With this year’s NBA draft being such a week one, the jury is still out on who the real winners and losers are. Only time will tell, but unfortunately there’s likely too much time before we even get to see these players begin their careers. So I’m not going to pretend to pronounce the winners and losers of the draft, just my feelings on how my teams did. All three of my teams (Pistons, Jazz, and Wizards) had lottery picks. All three are in various stages of the rebuilding process. All three agree it was a bad year to have such good picks.
Utah Jazz: For the 3rd pick, Utah basically had it narrowed down to either Brandon Knight or Enes Kanter. Both would fill the most important needs for the Jazz and both were the consensus best players left on board, not just in their respective positions. As the draft drew closer, the thought of drafting Knight grew on me, but I believe the Jazz probably made the best choice. Scouts believe that Knight’s ceiling is probably around the level of Devin Harris. Well, they already have Harris. There can be arguments that he’s a younger version who can shoot better, but he still probably isn’t the long term answer Utah needs at the point.
On the contrary, while PGs of Knight’s projected skill level are fairly easy to come by (unless you’re the Hawks), it’s hard to find skilled big men. Nobody really knows how good Kanter is, but he has shown the potential. He’s like a younger version of Memo in that he can shoot, but he doesn’t appear to be another “soft Euro”, which is definitely not like Memo. He’s probably worth the gamble, especially in this draft. If he turns out to be a bust, he’s still a big body you can stick in the middle. You just have to hope that the pick from the Deron Williams trade turns out to be the right one.
I’ve read mixed reactions on Burks, but Chad Ford had him ranked as the top shooting guard and tenth overall in this draft. Jimmy is also really high on Burks. I don’t know much about him, but I did have the Jazz drafting him. It also looked like the best pick available once the Jazz were on the clock. And I’m sure they were relieved Jimmer was not on the board at that point, because they weren’t going to take him. Utah still has some needs to fill, but had a good start on draft night.
Washington Wizards: So Kanter isn’t going to end up in our nation’s capital with his buddy John Wall, but it’s maybe for the best. I wasn’t ever sold on Kanter for Washington. I know very little about Jan Vesely, but from what everyone is saying, it sounds like he’ll be a good fit. He’s almost 7 feet but plays the 3. He appears to be fast and can dunk. I told myself I wouldn’t make a joke about his hot girlfriend or the awkward kiss because it’s been way overdone, so I won’t.
Chris Singleton brings toughness and defense to the team. I think he was a steal at 18. Shelvin Mack took his school to back-to-back national championship games. He should be a competant backup to Wall. It’s reassuring that the Wizards are using this rebuilding process to change the culture of the team.
Detroit Pistons: By the time the Pistons were up with the 8th pick, none of the players they were expected to be interested in were left on the board thanks to Charlotte trading up. I like that Dumars didn’t panic and just draft some other big that didn’t have any business going at 8. He drafted the best talent available, which the Blazers over the years have taught us is the way teams should do it. Although, I did hear that one of the Morris brothers really impressed Detroit, but they must have felt that Knight’s talent trumped theirs.
Knight does add to the logjam the Pistons have, but he’s a building block of the future. The Pistons are working to get rid of many of the players currently on the roster, many of whom are guards. Knight is a building block of the future. And it’s hard not to like a kid that smart. It says a lot about him. It sounds like the type of person Detroit needs to start filling it’s roster with. Plus the Knight and Daye comments should keep us entertained for a while, although it’s still not as great as what almost became the Gay-Love Era.
Kyle Singler and Vernon Macklin also seem to add to the logjam problem in Detroit, but both were considered steals for where they were drafted. Singler seems to be another high character addition. I don’t know much about Macklin, but Dumars assures us he is also a tough, high character guy. Then again, he said that about Darko too.
While I have zero affiliation with the Bucks, I also want to give them a little recognition. They took on three really bad contracts last season and were able to get rid of two of them in one trade. They also brought in a few other assets. All they had to do is move don nine spots in a bad draft. Even then they managed to draft Tobias Harris, who Ford has ranked at 14, with the 19th pick. Clearing out those bad contracts was huge for the Bucks. Big night for them.
All things considered, my teams did a nice job on draft night. Both the Pistons and Jazz have found unexpected talent in previous drafts, I hope this year was no different. With all three of my teams rebuilding, the future can’t come fast enough. I just hope we don’t have to wait too long to witness the fruits of this draft.