This was highly publicized as the “weakest draft ever!” by a lot of the media. I wouldn’t be that harsh, but it definitely lacked star power. The good thing is that every team selects from the same talent pool so we can still compare.
Here are the draft’s winners and losers
Utah Jazz – With two lottery picks, the Jazz came away with a promising inside-outside combination in Enes Kanter and Alec Burks. The Jazz are in a slight rebuilding mode after trading Deron Williams and losing Jerry Sloan but still have quality players around that can mentor Kanter and Burks. The duo will have plenty of opportunities but won’t be hurried or have unrealistic expectations. This is great considering they're both still only 19 years old.
San Antonio Spurs – The Spurs saw a good player slipping in the draft, and they went up and got him. Kawhi Leonard has a chance to be the Spurs’ small forward of the future. His defense, rebounding and hustle should earn him time from coach Popovich and the respect of his veteran teammates. Besides Leonard, the Spurs also selected Cory Joseph, Davis Bertans and Adam Hanga. Cory Joseph was a bit of a surprise, and their two second-rounders were solid international choices. Bertans is a first-round talent but fell because he won’t be available to come to the NBA for a few years, and Hanga was a first-team selection in the Adidas Eurocamp for foreign prospects a couple weeks ago. Remember those names (I know you won’t, but it’s okay, I’ll remind you).
Washington Wizards – Last season, the Wizards were a really bad defensive team (eighth-worst defensive efficiency) and often had major lapses of concentration. They also were the fifth-worst team turning the ball over. Watching them play, it was clear that they lacked experience, defense and toughness. That’s exactly what they gained in the draft. Jan Vesely has experience playing in the top levels of basketball overseas. Chris Singleton is an exceptional defender and rebounder. Lastly, Shelvin Mack will be a great backup point guard to John Wall and has proven himself in the NCAA tournament.
Indiana Pacers – The Pacers didn’t make a single pick, but they’re still much better after the draft than they were going in. George Hill was a great pickup from the Spurs, and I think he fits in with the Pacers incredibly well. They have enough young players so it was a good move to bring in a “veteran” of three years. I think Hill will be a great help to Darren Collison and will even be able to play alongside him as he did in San Antonio with Tony Parker.
Golden State Warriors – I really like Mark Jackson, and I’m hoping that he can turn the Warriors around…but I’m not sure if they made any progress in the draft. They added a three-point shooter (Klay Thompson), a project big man (Jeremy Tyler) and another 6’3” combo guard (Charles Jenkins). Their major weaknesses are defense (fifth-worst defensive efficiency) and size, but they didn’t really address those at all. Maybe they really are looking to move Monta Ellis, and Thompson is insurance?
Philadelphia 76ers – Maybe I’m wrong, but I think they reached for Nikola Vucevic. I’m not going to be too hard on them because I think teams should get the player they covet no matter what the “consensus” choice is, but I think Vucevic reproduces everything Spencer Hawes offers (big body, immobile, pick and pop player)…and Hawes wasn’t that valuable last year.
Bobcats Fans – Looking at their roster…they have no leader on the team right now. Corey Magette has been more known to get his points but not his team extra wins. It was even worse once Chad Ford threw out a Kwame Brown-Michael Jordan reference in relation to the Bismack Biyombo pick. I expect the Bobcats to completely bomb next season. But thinking about it again, that’s not a bad idea with a GREAT draft class next season.
2011 Rookie Class – The entire draft class ends up as the real losers, especially second-rounders, due to the unavoidable NBA lockout. The NBA has already canceled the summer league which is the first opportunity for the rookies to adjust to NBA-level athletes, coaching styles and competition. More than anything, it is borderline talent players’ chance to impress a team and earn a roster spot. More on this topic coming soon.
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