The Celtics took all the guards, the Lakers made a splash by foregoing Jahlil Okafor for D'Angelo Russel, and the Knicks first pick came just ahead of a rousing Bronx Cheer.
Last night's NBA Draft was filled with excitement from wire to wire, and here's the recap:
1. Minnesota Timberwolves – Karl-Anthony Towns (C) Kentucky
The Timberwolves caught their Wildcat, and a big one in that, selecting the 6’11”, 250lbs. center, Karl-Anthony Towns with the first overall pick. The big man averaged 10.3 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game. He joins a young roster with Andrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine and Ricky Rubio, and becomes the center of the team’s building process. He is a stud on both ends of the court and with his athleticism, he can make an immediate impact in the league. He could potentially do for this franchise what Kevin Garnett did two decades ago and make them relevant to watch. He was the best player in the draft and deserving of the first overall pick. He will join current centers Niola Pekovic (12.5 points, 7.5 rebounds in 31 games) and Gorgui Dieng (9.7 points, 8.3 rebounds in 73 games) on the roster. He may not start on day one, but the position is his on this team for the long run.
2. LA Lakers – D’Angelo Russell (PG) Ohio State
Russell is the best guard in the draft and will make an immediate impact in the Lakers lineup for Kobe Bryant’s swan song in Los Angeles. While Towns is going to be a star at some point in the near future, Russell can be that player on week one in the NBA. He can score on and off the ball and makes great plays getting up the floor. He played in a high profile University at Ohio State, and will jump right in the spotlight at the Staples Center. He has all of the tools and the confidence to join the Showtime Lakers. The current lineup features Jordan Clarkson as the only returning point guard, with Jeremy Lin and Ronnie Price likely gone in free agency, so he will get plenty of minutes. Russell is a better facilitator and pure point guard than Clarkson, who is likely the team’s shooting guard of the future, once the “Black Mambo” retires of course. Next season expect to see Russell and Clarkson split time in the beginning, but the rookie could steal the position earlier than expected. This is a great pick by the Lakers and one with immediate payoffs.
3. Philadelphia 76ers – Jahill Okafor (C) Duke
The most coveted trade position in the draft went without any moves as the 76ers selected Jahill Okafor, the reigning National Champion center. They really wanted Russell but instead took the best overall player. In terms of talent, Okafor has plenty of it, but for what the team needed, they probably could have got a guard, seeing that they already have Joel Embiid and Nerlens Noel. Then again, they are much more than a player away from the playoffs, so they might as well went with the best available player, especially considering Embiid and Noel’s injury past. They will likely loose back up center Henry Simms and back up power forwards Thomas Robinson and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute to free agency, so they would need to fill the position somehow. I like the pick and think they could have something in the future with this three-headed monster below the basket. Okafor averaged 17.3 points and 8.5 rebounds at Duke. He can’t shoot free throws well, but he plays great with his back to the hoop. The problem is his defense. He suffers in pick-and-roll situations and we know the NBA is heavy with that flow. Regardless, Okafor should do well in a young offense where mistakes can be made as they are learning.
4. New York Knicks – Kristaps Porzingis (PF) Latvia
While not a sexy pick from a big college or university, Porzingis can flat out ball. He should do well in the triangle offense but likely won’t jump into the league right away. He can shoot for a big man and the 19-year old should have more size to add, which he will need at this level. He probably won’t be an impact player for two or three years, but he has a lot of upside. The questionable move in my opinion is why the Knicks would bring in a player who won’t help right now, especially when they are paying Carmelo Anthony so much money the next few seasons. They need to turn those dollars into wins, and Porzingis will do that in the future, but not likely while ‘Melo is in town. Another concern is that with Lou Amundson and Jason Smith free-agents, if they can’t bring either back this season, Porzingis will have to play significant minutes with little room to make mistakes. Playing at Madison Square Garden under the bright lights is pressure enough, add with it the stress of being a rookie trying to learn the triangle offense, while feeding Anthony the ball? This could be a disastrous situation. I am not a fan of this pick.
5. Orlando Magic – Mario Herzonja (SG) Croatia
The Magic need players that can score and that is what they got in Herzonia. The 20-year old has the potential to be a star in the NBA. He can shoot, he can drive and he can finish He is fearless with the ball and he will have opportunities in this offense to shine. He needs to improve his on-ball defense, but his offense will keep him on the floor. The Magic are another team that is far away from a championship roster, so Herzonia will have plenty of opportunities to make mistakes and have some bad games without the pressure of loosing minutes. He shouldn’t have too many of those however, the kid has a knack for scoring and will become a fan-favorite in Orlando. Scott Skiles will have to be creative how he shares minutes with him and Oladipo, but that is always a good problem to have,
6. Sacramento Kings – Willie Cauley-Stein (C) Kentucky
If DeMarcus Cousins doesn’t get traded this summer, which he probably won’t, no one is going to like this pick more than Boogie who now has an elite defender to play with. This is a very solid, and very safe pick for the Kings. His offense needs work, but even if he doesn’t become a massive scorer in this league, he can still contribute the way Tyson Chandler and DeAndre Jordan have, by getting rebounds, playing solid defense and frustrating other team’s big men. Many think that this move means Cousins is on his way out the door, but I think this is the exact opposite. Cauley-Stein isn’t going to take the starter’s minutes and he will need time to develop his shot. He will be able to make stops on the second unit and can impact the game right away. If Cousins wants to win, this guy helps in a big way. Reggie Evans and Ryan Hollis are both unrestricted free agents and it’s likely either will want to go back after this pick, so it will be Cousins and Cauley-Stein sharing the position.
7. Denver Nuggets – Emmanuel Mudiay (PG) China
The Nuggets have publicly shopped point guard Ty Lawson in the past few weeks, so we saw this coming, right? Jameer Nelson is gone in free agency most likely, so they needed to bring in someone to back up Lawson, should he remain a Nugget. Mudiay is only 19-years old but he is big and athletic. He is coming off an injury, which is why his stats last season are not desireblable, but what he does provide is youth and confidence on the second-unit. While it can turn out to be a great pick in the future, it is a risky one, and for a franchise without an identity, they may not like what happens if Mudiay doesn’t pan out. If Lawson gets traded and Mudiay can’t excel as a starter right away, they are going to be in trouble. He has high potential, but coming from overseas and off an injury, this risk could outweigh the reward.
8.Detroit Pistons – Stanley Johnson (SF) Arizona
Wait, Justice Winslow was still available right? If he was already drafted I would have liked this pick, because I think Johnson is going to be a very good player, but he isn’t Winslow. The Heat got the steal of the draft at the 10 spot. Back to Detroit, Johnson has a very-high upside and he proved he could play at a high level by carrying the Arizona Wildcats all season in the Pac-12. He is strong and plays powerful basketball on both ends of the court. Stan Van Gundy is going to like having him on his roster and I expect him to crack the starting line up sooner than later. Currently the team’s two small forwards are Cartier Martin, who has a player option yet to be determined, and Tayshaun Price, a free agent. He likely needs a little time to grow, but not much. Playing alongside Reggie Jackson, he is going to get a lot of looks if he gets the first-team minutes. While Winslow is likely the higher-upside, Johnson is a safe bet as someone who will be a starter for years in the league.
9. Charlotte Hornets – Frank Kaminsky (C) Wisconsin
Uh, what? Another center? This doesn’t make sense to me as Al Jefferson just picked up his player option to remain in town and earlier this week the Hornets traded Lance Stephenson to bring in Spencer Hawes. So Kaminsky is what, their third center? He doesn’t have the upside that Winslow, Turner or Lyles have (see below), and he just finished his senior season, meaning he has played two or three more years in college then most of the other guys in the draft. He can shoot for a big man, but he is skinny and will get backed down pretty hard going up against some of the bigger centers in the league. He played a lot of minutes in Wisconsin’s magical season, and has a flare for the dramatic. Maybe they give him some minutes at power forward since he can shoot. That would give me a little more understanding of this pick if that were the case. The Hornets don’t score enough, and while Kaminsky gives you more ways to produce than Jefferson and Hawes, he likely won’t be a long-time star in this league like the guys drafted after him.
10. Miami Heat – Justice Winslow (SF) Duke
Yes. Just yes. Pat Riley scored big on this pick and it fell right in his lap. The only way he could have messed up this pick is if already gave Winslow a signing bonus before the commissioner announced the pick and he got caught. The Heat are in for some serious changes in the next two seasons as Luol Deng and Michael Beasley are free agents this summer and Chris Anderson, Hassan Whiteside and Udonis Haslem next summer. The roster will be turned over big time, as most of these players will not be back. Winslow has a chance to spend this year learning from these veterans and then stepping into the spotlight immediately after. If they keep him at small forward, and Deng leaves, he has just James Ennis to beat out for the starting role, which shouldn’t be hard to do. He is a stud defender and if Wade comes back the two should compliment each other well. This will be Winslow’s team when Wade moves on, which could be any day now. Pat Riley wins the draft with the 10th pick.
11. Indiana Pacers – Myles Turner (PF) Texas
Turner has a lot of skills and can play both big positions. He is an aggressive rebounder and was a shot blocking machine in college. He enters the league after just one year in school, so he has some size to put on, but he never backed down from anyone last season. He is a great number-11 pick with little risk in drafting, but big rewards should he continue to grow both physically and as a basketball player. For the immediate return, the Pacers didn’t get offense with this pick. He has raw skills and needs to develop them more, and if Roy Hibbert leaves town this summer, Turner is getting a lot of minutes as the team’s center. He is similar to Hibbert in that his defense got him drafted but his offense is what he needs to work on. It’s a safe pick for Indy. Not a great one, but a safe one.
12. Utah Jazz – Trey Lyles (PF) Kentucky
The freshman fit in well last year in Kentucky’s rotation, but his offense is still a work in progress. His numbers weren’t great, but his team was, so we can chalk that up to everyone scoring and rebounding their share. He isn’t going to be a shot blocking threat, but he can rebound well. He should get a lot of minutes as Derrick Favors’ back up and hopefully learn from the veteran. The good thing about this pick is he doesn’t have to start right away. He isn’t ready for that. He averaged 8.7 points and 5.2 rebounds in 23 minutes per game. The concern is that in college he was able to guard 3’s and 4’s without his size being an issue, but at 6’10”, 235lbs., he probably won’t be matched up on too many small forwards in the NBA. He is a good prospect and should compliment Favors well.
13. Phoenix Suns – Devin Booker (SG) Kentucky
Another Wildcat taken in the first round, that now makes three. Booker fills a huge void in the Suns lineup. Brandon Knight is a free agent, as is Gerald Green, and if neither come back, Booker is the man at the 2-guard. He isn’t versatile enough to play both guard positions, but that is why they have Eric Bledsoe running the point. Booker is one of the best shooters in the draft and the Suns need scoring badly. He is only 18-years old so he has a lot of maturing to do both physically and mentally, but in a team like Phoenix who isn’t ready to make a serious playoff run, he has time to do that while playing consistent minutes. I really like this pick for the Suns and he may be a player we look back on in three or four years and wonder how he slipped to the 13th pick.
14. Oklahoma City Thunder – Cameron Payne (PG) Murray State
I almost get the impression that the Thunder are so focused on next summer and finding a way to keep Kevin Durant, that they just selected the best available player. Not to say Payne isn’t a good prospect, but Oklahoma City really didn’t have a glaring need other than maybe supplies for their medical room after the starting line up likely used up their entire stock last season. If they were healthy last year, they are a playoff team, and probably a deep one at that. Their only roster concern right now is if Enes Kanter resigns or not, but even if he doesn’t, they have Steven Adams. Back to Payne, this pick isn’t an immediate need, but he is a solid player. He will need to develop his long-range shot to get the consistent back-up minutes to Russell Westbrook, but then again, does he even leave many back up minutes?
15. Washington Wizards – Kelly Oubre (SF) Kansas
Oubre was actually drafted by the Atlanta Hawks, but then traded to Washington for the number 19 pick and two future second-rounders. That is a nice package for Atlanta to receive, gaining two picks in the future and only sliding down 4 positions? The Wizards must be really high on Oubre. The Kansas Jayhawk had the role last season to fill Andrew Wiggins’ shoes and he did so with confidence. He isn’t going to be a great player but he won’t be a bust either. He is coming in to back up Otto Porter Jr. and take Paul Pierce’s spot on the roster when he ultimately goes west. He has a good perimeter game and can get to the basket.
16. Boston Celtics – Terry Rozier (PG) Louisville
Huh? I don’t even know what more to write on this pick that that. GM Danny Ainge was ready to trade starting point guard Marcus Smart for a center just this morning, and instead he drafts another guard? So is Rozier brought in to back up Isaiah Thomas, who backs up Marcus Smart? Or will he back up Phil Pressey who backs up Isaiah Thomas, who backs up Marcus Smart? This was clearly not a selection on need. He is a good player, but not what the Boston Celtics could have got, especially with Justin Anderson and Bobby Portis available. Rozier is defensive-minded and will fit in well in the team’s system. Ainge has to make some moves just to make sure his new guard gets minutes.
17. Milwaukee Bucks – Rashad Vaughn (SG) UNLV
Vaughn is one guy who every time you read a mock draft, he creeps just a spot higher. This is Khris Middleton’s team if he comes back, but Vaughn is a great shooter and players who can score will always find ways into the lineup. He will have time to develop in this line up and Jason Kidd is going to have a blast coaching him. O.J. Mayo is said to be on the trading block, so that right there opens up minutes for Vaughn. I like the pick because I like Vaughn as a potential 2-guard in this league.
18. Houston Rockets – Sam Dekker (SF) Wisconsin
I like Dekker, and with Josh Smith likely gone in Houston I know they need to fill that void, but they should have gone point guard here. Jerian Grant and Delon Wright are still on the board. Jason Terry and Patrick Beverly are free agents and next summer they will see Pablo Prigioni leave, so why not bring in a point guard to develop? Unless they go after someone like Rodney Stuckey as a free agent or believe Beverley resigns and is on the roster next season, I don’t get it. Dekker hasn’t mastered his shot yet by any means, but from what team executives around the league believe, if he can find that 3-point shot, he can be a long-time starter in the NBA. He plays well in the post, and can run the floor and finish. He is a good player, just not the right pick for this team.
19. New York Knicks – Jerian Grant (PG) Notre Dame
This pick was originally the Wizards, which was traded to the Atlanta Hawks, who traded it for Tim Hardaway Jr. That is a lot of work to get to this pick, but the Knicks made up for their selection at number 4 with this one. Grant is perfect for the MSG spotlight. He is a flashy point guard who played four years at Notre Dame and will take his share of shots in the triangle offense. The Knicks essentially traded Hardaway for Grant, which in my opinion is a slam-dunk move. They gain youth and potential for a player who may have reached his peak.
20. Toronto Raptors – Delon Wright (PG) Utah
Earlier in the night the Raptors traded Grivis Vasquez, so it was clear they would have to go point guard here to back up Kyle Lowry. Wright has size and plays solid on-ball defense. The knock on him is how he plays off the ball. Lowry moves so well when the ball is being spread around the floor that the transition to Wright, who doesn’t, could slow down the offense. Lowry did sign a 4-year, $48 million contract last summer, so Wright will have to be content being a back up for at least the next 36 months.
21. Dallas Mavericks – Justin Anderson (SF) Virginia
Aside from what Pat Riley found at number 10, this is my favorite pick in the draft. Anderson is a 6’6” forward who could have gone to any of the teams in the seven spots ahead of Dallas. He has a great three-point shot and can play defense right away in the NBA. He is physically ready for the grind of what opposing forwards will put on him below the basket. Coming from Virginia, he should transition to the Mavericks system well. With Chandler Parsons becoming a free-agent next summer, and Al-Farouq Aminu, Tyson Chandler, Richard Jefferson, Amar’e Stoudemire and Charlie Villanueva all likely gone July 1st, there are going to be plenty of minutes available in Dallas for Anderson. I like this pick a lot for Dallas.
22. Chicago Bulls – Bobby Portis (PF) Arkansas
Awesome pick, and tremendous value at number 22. Even though Chicago has players in their system already at this position, Pau Gasol, Taj Gibson and Nikola Mirotic, this was a player they could not let slip by them. He played excellent for Arkansas last year and proved he can score, rebound and play defense. He is going to make Chicago fans very happy in the near future. He also gives Gasol some insurance that he can rest during the season when need be without worrying how the team plays without him.
23.Portland Trail Blazers – Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (SF) Arizona
This now makes three solid forward picks in a row, and I can see the Toronto Raptors looking back in 3 or 4 years wondering how they let all three slip by. Nicolas Batum was traded from Portland this week and Dorrell Wright is a free agent, so it’s just Hollis-Jefferson, Alonzo Gee and Allen Crabbe at the small forward position. Their new pick is great on defense and has the size to play physical. He needs to work on his offensive skills a bit, but with some work he can develop into a long-term solution in their rotation.
24. Minnesota Timberwolves – Tyus Jones (PG) Duke
This pick was taken by the Cleveland Cavaliers and traded for both of the Timberwolves second round picks. Jones is coming off a season where he led the Duke offense to the National Championship. He is a big-game player who likes to take big shots. He had a 3-to-1 assist to turnover ratio last season and shot 52% off the pick and roll. His game is similar to Ricky Rubio’s, which should lend some familiarity in a young offense. He provides a long-term solution for the team if the Rubio project runs it’s course.
25. Memphis Grizzlies – Jarell Martin (PF) LSU
I was so sure Memphis was taking RJ Hunter here. They need scoring and with guys like Zach Randolph , Jarnell Stokes and potentially Marc Gasol and Kosta Koufos coming back, they didn’t really need another big body. Martin averaged 17 points per game in the SEC and is a great athlete who can play vertically. He does needs to improve on defense, but if there was ever a system to learn in, this is it. Playing alongside Tony Allen, Mike Conley and Gaosl will only make him better.
26. San Antonio Spurs – Nikola Milutinov (C) Serbia
Tony Parker. Manu Ginobili. Marco Belinelli. Tiago Splitter. Are we still surprised that the Spurs made an international pick? They have done so 9 out of the last 10 drafts. It’s almost like they do it on purpose to continuously prove they have the best overseas scouts in the game. In Milutinov they get a 7’0” 20 year old who will learn from the best in the game, Tim Duncan. The Spurs don’t miss often in the draft, so I have no reason to believe he won’t be a stud in the NBA in a few years.
27. LA Lakers – Larry Nance Jr. (PF) Wyoming
He isn’t going to wow anyone by sinking a hundred shots in a row during warm ups, and he isn’t going to tower over anyone defensively, but he plays with intensity and the Lakers need that in their line up. He averaged 16.1 points last season where he was named the 2014-15 All-Mountain West Co-defensive player of year. He is more of a second round player, but the Lakers saw Nance’s enthusiasm and work ethic and decided to take a chance.
28. Boston Celtics – RJ Hunter (SG) Georgia St.
Great selection, if the Celtics didn’t have a roster full of guards already. Hunter is a tremendous long-range shooter, averaging 19.7 points in college. He can play off screens, he can pull up and shoot, and more importantly, he made deep 3’s in college at the NBA range. The 2-time Sun Belt player of the year will be a good pro, just with so many guards on the roster, who knows if that will be in Boston. He could also be a player drafted just to be packaged out of town to bring in more assets. The Celtics had a head scratcher of night, however luckily for them, Hunter is a soon to be NBA sharpshooter.
29, Brooklyn Nets – Chris McCullough (PF) Syracuse
His knee injury last season kept him out of the last 15 games of the year and that is likely why he fell to number 29. He has a huge wingspan and a lot of ability if he can bounce back from injury. With Thaddeus Young gone to free agency and Brook Lopez opting out for next season, this was the right pick. It also made the Barclay’s Center very happy as McCulloguh is originally from the Bronx.
30. Golden State Warriors – Kevon Looney (PF) UCLA
Steph Curry. Klay Thompson. Draymond Green. The Warriors know how to build a line up through the draft and when they saw Looney still available at number 30, they must have thought their championship hangover was still in effect. The UCLA forward averaged 11.5 points and 9 rebounds per game. He was 2nd in Pac-12 in rebounding and notched 15 double-doubles, the most among D-1 freshman. He gives the Warriors some rebounding help they need.
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