By Raimundo Ortiz (@AroundtheMundo)
The 2014 NBA Draft has come and gone, and as predicted on The Deli Counter, some of the rich got richer. Some of the poor got richer as well, while others made head-scratching decisions galore. Basically…it was a draft. We’ll start with the bad news.
Oklahoma City Thunder: These playoffs exposed a few flaws the Thunder have. They’re clearly too reliant on Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant to do everything, and even when both play well it may not be enough. They sorely lacked a third shot-creator, and when two high-end options were staring them in the face at No. 21 (Rodney Hood, Kyle Anderson), they passed on them for an active big (Mitch McGary). Yeah he might be solid, but a lengthy shooter like Hood, or even lengthier combo guard like Anderson would’ve been great. Then at No. 29 they grabbed Josh Huestis, who sounds like Thabo Sefolosha 2.0. The Spurs then took Anderson at No. 30–a.k.a. all you need to know. HUGE misstep in OKC.
Sacramento Kings: At No. 8, why take Michigan’s Nik Stauskas? He’s the typical pick for a team that’s one shooter away. Sacto has Isaiah Thomas as a shoot-first PG, Ben McLemore at the 2-guard spot whom they drafted last year, and Rudy Gay at SF. Why not grab Noah Vonleh? Why not grab Elfrid Payton if you think someone’s throwing moolah at Thomas next offseason? Nah, shooter off the bench sounds good!
Atlanta Hawks: This is more a mehhh draft than a losing one. Adreian Payne‘s a nice player but I’m unsure why they need him with so many big men already blocking his path.
Orlando Magic: The reached hard for Aaron Gordon, when the obvious choices seemed to be Dante Exum and Marcus Smart at No. 4. Why deal away a top 5 SG in the NBA (Arron Afflalo), on a reasonable contract for Evan Fournier and a 2nd-rounder? It made little to no sense, and even though they did get Elfrid Payton, I think I’d rather have kept the bargain in Afflalo and supplemented him with Smart or Exum. Simply put, they didn’t get enough for Afflalo–it would’ve been smarter to wait out free agency, then deal him to whichever team missed out.
Cleveland Cavaliers: Hooray! They didn’t screw it up! Wiggins was the perfect fit, the highest-upside prospect, and they nailed it.
Utah Jazz: They snared Exum at No. 5, which is a little high for my taste but hey, they seem sold. Then they somehow got Rodney Hood at No. 23 (I had him pegged for No. 9) and all of a sudden they have a very promising backcourt. With Burke, Exum and Hood running around expect some exciting basketball in Utah.
Denver Nuggets: This year’s Dallas Mavericks. They went out and acquired Afflalo for dirt cheap, stole Gary Harris (No. 19) from the Bulls, and took a few other dudes who may or may not pan out. Their starting 5 is now playoff-worthy (Lawson, Afflalo, Gallinari, Faried, McGee) and there’s real depth to them. Awesome offseason so far.
Boston Celtics: In Marcus Smart (No. 6) they literally may have gotten the best player in this draft. Then they took James Young (No. 17) to space the floor and may already be a playoff team in the terrible East. Rajon Rondo and Smart might be the most fiercely competitive guard tandem in the league and figure to be a problem for years to come.
Phoenix Suns: I think for their plan to be truly successful, they’ll need to trade some pieces to land a Kevin Love-caliber player at some point, but T.J. Warren‘s a quality NBA player, Tyler Ennis is my pick to be the best PG in this draft, and they already had a roster stuffed to the gills with young, quality talent. Bledsoe and one or two other players may be on the move for K-Love.
Philadelphia 76ers: Must be nice to land Joel Embiid (No. 3), but while everyone loves their tank-tastic strategy to roster building, they’ve incurred A LOT of risk. Nerlens Noel is not a proven commodity by any means, who knows if Embiid can stay upright, and Dario Saric won’t be seen in the United States for two or three years. Sure if all of these players pans out it’s a dynamic core, but that’s a lot of eggs in the injury basket. We shall see Philly, we shall see.
Chicago Bulls: I don’t see how trading Gary Harris for Doug McDermott works out for them. McDermott’s future is a reserve sniper, while Harris has all the makings of an explosive starting 2-guard. Sure Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler are there right now, but Rose’s last healthy season was in 2011 and Tom Thibodeau could use some depth so he doesn’t run his starters ragged. McDermott can’t defend, and I think that’ll hurt his ability to crack Thibs’ rotation.