When we drafted Radmanovic, there was a lot of second guessing by fans, myself included. The last thing we needed was another SF. But I was willing to keep an open mind, I pointed out to doubters that Radmanovic had both the weight and height to develop into a PF. Maybe the Sonics saw something we didn't.
At that time, though, the Sonics weren't drafting a SF, a PF, or any particular position. Their goal was too choose the best player available. It didn't take long for me to see what they liked about Vladimir's game. At a very young age, he shot the three fearlessly and with great accuracy. In fact, I think the best word to describe Vladimir's rookie season would be fearless. It wasn't just on the offensive end, at one point in the season Nate considered Radmanovic his best post defender. Even though he didn't have much success driving to the hoop, he seemed to have nice handles and a good feel for the game. Not bad for a 19 year old.
So what happened? How can a player start out with Vladimir's foundation and wind up where he is today? 4 1/2 years later he arguably has only improved one aspect of his game, free throw shooting. Nearly every other part of his game has gotten worse.
You can't blame it on the system or the environment, Rashard Lewis by contrast has improved greatly since his rookie season. You can't blame it on minutes, Radmanovic has consistently played 20 to 30 minutes for this team when he's healthy, but he's still failed to bring anything consistently.
The difference between Lewis and Radmanovic is character and attitude. When they were drafted, both Vladimir and Rashard had great hopes for their careers and wanted to be all-star caliber players. I remember Radmanovic commenting that he hoped he would have his jersey hung in the rafters of Key Arena. He wasn't planning on being a role player in this league. But while Vladimir had all the talent in the world and was waiting to be good, Rashard was making the most of what he had and working hard to get better.
Now that Radmanovic is moving on, we can do a post mortem on his selection in the draft. Was it a good pick? It certainly wasn't a bad pick. Despite his lack of development, we did draft a talented player. Talented enough for the Clippers to want to add him for a playoff run. There is no question he'll be an NBA player for years to come, and if Wilcox pans out, he will have turned into a valuable trading asset.
While it wasn't a bad pick, I think Seattle made the mistake that many other teams do. They valued talent without factoring enough other attributes, like character and attitude. To Seattle's credit, some teams make this mistake every year, they never seem to learn. Since drafting Radmanovic, Seattle has clearly made drafting character a key characteristic of all of their picks.
I also think Seattle has concentrated more on drafting positions rather than just going by the "best player available" approach. This is wise, because Seattle needs to find players in the draft to fill roles. With Seattle's tight budget rookie contracts are a key ingredient to fielding a competitive team.
For the Clippers, I can see why they traded for Radmonovic even though he has been in a funk this year. Beyond the fact that he can help spread the floor with his three point shot, they wanted him for the same reason that Hill immediately put him into the starting lineup when he took over as head coach. He still has all the skills and potential he had when we drafted him.
With Vladimir out of the picture, the Sonics can start playing the PF position in a more traditional way. While the Clippers give a fresh start to Radmanovic, Wilcox will get a fresh start here and much more playing time.