P&T's own Charles Osborn attended the NBA Draft in Newark last night. This is
history his story, but my typo was pretty cool. -Seth
A couple of days ago, my friend Ray Fray called me up and told me he had an extra ticket to the NBA draft and asked me if I'd like to go. The following account covers six hours, from 6pm to 12am in the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. Because I didn't write anything down, I think the best way to do this is to recount some of the draft picks in order, for each of which I'll give you some crude analysis as well as try to explain what was occurring around me in real life.
1. Anthony Davis to New Orleans
David Stern stepped to the podium to his customary shower of boos, which range from good-natured "Booo there, David! How ya been?!" to "Oh my God I HATE THIS MAN BOOOOOOO!!!!", the latter of which were hilarious to experience in person. Davis went where everyone thought he would, the Hornets get a cornerstone, and Bounty-Watergate-Gate/Drew Brees/Hurricane Katrina/Unibrow narratives will prevail for a year if not years.
2. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist to Charlotte
This is where things got insane. First of all, I love this pick because Kidd-Gilchrist seems like Iman Shumpert on angel dust, sans a couple years, plus a national championship. Sure, Brad Beal can rebound the hell out of the ball, shoot "just like Ray Allen!" and overall cure cancer, but I don't think Charlotte is going to rue June 28th, 2012 for passing on him. Charlotte was the worst team of all time last season and generally didn't seem like it wanted to compete. Drafting an elite-effort defensive ace with a winning attitude and pedigree seems like a no-brainer to me.
This pick also marked the first appearance of Darius Miles Kid. A late-teens/early-20s kid who looked just like almost every other person at the draft stood up when Charlotte was on the clock. He was wearing a Charlotte jersey backwards, showing "Miles" on the front, and holding up a sign that simply read: "BRING BACK DARIUS MILES!" Ray Fray had just been talking about good ol' Darius, so when we saw this kid we started laughing and cheering him on. It wouldn't be the last time.
3. Brad Beal to Washington DC
This pick was a no-brainer. At 7:30 last night, Beal was considered Chad Ford's second best player available, making his selection at three technically a "slide." I think Beal is going to be excellent, and pairing John Wall with a natural scorer at off-guard could prove effective from day one. This team is going to be fun to watch for awhile, particularly when they play the team that selected fourth overall.
4. Dion Waiters to Cleveland
Just like Washington, Cleveland chose to supplement its turbo-man point guard with a scoring off-guard. Waiters is a slashing guard who plays with a mean streak, and I think he'll probably be good in Cleveland. You could argue that Kyrie Irving's most underrated skill is his shooting ability, so I think pairing him with a wing who can drive and dish seems proper.
Most people around us went crazy at the pick, which had been announced on Twitter several full minutes before it became official (that trend would eventually drive me to stop consistently updating Twitter). This was the part of the draft when I kicked the man sitting in front of me by accident, and he seemed to have gotten so fed up with life that he gave up. I hope that guy's okay, and I hope he knows it was an accident.
5. Thomas Robinson to Sacramento
I love this pick. Boogie Cousins and Robinson, should they stay together, could form the most imposing front line in all of basketball for the next decade, ensnaring rebounds and scowling wildly while they work. Robinson was the first interview during which the crowd became quiet enough to listen. Robinson was clearly emotional and choked up, which made the typically-psychopathic crowd cheer proudly for him. Sacramento has a ton of holes, but this is a start.
6. Damian Lillard to Portland
To me, this is the most boring pick of the draft.
7. Harrison Barnes to Golden State
In my opinion, the Warriors got the perfect draftee to plug in at small forward. The presumed starting lineup at some point out West is going to be Curry-Thompson-Barnes-Lee-Bogut, all of whom have preposterous hands and put terrific touch on the ball. I think a healthy Bogut could have made up for a lot of Lee's defensive shortcomings, but I think Barnes might be just as important to Lee for help defense and spot-up shooting. I can't see how this draft could have gone any better for Golden State.
8. Terrence Ross to Toronto
Man, I guess. I think Terrence Ross has a boring name and wouldn't have been taken until the mid-teens anyway, but Washington has made fools of plenty these past few years, so I'll reserve judgment at least until summer league. DeMar DeRozan: shit or get off the pot.
9. Andre Drummond to Detroit
Detroit is going to be huge at every position for the next several years, and the recent Ben Gordon/Corey Maggette swap made this pick pretty obvious. This offense will run through Greg Monroe, so taking a ball-dominant player at any position would have been counter-intuitive, and the Pistons could really use a big man who excels at help defense. Since Drummond is shaped like Deandre Jordan and can leap tall buildings in a single bound, it's not unreasonable to think he could average a couple blocks (and probably 21 fouls) per game.
At this point in the draft, I had realized that the row of 13 year old boys sitting in front of me was going to stand up and posture at one another knowingly after every pick. "I TOLD you bro, I can't believe you didn't believe me when I guess that team was going to draft that guy you're such an idiot!"
10. Austin Rivers to New Orleans
I don't think much of Rivers, who stunk on Duke from the first time I saw him play in August to the last time I saw him play in the tournament. Flashes of brilliance, an incredible pedigree and high school success will get you a long way in this world, apparently. Everything I've read recently says New Orleans will try to use Rivers as a point guard, leading me to the conclusion that the franchise doesn't deserve Anthony Davis because it's a stupid dummy idiot.
You can quote me: If Austin Rivers becomes a successful point guard, I'll punch my own face.
11. Meyers Leonard to Portland
Drafting a point guard and center within the first 11 picks of a strong draft can make or break your franchise. Who wore it better: New Orleans or Portland?
12. Jeremy Lamb to Houston
"Jeremy Lamb, Royce White and Terrence Jones are all so good because Houston took them for Dwight Howard but even if not great haul Daryl Morey Daryl Morey Daryl Morey Darly Moreland Marmaduke Boreley sporely squirrelly ANALYSTICS and LOGISTICS!" - Every blogger
13. Kendall Marshall to Phoenix
I like this pick for Phoenix because they are probably going to lose their good passer but now they get a good passer so I mean whatever. kendALL marshALL is the end-ALL be-ALL at basketbALL.
14. John Henson to Milwaukee
Milwaukee gets an unathletic guy named after the Muppet Babies to block shots and perennially advertise that he "put on some weight."
15. Moe Harkless to Philadelphia
As a currently enrolled student and athletics employee at St. John's University, as well as a closet Sixers fan, this pick made me unspeakably happy. Harkless is extremely raw, but could develop into a beast-man for Philadelphia, who probably should have taken Tyler Zeller. I like this pick better than Zeller, however, because safe picks don't dredge you from mediocrity; boom or bust picks do. Having said that, Philly basically just drafted a combination of every wing player it already has, so I'd expect a trade or something.
17. Tyler Zeller to Cleveland
Good player, probably should have been taken several spots higher than this.
Ray Fray and I noticed that the Darius Miles Kid from earlier had stood up again sometime around this pick, waving his sign and stretching emphatically his jersey, which was of the Darius Miles variety. However, this time it was a Darius Miles Cleveland jersey. But wait, that must have meant this kid owns two Darius Miles jerseys? Who would do such a thing?!
19. Andrew Nicholson to Orlando
Bor-ring. Orlando's recent history with stretch fours has been illustrious, so bring on the Bonny!
20. Evan Fournier to Denver
At this point, I started to anticipate grimly what I knew was about to happen; Jared Sullinger was going to be a Celtic. I have no idea why anyone would allow this to happen, and I hope Jared Sullinger is always terrible at basketball forever now.
21. Jared Sullinger & Fab Melo to Boston
"Oh my fucking God, that kid is now wearing a Darius Miles Celtics jersey," said Ray Fray, and sure enough, Darius Miles Kid had donned his third Darius Miles jersey of the night, this one appropriately a Celtics incarnation. This is when it started to dawn on our section of the crowd that this kid might have every Darius Miles jersey, and he might have brought them all to the draft.
Another note about Darius Miles Kid: I never once saw him smile even slightly. That man was all business, and his business seemed to be "Darius Miles Campaign Management." God bless him.
23. John Jenkins to Atlanta
Hopefully Atlanta will have a post-Johnson shooting guard to look forward to, now. This is another boring pick to me.
24. Jared Cunningham to Cleveland(?)
Cunningham was considered a sleeper until he was taken 24th overall. Now he's awake but still tired.
25. Tony Wroten to Memphis
I saw Wroten play in the McDonald's All-American game a little while back and he was absolutely dominant. His court vision is incredible, his athletic skills are undeniable, but he is an apparent asshole in real life. All of these things lead me to believe he is a modern, poor man's version of Oscar Robertson (who was not exactly adored by his peers despite their profound respect). He seems like the type of dude who is going to fit right into Memphis's culture and thrive in his role.
Or, maybe he and Zach Randolph will accidentally kill a bunch of people somehow. I'd say it's about 70/30 "good fit/manslaughter" right now.
Darius Miles Kid slid on his Darius Miles Memphis jersey and the section went crazy. I have never witnessed a person so dedicated to such an athlete since the Son of Dippin days (if you remember that, give yourself a high five).
26. Miles Plumlee to Indiana
27. Arnett Moultrie to Philadelphia
Most Philly fans I know were dreading this guy, assuming the Sixers would draft him with its first selection. At 27th overall, I think this is much more palatable for that hateful, irrational city.
28. Perry Jones III to Oklahoma City
An unthinkable slide for Jones, who along with another Baylor Buddy (tm) was once considered to be a jewel of this draft. Sliding to the Western Conference Champions and into a culture that seems capable of integrating anyone is perfect for Jones, who will probably go on to become a hall of fame basketball player. Jones's draft interview was a somber one, but he was probably just anxious to eat all the chips off his own shoulder.
29. Marquis Teague to Chicago
I don't think Teague ever will be consistent enough to be considered a very good player, but Chicago got itself an alright player with a winning pedigree. Okay.
30. Festus Ezeli to Golden State
Festivus for the rest of us!
After the first round, Ray Fray and I decided to get closer to the action. We said goodbye to Darius Miles Kid who, it turns out, had every Darius Miles jersey ever produced, and went into the lower bowl to experience one of the strangest, most surreal things I have ever witnessed: the second round of the NBA draft. I'll try to hit on some highlights.
33. Bernard James to Dallas
This pick was politely cheered until the PA announcer happened upon the fact that James is a 27 year old combat veteran who served three tours in the Air Force. The crowds polite cheers turned into reverent, respectful applause, which reached a crescendo 20 seconds later during James's first-ever NBA standing ovation. I have never been more proud of a mob of people, and as the brother of a guy who is going to Afghanistan pretty soon, this was my favorite part of the night.
34. Jae Crowder to Dallas
37. Quincy Acy to Toronto
38. Quincy Miller to Denver
Just a coupla Baylor Quincies havin' some fun.
48. Kostas Papanikolaou to New York
The entire time the Knicks were on the clock, there was a resounding "SCOTT MA-CHA-DOE!" chant filling the arena. Although I knew the Knicks weren't going to draft Machado, I was a little let down when Darius Johnson-Odom's name wasn't called and the Knicks instead drafted Rusty's alias from Vegas Vacation.
The crowd became so venomous so quickly it was astonishing. People were screaming as loudly as they could, Knicks fans were stomping up and down, and it generally looked like what happens every time Donkey & Diddy Kong lose a bonus game. Fran Fraschilla laughed hysterically for a solid three minutes after Papanikolaou's name was announced, before finally turning to a Knicks contingent in the crowd and giving the thumbs up. He said "This guy is good! He's like Gallinari!" which only enraged the crowd further.
You have never seen irony until you've seen a kid wearing a Landry Fields jersey throw his hat on the ground while raging about an unknown second round Knicks selection.
Papanikolaou marked the first in a slew of absurd foreign names which would eventually include the likes of Izzet Turkyilmaz, Ognjen Kuzmic, Furkan Aldemir, Tornike Shengelia, Tomislav Zubcic, Ilkan Karaman and Robbie Hummel.
Overall, the NBA draft experience is a unique one (the second round in particular). I have never met a more enthusiastically hostile group. I am sure to have forgotten a ton of important (trivial) details of the draft, and I'll try to include as many as I can remember in the comments section of this post. That's it, I guess, and welcome Kostas Papanikolaou!