The crowded NBA calendar is defined by signature annual or semi-annual events that keep basketball addicts under reasonable control.
2008 NBA Draft
- Who went where? NBA Draft Tracker
- Kahn: Grading each team's draft
- NBADraft.net: Winners and losers
- Goodman: Chicago's big mistake
- Full pick-by-pick draft analysis
- Bulls take Rose with No. 1 pick
- Wolves, Grizz swap Mayo, Love
- What were top draftees wearing?
- Video Central: Highlights, analysis
- Johnson: Draft winners and losers
- Johnson's recap: 1-5 | 6-10 | 11-14
- Goodman on Mayo-Love deal
- NBA Draft Central 2008
- Complete list of early entrants
This activity list includes the Larry Brown Applies For A Job season, the Shaquille O'Neal Alienates His Team And Bathroom Scale season and the Playoffs Are Fixed season.
Not to be overlooked is the NBA Draft season, which concludes its inexorable march to glory this week. While talent procurement often seems at least as compelling as some of the on-court action, it's not a bad time to assess the draft's importance. Precisely, how does the selection of (mostly) college freshmen and mysterious tall guys from foreign countries impact eventual jousting for the Larry O'Brien Trophy?
Well, recent evidence makes it difficult to identify a pattern. The Boston Celtics, for example, started a drafted lifer in Paul Pierce, along with Kendrick Perkins and Rajon Rondo two young players acquired on draft night after they were selected by other teams. Most of the bench contributors arrived through free agency or trade.
The Los Angeles Lakers trotted out a starting frontcourt made up of players drafted by other teams. Kobe Bryant was drafted by the Charlotte Hornets and immediately swiped by the Lakers when Kobe's agent threatened to hold his breath until a move was made.
The San Antonio Spurs prevailed in 2007 thanks to their own big three employees whose careers began by being drafted by the home team.
The 2007 draft had a modest effect on the 2008 playoffs, with third-overall selection Al Horford providing enough muscle to propel the Atlanta Hawks into the playoffs and a seventh game with Boston. Things might have been even more pleasant had the Hawks selected Rodney Stuckey instead of Acie Law at 11.
Philly's Thaddeus Young (pick No. 12) had some fine moments in a first-round battle with Stuckey and the Detroit Pistons, but the overall playoff influence of 2007 picks was minimal.
So what gives with the candidates for 2008? Well, before assessing the potential greatness of several young prospects, we must examine how close their future companies may be to postseason relevance.
No. 1: Chicago Bulls
This one will be up to its neck in season-long scrutiny. According to pre-draft buzz, the Bulls are expected to select hometown hotshot Derrick Rose, a real point guard who led Memphis to the NCAA championship game.
Rose and his impact potential have provoked heady comparisons to prevailing playmakers such as Chris Paul and Deron Williams. But the Bulls, who are deep (if not exactly blessed) on the perimeter, have almost zilch for scoring options inside (sorry, Drew Gooden).
The latter issue could be settled by choosing Kansas State freshman Michael Beasley, a scoring machine whose first name certainly fits in the Windy City.
Here's the rub: While stellar point guards fail a lot less often than inside prospects (Beasley, it should be noted, has inside-out skills), most current NBA point guard greats have failed to lead a team to the Finals. Unless you suit up Michael Jordan (who often worked the low post in the triangle offense), controlling the lane leads to Finals success.
We also need to consider how Rose would fit with the Bulls, whose first-year coach Vinny Del Negro was hired without coaching at any level on his resume. If Vinny wants to play fast and spread the floor, Rose should flourish.
If the Bulls take Rose, his ultimate impact could be at the mercy of how much inside help they can attract by trading a package of their abundant and good (not great) assets.
Although the Eastern Conference produced the 2008 champ, its lack of depth may not prevent the Bulls from participating in the 2009 playoffs.
No. 13: Portland Trail Blazers
Without knowing which player the Blazers will choose at lucky 13, they'll enter the season as favorites to employ the 2009 Rookie of the Year.
Right, Greg Oden still qualifies.
Portland general manager Kevin Pritchard seems to be in a position to nab the best player standing, but if Texas point guard D.J. Augustin manages to be available, look out.
Even without a pick, the Blazers only need more experience to make a push into the playoff crowd.
No. 15: Phoenix Suns
After a couple of lottery-protection years, the Suns finally can use the pick received from the Hawks.
We're assuming they'll actually keep it and the player chosen; it should be noted that the Suns are attempting to trade up ... something they didn't seem to do in their coaching hire (but we'll see).
Anyway, Phoenix needs (in no particular order of importance) an apprentice point guard, inside depth, a shooter and someone who can defend.
The last two categories could be satisfied through the selection of Kansas swingman Brandon Rush. If Rush is still on the board at 15, we can assume that a few GMs have taken the next step on the path to unemployment.
With the salaries of O'Neal, Steve Nash and Amare Stoudemire making roster moves difficult, GM Steve Kerr needs a home run with this pick. If he hits one, the old guys may have enough left to make some teams sweat next spring.
No. 19: Cleveland Cavaliers
With plenty of solid wing players available, the Cavs might be wise to select anyone capable of turning Wally Szczerbiak into a sub.
But the Cavs reportedly are prepared to pull the trigger on (if he's still around) Kosta Koufos; let's hope this 7-foot freshman from Ohio State is more careful when getting up from the sofa.
With an NBA Finals appearance (2007) followed by a seven-game battle with Boston to Cleveland's recent credit, all it needs to advance is a reasonably good choice.
No. 22: Orlando Magic
Their rise will correspond to the offensive development of Dwight Howard, but Chris Douglas-Roberts or Courtney Lee at shooting guard might create more playoff potential than incumbents Keith Bogans and J.J. Redick.
No. 26: San Antonio Spurs
Their pick usually impacts the playoff picture a couple of years down the road, but KU's Mario Chalmers (if selected) would provide timely breaks for Tony Parker without compromising sniper potential or on-the-ball defensive pressure.
Cal's Ryan Anderson a Dirk Nowitzki type with better musical instincts could be an intriguing pick, although starting him would require the Spurs to refer to Tim Duncan as a center.
No. 27: New Orleans Hornets
The Western Conference's No. 2 seed could use depth and/or an upgrade on the wing, plus another worker with the ability to score inside.
Unless someone hires a shooting coach for Julian Wright or a post-move instructor for Tyson Chandler, Douglas-Roberts (for example) might be exactly what they need.
And the Hornets may not need much more than experience to break through.
No. 58: Los Angeles Lakers
If this pick lands someone willing to put an elbow in Kevin Garnett's throat (calm down, I really mean a forearm on his chest) this late, the Lakers should refer to draft night as a success.