With the 1st pick in round 5, the Toronto Raptors select . . .
5.01 Al Harrington, SF
We are pleased to welcome Baby Al (aka the Yao-stopper) to the Raptors and feel he rounds out our starting 5 quite nicely. At 6'9", he is big enough to play both forward positions and some center if called upon. With 9 years of pro experience, it's hard to believe Al is only 27 years old. He can shoot the three-ball comfortably or score near the basket (plenty of size in the post); he also plays gritty defense against the 3-4-5 positions. The Raptors are pleased that Al has focused more on his defensive game even in Nellie's run-and-gun system, and feel he will fit in quite well with our defense-oriented squad.
We now have a large athletic frontcourt with Dwight (6'11", 265 lbs), Andrei (6'9", 227lbs) and Al (6'9", 250lbs), all of whom are active defensively and above average team-defenders, and two lockdown perimeter defenders with 3-pt range in Kirk and Raja.
With the 2nd pick of the 5th round, the Phoenix Suns select:
5.02 Linas Kleiza, SF 23 years old 6'8", 245 pounds
For the final starting spot on the Suns, the management team wanted an all-around player who could do some of everything. Kleiza is from Lithuania and like all European players, has an efficiency and knowledge of the game that is great for someone of his young age. Unlike most other European players, he isn't afraid to mix it up and bang a bit.
Since his first year in the league, he has improved dramatically every year with his strong work ethic. David Thorpe calls him a "gym rat" and he spent time in the past 2 off-seasons working on his mobility, defense, and shooting and it shows.
Kleiza has developed a good outside shot to stretch defenses, can drive to the basket, and has interior moves that make him a versatile threat.
He has also shown that he can be a starter in this league and his value is only hidden behind one of the top SF's in the league in Melo.
His line as a starter this year: 34 minutes, 16.5 points, 48% fg, 36% 3pt, 75 FT, 1.6 3's, 5.2 rebs, 1.5 assists, 1.2 steals.
He has shown the ability to play at a high level when given the minutes and his strong work ethic will serve him well as he further develops.
With the third pick of the fifth round, the Nets are very proud to select:
5.03 Jamal Crawford PG/SG 6'5 200 lbs 27 years old
Jamal Crawford, an eight-year veteran, is a terrific combo guard that is very explosive, with good ballhandling skills and a great crossover. Crawford is considered by many to be a "tweener", because he is not a pure point guard or a pure shooting guard, but has many of the talents required by each position. However, his quickness and his accurate three-point shooting make him a very dynamic offensive player. One of only 9 players in the NBA this season averaging 20 points and 2 3pts per game, and one of only two players in the NBA avaraging 20 ppg, 2 3ptpg and 4.5+ assists (Baron Davis is the other). Crawford is often referred as "The Closer" because of his ability to play extremely well under pressure and delivers in crunch time. Plus he is a terrific FT shooter (career 84% and an astounding 87% this season), so he will be key for Nets in crunch time to close out close games. In an effort to better match up with larger guards and to avoid further injuries, Crawford put on 20 pounds of muscle in the 2007 offseason. Most recently, he has stepped into the role of reliable ball handler with 4.7 assists per game this season.
Right now, the Nets will slot him in at starting PG, but don't be surprised, if by the end of the draft, Jamal Crawford will come off the bench and be the early season favorite for the coveted Sixth Man of the Year.
With the 5th pick of the 5th round, the New Orleans Hornets select:
Considering the PG's left, we felt he has the most upside. Williams’ biggest draw revolves around his outstanding athleticism combined with his fantastic offensive instincts. He has great quickness, an awesome vertical leap for a 6-1 player, and an explosive first step—being better going right, but also having no problem going left when the situation calls for it. More than just a run and jump type athlete, Williams is extremely hard to stay in front of because of how strong his hesitation moves are. He jukes his defender left and right and back and forward to keep him off balance and then explode to the basket, usually finishing the play with a strong dunk.
Most likely, he will start on the bench and bring some nice scoring punch off the bench. In time, we hope he continues developing his defense and playmaking skills to become an outstanding player in this league. Currently, he is best described as a combo guard - not very adept at handling the point for a full game but a little undersized to play the 2. In our opinion, this works out pretty well for our team as we don't have a need for a traditional PG.
He has been compared to Monta Ellis as they are close in age and have similar skills. Many experts believe that Lou can become the better player as he has worked hard in his two years after high school. One year he worked with Mark Price on developing a more consistent jumpshot while adding range. Lately, he has been guided by Maurice Cheeks and Andre Miller on the fundamentals of becoming a solid PG. Consequently, Lou has improved his playmaking and his vision. We feel Byron Scott is an excellent coach to continue this development.
Tough call here, but I decided to round out my starting squad. I wasn't planning on rounding off my starting team with my first five picks, but with such a strong talent (both on the defensive and offensive end) and a team player in Anthony Parker, I couldn't resist. I feel good about a starting five of Felton, S-Jax, KG, JON and now AP. From a starting five perspective, the team is primed to contend and I'll continue to build on that as I now search for an appropriate bench.
To finish off an already large lineup the Bulls will draft the three point shooting of Peja and will play him at the 2, but most likely moving up to the 3 depending on the personnel on the court at that time. I needed somebody to kick the ball out to who can nail the 3 - and I don't think there has been any better guy in the NBA to do that in the last couple years. His injuries are a bit concerning but I'm optimistic that he can contribute to this squad.