As Sacramento comes to town tonight for the Mavericks season opener, the only thing I can think of is Pavel Podkolzin. Let me back up.
Kevin Martin has rocketed into being one of the best young scorers in the game today. After last season in which he was barely edged out by Golden State’s Monta Ellis for the league’s Most Improved Player Award, Martin will look to build upon his 26-points-per-game average. Scoring a team-high 22 against a tough Spurs defense last night, it’s obvious this kid has some game.
Drafted 26th overall in 2004, Martin is on the Josh Howard-led team of “Guys Who Shouldn’t Have Slipped that Far.” If you re-ordered that draft, you’d still have Dwight Howard as a definitive No. 1 choice, then Luol Deng, Andre Iguodala, Al Jefferson, Emeka Okafor and Martin rounding out the top 6 in an arguable order. Either way, there are plenty of teams who would like a do-over, just like every draft. But none wants one more than Utah, which took Kris Humphries (3.7 points per game career average) at No. 14 and Kirk Snyder (a trade throw-in after one unproductive season with the Jazz) with the 16th pick. The Mavs could have also passed on the aforementioned Pavel Podkolzin at the 21st pick and taken Martin. Think they could find somewhere to use an athletic 26-point scorer?
The All-“Guys Who Shouldn’t Have Slipped that Far” Team
With an average draft position of 35, most of these current players could have been a draft bargain for your favorite team.
Gilbert Arenas G (2001 31st overall)
Michael Redd G (2000 43rd overall)
Josh Howard F (2003 29th Pick)
Tayshaun Prince F (2002 23rd overall)
Carlos Boozer F (2002 35th overall)
Kevin Martin G (2004 26th overall)
Monta Ellis G (2005 40th overall)
Manu Ginobili G (1999 57th overall)
And let me tell you, the amount of spare-ness preceding most of these guys is staggering. The cliche about hindsight is never more true than when looking at NBA draft history, but it still makes you cringe to think that DerMarr Johnson was selected 37 picks ahead of Michael Redd. Notice that Carlos Boozer is the biggest guy on this team, it shows you that teams rarely pass on size. Mehmet Okur (2001, 38th overall) could also have made this list as the tallest player, but he was left off because he has silly hair.
-Scooter Hendon, Hoops Nerd