June 27, 2006
Wow, what a wacky night as the NBA Draft had many moves and surprises. Here are my thoughts after an intriguing evening:
• While Andrea Bargnani went No. 1 to Toronto, I feel Tyrus Thomas will be a special player. I rated Thomas as the best prospect in this draft. Just look at his performance in the last few minutes of the Duke game. He is young and will grow and improve. I really like what Chicago did in getting Thomas in a deal with Portland adding Victor Khryapa. John Paxson, Scott Skiles and Co. also got Thabo Sefolosha to help out.
• Brandon Roy will ultimately be a star out of the gate and Portland will be a good place for him. I was impressed by the job Nate McMillan did getting LaMarcus Aldridge, Roy, Sergio Rodriguez and Joel Freeland in the first round.
• Did the Boston Celtics make the right move getting Sebastian Telfair when they could have had a shot at Randy Foye? The Villanova guard is explosive, can make shots and is a winner. Foye is a more complete guard and could be a star in Minnesota. He can be a leader and this is a good situation, especially with Rashard McCants injured.
• Charlotte made a great choice in Adam Morrison. In fact, I feel Morrison will be the Rookie of the Year this season. The Bobcats have Morrison, Raymond Felton, Emeka Okafor and Sean May -- young talent and players that are coachable. They will be able to grow together.
• Shelden Williams plays bigger than a 6-foot-9 forward, doing a great job blocking shots and rebounding. I feel that a lot of 7-footers, especially some of the foreign kids, play smaller than their height, wanting to play out on the perimeter. Williams is a warrior and he should help the Hawks.
• Orlando made a great move picking J.J. Redick at No. 11. In my 28 years at ESPN, I have not seen a kid take more abuse on the road than Redick. Opposing college coaches designed defenses to stop him and now he will go to a situation where he won't be double and triple-teamed. Jameer Nelson and Dwight Howard have to be very happy with this selection. Hey, J.J., get me some free tickets after all the publicity I gave you over the last four years, baby!
• I like what New Orleans/Oklahoma City did in adding Hilton Armstrong and Cedric Simmons in the top 15. You can't teach size and Chris Paul will be happy to see more size on the frontline.
• The Lakers got a solid choice in Jordan Farmar late in the first round. Hey, how many guys get to be UCLA Bruins and Los Angeles Lakers? Not that many over the years, my friends. Farmar will fit in because the triangle offense relies on players making important decisions. Farmar was a good decision-maker for Ben Howland's club; he has a good basketball IQ, knows how to play and should challenge Smush Parker for the starting job.
• The Nets did a good job getting Connecticut teammates Marcus Williams and Josh Boone with picks 22 and 23. Williams has to shed a few pounds, but he is the best point guard in this draft. He will be great in transition and learning as a backup to Jason Kidd is an ideal situation.
• I was surprised to see the Knicks take Renaldo Balkman with the 20th pick. I liked Mardy Collins at 29 better. Balkman was not even listed in the NBA draft media guide.
• Foye, Roy and Morrison were the players I consider most ready to contribute right away, followed by Redick.
• There were a handful of noteworthy second-round picks that impressed me. Houston got a sleeper in Steve Novak at No. 32; the 6-10 player from Marquette hit 47 percent of 3-pointers last season. I liked Paul Davis to the Clippers at No. 34. Craig Smith went to the Timberwolves at No. 36. Utah got Dee Brown and Paul Millsap (the nation's leading rebounder) with back-to-back picks.
• Several underclassmen went in the second round and will not get guaranteed contracts. Did Leon Powe make the wrong move considering he went No. 49 to Boston (in a trade from Denver)? Would Daniel Gibson have been better off in Texas for another season instead of going No. 42 to Cleveland? Yes, Gibson will get to play with LeBron James, and the Cavs reportedly liked him a lot.
SOME OF THE BIG WINNERS
Time to give some grades out …
A: Chicago, Portland, New Jersey, Memphis, Utah, Charlotte.
A-: Orlando, Minnesota.
B+: Toronto, Cleveland.
B: Atlanta, New Orleans/Oklahoma City.
C: Golden State, Seattle, Washington.
D: New York.
Dick Vitale coached the Pistons and the University of Detroit before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in 1979. Send a question for Vitale for possible use on ESPNEWS.