K: The NBA Draft is a mess. The trading system is barbaric, archaic, and I’m still not entirely sure who drafted who and whose rights went where. Instead of being content with the innate insanity of the draft, Kyle and I decided to try to review the draft together while he was gallivanting about in Europe. What you get is the Top 6 and some afterthoughts, because it turns out trying to do this over a large timezone difference is stupid, and only highlighted the need for me to find a replacement intern/pledge/groupie.
KYLE: Many things look much clearer after the dust settles and the 60th pick is made in the NBA Draft. You get to see what each team was actually thinking, and it makes a lot of sense. You can visualize starting lineups and see where players fit in. The chaos leading up to the draft becomes order and rational thought triumphs over … Wait what? The Raptors drafted who? BRUNO CABOCLO? Scratch that. The NBA draft is chaos, but it is one hell of a fun ride. Teams gamble on guys who could possibly be Durant 4 years from now, and some honestly seem to have no plan at all. Players are visibly upset by who drafted them, and wear dope suits. Yes, it’s a weird, unpredictable, totally chaotic, beautiful, upsetting night, but it’s fun as hell. So let’s reflect on the chaos of the draft.
K: My favorite part of the night is easily the horrified stares of “OH MY GOD I’M GOING TO SACRAMENTO,” that turns to pure elation when they realize they’ve been traded. In previous years this was known as the “I’m going to Milwaukee,” look, but Jabari is super stoked on some cheese and brats. How did we kick this thing off again? Oh, right.
So after Embiid’s legendary foot thing this was all but a foregone conclusion right? If not for Embiid, Wiggins is easily the top choice since this time last year. Great two way player, gets to the rim, and should get better from behind the arc with a pretty decent stroke. I don’t care what anyone said, it was going to be him over Parker. I would have died to see the Cavs go out and pull another Anthony Bennett at number one, just to see the entire city of Cleveland turn into the world’s largest dumpster fire. Instead, Wiggins/Waiters/Irving is a nice core to build around, especially if Wiggins can improve his work off the ball. Most importantly though, DID YOU SEE THE SUIT? MY GOD IT WAS GLORIOUS.
That’s a true statement piece that comes in a dark time in the NBA’s draft history, where the suits get progressively more blase and I find myself bored by pick 5.
I love the pick here, Jabari fits great into the Bucks line up as a stretch 4 with the ability to play some 3. His suspect defense can be covered up by guys like Henson, Sanders, and the Greek Freak. He brings offensive power to a Bucks roster that was severely lacking. Now he can take some of the scoring burden off of Brandon Knight. Most importantly the Bucks love him and he is where he wanted to be. I’m not sure how I feel about him allegedly tanking his workout for Cleveland, but in the end in works out for the best. I see a lot of hope in the future for the Bucks. That being said they still need a point guard, and they are probably not making the playoffs anytime soon. They seem to have put out the dumpster fire, for now at least.
3. Joel Embiid – Philadelphia
My favorite guy in the draft. I know I’m REALLY going out on a limb here. I don’t care if he has one foot, one shoulder, and a back made of paper-mache. The man’s game is off the charts good. Can you picture him paired up with Nerlens Noel? I can’t either. My mind isn’t capable of envisioning that many uber-athletic blocks in a single game. Unfortunately for us, we won’t get to see that for a while, given Embiid’s foot, and I’d imagine that even though Noel’s been cleared to play, they’re gonna go easy with him his rookie year. Embiid is absolutely perfect for what Sam Hinkie is trying to build in Philly. Super athletic game changer, who just happens to be unable to play so the team can be trash for at least one more year while they continue to stockpile assets and figure out what they’re going to do with my main Georgia Tech mans Thaddeus Young. If you want to talk dumpster fire, we talk Philly. But it’s a controlled burn, and I love that they’re committing to this thing. The Astros are the only team I can think of that have willingly committed this hard to blowing everything up, and it is glorious.
4. Aaron Gordon – Orlando
First real surprise of this draft, although looking back on it, it makes sense. The Magic saw that PG was deeper than PF in this draft and went for Gordon, an ultra-athletic forward who is a jump shot away from being a star. He will be a big defensive presence to help out Vucevic, and will rebound like crazy. He was one of my favorite freshman coming into this year, although his star might never be as bright as Wiggy’s, ‘Bari’s, and Embiizy’s. But his defense alone will guarantee a starting spot for years to come. The Magic will have a really young starting five next year with Jameer Nelson, Oladipo, Tobias Harris, Gordon, and Vucevic. I hope they keep Jameer, he has really seen it all in Orlando and stuck through it. He is the captain of the team and a leader in the locker room. It would be weird to see him in a non-Magic jersey (YAMADA’S NOTE: Jameer Nelson was waived after this email. Also: HAHAHAHA).
5. Dante Exum – Utah
Look. I’ve seen the highlight tapes. He’s impressive. He’s an athletic freak and has all the physical tools you can’t teach. I just can’t buy in. He played in Australia, where the competition level is decidedly less impressive than in the NCAA. Team play and being challenged night in and night out are huge to development. Everyone always talks about how the game moves faster at the next level, but he hasn’t even had to run a schedule where he’s dealing with NBA rotation level talent consistently. Looking back at some of the video from the FIBA U-19 championships, he just didn’t impress me. Marcus Smart made him look bad on multiple occasions. Obviously his situation is starkly different from Brandon Jennings in terms of why he was abroad, but I think we’ll see the same things. Athletic, occasional flashes, but bad shot selection and turnovers will hold him back. His defense will keep him in the starting five, and he’s super long for a guard. He’s explosive, but I see more as a pre-2013 Mike Conley than I do Penny Hardaway.
This years draft feels special. I think a lot of solid NBA guys just came into the league. These guys right here are the future stars, starters and role players of the NBA. It didn’t feel this way last year, and I think only a handful of those guys will play meaningful minutes in the NBA in years to come. I’m very excited to see what comes of these players a few years down the road. Now we move on to the ridiculousness of free agency and the fun of summer league! There is so much fun and excitement to be had in the new year long NBA season!