Jerardi's take on the NBA draft

YONG KIM / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Jabari Parker takes the stage after Milwaukee took him at No. 2.
YONG KIM / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Jabari Parker takes the stage after Milwaukee took him at No. 2.
Posted: June 27, 2014

THE FIRST HOUR of this NBA draft was very confusing. I kept waiting for one of the teams to take some player who would outrage the ESPN crew, a pick so bad that fans who never watched a college game would know it was stupid. Did not happen.

Now, it is fair to wonder if Kansas' Andrew Wiggins and Duke's Jabari Parker were so good, how exactly did their teams lose to Stanford and Mercer, respectively, in the NCAA Tournament?

Wiggins was lost against the Stanford defense. Parker and Duke were lost against the Mercer offense.

Still, one game is a snapshot. Both of the freshmen have a chance to be really good - not franchise-altering good, but good enough to make really bad teams more competitive.

Hard to criticize when the players went or what most of the teams were thinking when they made the early picks. Arizona's Aaron Gordon went earlier than expected (fourth to Orlando), but I am a fan. He can't shoot, but he was a great defender on America's best defensive team. He might be the best athlete in a draft with serious athletes, including Wiggins and Marcus Smart.

The Sixers

I admit to having no particular idea what it is the Sixers are doing. They were one of the worst offensive teams in NBA history last season. So, they took a potential defensive savant in Joel Embiid to pair with defense-first Nerlens Noel.

Let's hope those same four still-anonymous doctors who supposedly cleared Andrew Bynum did not look at Embiid's medical file. If healthy, Embiid is tremendous. I don't remember a young big man improving as much as he did over one season. Just don't expect Anthony Davis whenever Joel gets on the court. He is good, but not that good. Davis is the next great NBA player.

Like everybody else, I was thinking Doug McDermott made perfect sense for the Sixers at No. 10. Why would a team that can't score and can't shoot not want one of the great scorers and shooters in college history? The answer is: They wouldn't. Why? I have no clue.

Instead, they ended up with Dario Saric from Croatia who won't be coming to the NBA for at least 2 years. He might be a very good NBA player someday, but, someday soon, this franchise has to at least act like winning is at least as important as future draft picks.

The Sixers will still be very bad this season. That, apparently, is the goal, perhaps permanently.

It certainly gives general manager Sam Hinkie plausible deniability. Even if he never says anything, he can just imply that he knows more than anybody else and has a master plan that only he understands and chooses not to share.

Not sure what the GM is selling to the ownership group, but I don't get it. Nor am I buying it.

Is it possible to be more irrelevant than the Sixers in this town? Coach Brett Brown deserves better. Give this man a chance.

The Bulls got McDermott. With a healthy Derrick Rose, I think Chicago becomes the favorite in the East, depending on what happens with LeBron. If LeBron somehow ends up in Chicago, the Bulls will obviously be the favorites to win it all. I don't see Carmelo there because defense really matters with the Bulls. And Carmelo's idea of defense is walking back after shooting a long jumper.

Best advice

Just before the draft, ESPN's Jalen Rose, one of my favorite people to cover in college, said this to all the potential draftees: "Keep your posse and your payroll down."

Best under-the-radar coach

Has to be Florida's Billy Donovan. He won those consecutive national titles with those three 2007 NBA lottery picks - Al Horford, Joakim Noah and Corey Brewer. This season, Donovan got the Gators back to the Final Four without a single player who was drafted in the first round.

Player I love whom the NBA doesn't

Louisville's Russ Smith.

He is a ball harasser, a great finisher at the rim and one of the fastest players I have ever seen in person.

Connecticut won the national championship with great guard play from Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright. Its Kryptonite was Russ Smith and Louisville. The Cardinals crushed the Huskies three times because their speed, specifically Smith's, trumped UConn's speed.

What LeBron wants

Think LeBron James has any juice in Miami? He said Napier was the best point guard in college basketball, suggesting rather strongly that he wanted to play with Shabazz. The Heat traded up to get Napier. Not certain if that keeps LeBron in Miami, but it apparently won't hurt.

The Spurs

The champs took UCLA's big point guard, Kyle Anderson, with the final pick in the first round. Pencil him in for the All-Star team, Finals MVP, perhaps the Hall of Fame.

Is there a better-run professional sports franchise? And was there ever a team more enjoyable to watch than San Antonio in the NBA Finals?

If you saw that performance and loved it as much as I did, do yourself a favor: Get on YouTube and watch the 1977 Portland NBA champs, Dr. Jack Ramsay's masterpiece, the team I thought of when I was watching Gregg Popovich orchestrate a basketball ballet.

As I watched the Spurs' ball and player movement, I could just imagine how much Dr. Jack would have appreciated it. It was as good as basketball can be played, so overwhelming the two-time champion Heat that it really looked like Miami gave up, knowing it could not win.

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