The NBA Draft is the yearly rendez-vous in which US basketball fans and commentators believe that the whole future of “their” team can change. But it’s also the place where such uncommon names like Manu Ginobili or Dirk Nowitzki get selected in total anonymity. And with the according reactions.
My goal was to go through the 2008 NBA Draft and tell you who these strangers that your team drafted last night are. The first European pick was a long-announced move by the Knicks. But let’s let David “the Boss” Stern himself do the honors…
Knicks fans are known for the warm welcome they give their draft picks, but when it comes to selecting a player from Italy, the jokes and boos are of course just around the corner; recall the best French Center of the last decade, seriously. The fan’s reactions was a bit mixed but Dick Vitale, long-time NCAA commentator and patented Euro-hater had no clue what he was talking about and just had to discredit himself a little bit more.
Steve Smith also has a very nice opinion of Gallinari. Just check his grade on the Italian, and listen carefully. Steve, I tell you one thing, the competition he played against is probably better than the level you ever played at.
The next European player to get drafted was a seven-footer from France. His numbers recall those of the former French seven-footer drafted by the Knicks; but this team is a different story. We have here an athletic and agressive basketball player, not to mention a former BMX World Champion, from St. Etienne.
As you can see, Euro-expert Steve Smith knows him extremely well, but like one fan said in relation to another French seven-footer drafted nine years ago (no, I won’t mention the name): At least he can dunk.
The game continues with the next pick and yet another enormous knowledge of European basketball: Serge Ibaka. I mean, he announced through his agent that he did not want to be drafted at the end of the 1st round, but at the beginning of the 2nd. So what happens?
For the Sonics, it’s the same story every year: a big man with potential. At least this time, Saer Sene did not get drafted in the lottery. Steve Smith once again does not like the pick: Grade D.
And the Euro story continues at the 25th spot where the Rockets select Nicolas Batum in order to trade him to Portland. The trick with the medical test didn’t work for Batum’s agent as they wanted him to have in San Antonio at 26. But it ended up differently.
And — what a nice surprise! — Steve Smith once again does not like the pick at all. I did not check all his grades but it looks like three-point Steve didn’t like any picks. Probably because these players can do something else than waiting in the corner and hitting three-balls.
When we come to second round, nobody really complained or commented on the selection of Nikola Pekovic which was probably the best choice made on a European down the road. No problem to let him play in Europe and you can pay him whatever he wants if he wants to come over. Grade A from me.
If we go further, we see the new EuroJazz selecting Ante Tomic and, more surprisingly, Tadija Dragicevic. So after the EuroRaptors and the EuroLakers, will the team from Salt Lake City become the most Euroleague-like team, with a frontcourt composed of Andrei Kirilenko, Mehmet Okur, Ante Tomic, Tadija Dragicevic and Kosta Koufos?
Well the least one could say is that Senior Vice President of Basketball Operations Kevin O’Connor has confidence in his choice of Tadija Dragicevic, as he compares him to a “poor man’s Larry Bird.”
Nothing special to report on the two Turkish picks, though, nor on the Slovenian steal at no. 45, Goran Dragic.