The draft that NBA GMs have salivated over all year came and went last Thursday night. And just because teams had access to workouts and interviews, one-on-one’s with former college coaches and fellow teammates, and in depth breakdowns from staffs of professional scouts, that doesn’t keep amateur bloggers (over here!) from second guessing each and every selection. We’ll keep the review to the first round only, unless someone out there really wants my opinion on Dwight Powell.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers
Andrew Wiggins SG/SF | Kansas |
After all the smoke screens and trade rumors, the Cavaliers make the obvious (and correct) decision. Wiggins is a better fit with Irving and Waiters than Jabari Parker, is committed to playing defense, and is both coachable enough and hardworking that his offensive game can in a few years catch up to his defensive abilities. He helps right away on the wing and has the potential to develop into the best player from this draft class. "What’s not to like, Cleveland?" Wait, are we not doing that anymore?
2. Milwaukee Bucks
Jabari Parker SF/PF | Duke |
Home away from home. The Chicago native wanted to play in nearby Milwaukee and Milwaukee wanted him back. Parker is the type of scorer, floor leader, and personality that the Bucks need to get back towards relevancy. Questions on defense and position (SF? PF?) are less an issue at this stage for Milwaukee than they were for Cleveland.
3. Philadelphia 76ers
Joel Embiid C | Kansas |
In spite of two stress fractures and yet another offseason surgery, Embiid still ends up in the Top 3. Some question how he will match up (when he plays) with last year’s injured big man prospect Nerlens Noel (when he plays). But I never saw Noel as a Center, being only 220 pounds, and Embiid has the touch to play away from the basket on offense to create space. Strangely, Noel is more reminiscent of a throwback PF who defends and rebounds while Embiid harkens to the days when a team could run the offense through the five man. Still, the injury concerns hang over the heads of both players. This was the highest risk/reward player for an already risk/reward team.
4. Orlando Magic
Aaron Gordon PF/SF | Arizona |
A bit of a surprise pick at #4. Most mocks had the Magic taking PG Dante Exum to compliment last years guard Victor Oladipo. It’s hard to question the Magic’s decision, however. Gordon is one the best athletes of his class and already plays tenacious D. You could say he was the "pick of destiny"… I’m making a cultural reference here… Anyway, the biggest issue with his game is his jumper and no prognosticating well-wishing can credibly hope for the best. He’s a terrible shooter. Forwards who shoot 42% from the free throw line do not usually develop an outside game. The best case scenario for Gordon is a poor man’s Dennis Rodman – a type of player any winning team could use.
5. Utah Jazz
Dante Exum SG | Australia |
The international man of mystery strikes again. While analysts and scouts were tearing apart familiar prospects piece by piece, Exum slid up draft boards on sheer anonymity. The comparisons to Exum range from Manu Ginobli to Penny Hardaway to even – wait for it – Kobe Bryant. Yikes. The truth is no one knows what his ceiling is but Utah felt like he was worth the risk here.
6. Boston Celtics
Marcus Smart PG | Oklahoma State |
Marcus Smart is the antithesis of Dante Exum; you know exactly what you are going to get. Smart might not be a true PG, and lacks the shooting touch to play SG, but it doesn’t matter – this guy can flat out play. He can shut down his man at either guard position; he breaks up passes in the backcourt like a NFL safety; he can beat you off the dribble or down the floor in transition; and he competes as if his life depends on the outcome of every game. Blaming Smart for the failed expectations of his Oklahoma State Cowboys team gives the rest of his underachieving teammates a pass, and the incident with an opposing fan was overblown. Boston ended up with one of the best competitors in a loaded talent pool that further opens the door to trade Rajon Rondo for maximum value.
7. L.A. Lakers
Julius Randle PF | Kentucky |
The Lakers ongoing saga will be one of the most intriguing part of the offseason with only four veteran players under contract, two rookies in the draft (Randle and Missouri Guard Jordan Clarkson), and about 25 million in cap space for free agency. Randle is an excellent pick at #7 and at one point was considered a potential Top 3 pick before the emergence of Joel Embiid. But the Lakers are in "win now" mode and while Randle’s rebounding and inside presence can contribute, he isn’t going to be ready to help Kobe claim another ring. Furthermore his size, position, and skill set doesn’t scream franchise player. I like the pick, but the Lakers, and more importantly Kobe Bryant, are at a difficult crossroad.
8. Sacramento Kings
Nik Stauskas SG | Michigan |
Stauskas went a few spots higher than expected, but was completely warranted. One of the most talented offensive weapons available, the former Wolverine SG is an elite shooter, can run the pick and roll, is a capable passer, and an underrated athlete. Unfortunately he is taken by a team that as it is currently constructed leaves him the fourth option on offense behind Rudy Gay, Boogie Cousins, and Isaiah Thomas. And where does this leave Ben McLemore? Sacramento has talent, but the pieces don’t fit. A deal for a pass first PG (LIKE RAJON RONDO!!!) is what this team needs.
9. Charlotte Hornets
Noah Vonleh PF/C | Indiana |
If Stauskas went up a few spots higher than expected, Vonleh went a little low. Not a great athlete but makes up for it with excellent size, length, and motor. Shows touch with his jumper out to the three point line and can drop a few hook shots in around the paint. Still very raw on offense though. Hornets took PF Cody Zeller last year at #4 so this might be a "best player available" decision. Not sure that his ceiling is very high but should be a quality starting big for many years.
10. Philadelphia 76ers (traded to the Orlando Magic)
Elfrid Payton PG | Louisiana-Lafayette |
Passing on a PG at #4 meant the Magic needed to get their guy with their second lottery pick. In order to do so, they gave up a future pick (a former future first round pick of Philly’s in the Howard/Bynum deal that now returns to Philly as a current future first round pick… presently) to move up from #12. It seems as though every year we are going to have one mid-major sleeper rise to the Top Ten. This year it’s Elfrid Payton. Great size and athleticism for the PG position. Loves to create turnovers on defense and get out in transition where he is absolutely deadly. Good in the pick and roll and has excellent court vision. He will get the open man the ball on time and often. The only knock to his game is his shooting ability which (you guessed it) is pretty bad. Some scouts compare him to another Payton – Gary Payton. He’s got a little Rajon Rondo to his game as well (That’s three Rajon Rondo references so far!). If Oladipo can find consistency with his outside shot, this could be a devastatingly delicious backcourt in Orlando.
11. Denver Nuggets (traded to the Chicago Bulls)
Doug McDermott SF | Creighton |
We’ll keep it simple. The Bulls were dead last in Points Per Game last year, and in the bottom third in 3PT Percentage. McBuckets was the best offensive player on the board and is ready to play yesterday. I’m not sure who he defends one on one, but he’s smart and gives consistent effort. Most importantly he fits the culture in Chicago – a smart, efficient, good team player.
12. Orlando Magic (traded to the Philadelphia 76ers)
Dario Saric PF/SF | Croatia |
Even after signing a new three-year deal with a professional club in Turkey (mmm… turkey club…) the 76ers were not afraid to take a player they might have to wait a year or two before seeing him on the floor (again?). But unlike most draft and stash Euros, Saric is a ready made NBA professional; one of the best players in one of international basketball’s best leagues. A swiss army knife player, Saric will contribute in a multitude of ways while staying in the team concept. Should be a great complimentary player when/if the 76ers can get all of their pieces on the floor together at the same time – whenever that time may be.
13. Minnesota Timberwolves
Zach LaVine SG | UCLA |
If this was a draft for the dunk contest, LaVine would have gone #1. A fluid and filthy athlete who can get down the floor and above the rim in a hurry. His moderate production in his only year at UCLA had more to do with maturity than it did ability. Shows enough promise with his handle and his shot to ultimately play the SG but I believe he lacks the vision to become a true floor leader. While I like the pick, I do wonder if Adreian Payne would have been a better choice for them with the shadow of a looming Kevin Love deal happening this upcoming season.
14. Phoenix Suns
T.J. Warren SF | N.C. State |
After an unexpected playoff push in 2013, the Suns are in a unique position to have a competitive team again this year, but still grow and develop for the future. The one glaring need on the roster was at SF. Warren fills that need and can just flat out score. However, his lack of three point range will give coach Jeff Hornacek the task of fitting him into the scheme.
15. Atlanta Hawks
Adreian Payne PF | Michigan State |
I really like this player, but I’m not sure if I like the fit. Atlanta has three fixtures in the lineup: Jeff Teague at PG, Paul Milsap at PF and Horford at C. Kyle Korver gives them shooting on the wing, but I don’t see anyone else on the roster who can become that 5th starter. Perhaps the Hawks see Payne as the soon to be future replacement of Milsap (if they don’t resign him after this year), but his Spartan teammate Gary Harris would have been my pick here.
16. Chicago Bulls (traded to the Denver Nuggets)
Jusuf Nurkic C | Croatia |
Croatia strikes again! Denver has an unusual roster of solid players but no stars. I’m surprised they didn’t take Gary Harris here instead settling for another guy who is unlikely to be more than… a solid player.
17. Boston Celtics
James Young SG/SF | Kentucky |
Great value at this stage of the draft. If Young can develop, he could be the perfect 3 and D type next to Marcus Smart in the backcourt. Danny Ainge knows what he’s doing.
18. Phoenix Suns
Tyler Ennis PG | Syracuse |
Interesting pick here. PG should be the least of the Suns concerns but it might simply be a case of best player on their board. Ennis is a pure point guard who is only going to get better. He does an excellent job of controlling the pace and finding the open man. Still, I can’t believe Gary Harris remains on the board.
19. Chicago Bulls (traded to the Denver Nuggets)
Gary Harris SG | Michigan State |
They did get Gary Harris! What happened here? A two-way player with upside falls to 19? I know this draft is deep but my goodness this is a steal. If he was a few inches taller with a longer wingspan, he probably could have gone in the Top Ten.
20. Toronto Raptors
Bruno Caboclo SF | Brazil |
No Toronto. No. You were in the playoffs last year and you could have taken a quality player who could help you now, namely Shabazz Napier to replace Kyle Lowry. Instead you take a guy who may never play in an NBA game. Some might call it a risky pick, but I’m pretty sure there has to be some potential reward in order to take a risk. If Caboclo becomes a stud then I’ll eat my words but that wouldn’t be for another 4 to 5 years anyway. And thanks for helping the Miami Heat twice by passing on Napier and willing to sign and trade them Kyle Lowry. Cleveland hates you.
21. Oklahoma City Thunder
Mitch McGary PF | Michigan |
OKC takes a flyer on an injury plagued big man with upside. Perkins is on the way out (we’ve been saying that for a few years) and Nick Collison is getting older. It makes sense.
22. Memphis Grizzlies
Jordan Adams SG | UCLA |
With Tayshaun Prince in the starting lineup and a glut of SGs, I expected Memphis to take a SF like Kyle Anderson or Napier to back up Mike Conley (does everyone want to help the Heat?!?!). Nonetheless, the Grizz still need more scoring on the perimeter and they took the guy they felt had the best value here.
23. Utah Jazz
Rodney Hood SG | Duke |
This pick was made for two reasons; 1. Value and 2. Hayward might leave in the offseason if a team is willing to overpay – and there is always one NBA team ready to overpay. Hood can score especially in the catch and shoot off the ball, but is pretty porous on defense.
24. Charlotte Hornets (traded to the Miami Heat)
Shabazz Napier PG | Connecticut |
Miami gets LeBron’s favorite player by trading next to nothing to jump the Rockets who would have considered him. Is Jordan still making decisions in Charlotte? Can all the marginal playoff teams in the East STOP HELPING THE HEAT!!! Napier is a ready to play, can defend, create for himself and others, has the heart of a champion, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.
25. Houston Rockets
Clint Capela PF | France |
Fran Fraschilla called him "the second best Swiss-born player". I guess that’s good? Anyway, Capela will likely be stashed in Europe while he develops some actually skills to go with his excellent frame and athleticism.
26. Miami Heat (traded to the Charlotte Hornets)
P.J. Hairston SG | Texas Legends (NBA D-League) |
Ok, this is actually a pretty good addition for the Hornets. They need more shooting and someone who can crack the rotation sooner than later. Sorry that I doubted you, Michael.
27. Phoenix Suns
Bogdan Bogdanovic SG | Serbia |
I’m getting a little tired pretending like I know anything about some of these foreign guys. Another layaway plan player from what I hear. Suns had a lot of picks and used them all. They should have packaged them to try to get a more dynamic player. Maybe they just couldn’t find a trade partner?
28. L.A. Clippers
C.J. Wilcox SG | Washington |
The Clippers have better options on their roster at SG than SF. So why draft another shooter? I would have taken Cleanthony Early or K.J. McDaniels here but I’m just some guy who writes a blog. Wait, why hasn’t anyone taken those guys again?
29. Oklahoma City Thunder
Josh Huestis SF | Stanford |
Solid defender and rebounder; maybe he becomes something, but my Spiddy Sense says "no". K.J. McDaniels is a good defender with more upside and was still available. Maybe I’m missing something.
30. San Antonio Spurs
Kyle Anderson SF | UCLA |
Classic Spurs. Sit back late in the draft and let the guys who fit your unique championship team dynamic fall right into your lap. An intelligent, mature leader with great passing skills and court vision, Kyle Anderson could fill a similar role to Boris Diaw when the time comes; and for the Spurs, that time can be whenever they feel like it.
Britton L. Roberts
Follow me on twitter @theBLRreivew
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