3 to Tango: Teams whose picks will help them push for the playoffs

3 to Tango: Teams whose picks will help them push for the playoffs
Jun 22, 2005, 08:52 pm
by Eric Weiss

By now most of you avid NBA fanatics are quite familiar with all the potential draft picks coming out this year. Even if you’ve never seen them play, the dedicated crew here at DraftExpress has analyzed and dissected every potential draftee down to the finest point. But, now that the players are in place and the board is set you may be asking yourself how a particular player may fit into the rotation your team will put on the floor next season. We are going to attempt to do just that.

Charlotte Bobcats

Depth Chart: How the Team Stacks Up

Our first team up for analysis is Charlotte. Let’s take a look at the current roster and see just how that 5th and 13th pick will best serve David Stern’s newest member of the NBA family.

C- Primoz Brezec/Melvin Ely
PF-Emeka Okafor/Malik Allen
SF-Gerald Wallace/Jason Kapono
SG- Keith Bogans/Kareem Rush
PG-Brevin Knight/Jason Hart

Charlotte’s frontcourt is probably its greatest strength, in no small part thanks to the presence of Emeka Okafor. The 2nd year big man is a force on both ends of the court. Already known as a defensive wizard back in Connecticut, Okafor showed a surprising offensive arsenal when he arrived to the show and by mid season was putting up 20/10 games with regularity.

Primoz Brezec was also a nice surprise as the 2 years spent sitting on Indiana’s bench obviously paid dividends. Brezec has a nice face-up game that really opens up the interior for Okafor to attack the basket. A solid rebounder and smart decision maker, Brezec corrals just about every rebound that Okafor doesn’t get his hands on. Together they make a terrific tandem.

Gerald Wallace, Keith Bogans, and Brevin Knight make up the rest of the Bobcats starting rotation. Wallace is a super-athletic slashing forward who’s stellar defense and ability to finish more than make up for his shaky jump-shot.

Bogans and Knight are also solid players, though the limitations in their game often leave the Bobcats short when it matters most. Neither player is a particularly reliable threat from the perimeter. While Bogans can catch, fire and knock jumpers down with a fury, too often his shot will leave him and his team in the lurch. Knight has no jumper at all. In fact, it’s a credit to his court vision that he was able to finish second in the league in assists when no defender had to respect his shot whatsoever.

These are the two positions that must be improved if Charlotte is to make significant progress in their quest to reach the playoffs.

…and with the 5th pick in the 2005 NBA draft…

First and foremost Charlotte needs a point guard to run the show. Fortunately for them this year’s class is rife with highly talented point guards who should all be long time NBA players. What the draft is short on this year is shooting guards, which is surprising because that’s a position that typically is considered “dime a dozen”.

If we decide to forget about free agent speculation and focus solely on the draft, it then becomes necessary for Charlotte to grab an off-guard with their first pick. Depending on whether or not the Trailblazers decide to trade their pick, Gerald Green could end up being available at #5 if a team moving into the third spot takes Chris Paul and Deron Williams goes fourth as expected. Green is considered to be the best high school prospect and has been compared to Tracy McGrady by some observers.


While that comparison may be questionable, there is no question that Green is a tremendous athlete who brings a solid skill-set to the table. Green is gifted on both ends of the court and could form a very nice defensive combo with swing-mate Gerald Wallace. In fact, Green’s athleticism reminds me very much of Wallace and will certainly provide for many high-flying high jinks that are sure to pump up both his teammates and the Charlotte faithful.

Green’s greatest contribution offensively will be his deadly jumper. With teams focusing so much attention on Okafor down on the box, Green should be able to wreak havoc on opponents by sliding around the perimeter and waiting for the kick out. His defender will be forced to respect Green’s shot and this should allow him to ball fake his way into the lane, at that point his options will be innumerable as the opposing defenders will be completely out of position.

While his strength must improve, Green should be able to get playing time right away because he brings more to the shooting guard position than anyone currently on the Bobcats team. Look for 15-20 minutes per game out of him early in the season with an expanding role as he gets more comfortable on the court. I’d say his progress will be very similar to that of JR Smith from last year, definitely ready to contribute right off the bat.

…and with the 13th pick in the 2005 NBA draft…

This is an enviable position to be in for the Bobcats. Thanks to some shrewd front office maneuvering, the Bobcats were able to snag Cleveland’s first round pick and will have the ability to fill another team need.

As currently projected Charlotte should be looking at Jarrett Jack. While the “ramblin’ wreck” may not be as flashy as Raymond Felton or Chris Paul, he is by far the largest, strongest and most authoritative point guard of this draft. For some reason he reminds me very much of a young Mark Jackson, always with his head up and ever aware of the situation on the court. Jack is a much better shooter than Jackson was at this stage in their careers, thanks to a tireless work-ethic, and will provide a very solid perimeter shooting option when the ball swings around to him.


Offense shouldn’t be a priority for Jack on this Bobcats team either. With Okafor, Green, Brezec and Wallace all on the court with him at any given time Jack should fit in nicely as the fifth option where he can focus mainly on his role as facilitator and true “pass-first” floor general, a role he’s ideally suited for, as opposed to the one he was forced into at Georgia Tech.

Jack’s greatest impact will be on the defensive end. The Bobcats are projecting to be an extremely solid defensive team, maybe even a top 10 club. Okafor is as good an intimidator as there is and both he and Brezec will control the glass and hit the outlet man without hesitation. The “brother’s Gerald”, Green and Wallace, are both plus perimeter defenders with shot-blocking and steal capability as well as solid rebounding instincts.

As the head of this attack, Jack should be able to bump, shove, knee, and flat-out intimidate his man from three-quarter court all the way into the half-court set. With the type of strength and pressure Jack exerts on the ball handler there will be significantly less time on the shot clock for the opposing team to get into its offensive sets. With the two Gerald’s guarding their men closely and the ominous presence of Okafor lurking under the basket no one will look forward to facing this team.

Jack should be the starter from day one. I can’t imagine either Knight or Hart beating him out in training camp. After carrying a talent-weak Georgia Tech squad for the better part of the last three years Jack should feel like a kid in a candy store with the options he has now. Jack is ideally suited for playing on a team with a dominant big man as he won’t be asked to create offense for himself off the dribble and will be able to focus on setting the table. I’d look for 30 minutes per game out of Jack within a month of the season’s beginning.

Golden State Warriors

Golden State is an intriguing team to look at for this upcoming year. After languishing in complete failure as an organization for the last ten years, the team is finally showing signs of life. With a solid young nucleus and the addition of point guard Baron Davis, the Warriors could be looking at a playoff birth come next season. The prospect of team success makes this years 9th pick of particular importance because he will be expected to contribute to the rebirth of the franchise right off the bat.

Depth Chart: How the Team Stacks Up

The current Warriors lineup is pretty potent, rivaling Phoenix in terms of scoring over the last few weeks of the season. The team runs an up-tempo style and distributes the ball fairly evenly to all five players on the court. Let’s see the breakdown.

C-Andris Biedrins/ Adonal Foyle
PF-Troy Murphy/Zarko Cabarkapa
SF- Mickael Pietrus /Rodney White
SG-Jason Richardson/ Mikeal Pietrus
PG-Baron Davis/Derek Fisher

The Warriors boast an extremely potent backcourt. Jason Richardson and Baron Davis are both All-Star caliber players in the prime of their careers, complete in almost every facet of the game. Mickael Pietrus is almost a Richardson clone, the Frenchmen continues to impress as he learns the pro game.

Golden State has been underwhelmed by the contributions of Mike Dunleavy and for the sake of this article I’m going to assume that they’d prefer to keep Rodney White for short money than continue to use Dunleavy as their starting small forward. Moving Dunleavy will help them acquire more veteran talent, most likely in the frontcourt, and allows Pietrus to start alongside Richardson and Davis.

Troy Murphy is an excellent rebounding power forward, one of the best in the league in that category, and his unorthadox outside/inside game makes him a difficult matchup for most teams. That is if he can stay healthy.

Finally, Andris Biedrins is an impressive looking young center out of Europe. The young Latvian is a true back to the basket post bruiser atypical of most European bigs. Biedrins will only be 19 at the start of next season, but his minutes should equal those of a “starter” as his skill set is far superior to incumbent Adonal Foyle, who should not be difficult to supplant.

…and with the 9th pick in the 2005 NBA draft…

There are a number of ways the Warriors could go with this pick, including Hakim Warrick, who has told anyone who’d listen that Golden State will be his future home. However, Danny Granger, if he’s available, makes the most sense at this spot, ironically, due to the similarities in him and Mike Dunleavy’s game. Granger is an extremely versatile forward, capable of playing both the 3 and 4 position depending on the match up.


Because of the up-tempo style the Warriors want to play Granger should be able to slide right into the rotation with little difficulty. He would essentially replace everything Dunleavy brings to the court minus the negativity. While this seams a bit foolish at first glance, the fact of the matter is that the pressure to produce has affected Dunleavy’s confidence level. Because of this, Dunleavy has a tendency to disappear for long stretches and his aggressiveness has never been at the level it needs to be for a starting forward on a playoff team.

Granger has an almost identical game to Dunleavy’s, but he comes in with a clean slate and without the expectations of being a team savior. Granger may even be able to start in place of Dunleavy as Pietrus’ streaky scoring ability make him an ideal sixth man option off the bench, think Tony Allen and Ricky Davis of the Celtics last year.

Although the Warriors have a few holes to fill in their rotation the team has a stellar starting five and should be very competitive no matter who they acquire. While the frontcourt could use a veteran to push Foyle further down the bench the team is pretty high on Cabarkapa’s potential and rightfully so as he can play three positions for spot minutes.

Trading Dunleavy should also help the team acquire more veteran depth considering the fourth year forward has shown enough flashes in his game to warrant some team’s attention. While Dunleavy still has a lot of upside and has improved every season in the league his production to date relative to the lofty slot he was drafted in, 3rd overall, have taken him out of favor with the home crowd and put the pressure on the Warriors to make a decision on his future.

Danny Granger has no such pressure, as the fifth option on offense Granger can focus on moving without the ball and making plays. I’d expect him to garner over 20 minutes per game this season and put up solid numbers across the board.

New Jersey Nets

New Jersey is a team that is in a similar position to Golden State going into this season. While the soon-to-be “Brooklyn Nets” are not as deep as their west coast counterpart, they are equally as talented in the backcourt and swing positions and look to be a strong contender for a playoff birth next season. To say that Vince Carter has single-handedly brought respectability back to this franchise is incorrect, as Jason Kidd and Richard Jefferson are star caliber players. But, Carter has certainly energized the modest fan-base of the Nets and whoever they take with the 15th pick will only help this team to re-establish its recent dominance.

Depth Chart: How the Team Stacks Up

C-Nenad Krstic/Jason Collins
PF-Brian Scalabrine/Cliff Robinson
SF-Richard Jefferson/Ron Mercer
SG-Vince Carter/Billy Thomas
PG-Jason Kidd/Zoran Planinic

I told you they had depth issues. While the three-headed monster of Kidd, Jefferson, and Carter may be the best trio in all of professional basketball, the rest of the roster is sparse at best. Ron Mercer and Cliff Robinson represent the core of the veteran bench rotation. “Uncle Cliffy” has had a tremendous career, but he’s 39 and isn’t long for the league. Ron Mercer may have found a home at last on this Nets team and could get solid minutes backing up the 2 and the 3, but he has yet to recapture the promise he showed early in his career with the Boston Celtics.

Both Zoran Planinic and Nenad Krstic have promising futures in the league, especially Kristic. Although no match for Shaq (but who really is), Krstic had a phenomenal playoff series against the Heat and should make an excellent low-post option for New Jersey during the few moments they find themselves in the half court set. Krstic also possesses a solid mid-range jumper to go along with his post game and has the type of hands that will make Kidd’s life much easier in the coming years.

Planinic is billed as a solid combo guard with good size and a heady passing game. Though he didn’t break out in the same manner as Krstic, but playing behind Jason Kidd will hopefully pay dividends down the line.

Then there is the man known simply as “Veal”. What more can I say. When “Veal” is your starting power forward you know you’re in trouble. Although Brian Scalabrine has some qualities that should keep him in the rotation, it is obvious that the Nets will use their pick to acquire a starting power forward.

...and with the 15th pick in the 2005 NBA draft…

There are some options at this spot for New Jersey. Charlie Villanueva, Chris Taft, and Hakim Warrick all have the type of superior athleticism that would remind the Nets faithful of dunk machine Kenyon Martin. While all these players may be available with the 15th pick, it might serve New Jersey well to leave the behind the ghosts of players past and take a player with a more diversified skill set. DraftExpress feels that Arizona State dynamo Ike Diogu is the player that best serves New Jersey’s power forward needs.


The biggest knock on Diogu has been his size, but at 6’8” and 255lbs with long arms and a nose for rebounding, Diogu could easily be mistaken for Elton Brand. Diogu has excellent timing for block shots, especially on the weak-side and has the type of long standing reach that should more than make up for the inch or two he lacks to be considered prototypical for the 4 spot.

While not the freak athlete that Kenyon Martin was, Diogu still has considerable athleticism. His balance and coordination are superior and should help to find Ike on the receiving end of many a Kidd alley-oop. But, Diogu has much more to offer than that. Diogu’s post game is quite polished as he can drop a fall-away jumper on his opponent as easily as he can over power him for the jam.

With New Jersey’s superior perimeter scoring attack and Kidd’s phenomenal sense for finding the open man, Diogu should find himself alone on the block many times. His ability to move well without the ball and find open teammates make Diogu an ideal fit for the Nets’ offensive system.

With no one in the rotation possibly able to compete with what he brings to the court, I expect Diogu to start straight out of camp and give a strong challenge for Rookie of the Year. Even as the fourth or fifth option Diogu should score plenty of points and New Jersey’s fast paced perimeter attack will generate tons of rebounding opportunities, which is probably the kid’s greatest attribute.

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