A lot of interesting stuff happened last night. A lot of foolish stuff too.
The combination of the lockout keeping players in school and a strong freshman class made this year’s draft easily the deepest since 2008, which featured Derrick Rose, Kevin Love, Russell Westbrook and Eric Gordon and had contributors deep into the first round (Serge Ibaka, George Hill, Darrell Arthur).
In my mind, there were maybe 4-5 guys (Kyrie Irving and a few international big men) with elite talent in last year’s draft. This year, I thought there were probably 15-20.
And while the plentiful amount of talent available should have made the jobs of NBA GM’s easier, it also magnified the costs of their (many, many) mistakes. There are quite a few which don’t seem to take the draft very seriously, which is pretty crazy since it’s such an affordable way to upgrade a team’s overall talent level. Some years, you’re leaving $5 dollar bills on the ground; other years, $100.
At the same time, there’s no point in doling out grades to 30 GM’s taking different tests. You can divide them into three categories: rebuilding teams trying to add core players, reloading players try to upgrade around an existing core and contending teams trying to tweak minor roles around a successful core.
1) Detroit Pistons: In 2010, Greg Monroe fell into their laps. In 2012, Andre Drummond did. The Pistons got the most skilled big man in one draft and the most athletic big man in another. That’s a pretty good formula for success.
No team with complete confidence in their player development and the strength of their system would pass on Drummond in favor of any player in this class beyond Anthony Davis. — RealGM
Drummond is 6’11 280, moves like a guard and jumps like Blake Griffin. He’s a 19-year old with unlimited potential; those kind of players don’t come around very often. There’s no reason to think he won’t develop; this isn’t a DeMarcus Cousins situation. It’s just that teams are afraid he won’t, even though they are as responsible as the player they draft for his ultimate development.
Monroe and Drummond has a chance to be a Twin Towers type team. If you have two athletic 6’10+ dudes who can play, you’re going to have a pretty nice team. Kim English could a great fit here too: a spot-up shooter who can defend multiple positions.
2) New Orleans Hornets: David Stern did all the hard work here — he got them Anthony Davis and Eric Gordon. Unfortunately, they already fumbled their first real decision at No. 10. If you’ve already got a 2 and a 4/5 and needs at the other three positions, why take a pure 2 (Austin Rivers) who dominates the ball and doesn’t play any defense?
3) Toronto Raptors: They are slowly building a fairly interesting team. In the World U-19 Championships in Lithuania last year, Jeremy Lamb and Jonas Valanciunas were the two best players. Toronto has a skilled, athletic and versatile young player in their front-court and their back-court to build around.
4) Cleveland Cavaliers: With Dion Waiters, Tyler Zeller and Tristan Thompson around Kyrie Irving, they’ve got 4/5 of a pretty good starting line-up. But is pretty good going to be enough in a superteam era? Five years from now, they’re going to look back at the past two drafts and realize they left a lot of runs on the board.
5) Washington Wizards: They got a super-talented back-court of the future with John Wall and Bradley Beal, but for some reason, they’ve also invested most of their payroll into the aging front-line of Nene, Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza. There’s not a lot of shooting in that line-up, so they’ll probably play a lot of uptempo basketball, but a good team will be able to keep them in the half-court and clog the paint.
6) Charlotte Bobcats: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Jeff Taylor are two of the best perimeter defenders in the draft, but combine them with Bismack Biyombo and you have a core that’s going to struggle to score a lot of points. Kemba Walker isn’t exactly capable of carrying an NBA offense.
7) Sacramento Kings: Thomas Robinson is one of the most NBA-ready players in the draft, but that’s not that big a deal on a franchise that’s still pretty far from being NBA-ready. He’s most comfortable playing near the rim, which isn’t a great fit with a low-post scorer like DeMarcus Cousins. They also sold their No. 36 overall pick for straight cash, which is a pretty shameful thing for an organization to do when they have so many needs on their team.
8) Phoenix Suns: Kendall Marshall is pretty effective if he’s going to be the fifth best starter on his team like he was at UNC, but he’s not going to do much with a punch-less outfit like Phoenix.
1) Houston Rockets: In terms of maximizing the talent on hand, Morey made three pretty good selections in Jeremy Lamb, Royce White and Terrence Jones. I’m probably beating a dead horse here, but that’s a pretty good trio of players to tear it down and rebuild around. Those three + one top 5 pick could be a deadly team, but the only way they’re getting that top 5 pick is “earning” it by losing a lot of games.
2) Portland Trail Blazers: Damian Lillard was the best PG in the draft and Meyers Leonard was the second best C. With those two, LaMarcus Aldridge, Nic Batum and Wesley Matthews, Portland has a well-rounded long-term starting five that should develop into a top-tier playoff team. They hit a double they could turn into a triple, but they may have needed a home run to get past Oklahoma City.
3) Golden State Warriors: Everything in Golden State now revolves around the health of Andrew Bogut. If he can dominate action at both ends of the floor, the rest of their core (Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes, David Lee) complements him pretty well, but if he’s hurt, they don’t have enough athleticism to be a good defensive team or the dominant scorer to be a good offensive team.
4) Denver Nuggets: Evan Fournier could be an interesting player down the road, but they may have gotten the steal of the draft in Quincy Miller. I’m a big fan, even if no one else is; at the very least, he’s a pretty good gamble at No. 38 overall.
5) Boston Celtics: Danny Ainge has one of the best track records in the draft of anyone in the NBA. I’m not a big fan of Fab Melo and Jared Sullinger, but if any team is going to figure out how to maximize their value, it’s the Celtics.
6) Minnesota Timberwolves: Trading the No. 18 pick for Chase Budinger is a pretty good example of overpaying for a known commodity. You could have done a lot worse than Budinger at that spot, but you could have done a lot better.
7) Milwaukee Bucks: Not sure what the plan is in Milwaukee: John Henson, Ekpe Udoh and Larry Sanders have the same general strengths and weaknesses. A somewhat talented team that’s fairly poorly constructed.
8) Philadelphia 76ers: Moe Harkless has the potential to be an interesting player, but they’ve already got plenty of athletic wings who can’t shoot. A puzzling pick given the make-up of the rest of their roster.
Teams Who Tweak:
1) Oklahoma City Thunder: The rich keep on getting richer. Did the second best team in the NBA need a versatile and athletic 6’11+ player who can defend three different positions and fit into a lot of different roles offensively? The Thunder continue playing chess while a lot of teams are struggling to master how to play checkers.
2) Memphis Grizzlies: No. 25 overall is a pretty good place to roll the dice on a guard like Tony Wroten. He can’t shoot and he’s reluctant to pass the ball, but he’s a huge 6’5 205 PG with the ball-handling ability to take over a game off the bench.
3) Dallas Mavericks: Jared Cunnigham, an athletic slasher, and Bernard James, a shot-blocking small-ball center, are good fits next to Dirk Nowitzki. Dallas could have swung for the fences, but as long as they get Deron Williams, it won’t matter. If they don’t though, the talent level on this roster is slipping pretty fast.
4) Chicago Bulls: I’m not a big Marquise Teague fan, but I don’t really have a strong opinion about it. The Bulls might be able to turn him into a pretty good player.
5) Orlando Magic: Andrew Nicholson, if he can develop a three-point shot, could be a more well-rounded version of Ryan Anderson. That’s not going to mean much to Dwight Howard though.
6) Atlanta Hawks: John Jenkins is an excellent shooter but there’s not much else he can do. You can find undrafted free agents who can do that. Not a great use of the No. 23 pick.
7) Indiana Pacers: Miles Plumlee is big and athletic but he has no real idea how to use any of it. Duke got brutalized in the paint most of the year, not sure why you would draft one of their centers to be a defensive specialist.
Utah, the Lakers, Clippers, San Antonio, New York, Miami and New Jersey pretty much sat this draft out.