Is this a good thing?
The NBA's salary structure is so bizarre that, in recent days, teams have been giving away first-round draft picks and good players so they can get farther under the salary cap to pursue max free agents.
Miami has two players under contract for next season. The plan is clear. Throw all of its salary-cap money at the Great Free Agent Class (GFAC) of 2010. That would include the Heat's Dwyane Wade and one or two of his young, already very rich, friends. South Beach does have a certain allure. Interesting to see who wants to live there.
Is this really what the power brokers had in mind when they created this byzantine structure? Casual fans don't understand it. They get it when you trade Player A for Player B. And they like to speculate about it.
Does the league really want its hard-core fans spending their valuable time matching up salaries to see if a deal actually works? And does it want teams giving away players and picks?
ESPN's Jay Bilas said Kentucky's John Wall gets from end to end faster than anybody he could remember in the NBA draft. I'd like to see a race among Wall, Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook. As fast as Wall is, I am not sure he doesn't finish third. Rose and Westbrook were drafted in 2008.
By the way, nobody understands the college game better than Bilas. He makes the extra effort to get beyond the obvious and shares insights only gained through talking to as many plugged-in people as possible.
But I do wish he would put "wingspans" to bed. He knows enough that he doesn't need that crutch.
By the numbers
Hard to believe Kentucky never had a No. 1 overall pick - until the Wizards selected John Wall. Well, given how Coach Cal is getting the five best high school players every year, UK might have the next five overall No. 1 picks. And if Cal can just teach all those future stars what a 1-3-1 defense looks like, the Wildcats might even get to the Final Four.
Kentucky had a record five players selected in the first round. West Virginia, the team that confounded Kentucky with that 1-3-1 in the East Region final, had none.
By the way, three schools have had four first-round picks: Duke (1999), North Carolina (2005) and Connecticut (2006). Interestingly, almost none of those 12 players has made a serious impact in the league. The player who has accomplished the most? Elton Brand. Now, he just needs to do it for your Sixers . . .
The Big 12 had six of the first 21 picks from five schools: Ekpe Udoh (Baylor), Cole Aldrich and Xavier Henry (Kansas), Avery Bradley (Texas), James Anderson (Oklahoma State) and Craig Brackins (Iowa State).
* Why can the NBA take five players in the time it takes the NFL to take two? Is football really that complicated or does somebody just want to sell it that way?
* The Clippers. How is it possible to have 22 lottery selections and never get better?
* How high would Butler's Gordon Hayward have gone if that halfcourt shot had been just a touch softer? He was unknown out of high school. Two years later, he was the No. 9 overall pick by the Jazz. He is just about perfect fundamentally and you can only understand that if you see him live. TV does him no justice. I saw him close-up at the Final Four. I am a very big fan. And he has the perfect coach in Jerry Sloan.
* Has David Stern been NBA commissioner forever? And will he be the commissioner until the end of time?
No doubt about the talent
To understand why Derrick Favors was so coveted, you need to see his high school tapes. He is explosive. Georgia Tech's guards were so weak that Favors often got lost on the court. Just 18, Favors might be the most fascinating player in the draft, but it might take a while for the Nets to know what they have.
Who would have
believed . . .
That four of the first 16 players selected would be from Butler (Hayward), Fresno State (Paul George), Virginia Commonwealth (Larry Sanders) and Nevada (Luke Babbitt). Which was one more than from the Big East and Big Ten combined: Wes Johnson (Syracuse), Greg Monroe (Georgetown) and Turner (Ohio State).
Nice group but . . .
There are some nice players in this draft class, but it will be a while before any group is like the top of 2003: LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and D. Wade. You could win a lot of games and more than a few championships with that group. In fact, they did win the 2008 Olympic gold medal together.
And the poor Pistons really took Darko Milicic at No. 2. I actually had a scout tell me before that draft he would have taken Darko over LeBron. And he is still employed.
Were they serious?
I actually heard a few pundits say Sacramento wouldn't draft DeMarcus Cousins because it just traded for Sam Dalembert. Let's try to understand this. The Kings did not trade for a person. They traded for an expiring contract. Sam wanted to be wanted. He was wanted. Just not for long. Has a 10-year vet ever played in the D-League?
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