Crap. With the NBA Draft on a Thursday going into a busy weekend, I totally forgot to share some draft-night thoughts. Which is a shame, because I probably had a couple really good ones I forgot about over the weekend!
First off, some truth: draft night was a big letdown. There was sooooooo much hype coming into it. It had the potential to be the biggest non-game night in league history. Then Boston traded down, clearing up what had been a murky picture on how the first 3–5 picks would shake out and the air began to go out of the balloon. The Jimmy Butler trade was an absolute stunner, but given how we were all keyed up for something crazy to happen with Paul George, there was still a sense of disappointment when he was still a Pacer at the end of the night.
A few other thoughts from the evening:
- Markelle Fultz to the Sixers. Man, do they have an embarrassment of young potential on that team now. Of course, my man Jojo may never be healthy enough to play 82 games, let alone do amazing things in the playoffs. Ben Simmons has yet to play a minute of pro ball. And despite all the hype, when I watched video of Fultz, I see a guy that is kind of herky-jerky rather than a dude who blows by you or overwhelms you. Then again, James Harden isn’t the smoothest guy in the world and he’s done just fine for himself. It’s time for the Sixers to start winning some games. No pressure on any of these young cats.
- I was rooting for the Lakers to pick anyone but Lonzo Ball. Yeah, I’m a hater. At least of his pops. I find Lonzo himself to be a pretty bland kid that evokes no strong feelings either way. And I’m not convinced De’Arron Fox isn’t going to be a better player. This pick made so much sense for everyone involved that I can’t really knock it. But I would have loved to see Ball Sr. pissed off that his kid dropped.
- Jayson Tatum to the Celtics makes perfect sense as they are currently constructed. He’s likely going to be the best offensive player from this draft and fits right in. But if they sign Gordon Hayward and/or trade for Paul George, his role is less certain. Of course, he could be playing here in Indy if the PG trade goes down.
- Paul Pierce retired this year, so it might as well be a KU swingman that assumes the mantle of “guy who dropped and makes everyone pay for it.” Granted, Josh’s drop wasn’t nearly as far as Pierce’s, and a lot of folks had him going right where he ended up at #4. But the thing is Josh thinks he should have been the #1 pick. For a guy who loves to play with a fire, that’s all he needs. I really hope he shoots 8000 shots a day and turns into a great all-around player. But even if he never figures out the jump shot, he’s going to have a very nice and long career locking people up on defense, catching lobs, and grabbing rebounds.
- De’Aaron Fox. I love everything about this guy. Hope Sacramento doesn’t mess him up.
- As my buddy E-bro in ATX said after the Knicks picked Frank Ntilikina, “What happened to the grainy video we used to get when Euros got drafted?” Ntilikina’s highlights were all in HD! And I was confused by the Frenchman’s excellent English, including the proper use of hoops idioms. We’ve come a long way.
- There was quite a run of lanky white guys in the draft. Ten years ago your automatic thought on these dudes was, “Uh oh.” Now, though, since they’ll all turn into pick-and-pop guys who hang out behind the arc, they actually seem like decent picks.
- With that in mind, I hated the Pacers taking TJ Leaf at #18. The franchise is in flux and likely will be rebuilding for the next 2–3 years, so I’ll admit this is a fairly low-risk pick. I’m not sure I buy that his awkward athleticism will translate to the NBA though. His dad grew up in Indy, so nice to see them taking the (quasi) local boy, I guess. I would have preferred Jarrett Allen, although how Allen fits with a team building around Myles Turner is a tough question.
- I’m not sure how Caleb Swanigan fits in in the NBA, either. My thinking is if he can be a poor man’s Draymond Green, he can stick around. But I’m thrilled that kid got picked in the first round and had a three-year contract. I’m kinda glad it’s not with the Pacers, though. There’d be a ton of pressure on him here, especially if he takes a year or two to find his footing, which I think is fairly likely.
- OF COURSE John Calipari ends up on the ESPN stage with a platform to himself. It’s always gotta be about him. There were other coaches in the house, but they stayed in the background. But he always finds a way to get in front of the camera and tell the world he’s all about his kids. That’s why he’s the best, I guess.
- Frank Jackson gets picked to open the second round and ESPN proceeds to ask him six questions. Nice to be a Dukie.
- While on the subject of the immediate interviews, ESPN’s Allison Williams was not good. But, of course, she is very pretty, which is all that matters. Again, Doris Burke would have asked each kid smart questions tailored to their experience. But since she’s not eye candy, she got the night off while the cute girl said, “I gotta ask you…” and “How does it feel…” all night.
- FRANK MASON TO SACRAMENTO! My buddy E-bro, a former Sac resident and the only Kings fan outside Northern California, was very pleased. I hope Josh becomes a star. I hope Jojo gets healthy and can dominate for an entire season. I hope Andrew Wiggins learns how to take a smart shot and becomes a legit top-tier player. But my biggest KU NBA wish is that Frank makes the roster this year. I don’t care if he plays five minutes a game, I want that dude to sign a contract and play an entire year in the association.
- BTW, I totally approved of all the love BIFM got. He was featured prominently in the opening highlights package. Jalen Rose kept saying, as the first round stretched out and other guys got picked, “I’m taking Frank Mason.” And when he did get picked, even more love for him. “He’s too tough not to succeed in the NBA,” said Jay Bilas.
- Oh, and it was nice that BIFM went before both fellow Big 12 guys Juwan Evans (which was a surprise) and Monte Morris. Those guys were another sign of how the NBA has changed. With the new G-league contract options I think teams are really reluctant to give undersized guys three guaranteed years right off the bat. Guys like this trio, and Frank Jackson, will have to earn that first multi-year contract. 10–15 years ago, all four of those guys were first round picks.
- The night could have been a lot more fun had Boston stayed at #1, someone in the 4–7 range panicked and moved up, or Paul George been traded. But it wasn’t a bad night at all.