Highlights from Thursday night's NBA Draft:
As the final seconds of Kentucky's national championship ticked away in New Orleans, I caught myself wondering how good this team might have become in a different time. Can you imagine Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist as seniors or even juniors? UK was not that far away from an unbeaten season with two freshman stars.
I get that it is not reality and never will be again. Still, dreaming remains legal.
It is also fair to say it is much easier to win in this era, because so few teams have veteran NBA-level talent. Thus, comparisons to great college teams are impossible in this era. Still, these young Wildcats won for reasons beyond talent. They were a wonderful "team" in the best sense of the term.
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The Davis factor
Davis is the best college big man I have seen since Tim Duncan. And we know how that turned out.
Will Davis win four championships? I don't know that, but New Orleans just improved 20 games overnight. He is that good.
Seeing Davis on television does not give any indication of his athletic ability. You have to be in the gym to see the whole panorama. I saw him live twice in November and again at the Final Four. He was really good when I first saw him, off the charts five months later. If he continues to improve at that rate, I see Hall of Fame.
I talked to one general manager who thinks he will be better than Orlando's Dwight Howard. I agree. Howard is all power, a great rebounder and shot blocker. But he does not have Davis' basketball skill. Howard is an old-fashioned true center. Davis is a hybrid who can guard just about anybody and affect just about any shot — from layups to threes.
I never saw him out of position defensively, which speaks to his basketball IQ. There were times when I would notice him on one side of the floor, watch the ball on the other side and, suddenly, Davis would just appear next to the ball. He is so fast and so smooth that he really does not remind me of anybody.
His new arena is just out the back door of the Superdome. He should have just stayed in town. He won't be leaving for 15 years.
The game that wasn't
President Obama picked North Carolina over Kentucky for the national championship. If Tar Heels point guard Kendall Marshall did not get hurt, the president might have gotten it right.
How strong were these two teams? Seven of the first 18 picks were from UNC or UK. When Davis and Kidd-Gilchrist went 1-2, it marked the first time players from the same school went with the first and second picks.
Only one player from outside the "Big Six" conferences went in the first 18 picks — Weber State point guard Damian Lillard. The Southeastern Conference, Atlantic Coast Conference and Big East had 13 of those picks.
The NBA's Eastern Conference became more competitive Thursday.
Cleveland now has an athletic, powerful, young backcourt in Kyrie Irving and Syracuse's Dion Waiters.
Nobody is any faster than Washington's John Wall, but he can't shoot at all. So, Florida's Bradley Beal was the perfect complement for Wall's penetration.
Do I expect the Cavs and Wizards to make the 2013 playoffs? Not really, but I don't think it is completely out of the question.
Most intriguing player
It has to be Iowa State's Royce White, a 6-foot-8 forward with every skill in the game. He rumbles end-to-end a bit like Charles Barkley. Like Chuck, he can also rebound. He is not Charles, but he is really good. He was the only player to lead his team in scoring, rebounding, assists, blocks and steals. Kentucky could not guard him in the NCAA Tournament. Sounds like a top-five pick.
Alas, White has an anxiety disorder. He is especially scared of flying. He also happens to be a brilliant kid, with varied interests way beyond hoops. If he can overcome his issues, look out. Houston may have gotten a steal at No. 16.