Looking Back At The 2006 NBA Draft

Hits include Brandon Roy, the misses headlined by Adam Morrison

June 9, 2007

By Steve Aschburner  

Special to CSTV.com from The Sports Xchange


It's remarkable how much smarter we all get in 12 months.


What amounts to little more than guessing and hoping as the 2007 NBA Draft approaches, among those of us who claim some small measure of expertise, in fact will resemble true wisdom and analysis -- looking back -- by the time the 2008 version draws near. Unless, of course, in assessing 12 months' worth of on-court validations and violations, we find that we whiffed horribly, got snookered by whoever this year's Michael Olowokandi might be and would rather submit to an IRS audit while swinging by for a colonoscopy than revisit, one year removed, our bold picks for the forthcoming first round.


Revisiting other people's bold picks, though, is a snap.




That -- second-guessing -- is what we do best. Second-guessing and Monday morning quarterbacking. And armchair psychoanalyzing. Oh, and finger wagging, tongue clucking, sermonizing and, as it once famously was said of columnists, riding over the hill after the battle and shooting the wounded.


Few words dance in and caress the ears of a post-prognosticator -- or would that simply be a diagnosticator? -- than these three: "They picked ... him?" Factor in a full season, during which some of those prize prospects got (a) outplayed, (b) exposed, (c) benched or (d) arrested, and we could be half as stupid and look twice as smart. Or, duh, something like that.


Last year's draft class -- that is, this year's NBA rookie crop -- has taken more than its share of hits for being unimpressive, ordinary and the cause of only minor optimism going forward, especially for the neediest of teams last spring. In star power and depth of top-tier talent, that might end up being true. But there were a solid 10-12 newcomers from the roundup last June, each of whom would be welcome on any of the league's 30 teams.


Here, then, are the 2006 draft's "hits," followed by some of its "misses":




Brandon Roy, G, Portland Trail Blazers (No. 6, Minnesota)

Drafted at No. 6 by Minnesota, then swapped moments later for No. 7 pick Randy Foye and a reported $1 million, Roy was the most NBA-ready of last year's selections. The versatile 6-6 senior from Washington overcame an early season heel surgery to live up to his name (ROY, as in Rookie of Year).


Rudy Gay, F, Memphis Grizzlies (No. 8, Houston)

Gay, drafted by Houston, got traded for a player (Shane Battier) who fit the Rockets perfectly. But Gay gave the Grizzlies what they wanted, too, in an athletic and multi-skilled player (fourth in scoring among rookies, sixth in rebounds, third in blocked shots) to take some offensive pressure off Pau Gasol.


Jorge Garbajosa, F, Toronto Raptors (undrafted)

Until his season ended in late March, his leg buckling as he tried to defend a dunk by Boston's Al Jefferson, Garbajosa was the bigger contributor of the Raptors' two prize rookies. Laid-back and committed to team play, seasoned against Europe's best competition, the sturdy 29-year-old forward was an especially pesky defender who played well without the ball.


Andrea Bargnani, F, Toronto Raptors (No. 1, Toronto)

If you remember correctly, draft "experts" were sort of feeling sorry for the Raptors at this time last year, knowing that new GM Bryan Colangelo was committed to the Italian kid when he could have had his pick of anyone. Turned out pretty well, though, with the Raptors improving by 20 victories, nailing the Atlantic Division title and earning Sam Mitchell Coach of the Year honors. This wasn't a Darko Milicic repeat, either; Bargnani (11.6 points, 3.9 boards, 25.1 minutes) pulled his weight as he showed his promise.


Tyrus Thomas, F, Chicago Bulls (No. 4, Portland)

For much of the season, Thomas was immature and inconsistent in limited minutes. But his game grew heading to the playoffs, and the attitude that doesn't always serve him well off the floor keeps him from backing down to more seasoned foes. His raw ability is irrepressible.


LaMarcus Aldridge, F/C, Portland Trail Blazers (No. 2, Chicago)

Aldridge's progress figured to be slowed more than necessary by Jamaal Magloire's presence, but the No. 2 pick from Texas -- what, he was holding the spot for Kevin Durant? -- wasn't held back. He wound up joining Roy on the all-rookie first team, only the 16th time in 45 years that two first-year players from the same club were so honored.


Randy Foye, G, Minnesota Timberwolves (No. 7, Boston)

Foye changed hats twice in rapid succession on draft night, then had a slow go in Minnesota understudying at both backcourt spots. Coming off the bench gave him freedom to seek his own shots, at least, and the four-year Villanova product scored 48 percent of his points in the fourth quarters and overtimes.


Paul Millsap, F, Utah Jazz (No. 47, Utah)

Louisiana Tech has been pretty good to the Jazz, first delivering Karl Malone and now Millsap, who played in all 82 games, ranked second (5.2) among rookies in rebounding and made 52.5 percent of his shots.


Marcus Williams, G, New Jersey Nets (No. 22, New Jersey)

Williams' reputation coming out of UConn scared off some teams, but he gave New Jersey a viable alternative to Jason Kidd, enough that Kidd trade scenarios still will crop up this summer. His 260 assists were the third-highest total for a Nets rookie.


Craig Smith, F, Minnesota Timberwolves (No. 36, Minnesota)

Smith looked like a classic college 'tweener -- big man's game in a too-short, too-wide body -- but he brought an intensity out of Boston College that proved that girth is good. He is working on his mid-range game and could make himself into a nastier Malik Rose-type. 


Others who impressed: Thabo Sebolosha, Chicago; Rodney Carney, Philadelphia; Josh Boone, New Jersey; Kyle Lowry, Memphis; and Sergio Rodriguez, Portland.




Adam Morrison, F, Charlotte Bobcats (No. 3, Charlotte)

Morrison made it onto the league's second all-rookie squad, but when you're picked third overall, that's no big deal. His shooting was abysmal -- 37.6 percent, 52nd among all rookies -- and he "surrounded" his scoring average of 11.8 with too many six-point nights watering down the 18-pointers. Besides, the Bobcats' most satisfying rookie was Argentinian forward Walter Herrmann, a free agent who made his NBA debut in his 11th pro season.


Patrick O'Bryant, C, Golden State Warriors (No. 9, Golden State)

The Warriors went for size even though O'Bryant wasn't close to being ready out of Bradley. As it turned out, the Warriors' best bet, and greatest success, was small ball once they brought Don Nelson on board after the draft.


J.J. Redick, G, Orlando Magic (No. 11, Orlando)

What did Redick do for the Magic that Travis Diener couldn't? Of course, this hardly is the first franchise to overrate a Duke player. Nice pick, on the heels of 2005's Fran Vazquez.


Shelden Williams, F, Atlanta Hawks (No. 5, Atlanta)

Williams was an OK rookie, but not at that spot and not with the players still available when he got taken. The Hawks would have gotten more mileage in their backcourt out of Roy, Foye or Marcus Williams.


Steve Aschburner is a senior NBA reporter and columnist, covering the Minnesota Timberwolves for the Minneapolis Star Tribune for 13 seasons and serving as president of the Professional Basketball Writers Association from 2005-07.