Posted: Thursday June 29, 2006 1:20PM; Updated: Friday June 30, 2006 10:58AM
Shane Battier will help the Rockets' defense, but he won't offer much to ease Houston's scoring struggles.
They didn't go for the home run. They didn't take on bad contracts or dump steady veterans just to move up. The Bobcats just stood pat and stuck with the man they've rumored to have lusted over since February. Third pick Adam Morrison won't be dropping 25 a game this fall, but Charlotte is desperate for shooters, and someone to put that locker room on edge. Morrison comes straight out of central casting.
University of Connecticut
Four Huskies were taken in the first round (that's seven first-rounders taken from UConn since '04), though this year's crop isn't much to get excited about. Marcus Williams will shine as Jason Kidd's backup in New Jersey, and Rudy Gay will eventually find his way -- but Williams had to wait until the 22nd pick for his name to be called, and Gay had to endure a borderline excoriation by the ESPN talking heads in the minutes leading up to his selection.
Hilton Armstrong was selected 12th overall by the center-starved Hornets, but pivotmen (be they projects or four-year collegians) selected in the latter stages of the lottery rarely turn out well. And Josh Boone is quite the reach with the 23rd (New Jersey) pick.
Still, it's a credit to Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun that he was able to recruit, develop and ease these players into the life of a guaranteed bread-winner in the NBA.
Shane Battier is one of the best defenders, if not the best wing defender, in all of pro hoops. He makes the extra pass, scores all around the court and does whatever it takes to put his team over the top. Battier was a member of four dominant Duke squads and -- save for two frustrating seasons at the outset of his NBA career -- three playoff campaigns as a member of the Memphis Grizzlies. On the other side of the coin, Gay can score a little bit and owns a really shiny watch. And that's about it. So why am I so down on the trade that sent Gay to Memphis for Battier?
We're hoping the Rockets prove us wrong, but it's hard to see how Battier and Tracy McGrady can co-exist. Battier didn't play a single minute at shooting guard last season, and though McGrady would seem ripe for a position change, rarely in his post-Toronto career have we seen him continually take advantage of his height and back down shorter defenders in the post. He'll try it for stretches, usually with good results, but he'll jump back to wandering around the perimeter after a while. As he did in Toronto, McGrady would seem like a natural offensive rebounding machine at off guard, but I can't picture him bounding about the baseline with that achy back.