In an NBA Draft that was, for the most part and in my fairly ign’ant opinion, pretty well drafted, one lottery pick stood out to me for its badness. That is — leaving aside the question of whether or not Yi ever reports to the land of Killdozer and Robin Yount — the selection of Spencer Hawes by Sacramento. I’m just beginning work on an ’07-08 preview of the Kings for these guys and, besides the fact that Sacramento has quietly compiled a really depressing roster, it struck me in looking at it that one of two or three roles the team already has filled is that of big, skilled center who passes well but can’t play defense or rebound terribly well. (I’m speaking of Lawrence Funderburke, of course) Sactown Royalty’s Tom Ziller also noticed this, but since he actually cares about the Kings when no one is paying him to write about them, he’s got a bit more to say on the subject than I:

Since December, we’ve looked forward to this draft. When Mike Bibby was clanging jumpers and Ron Artest was getting arrested and Eric Musselman was screaming to no one in particular, we were calmly yet excitedly awaiting the lottery and the draft. By February, we were actually attempting to decipher our likely draft range. By March, we were calculating our draft odds. The season was lost, but our hope was not. But our hope didn’t depend on April’s results — it depended on May and June.

That’s why we’re so frustrated. If nothing else — damn near 50 losses and only a pittance of in-game smiles — we were going to make some noise in the draft. Greg Oden and Kevin Durant were always pipe dreams, but Al Horford wasn’t. Brandan Wright wasn’t. Joakim Noah certainly wasn’t. Yi Jianlian wasn’t. Those guys excited us, thrilled us, made us ache for November 1 and a new start. Spencer Hawes? Maybe it’s superficial and we’re all reverse racists, self-loathers. But still, there’s no quicker way to suck the wind out of someone’s sails than to drop what some have called ‘the next Todd Fuller‘ on their deck.

Be careful clicking that Todd Fuller link, as his “similar player” comparisons are pretty NSFW. A somewhat more interesting subtext to the Hawes pick, at least for those of us who enjoy it when professional athletes have opinions about something other than professional sports, is that Spence loves to speak his mind on politics. The dark side of that subtext: when he says he’s a fan of Rush, he doesn’t want to talk about 2112. Sports Illustrated’s Luke Winn draws Hawes out, and gives the young big man a chance to deliver himself of the sort of nuanced media criticism that could get him a NewsMax guest editorial someday.

Hawes is a hardcore conservative from, of all places, the liberal stronghold of Seattle. He was drafted into a city (Sacramento) where one of the country’s most recognizable Republican governors (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is in office. Hawes says he “loves” Arnold, and that he brought True Lies with him on the trip to New York, with plans to watch it on the flight home. “Now it has a little extra meaning for me,” Hawes said.

Before we expect some kind of right-wing, basketball-and-politics partnership to form, though, Hawes might need to change his stance on global warming. Schwarzenegger, who most recently discussed the issue with world leaders during a tour of Europe, has become a leading figure in the fight for action against climate change. Hawes has a different view.

When I spoke with Hawes at the league’s predraft camp on May 31, he talked about a recent Public Debate class exercise at the University of Washington. In it, he said, he denied the entire existence — and human cause — of global warming. When asked for his take on Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth, Hawes said, “It’s one big lie. I talked about that in my opening speech — it’s the media’s liberal overexaggeration of just about everything.”

There’s a link to another piece about Hawes in this post at TrueHoop, which is worth reading in itself for the lengthy, contentious comments section. It includes a couple of conservatives starting posts with “let me get this straight,” which is always cool, a clarification from Henry Abbott himself (looking a little bit more Midnight Oil in his ESPN photo than I’d pictured), and currently closes with the words “Hawes is a destitute man’s Eric Montross.” We don’t know if that’s true yet, but it’d be a nice start if someone knew where ‘Tross stood on the flat tax.