BOZICH | Monday Muse: NBA Draft hits & misses
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — There is video that gets the Zapruder film treatment from the NBA, starting with high school all-star games.
NBA scouts view college practices that are closed to the media. Rare is the Louisville, Kentucky or Indiana game that is not attended by at least three-to-five NBA scouts.
Draft combine. Individual workouts. Group workouts. Interviews. Analytics crunching. What do they miss for the NBA Draft?
Markelle Fultz will happen.
Anthony Bennett will happen.
Michael Olowokandi will happen (ask your parents).
LaRue Martin will happen (ask your grandparents).
A perfect draft is as unlikely as a perfect NCAA Tournament bracket. There are hits. There are whiffs. There is ample material for a Draft Week Edition of the Monday Muse — in a week when everybody says that DeAndre Ayton of Arizona will be the first pick but I believe that Marvin Bagley of Duke will be the better pro.
I also have people who insist Mo Bamba of Texas will be a better pro. I’m not as gaga about Miles Bridges (Michigan State) or Zhaire Smith (Texas Tech).
The fun will unfold Thursday night at the 2018 NBA Draft in Brooklyn, N.Y. But the best time to analyze any draft is one, two, three or nine years later.
1. 2017 Draft Recap
Number One Pick: Markelle Fultz, Washington, Sixers.
Number One Pro: Jayson Tatum, Duke, Celtics (3) or Donovan Mitchell, Louisville, Jazz (13).
Most Overlooked: Kyle Kuzma, Utah, Lakers (27).
Biggest Whiff: D.J. Wilson, Michigan, Bucks (17).
If you re-drafted last year’s group, Fultz would not go in the top 10 picks, especially if with his broken jump shot. Mitchell clearly had the best season of any player taken last June but if you watched the Celtics in the playoffs you saw Tatum play like a guy with multiple all-star potential. Mitchell is terrific. Tatum is, too, and on a team suited to give him maximum exposure and success.
Don’t tell LaVar Ball but Kuzma was the best rookie on the Lakers. Wilson made seven trips to the G-League while scoring 21 points for the Bucks. That spells p-r-o-j-e-c-t.
2. 2016 Draft Recap
Number One Pick: Ben Simmons, LSU, Sixers.
Number One Pro: Simmons.
Most Overlooked: Malcolm Brogdon, Virginia, Bucks (36).
Biggest Whiff: Wade Baldwin, Vanderbilt, Grizzlies (17).
Simmons is legit. Has a bit of an attitude. But he’s legit and will be more than legit when he elevates his shooting to the level of his passing, ball-handling, vision and cockiness.
Brogdon backed up his 2017 rookie of the year season by averaging 13 points for the Bucks. It’s unreasonable to expect a star with the 17th pick, but it’s entirely reasonable to expect more than a player the Grizzlies cut after one season, like Baldwin.
3. 2015 Draft Recap
Number One Pick: Karl-Anthony Towns, Kentucky, Timberwolves.
Number One Pro: Kristaps Porzingis, Spain, Knicks (4)
Most Overlooked: Terry Rozier, Louisville, Celtics (16).
Biggest Whiff: Jahlil Okafor, Duke, Sixers (3).
Towns has been very good, but not great with the Timberwolves. Now there are questions about how he meshes with coach and team president Tom Thibodeau. Porzingis can score with anybody but needs help, lots of it, at Madison Square Garden or he’ll finish his career with as many titles as Patrick Ewing won.
Rozier looked like he will be a starting NBA guard for a decade. Okafor played his way out of Philly and didn’t show much in Brooklyn either. What worked at Cameron Indoor doesn’t automatically work in the NBA.
4. 2014 Draft Recap
Number One Pick: Andrew Wiggins, Kansas, Timberwolves (from Cavs).
Number One Pro: Joel Embiid, Kansas, Sixers (3)
Most Overlooked: Clint Capela, France, Rockets (25)
Biggest Whiff: Nick Stauskas, Michigan, Kings (8).
With Towns and Jimmy Butler, Wiggins has become the third option on an eighth-place team, which does not spell max contract to me. Wiggins was hyped as a generational star. Haven’t seen it. Embiid has game, personality and room to improve, if he can stay healthy and deal with Simmons.
Capela is a joy to watch, and he fits wonderfully on a team of shooters. Stauskas has been a blah player for three blah franchises and might fit better in Europe. Stauskas, Trey Burke, Mitch McGary, D.J. Wilson. A bit of a Michigan trend of underachievement here?
5. 2013 Draft Recap.
Number One Pick: Anthony Bennett, UNLV, Cavaliers.
Number One Pro: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Greece, Bucks (15).
Most Overlooked: Rudy Gobert, France, Jazz by way of Nuggets. (27).
Biggest Whiff: Bennett.
Bennett is on the list of the worst overall top picks ever, failing to fit with five NBA teams. Antetokoumpo might bring an NBA title to Milwaukee — and is the only guy who stopped former Indiana star Victor Oladipo from making the top spot. Regardless, the Magic and Thunder look silly for giving up Oladipo, who went second that year.
Gobert is a defensive wizard who proved he was more valuable to Utah than Gordon Hayward. I’ve already said too much about Bennett.
6. 2012 Draft Recap
Number One Pick: Anthony Davis, Kentucky, Pelicans.
Number One Pro: Davis.
Most Overlooked: Draymond Green, Michigan State, Warriors (35).
Biggest Whiff: Thomas Robinson, Kansas, Kings (5).
Davis is one of the five best players in the NBA, a guy who should win a few rings if the Pelicans can add one or two more pieces. Or perhaps Davis can make his way to Boston and start winning rings ASAP.
I’m not a fan of Green’s tough guy schtick, but when you win three rings you get a pass even if you act like a fool. Robinson finished last season in Russia — and that isn’t #FakeNews. Yes, that is the same guy who played against Davis in the 2012 NCAA championship game for the Jayhawks.
7. 2011 Draft Recap
Number One Pick: Kyrie Irving, Duke, Cavaliers.
Number One Pro: Irving; Klay Thompson, Washington State, Warriors (11); Kawhi Leonard, San Diego State, Spurs (15).
Most Overlooked: Jimmy Butler, Marquette, Bulls (30)
Biggest Whiff: Jimmer Fredette, BYU, Bucks (10).
I’d accept votes for Irving, Thompson or Leonard for the best player in the draft class. When healthy, Irving is the most unstoppable scoring guard in the league, especially at the rim. Thompson has teamed with Steph Curry to change the way the game is played. Leonard wants out of San Antonio and imagine him joining LeBron James on the Lakers.
Butler has played his way from the final pick in the first round to one of the league’s Top 20 players. Fredette has been unstoppable — for the Shanghai Sharks. The lesson: Don’t take the one-trick college shooter.
8. 2010 Draft Recap
Number One Pro: Wall; DeMarcus Cousins, UK, Kings or Paul George, Fresno State, Pacers.
Most Overlooked: Hassan Whiteside, Marshall, Heat, (33).
Biggest Whiff: Wesley Johnson, Syracuse, Timberwolves, fourth.
Wall has been a fine pro, a multiple all-star, a guy who has moved the Wizards into the playoffs. But Washington has never won the conference finals and they’re being overtaken by Boston and Philadelphia in the East. He’s very good, but not elite.
Whiteside has delivered first-round productivity as a second-round pick. Johnson has a spot high on the long list of Syracuse NBA busts.
9. 2009 Draft Recap
Number One Pick: Blake Griffin, Oklahoma, Clippers
Number One Pro: Steph Curry, Davidson, Warriors, (7).
Most Overlooked: Taj Gibson, USC, Bulls, (26)
Biggest Whiff: Hasheem Thabeet, UConn, Grizzlies, (2).
Griffin’s not a bad player. He’s been an all-star. But the Clippers decided they could not win a title with him, shipping him to Detroit. Plus, there’s the injury thing.
Impossible to knock Curry, who was also taken after Jonny Flynn (Syracuse guy) and Tyreke Evans. Gibson has been a solid player on winning teams in Chicago and Minnesota. Thabeet has not played in the NBA in four seasons and scored only 483 points before he moved into the discard pile. Hasheem Thabeet was selected one spot ahead of James Harden and five ahead of Steph Curry.
That’s worse than taking Sam Bowie ahead of Michael Jordan, right?
10. Poll Results
With the Triple Crown over, what is the next sporting event that you’re looking forward to?
College football 40 percent
U.S. Open golf 26.9 percent
FIFA World Cup 12.2 percent
NBA Draft 8.4 percent
MLB 8 percent
Other 4.6 percent
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