There I was sitting patiently for the New York Knicks and New Jersey Nets to make their respective selections last Thursday at the Prudential Center. I was hoping that the Knicks would grab one of the power forwards that might be available at 17 and I was hoping that the Nets could just get a serviceable player. To my initial dismay, the Knicks opted for backcourt help in Iman Shumpter. The Nets, on the other hand, might have come away with the evening’s best overall success.
There were about five power forwards that I thought might be available when the Knicks name came up with the 17th selection. The guy that might have been the best fit was Morehead State’s Kenneth Faired. I spent the entire college basketball season looking for that diamond in the rough that might slip to the middle of the first round that the Knicks could tab to help them on the defensive side of the court. Granted, Faired is a bit undersized as far as your prototypical NBA power forward is concerned, at 6’-8” 220 lbs, but after watching him abuse Louisville in the NCAA Tournament with his tenacity and hustle, I put him high on my Knicks’ wish list. So when the Knicks tabbed the combo guard Shumpter, I was heated and expressed my frustrations on several Facebook postings while the Draft went on.
But after calming down and thinking rationally about it, I did see the value the kid brings to the table and warmed up to pick. He can play two-to-three positions. He might be limited offensively but with Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire already in the fold, they will not need that much scoring from the Georgia Tech product. As long as he can hit the open 15’, which he is capable of, he will be OK. Where this guy is going to be of value is on the defensive end.
He is a freakishly athletic combo backcourt player who can guard the one, two and perhaps the three. And after watching Rajon Rondo of the Boston Celtics go through the Knicks as if they were the path of least resistance in this year’s playoffs, a defensive stalwart will be a sight for sore eyes.
Then on my way home, I heard that the Knicks traded for Kentucky’s big man, Josh Harrelson. Now this kid is not going to make you forget Patrick Ewing or Willis Reed and may not make the team, but he will bring something that the Knicks have lacked since Ewing left. He is one nasty son of a B*^$th. I assure you Paul Pierce and LeBron James will not be prancing down the lane while he is patrolling the paint. He can also pass well for a center, showed that he has a nice upside with a little more seasoning and does the little things that do not show up in the box score but helps you win games. He was buried on John Calipari’s bench earlier in the season, but emerged down the stretch during the University of Kentucky’s Final Four run. The Knicks also have 7’ Jamaican native, Jerome Jordon, under contract. He is out of Tulsa and played overseas last season. He is a good athlete but he is still a project. However, if he is half the player that the last Jamaican big man that wore the orange and blue, he will be a Godsend. Let’s hope that either Harrelson or Jordon can contribute, then the Shumpter pick will be looked upon as a steal. The Knicks have improved defensely with the addition of Shumpter and perhaps the big men. Now it is up to head coach Mike D’Antoni to embrace this influx of defensive talent.
On the other side of Hudson, the New Jersey Nets made major strides with their selections of Providence’s Marshon Brooks and Maryland’s Jordan Williams. They also acquired the rights to the Croatian star Bojon Bogdanovic, who some feel is NBA-ready at the age 22. Nets general manager Billy King might have had the best night among his peers. Brooks is an explosive scorer, second in the nation, who can create his own shot. That job will be even easier with Deron Williams handing out the assists. Brooks will challenge Anthony Morrow for the starting shooting guard spot.
Williams is a solid inside player who averaged a double-double for the Terrapins last season. He has solid hands and is effective around the basket. He is already being compared to ex Net and fellow Maryland alum Buck Williams. He is also a nice insurance policy should Kris Humphries leave via free agency.
Bogdanovic will most likely play overseas next season, as he is still under contract with Cibona VIP Zagreb, but many believe this 6’8” shooting guard will have an immediate impact in the NBA in the not so distant future.
This Draft presents more questions than answers, especially when you look at the lottery picks. The general consensus is that the first and second overall picks, Kyrie Irving and Derrick Williams, will have bright futures in the NBA. But can they turn their respective franchises fortunes around by themselves? Most people doubt it.
Then you have Kemba Walker (ninth to Bobcats) and Jimmer Fredette (10th to the Kings), two of the most intriguing players to come into the League in quite some time. They were both lethal scorers in college. But the main question regarding the two undersized shooting guards is can they play the point and will their scoring skills translate to the NBA level? I say yes. They can create their own shot in their own unique way and they both started their college careers playing the point. Therefore, they are familiar with the position.
Tristan Thompson was a surprise selection by the Cleveland Cavaliers at number four but not as much of a surprise as the number of foreign players taken with lottery picks. The Utah Jazz took Enes Kanter from Greece with the third pick. The Toronto Raptors picked Lithuania’s
. The Washington Wizards selected Jan Vesely from Partizan Athletic League with the six pick and the Charlotte Bobcats acquired
of Spain via a trade with the Sacramento Kings with the seventh pick. Four out the top 10 picks were born overseas. I guess the Dirk Nowitzki play during this playoff run might have influenced several GMs.
When it is all said and done, I liked what the Knicks and Nets did. The Wizards and Nets might have had come away with the best drafts collectively. There may not be any Hall of Famers among the 2011 Class, but there will be some All-Stars. How effective will this class be? Only time will tell.