Revisiting the 2006 NBA Draft class

Tyrus Thomas

On the heels of what many are labeling the greatest first round NBA series of all-time, there’s already been a lot of talk about how good the recently exited Chicago Bulls can be next year. And with good reason: Derrick Rose is already on his way to becoming one of the game’s best point guards, Ben Gordon (despite the fact that he plays worse defense than the 2008 Detroit Lions) is a lights-out scorer, and Joakim Noah can do it all from a defensive and rebounding perspective.

But perhaps the most intriguing player in this year’s Celtics-Bulls classis series was Tyrus Thomas. His play was a bit of a revelation in the series, as he consistently knocked down the 18-foot jump shot NBA 4s need to make, and his athleticism continues to be off the charts. He’s got the potential to be an all-star.

There is a saying in the NFL that it takes three years to truly evaluate a draft class, and to a lesser extent this is true in the NBA as well. Since Thomas and Boston’s stud PG Rajon Rondo are both from the 2006 NBA Draft class, how about we take a look at who the top 10 picks were, and who the revised top 5 should be?

2006 Draft (the actual top 10)

1. Andrea Bargnani, Toronto Raptors

2. LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland Trail Blazers

3. Adam Morrison, Charlotte Bobcats

4. Tyrus Thomas, Chicago Bulls

5. Shelden Williams, Atlanta Hawks

6. Brandon Roy, Portland Trail Blazers

7. Randy Foye, Minnesota Timberwolves

8. Rudy Gay, Memphis Grizzlies

9. Patrick O’Bryant, Golden State Warriors

10. Saer Sene, Seattle SuperSonics

2006 Draft (the should-have-been top 5)

1. Brandon Roy

2. Rajon Rondo

3. LaMarcus Aldridge

4. Rudy Gay

5. Tyrus Thomas

The ’06 class has hardly set the world on fire in its first three years, with its only redeeming value being that they’ve featured second-round gems like Utah’s Paul Millsap, Cleveland’s Daniel Gibson and Boston’s Leon Powe. But in terms of potential star power, don’t stick a fork in 2006 yet – all 5 of my revised top picks could end up as all-stars.

If the teams could do it over, who do you think they’d take?

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The NBA’s 68 worst contracts

The economy is really starting to take its toll on professional sports, and the NBA is no different. Bad contracts are bad even when the economy is pumping, but they really stand out in tough times like these. So I decided to look through the payrolls team-by-team to try to identify the worst contracts in the NBA. I expected to list 15-20 names, but I ended up scribbling down 68. That’s right, there are no fewer than 68 bad contracts in the NBA.

I didn’t include any of the players that are in the final year of their contracts because…well, what’s the point? They’ll be off the books in a few months anyway. Instead, I wanted to focus on those contracts that are going to haunt teams for years to come, so to be eligible, players have to have at least a year left on their current deals.

It’s tough to compare someone making superstar money to an average, everyday role player, so I split these 68 contracts up into three groups: the Overpaid Role Players, the Not-So-Super Stars and the Injury-Prones. I will rank them from least-worst to most-worst with the thinking that I wouldn’t trade the player for anyone further down the list but I would trade him for anyone previously mentioned. So, for example, if a guy is listed #7 within a particular group, I’m not trading him for anyone ranked #6-#1, but I would think seriously about moving him for a guy that is ranked #8+.

So let’s start with the role players and go from there…

(Note: In most cases, I don’t blame the player himself for his outrageous contract. The fault lies with the general manager that inked the guy to the deal. However, this rule goes out the window if the player has a history of only producing in his contract year – I’m looking at you, Tim Thomas.)

Read the rest after the jump...

2008 NBA Preview: #14 Cleveland Cavaliers

Offseason Movement: The Cavs swung a good deal by trading Damon Jones and Joe Smith (to the Bucks and Thunder, respectively) for Mo Williams, a dynamic scoring point guard who can also pass the ball (17.2 ppg, 6.3 apg). It’s not clear just how much he’ll get to handle the ball, but the Cavs would be wise to let him take some of the offensive load off of LeBron. Williams was basically a salary dump by the Bucks, who just signed him to a long deal in the summer of 2007, so the Cavs are rolling the dice that he’s worth the dough.
Keep Your Eye On: LeBron’s mood
We’re still two years away, but the time is drawing near. LeBron can opt out of his contract in the summer of 2010, which gives the Cavs two years to make some serious progress. It’s possible that he’ll make his decision after this season, and barring a huge season for the Cavs in 2009-10, he may bolt for Brooklyn or some other destination. The Cavs would like the media to stop talking about this possibility, but the ticking clock is only going to get louder and louder.
The Big Question: Is this team good enough to make a run?
I like the Mo Williams trade, but there’s no guarantee that he and LeBron will jive. The Cavs have a nice yet unexciting roster. Delonte West and Daniel Gibson bring some backcourt punch off the bench, Wally Szczerbiak may or may not have anything left in the tank and Ben Wallace and Zydrunas Ilgauskas make for an aging (and slow) frontcourt. Chemistry will be key.
Outlook: Barring an injury to LeBron, the Cavs will make the playoffs, but how deep will they go? With the Celtics still the cream of the crop in the East, with Philly adding Elton Brand, with Toronto adding Jermaine O’Neal, with the Heat adding Shawn Marion and Michael Beasley, it’s not going to be a cakewalk. I don’t know what it’s like in Cleveland, but from afar, I just get this overwhelming feeling of dread surrounding LeBron’s future. Another Finals appearance might be the only thing that can quiet the pessimists.

Delonte West signs with Cavs

The trade for Mo Williams might have meant the end for Delonte West’s tenure in Cleveland. On Friday, the Cavs made sure that didn’t happen.

Guard Delonte West signed a multiyear deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday, ending concerns the restricted free agent would hold out at training camp.

General Manager Danny Ferry didn’t disclose terms of the deal Friday.

The 25-year-old West will compete for time with Mo Williams, the former Milwaukee guard who was Cleveland’s major offseason acquisition, and Daniel Gibson, another Cleveland restricted free agent who signed back with the team.

I think the idea is for Williams, West and Gibson to play in a three-guard rotation in Cleveland’s backcourt. All three players are capable of playing both point and off guard, so they could make for a potent rotation.

It’s interesting that the Cavs elected not to disclose the terms of the deal. I think there should be a rule that teams have to report the length and value of the contract when they announce the signing.

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