So, after an unusually active NBA Draft night (and day), and finally having an opportunity post-deadline to digest the events that took place at draft headquarters in Brooklyn and at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento, here are a few late thoughts:
It's never prudent to overreact to the selections, either favorably or otherwise. Particularly in the era of one-and-done players, where the most talented prospects usually leave college after their freshman seasons and leave little time for scouts/coaches/executives to make their evaluations, this is a dicey business. Just look back at the Lottery picks over the past five NBA seasons. That said, the fact that Ben McLemore dropped to the Kings at No. 7 is very surprising. Everyone knows he can shoot, finish, that he has size (just under 6-5) and athleticism, so this might be one of those situations where GM's think too hard and miss the obvious? Or maybe questions about his maturity and motor are legitimate?
Kings GM Pete D'Alessandro had long targeted McLemore and, as owner Vivek Ranadive revealed late in the evening, was determined to acquire him. Love the decisiveness. Even the best talent evaluators (see Jerry West) misfire occasionally, but D'Alessandro made it clear he believes McLemore will be a star. It's rare for a lawyer to allow for so little wiggle room ....
Mike Bibby looks terrific. Now that he's retired, the one-time Kings star also looks like he has too much time on his hands: he was more chiseled than ever. He flew in for the event from his home in Phoenix, and as usual, was applauded enthusiastically when he addressed the crowd. Fans still love that jump shot, especially the buzzer-beater against the Lakers in 2002. Asked about the current Kings, Bibby said, "I think they're young, and they're rebuilding. They just need a few veterans ... like me." He laughed, so I think he was kidding about that last line.
So who does David Stern think he is? George Clooney? Presiding over the NBA Draft for the final time - retirement looms Feb. 1 - the Commish just let it rip. The hand gestures, the smirks, the grins, the insistence on bringing Shabazz Muhammad to the podium belatedly, the warm embrace of Hakeem Olajuwon at the end. (Olajuwon was the No.1 pick when Stern became Commissioner and began announcing the draft in 1984). This was David Stern uncensored, or, as most of have known him for 30-plus years, as the off-stage David Stern. He deserved to own the stage. Among other things - the global growth of the league, his influence on racial relations, his creation of the WNBA, etc., - Stern had numerous opportunities to let the Kings skip town during the previous two ownership regimes. Instead, here they stay.
Ranadive is hilarious. At the start of the post-draft press conference, the Kings new majority owner actually opened by saying, "Hi, I'm Vivek." He then interjected the session with D'Alessandro and coach Michael Malone with his increasingly familiar, witty asides. Le's hope he doesn't change. It's easy to be funny when it's all good. Remember when Joe Lacob was booed? The Warriors owner didn't flinch, and, yes, that was his Golden State team in the playoffs.
Tyreke Evans' absence at the festivities was more than a little intriguing. He was scheduled to make an appearance, and surprisingly, was a late cancellation. Something about having to meet with his agent, Arn Tellem, while the festivites were ongoing? Very curious, to say the least. Tyreke, who is one of the most amiable, accommodating players in the league, shows up for everything - fan festivals, rallies in the park, autograph signings. Assuming he stays with the Kings (he is a restricted free agent), I would rather see him replace John Salmons at small forward than be thrust back into his point guard role.
Finally, after catching up on replays of ESPN's draft telecast and my longtime colleagues on the NBA.TV post-draft show, I have one question: What happened to Jay Bilas, one of the most knowledgeable, insightful analysts in the business? He was on the ESPN set, but with four people offering opinions and observations, he wasn't able to be nearly enough of a presence. Please, bring him back.