Blog Entry

Draft night reaction, reflection and response

Posted on: June 24, 2011 12:47 am
Edited on: June 24, 2011 7:49 pm

By Matt Norlander

NEWARK, N.J. — It was a draft dominated by foreigners and surprises that largely didn't pop up until the second round. The first round had its small share of unexpected picks (Tristan Thompson going fourth chief among them), but the sizzle didn't exist in the early part of this annual summer selection process.

As the NBA heads into its inevitable lockout period, its last big event left a whimpering thud for its fans to accept before a labor struggle that's expected to make the NFL's negotiations seem smooth.

Many believed this to be one of the worst crops of talent heading into a Draft in league history -- before it happened. And now that it's over? It's definitive. With the completion of the NBA Draft, a realism sets in of what this year's set of 60 picks has to offer. See the names, match them with the teams -- after you straighten out who got traded where, another thing that plagues Drafts from being fluid, easily digestible spectacles -- and let the grid of picks speak to you.

Not much to new to say about the NBA's class of 2011, except that it featured way too many foreign players and out-of-nowhere, obscure college guys picked to really engage the NBA's fan base at large.

I love me feel-good stories, but when Josh Harrellson, a player that was on the verge of being cut from Kentucky's team last year, is selected before guys like Josh Selby, Travis Leslie, David Lighty and Scotty Hopson, it's not a bad year. It's a dreadful year. The latter two players can make NBA money down the road, but they weren't even selected Thursday night.

Yet Ater Majok was. Who? Exactly. Already an afterthought at UConn, where he managed three points per game last season and clearly was one of the rawest big men in the country, Majok somehow impressed Lakers brass enough to waste a pick on him. (I hate to say waste, but it's true; Majok is not nearly ready for the Association.)

This will most likely be a Draft that's looked back on a decade from now with equal parts confusion, laugh-ability and clarity. There's always clarity, of course, though. Normally it doesn't come this soon. Even if the potential of Kyrie Irving, Jimmer Fredette, Kemba Walker, Derrick Williams and Brandon Knight are unknown quotients, too many picks from this year's Draft are already DOA.

Around the Prudential Center, the feeling among fans and writers was palpable -- this just wasn't a special night. Motions were gone through. God bless those young men who dressed themselves up and made millions of dollars and their dreams come true, but few people were excited by the goings on of this year's festivities.

Were there some dramatic moments? Sure, like the Thompson pick by Cleveland. And when the picks rolled by and Kenneth Faried sat and stewed in the stands, his baby girl in his arms. That's right: a kid who grew up a few miles from the Prudential Center didn't get a Green Room invite. He was 30 feet from Thompson's table. And Faried's more NBA-ready than the lanky Texas tweener.

Still, Faried sat in the second row of the Prudential Center, waiting his turn. He chewed his nails. He talked to practically no one. He didn’t glance at his phone. Ever. As if waiting for detention to end, Faried looked up at the big screen in perpetuity, the metaphor for the clock that signified how long until he had the opportunity to stand up and shake David Stern’s hand.

His name was called eventually, drafting him with Denver making him the 22nd overall pick in the first round. The scowl melted and Faried flashed his big, brash smile.

There were other possible oversights, like Charles Jenkins going about 10 picks to late (44th to Golden State) and Keith Benson (48th to Atlanta) also slipping way, way too far. Some of the most sound, mid-major talents from this year's Draft didn't get the benefit of the doubt that the 13 foreigners chosen were.

It's going to be interesting to see this class, specifically, and who survives more than five years in the NBA. With a new collective bargaining agreement on the way, contracts could look different and the lifespan of a lot of these sketchy players could provide to be warning signs for not only picks in the future, but franchises as well.

It was this humble writer's first Draft, so I'm not drawing on too much experience here. But in talking to many, it seemed all too appropriate that this year's inferior Draft was held in an inferior location; Madison Square Garden will return as host next year, when renovations are completed. It was an experience, for sure, even if a less-than-thrilling one. Trying to get halfway-decent, somewhat-personalized interviews was nearly impossible. Draft night is when the prime beef get escorted about the building, chauffeured from one glob of media to the next, sometimes being tucked behind metal doors while trades are made. 

As much as many would like to, and try to, make NBA Draft night about storytelling, it's really about reacting. The problem is, this year, there's not so much to react to. Acceptance instead of interest became the theme for the 2011 NBA Draft. Kind of mirrors the labor fight ahead, doesn't it?

Photo: AP
Category: NCAAB
Tags: NBA Draft

Since: Nov 7, 2006
Posted on: June 26, 2011 11:06 am

Draft night reaction, reflection and response

 Washington bought into the hype, and I bet they regret picking him.

And I bet that wasn't the first idiotic statement you have made nor will it be the last.  I'd like to know how many times you watched Washington play, my guess is the number was pretty low. If that is the case then you are talking about a basketball player by looking at the stat sheet only which is laughable.  If that isn't the case and you watched most of their games last year then you don't understand what you are looking at.  Which is it? 

Since: Nov 29, 2006
Posted on: June 25, 2011 3:34 pm

Draft night reaction, reflection and response

Good grief. Is this writer suggesting the NBA Draft was horrible because there were too many whites and foreigners drafted? And he was partucularly disappointed that Josh Harrleson was picked ahead of "all those good black players"? This is a blatantly racist column.

Since: Dec 16, 2008
Posted on: June 25, 2011 11:55 am

Draft night reaction, reflection and response

Well I was just referring to the fact that Wall led his team to a 3-38 road record and was a MAJOR disappointment all year long despite his "decent" numbers.
He cant shoot and he turns the ball over way too much. Same problem he had in college. Washington bought into the hype, and I bet they regret picking him.
The media is'nt going to go gaga everytime he scores an open layup at Kentucky anymore. The hype machine on John Wall is dwindling, especially since last seasons failure.
But you can keep spinning it if you want.... I'd rather take wiinners.

Since: Oct 22, 2009
Posted on: June 24, 2011 11:55 pm

Draft night reaction, reflection and response

@TheyCallMePro ..... Are you out of your mind? I would love to see the stats for a player you wouldnt call a bust if your saying John wall is a bust with this line.....

PPG  16.4
RPG  4.60
TO    3.8
SPG  1.8

Also would have been the far and away pick for rookie of the year if blake griffin didnt get a full year to learn the ropes while injured before being allowed to be a "rookie" again. and go out and take john walls award.

Since: Oct 1, 2009
Posted on: June 24, 2011 10:28 pm

Draft night reaction, reflection and response

Thompson is a beast?  He dominated the Big 12??????

He averaged 13 points, how is that dominating anything?  I'm not a Texas fan, but he probably wasn't even top 3 in scoring and his 7 boards a game definitely isn't first

Since: Mar 21, 2009
Posted on: June 24, 2011 6:00 pm

Draft night reaction, reflection and response

so underwhelming... the only thing we may remember is a Joel Anthony type player is picked high.... yikes and a guy from the Congo coming to a Nike get "High" commercial or T shirt near you.

Since: Aug 6, 2009
Posted on: June 24, 2011 4:50 pm

on the verge of being cut

"...when Josh Harrellson, a player that was on the verge of being cut from Kentucky's team last year, is selected before guys like Josh Selby..."

Dear Mr. Norlander,

Are you misinformed?

Are you purposefully being disingenuous?

Or do you honestly believe that a player's shaky team standing resulting from an irresponsible tweet in October (even if the reports of the shakiness were more than just hyperbole) ought to have a bearing on a player's draft value?

Josh Selby crying on phone: Golly Mom, I can't believe I got picked after a guy who's so bad at basketball he tweeted, "I can't get a 'good job' or 'way to go'."

Yeah.  That makes sense.

I guess Selby and Leslie will have to hope their dominating Twitter etiquette skills will still serve them on the court, even though they were no help in the draft.

Maybe Lighty and Hopson can still tweet their way in.  Or, you know, sign up with some kind of Facebook league.

Since: Dec 16, 2008
Posted on: June 24, 2011 3:21 pm

Draft night reaction, reflection and response

The only reason the draft was underwhelming was because of the impending NBA lockout. Otherwise, it was great. Tristian Thompson is a BEAST. He dominated all year long in the Big 12, and flew under the national radar for reasons I cant comprehend. The Cavs made a great decision in picking him up. The spurs got a gem in Kawhi Leonard, and Jimmer went to a team where he'll be free to be himself and score. All together, I think this years draft class will far exceed the previous 2, who if you go back and look at them, you would be shocked at how many busts they contain, including some very high picks such as Wesley Johnson, Johnny Flynn, and most of all, John Wall.

Since: Nov 7, 2006
Posted on: June 24, 2011 3:01 pm

Draft night reaction, reflection and response

Who are these clowns who cover basketball for cbssports and what are their credentials?  The term "expert" has lost all meaning. Their only expertise is somehow conning cbssports out of a paycheck every two weeks, for that I say kudos, for insight we should all probably look elsewhere.

Since: Apr 6, 2007
Posted on: June 24, 2011 2:39 pm

Draft night reaction, reflection and response

And there is a reason you are writing on CBS Sports and not working in the profession.  In 3 years, you will either be wrong and conveniently forget about your opinions or you will be correct with the opinion that your parroted from everyone else.  

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