Who will be 2009's version of Kevin Martin?
I love the NBA Draft. Besides the fact that it is the only draft that can be finished in a few hours, let alone, a single night, the NBA Draft is always filled with college stars, draft reaches, and infamous draft slides. With only 60 picks in the entire draft, there will be 50 someodd guys that think they may get drafted who will be disappointed, but you know that the draft will be filled with "can't misses," "shouldn't be drafteds," "no video footage availables," and the foreign "I'm gonna slaughter this guy's names." This upcoming draft class has been labeled with terms that aren't very flattering, with "weak" being the most common adjective. But over the last 15 years or so the previous drafts have shown that there are three things that will happen on draft night:
1. There will be at least one bust drafted in the top 10- Yi Jianlian, Corey Brewer, Adam Morrison, Shelden Williams, Patrick O'Bryant, Ike Diogu, Rafael Araujo, Luke Jackson, Michael Sweetney, Nikoloz Tskitishvili and Dejuan Wagner are just a few of the busts taken in the top ten in the last several years. Need I go on? Okay. There's also Rodney White, Marcus Fizer, DerMarr Johnson, Jonathon Bender, Michael Olawokandi, Robert Traylor and bust hopeful Joe Alexander. So not only will 2 of the top ten picks not become stars in the league, they probably won't even stay in the league longer than their first contract. Good luck picks 3-10. You are going to need it.
2. There will be players drafted in the second round who will go on to be stars and/ or all-stars in the NBA- In the past 15 years there have been 8 players drafted in the 2nd round that went on to play in an all-star game with a handful of other better than average NBA players not drafted in the 1st round. Three of those all-star second rounders play for or played for the Jazz. And I would like to go on the record as saying that Paul Millsap, Ramon Sessions, Marcin Gortat, and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute will play in at least one all-star game before their days are over. And maybe Monta Ellis too.
3. There will be a very good future NBA player picked between 20 and 30- Do I have your attention now? If you are a Jazz fan, or a Hornets fan, or even a Cavs fan, you don't necessarily have to associate this year's pick with building for the future. Here is a breakdown of players picked at or after 20th, that became contributors on teams in their first two years. Some are now cornerstones of their franchise.
2008- Courtney Lee (22)
2007- Rudy Fernandez (24)
2006- Rajon Rondo (21)
2004- Jameer Nelson (20), Kevin Martin (26)
2000- Exception, although Michael Redd was drafted 43rd
1999- Andrei Kirilenko (24)
1998- Al Harrington (28), Rashard Lewis (32)
1996- Zydrunas Ilgauskas (20), Derek Fisher (24) and several Jazz just threw up in their mouths
1995- Michael Finley (21), Greg Ostertag (28) several more Jazz fans just threw up in their mouths
And that is what makes the upcoming draft so fun for everyone except GMs. There is a hidden gem that will fall to the 20's this year and the pressure is on to find it. So what can we learn from this group up above, besides the fact that the Kings and Magic are good at drafting in the twenties? With the exception of Tony Parker, I think that these guys fall into one of three categories: pure shooters, best players in small college conferences, or freakish athletes that were tweeners, meaning they didn't fit the mold of a traditional basketball position. Guys like Kevin Martin and Courtney Lee succeed in the league because they already know what it takes to shoulder expectations of having to succeed and they have learned how to do so. Players like Andrei Kirilenko, Rashard Lewis, Jameer Nelson, Nate Robinson and Rajon Rondo fell in the draft because no one was confident what position they could play. They were too small to play shooting guard or too slow to play small forward. And the rest had their shortcomings, but they could flat out shoot the rock and if there is anything that Mark Jackson has taught us all during ABC coverage of NBA playoff games, it is that "the NBA is a shooter's league." Thanks Mark.
So judging by this criteria, here are a handful of players that will be there when the Jazz make the 20th selection who may be the steals of the draft.
Tyson Lawson, UNC- He is getting some bad publicity due to his small stature and broken toe. But the guy has the tantalizing combination of speed and an outside jumper. We all know he can get into the paint at will, but he also shot 47% from the 3 point line in college. If teams play him close, he can go by them and if they play off, he can hit the 20 foot jumper.
Darren Collison, UCLA- Similar to Ty Lawson with his speed and serviceable shooting. He doesn't get to the rim as easily as Lawson does and he only shot 40% from the 3 point line last season. But he has proven to be a good defender at the point guard position and he shot 90 % from the free throw line.
Derrick Brown, Xavier- Brown is a quick power forward who is also strong and athletic. His points per game and rebounding won't blow you away, but he shot 43 % from the 3 point line and over 75% from the line. One of his knocks is that scouts aren't sure if he is a power forward or a small forward. Classic tweener.
Toney Douglas, FSU- I love Toney Douglas because he was the best player on a good team that played in one of the two best conferences in college. Other teams gameplanned against him, but he simply lit them up for 22 points a game on 45 % shooting from the field. Douglas' offensive numbers aren't out of this world, but the guy is an above average defender with good quickness and great strength.
DeMarre Carroll- Carroll doesn't exactly fit the shooters mold, but he is a gifted athlete who was the unquestioned leader on a team that made the elite 8 with their hustle, athleticism and discipline. He is a reach for me, but I feel pretty confident that he becomes a solid pro. He has improved greatly over his college career and has the intangibles to complement his strength and athleticism.
Tony Gaffney- Gafney is only 6-9, but he is long and can jump out of the gym. He averaged over 10 rebounds a game and is a shot blocker. He is a second round sleeper, but I just wanted to add him to the list for fun. Watch out for him.
GUYS WHO DIDN'T MAKE THE LIST:
Tyler Hansbrough- For a guy who was such a great player in college and who supposedly did well at combines this past week, explain to me how he only averaged 8 rebounds a game playing at one of the fastest paces in the college game last year. Add the facts that he just barely developed an NBA 20 foot jumper to the point of acceptable and you have the potential for a guy who will be a role guy at best. The Mark Madsen comparisons are applicable.
Wayne Ellington- He is a scorer and a pure shooter, but he hasn't used his athleticism to play standout defense. If the Jazz were to draft Ellington, they would have the second coming of Morris Almond on their hands.
Patty Mills- He has the speed and athleticism of a Collison or Lawson, but the guy only shot 40% from the field and 33% from the 3 point line. And he played in a small conference, so the fact he didn't dominate more than he did is concerning.
All comments are the opinion of the commenter and not necessarily that of SLC Dunk or SB Nation.