NBA Draft: 3 Winners

The NBA draft is undoubtably the best draft of any professional sport.  There aren’t 27 thousand rounds like the MLB, it doesn’t take a whole week like the NFL and its not hockey.  The way a team drafts can define a teams legacy for the next 20 years.  No one wants to be the general manager that decided to select Greg Oden over Kevin Durant or Sam Bowie over the great Micheal Jordan.  Heaven forbid you be the guy that decided  to take Darko Milicic with the second pick of one of the greatest draft classes of all time.  the 2018 NBA Draft had a lot of promising and intriguing talent, its time to decide who had a great night and who made a Sam Bowie pick.

Winners

Phoenix Suns- Deandre Ayton, Mikal Bridges (trade rights), George King, Elie Oboko

Ok I know, this is a a pretty easy choice, having the number one pick usually means you are going to get a great talent.  I want to praise GM Ryan McDonough for not over thinking the situation.  Luka Doncic was an intriguing prospect for a team that will still be in rebuild mode next season.  They ignored the intrigued and locked up the clear best player in the draft.  Scouting reports for Deandre Ayton listed very few weaknesses, the lone problem was a supposed inability to protect the rim. What most people seem to forget is that Ayton played a large amount of time at the power forward position drawing him away from the basket and limiting his ability to be in a position to effect as many shots.  The ability to improve defensively will come as he transitions to the center position.

For most teams Ayton would be enough but the Suns also pulled off a trade acquiring Villanova swing man Mikal Bridges. Bridges has the tools to be a versatile defender at the NBA level, especially guarding 1-3. Averaged 2.1 steals and 1.3 blocks per 40.  He also brings offensive efficiency to a young team.  Bridges time at Villanova allowed him playing on a winning team while not having to be the focus of the other teams attention.  He is a perfect fit to play alongside Devin Booker and Josh Jackson.

Indiana Pacers- Aaron Holiday, Alize Johnson

The Indiana Pacers put themselves back on the map during the first round of the playoffs taking mighty Lebron James to game 7.  Picking from the 23rd position usually it is not easy to find the perfect fit for whatever need you have but sometimes it does.  UCLA Guard Aaron Holiday fell down the draft a bit and ended up in a perfect place.  Indiana needed depth at the point and shooting guard spots and they got it with Holiday. Excellent blend of shotmaking and penetrating — 21.6 points per 40 minutes. Tremendous balance and touch. Made 2.8 3-pointers per 40 minutes at a 42.9 percent clip as a junior.  Holiday will allow Victor Oladipo to play the off the ball more as well as get more rest and know that there will still be a scorer on the floor.  Holiday has top 15 talent that the Pacers grabbed in the mid 20’s, look for Holiday to make and immediate impact…Donavon Mitchell like??

The Pacers also picked up mid-major phenom 6’8″ Point/Forward Alize Johnson with the 20th pick of the second round.  Johnson a swiss army knife on the floor can give the Pacers depth at multiple positions.  The Missouri Valley Conference 2x first team all conference player improved every year for the Bears including shooting 39% from three in 2018.  I great grab for today’s NBA style.

Chicago Bulls- Wendell Carter, Chandler Hutchinson

I have wrote and talked about the development of the young core of the Chicago Bulls all season.  With a healthy Kris Dunn and Lauri Markkenan  I think they have the building blocks of an Eastern Conference playoff team in 2018-19.  Sitting at #8 in the draft they could have taken some chances, maybe go with Micheal Porter Jr. or add a wing player like Kevin Knox or Mikal Bridges.  They went with the steady hand of Wendell Carter Jr.  Carter Jr. is a double double machine that has underrated shot blocking ability. Chicago picks up a big center who can slide in right next to Lauri Markkanen’s finesse game up front. He has excellent hands and touch around the basket. Carter compares very well to former Bull and Blue Devil Carlos Boozer.

Having a second first round pick allowed the bulls to take a gamble on a potential prospect gem in Boise State’s 6’7″ swingman Chandler Hutchinson.  The 2018 Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year brings great size and length to the young Bulls.  Hutchinson has the potential to move right into the Chicago rotation and give them valuable minutes on both ends of the floor.  Chicago found a way to add two valuable rotational pieces that are NBA ready right now.

Honorable Mention : Denver Nuggets (Micheal Porter Jr. at #14 is a steal)

 

 

 

NBA Draft Preview

The 2018 NBA Regular Season is coming to an end next week.  As the race for championship continues the battle for the bottom is s till very interesting. Let’s begin our mock draft

Phoenix Suns select Deandre Ayton, Center, Arizona

Deandre Ayton tenure at Arizona was not one the university will not be one of that many will remember for positive reasons.  Fact is that Ayton is the clear #1 selection for a Suns team that is in full rebuild mode.  Devin Booker and Josh Jackson give them some light at the end of an extremely dark tunnel but with the addition of a player like Ayton that tunnel may have an emergency generator that keeps the lights on for at least the extent of a rookie contract.  The Suns last attempt drafting a big man was not successful, former Maryland big man Alex Len has not developed into an impact player that they hoped when they used their 5th overall pick on him in 2013.  Ayton though is considered to be that blue chip prospect that can help this team back to relevance.  This is a no brainer at #1, the only way to screw it up is to not do what everyone thinks you should do.

 Memphis Grizzlies select Luka Doncic, Guard, Real Madrid

Luka Doncic enters the 2018 NBA draft as one of the most respected Euroleague resumes. Doncic also led Slovenia to last summer’s Eurobasket title. Doncic is comfortable in the lead guard position but will most likely need to learn to play a wing role along side Mike Conley. The Grizzlies have to find a direction for the franchise as they begin to see the decline of Marc Gasol, a young talented import is the answer, he can be the next star in a Grizzlies uniform.  The Grizzlie will probably still stink next year but at least they will get nice media coverage with this pick.

Dallas Mavericks select Marvin Bagley, Forward, Duke University

The Dallas Mavericks are one of the two teams that have been openly tanking to help their draft position.  They find themselves picking number three on draft day and will score themselves a marquee forward to build their franchise around. Marvin Bagley was one of the most productive college basketball prospects all season long at Duke, utilizing his athletic mismatch to score in the paint and manufacturing easy baskets on the offensive glass at an elite clip.

Atlanta Hawks select Jaren Jackson, Forward, Michigan State

The Hawks stink, but they really stink defensively. The answer for them is Jaren Jackson. His shot blocking numbers (5.5 per-40) are off the charts, and teams are intrigued by has ability to protect the rim and defend in space while also being able to space the floor (39.6% from three). The Hawks have no identity, they are looking to build around point guard Dennis Schroder.  They need to cut bait with everyone over 25 and build their team around the length of Jackson and the continuing development of Taurean Prince. The Hawks are still very far away from being a competitive team.

Orlando Magic select Michael Porter Jr., Forward, Missouri

The Orlando Magic have a couple of nice pieces to build around with Evan Fournier and Nikola Vucevic. The impending free agency of cornerstone Aaron Gordon leaves an opening at the power forward position, the perfect fit will still be available with Missouri’s Michael Porter Jr. Porter Jr’s injury derailed what could have been a fun year for the Tigers in the now basketball strong SEC.   Porter Jr is a scorer with the size of a power forward and the movement of a point guard.  While I could see the Magic taking a shot on Trae Young here, they would be wise to go with MPJ his size and skill will make him an immediate impact.

Sacramento Kings select Trae Young, Guard, Oklahoma

This is a dream for the Sacramento Kings.   A draft full of centers! Hopefully they make the intelligent decision and take the best player n the board for them.  Trae Young is a captivating player that will give the Kings some attention in the California market. Trae Young alongside De’aron Fox may not work out in the long run due to the fact that both players are very ball heavy.  But if I am the Kings and a talent and marketable asset like Young falls into my lap I have to go with it.

Chicago Bulls select Mohammad Bamba, Center, Texas

The Chicago Bulls greatest dream would be for Trae Young to fall to them but that is unlikely. So they will have to go to plan b.  Luckily for the Bulls plan b is Mo Bamba! All-league defensive potential is the center of Bamba’s appeal, and while Texas’s season wound up a disappointment, he’s shown plenty of ability and held steady as a top selection. The Bulls have a built a nice core of young talent lead by 2017 first round pick Lauri Markkanen, Kris Dunn, and Bobby Portis.  The Robin Lopez stop gap is coming to an end.  Plug in Bamba and let him swat shots all over the arena.  His skills will continue to grow on the offensive end.

Cleveland Cavaliers (from Brooklyn) select Wendell Carter, Forward, Duke

Wendall Carter is a man at 6′ 10″ 260lbs. Carter was as solid as possible for the Blue Devils last season and is ready to make the transition to the NBA.  Carter has the ability to spread the defense with mid range shooting as well as be a stable force in the middle. Pairing Carter with the range of Kevin Love will give that Cavaliers a solid punch in the middle and from the outside. His impressive skill level, passing and on-court feel should help him find an NBA fit, and a different system might unlock more of his skills.

New York Knicks select Mikal Bridges, Guard/Forward, Villanova

The Knicks shocked everyone last season going with Frank Ntilikina with the 8th overall pick in the 2017 draft. Ktilikina showed glimpses of his potential during the season, but it has been the emergence of Trey Burke that has brought the most impact to the Knick during the season.  The Knicks have a strong core with the Unicorn, Enes Kanter, and a few different options at the point.  A great addition will be some 3 and D wing help like Mikal Bridges.  His upside could very easily point him in the top 5 so this could be a steal for the Knicks.

Philadelphia 76ers (from LAL) select Jalen Brunson, Guard, Villanova

I am going to be honest in saying this probably is a long shot, the realistic pick for the Sixers would probably be Lonnie Walker from Miami or Miles Bridges from Michigan State.  Brunson doesn’t have the traditional tools of an NBA top ten pick, his athleticism has been questioned as well as his size. He relies on his considerable craft to compensate for a lack of top-flight quickness and understands how to pick his spots, change speed and direction and score the ball.  Brunson brings a lot of grit as well as considerable leadership to whatever team he plays for.  With the talent the Sixers have put together strong leadership is something that they have to value.

Brunson is a long shot in this spot, the Sixers really need a defensive stopper at the guard positon, Walker from Miami really does make a lot more sense but to see Brunson in Philly would be awesome for everyone.

 

That’s my top ten at this point…things always change this time of year I will continue to update a we get closer to the draft.