just handed his potential to the World Champion Dallas Mavericks. It’s probably irrelevant and harmless, but it still looks like the Blazers jumped too far when they had the advantage all along. Portland should have pressed the Orlando Magic harder for Jameer Nelson like they reportedly wanted, because Smith is one of the most desperate GMs in the league, and at least he’s not in the same division.
*Obviously there were other big winners and losers, but the two other teams that I consider to fill those spots get their own spots next.
Just two years ago, the Minnesota Timberwolves were in a great draft position as they had the 5th and 6th overall picks in the draft. Then David Kahn really introduced himself to the NBA world by drafting Ricky Rubio and Jonny Flynn and giving us two seasons and counting of “Boy, David Kahn loves point guards” jokes. So how well have those picks played out for Kahn and the Wolves? Last night, they traded Flynn – the No. 6 overall pick just two years ago and one of the best college point guards in the nation leading up to that – for 35-year old Brad Miller. The Wolves also get a future first-rounder out of it, but blah blah blah how does David Kahn have a job?
Also, the Derrick Williams pick was obviously the best the Wolves could have done, considering the outlandish nightmare trade rumors that were circulating in the days leading up to the draft, but it hardly solves the team’s needs. Seriously, if Kahn had sent Kevin Love and the No. 2 pick to the Lakers for Pau Gasol, how many days would it have taken before an ice fisherman was reeling in Kahn’s bloated frozen corpse? Trick question – 0. Wolves fans don’t care enough anymore.
The Bobcats were perhaps the most active team before the draft began, as it was rumored that they basically put their entire roster on the table and said, “Have at it, boys.” While that’s about as sexy as Christina Aguilera’s FUPA sweat, teams came calling, notably the Milwaukee Bucks, who will now play the coffin in the closing act of Steven Jackson’s career. The Bobcats, on the other hand, acquired a decent enough veteran in Corey Maggette and they scored the 7 and 9 picks to use on Kemba Walker, who could be great or could be a colossal fart, and Bismack Biymobo, who caused a record number of laugh-free Biz Markie jokes.
Now it’s just a matter of whether or not Michael Jordan keeps the team there. I hear Seattle is lovely this time of year.
I didn’t even stick around to watch the 60th pick of the NBA Draft, as I was dipping my toes in Lake Slumber while I watched Futurama. But every time that Washington guard Isaiah Thomas was mentioned during the draft, I cringed a little. Sure, he’s similarly named after one of the best players in NBA history, but that great player also went on to become one of the most inept NBA executives ever. I watched the NBA growing up and I remember watching Zeke’s Pistons, but I will never remember him for being an arrogant-but-great athlete. I will remember him for crippling the New York Knicks and being the reason that I believe that the NBA has the dumbest, most ham-fisted general managers in professional sports. I hope that Isaiah, selected with the final pick of the draft by the Sacramento Kings, has some success ahead of him. Perhaps then I won’t think of this every time I hear his name:

When BYU’s Jimmer Fredette was selected 10th by the Sacramento Kings, my reaction was, “Aw, poor guy.” But to hear him talk about his excitement for playing for possibly the most poorly run team in the NBA (with all due respect to the New Orleans Hornets previous ownership) was incredibly baffling, but somewhat refreshing. Look, he knows as well as you or I that he’s walking into a greasy taco fart cloud at best. He’s treating it with class when a lot of other players would have pouted and stomped their feet. After all, Jimmer has a lot to prove now that his ability had been questioned so much leading up to this draft. Most experts and analysts wondered if he’d be good enough for the NBA or if he was just another awesome college player that would spend his NBA career coming off the bench. Now he has to prove that he’s not Adam Morrison and he can play in the NBA. But first he needs to get laid.
First of all, I’d like to take this moment to thank any random gods that Chris Berman is not a NBA Draft analyst for ESPN, because I guarantee that we would have heard Kyrie “A Laser Down the Road That You Must Travel” Irving at least 2,000 times last night. Rock on, Mister Mister. Rock on.
Leading up to the announcement that Irving would be the first pick, the ESPN crew was relentless about Irving’s future in Cleveland and the comparisons to LeBron James. It was funny every time they mentioned Irving and then added “… or Derrick Williams” but it became so awkward when they talked about how valuable Irving was going to be to the fans.
Cleveland is like an average guy who had been dating out of his league for 6 years, and all his friends agreed that he had the hottest girlfriend on the planet. Everybody was so happy for Cleveland that they never bothered to keep him in check and tell him, “Dude, you better treat her right or she may leave.” But Cleveland got sloppy, always leaving his underwear on the floor, walking into clubs and showing her off like a piece of meat, and he never bought her any nice accessories. Eventually, he’d come home from work and she wouldn’t have a filet mignon and lobster tail waiting for him, so he’d lash out at her for not being perfect. So she left. Without any notice, she just started dating some hotshot with slicked back hair and now Cleveland was alone. Just an average guy again.
Along comes this new girl. The last one was a 10 and this gal is cute, too, maybe a high 7 or a low 8. But she’s not that last girlfriend. Not even close. And no matter what happens in this new relationship, Cleveland is always going to be thinking about that last girl and comparing her to the new one. Eventually Cleveland and Kyrie will be eating dinner and Cleveland will say, “Can you pass the salt, LeBron?” They’ll awkwardly laugh it off, but then one night Kyrie will wake up and Cleveland will be standing over his bed holding a LeBron jersey, whispering, “I made this for you.”
It’s not going to end well. The rebound never does. Treat this one right, Cleveland.
By far the highlight of last night’s draft was NBA Commissioner David Stern’s dickhead smirk every time he was booed at the podium. If there was an award for the guy who most thinks to himself, “Blow me, maggots, I am your God” Stern would have no more trophy space. But the absolute icing on the cake was at the very end of the first round when Stern was saying goodnight and introducing Adam Silver, when the crowd got in one last, strong boo, and Stern smiled and said, “Thank you very much.” I loathe Stern like an abusive stepfather, but the man has giant brass matzoh balls, and I respect that. Until the league locks out, that is.

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