Wednesday, June 25, 2014

2014 NBA Draft Preview

Tonight is a free night with no M and no L, which means I have a free night to do the one blog post that I have annually updated since 2008. Before this year's predictions below are previous years with a few notes about my predictions/suggestions.

  • 2008 - Draft Kevin Love over OJ Mayo. - Maybe this was beginner's luck, but this post keeps getting better every year. Now we are onto to my 7th draft preview and the Twolves are still between bad and mediocre and Kevin Love wants to leave the team. The good news for the Twolves is that they got  6 good years out of him and now will have plenty of good trade options that if used correctly could really help the future Twolves. 
  • 2009 - Good on Lawson, Curry and Danny Green, but a big miss on Thabeet and Harden. Looking back on this draft it might be my most favorite one because of the quality guards available. This was the infamous "point guard draft" from David Kahn, where someone he ended up without a starting point guard. The Twolves would clearly be better off with even my worst predictions from this draft. I still can't believe the 2009 Timberwolves draft - which is summarized in this Bill Simmons article You Realize How Badly the T-Wolves Screwed up the 2009 Draft, Right?
  • 2010 - This was a tough year to predict, so I am giving myself a pass on my predictions. I really don't know what to make from the predictions featured here.  Can we forget this draft and can any draft expert explain how Al-Farouq Aminu was ever considered to be a lottery pick?
  • 2011 - Very high on Irving (which wasn't a big reach) and also Jonas Valanciunas (which I haven't seen play, but still would prefer over Enes Kanter). We now have enough time to really feel clear about this draft, and while it wasn't as bad as 2010 or 2013 it still isn't a great draft. Still I really wish the Jazz would have used the 3rd pick on Jonas Valanciunas over Enes Kanter.  Also, I liked my conviction in not trading Paul Millsap and doing whatever possible to acquire Kyrie Irving. Other than that there isn't much to go from this year. 
  • 2012 - Now that we are a couple years removed from this draft, I can look at the draft where neither the Jazz  or the Timberwolves had a 1st round pick. This was basically a UNC/Duke draft preview and I am thrilled with my negative reviews of Harrison Barnes and Austin Rivers. Also, my Tyler Zeller prediction still looks pretty decent now. Of course the best two players from the group of six might have been my 5th (John Henson) and 6th best (Miles Plumlee) players, so I can't really count this as a win. Best case analysis was this was a pass (saving a team from using a top 10 pick on Barnes/Rivers would be valuable) because of Henson and Plumlee.
  • 2013 - this draft needs to be graded on a curve because it was and still looks to be terrible. I will stand by my  first two thoughts on Alex Len being terrible (even though I would have been right had I just wrote that about all the draft picks), and ranking the point guards as MCW, Burke and then McCollum. Finally, my point on Oladipo looks good - even if it is combined with a positive point on Otto Porter.
Now it is on to 2014! This draft is amazing because of the talent and because I am incredibly invested after watching the Jazz tank this season just to acquire what ended up being the 5th pick in the draft. Also, Duke has two players (Jabari Parker and Rodney Hood) that will be 1st round picks and in Jabari's case will be a top 2 pick. Finally, there is interest in the 1st pick (the Cavs are the new local team), the 5th pick (the Jazz), the 13th pick (the former local team the Twolves) and the 23rd pick (the Jazz). Throw in the fact that LeBron opted out and Kevin Love is available in a trade and a lot can happen on Thursday. Anyone on to my thoughts:

Thought 1 - I think Andrew Wiggins will be better than Jabari Parker because of his potential and because of his defensive ability. Jabari Parker can't play defense and led Duke to an extremely disappointing season by going 1-1 against UNC, not winning the ACC tournament and then losing in the 1st round to freakin Mercer. Still, I really like Jabari Parker. I like his ability to score, to bring the ball down the court, but most of all I like his attitude. I don't think he will ever be the best player on a really good team, but I do think he is someone that you can be proud to have on your team because of the way he represents himself. He is just someone who is hard not to like....even if I wish he didn't have as many faults as he does. 

Thought 2 - I don't know how this fits in for the Twolves, Jazz or Cavs, but I really like Nik Stauskas. I would certainly draft him over Randle and I am leaning towards liking him over Gordon as well. The big question would be his defense, but I can't imagine him not being a productive player on offense in the NBA. I certainly wouldn't draft Doug McDermott over Stauskas.

Thought 3 - Rodney Hood will at best be a starter on a bad team or the 8th man on a decent team. I still can't get over the Mercer game, and generally think that players that struggle against Mercer shouldn't go in the 1st round. 

Thought 4 - I have been talked into Noah Vonleh. After seeing a video breakdown of him and reading a lot of articles comparing him to Chris Bosh, I think Vonleh is the right high risk, high reward player for the Jazz. I love the way his shot looks (especially compared to Gordon) and I think that his negatives (help defense, feel for the game, passing) will improve as he gets older.

Thought 5 - Would I trade Derrick Favors and the 5th pick to Cleveland or Milwaukee for the 1st or 2nd pick and I would be happy with either Wiggins or Parker? Yes - absolutely. Favors is never going to be a star in the league and at best would be the 3rd or 4th best player on a title team. Parker/Wiggins have their faults, but they both have a much greater potential, and they will be cheaper than Favors. 

Thought 6 - I'm a bigger fan of rolling the dice with Embiid than taking Gordon, Smart or Exum. I don't know much about Exum besides what I read about him, but I am hesitant on a player from Australia who hasn't really played against much top level competition. I know Embiid is hurt, but it isn't like the Jazz are going for the title next year, so might as well use the 5th pick on a player who could be the best player in the draft. 

Thought 7 - I am thinking that Smart, Gordon and Randle will be relative busts based on their draft slot. Out of those three I am least confident in Gordon because if he fixes his shot then he will easily be one of the best player in the draft. I just can't get over the 76 out of 180 on free throws. People seem to think that with NBA coaching they will fix his shot, but I think Arizona has basketball coaches and they probably tried to improve Gordon's shot. The video of Gordon on offensive show defenders an easy 4 to 5 feet off him, which makes me wonder how he could possibly be valuable on the offensive end in the NBA. For me Randle just wasn't very impressive in college and looked like a player who will find it tougher to bully his opponents in the NBA. Smart might be worth the character risk if he could shoot the ball better or was taller or led his team to a little bit more team success.

Thought 8 - Kyle Anderson win the Tyler Honeycutt award for player I like despite evidence that he won't ever be a decent NBA player. I wouldn't mind the Jazz taking him with the 23rd pick. Also, I really liked watching KJ McDaniels at Clemson and I think he would be worth the risk in the 20s. 

Thought 9 - Based primarily on him looking amazing against Kentucky I think a 2nd round pick on Johnny O'Bryant would be smart. 

So I am a big fan of Parker, Wiggins, Vonleh, Stauskus and Kyle Anderson, and I am down on Smart, Gordon and Randle.