Sorry that I’m a little late with this, I’ve been busy over the weekend. Well, the draft came and went. I was right with my first 7 picks, something I’m proud to say. After you get one pick wrong, your whole mock draft goes out of wack, so I expected to not get that many right after the lottery area. Also, I only predicted a couple of trades, but that was because of my own uncertainty. Turns out, we got more trades in this year’s draft than we ever could’ve expected, constant swaps of late picks for future late picks, flipping new prospects for cash, and of course the infamous Jimmy Butler trade that kicked off the night. To start, let’s go over my personal winners and losers of the draft.
Winners: Minnesota Timberwolves, Philadelphia 76ers, Charlotte Hornets, Golden State Warriors
T-Wolves – The trade that Minnesota pulled off for Jimmy Buckets was beautiful on their side. Let’s think about this. They were able to get a 3rd team All-NBA player, All-NBA first and second team defensive player, 24 ppg scorer, and a guy with a great 25.3 win PER and 13.8 win shares for a rookie point guard who can’t shoot, an admittedly exciting and offensively talented combo guard that also doesn’t understand defense for his life and just tore his ACL, and a draft pick that turned into a skinny kid from Poland. And don’t get me wrong, I like Markkanen and I think he’ll be a good player, but I still don’t think he’s enough value to get in return for Jimmy freaking Butler. However, the worst part of this trade is that the Bulls also had to give up the No.16 pick!!! Why was that necessary? Couldn’t the Bulls just keep it and have even more young players? How could you get snookered in to thinking that would the make the trade fair when even without that pick you still had the worse end of the deal. Uggh. But enough about the Bulls. The T-Wolves come out of this draft with an All-Star veteran who is familiar with their coach that will help guide and develop their young stars in Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns. Not only that, but they selected a nice young center in Justin Patton who is very skinny, but full of athletic upside and defensive potential. Well done Minny, well done.
76ers – I know that me saying my favorite team did a great job makes me seem like a total homer, and maybe that’s true. But I’ve mad at my team for draft decisions in the past, so I think I’m being honest when I say that I thought the Sixers made great use of their multitude of picks. I’m not going to dive into Markelle Fultz right now, as I already gushed about how excited I am for him in my piece, “The 76ers’ Trade for Markelle Fultz Reaction,” which you can go check out if you didn’t get a chance to read it. I’m here to talk about the other picks. I love Latvian Center, Anzejs Pasecniks, and was hoping that he might slip into the second round for the Sixers to nab him. And yes I know, the Sixers have plenty of centers and big men as is, but I couldn’t help but be giddy when I heard that we had traded for him. He’s a 7’2” skilled big guy who used to be friends with the Porzingod himself. He has a great shot and isn’t as slow and unathletic as you’d think. He’s still skinny and needs to get stronger, and defense will be problem at first, but I think in a few years he can establish himself as one of the best bench/role player in the NBA. I do think the Sixers made one bonehead move: after drafting exciting Oklahoma St. point guard Jawun Evans, they immediately shipped him to the Clippers for a little bit of cash. It’s not even that I think that he’s that great, but considering his value I think they could’ve gotten more for him rather than a tiny bit of cap space. In the 2nd round, the Sixers were able to steal Jonah Bolden, a super athletic forward who was set to play for UCLA before academic issues sent him overseas. All draft experts had him rated higher than where he got picked, and he seems to have loads of potential. And to cap off the night, the Sixers took ANOTHER international player in Mathias Lessort. He’s a French PF who was predicted to go in the early 30s, got passed up by some teams, seemed to be forgotten, and suddenly slipped all the way into the Sixers’ lap at pick 50. Overall, a great night for “The Processers” as we take our superstar PG in Fultz, and 3 foreign steals.
Charlotte Hornets – Technically, I count the move to trade for Dwight as part of the draft since the trade involved a swap of draft picks. But that’s not the reason that I thought they won the draft. That reason is Malik Monk. I thought Monk would go in the 8-10 range, but I secretly believed that he was actually at least the 5th best/most talented player in the draft. Monk is an absolutely electrifying scorer and in the new NBA filled with 3 point bombers, I think Monk will be a lot like Devin Booker and figure out how to score in the NBA right away. I even think he’ll be good enough to convince the Hornets to trade Kemba if they feel like they need to rebuild/retool their team. So overall, I think Monk was the steal of the draft and the fact that he fell to the Hornets will come back to haunt the franchises of the Magic, Knicks, and Kings. The Hornets also got Dwayne Bacon in the 2nd round, who is a very capable scorer and has bit more experience to help him transition into the NBA.
Golden State Warriors – What the heck are other GMs doing? I’m going to resist from butchering the Bulls, Gar Forman, and John Paxson in this paragraph since that’ll happen very shortly. The Warriors should have been completely irrelevant in the draft. They have no picks. They have no worthy pieces that they’d be willing to trade. All other front offices resent them too much to help them. So what happens? The Warriors give the Bulls money they wouldn’t have used anyways to draft the exact player they wanted and a guy that all draft experts, sportswriter, casual fans, and even myself said had tremendous potential and upside. Jordan Bell looked incredible in March Madness, as he sprung all over the court to block shots and finish dunks against arguably the two best teams in the nation in Kansas and North Carolina. The rest of his highlights don’t disappoint either. He’s a super long, athletic, and quick big man who brings a ton of energy and heart and is a perfect small ball center. The rich just keep getting richer.
Losers: Chicago Bulls, Miami Heat, New York Knicks
Chicago Bulls – My apologies to the Knicks and Heat. I had to include other losers of the draft because it would be awkward to only have one after having four winners. But man oh man, the Bulls draft was like driving a flaming truck off a 500 foot cliff while it was being shot at with a machine gun from a helicopter, and then after the truck landed it rolled off another cliff, exploded into more flames on impact with the ground, and ended up in a toxic waste dump that completely eviscerated it. How many wrong decisions can you make? In the Timberwolves’ winner paragraph I already detailed the stupidity of the Jimmy Butler trade. You know, point guard who sucks at defense and just blew out a knee, rookie guard who can’t shoot, and the Finnish Channing Frye (props to the ESPN NBA Draft crew for coming up with that comparison and Bill Simmons on a podcast for making me crack up at that one.) All for a guy who has the highest percentage for shots in the clutch in the NBA and might be a top 10 player in the league. And once again, WHY OH WHY DID THE BULLS ALSO GIVE UP THE 16TH PICK?????????????? I’m done, I’m just done. If they hadn’t shot themselves in the foot enough, they decide to sell a young, exciting 2nd round steal in Jordan Bell to the best team in the league for freaking cash that they won’t even use. Jordan Bell, I’m thankful that you will not have to go through the living hell that is the current Bulls organization and instead go to the most well run organization the league has seen in a while. The Bulls are a disaster, hot garbage, a trainwreck, disgusting, anything you can think of. And now their going to have to pay old man D-Wade north of 24 million dollars just to get the heck out of Chicago. Oh how the mighty have fallen.
Miami Heat – Bam Adebayo. I’ll be honest, I like the guy. I think he has a great physique, energy, and an awesome nickname. But never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that he’d get picked this high, even creeping into the lottery. In some mocks, people even had him slipping into the 2nd round. While I feel like that would’ve been too far, I definitely think he should have gone at 18th at the highest, and more reasonably going in the 22-25 range. But no, 14 is where he goes. I just feel like this was a waste of a lottery pick by the usually smart and crafty Heat. If they liked Bam so much, they could’ve traded back a few spots and taken him there while also gaining another asset. And then again, why would they like him so much? He doesn’t fit their team at all. I know that he’s listed as a PF, but trust me, he’s a center. All he ever did at Kentucky was dunk the ball and occasionally he displayed a good post move. But he has no jump shot and struggled from the foul line. I know his shot looked better at workouts, but come on, that’s in an open gym with no pressure or defense. And stop playing the “Kawhi improved his shot, so can he” card. Y’know what makes Kawhi so great? The fact that there is almost no chance of finding a player as good as him again!!! That’s the thing about greatness, it’s rare. The Heat could’ve used another guard, but all the good ones had been picked by that point. Their second biggest need was forward who could shoot, and guess who got picked right after Bam? Justin Jackson. I rest my case.
New York Knicks – I didn’t hate the Knicks draft to be honest. They’re losers because a) they’re always losers and b) the Porzingis rumors were so ugly that it’s caused all Knicks fans consider to either drink bleach or just stab themselves in order to end the misery. The Knicks need to fire Phil Jackson and fast. Not all jobs in the NBA translate. Great players usually aren’t great coaches. Great coaches aren’t usually good GMs. Good GMs would usually suck at coaching. Some players try to be announcers and absolutely suck, cough, Magic Johnson and Isiah Thomas, cough. But back to the Knicks’ draft. I actually like Frank Ntilikina and I think he can be really good, but how could you pass on both Dennis Smith and Malik Monk right here. Nothing would’ve excited New Yorkers more than to pick the 48 inch vertical point guard or the superstar scorer from the most fun back court in college basketball. In particular, Monk was very upset that the Knicks passed on him, and I feel like he might make them regret it. The Knicks also took another international player with the 58th pick, but we’ll likely never here about him. So all in all, the Knicks just can’t win.
So that’s my winners and losers of the draft. I had a lot of ranting about the Jimmy Butler trade in there, and that bring me to the biggest conclusion of that trade: The Celtics did not want Jimmy Buckets. They just didn’t. The Celtics could’ve presented a trade 3 times more appealing to the Bulls than what the T-Wolves gave them. Heck, just giving up the two Brooklyn picks for Jimmy might’ve worked out better for Chicago. But clearly, the Celtics feel like trading for Jimmy was not the piece they’re waiting for. The Celtics know that the Warriors will dominate the league and win titles for at least the next 3 years and maybe the next 5. And on top of that, LeBron and the Cavs will keep the stranglehold on the Eastern Conference through 2018, when either LeBron could leave or get old. So the Celtics are refusing to buy into the superteam, win now philosophy because any team they could assemble as of now still stands no chance against Golden State. They want to keep stockpiling picks for the future and keep a lot of young talent. So what are they planning? Swapping IT4 for more young assets? Trading for PG13? Believing in the Nets’ horribleness and drafting someone like Michael Porter next year? Maybe even another year or two in order to overwhelm under performing Western Conference teams in the Thunder and Pelicans in order to trade for either Westbrook or Anthony Davis? Whatever it is, it’s sure to be on the minds of people all around the league. The one thing I’m decently sure of is that by not trading for a star, the Celtics have the upmost confidence that they can sign a big name free agent, most likely Gordon Hayward, but maybe Blake Griffin or Paul Milsap. Just wait, Boston has big things for all of us.
I mentioned in that the potential LeBron move to LA. And man, with Jimmy now off the market, and the Pacers seeming to not be interested in Kevin Love, talks of LeBron wanting to leave a dying Cleveland team will only heat up. There have been reports that Cleveland, Denver, and Indy were talking about a 3 team deal on draft night that would send Paul George to Cleveland, Love to the Nuggets, and the Pacers would get something else. The sides never came to an agreement, but are still in talks. More news includes that Blake and CP3 will opt out of their contracts and that the Spurs are actively shopping LaMarcus Aldridge after this past year’s disappointing performance. I’ve even heard that the Spurs have offered potential trades of Aldridge plus assets to the Pacers for Paul George, and maybe even LaMarcus getting a reunion in Portland. By Thursday, I’ll post all my final predictions for free agent decisions and off season trades, but then I’ll have to take a week off while on vacation, so I won’t be able to give immediate reactions to the NBA free agent moves that explode in early July, but don’t worry I’ll be sure to catch up with all the news and unload my opinions. Get excited, the off season is just heating up.