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Schmeelk: NBA Draft Journal

NBA Commissioner David Stern announces that the New York Knicks selected Iman Shumpert from Georgia Tech with the #17 overall pick in the first round during the 2011 NBA Draft at the Prudential Center on June 23, 2011 in Newark, New Jersey. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (credit: Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

NBA Commissioner David Stern announces that the New York Knicks selected Iman Shumpert from Georgia Tech with the #17 overall pick in the first round during the 2011 NBA Draft at the Prudential Center on June 23, 2011 in Newark, New Jersey. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (credit: Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

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By John Schmeelk
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7:13: Prudential Center is officially amateur hour. One TV out of five in the media workroom are working, making it impossible to watch ESPN’s coverage of the draft. I’ve now annoyed three people from the NBA trying to get the others turned on. This isn’t rocket science, yet, no progress. MSG, I’m begging you, please get your renovations done pronto.

7:31: Alright, I got a second TV to work, with volume on the ESPN broadcast. 75% of this was going to be making fun of Stuart Scott and Jay Bilas so I’m thrilled it worked. I’m no longer better off covering this event from my couch in Brooklyn. I will send an invoice to the NBA for “technical services.”

7:33: David Stern booed as he walks out onto the stage. Happy to see the rambunctious fans from MSG made the commute to Newark. He is cheered only when mentioning the NBA Champion Dallas Mavericks. He would have gotten a bigger cheer if he mentioned the demise of the Heat. Let’s be honest, that’s the only real reason people rooted for the Mavericks. Stern loves to get booed, and I appreciate that. More on that later.

7:38: Cavs on the clock and Derrick Williams is staring at the phone with a “please don’t ring” look on his face. C’mon, Cleveland’s not that bad. He would rather go to Minnesota? Kyrie Irving goes to Cleveland, and the city is immediately reminded by the ESPN panel that this is the first draft in a while with no franchise player. I’m sure Jonas Valanciunas will make up for it when he is playing 15 minutes a game off the bench in three years.

7:45: Even David Kahn can’t screw this one up. He passes on adding a 13th point guard, and goes with Derrick Williams. Is he a three or four in the pros? We’ll see.

7:50: Utah selects Enes Kanter, and he becomes the second Turkish player on the Jazz, and also the second Turkish person in the state of Utah. Seems like a real nice kid. This is a big decision and will make other dominoes fall. Kanter could become the best player in the draft. Chris Singleton to the Knicks becomes a real possibility.

7:58: Cleveland makes a great pick, passing on Valanciunias and going with Tristan Thompson. Perhaps he has a lower ceiling, but also a much higher floor. Thompson, however, matches JJ Hickson’s skill set, making one expendable. Valanciunias wasn’t even dominating Europe with all his potential. He could be the second coming of Nikoloz Tskitishvili and that’s not a good thing.

8:05: Toronto picks Valanciunias. Brian Colangelo drafting a foreign player is like Isiah Thomas giving a mediocre over the hill veteran a max mid-level exception deal.

8:07: Wizards take the third European, going with Jan Veseley, their target all along. Fran Fraschilla says he will win a dunk contest someday. I look forward to what will be known as the worst dunk contest of all time. How was the fact he is the European version of Jim Halpert not in any of the scouting reports?

8:12: Bismack Biyombo off the board. Stuart Scott says “some would say his wingspan is seven feet and six inches.” Yeah, that someone was the guy with the tape measure at the NBA combine measuring his wingspan. He will wind up in Charlotte. Potential Knicks target is off the board. There’s a chance he becomes the best player in this draft if his offensive game develops. Could become Ben Wallace plus.

8:17: ESPN makes a big deal about all the foreigners being drafted high. All the college players that were any good decided to stay in school because of the lockout. That’s the real reason they are so prominent early.

8:19: Brandon Knight to the Pistons. Apparently the Pistons wanted another small guard to fire long shots alongside Ben Gordon. The Pistons are trying to set NBA record for fewest assists in a season by their guards.

8:23: Knicks fans got all excited for nothing as Kemba Walker goes to the Bobcats. Honestly, I don’t think he’ll be a great pro anyway. He’s a 6’2 scorer that doesn’t distribute. There isn’t room in the NBA for guys like that. He’s a bench player or marginal starter at best. I predict with Jimmer and Klay Thompson going 10th and 11th, it will only get worse for the Knicks. It’s like watching Ricky Rubio and Stephen Curry go off the board a couple years ago.

8:29: Jimmer to Sacramento. Knicks fans take a kick to the shin:  “Ugh….”  Jimmer looks thrilled but he was only two picks away from going to Utah. He’ll also get along with Paul Westphal, who also doesn’t believe in playing defense. One other note, when the draft prospects were walking by fans earlier in the night he was really the only one that engaged the fans and spoke to them. Everyone else just looked straight ahead, stone faced. He was truly having the time of his life. I think Jimmer and Tyreke Evans works in the backcourt. One is a slasher, and one a shooter. Evans guards the two position, and Jimmer the one.

8:35: Klay Thompson to Golden State. Kick in the groin to Knicks fans. Potential targets dropping like flies.  Mark my words, Klay Thompson will be a top five player in this draft when all is said and done. He is 6’7, shoots the lights out, and is a pretty good athlete. He is a true shooting guard.

8:40: Knicks dodge a bullet as the Jazz take Alec Burks, who wasn’t a fit in New York. This is lining up very well for Chris Singleton, a real potential steal. I’m getting excited.

8:44: The one positive of Mark Jackson getting the Golden State job was that he was no longer on the air on ESPN. That goes down the drain as he gets interviewed. Becoming a coach has made him less annoying. Van Gundy had a tough question on the Warriors backcourt. He’s right that there isn’t room for Ellis, Curry and Thompson.

8:48: Suns go big and take another potential Knicks target, Markieff Morris. I saw him next to his brother today, and Markieff is about two inches taller and much broader. I like him as a true power forward that bangs, plays defense, and rebounds. Marcus is not a fit for the Knicks as an undersized scorer at PF. Singleton or bust.

8:57: With Marcus Morris off the board, the Knicks will get one of the three best players left on the board: Chris Singleton, Kawhi Leonard, or Nikola Vucevic. Singleton would be my first choice. I’m excited.

9:00: Pacers take Leonard, despite the fact he plays the same position as Danny Granger. The Knicks should get Chris Singleton, who is very similar to Andre Igoudala, and therefore not an option for the Sixers. This could wind up a great night for the Knicks.

9:05: I like the trade for the Spurs, moving George Hill for Leonard. I’m not a huge Hill fan, and Leonard provides an athletic wing on a team that needs as many athletes as possible. (This trade also netted David Bertans later on. Trades like these are why the Spurs are consistently good.)

9:07: As expected, Vucevic goes to the Sixers to play Center. If Chris Singleton isn’t the pick here, and they go with Imam Shumpert, I might do something that puts me in lock-up overnight in Newark. Van Gundy does a great job complimenting Donnie Walsh on rescuing the Knicks. I love this anticipation.

9:17: Oh God, no. This is what it is like to be a Knicks fan. That sound you just heard was me slamming my head onto the table. There’s hope and then everything is just taken away because of ineptitude and stupidity. There are so many reasons this was a bad pick. Without hearing from them, I’m convinced the Knicks ignored Singleton just because he played forward and they needed backcourt help. What other reason could there have been? Shumpert is clearly the inferior player in every way. Singleton is a better defender, longer and a better shooter. Tell me the last guard that was a NBA rotation player that couldn’t shoot, pass, run a team or possessed any offensive game at all? Name ONE. You can’t, yet the Knicks drafted that player in the first round of the NBA draft. No one even knows if he is a point guard or a shooting guard, he’s so bad with the ball.  It’s asinine. Imam Shumpert is Renaldo Balkman redux. The Knicks just missed an incredible opportunity to improve themselves. So, so, so stupid. Let the post Donnie Walsh era begin!

9:21: The Wizards provide a kick in the balls and pick Chris Singleton with the next selection. That’s right, the Wizards are making better decisions than the Knicks now. Think I can find someone with some shots here at the Prudential Center?

9:30: I think the draft is still going on, but I’m not so sure. I’m in a funk. Trades… picks… whatever.

9:39: Alright, I didn’t find any booze, but I did manage to track down a brownie, which was quite good. I also couldn’t find anyone that liked the Shumpert pick, or anything that looked like Shumpert’s offensive game. I don’t think it exists. The way ESPN talked about the pick showed they didn’t like it either, with Barry saying things like “he’s not a savior” and Bilis with the generic “he’s going to get better”.

9:44: Johnny Flynn just got traded for next to nothing. How’d that pick work out, David Kahn?

9:45: Kenneth Faried just thanked all his coaches. He has no discernable skill or basketball moves. He is valuable only because of his own effort. So, what did his coaches do exactly? “Thanks for not teaching me how to play offense at all, I appreciate it.” Yeah, I’m a little snippy, sue me.

9:59: The Nets need scoring, and they got it with Marshon Brooks, who can create off the dribble and get his own shot. I would have liked him better than Imam Shumpert too. Stuart Scott, stop saying “fitty”, it’s not funny. Neither are you. Say FIFTY!  FIFTY FIFTY FIFTY FIFTY!  In fact, you might be the worst main anchor for any major sport or network. You do less well than Imam Shumpert. I shouldn’t say that, you have the ability to move on eyebrow into the middle of your forehead like no other. He looks like a Simpsons character. Take a look at it someday. I bet Shumpert can’t do that.

10:04: Apparently, Shumpert shooting well at his Knicks workout made them ignore his entire history in college of throwing up bricks left and right. Clearly, shooting well with no one guarding you in an empty gym is more important than what a player does during his collegiate career. Makes sense to me.

10:07: Love the Mavs moving Jordan Hamilton for Rudy Fernandez, who will fit in nicely there. He fits well in their system and will replace Peja as a shooter off the bench. Think the Knicks could have moved their pick for Rudy Fernandez?

10:08: Celtics take away a potential Knicks target if they bought a pick: JaJuan Johnson. Things keep getting better for the Knicks, who have limited options of big men to target now.

10:12: Landry Fields congratulates Imam Shumpert on twitter. No surprise Landry is happy, since he knows Shumpert can’t take his job.

10:14: Norris Cole and his flat-top goes from the Bulls, to the Wolves, to the Heat. I’m a fan. Heat also get Kid and Play, along with Bell-Biv-Devoe in the trade. He was rated as “Best Flat-Top” in the draft.

10:21: David Stern gets serenaded as he wraps up the first round. No one handles getting booed better than David Stern. He really is a pro. He should teach a class in it. Do you think the player association boos him when he walks into negotiating sessions just for the fun of seeing him react? I would. BOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I Wonder how Shumpert will react next year when Knicks fans boo him after missing a fifteenth consecutive three?

10:24: Walsh admits he passed on Singleton because of position, and not talent. It could prove to be a big mistake. He sees Shumpert as a two guard, not a point, and doesn’t think “his shot is broken”. How, exactly, does a shot get broken? If a shot isn’t broken, can it be fixed? Is Jared Jeffries the definition of a broken shot? Bottom line, the Knicks know the kid can’t shoot. 40% FG and 28% from college three shows he has tons of work to do. Walsh calls him a rotation player today, and every draft analyst calls him a project. Drafting position and need over talent is rarely a good idea, especially in a draft like this where talent is sparse.

10:27: Tom Penn just referred to the Miami Heat as trying to keep “the dynasty together”. Someone over at ESPN needs to check out a Webster’s Dictionary. You have to win something more than once to be a dynasty. Heat titles: 0.

10:29: I miss Russ Granick. Adam Silver is still a poor imitation. He still seems very uncomfortable getting cheered.

10:36: I’m really praying the Knicks buy a second round pick or two to at least give me something to be excited about. Otherwise, I’m just going to be angry about Shumpert the rest of the night. Jeremy Tyler is the big man to target. Point guards include Darius Morris, Josh Selby, and Shelvin Mack.

10:38: And there goes Shelvin Mack, who will be a solid back-up point guard for years.

10:40: ESPN just reported a trade on TV that was reported on twitter an hour ago. Gotta love the worldwide leader. At least they didn’t take credit for the report.

10:42: I’d say right about now Josh Selby is regretting leaving Kansas. Oops. From top high school player to late second rounder.

10:44: Jordan Williams was just compared to Michael Sweetney. Good sign is that Sweetney was a first round pick. Bad sign is that he ate himself out of the league in a few seasons.

10:56: Knicks lost a chance to get a talented big man project in Jeremy Tyler. Only guards left, but some with value. Darius Morris would be a great player to learn behind Chauncey Billups for a year. He can run a team. And the Lakers pick him. Maybe the Knicks just reawatched the tape of Imam Shumpert and they’ve gone into a state of shock, rendering them unable to buy a second rounder.

11:00: Jeff Van Gundy can still make me laugh, even at a time like this.

11:04: Wow, even Mark Jackson is outmaneuvering the Knicks now, buying Jeremy Tyler. It just keeps getting better. Maybe Isiah Thomas can jump in front of the Knicks and draft a player to FIU? Can Scott Layden show up and do something savvy for Utah?

11:06: Spurs pick Bertans and stash him overseas – another smart move by a team who did the same with Tiago Splitter, Manu Ginobli and Luis Scola. You would think someone else might catch on.

11:08: Just got a tweet from @Gibby620 “This night was a complete and utter disaster.” For once, my followers and I are one the exact same page. I might have to check myself into a psych-ward after I get released from Newark lock-up in the morning.

11:11: Knicks finally buy a pick and take Josh Harrelson. Jay Bilas starts the scouting report by saying “he has a bog bod, sets good screens and likes to wear jean shorts.” I can’t make this stuff up. In fairness, the one thing the Knicks needed was a guy to set good screens. That was really holding them back last year. Seven points, eight rebounds, a past weight problem, no athleticism and an undersized at center at 6’10 sounds about right. Just what the doctor ordered! He also wears black jean shorts everywhere, giving him the nickname “Jorts”.  Who need Josh Selby, who was rated the best high school player in the country last year? I’ll take the slow, undersized, unathletic center instead. I want Jorts!! Perfect end to a perfect night. I’m going into the city to find those shots. I’ll finish this in the morning.

11:23: As I’m trying to get out of here, ESPN is still clarifying the three way trade with Dallas, Denver, and Portland. C’MON GUYS! They were actually more inept than the Knicks tonight. I’m so angry… AHHHHHHHHHHHH!

*     *     *

10:30AM: After successfully drowning my sorrows last night, allow me to give a slightly less emotional response to the Knicks draft last night. Let the rationalization begin!

I still don’t like the pick. The Knicks passed on a better player in Chris Singleton just because he played a position they have Carmelo Anthony at. They can’t tell me, however, that drafting a guy perfectly suited for guarding LeBron James isn’t a need. Singleton can lock down guys like James, Granger, Igoudala, Deng, Durant, and Gay. He can also knock down an open jump shot. The Knicks are also in the position where they need good players, regardless of where they play. They need assets. Chris Singleton will be far more valuable to other teams than Imam Shumpert.

Most analysts consider Shumpert a project and I haven’t found one that likes him more than Chris Singleton. He can’t shoot, doesn’t run a team, and is turnover prone. He was the best player on a bad college team. The Knicks say he can play both guard positions. That tells me he can’t play either. He smells like a workout king. Everyone knows what Chris Singleton is and the Knicks and most NBA teams can use it. Shumpert might have some more upside, but his floor is much lower. Singleton will be in the league for ten years. I don’t know if Shumpert will. I’m not sure he will outplay Landry Fields.

The Knicks drafted with need in mind and that’s always a huge risk. It makes teams reach. Shumpert can play defense, something the Knicks need. He addresses a need at guard. He is a great athlete, and won’t be physically overwhelmed in the NBA. He has a 6’10 wingspan.  His limited offensive game, however, makes his long term impact questionable, at best. (hence the Renaldo Balkman comparison) It’s hard for a player to learn to be a point guard, so I think Shumpert’s future is probably at the two. I doubt he can run a Mike D’Antoni offense where tough decisions and passes on the pick and roll are necessary. Think of him like a taller and more athletic Toney Douglas, but minus his jumper.

The X-factor here is Shumpert’s shooting. If the Knicks are right, and he can quickly become a good NBA shooter, the pick works. He couldn’t shoot in college, but did well in his workout with the Knicks. Mike D’Antoni  needs his shooting guard to stretch the floor and keep double teams off of Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire. Shumpert can’t do that. He can get to the basket, but that’s not a need for the Knicks with Anthony and Stoudemire in place. With so many shots going those two and Chauncey Billups at point guard, he won’t have the ball enough to penetrate. He is a terrible fit offensively.

I’ll readily admit that I’ve barely seen Shumpert play in college. I’m going on what stats, scouts and other experts say about him. The analysts fooled me before when they discounted the likes of Landry Fields, even though his stats were great. I hope they’re wrong again and I eat a lot of crow on this. Calling Shumpert Renaldo Balkman might be a little over the top, but calling him Jordan Hill isn’t. The biggest strength of those two guys was their athleticism, not their basketball skill. I’m hearing the same about Shumpert and it scares me.

Can he shoot, or can’t he shoot? Is he a good basketball player, and not just an athlete? That is the question that will determine the success of the Knicks pick.

I back off nothing on Josh Harrellson. I see no way he is a good NBA player. Sorry. He is not a NBA athlete and doesn’t have the size to overcome that.

You can follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/#!/Schmeelk.