Welcome to the Pounding the Rock's annual NBA Draft diary, boys and girls. Your faithful narrator couldn't be less emotionally invested in this thing, but on the other hand I'm in a far better mood than usual for this time of year, so it balances out nicely. By the way, I'm still on the West Coast, so all times are Pacific Daylight.
4:07 After a few minutes of fluff from the panel, our first bit of relevance comes from Mark Schwartz, embedded with the Cavs all week, reports that GM David Griffin and their "brain trust" (insert joke here) have decided on their pick and all their hints strongly point toward Kansas' Andrew Wiggins, a superior defender to Duke's Jabari Parker.
4:08 Andy Katz immediately refutes Schwartz' report, claiming that Griffin just texted him and wrote that the Cavs may trade the pick. The moral of the story: If a team executive tells a reporter anything, it's a lie. It's the first of 894 lies we'll hear tonight.
4:09 Chris Broussard reports he has no idea what's going to happen. Expect that to be a running theme as well.
4:23 Analyst Fran Fraschilla dubs Australian point guard Dante Exum "The Boy Wonder from Down Under." That's just fantastic. Okay, I'm totally in on Exum now.
4:24 ESPN's idea of "showing the fun-loving side" of these kids is to have them take "selfies" of themselves with Polaroid cameras. Most of the pictures come out overexposed, which is fitting I suppose.
4:28 ESPNLosAngeles's Ramona Shelburne reports on Joel Embiid's "I'm a Laker," tweet from the night before, which Embiid quickly deleted and claimed was one of his friends messing with his phone. The conspiracy theory is that Embiid wanted to go to the Lakers or Celtics so badly that his camp faked the severity of his foot injury. That's just idiotic. I wouldn't even believe something so harebrained if David Stern was still commissioner.
4:33 Silver didn't get booed, so this is already different.
4:33 Oh wait, he just got booed for congratulating the Spurs.
4:33 Did I mention I love it when people declare that the Spurs won the championship?
4:34 I think Silver just said that if the 57th pick doesn't wind up becoming the next Manu Ginobili that we should consider him a spectacular failure.
4:35 Jalen Rose declares he'd take Joel Embiid, while Bill Simmons endorses trading down. Ideally, I'd do both. Jay Bilas opines that Parker is the safest pick, but he's a Dookie, so there may be Bilas bias there.
4:42 The Cavs take Wiggins, which means that Dion Waiters is not long for Cleveland. Bilas talks up his defense, explaining that he held his man to 32 percent shooting last season, neglecting to add that everyone in college shoots 32 percent. Simmons compares him to a young Tracy McGrady, which I take to mean that Wiggins will blossom on a completely different team and won't make it out of the first round of the playoffs until he's a 12th man with bad knees and a beer gut.
4:47 The Bucks nab Parker, the guy they wanted. He reportedly wanted to go there all along, because it's close to his hometown of Chicago, and the rumors are he tanked a workout in Cleveland to make this happen. Milwaukee will have a freakish forward combo with him and Giannis Antetokounmpo. Bilas declares that productivity wise, Parker compares with Michael Beasley, which sounds fairly terrifying, and adds that he's a bad defender. Simmons compares him to Paul Pierce, explaining that he's "doughy but always in shape." What? Rose says the best comp is Glenn "Big Dog" Robinson, which again doesn't sound the ringing endorsement its meant to be. On a podcast with Simmons, ESPN draft guru Chad Ford said that Parker's ballooned up to 255 pounds and even working with trainers every day he seems to have a body that only gets thicker when working with weights instead of that cut physique. I don't know if beer, brats and Parker are going to be a good combo. But best of luck, Bucks.
4:54 The Sixers take Embiid, who reacts to the news from his home as if he suffered a stress fracture to his face -- just no expression whatsoever. Maybe he doesn't understand why he was picked by a team with Noel Nerlens on the roster either. I don't fault Philly at all for taking him, like I wrote above he's the best prospect in the class by far, but the second he gets a clean bill of health the Sixers have to ship Nerlens for some perimeter help, right?
Bilas: "I'm not saying he's going to be Olajuwon, but you put them side by side as freshmen and you can't tell them apart."
I can. Hakeem's the one who can run and jump without breaking his everything bone.
Simmons likens him to a seven-foot Serge Ibaka, while Rose tempers expectations by comparing him to Tim Duncan.
Update: The delay on the satellite feed in Embiid's Los Angeles camp is fixed and he smiles and pumps his fist at the news, so I guess he's alive.
4:59 Our first mini-upset, the Magic take Arizona's Aaron Gordon with the fourth pick. For the record, that's the guy I'd have taken too, over fellow power forwards Julius Randle, a Zach Randolph clone, and Indiana's Noah Vonleh, a good shooter who somehow only averaged 11 points last year and didn't make the tournament. Gordon isn't much of a shooter yet, but he's super athletic and can be something between Blake Griffin and Shawn Marion.
Bilas uses "athlete" or "athleticism" like ten times in his monologue on Gordon, while Rose compares him to... Marion! Should I be proud or worried? Simmons gives Kawhi Leonard a nod but Russell Westbrook too. The panel's consensus is that the young man is good at running and jumping.
5:06 And there goes our last blue-chip athlete off the board, as the Jazz take Exum. Fraschilla, who obviously writes his material well in advance, exclaims that Exum's "going to get an Academy award, because so many people have only seen him on film."
I think it's already a wrap, Fraschilla is the runaway star of this draft. I need him to comment on every pick, and would prefer if he replaced Rose on the panel altogether.
I wonder if Trey Burke and Alec Burks are exchanging, "Yo man, WTF?" texts right now. Anyway, Exum seems like another Michael Carter-Williams to me, which sounds great but isn't meant to be.
Update: Burke apparently attended the draft and just gave Exum a hug, so what do I know? Welcome to your sixth man role, Alec Burks.
5:12 HAHAHA. The Celtics take Oklahoma State's Marcus Smart, giving Boston two temperamental point guards who can't shoot. Bilas loves his defense, competitiveness and ability in transition, calling him "a linebacker in a basketball uniform." Simmons, naturally, readily agrees. Being tough is well and good, but shouldn't a point guard be able to pass and score and stuff? Smart's upside is Rondo, without the passing. I think this is a major reach for Boston.
Also, it probably means that Rondo's gonna be moved.
Where are the trades? I was told there'd be trades.
5:17 The Lakers take Randle. Can't knock that pick. They needed a tough guy who can score around the basket with Pau Gasol gone. He's basically a carbon copy of Zach Randolph, without the crazy. He's gonna have to work on the jumper though. Simmons likens him to Derrick Coleman, continuing the running "this draft class reminds me of guys who were pretty good but squandered their potential and never won anything" theme. Randle comes out with a chip on his shoulder, defiantly telling interviewer Jay Williams that he'll make the teams that passed on him regret it, which is definitely something Z-Bo would do. A word of warning: Randle all-but-admitted the other day that he needs minor foot surgery, so he'll be a bit behind.
5:23 The Kings don't trade their pick after all and select Michigan State's Nik Stauskas instead, meaning that Dougie McBuckets won't be the first white dude taken. I don't know much about Stauskas, but Rose, a fellow Michigan alum, compared him to Drazen Petrovic. Simmons, meanwhile, declared that "he's a young Manu," because he's got swagger and won't be afraid.
I've got three reasons he should be afraid: He's going to a team with Boogie Cousins, Rudy Gay and Isaiah Thomas. Good luck seeing the ball, kid.
Anyway, I think this signals that the Kings can't rid themselves of Ben McLemore fast enough.
5:29 The Hornets (née Bobcats) surprise by picking Vonleh, when speculation had them taking Doug McDermott. I guess the scars from Adam Morrison are still too fresh. I don't really get the Vonleh pick, since they desperately needed perimeter shooting, but I guess he can be a stretch four to pair with Al Jefferson and Josh McRoberts is a free agent.
Bilas informs us that Vonleh has bigger hands than Leonard. Rose compares Vonleh to Horace Grant and raves about his three-point shooting. Grant made four threes in 63 attempts over his 17-year career. Simmons' comp of him is LaMarcus Aldridge, but he's not as long. Also, if that's the comparison, then why was he so down on him? I'd be ecstatic to get Aldridge with the ninth pick.
5:36 With the pick they got from the Pelicans in the Jrue Holiday/Nerlens Noel trade the Sixers take Elfrid Payton, giving them another large point guard who can't shoot a lick to complement MCW. Simmons compares him to Gary Payton, but this kid has goofy Hasheem Thabeet hair so I'm already worried for him. I don't get this pick for the Sixers. Just like with Embiid and Noel, they seem to be doubling up on what they already have.
Wow, Jeff Goodman asks Carter-Williams, who's in the building, if he expects to be traded. That's ballsy right there. Carter-Williams handles it well. According to Twitter, it's Payton who's going to be flipped here.
5:42 Dougie McBuckets is a Nugget. Bilas defends his athleticism, defense and rebounding, while adding that 70 percent of his shots in college were contested. Um... that would turn me off completely if I was evaluating him. If you can't get open in college, what are you gonna do in the pro defenders who are quicker and longer? I fear Mr. McDermott will be in for a rough time in the NBA.
I also think there's no way both he and Danilo Gallinari will both on the Nugs next year. One of them is definitely getting flipped. Rose likens him to Wally Szczerbiak, and I'm officially alarmed how often I'm agreeing with Jalen Rose.
McDermott announces he can't wait to get away from his dad and also compares himself to Wally World. The "with good luck I'll be just like that guy who disappointed everybody" draft, everybody! I can't wait til one of these point guards says he's going to be the next Gilbert Arenas.
5:49 Our first trade, finally! McDermott is going to the Bulls for the 16th and 19th picks. I guess playing with Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah can get him some open shots, but where does he fit in if they get Carmelo? I guess they cleared a little cap space, turning two picks into one.
5:50 I can't emphasize strongly enough that Bilas is all-in on Doug McDermott.
5:51 The dream is over for the Spurs, as the Magic grab Croatian sensation Dario Saric with the 12th pick, even though he just signed a contract to stay in Turkey two more years. Simmons is chagrined, he wanted Saric for his beloved Celtics with the 17th pick, and says he fell in love with him at 3:30 in the morning on YouTube, with Rose quickly adding that lots of people find love that time of night on YouTube. Wow.
I like Saric, but don't understand how he fits alongside Gordon. Fraschilla, disappointingly doesn't have any quips about him and gives a lukewarm review, stating that he's a stretch four who doesn't have a three-pointer yet, which seems problematic. Rose spices things up by going cross-racial, comparing Saric to Boris Diaw (I don't see it), while Simmons sticks to the script and mentions Detlef Schrempf.
The Sports Guy, a disappointment for me tonight, then goofs big time, claiming that Saric will fit well with Exum... who was picked by the Jazz.
5:55 The Wolves took a point guard who can't shoot, UCLA's Zach LaVine. How novel for them. He compares him to Westbrook because...UCLA I guess? The T-Pups are supposed to be subtracting Bruins, not adding them.
5:58 Broussard thinks he's breaking news, reporting that Kevin Love would definitely re-sign with the Cavs if LeBron James was there too. "This just in guys, I'm hearing, based on sources close to the situation, that Kevin Love isn't a moron."
6:01 Another trade, with Katz reporting that Saric's rights are being flipped to the Sixers for Payton. That makes way more sense because Orlando needs a point guard and the Sixers need perimeter scoring. MCW must be relieved. I like their moves so far. They probably grabbed my two favorite guys in Embiid and Saric and fleeced Orlando for a future first-round pick and second-round pick. Way to go, Brett Brown!
6:03 The Suns took North Carolina State small forward T.J. Warren, a big-time scorer I guess. "Sometimes you just need a dude who'll get you a bucket," Davis explains of the pick. Because sure, watching the Suns last year I thought to myself, "Man, if only they had someone who can score."
6:12 Getting a little misty in here with the Adreian Payne pick by the Hawks. I'm rooting for him obviously, it was so great what he did for that poor little girl. Still, I was half-expecting the panel to say wonderful things about him and then compare him to Vin Baker or Shareef Abdur-Rahim.
6:14 And the sentimental segue continues, as Silver halts the draft to introduce ex-Baylor center Isaiah Austin, an unfortunate fellow who overcame being blind in one eye and was set to be a first-round pick, only to discover days before the draft that he's got Marfan Syndrome and can't play basketball anymore. Life is really unfair sometimes. It was nice of Bears coach Scott Drew to offer Austin an assistant coaching gig once he completes his degree.
6:23 Analyst Tom Penn is drooling over the potential of a Bulls quintet with Noah, Rose, McDermott, Jimmy Butler and Carmelo. So much for that defensive identity.
6:28 I don't quite get Simmons' excitement over Kentucky shooting guard James Young. From what I saw, he was the Wildcats' fourth-best player. I really don't like Boston's draft at all, which probably means they're going to the Eastern Conference Finals in two years.
6:32 I didn't think much of Syracuse point guard Tyler Ennis, but it's decent insurance for the Suns if they lose Eric Bledsoe in free agency. I'd rather have Shabazz Napier though. (Note: I have no idea what I'm talking about.)
6:36 The Bulls took Michigan State shooting guard Gary Harris, whom I like, but will be shipping him to Denver for Doug McDermott. Good thing the Nuggets traded for Arron Afflalo yesterday, huh?
6:44 Rose explains that he'd prefer Napier to Exum because if he locked the two of them in a room together, Napier would come out. That's sound logic for the UFC draft, but I'm not so sure about its relevance to the NBA. How many fights man-for-man would the Spurs win over the Heat? Duncan would obliterate Chris Bosh for sure, and I'll give Manu the edge over Dwyane Wade. Outside of that, man, I don't know. Patty Mills over Norris Cole, maybe? Danny Green over Ray Allen?
Oh yeah, definitely Red Rocket over Rashard Lewis.
6:46 With the 20th pick the Raptors select Bruno Caboclo, who Frischilla describes as "the Brazilian Kevin Durant." I look forward to him deferring way too much to the Brazilian Russell Westbrook and gagging in the playoffs.
6:52 LOL, Mitch McGary. Derek Fisher has a better chance of getting relevant minutes for the Thunder next year (while coaching the Knicks) than this doughy lump they just drafted. There is no way Scott Brooks will ever play this dude.
6:53 I just realized I completely forgot about Wichita State's Cleanthony Early. I really liked that guy! I'm gonna root for him to fall to the Spurs even though there's no chance he will. It's like I enjoy setting myself up for disappointment.
6:54 Davis just jinxed it, saying he's expecting Early to fall to the Spurs and everyone else kicking themselves afterward, while Simmons lets out a groan.
7:05 I don't think Rodney Hood was the Dookie that Jazz fans were hoping to land in the draft, but they've done okay for themselves in the first round with he and Exum. A lot of young athletic pieces there for Quin Snyder to alienate.
7:07 The Hornets take Napier, who LeBron was openly lusting after for the Heat. He is NOT gonna like this, no sir. Napier is reunited with former UConn teammate Kemba Walker, though I'm not sure about that one. I doubt either wants to back up for the other.
7:08 ...and there it is. Katz reports that Napier is getting traded to Miami. Makes sense. So much for the LeBron sweepstakes, everybody!
7:14 Penn informs us that Wade and Bosh need to take paycuts and that the Heat need to sign a bunch of players to fill out their roster. Broussard must be stewing he didn't get to report this major story.
7:15 The Rockets select Swiss small forward Clint Capela, whom I figured would be a potential Spurs target. Right away, Simmons smells something fishy, declaring that Houston selected a foreigner they can stash overseas to save their cap room for a star like Anthony, before finishing with a "I heard he's one of the 50 best players to ever come out of Switzerland," line.
Davis immediately fires back with, "I don't know, a lot of people are neutral on him, Bill," which I enjoyed.
The "Houston just hopes they don't have a Swiss miss on their hands," was too much though.
7:29 The Suns took Bogdan Bogdanovic. Must improve: parents' creativity. Only two picks away for the Spurs and Early is still on the board!
7:34 The Clippers took another shooter, C.J. Wilcox, over a much-needed rotation big. Are we sure Elgin Baylor still isn't in charge over there? (One more pick!)
7:40 After a few awkward minutes where the panel tried talking about the World Cup --you'll never guess which of the four dislikes soccer, it's a total shock-- the Thunder took some small forward from Stanford who is totally not Cleanthony Early. I think Sam Presti's lost his touch.
C'mon R.C. Buford, do it! DO IT.
7:41 My favorite part of the draft just happened, the Spurs championship montage! That totally happened, it wasn't a dream!
7:44 Rose just defended the Lakers paying Kobe more than Duncan, Ginobili and Parker combined. That was fun.
7:46 After Rose amusingly predicted that Wade will take less money than Bosh --not a chance-- Simmons made an boneheaded analogy about a bunch of African-American dudes splitting pieces of chicken. The uncomfortable silence of the panel lasted a good five seconds and Rose shot Simmons a glare.
7:47 Okay, THAT was my favorite part of the draft.
7:48 And that was my least favorite part. The Spurs took small forward Kyle Anderson from UCLA, a guy nicknamed, I kid you not, "slo-mo." He's not a great athlete, warns Bilas. The positives are that he's a great passer for a forward and a good rebounder, and he can knock down open shots, so maybe he's a Diaw clone. For what its worth, he was the 19th-ranked prospect on Ford's draft board.
Look, I don't know him from Adam, and obviously the Spurs deserve the benefit of the doubt with their track record, but man, I wanted Early.
7:57 Deputy commissioner Mark Tatum is the last person to realize that Mark Tatum is bald.
7:58 Boom, the Bucks just took the guy I figured the Spurs would pick all along, French small-forward Damien Inglis with the first pick of the second round. Fraschilla is really high on him, but he likes every foreigner.
8:07 Groan. The Knicks use the pick they got in their trade with the Mavs to pick Early. Looks like Phil Jackson knows what he's doing after all. Great pick. Dammit.
8:20 The Wolves take Glenn Robinson III from Michigan. I watched him a couple of times and he hustles an' all, but this guy can't play. Another sorry draft for Minny.
8:22 Another potential Spurs foreign target, Serbian power forward Nikola Jokic, goes to Denver at 41. The only guy I've heard of that's left is the Spanish giant, Tavares.
8:26 ... and he promptly gets snatched up by the Hawks at 43, naturally. Darn you, Budenholzer! His wingspan is 7'9" which causes Bilas to gush, "I might pass out."
Man, this kid is huge. 7'2," 265 pounds. Good luck, Bud.
8:44 With their other second round pick the Knicks selected the Greek freak's older brother, Thanasis Antetokounmpo, on a flyer. He's shorter and "less polished," according to Frischilla, which makes no sense, but what do I know. I think New York won the part of the draft nobody cares about.
9:01 With the 58th pick the Spurs take Jordan McRae, a 6'7" shooting guard from Texas with a seven-foot wingspan, a really good athlete according to Bilas. I know nothing about him, but he's reed thin and doesn't at all fit the profile of guys the Spurs usually draft. I'm intrigued. Ford had him as the 47th-ranked guy.
9:03 Hey, alright, a fellow Aztec in Xavier Thames. I was impressed by him in the tournament even though he's a tweener guard. The Raptors snatched him at 59, so good luck, Xavier.
9:05 And with the final pick the Spurs select Baylor power forward Cory Jefferson, who looks slim and one-dimensional, which sounds about right at number 60. The Spurs drafted three Americans. I'm absolutely in a state of shock. Did Buford and Pop fly off to some tropical island and leave this to some interns?
Overall, I gotta say that was pretty disappointing, not just from a Spurs perspective, but just as a fan of the game. I have no idea which picks will pan out and which won't but man, I was expecting more trades for sure. There were hardly any, and not one active player was moved. Every year they hype all this whirlwind activity that's supposed to happen, and every year I fall for it, hook, line and sinker.
Well no more. I'm not gonna be suckered anymore. Next year, I'll just read about the draft the next day.
(Who am I kidding?)
POSTSCRIPT: The Spurs traded those two late second-rounders, McRae and Jefferson, to Philly for the 54th pick, Serbian small forward Nemanja Dangubic. Yes, the guy who was playing club games on a team that wears pink shorts. He's 6'8 and 195 and a good slasher, but not much of a shooter according to Fraschilla.
Okay, now it's a Spurs draft.