Tuesday, June 28, 2005

NBA Draft

I don't know about the rest of you, but for me the NBA Draft has flown under the radar this year. That may be due to the fact that for the first time in years, my beloved Bulls are not in the draft lottery. In fact, they are not in the draft at all as their first and second round picks were traded to other teams in past deals. Thanks to the Bulls making the playoffs this year, they would have had a relatively low draft pick. They gave that up to get the #7 pick last year, which turned into Luol Deng. I would call that a good trade so kudos to GM John Paxson for pulling that off.

But enough about the Bulls. Our focus today is on where our beloved Illini players will go in tonight's draft. We have touched on this briefly over the past few weeks but things are constantly changing so here is the latest. As of this afternoon, it looks like Deron Williams will be going #3 to the Utah Jazz and will take aim at all of John Stockton's many records. It is possible Atlanta could take him at #2, but I don't think they will pass up Marvin Williams and his (the dreaded word) "potential."

While I would prefer to see Deron go to a team in the Eastern Conference so we could see him play more, I think Utah and Jerry Sloan could be a very good fit for him. He is a Sloan type of player. There is some debate as to whether Deron or Chris Paul should be the first point guard drafted (with Raymond Felton the 3rd PG) but after having watched them both play this year, I would take Deron hands down (granted, I have a little Illini bias but I think Deron will be the better pro. He may not be as big a scorer as Paul but he will make all of his teammates better, which I am not convinced Paul can do).

As for Luther, the mock draft in the Tribune has him going to the Houston Rockets at #24 as does Sports Illustrated's mock draft. However, some of the other mock drafts do not have him going in the first round at all so it looks like Houston may be his best chance to be a first round pick. As for Roger and Jack, it looks like the second round or being signed as free agents is the route they will go, which is not unexpected.

All in all, tonight could be a very good evening for these Illini players. In addition, the higher they go, the better it is for the program as one of the things potential recruits will look at when choosing a school is whether that school has been successful in helping its players to reach the NBA and succeed there. Illinitalk wishes the best of luck to Deron, Luther, Roger, and Jack and we hope that all of you end up with teams that will be a good fit for your talents. Go Illini!

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