NBA Draft Featured Many Surprise Picks
By Michael Avallone
Here’s a rundown of each team’s first-round picks (with all picks listed) and a brief synopsis of their future impact in the NBA draft held last Tuesday at the Garden.
Atlanta Hawks Marvin Williams (2), Salim Stoudamire (31), Cenk Akyol (59). The Hawks drafted on need and came up with Marvin Williams at No. 2. He could turn out to be a jewel of the draft
Boston Celtics Gerald Green (18), Ryan Gomes (50), Orien Greene (53) Celtics GM Danny Ainge may have gotten the steal of the draft in high-schooler Gerald Green at No. 18.
Charlotte Bobcats Raymond Felton (5), Sean May (13) The Bobcats killed two birds with one stone. Charlotte has two members of UNC’s title team on their roster. Not only do both have talent and a winning pedigree, they’ll bring Tar Heel fans to the arean in droves.
Denver Nuggets Julius Hodge (20), Jarrett Jack (22-traded to Portland), Axel Hervelle (52) Julius Hodge should be a solid NBA player who boasts experience and an edginess to go with a good all-around game. Jarrett Jack was a nice pick at No. 22, but his rights were traded to Portland for the 27th pick, Linas Kleiza.
Detroit Pistons Jason Maxiell (26), Amir Johnson (56), Alex Acker (60) Joe Dumars stayed with what makes Detroit great, going with a hard-nosed player in Jason Maxiell. A rugged power forward, he won’t see much action initially with Rasheed and Ben Wallace in the fold.
Golden State Warriors Ike Diogu (9), Monta Ellis (40), Chris Taft (42) Coach Mike Montgomery just may have something brewing in the East Bay. If Ike Diogu lives up to his pre-draft billing and turns out to be even a less productive version of say, Elton Brand, the Warriors will be ecstatic.
Houston Rockets Luther Head (24) A good defender who has a nice shot and fits well in Jeff Van Gundy’s style of play. Still, the pick was somewhat of a gamble. The Rockets biggest need was a power forward to play alongside Yao Ming so taking Head was a (pun intended) head scratcher.
Indiana Pacers Danny Granger (17), Erazem Lorbek (46) The Pacers have to be ecstatic about getting Danny Granger, whom some had rated as a definite Top 10 pick. Getting a replacement for the retired Reggie Miller at shooting guard would have been ideal, but Granger is a versatile and tough small forward in the Scottie Pippen mold.
Los Angeles Clippers Yaroslav Korolev (15), Daniel Ewing (32) It seems as if the Clippers will never stop making people scratch their heads. Yaroslav Korolev is rated as an above-average prospect, but he’s most likely going to need a few years to develop. Some things never change.
Los Angeles Lakers Andrew Bynum (10), Ronny Turiaf (37), Von Wafer (39) One of, if not the most interesting choice of the first round. High schooler Andrew Bynum won’t replace Shaq, nor will he play much in 2005-2006, at least as long as Phil Jackson is there. But the 7-footer has legitimate skills and the Lakers – evidenced by taking him – seem willing to wait.
Memphis Grizzlies Hakim Warrick (19) A safe and very solid pick for Memphis. GM Jerry West has Bonzi Wells on the trade block and Stromile Swift looks destined to leave via free agency, so an athletic type was a must. Though he has no clear-cut position, Hakim Warrick played four full years at Syracuse and could step in and produce right away.
Miami Heat Wayne Simien (29) Simien was probably the best player on the board, and already has an NBA-ready body to go with a nice touch. As a four-year player at Kentucky, he should have no problem adjusting to the disciplined ways of the Heat.
Milwaukee Bucks Andrew Bogut (1), Ersan Ilyasova (36) No surprise here, as Bogut was the consensus – and safest No. 1 pick. The 7-footer should help out immediately if Michael Redd leaves via free agency.
Minnesota Timberwolves Rashad McCants (14), Bracey Wright (47)
They need shooters, but what they don’t need is another head case. With Latrell Sprewell on his way out, Rashad McCants certainly fits the bill in one category and quite possibly in the other.
New Jersey Nets Antoine Wright (15), Mile Ilic (43) On a team already loaded with talent at three positions, choosing Antoine Wright was a yawner for Nets fans. A solid, athletic swingman, he should fit right in with their run-and-gun style.
New Orleans Hornets Chris Paul (4), Brandon Bass (33) Without a point guard after trading Baron Davis to Golden State last year, the Hornets went with arguably the best one in the entire draft. Plus, he has the tutelage of former guard Byron Scott to help him mature.
New York Knicks Channing Frye (8), David Lee (30), Dijon Thompson (54-traded to Phoenix) Isiah Thomas got his wish and landed a much-needed big man in Frye. The 6-11 center plays much bigger than that, but he needs to shed the PAC-10 “soft” label. David Lee was an odd choice at No. 30, particularly since the Knicks already have Michael Sweetney. New York made it a trifecta of first-round picks with No. 21 Nate Robinson – a 5’9 point guard in the Earl Boykins mold – coming over from the Suns in a four-player deal.
Orlando Magic Fran Vazquez (11), Travis Diener (38), Martynas Andriuskevicius (44-traded to Cleveland) Fran Vazquez was a safe pick for a team that needs a big man to help out Dwight Howard. Although the Spaniard rebounds and blocks shots like a center, he’s actually more suited to a forward position, and at 22, might be ready to step in and help right away.
Portland Trail Blazers Martell Webster (6), Linas Kleiza (27-traded to Denver), Ricky Sanchez (35-traded to Denver) Portland did the smart thing by trading down, and they hit the jackpot, getting Martell Webster. They then used their second first-round pick (Lian Kleiza) and their second-rounder (Ricky Sanchez) into a trade with the Nuggets that yielded Jarrett Jack, a solid point prospect to back up and push last year’s pick, Sebastian Telfair.
Sacramento Kings Francisco Garcia (23) Sacramento can afford to be patient with Francisco Garcia, a player with a sweet, sweet stroke. He comes from a winning program at Louisville, but the Kings still have Peja Stojakovic, so Garcia will not play right away.
San Antonio Spurs Ian Mahinmi (28) San Antonio seems to have an affinity for French players. Not satisfied with star point guard Tony Parker, the Spurs figured Ian Mahinmi – a great prospect but still several years away from contributing – would be comfortable with his fellow countryman. Coming off their third NBA Title, the Spurs can obviously afford to wait.
Seattle SuperSonics Johan Petro (25), Mickael Gelebale (48), Lawrence Roberts (55-traded to Memphis) Viva La France! Johan Petro will join Tony Parker and fellow Seattle draftee Mickael Gelabale as the only French players in the NBA. Petro is a legit 7-foot prospect who could be insurance in case Jerome James departs as a free agent.
Toronto Raptors Charlie Villanueva (7), Roko Ukic (41), Uros Slokar (58) A surprise move considering some of the players that were still on the board at No. 7. Villanueva might play the same position as Chris Bosh, but he’s athletic, versatile and comes from a winning college program (UConn).
Utah Jazz Deron Williams (3), C.J. Miles (34), Robert Whaley (51) It cost them a lot to move up to No. 3, but they got the heir apparent to John Stockton. Deron Williams might not be the next Jason Kidd, but it’s not a stretch to see him as an Andre Miller-type with a long NBA career.
Michael Avallone is a weekly contributor to The Wave and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org