The conventional wisdom says that you have to do good to be good, or at the very least be good at being bad when it comes to the NBA narrative. The Philadelphia 76ers flushed the semblance of their season down the drain in order to achieve a high draft pick, and they did, but it’s what comes after that matters.
Through the years, we have learned that while the order of the draft pick you get matters, what matters more is what you do with that pick. Detroit could have taken Anthony, Wade or Bosh instead of Milicic. Portland could have avoided the gamble on Oden’s health and taken a shot at KD. Minnesota could have drafted less point guards. The upcoming draft, like all drafts is murky, but there are interesting narratives shining through already.
Narrative 1: The Future is Here
I don’t want to say the Timberwolves have banished the ghost of Kahn (KAAAAAAAAHN) until the draft is over, but they’re pretty close. Last year, they helped Kevin Love cement his legacy in Minnesota as the guy who helped them get Wiggins. This year, they can take it a step further.
With Rubio locked down and Wiggins looking more and more like a Project X type freak athlete what the Timberwolves need is a refined post scorer and anchor that can take the pressure off the outside, and that’s just what they’ll get in Karl Anthony Towns or Jahlil Okafor. Either will take the pressure of Wiggins and Rubio while also forming a partnership. The value of getting two great players on the same roster early in their careers can do wonders for chemistry as they grow together.
Of course, Flip Saunders the GM will still have to pull some dark sorcery to convince any other of the 29 GMs that Nicola Pekovic and more importantly Nicola Pekovic’s contract are a good bargain (there’s always Vivek), but if he does, this team could be on to something special. Hopefully Flip Saunders the coach will make the most of it.
Narrative 2: Can’t Keep The Lakers Down
You really can’t, no matter how much Kobe has tried. It’s easy to forget that the purple and gold still have Julius Randle, but they do. Now they will have a perfect post partner for him in either of the bigs that the Wolves won’t take. It’s a weird gambit, to have both your post players that young, but when you’re LA you take it.
You take it and then you start to shovel money at free agents to bury the decaying carcasses of your 2014/15 roster. They Lakers are still a year or two (and an NBA player or five) away from getting back to being championship contenders, but this is a sign that LA will rarely stay down.
Now it all comes down to them throwing just enough money at a major free agent to keep them interested and not offering Kobe a GDP of another small country to stick around. The more interesting side-narrative here is Kobe’s transition to the front office Frank Underwood style.
Narrative 3: Sixers Saved From Themselves
I don’t want to say Hinkie would do something stupid, but odds are, Hinkie will do something stupid. All bets are off as far as the Sixers are concerned, and this is just the kind of chaos that may be good for them.
Now, there is no stress in choosing right or wrong with Towns or Okafor, now the Sixers can focus on what they actually need: an actual NBA wing-player, with actual NBA wing skills and actual awareness that he is an NBA player. With Embiid and Noel, the Sixers are actually able to field NBA talent in the front court, now the back court is the problem.
There are plenty of options as well. You can go with Mudiay and hope his time hanging out with Steph Marbury hasn’t had any side effects yet. You can also focus on those players you’ve seen play and pick up D’Angelo Russell. Sky is the limit, but the point here is that Sixers are one step closer to being able to put together a starting five that includes actual NBA players at all five positions. It’s a very weird concept after watching them trot out what is basically a D-League roster, but it works.
Narrative 4: Who will the Kings mis-draft next
The Sacramento Kings are a very strange team of misfits and their drafting philosophy can rival that of the Great Khan himself. The team is notorious for drafting players in positions they do not need, trading for players in positions they do not need and overall killing the players in positions they do not need.
We’re left to hope that with George Karl back in the mix Sacramento will tighten up it’s common sense, but maybe that’s just a little bit too much to ask.