Hey there boys and girls,
I spent the last four days at this thing called Electric Forest and I was unable to monitor the NBA draft very closely, or keep up with all the exciting trades that have big time players moving to interesting new franchises. I know that you have come to expect a certain level of commitment from the good folks here at DRaT, and I apologize for letting everyone down, but holy shit check out the Forest next year guys.
Anyway, now that I have returned to reality I want to share a couple of things that I have observed after looking over the madness and mayhem of the last four days.
1. Are GMs getting smarter?
For weeks all that we heard from draft experts was that Nerlens Noel was a sure thing to go first overall, almost regardless of the team that won the lottery. He was projected to be a can’t miss defensive force, the type of rim protector that changes the entire defensive culture of a team, sort of like Tyson Chandler or Roy Hibbert. But with a recently repaired ACL, and whispers around the league that Nerlens might not exactly have a great group of people giving him advice, Noel plummeted all the way to 6, only to then get traded almost immediately after being picked.
It was impressive to see 5 GMs (and MJ) pass on a guy who many thought would be the first person to shake David Stern’s hand at the last boo-fest of his storied tenure as commissioner. In a draft where no player jumped out as being a truly dominant force, GMs seemed to be willing to look for sure things instead of hoping for things that may never come to fruition.
Was Anthony Bennett sort of a reach at #1? Perhaps, but there really is no way to know for the next 4-5 years. The Cavs saw a player who they think can be a difference maker, who can be versatile by playing the 3 or 4, and most importantly, who had a floor that was higher than the floor of anyone else in this draft.
2. Shed a tear for Ben McLemore
I had a wet dream that the Bulls would somehow scoop up the talented 2-guard from Kansas as he slipped out of the top 4 in the draft. I thought there was some way the Bulls could turn Deng, the Charlotte pick and/or Mirotic into a top ten pick that they could use on McLemore. But when the Kings announced they would be taking McLemore at 7 I couldn’t help but put my head in my hands and weep for what could have been. While the Maloofs are out of the picture and the team has brought in a new GM and coach, the culture (if you can call a dark black cloud a culture) around the Kings is not ideal for a timid shooter who has all the talent in the world.
With DMC ready to make a stink about his next payday and the team entertaining the possibility of bringing back super-talented-yet-super-frustrating Tyreke Evans for 4 years/$44 million, I cannot imagine a worse possible situation for McLemore. Evans, definitely not capable of playing point guard in the NBA, would eat into the minutes McLemore would need to grow into an NBA player. He also needs a veteran leadership to show him how to carry himself and how to assert himself into the action when the time is right. Looking up and down the Kings’ roster as constructed, it’s unclear who McLemore will receive any tutoring from.
Nurture is often a more powerful factor in development than nature, and in the NBA all it takes is a couple of bad habits to completely derail a promising career.
3. LOL Bobcats
Not totally sure what the thinking was in Charlotte on Thursday night. Cody Zeller, a player many thought would be considered for the top pick in 2013, and a definite candidate for the Naismith Trophy heading into his sophomore season at Indiana, was kind of a letdown considering the preseason expectations that swirled around him.
For stretches of games Zeller would completely disappear on the offensive end. Whether that was by the design of IU coach Tom Crean is pretty much a mystery. Zeller spent most of his time in college playing around the rim and taking advantage of his great size. But the seven footer is going to run into some trouble at the next level, as most teams will employ a player who can match him in terms of reach, and probably will be able to out jump and out muscle Zeller.
Scouts have said that Zeller has been working on improving his jumpshot in order to be more effective at the next level, where the shots at the rim that he got in college won’t come as easily. I think Zeller is a smart player who will work hard, and I understand that the Bobcats are starved for any type of F/C who will provide literally any prodcution at all, but I just don’t think Zeller was the right pick. With Alex Len and Noel still on the board, I think Charlotte will regret this pick down the road.
Hopefully they don’t figure things out until 2017.
4. Spurs with a late steal
The Spurs are just good at this stuff. With the 58th (and third to last) pick in Thursday night’s draft, San Antonio snagged, in my opinion, a potentially effective NBA player in Deshaun Thomas.
Thomas led the incredibly competitive and tough Big Ten in both scoring and free throw percentage. The dude can shoot the ball with the best of them. So why did he fall all the way to 58? Teams have been concerned with his lack of speed and defensive ability. Thomas, listed at 6’7″, is a bit of a liability against the incredibly fast wings he will be forced to match up against in the NBA.
But at 58, this is an incredible pick for the Spurs. They were able to take a player who has established offensive skills, a player who loves to catch and shoot and will fit perfectly into their scheme that is so amazing at getting guys open shots on the perimeter. Even if Thomas doesn’t work out in San Antonio, he was without a doubt worth a flier that late in the draft. It looks like the Spurs have made yet another shrewd move to keep themselves in championship contention.
5. Bulls draft Tony Snell
I must admit going into the draft I knew pretty much nothing about the MVP of the Mountain West Tournament. Snell, who shot 39% from 3 last season, looks to be a potential floor spacer for a Bulls team that is starved for shooting. At 6’7″, Snell is also a capable backup for Luol Deng at the 3 should the Bulls decide to have Jimmy Butler spend more time playing shooting guard. While the Bulls already have a strong defensive culture, Snell looks like he will only fortify that terrifying defense. He is certainly capable of being an athletic force on the defensive end, and hopefully he will develop his offensive game further. The Bulls desperately need a player who is not afraid to drive to the hoop and draw contact. Hopefully Snell is able to develop into that kind of player.