NBA draft experts, you’ve been played.
NBA GMs… not so much.
When Chris Grant took UNLV’s Anthony Bennett #1 last night, the goal of a month of misdirection was partially realized. Partially because he got his guy; not entirely because he was unable to execute a trade-back to do so.
It wasn’t for lack of trying. But with a record like Grant’s, even sports journos start to get wary (see Katz’ tweet at right). And of course no GMs want to get the executive equivalent of posterization like Mitch Kupchak did last year. (The 19 starts by Ramon Sessions cost him Sergey Karasev.)
The narrative of “Mel Turpin with asthma” worked to some extent. Jacob Rosen’s mock draft muncher showed zero out of 40 mocks with Bennett #1.
So, good job, good effort, Mr. Grant.
Unfortunately your well-earned reputation preceded you.
I don’t know enough but that won’t stop me from weighing in…
Bennett looked like a good basketball player to me in my casual fan watching research. That is: not a tall guy who blocks shots, not an athletic freak of nature. Rather a conventionally tall person who’s good at basketball. As a parallel, I keep coming back to Charles Barkley and I’ll try to do better. Barkley was a guy who didn’t impress with his size or conditioning or any other combine measurables. Just a baller. (Barkley went 5th overall in the super-stacked 1984 draft; I wonder if he’d have gone #5 in today NBA that looks so much harder at physical measurables.)
I had a little back and forth with @WFNYCraig and @ClevTA on this last week. See right, that’s as far as it went.
I mean… I pulled that thread, looked into Bennett. All I found “good player but fat and lazy.”
On his defense:
It’s hard to avoid hyperbole here: Bennett might be the single most unaware defensive prospect I’ve ever seen. There is nothing he does well on this end, and those shortcomings are due entirely to his effort.
Bennett has an abysmal defensive reputation and looks like a poor man’s version of the Beasley, Derrick Williams, “Big Dog” … class of players who have historically done really well in my models but not in the NBA. I would have a tough time passing on him after the 10th pick or so, but I really worry about his bust potential in the top 5.
On his weight:
It was mainly one Chad Ford tweet that got the interwebs chattering:
Not going to link to the blogs this tweet spun up, but it was a lot.
And then there’s the asthma.
In the dozens of draft previews I read, I didn’t see anything on his asthma. How does this not get mentioned? It was pretty public. Las Vegas reader Petefranklin gave us the heads up on the story (see right).
Is this a problem? I don’t know. Reader NFB reminds that “Dennis Rodman has asthma, which only leads me to believe that in thirty or forty years, our prized first draft pick will be liaising with the North Koreans.”
Beyond the asthma tip Petefranklin offered some legit fan scouting which is only going to make you feel better:
Awesome player in all aspects of the game especially his range and finishing ability. Finishing might not translate vs NBA players but the range will in combo with the ability to do some D & Driving. … He is a awesome player (prospect) who reminds me of Barkley [HEY! That’s what I thought too!]. Maybe the biggest factor is that he shined under UNLV coach Rice who is terrible. Terrible! 25 wins by talent alone, should have been sweet 16 at least once, but gets beat by down and out tournament teams.
Bennett is good! Needs coaching and conditioning. The asthma was a big deal here 6 or so weeks ago.
See now. THAT is the kind of review you want to hear from the locals about your new shiny toy.
In Grant we trust.
Chris Grant wandered off the reservation with his Tristan Thompson and Dion Waiters picks. Some gnashing of teeth ensued after the fact but as of now, both look to be good picks. Can’t say yet if they were THE pick, but both players continue to show upside potential while continuing also to be 22 and 21 years old. Speaking of, look at how young this core is:
Now that’s a youth movement. That’s how to re-tool.
The Cavs still sit on a pile of cash ($22M in cap room) and free-agency starts next week. Historically, Cleveland has had a hard time getting the attention of free agents. But then again -and as we’ve said before- no player would choose to be Antawn Jamison on the 2011 Cavs.
Might a top FA want to get in the action going on here?
He’d have to be serious about winning… not just paying it lip service. You know I’m big on getting a big. (I still see AV as a power forward, not a true center, can’t shake it.) Here’s the list of UFA Centers:
No one expects Dwight Howard to come here and that’s fine. Who the hell knows what Andrew Bynum thinks… but he is just 25. I still like Al Jefferson. But net net: Grant has us in position to be players for one of these guys. That’s pretty exciting.
Can’t please everyone though.
To close it up, I did have a chuckle at the poll on ESPNCleveland this morning. You really can’t please everyone.
But in Cleveland you’re smashing it if you’re pleasing 53%. So I say again: well done, Mr. Grant.