By: Ravneet Singh
Acquired: Tim Hardaway Jr. (via trade with New York), Dimitrios Agravanis at No. 59, two future 2nd-round picks
It doesn’t seem like the Hawks made the best use of the 15th pick. They traded down to get two future second rounders. They could have drafted someone with more potential. Oubre could have fit in nicely with the team, as he’s a possible 3 and D type player with crazy athleticism and measurements.
Tim Hardaway could fit well with the team also, but he just doesn’t have the same upside as one of the draft picks. The Hawks made this move to save money, so mission accomplished. They also got someone that could contribute right away, which is what you want as a contender. They also believe they could develop Hardaway better than the Knicks. That being said, one has to wonder if the Hawks will regret not picking someone if Dekker or Oubre reach their potential.
Acquired: Terry Rozier at No. 16, R.J. Hunter at No. 28, Jordan Mickey at No. 33, Marcus Thornton at No. 45
The two most surprising picks in the draft for me were Kristaps Porzingis to the Knicks and Terry Rozier to the Celtics. Rozier was the seventh best point guard on my big board. Jerian Grant, Delon Wright, and Tyus Jones were rated higher and were still available at this pick. The difference between Rozier and those three isn’t large. In fact, Rozier could end up being better than all of them. Wright and Jones project to be back-up guards, but Grant and Rozier could possibly a starter.
My issues with Rozier come from his inconsistency. He’s able to create offense on his own, which is very valuable at the next level. But he needs to improve his shooting and his passing to become a starting point guard in the NBA. He does have nice size and his defense is very good, so there is plenty to like. Sam Dekker was the best player available here, and after such a great tournament I’m surprised that Danny Ainge didn’t pick him instead.
As for the other picks Boston made, one really can’t complain much. R.J. Hunter has the makings of a good 3 and D player and Jordan Mickey could be another stretch big man for them. Marcus Thornton played well at the Combine, but how many guards to the Celtics need? Montrezl Harrell made sense too at pick 28.
Acquired: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (No. 23 pick, via trade), Juan Vaulet (No. 39 pick, via trade), Chris McCullough at No. 29
Portland traded the 23rd pick and Steve Blake for the Nets’ Mason Plumlee. It’s an interesting direction for the Nets. By signing back Brook Lopez and Thad Young they may have felt that Plumlee was someone they didn’t necessarily need. Blake has always been a very solid back-up point guard.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson was a fair return for Plumlee. He can defend positions one through three, and has the potential to be the best defender from this draft. Most of his success on the next level will be on defense, as his jump shot is kind of broken at best and he can’t create on his own. That’s dangerous and a good weapon to have.
Chris McCullough is a good prospect and is someone with decent upside. He is coming off an ACL injury, so he could end up missing part or most of the season. Chris still has plenty to learn about the game, but he has a good mid-range game and he has nice measurements.
Acquired: Frank Kaminsky at No. 9
Apparently the Celtics were offering a total of four first round picks and two second round picks so that they could pick Justise Winslow at 9. That’s a pretty crazy offer that Michael Jordan might regret not taking in the long-run. The Hornets kept the pick so that they could pick Frank Kaminsky from Wisconsin.
A lot of well-known people are in love with Kaminsky, such as Charles Barkeley, Michael Jordan, Vlade Divac, and Phil Jackson. And trust me, there’s plenty to like. Kaminskly should be a decent role player at the very least. He fits the mold of the modern big man. He can stretch the floor, post-up, and pass. He’s not the quickest guy or the most athletic guy, but his shooting makes up for it.
I’m also a Kaminsky fan, so it pains me to say this but I think Charlotte made a mistake. They should have taken the Celtics’ deal. There were other big men in this draft that could spread the floor and I’m sure the Celtics were offering their 16th pick in return. Maybe they wouldn’t be able to contribute as quickly as Kaminsky, and the Hornets are clearly trying to make the playoffs after the Nic Batum trade.
Kaminsky playing next to Al Jefferson could be very good fit on offense. Defense is another story, however. At best Frank is an average defender. He could improve on that end in the NBA, since there will be less pressure on him to score than when he was on Wisconsin.
Acquired: Bobby Portis at No. 22
There are very few teams in the NBA that are able to build their team through low draft picks. The Pacers and Bulls are good examples of those teams who draft well in the middle or late in the first round. The Bobby Portis pick is a good example of how these teams take advantage of a player who goes under the radar.
Portis is another one of those big men in this draft with a midrange game. He has a fairly good jumper and is a player that makes very few mistakes. He doesn’t have huge upside though, and his ceiling is probably being a starter. So the Bulls got a low-risk, good role player at pick 22. Not bad at all.
Also, it is important to consider that Taj Gibson has been on the trading block for some time and he has just two more years on his contract. If the Portis develops into the player they want him to, then Gibson can be even more expendable than before.
Acquired: Two future second-round picks, Cedi Osman at No. 31, Sir'Dominic Pointer at No. 53
Cleveland moved down in the draft to save money. They traded their first round pick for two second rounders, which ended up being Cedi Osman and Rakeem Christmas. They later traded Christmas to the Pacers to save even more money. They lost an opportunity to get a player with more talent with their first round pick, but they preferred to save money. Makes sense considering how much Cleveland is over the cap.
Cedi might not even play for the Cavaliers for a few seasons at the very least. Pointer was a good defender at St. John’s and he was able to average almost 14 PPG last season. He still has a ways to go on developing his offense, but his defense could help him stay on the team and in the league.
Acquired: Justin Anderson at No. 21, Satnam Singh Bhamara at No. 55
Satnam Singh’s story has motivated people from India to play basketball, and I am glad to see someone of Indian descent get drafted. It’s a great story but he won’t have any impact on the team this year. Justin Anderson definitely could though. He’s has had valuable experience playing at Virginia for three years, and he could end up being a better two way player than Devin Booker.
He is strong and has shown signs that he can develop a consistent jumper. Three and D players are becoming more and more valuable these days (Just see how much Danny Green got paid this summer). Anderson projects as a role player, but that’s not bad when you draft in the 20’s.
Acquired: Emmanuel Mudiay at No. 7, Nikola Radicevic at No. 57
Denver has officially hit the reset button by trading their best player in Lawson. Mudiay was the perfect draft pick for them for many reasons. First, he’s the best replacement available for Lawson. Second, he has loads of upside. After the first four picks no player had more upside than Mudiay. And last but not least, Mudiay is a high character guy who is willing to put in the work to be very good.
There are issues with his game, such as his inconsistent jumper and turnovers. His jumper is what concerns me most, since turnovers are a common issue that tends to get better with time. Shooting in today’s game is more important than ever before, and it’s critical for point guards to shoot well (If not, you can end up being like Rondo, and teams can leave you open and double someone else). He is a very good pick and roll player and he can good vision. In transition he will be able to finish with his strength. Sometimes he relies too much on the pick and roll to get free and go towards the basket, so I would like to see him use his first step to attack defenders. Overall, Mudiay could become a top two player in this draft, and the Nuggets are lucky that he fell to them at seven.
Acquired: Stanley Johnson at No. 8, Darrun Hilliard II at No. 38
A lot of people around the league were asking why did the Pistons take Stanley Johnson over Justise Winslow. It’s a fair question. Most people, including myself, had Winslow higher on their big board than Johnson. If you ask Johnson he will say, “Because I’m the best player in the draft.” That’s a great answer and mindset to have, but I believe the Pistons picked him was because they believed Winslow was more of two than a three. Maybe they believe Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is their shooting guard of the future.
Overall I believe that Stan Van Gundy believed in Johnson because of his attitude and potential. He’s not great at any one thing besides his defense, which isn’t perfect either. He is solid at a number of things and has the right work ethic to improve in those things. The Kawhi Leonard comparisons are there and if Johnson could even come close to being as good as him then the Pistons didn’t make a mistake on passing on Winslow. It’s also important to note that Johnson arguably had the best performance in the Summer League. He averaged 16 PPG and 7 RPG, per NBA.com.
Golden State Warriors
Acquired: Kevon Looney at No. 30
It’s pretty strange how far Kevon Looney’s stock has fallen from the beginning of the year. He was projected as a lottery pick. Scouts analyzed his game more and felt that he could improve his rebounding, scoring and defense, but saw the potential for him to be like Lamar Odom. I think that comparison is somewhat lofty, but Looney is a good pick at 30. His stock also fell to a hip injury that required surgery.
The Warriors could have gone with someone like Rakeem Christmas, who would be able to contribute more in their rookie year. Instead they went after a project, but like many projects the upside is there. Looney won’t contribute this year much, but maybe in a few years we will see what he has to offer.
Acquired: Sam Dekker at No. 18, Montrezl Harrell at No. 32
At some point during the year Sam Dekker and Montrezl Harrell were considered lottery talents. Dekker’s stock improved mightily after NCAA Tournament, and he had even worked out for teams as early as 6th in the draft. He’s an inconsistent shooter, but he’s athletic and can get to the basket when he’s motivated. Dekker may not be the safest pick, but he was the best player available at 18 and has plenty of upside.
The first thing you will notice when you watch Harrell play is that he plays his heart out. You aren’t going to beat him to a loose ball unless the odds are stacked in your favor. He plays with energy and he will be ready to contribute right away from the bench. His body is NBA-ready, and this year he showed that he can even stretch the floor at times. It’s not a consistent jumper by any means, but the improvement in encouraging.
Houston signed another big man after the draft, Christian Wood from UNLV. I was very surprised that no team wanted to take a chance on him, considering that he has lottery-level talent. He fits the mold of the modern power forward in today’s NBA. He can stretch the floor and block shots. Effort seems to be an issue with him, which may be why team’s passed on him. Nonetheless, he’s worth the low-risk, high-reward contract he was given.
Acquired: Myles Turner at No. 11, Rakeem Christmas at No. 36, Joseph Young at No. 43
Another power forward that fits the mold of the modern big man is Myles Turner. He can flat out shoot. There’s not much else on the offensive end that he can do right now. Like Wood, he also has very good wingspan and can become a shot blocker, even though his lift isn’t great. The Pacers are usually one of those teams that make their draft picks look like steals in future drafts. Turner could be another one of those guys if he lives up to his potential. Do to that he will have to improve his basketball IQ and find other ways to score.
Rakeem Christmas could contribute off the bench at some point. The senior from Syracuse was the best player in the Combine games. He showed that he can shoot a 15-20 foot shot, rebound, and play defense.
Joseph Young reminds me a bit of Shabazz Napier. He’s a herky-jerky type point guard who can create his own shot. That’s a good reason to draft someone, but one con is that those type of guards sometimes tend to look for their own shot when it might not be the best option on the floor.
Los Angeles Clippers
Acquisition: Brendan Dawson at No. 56
Doc Rivers wanted to get back into the 1st Round but was unable to. The Clippers just didn’t have enough assets to get back in, but they did pick Brendan Dawson. The former Michigan State Spartan is an undersized power forward that was picked in the second round. Sound familiar? Well, I would temper expectations. He may find a roster spot on the team due to the lack of cap room the team has, but he needs to be more motivated if he doesn’t want a quick exit from the league.
Los Angeles Lakers
Acquired: D’Angelo Russell at No. 2, Larry Nance Jr. at No. 27, Anthony Brown at No. 34.
It’s hard to go pick badly with the second overall pick, and the Lakers could have gone with Jahlil Okafor or D’Angelo Russell and be fine either way. Some predict that the reasoning behind picking Russell was due to the belief of the Lakers’ front office that they could land a big man from free agency or trade. They were able to land Roy Hibbert, but with only one year remaining on his contract I am not sure he’s their future at the five.
During Summer League Okafor looked like the better player. There are concerns with his defense, but his effort was there. Russell played well in his first game, but struggled some after. He showed flashes of creative passing, but his turnovers was somewhat alarming. Russell was the third best player on my big board, but picking him over Okafor could end up being the better pick down the line.
Larry Nance Jr. hustles down the court and should end up being a very good energy guy. In my opinion, he was a slight reach in the first round. In fact, Anthony Brown was higher on my big board and seemed like he could be a quality role player down the line.
Acquisitions: Jarrell Martin at No. 25, Andrew Harrison at No. 44
Jarrell Martin has had his up’s and down’s with the LSU Tigers, but overall he does show promise in a number of areas. He has a nice jump shot, though it could be more consistent. He’s a decent rebounder and should be able to bang bodies with Zach Randolph in practice. The Grizzlies didn’t have much money left over to go after a shooter in free agency, so it’s somewhat pondering why Memphis didn’t pick someone like R.J. Hunter. He arguably would have been a better fit and filled a need for the team.
Not many point guards in college get the type of exposure Andrew Harrison got while playing at Kentucky. He’s good at getting to the rim, but he struggles to finish there. He showed that he’s a clutch shooter in prime time, especially in his first year with the Wildcats. Not a bad pick in the second round at all.
Acquisitions: Justise Winslow at No. 10, Josh Richardson at No. 40
There’s not much to think about when someone like Winslow falls in the laps of the Heat with the 10th pick. Miami would have been crazy not to pick someone with his upside. Not many players at his age are capable of getting to the basket like he does. His shooting improved drastically from high school and even progressed into a good spot-up shooter in college. He can’t really shoot off the dribble much yet, but neither could Dwyane Wade when he came in the league. Speaking of Wade, could you ask for a better mentor if you are Justise?
Josh Richardson has some mechanical flaws in his jump shot, but he plays hard on defense and is a good teammate. Shooting guard was the weakest position for the Heat, so drafting two of them made sense for the Heat. Still don’t expect Richardson to get many minutes.
Acquisitions: Rashad Vaughn at No. 17
One thing you have to appreciate about Rashad Vaughn is that he can create his own shot. That is something that is hard to do even at the college level. He doesn’t play much defense, which is a big concern. Even if you can create your own shot, you may find yourself out of the league if you won’t defend. Just ask Rashad McCants and MarShan Brooks.
Vaughn is still only 19 and could find a fit on this team, considering Kidd will find ways to hide him on defense. The Bucks also need help on offense, and he could be a spark off the bench. The Bucks had better options with the 17th pick, but if Vaughn could learn how to play defense, it will be worth it in the end.
Acquisitions: Karl-Anthony Towns at No. 1, Tyus Jones at No. 24
Hard to miss with the number 1 pick in the draft. Early reports indicated that Flip Saunders was leaning towards the more traditional big man in Jahlil Okafor, but once they worked out Towns they couldn’t pass on him. The more one watches Towns, the more they will be impressed. He doesn’t have many weaknesses, and he is improving those weaknesses each game. He was doubled constantly starting from the first time he touched the ball in Summer League, and he struggled passing the ball when the doubled arrived. By the end of that game, he knew where and when to pass like it was second nature.
The Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player was Tyus Jones, and he came up huge in the National Championship Game against Wisconsin. Even though he played great at the biggest stage in college basketball, his ceiling is of a back-up point guard. That’s not bad a pick 24, but he had trouble taking care of the ball in Summer League. That’s not unusual for a point guard at the next level, and I do expect him to be a solid contributor off the bench eventually.
New Orleans Pelicans
No Draft Pick
New Orleans didn’t have a first round pick this year. They traded it to Houston for Omer Asik last year.
New York Knicks
Acquisitions: Kristaps Porzingis at No. 4, Jerian Grant at 19, Guillermo Hernangomez at No. 35
No other player was more intriguing to me than Kristaps Porzingis. I caught more Knicks game than any other game during Summer League to see what the Latvian big man was all about. Most scouts agree that he’s going to be very good. On the other hand, I am a believer that he will be a good starter, but not an All-Star caliber player. Keep in mind that it’s probably best to trust them over me. There is no doubt that Porzingis has tremendous upside. Players with his height and wingspan with a smooth jumper don’t come along very often. He’s going to be hard to defend on the perimeter.
Defensively his sheer length will give defenders trouble. He’s not as athletic as advertised, so most of his blocked shots come from him simply putting his hands up. He doesn’t have great lift or strength. Okafor punished him a few times when the played each other. Posting up Porzingis won’t be too much of an issue for guys like Randolph and Griffin. Not a bad pick at four, but I would have gone Mudiay or Winslow if I were the Knicks.
Getting the 19th pick for Tim Hardaway Jr. was a smart move, and Jerian Grant was worth the risk. He didn’t have the best Summer League performances, but there’s a slight chance that he can be the future starting point guard for the Knicks. He is well experienced at the college level, can play defense, and attack the rim.
There are two reasons why I love the Guillermo pick. The first reason is that he was Porzingis’ teammate at Sevilla, so now Kristaps has someone he knows possibly on the team. The second is that Guillermo can play. He has a good back to the basket game à la Luis Scola. However, he has the same defensive inefficiencies as Scola. But unlike Scola, he’s ripped. Maybe he can get Kristaps in the weighing room too.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Acquisitions: Cameron Payne at No. 14, Dakari Johnson at No. 48
Giving a lottery pick to Sam Presti should always scare other teams, even if it’s the last pick in the lottery. No one hits all their picks in the draft, but Presti has come pretty damn close to doing so. Cameron Payne was getting looks from teams as high as the Knicks and Kings. He’s arguably the best pick and roll point guard in the draft and, although streaky, a fairly good shooter.
Dakari Johnson should be considered a project. He doesn’t have many NBA ready skills at the moment, though he does have a NBA body. With one of the best player development staff’s in the league, the Thunder could develop Johnson into an NBA player. It wouldn’t be the first time the rest of the league wonder why they passed on a guy, while the Thunder reap the benefits.
Acquisitions: Mario Hezonja at No. 5, Tyler Harvey at No. 51
If Kristaps Porzingis was available at pick five, it would make sense for them to pick him over Hezonja. It would depend on where they see Harris and Gordon playing. Nevertheless, Mario Hezonja is going to be a very good fit with the Magic. He’s the best shooter in the draft, and I’m not sure if there’s a more confident player than him in this year’s draft class. Scott Skies will not be afraid to bench him when he makes defensive mistakes, which is bound to happen. The good news is that Skiles will teach Hezonja about team positioning on defense and with experience he is bound to improve on that end of the floor.
Orlando drafted a second shooter in Tyler Harvey from Eastern Washington. He needs to add weight, but there is a chance for him to make the team. The two biggest weaknesses for the Magic last year was shooting and interior defense. They hopefully addressed one of those issues by drafting two shooters.
Acquisitions: Jahlil Okafor at No. 3, Richaun Holmes at No. 37, Arturas Gudaitis at No. 47, J.P. Tokoto at No. 58, Luka Mitrovic at No. 60
It’s well known that Sam Hinkie is all about acquiring as many assets as possible. Eventually he will turn those assets into a team that compete, but right now the Sixers are still in the asset-collecting phase. For that reason it made perfect sense to pick Jahlil Okafor. He was clearly the best player available and when you are rebuilding a team and picking high in the draft it is best to go with that drafting strategy.
Okafor did what he did best in Summer League. He scored points, mostly from the post. He needs to improve his shot still, but it was pleasing for Sixer fans to see him trying on defense. No one expects him to be an elite defender, but if he can hold his own on that end, it would be a big success. Noel should help cover some of his defensive inefficiencies in the meantime.
Holmes and Tokoto both should make the roster, considering that the 76ers are still tanking and are looking for guys with potential. Tokoto has plenty of potential. I asked a scout at Summer League, which second rounder could end up being surprisingly better than where he was drafted and he said Tokoto. Gudaitis is a big man who can shoot, but it’s possible that he will be stashed overseas for now.
Acquisitions: Devin Booker at No. 13
You can never have too many shooters on a team. Devin Booker is a sharp shooter. He’s the youngest player in the draft, but his potential is limited because of his lack of offensive versatility. He can’t create off the dribble. There were some games during Summer League where he looked great, and at other times I forgot he was on the floor.
There were other better options available at this position. Kelly Oubre and Sam Dekker seemed like better picks than Booker. Both have more upside than Booker. Justin Anderson is older but is a similar type player than Booker and he went to the Mavericks at pick 21.
Portland Trail Blazers
Acquisitions: Pat Connaughton at No. 41, Daniel Diez at No. 57
The Trail Blazers are in complete rebuild mode now. Trading for Mason Plumlee was interesting, but it may have made more sense of the Blazers kept the pick after losing LaMarcus. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is an elite defender already. He’s Tony Allen but longer and taller. Like Allen, he can’t shoot. Teams will be daring him to shoot. So it’s debatable if they should have kept him, but there were other good players available that have more upside than Plumlee.
Instead Portland drafted Pat Connaughton, who’s a very good shooter from Notre Dame. His vertical test at the NBA Combine also stood out. Don’t expect him to use his hops in a game though. His specialty is shooting, and he’s good value in the second round.
Acquisitions: Willie Cauley-Stein at No. 6
The NBA has yet to see a seven-footer move the way Willie Cauley-Stein moves. He glides around the court and moves like a guard. It won’t be long before he’s in the Defensive Player of the Year conversation. Offensively, he’s still very raw to say the least. He has shown flashes of hitting a mid-range jump shot, although he didn’t show that part of his game in Summer League. Playing along Cousins won’t allow Cousins to play where he is at his best – posting up on the block. WCS will clog the paint, so it will force Cousins to take more jumpers.
With Mudiay still on the board, it seemed like the Draft Gods were giving Sacramento a gift. Vlade Divac rejected that present, for someone who can help the team right away. This will haunt them in a few years if Mudiay reaches his ceiling. Even Winslow and Johnson were better picks, though not better fits. Drafting for fit when picking as high as six doesn’t seem like the best strategy when the Kings are still supposed to be in rebuild mode.
San Antonio Spurs
Acquisitions: Nikola Milutinov at No. 26, Cady LaLanne at No. 55
It’s unlikely that Nikola Milutinov will play this year in the NBA. He’s young, tall, and is the typical Spurs pick. They Spurs will stash him overseas, so that they can save some money. Should the Spurs gone after someone like R.J. Hunter or Montrezl Harrell? They are better players right now, but they also would have made it more difficult to sign LaMarcus Aldrigde and David West and resign Danny Green. Cady LaLanne didn’t have a great Summer League, but he’s a good shot blocker. He can also be signed to a very cheap contract, so it wouldn’t be crazy if he made the Spurs roster.
Acquisitions: Future first round pick, Delon Wright at No. 20, Norman Powell at No. 46
The Bucks traded for Greivis Vasquez to the Raptors for a future first round pick. As a result, Ujiri decided to draft a polished point guard. Delon Wright has very good size for his position and is a two-way player. He reminds me a bit of George Hill. He doesn’t make many mistakes, but he’s not going to get you out of your seat.
The Bruins guard, Norman Powell, did much better in last two years at UCLA. He can score, averaging about 16 PPG during his senior year. He will need to improve his shooting from the arc, but Powell usually finds other ways to get baskets.
Acquisitions: Trey Lyles at No. 12, Olivier Hanlan at No. 42
Trey Lyles had an interesting year at Kentucky. He played out of position for the most part. When he did play his more natural position at the four, he did very well. It would have been easier to scout his abilities if he were the first or second options on a team, but playing on a talented Kentucky team made it harder for front offices to predict how he will fair in the NBA.
Overall, it’s hard now to like what Lyles did when he did play. He has a nice midrange game and can run the floor well. It’s tough to see him become the starter, but he will do well in a backup role playing alongside Gobert and Favors at times. Spreading the floor is obviously key, and Lyles can do that. If he could increase his range, he will become even more valuable down the line.
Oliver Hanlan impressed the teams he worked out for before the draft. The Jazz aren’t in love with Trey Burke it seems and Hanlan can play the point guard in times incase Utah trades Burke. He does look for his own shot more than he looks to pass, so he projects to be more of a two guard.
Acquisitions: Kelly Oubre at No. 15, Aaron White at No. 49
With a very large wingspan and major athleticism, Kelly Oubre could end up being a steal. We have seen in the past couple of drafts that players with good measurements and athleticism tend to do better than expected, even if their basketball skills aren’t as polished as other players. Zach LaVine and Giannis Antetokounmpo are examples of these types of prospects. Kelly Oubre could be the next one.
He hasn’t really learned how to play the game just yet. Over the summer he trained with Drew Hanlen, who has trained Andrew Wiggins and Bradley Beal. Hanlen said that it was the first time for Oubre to actually have formal training study the game in the film room. If that’s really the case then look out. Oubre didn’t do so well in the beginning of the college season, but come tournament time Oubre really stepped up for the Jayhawks. So he may have a rough freshman year in the NBA, but after that I expect Oubre to make some nice strides. Also, he’s off to a good start, averaging 16.8 PPG during Summer League, per NBA.com.
Aaron White can do a little bit of everything on offense. Defensively he doesn’t project do be much of a threat. He had a disappointing Summer League considering the minutes he got, and it will be tough for him to make the team now.