The NBA Draft is a little more than a day old. Teams are introducing their new picks across the league and there is a lot of excitement building for what the future holds. Fan bases today are either energized or a bit disheartened they did not get the guy they really wanted.
It is a little difficult to pick who will win and who will not in this Draft at this point. But, hey, this is the Internet. So we might as well pick who became the early winners and losers from the NBA Draft.
Utah Jazz: Utah had the draft I expected my team — the Orlando Magic — to have.
Dante Exum was clearly in that second group of players in this Draft. And the Magic, who seemed like the natural fit for him because of their need for an uber-talented, potential star and point guard, passed on him. Exum is a stunning talent and has skill and athleticism. There are not many 6-foot-6 point guards walking around.
Sure, the Jazz already have Trey Burke. But the league has gone to a trend of having two point guards in the lineup — think Phoenix’s Goran Dragic/Eric Bledsoe lineup. Exum gives teams that versatility because of his size at point guard. Burke is more of a shooting guard anyway.
Add in Rodney Hood — a sweet-shooting lefty with decent athleticism and an ability to put the ball in the basket. That always finds value somewhere. And the Jazz need it.
Now Utah, has some issues trying to re-sign Gordon Hayward and create that deep young talent pool — do not forget the Jazz also have Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter to develop still. The Jazz put together a nice group to add to their core.
Milwaukee Bucks: You just have to hear about the crowds that gathered in Milwaukee for Jabari Parker’s first meeting with the public and introduction as a Milwaukee Buck. There was a lot of suffering for Milwaukee this year and the passion in the fan base seemed to be awakened by the arrival of this 19-year-old from Chicago.
Thank you Milwaukee. https://t.co/Zxbbf1HaXL
— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) June 28, 2014
This is from a team that was pretty historically bad and then did not even win the lottery. New ownership and the prospect of a new arena has re-energized this fan base for sure.
The Bucks could only get this pick wrong if they drafted the injured Joel Embiid or went with a need in point guard Dante Exum. Really the Bucks needed anything and were almost guaranteed to get it with the leftovers from Cleveland’s decision. If the Bucks got Andrew Wiggins, the excitement would undoubtedly be the same.
For a team that won only 15 games, to see fans come out in the droves they did for Parker was a great sign. And Parker is a player that should be able to come in and contribute and lead immediately. The Bucks should see an increase in wins next year.
Denver Nuggets: Denver’s win on Draft night started before the Draft even began. The Nuggets re-acquired Arron Afflalo from the Magic and only gave up a second round pick (Roy Devyn Marble) and little-used Evan Fournier. Remember Afflalo was nearly an All Star in a mismatched role as Orlando’s leading scorer. He can take over games in spots and will fit in well with the Nuggets moving forward. He is even on a reasonable contract.
The Nuggets’ draft haul was also incredibly strong. They added Jusuf Nurkic and Gary Harris after trading Doug McDermott to Chicago. McDermott would have fit too. But Harris should help them get some depth at point guard with a guy who can also score and create from the perimeter and driving to the basket.
Nurkic is probably not ready to contribute right away and likely will be staying in Europe for at least one more year. But he is a bruiser down low and would pair nicely with Kenneth Faried’s fly-all-over-the-court style. Denver’s future is looking pretty bright.
Orlando Magic: Maybe I am just being hard on my Magic. I do not mean to denigrate the kind of player Aaron Gordon or Elfrid Payton can be. The potential of what the Magic could have gotten though leaves me wanting more. I felt the Magic had to try to make a turn toward playing “meaningful games” next year as the organization described it. Undoubtedly, this Draft pick would play a big part of that.
Aaron Gordon is a hard-worker. A guy that definitely fits the ethos Rob Hennigan is trying to build in the Magic Kingdom. Unfortunately, he is still short on the offensive end with a non-existent jumper and tweener size at the small forward position. Especially considering Orlando traded Afflalo away, the team needs some offense.
Orlando is going really really young and that may not be the way to go considering the team is three years removed from that Dwight Howard trade.
Then you throw on top the fact Orlando gave up a first and a second round pick along with the promising Dario Saric for Elfrid Payton. Payton is clearly the guy Orlando wanted. But he too struggles offensively. He is not a well known jump shooter and his ability to get to the basket and the paint also came with a ton of turnovers.
It could be another long year in Orlando.
Toronto Raptors: When the Raptors selected Brazil’s Bruno Caboclo with their first round pick, everyone gave a Djimon Honsou-like shout of “Who?”
The footage ESPN showed was extremely grainy and even Fran Fraschilla was shocked the “Brazilian Kevin Durant” was taken in the first round. It was a puzzling pick even for draft experts.
Kudos to Toronto for being that excited for him. But it is hard for anyone to tell me that they could not have traded into the second round at some point to get him. If he was a first round pick, then surely two second round picks would have pried him away from whatever team took a flyer on him.
That was the problem for the Nets. After unceremoniously being dropped from the Playoffs and letting their payroll bloat with aging stars in Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, Brooklyn really could have used those draft picks they gave up to get those two players to replenish the bench and get some young — and cheap — talent in.
The Nets shot themselves in the foot and prevented themselves from having that chance. That is a point of depression for the Nets.
They did not need to be active. But they needed something to add. It feels highly unlikely any of the players they drafted Thursday will make any kind of impact. Brooklyn could easily get worse even with Brook Lopez returning from injury.