NBA Draft 1st Round Results: Russell Westbrook to Seattle Supersonics at No. 4 the First Curveball

A Tale of Two Northwest Cities

6/26/08 in NBA   |   CriticalFanatic   |   respect

Russell Westbrook NBA Draft 4th Overall Pick

It'll be interesting to see where Seattle (or Oklahoma City) and Portland are at in five years. Actually, I take that back. I can already tell you that the Trail Blazers will have an NBA title and the SuperSonics will still be trying to reach the playoffs.

Why? Kevin Pritchard > Sam Presti and it's not even close.

You can't dispute how last year's first two picks played out, but how each team has handled this year's first selections will separate these two geographically close franchises for years to come.

Seattle needed either a true center or a point guard who could be a threat from outside to take some heat off of Kevin Durant. Instead, they drafted a combo guard who shot 33% from three-point range last season at UCLA. Russell Westbrook is a HUGE reach at No. 4. Do I think he's talented? Sure. First rounder? Absolutely. But 4th overall? For comparisons sake, Chris Paul was the 4th pick in 2005. That is an unreasonable comparison, but it goes to show you what you should still strive for that high in the draft.

If the Sonics couldn't move down, then Brook Lopez is great value that high. You've got a go-to guy in Durant, hopefully Jeff Green can be a nice compliment, and then Lopez could take care of the dirty work while still possessing an adequate array of offensive post moves to hold his own. Point guard was also a huge need, but since Durant still likes to play around the perimeter, it's my belief you want a guard who's a significant threat from outside as well, so that when Durant penetrates the opposing team is forced to sag off a bit. Jerryd Bayless can be that threat. He can't penetrate and run the fast break quite like Westbrook, but he can fill it up from anywhere and run the pick and roll with the best of them. The Sonics blew this high pick.

145 miles south, Trail Blazers GM Kevin Pritchard is quietly (can we say that?) building a very promising team that will have home court advantage in the 2009 NBA Playoffs. He's got a center in Greg Oden, a power forward in LaMarcus Aldrige, quickly developing wings in Travis Outlaw and Martell Webster, and of course an All-Star guard in Brandon Roy. What's left? A point guard. Since Roy is capable of handling the ball, a pure ball handler is not a mandate, but one who can become a major threat on the top of the key and who sets up Oden and Aldrige turns the Blazers into an extremely difficult team to defend.

What does Pritchard do Thursday night? Get the perfect player for his system: Jerryd Bayless. Not to mention, he picks up Joey Dorsey and Darrell Arthur to add some excellent post bench players.

A lot of factors play into whether an organization is successful, but when these two teams are separated by 20 wins each of the next couple years, look no further than the last several draft nights.
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6/30/08   |   Ballerblogger

Great read CriticalFanatic!  I couldn't agree more.

6/28/08   |   beerstudk   |   1538 respect

kantwistaye wrote:

Brandon Rush is a SF who can shoot the lights out and play lock down D. If the Blazers ever want to win the title,  he was the right pick.  When teams clamp down in the lane to stop Oden and Aldridge and stop Roy's penetration they'll be regretting this move.  They traded away the best possible pick they could make - that makes them anything but a winner in this draft.

Bayless is a PG that can shoot lights out and Portland already has 2 SF that can shoot from range.  Another would have created a log-jam of young players at SF which, regardless of the talent of the player, is a dumb move.  The Blazers are my team, I watch almost every game they play and take it from me they need a PG more than they need a SF because the tandem of Jarret Jack (who can't shoot to save his life) and Steve Blake (who couldn't guard a statue) are not getting it done.  Whereas Travis Outlaw and Martell Webster, while not living up to their full potetial (but they are very young as stated above), are a much more productive duo, meaning the SF position needed less help than the PG position.

6/28/08   |   kantwistaye   |   4210 respect

beerstudk wrote:

Brandon Rush really doesn't fill a need in Portland because he plays the same position as Brandon Roy and Rudy Fernandez (who's been tearing up the Spainish/European leagues).  Even though they already have Rodriguez, he's a couple of years away from being a good player and Steve Blake is not a player anybody wants running their team, so Bayless was a better fit for Portland.

 

Reallistically, there wasn't a need that could be filled in the draft.  Portland had the luxury of taking the best players available regardless of the position they play and the skill-sets they have today.  What they need is experience and you can't get that through the draft.

(Edited by kantwistaye)

Brandon Rush is a SF who can shoot the lights out and play lock down D. If the Blazers ever want to win the title,  he was the right pick.  When teams clamp down in the lane to stop Oden and Aldridge and stop Roy's penetration they'll be regretting this move.  They traded away the best possible pick they could make - that makes them anything but a winner in this draft.

6/27/08   |   beerstudk   |   1538 respect

kantwistaye wrote:

I'm guessing I'll be pretty alone here in my thinking, but the Blazers trading away Brandon Rush was nothing short of stupid.  He was the perfect fit, and would've spread the court wide open for LaMarcus Aldridge, Greg Oden, and Brandon Roy's penetration.  If Sergio Rodriguez is as good as he's supposed to be, Jerryd Bayless will be a complete waste.  I'm a fan of Bayless, but this is not a good match.

 

Edit: Also, Russy Westbrook is just as good as Bayless.  Seattle is going to be awful for the next few years regardless, and as long as they can find a good young outside shooter in that time, they'll be very very happy with Westbrook and Durant.  This draft had no can't miss stud prospects outside of Rose, so if you can get a younger Leandro Barbosa at number 4, then take it.

Brandon Rush really doesn't fill a need in Portland because he plays the same position as Brandon Roy and Rudy Fernandez (who's been tearing up the Spainish/European leagues).  Even though they already have Rodriguez, he's a couple of years away from being a good player and Steve Blake is not a player anybody wants running their team, so Bayless was a better fit for Portland.

 

Reallistically, there wasn't a need that could be filled in the draft.  Portland had the luxury of taking the best players available regardless of the position they play and the skill-sets they have today.  What they need is experience and you can't get that through the draft.

6/27/08   |   kantwistaye   |   4210 respect

(Edited by kantwistaye)

I'm guessing I'll be pretty alone here in my thinking, but the Blazers trading away Brandon Rush was nothing short of stupid.  He was the perfect fit, and would've spread the court wide open for LaMarcus Aldridge, Greg Oden, and Brandon Roy's penetration.  If Sergio Rodriguez is as good as he's supposed to be, Jerryd Bayless will be a complete waste.  I'm a fan of Bayless, but this is not a good match.

 

Edit: Also, Russy Westbrook is just as good as Bayless.  Seattle is going to be awful for the next few years regardless, and as long as they can find a good young outside shooter in that time, they'll be very very happy with Westbrook and Durant.  This draft had no can't miss stud prospects outside of Rose, so if you can get a younger Leandro Barbosa at number 4, then take it.

6/27/08   |   blamka   |   12 respect

Rip City, baby!

6/27/08   |   beerstudk   |   1538 respect

As a lifelong Blazer fan it's really exciting to see the Blazers build such a talented team full of guys with great character.  I would have liked to see them go after a SF because I'm not completely sold on Outlaw and Webster instead of another Guard (they have a Steve Nash type of guy already in Sergio Rodruguiz and a new long ragne shooter in Rudy Fernadez coming over from Spain next year) but Bayless is a really good player.

 

Hopefully in 5 years we'll be working on our 2nd or 3rd title!!!