A Wild Week in the NBA

June 29, 2009 | Tom Clayton


With the NBA Draft in the rearview mirror and the off-season jumping off to a hell of a quick start, I thought I would look back at the week that was in the NBA. 


The Timberwolves looked as if Al Davis had taken control of the “war room” on Thursday night.  With four picks in the first twenty-eight they selected three point guards; including Ricky Rubio and Jonny Flynn back-to-back at five and six.  I thought going into the draft Flynn was the best point guard in the draft and deserved to be a top ten pick…but combining him with Rubio simply make no sense.  There was no doubt Minnesota needed a point guard, especially after trading Randy Foye to the Wizards days before the draft.  But why not take either Rubio or Flynn fifth and combine one of the two with a Stephen Curry or DeMar DeRozan and improve a 28-54 team in two spots rather then load up at one position? 


Now the word from Rubio’s camp is that he may pull a Steve Francis and refuse to play for the small market team that drafted him.  Unlike Francis, Rubio has the option of remaining in Europe and making far more then he would if he signs with Minnesota.


DeMar DeRozan was a steal for the Raptors at nine; he will eventually become the best player in this draft and has All Star potential. If Toronto can resign Chris Bosh to a long term deal Toronto could have a very dangerous duo in two or three seasons.


Another player that teams are going to regret passing on is Pittsburg power forward DeJuan Blair.  How could teams like the Wizards, Kings, Thunder, and Grizzlies pass up on a player who dominates the boards, especially on the offensive end?  The skill that translates more often from college to the NBA is rebounding and Blair averaged 12.3 rebounds last season including 5.6 of the offensive variety while playing in the big man heavy Big East.


At 6-6 ½ with a wingspan of 7-2 Blair projects very favorably to Utah’s Paul Millsap who coincidently was a second round steal in 2006.  I understand teams were scared off by Blair’s lack of height and the fact he had two ACL surgeries in high school, but he has only missed one game during his two years at Pitt and dominated bigger players (including #2 overall pick Hasheem Thabeet).


While I don’t think this years draft had the sizzle of past years it was loaded with big name veterans switching teams.


The Cavaliers acquisition of “Shaq Diesel” was without question the most publicized move.  I think Shaq can help the Cavaliers, whose big men were exposed by Dwight Howard in the Conference Finals. “Shaq Fu” will be reenergized by his huge ego and the fact that Kobe can in fact win without him.  On the other hand I am hesitant to anoint Cleveland the best team in the NBA as a result of this move…for one I am fearful that Shaq will clog up the middle and make it more difficult for LeBron to get to the rack.  On top of that with Shaq at 37 years old it isn’t going to be any easier to run his 7-1 330 pound (on a good day) frame up and down the court.


The Magic acquired Vince “Half Man-Half Amazing” Carter from the Nets.  This move signifies the Magic have no intentions of resigning Hedo Turkoglu who is the most important player on the team outside of “Superman”.  Carter can fill it up and will be good for highlight reel dunks but at 6-10 Turkoglu was a rare breed that could bring the ball up the court and was an above average passer from the high post.


While teams were making big time, blockbuster moves I have no doubt in my mind the team that improved itself more then any other this week was San Antonio.  In addition to stealing DeJuan Blair with the thirty-seventh pick they also added Richard Jefferson.  The Bucks traded the 29 year old forward to the Spurs for Bruce Bowen, Kurt Thomas, and Fabricio Oberto.


Adding Jefferson’s 17 points per game to a lineup that includes a healthy Manu Ginobili along with Tony Parker and “The Big Fundamental” Tm Duncan the Spurs will be a force to be reckoned with next season. 


I will say that while this years NBA Draft may not be remembered for any player picked in the draft itself; next years champion may have been created this week.  The NBA is different from other leagues in that stars are traded on a regular basis and championship teams can be quickly built through trades rather then player development.