Thursday night, Jae Crowder and Darius Johnson became the 55th and 56 Marquette players to be selected in the NBA Draft. They were the first pair of players to be drafted together since 1983, when Doc Rivers (2nd round, No. 31 overall) and Terrell Schlundt (7th round, No. 148 overall) were drafted.
Crowder was selected 34th overall by the Dallas Mavericks, who acquired that pick in a draft day deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Dallas also selected North Carolina center Tyler Zeller with the 17th overall pick before sending him to Cleveland. The Mavericks acquired the 24th and 33rd overall pick in that trade, which they spent on Oregon State shooting guard Jared Cunningham and 27-year-old military veteran Bernard James out of Florida State, respectively. New Mexico forward Drew Gordon was invited to Dallas’ off-season camp after going undrafted.
And the Villa Rica, Ga. native may not have found a better spot to wind up. The Mavericks are currently going through a youth movement, as Jason Kidd (39 years old), Jason Terry (34) and Vince Carter (35) could all be free agents come Sunday, when free agency is set to begin (Carter has a team option).
As it pertains to Crowder, forwards Brian Cardinal, Ian Mahinmi, Sean Williams and Yi Jianlian are all set to become free agents as well.
Two statistics the Mavericks thrived on in their NBA championship run were defense and 3-point scoring, Crowder’s two best traits entering the draft. In that 2010-11 season, Dallas was eighth in the league in 3-point makes and tenth in points allowed. In 2011-11, Dallas was 10th in 3-point makes and 15th in points allowed. Dallas is as blue collar as they comes, and Crowder will fit right in.
Better yet, the Mavericks drafted a 7-footer in Zeller and 6-foot-10 James, meaning Crowder will not be asked to play inside much, only further improving his production in the Lone Star State.
And while second round draft picks do not have a guaranteed contract, the fact that Dallas wanted to move out of the first round to acquire two picks in the early second round bodes well for Crowder’s chances of making the team.
As we said back on May 12, when we said Dallas would be a good landing spot for Crowder, Shawn Marion should prove as a vital teacher to the rookie.
It may have taken 55 picks, but Johnson-Odom also heard his name called Thursday night. For a few minutes, it looked as though Johnson-Odom would pair up with Crowder in Dallas, but the Lakers acquired the lefty sharpshooter for $500,000, which shows they had significant interest. The Lakers also drafted 7-foot defensive specialist Robert Sacre with the final pick of the draft.
And while it wasn’t Johnson-Odom’s best potential landing spot, there’s real potential for him to succeed in Los Angeles.
One of the biggest question marks for the Lakers, who have over $75 million on the books for next year, is the contract situation of point guard Ramon Sessions.
6-foot-3 combo guard Andrew Goudelock, a second round pick in 2011, also has a $762,195 team option for next year. While that should be picked up, as Goudelock performed well in his first season, it’s still one more potential option who Johnson-Odom could replace. Devin Ebanks is also set to become a free agent July 1.
Veteran Steve Blake, Sessions’ back-up a year ago, has two years remaining at $4 million a year per season.
Any way you slice it, the Lakers are going to need to cut salary this season. Johnson-Odom would be an extremely cheap option, relative to the $62+ million they have tied up in Kobe Bryant, Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol.
Johnson-Odom is not a lock to make the team, as Sessions, Goudelock, Blake and Bryant may all be back, but it’s a very good situation for him to find a niche off the bench in a scoring role.
The Lakers were dead last in bench scoring last year, at 20.5 points per game. While much of that can be attributed to a stellar starting unit (Boston and Miami were 29th and 28th, respectively), scoring unit is also welcome in the NBA.