2016 NBA Draft Winners and Losers
These are always fun articles to write, but are rarely correct… Often left out of these obvious picks (yes we are going to give the 76ers as a winner and Celtics as a loser) are the teams that did the best they possibly could with what they had. The Mavericks only had a second round pick, but got the best player in the round and a starting center in A.J. Hammons. The Spurs also had only one pick, but got one of the more intriguing players in the draft in Dejounte Murray. A long, athletic point guard that can get to the rim and finish.
One thing worth noting is that while Philly and the Lakers got a star in this draft, they each need to move a player. The last thing the Lakers should do is let Ingram stand around and watch Russell dribble the ball next season. Similarly, having Okafor set his roots in the paint contradicts the reason you drafted Simmons. Noel can play off Simmons, Okafor will do little more than close driving lanes and slow the pace of the game.
That being said, let’s take a look at some of the teams that dramatically improved their franchise in this draft, and a few teams that really let their fan base down.
NBA Draft Winners
You knew it was coming… We wrote in our draft preview that Simmons was the superstar in this draft. His first step is devastating, can rebound and push, is a great passer, will be a good shooter eventually, and will be an elite rebounder and shot blocker. The idea of having both Simmons and Noel in the paint should strike fear into opponents.
In addition to Simmons, I thought amongst foreign players in this draft, Luwawu and Korkmaz had the most upside outside of Bender. The 76ers got both guys, have the option to stash them for a year or two as they continue to build, and have a ton of picks next year. Sam Hinkie died for your sins.
Phoenix was able to parlay their three first round draft picks into two of our top 6 players. Chriss and Bender project as two of the top stretch 4’s in this draft, will be able to play with each other on the floor, can defend on the perimeter, switch pick-and-rolls, and are two of the youngest prospects in this draft. Adding a player like Tyler Ulis in the second round that has been a star at every level, and was by far the best player on Kentucky’s loaded roster was a steal. He can shoot, is a leader, good passer and will find a way to be a solid rotation player for years.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Two things that were already pretty clear became facts last night: Sam Presti knows what he is doing, and KD is coming back to OKC. We have been bearish on Ibaka for 2+ years now. On paper he looks great, stretch 4 that can shoot the 3 and block shots. However his on-ball post defense is sorry, and for a 6-10, athletic 4 to only get 5-7.5 RPG is unacceptable. Oladipo gives OKC a perimeter defender that can score… Never again will we have to watch Andre Roberson play 40+ minutes in a game 7.
I don’t love the Sabonis pick… To me he’s a poor man’s Greg Monroe and had trouble getting minutes over Przemek Karnowski at Gonzaga. However, if McGary isn’t going to work out, then Sabonis gives them an almost identical alternative as a rotational big man.
The best part of the draft is when a pick gets a horrible grade from websites like CBS, ESPN, Undefeated, etc… because he’s just a scorer. Let’s get this straight, of the players picked in front of Ellenson: Hield, Murray, Sabonis, Papagiannis, Hernangomez, Valentine, and Baldwin will never be good defenders. Ellenson can outscore any of those players because he’s 6’11” and has a 100% polished post game. He can shoot a hook with either hand, can put the ball on the floor, has 25+ foot range (YouTube his 1 on 1 game with Jimmy Butler), is an exceptional passer, hard worker, and is the best offensive rebounders in this class. I thought Ellenson was a top 6 player in this class, because he can average 15 points right away in this league.
Michael Gbinije dropped because he’s 4 years older than most of the guys in this draft. That being said, he’s an NBA-ready player who, if he was 19, would have gone in the first half of the first round. Gbinije is 6-7″, played PG for Syracuse last season, absolutely dominated play at the combine, can shoot, pass, is a decent defender, and will provide immediate depth at the 2 behind KCP.
NBA Draft Losers
It feels like Boston wanted no part in this draft, couldn’t move the picks, so they just punted… Essentially saying, who can we pick and not have to keep on the roster. Brown will give them some energy minutes, but is well behind where a guy like Stanley Johnson was last season so don’t expect much. Everything else is draft and stash, and they managed to not get any real tradable resources with their picks. Abdel Nader will never play in an NBA game.
What is happening here? Think about where the talent is on this roster… then look at who they drafted. As confident as we are in Sam Presti’s ability, we are equally confident in Vlade’s lack of ability. Boogie, Koufas, and Cauley-Stein are locked in, so you add Papagiannis (at 13 when he 100% would have been available at 22) and end up with Malachi Richardson (essentially a spot up shooter that doesn’t project as a defender at this level). Isaiah Cousins was solid at 59, but it was way too little, way too late. As Boogie himself said:
Lord give me the strength ????????
— DeMarcus Cousins (@boogiecousins) June 24, 2016
Memphis had four picks, 3 in the top 35, and managed to only get one player. As a once-avid CBB DFS player, I have watched a ton of Wade Baldwin and he’s not a point guard. He’s a poor decision maker, is bad in the locker room, fought with coaches, had poor body language, is long but not a willing defender, just all sorts of red flags. I don’t think he’s in the league in 3 years.
Deyonta Davis at 31 was the steal of the draft. Anybody that saw him in high school knows how far he came in just one year with Tom Izzo. He’s going to work, rebound, block shots, and will improve as much as anyone in this draft. Rade Zagorac is the perfect example of loving the player, but hating the fit. He’s a super creative offensive player on a team that won’t allow him to play that way. He’s a streaky shooter that needs a volume of shots, but, again, will he ever get that chance in Memphis. He will hold his own defensively, but will never be more than average. Wang Zhelin will never play in a NBA game… ever.