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Why, Danny, why?

Posted by Bob Ryan, Globe Staff  July 1, 2007 11:19 AM

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It is a fact I signed off on trading the fifth pick for a veteran. But I was kinda thinking about someone born after 1980.

On a list of improbable, no-one-of-sound-mind-and-sober-judgment-would-ever-do-such-a-thing acts, trading the fifth pick of the NBA draft in a juicy year chock full of potential All-Stars for a 32-year old shooting guard would have ranked at the bottom. On the other hand, I rather like Big Baby.

Um, Danny, this is not what any of us had in mind. The five for a 27-year old anything of proven substance? Yeah. The five for Pau Gasol? Yeah. But the five for a banged-up 32-year old shooting guard? Waiter, give me a double. No, wait. A triple.

I'm not very happy about losing Delonte West, either. And I was also of the opinion it would be worth one more go-round with Wally. I am truly gobsmacked.

Look, Ray Allen has been a class NBA act. He has been one of the great shooters of his era. He has been an elite player. Note all those "has beens?" He barely played more games than Paul Pierce did last year. And the history of aging shooting guards in the World's Greatest Basketball League is grim. The uncontestable facts are available to anyone with an NBA Guide, let alone anyone with access to a computer. Nobody goes faster in the NBA than shooting guards. This is a highly illogical act.

But it sure is a CYA one. This is an act of desperation by a general manager who, quite obviously, thinks he needs to win yesterday. And if Ray Allen can suit up for 70 games or so the Celtics probably will win 10 or 12 more games. And then Ray Allen will be exponentially closer to retirement.

The second widespread assumption is that this deal was done to placate Paul Pierce, who now does indeed have a veteran to share the scoring load. He won't have to play Big Brother to Jeff Green, Corey Brewer, Yi Jianlian, Brandan Wright or even Mike Conley, Jr. another player who would have made a lot of sense for the Boston Celtics. If so, this is a bad reason. Paul Pierce is not good enough to be regarded as an assistant GM.

And how about this: was Danny fleeced by a 31-year old rookie GM who played his college ball at Emerson?

Elsewhere, I am intrigued by the reaction Joakim Noah got in Chicago, specifically the Chicago Tribune. Columnist Rick Morrissey panned the selection, big-time. He sees Noah as an offensively-challenged guy who's "soft," to boot. He pretty much killed the kid. But NBA columnist Sam Smith loved it. He sees Noah adding to an already impressive arsenal of athleticism, both young (Lual Deng, Tyrus Thomas, etc.) and old (Ben Wallace). He thinks Noah's extraordinary hustle and enthusiasm will fit perfectly with the Bulls’ general scheme of things. He basically thinks that, for the Bulls, getting Noah is too good to be true.

I'm with Sam.

True, Noah enters the NBA with perhaps the absolute all-time ugliest basic shot ever. Period. It's too low and it rotates sideways and it is, well, hideous. Yup, that's the gospel truth.

Doesn't matter. He does other things, winning things. He is not afraid to throw that skinny body around in order to get rebounds. He will be too quick for any power forward to deal with. He will run the floor. And he will be a frightening weakside shot-blocking presence.

Plus...

With Noah in the lineup, Scott Skiles can construct the greatest zone defense the NBA has ever seen. He can have Deng, Thomas, Wallace, Noah and Whomever out there at the same time. Noah could be out front on a 2-3 or even be the point man on a 1-3-1. He will be a unique weapon.

I believe he will make a play or two per game no one else in the league can make. He will be able to influence games while scoring, say, five points or fewer. If they run the way they should, however, he'll score a lot more than 5 ppg. It will be to the Bulls' everlasting shame if they fail to find ways to exploit his unique gifts.

So, yes, I'd have been happy to have him in Green and White. I think the fans would have salivated.

Back to Danny's move. The one good thing that did come out of it was the acquisition of Glen Davis, aka "Big Baby." This may save his you-know-what in the long run.

Big Baby is one of those guys who bothers people because they don't know what he is. Center? Forward? Nose Tackle? Sumo Wrestler? Stop! Can't someone just be a basketball player?

He is a legitimate first-rounder. You must not take the numbers at face value. Each year the draft has graduations. This year everyone knows that after 1 and 2 you draw a line. I would say the next graduation runs from 3 to 14, where who you took depended on need and whim. I'll say it again: Al Thornton was 14, and there is no way there were 13 better players lying around in this draft. I don't know how the pros would pinpoint the next break, but I'd be willing to bet that most people don’t think there was any appreciable difference from 20 to 35. Big Baby is a legit first rounder; that's all I'm saying.

Did you happen to catch those two interesting pieces written by former Penn guard Steven Danley that were published in the New York Times this past week? These were the observations of a savvy basketball junkie who offered his assessment of some players available in the draft. The first one had to do with the idea that all of us, whether in the NBA or just playing 3-on-3 somewhere, divide the other players we know as those people we want to play with and those we don't. He listed Big Baby as the kind if player you want to play with.

He was also very big on Acie Law IV and Alando Tucker. He was not so big on BC Bad Boy Sean Williams, whom he said had just the one very known skill and was useless on offense (I would respectfully disagree). He claimed that when Penn played BC in the 2006 NCAA first round they ignored Williams on offense. But I have seen Williams make a nice banked turnaround, as well as some jump hooks. Anyway, this is supposed to be about Big Baby, who, if he pans out --- I did say "if" --- will be what Tractor Traylor was supposed to be.

The good news is that we still have Big Al. For the time being. As we know, once Danny picks up the phone he is capable of anything.

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About bob ryan's blog Opinions, observations and anecdotes from Boston Globe columnist Bob Ryan.
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