My favorite sporting night of the year is in the books and I can say I was not disappointed with this year’s NBA Draft. The first two picks went as expected and the real draft began at pick number three with the Boston Celtics. There were some interesting picks, a lot of good players who fell to teams with need, a tweet that rocked Twitter and of course there was a massive trade with huge implications stealing the headlines away from all the rookies.
The worst kept secret in the entire draft was the Philadelphia 76ers selecting Ben Simmons #1 overall in the draft. Once that domino fell we knew the Los Angeles Lakers would be taking Brandon Ingram second overall. It’s the best pairings for both teams. Simmons is the players with the most potential to be a superstar but also has a dangerous potential to be underwhelming based on some of the skill sets he displayed while at LSU. I’m not even worried about that, his jump shot will develop and he’ll put on weight. He’s a great passer, great finisher inside and seems to be someone ready to take on the challenge of turning around the 76ers. I think we’ll see more of a leader in Philly than he was in college.
The Lakers also get a much needed win with Ingram who might be more “NBA ready” than Simmons and I expect him to produce right away. He too needs to pack on some muscle but his shooting ability, length and versatility is going to be a great addition to the Lakers foundation which is pretty bare at this point. Lakers have their work cut out for them in free agency but at least they have one piece of the puzzle solved.
So that brings us to the third pick where it was rumored the Celtics were trying to trade out of this slot possibly giving it to the 76ers in exchange for Nerlens Noel but nothing materialized. The Celtics ended up taking Jaylen Brown out of Cal in a move that shocked a lot of basketball insiders and of course Boston fans. I’m not that high on Brown and I never want to call someone a bust but I don’t think selecting him third overall is appropriate value given his abilities. He’s a 6’7 forward with good athleticism and works well in the paint but really has no jump shot. I’m sure he has a ton of upside but the Celtics will have their work cut out for them if they want to turn him into a perennial All-Star.
As for the rest of the draft I like a lot of the picks that happened. I think Kris Dunn going to the Timberwolves is a good selection and allows Minnesota to explore the options of trading Rubio or LaVine if they so wish. I like Dunn as a player, I think he was the best guard in this draft so good for the T’Wolves. Buddy Hield going to the Pelicans is also a pick I like, he’ll give them more perimeter shooting on a team that desperately needs to space the floor in order to maximize Anthony Davis. I don’t know much about Dragan Bender but the Phoenix Suns got the guy with the coolest name in the draft if not ever, so there’s that.
Leave it to DeMarcus Cousins to send out a tweet that entirely shuts down Twitter in the middle of the NBA Draft. After the Sacramento Kings drafted not one big man (Marquese Chriss, 6’10) but two (Georgios Papagiannis, 7’2) Boogie Cousins took to Twitter with a candid message for the organization. In a not so subtle manner he tweeted, “Lord give me the strength” with a prayer hands emoji and the end. Just when we thought the drama was over with George Karl leaving and Dave Joerger coming in we start back to where we were. It’s not exactly a snake in the grass tweet but it’s not a ringing endorsement for the franchise either.
The biggest shockwave during the draft wasn’t the draft but a trade involving the Orlando Magic and the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Thunder had been rumored to be shopping Serge Ibaka all day long and they finally found a suitor. Ibaka will leave the Thunder after 6 years heading to Orlando for Victor Oladipo, Ersan Ilyasova and the rights to #10 pick Domantas Sabonis. It’s a massive trade with a lot of various implications. I definitely think the Thunder won this trade outright and while I do love Ibaka as a player the haul they received in return was well worth it. Oklahoma City wouldn’t have been able to pay Ibaka next summer anyways so this is the best return you could possibly ask for. The most important question, the only question, what does this mean in the efforts to retain Kevin Durant? Does this help their chances or hurt their chances?
- Ibaka while only 26 years old is a veteran who is the quintessential four man in the NBA right now. He can shoot from the perimeter, score inside, play defense, rebound and block shots; a perfect compliment next to Nikola Vucevic. His statistics have fallen off but he’s still a very valuable player. The biggest unknown with Ibaka is his contract situation, he only has one year left on his deal worth $12.4M before becoming a free agent. Orlando gave up a lot to get him, I don’t exactly know what their master plan is but it really looks like the Thunder fleeced the Magic on this trade.
- Victor Oladipo is a player I love and he’s only 24 years old. He never really found his stride in Orlando, I blame a lot of that on Scott Skiles and his awful rotations and constant lineup shuffles. ‘Dipo is a versatile guard who can play both positions and brings much needed scoring to a backcourt that just didn’t have it with Dion Waiters and Andre Roberson. Oladipo is a 16 point, 4 rebound, 4 assist guy who can either be a good complimentary piece to a Durant/Westbrook duo or he can be an insurance policy to step up into a bigger role should either player (or both) decide to leave the Thunder in the next year or two.
1) Philadelphia 76ers – Ben Simmons, LSU
2) Los Angeles Lakers – Ben Ingram, Duke
3) Boston Celtics – Jaylen Brown, Cal
4) Phoenix Suns – Dragan Bender, Croatia
5) Minnesota Timberwolves – Kris Dunn, Providence
6) New Orleans Pelicans – Buddy Hield, Oklahoma
7) Denver Nuggets – Jamal Murray, Kentucky
8) Sacramento Kings – Marquese Chriss, Washington
9) Toronto Raptors – Jakob Poeltl, Utah
10) Milwaukee Bucks – Thon Maker, Australia
11) Orlando Magic – Domantas Sabonis, Gonzaga
12) Utah Jazz – Taurean Prince, Baylor
13) Phoenix Suns – Georgios Papagiannis, Greece
14) Chicago Bulls – Denzel Valentine, Michigan St.
15) Denver Nuggets – Juan Hernangomez, Spain
16) Boston Celtics – Guerschon Yabusele, France
17) Memphis Grizzlies – Wade Baldwin IV, Vanderbilt
18) Detroit Pistons – Henry Ellenson, Marquette
19) Denver Nuggets – Malik Beasley, Florida St.
20) Indiana Pacers – Caris Lavert, Michigan
21) Atlanta Hawks – DeAndre Bembry, St. Joseph’s
22) Charlotte Hornets – Malachi Richardson, Syracuse
23) Boston Celtics – Ante Zizic, Croatia
24) Philadelphia 76ers – Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, France
25) Los Angeles Clippers – Brice Johnson, UNC
26) Philadelphia 76ers – Furkan Korkmaz, Turkey
27) Toronto Raptors – Pascal Siakam, New Mexico St.
28) Phoenix Suns – Skal Labissiere, Kentucky
29) San Antonio Spurs – Dejounte Murray, Washington
30) Golden State Warriors – Damian Jones, Vanderbilt