Friday, June 24, 2016 4:49 PM
Last night's NBA Draft was Christmas for Basketball Twitter. If you were following along live, your phone probably ran out of battery from all of the live updates. Here are the notes that I came away with after yet another talent re-up for the league.
The fun started at about 7:05 p.m.
Simmons and Ingram go 1 and 2, as expected
As we predicted in our previous work from this week, the Ben Simmons (Sixers) and Brandon Ingram (Lakers) picks went fairly quickly and very predictably. Then, Boston shook things up a bit when they grabbed Jaylen Brown out of Cal. Word is that he shot the ball very well in his workouts, addressing a concern that some teams had about the freshman. After that, the Suns grabbed Euro big man Dragan Bender and the Wolves snagged Kris Dunn from Providence (who we will address later in this notebook). The next two picks were shooter Buddy Hield to New Orleans and Jamal Murray to Denver, respectively. As many predicted, slots 3 through 7 were where most of the intrigue happened.
What to do with Dunn?
Rumors — both real and fake — flew all night
Wolves Twitter was exhausted by 8 p.m., enduring relentless rumors about what trade options the new front office was working through. Would No. 3 overall pick Kris Dunn stay in Minnesota? Would he back up Ricky Rubio or replace him? Can they coexist? Would Dunn be the centerpiece of a long-rumored swap with Chicago that would net Jimmy Butler?
My advice for Wolves fans would be to stay tuned and to be ready for anything. We still don't know how Thibs and Layden want to shape this team.
Trends towards world talent and height
Loads of overseas prospects selected with an emphasis on size
I counted 14 of the 30 first-round picks as being born on international soil, including guys who were born overseas but played in American college basketball like Ben Simmons, Buddy Hield and Jakob Poeltl. Overall, 26 overseas players were drafted last night, marking a new record. 24 of 30 first-rounders were listed as 6-foot-6 or taller, and guys with great wingspans like Brandon Ingram and Jaylen Brown were quickly snagged off the board. The trend continued all night, as height and length continue to be a premium aspect for draft prospects.
Mock drafts were pretty shaken up after the first two picks
Here were a couple of things that surprised me last night:
- Marquese Chriss dropping to the No. 8 pick. Some saw him as a top 3 talent, especially with his truly elite athletic ability.
- Thon Maker going at No. 10 to the Bucks. Much like when they picked the Greek Freak, Milwaukee went total boom-or-bust this year with a well-traveled big man who might be anywhere from 19 to 24 years old, per recent reports.
- Philadelphia came out shortly after drafting Ben Simmons and said that the 6-foot-10 forward would play point guard for them. Wild.
- Henry Ellenson sliding to No. 18. The Marquette one-and-done forward was widely regarded as a top-10 talent, yet Detroit was able to grab him at 18. It was likely due to concerns about athleticism, but there's no doubt in my mind that the kid can play at the highest level.
- Skal Labisserie sliding alllll the way down to No. 28 after being ranked as the No. 1 prospect in the class of 2015. One year of Kentucky doesn't always do everyone good.
Thursday, June 23, 2016 10:52AM
Our UH media team has the 2016 NBA Draft covered. Here's a recap of our coverage heading into tonight's NBA draft coverage, starting at 7 p.m. ET at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Below is Alex Conover's 10 Questions leading into the draft.
Will the 76ers make a good pick?
After inexplicably spending three consecutive high lottery picks on centers (which, by the way, is becoming an outdated position by current NBA trends), the odds are extremely high that Philadelphia picks either Ben Simmons (point-forward) or Brandon Ingram (wing) this year. The latest reports are that Philly has told Simmons that he will be its choice with the top pick. I could go on and on about the past mistakes of "The Process," but I'll just end here and assume that things will get better for Sixers fans. It's impossible to get worse.
Does the draft really start at #3?
Barring something totally out of the blue, Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram will be the top two picks. There's been almost zero news coming out to indicate otherwise, especially with so many remarking that Ingram is a great fit for the Lakers. After that is when the fun really starts.
Will the Celtics make a trade on draft day?
With three first-round picks (#3, 16 and 23) and several of their best assets (Thomas, Smart, Bradley) at the point guard spot, I'm definitely seeing the Celtics making some kind of move on Thursday night to balance things out and go for an even deeper playoff run. Reports are that they love Kris Dunn out of Providence, but so do many other teams that might try and sneak up.
Will Buddy Hield's age hurt his draft stock?
Sure, 22 is considered elderly in the age of one-and-done prospects. But that won't be a good enough reason for college basketball's best shooter to fall out of the top 10 on Thursday night. Buddy Hield's high scores in interviews paired with an instant shooting impact and a visibly-strong work ethic make him a pretty safe pick in this draft. His ceiling isn't as high as some of these long-armed teenagers, but he can help a team right now.
Will the Wolves trade their pick for a solid veteran?
Here are some things that are assumed: Thibs doesn't want/need another raw 19-year-old to mold. Thibs likes Jimmy Butler (who doesn't?), but the Bulls won't be thrilled to engage in trade talks with ex-coach Thibs. And with the Wolves' front office taking on a Spurs-like approach of total secrecy, there aren't many, if any, other rumors floating around. Word is that the Pelicans are also trying to find a vet with #6 and not finding many options.
There are a ton of variables behind closed doors that we won't know until something happens. I'd set the odds of this pick moving pretty low, but you never know.
Will Marquese Chriss' athletic potential manifest into results?
We've seen this before. Stromile Swift, Derrick Williams, Joe Alexander, etc., etc. Super-athletic guys who impressed in their highlight tapes and/or team workouts and shot up draft boards. What Marquese Chriss has going for him are his natural gifts and his 3-point shooting. Going against him is a penchant for foul trouble, poor body language at times and raw offensive tools. I think it's a coin flip; read more at The Ringer in this closer look at Chriss.
Should we worry about learning how to pronounce these Euro guys' names?
Dragan Bender should be pretty good. Sabonis (you know that name already) and Poeltl were at U.S. colleges last year, so they'll likely show up to camp right away. People like the Furkan guy. Other than that, second-round overseas players may not ever make it to a U.S. court. Wait a few years before beating yourself up with Guerschon Yabusele and Gracin Bakumanya.
Will Thon Maker make elite high school prospects reconsider playing college basketball?
It's still not a great idea to skip the most conventional proving grounds for somebody with NBA Draft aspirations. If anyone can pull it off, though, it has to be someone like Thon Maker who has an incredibly unique size/skill combination, and he needs to make a splash in the NBA from Day One. For the record I don't see that happening; in fact I see Thon likely spending some time in the D-League before hitting the majors. Should he have spent a year in college? I personally believe so. But will it hurt his career overall? Only time will tell.
Will Denzel Valentine be similar to Draymond Green in the NBA?
The reports on Denzel Valentine are very similar to what Green's were a few years ago. "Versatile," "can play multiple positions," "good passer," "high basketball IQ." They were both four-year guys at Michigan State for Tom Izzo, one of the great teachers in the game. Add in that Denzel's wingspan measures at a stellar 6-11 and teams normally would be eyeing him as as a late lottery pick who can contribute right away.
Unfortunately for Denzel, he has some real knee concerns after undergoing an MRI at last month's draft combine. That makes his landing spot — and long-term NBA impact — even harder to predict.
Will this draft be one of the more exciting ones in recent years?
I believe this will turn out to be true. Unlike years past where fans could basically predict the top 10 picks based on rumors and news, the 2016 iteration will really take off once Simmons and Ingram are off the board. There's tons of talent to be grabbed with plenty of teams that have needs to address. Personally, I can't wait to see how everything unfolds.
Listen to the latest Recreation Nation podcast about the draft. Reid Nelson is joined by Minnesota Timberwolves' team reporter/web editor Kyle Ratke and Northstar Hoops Report & UHLife.com's Alex Conover to discuss this Thursday's NBA Draft.