Now that the dust on Golden State’s win has settled (depending on how you view it, it might still be settling), it is time for us to get on to the main business of the day. IT’S DRAFT TIME! Before I go on, allow me to go on a little rant about the 2016 draft class (Even if Embiid was a rookie, I wouldn’t talk about him because he was drafted in 2014). It was supposedly a “deep” draft and because I didn’t watch a lot of College basketball last year, I drank a lot of the Kool – Aid the media was spewing.
Ben Simmons got drafted first and I watched a bit of him in the summer league. You know where I stand on people who get all the media mentions (I don’t like jumping on band wagons). It also didn’t help that he released a documentary called “one and done” which in my view portrayed him as an absolute prat! Still, I was looking forward to watching him play because he has that “trequartista” thing about him. Like being a number 10 who can do unpredictable things with the ball but he broke his foot and I was sure the 76ers weren’t going to play him last season (they didn’t).
It all went mostly downhill from there. Because I didn’t want to hop on the Simmons bandwagon, I started rooting for Brandon Ingram which was easier when Durant said Ingram is more skilful than he was at Ingram’s age. There was Kris Dunn who the Timberwolves were so high on that they were ready to trade Rubio and give Dunn the keys to they team (thank goodness they didn’t). Then there was Buddy Hield – National Player of the year aka Buddy Buckets (no prizes for guessing why). Jaylen Brown out of Berkeley was supposedly wise beyond his years and supremely athletic. These were all players I looked forward to watching last year. They all flamed out! Majorly! Kriss Dunn averaged maybe 3 points. Bandon Ingram who was supposedly a skilled shooter shot less than 30% from 3, Buddy was inconsistent until her moved to Sacramento then maybe he averaged 10 points Jaylen Brown played sparingly and maybe had 2 good games against Washington in the playoffs.
I was impressed by Malcom Brogdon though. He was drafted in the Second Round and slowly established himself in the Bucks team (I watch the Bucks a lot by the way). I think he was also helped by Dellavadova’s injury. The numbers don’t bear this out but I was impressed by Thon Maker as well (surprise surprise another Buck). He shot about 37% from 3 and roughly 46% overall. He only averaged about 10 minutes per game though. I wonder why Jason Kidd didn’t play him more though.
Now, on to the 2017 class. I already know these ones are also overhyped and will most likely disappoint but I will ignore what I just said and proceed to get excited about the draft etc. I don’t know enough about the draft to do a mock draft so I will break my preview of the draft class in to 3. Top 5 prospects, others to watch and prospects with Nigerian heritage.
Top 5 Prospects
Markelle Fultz: Universally accepted to be the number 1 player. Unfortunately, Washington State did not qualify for March Madness so I didn’t see him play. I really don’t even know what his strengths are but I understand he’s an athletic (6’4) point guard who can get buckets. I won’t argue with the experts. He will probably go number 1.
Lonzo Ball: Most people think he will go to the Lakers at 2. Who am I to argue. I watched him a little but especially in the Sweet 16 game where he was outplayed by De’arron Fox (more on him later). He’s a very unselfish player. Unselfish players are my best kind of players because they make their team mates better. He has an unorthodox shooting method but it works (41% from 3 and 55% overall!) so I don’t see what the fuss over his shooting mechanism is about. My real worry is that his ceiling is Ricky Rubio – A good passer but a terrible shooter. That shouldn’t happen because he can make his shots right? Slight concern about his ability to be a lock down defender but I like his size (6’6) and he can learn these defensive things in the NBA
Joshua Jackson: You will find a million different opinions about who the 76’ers should draft or what they should do with the third pick. I like Joshua Jackson a lot. He’s a high flying and athletic on offense and a lock down guy on defense. He’s 6’8 so he has long arms and can probably guard the 1 – 4 positions. On the downside he’s a bad shooter (under 30% from 3 – that’s bad for an NBA wing) and an even ghastlier 55% from the free throw line. I’m more confident about that free throw number going up than I am about the 3 point %. I guess he’s like a taller version of Marcus Smart who will come in and compete. The question mark is that the Sixers really need outside shooting and it is questionable whether he can bring that shooting to them.
De’arron Fox: I really like Fox. I watched him a few times in the NCAA tournament. The kid is quick as a flash and is a lock down guy on defense. When I saw him in the NCAA tournament, he outplayed Lonzo Ball. I wrote that he reminds me of John Wall because he’s a quick lefty who can’t really shoot it well coming out of Kentucky. Since then I have seen that comparison in a few other places. I think his passing and game control skills will get better but if Phoenix is picking at 4 where will he fit in? I get that Devin Booker can play the 2. What then will happen to Bledsoe? He’s one of their highest paid players and I doubt he is going to want to come off the bench. Don’t forget they also have Brandon Knight who admittedly they don’t like anymore but they gave him $70 million didn’t they? If they take Fox, he will be the 4th Kentucky Point Guard on the team! The suns probably need more shooting not another quick point guard.
Malik Monk: He almost didn’t make this list because he can be inconsistent sometimes (I guess that’s fair because he is a young player). He’s a 6’2 shooting guard. That is a bit of a problem in today’s NBA. Granted he’s a good scorer. Hell, he could be a great scorer. He dropped 47 points on North Carolina in December so when he gets going, I guess he gets going. I watched him in the NCAA tournament and he was disappointing on the nights I watched him. That’s that inconsistency I was talking about.
Jayson Tatum: A number of people are very high on him but I’m not really sure. He’s 6’8 and He’s a good scorer but I don’t think there is anything extra ordinary about him. Plus he went to Duke. All the recent highly recruited guys that went to Duke have flattered to deceive. I’ll put him in that Category.
Justin Jackson out of North Carolina caught my eye during the NCAA tournament. He looked poised sort of like he was playing with little kids but I guess the mark against him is that he is 22 so he might be a bit set in his ways?
Frank Ntilikina out of France is on my radar as well. 6’4/6’5 point guard with a 7 foot wingspan apparently. He’s only 18 so might need to develop a bit more. He’s literally still playing in France so no one has been able to work him out or even measure him but the Knicks and Mavericks are apparently high on him
There are a lot of Nigerian kids balling out in America and I like looking through the prospect list for them. I found Giannis when he was at the bottom of David Aldridge’s list of forwards and look where he is today!
Ike Anigbogu: He came off the bench for UCLA and was team mates with Lonzo Ball. I know he was injured earlier this season. He’s only 18 so I thought he might stay back for a year. I honestly don’t know much about him. I saw that he worked out for the Bucks. Hopefully they draft him so I can see how he develops.
OG Anunoby: I don’t know much about him but have seen him as high as 10 on some draft boards. Is he that good? I’ve got no idea. We will find out soon though.
Bam Adebayo: Bam has been on my radar since the start of the year. He’s a big bruiser type who gets busy in the paint but has limited skills outside the paint. I don’t think he’s as athletic as say a Dwight Howard. Maybe he’s more like a Ben Wallace (I’m reaching a little bit but I couldn’t think of any other big to compare him to). I thought he might stay in college for one more year to polish his skills a bit but I guess you can say the polishing can be done in the league?
Semi Ojeleye: You know what his full name is? Jesusemilore (Jesus has rewarded me) Talodabijesu Ojeleye (there is no one like Jesus). With a name like that, he better have sense. I don’t know much about him. I only found out about him earlier this week when I was going through some draft boards.
Draft and Free Agency season is my best time of the season because that is when anything is possible. You can get carried away and make all the permutations you like. I remember Skip Bayless saying in 2012 after the Pelicans drafted Anthony Davies and Austin Rivers that they were contenders (lol). In that same vein, I will be back next week (the draft is next thursday) getting carried away after the draft!