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John Schmeelk: A Few Insights From Being At the NBA Draft

John Schmeelk is a good friend of mine. As much, or more, than anyone else, he's responsible for giving me the confidence and encouragement to enter the sports media world, first in radio, then in blogging, and now in a mix of blogging the the corporate spheres. On Thursday, John covered the NBA Draft from inside Madison Square Garden for the WFAN web site, and he was kind enough to answer a few questions about it for Rufus on Fire.

This upcoming NFL season, look for John's work on

Most of us will never get to go to the Garden for the NBA Draft. How
would you describe the overall atmosphere and vibe in the building during
the Draft?

It's anticipation, and the feeling of not knowing what's coming next. As much as draft insiders, and people like me do research and study, you never really know what is going to happen. Not one, I repeat, not one mock draft had the Timberwolves taking Rubio and Flynn. That's what makes a draft fun, not knowing what teams will do, and really not knowing how good any of the players are going to be. It's educated guess work, but it's really still guess work. That's why there's such an electric feeling of anticipation.

Which player got the most interesting reaction? What was that crowd reaction?

After the T-Wolves took Flynn, it was shock and confusion. Nobody understood what they were doing. The other big reaction pick was Stephen Curry, since Knicks fans wanted him so badly, and he went only one slot before they picked.


Many people watching from home were shocked that DeJuan Blair fell as far as he did. Was anyone on the inside saying anything about that?

I was shocked to see it too, but it slowly filtered through the building it had more to do with his knees and medical reports than his game. The Spurs got a real good player, and he'll play 20 minutes a game for them.

As a Knicks fan, are you happy with the Knicks' draft? If so, what's the best case scenario you see playing out? If not, what's the worst case scenario you fear?

The Knicks draft was not what I wanted. Donnie Walsh needed to find an impact player that could eventually be an All-Star. I don't think Jordan Hill has the skills to become a dominant power forward. He can't post up or create his own shots. Toney Douglas is a 6'2 shooting guard, so his upside is limited too. Best case scenario: Hill refines his offensive game where he reaches Chris Bosh status and Douglas becomes a Ben Gordon type who can play defense. This won't happen. Worst case (more likely) scenario: Hill is nothing more than a Chris Wilcox/Biedrins/Verajao/Kenyon Martin type roleplayer and Douglas is a better defensive version of Juan Dixon.

Which team had the best draft? The worst?

I loved James Harden at 3. He fits the Thunder perfectly and complements Durant, Westbrook, and Green. I hated what the Timberwolves did: Flynn and Rubio CANNOT play together. It makes absolutely no sense. Rubio will be traded in the summer and they won't get the same value they would have gotten on draft night. A possible landing place is the Knicks, which would make the Knicks "draft" a lot better.