Tanking is one of the hardest things to do as a franchise. A front office has to deal with all of the backlash from fans on how terrible they are at their job in order to get a shot at a crop of college players.
Some times it doesn’t work out. A team takes a guy in the top 10 and they invest a lot of resources into said player. All of this with the hope they have a star or at the very least a pretty good basketball player.
This is the best way to rebuild whether fanbases like it or not. Especially with the new CBA deal that was just agreed upon. Players will stay with their teams and keep resigning because that is where most of the money is at. There many be some good players that want to go to a better situation, but for the most part, they will stay with the team that drafted them.
This is how the NBA was always structured. Free agency is to fill out holes in the roster and to add key players to build around the stars. The stars don’t come from free agency expect for the occasional outlier.
Which brings me back to this draft class. I just want to congratulate the 10 worst teams that don’t have protections on their picks because you just landed either a franchise player or a really good one. This draft is loaded with players that can fill a role for a team, add some potential to a team that is in need, or for one looking for a franchise centerpiece.
Last year’s draft was a real dud. Many players in the top 10 of that draft would of been drafted in the late 20’s this year. It is that deep and that full of upside. There is just so much potential in this draft. It would not shock me to see that players still going in the 15-20 range become really good.
The real cream of the crop of this class are all special. They all have unique skill to set them apart from each other. For a team picking at the top 3, there are players to fit any need imaginable. Need guards or playmaking in general? We have Fultz, Ball, and Fox. Need a extremely high upside wing? We have Josh Jackson, Jason Tatum, and OG. Need shooting? Malik Monk can give you that in bunches.
Sadly, the Lakers will miss out on all these players if the season keeps going as it has been. Unless the Lakers follow my master plan to get a Russell-Fultz backcourt and bench D’Angelo, Julius, and Ingram for the whole year and they sign a bunch of D-League guys to take their place. It appears as if that is unlikely so it appears as if I am going to have to drool about these players without a Lakers uniform. Most of you have heard the names, but now I am going to give you a preview on the best of this class.
You will all have to suffer through this draft with me whether you like it for not.
(List is not from best to worst)
Lonzo Ball has been one of the best players in college basketball and he has changed the way UCLA plays basketball. He plays in such unselfishness way that it has rubbed off on the team. He always makes the extra and is usually looking to pass. He can still score as he is pretty craft at the rim and has one of the funkiest shots ever, but it goes in.
He has incredible vision as he can make most passes on the court and he isn’t afraid to take risks to make a flashy pass. On transition, he is as deadly as they come with the ball. He is a pretty solid athlete, but he doesn’t have a first step that is all that quick. All in all, there are some concerns with Ball in the half-court, but he has played himself into the top 5 conversation and if he can keep it up, a franchise is going to have a very unique players on their hands.
Malik is something else. He is a really good athlete that can shoot the ball really good. There has been some inconsistency, but it is hard not to trust his shot after he just dropped 47 on UNC.
The best player comparison for Monk up to this point is J.R. Smith without the whole craziness that comes with being J.R. Smith. His defense needs to improve and so does his creativity with his handle, but there is still a lot of upside in this player. Monk could be a really good starter for a team in need of shooting or guard play in general.
Tatum is a huge small forward that is insanely long and can score at will. He can shoot it from the 3 pretty well and can create his offense by posting up and just shoot over players. He has amazing footwork and his physical tools are going to allow him to get his shot whenever he wants to get it. He has plenty of defensive potential with his long wingspan. Any team that is looking to get somer perimeter scoring should look into Tatum.
After an injury earlier in the year, it appears as if Tatum is back on track to being a top 3 pick in this upcoming draft, health permitting.
Last night, I had an “oh shit Harry Giles is a NBA prospect” moment. Because of his injury, Giles has fallen off the radar and he just made waves again as he played in the last Duke game. It doesn’t mean much as far as the draft goes because he was very unproductive, but it was good to see him play as many thought he was going to miss the whole season.
At his best, Giles has plenty of defensive upside as he can switch out on the perimeter and bang down low. He is a twitchy athlete so he can get steals, but he isn’t all that much of a rim protector. Due to his athleticism, he is an elite rebounder that easily pile up a 12-15 rebounds in his sleep.
On offense, he still remains a bit raw as he relies heavily on his size and athleticism to create for himself. At the NBA level, he will struggle against faster and stronger guys so the need to develop more advanced post moves is huge. Even with the injury concerns, he remains an elite prospect that can become a beast on the NBA if he develops and goes into the right system.
Jackson is a very special player for many different reasons. First of all, he’s a very old freshman at 20 years old. Even with this, he is considered to be a top 3 prospect. He has a insanely high defensive motor and coupled with his athleticism and you get a potential lock down defender in the NBA. He has good hands and instincts. He has everything he needs to be a very good defender in the NBA.
Jackson is also a great cutter as every time he moves without the ball, it is with a purpose. On transition, he is very tough to stop with his speed and his ability to pass the ball. He may not appear to be a passer but he can make a lot of passes that wings don’t usually make. His jumpshot is odd and suspect which has caused scout to worry about how effective it truly can be, but even without a consistent shot, his skills give teams a lot to work with right off the bat.
Dennis Smith Jr.
Whenever their is a really good point guard that is shifty and insanely quick, I get giddy. This means they can split picks and rolls. I don’t know if their is something more beautifully then a guard splitting a pick and roll perfectly. It is something that Smith has the athleticism to do perfectly, but is quite there. He can still do it, but not as smooth as he will down the line.
Dennis Smith is an insane athlete that can get at the rim with his speed and knack for maneuvering. Reach his full potential, he needs to develop a more consistent jumpshot. He also will need to develop more ways on how to make up for his lackluster measurables. In the NBA, he will struggle to finish at the rim against longer length, so he will need to find ways to combat that. Until then, this gif captures Smith’s shortcoming the best.
Regards of his weakness, Smith adds insane speed and athleticism for a guy his size that any team could use. If developed correctly, Smith could be a superstar that can finish the rim with the best of them and has the speed that draws enough attention to leave teammates open.
Fox has been amazing this year for Kentucky. This “diaper dandy” is averaging 16.8 points per game with 6.8 assist to go on top of that. These numbers are really good for a freshmen guard that has already had to play tough competition. Fox plays with a lot of energy on defense as he can full press a guard for 30 minutes and still keep going.
6″4′ with a 6″6′ wingspan is great size for a guard and it allows him to see over some defenders to make passes. He is a really good playmaker that can make most pass on the court and run pick and rolls like a NBA guard. In transition, Fox can fly. He gets up and down the court really quickly which helps him in a full court press type defense that Kentucky played. De’Aaron legitimately followed Lonzo Ball ups and down the court. He was in his face and got in his head throughout the game. The ability to shut down a top tier guard like Ball is something that certain caught my eye and the eye of scouts.
His first step is really quick too so that is going to help him get to the rim. The only problem Fox has at this point is his jumpshot. It isn’t as consistent as it should be and that allows players to go under every time. This limitation si really going to affect his half court offense. His shot is far from broken so it may very well improve. This is not going to turn off teams from taking him in the top 10 and if he can continue this production with hopefully flashes of an improved shot throughout the season, he may sneak into the top 5.
Is it too early to call Fultz the best player in this draft? Probably. But that won’t stop me from doing so. Fultz has shown everything a team would want from a top tier guard: an improving jumpshot, athleticism, elite playmaking, insane defensive potential, and great finishing skills. I mean………..
These are just the beginning of the insane highlights that Fultz has put up at this point with many more to come. His handle is really tight which allows him to perform great dribble moves. This combined with his speed makes him must-see tv.
At this point, the real concerns with him are the consistency of his shot and the level of competition he has faced. Washington is not a good basketball and the only reason people are going to pay attention to them is because of Fultz and Micheal Porter Jr. coming in next year. Since the team is so bad, it appears as if another #1 pick may not be headed to the NCCA Tourney for a second straight year. That means narratives about being a leader and being good enough to carry a team to a tourney bid will be in full motion come draft season. The hot take cannons will be locked and loaded.