Friday, June 23, 2017

2017 Draft Week Review

You have to love the NBA offseason, which is almost its own sporting spectacle. A wild draft night saw a blockbuster trade go down and set records with 16 freshmen and just two seniors drafted in the 1st round, and that was after a few trades already went down earlier in the week! I'm here to run through all the details and review what it means for each team, in order of which of them acted first.
Congratulations to all the players fulfilling their dreams!

76ers trade results:
#1 pick

Celtics trade results:
#3 pick
2018 Lakers 1st round pick if it is #2-5, otherwise the better of the 2019 Kings or 76ers 1st round pick, protected for #1.

I already touched on this after the news broke, but the official press release on Monday revealed the detail about the possible 2019 pick being the better of Philadelphia's or Sacramento's, unless it moves to #1. That's interesting that Philly wanted to make sure in each draft they didn't risk losing the top overall pick, and Boston theoretically protected some value by making sure the pick isn't outside the top-5 for next year at least. Even if the Lakers and Nets both improve, the Celtics could have a decent chance between the two of them for Luka Doncic, Michael Porter Jr., DeAndre Ayton, or Mohamed Bamba, the current top prospects in the DraftExpress 2018 mock draft.

By pushing in one of their valuable trade chips to move up, the 76ers landed Washington combo guard Markelle Fultz, as expected. They also traded another future 1st they had from the Thunder via the Jerami Grant trade (top-20 protected two years after OKC conveys a 1st to Utah; if protected converts to 2022 and 2023 2nds) and an extra 2020 2nd for the #25 pick: Anzejs Pasecniks, Gran Canaria (Spain) C. In the 2nd round, they used #36 on Jonah Bolden, Radnicki Basket (Serbia) PF; then apparently sold #39 to the Clippers AND #46 to the Bucks; and finally used #50 on Mathias Lessort, Nanterre (France) PF/C. I already discussed Fultz and how he fits in so well with this team in my mock draft, and I do like them turning a future 1st that may become two 2nds into a pick now. Both Pasecniks and Bolden are really skilled bigs that can score from multiple areas, so even if they need to polish up their defensive tenacity among an already crowded front court, you can't deny their value as Euro-stashes at those spots, with Bolden in particular having high upside as a versatile athlete. However, it's frustrating that they simply gave away two picks in still valuable spots for straight cash, especially since one of them was the result of the Nerlens Noel trade since that "first rounder" was never going to convey. At least drafting Lessort provides someone who will play with a high motor and tough defense whenever he comes over, even if he is yet another big body. For now though, Fultz should combine well with point forward Ben Simmons to invigorate this offense and push for a winning record. They have a hoard of cap space to help that cause with some possible shooters, but they would be wise to be smart with only short term deals or a shrewd renegotiation and extension for Robert Covington as he's in the last year of his underpaid contract.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

2017 Lottery Mock Draft

It's NBA Draft week! Now that I've had a few days since the Warriors triumphed over the Cavaliers in the Finals, I've refocused my attention on this year's prospects, and now there is already a blockbuster trade at the top. Reminiscent of the last time they held the #1 pick in 1980, the Celtics are trading down to #3 and surprisingly only getting one future first round pick from the 76ers to do so, reportedly either the Lakers' 2018 pick if it lands in the 2-5 range or the Kings' 2019 pick. That's an intriguing pick protection that provides both sides a fair chance at next year's star studded draft since LA's young squad could improve or toil at the bottom of the pack again, and it's not too exorbitant for Philly to move up and get their guy. Now that they had him in for a workout and medical check yesterday before finalizing the trade, I think it's time for a mock draft of how the Lottery portion of the draft will play out before trades really affect the back half of the first round.

1. 76ers: Markelle Fultz, Washington PG/SG

Those LA and Sacramento picks that Sam Hinkie acquired are two of the best assets in the league given the state of those franchises, and now Bryan Colangelo is cashing one of them in to get into position for the clear-cut top prospect, who should fit in perfectly with his new team. With the variety of skills Fultz possesses, he's like a longer, more explosive C.J. McCollum: capable of playing on or off the ball to drain shots from all over the floor while also being an unselfish playmaker. Physically, he might not be quite the same level athlete as Dwyane Wade, but he displays similar capabilities with his 6'4", 195 lb frame and 6'10" wingspan as he blocks shots at a surprising rate and snakes through defenses. Although he has a ton of potential on defense, he still needs to show a more committed consistency on that end of the floor, so I'm curious who the fifth starter will be with him, Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, and Robert Covington. Most would assume Dario Saric takes that spot given his upside and strong end to the season, but I'd like them to explore having him as a high usage 6th man in favor of potential 3-and-D wing Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot. They both shot 31.1% from deep as rookies, but TLC saw his percentage go up to 33.0% over 19 games as a starter and wouldn't need the ball in his hands as much as Saric. They could have Simmons run the offense as the point guard with Fultz helping him as the secondary facilitator around Embiid's inside/outside game as Covington and TLC spot up, and although I may sound like a broken record, a player like Simmons allows for versatile lineups defensively. Having a swingman like Luwawu-Caborrot in the lineup provides a 6'7" perimeter defender for the opposing team's best small while Covington can guard the most threatening forward, and then Fultz and Simmons can match up on the lesser threats. Of course, the most important thing is that this young core stays healthy because they have the potential to become something special as they develop together.