24 hours have passed since the first-ever virtual NBA Draft, with some teams still wheeling and dealing. We won’t know the real winners and losers from the class of 2020 for at least a few years yet, but that won’t stop me from overreacting to yesterday’s antics!
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VERY quietly the Grizzlies had themselves a noteworthy Draft night, adding some more promising talent to an already budding roster. A year after snatching a sliding Brandon Clarke, Memphis pulled a similar move by trading for pick 30 and snaring TCU’s Desmond Bane – a rare prospect who projects as a 3-and-D wing. They weren’t done though, adding Jaren Jackson Jr’s former collegiate teammate Xavier Tillman five picks later and signing undrafted Gonzaga big man Killian Tillie who oozes upside. Athletic, young and dangerous – watch out for the Grizz as early as next season.
ARGUABLY the best player in college basketball a season ago, Obi Toppin had to bide his time before hearing his name called last night. The former Dayton dunk machine was projected to land inside the top-5 with Cleveland poised to snare him, however, it was the Knicks who pounced on the young forward with the 8th overall selection. That turned out just fine for Toppin, who was born in New York and will enter the 2020-21 season as a frontrunner for Rookie of the Year honours – especially given that New York announced they were letting Taj Gibson and Bobby Portis go.
I’M still puzzled as to why Tyrese Haliburton dropped all the way to pick 12, but I can assure you, Sacramento wasn’t complaining. Adding a versatile, smart playmaker to a frontcourt that boasts De’Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield (for now) will only aid the Kings in their quest for relevance in the challenging Western Conference. Sacramento was further boosted by Bogdan Bogdanovic rejecting an offer from Milwaukee and instead opting to entertain deals from other teams. I wasn’t a huge fan of the Kings’ return in the proposed trade, but they could add some worthwhile pieces in another sign-and-trade should Boggy still want out.
NO one earned more brownie points in the 2020 draft than new Sixers president Daryl Morey. Not only did he manage to offload Al Horford’s bloated contract, Morey was able to add some much-needed shooting depth by acquiring Danny Green and Seth Curry then drafting Tyrese Maxey and Isaiah Joe. Not only can those pieces complement the star duo of Ben Simmons & Joel Embiid, they could also be handy assets in a play for James Harden.
LAVAR tried to tell us his sons were destined for greatness from the moment he burst onto our screens. He claimed his kids were the best prospects we would lay our eyes on and while his optimistic delusion didn’t pan out for LiAngelo, his other two sons Lonzo and LaMelo can claim their place as top-3 draft picks until the day they die. Now please LaVar, leave us all alone and enjoy watching your sons from afar. Like really afar.
Image from lonzowire.usatoday.com
THE Nuggets did it again. Last June they traded for the rights to Bol Bol and this time around, they’ve landed R.J. Hampton. Bol and Hampton are two vastly different prospects, but rolling the dice and pouncing on the falling wing was a masterstroke by Denver. Hampton isn’t too far removed from being a potential top-5 pick in this class and if he can grow and develop in the Mile High City, Denver’s championship window will remain wide open.
Lottery Pick Trades
THE rumour mill was churning and our hopes were high for draft-day trade drama. What a boilover that turned out to be! The top-2 picks were seemingly available, but no deal was struck with either Minnesota or Golden State. In fact, the 16th pick was the highest draft selection that ended up changing hands, with all the reported trade buzz amounting to nothing.
SOMEWHAT unrelated to the Draft, news broke a few hours before the event that Warriors All-Star shooting guard Klay Thompson had suffered a lower leg injury. 24 hours later we discovered that ‘lower leg injury’ is a torn Achilles that will keep Thompson out for the entire season for the second straight year. Brutal.
BOSTON began the week eager to package multiple picks together in an effort to strengthen their roster. Owning three selections in the first round meant the Celtics had assets to move up the draft order or make a play at a player in the mould of Myles Turner, Jrue Holiday, Rudy Gobert, or hell, even Robert Covington. Instead, they weren’t able to broker a deal and added two more perimeter orientated rookies to their already overflowing depth chart.
Minnesota Timberwolves Defense
ANTHONY Edwards, Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell make for a very potent trio – on the offensive side of the ball. Recent history suggests that KAT and D-Lo won’t be defensive stoppers in 2020-21 and Edwards has his own weaknesses on that side of the ball. The T-Wolves are capable of scoring 120+ with their talented group, but that same group will struggle to keep their opponents under 130.
BEING drafted 6th overall hardly classifies you as a ‘loser’, but landing in Atlanta might be what ends up costing Okongwu. The raw USC big man was mentioned at the top of the order in most rumour mills, however, he’ll now join a crowded frontcourt that already houses Clint Capela and John Collins. Not exactly a disaster, but fighting for minutes from day one isn’t exactly what Okongwu would’ve had in mind.