Kristaps Porzingis, the future key holder of New York, was met with a warm collection of boos, WTF exclamations and ultimately, a level of dismay that brought his new fan base to tears. Welcome to the Knicks, Kristaps….where such reactions suggest possible insanity, but with the Knicks are simply nestled into the category of normalcy.
However, one can empathize with Knicks fans, whose most recent experience with a lauded European big man was trading three draft picks for the legendarily-awful, former top pick, Andrea Bargnani.
In spite of the overwhelming inclination from New Yorkers that Porzingis is just another difficult name requiring a spell check as he is written on the list of European draft busts, he is actually a high-upside prospect worthy of the number four overall selection.
He offers the typical European shooting, with stretch four being his positional designation, but Porzingis can make plays off the dribble to create his own scoring looks as well. While his thin frame and ethnic background will incur shouts of “soft” labels, he is actually quite stout and developed in the lower body His upper body needs some bulk, and he’ll require more patience than the other top prospects, but Porzingis is really all you have Kinicks fans (with the exception of Phil Jackson’s stubborn belief in the triangle) so you might as well invest your faith in him so, if nothing else, at least you have precedent behind your skepticism the next time you berate the franchises decision makers for another Knick-type move.
I join a handful of others in trying to understand what the 76ers are doing. They appear to be enthralled in the idea of countering the NBA’s movement toward small ball by creating a roster where Nerlens Noel serves as their de-facto point guard. The 76ers do realize that guys under 6-foot-10 exist in the NBA and are actually responsible for the majority of the minutes played, right? RIGHT?!?!
Selecting postup extraordinaire, Jahlil Okafor, was a must at third overall. He was certainly the best prospect available, and his offensive stability on the block finally gives the Sixers a foundation to build upon. Yes, they already had Nerlens Noel, Joel Embiid, Joel Embiid’s foot and rights to Dario Saric, but there was no way the Sixers could pass on Okafor’s guaranteed productivity. However, in the second round where the Sixers were on the clock every other pick, they ignored guards as if selecting one would become an infringement on “The Process”. The 76ers selected big men Guillermo Hernangomez, Richaun Holmes, Arturas Gudaitis and Luka Mitrovic in the second round. “They’re assets” “They’re draft and stash guys”. How about drafting a guy that might actually be on the court at some point! Oh wait I forgot they picked J.P. Tokoto with the 58th selection…
The worst part of the Sixers madness is that their fans were delighted with every pick strutting their 76ers jerseys and the hashtag #TrustTheProcess even know they had no idea a guy named Arturas Gudaitis walked the Earth the moment before his name was announced.
But hell, let’s all get excited Sixers fans!
Pat Does it Again
Is Pat Riley good at his job or just the luckiest guy on Earth? How was Justise Winslow still on the board at number 10?!
The guy was the baddest dude in the NCAA Tournament and won the national championship. He’s a relentless, energized terrorizer chasing down opponents and destroying their dreams, barreling to the rim in transition while resembling The Juggernaut from X-Men and defending as if a made basket will cost him his life.
In a more rational perspective, Winslow may be the safest player in the entire draft. His floor is a top-level defender who is a dynamo in transition and inspires energy and life into his teammates with his effort, while his ceiling is sky high, possessing raw skills that offer faint images of James Harden. As of this moment his passing is poor, his spot-up shooting will require continued refinement and his off-the-dribble jumper is miles away, but he has immense potential and will contribute as a wing role player next season. Down the road who knows what’s in store.
Behold the powers of Pat.
Nuggets Commit Thievery
Many mocks had Winslow going to Denver, but the Nuggets passed…because Emmanuel Mudiay and his potential superstardom was somehow still available. I love Mudiay’s upside and I love that he went to Denver and avoided the chaos of New York and Sacramento.
I’m convinced Mudiay is going to be a star in this league. He has the body and the physical makeup, and while his overall skillset isn’t currently on the level of second overall pick D’Angelo Russell’s, reports and articles from those who have interacted with Mudiay first hand have a common theme: praising his maturity and approach to the game.
The experience of playing in China certainly hurt Mudiay’s draft stock, but I think it actually improved his overall outlook toward the NBA in terms of conducting himself as a pro and understanding that his entrance into the NBA is only the beginning and the work only gets tougher. In Denver, Mudiay will have time, freedom and minimal pressure, which is exactly what’s best for his future development and potential superstardom.
Boogie is in Sactown…so is Willie…
And so is George Karl. Karl’s rift with Boogie and clash with owner Vivek Ranadive over the star’s destination survived the draft as DeMarcus Cousins is still in Sactown. There is no guarantee that Cousins won’t be traded eventually, but Ranadive ensured the Kings’ most prized possession remained so for the time being. After what has been said and done, it seems impossible the Kings can start next season with both Cousins and Karl within the confines of the organization, one’s tenure will surely be terminated.
But on this night, Boogie staying in town was cause for celebration for those who have a soft spot for the Kings. Unfortunately that celebration was hampered by the selection of Willie Cauley-Stein at six overall. Cauley-Stein should be a very impactful defender with the ability to protect the rim and switch onto guards, but his ceiling doesn’t warrant the sixth overall pick when Mudiay and Winslow are still on the board. Pairing Winslow or Mudiay with Cousins would have offered a vision into the future where the Kings are not terrible, but Cauley-Stein isn’t the type of prospect that is going to change the direction of a franchise.
As always, the Kings will be the Kings and hunker down for the long-haul in their state of hectically, unstable mediocrity.
Other Selections and Moves I Liked
-Knicks turn Tim Hardaway Jr. into Jerian Grant
This was a great move by the Knicks to acquire an athletic, high IQ point guard who can create shots in Grant. Dumping Hardaway Jr. is also a plus as his shootouts with Carmelo Anthony and opponents alike saw possessions thrown away due to terrible shot selection stemming from Hardaway Jr.’s ego.
-Rashad Vaughn to the Bucks at number 17
The Bucks biggest issue is a lack of scoring, and Vaughn is adept at creating his own offense and pouring in buckets. Frontcourt depth is still an issue, but Vaughn’s scoring and length is perfect for Milwaukie.
-Joseph Young to the Pacers at 43 overall
I may be biased because I love Young, but this guy’s scoring ability will be welcomed with enthusiasm in Indiana after the slogging offense Pacer fans witnessed last year.
-Boston at numbers 28 and 33 overall
Taking Louisville’s Terry Rozier at number 16 was puzzling due to his value alone, not to mention an extreme case of positional overload in the backcourt, but Boston’s next two picks were money. Adding R.J. Hunter of Georgia State at 28 is terrific value and addresses Boston’s desperate need for shooting. Then at 33, the selection of LSU power forward Jordan Mickey presents a potential rim protector. Mickey ranked among the NCAA leaders in blocks last season, utilizing his terrific wingspan.
-Trey Lyles to Utah at 12
The shooting and flexibility Lyles gives Utah’s frontcourt will be invaluable. He can work off the bounce and operate in faceups where he can create his own offense. In addition, his shooting, which I expect to improve, is good enough to provide spacing in pairings with both Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert.
 Patience doesn’t exactly coincide with New York.