Best Team Drafts
Orlando Magic: They obviously need to figure out how to prepare for the impending exodus of Dwight Howard, so they picked up two of the draft's top 3 or 4 centers in Andrew Nicholson (#19) who is a great scorer and decent shot blocker, and Kyle O’Quinn (#49) who retained his good rebounding and shot-blocking numbers against the big schools he faced last year (played at Norfolk State).
Charlotte Bobcats: Everyone was expecting MJ to get too involved and screw this one up, but instead Charlotte went smart and solid with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (#2) whose ridiculous energy and athleticism make him a top-flight defender and undervalued offensive contributor, and Jeffery Taylor (#31) who is another versatile and tough wing defender of the highest magnitude, plus a great spot-up shooter who plays within the flow of the game. Neither is the piece to turn this horrid franchise around, but both are the types of high-end role players who do so many things well that the Spurs would covet.
Milwaukee Bucks: The Bucks obviously love long, athletic, shot-blocking big men, since John Henson (#14) was added to a roster that includes Samuel Dalembert, Larry Sanders, and Ekpe Udroh; Henson was certainly a much safer pick (and in the long run, probably a better pick) than many made before him in the lottery. Milwaukee then added one of the draft's best SG's, and probably its best 3-point shooter overall, in Doron Lamb (#42) who offers more skills than just shooting, unlike many of the other SG's taken.
Worst Team Drafts
Portland Trail Blazers: They needed a center and a PG, so they took big man Meyers Leonard (#11), who lacks toughness/drive and is a bad rebounder (won't work well next to Aldridge, another sub-par rebounder), and Damian Lillard (#6), who is really just an undersized SG who's been terribly inefficient against good opponents and whose team’s success in college was way underwhelming. They added Will Barton (#40), a multi-faceted SG, in the second round which was nice, but they sold the #41 pick despite having one of the two richest owners in the NBA and good players still available – players like PG Scott Machado who is an actual PG and has had far more success against talented opponents than Lillard.
Washington Wizards: Their top pick, Bradley Beal (#3), is a huge stretch this high in the draft (comparisons to Ray Allen ignore the fact he shot 33% from deep in college, including only 35% over his final 10 games, but Allen shot 44%), and Czech guard Tomas Satoransky (#32) is way too raw and un-aggressive to be a contributor any time soon, if ever.
Denver Nuggets: Frenchman Evan Fournier (#20) is much further from being a consistent contributor than the average fan has been lead to believe, Quincy Miller (#38) is an overhyped athlete who hardly produced in college, and Izzet Turkyilmaz (#50) was on no one’s draft board.
Detroit Pistons: We’ve been hearing for weeks that Andre Drummond (#9) has no motor and will certainly be a bust, Khris Middleton (#39) has been slowed by a debilitating knee injury and is an inconsistent scorer (which is supposedly his strongest attribute), and Kim English (#44) is a great outside shooter, but he’s not good at anything else.
Worst Pick of the Lottery
It’s really hard to pick just one this year since so many teams reached for boom/bust players who have at least a 75% chance of being busts. Cleveland took Dion Waiters (#4), a scoring SG who never started a college game and who has a weak jumper; both of Portland’s picks—Damian Lillard (#6) and Meyers Leonard (#11)—have the types of red flags you avoid in the lottery (discussed above); there is no way Detroit’s Andre Drummond (#9) pans out; and the Hornets went ridiculous with their second pick when they selected Austin Rivers (#10), whose shot selection and willingness to be a passer or defender are all pretty bad. If I had to pick the worst of the bunch, I’d go with Rivers since I can at least figure out what the other teams were trying to accomplish with their picks, but Rivers will simply cut in on Eric Gordon’s effectiveness and development, and Rivers doesn’t have the head to be a PG.
Best First Round Picks After The Lottery
A trio of big men all have a lot to offer the teams that picked them up in the second-half of round one. Houston snagged Royce White (#16), a true do-it-all PF who could become the league’s best point-forward if used correctly. Next the Cavaliers got center Tyler Zeller (#17), after a trade with Dallas who drafted him, an ultra-intelligent defender and highly effective scorer and rebounder. Boston’s patience was rewarded when Jared Sullinger (#21) fell into their lap; a top-10 talent, some concerns about Sullinger’s back made him slide, but if he holds up like he did in college, then he’ll be one of the biggest steals we talk about from this era.
Best Second Round Picks
1. Jae Crowder (#34), Dallas: Picked by Cleveland but sent to the Mavs as part of the Zeller trade, Crowder has all the makings of a Kidd-Gilchrist/Kenneth Faried/Kawhi Leonard role player with a relentless energy and a decent skill set.
2. Doron Lamb (#42), Milwaukee: Lamb has the best 3-point shot of all the SG’s, is the most prepared to be a mistake-free PG in a pinch, and his defense is above-average. Quite possibly the best SG in the entire draft.
3. Jeffery Taylor (#31), Charlotte: Taylor is a lock-down defender with great awareness and results as a spot-up shooter or weak-side finisher.
4. Mike Scott (#43), Atlanta: Scott is a high-motor, high-intangibles PF who makes the most of his scoring opportunities and bangs the boards.
5. Orlando Johnson (#36), Indiana: Drafted by Sacramento but sold to Indy, Johnson is a SG who can score in a variety of ways in the mid-range and long-range, and he’s a competent defender and rebounder.
Best Player Not Drafted
The best player whose name wasn’t called on Thursday night is certainly PG Scott Machado, possibly the second-best PG in the draft. Not only does he make great decisions with the ball as a true game manager, he’s an efficient and capable scorer who had a slew of big games against much bigger schools, leading tiny Iona to a few note-worthy upsets. The other guy worth mentioning here is New Mexico PF Drew Gordon, one of the nation’s most elite rebounders.