For the second-straight year I was stuck on a swimming pool deck watching dozens of 5–14 year olds swim during last week’s NBA draft. I was far less interested in this year’s draft than any recent one, primarily because KU didn’t have any expected top 10 picks and my interest in the NBA has waned even further.
Although I never got around to doing a break down of last year’s draft, I might as well adhere to site tradition and share some thoughts on the 2015 draft.
Karl-Anthony Towns Goes #1
Perfect pick. Minnesota had to make this pick. I’m not super bullish on Jahlil Okafor, but I think he’d be terrible in Minnesota. You have Andrew Wiggins, Zach Levine, and Ricky Rubio. You do not need a plodder like Okafor slowing them down. Towns will run with those guys, protect the rim, and grab boards. If he can add weight and strength, he can turn into a beast down low. I’m giddy at the thought of he and Wiggins running crazy pick-and-roll action with Wiggs hitting jumpers when he curls off a screen or throwing ridiculous lobs to K-A when he decides to slip the screen. Minnesota is going to be so much fun to watch.
Okafor going to Philly at #3 gave me a serious case of the sadzzzz. The Sixers already have Nerlens Noel and own the rights to a big Euro that may come over eventually. Oh, and they drafted Joel Embiid at #3 last year. And my boy Jojo is apparently having trouble healing from last summer’s foot surgery. Philly might have just taken the “best guy available” in hopes of maximizing their trade assets. Like I said, I don’t love Jahlil at the next level. In the right situation I can see him working out but he’s not a franchise cornerstone kind of guy.
But I have a bad feeling this means Jojo may not play meaningful minutes any time soon. Does Embiid mean Bowie in whatever language it comes from?
What if that glorious run where Jojo looked like the future of basketball for three weeks in early 2014 was the best he will ever be? That makes me very sad. As you may recall, his ridiculousness made me laugh out loud during his one year at KU. I want to see Jojo do more Jojo things. Hell, the whole basketball world needs Jojo healthy and playing insane again. There’s no one like him.
Pacers Take Myles
Since the Pacers got locked into the #11 pick, the most popular guess at who they would pick was Myles Turner. Which I was on board with. I think he got a bad rap in his one year at Texas. He’s versatile, deceptively tough inside, and still has so much room for growth. I don’t know that he’ll ever be a superstar, but he strikes me as a guy who can develop into an absolute bitch of a matchup that could be the perfect compliment to a guy like Paul George. In a couple years, if he works hard, he’ll be able to score down low, stretch a defense from deep, and provide defense and boards inside. I don’t think he’s a franchise center, but he’s mobile enough to fit into what most NBA teams are trying to do these days.
And then most of the national reviews I read panned the Pacers pick. Wrong guy for what they need right now, the experts seem to agree. Which I find kind of odd since many people thought the Pacers should jump on Willie Cauley-Stein if he slipped to 11. WC-S is basically a defensive version of Turner: a guy with mounds of raw talent but has questions about his motor, willingness to work, and passion for the game.
We’ll see, I guess. I think Turner’s going to work out ok.
Also, I wonder how serious the conversations in the Pacers’ war room were about taking Indy native Trey Lyles, who went next at 12 to Utah. I think it was wise to pass on him, but if Larry Bird wasn’t running the organization, there may have been more rumblings about taking an iffy kid from Texas over the local product.
Kelly Oubre to the Wizards
Taking Paul Pierce’s roster spot, apparently. I thought this was a strange move for Washington. They already have Otto Porter, who came on late last year, who is bigger and has a better shot than Kelly. And as much as I like Kelly, he seems like a guy who, if he makes it in the NBA, it’s not going to happen for 2–3 years. A classic example of a guy who came into college thinking he was only going to stay for a year, and thus had to come out even if he just had a “nice” freshman year at KU. He had spurts of very good play, but he never dominated like Wiggins, Pierce, or Ben McLemore did when they were first-year players at KU. I wish him luck, but I think his best case is he develops his outside shot and learns how to play shut-down D and fills that niche that every NBA team needs.
I hope things work out for Cliff Alexander, because his last year has been pretty shitty.
He gets hurt almost as soon as he arrives in Lawrence for summer ball. He misses pretty much all summer activities and begins fall practice well behind the rest of the team. Then he can’t stay on the court more than 30 seconds without committing a foul. Soon his head coach is either afraid or unwilling to play him big minutes, even in the occasional games when he is bringing it on both ends. Then he gets suspended because his mother apparently took some cash from an agent. He misses the last two weeks of the regular season and the entire post-season, and his stock plummets further. While the smart move would have been to return for his sophomore year and, hopefully, turn back into the old Beast Cliff. But with his eligibility in limbo, he pretty much had to declare for the draft.
Adding insult to injury, he not only doesn’t get picked in the first round – he was a consensus top five pick when the season began – but doesn’t get drafted at all.
Dude could use a reset button in his life.
I see him as a fairly limited NBA player, mostly because he’s only 6’8’’ and not super athletic. Now he can find a niche, with hard work, and a lot of analysts see him as a guy who can earn a spot on a roster and minutes in the regular season. But he’s a role player, at best.