NBA Draft Takeaways: The Prelude to the Dan Gilbert Hatefest
1. Lavar Ball is and will continue to be a star:
Lavar Ball has been telling us for months that his oldest son Lonzo will be playing for his hometown Los Angeles Lakers. Last night, the star point guard from UCLA was selected 2nd overall by Magic Johnson and the Los Angeles Lakers. I love the fit with Lonzo running a fast paced offense in the system that coach Luke Walton brought with him from Golden State. If you watched UCLA play at all this year, you saw Lonzo thriving in a fast paced offense.
Lavar and his family of BBBig BBBallers will now be able to dominate three different levels of basketball in the greater Los Angeles area. He swagger-walked his way onto the First Take set this year and went toe-to-toe with one of the greatest sports television personalities of our generation, the GOAT, Stephen A. Smith. He said Lonzo was already better than back-to-back MVP Steph Curry. He even said that his younger self would beat Michael Jordan in his prime one-on-one. Bold statements from a man who averaged a cool 2.2 points per game in college, but hey, Lavar is a BBBold man. Last night at the draft, he proclaimed that Lonzo would lead the Lakers to the playoffs in his first season, a feat the team has not achieved since the 2012–2013 season, when they were swept by the Spurs. For the sake of me and many others, I hope he is right, and I hope he really is at the first playoff game in the summer of 2018 in a hat that reads “I TOLD YOU SO” with the triple-B logo on the side.
2. Will the Jayson Tatum pick prove to be smart?
I did not like this pick when I first heard the Celtics wanted Tatum (after trading the #1 pick to move back to #3 and get another 1st round pick next year). I don’t like that this is who Danny Ainge said he would’ve taken with the 1st pick either. I understand Isaiah Thomas had a wonderful season last year, and I understand that the Boston fan base loves him. Let’s be totally honest though, while he may be a great value for the next year, he will presumably become a max contract player after the ‘17-’18 season. And do you really want to be a paying a 34 year old, 5'9" point guard, who is already one of the poorest defenders statistically in the league, $40 million? That’s what will more than likely happen if the Celtics see him as their long-term solution at point guard. In my opinion there were 4–5 point guards available last night that would’ve served as great options for Brad Stevens to work with. That also would’ve allowed the Celtics to include Isaiah Thomas in a trade for either Jimmy Butler or Paul George. Tatum’s player comps of Danny Granger, Paul Pierce, and Rudy Gay are not bad but unless he turns out to be Paul Pierce it’s not what you’re looking for at #3. Tatum was 12/30 from the field with 9 turnovers in two games against Florida State and Jonathan Isaac, a draft pick who projects to be a similar player to what Tatum will be defended by in his NBA career. Maybe Tatum will end up being a fine player, but him being at the top of Ainge’s draft board is worrisome for Celtics fans to say the least.
3. Malik Monk falling allows Charlotte to strengthen their already strong backcourt
Malik Monk was a projected top-10, even top-5, talent on a lot of draft boards. With Philly moving from #3 to #1, a team who seemed to be a great fit for him, no longer was in a good position to draft him realistically. The Bulls, continuing their already awful draft night, passed on him at #7 to take Lauri Markkanen. Monk fell four more spots the Charlotte Hornets at #11, a wonderful value at that spot. For the 2016–2017 season the shooting guard position was strong for the Hornets with Nic Batum, Marco Bellinelli, and Jeremy Lamb averaging about 35 points per game to go along with their star point guard Kemba Walker who averaged 23 points per game. Monk is only about 6'4" but with a 42" max vert, he should have no problem being able to get his shot off in the league. I’m also excited because I think Monk will become more of a primary ball handler with the Hornets second unit, something that many wanted Coach Cal to allow him to do last year at Kentucky. With an experienced bunch around him and a hungry Charlotte team poised to have a turnaround season after a disappointing ‘16-’17 campaign, look for Monk to be an All-Rookie team candidate by the end of the season.
4. Bam Adebayo looks to be a great fit in Miami
I am admittedly much higher on this pick than most have been. Bam has shown the ability to develop a perimeter game in his workouts, and is a physical specimen at 6'10" with a 7'2" wingspan. Coach Cal has a reputation for somewhat holding back his big men (See: Boogie Cousins), so the tough grading of the Bam pick makes sense. ESPN’s review of the pick reads, “There seemed to be something missing during his freshman year. He didn’t always rebound or play with intensity. Despite his size and athleticism he struggled to finish over length. And while he reportedly has a nice perimeter game, he didn’t show it at Kentucky.” Perhaps with players like Malik Monk and Derek Willis out there for the Big Blue, Bam was not afforded the opportunity to show his perimeter prowess. Also, the Heat organization is highly regarded for their culture, getting players such as Dion Waiters and James Johnson to reach their full potential. Bam seems to be the perfect replacement for what Willie Reed was for a Heat squad that went 30–11 in the second half of the season last year. Reed opted for free agency, and now looks to be on the outs with this pick.
5. Thibs gets his final revenge on the Bulls
Whatever the Bulls front office is smoking, they must have gotten from Phil Jackson. The original reports were that the Bulls were not including their 16th pick in the deal for Jimmy Butler, but Brian Windhorst quickly cleared that up and crushed the hopes & dreams of Bulls fans everywhere. The Bulls received the 7th pick, Zach Lavine, and Kris Dunn, sending Jimmy Butler and the 16th pick to Minnesota.
(A quick aside): To me this shows that when David Griffin was close to a deal for Jimmy Butler the day of his firing, that Kevin Love was more than likely not involved in said deal. I HATE YOU DAN GILBERT BUT I’M SAVING SOMETHING SPECIAL FOR YOU LATER THIS WEEKEND
This is a great trade by Thibs and puts his young T’Wolves squad in immediate contention for a playoff spot this coming season. With Karl-Anthony Towns putting up numbers we haven’t seen since Shaq’s first two years, in addition to his perimeter game, and Andrew Wiggins consistently improving his game, the Wolves now have a solid core to move into the future with.
The Bulls reportedly loved Kris Dunn during last years draft, but for me, this is even worse than Sacramento’s love for Buddy Hield, causing them to get 50 cents on the dollar for Boogie last season. Kris Dunn shot a cool 38% from the field during his rookie season and showed no signs of improving as he played 78 of the 82 games for the T’Wolves last year. Zach Lavine is a wonderful athlete and was an improving offensive talent before a torn ACL ended his year in February. How he returns from that will be a big component of how truly awful this trade turns out for the Bulls. To make matters worse, the Bulls selected Lauri Markkanen with the pick they received in this deal. With Malik Monk, Dennis Smith Jr., and others still on the board, this seemed like a reach for a player of Markkanen’s talents.
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