Thursday, June 29, 2006

A Quick Analysis of NBA Lottery Selections

Wednesday’s NBA draft was notable in two ways. First, high schoolers were excluded, leading to a steep decline in analysts’ use of the word “upside.” Secondly, every player chosen was required to be traded to or from the Portland Trailblazers. Below are some brief comments about each of the 14 lottery selections.

1. Toronto: Andrea Bargnani, F, Italy. His historic selection is overshadowed at home by the World Cup. If Italy wins the title, Bargnani will honor the accomplishment by not using his hands during his rookie season.

2. Portland (from Chicago via New York): LaMarcus Aldridge, F, Texas. The last #2 overall pick to wind up with the Blazers was Sam Bowie. Considering the luck that selection brought the Bulls, Chicago made sure this pick went to Portland.

3. Charlotte: Adam Morrison, F, Gonzaga. Morrison follows Emeka Okafor, Raymond Felton, and Sean May as the Bobcats’ lottery picks. Expect Charlotte to be fined by the league for drafting too many accomplished college players.

4. Chicago (from Portland): Tyrus Thomas, F, LSU. The athletic Thomas is definitely the right LSU player for coach Scott Skiles. The hard-nosed Skiles would never allow a Big Baby in his locker room.

5. Atlanta: Shelden Williams, F, Duke. Because he “owns the paint,” Williams is nicknamed “The Landlord.” Now he goes to a franchise that’s the rat-infested slum of the NBA.

6. Portland (from Minnesota): Brandon Roy, G, Washington. It’s been a big week for Roy, who gets to stay in the Pacific Northwest. He’s still thrilled over brother Patrick’s election to the Hockey Hall of Fame.

7. Minnesota (from Portland via Boston): Randy Foye, G, Villanova. Foye has been compared by some to Dwyane Wade. After his selection, three guys who patted him on the back were whistled for fouls.

8. Memphis (to be traded from Houston): Rudy Gay, F, Connecticut. The Rockets will regret this deal. The return of Houston guard Bob Sura from knee surgery could have inspired Rocket fans to sing, “Gay-Sura-Sura, whatever will be will be…”

9. Golden State: Patrick O’Bryant, C, Bradley. O’Bryant played in the Warriors’ home arena during the Sweet 16. That’s the last post-season action he’ll see in Oakland.

10. Seattle: Saer Sene, F, Senegal. Sonics officials achieved their goal of creating the draft’s best tongue-twister: “Seattle Supersonics’ Saer Sene of Senegal.”

11. Orlando: J.J. Redick, G, Duke. The Magic welcomes Redick’s perimeter shooting but plans to lock him out of the arena in late March. He’s proven to be useless at that time of year.

12. New Orleans/Oklahoma City: Hilton Armstrong, C, Connecticut. He’s competitive like (Lance) Armstrong, but he can’t score like (Paris) Hilton.

13. Chicago (from Philadelphia): Thabo Sefolosha, G, Switzerland. Hailing from the same country as Roger Federer, Sefolosha hopes to convince the Bulls to play on a grass court.

14. Utah: Ronnie Brewer, G, Arkansas. His father spent eight years in the NBA during the 70s and 80s, as did Joe Bryant. So Ronnie is already the next Kobe.

The draft presents a challenge for the front offices of each franchise. However, amid the constant flurry of deals, one individual had the toughest job of all on Wednesday: the person in charge of keeping the right hats on the draftees.