This year’s NBA Draft was very exciting as many new faces entered the league. Here are the teams that did the best, and the teams that did the worst on draft night.
1. Luka Doncic
The Mavs made a huge gamble, but they did end up with the player who I believed was the best player in this draft. The Dallas Mavs and Co. traded the rights to Oklahoma guard Trae Young and a first round pick in 2019 for the 19-year old forward. Not only do I believe that Doncic was the best player available, but he also ended up in what is believed to be the best place for him. Setting him up in a backcourt with budding superstar Dennis Smith Jr covers up his lack of blow-by speed. He can set up on the perimeter for an easy pick and pop game with Smith as he breaks down the defense. Veteran European Dirk Nowitzki can show him how to be successful, and playing in Rick Carlyle’s multi-ball handler system fits Doncic’s game almost seamlessly. They are certainly taking a gamble, but this one feel’s like it’s worth the risk.
2. Cleveland Cavaliers
The prize of the Kyrie Irving deal (the Nets pick), helped the Cavs pick up a difference maker at number 8 overall. Coming into the draft (and offseason as a whole), Cleveland needed somebody who could make a difference to help LeBron, and Collin Sexton has what it takes to be the guy to shoulder some of the load off LeBron’s shoulders. He's a fiery competitor and the most impactful player at this spot even though he has deficiencies as a passer. The best part about this deficiency is that it can be fixed through meaningful play time. I think Sexton is the guy who will play the same role Kyrie Irving was when the Cavs won the Larry O’Brien trophy in 2016. Now, the Cavs could’ve parlayed this pick into an established veteran, but there is no way that it would've been enough to land somebody good enough to make an impact in a series with the Golden State Warriors. The number 8 pick was not the most attractive spot to be in, especially with most of the top end talent gone. The Cavaliers made the right
3. San Antonio Spurs and Lonnie Walker IV
The match between Lonnie Walker and the San Antonio Spurs is an absolute match made in heaven and was one of my favorites moves in the entire draft. Walker has the attitude to be a star in today’s game. He plays with finesse, flair, and can contribute on defense. He has ideal size for a SG and is a terrific spot up shooter. When he goes above the rim, you can’t help yourself from being in shock at what he might do next. The Spurs have quite the history of grooming young, home grown talent; whether it be Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Patty Mills, Dejounte Murray, and plenty of others. There is no better coach in the NBA for Walker than Gregg Popovich. They did not even need to trade up to get a guy who arguably had the most upside in the draft. The hair isn't that bad either.
1. Washington Wizards
The Washington Wizards have a glaring need at Center, and they passed on a guy who was considered a top-15 pick in Robert Williams out of Texas A & M. They need a defender who can defend the pick and roll where they get torched continuously. The current centers the team is role out on the court consists of an aging Marcin Gortat and salary cap constraint Ian Mahinmi. Both of these guys are not high impact guys, which the Wizards are in need of in their frontcourt. It lacks a true rim defender which is a huge reason why the Wizards cannot seem to get past the first round of the playoffs. Troy Brown just was not the right pick at 15th overall. I just do not like the pick even though he was liked among draft analysts. Yes, he may be able to be the glue to fix the debacle this team has been the last couple of years, but he’s so restricted with Otto Porter Jr. and Kelly Oubre Jr. sitting ahead of him in the depth chart that it wasn't worth the pick at this point. In my eyes, it just doesn't make sense.
2. Utah Jazz
Grayson Allen was one of the most polarizing draftees in this entire class, and one who I feel could destroy a locker room if he is left unchecked. His attitude and play style, although may be liked by NBA coaches because of how he gets in the dirty areas, just does not fit in with the style of play the league is moving towards. He didn’t put up great numbers in college outside his sophomore year, only adding to the concern over his pro outlook. His play style also makes it difficult for him to transition into an NBA offense. He's not a great shooter or defender. It is just really tough trying to justify this pick. Allen was a risk, and for a team that really is not a big free agent destination (like the Jazz) they need to acquire guys who can make an impact early on. When the Jazz were drafting, there were still solid options left on the board like Aaron Holiday or Anfernee Simmons.
3. Mikal Bridges
Bridges could not have asked for a better landing spot than the Sixers. He didn’t have to move states, because Villanova also happens to be in Philadelphia. It was his dream to play not too far from where he won 2 National Championships. The 76ers were also ready to contend right away and Bridges, who was considered to be one of the most NBA-ready prospects in this draft, would’ve been a great addition to a team on the rise. With the trade to the Suns, he goes all the way across the country and to a team that really isn’t going to win for a couple of years. Bridges is about 2-3 years older than many of this drafts and those extra years of non-contention will limit his long term impact.
Could go either way
1. Denver Nuggets and Michael Porter Jr.
I don’t think anybody except for NBA teams really knew how significant the injury Michael Porter Jr. suffered last season. Before the season, Porter was mocked to be the number 1 pick in the entire draft. But every team in the top 10 passed on the guy. Even the Clippers who had two first round picks still passed on the guy. But in all, the Nuggets were the best place for them. They’re depth in the front court allows Porter Jr. to take a backseat, unlike any situation he would’ve been in by mostly any drafting higher. He has the talent to be a top player in the entire league, but there were too many red flags. This is a pick that is going to take years to determine whether both the team and player are winners or losers.