Takeaways from the NBA Draft
I start this Saturday blog with an official announcement: I plan to make these posts much more frequent (due to the non-school nature of summer), but they may also be slightly briefer than the average length. That is all.
Today, I figure it apt to take a look at the recent NBA Draft and what impact(s) it may have on the upcoming season and beyond. This was (in my mind) one of the deepest Draft classes in recent memory; there may not be multiple future Hall-of-Famers in this class, but there are certainly plenty of contributors. A guy like Mikal Bridges (who went 10th overall) doesn’t necessarily possess star power, but he is a do-it-all wing who fits perfectly into today’s NBA. Let’s run down the effects of these draft picks in order, though I won’t cover every single one (only picks that I deem truly franchise-altering will make the cut). And hey, while we’re at it why don’t we also take a look at the significant trades and what they mean.
DeAndre Ayton goes No. 1 to the Phoenix Suns
Ayton self-declared himself and new teammate Devin Booker “Shaq and Kobe 2.0” and I’m inclined to agree with him. We all know Booker has quickly turned into one of the best two guards in the NBA, and Ayton has all the tools you could ask for in a modern-day big man: freak athleticism, shot blocker, can switch onto smaller players, great strength, and can even run the pick and pop. If Ayton capitalizes on all those tools, I don’t see why he and Booker can’t form one of the most fearsome tandems in the NBA (though the rest of their team remains a huge questions mark….)
Luka Doncic (No. 3 overall by the Atlanta Hawks) traded to the Dallas Mavericks for Trae Young (No. 5 overall) and a 2019 first round pick
This has been the hot button topic of the draft ever since it went down Thursday night, and rightfully so; it’s not often you see Top-5 picks swapped on Draft Night. Since everyone is offering their take on who won this trade, I figure I might as well throw my hat in the ring and declare that BOTH teams are winners in this case. As I was quick to tweet out yesterday, this trade was all about the fit for both players. As soon as Atlanta selected Doncic (as they were expected to), my mind went to thinking about how his style of play would be awkward for the Hawks. Sure, he’s a great player, but he just didn’t seem like Atlanta’s guy. This trade was almost necessary because it really does benefit both players involved. Now Doncic can go to Dallas where he should pair very nicely with Dennis Smith Jr., with Doncic handling the running of the offense and Smith Jr. using his athleticisim off the ball to terrorize opponents. In Atlanta, Trae Young gets the opportunity to really be the focal point of the offense, as he can bring the ball up and do what he pleases with it (due to the Hawks desperate lack of offensive playmakers). While I do believe Doncic will have the better NBA career, but the 2019 pick the Hawks are receiving is a key part of this trade. Now before you say anything, I am aware that the pick only goes to the Hawks if it is out of the Top 5, but having multiple first round picks allows a team to help themselves out, especially if that team is the Hawks (sorry).
Mo Bamba goes No. 6 to the Orlando Magic
This may be the chic pick, but I worry about Orlando’s direction. What is their identity? A bunch of long athletic guys that are too raw to be classified as “skilled” (besides maybe Aaron Gordon, who mind you is a free agent)? The Magic have not had much recent success with supposed rim protectors, most recently in the horrific signing of Bismack Biyombo (a player who wasn’t even good enough for the Charlotte Bobcats). Nevertheless, they continue to invest in bigmen. What’s the definition of insanity? Trying the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result…
Collin Sexton goes No. 8 to the Cleveland Cavaliers
This pick in no way influences LeBron’s decision (which I still believe is to leave the Land), but it does give the Cavs a nice building block for the future. In fact, I would go so far as to say that he could be another Kyrie for them; a hyper-scoring guard playing on a mediocre team for a few years before some star teams up with him and forms a playoff team. It may be a few rough years in Cleveland, but at least they have a nice pair with Sexton and Kevin Love.
Kevin Knox gets booed
I just had to throw this in here because I find it hilarious that Knicks fans are so malcontent. I was watching the Draft on the NBA network, and one of the announcers quipped “They’re booing him. That means he’s going to be an All-Star.” I find joy in any New York team’s suffering.
Mikal Bridges (No. 10 overall by the Philadelphia 76ers) traded to the Phoenix Suns for Zhaire Smith (No. 16 overall) and a 2021 first round pick
Poor Bridges. Played at nearby Villanova, was saying during his press conference how happy he and his mother were that the Sixers took him, and now he’s off to the other side of the country and a much worse team. This trade does make sense for both teams though; Phoenix needs wing depth, and with J.J Reddick becoming a free agent Philadelphia could use a shooting guard. I am a little surprised that Philly also got that 2021 pick, however. Smith has been compared very closely to Dennis Smith Jr. as he possesses elite athleticism and driving ability, leading me to believe he is just as valuable as Bridges. Looks like the Sixers are still stockpiling picks…
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (No. 11 by the Charlotte Hornets) traded to the Los Angeles Clippers for Miles Bridges (No. 12 overall) and two future second round picks
The two second round picks are rather odd, but there’s no doubt Gilgeous-Alexander is a better talent than Miles Bridges. Gilgeous-Alexander could become the Clippers’ starting point guard, as many thought he was the best at that position from the collegiate ranks this year. Miles is a solid wing who could develop into a 3-D player, but nothing about him really jumps out at you. He does, however, fill a void at the wing for the Hornets, so he should see good playing time in his rookie season.
Michael Porter Jr. goes No. 14 to the Denver Nuggets
This could either be the best pick in this Draft or the worst. Porter Jr.’s injury woes have been well-documented, but so has his talent. He is easily a Top-5 player, and the Nuggets only real missing piece is a small forward. If Porter Jr. can get healthy, he could slide into the starting rotation for a Denver team that would almost certainly make the Playoffs.
Lonnie Walker IV goes No. 18 to the San Antonio Spurs
This was an important pick for the Spurs, as Tony Parker is closing in on retirement and Dejounte Murray still looks unready to lead the offense. Walker IV brings scoring and athleticism to a Spurs team that needs both, and his more aggressive nature should earn him minutes at the 1, maybe even over Murray.
Robert Williams goes No. 27 to the Boston Celtics
A projected Top-15 pick, Williams fell much farther and no one is really sure why. One thing is for certain; the Celtics got a total steal. They needed a center, especially with Aron Baynes hitting free agency, and Williams provides them with a 5 who has won SEC Defensive Player of the Year twice. His offense is still kind of a question mark, but with a roster as stacked as Boston’s is he doesn’t need to do more than he already does.
Dzanan Musa goes No. 29 to the Brooklyn Nets
You may not know this guy; I certainly don’t. Apparently he’s a 6’9” forward from Bosnia and Herzegovina (another noun you may not know) who is a pure scorer….but none of that matters. What matters is THE NETS FINALLY GOT A DRAFT PICK! YAY FOR BROOKLYN! ANYTHING IS BETTER THAN NOTHING!
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