The NBA draft, the annual exercise in hype, hysterics and horrible trades, decisions and wardrobe, is always one of the most entertaining evenings of the year. As a service to the readers, here's our annual take on the winners and losers from New York.
The Bulls took hometown star Derrick Rose with the No. 1 pick. Yes, they have a glut of backcourt players but none as good as the Simeon High product. He's a monster talent, a winner (he led Memphis to the NCAA title game) and while not a vocal leader he is the kind of player guys love playing with.
At the end of the day when a franchise can get the best player in the draft, who is a franchise point guard that is already popular in town, it's a good night.
MINNESOTA and MEMPHIS
So when they make a trade, let alone a late-night, draft-night, eight-player swap, oh the potential humanity. Can there really be a winner?
Here are the particulars: Minnesota sent its third pick, O.J. Mayo, along with a guy with a bad contract, Marko Jaric, and two afterthoughts and bad contracts in Antoine Walker and Greg Buckner to Memphis for the No. 5 pick, Kevin Love, still-reliable scorer Mike Miller and two afterthoughts with useless contracts, Brian Cardinal and Jason Collins.
Memphis got the best player. Minnesota got more good players.
Who knows which is better? Mayo is the steal here, a star in the making. Of course, Memphis now has four young guards, including last year's first-round selection Mike Conley Jr. And the Grizz have no power forward (although they did add rookie Darrell Arthur). But that's why they are the Grizz. Certainly Conley and Mayo can play together, but they need to move some more players for this to make sense.
Kevin McHale supposedly fell in love with Love, but Love's game has partially been based on his sheer strength, something that always evens out in the grown-man world of the NBA. It's not that he's a bad player, but at 6-9 he isn't much different than the Wolves' Al Jefferson. Except he isn't as athletic, and the NBA is rarely kind to undersized power forwards who lack quick feet and elevation.
Minnesota did dump the horrendous contract of Jaric, but whose fault was that in the first place? Besides, they lose out on courtside sightings of Jaric's fianc ée, supermodel Adriana Lima, who fans must have appreciated in the dead of a Minnesota winter.
Miller is still a scorer who will help immediately, but on a team as far from contention as Minnesota, is that enough?
Generally the team that gets the best player wins a deal and Memphis got that, even if they may not have needed him. What do you expect from a trade between these two?
He may never live down the allegations he took money from an agent during his one year at USC. It's a scandal that is a big deal in college basketball but amounts to little in the real world. Perception is reality though and Mayo is paying for it.
Thursday he was nattily-attired in a three-piece suit and wearing scholarly glasses as he was selected third overall by Minnesota and later traded to Memphis.
A star in the spotlight since he was a sixth-grader in West Virginia, he looked more than ready to move onto a new chapter in his life, one where NCAA rules can't haunt him.
The Wizards can't get out of the first round of the playoffs and it's not easy to see how this draft changes that trend. They took JaVale McGee out of Nevada to help inside, but he looks like one of those classic draft mistakes.
McGee is 7-feet tall with a 7-foot-6 wingspan. Against moderate competition in the Western Athletic Conference, he averaged just 7.8 rebounds a game. It's counterintuitive to think a big man who can't rebound against smaller opponents in college will start doing it against bigger players in the NBA. This rarely works.
After a dominating freshman year at Kansas State – 26.2 points, 12.4 rebounds a game – the power forward had rumors swirl that his chronic immaturity would cause him to drop in the draft. No one thinks Beasley is a bad guy; he's just a very young one.
How young and immature? Well, in high school he got suspended from Oak Hill Academy (Va.) – no small feat considering the knuckleheads who have matriculated there. Beasley though was caught engaging in a graffiti contest with a teammate. Told he'd get the boot if he did it again, he promptly tagged the headmaster's car.
Since then Beasley's family and summer coach did a masterful job keeping him focused on the task at hand, directing him to a friendly college located way out on the plains and keeping a close eye on his future. It wasn't easy.
Still, the word was out that Miami would pass on Beasley, mainly because of those old concerns. The Heat, instead, took him at No. 2 after all, proving his talent was too tantalizing. There's a good chance Beasley accepts the challenge and thrives, but Heat president Pat Riley is aware of the situation.
"We're hoping he matures real quickly," said Riley. "We think we have the infrastructure to make that happen real quickly."
They also have South Beach, of course.
When your owner, Paul Allen, is willing to buy up other team's draft picks it should be a good night. A year ago the Blazers were a big draft-night winner when they chose Greg Oden, a franchise center out of Ohio State, with the No. 1 pick overall. Then Oden's knee got hurt and he was lost for the season.
A year later, the Trail Blazers weren't expected to make things happen again, but after a respectable 41-win season and Oden set to return, the push for the playoffs starts now.
The Blazers' decision to buy New Orleans' pick at No. 27 for $3 million worked out when Kansas forward Darrell Arthur, a lottery pick level talent, dropped to them due to rumors about a possible kidney ailment.
With no room on the roster for Arthur, they were able to move him (along with second-rounder Joey Dorsey) to Houston for highly-regarded French forward Nicolas Batum, who will stay in Europe this year. Later they traded Omer Asik, a second-round selection out of Turkey, to the Bulls for three future second-round picks.
The Blazers got better, got more picks and foreign talent for the future and had a hand in all sorts of interesting moments of the draft (They traded all five players they originally drafted). Not a bad night.
Point guard D.J. Augustin was fine with the Bobcats' first pick, but they traded a future first-rounder to Denver for the 20th pick so they could add either Georgetown's Roy Hibbert or Rider's Jason Thompson. Both are huge centers who could aid Emeka Okafor down low.
Then they watched as Sacramento took Thompson and Indiana grabbed Hibbert, leaving Charlotte holding the bag.
The Michael Jordan/Larry Brown brain trust selected 7-footer Alexis Ajinca of France. Can he help? Well, as ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla put it:
"So far, he has not been a productive player."
I doubt that will be a part of the season-ticket advertising campaign.
THE LOPEZ FAMILY
Brook Lopez is picked 10th by the New Jersey Nets. Twin brother Robin goes 15th to the Phoenix Suns. Most families understandably break down and cry when one kid gets picked in the NBA lottery. How about two?
Even better – as is their way – the two brothers spent much of the night giving each other a hard time.
Brook is the more serious one – although he may be the only NBA player who likes "Sex and the City." Robin has the Sideshow Bob haircut, never stops cracking jokes and dates Michelle Wie, who could use his hair for chipping practice. Alas, Michelle had a quintuple bogey Thursday at the U.S. Open, so the day wasn't perfect.
Brook Lopez at 10, Cal power forward Ryan Anderson at 21 and Memphis' quirky Chris Douglas-Roberts at 40 is value at each spot. The Nets are doing everything with an eye on luring LeBron in 2010, but they got a lot out of each pick Thursday.
It's not so much that the Texas A&M freshman big man came out too early or even that he dropped out of the guaranteed money of the first round to wind up with the Clippers. It's that in recent weeks his agent, Joel Bell, was refusing to allow teams with picks in the 20s to work Jordan out, assuming he'd go in the teens. Oops.
DENVER AND NEW ORLEANS SCOUTS
So you're a scout for either of these two franchises. You spend the last 12 months crisscrossing the world watching prospects. You go to the ends of the earth – Europe, China, Stillwater. You miss time with the kids, stay in crappy motels, suffer from jet lag. You write reports, watch and rewatch tape and perform character background checks.
No, it's not ditch digging, but its work. You live for draft night, the moment all your efforts come to fruition.
Then your franchise trades away your draft pick (in the case of Denver) or sells it (in the case of New Orleans). You have no picks. One year of work, all for nothing. And you have to watch your peers at Seattle and Portland combine to make 11 selections.
The worse part: Denver didn't have a draft pick last year, either.
It may not have been as exciting for fans as the national championship, but five Jayhawks were selected Thursday night, including two in the first round. With that kind of talent, it's no wonder they won it all – runner-up Memphis had three picks. And to think, Davidson almost upset them in the Elite Eight.
Every armchair GM who loves ripping teams for terrible decisions should have held a moment of silence for the first post-Isiah Thomas draft. The Knicks finally ended the Isiah era this season and, combined with the brooming of Philadelphia's Billy King, things may never be the same.
Not to get all "Are you going to get in the truck" about it, but thanks Zeke for the laughs, horrible trades, no-name picks and chemistry disasters. We miss you already.
The NBA age limit now makes guys go to one year of college and plenty of them did the minimum before making a jail break to the NBA. Twelve freshmen were drafted, including seven in the lottery and the first three picks (Rose, Beasley and Mayo).
Conversely, only four seniors went in the first round.
Yes, the era where the European workout fiend was all the rage is over, but the first round was still dotted with players from around the globe. New York took Danilo Gallinari of Italy. Seattle selected Serge Ibaka or the Congo. And Utah picked Kosta Koufus, who emigrated from Canton, Ohio.
Ibaka is an interesting case; he was one of 18 children his parents raised. Even the Duggars were impressed. Shawn Kemp, not so much.
PLAYERS TRADED FOR CASH
It happens all the time. One team makes a pick, another buys the rights to the players. Take Bill Walker of Kansas State, who got sold by the Washington Wizards to the Boston Celtics for an undisclosed sum.
First off, it's rare a man finds out his true worth and, depending on the number, it might be a humbling experience. Of course, when it comes to someone who's been through the college basketball recruiting system, it's entirely possible this isn't the first time there's been a monetary exchange for services.