I need more NBA talk. I think that’s going to be the theme this summer, especially old school NBA talk because I can talk the history of the NBA better than most in this century. In the mid-late 90’s the NBA was on par with the NHL for me. Anyway, that’ll happen another day, starting with my piece dedicated to the 20 year anniversary of the 96 Bulls and the 30 year anniversary of the 86 Celtics (I’m not even kidding).
Today I’m talking NBA draft. I’m not doing a mock draft. NBADraft.net is a better site than any other league has for covering the draft. I’m not going to insult the job they do by putting up some awful imitation. Add to that, while I know the top kids pretty well, I don’t know a thing about anyone going from about 11 on.
But I wanted to hit on a few things.
Karl-Anthony Towns will be the 1st pick to Minnesota and all of a sudden the T-Wolves are looking like the next big thing in the NBA. They still need to upgrade at point guard. I just don’t see Ricky Rubio as the answer. But with Towns joining Wiggins, that has a chance to be pretty special.
But the point of interest comes at the 2nd pick. The Lakers own it and look to be set to take center Jahlil Okafor out of Duke. The package is intriguing. 6’11, 270, 7’5 wingspan, dominat in the low post, great hands, he has the tools to be a dominant center. But there are a lot of people coming out and questioning his love for the game lately. And I’m not talking about media. Scouts are saying this. Coach K (Mike Krzyzewski for those of you reading about basketball for the first time) even mentioned on Colin Cowherd’s show a while back that Okafor needed to work harder. Well how much harder is a kid going to work once he is making millions?
If this weren’t enough, there is another kid on the board in D’Angelo Russell who looks like he might be a dominant point guard in what has become a league dominated by point guards. From the begining of the NBA in 1947, it had been dominated by centers. George Miken, Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlin, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Hakeem Olajuwon, Patrick Ewing, Shaq, and even though they always listed him as a power forward and not a center…Tim Duncan. But ever since the rule changes in 2005 (I believe), it has become a guards league, as we saw in this year’s NBA finals.
So what do they do? It is still much more difficult to find a center than a point guard. Also, it’s the Lakers, the glamour team of the league where it isn’t too difficult to bring in free agents as long as the team is somewhat competent. So that likely plays into the decision as well. I started off by thinking “Okafor is a gift”, but I’m really leaning towards thinking they should be taking Russell. Word is though that Okafor is still their guy.
No matter what the Lakers do, the Knicks are going to get a hell of a player. Wait, the Knicks pick 4th, not 3rd.
The reason I say the Knicks will is because from everything we are hearing, the 76ers have fallen in love with a kid named Kristaps Porzingis out of the basketball hot bed known as Ventspils, Latvia. Colin Cowherd and Dan Patrick have both talked about this often and it couldn’t be more true. Every year there is some kid coming out of Europe who is the big mystery man and people fall in love with him. He’s always “the next Dirk”.
Dirk was drafted in 1998. Was an obscure pick, but as we all know it more than worked out, just a bit better than top pick Michael Olowokandi (although Dirk didn’t have a cameo in Van Wilder). In 01 the first of the “next Dirk’s” came along and was a great pick in Pau Gasol. That success led to many disasters starting in 02.
Nikoloz Tskitishvili went 5th to the Denver Nuggets. BUST. The next year might have been the worst of them all as the about to be champion Detroit Pistons had a GIFT of a pick. 2nd overall in one of the best drafts of all time thanks to the Knicks stupidity. LeBron went 1st, Carmelo was there for the taking. But why do that when you can take the unknown European? Enter, Darko Miličić. BUST.
Of course the Raptors had to get in on this act, so in 2006 they took another horrible one in Andrea Bargnani. BUST. You could have simply taken the best player to come out of college in LaMarcus Aldridge, but why do that when you can have the “mysterious Euro”?
They had gone away since the Bargnani disaster, but the trend is back in full force this season with Porzingis. All of these guys are compared to Dirk, but there is only 1 Dirk. He’s going to be a unique guy if he pans out. 7’1, 230 and can spread the floor. But chances are he’s another Tskitishvili, or Miličić or Bargnani or Yi Jianlian, or the 20 other guys who have had this exact same comparison.
I’m sure Phil Jackson doesn’t mind though. That’ll leave him with one of Okafor or Russell which will be a steal for the Knicks.
As for our home and native land’s team, NBADraft.net has them taking Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, a 6’7 small forward out of Arizona who they compare to Bruce Bowen. If that is the case, I would be a huge fan of the pick. The Raptors really need help at the 3. Terrance Ross is more of a 2 guard, and James Johnson is pretty inconsistent. Perimeter defenders are a MUST in today’s NBA.
The intrigue though for Raptor fans is coming at next year’s draft though. They need both the Nuggets and Knicks to be terrible. Thanks to the Bargnani trade, they are getting whichever pick is lower. The Nuggets have the ability to flip picks with the Knicks if they choose, and then the Raptors will receive the other pick. Both teams are down right now and could be dumpster fires next season (well, the Knicks certainly will). So the Raptors are looking at a lottery pick, and I frankly wouldn’t be surprised if it’s a top 5 pick (of course with the lottery that could fall back some).
If you’re a draft junky like myself, the next 2 nights are heaven! A real good NBA draft followed by a great NHL draft. Won’t suck at all!
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