Posted by: Kingsguru21 | June 8, 2010

Introducing Geoff Petrie’s Draft Crystal Ball

It’s 1996, and the Kings are hitting pitch fever. The team just finished scaring the Seattle SuperSonics during the opening round. What do with the 14th pick? There’s this asshole kid outta the Philly area who has the audacity to come out of HS and think he can play in the NBA.

But this kid gets picked at 13. Next, Geoff Petrie looks into his crystal ball. He notices this 2 time MVP and 3 time All-Star. He also see’s Paul Pierce upcoming in a couple years in the draft. Plus a floppy German kid that he notices gets along with Steve Nash.

So Geoff Petrie decides, as all smart GM’s do when looking into their GM crystal balls, to take the best player. This is why Geoff Petrie decides to ignore trading Mitch Richmond, and simply focus on keeping him instead. After all, how can you go wrong with Mitch Richmond, Dirk Nowitzki and Steve Nash?

Geoff Petrie decides that every team needs an enigmatic big man, so he takes Scot Pollard. He even orders all veterans to shave their armpits and make gumby figurines out of their facial hair to make Pollard feel welcome.

Peja Stojakovic ends up going to Phoenix and bouncing around before going to Detroit and becoming the shooter they were missing on their way to a title.

In 1999, the Kings have no 1st round pick because Jerry Reynold’s dumb ass (which is grounds for firing all on it’s own) traded for Olden Polynice. What makes it worse is that OP challenged Pollard for the most wierd human contest and won. Because this upset Pollard so much and he cried over a Pink Lady at the Flame Bar in Midtown Sacramento, the Kings decided that making Polynice go away forever was the right thing to do.

In 2000, Geoff Petrie takes Hedo Turkoglu cuz he’s a goofy looking European guy. Looking at the alternate universe widget on his Firefox browser, he notices that Turkoglu is a similar combo F and helps the team by being a steady guy. He just shakes his head at the random congruent fashion of similar universes. Sometimes being an all omnipotent power is not all it’s cracked up to be.

As 2001 rolls around, GP is pretty confused. He likes Gerald Wallace’s high flying acts, but the team needs a shot blocking no defense playing C. So, in the end, and partly because he knows not being a Haitian slumlord is available in Sacramento, GP takes Sammy Dalembert out of Seton Hall.

He chooses not to take Mehmet Okur because the Kings are over the cap and can’t pay Okur anything 2 years down the road. (In real life, this is one reason Detroit lost Okur. They couldn’t match the money Utah offered Okur in 2004. It’s why you have the rigmarole about 2nd round picks only able to make a certain amount of money at a certain point. This is largely because of 2nd round picks like Manu Ginobili, Okur, Carlos Boozer and Gilbert Arenas who all got large money deals from other teams while the team that originally picked them couldn’t keep them. If you’re wondering how San Antonio was able to keep Ginobili, they anticipated the problem and kept their team under the cap to pay Ginobili. San Antonio, where rebuilding with low 1st round and 2nd round picks happens.)

In 2002, GP has a quandary about what to do: Should he take Carlos Boozer and create the most awesomest awesome team of all time? Or he should take pity on those stupid GM’s who simply do their homework by scouting and guesswork? “Suckaz, they all are,” GP exclaims one day! “Who wouldn’t want a predict the future crystal ball like me? All you gotta do is sell your soul to David Stern for it!”

2003 is the year of Carmelo Anthony, and the super Freshman is the #! pick of Cleveland. Bravely ignoring the wrath of the hometown fans who wanted some local guy from Akron named James, the franchise goes on to winning a title in 2007 when all the Kings have injuries brought on by a mysterious malady “fucking with the universe for stupid reasons”. Nobody in the Kings organization can figure it out, and as time passes The Kings start to fade after ruling the draft universe for nearly 10 seasons.

2004 the Kings end up taking Kevin Martin because GP likes skinny kids who are upside projects.

2005 the Kings take David Lee because you can never have enough white guys who do well in the SEC on your team.

2006 the Kings take Rajon Rondo because how can the Kings ever exist without taking Rondo? (Note: The Kings manage to snare Paul Millsap with their 2nd round pick too.)

2007 the Kings take Spencer Hawes to the chagrin of white guy enthusiasts everywhere.

2008 Jason Thompson is a shrewd pick at 12 despite the greatness of David Lee. He will turn out to be a 3rd rotation player while Lee toils in relative anonymity because he isn’t the only competent big men playing for the Knicks during the decade.

2009 the Kings take Tyreke Evans because greatness is everywhere.

Currently, Geoff Petrie is in the jail of Jean Claude Van-Damme for violating the laws of time travel. The Maloof’s are filing an appeal to get GP out of time law jail. Jason Levien doesn’t exist. Jerry Reynolds hasn’t worked for the Kings since 1995 and is currently selling popcorn in Houston. Scotty Stirling was buried in the rubble of Arco1 as part of the terms of GP selling his soul for the crystal ball in the first place. Wayne Cooper evaporated into thin air and is believed to be the only reason the balloons in Up didn’t pop quicker.

No immediate reports on whether any of this story is true.

******

In case you’re wondering, this is something of a response to this piece that, a few days ago, Ellington on BB&P posted this notice about Geoff Petrie’s draft record. Which, needless to say, I disagree with. (Not to mention it’s an exercise in hindsight.)

I took some liberties with the story, and I even managed to change some of the circumstances and players the Kings picked. I did this for several reasons. After reading the “coulda shoulda woulda” piece, I couldn’t believe it for a ton of reasons. For many reasons (which I’ll explain) I changed my mind. Part of it is due to the fact that I respect everyone’s right to display their opinion, and part of it is that I recognize that cursory analysis elsewhere gives me an opportunity to give more thoughtful deeper analysis. I don’t overlook or discount that. Nature hates a vacuum (which is probably why nature hates me–nothing slows down a human sucking vortex like a high word count) and this is no exception. Beyond even that, however, is the fact that many fans, and not just bloggers, have this type of reasoning. Well, if only we took this that or that guy. The fact is that the Kings didn’t, and the players may not have succeeded here if they had.

Let’s take just a few for instance. Steve Nash is a great example. When he went to Phoenix, if you remember that far back, he was backing up Kevin Johnson and expected to get a chance to fight for minutes. But the Colangelo’s changed their mind and brought Jason Kidd in instead. That changed the career trajectory for Nash quite a bit.

What’s amazing is that Nash was a very slow starter to his career in part due to circumstances. My question: Would he have developed in Sacramento the way he did in Dallas after several seasons in the NBA? Did Steve Nash (and I liked him in Dallas) really become a Hall of Famer in Phoenix because of the training staff?

Part of this I bring up is because, like a lot of players that Ellington quoted Petrie as “missing” in the draft, none of them are major league franchise players like Kobe Bryant or like that. Even then, the Kings had Webber & Divac who were better as a tandem than Nowitzki & whatever big man was paired with him for most of Nowitzki’s career. (In fact, the Kings had a better peak than Dallas ever did. I note the 2006 Finals. But where the Kings competed with the Lakers, the Mavs never played them. So we never know how the Mavs would have done against the Lakers those years. My guess is not well.)

Here’s another good example of the Kings not taking Carlos Boozer or Luis Scola. Scola didn’t come over until 2007! I’m not sure if the Kings wanted to take a pick of a guy who might not come over for 3 years or more. Especially in 2002 when the team had come very close to a championship. Carlos Boozer has shown himself to be a quality player, but he’s also missed some games over the course of his career too. He’s hardly the saintlet himself.

I like Scola, and think the Kings could have benefitted by waiting for Scola if they had taken him, but I don’t remember anyone in 2002 saying anything of the sort. The first time I remember hearing about Scola, was roughly circa 2005! And those were Spurs fans talking about the potential of him coming over.

What happened with the 2003 pick is that the Kings traded Jon Barry to save money and the first pick that they sent to Detroit was part of that deal. Right or wrong, that’s why they did it. The Maloof’s are businessmen and I’m really not necessarily sure that that pick would have changed things at that point.

2005 is another example and I really alluded to this about David Lee and his relationship with the Knicks being part of his being so valuable: He plays in New York where any quality player is automatically hyped as being incredible! Obviously, Lee is a quality player who many teams missed on in that 2005 draft. Guess what though? Is he a franchise guy? No. Is he at best more than a fringe All-Star? No. Those players sometimes drop, for real reasons, to the bottom of the 1st round (in Lee’s case) and into the 2nd round.

Gilbert Arenas is another story inofitself, but with the Kings having Mike Bibby at the time of the draft (they had made the draft day trade before the pick), I’m not really sure that the Kings wouldn’t have ended up like the Warriors did. It’s easy to say but they could have had Arenas under the 1st round scale. Sure they could have. He also could have dumped donkey shit in Vlade Divac’s locker and gotten killed too. Arenas is a wierd cat whose journey throughout the NBA has been nothing short of a ride up a very tall mountain with many sharp twists & turns. I’m not really sure how a player like Arenas that is all goofball, and not very serious, would have worked well in that Kings lockeroom. Plus, at that point, you had B-Jax and Bibby on the team. When was Arenas going to get minutes in the near future?

Speaking of Bobby Jackson and Scot Pollard, B-Jax was a guy who simply didn’t really get it early on in Denver. It took him awhile under Flip Saunders in Minnesota to get it. When he did, Sacramento reaped the results. If it wasn’t for the major force of Vlade becoming such a valuable presence for the Kings in way they haven’t had before or since, B-Jax still would be the best Free Agent signing the Kings have made since coming to Sacramento. (And yes that’s noting the injuries.) Having said that, B-Jax had his flaws, and many of them were overlooked because of his popularity in the EC.

Pollard was a nut who simply was used completely and perfectly by Rick Adelman. While Pollard was enigmatic, unlike Arenas, Pollard also played a needed position and role of enforcer/willing defender. The Kings didn’t have a lot of guys who set hard screens or dove for balls in those years. It was mostly an offensive team with 2 excellent defensive guys down low (Webber/Divac) before Doug Christie came in 2001. Having a banger and battler proved to be an important thing for the 5 years Pollard was in Sactown.

I just hate Rajon Rondo, but still I don’t see how he develops with the Kings and the roster they had from 2006 on. Yes, Martin was a shooter, and yes Artest was a shotaholic with no conscience or clear understanding of quality shots. Of course, Artest was also a guy who often shot himself into games (on the good nights) and that quality was often talked about on the broadcasts. What wasn’t talked about was that Artest was impossible to work with for a variety of players, and given the noted dysfunction of Eric Musselman era, I’m not exactly sure how adding a cocky mouthy twat of a 6’1 G like Rondo would have worked. Other than the cocky part, I don’t agree that much about Rondo really works. The guy bitches at players when they miss shots because it hurts his assist totals. Do you think that 2007 team really needed a mouthy brat who didn’t get what he was being paid to? Especially at 21 years old? It was never about talent with Rondo, but the surrounding talent. Rondo has improved and is clearly the 2nd best (or best if you want to believe it) of the 2006 draft class. (It’s amazing how shallow the 2006 draft was, but Rondo and Roy saved it. Them, Rudy Gay and LMA. Then the preceeding drafts have adjusted accordingly after the 1 & done rule was instituted. It was one reason the 2009 off-season was so weird. You had a shallow draft plus an even shallower free agent pool. Not a good combination.) It’s really to say what if, but if you avoid it your life would be easier. This is not the Kings giving up a player like Brandon Roy for Randy Foye. Either way, I know I’ll end up being alone that the Kings didn’t take Rondo. Can’t stand any small G who can’t shoot at least 70% from the FT line.

Peja Stojakovic I think turned out fine as a Kings player. I just think people expected him to be something he never was. But here’s a fact: Who has more boards at the time they were traded? Peja Stojakovic or Ron Artest. Answer: Stojakovic. (Here’s a fun fact. Due partly to the suspensions of the season Artest was traded and the year before, Stojakovic had more than 900 rebounds than Artest at that point. But if you factor out the 2 suspensions years–which is most of the difference–Stojakovic still had 350+ boards more than Artest from 99-00 to 03-04.) Most fans, those years though, complained about Stojakovic’s rebounding quite often. Which naturally died down when Artest came around. Yet, Artest’s rebounding never was questioned with the same veracity.

Another good example is the original criticism that Michael Finley was better than Corliss Williamson. Really? I mean, really? What did Finley do that was so special besides being the 3rd wheel in the Nash/Nowitzki tandem? Finley was better than the 21st pick in 2005, but he’s hardly anything to say it was a clearcut mistake. I’ve never thought the Corliss pick was anything but a gutsy pick that simply worked out over time. What I know, if nothing else, that when Corliss was traded for Doug Christie it helped make the Kings into the powerhouse team they were for those years. Michael Finley would have not been traded for Doug Christie. That’s my point.

It is way too early to use hindsight on the 2007-2009 drafts. Let’s let 5 years or so pass before evaluating the 2007 draft. And so on & so forth. While that’s a personal feeling, and I fully understand it’s logical to assume that a draft is pretty much set after the first year, let’s not do that. 5 years out, we’ll know how good the 2009 draft was. And 5 years out we’ll know if Tyreke was a franchise player and not just a guy who had great stats his rookie year while Blake Griffin never played a game.

But here’s what takes the taco: The Kings missed out on Stephen Jackson. Mr, I got drafted in the 2nd round, didn’t play a NBA game until the 00-01 season, left the Spurs after being an asshole and signing with the dipshit Hawks, and got traded away from the Warriors for being a major league pain in the ass. Yeah, I can see how Geoff Petrie got that one wrong. Jackson played in the CBA, Australia for awhile and even Venezuela. Upon his return, he was still a dipshit and an asshole. Go figure. But the Kings missed him? Really? Huh? Are we talking about Stephen Jackson or the dream world of what we’d like to be without any of the consequences?

******

It’s true I get no pleasure out of criticizing bloggers just to criticize them. After all, like myself, it’s not a high paying gig to begin with. I get that it’s a labor of love and all that. But when you aren’t much better than Ailene Voisin in this kind of flashback/hindsight analysis that uses more what if than realistic thought about why the Kings may have taken the player they thought was best, it makes me wonder why I should read you. Fans in all shapes or forms talk about this shit all the time. It’s always stupid, but I suppose anything that keeps fans interested is better than being depressed about why the NBA Draft is so hard to make the team better. There was one conclusion that I really disagreed with that Ellington deserves to be spanked about a billion times with a wooden paddle from Dazed & Confused for:

In the 15 drafts that he has been involved in since 1995, he has made four really good decisions (in 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2009) based on what was available. You have to remember, only two of his draft picks (Peja Stojakovic and Jason Williams) turned out to be key pieces of those 1998-2003 teams that made runs at a championship. (That should be an obvious sign that it is time to improve the current squad through free agency and trades rather than the draft.)

That is me telling Blake Ellington what I'm going to do. No more Mr Nice Guy!

This is where i go, huh? (Other than everything else.) Jason Williams became Mike Bibby. I recognize the brilliance of Steve Nash, but isn’t that due to circumstances that were a bit beyond control 8 years down the road for the Kings to predict? Most teams don’t think 3 years down the road let alone 8. It worked out well that Nash turned into a Hall of Famer, and while I liked Nash in 1996 after watching him play that spring in the NCAA tournament (it was impressive the guys Nash was playing with and the fact he just carried them), the truth is that Stojakovic was picked because he fit the roster with his ability to shoot, dribble and pass the ball. Stojakovic even became a better than advertised at times defender during his career, and that’s something Nash has never become. I like Steve Nash a great deal, and I’ve always known he could be good in the NBA. Yet, of all the players the Kings have missed (and he’s the best), I’ve never scratched my head at the decision. Not once. I don’t subscribe to the “In Geoff we trust” others choose to. I just don’t see how you can judge the quality of the draft based solely on how players turned out. It ignores too many variables you need to evaluate that player.

Does Paul Pierce/Nowitzki and Steve Nash win titles as a tandem in Sacramento? I doubt it. But you never know. Those Kings teams were damn good, and were put together as well as anyone could expect given the circumstances around the team. And that’s assuming the Kings would be in position to take Pierce/Nowitzki in 1998 which is a faulty, and erroneous, assumption.

Here’s the funniest part: The Kings did not have cap room after signing Vlade Divac in 1999 until 2009. This off-season will be the first time a major Free Agent could sign with the Kings. But I ask this: What player is out there that fits this team like Vlade Divac did? Why would the Kings sign a veteran with a very very young team? What benefit does having a veteran with a team that isn’t going to be competing for a championship next season really have? Vlade Divac filled a hole AND well that’s it. He filled a hole.

There is Free Agent’s out there, and I agree that the Kings can use cap room to help their quest to get better. (Like, getting Favors with the 2nd pick. For instance…..) Flexibility and cap room are essentially the same thing. With flexibility, the Kings can make a difficult trade that not every team would be willing to do. The Kings have young players they can trade to make a team like Philly trade out of the 2nd pick. Without cap room, though, there is no room to get any kind of draft day deal done with Philly. It is, after all, the same kind of problem that Minnesota has. If it was in the inverse situation, I would say Minny has all the cards here. But mostly, I see Philly potentially trading down if they aren’t sold on Favors, Cousins or Turner.

But the biggest problem I see is that many of the trades the Kings have made over the years often included players THEY DRAFTED! Corliss Williamson was traded for Doug Christie. Jason Williams was traded for Mike Bibby. Peja Stojakovic was traded for Ron Artest. Tariq Abdul-Wahad was traded for Nick Anderson. (This didn’t work as well as the other 3 obviously.) Hopefully my point that Petrie gets players that have value once within the NBA is just as important as picking the “best” player as it turns out. I’m not sure Michael Finley has the same value in 1996 playing for the Kings with Mitch Richmond that he does playing with Kevin Johnson and the Suns. And that’s just one situation with one player.

In my humble opinion, the biggest mistake made in the 1996 NBA Draft was the Warriors & Cavaliers not taking Kobe Bryant. You don’t pass a franchise superstar and not live to regret it. (I’m not sure George Shinn regrets trading the rights to Kobe to the Lakers. He should ,but I’m not sure Shinn is that smart. Plus the Hornets got more in Vlade’s 2 years there than the Cavs/Warriors ever got from Vitaly Potapenko and Todd Fuller.) Other than that though, when you’re talking fringe stars (as Michael Finley was) and Gilbert Arenas/Carlos Boozer like stars who have notable flaws and are not necessarily players who will lead you to a championship, I’m not sure what is lost there to be honest. The name of the game in the draft is to get a high impact talent, like a John Wall (or Derrick Favors! Derrick Favors! Derrick Favors!!!), Tyreke Evans and yadda yadda yadda. Then you find pieces, sometimes through the draft, or sometimes through FA or a trade, that you can build around that player to build a core. The Kings have 1 of those major core pieces in Tyreke Evans. (I still think Favors is the ideal player to pair with Evans. Always will I suspect.) You can’t get those players in Free Agency anymore. (Or really ever. Shaquille O’Neal remains the only landmark NBA landscape changing player to switch teams as a Free Agent.) You have to draft them or otherwise you’re stuck without that stud you need to make you better.

Am I alone in this philosophy? I don’t know. Maybe. I doubt it though. Many people doubt the ability to attract Free Agent’s in a crowded marketplace with so many teams having cap space, and that’s true. But that’s also true in Oklahoma City and Minnesota too. There aren’t that many “ideal” situations except the entire East Coast to play in. Sometimes LA is ideal, or the Bay Area if Chris Cohan wasn’t around, but mostly it’s just the East Coast. Players don’t play in Utah or sign there, and players don’t sign contracts in Memphis at all. Not once or ever.

The problem with the marketplace in 2010 from a FA perspective, if you’re the Kings, is that you don’t hold an advantage of allure over teams like Miami, New York or Chicago. No other team does either unless it’s the Lakers or a team like that. But where the Kings do have the flexibility and assets to pull off a landmark changing trade is the draft or taking a difficult asset back coupled with future 1st round picks added to it this summer. That’s where the Kings can improve themselves this summer. There is more than one way to skin a cat, as Sam Presti (OKC) has shown, or hell RC Buford (San Antonio) for that matter, and Otis Smith (Orlando) if you want to be nice. Danny Ainge did something truly unique as a GM by transforming a last place team with many young players who weren’t really meshing or putting it all together and pushing those assets to acquire veterans who had several good years left like Garnett & Allen. Now Ainge is well thought of, but before those trades Ainge was mostly thought of as a failure as a GM.

My point is that the draft is the best way to acquire a franchise talent, and the best way to acquire a talented young player. You get 1 pick every year (provided you don’t trade or buy more), and that pick can often help you a good deal. Free Agency or Trades don’t have the track record of making teams better that the draft does, and that’s mostly because the Draft often provides that team with that crucial franchise player. Maybe there is a player that makes the team remarkably better at 5, or maybe not, but saying that the Kings have missed out on better players in the past as a reasoning that the Kings can’t significantly improve their team through this draft and the 5th pick is asinine. (Which was the point, I think, of Ellington’s post. I’m not quite sure. I don’t have a PhD in asinine opinion.)

But I’ll tell you one thing that you can take to the bank: When you list Goran Dragic as a missed pick by Geoff Petrie because of a good playoffs (fresh in people’s minds) you’ve significantly missed the mark in your analysis. Mr Ellington: Please do better next time for the sane minded thoughtful Kings fans. Hindsight analysis does none of us any good.

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