Okay, so we tossed around a few thoughts on the NBA Draft right after that rollicking night in Newark “went to bed” but let’s now touch on some specific teams and how they fared:

BOSTON - The Celtics never did get any real trade talk off the ground as chatter that Doc Rivers’ squad would acquire either Los Angeles Lakers F/C Paul Gasol or Atlanta Hawks swingman Josh Smith seemingly fizzled at every turn and so GM Danny Ainge figured he better prep for the present and the future by tabbing Ohio State F Jared Sullinger (yes, alleged bad back and all) with the #21 pick and than landing Syracuse C Fab Melo right behind Sullinger at #22.

Okay, so Sullinger dropped faster than a rock in water but Ainge believes the 6-foot-9, 280-pounder was worth the risk - remember we said in an earlier Jim Sez NBA Draft Preview column that the former Buckeyes’ star was top five talent providing he was healthy and apparently the Celtics’ doctors felt he was good-to-go. No doubt the Sullinger pick is a risky but consider that Boston wasn’t enthralled by any of the late first-round guys and so they’re trying to hit it outta-the-park here.

In terms of the 7-foot, 275-pound Melo, there’s been all sorts of character-related issues here but the big Brazilian has some nifty footwork and who’s to say he can’t be a shot-blocker deluxe here with PG Rajon Rondo in a get-out-and-go mode more than ever. Ask us and we’ll say Melo’s no better than 50-50 to make it as a decent pro but if Rivers can sell him on a 23-to-24 minute-a-night role than maybe he will thrive in Beantown.

The Celtics spent their second-round choice - that was pick #51 overall - on another ‘Cuse star in SF Kris Joseph who had a bad habit of disappearing in games last year for Jim Boeheim’s crew. Yet, the flip side says Joseph surely has first-round talent and so this is a true “value pick” for Ainge and Company and likely a very good fit in the team’s fast-break offense. But will Joseph go hard at all times? Stay tuned.

SACRAMENTO - All the Kings men just got significantly better thanks to this latest NBA Draft:

Okay, so heart-tug story Thomas Robinson - a 6-foot-10 power forward from Kansas who lost three family members including his mom a year-and-a-half ago - will give this Western Conference club a major boost on the boards and in the “heart” department after he was snatched up with the fifth overall choice but what gives with that second-round move?

General manager Geoff Petrie drafted do-it-all UC-Santa Barbara guard Orlando Johnson at pick #36 and promptly dealt him to the Indians Pacers for cash. Maybe that was indeed the pre-arranged deal with new/old Pacers personnel boss Donnie Walsh but why didn’t the Kings improve their here-and-now roster with a warm body as we would have liked Memphis G Will Barton here or maybe even Robinson’s old Jayhawk teammate G Tyshawn Taylor who could have given Tyreke Evans some much-needed ball-handling help in the backcourt.

No wonder a couple of “chat rooms” were down on the Maloof family that owns this franchise and has gone backwards in the past 10 years - give your fans a draft pick in Round II if you’re gonna miss the post-season every year now, guys!

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Let’s continue our summertime look at all 32 NFL teams. On today’s menu, the Tennessee Titans and the Philadelphia Eagles:

TENNESSEE - It’s easy to forget that last year’s Titans sported a 9-7 record and yet didn’t make it into the AFC playoff dance.

No doubt first-year head coach Mike Munchak’s club got wobbly knees late in the year with Week 14 and 15 losses to New Orleans and Indianapolis, respectively (and remember the Titans went 0-3-1 against the spread in the final month of regular-season action) and so that leads to the question as to how this AFC South crew has improved its overall depth - and note that Tennessee inked three defensive linemen via free agency including DE Kamerion Wimbley (Oakland) but will Tennessee’s defense be missing some swagger now that hard-hitting (or is it head-hunting) CB Cortland Finnegan flew the coop for the big bucks with the St. Louis Rams?

Plus note that the Titans nabbed five defensive players among its seven draft picks this past April with OLB Zach Brown (North Carolina) hoping to give this stop unit an attitude adjustment after last year Tennessee ranked a lowly 24th in the NFL in rush defense (allowing 128.3 yards per game) and 14th in pass defense (yielded 226.8 ypg).

PHILADELPHIA - Since 2001 the Eagles have participated in 17 post-season games but last year Andy Reid’s gang did not add to that figure and so this off-season was a time of major purging as the Birds waved bye-bye to the likes of OT Winston Justice (Indianapolis), CB Asante Samuel (Atlanta), WR Steve Smith (St. Louis) and backup QB Vince Young (Buffalo). Remember that Philly “franchised” WR DeSean Jackson for a $9.515 million tender and now they’re looking for more than 58 catches and just 4 receiving TDs this time around.

Meanwhile, if there’s one area of this team that really will be under scrutiny it’s the defensive front seven - and note the Eagles spent their first three draft picks on D-linemen (see DT Fletcher Cox of Miss State at #12 and DE Vinny Curry of Marshall at #59) or linebackers (see ILB Mychal Kendricks of California at pick #46).

NOTE: More NFL Team-by-Team capsules in tomorrow’s edition of Jim Sez.


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