Tracy Smith should be one of the top players in the ACC this season. (Icon SMI)
By Ryan Feldman
Saturday, August 7, 2010
It's equivalent to Christmas day for hardcore college basketball and NBA fans. It's the day that changes the lives of 60 young basketball players each year. It's the day every city and their respective team hopes they will acquire the next big superstar.
Yes, it's the day of the NBA draft.
In every NBA game there is a winner and a loser. The draft itself is no different. Each year, fans, experts, coaches, and even players who follow the NBA debate who best utilized the draft to improve their teams looking forward into the upcoming season and beyond. With that said, here are a few winners and losers from the 2010 NBA Draft. Let the debating begin!
New Jersey Nets
The Nets failed to acquire Lady Luck at the NBA Draft lottery last month to no fault of their own, and they may also fail to bring in LeBron James through free agency. Despite both negatives, New Jersey still wound up having a very positive draft, selecting Derrick Favors third overall and acquiring Damion James later in the first round.
Favors, a freshman out of Georgia Tech who earned ACC Rookie of the Year, was projected as the third overall pick for most of the draft process. He should compliment Brook Lopez well, creating a very dangerous frontcourt for other teams to reckon with. Several scouts see him possibly developing into the next Chris Bosh and it's tough to disagree. If he does, then all those angry Nets fans who were ready to sign a petition to get rid of the lottery process altogether as a result of failing to get the first overall selection may still wind up with the best player in the draft after all.
Guess what? The Nets also made a trade for a small forward named James. Unfortunately for the Nets faithful there was no sign and trade with Cleveland for LeBron James, but rather a swap of picks with Atlanta which landed Texas senior small forward Damion James in the Meadowlands.
James, the Big 12's all-time leader in rebounds, can score but more importantly can be a force defensively. He is a hard-nosed player whose game and personality will fit in great in New Jersey.
During the season if you told any NBA general manager they would end up drafting both Favors and James this year they would have jumped for joy. Be happy New Jersey. You may not have gotten John Wall and LeBron James, but Derrick Favors and Damion James is not a bad consolation prize by any means.
San Antonio Spurs
Just when you think the Spurs are getting closer to that closed window of opportunity to continue being a dominant force in the West, they go out and reload just like a true Texas cowboy would.
Which is exactly why San Antonio drafted Oklahoma State Cowboy James Anderson 20th overall. Getting Anderson at 20 is excellent value, considering that some experts had him as a lottery pick. The 6-foot-6 guard who led the Big 12 in scoring (22.3 ppg) will fit in great with San Antonio. It seems as though the Spurs could draft anyone and make them flourish in their system. With a high offensive skill set and open mind to learn the NBA game, Anderson should be no different.
The Spurs also used their second round pick on Ryan Richards, a 6-foot-11 forward from England. He has played for England on its U-16 and U-18 teams and was the youngest player to play in the Nike Hoop Summit in 2007, which shows he is full of potential. San Antonio found a sleeper last year in DeJuan Blair and Richards may be a diamond in the rough for them this year.
Los Angeles Lakers
They say the rich always find a way to get richer, and the Los Angeles Lakers are no different. Despite the fact that they didn't have a first round pick, the Lake Show got arguably the best value overall with the picks they did have by taking West Virginia's Devin Ebanks at 43 and UTEP's Derrick Caracter at 58.
Ebanks was a decorated player at West Virginia despite only playing there for two seasons. The sophomore forward was Third Team All-Big East last season in addition to being named to the Big East All-Rookie and All-Tournament teams one season earlier. If he stayed in school, Ebanks very well could've been a first round lock in 2011 or 2012. For L.A. to get a guy the quality of Ebanks at 43 is a definite steal. Because of his length, style, and ability, Ebanks could be Lamar Odom's replacement as the team's starting small forward down the line.
Caracter, a former Big East player himself with Louisville before transferring to UTEP, is also a steal. At one time, Caracter was looked at as a potential first round pick as well. The knock on Caracter was his questionable work ethic and personality. If he can realize his potential now and kick those bad habits, the Lakers may have gotten the steal of the draft. Besides, just seeing Kobe Bryant on the court during practice alone is enough to make anyone step their game up and realize they are in a privileged situation.
Yes, DeMarcus Cousins and Hassan Whiteside are very talented. Yes, several scouts are concerned with both of their personalities. And yes, several scouts around the league also name these two as potential busts. So what do the Kings do? They draft both of them.
Don't get me wrong, I think both players have incredible upside and could wind up being legitimate NBA forces. But you are multiplying your risk of failure by taking both players, who also by the way play the same position. Even if both guys wind up being great, will you be able to utilize them together on the court? There are too many questions in my humble opinion.
New York Knicks
I hope for the Knicks sake they get LeBron James in free agency. New York, in front of their own fans at Madison Square Garden, had back-to-back picks in the second round with native son Lance Stephenson available and they passed on him not once, but twice. They then went and drafted two very similar players in Andy Rautins and Landry Fields. I know Stephenson has personality issues and possible baggage as a result, but you pick for value in the second round and I don't think either of these players are even close to as talented as Stephenson.
What's the point of drafting a center when you have the premier center in the league in Dwight Howard, and a very capable backup in Marcin Gortat? Orton probably left too early as it is and consequently has the potential to be a bust along with Cousins and Whiteside. Perhaps Orlando took Orton as a trade piece for a potential deal down the line. Only time will tell.
It's hard to really say at this point who the winners and losers are in the 2010 NBA Draft. None of these players have played yet in the NBA, so we really have to give them a few years before deciding who drafted well and who drafted poorly. At this point, all we can say is who got solid value with their picks and filled their needs. Only time will tell who the real winners and losers are.