Rose stands out in this crowd
SI.com caught up with Sports Illustrated senior writer Jack McCallum to discuss the highlights from Thursday's draft.
SI.com: Are these combo guards like O.J. Mayo, Russell Westbrook and Jerryd Bayless who say they are ready to play point guard in the NBA kidding themselves?
McCallum: Yes. Take a team like the Lakers, for instance. Sasha Vujacic insists he is a point guard and the Lakers keep insisting he is not, but it almost doesn't matter because he's playing with Kobe Bryant, who does everything. These guys who were just drafted aren't going to have that luxury. If they're going to play point guard on a regular basis, the learning curve will be steep. That's why a guy like Derrick Rose, a player with extreme athleticism yet who is clearly a quarterback, is one of the clearest No. 1 picks of the last decade. You know what you're going to get from him in terms of being able to run a team. You can't say the same thing about these other players.
SI.com: What did you make of Bulls general manager John Paxson's comments about Rose?
Essentially Paxson was saying that they wouldn't throw Rose to the wolves right away. Many of us were assuming that they would give Rose the ball and say, "Lead us out of the forest." But we should remember that doesn't usually happen with rookie point guards (though Rose, a guy I like more than any other player in a long time, could be an exception to that).
SI.com: There was a lot of speculation about the possibility that Pat Riley would try to leverage the No. 2 pick into a package of players. In the end, the Heat went with Michael Beasley, and Riley says they will keep him. Are you surprised?
McCallum: Yes, a little bit. Judging from Riley's comments after the Heat made the pick, it sounded like he bowed to his staff's assessment of Beasley's incredible potential. But knowing Riley as I do, he will be the one to explain to Beasley in no uncertain terms that he is a member of the Miami Heat, not a citizen of South Beach.
I know the Heat now have Dwyane Wade, Shawn Marion and Beasley, but those guys still need someone to get them the ball. I'm sure that becomes the priority for them moving forward.
SI.com: Who was the most overlooked player in the top 10?
Joe Alexander, the Bucks' pick at No. 8. Athleticism doesn't necessarily spell success, but I think Alexander will be a really good player. His upside seems "upper" than that of Danilo Gallinari, who was drafted two spots ahead of him.
SI.com: What is your assessment of the Knicks' decision to draft Gallinari, whose father played with Mike D'Antoni in Italy?
McCallum: I was a little surprised since it does leave them open to criticism that D'Antoni may have been influenced by that prior relationship. I don't think he was, but in a town where every move is under the microscope, it was a little bit of a surprise, especially since guards Eric Gordon, D.J. Augustin and Bayless were all still on the board.
SI.com: What player in the top 10 would you have some doubt about?
McCallum: Russell Westbrook, at No. 4 to Seattle, seems pretty high for a defensive-oriented, smaller player. This is not to say Westbrook won't be a good player, but those type of guys generally have a hard time making an impact.
SI.com: Besides so many freshmen being drafted in the first round, what does this draft tell you about how the game has changed since the first drafts you covered in the mid-1980s?
McCallum: It struck me how if this would've been 20 years ago, Georgetown's Roy Hibbert would've been a lock as a top five player. He's 7-foot-2, a classic back-to-basket player, he stayed four years in college, he played in a strong conference, he's a good player. But now it's become such a swingman/combo-guard game that no one is even surprised that Hibbert didn't get selected until the 17th pick.
SI.com: The Nets had a very busy day, trading Richard Jefferson for Yi Jianlian and later adding center Brook Lopez and forward Ryan Anderson. What are your impressions of their moves?
McCallum: They're obviously a team in transition, but what this really shows is how the idea of long-term teams in the NBA just doesn't work out. The Nets went to back-to-back NBA Finals in 2002-03, and those teams featured Jason Kidd, Kenyon Martin and Richard Jefferson. Now all three of those players are gone and probably not even mourned.
SI.com: In unloading Jefferson, who will be paid $15 million in 2010-11, are the Nets trying to set themselves up for a run at LeBron James in the summer of 2010?
McCallum: Beyonce probably knows that answer better than I do. But my feeling is a resounding yes.