Many professional basketball teams, perhaps even the one you support, drafted players in the hopes of bolstering their rosters the other night. Here are some snap judgments of their efforts from a fellow who watches a handful of college games per year. The numbers in parentheses are where they fell on ESPN.com draft guru Chad Ford's big board. Save those for posterity because he'll probably change them in a year or two.
Houston Rockets: A-
It figures that the Rockets of all teams had to get my favorite player in the draft class. Dekker has ideal size for a three and is an energetic, streaky player who can put ball on the floor in small doses, shoot it off the catch or the curl and rebound fairly well for his position. He'll likely play behind Trevor Ariza at first but will be groomed to eventually replace him. At the least, Dekker gives the Rockets the freedom to lose Josh Smith and/or Corey Brewer without taking a hit.
Harrell slid all the way down to the second round because of concerns about his basketball IQ, his motor and his outside shot, but he's talented enough to be a no-brainer at 32. He can score a lot of easy garbage points playing with James Harden and next to Dwight Howard and unlike some of their other fours, he's tough and long enough to make an impact defensively.
Just an annoyingly good draft for the Rockets.
Dallas Mavericks: B-
Anderson was a curious pick by the Mavs with Chandler Parsons already on the books, but I guess at 21 you can't be too picky. Anderson has a strong, stocky frame for a two-guard, but he can finish strong at the rim given the opportunity and he has long arms, which contributes to his solid defensive reputation. The issue with him is that he only shot the ball well his junior season at Virginia so we'll have to see if he really turned a corner with his mechanics or if it was just an anomaly. My guess is they'll try to turn him into a two guard, especially if Monta Ellis leaves town.
The Bhamara pick strikes me as fishy. Mark Cuban is still a businessman above all and in love with names and headlines. He pushed for the Rajon Rondo trade last year, over Rick Carlisle's objections, even though Rondo was obviously a poor fit with Ellis and the rest of the team. A short while later, the Mavs acquired Amar'e Stoudemire, a defensive albatross, to replace the departed Brandan Wright. Bhamara, the first Indian draftee in league history might help sell some Mavs merch abroad, but we'll see if he ever plays for them.
As the Spurs venture forth into this free agent period, hoping to acquire one of the biggest names out there to not only set themselves up for contention next year but for well into the foreseeable future, let's take time for a quick history lesson about one Rasho Nesterovic.
Mr. Nesterovic, who the creator of this blog was fond of calling "The Steady Slovenian," while I simply chose to refer to him as 'Sho, showed just enough to PATFO in 2002-03 to be Spurs Plan B in free agency when Jason Kidd spurned them. (Phew.) They gave Nesterovic a six-year, $42 million contract that was unequivocally the worst free agent signing of the Popovich-Duncan Era. Yes, even worse than He Who Shall Not Be Named. Nesterovic proved so soft that the Spurs felt that they had no choice but to trade Malik Rose, who also had a pretty obscene contract at the time, to the Knicks for Nazr Mohammed during the stretch run of the 2004-05 season.
(Remember kids, when you look around at everything we have, don't just say "Thank you, Tim," but make sure to give Isiah Thomas a shout out too.)
Nesterovic was benched midway through that playoff run and though he regained his starting job for most of the 2005-06 season, due to economic reasons more than anything else, Popovich again benched him during the playoffs. Against Dallas, he benched Muhammed too, electing to play small and use basically a seven man rotation. Nesterovic was dealt that off-season for Matt Bonner, Eric Williams and a 2nd round pick. I have no idea how they hoodwinked the Raptors into that deal.
I relate this bit of Spurs trivia for two reasons. One, be wary of free agency. She is a cruel, spiteful mistress. For many teams getting the guy they've targeted for months turns into the kind of disaster that sets them back for years. Two, if a scout says to me a center prospect reminds of Rasho Nesterovic, I either fire the scout or, if I trust his judgment, I run screaming in the opposite direction.
I hope Buford is just giving us a smokescreen here to keep expectations of this kid down, because honestly, why would you draft somebody if his game reminds you of Nesterovic? THAT MAKES NO SENSE.
You might as well draft a no-name power forward in the second round and say he reminds you of Jeff Ayres...
While I loved the Rockets draft and was ambivalent about the Mavs, I find myself on the other end of the spectrum with the Grizzles. I hated their draft. Martin is a tweener with good-not-great athleticism and short-ish arms who can't shoot enough to be a full-time three and won't make a difference defensively. It's amazing how these guys just cannot find perimeter shooting to save their lives when it's so easy for seemingly everyone else in the league to get shooters. Then they traded Jon Leuer (with Kostas Koufos also a free agent that leaves them with no backup centers, and that's assuming they re-sign Marc Gasol) for Harrison, probably my least-favorite player of the draft class. I don't like anything about his game. He's not really a point guard, his body language is bad, his attitude is worse and he's not really good at anything. He was a starter on the Wildcats that fell to 44th when the rest of their guys, plus top reserve Willie Caulie-Stein were all taken in the lottery. Oh, and they traded for Matt Barnes. Everyone else in the league is trying to quicker and faster and bomb from outside and these guys are stuck in the late 90's.
New Orleans Pelicans: Inc.
The Pelicans had one pick, No. 56, and they traded it to the Clippers for money.
And with that, I'm done analyzing the 2015 NBA draft. Let's never speak of it again.