Victor Oladipo, Otto Porter, Cody Zeller and Alex Len all came off the board before Noel.
It wasn’t until the sixth pick that Noel was picked, going to the New Orleans Pelicans where it was assumed he would form a wicked shot-blocking duo with another former Kentucky Wildcat, second-year forward Anthony Davis, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 Draft. He even bragged about the block party he and Davis would throw in the Big Easy.
That was minutes before word spread that the Pelicans were moving Noel to Philadelphia for All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday and a first-round pick in the 2014 Draft (a trade that has not yet been confirmed).
The deal makes sense for Pelicans, who have no need for two slender power forwards who will not be able to hold down the middle as undersized centers. Noel’s drop came out of nowhere and no doubt had to do with concerns about the knee he’s rehabbing, the one that cost him most of his lone season at Kentucky.
But as we’ve seen many times before, once a player projected to go high in the Draft starts dropping, other teams start running away from that player for fear of something they’ve missed in their own vetting process.
This has been easily the craziest top 10 of a NBA Draft in recent memory, complete with the No. 7 pick being Ben McLemore, a player once thought to be a candidate for the No. 1 overall pick, and No. 8 pick Kentavious Caldwell-Pope joining Bennett in crashing the top of the lottery on Draft night after being further down the list on most mock drafts heading into the night.
The craziness at the top makes things much more interesting for the rest of the first round, since someone who was projected to go higher will no doubt drop into someone’s lap in the bottom half of the lottery and beyond.
Joerger, who has spent the past six seasons on the Grizzlies’ bench, will succeed his former boss, Lionel Hollins. Hollins compiled a 196-155 record after taking over for Marc Iavaroni midway through the 2008-09 season.
The 39-year-old Joerger emerged as a favorite for the position after Grizzlies management granted Hollins permission to seek other coaching opportunities. Before turning to their longtime assistant, the Grizzlies formally interviewed former Phoenix Suns head coach Alvin Gentry and Chicago Bulls assistant Ed Pinckney for the post, and also entertained the idea of bringing on high-profile names such as former Denver Nuggets head coach George Karl.
Prior to the 2010-11 season, Joerger was tasked by Hollins to oversee the Grizzlies’ defense, which was ranked 25th in efficiency in 2009-10. In the three seasons under Joerger’s direction, the defense has improved from ninth overall in 2010-11, to seventh in 2011-12, then ranked second in the NBA during the Grizzlies’ historic 2012-13 season.
Before arriving in Memphis, Joerger coached in the International Basketball Association, the Continental Basketball Association and the D-League, where he won five titles in seven seasons as a head coach.
The fact that the Grizzlies passed on several more high-profile names, most notably Karl, the reigning NBA Coach of the Year, says something about the confidence the front office has in Joerger’s potential.
He’s taking over a team that improved dramatically in each of the past five seasons. They reached the Western Conference finals this season, where they were swept by the San Antonio Spurs.
Hollins made it clear that he wanted to sign a new contract to continue coaching in Memphis, but a division between his style and philosophy and that of the analytics-focused front office did not mesh and Hollins was not offered a new deal.
Now we’ll see what Joerger, who is plenty familiar with the Grizzlies’ colorful roster, can do with this group that Hollins could not.
HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — NerlensNoel, all 206 pounds of him, might not be the franchise savior you had in mind with the No. 1 pick in the June NBA Draft.
But you aren’t the Cleveland Cavaliers, winners of the right to choose first in the Draft, courtesy of their lucky spin during Tuesday night’s Draft lottery. You better believe Noel, the Kentucky big man whose lone college season was cut short by a knee injury, will be the focus of some team’s Draft night plans next month. He’s been on the radar too long to get passed up in what is generally considered a lukewarm Draft class.
Noel is just one of several college stars — Ben McLemore, Otto Porter, Trey Burke … just to name a few, are some of the others — being talked about as top picks in this Draft class. And who better to talk to about the lottery, these prospects and the history of the Draft itself on Episode 118 of The Hang Time Podcast than Ryan Blake, the Senior Director of NBA Scouting Operations and the son of the late and legendary Marty Blake, the father of modern-day NBA Draft process.
With a perspective that spans decades, Ryan Blake offers his analysis of not only this year’s Draft prospects, but also some of the more notable names in the history of the event, from immediate game changers like Magic Johnson and Larry Bird to Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant and the high school-to-the-pros revolutionaries to legendary Draft snub victims like Paul Pierce and Danny Granger on to the alpha (LeBron James) and omega (Darko Milicic) of modern Draft day decisions.
What would have happened if the Cavaliers had listened to all of the so-called pundits who suggested that an international prospect like Milicic has more “upside” than James, who was a media superstar and Sports Illustrated cover boy before his senior year of high school?
What would have happened if high school stars like Lewis Alcindor, Shaquille O’Neal, Chris Webber, Glenn Robinson and others had come up in an era where they had the option of bypassing college for the NBA?
We explore all that and so much more on Episode 118 of the Hang Time Podcast … which, of course, includes the latest installment of Rick Fox‘s season-long “Get Off My Lawn” rant!
Life is a lot better on Draft night than in free agency for the fellows selected second each June.
That point was driven home again Thursday with reports that Hasheem Thabeet and Michael Beasley are headed to new teams, yet again, as they seek traction to their sputtering NBA careers.
You would think that getting picked just one spot from the top would yield happiness and security for lads like them and others, but it often doesn’t work out that way.
Thabeet, the No. 2 pick in 2009, will join his fourth team in four seasons when his modest two-year deal with the Oklahoma City Thunder becomes official next week. Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman has the details on the move for the reigning Western Conference champs:
The addition of Thabeet all but guarantees veteran center Nazr Mohammed will not return to the Thunder. If not, that paves the way for third-year center Cole Aldrich to step into the primary backup role behind starter Kendrick Perkins. Thabeet is expected to be the third-string center.
Adding Thabeet also helps the Thunder preserve precious salary cap space, most of which will go toward paying its young players. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook already are locked into maximum-allowable contracts. Harden, Serge Ibaka and Eric Maynor are all now eligible for extensions to their rookie deals.
What the Thunder is doing in bringing in Thabeet, 25, is taking a flyer on a one-time promising prospect without paying him much and hoping he can develop into the player he once was capable of being. If he does, the Thunder gets a steal. If not, the team will not have lost anything. (more…)
HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – We waited all night on that blockbuster deal, only to walk away from another Draft night without any of the rumored mega deals taking place.
(Houston, we have a problem … and it includes that red and white No. 12 Dwight Howard jersey that won’t get worn this season)
That’s fine, we’re just hours away from the start of free agency. And the Draft class of 2012 offered up plenty of mild surprises (Dion Waiters to Cleveland with the fourth overall pick, Jared Sullinger and Perry Jones III lasting until near the end of the first round, etc.), as always.
Ah, the joy of the Draft night drama that was …
BERNARD JAMES, AMERICAN HERO!
It’s not often the 33rd pick in any draft absolutely steals the show from the other 59 guys selected. But Florida State’s Bernard James got the loudest roar from the crowd in Newark last night.
HANG TIME PLAYOFF HEADQUARTERS – Kentucky power forward Anthony Davis is going to be the first player to hear his named announced Thursday night in New York.
Beyond that tidy bit of information, there are no certainties involved in the 2012 NBA Draft.
We know this here at headquarters because we’ve asked just about everyone you could imagine and canvassed the basketball globe on the eve of the Draft and found that no one, and we mean no one, is certain of anything other than Davis walking across that stage first.
What’s it like living through this process from the inside out? We find out from North Carolina’s Tyler Zeller, a projected lottery pick. Who are the biggest movers and shakers in the Draft? Well, it is a fluid list that will change several more times before the start of the Draft, says NBA.com’s Draft guru Scott Howard-Cooper. The Houston Rockets remain the team most eager to move their way up the Draft board, their master plan (Dwight Howard in a Rockets uniform) is clear for all to see. We go behind the scenes on their motives with NBA.com’s Fran Blinebury (rhymes with grime and scary).
Check out all that and more on Episode 84 of the Hang Time Podcast our Draft Special, with Tyler Zeller, Scott Howard-Cooper and Fran Blinebury. And make sure you to tune into the Draft Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN.
OKLAHOMA CITY – Maybe we’re going to see that 2006 NBA Finals rematch after all.
The Dallas Mavericks have a commanding 3-1 lead over the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference finals, thanks to Monday night’s 112-105 overtime thriller. The Miami Heat can join them in the commanding lead department with Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals on tap tonight in Miami and the Heat leading the Chicago Bulls 2-1.
If the Mavericks and Heat do end up doing it all over again, we’ll have plenty of time to dissect that matchup on the next episode of the Hang Time Podcast. But we’ve got something a little different for you this week on Episode 57, what with coaching searches going on in places like Los Angeles, Houston and Indiana and the NBA Draft just a few short weeks away.
Feigen also updated us on Yao Ming‘s status and what’s in store for a Rockets team that finished ninth in the Western Conference this season, just behind the Hang Time Grizzlies for that eighth and final playoff spot.
Howard Cooper schooled on us on who impressed (Enes Kanter‘s name came up) during the Chicago predraft camp as well as names we need to focus on come draft night. But don’t just take our word for it, check out Episode 57 of the Hang Time Podcast for yourself.
They’ve never been better, as far as we can tell. You’ve seen the Hang Time Grizzlies and the Atlanta Hawks, both on the verge of pulling off first round upsets. The underdogs have been the story of the first round, so far, with lower seeds stretching series and avoiding sweeps at all costs … well, every one but the New York Knicks, of course.
But not everyone has playoff fever. What about those teams watching from the distance? The Detroit Pistons, once a playoff staple in the Eastern Conference, are on the outside looking in. But with new ownership, they’re going to get a fresh start. Pistons beat writer Vincent Goodwill of the Detroit News makes his Hang Time Podcast debut on Episode 53 to break down the state of affairs for this one-time Eastern Conference power. It’s the first in our series of Lottery Looks, where we we will study up on different lottery teams during the playoffs.