Posted: Thursday June 29, 2006 1:20PM; Updated: Friday June 30, 2006 10:58AM
He may have come via an unnecessary trade, but LaMarcus Aldridge should help form a promising nucleus in Portland.
True to its buildup, the 2006 NBA Draft was a bit of a mess from start to finish, full of nutty trades and odd televised asides spoken by both young and old. Out of the chaos, as always, come Champs and Chumps.
Portland Trail Blazers
It was a busy and fruitful night for the NBA's worst team. No, the Blazers probably didn't have to trade up for LaMarcus Aldridge, especially when the Chicago Bulls seemed to be looking for every excuse not to draft him with the second pick. But you can't blame the Trail Blazers for making sure they got their guy. It cost them a few extra million, and sometimes-productive defensive forward Viktor Khryapa, but Aldridge should provide an interior presence for years to come.
They coupled this move with dumping Sebastian Telfair and Theo Ratliff on the Boston Celtics and eventually coming home with Washington off guard Brandon Roy, one-time Blazer Dan Dickau and veteran big man Raef LaFrentz. LaFrentz's horrendous contract runs a year longer than Ratliff's horrendous contract, but outside of surgery-scarred seasons in 2004 and 1999, LaFrentz has missed an average of four games a year. The 33-year-old Ratliff has played only 118 games over the last two seasons. Roy was the odds-on pick for '06-07 Rookie of the Year, no matter who selected him, and he'll fit in quite nicely with Portland's young backcourt. Flashy point guard Sergio Rodriguez (selected with the 31st pick) can only help a team struggling to fill seats.
The Bulls picked up two all-around athletes who will only add to the team's already-stifling defense: Tyrus Thomas and Thabo Sefolosha. Bulls fans have long been looking for what they call a MTGWCDaS" (Mythical Two Guard Who Can Defend and Shoot), and while Thabo may not have his stroke down pat yet, the defensive acumen is there. And Thomas is a shot-blocking machine. Not a bad pair for a team coming off two consecutive playoff appearances, including a '06 showing that saw the Bulls hold their own at times with the eventual champions from Miami.