Friday, May 23, 2008

Experts are Important

I was perusing websites, looking for insights into potential 2008 NBA draft sleeper players, and happened upon this piece in the ESPN/Dick Vitale (College Basketball "ambassador", apparently) from the 2005 Draft.

I have to admit that I started this post with a belief that Dickie V's sleepers were going to be crap, but the more I research, the more it is a bit of a mixed bag--his predicted 2nd rounders sometimes ended up in the first round, and he definitely has at least one definite loser in the mix, but for the most part, you know, I can't complain too much about these "sleepers", beyond the rather obvious complaining I do below.

Let's look at Dickie V's Sleepers from 2005

1. Luther Head. You may remember him as part of the 3-headed guard attack of the badass Illinois team from a few years back (along with Deron Williams and Dee Brown). Dick predicted he'd go in the second round, but actually squeaked into the first round thanks to some workouts (and maybe some residual kicking of the pants over how good Gilbert Arenas had turned out, who has similar doubts about his ability to play the pro game). Luther Head is now a reasonably successful backup guard for the Houston Rockets, averaging almost 8 points in almost 20 minutes a game. We'll give Dickie a Push there, as he was predicting sleepers that would be successful, not first-rounders.

2. Jarrett Jack. One of the sweet-ass guards to come play for the Wramblin' Wreck of GA Tech. I loved that kid's game in college, and had I read Dickie V's article when it was first published, I would have thought, "Oh, way to go out on a limb. He's only one of the best guards in the ACC, on a team that isn't very good." Admittedly, I'm a sucker for cool names, but I don't think the NBA Draft Rooms are, and they all agreed with me, as he was drafted 22nd overall (not exactly a 2nd round sleeper) and has been with the Portland Trailblazers since being traded on draft night. This past regular season, Jack averaged almost 10 points a game, almost 3 boards, and almost four assists and played significant minutes for an up and coming Blazer team. I'm not even willing to call Jack a Push. That was clearly Dickie V cheating, getting a rather sure thing into his Sleepers column.

3. David Lee. Hey, a Second Rounder! (just barely). Finally. Lee played at Florida, helping establish the team that Billy Donovan built there. He had the misfortune of being drafted by the Knicks. But this past year in particular, he's been one of the few things for the Knicks to be optimistic about. Averaging almost a double-double off the bench, Lee may be one of those unlikely saviors of a franchise that looks about 3 years from righting the ship, but with the money to make it one year, if they know what to do. It seems David Lee may fall into the mold of another white boy power forward who I didn't think would do anything, but quietly has, year in, year out, Matt Harpring.

4. Wayne Simien. Here is where the wheels come off a bit. Wayne Simien was a bad ass at Kansas, no doubt. Dick says, "Simien is a winner who can play in the NBA for years to come." That ended up being the polar opposite of the truth. Three years after being drafted, Simien isn't in the league, even after being traded to a team like the Timberwolves, desperate for young talent. Mark Madsen was deemed more likely to contribute than Wayne Simien and that says everything. Injuries and disease (52 games because of a salmonella infection?) limited his chances to impress. Maybe there is a second act in Simien's basketball career. But he will be plying his trade in Europe for a few years before any NBA team gives him a sniff.

5. Salim Stoudamire. Another player drafted just out of the first round (31st overall). An Arizona sharpshooter, cousin to former NBA guard Damon Stoudamire, everything about this kid suggested he could play in the NBA--and apparently, he can. He's been with the Hawks since he was drafted, putting up numbers that are steadily declining--down to under 6 points a game after being near 10 points a game his rookie campaign. More worrisome, both his FG and 3point FG have declined since his rookie year, too. In this past season, he hit 36% of his shots. Not what one looks for in a shooting guard. In the space of 3 years, he's gone from valuable role player to Easily Replaceable Role Player (Josh Childress may have something to do with that).

So to review. Dickie V's sneaky sleeper 2nd round picks of the 2005 Draft--two of them ended up in the first round, and are performing well, two are barely holding on to the NBA or are out the league completely.

David Lee wins this battle of Actual Sleeper who is perfoming well.


Jolly Fingers said...

Jarret Jack is atud for sure, and Luther is a great player for anyone's bench, although a servicable starter. I don't like those other guys. Keep up the charity work Dick, love you for that

Jolly Fingers said...

I mean stud. I don't know what the hell atud is. And Jarrett, sorry for screwing up your name.