Draft Preview: Burning Questions

The NBA Draft is here and for better or for worse we are about to find out some very important things about some very important teams (and the Philadelphia 76ers). And yet, there are still plenty of questions out there to answer. No Draft class since 2003 has been the transcending moment of the NBA offseason and teams may have to come to peace with the fact that there isn’t another LeBron coming down that pipeline. That human genome factory has shut down due to countless chemical safety violations. But, you might just score an Anthony Davis in the process.

Is there a transcending talent in this draft?

That one is kind of hard to answer, but I’m going to go with no. Sure, there are a few potential All-Stars kicking about, maybe a surprise or two, but realistically, we’ll probably see at least 2-3 career trajectories of long lost but not forgotten, half-man half-Lego, Jonathan Bender.

That being said, if someone were to put a gun to my head and force me to name three players…

Karl Anthony Towns: Yes, this is a bailout call, but he flashed moments of brilliance while playing just over 20 minutes per in college ball. He’s good on both sides of the ball, has the type of stretch capabilities that work in the modern NBA and will at least not be lost in a NBA defensive scheme.

D’Angelo Russell: I remember the exact moment when life sold me on D’Angelo Russell. It was right about when he bent the time space-time continuum to deliver a pass with Hawkeye precision. Of course the play was forever marred by a missed layup (for which I hope someone was made to walk home from the next road trip).

That’s the kind of pass I can imagine just about five people in the NBA making. Russell is smart and confident enough to be good in the league, the question is can he overcome his weaknesses (athleticism for one) to become great.

Kristap Ponzigis: you can smoke a Breaking Bad series worth of meth and stare at a crystal ball for hours without figuring out what kind of player Ponzi will become, but the “intangibles” are there. He has the kind of interesting combination of skill that can make him excel in the NBA. This goes two ways, we either get the greatest Euro talent since Dirk or we get Darko 2.0.

 

What are the Lakers thinking?

There is no one out there more invested in the Lakers trading their second overall pick for Boogie than me. I will own every single jersey including the custom made one to say Boogie (and one to say BOOOOOOOGIE). But let’s pretend for a second that the grass is cut, George Karl is gone and the Lakers have exactly negative 13 assets to offer for DeMarcus Cousins. What do they do with their pick?

The safe bet here is Okafor. It always has been and always will be. He is polished enough to be a contributor right away, and despite the 1412415 times that analysts will talk about the death of a big man on Draft Day, any of the 30 teams would love this type of talent on their roster. There is only one problem…

Kobe Bryant is less of a human being and more of a TV character conceived by the twisted minds behind American Horror Story and Hannibal. His psychotic drive to either be the best, beat the best or slowly torture those around him into losing the will to play the game they love is notorious. On the other hand, Jahlil Okafor has not been known to find the amount of joy we expect from professional athletes for being able to play sports for a living while earning millions. Putting him next to Kobe would be like throwing a pug into a den with 3 dragons from Game of Thrones.

I honestly hope that the Lakers go with Russell and set themselves up for the transition at guard. Russell is a much better fit next to Randle and has the competitive spirit and personality to hang with Kobe. He is also an apt passer, something you need to be around Bryant lest you want the ball taken from your cold, dead, disillusioned fingers.

 

What will Hinkie do?

This has become an annual question that I stopped caring enough to answer. The Philadelphia 76ers have been in a weird purgatory for the past couple of years and it’s hard to see where they go from there. You have to feel sorry for Philly, especially since the Eagles have undergone a spring-cleaning of biblical proportions as well. This isn’t Cleveland, but it’s the next best thing at the moment.

That being said, this really depends on what the Lakers do. If they go with Okafor, you take Russell and at least pretend to try winning games. It’s the kind of bluff everyone will call 5 games in, but at least it will be entertaining. On the other hand, if the Lakers do take Russell… Hinkie could take in Okafor and look to move Noel somewhere or he could take Ponzi and extend the tankapalooza to whatever year LeBron’s son is eligible.

 

Are the Kings still on their cycle of drafting the same position three years straight?

Yes. How is this a question?

 

Will New York stay New York?

The shrouded hand of Dolan is everywhere. Like the drunk shadow master he moves the checker pieces around the chessboard ready to pounce on dominies in any moment…

For once, New York is in the position to do something good in the Draft, or potentially leverage their pick out of it. If we assume the top 3 stays the way analysts predict it (Towns, Okafor, Russell) then the Knicks have a tough choice.

They could theoretically go with Ponzigis and hope that the murmurs from across the narrow sea are true. However, pulling such a move on a city such as this could result in immediate riots, burning of national flags and downtown Manhattan turning into a scene from Mad Max with Carmelo driving and Alexey Shved being the Doof Warrior.

The safer bet here is either Winslow or Cauley-Stein. Both will bring a defensive intensity to the city not seen since Irish gangs were defeated and civilizations began to sprout. Stein could plug the gaping hole left by Wilson Chandler and become an important player right away without having to steal touches from Melo. It would take a while to develop the offense, but when your second best player is Tim Haradaway Jr. it’s kind of hard to expect playoffs anyways. He will have leeway.

Winslow on the other hand will bring at least some sort of a pulse to a franchise that has been clinically dead since Obama first took office. The secret hope here is that they can extract his drive from his blood and infuse it into at least 3 more Knicks to form a comprehensive starting line-up. He has the versatility to fit into the triangle, but his shot is shaky and dribbling ability phanthomic enough to safely say he won’t be the answer to New York’s troubles of having to hope Langston Galloway can score 20 points per game.

 

Who trades first?

My money is on Hinkie, it’s always on Hinkie. This man is an addict and it has been over 3 months since his last fix. He needs it. With Russell and/or Okafor on the board the possibility for a 20+ win season is too real for him to not do something and trade out. JoJo for the Kings’ 6th and Ben McLemore? Who knows.

Realistically though, if anyone does it now it would be the Lakers or the Magic. The Lakers are the kind of franchise that is prone to McGuyver like quick fix solutions to their problems. They’re like a couple that prefers to just screw other people over seeing a therapist. It’s a pathological issue. Kobe wants to win 2 years ago (while he is still healthy) and the Lakers want a replacement star.

The Magic on the other hand are ripe with top young talent. They’ve benefitted from the Draft in the past few years (and made one weird mistake) and what they need now more than ever is veteran leadership that’s not Channing Frye or Ben Gordon. They can easily get that and a few pieces for their no. 5 (might have to throw in Frye too).

They are the team that could go to league pass methamphetamine the fastest out of everyone by adding Ponzi though. Tell me you wouldn’t watch Elfrid toss opps into orbit for him and Oladipo.

 

Who’s my favourite out of the lottery pick?

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson hands down. He can’t really shoot or do many basketball things on the offensive end, but he is basically a MKG/Kawhi caliber defender without the expectations. Put him on the right team and he might just kill a man. Personally, I’d love him on my hometown Toronto Raptors to bring some sort of perimeter defense where we need it most.

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