UnMuzzled: NBA Draft Recap
If you’re an NBA fan the draft is one of the single most fun nights of the year and last night didn’t disappoint. With one of the most talented classes in recent memory, yesterday’s draft saw the makeup of several teams change instantly. After having the chance to digest everything here were my takeaways.
Of course, the team we all care most about is the Boston Celtics and in my opinion they had very strong draft. In Marcus Smart they get a tough, gritty player who is very NBA ready. James Young gives them an explosive scorer and strong all around shooter.
Right now all indications point to Boston keeping both of their new players, meaning we can all give up on our dreams of getting Kevin Love. What will be interesting now is to see what the Celtics do with Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley.
Rondo has one year left on his current deal and Bradley is a restricted free agent. Bradley could be looking for $7 million to $9 million a year which is a lot to ask for a guy with his type of injury history. Since he is restricted the Celtics can match any offer he’s extended, but after drafting James Young I think they’d but plain no dumb to give Avery Bradley $9 million dollars a year.
Rondo is a tougher situation. He has one year left on his deal and has been quoted saying he doesn’t want to leave Boston. Celtics brass say they think Rondo and Smart would make a good team but neither is a great shooter. Plus Smart doesn’t seem to be the type that needs to be groomed, he’s ready to step on the floor tomorrow. If we could get young big men in return for Rondo I think that’s something they Celtics and Danny Ainge would really have to consider.
The #1 overall pick belonged to the Cleveland Cavaliers. There was much speculation that the Cavs would trade the pick but at the end of the day they picked arguably the best player in the nation, Andrew Wiggins. It was basically a no brainer for Cleveland, a much better and easier pick than Anthony Bennett who they chose number one overall last year. Wiggins paired with Kyrie Erving immediately gives Cleveland one of the most dynamic back courts in the league.
The Milwaukee Bucks are probably the happiest team in the league this morning. They got the player they coveted with last night’s second pick and they didn’t even have to think about it. When Embiid broke his foot it virtually guaranteed that Parker and Wiggins would go one and two. After Cleveland choose Andrew Wiggins with the first pick that left the Bucks with Parker, the player most experts believe Milwaukee wanted most anyways. For a team with brand new owners who are ready to change the team culture this was exactly what the doctor ordered.
Philadelphia made the decision to continue their tanking ways next season. They drafted Joel Embiid 3rd overall and after breaking his foot a few weeks ago he will miss a large chunk if not all of next season. They also traded the 10th pick for the 12th pick and future picks. The 12th pick was Dario Saric, a highly rated player, but one that has two years left in overseas before he comes to the USA. If I’m Philly I would’ve liked to have gotten players that can make a difference now, especially because they’re putting a lot of faith in Embiid and Nerlens Noel to be healthy, something neither man has proven he can do for extended periods of time.
The Utah Jazz had one of my favorite drafts of the night. They picked Australian point guard Dante Exum 5th overall and Rodney Hood, the talented shooter out of Duke, with the 23rd pick. Those were two players they desperately wanted and with Trey Burke, Derek Favors, and Enes Kanter already in place this Jazz lineup will be chalk full of young and talented players. The tough part will be measuring up in a Western conference already loaded with great teams.
The Los Angeles Lakers made one of the best picks from a value standpoint by drafting Julius Randle 7th overall. A terrific post scorer and rebounder, Randle is also one of the most NBA ready players in the draft, which is important to the Lakers as they try to capitalize on the end of Kobe Bryant’s career. Another great value pick was Gary Harris at 19 to the Denver Nuggets. Harris was considered a top 10-12 pick leading up to the draft so for the Nuggets to snag him at 19 was in my opinion one of the best picks of the night.
Pat Riley and the Miami Heat had a big win when they were able to trade up and select UConn point guard Shabazz Napier. Miami is planning to do everything they can to resign Lebron James and it’s well known around basketball that James is a big fan of Napier. Point guard was one of the weakest positions for the Heat last season so being able to add a two-time national champion and one of the drafts most NBA ready players made last night a huge success for them. This could be a sign that Lebron has no plans to leave Miami if he’s the one virtually making the decisions about who they’ll draft.
The New York Knicks didn’t have a pick in this draft until a couple days ago thanks to a trade with the Dallas Mavericks. They got an absolute steal with the 34th pick by drafting Cleanthony Early out of Wichita State. His style of play would help fill the void left if Carmelo Anthony decides not to return to the Knicks. He’s obviously nowhere near the level of Carmelo, but for the Knicks to get Early 10 or so spots later than he was projected was a big win for them.
The NBA continues to show its international reach as well. 10 of picks in the first round were foreign players including the first, third, and fifth picks; Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid, and Dante Exum respectively. Wiggins was one of three Canadian born players drafted in the top 18, the others were Nik Stauskas from Michigan at number eight and Tyler Ennis out of Syracuse at number 18. From a talent standpoint this could very well be the best class of international players the NBA has ever had, a sign that the NBA is growing internationally at a faster rate than the NFL and MLB.
In all, it was a fantastic draft. This class is so loaded with talent that it’s all but guaranteed the landscape of the entire league will shift because of it. We saw two NBA juggernauts in LA and Boston bring in guys who can make differences tomorrow, we saw teams make picks almost solely to position themselves to make a run at Lebron, but best of all we saw the surefire superstars of tomorrow join the ranks of the NBA draft. Now it’s just time to wait and see how it all shakes out.