By Shawn Siegel
June 26th, 2006
2006 From the Eyes of the Future
The NBA Draft is all about
predicting the future. While websites like collegehoops.net try and predict
who will get taken with each draft pick, scouts and general managers are
trying to predict which players will become solid NBA contributors. Luckily
for us all, the future is unpredictable or life would be very interesting.
Here’s my prediction of how this NBA Draft will rank in the annuls of
history.. from the perspective of myself twenty years from now:
Ah, the 2006 NBA Draft..
good memories. A lot has happened since then. If I remember correctly,
Isiah Thomas took over the Knicks shortly before that Draft and the Knicks
struggled to another 25 win season. One of Isiah’s picks, Shannon Brown,
actually turned into a solid NBA player, while the second, Josh Boone,
didn’t last past his first guaranteed contract. After that first season, the
NBA finally came to its senses, and banned Thomas from all NBA-related
facilities for being such a complete dope. Larry Brown, whom Isiah
replaced, ended up coaching the Atlanta Hawks beginning in the 07-08
season. But after a few months and his team struggling with a 15-35 record,
Larry quit, complaining he had overly chapped lips. Brown still managed to
collect on his $40 million contract.
Larry Brown was the least of
the Hawks problems though. The Hawks had a chance to trade their pick that
year along with the mediocre Josh Childress for Hall of Famer Allen
Iverson. Instead, the Hawks decided to take Duke senior Shelden Williams
with the 5th pick. Williams had a solid 11 year run in the NBA,
but he was never anything more than a bit starter and bench player (like a
lesser PJ Brown). For some reason, the Hawks didn’t realize that Williams
was a classic tweener. The size of a power forward, but his lack of speed
and offensive game forced him to be a small, overmatched center.
Meanwhile, Iverson was
traded to the Warriors in a package that sent Baron Davis back to Philly.
This worked out great for both teams. Iverson helped push the Warriors back
into the playoff for a few seasons, and the Sixers built a new foundation
that got them over the mediocrity hump. The Sixers took Rajon Rondo with
their original 13th pick, and Rondo turned out to be one of the
steals of the Draft. His length and athleticism turned out to be perfect
for the NBA. Though Rondo never developed into much of an offensive threat,
he always was near the league leaders in steals and was able to handle a
team better than others expected. The Sixers also took NC State’s Cedric
Simmons with the pick they got from the Warriors. Simmons played behind the
aging Chris Webber for a year before coming into his own once C-Web finally
called it quits.
Besides Rondo, the other big
surprises from 2006 were Rudy Gay and Patrick O’Bryant. Gay ended up
slipping down to Minnesota with the 6th pick. His first year was
rather unspectacular and it didn’t do much to stop KG from wanting to leave.
The Wolves ended up trading Garnett to the Lakers during that season, and
the Kobe/Kevin combo won back to back championships under Phil Jackson. But
without KG around, Gay developed into a surprising go-to scorer for the
Wolves. His questionable jump shot really came around by his third season,
and once he had a jumper to go along with his freak athleticism, he started
scoring 20 points per game consistently. Gay was never an MVP or anything,
but he managed a few All-Star games in the early 2010’s.
O’Bryant ended up going to
Seattle with the 10th pick. The Sonics already had a pair of
young/raw big men in Johan Petro and Robert Swift, but that trio allowed the
Sonics to have a unique look of size that other teams couldn’t handle.
Within a few seasons, Seattle realized that they could play Swift and
O’Bryant on the floor at the same time. Making the best of the NBA’s zone
defense rules, the twin towers led Seattle to a pair of 50 win seasons and a
trip to the Conference Finals in 2012.
Toronto ended up taking the
Italian Andrea Bargnani with the first pick. Bargnani was a solid NBA
performer with averages hovering around 12 and 13 ppg, but he never turned
into a superstar like Dirk Nowitzki. Picking next, the Bulls took LSU
forward Tyrus Thomas. Thomas went on to a long and productive NBA career,
but he never developed into an All-Star caliber player. This left the Bulls
stuck in solid mediocrity for many years, playing the same 1st
round loser role that the Cleveland Cavaliers played in the years
The big winner late in the
2006 Draft was the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavs really wanted a point
guard that year, but all the good one’s were gone so they took high scoring
guard Quincy Douby. Douby finally gave the Lebron another scoring option,
and hovered around the 15 ppg mark for many seasons during the Cavs unheard
of run of 5 championships in a row. (More important than Douby for the run
was that Lebron got hurt the next year, allowing the Cavs to struggle and
select Kevin Durant out of Texas who became James’ super sidekick.)
The Nets, who passed on
Douby, were one of the Draft’s big losers. They selected UCLA point guard
Jordan Farmar with one of their first round picks and FSU’s Alexander
Johnson with the other. Farmar was destined to be a backup and Johnson was
out of the league in a few years.
Other hot prospects who
fizzled out quickly were Randy Foye and Mouhamed Saer Sene. The Jazz took
Saer Sene, and he just never seemed to get over the hump of being raw. He
jumped around from team to team, hoping that he’d finally reach his
potential, but it never happened. Foye lasted for a handful of years before
injuries and lack of a major plus skill ended his career.
Perhaps worse than Foye or
Saer Sene, was the career of Marcus Williams. Williams ended up dropping to
the Rockets with the 7th pick, and he looked promising after a
solid rookie year in which Tracy McGrady lead them into the playoffs. But
things turned for the worse for Williams and the Rockets. Williams
struggled with weight problems and had off the court legal issues that
constantly distracted him from the game. Worse though for the Rockets was
that after one more year of brilliance, McGrady’s back troubles became too
much and he was never the same player as in his youth.
In hindsight, the Rockets
would have been much better off taking Duke’s JJ Redick who fell to the
Hornets at 15. Redick was a starter in the league for quite a few seasons,
and even averaged 18 points per game one year and was always amongst the
league’s shooting leaders.
Slightly better than Redick
was the Bobcat’s Adam Morrison. Besides Gay, Morrison and O’Bryant were the
only two ’06 draftees to play in an All-Star game. Morrison was actually
the Rookie of the Year after averaging about 15 points per game. Despite
Morrison’s nice scoring averages, the Bobcats never became a championship
caliber team. After his big 22 ppg all-star season in 09-10, Morrison
became straddled with knee and back injuries that shortened his career. He
was eventually traded to the Heat who were looking to try and help Dwyane
Wade win a second championship, but they could never get over the Lebron
Wade did win another two
actually late in his career once he was traded to the Blazers, but fellow
star Nowitzki never one a single trophy. Despite being a two-time MVP, Dirk
was always second fiddle to the Kobe/KG Lakers and Lebron’s Cavs. The Mavs
pick in the 2006 Draft was Joel Freeland, the little known English prospect.
Freeland, like Maurice Ager, Alexander Johnson, Mardy Collins and others
from this mediocre draft never amounted to much in the NBA and are now
..It could happen.