Winners and Losers of the 2007 NBA draft
Obviously, Kevin Durant gives them a star to build the franchise around, but don't overlook bringing in Jeff Green to play next to him. Trading Ray Allen hurts in the short term, but it also gives the Sonics the financial freedom to re-sign Rashard Lewis, should they choose. New GM Sam Presti is envisioning a diverse, athletic frontcourt of Durant, Green and Lewis that few teams will be able to keep pace with.
Golden State Warriors
The Warriors turned themselves into a winner by fleecing the Bobcats in their trade for Brandan Wright, the No. 8 pick in the draft. Wright's long-term impact in the league has the potential to rival that of Oden and Durant. He dropped only because of his lack of NBA-readiness. The Warriors also added two more players who could have a surprisingly big impact. Marco Belinelli has an all-around game that will mesh with Golden State's offensive attack and improve them on defense, while Stephane Lasme, taken 46th overall, may be the best shot-blocker in the draft and could certainly tighten up the Warriors' leaky interior defense.
Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers quietly had a very nice draft. In Al Thornton, they got one of the best interior players in the draft, a steal at No. 14 that can apprentice under fellow paint-dweller Elton Brand. In the second round, the Clippers may have grabbed the best pure point guard in the draft in the form of Jared Jordan. Jordan lacks the athleticism of Javaris Crittenton, who they could have take in the first round, but he has incredible court vision. With Sam Cassell aging and Shaun Livingston hobbled, Jordan will have more than a passing impact this season.
New York Knicks
Why are the Knicks a winner? Because for once, Isiah Thomas and company weren't booed at the Garden on draft night. Beyond that though, Isiah made the Knicks significantly better tonight. Zach Randolph's character flaws will be under close inspection in New York, but combined with Eddy Curry, the duo has the potential to be dominant in the paint. Randolph came at virtually no cost to the Knicks, since the trade allowed them to dump Steve Francis' seemingly untradeable contract. As far as the actual draft goes, Wilson Chandler is a bit of a project, but he is an intense defender and has the tools to be a productive all-around small forward.
Feeling a little too drafty
The Bobcats were on pace to be winner, fortunate to have Brandan Wright slip to them at No. 8, then smart enough to grab solid, if unspectacular, forward Jared Dudley at No. 22. However, it all came crumbling down when Michael Jordan made one of the more boneheaded deals in recent draft history, sending Wright's rights to the Warriors for shooting guard Jason Richardson. Richardson is a high-flyer and could provide the scoring punch the Bobcats need, but Wright's potential is sky-high, and could have transformed their frontcourt into something special. Richardson helps a little right now, but this deal could haunt Jordan and Charlotte for a long time.
With three first round picks, the Sixers had a chance to really re-stock their shelves. Instead, they came away with a stock of players with question marks. Taking Thaddeus Young at No. 12 over either Julian Wright or Al Thornton was surprising, to say the least, considering that his skill set overlaps with that of their best player, Andre Iguodala. Jason Smith has the tools to succeed in the NBA, but tended to disappear in big games at Colorado State. Derrick Byars would appear to be a steal in the second round, but he didn't emerge until his senior season at Vanderbilt, raising questions about his consistency, and Byars, again, overlaps somewhat with Iguodala. The bottom line? With three first round picks, the Sixers came away with nothing close to a sure thing.
This is not a knock on the Wizards' first round pick, Nick Young, but the Washington completely blew this draft. Young is a swingman with tremendous offensive potential, but on a team featuring Gilbert Arenas, Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison, the last thing the Wizards needed was more offense. Taking a chance on Sean Williams, Jason Smith or even Josh McRoberts would have made much more sense for a Washington team so clearly in desperate need of size. Young, despite his talent, could easily get lost in the shuffle in the nation's capital.
The Bucks were understandably very high on Yi Jianlian, and paired with Andrew Bogut and Charlie Villanueva he'd give Milwaukee an incredible frontcourt. However, given Jianlian's well-publicized disinterest in going to Milwaukee you have to question GM Larry Harris' decision to go ahead and take him anyway. Granted, players should be able to determine their own draft destination a la Eli Manning, but with the opportunity there to take an equally talented player like Brandan Wright or Corey Brewer, it seems like the Bucks may have been better off heading in another direction.
Anyone, who has watched college basketball the past two years knows what kind of energy Joakim Noah brings to the court, but you have to question if Noah is what the Bulls needed. With high energy frontcourt players like Ben Wallace and Tyrus Thomas already in place, Noah is just more of the same. Chicago's missing piece to their championship puzzle is a reliable low-post scorer. That player wasn't necessarily available in the draft, but the pick could have been used in a trade, possibly for Pau Gasol, who's long been rumored to be on the way to Chicago.
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