Welcome to the NBA rookies! Below are my thoughts as I pulled up a chair and watched this crazy soap opera called the NBA Draft.
Lots of surprises early on, starting with Aaron Afflalo being traded to Denver for just a second round pick and SG Evan Fornier. Thought they could have got more for him, maybe the Magic have another move in their sights.
Jalen Rose rocking a red rose in his coat, always bringing style to the draft ever since he himself was drafted in ‘94:1. Cleveland took Andrew Wiggins, not a bad choice since he can guard opposing SFs on the wing, not as NBA ready as Parker offensively, but he fits better on their team and should help the Cavs right off the bat.
2. Jabari Parker went to Milwaukee, they were destined to be together.
3. Sixers take Joel Embiid! When I wrote in my preview that the 76ers didn’t care if they lose next year either, I should have known that they wouldn’t hesitate to take Joel Embiid and let him sit for the year, even though they had just done the same thing with last year’s first round pick, Nerlens Noel. Embiid’s injury may have been a blessing, considering he would never have been there at 3 if he weren’t injured and he may end up being a better pro than Wiggins.
4. My second OHHHH shout out loud moment of the draft, Magic jump on Aaron Gordon at 4, a slight reach, but that’s who they wanted, and they went for it. I still see them trading up for a primary ball handler to compliment Victor Opadipo.
5. Utah must be happy that Dante Exum slipped to them at 5. They already fired Tyrone Corbin, anybody will be an improvement at coach and automatically make them better next year. Trey Burke and Exum will make a solid backcourt in the short run. Exum ends up starting and Burke moves to the bench in a year or so.
6. Smart goes to Boston. I think he’s a slight reach here, and it can’t be good for Rajon Rondo’s chances of staying in Boston much longer.
7. Lakers take Julius Randle, I like him, but, really he better be healthy for the start of the season or there is no immediate improvement for the Lakers. If something big isn’t done in FA then they can expect to miss the playoffs for only the third time in Kobe’s career.
8. WOW, Sac definitely reached for Nik Stauskas, what does this mean for Ben McLemore? Why didn’t they trade down for a veteran that can help them now and get a shooter later in the draft? He is a baller though and will contribute, just not what I expected out of the Kings with the 8th pick.
9. Noah Vonleh dropped in the draft a little farther than I thought he would, but, he ended up in a good spot with Charlotte. Lots of talent around him, weak conference, Hornets won’t ask too much from him, he can roam the mid-range and knock down buckets.
Still no trades yet, really weird. Expected way more movement.
10. Sixers take PG Elfrid Payton to pair with Michael Carter Williams in the backcourt. No shooting at the 1 or 2 with this tandem, but the perimeter defense should be on point and players fresh out of college can still learn how to shoot, as long as shooting is easier for him than putting on his draft day hat.11. Denver takes McBuckets. Weird choice, Denver is loaded at SF with Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, and now Doug McDermott.
And there it is, the first trade of the draft and I don’t like it for Chicago, they trade their 2 first round picks for McDermott, in search of desperately needed offense. Not the right move for Chicago, they could have picked Gary Harris, Rodney Hood, James Young who are all still on the board, and gotten offense at the SG/SF position to play alongside Jimmy Butler instead of disrupting an already set Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson frontcourt. McDermott can’t guard NBA SFs so he s going to have to play a stretch 4 position.
12. Magic take Dario Saric with the 12th pick, he won’t be in the USA for another 2 years, wouldn’t have wasted that pick on him. Not improving their team for next year and they should be, especially in the east, where they could sneak into the playoffs. There’s a time to stop the re build and actually start trying to win.
13. Timberwolves jump on super athletic UCLA guard in Zach LaVine, ridiculous athlete. Will he convince Kevin Love to stay? I don’t think so, not next year, he is not NBA ready despite his elite athleticism.
Second trade of the day helps clarify what is going on, Payton goes to Orlando to become the primary ball handler next to Oladipo, Sixers get Dario Saric and get to stash him overseas. The Sixers first 2 picks won’t play in the NBA next year, not improving the second worst team in the league but, thats their gameplan. The Magic get immediately better, they end up with Gordon and Payton, both should contribute immediately next year, maybe even helping them get into the playoffs. It cost Orlando a 1st rounder, pricey, but its an announcement to everybody that the re-build after Dwight Howard left is over.
14. Got one thing right in my preview at least, TJ Warren to the Suns. Fills a need at SF, he can score right away in the NBA, love this pick for the Suns. They need to trade their next 2 picks in the first round for an impact veteran though, then they are a playoff team even in the loaded West.
We are out of the Lottery now, biggest surprise so far, Gary Harris dropping out of the lottery, especially with SG being such a thin position in the NBA. The Thunder should trade their 2 first rounders to move up and get him.
15. ATL takes Adreian Payne, PF from Michigan St. with the 15th pick. The Hawks are really committing to making sure everybody in their lineup can shoot with range.Adam Silver takes a timeout to acknowledge Isaiah Austin a C prospect from Baylor, and made him an honorary NBA pick, super classy move. It’s weird not seeing David Stern shake hands and look smug at the draft but, man does Silver handle situations well. Big shout to Silver, that was a good look. Great moment.
16. Chi town picks C from Serbia Jusuf Nurkic for Denver as part of the trade. He’s supposed to be the second best C in the draft after Embiid, don’t know much about him, don’t know if he stays in Europe another year. Denver does have a need at C, Javale McGee is inconsistent and should only get limited minutes when his game is off.
17. Celtics take James Young, 3pt specialist from Kentucky. He’s projected to play SG. Looks like Boston is completely revamping their guards. They already have Rondo and Avery Bradley then they take Smart and Young, we’ll see what their overall plan is eventually, I guess.
18. Suns take the best true PG, aka a pass first PG, in the draft, Tyler Ennis from Syracuse. With Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe, the Suns seem stacked at guard; it isn’t really a position of need for them, nor was Ennis the best player available, kind of a head scratcher for me. Maybe they just want insurance in case Bledsoe gets stolen away from them as a restricted free agent or they might be planning to bring him in off the bench.
19. Gary Harris finally comes off the board, drafted by the Bulls for Denver. Denver really set up nicely at guard now with Ty Lawson, Afflalo and Harris. Great pickup, he was the best player available and he fell right into Denver’s lap. They completely fleeced the Bulls and Magic in trades today. They are doing good things, good shit for Denver so far.
Lots of good SFs still available for Toronto to compliment Demar DeRozan and Terrence Ross at the wings, I’m thinking it’ll be Rodney Hood. They also might select a PG with Kyle Lowery being an unrestricted FA and not assured to re-sign with them.
20. What just happened??? Rodney Hood, KJ McDaniels, CleAnthony Early, and Kyle Anderson still on the board and they take a SF from Brazil that I’ve never heard of and won’t play next year? Bill Simmons put it best; if that’s who you wanted, why take him at 20? They could have traded back, done something, he was not going to get swept out from under them. Questioning the alleged genius of Toronto GM Masai Ujiri.
21. Thunder take Mitch McGary, C from Michigan, good player, thought he’d be a good fit for the Clippers to shore up their big man rotation. I also thought that the Thunder could have used a backup for KD or another perimeter player to take some of the offensive burden off of KD and Westbrook. They still have another pick in the first round that they could use to address that need. Guessing this means they finally amnesty Kendrick Perkins and his puddles of sweat.
22. Memphis needs shooting, they have to take Rodney Hood here, he has really dropped in the draft. They instead take Jordan Adams, SG from UCLA, fills an outside shooting need for them. I don’t think he was the best player they could’ve taken but, they must have seen something in Adams they liked. Rodney Hood is going to make a lot of people pay for passing him up.
23. And there he is, to the Jazz. Great draft for the Jazz so far, picking up an athletic/defensive guard in Exum and a sweet shooting forward in Hood, filling up their roster with talent on the perimeter. They could have used a SG but, these picks along with Gordon Hayward could give them a lot of flexibility in their starting lineup and bench rotation.
24. Charlotte picks Shabazz Napier, PG from UConn and then trade him to Miami. Great pick up for Miami, he will start right away, has great composure in taking over the PG reigns. It’ll give Lebron some rest from ball handling and creating all the time. He is a champion and will be a good fit for this Heat team with it’s championship pedigree.
25. Simmons calls it, a foreign player to Houston to keep cap room open for the Melo, Bron, Love sweepstakes. Clint Capela, PF from Switzerland, who knows what he’ll become, Houston preparing for FA this summer that’s all they care about.
26. PJ Hairston, SG from the D league, good shooter, should contribute right away. Charlotte is really addressing their shooting/scoring needs in the draft by drafting him and Vonleh. I like what they are doing.
27. Suns take a foreign SG, Bogdan Bogdanavich, love the name, but I don’t know much about him. A future piece since nobody knows when he’ll come into the league from overseas.
28. Clippers ignore their need for a 3rd big man and take SG CJ Wilcox from Washington, good shooter, good size, not really position of need for them but could turn into a nice piece. He really is a redundant player for them having JJ Redick and Jamaal Crawford already on the roster.
29. Thunder take Josh Huestls, SF from Stanford. I would have taken KJ McDaniels here, but ok, Ill trust Sam Presti. So far he’s picked Harden, Westbrook, Durant, and Ibaka, so I’ll trust him at this point. I really would’ve liked to see KJ McDaniels here though.
30. Up next San Antonio with the last pick in the first round, whoever they take I’m sure will be successful and make everyone else look stupid for passing on him….. And it’s Kyle Anderson. First thought is, of course. He’s a SF from UCLA who did most of the ball handling and distributing for his team. Not very athletic but, San Antonio is always looking for players that can handle the ball and pass at every position. They can make a contributor out of anyone but, it’s still a great fit.
Great draft, lots of surprises, most teams made smart moves. I can’t wait to see these kids suit up and run.
Tomorrow I’ll break down the teams that are improving and the teams that I cant tell what they’re doing.