2018 NBA Rookies Drafted by the Wrong Teams

Jonathan Wasserman@@NBADraftWassNBA Lead WriterJuly 4, 2018

2018 NBA Rookies Drafted by the Wrong Teams

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    Occasionally, NBA prospects are drafted into situations that won't benefit their development. And in some cases, it can set the franchise back, depending on how high the pick was.

    Fit and opportunity are key for every incoming rookie, no matter how talented.

    Four lottery prospects in 2018 may wind up wishing they'd been taken by a different team. And one of the higher-profile, early second-rounders could have a tough time breaking into the league based on where he landed.

Trae Young (Atlanta Hawks, PG)

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    Better fits: Memphis Grizzlies, Chicago Bulls

    Instead of trading, the Atlanta Hawks should have stuck with Luka Doncic at No. 3—and not just because he was the best prospect available. 

    This isn't an ideal environment or setting for Trae Young to develop. He would have been better off on a team that has more weapons to take the pressure off. On a poor Oklahoma squad last year, Young started to unravel during the second half of conference play when defenses began trapping and loading up.

    With Taurean Prince and John Collins representing the Hawks' top frontcourt threats, Young will again be forced into shot-hunting, given his teammates' inability to create quality looks of their own.

    Between Young and Dennis Schroder, the backcourt lacks size and strength, and Atlanta will have to worry about a perimeter defense that may now be even easier to penetrate. Young will struggle against explosive point guards, and Schroder, who already had trouble guarding ball-handlers, will be outmatched by opposing 2s.

    In Memphis or Chicago, Young could have been paired with defensive guards (Mike Conley and Kris Dunn, respectively) and either veteran support from Marc Gasol or frontcourt shooting from Lauri Markkanen.

Mohamed Bamba (Orlando Magic, C)

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    Better fit: Atlanta Hawks

    It's understandable that the Orlando Magic took Mohamed Bamba after deciding he was the best player available. But it's impossible to ignore this completely lopsided roster.

    How much does Bamba play next year with Nikola Vucevic, Jonathan Isaac and Aaron Gordon? The No. 6 pick right now projects as a backup.

    Even if Orlando trades Vucevic, the trio of Gordon, Isaac and Bamba still makes for a big, clunky lineup in an age when teams are playing smaller and faster. 

    Bamba would have also benefited from going to a team that has a quality starting point guard. He didn't have one at Texas once Andrew Jones was diagnosed with leukemia, and it affected Bamba's offense, considering he ranked in the 20th percentile as a pick-and-roll weapon, per Synergy Sports.

    Even the Atlanta Hawks may have been a better option, since they'd be able to offer immediate playing time and give Bamba a breakdown playmaker in Dennis Schroder.

Michael Porter Jr. (Denver Nuggets, SF/PF)

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    Better fit: Washington Wizards

    At some point, the potential reward with Michael Porter Jr. became worth the risk. For the Denver Nuggets, that point was No. 14 in the draft, where he slipped after teams hesitated because of a back injury.

    But does the fit make sense? Known for his scoring, Porter joins a Nuggets team that ranked No. 6 in offensive efficiency, per ESPN.com. They ranked No. 26 in defense. 

    With Nikola Jokic and Paul Millsap locked in up front, that means Porter would have to play the wing, which isn't an ideal defensive position for a 6'10" forward with back trouble.

    In today's NBA, Porter's game is built to work from the stretch-4 spot, where his face-up skills are more advantageous and he won't have to get as low to defend the league's quicker, explosive perimeter players.

    Had Porter fallen one more spot to No. 15, he would have fit cleaner next to Otto Porter Jr. in Washington.

Collin Sexton (Cleveland Cavaliers, PG/SG)

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    Better fit: Los Angeles Clippers

    Collin Sexton's fit in Cleveland looked right until LeBron James left the Cavaliers. Suddenly, there are questions about Sexton's role and the direction of the franchise.

    Had James stayed and the Cavaliers been expected to compete for another title, Sexton could have played to his strengths as a scorer off the bench. Now, he may be in charge of running a mediocre offense for a franchise in limbo.

    It's unclear what the front office will do with Kevin Love and George Hill, veterans who'll hold more value to other teams than the Cavaliers. It wouldn't be surprising if Cleveland resets and blows up the roster, leaving Sexton, a shaky facilitator as it is (3.6 assists to 2.8 turnovers per game at Alabama), by himself among expendable parts.

    Landing with the Los Angeles Clippers would have been ideal for Sexton, who'd receive the best of both worlds: a chance to play right away without having to carry the load alongside veterans like Lou Williams, Danilo Gallinari, Tobias Harris and Marcin Gortat. 

    Instead, he could be set up for inefficiency in Cleveland. 

Gary Trent Jr. (Portland Trail Blazers, SG)

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    Better fits: Atlanta Hawks, Orlando Magic, New York Knicks

    It's tough to see any opportunities in sight for Gary Trent Jr., who was traded to the Portland Trail Blazers on draft night.

    Strictly a shooting guard—not creative enough to play combo or defensively tough for a forward—Trent finds himself buried behind CJ McCollum and newly acquired free-agents Seth Curry and Nik Stauskas. Not to mention Anfernee Simons, who'll likely get priority, since the Blazers selected him over Trent in the first round.

    At this stage, the Blazers also don't have their own G League team. 

    Trent's situation is reminiscent of Malik Beasley's when the Denver Nuggets drafted him after they'd already taken Jamal Murray and started developing Gary Harris.  

    Going to any of the three teams that picked before Portland—Hawks, Magic, Knicks—may have given Trent a better chance to jump-start his career before his rookie contract expires.


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