Mar 21, 2014; San Diego, CA, USA; Oklahoma State Cowboys guard Marcus Smart (33) reacts in the first half of a men

Trading the 7th Pick: A Conversation


(There is no such thing as Basketball Gods but before Tuesday night there was hope. Until there wasn’t. The Lakers were not lucky. If it was true all year, it was true Tuesday. Afterwards, Lakers Realist began spewing about the seven rings of hell and everything dark. And Lakers Dreamer imagined the possibilities.)

Realist: Have you been watching the playoffs?

Dreamer: Yes.

Realist: How many #7 picks are on any of the four teams? Don’t answer that question. Because I just told you the answer. Zero.

May 24, 2014; Miami, FL, USA; Indiana Pacers guard Lance Stephenson (1) reacts against the Miami Heat in game three of the Eastern Conference Finals of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Dreamer: But Paul George was a #10 pick in the lottery. And Lance Stephenson was taken in the second round.

Realist: The Lakers don’t have any second round picks this year.

Dreamer: But my point is, my point is that you can get someone good out of the lottery, and they are young and they can develop. I’m glad you brought up the playoffs because they make my point. Wade was a good player but no one thought he would be this good.

Realist: The Heat did. They refused to put him in the deal for Shaq.

Dreamer: I am talking about on draft day. He was a good player but no one penciled him in and said best shooting guard in the next decade- oh that would be Kobe and Wade. Paul George was a role player his rookie year. Danny Granger was the star of that team. Now look at Paul George.

Realist: Why not look at him. Everyone else is. If you have access to the Internet Paul George is everywhere. Because strippers don’t lie, right?

Dreamer: Don’t read gossip. I’m talking about on the basketball court.

Realist: Yeah what did he have last night in a big game? I think like five points.

Dreamer: No he did not have five points. He had seventeen. But that’s not the point I’m trying to make. He was drafted 10th and he has been in the playoffs every single year. He is the face of the Pacers franchise. He developed as a player. That is the entire point of the draft. Find young players and develop them.

Realist: Bismack Biyombo was the 7th pick. Nice development there. How many #7 picks have won a title?  How many have even been in a Conference Final. That would be zero. No lottery player picked 7th has been farther than the 2nd round.

Dreamer: Wrong. Kirk Hinrich and Luol Deng were 7th picks and they were in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Realist: Only because of Derrick Rose. #7 picks are role players. And they get traded. How is Luol Deng in Chicago working out?

Dreamer: Richard Hamilton was #7 pick and he won a championship.

Realist: Stop. You’re bringing back bad memories.

Dreamer: Kevin Johnson was the #7 pick and he was in the NBA Finals.

Realist: Yeah and they lost to the Bulls. With the exception of KJ the rest of those guys were role players. And role players have short careers, I repeat, they get traded. Stars stay with a team. And the #7 pick ain’t staying. So if that is the case then move him for another role player you already know is going to be good. What do you know about Marcus Smart anyway?

Mar 13, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Oklahoma State Cowboys guard Marcus Smart (33) shoots a free throw during the first half against the Kansas Jayhawks in the second round of the Big 12 Conference college basketball tournament at Sprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Dreamer: He’s better than any point guard the Lakers have. He is explosive, he gets to the rim, he plays defense, he gets to the line.

Realist: He pushes fans, he can’t shoot. You see him lasting in L.A; Dwight couldn’t deal with the scrutiny. The Lakers never have an off season. Unlike other cities that can transition to football it’s Lakers 24-7.

Dreamer: We have ‘SC.

Realist: I’m still trying to get over the Lane Kiffin era. Stop. The truth about playing in L.A. is that there are these grandiose expectations and Marcus Smart’s  own limitations create frustration. Then he acts like someone burned his house down.

Dreamer: I’d rather have him than Swaggy P who just wants to have a good time and entertain. Do you think Nick Young hates losing more than he loves playing? At least Marcus wants to compete. I’ll take that any day.

Realist: What I would take any day is proven talent. I don’t want Julius Randle who couldn’t dominate a Connecticut team that lost by 40 points to Florida a month before the tournament began. I don’t want Aaron Gordon who couldn’t throw a stone into a puddle. I don’t care if he is more athletic than Blake Griffin. I don’t want any of those other scrubs the Lakers are going to try to pass off as good players.  Don’t even mention Dante Exum.

Dreamer: He’s going to be the next star for the Magic. They failed with big men. He has star written all over him. He’s long, he can handle the ball, he can get to the rim, he is explosive, he can shoot.

Realist: He’s a kid. I mean- He. Is.  Really. A. Kid. His last game was six months ago. In high school. He hasn’t played since then. He’s a backup for a couple of years. I’m all in for trading the pick. None of these guys are going to make much of an impact.

Dreamer: At least they’ll be better than the last lottery class, right?

Realist: It’s never a good sign when worst ever is attached to your name. And they are the Worst Ever lottery class of all time. NO lottery class has ever produced just 3 players on the All-Rookie team. That’s pathetic.

Dreamer: So you admit this class is good.

Realist: Yes it’s good. I just don’t want the Lakers to have to spend four years waiting for someone to develop and when he does, when he gets paid, he can’t get his name off of the Internet and he chokes in big games in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Dreamer: Why do you hate Paul George?

Realist: I don’t hate him, he is just overrated. Why is he wearing #24. Why? But back to your delusions and all of the other Lakers fans who think this pick is going to matter. It isn’t. And if that is the case trade the pick.

Dreamer: For who? Kyrie Irving? Kevin Love?

Realist: Don’t bring up Kevin Love.

Apr 16, 2014; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love (42) shoots at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Dreamer: So you hate Paul George and you hate Kevin Love. Kevin Love is a double-double machine. I know he’s not the best power forward but…

Realist: There is always a but with Kevin Love. But he never plays defense. But he has never been to the playoffs. But he doesn’t protect the rim. But he isn’t athletic. But he works so hard. Is he even the third best power forward behind LaMarcus Aldridge and Blake Griffin. He has been in the NBA six years and couldn’t get his team to the playoffs one time. Kobe had Smush and they finished 7th. Transformational players have the ability to carry their team to playoff success. Look at what Lebron did at Cleveland. John Wall did it this year with the Wizards. Al Jefferson did with the Bobcats for crying out loud. Even Paul George did it last year with the Pacers. Kevin Love gets his points and he gets his rebounds and he is going to get paid because of it but stats are stats. He’s not a winner. His defense sucks. I’m glad the Warriors are going to get him.

Dreamer: Steph Curry was the #7 pick.

Realist: How long was it before he got to the playoffs?

The Dreamer shrugs.

Realist: How long?

Dreamer: Three years. But look at him now.

Realist: Look at the Lakers right now. They need someone who is proven. I say trade the pick.

Dreamer: For who? Who is going to give the Lakers anything but their own garbage.

Realist: Take OKC. They can win in the regular season year after year but the league has changed. You can’t two man a team in the playoffs. You need depth, lots of it. And they need to take the ball out of Westbrook’s hands.  Imagine if they had Marcus Smart and moved Westbrook over to the two.

Dreamer: Imagine if we had Marcus Smart in the same backcourt with Kobe. It will be the most intense and competitive backcourt in NBA history.

Realist: Remember Arkansas and 40 minutes of Hell. Post game interviews after losses will be like the first day of the Seven Day War. But you’re not distracting me. Trade the pick.

Dreamer: For who?

Realist: Didn’t I say OKC. Offer him up for Reggie Jackson who we know can play.

Dreamer: Reggie Jackson?  He is never going to be any better than he is right now. And he jacks up shots like Westbrook.

Realist: Reggie Jackson is a 13 point, 4 assist, 4 rebound guy and that is coming off the bench. Put him in the starting lineup and see what you get. He’s only 24.

Dreamer: And Marcus Smart is 20. What you’re saying is that Marcus Smart could be OKC’s replacement for James Harden. But why wouldn’t we want to keep James Harden. He’s an All-Star.

Realist: Marcus Smart can’t shoot. I like his defense and his size but no one is going to defend him on the perimeter. They’ll just double up on Kobe.

Dreamer: Yeah and Marcus will drive to the rim because without the first defender he can blow by everyone. He finished over Embiid. Tony Parker couldn’t shoot when he came into the league. A lot of point guards can’t shoot. You can fix that. But you can’t make someone care about winning. You can’t make someone compete every single play as if it is their last. You can’t make someone have desire. His game might not be where it is going to be and that’s a plus. He is going to get better. But his work ethic, his love of playing and winning, his toughness- do I need to remind you last year’s team had no toughness- that alone is enough not to trade him. Besides why give OKC another weapon to beat us with right?

Realist: I hate it when you’re right.



Tags: Los Angeles Lakers Marcus Smart The 7th Pick

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