The 2009 NBA Draft Debate – This Draft Was No ‘Thriller’

June 26, 2009

Read Sports Geek and Loyal Homer’s opinions.

I don’t know about you, but to me, last night’s NBA Draft reminded me an awful lot of the American Idol auditions.

There’s some marginal talent, a lot of probable duds, and I just don’t see any of them turning into the next Michael Jackson of the NBA.

So in this year’s draft, where any pick after the first was ‘Bad’, I decided to give some credit to the one team with enough foresight to ‘Beat It’ right out of the draft – the Washington Wizards.

The Wizards were slated to pick at #5 and again at #32. Having come off of one of their worst seasons in franchise history, they didn’t want to place their hope in some ‘Pretty Young Thing’ that may or may not pan out, especially in this lackluster draft. Their needs were immediate, and so new head coach Flip Saunders didn’t want to risk courting the new young boys of the NBA.

When the Wizards drew the fifth pick in the lottery this year, they immediately began shopping it around and listening to anyone who would make an offer. After soliciting offers from the New York Knicks, Dallas Mavericks, Phoenix Suns, and Portland Trail Blazers, they finally responded when the Minnesota Timberwolves ‘Moonwalked’ over and said they ‘Wanna Be Starting Something’ in a deal for that pick.

After negotiations were finalized, the Wizards traded away the expiring contracts of Etan Thomas, Darius Songaila, and Oleksiy Pecherov – along with the fifth pick. In return, they received from the Timberwolves guard Randy Foye and combo forward Mike Miller, both of whom will make an immediate contribution to the team.

Foye, who averaged 16.3 points per game last season in Minnesota, will make an outstanding complement to the already dangerous guard rotation of Gilbert Arenas, DeShawn Stevenson, and Nick Young.

Miller, who shoots just above 40% from 3-point range, should also make an immediate impact for Washington, who struggled last year with a 3-point average of only 33%. His presence on the perimeter should also help create better scoring opportunities for teammates Arenas, Antawn Jamison, and Caron Butler.

Consider the impact of those two new players on the already explosive Washington Wizards offense now led by the very offensive-minded Saunders. Compare that upgrade to the players they could have taken with the fifth pick in the draft, like Ricky Rubio, Jonny Flynn, or Stephen Curry. The Wizards were smart to take the experienced Foye and Miller and sneak out like a ‘Smooth Criminal’ in the night.

As for pick number 32, it was sold to the Houston Rockets for the small fee of $2.5 million. That $2.5 million could go a long way towards helping them land another key free-agent who will once again bring immediate results to a team that just last year was believed to be a serious playoff contender.

At the end of the 2009 draft – where even NBA Commissioner David Stern seemed to be half-asleep – the Washington Wizards still found a way to bring the right talent for their team and improve exactly where they needed… SHA-MON!