Time to come clean: When the boss suggested a Ten for Tuesday on the knuckleheads who emerge at this time every year -- when underclassmen declare (or not) for the NBA Draft -- I was afraid:
What if there weren't enough knuckleheads?
|Really, Daequan Cook? You think you're ready for the NBA? Really? (Getty Images)|
1. Daequan Cook, Ohio State: Addition by subtraction, meet Daequan Cook. This guy -- what a piece of, um, work. Cook isn't ready for the NBA, but he's tired of being kept down by OSU coach Thad Matta, who had the audacity to take away Cook's minutes as Cook slumped as a shooter -- the only thing Cook does well. Cook sulked, his mother complained, and now Cook is showing the world how talented he is by joining freshman teammates Greg Oden and Mike Conley Jr. in the draft. Difference is, Oden and Conley will be drafted in the first round. Cook? Get your passport, baby. Because if I'm Thad Matta, I'm doing to Cook what former North Carolina State coach Herb Sendek once did to draft-testing program cancer Damien Wilkins and Wilkins' malignant father: saying goodbye.
2. Josh McRoberts, Duke: Before McRoberts it was Shavlik Randolph. Before Randolph it was Chris Burgess. Before Burgess it was Taymon Domzalski. Big men go to Duke with big names, and with some exceptions -- but not you, Casey Sanders or Eric Boateng or Michael Thompson -- they leave with diminished reputations. Such is the case with McRoberts, who was a definite lottery pick after high school and a possible lottery pick after last season but now is projected to go later in the first round. So why come out now, after his sophomore season? Because with another year at Duke, McRoberts would be a second-rounder. Imagine if he stayed through his senior year. He'd go undrafted, then get cut by some team in Korea.
3. Marcus Williams, Arizona: I've never drunk from the Marcus Williams-flavored Kool-Aid, and I'm not about to start now. ESPN.com draft expert Chad Ford compares Williams to longtime NBA wing Steve Smith, which is an insult to Smith. Williams is no Smith. Williams is a skinny Tayshaun Prince knockoff minus three inches of height, 20 percentage points of 3-point accuracy and the entire winning attitude. If Williams is in a hurry to get to the NBDL, good. Maybe Arizona will be good again now that he's gone.
4. Arron Afflalo, UCLA: He'll go down as one of the better players to come out of UCLA, but his legacy would have gone through the roof had he returned for his senior year, reached the 2,000-point plateau and led the Bruins -- who will be awesome again with freshman center Kevin Love -- to the national title. Instead, Afflalo is rushing off to the NBA, where he won't play a lot, won't score a lot, won't be thought of a lot. At UCLA, which returns Darren Collison and Josh Shipp at guard, he won't be missed a lot.
5. Sean Williams, parts unknown: Captain of the All-Knucklehead team, Williams was kicked off the Boston College team this past season for being the ACC's version of Pacman Jones. Rather than transfer to a Division II or NAIA school for his senior season, rehabilitate his image and work on his still unrefined game, Williams has declared for the draft. He might be picked in the first round because the NBA loves a good shot-blocker, but he'll be out of the league within three years. As should the general manager who drafts him.
6. Gabriel Pruitt, USC: He's a tall (6-foot-4), good college point guard, which will earn him a spot at the end of some NBA team's bench. If Pruitt stays in the draft, I'll read into it that he doesn't want to play with incoming USC freshman O.J. Mayo, who will absolutely dominate the ball. But Mayo's arrival could be a good thing for Pruitt, who needs to improve his shooting -- 41.6 percent from the floor as a junior, 35 percent on 3-pointers -- and scoring (12.5 ppg) before hitting the NBA. Mayo can't shoot it every time, can he? Oh, you're right. He can, and he will. The selfish pig. Go to the NBA, Gabe. It's not like you'd touch the ball next season.
7. Thaddeus Young, Georgia Tech: He was a disappointment this season, when he averaged 14.4 points, 4.9 rebounds and two assists. Think about that: an ACC freshman putting up those numbers and being a disappointment. But he was. Young wasn't as good as advertised, a memo that apparently didn't reach his (father's) desk, because now Young is entering the draft after a freshman season that did more to hurt his stock than help it. Had he been eligible to enter the draft out of high school, Young would have been a 2006 lottery lock. Now? Maybe lottery, maybe not. Either way, his 'tweener game needs work before it's ready for meaningful NBA minutes.
8. Aaron Bruce, Baylor: I'm thinking this is a joke. Bruce was brilliant as a freshman, but doing his best Brett Nelson impersonation, it has been all downhill to his junior season. Maybe Bruce is entering the draft to find out what he has to work on (pssst ... it's your streaky shooting and lack of athletic ability). Maybe he's going to turn pro in his native Australia. Or maybe he was just hoping to land here, in Ten For Tuesday, where it's an honor until you read what I actually think about you.
9. JamesOn Curry, Oklahoma State: Most players, maybe 99 out of 100, don't owe their college team or coach a damn thing. If they think they're ready for the NBA, they can go without looking back. Not Curry. He's that 1-in-100 long shot. Curry owes OSU, and he owes Sean Sutton. Three years ago Curry was radioactive after pleading guilty to six felony marijuana counts. North Carolina pulled his scholarship. Most schools wouldn't touch him. Oklahoma State and the Suttons -- Sean and Eddie -- risked their reputation on Curry, and Curry has repaid them by staying out of trouble and playing well. But he has not repaid them in full, and won't unless he stays all four years. (If it matters, Curry is a second-round pick at best, so what's his hurry anyway?)
10. Brook Lopez, Stanford: What was this guy thinking? Lopez might have gone No. 3 overall (after Oden and Kevin Durant) had he entered the draft, but he'll return to Stanford for another year with his twin brother. Don't give me any spiel about education, unless you want me to throw that spiel back in your face when Lopez turns pro after next season, a long way from a Stanford degree. His stock can't get much higher than it is now, especially with a deep crop of stud freshmen expected to turn pro in 2008. Lopez's return is good news for Stanford, but I'm not sure it's good news for Brook Lopez.