As the second round of the NBA Draft continues on ESPN, I wanted to get some of my initial thoughts down about a very busy and surprising first round. I will give grades to every team hopefully by some time next week. I want time to think about what each team did, let some of the trades go through and not jump to grades without letting things set in. Here are just a few bullets about what I thought as I was glued to my television during the first round.
Team With the Best First Round: Magic and Sixers
Okay so I was put on the spot and I couldn’t pick. I liked what both teams did who actually swapped their second first round picks with each other. The Magic ended up leaving the first round with Aaron Gordon (4), and Elfrid Payton (10). The Sixers ended the first round with Joel Embiid (3), Dario Saric (12), 2015 second rounder and a 2017 first round pick. The Magic took the best player on the board at No. 4 in their opinion in Gordon and filled their point guard with Payton. The Sixers found a way to get even worse with two lottery picks by taking an injured Embiid and Saric who is two years away from playing in the league. The good news is Philly got a future first rounder and will probably be in the top 3 again in the 2015 draft.
Biggest Bust: Noah Vonleh
I see a lot of players in this first round that will be good pros and be in the league a long time. A bust is someone I think that was taken high and expected to do big things. Zach LaVine is right on the boarder. I do not think he will ever find his groove in the league, but I am not sure if anyone had super high expectations for him.
That prefaces this: I think Vonleh will be a good solid NBA player, but I think he will be the worst of the top-12 picks when it is all said and done. I just like everyone else in a very talented and deep draft that was taken 1-12 better than Vonleh. All that said he was not a bad pick for Charlotte at No. 9 when he was projected to go picks 4-6.
Late First Round Steal: Kyle Anderson
The Spurs do it again, or did the league just give them another no brainer at pick no. 30. Anderson is a point-forward who averaged 14.8 points, 8.8 rebounds and 6.5 assists per game this past season on a pretty good UCLA team. He screams Boris Diaw replacement for a team that will compete for a championship again next season.I really liked this pick and though Miami would take him at no. 26 if Napier didn’t get gift-wrapped to them from MJ.
Most Surprising Pick: Aaron Gordon, the fall of Hood, Harris and Napier
The first three picks were very predictable in some order and Cleveland, Milwaukee and Philadelphia did what they were expected to do. Pick no. 4 though was when the draft really started. The Magic have needed a point guard for a couple years now and for the young and athletic Dante Exum to be there at four was the perfect fit. They still got a leader in Elfrid Payton who I also like, but I like a backcourt of Exum and Oladipo better. Still cannot believe Exum will not be wearing a Magic uniform.
I could not believe these three players all were still on the board at pick No. 19. Gary Harris was projected to go 11 in just about every mock draft, Hood was projected to go in the teens and Napier I thought should have gone to Toronto at 20. Harris ended up where he would have at 11 (Denver), Hood fits well on a young Utah team and Napier is once again Kemba Walker’s backup… wait, he got traded? [mores tears] (see next bullet).
Most Upsetting Moment: Shabazz Napier being traded
(See my riveting life story about how this draft went from awesome to terrible in literally the blink of an eye here).