With David Thorpe’s recent article on ESPN looking back at some of the selections in the 2006 draft and their progress so far in the NBA, I thought it would be a good idea to take a look back as well. It has a similar feel to the article by David Thorpe, but there is no middle ground here. Either the player has been a success or a bust so far in his tenure as a pro. Here’s a look at 10 players that are worth a look at:
So Far …So Good
Portland Trail Blazers
19.2 PPG, 5.7 APG, 4.5 RPG
Easily, the best player out of the 2006 draft so far, which makes sense considering most people had him ranked as the most NBA-ready player of that draft class. Still though, not many expected him to reach this level of play this young in his career. Last year’s rookie of the year winner doesn’t seem to have any thoughts of slowing down. He has helped the Blazers young players become more than just youth and in doing so he has taken a team from the bottom of the standings and has put them in playoff contention.
Portland Trail Blazers
17.3 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 75.8 FT%
He was getting comparisons to Toronto’s Chris Bosh prior to his drafting and we now know why. He has the size, the shot, the versatility and the athleticism to be a real threat down-low, a combination of skills not many NBA players possess. He has gotten a lot more playing time than people expected because of the injury to “old wise man” Greg Oden. With his Kevin Garnett like shot release, it makes it real hard for other big men to guard him as they don’t know whether to play off him or guard him closely.
19.4 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 1.49 BPG
Probably the most athletic player taken in the 2006 draft class, he has shown that he can create excitement on both ends of the floor. Mostly known for his acrobatic dunks, he is quickly getting recognized as a player on the defensive end as well. He’ll be even better once he starts reducing the amount of fouls he takes. However, he needs to be on a more productive team to know whether or not he is a future superstar in the making or just a really good player.
Los Angeles Lakers
9.7 PPG, 2.8 APG, 1.1 SPG
By watching him play, you quickly realize why the Lakers took Farmar with the 26th pick in the 2006 draft. He has really blossomed into a dependable guard off the bench who can not only shoot, but dish it out as well. His defensive game isn’t all there yet, but when it is in a few years he should easily be counted upon to lead this Lakers team in the backcourt. I wish he would get a few more minutes though to show his potential, as he only gets 20 minutes per game on average. More playing time with Kobe never hurts.
8.5 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 51.3 FG%
He’ll rarely take you out of your seat on the offensive end, but it is his defensive presence that gets him into this top five. He can guard almost every position on the floor depending on who he’s up against because unlike most big men, he is mobile. He is easily the steal of the 2006 draft and because of this a thumbs up to the Utah scouting staff for doing their homework. Every team in the league can use this type of player; every team in the league had a chance to draft him.
So Far …So Bad
2.7 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 36.1 FG%
Just like the Bobcats the Hawks had numerous options selecting at 5th overall, and yet they chose someone who is sitting on the bench many nights and is showing no progression whatsoever. It isn’t his fault he was drafted where he was, nor is it his fault they felt the need to draft Al Horford in the 2007 draft, who might I add is turning out to be quite the player. He wasn’t bad last season, but like Morrison he wasn’t good either. It’s kind of like he was just there, like he’s kind of just there on the bench this season.
Out for Season
Although he had an okay rookie season, there wasn’t really that feeling that he was going to progress into a star in this league. There was a feeling that he had sort of maxed out his potential in his first season. However, it’s gotten even worse for him as he is slated to miss the entire 07/08 season which doesn’t help at all. He doesn’t have a lot of tricks up his sleeves and unless he really changes his game, he won’t be much more than the third or fourth guy off the bench in the future.
9.0 PPG, 3.4 APG, 38.1 FG%
Many expected Bargnani to be a 14-17 PPG guy this season, but it hasn’t panned out. With being the #1 overall pick comes a lot of pressure, pressure Bargnani didn’t have to deal with last season as Bryan Colangelo, general manager of the Raptors, stated that he wasn’t going to light the league up as he would be more useful down the road when he learns the NBA system. However, with his season last year, good enough to finish second in the rookie of the year voting, there was tons of pressure on him coming into this season. Pressure he just hasn’t learned how to deal with.
5.3 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 1.1 APG
Some would argue that Thomas shouldn’t be on this half of the article, but he just hasn’t produced as much as someone picked as high as he was should. There are various reasons for this, including the fact that he can’t seem to find any consistent minutes. His comments about the slam dunk contest in his rookie season didn’t help his image around the league. Thomas shouldn’t be considered a 2006 draft bust for long, chances are that he’ll develop into a solid double-double player once he gets more playing time after Chicago makes some roster changes.
3.7 PPG, 0.4 APG, 0.4 RPG
I really had high hopes for Redick coming out of Duke however, like others that don’t get enough minutes, he just hasn’t been able to put it all together –or any of it. He might still develop into a Jason Kapono type of player, a second or third guy off the bench who can change the momentum of the game in five minutes. It is doubtful though if he will be able to accomplish such things in an Orlando uniform.
It’s hard to believe that four of the top five picks from 2006 are on the negative side of this article, but that’s just the way it is. It is still very, very early in their careers as NBA players and it only takes a five-game stretch for the confidence of some of these kids to flourish or flounder, it’s the story of professional sports, how long it takes these guys to learn that lesson is the real story.