Now that I have seen how the draft actually played out and processed all of the twists and turns and surprises, I. And if the title doesn’t make it clear, I think Sam Hinkie absolutely crushed the draft and has furthered my suspicion that he is the future best GM of all time.
I loved that he was a stone cold baller and gambled on Joel Embiid at #3 overall, but what I was also anticipating how he would use the #10 overall pick. The players that I liked there were international bigs (Capela, Nurkic) which didn’t make a world of sense with Noel and Embiid there or PG’s (Ennis, Payton) who didn’t make much sense with MCW there. Then the next guys on my board were KJ McDaniels and Kyle Anderson who slid all the way to the 30’s, so there is no need to expend a valuable lottery pick on them as Sam Hinkie went ahead and snagged KJ at #32 overall. I felt that trading down was the obvious play, but finding a good deal can be hard. Hinkie ended up finding his own deal by reading Rob Hennigan’s soul.
Orlando surprised when they took Aaron Gordon 4th overall with Marcus Smart and Dante Exum on the board as logical choices for a team that badly needed a PG. Of course Hinkie perfectly deduced the implications of this: they were targeting Elfrid Payton 12th overall, as Payton had been dominating workouts and fits Hennigan’s affinity for toolsy, defensive minded prospect who cannot shoot. But it’s not easy to get much in a trade down from 10 to 12 when the teams at 10 and 11 are not likely to snipe Orlando, so Hinkie came up with the creative solution of becoming 100% likely to snipe Orlando by taking Payton himself. Instead of getting a nominal fee for trading down two slots, Hinkie picked up the 2017 1st rounder that Philly had sent Orlando in the Dwight Howard trade, and a 2015 2nd rounder that should be in the 30’s. That’s a significant vig for trading down from 10 to 12.
Note that I’m not certain that this is precisely how it played out, it’s merely how it sounds to me after piecing the available information together. I’m not sure how Hinkie may have roped Hennigan into paying that much to move up 2 slots without playing Jedi mind games.
Hinkie then took Dario Saric 12th overall who will be stashed in Europe for the next 2+ years, and should appreciate in value over that span. I imagine that Saric ends up getting dealt to another overmatched GM before he ever puts on a Philadelphia uniform, as he seems to have more value as a trade chip than an NBA player based on limited info. I may be wrong, but that’s my prediction.
For Sam Hinkie the draft is more than an opportunity to draft potential superstars like Joel Embiid. It’s also a chance to ravage lesser front offices in trades. We kept hearing over and over about Wiggins being Philly’s #1 target, and to me that reeked of misinformation since Joel Embiid was in the draft too. I don’t know if he was going to leverage that to trade up for #1 and surprise snipe Embiid from Cleveland, or if he was going to snag Wiggins #3 overall and then completely clean out a team who feels that Hinkie’s adoration for Wiggins confirms the hype. But after the draft we got this from Woj:
Adrian Wojnarowski @WojYahooNBA · As it turns out, Philadelphia never made a run at Cleveland’s No. 1 overall pick, league sources tell Yahoo.
The great thing about Woj is that he always has his facts straight in a world where Ric Bucher and Chris Broussard sometimes try to break news as well. If Hinkie didn’t try to trade up for #1 after Embiid’s injury red flags were heightened, that supports my hypothesis that Embiid was his target all along. Unfortunately we will never know exactly what Sam Hinkie’s master misinformation plan was, but I imagine it was awesome.
Hinkie also went ahead and drafted my #13 player at #32 overall and my #21 player at #52 overall. And since New Orleans had so much fun getting hustled by Hinkie last draft, they decided to sneak in a quick losing trade when they shipped D-League extraordinaire Pierre Jackson for the #47 pick. I didn’t love the Jerami Grant pick at #39, but I had it above slot value and I don’t have a hard time hopping on board with the pick if Hinkie likes him.
If you root for a team that isn’t going to be good anytime soon and is low on my prediction list for good drafting, it might be a while before you can root for a winner. I highly recommend adopting Philadelphia as a 2nd team to root for (or a new favorite team altogether). You can get in on the ground floor and while it will be a few of years before they are good, they are eventually going to be great. Hinkie is too sharp and too creative for their fate to be otherwise.
Here are my updated predictions for who had the best draft nights, with my pre-draft predictions in the far right column for comparison.
I still think Houston got the steal of the draft in Capela. For whatever reason, NBA teams are much quicker to sour on toolsy bigs with questionable skill/feel than toolsy wings with questionable skill/feel (evidence: Harrison Barnes was drafted before Andre Drummond), even though bigs have such an easier path to usefulness. It doesn’t make sense to me that Andrew Wiggins can show worrisome skill deficiencies and still get picked #1 overall in the same world where DeAndre Jordan slides to round 2. And the reasons for Capela sliding sound especially dubious (he was bad at all-star practices, let’s value that more than playing for an actual professional team in a real sample of games). Maybe Capela never becomes anything but at 25th overall there’s no way it’s anything other than a great gamble.
Note that I placed a premium on higher picks, which is why Minnesota and Chicago evaded the bottom 3 in spite of having the most obviously bad drafts.
I also decided to re-rank the players based on the actual draft outcome. I’m truncating the list at top 40, because I don’t see the value in going beyond that. I was pretty much picking names out of hats to fill out the bottom of my list, and does it really matter if I rank Cleanthony Early 50th or 73rd or 374th? I wouldn’t draft him and I doubt there are more than 40 players worth drafting in any given crop of prospects, so that’s the limit to which I will rank in the future:
|34||Glenn Robinson III|
I didn’t go too wild scooting Saric up my board since I’m not convinced Hinkie is keeping him. But I upticked him anyway based on the possibility of such and my lack of conviction that he is definitely overrated.
I mostly skewed up the good team picks that I was not high on. I’m still fairly skeptical of the Payne pick for Atlanta since Ferry isn’t the most proven GM. He has impressed me recently and seems to have genuinely improved from his Cleveland days, but he is no Hinkie and I think he overdrafted for fit and eschewed a fair bit of value in the process.
TJ Warren I have an easy time getting on board with. I didn’t have a strong reason to oppose him before, and he’s such a unique mold that he probably has his own brand of upside. Jeff Hornacek mentioned that his defensive versatility stood out in workouts (which is credible given Warren’s steal rate), and if Horny likes TJ’s defense then I do too.
I’m still somewhat skeptical of James Young, as I feel Ainge is overrating his odds of becoming a good defensive player. It doesn’t seem impossible for him to become above average, but he strikes me as a clear underdog. Ainge also pointed out that Young has always been a great shooter and believes he ran bad as a freshman, which is a hypothesis I had too. If Young shoots well as a rookie and/or sophomore, he can hike up his trade value to bad teams who are poor at assessing defensive potential. There is something about him that is highly attractive to casual fans (as far as I’m concerned bad GM’s are glorified casuals), and he may have been drafted higher if he didn’t miss workouts due to a car accident.
Huestis seems like a complete zero offensively and I think Presti erred on that one. But he’s toolsy and can play defense, so at least that’s something.
What About Bruno?
I didn’t bother trying to rank Bruno Caboclo because I have no idea, but you may note that I gave Toronto an above average ranking in my post draft prediction. That is in spite of pick #37 being a throwaway in DeAndre Daniels, which I docked the Raptors for. This is because I think Masai Ujiri is a good GM, and when he drafts an 18 year old 6’9″ guy with a 7’7″ wingspan who can apparently shoot at #20 overall, I am not going to tell him he is wrong.
It doesn’t seem possible that somebody with that physical profile who can shoot somehow entered the draft and was completely glossed over by everybody. This is especially true for an age where the Internet and social media spread information like wild fire. But it happened, and I don’t feel overwhelmingly compelled to knock the pick due to the ignorance of almost everybody.
To offer some perspective: Zach LaVine went 13th overall because he can shoot and he can jump through the roof. The only evidence that he can do anything else comes from people who watched him in high school, even though the people who watched him in high school also graded him as not a top 50 player in the class.
Bruno’s tools are straight up better. I don’t even know how athletic he is and I don’t care. Zach LaVine is a leaper in Nik Stauskas’s body minus 25 pounds. His athleticism will aid his rim finishing and transition play, but he’s likely poor defensive player anyway and his athleticism isn’t going to help him get off a huge volume of 3’s (he attempted just 5.7 per 40 at UCLA). The reason why Durant is so elite is because being 6’10” with a 7’5″ wingspan enables him to get off his elite shot from any spot on the court, and he’s roughly unstoppable once he catches the ball. This is similar to why Dirk is so dominant. The combination of a great reach and great shot has unique synergy to create a special player.
Of course Durant is great for reasons other than just length and shooting, but the good news is that Bruno can be vastly inferior to Durant at a number of things and still be great value at #20 overall. LaVine’s physical tools aren’t special at all but Bruno’s are. It’s rich to me that Chad Ford gave Toronto a D for taking Bruno 20th overall for being raw after a full season of slurping LaVine as a lottery pick and giving Minnesota a B+ for taking him 13th.
For all I know Caboclo is a complete scrub, but his based on the tiny bits of info we have and Ujiri’s history of making smart moves, there is no way I am ever criticizing this type of gamble at 20th overall. The draft is all about upside, and if Ujiri thinks Caboclo has it then I agree with him.
Great comments. I think we should consider whether Hinkie is thinking more than just BPA, but really best value available. If you’re the Sixers and willing to wait, Saric will only appreciate in value like you said.
James Young is honestly the worst perimeter defender in this draft class.
Atleast the Celtics drafted the best perimeter defender in this class to make up for it.
Ainge completely blew it with the Young pick imo.
Yeah, the more time I give that pick to sink in the less good I feel about it. I have a hard time seeing James Young actually develop into something awesome.
I’m hoping he shoots well early and gets shipped out before teams figure out he can’t play D. It’s only a matter of time before Ainge starts rolling his assets up into good vets. I can’t imagine that Young is the prospect he fights to keep like he did for Rondo.
I think barring Young proving valuable in trade, passing on Capela might look like a big time ouchie down the road.
Im not over exaggerating when i say the only person in the rotation who was a worst defender was Jarrod Polson.
Ainge called him a good defender in his press conference. That completely blew my mind.
I don’t know…Andrew Harrison was really bad defensively too.
I am guessing Ainge thinks he can be molded into a good defender and played far below his potential at UK for some theoretically fixable reason. And of course he’s going to say that after he picks him 17th overall.
To me the facemelter is that he actually picked him. But whatever, something about him is fun so hopefully he’s not too terrible and then gets shipped out.
As a 76er fan (from Italy!), I love reading that and I agree, in particular with Micic pick at #52. A great Euro stash.
According to you, what are the main differences in skillset and feel for the game between Kawhi Leonard’s sophomore year in San Diego and Jerami Grant’s sophomore year in Syracuse? They can be compared?
I suppose they can be compared defensively. Grant is a really good defensive prospect who has the tools to play both the 3 and 4 in college. He did really well playing in the zone for Syracuse (I assume Hinkie likes him due to charted stats defensively) and has reportedly played well in man to man in the past.
Offensively he’s pretty far behind Kawhi. They were both bad 3 point shooters in college, and I think the Sixers are gambling on Grant becoming a better one in the pros the same way Kawhi did. But Grant lacks the handles, vision, and passing ability that Kawhi has so I’m not sure he will ever be the complete package in the same way.
Are you sure that Kawhi had already that handle, vision and passing ability at San Diego? Just curiosity.
I think so. He looked surprisingly good handling as a rookie and he had a killer assist:TOV ratio for an NCAA PF. Grant also had a good assist:TOV too, but I think it’s moreso due to not attacking than having skills since he Kawhi racked up nearly double the assists. Grant seems like a pretty big longshot to become a competent offensive player but if he can pull it off you get a nice round 2 value.
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Another coup for Hinkie: Thad for Bennett.
At a glance I don’t like that too much. Thad is a rock solid player and I don’t have a ton of faith in Bennett as a prospect after his rookie year. I think he’ll definitely be better as a sophomore but he could improve quite a bit and still not be superior to Derrick Williams, and even though he’s on a rookie deal the #1 salary scale is rather expensive.
I get why Philly did it: Thad is expiring and they aren’t going to keep him and they had to cash him for an asset and they probably weren’t going to get much better than Bennett. Hinkie’s commitment to the tank is strong. But I wouldn’t say that they necessarily won the deal, they just made a deal that gets them younger to super align the window of their core. But I was wondering how he was going to handle Thad and this doesn’t fill me up with warm and fuzzy feelings because I’m not much of a believer in Bennett. But who knows, maybe Hinkie’s scouts see something in him that I don’t.
So, obviously you know now that the deal was actually a [now Hinkie-owned] 2015 1st-rounder for Thad. That’s what I call a coup, but what say you?
It’s a solid value that obviously fits their tank plan, so it’s a good deal for them. I definitely like it better than the Bennett deal.