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On Second Guessing

I love CDR.  I was hoping that he'd fall to 35, but I thought it would be highly unlikely.  He's a classic case of scouts and GMs getting hung up on the wrong stuff, and missing the fact that a guy can PLAY.  (As such, he's a fascinating contrast to DeAndre Jordan, who didn't even start consistently for his college team.)  Look at it this way - on the same team as Derrick Rose, it was CDR who was first team all-american.  I'm not saying he's better than Rose, but I am saying that what happens on the court counts too.  Compare it to Marvin Williams of UNC a few years back - he gets drafted 3 despite the fact that he didn't even start for the Tar Heels. Sean May, the best player on that UNC team, drops to 13 - which one is the better pro?  (Injuries aside.)  CDR is going to be a very good pro.  I would have loved that pick, and I would be just as happy today as I am with the Jordan pick.  I'm going to just be thankful that the rest of the NBA let two such intriguing picks drop to 35 while Sacto was drafting the likes of Jason Thompson at 12.  I'm not going to get hung up on 'CDR would have been better.'  I think Jordan is a very good pick here.  I don't care which one would have been better (a question that we certainly can't answer today, and may never be able to answer).

FWIW, I'd like to try to bring the Stuckey/Thornton thing down to a simmer as well.  Stuckey played great for Detroit.  Thornton played great for the Clippers.  I'm happy the Clippers got Thornton at 14.  To get a guy capable of producing so much his rookie season, who appears to be a legitimate scoring NBA threat who can create his own shot, at the end of the lottery, is a good thing.  Even if you want to question whether the Clippers properly addressed their 'needs' in that draft, I think we have to assume that there was a strong possibility in June 2007 that Maggette was on his way out the door for Jason Terry.  But regardless, after one season, I'm very happy with Thornton, and it's not even close to clear that Stuckey would have been 'better' though he would certainly have been good too. 

Think of it this way: last summer when Chris Kaman was coming off a dismal season and Kirk Hinrich was coming off his best season as a pro, we were all pretty certain that Hinrich would have been the better pick - the obvious pick - the 'why or why didn't they take Hinrich' pick - in the 2003 draft.  But we don't think that today.  As my yoga instructor would say, let's live in the now.  (And as it happens, 'now' Hinrich is available.)

It doesn't mean you have to be a Pollyanna and blindly accept everything the team does.  The Korolev pick was bad.  And what made it especially bad was that it was so obviously bad.  They then compounded the problem by bringing him to the NBA right away (the guy hadn't even played for the 'A' team in Russia yet - what was he doing drawing an NBA salary?)  And then they let him rot on the bench.  It was bad, bad, bad... all the way around. 

At the time of the Korolev pick, the players on the board that appeared to be more logical were Danny Granger and Gerald Green.  Granger is now starting for the Pacers and led the team in scoring last season, averaging 19.6 point per game.  Yeah, that would have been a good pick.  Green, on the other hand, was just as out of the league as Korolev at the end of last season.  (Arguably more out of the league, when you consider that Houston cut the guy despite the fact that he had a guaranteed contract - at least the Clippers had the good sense to stop paying Korolev.)  Korolev was a bad pick in 2005, and he was a bad pick in retrospect.  Granger would have been a good pick in 2005, and a good pick in retrospect.  Green, although a bad pick in retrospect, would have been a good pick at the time.  Don't forget that the team that drafted Green actually included him in a trade that won an NBA title for them.  That's the interesting thing about drafting guys with potential - even if they suck, other NBA teams ALSO see the potential.  The Wizards used Kwame Brown to acquire Caron Butler.  (The Pau trade was a different thing.)  DeAndre Jordan would have to be a complete train wreck not to at least have trade value down the line.

My point is, you need to swing for the fences every once in a while.  Gerald Green has great size for a 2 guard, he's got a beautiful shooting stroke, and he's got athleticism that's jaw-dropping - enough to win a dunk contest and almost win a second.  But so far he's not had the motivation or the savvy to turn those gifts into a successful basketball career.  DeAndre Jordan may turn out to be Gerald Green.  I'm cool with that.  Because he may also turn out to be Dwight Howard.  And, oh yeah, they drafted him at 35.

We could certainly second guess the Jordan pick on the basis of team needs.  The Clippers two best, highest paid players are Elton Brand and Chris Kaman.  Plus, they have what seem to be serviceable alternatives at the big positions like Tim Thomas, Josh Powell, Nick Fazekas and Paul Davis.  Plus, they still have the rights to MBFGC in Greece.  So why take a flyer on another big?  CDR could be in the shooting guard rotation NOW, and if it's not him then we don't even know who it will be.

With all due respect to Thomas and Powell and Fazekas and Davis, none of them even scratches the surface of DeAndre Jordan's potential.  Josh Powell?  He's 6'8".  Fazekas?  I love him, but he's as athletic as I am.  As for Tim Thomas, he's always had plenty of potential, but by this point, after 11 seasons in the NBA, I think we can safely assume it will remain untapped.  The high end on those guys is NBA backup, and for a few of them that's a stretch.  As for MBFGC, I think the Clippers have given up on him, but maybe not.  (He did get invited to the Greek team's training camp in advance of the final Olympic qualifier, so we may yet get to see him this summer.  The pre-Olympic tournament starts July 14, and the final cuts will occur in the next couple of days.)

I run a blog.  A big part of my day would be empty without a certain amount of second guessing.  But no one can convince me that DeAndre Jordan is not a good second round pick in this draft.  I'm not saying the best possible pick.  I'm saying a very good pick.  If Jordan gets cut in training camp, or perhaps worse still, takes up space on the roster for a couple seasons but never does anything a la Korolev, then it retrospect, it will have been a bad pick.  But even then, I'll maintain that it was a good pick at the time.