Well, after months of speculation, the NBA Draft turned out exactly as nobody anticipated on Thursday night. Mock drafts were tossed out the window after the second pick of the night, and what followed was a night of confusion, quick decisions, and “what?” reaction from analysts and fans alike. But if you were expecting anything less, you don’t know the NBA. Either way, there were some things that caught my eye, and few things I’m puzzled by.
Boston turns draft on its head
Well, that was certainly something from Boston, wasn’t it? After a whole season spent being media darlings, the Celtics spent the better part of the two days leading up to the draft looking for deals for Nerlens Noel, Jahil Okafor and Jimmy Butler, the Celtics stunned everyone by selecting Jaylen Brown, a player projected to go way back at 7. Huh. I actually like the fit for Boston from a purely player perspective, but what an odd choice for a franchise that was gifted a top-3 pick. Kris Dunn or Buddy Heild wouldn’t have made much sense here, so the Celtics did select the player that would actually have a chance of starting for them. Still, having a chance to get Butler or Okafor is odd for them not to pull the trigger, but we don’t know what exactly the other teams were offering. It is certainly puzzling that Boston spent all that time and effort to get…that? Hopefully Danny Ainge knows something we don’t. On the bright side, Boston got the steal of the draft, getting Demetrius Jackson late in the second round, who was a combine darling.
— NBA TV (@NBATV) June 25, 2016
Big pick-ups for the Nuggets
What a big night for Denver. Seriously, the Nuggets needed some length and scoring and got both in the pair of guards of Jamal Murray and Malik Beasley. Murray is the second best shooter in this draft, and will run up and down the court with ease in the NBA. Who better to pair with him than Beasley, who is one of the best defensive twos in this draft, and a player that’s far from his best self. Add in a stretch-4 in Hernangomez, and the Nuggets got way better at the end of the night.
— Big Blue Nation (@BigB1ue9ation) June 24, 2016
Minnesota move and shake
Minnesota certainly tried to steal the show early on in this draft, dangling the fifth pick at Chicago forever to try and pry away Jimmy Butler. After selecting Kris Dunn, the trade talks dominated well into the late first round, but ultimately the Wolves decided to keep the Providence guard. I love the pick-up by Minnesota, and Dunn will play great beside KAT, Zach LaVine and Andrew Wiggins. With those four on the court, the length and defense will be suffocating. I do question the selection of Dunn over a guy like Buddy Hield, who I think would have cemented the roster with a true shooter that they don’t have yet, but I’m not going to question Thibodeau just yet. I feel like this may spell the end of the Ricky Rubio days in ‘Sota, however.
Kris Dunn looks to be a perfect fit for @Timberwolves‘ young core
— NBA.com (@NBAcom) June 26, 2016
Bulls show their hand
On the flipside of the draft day trade talks that dominated the night, the Chicago Bulls were certainly aggressive in their pursuits to move Jimmy Butler. And I can’t help but think this wasn’t something that will sour the front office further in Chicago. The Bulls sent a loud message that they are in rebuild mode, but with Gasol, Rose, and Noah all likely gone, why alienate the only true player you’ve got left?
Chicago Bulls GM Gar Forman on Jimmy Butler trade rumors.https://t.co/am2FVRDeCw
— FOX Sports: Hoops (@HoopsonFOX) June 24, 2016
Philly on the up
I loved the night the 76ers had. First off, they took the guy with the highest upside in the draft in Ben Simmons (although I do think Ingram is better, but I digress), and followed it by drafting the freakishly athletic Timothe Lawawu, and one of the best shooters in the draft in Furkan Korkmaz. But beyond that, Philly was super aggressive in trying to better their roster, offering left and right for a chance to go get Kris Dunn. I don’t think the Sixers are done trying to make a splash, and it’s fun to finally see this team get aggressive about winning. Even with just the roster they’ve got now, the Sixers are a true point guard away from having a really interesting team. Pour one out for Hinkie.
— Philadelphia 76ers (@Sixers) June 23, 2016
Pelicans pick up a peach
It sure was awesome to see Buddy Hield get picked up, even though I think it would have been much more interesting to see him in Minnesota. New Orleans got my favorite player in this draft, and it filled a desperate need as well. With Eric Gordon likely gone, Hield will likely get a look for a starting spot, and seriously, is it not exciting to think of Big Ba(nanas) Buddy going on a 3pt streak in an NBA arena near you? Not to mention he has the best teeth in the league already. Count me on the Hield bandwagon.
— NBA TV (@NBATV) June 25, 2016
What on earth is Sacramento doing? Seriously, the Kings used their lottery pick on a center, one who is untested against pro-level talent. Did they forget they used their last lottery pick on Cauley-Stein, and also signed Koufas to a big contract? Have they forgotten about having Boogie? And as if you had thought the Kings were done being boneheaded, they added ANOTHER center in Skal Labissiere. I like Skal, but seriously, what are you going to do with five centers?
All this sparked even more confusion when Demarcus Cousins sent out a cryptic tweet about his frustration in Sacramento’s draft decisions. Even when the Kings won, they lost as well. They fleeced a first-round pick from Charlotte for nothing, and drafted the rawest shooting guard in the first round in Malachi Richardson. Because if there’s anything these Kings have, it’s time. I actually think Isaiah Cousins, the Oklahoma second-rounder they picked up, might even be better right away. Sheesh, where are they going?
DeMarcus Cousins tweeted this during the draft. pic.twitter.com/0Vhj32cAlP
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) June 24, 2016
…as do the Hornets…
As mentioned above, the Charlotte Hornets made quite the puzzling move before draft night. The Hornets were thought to be on the look to shed salary, as half of their rotation becomes free agents on July 1. So, the Hornets looked to be shopping their first-round pick, along with Jeremy Lamb and Spencer Hawes, to clear some space. What they left with was a straight swap of Marco Belinelli and the pick, which accomplished exactly none of the goals. The Hornets took on $6.3 million in unnecessary salary and lost their pick. We won’t know everything about this trade until it becomes official later this week, but seriously, this is puzzling.
The Charlotte Hornets walking into the NBA draft like pic.twitter.com/qYrJGuch8m
— J.P Wentworth (@jpadge1) June 23, 2016
…and the Bucks
Speaking of puzzling, what on earth was Milwaukee thinking? I get the idea of taking a flyer on Thon Maker, who at one point was a top-three pick. But this team? Now? They already have depth inside, with Jabari Parker, John Henson and Greg Monroe anchoring the frontcourt. They’ve also already got a freakishly long forward in Giannis Antetokounmpo. So where does Thon fit? And that’s not even acknowledging the fact they picked him all the way at 10, when he was projected in the late-20s. Maybe he was really impressive, but all of this over a guy who very well may be 25?
— NBA.com (@NBAcom) June 26, 2016
Thunder and Magic steal the show
The biggest shocker, and winner, of the night, in terms of immediate impact, was the semi-blockbuster trade between the Thunder and the Magic. The Thunder dealt Serge Ibaka for the rights to the Magic’s lottery pick, swingman Victor Oladipo, and Eryan Illysova. When the trade was announced, I was convinced it was a fleecing for the Thunder, but after sleeping on it, I actually slightly understand the Magic’s side of things. The team was stagnant, Oladipo may have hit his peak on that team, and this move gives the green light to the second year Mario Hezonja.
The lottery pick also was likely not going to have much of an impact, and moving them for Ibaka gave the team a great defender and strong shooter to help anchor an offense and defense that could use some leadership. But what a great pick-up for the Thunder. Ibaka had began to struggle, and adding Oladipo, plus more assets for him was a great steal. Oladipo provides a dominant defensive pairing with Russell Westbrook, and with Durant added, the starting line-up for the Thunder just got incredibly scary, especially if this move opened up a starting spot for the Kanter-Adams line-up that shined against Golden State. If there was a better argument for Durant to hear Thursday night, I’d love to hear it.
In case you were curious.https://t.co/qfbMrXfXg3
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) June 26, 2016
Overall, it was a crazy night in the NBA. But the fun is only getting started. Grab some oxygen for the next week, free agency comes your way July 1!