The draft is always a facemelt as surprising results surprise and new information comes to light. I will do a re-rank based on the results, but first, here are my reactions for winners and losers.
Houston: #37 Chinanu Onuaku, #43 Zhou Qi, UFA Gary Payton Jr.
The Rockets may have hauled the most upsidey pair of 2nd rounders in NBA history. Chinanu Onuaku and Zhou Qi were my two players who I had as massively underrated and projected to go in round 2 for very flawed reasons, and Daryl Morey pounced on them when they were available with his picks.
And if that wasn’t enough, Morey instantly signed consensus best UFA Gary Payton to a 3 year deal after the draft.
This was an A+++ perfect draft for Morey. It’s amazing that he got such a loaded haul with such limited picks entering the draft.
Phoenix: #4 Dragan Bender, #8 Marquese Chriss, #34 Tyler Ulis
Phoenix could have completely bricked the rest of the draft after #4 and still won the draft after taking Bender 4th. While Bender has no guarantee of NBA success, his massive upside gives him franchise changing potential that none of the other #3-8 picks sniffed. Nailing a pick like this can make a franchise’s future when it works out, so Suns fans should feel great about the pick.
I’m not Marquese Chriss’s biggest fan, but at #8 overall he is likely the highest upside option on the board and #13, 28, and Bogdanovic is a reasonable price when he was perceived to be consensus best player available. He is a nice lottery ticket to append the Bender haul.
I believe Tyler Ulis will never be more than a backup PG and for all intents and purposes is a waste of the #34 pick, but that’s of little consequence after having such a great lottery haul.
Philadelphia: #1 Ben Simmons, #24 Timothe Luwawu, #26 Furkan Korkmaz
I can split hairs over Simmons vs Ingram, but I really don’t know the answer to that debate and will not quibble with the selection of Simmons at #1 overall. More importantly they were saved from themselves when both the Celtics and Timberwolves declined their alleged offer of Nerlens Noel, Robert Covington, #24, and #26 for Kris Dunn and ended up nailing the picks with two players I ranked in my top 15. Maybe Colangelo won’t ruin Hinkie’s amazing set up after all.
Memphis: #17 Wade Baldwin, #31 Deyonta Davis, #35 Rade Zagorac
After getting statistical darling Wade Baldwin at 17th, the fighting Hollingers traded a not too valuable Clippers pick (top 14 protected in ’19 and ’20 before becoming 2022 2nd rounder) for Deyonta Davis and Rade Zagorac.
Davis at #31 is likely not the value he was presumed to be entering the draft, as the only reason for him slipping that far would be that he must have some sort of injury flag. But nevertheless it is unlikely he was a bad gamble, especially given the price tag of acquiring him and Zagorac. Awesome draft for the Grizz.
San Antonio: #29 Dejounte Murray
I had Dejounte Murray as the #13 player on my final big board, and when the Spurs took him at #29 overall it confirms that other teams were more likely to be silly for passing him up rather than him being not that good or having secret red flags.
Boston: #3 Jaylen Brown, #16 Guerschon Yabusele, #23 Ante Zizic, #45 Demetrius Jackson, #51 Ben Bentil, #58 Abdel Nader
In fairness to Boston, the Celtics were in a tough position with 8 draft picks and a limited number of roster spots to accommodate them, but they handled the situation about as poorly as they possibly could have.
I am much higher on Jaylen Brown than most statistical models would suggest, and frankly if he was taken after Bender was off the board I’d rather like the pick. But taking him over Dragan Bender is a crucial error, and with a monster offer from Philly for Kris Dunn possibly on the table adds more sting to the choice. Then from there it only got worse.
It only made sense that the Celtics would stash some Euros with their picks, but in a draft rife with upsidey internationals, the Celtics managed to use their two other 1st round picks on players I rated as 2nd rounders. Then they traded 31 and 35 for a protected Clippers pick that is worth much less than the sum of those picks. 16/23/31/35 were the money shots in the draft and they collectively converted those picks to about 25% as much value as Morey did with 37/43/UFA.
Some picks were going to need to be sacrificed on stashes, but instead they are wasting their roster spots on Demetrius Jackson (who was decent value at #45, and could be a solid backup PG), and Ben Bentil at #51 (who had no business being drafted). Somehow they also drafted Abdel Nader at #58, and I can only assume it’s because he is willing to be stashed.
But there was so so so much potential for 16/23/31/35. They could have landed 16. Wade Baldwin, 23. Any of Luwawu/Korkmaz/Dejounte, 31. Onuaku, 35. McCaw/Qi/Zipser/Ragorac/etc and thrown their late picks along with James Young and Terry Rozier in the trash, but instead they trashed the valuable picks and are wasting roster spots on four guys who are collectively worth close to 0.
This draft was a massive failure on all fronts by the Celtics. You’d think with 8 picks there would be one trade or decision to be happy with as a fan, instead Danny Ainge delivered a series of compounding errors.
Milwaukee: #10 Thon Maker, #36 Malcolm Brogdon
I may be underrating Maker by placing him 40th on my big board, but man did he look bad at the Hoop Summit in comparison to players such as Cheick Diallo, Stephen Zimmerman, and Skal Labissiere who all were drafted substantially later because this high school class was bad. Perhaps unlike that big trio he would have exceeded expectations in NCAA, but would he have exceeded them so much to justify a lottery pick? It is extremely unlikely considering his lack of athleticism and coordination. Perhaps he was worth a 1st round selection, but I can’t fathom that this was not a massive reach.
Malcolm Brogdon was not a terrible pick in a vaccuum, but taken immediately ahead of 37. Onuaku, 38. McCaw, and 43. Zhou Qi it does not look so hot.
Sacramento: #13 Georgios Papagiannis, #22 Malachi Richardson, #28 Skal Labissiere, #59 Isaiah Cousins
The Kings got off to a good start fleecing the Hornets by trading Marco Bellineli for #22 and #8 for #13, 28, and Bogdan Bogdanovic, but then they proceeded to make the selections and things became less good.
First of all, their by far two most valuable pieces both play center, and they reached for another center who is much less good at #13. Then they the overrated Malachi Richardson at #22. And while Skal Labissiere may have been a decent gamble at #28 in a vacuum, it is not so much when they are already have four centers above him in the depth chart. The Kings stayed the Kings.
New Orleans: #6 Buddy Hield, #33 Cheick Diallo
New Orleans nabbed the biggest dud in the top 9 in Buddy Hield at #6. And while Cheick Diallo isn’t the worst pick at #33, 39 + 40 is a big price to pay to move up and there were more appealing options available. Looks like the Pels are going to waste Anthony Davis’s early prime.
Denver: #7 Jamal Murray, #15 Juan Hernangomez, #19 Malik Beasley
I don’t want to expressly call the Nuggets losers, because none of these picks are especially bad in a vacuum. But they are meh, meh, and meh in my book. Murray can’t play D, Hernangomez has no ball skills, and Beasley is a SG in a PG body who is a bit overrated on intangibles. All of these guys could go on to have decent careers but I don’t see enough star potential to justify the slots.
Golden State: #30 Damian Jones, #38 Patrick McCaw, UFA Robert Carter
Damian Jones was an underwhelming selection at #30 when the Golden State fans already had a Festus Ezeli from Vanderbilt to frustrate them, but given his tools he is not an awful value for the shot. Then the Warriors went on to take McCaw who I LOVE for their purposes and Carter who is my #2 UFA after Payton Jr to totally redeem themselves. This was a solidly good night for the Warriors even if not quite a slam dunk.
Brooklyn: #20 Caris LeVert, #42 Isaiah Whitehead
Both of these picks were reaches compared to consensus draft boards, but they were reaches that I can get behind. LeVert seemed massively underrated projected to go in the 40’s, and going at #20 implies that his injuries are not big red flags. And Whitehead offers sneaky potential if he cleans up his shot selection and decision making as a combo guard. I don’t love this draft for Brooklyn but it is not bad.
Brex It Ralph (@Cam_Oflage) said:
Thoughts on Toronto’s night? On one hand Masai got your boy Poeltl, but on the other hand he passed up tons of promising players at 27 (Onuaku, McCaw, Davis, Qi, Murray, etc) to reach for a guy you were meh on
It was an OK-ish night. Siakam has good intangibles and there’s no reason why he can’t have a decent NBA career, but as you said there were some JUICY options that they passed up for him and I don’t see him having the upside to justify it.
But IMO part of the problem is that w/ Poeltl and JV in the picture, Onuaku, Qi, and Davis become tough sells. But Murray or Skal would have been sexier picks than Siakam (wild that Ford reported that Skal was in play at 9 and then they passed him up at 27).
Poeltl pick is nice but I have heard so many people talk about how meh he is, I’m losing conviction re: it being a slam dunk. If they had landed Baldwin + Onuaku instead it would be more exciting. But still they didn’t make any huge errors– their night coulda been lots worse
As a C’s fan, I’m vascillating between grasping for silver linings and hanging my head in despair.
I’m curious if you think Yabusele is a reasonable pick at 16. With Baldwin on the board it seems like an egregious reach, but he does have a compelling upside scenario as a stretch 4/5 who can run the floor, bang with centers in the paint, and punish switches.
I am not a Yabusele expert, but he sounds like a disaster defensively and it is hard to imagine him being a steal at the slot. The Celtics limited themselves to players who were willing to be stashed at the pick, and then among those choices made a questionable selection.
You mean you don’t like the strategy of picking 20th BPA at 16 for sake of saving a roster spot for the 51 pick?
No, I do not like that strategy because #51 picks provide a marginal use of a roster spot. And when the pick was Ben Bentil who IMO is a complete waste of a spot, it’s very frustrating.
And that’s with a GENEROUS assessment of Yabusele as the 20th BPA. He’s more like 30-40th as far as I can tell.
Disagree re: Denver. Murray was probably BPA, as was Beasley. Think Murray also slots in really nicely next to Mudiay and Harris, and turns that guard rotation into a three headed mini-monster. Murray’s defensive woes are super mitigated on this team and should allow him to maximize his considerable offensive skills.
Hate hate hate the Jaylen Brown pick. In this weak draft he’s reasonable around 8-10 imo, based purely on physical tools, but the kid just is not good anything basketball related other than driving very fast to the basket and dunking it.
Honestly I am coming around on Murray. He has more offensive star potential to justify his D than I give him credit for, and I buy him as BPA there.
Jaylen Brown is too weird to know anything for sure. I just don’t know with him, but have tempered optimism given that he gets to be coached by Brad Stevens.
Yeah, I mean maybe Stevens felt like he was the guy to take Brown on as a project? I have a feeling Brown’s intelligence also seduced GMs, but I just didn’t see him do anything very reassuring on the court. I’m trying and failing to think of guys in this mode who’ve turned into good NBA players.
The issue with Brown is that there are also not many players with his physical tools to even measure from.
His median outcome probably sucks, but I can see how he’s a nice fence swing. IMO his defense is underrated, and while his offensive game seems too sloppy to ever become a true stud on this end I’m interested to see how it looks if cleaned up.
I really cannot fathom an argument that he should be above Bender, and maybe he belongs below Dunn and Murray too. But players with his tools and defensive upside are rare, and as warty as his offensive game is nothing is completely broken. I’d say he definitely deserved a gamble somewhere in the top 7.
Honestly, if any, I think JB’s defense is overrated. Everyone looks at the physical tools and assumes that he’ll be able to defend multiple positions at a high level, but like Andrew Wiggins, I think his BBIQ is so far from where it needs to be that he’ll struggle defensively.
Depends what lense you look through. He’s not perfect defensively and there’s no guarantee that is a clearly + player on this end. But also it is easy to underrate him when you look at his stocks and scouting reports that he isn’t great.
When you have his tools you don’t need to have perfect fundamentals on this end to make a big impact. IMO he was better defensively for a pretty good Cal defense than given credit for. He definitely has nice upside on this end, and probably won’t be bad.
Wiggins is a good comparison, but his defense shoulda been valued highly too at the draft time.
Also gotta remember that Jaylen played in a unfavourable system in Cal. They played with a 2-center lineup and no surrounding shooters so the spacing was all cramped. Jaylen often had to force it through a clogged lane. That gives me hope with Brown
I think that narrative is overstated because he still got loads of transition opportunities to pad his stats and he spent his share of time as a small PF with mathews and birds as stud shooters on the wing.
J Hill said:
Cavs got Kay Felder for money. Lol neat.
What do you make of the majority of Big Boards/Mock Drafts being completely blown up this year? It’s like outside the top 3 everyone from the popular Chad Fords all the way to the random reddit guys were flat out wrong.
Maybe due to a bunch of players skipping the combine? Just vastly underrating Euro prospects? GMs just trying to do a Kristaaps/Jokic repeat without actually taking into account whether the guy was actually good instead of just tall and white?
It’s just that there is a strong balance of players in the 10-40 range this year and the draft is such a slippery exercise of intuition that nobody really knows who should go where.
Every player has multiple perspectives and can look either rosy or undesirable based on the lens you choose. So there’s a lot of natural randomness.
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As a celt’s fan, I like your comments about Brown’s potential upside. I heard that one of the Celtics scouting guys was concerned that Bender’s frame was “so slight”. Could you comment on that? Also, do you think there’s any validity to the argument that the Celtics draft&stashed in the first round so they could save cap space for a run at free agents?
It’s just not a valid reason to pass on Bender for his frame being slight. Plenty of skinny centers have thrived defensively in recent years (KG, Noah, Chandler, Bosh) and it is only going to become easier for them to thrive as the league trends toward smaller lineups and fewer postups.
Bender was easily the highest upside option at the pick. Brown has upside too, but the C’s should have been more concerned with the fact that he simply is not good at basketball right now moreso than Bender’s lack of bulk.
The Celtics definitely drafted stashable guys to save FA cap space.
Capt Hindsight said:
Looks like your loser Bucks were the only team that was actually a winner in this draft.
Raptors probably broke even, and every other team lost in hindsight as the rookie crop was terrible