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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

It's Draft Night - (How) Will the Rockets Blow It This Time?

Before we start discussing tonight's draft, how about a quick recap of the Rockets' drafts since 1994.

The Hits
:
Yao Ming (#1 pick, 2002): I give the Rockets credit for this because many pundits thought Jay Williams should have been the pick. Yao has been outstanding, even for a #1 pick.

Kenny Thomas (#22 pick, 1999): Solid contributor who never should have been traded. Nice late first-round pick.

Cuttino Mobley (2nd round pick, 1998): Above-average NBA starting two-guard selected in the second round of the draft. Can't ask for much more than that.

The Misses:
To conserve bandwidth, I'm only going to mention the first rounders, but my intent in so doing is not to give the Rockets a free pass for their multitude of horrible second round picks (Badiane, Flores, Maddox, Washington, Hamilton...oops, sorry, I said I was only going to mention first rounders). Occassionally selecting a player with a second-round pick who at least makes your traveling squad for a year or two would be a real bonus.

OK, first rounders only. Boki Nachbar. Three first-rounders traded for Ed "Shoots Straight" Griffin. Jason Collier. Michael Dickerson. Bryce Drew. Mirsad Turkcan. Rod Rhodes. Thanks to some deft swapping, there were several years where the Rockets were prevented from botching a first-round pick.

Since Ace of Base hit the charts with Tim's personal anthem, The Sign, the Rockets have exactly hit one home run, one double (Mobley) and a single (Thomas) with ALL of their draft selections. Tonight, the Rockets face their most crucial draft in fifteen years. Their roster already contains one of the greatest wing players in the game and one of the most dangerous post players in the game. The Heat showed that by adding the right complementary pieces to a dynamic duo, a team can win an NBA title. The Rockets are certainly a bit strapped by Juwan's contract, Sura's injury woes and Swift's inability to give a flying crap, but a couple of great picks tonight and a nice addition or two in free agency, and this team can be playing for an NBA title next season.

Tonight's draft promises to be exciting on a couple of fronts. First, there is absolutely no consensus among the talking heads as to who is going to be drafted where. Secondly, trades in the top ten appear to be certain, which always livens up the evening. Finally, I have actually heard of about 80% of the players eligible to be drafted, which is certainly a change from the last few years. Now that does not mean that I support the NBA's new age limit, because I absolutely do not, but that new rule in conjunction with the recent drop in Euro-splashes (how do you spell Tsikitsvilli again?) has apparently motivated more NBA teams to look to the college ranks for help.

Before we unveil the official Official H-Town Sports 2006 NBA Mock Draft, let's take a final look at what the internet pundits are predicting for the Rockets in the first round tonight:

NBADraft.net
: Rodney Carney
Real GM
: Brandon Roy
Chad Ford (ESPN): Randy Foye
Draft Express: Shelden Williams
Fanball: Shelden Williams (then traded to Atlanta for Brandon Roy)
Ian Thomsen (SI.com): Adam Morrison
Chris Ekstrand (SI.com): Marcus Williams
Brendan McGovern (About.com): Randy Foye
Collegehoops.net: Brandon Roy
Inside Hoops: Marcus Williams
Hoops Hype: Shelden Williams

A couple of the most interesting names being tossed about in trade rumors are Allen Iverson and Sebastian Telfair, both of whom are being mentioned in connection with Boston's #7 pick. I'm not sure how much value Philly can expect to get in return for AI at this point in his career, but I do think it's time for him to move on from Philly. Without further ado:

The Official H-Town Sports 2006 NBA Mock Draft - UPDATED

1. Toronto: Andrea Bargnani, Italy
- Toronto's hiring of Bargnani's GM in Italy, while apparently credible from a pure basketball standpoint, just cannot be ignored when making this prediction.

2. Chicago: LaMarcus Aldridge, Texas
- Chicago has plenty of backcourt talent, but they still need another banger on the front line. Aldridge seems to be the most sure pick, which likely means the Bulls avoid him, but I'll keep the Bulls' historic draft insanity out of the equation for purposes of this mock draft.

3. Charlotte: Rudy Gay, UConn
- Brandon Roy reportedly dissed Jordan by refusing to work out for him. Would it not be classic, Jordan being Jordan, if MJ refused to give in and took Roy with the third pick in spite of Roy's public unwillingness to be a Bobcat. In the alternative, Jordan takes a chance on the incredibly talented Gay in the hopes that his own personal presence will provide the spark necessary to send Gay into stardom.

4. Portland: Adam Morrison, Gonzaga
- The Blazers and Portland are struggling to co-exist, and this pick makes sense from a basketball and a business perspective.

5. Atlanta: Brandon Roy, Washington
- Don't fret yet, Rockets' fans.

6. Minnesota: Randy Foye, UConn
- The Wolves' backcourt is in desperate need of an upgrade, and Foye will help immediately.

7. Boston: Tyrus Thomas, LSU
- Boston continues its trend of stockpiling incredibly talented, unproven players as Thomas slips.

8. Houston: Shelden Williams, Duke
- There's just too much smoke to ignore here. Arn Tellem's clients both get their wish, as do the Hawks and the Rockets, who swap their first-round selections.

9. Golden State: Saer Sene, Belgium
- The Warriors add an athletic freak to their frontcourt, and he immediately gets a phone call from J-Rich advising him to stay the hell out of his way.

10. Seattle: Ronnie Brewer, Arkansas
- The Sonics add athleticism, creativity and defense by selecting the most underappreciated talent in this year's draft.

11. Orlando: Rodney Carney, Memphis
- The Magic need an athlete to complement Dwight Howard and replace Grant Hill, and Carney may be the most gifted player in the draft.

12. New Orleans: Cedric Simmons, NC State
- PJ Brown cannot play forever, can he?

13. Philadelphia: Rajon Rondo, Kentucky
- The Sixers cannot pass up on the potential of Rondo, though there's always the minor character flaw that he cannot put a ball through the hoop without simultaneously hanging on the rim, which may prove somewhat limiting.

***It will be interesting to see how far down J. J. Redick falls tonight. With the already-existing doubts about his ability to adapt his skills to the NBA style of play, his character issues and his back injury, he may fall a long, long way. Don't look to me for a net, Hemingway.

Second Round Sleepers:
Leon Powe, Cal: If the Rockets could find a taker for Swift, Powe would be a great backup PF.

Mike Gansey, WVU: He's just a great basketball player. He'll have a long, successful NBA career no matter where he winds up.

Steve Novak, Marquette: If the Rockets could somehow trade back a little bit, I'd love to see them take Novak. He's a dead-eye shooter with a better-than-advertised floor game.

David Noel, UNC: A late-blooming player who ranked as the best all-around athlete at the NBA's draft workouts.

1 Comments:

Blogger Tim said...

There is no denying that I love my Swedish pop music. Regardless, any time you can incorporate Ace of Base into a post, it automatically becomes an instant classic. Without further ado, here's the answer key to tonight's draft through the Rockets' pick:

1. Toronto--Bargnani. I'm dying to throw a Snow (of "Informer" fame) reference in here, but I digress.

2. Chicago--Thomas. They have a poor man's LaMarcus already in Tyson Chandler, so this makes more sense to me.

3. Charlotte--Gay. No way even MJ can draft Brandon Roy when he hasn't actually seen him. And mark this down--Gay will be worse than Kwame Brown.

4. Portland--Aldridge. I heard Chad Ford on ESPN Radio just report that the Blazers got the okay last night from Paul Allen NOT to take Adam "Stop Sending Me Creepy Love Letters and Undergarments, Scott" Morrison.

5. Atlanta--Chuckie Brown, errrrrrr, Shelden Williams. The most overrated player in the draft goes to the second-worst franchise in the league.

6. Minnesota--Roy. KG puts down the shotgun and begins to weep with joy.

7. Boston--Foye. Ainge thinks hard about Morrison (you know, because he's white and all), but realizes the 'Nova product is a better fit.

8. Houston--Morrison. Scott immediately buys Rockets season tickets and starts growing a wispy mustache in preparation for the arrival of his inamorato (look it up).

Wed Jun 28, 01:01:00 PM  

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