UPDATE: The Stephen A. Smith sock puppet is, hands down, my favorite tradition of the NBA Draft. Brilliant -- as ever.
If you followed my NBA Draft Twitter feed last night, you know how I felt about the broadcast: That was the single worst desk of analysts I have ever seen for a major sporting event. The analysis from Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy was banal (at best); there was no chance of conventional wisdom being driven from what they had to say, because they really didn't say much of anything. Bilas was strong, but he has a fetish for wingspan. You were better off tracking the various live-blogs out there, and I'm not even talking about my Twitter effort.
Anyway, one of my biggest frustrations -- and I have to believe that the NBA told ESPN that it was off-limits on-air -- was that they didn't link the Nets' moves to recruiting LeBron. Cripes, is it so opaque?! Yi? China foothold. Lopez? Post-anchoring 7-footer. Anderson and Douglas-Roberts? High-upside bench complements, CDR in particular being a steal who might one day replace the need for Vince Carter. This wasn't a draft about 2008 -- it was a draft about 2010. This should be all that people are talking about today -- certainly the biggest story -- and it led my Sporting News column, as you could imagine.
UPDATE: Ken Berger of Newsday totally gets it.
Otherwise, the draft was midly interesting, but not really. The Mayo-Love trade -- which came well after the choices were made -- was kind of fascinating. Doesn't Jefferson-Love-Miller-Foye feel like a good core for the T'wolves? And doesn't Mayo-Conley-Gay do the same for the Grizzlies? At least they will be fun to watch.
Update: Henry Abbott is on to something, that the Grizzlies might be positioning to trade Mayo to the Heat for Beasley. Plus other things, but that would seem to make the most sense for everyone, given everyone's interests.
The rest of the draft was a bit of a dud. Yes, the Heat got Beasley, but rumors won't go away that they'll try to shop him still. Yes, the Sonics got "next Rondo" Russell Westbrook, a pretty good complement to Durant. I think that the Blazers did well to trade for Bayless, who is a terrific complement to Brandon Roy. If you're going to have a small combo guard, it helps to have a large combo guard running beside him. For all the hoopla around Derrick Rose and the "Era of the Point Guard," I think the real trend we'll see is the "Era of the Complementary Combo Guards."
On a personal level, I was entirely disappointed by my Wizards, who passed on all sorts of talent for JaVale McGee, who most believe is a 7-foot stiff who can't even really play defense, let alone offense. I know the Wizards have a pretty full roster, but with yet another playoff flame-out, you'd think they might want someone who can help right away. Guess that's what free-agency is for. (They had my hopes up when they drafted Bill Walker, then traded him away to the Celtics, where I'm sure in 3 years he will be some kind of freakish scoring machine.)
Loved the Heat grabbing Mario Chalmers in the second round. Loved the Nets grabbing CDR, obviously. Loved the fact that the NBA blogging and analyzing fan-boys can't get enough of anything that Portland GM Kevin Pritchard or Seattle GM Sam Presti do.
Oh, and the Knicks blew it, I think. The fans hate the pick and Gallinari's upside is questionable; the right pick if they were going for small forward was Joe Alexander, whose insane work ethic and amazing athleticism would have electrified the Garden from the start. Instead, Alexander ends up in Milwaukee, playing the same position as new franchise cornerstone Richard Jefferson; hey, maybe they will complement each other.
Anyway, the draft is a ton of fun -- right up there with the NCAA Tournament as my favorite event of the sports year. And now it's behind us; we can start looking ahead to summer leagues and the minimal activity in free agency this season. Remember: It's all about 2010. We have two years to get there, but it looks like the Nets are already well on their way.
Full Sporting News column here.