Five winners -- and five losers -- from the NBA Draft.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – My final scorecard from the 2014 NBA Draft, headlined by five winners -- and five losers.
WINNER – NBA commissioner Adam Silver. The Pavlovian response to former commissioner David Stern was boos. People questioned whether the lottery was fixed to assist the big-market teams.
The default reaction to Silver is roaring cheers and standing ovations.
First, he acted decisively to take down Donald Sterling of the Clippers. Then his decision to recognize Baylor center Isaiah Austin and summon him to the stage as a draft selection by the league after Austin had to withdraw from the draft because of a heart issue registered as The Feel-Good moment of this or any draft.
Bravo, Mr. Silver. Bravo.
LOSER – ESPN coverage. If I wanted to hear more from the commissioner, I wanted less of the self-serving commentary from Bill Simmons, junk that belongs on Celtics.com.
More Jay Bilas? Great. More Fran Fraschilla? Outstanding. More Bill Simmons? No thanks.
The NBA would be wise to follow the NFL’s lead. Develop compelling and competing draft coverage so we wouldn’t be forced to watch Simmons snicker and fist pump.
I can’t be the only one who dreams of Draft coverage directed by Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith, Charles Barkley and the Turner Sports team. They understand how to entertain and make the telecast about the players, not a Celtics’ fan on the set.
WINNER – Billy Donovan, Florida coach. The Gators rolled through 21 straight Southeastern Conference games without a defeat. They earned the top seed in the NCAA Tournament. They advanced to the Final Four.
And not one player from the Gators’ roster was drafted.
Take a bow, Billy.
LOSER – Chane Behanan, former Louisville player. Had a chance to play his way into at least the second round with the Cardinals last season. Fumbled it. Had a chance to land at Colorado State and push into the 2015 draft. Walked away.
Had a chance to enter the 2014 draft and get ignored. Did that.
The sooner Behanan learns to listen to folks who want to help him make it, the better.
WINNER – Russ Smith, Louisville. Four years ago the world whispered that he didn’t belong at Louisville. Two years ago everybody laughed at the idea of Smith getting drafted. A year ago the wiseguys said Smith made a mistake by returning for his senior season.
Today Russ Smith has earned a degree, a string of school records, lifetime admiration from U of L fans and an opportunity to make the New Orleans Pelicans, who selected him with the 47th pick of the second round.
Russdiculously well done.
LOSER – Steve Alford, UCLA. Whenever your team has more first-round picks (three) than NCAA Tournament victories (two) that’s not a winning ratio.
WINNER – Adrian Wojnarowski, Yahoo! Sports. On Thursday I advised you to add Woj to your Twitter feed. If you did, you were consistently 1-to-2 picks ahead of the Head GasBag at ESPN. Sources say he’ll be tweeting the top five picks in the 2015 draft by the end of the week.
LOSER – American basketball developmental system. Five first-round picks (Bruno Caboclo?), and seven more in the second round, were not products of the U. S. college basketball system. Apparently it is true. We are becoming a soccer nation.
WINNER – Shabazz Napier, UConn. LeBron James could have campaigned for any player on the planet to be The Guy James wanted the Heat to draft.
LeBron chose Shabazz.
And Miami listened.
First, a national title, the second of Napier’s career. Then Napier learned he was headed to South Beach.
Exhale, Shabazz. Your days of starving are over.
LOSER – Zach LaVine, UCLA basketball. You were fourth on your team in scoring last season, averaging less than 10 points per game. You contributed fewer than three rebounds and two assists. You contributed five points, missing five of seven shots, in your final college game.
Yet, you were still selected 13th, by Minnesota, Thursday night, securing a minimum of $5.37 million over the next three seasons.
Then you buried your head on the table and appeared to utter an obscenity when you learned you were bound for Minneapolis.