I’m going to go through certain drafts that standout to me for good or bad reasons:
Atlanta Hawks: De’Andre Hunter (4), Cam Reddish (10), Bruno Fernando (34)
~ Would’ve it been better to keep the 8th, 10th, 17th and 35th picks in the draft compared with the 4th and 10th? Yes, in terms of value the Hawks definitely could’ve done better. I still like what the Hawks did though when it comes to system fit. I had Hunter ranked 7th, Reddish ranked 14th and Fernando ranked 31st on my big board. Ever since General Manager Travis Schlenk took over the Hawks they’ve had a concise plan with a blueprint to follow. Whether it will work is a different discussion but the overall competence Schlenk has displayed is impressive. Hunter and Reddish project well as 3-and-D switchable wings with Reddish possessing more upside with Fernando projecting to be an athletic rim-running big man that has room to grow on defense. The upside of a unit that includes Trae Young, Kevin Huerter, De’Andre Hunter, Cam Reddish, Bruno Fernando, Omari Spellmen and John Collins will be a super fun story line to watch next season.
Brooklyn Nets: Nicolas Claxton (31), Jaylen Hands (56)
~ I had Claxton ranked 13th on my big board and didn’t even contemplate ranking Hands. The Nets might look drastically different next season and the fit between Claxton and Jarrett Allen is interesting. Nevertheless, Claxton selected at 31 is one of my favorite value picks in the draft. The defensive upside he brings alone makes the pick worthwhile and there is untapped, raw offensive potential just waiting to be developed. I think the Nets have shown they can develop raw talent well.
Boston Celtics: Romeo Langford (14), Grant Williams (22), Carsen Edwards (33), Tremont Waters (51)
~ I had Langford ranked 12th, Williams ranked 11h and Edwards ranked 38th. Clearly, I really like this draft for Boston even though there were still some players left on the board at 14 that I rather have over Langford. The Celtics have a ton of options this summer so it’s too early to tell what exact roles these rookies will have. Langford gives them another big switchable wing, Williams gives them a skilled big and Edwards could be their backup scoring guard. With Al Horford and Kyrie Irving leaving, the Celtics ended up finding solid young replacements that fit the bill.
Cleveland Cavaliers: Darius Garland (5), Dylan Windler (26), Kevin Porter jr (30)
~ I had Garland ranked 9th, Windler ranked 24th and Porter jr ranked 10th on my big board, so I obviously should love this draft for Cleveland, right? I get what the Cavs are trying to do. They are a team in total rebuild mode so just getting as much talent in the door as possible is priority number one. The issue turns into a question of fit. Does Garland, Sexton, Windler and Porter jr fit? What system will they run? Who will be the primary ball handler? In terms of talent and value I should love this draft but I just don’t see a blueprint. The Hawks are following a blueprint in their rebuild. The Grizzlies are following a blueprint in their rebuild. Whether or not it works isn’t the question, it’s the fact that plans and strategies tend to mitigate mistakes. I just don’t see a plan with the Cavs. Now that doesn’t mean it won’t work, like I said in terms of talent and value the Cavs did a great job. I’m just curious how they’re going to put this together.
Dallas Mavericks: Josh Reaves (Undrafted)
~ The Mavericks didn’t have any picks but still did a good job. Reaves is my 26th ranked prospect. I thought he might go undrafted since he wasn’t on many media sites mock drafts. I like his fit with the Mavs. A 3-and-D wing that plays off of Luka Doncic and can playmake in a pinch. I think Reaves has practical fit on the Mavs as a solid rotational piece.
Denver Nuggets: Bol Bol (44)
~ This was interesting. I didn’t have Bol Bol ranked in my top 40 due to medical concerns. I’m just a guy that watches a lot of basketball, I don’t have inside sources. So when I saw Bol Bol fall I guess I turned out to be right, the league must have the same concerns or he’s medically red flagged. Denver doesn’t exactly need Bol Bol. They have Nikola Jokic and Micheal Porter jr has their frontcourt but the potential to get a player with lottery talent this late in the draft is too hard to pass up. It’s a good gamble by Denver.
Golden State Warriors: Jordan Poole (28), Alen Smailagic (39), Eric Paschal (41), Dedric Lawson (Undrafted)
~ I had Jordan Poole ranked 36th on my big board and I thought I ranked him too high. Most media sites didn’t have Poole ranked that high so I thought I was overrating him. As it turns out the Warriors apparently overrated him too. I don’t hate the pick but I just would’ve drafted other players like Kevin Porter jr, Keldon Johnson and Nic Claxton. He’s still a great deep range shooter, very quick and has touch around the rim. I just don’t get why they aren’t addressing a two-way big wing that can replace Iggy as he retires. Is that supposed to be Poole? Jacob Evans who they drafted last season? Then they get three more players, all of whom are frontcourt players. I’m assuming that means Kevon Looney is gone? Smailagic has potential as a skilled big but I question his mobility. Paschal could end up being a nice fit next to Draymond but at that point in the draft why not go for Bol Bol? Ever since Travis Schlenk left to go to Atlanta in 2017 I’ve started to double guess the Warriors draft moves more often.
Houston Rockets: Shamorie Ponds (Undrafted)
~ Again, another team with no draft picks but I still come away loving what they did. The Rockets had one of the better undrafted rookies last season with Gary Clark and they look to duplicate that success with Ponds. Ponds was ranked 30th on my big board and I was pretty surprised he didn’t get drafted. Ponds is someone who can create his own shot, play on or off-ball and can playmake in Mike D’Antoni’s system. He might not have excellent size but he’s very skilled with a solid IQ.
Los Angeles Lakers: Talen Horton-Tucker (46)
~ The Lakers who didn’t have any picks to start the night ended up trading back into the second round. I had Talen Horton-Tucker ranked 16th on my big board, so this draft pick gets a thumbs up by me. The only thing I question is potential fit issues. He isn’t a shooter and the Lakers are in desperate need of shooters. Still, Horton-Tucker is one of the youngest players in the draft, has good touch around the rim and has a decent IQ. I guess he fell due to conditioning concerns? That was one of my worries when I wrote up his overview but thought that with better diet and an NBA training staff he could work himself into better shape. Maybe it has something to do with his body type and teams were concerned he’d never be in shape. Horton-Tucker still can create his own shot, has good feel for the game and has solid fundamentals on defense. I’m iffy on the fit with Lebron and Anthony Davis but still like the value and his upside due to age and skill.
Memphis Grizzlies: Ja Morant (2), Brandon Clarke (21)
~ Do I even need to say anything? I had Morant ranked 3rd and Clarke ranked 6th on my big board. The Grizzlies are now in full rebuild mode after trading Marc Gasol and Mike Conley. The future trio of Morant, Clarke and Jarren Jackson will be one of the most interesting subplots to the NBA season. The amount of athletic ability and frontcourt defensive prowess is remarkable for such a young group of players. This could end up being a draft that transforms their franchise for the next decade.
Minnesota TimberWolves: Jarrett Culver (6), Jaylen Nowell (43), Barry Brown (Undrafted), Naz Reid (undrafted)
~ I was a big fan of the job the TimberWolves did in last years draft by selecting Josh Okogie and Keita Bates-Diop. They’ve definitely outdone themselves this year. Culver was my 2nd ranked prospect. All it took was the number 11 pick and Dario Saric to get draft Culver at 6. His offensive game will take time to develop in the league but could be a day one defensive plus player. Nowell didn’t make my top 40 but let’s just say he was ranked 41st. He has a good frame and athletic build and nice potential to be a tertiary playmaker. Then Minnesota signs undrafted Barry Brown jr from Kansas State who is one of the better defenders in this draft. To top it off the TimberWolves signed undrafted Naz Reid who I’m not a fan of but still has a ton of upside as a big man who can maybe space the court and take it off the dribble. I really like what the TimberWolves are trying to build around Karl Anthony-Towns.
New Orleans: Zion Williamson (1), Jaxson Hayes (8), Nickeil Alexander-Walker (17), Marcos Louzada Silva (35), Zylan Cheatham (undrafted)
~ The New Orleans Pelicans draft boils down to what did they put around Zion? I personally have always envisioned Zion being a small ball five. That’s why I’m on the fence about Hayes. Hayes was my 19th ranked player on my big board and he has rim-running, paint protection potential. He actually had a good free throw percentage and touch around the rim so maybe he develops an outside shot but until that happens he mostly gets his points in the paint. I like the thought of Hayes and Zion together defensively but wonder how will it fit on offense? Nickeil Alexander-Walker was my 21st ranked prospect but more importantly he is a good spot up jump shooter and will be a much needed floor spacer. With the 35th pick the Pelicans took Marcos Louzada Silva. I don’t know much about Silva outside of his Hoop Summit performance where he looked like a potential 3-and-D wing with solid physical tools. Cheatham was my 35th ranked prospect and to get him as an undrafted rookie is good value. He projects to be a backup swing big. Only time will time how well the Pelicans do supporting Zion. As of now I don’t hate what they did but don’t love it either.
Oklahoma City Thunder: Darius Bazley (23), Luguentz Dort (Undrafted)
~ Bazley was my 5th ranked prospect on my big board which should tell you all that is needed to know. I’m clearly much higher on Bazley than most draft sites and the Thunder share my sentiment. As long as Bazley becomes a respectable three point shooter then the fit with Russell Westbrook and Paul Gergoe will work. I’m not the biggest Dort fan either but to sign him undrafted is terrific value. Dort and Bazley both fit the mold of Thunder players: long and athletic. I think Bazley in the right environment could be one of the steals in this draft.
Orlando Magic: Chuma Okeke (16), DaQuan Jeffries (undrafted)
~ This one is weird for me. I had Okeke ranked 17th and Jeffries ranked 23rd on my big board. I clearly like both players but I just don’t know if I would’ve drafted Okeke this high especially with the players that were still left on the board. I get that the Magic didn’t have another draft pick until 46 and he might not have been available. It’s just that all I heard pre-draft was Okeke projected to be an early to middle second round pick. There could’ve been a chance he was still on the board when the Magic picked next at 46. With that said, I really like the player. He has to be redshirted for a season but when healthy has 1st round upside. If Okeke ends up playing well and becoming a starting caliber player than this pick looks terrific. At the end of the day if you like someone then go get him and that’s what Orlando did with Okeke. I think the Magic got great value with Jeffries. He is projected to become a 3-and-D swing forward and a nice complementary piece. My biggest cause for concern is that the Magic don’t have the best track record in terms of player development and they already have a decent amount of long wings in their pipeline. My worry is Okeke and Jeffries deal with a logjam and don’t develop properly. I like the draft by Orlando in terms of talent but I’m apprehensive about the player development situation. What the Magic do in free agency and how they mold their roster will matter heavily.
Portland Trail Blazers: Nassir Little (25), Jaylen Hoard (Undrafted)
~ I had Little ranked as my 15th best prospect. I still have my reservations when it comes to Little developing into a positive on-court impact player but the value and fit are amazing. Portland does not have many ways to upgrade their roster due to salary cap implications. They were in need of upgrading their wing position with limited options. What so happens to fall in their lap? A potentially two-way big wing scorer who will be on a cost-controlled contract for the next four seasons. Little might take a while to develop and might not be on the same timeline as Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum but this just made way too much sense for Portland.
San Antonio Spurs: Luka Samanic (19), Keldon Johnson (29), Quinndary Weatherspoon (49)
~ Keldon Johnson was my 20th ranked prospect and Quinndary Weatherspoon was ranked 33rd on my big board. I don’t know much about Samanic outside of the NBA combine but he did look to have some big man floor spacing ability with mobility. I can see the upside with that pick. I think Johnson has 3-and-D starting wing potential and Weatherspoon has backup scoring guard potential. The Spurs have an interesting young nucleus of Derrick White, Dejounte Murray, Lonnie Walker, Bryn Forbes, Davis Bertans, Jakob Poeltl, Luka Samanic, Keldon Johnson and Quinndary Weatherspoon. The Spurs are one of the best when mining and developing talent and this draft could be a continuation of that success.