NBA Draft Recap: Analyzing Biggest Reaches of First Round
Most teams stuck pretty close to the script in the NBA draft, selecting players that were projected to go in their general vicinity leading up to draft day. A few franchises, however, decided to take a risk by reaching for a player, and that rarely pays off.
Let's examine the three biggest reaches of the opening round and break down how those picks will impact the team moving forward. By taking them earlier than anticipated, the teams also increase the prospects' bust potential due to the added pressure.
No. 4 Dion Waiters
The Cleveland Cavaliers decided to select Waiters with the fourth overall pick, completing his rise from mid-round prospect to top-five selection. It was one of the most surprising jumps of the draft and, in my opinion, wasn't warranted.
This was one of the deepest shooting guard classes in years, and it's hard to believe Waiters separated himself from the pack by so much. He's good at attacking the rim and should be able to crack the rotation right away, but beyond that there are a lot of improvements that must be made.
Most importantly, he needs to become a much better passer. Guards in the NBA that can't distribute get exposed quickly. Another concern is his lack of height, which will cause issues both when getting into the paint and on defense, making him a high-risk pick for a team that needs to make progress.
Which pick was the biggest reach?
No. 15 Maurice Harkless
Nobody can deny Harkless' potential. He has good size, can create his own offense off the dribble and should become a reliable defender. None of that will matter if he doesn't get extended minutes to develop his skill set, though.
In reality, another season at the college level would have been good for him. It would have given him a chance to work on his game without having to worry about getting stuck on the bench, which is a distinct possibility if he struggles early in the NBA.
The Philadelphia 76ers are a fringe playoff team and should have really targeted a player who was more prepared to help the team immediately. Harkless will need a couple years of seasoning before he turns into a significant contributor.
No. 26 Miles Plumlee
Plumlee was the most unexpected pick of the first round. While he was widely viewed as a second-round prospect during the draft process, the Indiana Pacers apparently saw enough from him to think he was worth taking a chance on.
His offensive ability is basically nonexistent. He doesn't have a mid-range game, and his post moves are limited. Getting him to have any meaningful involvement on that end of the floor will take a complete overhaul of his approach.
Although he does have ideal size and rebounds well, you could have said that about plenty of players who went in Round 2, as well. The Pacers took a few more steps toward becoming an Eastern Conference contender last season, but Plumlee won't get them any closer to that goal.
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