2018 NBA Draft Recap
As most of you know, the NBA Draft took place last night. There was a lot of hype and anticipation leading up to the draft, many rumors were swirling in the days leading up to the draft about potential trades and players stock rising and falling. In my opinion, it lived up to the hype. Just like every other draft, you applaud some front offices and scratch your head at others. Some picks were neutral and expected to me, but I’m here to break down the moves I really felt strongly about one way or another.
Moves I loved:
Everything The Suns Did
I was telling people in the hours leading up to the draft that I thought Phoenix was going to end up regretting passing on Luka Doncic. I still think Doncic will end up being the best player in this draft, but what a night Phoenix had. They get their big man of the future in Deandre Ayton, who looks to be a double double guy for the next 10 years and is also very athletic. Then they turn Zhaire Smith (who I am very skeptical about) and a 2021 unprotected Miami pick into Mikal Bridges. The Villanova wing is one of my favorite players in this draft class because he fits right into the NBA as a lengthy 3 and D wing. I didn’t really understand this move at all from Philadelphia’s end, but I’ll get into that later. To top it all off, with the first pick in the second round they pick up French point guard Elie Okobo, who many viewed as a possible first round talent.
Denver Stealing Michael Porter Jr.
If you’ve been following any of my stuff since March, you know I’m extremely high on Michael Porter Jr. I believe he’s the most talented player in this draft, and if he’s healthy, the sky is the limit. But that being said, his long term health is a real concern which is why I understand everyone in the top 10 passing on him. But, Denver truly is the perfect spot for Porter Jr, they are a team that finished 9th in the West for the past two years, and are only getting better with their current roster. Whether it requires him to take a full year off, or he is truly ready to play in Summer League, he won’t play until he feels fully healthy which is best for his long term development. Porter also won’t be thought of as the franchise savior, like he would have had he been drafted in the top 5 like he was projected earlier in the week. If healthy, he fills a void as a scoring wing that Denver needs to take them to the next level. The health is a concern, but he’s way too talented to pass up on at 14, especially when you have a young promising roster like the Nuggets do.
Mavericks and Hawks Trade
The trade that had been highly speculated leading up to draft night actually followed through. I love this trade for both teams. The Hawks had Trae Young as their guy all along but felt three was too high to take him, they get the compensation of a future first round pick from Dallas to move down two spots and get their guy. With Dennis Schroder making it clear he doesn’t want to stay in Atlanta for the long haul, Trae is their franchise cornerstone. He will have the ball in his hands a lot and I’m sure he will run a ton of pick and rolls/pops with versatile young bigs John Collins and Taurean Prince. The Mavericks, in my opinion, get the best player in the draft. Doncic has proven himself against professionals. Last summer Doncic, alongside all star point guard Goran Dragic, led Slovenia to their first ever Eurobasket championship. This past year, he won MVP of the EuroLeague en route to a championship and Final Four MVP. Just this past week, he led Real Madrid to the Liga ACB title. He is a big guard who scores at all three levels, pushes it in transition and makes all the right reads while coming off ball screens. He can create his own shot, but also makes everyone else around him better with his IQ and vision. I truly think Doncic is going to be a superstar in this league, and I think both teams walk away from this trade happy.
Moves I Didn’t Like At All:
Philadelphia Trading Mikal Bridges
The “Process” is over. With Lebron looking like he’s going to take his talents out West, it essentially leaves the Celtics and Sixers to battle it out for the East. The Sixers are officially in win now mode, which is why this move is so mind boggling to me. During the playoffs, it was visible that Robert Covington was the guy that was holding the Sixers back, Mikal Bridges is a 3 and D wing that immediately comes in and makes an impact. I’m very skeptical of Zhaire Smith because he doesn’t have any translatable skills other than his raw athleticism. He wasn’t able to create his own shot at the college level, his release is slow and doesn’t allow him to shoot off the dribble, and he has a weak handle. Zhaire Smith could take years to develop into the player the Sixers are hoping for, and while his ceiling may be higher than Bridges’, Smith’s floor is nonexistent. Meanwhile, while Philly is busy trading away their hometown hero and the guy who they truly need, Danny Ainge (Celtics GM) addresses his need for depth at the big man position, and steals a guy many people view as a lottery talent in Robert Williams. People are focusing a lot on the unprotected 2021 Heat pick that the Sixers received from the Suns, but in reality, I don’t think that pick will be that high. As long as Pat Riley is in charge and Erik Spoelstra is the coach, I don’t think the Heat are bad enough where that pick becomes worth it. Not to mention, Miami is a huge free agent destination, and there are a lot of star players’ contracts that expire between now and 2020. I think that pick, despite being unprotected, is an overrated asset at the moment. In the three years where the Sixers are waiting for their Heat pick and Zhaire Smith to develop, Jayson Tatum will have probably led the Celtics to three straight finals, with the Sixers as no match.
Wizards Taking Troy Brown at 15
Some teams are just caught in the mediocracy cycle, where your too good to scrap everything and rebuild, but you are never really a true contender come April. The Wizards are exactly that. They have two all stars who never really seem to be on the same page, a bad contract for 34 year old Marcin Gortat and very limited depth. With all that being said, they had a chance to snag a real impact player with the first pick outside the lottery. I personally liked Jerome Robinson a lot for the Wizards, but with him off the board, I thought Donte DiVincenzo definitely should’ve been the pick. You would get a guy who knows what it takes to win, has an NBA body, can score at all three levels, plays defense and has shined on the biggest stage. Instead, they get Oregon’s Troy Brown. Brown’s biggest assets are his physical tools, he’s 6’7” and a solid athlete for a guy his size. Theoretically, he fits the mold of a wing in today’s NBA pretty well, the problem is he can’t shoot. Brown shot 29% from three on more than three attempts per game, he also has trouble shaking defenders and getting to the rim. The Wizards were supposedly trying to move down, and that makes a lot of sense if they were “Unlikely to resist” Troy Brown. I expected him to go in the mid twenties, but I guess the Wizards just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to get their guy. Good luck with your prospect, Wizards fans.
(Moves I liked)
DiVincenzo to the Bucks
I’ve always thought Donte DiVincenzo was the best shooting guard in this draft, he can shoot it from deep and from the mid range, both off the catch and the dribble. Because of his redshirt year, he is truly built like an NBA two guard. He gets after it on defense and is a high level athlete, he will provide the Bucks with an immediate spark off the bench.
Grayson Allen to the Jazz
I love watching Utah because they have an identity. They are led by super sophomore Donovan Mitchell, and he has a very good supporting cast around him. I love Grayson Allen as a prospect, I think he is physically and mentally ready to be a pro. Allen’s biggest strength is probably shooting off the catch, but he can also create his own shot, play above the rim and facilitate for his teammates. He is a born competitor and will fit right in with Utah’s gritty identity.
Overall it was a very entertaining night in the league. I first saw some of these guys while they were playing AAU in their junior year of high school and spent a lot of time watching film and interviews, so I’m very excited to see all these prospects compete at the highest level.