Tag Archives: NBA Draft

The 2015 NBA Draft Diary

Hello all, and welcome to the 2015 NBA Draft Diary. This is our second straight year recording the draft in this format (here’s last year’s: https://sushionsports.wordpress.com/2014/06/27/the-2014-nba-draft-diary/) and it should be as great as the last one.

Although I doubt this draft will reach last year’s hilarious high when Zach LaVine couldn’t hide his dismay at having to play for Minnesota, there’s a similar amount of doubt about what will happen.

Last year, no one knew what was going to happen at the top between Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, and Joel Embiid. This year, Karl-Anthony Towns is the consensus number one pick, but the next few picks are muddled.

The Lakers are able to dictate what will happen for the rest of the draft from their perch at number two. They get to choose between a wealth of talented players; Jahlil Okafor, D’Angelo Russell. and Kristaps Porzingis are all options at their pick.

Philadelphia, at number three, could be trapped if the Lakers take Russell. That’d leave them with a choice between the two big men, Okafor and Porzingis, when they already have Nerlens Noel and Embiid, or reaching a little to address a need.

The Knicks, at number four, are hoping that Russell drops to them, as he’s a good fit for Phil Jackson’s fabled triangle offense. Of course, Isiah Thomas has talked about trading the pick for a veteran in a win-now move. Wait, did I say Isiah Thomas? Whoops, I meant Phil Jackson, although it’s easy to get the two confused, especially if Jackson trades away this pick. Let’s hope he doesn’t make that trade for the sake of all the scarred Knicks fans at the Barclays Center tonight.

The most important quality teams are looking for in this draft is positional flexibility, meaning that they want a player who can defend multiple positions on the defensive end. Why is this? Well, the Warriors just won the NBA title in part because of a switching machine on defense. Draymond Green is getting a max contract this summer in part because he can defend all five positions credibly. Justice Winslow, a wing, and Willie Cauley-Stein, a big man, are both highly ranked players who can defend multiple positions at elite levels, particularly Cauley-Stein.

My personal favorite player this draft is Frank Kaminsky. To me, he seems to be exactly what NBA teams are looking for nowadays, big men who can shoot threes, run the floor, and play decent defense. Kaminsky can be one of the first ever stretch-5s.

There’s one important domino yet to fall: DeMarcus Cousins. His screwed-up team, the Kings, and its screwed-up owner, Vivek Ranadive, are considering firing George Karl four months after they hired him. If they trade Cousins, either because they side with Karl against him or because he gets fed up enough with their BS that he finally demands a trade.

Anyways, the draft is about to start, so let’s end this bloated introduction and begin!

7:35: Adam Silver opens up with the same type of speech that he gave last year, going through the reigning champions and where players integral to their team were drafted.

7:39: As expected, Towns is selected first overall.

7:39: Now the real intrigue begins. As we discussed earlier, what the Lakers do here will set the tone for the rest of the draft.

7:40: Apparently the Timberwolves are the first team to ever have three consecutive first overall picks on their team, with Anthony Bennett, Andrew Wiggins, and now Towns.

7:41: In its congratulations to Towns on its Twitter, Kentucky used this hashtag: #succeedandproceed. Calipari definitely isn’t shy about his team-building strategy.

7:45: The Lakers take…

7:46: D’Angelo Russell.

7:46: Can’t quibble with that pick. Okafor is the most NBA-ready player in the draft, with a developed post-up game, but the Lakers already have an elite post-up threat down low in Julius Randle. Also, if they took a defensive sieve in Okafor, along with creaky old Bryant and Randle, they might somehow be worse at defense than they were last year. Taking Russell also allows the Lakers to shift Jordan Clarkson out of the starting lineup into a role as a sixth man where he’ll be valuable instant offense off the bench. Russell just works better for the Lakers on so many levels.

7:50: Also, thinking more about Okafor, the Lakers could just look across their stadium at the Clippers. DeAndre Jordan was unplayable for swaths of time in the playoffs because he couldn’t shoot free throws. Okafor, while not as bad as Jordan, is still only a 51% free throw shooter, making him a liability. To me, that’s significant enough of a risk that it’s tough to look past it, especially because Jordan is an elite defensive center while Okafor, well, is not. Because of this, it wouldn’t be as surprising as it might otherwise be if he dropped a little in the draft.

7:52: Conspiracy Theory Alert: Maybe the Lakers didn’t take Okafor because they have a wink-wink agreement with Kevin Love to come to Los Angeles and won’t have a starting spot for Okafor.

7:53: Philadelphia’s pick is in. Let’s see what Sam Hinkie does…

7:55: Okafor.

7:55: There are a couple of ways to spin this: either Hinkie is seriously worried about Embiid and decided that he needed another big man, or he’s just sticking to his overall strategy of taking the best player available, believing that talent will work itself out in the end.

7:56: In the crowd, a Sixers fan was holding up a sign, reading “#trusttheprocess”. At this point, that’s really the only thing Philly fans can do, but that’s depressing nonetheless.

7:58: I guess Okafor’s woes on the defensive end could be less glaring when playing next to the defensive force named Nerlens Noel. That’s a bright side, I guess.

7:59: Ooh! Just thought of another positive: Okafor’s poor free throw shooting won’t become a serious problem in the playoffs because the Sixers won’t make the playoffs any time soon.

8:00: Jalen Rose’s team needs for the Knicks is “Everything”. Ugh.

8:02: The Knicks take Porzingis.

8:02: Some Knicks fans in the crowd appear to be pleased but most seem extremely upset.

8:03: C’mon Knicks fans, look on the bright side: At least Jackson didn’t trade the pick. That’s a positive, isn’t it?

8:05: This pick is risky, obviously, because they’re taking a foreign player, but more importantly, it’s just a really bad fit. Carmelo Anthony is most valuable at power forward but Porzingis’ natural position is at the 4.

8:10: Orlando takes Mario Hezonjav, another Eastern European, fifth overall.

8:11: Another risky pick and another bad fit. Hezonja is a shooting guard, but they’ve already got Victor Oladipo, an established player who’s still young and getting better, at that position. It just doesn’t seem worth it to me. I would have rather seen them go with Justise Winslow here, as their only weak spot in their starting lineup right now is at small forward and teams can always use an elite defender, particularly when that player can defend multiple positions.

8:17: Willie Cauley-Stein to Sacramento at sixth overall. Interesting pick. Cauley-Stein is a center, just like Cousins, but at least he’s flexible and an amazing defender, making him a fit pretty much anywhere. Still, it’s curious that they’d pick him when it might offend Cousins enough that he’d insist on being traded.

8:24: Another interesting pick as the Nuggets select Emmanuel Mudiay with the seventh pick.

8:25: My favorite thing about Mudiay is that he realized that the NCAA is corrupt and unfair and blew them off to go play in China while getting paid for his services. Hopefully more players will follow his lead instead of playing for free in the NCAA.

8:27: By taking Mudiay, Denver is saying, quite clearly, that it’s done with Ty Lawson, its star point guard. He’s been on the trading block for months, and is now almost certainly going to be traded before too long.

8:29: Stanley Johnson is taken by the Pistons eight overall. He should be a nice fit at small forward, playing on the wing next to Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, shooting threes off passes from Brandon Jennings.

8:36: This is somewhat ominous for Charlotte. Last year they also had the ninth pick and the player they drafted, Noah Vonleh, has already been traded away.

8:37: The Hornets take…

8:37: FRANK THE TANK!!!!

8:41: I actually really don’t like this pick for Charlotte. They’ve already got Al Jefferson at center, who, while oft injured, is still a force on the offensive end. Kaminsky is going to be forced to play power forward, but that negates one of his biggest assets: his ability to shoot threes while being able to play center defensively. It’s a poor fit and this poor fit might submarine Kaminsky’s career

8:42: Rose makes the good point that the Hornets just traded for Spencer Hawes, another guy who can play center and shoot threes, while trading away Lance Stephenson, who’s an elite defender, to get him. Then, in the draft, they turn around and draft someone who can play center and shoot threes, in Frank Kaminsky, while passing on an elite defender, in Justise Winslow. Not a good sign as to the quality of Charlotte’s brain trust.

8:43: And the Heat take Winslow tenth.

8:44: It’s a good pick because, as I’ve repeated again and again, when you’re taking a guy like Winslow, it’s never a bad pick. It’s really that simple.

8:50: The Pacers select Myles Turner eleventh overall.

8:52: This pick is intriguing because it signals that Indiana is moving away from Roy Hibbert and the grinding defensive mentality that they’ve relied on for years.

8:53: Apparently, Turner can hit threes, another harbinger of offensive change for the Pacers.

8:57: The Jazz take Trey Lyles, the third Kentucky player picked today.

9:00: Here’s my problem with this pick: Utah has Rudy Gobert, an elite defensive player, who’s pretty much Tyson Chandler in his prime. Similarly to Dwight Howard’s teams in Orlando and in Houston this season, Chandler’s teams in New York and Dallas won when he was surrounded by three point shooters while he worked alone in the paint on both ends of the floor. Lyles can’t shoot threes, cramping up Utah’s spacing and preventing them from becoming the elite teams that Howard and Chandler’s teams were.

9:04: Phoenix takes Devin Booker, the fourth Kentucky player taken today, thirteenth overall.

9:05: It’s a good pick. Booker’s a shooter and can play off of Brandon Knight. Booker also fills Phoenix’s weakest spot, at shooting guard.
9:11: With the final pick of the lottery, the Thunder take Cameron Payne, out of Murray State. He’s a point guard, as is Russell Westbrook, so it’ll be interesting to see who the Thunder have play off the ball when they’re on the court together.

9:18: Here’s where the Nets would’ve picked if they weren’t totally incompetent. Instead, the sixty-win Hawks will add another asset to their deep team.

9:19: Atlanta takes Kelly Oubre. He’s a good defender and he plays small forward, so he’ll be able to replace DeMarre Carroll, who’s likely going to be leaving the Hawks in free agency.

9:26: Never mind, Oubre is headed to Washington, with Washington’s pick and two second rounders going back to Atlanta. He’ll be a good fit for Washington as well, phasing out the aging Paul Pierce, although Otto Porter Jr. broke out in the playoffs and I’m surprised the Wizards don’t want to explore what they have with 2013’s third overall pick.

9:27: Terry Rozier goes to the Celtics 16th overall. He’s an elite scorer but he’ll be in a dogfight for minutes at guard with a few other players.

9:33: Rashad Vaughn is taken by the Bucks. This is the first player I don’t know enough about to have a genuine opinion about him. He plays shooting guard, but Milwaukee already has Michael Carter-Williams, Jabari Parker, and the Greek Freak, and all three of those guys can play shooting guard. Perhaps Vaughn will come off the bench and act as depth for the team instead of being an important part of it.

9:39: Houston takes Sam Dekker with the 18th pick.

9:40: Dekker’s good, but I can’t claim to love this choice. In normal lineups, Trevor Ariza plays small forward and James Harden plays there when the Rockets go small. Still, Houston doesn’t have any holes in its starting lineup, so I guess it’s worth it for them to get a player who can be valuable off the bench.

9:46: Washington, picking for Atlanta, takes Jerian Grant. The Hawks already have Jeff Teague so I’m not sure why they need him. Maybe Atlanta will play more small ball, with Kyle Korver at small forward, Grant playing shooting guard, and Teague running the point.

9:48: Wait a second… Now, Grant is apparently going to the Knicks for Tim Hardaway Jr. I really like Grant and I’m ambivalent about Hardaway. I think this is ultimately a downgrade for Atlanta and a very nice trade for Phil Jackson and the Knicks..

9:53: Delon Wright, from Utah, is taken by the Raptors with the twentieth pick. He’s not going to start, not while Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan are on the team, but he’s like Lou Williams in that he’ll be instant offense off the bench.

9:55: I’m extremely excited for the upcoming interview with Phil Jackson. While this last trade was rock solid, I’d like to hear an explanation for his choice of Porzingis.

9:58: Jackson just called Porzingis “Young Kristaps”. I think I know what I’ll be calling Young Kristaps for the rest of his life.

10:00: Jackson pretty much just said that since Young Kristaps is athletic and willing to work, he’ll be fine. I’m dubious, and besides, I’m not exactly happy about waiting the year that Jackson admitted it would take for Young Kristaps to develop.

10:00: The Mavs take Justin Anderson. He’s the guy whose absence proved to be the undoing of Virginia; once he got hurt, the Cavs lost in the second round to MSU. It’ll be interesting to see where he plays, though, because he’s a forward and Dallas’ two forward spots are already filled with Chandler Parsons and Dirk Nowitzki.

10:06: Chicago selects Bobby Portis. There’s no way he’ll ever see the light of day at power forward with Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson, Nikola Mirotic, and Doug McDermott all ahead of him on the depth chart.

10:14: Rondae Hollis-Jeffersonn goes to Portland with the 23rd overall pick.

10:15: I like this selection for Portland. He’s not a good shooter but with Damian Lillard on his team, he won’t be asked to ever be a big part of the offense. Hollis-Jefferson’s specialty is defense and he’ll be a useful piece for the Trailblazers off the bench.

10:18: The Cavs are up next and the decision they have is fascinating. If they can choose a good shooting guard, such as RJ Hunter, then their only comparative weakness in their starting lineup will be shored up.

10:23: Cleveland takes…

10:23: TYUS STONES. Well, Tyus Jones, but he’s earned his nickname when he hit clutch shot after clutch shot in the NCAA championship game. Great pick for the Cavs. He’s small, but he can score, and he might be able to carry Cleveland’s offense in limited minutes off the bench, a unit that simply wilted in the playoffs when LeBron sat.

10:28: Never mind, Jones is headed to Minnesota for the 31st and 36th picks in the draft. Jones will act as bench depth on the Timberwolves. It’s a good trade for the Cavs as they’ll get dirt cheap players to act as depth while not tying up much cap space.

10:29: The Grizz take Jarell Martin from LSU. I’m confused. Memphis really needs a guard who can shoot threes, but Martin shoots threes rarely, and when he does, he usually misses, only hitting just over a quarter of his threes this past season. He’s another power forward but the Grizzlies don’t have a serious need for one with Zach Randolph safely the starter at that position.

10:33: The Spurs take Nikola Milutinov, the first player in this draft whose name I have never heard. Normally I would say that I’d never hear his name again, but this is San Antonio we’re talking about, so I assume Milutinov is about to be a Hall of Famer with a string of eighteen consecutive seasons of averaging 25-12 every night.

10:39: The Lakers take Larry Nance Jr. We’re officially on a streak of players who I’ve never heard of.

10:46: RJ Hunter goes to the Celtics at 28th overall. As a Nets fan I was hoping Hunter would last until the next pick. As a basketball aficionado, I was hoping that he’d drop to thirtieth where Golden State could add to their wealth of shooting talent. In Boston, just like Terry Rozier, he’ll scrap for minutes with all the other guards there.

10:48: Rose’s Team Needs for Brooklyn? Speed and athleticism. That seems accurate to me. The Nets are exceptional at everything except for running and jumping, but since those two traits aren’t needed at all while playing basketball, they’re looking very good for the future.

10:51: The Nets take Chris McCullough, a power forward from Syracuse. I’ve seen him mentioned as a sleeper in a couple of different places and I’m happy with that pick. He’s a useful player and he could become a starter on this sorry Nets team.

10:57: With the final pick of the first round, Kevon Looney is taken by the Warriors. He adds size and rebounding to the champions and will be valuable off the bench for them.

We’ve finished the first round, a round that will help define the league for years to come. Who will be the defining star from this draft? Towns? Okafor? Russell? Young Kristaps? No one yet knows, but whatever happens, it’ll be fun to watch.

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The 2014 NBA Draft Diary

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The most anticipated draft in many years is finally here. Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid, and Jabari Parker headline the draft. All three will almost certainly, barring injury, be perennial all-stars, although if Cleveland drafts Embiid, he’ll get hurt and be out of the league within three years.

It’s clear that God hates Cleveland. He only gave them the number one draft pick so they can screw it up and torture their fans even more.

After the top tier of Embiid (although he may have dropped out of it due to his injuries), Wiggins, and Parker, are Vonleh, Randle, Exum, Gordon and probably McDermott and Smart. It’s tough to narrow them down. There are so many good players up and down the draft that it almost doesn’t matter where you pick.

Evidence: after that second tier of five or six players and a third tier of eight or nine more, the next 35 players are all good players who can potentially be starters, if not more.

That’s why I love the Knicks-Mavericks trade for the Knicks so much. They unloaded Felton and the onerous contract of Chandler while getting the 34th and 51st picks. While that may not seem like that much, the 34th pick is essentially a first rounder except a lot cheaper, while the 51st pick is just as likely to result in a starter as any pick down to the 25th in this deep draft.

It’s nice to finally see a basketball team I cheer for (I’m a fan of both the Knicks and Nets) have a pick in the draft. It’s a feeling I’m not going have very much over the next few years.

I think it’s hilarious how the Nets are hosting the draft in Barclays Center while not having a single pick.

Anyways, my eleven year old sister is vaguely watching the draft with me, although she seems more likely to be preoccupied by the computer. If she ends up paying attention, she’ll probably focus on insulting the outrageous outfits of the draftees while I focus on insulting the picks. Still, it’ll be tough to do that. It’s so hard to insult picks when there are so many good players.

A big storyline I’ll be watching tonight is where Embiid goes. Who will take a huge risk by taking Embiid? It’s a massive reward if it pays off, but the GM that takes him will be betting their jobs on Embiid’s foot. That’s why I think that a team with multiple first round picks will take Embiid. Philadelphia probably won’t take him because they already have a center in Nerlens Noel. The only other team with multiple lottery picks is the Orlando Magic, who have the fourth and twelfth picks. That’s why, in my big prediction of the night, I predict that the Magic will take Embiid. It’ll be very surprising, but with the amount of risk involved, there’s no certainty. However, I think Orlando is the most likely to take Embiid, even if there’s only a 25% chance that they end up taking him.

Embiid’s injury has thrown this draft into flux. Originally, Embiid was supposed to go to the Cavs, the Bucks were going to get the hometown kid, Parker, and the Sixers would get who they tanked their season for, Wiggins. Then Orlando was going to take Dante Exum to put him in a dual guard role along with Victor Oladipo. Then the rest of the second tier would play out in some way to the next few teams and the next 35 picks could go in any random way.

Just a short explanation of a draft diary: a draft diary is pretty much just a running log of the draft. The time at which I wrote everything is recorded and, other than a small amount of editing, everything is the same as what I originally wrote.
7:26 Well, the draft diary is finally here! Hopefully it’ll become a tradition. I really like writing in this format.
7:27 I’ve been watching the pre-draft show for about twenty minutes and I’m already tired of that stupid NBA draft commercial that has the draftees taking selfies. It’s annoying, repetitive, and people are paying to see the players get drafted and play basketball, not look dumb and take selfies.
7:32 So does Cleveland take Embiid and run the risk of him being hurt? Do they go with Wiggins with the highest potential? Do they pick Parker, who can come in and help right away? No matter what they do, they’ll probably be wrong.
7:33 It’s telling how for years David Stern was booed on draft night, while Silver is cheered today. Stern was unpopular and overstayed his welcome, while Silver got rid of Donald Sterling, so it’s really no contest. Hopefully Silver can keep his popularity and continue to be an exceptional commissioner.
7:34 I like Silver’s speech about the Spurs and how the won a championship using players from up and down the draft, from Duncan at 1 all the way down to Manu at 57 and how he uses that to prove that great players can come from anywhere in the draft. That’s especially true today, when, as I said, there are so many good players throughout the draft.
7:39 The Cavs haven’t sent in their pick yet, despite their time running out. Maybe their strategy is just to not make a pick. They can’t be wrong if they don’t pick anyone.

7:41 The Cavaliers take….

7:41: ANDREW WIGGINS!

7:41 Parker just became one of the best players ever.

7:41 Wiggins just developed the beginnings for about five or six injuries that will prevent him from ever playing.

7:42 Sam Hinkie needs another eight boxes of tissues.

7:43 At least Wiggins is as close to a sure thing as you can get. Hopefully the Cavs won’t find a way to screw it up like they did with Anthony Bennett.

7:44 Wiggins’ suit is… interesting. It’s skeletal looking white flowers on a dark black suit. At least it doesn’t look like he’s bleeding like Jalen Rose’s draft day outfit did.

7:47 Milwaukee takes Jabari Parker, as expected. Not a big deal. It was what everyone expected, although it sucks for Philadelphia.

7:50 Jay Williams says “and now let’s go to his [Parker’s] father, Sonny”. I found that amusing. Just thought you should know.

7:51 It’s going to be very interesting what the Sixers do. Do they pick Embiid despite having another center or do they take Exum, Vonleh, Randle, McDermott, or someone else?

7:53 The Bucks have a sneaky good team. They have Larry Sanders, the Greek Freak, a couple of other decent players, and now Parker. As they have five good players, Milwaukee could easily be a playoff team next year in the garbage East.

7:53 WOW! The Sixers take Embiid! That’s crazy! They already have a center in Nerlens Noel, although I suppose they can have twin towers in the mold of Ralph Sampson and Hakeem Olajuwon on the late-80s Rockets or the late-90s Spurs with Tim Duncan and David Robinson.

7:56 Philadelphia also has a sneaky good team. They have Embiid, small forward X at number 10, Noel, and MCW. That’s a really good, young team, assuming that all four players pan out. In addition to those four, Hinkie has five second rounders, from whom he should be able to gain a starter or two, along with some good bench players. Lord, the Sixers are going to be stacked in a couple of years.

7:58 ESPN goes to a graphic comparing Embiid to Greg Oden. It’s amusing because Oden had his career derailed by injuries. Given that Embiid is a huge injury risk, I can’t imagine why would ESPN jinx him like that.

7:59 Orlando takes…

7:59 Aaron Gordon?!?!? That’s very surprising. It was widely assumed that Orlando would take Exum, but apparently not.

8:01 I’m not entirely sure why they’d take Gordon over Exum. Exum and Smart are the two best two point guards in the draft, with a drop off to Zach LaVine, Elfrid Payton, and Tyler Ennis. Smart probably won’t be around by Orlando’s second first round pick, at number twelve. The forward positions (where Gordon plays) are stacked in this draft, and they probably could have gotten someone comparable to Gordon at number twelve like Doug McDermott, Rodney Hood, or Adreian Payne.

8:02 The commercial with Dante Exum in it cracked me up for some reason. He’s got a noticeable Australian accent which is hugely incongruous to his physical appearance. Did I manage to avoid seeming racist? I hope so.

8:06 The Jazz take Exum 5th overall, doing exactly what I wanted the Magic to do. Utah will play him and Trey Burke in a dual guard role like Phoenix did with Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic before Bledsoe got hurt.

8:12 The Celtics take Marcus Smart.

8:12 I don’t like that pick at all. They already have a good point guard in Rajon Rondo, although they could trade him away for draft picks. They also risk pissing Rondo off, as Rondo is sensitive about those sorts of things. I think they should have taken Julius Randle for an elite rebounder and someone who gets a lot of second-chance points.

8:16 I think the Lakers will take Randle now. Randle doesn’t play the same position as Kobe and he’ll get a lot of rebounds and second-chance points to help make up for when Kobe messes up.

8:17 Julius Randle to the Lakers!
8:17 It’s always nice when I’m right, especially when it’s for the right reasons. For all the reasons I just listed, I love that pick. With his rebounding, point scoring, and his ability to help clean up Kobe’s mistakes, I think it’s a great pick.

8:19 Of course, I may be biased because I watched a lot of him during Kentucky’s run to the NCAA Championship Game, but still, he’s really good. I bet on Kentucky multiple times and I always was pleased with how he always seemed to get the big rebound or how he always managed to fight through contact for a tough layup.

8:22 The Kings take Nik Stauskas, an incredible shooter. He’s a very good player, the best shooter in the class, and is capable of creating his own shot. It’s nice that Sacramento didn’t take a power forward to crowd up their frontcourt even more than it already is.

8:23 Stauskas’ suit is… interesting.

8:29 In their first act as the Hornets, Charlotte takes Noah Vonleh. I don’t mind that pick. He is, presumably, a good player, but his team didn’t make March Madness, so the question is how good he actually is. He should match up well with Al Jefferson to form an imposing Charlotte frontcourt.

8:32 Wow his hands are massive. I think I could fit two or three of my hands into one of his.

8:36 Elfrid Payton is taken by the Sixers at number ten.

8:36 I love his hair.

8:37 Payton is a point guard, but Philly already has a point guard in MCW. What they really needed was a small forward and, conveniently, there were a number of good small forwards waiting for them, like Doug McDermott, Rodney Hood, or Adreian Payne. Also, the skill sets of MCW and Payton overlap a lot. Both can’t really shoot, which is not a good thing when one of them is going to have to be moved to shooting guard. I don’t particularly like this pick.

8:38 It seems as though Payton is having a little bit of trouble putting on his 76ers hat over his massive hair.

8:40 It’s amusing how MCW is interviewed and how he’s desperately trying not to say anything insulting or something that seems selfish. Drafts are always rich with unintentional comedy.

8:42 Doug McDermott to the Nuggets. I like the pick, although I’d like it for almost any team. He’s really good at shooting, scoring, dribbling, creating his own shot, making tough shots, being the leading scorer on a team, and being the only scoring threat on his team. Still, a lot of other Nuggets do a lot of the same things that McDermott does, making his skill set a little redundant.

8:45 Why does it sound like, during his interview, McDermott is breaking up with his dad? He said things like “after a four year grind” and “it’ll be great to move on”? That sounds a lot like a breakup talk to me.

8:51 The Magic take Dario Saric, a power forward out of Croatia.

8:52 He’ll be in Turkey for at least the next couple of years, so they’re essentially stashing him in Europe until 2016.

8:53 I’m not entirely sure how good Saric actually is because he’s from Europe and I’ve never seen him play, although I don’t like the pick for two reasons. One, he’s from Europe, and, despite success stories (see: Parker, Tony), there’ve been more busts, like Darko Milicic, especially among those picked high in the draft. Two, the last notable NBA draftee that I can remember who was stashed overseas and has been in the NBA long enough to establish his true value was Ricky Rubio. He was hyped when he was taken by Minnesota, but after spending a couple of years in Spain, he never turned into the elite point guard he was expected to become. That’s what I fear will happen to Saric.

8:56 The Timberwolves take Zach LaVine, somehow managing to forget that they’ve already got Ricky Rubio. Although the Cavs, Clips, and Knicks will never be approached at the summit of dysfunctional NBA teams, Minnesota is at the top of the next tier. Their pick is just about as bad as it can get in this draft.

8:56 LaVine is a great player and a physical freak, but he’s raw and won’t be ready for a couple of years, so he won’t help Minnesota convince Kevin Love to stay.

9:00 I like the Exum commercials, mostly because I love hearing him talk.

9:01 The Sixers traded Payton to the Magic for Saric and a 2017 first rounder. That makes a lot more sense. The Magic get the point guard they were expected to take, while the Sixers can stash a player overseas as a reinforcement for their team in a couple of years while picking up another first rounder. I like that trade a lot for Philadelphia and don’t mind it for Orlando.

9:03 TJ Warren goes to the Suns. He’s an elite scorer, carried North Carolina State, and doesn’t interfere with the chemistry between Dragic and Bledsoe at the guard spots.

9:05 Wow, Warren talks really fast.

9:10 The Hawks take Adreian Payne. It’s a fine pick but I don’t have much to say about it other than saying that a jump-shooting big is always useful in the NBA.

9:15 A really touching moment when Silver and the NBA ‘select’ Isaiah Austin after he was expected to be selected in the first round but couldn’t, after his basketball career was ended by a genetic disorder.

9:19 The Bulls take Jusuf Nurkic, a center from Bosnia and Herzegovina. That’s part of a trade with the Nuggets in which Chicago gets McDermott and Denver gets the 16th and 19th picks. I like the trade for both teams. The Bulls needed a scorer and a small forward and because they gain cap room by not having to pay another first rounder. The Nuggets get an additional two players and give up a player who they couldn’t use. Presumably that’s why they picked McDermott in the first place, in preparation for a trade. That’s also the reason why Philly took Payton at 10, Orlando took Saric at 12, and, now, Chicago’s pick of Nurkic at 16.

9:25 The Celtics take James Young, a shooting guard out of Kentucky. He’s a great shooter and player, but this creates a logjam in the backcourt for the Celtics with Young, Smart, and Rondo all competing for two spots. Presumably there’s a trade in the works for Boston in which they send away one of those three players.

9:32 The Suns take Tyler Ennis. That’s another strange pick. Phoenix, as I’ve already said multiple times, have Bledsoe and Dragic at the guard spots. As the Raptors really wanted Ennis two picks later, I can only assume that there’s a trade in the works between the two teams because this pick makes no sense whatsoever for the Suns. If the Raptors end up trading for Ennis, then that means that they’ve almost certainly given up on resigning Kyle Lowry.

9:33 Canada is dominating this draft with Wiggins, Stauskas, and Ennis all hailing from the Great White North.

9:35 The Bulls take Gary Harris for the Nuggets at 19. This pick makes Denver’s trade earlier today for Arron Afflalo redundant as both players are shooting guards.

9:38 If Toronto doesn’t manage to trade for Ennis, then they can take Shabazz Napier at twenty.

9:41 Miami is apparently trying to trade up for Napier, which would be a good move for them to pick up a replacement for Mario Chalmers. Of course, all their plans are based on the assumption that LeBron comes back. If he doesn’t, Miami will be screwed even more than they already would have been.

9:44 Well, this was the first pick of some random player than no one has ever heard of: Bruno Caboclo from Brazil, going to the Raptors at number twenty. He’s so raw that, despite his incredible physical gifts, he’s at least four years away from actually playing. Why are they not trying to build on their successful 2014 season by improving their team for the coming season? This pick makes no sense to me.

9:51 With their last asset remaining for the Harden Hijacking, the Thunder take Mitch McGary. I like that pick a lot. McGary is really good and he allows the Thunder to shift Ibaka to the 5 to replace Perkins while sliding in McGary at the 4.

9:58 Memphis takes Jordan Adams from UCLA. He was never projected to go this high, and I’ve not read much about him. At the very least he’s a 2-guard, a position at which the Grizzlies desperately need help.

10:00 Well, it’s time to stop watching as I’ve got work tomorrow and I need my beauty sleep. It’s also funny because in the NFL Draft Diary (the first thing I posted on this blog) I also got through just 22 picks. Still, getting through more than three thousand words together isn’t too shabby. Anyways, I hope you enjoyed and I can’t wait to see how all the new players fit into the league and who excels and who bombs, mostly so I can make fun of them. Now, the attention will shift off of the draft and onto the World Cup and LeBron’s (and the rest of the stars’) impending free agency.

The Lottery and the Cavaliers

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Well, I was in the middle of writing the Week In Review column about the lottery when I realized that I had enough to say that I needed to devote a whole column to expressing my thoughts on the lottery. Hope you enjoy!

The Cavs won the lottery. This has a lot of ripples, like tossing a boulder into a small pond. Most relevant to me, it’s going to be hard for me to write about how God hates Cleveland anymore now that they’ve won three lotteries in four years. Of course, the only year in the last year that they didn’t win the lottery had Anthony Davis as the top pick, the last ‘sure thing’ superstar center in the draft since 2008 when Greg Oden was the presumptive 1st overall pick (although we all know how that panned out) so maybe God STILL hates Cleveland. We can always hope. Or, maybe, three first overall picks in four years may be compensation from the Basketball Gods for LeBron leaving, and ripping their hearts out in the process. This is all waaay too confusing. Let’s hold off on a decision to make sure that Cavs don’t screw it up, either by taking Embiid and his back problems flaring up or taking a point guard like Dante Exum while somehow forgetting that they’ve already got an all-star point guard (see: Irving, Kyrie). Don’t count out the Cavs from doing something stupid like that, they’re capable of doing anything. They’re absolutely crazy.

 

Should the Cavs should be rewarded with the first overall pick? They’re incompetent and horribly run, but at least they tried to win this year. They sent picks and Andrew Bynum to Chicago for Luol Deng and they sent a couple of second rounders to Philly for Spencer Hawes, although that evidently didn’t work out too well. The question is whether or not the trying hard outweighs the fact that the Cavaliers are a dysfunctional organization.

 

This conundrum also applies to the Suns, Bucks, and Bobcats—wait, Hornets. (Quick tangent: As far as I can tell, the whole point of a team’s name is to sound strong and powerful. That’s why you see names like the Giants or the Kings throughout sports. I’ve always thought it amusing when teams use names like the Hornets—am I supposed to be intimidated by a bug? Being the Bobcats was a lot better and moving down the scale-of-scary-names was not a great idea. At least they weren’t as bad as New Orleans, who originally had the name of Hornets and then decided to become the Pelicans.  Wow, I’m scared. I suppose that tangent wasn’t all that quick, but whatever.) We’ll be getting to the Hornets in a bit but I’ll quickly go through the Suns and Bucks.

 

First, Milwaukee. They tried to win this year and never officially started tanking, but they were led by Herb Kohl who just wanted to make the playoffs. While they wanted to do well, they didn’t exactly go the right way about doing so. Of course, the best thing for them to do to be good is to tank (which is what they ended up unwittingly doing) just showing how weird it is to be in a league in which eight teams were aiming to willfully throw their seasons away in order to get better in the long run and how that strategy actually makes sense.

 

Now for Phoenix. Phoenix was planning on throwing away their season, but when they were unexpectedly good at the start of the year, the rolled with it and finished with 48 wins which would have made them the three seed in the Eastern Conference. Of course, in the West, they missed the playoffs and ended up in the lottery anyway. How are they not being rewarded for trying their best? To solve this problem, here’s what I propose: a complete change of the lottery system.

 

It’s always great when a borderline good team manages to acquire a transcendent player to turn them into a very good team. Of course, with the lottery, that never actually happens. Why not change the lottery around? Clearly, you can’t have tanking, nor can you have the elite teams getting even better, so here’s my proposal: You have the same lottery format, but with switched odds. So, this year, Phoenix would have had a 25% shot at the #1 pick. You can’t tell me that it wouldn’t be awesome to see Wiggins or Embiid tearing up the NBA with the Suns next year. Teams couldn’t purposely lose games because they’d be destroying their hopes for the playoffs AND for the lottery. The only potential downside is an eight seed tanking out of their spot for a good shot at the 1 pick, but that’s okay for three reasons: One, rather than having eight teams tanking, we’d only have, at most, two or three. Two, teams attempt to tank out of the playoffs to get into the lottery anwyay. This year the Hawks did their best to get out of the playoffs but they were unable to, due to the incompetence of the Knicks and Cavs. Three, it’d be fine with me if we were improving teams that were already half-decent. Why aren’t we doing this? Get Silver on the line!

 

The Cavs moving up to number one overall is quite bad for the Pistons as they had a top eight protected pick that they owed to Charlotte in the Ben Gordon for Corey Maggette bad contract swap. When the lottery began, Detroit was in the 8th spot, but when Cleveland moved ahead of them, they moved down to the 9th pick, meaning that they had to send it away to Charlotte. It means that the Pistons won’t have a draft pick in Steve Van Gundy’s first year, something that dampens the excitement that he brought to their organization. On the flip side, the Bobcats are an up-and-coming team and, after adding a high draft pick, they have a chance to get even better. That’s how the lottery SHOULD be, improving teams that are genuinely attempting to get better. Who would rather see a young star having his growth stunted by having to carry a crappy team by himself over a team that’s already pretty good getting two high-ish picks and reinforcements. For me, at least, it’s no contest. Charlotte now, depending on how well they pick, have a chance to improve enough to get the 4th or 5th seed, maybe even the 3rd seed (and if LeBron leaves Miami to go to the West, the two seed). Hell, if Toronto can get the 3 seed, certainly Charlotte with a couple of new, very good, rookies can too.

 

Other ripples: after destroying its team and MCW’s good habits, the 76ers only have the third overall pick and the tenth overall pick, which they got from New Orleans in the Nerlens Noel and top 5 protected pick for Jrue Holiday robbery—I mean trade. The Cavs moving up affected the Sixers a lot as they moved from the potential 2nd overall and 9th overall to 3rd and 10th.  Kind of sucks for the Sixers and their fans when after ravaging their team and throwing away a season they only get the 3rd pick. It’s great for everyone else though: it shows that tanking doesn’t result in a guaranteed superstar and that the lottery works (although that’s debatable after the Cavs winning three times in four years). Other than that, there’s all the aforementioned story lines in play from before.

 

Hope you enjoyed and I can’t wait until the draft (I think I’ll even write a running diary for that too).