Before we start with the Mock Draft analysis, a real-life note. As Ben has noted below ProBasketballNews is reporting that the Washington Wizards are trading Etan Thomas, Oleksiy Pecherov, Darius Songalia, and the #5 pick in this year's draft for Mike Miller and Randy Foye. This now gives the Timberwolves the 5th, 6th, 18th, and 28th picks in the draft. My first reaction is that they're never going to use all of those picks for themselves. Let the speculation begin on that score. Second, that pretty much echoes what the Minnesota GM did in our mock draft, though he got #17 instead of #5, albeit at less of a cost.
Which brings us to our mock draft. There were several things I liked about it this year. I loved being able to read the GM comments and your reactions to them. I enjoyed talking on the phone a little bit to the GM's. It made it feel more official somehow. It was interesting to hear voices attached to names. Most importantly it made the process go about three times as fast. We actually did the draft in a couple hours instead of a whole day. That feature is definitely staying. I also liked how the trade proposals were more muted this year. Part of that was the mandatory open conversation between GM's I think. Part of it may have also been the subdued nature of the talent pool. It's a lot harder imagining a huge name being traded for any of these guys that it has been in past years. Whatever the reason, the trades proposed were mostly solid. We still rejected a few but that was mostly for draft sanctity or "needs tweaking" reasons, not because they were outlandish. Fantastic job by GM's on that score.
The chief complaint about the draft this year was that it was more boring than usual, what with fewer big trades and also with the Blazers moving out of the first round. I don't feel too bad about that because there's a strong possibility that Thursday's action will also be understated. Unless this Minnesota pick-hogging opens up the 5th or 6th selections for cheap I don't see the Blazers paying the price to move up into the elite picks. There are too many question marks to justify the payoff. I could easily see a move into the middle-round picks, perhaps by outright purchase of a pick or using the trade exception. That could well be the biggest splash, though. If we're not getting up to 16-17 to make a run at Lawson or Blair I think the Blazers could do just what we did in the mock draft: bail on the first round and let some second-rounders fight it out for a position on non-guaranteed contracts. We may all leave Thursday evening saying, "That was IT?" But again, this is a sign of a good team. The season isn't supposed to hinge around the draft. You're not supposed to need rookies that badly.
Although there were odd picks here and there that actually added to the charm, if not the realism, of the mock draft. Every year in real life there are some picks that make you scratch your head. Every summer there's a bizarre trade that makes you think somebody is an idiot. Every year there are late first-rounders who slip into the second round and a couple projected second-rounders who make it up into the guaranteed money. The mock draft had all of that, plus a couple trades of established players. On the whole it wasn't too bad.
On to the specific trades for your review. Three trades were actually approved. We'll take them in order.
Golden State traded Marco Belinelli and the #7 pick to New Jersey for Shawn Williams and the #11 pick.
At first I questioned this deal because New Jersey appeared to be getting the best player and the best pick with no cap considerations coming into play to balance it out. But the Golden State GM made such a passioned and reasoned argument why he wanted Williams and the #11 that I figured this trade could be chalked up to GM quirkiness, which also happens most years. GM's will get visions that look odd to everyone else. Sometimes they're proved genius savants. Other times they fall flat on their face.
Minnesota traded Sebastian Telfair, Mark Madsen, Brian Cardinal, and the #28 pick to Philadelphia for Samuel Delambert and the #17 pick.
This trade elicited all kinds of screams when announced. I nixed trades for less imbalance than this one had, so some of those were justified. The truth is that I was in a hurry when I scanned it and read the picks wrong. The trade I copied down was Minnesota getting Delambert and #28 for the those three players and #17, which makes more sense. I had an itch that something was up but I didn't follow up on it. By the time I realized my error the draft was about to start and I figured it would cause more confusion to turn back than to let it go. You can look at it one of two ways. Either this qualifies as the "crazy trade" for the year or you can bank on Philly saving about $10 million in cap space with this deal in the summer of 2010. A ton of teams are trying to do that same thing. It cost the Sixers, but they are thinking about dealing Delambert in real life anyway. This could actually be a deal that looks good for Philly in a couple years. Right now Minnesota looks like it got away with murder but they're paying a lot of cash for the crime plus they just drafted a whole pile of rookies in what's widely considered one of the worst drafts ever.
New Orleans traded Tyson Chandler to Memphis for Darko Milicic, Darrell Arthur, and the #27 pick
In past years this trade would probably not have been allowed as it only involved the pick peripherally. But we needed some excitement and the Hornets want to trade Chandler.
Here are the trades that were rejected along with explanations...
The Thunder and Raptors proposed trading Chris Bosh and a protected future pick for Jeff Green, Earl Watkins, Chucky Atkins, #3 and #25
This was a a bold trade and one I thought about for a while. I actually like the deal for the Raptors as long as they can find somebody at #3 who can help. Taking on five players for one presented a bit of a problem. Also I wasn't confident that the Thunder could hold on to Chris Bosh. That's a pretty expensive rental. Finally the names were so big that they threatened to overshadow the draft itself, which is always a risk in these kinds of things. Combined that was enough to hold the deal back.
Chicago and New York proposed swapping Kirk Hinrich, #16, and #26 in this year's draft for Chris Duhon, Jared Jeffries, pick #8, and $3 million in cash.
I had to think about this one for a while. It's pretty close. Three things prevented it from going all the way. First it looked like we could be moving other picks in that range and we didn't want to bunch up all the trades in the same general area, lest it look like a war zone. This happened in years past and it's something I was acutely aware of this year. Second, this trade threatens to put Chicago in the luxury tax this year and only saves them about $2 million next year. There's not enough cap savings in the trade to justify taking on Duhon and Jeffries. Third, New York actually takes on more salary in the summer of 2010 with this deal. They've been trying like mad to dump salary for that summer. The reversal didn't make a ton of sense when all they're getting is Hinrich and an 8-spot jump in a weak draft.
And that was about it. Feel free to comment further on the trades, proposed or executed. Also, which GM do you think did the best job? You can define that by acquiring raw talent, getting the most value out of picks, doing what makes the most sense for their team, or however else you wish. Chime in below.
Thanks again to everyone who participated in the mock draft this year!