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High Five

High Five
Jun 17, 2006, 10:26 pm
There is news, big news, and news you should actually pay attention to. The Volume Shooter has filtered the pollutants out of the draft news river, and provided 5 clean, crisp, and compelling stories to keep you current. Drink up…

GM Speak: A few years ago, all we heard for weeks before the draft was Maciej Lampe’s skyrocketing status, thanks to his Nowitzki-like game. General managers raved about his range, and mock drafts had him as a lock in the lottery. We haven’t heard from Lampe since, but the lesson looms large. For instance, take the Toronto Raptors’ well documented love affair with Andrea Bargnani. Despite the newly conceived three-headed monster of Chris Bosh, Charlie Villanueva, and Kris Humphries (insert joke here), we’re supposed to believe that Colangelo will draft yet another big, slim power forward? Me thinks not. As another example, I recently saw Danny Ainge on television, dragging Marcus Williams’s name through the scouting mud, questioning his athleticism, conditioning, and defensive prowess. For all Ainge’s sly efforts to drop Williams’s stock, and make us think Boston has no interest in keeping draft’s best point guard in New England, there is no way he slides past Boston at pick number 7. The moral of the story: you can’t believe what general managers say, but the opposite of what they say is usually a good bet.

Stock Check: The hotly contested NCAA player of the year race between Adam Morrison and J.J. Redick was close enough to conjure memories of Bush vs. Gore in 2000. But with most precincts reporting in the form of pre-draft workouts and personal misfortune, the vote recount shows that despite Redick’s collegiate triumph, Morrison is the people’s choice to rise to the top of the lottery while J.J. falls to the bottom. How did it happen? First, Redick kicked things off by holding private workouts shooting by himself in a gym, and generally dodging scouts’ questions about his athleticism, ball handling, and defense. Then his wingspan turned out to be shorter than Chicken Little’s, and he decided to go for a drive with Mr. Jack Daniels riding shotgun after getting some bad news about his back injury. On the flip side, Morrison measured out as a legitimate small forward, shot it like a sniper workouts, and showed the same borderline psychotic intensity that he displayed all year as a collegiate. You can’t keep a good mustache down.

The Jordan Rules: Michael Jordan is back, again, again, this time as part owner and behind the scenes shot-caller for the Charlotte Bobcats. My exclusive sources tell me that he has not declared himself eligible for the draft, so you may be asking ‘why should I care?’ Because the Bobcats will make waves in the next couple of weeks, and while no one knows exactly what type of news they will make, consider the following: First, if Jordan actually has Bickerstaff’s ear, they could make a big, risky splash in the draft, similar to his selection of Kwame Brown in Washington. Second, he gives the Bobs some increased publicity and fan appeal, which is good for the bottom line, which means they might actually be willing to get involved in free agency instead of playing $30-$40 million below the salary cap. Third, Brevin Knight is a very tradable commodity, and Emeka Okafor is on the mend. So next year, Charlotte could realistically have a starting five of Brezec, Okafor, Wallace, Morrison, and Felton, with a decent free agent and the player they get for Knight coming of the bench. Not too shabby. Now if they could only do something about those uniforms.

Centers of Attention: There are only 3 true centers in the draft: LaMarcus Aldridge, Patrick O’Bryant, and the wildcard of the bunch, Saer Sene. Last year, the Lakers’ selection of Andrew Bynum with the number 10 pick was the surprise of the draft. When asked about the pick, Mitch Kupchak basically said they rolled the dice because athletic big men with upside don’t come along too often. Saer Sene could be this year’s Bynum, and move up 10-15 slots to the mid to late lottery. There are two basic scenarios in which this could happen. In scenario A, one or two of the three top 10 projected guards (Roy, Marcus Williams, or Foye) drops out of the top 10 and Shelden Williams and Patrick O’Bryant get snatched up before the number 9 pick. All of a sudden, the Warriors and Sonics, both with crowded backcourts, are choosing between Cedric Simmons, Alexander Johnson, or Sene, to fill their shot blocking/rebounding need, and they pick Sene because he is only guy who can grab the rim without jumping. In scenario B, Desagna Diop’s inspired NBA playoffs run convinces a slew of general managers that projects like Sene can pan out and contribute, even if underdeveloped, and a team in rebuilding mode decides he’s worth a shot. Neither would surprise me, and I’m easily surprised.

Knicks Fix: Next to Nick and Jessica, the Isiah Thomas/Larry Brown trauma has been the most public, awkward, and bloody rift of the last year. If LB had his way, the Knicks would surely draft a rebounder/defender type, or move the picks because the coach doesn’t care much for rookies. With Zeke left to his own devices, there is no telling what’s next for this team. On one hand, even critics admit that Thomas is a decent talent evaluator, and his draft history as a general manager is fairly impressive. On the other, he imports big contracts as if the salary cap luxury tax were being paid to him, instead of the league. So the Knicks could move up or down, slash or add players and salary, keep or ditch the coach, and nobody would bat an eye. In a sense the biggest draft night story of all would involve the Knicks standing pat, and their fans in the Garden politely applauding their picks. With a roster full of talent and plenty of detractors dancing on their grave, the orange and blue have plenty of motivation to rise from the dead next year.

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