NBA Draft Winners and Losers
Los Angeles Clippers: The Clippers already benefit since last year’s top pick Blake Griffin is expected to make a full recovery from a knee injury, now Los Angeles just added 3 more solid players to the mix. With the 8th pick LA grabbed Al-Farouq Aminu, a very good small forward, who fits the Clippers biggest need. He is incredibly athletic, and a solid defender/rebounder. His offensive game still isn’t up to par, but the Clippers already have Baron Davis, Eric Gordon, Blake Griffin and Chris Kamen to create offense. LA then traded a future first rounder for the rights to Eric Bledsoe, who while raw has all the skills to be a starting point guard in the league. Given Davis’s age/injury history, Bledsoe is a wonderful pick up for the Clippers. The Clippers also might have found a gem in the late second round by adding PG/SG Willie Warren. Warren a college teammate of Griffin, was one of the top rated players in the country this year, but fell due to an average season (in part because Griffin was no longer a threat inside). Warren can back up both guard positions and offers a good bit of youth and potential. On top of adding three very good young players with unlimited potential, the Clippers will still have a good chunk of change left under the salary cap. They might not be able to add a max guy, but they can still add a pretty big name.
Sacramento Kings: The Kings had what I think one of the best drafts. DeMarcus Cousins was to me no worse than the 3rd overall pick, and the Kings took him with the 5th pick. Cousins was the best big man in this draft and has the athletic ability to play either the 4 or the 5. He can dominate the paint, and really could become one of the best players in this league. While the maturity issues are a bit of a concern, he is going to a young, talented team that really could be making its way back to the top in the Western Conference. With their 2nd round pick the Kings took another 4-5 big man in Hassan Whiteside. Whiteside was talked as a potential lottery pick, but fell a little due to his age and raw talent. For a 2nd round pick, he is an absolute steal and given the Kings depth in the front court, he only has to be a solid contributor right away. The Kings are another team that has some money to burn in free agency and if they add the right piece or two, could be a new contender in the stacked Western Conference.
Milwaukee Bucks: The Bucks are higher on my winners list than on most people, but I really like what they did draft night. Milwaukee is an emerging team already this offseason, as they added Corey Maggette and Chris Douglas-Roberts. Now they add four young players all with the skills to play in the NBA. No they didn’t add any superstar talents, but they already have a pretty good starting lineup. Larry Sanders helps bring size, athleticism, and shot blocking ability to their front court. Keith Gallon and Jerome Jordan are great depth players, and could develop into solid contributors. As for their non-4/5 pick wing Darington Hobson, I think the Bucks found a steal. Hobson has a good bit of upside and won’t have to be rushed on the Bucks roster. Within a few years, I would not be shocked to see him starting.
Golden State Warriors: The Warriors took Ekpe Udoh a solid PF/C, who excels as a shot blocker and rebounder. The problem is he is way to similar to Brendan Wright, Anthony Randolph and just about everyone else on the Warriors roster. The Warriors just traded away Corey Maggette, so grabbing one of the top SF’s like Aminu, Hayward, even George might have made sense. Also, grabbing a more complete center with excellent ball skills like Greg Monroe would have been a better fit. The Warriors were without a 2nd round pick, after basically selling it away, so they couldn’t add any of the guys who slid in the draft. All-in-all this emerging young team, seems to have taken a step back this past week.
Cavs and Bobcats: Both of these teams were without draft picks, and are in serious need of reinforcements. The Cavs need to begin to prepare for life without LeBron James and not having a draft pick hurts them in this department. While I still think the Jamison deal was the right move because they kept Hickson and got Big Z back, not acquiring a pick yesterday hurt. Especially considering the Cavs could have just bought a pick like Dallas, or the Thunder did. While it might not have netted them a star, they could have found a solid role player at either 25 or 31 (two picks we know that were for sale, I bet others were as well). The Bobcats were even worse, because they don’t have really anything to show for giving up their first round pick (Alexis Ajinca ouch). The Bobcats desperately needed to add talent to this roster, but they are stuck in neutral.
Washington Wizards (not counting John Wall): I’ll write a longer post about the Wizards draft, but I have to mention them here. Sure John Wall keeps them in the B to B- range, but they really couldn’t screw up that pick, one that they literally lucked into with the lottery system. After that, I was throughly disappointed with the Wizards draft, this is a team pretty much starting from scratch and while I liked the trade for Hinrich and the 17th pick, I just expected them to actually use that pick on a need like say a big man. While the Wizards are pretty set at guard now, they have no depth at PF and have just JaVale McGee on the roster at center. So at 17 the Wizards take Kevin Seraphin, a player who does have some nice upside, but is probably 1-2 years away from even playing in the NBA (much less starting). Seraphin might have made sense if you already have 10+ guys on the roster and you want to stash a player, but for a team like the Wizards who are literally bare, it is a major head scratcher. Washington compounded their problem when they traded the 30th and 35th picks to the T-wolves for 23 (Trevor Booker PF) and 56 (Hamady N’diaye C) while it looks like they addressed their size issue, Booker is an undersized 4 and N’diaye is so raw he has D-League written all over him. What makes it worse is the players they could have grabbed at 30 and 35. Center Hassan Whiteside fell to 33, and the Marshall product would have looked good as the 30th overall pick. At 35 any one of Javis Varnado, Keith Gallon, Jerome Jordan, Gani Lawal, or Solomon Alabi would have filled a major need (and all should be at least quality back ups in the NBA), the Wizards could have also taken a SF which is another need like Hobson, or either of the WVU products (Butler or Ebanks). Now the Wizards have just Trevor Booker this upcoming season (and possibly forcing N’diaye in the rotation) instead of adding three additional players to help John Wall turn this team around.