Grading drafts or naming winners and losers is a trite endeavor, but regardless after every NBA Draft, there is always a reaction to teams’ selections, based on players’ perceived value and the fit for both parties.
Here’s one writer’s opinion of how a few teams around the league did, both positively and negatively:
Los Angeles Lakers: Julius Randle will be expected to come in and produce from the outset of his career, and with veteran free-agent big men Pau Gasol and Jordan Hill potentially on the move this summer, the rugged Kentucky power forward is an excellent start to the vaunted franchise’s rebuilding process. The Lakers also did well in the second round, acquiring athletic Missouri combo guard Jordan Clarkson, who was considered a first-round talent by some observers, in a trade with Washington.
[RELATED: Complete pick-by-pick recap of the NBA Draft]
Milwaukee Bucks: Chicago native Jabari Parker was the obvious choice with the second overall pick, but he’s also a perfect fit for the Bucks, giving them a face of the franchise who wants to be in Milwaukee, as well as a go-to scorer. The second round also yielded some potential future role players, with 19-year-old Frenchman Damien Inglis having a big upside, LSU power forward Johnny O’Bryant a talented inside scorer and Pittsburgh shooting guard Lamar Patterson possessing a great feel for the game.
New York Knicks: In his first draft as the Knicks’ top executive, Phil Jackson went from having no picks in the draft to a pair of second-rounders, following Wednesday’s trade with Dallas. New York ended up with two quality choices, Wichita State small forward Cleanthony Early, predicted by many to be a first-round pick, and high-energy D-League defensive stopper Thanasis Antetokounmpo, the brother of Milwaukee’s “Greek Freak” and a solid player in his own right.
Philadelphia 76ers: The Sixers only used five of their seven draft picks and with their two first-round selections, chose Kansas center Joel Embiid and Croatian point forward Dario Saric, neither of whom are expected to suit up in Philadelphia next season, as Embiid is coming off surgery to repair a broken foot and Saric recently signed a new contract with a Turkish professional team, meaning that he won’t play in the NBA for at least two years. In the second round, Philadelphia fared a bit better, picking up defensive-minded wing K.J. McDaniels out of Clemson, athletic Syracuse forward Jerami Grant and pass-first Serbian floor general Vasilije Micic.
Oklahoma City Thunder: The Thunder is often lauded for its drafting, but the team may have been too smart for its own good this time around, taking Michigan big man Mitch McGary and Stanford forward Josh Huestis. It’s not so much that McGary, who struggled with back injuries last season, and the defensive-oriented, offensively-challenged Huestis aren’t good players, but they are very similar to last year’s draft picks, the physical Steven Adams and the athletic Andre Roberson.
Toronto Raptors: Brazilian forward Bruno Caboclo is this year’s mystery pick, meaning that Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri will either look like a genius or that he made a grave mistake for drafting the unknown commodity. Toronto’s second-round picks, Connecticut forward DeAndre Daniels and San Diego State guard Xavier Thames, are solid players, but not necessarily impact rookies.