Wow. I will say that this was one of the most exciting lead ups to a draft in a very long time in my opinion. Which is odd, considering that up until the day of the draft, the Raptors only had one first round pick and it was all the way down at 20th.
It’s not too often that a team picking with a late first round pick and a couple of second rounders would be so exciting. But to my pleasant surprise, it was.
Not only did all of the hype surrounding this draft class create excitement, but also the last minute scramble for teams to free up cap space made for an interesting week. There were lots of moves and potential moves for teams looking to move up or clear cap room made for an interesting week of NBA rumours.
Can’t wait for the sequel to all of this, the always entertaining “Didn’t sign the big name FA, time to desperately overpay someone else”.
But here’s what I thought of the draft:
The NBA selecting Isaiah Austin. Sure, it’s not the type of selection that he had originally hoped for. But it was a classy gesture by Adam Silver and the NBA to recognize Austin after being diagnosed with a career ending disease called Marfan syndrome.
Coming into Baylor, Austin was one of the top recruits of the 2012 high school class. He was a legitimate 7-footer with a lot of defensive upside. Remarkably, he even developed a consistent 3-point shot despite being blind in one eye from a previous basketball injury. I was actually hoping that the Raptors might snag him with the 59th pick before the unfortunate news of him broke out.
It serves as a reminder of just how fortunate players are to be able to play in the NBA, no matter which team selects them; I’m looking at you, Zach LaVine. Perhaps he can still be involved in the game in some form, best of luck to him.
#1 Andrew Wiggins. As soon as the news of Embiid’s injury went out, it seems this was the obvious pick to make. Cleveland wants to win now, but they also need the player who had the chance to be the best player down the road and that’s most likely going to be Wiggins.
He now joins fellow Canadians Thompson, Bennett and another Canadian rookie Dwight Powell in Cleveland. For people questioning whether he has the mental toughness to succeed in the NBA…well just remember that is what they also questioned about Andre Drummond and the Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard. While it can be an issue, I think it’s sometimes exaggerated, which hopefully is going to be the case again here.
#2 Jabari Parker. Milwaukee is starting to build a nice core of players. Parker not only helps them immediately, but can also be a legitimate player to build around next to Sanders, Henson, Knight and Antetokounmpo. I expect to see another high pick for the Bucks nest season, but they look very promising right now.
Parker is also from Chicago, which is very close to Milwaukee. Although not the most exciting place in terms of an NBA market, the fact that he’s so close to home might be enough to keep him there over the long haul, which will be great for the Bucks if he turns out to be as good as expected.
#3 Joel Embiid. Many people believe that he has the highest ceiling in this draft class. But the obvious question regarding Embiid will be whether or not can he stay healthy in order to live up to it?
He’s already had two health scares, first with his back and then his foot. It’s a very risky pick, but a healthy front court of Noel and Embiid could be very dominant in the near future and I can’t wait to see them together.
For what it’s worth, while there are players whose careers suffered due to the same injury, but several NBA players have ended up doing just fine. Hopefully that is also the case with Embiid. The 76ers drafted the BPA and drafted for potential. I like that strategy even if it involves having two injured big men.
Also, I am aware that it was due to a delayed response time, but his “reaction” (if you even want to call it one) to being drafted by the 76ers was pretty hilarious.
#6 Marcus Smart. My first thought with this was if he is the potential Rajon Rondo replacement in Boston. Who knows, but I do think that this is a good pick.
I love Smart’s competitiveness and I think he was being underrated considering how much better this draft is than the previous one. He was a contender for the top pick last season until deciding to stay another season in school. Another plus is that he also leads in many of the analytics.
I think he’s a legitimate NBA player, with an NBA ready body. He’s my early pick for Rookie of the Year next season if the Celtics do in fact trade Rajon Rondo.
#7 Julius Randle. The Lakers got an NBA ready player who can come in and help them immediately. Randle has an NBA body and I don’t think he will have much trouble in adjusting to the NBA.
While he may not have that high of an upside in comparison to the other top picks, I think he can be a consistent double-double threat in the NBA. Depending on how the Lakers do in the offseason with regards to their roster, he may have no competition for a spot in the starting lineup.
Randle was another player in this draft who appeared to have an issue with his foot. He claims to be healthy and if that is the case, his name could certainly be in the running for the Rookie of the Year. At this rate, it wouldn’t really surprise me if he ends up winning it, either.
#9 Noah Vonleh. I think Charlotte got a real steal here. This time, I think the Bobcats got it right after passing on Noel and McLemore last season. He should fit in well with the defensive system in place under Steve Clifford.
With him and Jefferson on the front line, they could be a force to be reckoned with. He slipped a lot in the days prior to the draft but I think he has one of the highest upsides for the big men in this draft.
He should come in and immediately help Charlotte contend for a playoff spot once again. I also think he could end up being one of the better players from this draft.
#25 Clint Capela. I think Houston made out really well here considering they had pick number 25.
Due to the Rockets trying to get cap space and the fact that he is still very raw, Capela may not even play in the NBA next season. Even if he does, he’s not ready to contribute on a contending team like the Rockets.
However, considering his upside and the other players who were available, it’s a good gamble to take regardless. He could end up being a steal in a few years after he develops his game, which will likely be overseas.
#26 P.J. Hairston (To Hornets). Charlotte desperately needed to add some shooting to their lineup and they definitely got that in Hairston.
Being dismissed by North Carolina may have actually been a blessing in disguise for Hairston, who put up some solid numbers in the NBA D-League. Hairston may not start for the Hornets, but he should definitely challenge Gerald Henderson for that spot almost immediately. It would not surprise me if he ends up as the full-time starter at some point next season.
He’s NBA ready and is another play that can help get the Hornets back into the playoffs for a second consecutive season.
#30 Kyle Anderson. Well, you could put almost any Spurs pick as a good one. But I really like Anderson’s ability to play multiple positions. He’s a very well-rounded player who can score, rebound and pass the ball, along with a high IQ. In fact, I also wanted the Raptors to take a shot on him due to his unique skill set and potential.
I was convinced that he could be a great NBA player with the right system and he may have found the perfect fit with the Spurs. Simply put, he could end up being the biggest steal of this draft. In fact, I already think that he will be.
If there is anyone that will know how to get the best out of him, it’s probably going to be the Spurs. They also have enough defense around him to hide it, if need be.
Least Favourite Picks:
#8 Nick Stauskas. Unfortunately I don’t think he’s a fit in Sacramento. While I like Stauskas as a prospect, I think it’s essentially Ben McLemore with a lot less upside. I think they will regret not going with Vonleh, who is a better player and actually fills a need.
I think Stauskas has a future in the NBA, I’m just not sure that it’s going to be in Sacramento as long as he’s sharing time with McLemore.
#11 Doug McDermott (to Bulls). He gives the Bulls an immediate presence on a team that should continue to make the playoffs with or without Derrick Rose.
The Bulls need some outside shooting, which McDermott should easily provide, but it’s still anybody’s guess as to how his game will translate to the NBA. Even if the Bulls can figure how to utilize McDermott, his limited upside may not have been the best option to go with here.
I think he can become a good role player on his shooting ability alone, but I’m not convinced that he’s a better prospect than the players they could have had with or without making the trade. Especially Gary Harris, who I think will be a better player and would have been a great pairing next to Jimmy Butler. Even taking Zach LaVine might have been the better gamble here.
That and if the Bulls are actually interested in signing Carmelo Anthony, what use do you have for McDermott there? I can’t really see those two working well, especially if they end up playing on the court together.
#13 Zach LaVine. I’m a LaVine fan and I like the idea of the Wolves drafting for potential. They made a good pick for the future, but still feel as though if the Wolves actually had a shot at retaining Kevin Love, it’s not going to happen by making a pick like this.
While LaVine is said to have one of the highest upsides in the draft, he’s far from being an impact player in the NBA which is what the Wolves needed right away if they wanted any chance of convincing Love to stay. With that said, it’s possible that Love would have still wanted to be traded regardless of who they took.
Additionally, judging by his reaction, you already get the impression that he doesn’t want to be there either. Which is of course no fault to the Wolves, but a reaction like that just adds insult to injury and you can’t help but feel bad for Minnesota.
#15 Adreian Payne. The Hawks already have Horford and Millsap up front for the time being, so it’s tough to see Payne getting a lot of minutes.
Payne is an athletic big man with the ability to shoot the three which can be an asset in today’s NBA, but he is one of the oldest players in the draft which means there is probably very little upside.
I think they took a little bit of a reach here and they passed on players with more potential which could end up being a mistake. Not to mention, the Hawks already have a very similar player on the bench in Mike Scott.
Potential Second Round Steals:
#31 Damien Inglis
#34 Cleanthony Early
#35 Jarnell Stokes (To Grizzlies)
#38 Spencer Dinwiddie
#39 Jerami Grant
#40 Glenn Robinson III
#44 Markel Brown (To Nets)
#51 Thananis Antetokounmpo