"Nene/K-Mart Insurance" puts up 21 points in the NBA Finals...

During my Breakdown of the Dan Issel Administration back in late March, I wrote the following:

"I’ve yelled at my TV screen five times while watching the Nuggets make their selections in the NBA Draft: In 1991 when they drafted Mark Macon and passed on Stacey Augmon, 1997 when they drafted Tony Battie and passed on Ron Mercer (I didn't know Tracy McGrady would be a superstar), 1998 when they drafted LaFrentz and passed on Carter, Jamison and Pierce (ditto not knowing about Nowitzki), 2001 when they drafted Nikoloz Tskitishvili and passed on Caron Butler, and 2006 when they drafted Leon Powe in the second round - an absolute steal - only to trade him to Boston for nothing that same day."

After watching Powe's halftime piece during tonight's ABC telecast of the NBA Finals, I was going to blog about how obvious it is now why Nuggets "GM" Mark Warkentien traded him right away. After all, Powe represents the exact opposite of everything that the players Wark has either drafted, traded for or signed during his tenure in the NBA: heart, hard work, coachability, professionalism, toughness, unselfishness, good character, studious, and so on.

But then, after watching Powe dominate the third quarter and finish with 21 points on 6-7 shooting and 9-13 from the line, I went back to yelling at my TV screen.

You see, when the Nuggets drafted Powe in 2006, I thought we pulled off the biggest steal in the draft and I immediately referred to him as our "Nene/K-Mart Insurance." If you remember, in 2005-06 Nene had played in just one game before ripping his ACL and Kenyon Martin played in only 56 games due to knee problems of his own. Meanwhile, Powe was dominating the PAC-10 with 20/10 numbers (spending a lot time in L.A. back then, I was able to watch him play frequently) and the only thing scaring off the scouts were his two knee surgeries. Therefore, when the Nuggets snagged Powe in the second round, I thought we pulled a fast one on the entire league and got exactly what they needed: an inexpensive yet effective backup power forward.

But soon after drafting Powe, ESPN announced that the pick had been traded to Boston for a future second round pick and my heart sunk. Apparently Warkentien justifies the trade by saying that that future pick was used to acquire J.R. Smith, but that's total nonsense. When the Smith trade became a possibility, I'm damn sure the Nuggets could have procured a future second rounder from somewhere. Because while second round picks may grow on trees, high character / hard working guys like Leon Powe certainly don't.

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