by Jack Maidment
Drama. Not a word you would associate with this year’s NBA Draft. With few surprises on the board and even fewer on the trade table this was a night that requires a little more digging than usual.
Who did well?
First and foremost the Chicago Bulls, who, with the deal that will send Kirk Heinrich to the Washington Wizards, have now got enough cap room to pursue two big-time free agents.
There can be little doubt that the Bulls are sitting in pole position to attract LeBron, Wade and co: big market, oodles of money, history, a top-three point guard and a dominant and energetic big man who needs to win.
Oh, and Luol Deng aka The Porcelain Man.
The Heinrich deal works out pretty well for the Wizards too as he can combine with John Wall to form one of the most physical and effective defensive backcourt pairings in the League.
Heinrich’s spot up shooting and range from three should also give Wall the space to penetrate and wreak havoc on the offensive end.
The Sacramento Kings profited handsomely from the Minnesota Timberwolves passing on DeMarcus Cousins because he had said he didn’t want to go there and because David Kahn is like the NBA version of The Riddler.
Two Drafts and two immense players for the Kings. A Tyreke Evans-Cousins tandem should be fruity indeed and even a fifty per cent fulfilment of the big man’s talent would see him become a truly dominant center.
He is enormous.
Curve ball time.
The Orlando Magic had a great draft.
Daniel Orton and Stanley Robinson. Late first and second round picks but with a lot more potential to make an impression than a number of other team’s picks.
Orton entered the Draft hidden by the hype that surrounded the rest of his team mates from Kentucky, but make no mistake, given some time and the tutelage of Dwight Howard and Patrick Ewing he could and should be a fantastic player.
As for Robinson, there is certainly the hint of Gerald Wallace in his do-it-all style and his ability to make an impact on both ends of the floor make him the potential steal of the second round.
The only problem for both of these players is whether or not they will get enough playing time to progress.
The Magic were not the only team to get better at the pivot position with the Oklahoma City Thunder doing what they do best to address their need for a big man.
Sam Presti has a knack for striking Draft gold and the trade he orchestrated to take Cole Aldrich to OKC by way of New Orleans’ pick gives them a gritty rebounder and shot blocker who is as tough as hell and whose lack of offensive game will not matter a bit with Durant, Westbrook, Harden and Green providing all the scoring needed. And he is cheap.
Ganai Lawal picked 46 by the Phoenix Suns the man from Georgia Tech is the perfect fit for an up-tempo system. He can run the floor all night long, can finish and most importantly he can rebound with ferocity. Help on the glass was exactly what the Suns needed and Lawal is an absolute steal this late in the second round.
Lance Stephenson out of Cincinnati, picked 40 overall by the Indiana Pacers, has long been held in high regard. There is not a record in New York city basketball that he doesn’t hold and his physical strength and shot creation should translate well to the NBA if he is given a chance to do his thing. He needs the ball. The question is if he will get it.