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You Have To Earn Your Mookie Stripes

Stephen Danley, former Penn b-baller player and NY Times basketball blogger extraordinaire, provided his insights into the upcoming NBA draft yesterday. He shared his thoughts on players that would make fine selections this weekend and some that would be horrible, horrible mistakes.

Syracuse is well-represented, first by Demetris Nichols in the "these are the guys I’d pick first if the gym was packed and there was an hour wait to play again if we lost" category.

Demetris is a perfect example of a guy being overlooked because general managers try to assemble talent, not a basketball team. Team USA now realizes they can’t just toss out a group of All-Stars and win overseas. Good N.B.A. teams are built the same way. In a game where there are five players and just one ball, role-players are at a premium. Just because Nichols is not adept at creating his own shot doesn’t mean he won’t be a valuable basketball player. He uses screens superbly, a la Rip Hamilton or Reggie Miller, and he isn’t afraid to take (and make) big shots. Teams are stockpiling shooters; look at Houston’s pickup of Steve Novak. The difference between Nichols and Novak? Novak can’t guard driftwood (we played together on a team the N.I.T. sent to Europe). Nichols is a long 6-foot-8 player capable of guarding a two or a three.

And then there's the "players [who] will either be out of the league in five years or be signed by the Knicks to franchise-debilitating contracts" category. Home to Daryl Watkins.

He seems to be a workout wonder, moving up draft boards. "Mookie" certainly passes the eyeball test, but I can’t see him as a productive player. Since when do a handful of good workouts outweigh four years of underachieving? At Syracuse I thought he played lackadaisically and didn’t have an offensive game. Frankly, I’d rather see my team draft another European that no one has heard of.

It's never a good sign when you have a nickname like Mookie and the writer puts it in quotes, as if to say "you haven't earn the right to call yourself a ridiculous, childish name yet, sir." Of course, this is also the city of Mookie I understand.

Thanks to Cody for the scoop and for mentioning that Demetris Nichols would probably rather "go to an Etan Thomas poetry slam" than come through in the clutch. You say that as if that's a bad thing. On the list of things I need to do before I die, attending an Etan Thomas poetry slam is high on the list, nestled between "Crash Gerry McNamara's wedding" and "teach a WVU grad to read."