Wednesday, May 28, 2014

NBA Draft Top 5 According To Need....

  The more I look at this draft and the top 7 teams picking the more questions I have about how it will all go down.  We have all heard that NBA front offices generally tier players.  Meaning they put 3-5 different players in a one tier, 3-5 others in a second tier and so on.  This gives teams player pools to draft from according to draft position.

  In this draft there is a lot of talk about the top 2 tiers of players.  The first tier consisting of Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid, Jabari Parker and Dante Exum.  The second tier consists of Marcus Smart, Noah Vonleh, Aaron Gordon, Julius Randle.  The more I have looked at things the more I believe that these two tiers may not have as much separation as people think.  I believe with these two groups it boils down to immediate impact versus long term intentional.

  In the first tier, I believe there is one player that has an immediate impact, that being Jabari Parker.  The other three players will all get ample playing time and opportunity regardless of where they are drafted.  The second tier I believe has three players that will be immediate impacts, those players being Julius Randle, Marcus Smart and Aaron Gordon.

  Noah Vonleh, Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid and Dante Exum have the most upside of any players in this draft and all could very likely be the best player at their position some day, but I believe you may have to wait on them for a couple of years.

  So that brings the question, potential versus impact?  Not sure there is a good way to answer that question with such a special draft.  So lets try to dumb things down a bit.  Lets take a close look at the top 5 teams and their most glaring needs.

#1-Cleveland Cavaliers-Joel Embiid

  Well I could take some low blows here and let the Cavs have it but lets take the high road.  Players returning for this young Cavs team include, Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson, Anthony Bennett, Jarrett Jack, Tyler Zeller and Sergey Karasev.  Pretty easy to see the Cavs lack a starting NBA center.  If they don't go that route the small forward position would be the next spot to look at.  If I am the Cavs I don't think you can pass on Joel Embiid. (barring back issues)  If they don't want to role the dice with a big man with back problems then they will have a choice between Parker and Wiggins.  Not sure which player is a better fit here.  Parker would likely be the better choice as he is a better shooter than Wiggins and Cleveland already has a pair of ball dominant players in Irving and Waiters.

#2-Milwaukee Bucks-Dante Exum

  This is where things can get interesting.  The Bucks have OJ Mayo, Ersan Ilyasova, Zaza Pachulia, Carlos Delfino, Larry Sanders, Brandon Knight, John Henson, Giannis Antetokounmpo.  Yep the all name team...The Bucks biggest needs seem to be the guard positions.  Last season Milwaukee ran a two guard backcourt with Gary Neal and Brandon Knight for much of the season (till they traded Neal)  They seemed to like having Knight as a play making guard looking for his shot more so than a true point guard.  O.J. (hold the) Mayo gave them absolutely nothing last year.  He was in terrible shape and was injured often.  They also have number of young bigs that have either under performed, been injured or caused some other sort of drama.  The lone bright spot for the Bucks is their young stud small forward Giannis Antetokounmpo better known as the "Greek Freak".  So with Embiid off the board here, I believe the Bucks have 2 plays, Andrew Wiggins or Dante Exum.  I believe Exum is in play here because they need a true point guard and he is a player that they could pair with Knight to develop as a backcourt of the future.  The other option is Wiggins.  I believe that Wiggins will end up as a shooting guard in the NBA, as he is rail thin and more of a slasher.  Not sure if the Bucks can go wrong with either player here, but with a point guard dominant league I would have to take Exum.

#3-Philadelphia 76ers-Andrew Wiggins

  This one falls right in to the Sixers lap perfectly.  The Sixers have Micheal Carter-Williams, Thaddeous Young, Nerlen Noel, Eric Maynor, Tony Wroten and Arnette Moultrie.  The Sixers clearly have a number of glaring holes.  The Sixers top pick Nerlens Noel did not set foot on the court last season as he was recovering from a torn ACL.  They clearly did all they could to clear cap and put themselves in the best lottery position.  Thad Young was arguably their best player and he was playing out of position most of the year, as the had him playing the power forward a lot.  They used him as a stretch 4 but he is not a great 3 point shooter at 30%.  Young is a small forward and a talented one at that.  If the Sixers choose to go to a small line up then he could play some stretch 4, but this is not something that should be relied upon.  Two spots the Sixers need, a power forward or a shooting guard. This gives the Sixers options.  They can go with the NBA-ready Julius Randle, who's upside and potential may not be what they would hope for.  Another possibilty is Noah Vonleh.  Extremely long smooth shooting big that developed a passable back to the basket game last year at Indiana.  He also had some of the best overall numbers at the combine.  Vonleh would be a great fit as he has the ability to stretch the floor making room for MCW to create for his teammates. Lastly and in my opinion the most likely scenario, Andrew Wiggins.  Arguably the player likely to be a star in the league.  He is long and a freak athlete.  He is a two way player that has the potential to be a defensive stopper.  Many compare him to Paul George defensively.  Pairing MCW with the likes of Wiggins would give opposing backcourts fits for years to come.

#4-Orlando Magic-Jabari Parker

  With Dante Exum the guy the Magic seem to covet the most off the board and the top 2 studs in Wiggins and Embiid gone, the Magic have to select Parker right?  Well next years roster has Aaron Aflfalo, Victor Oladipo, Tobias Harris, Andrew Nicholson, Moe Harkless, Nikola Vucevic all under contract.  That leaves a lot of holes to fill.  Again the biggest needs look to be the power forward position, small forward position and the point guard position.  Currently the Magic have both Harris and Harkless playing the small forward position.  Harkless is the more natural fit there but has yet to blossom.  Harris has the appropriate size and length but lacks quickness.  The Magic also used Harris at the 4 position where he seemed to be most effective.  The Magic have long coveted an explosive point guard and had hoped to land Exum here.  With Exum off the board do the Magic take a Marcus Smart?  Smart is the one player I believe is going to come in to next season and make every team that passed on him pay.  The knock is his jumper, and the lack of players on the Magic roster that can knock down open jumpers and open up the lane is....?  Smart likely is not the best fit here.  Jabari Parker gives the Magic a true small forward that is NBA-ready and will make an immediate impact.  He adds spacing for player like Vucevic down low and opens driving lanes for Oladipo.  Unfortunately for Jazz Fans Jabari should be there man.

#5-Utah Jazz-Aaron Gordon/Marcus Smart

  This is a depressing position for most Jazz fans.  The thought that Philly, Orlando and Milwaukee all "tanked" better than Utah did is a knife in the heart.  To be honest at times, if I dwell on it, I feel the same way.  The Trey Burke buzzer beater versus Orlando while at the time was fun to watch and exciting, is that "knife".  The Jazz have Trey Burke, Alec Burks, Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, Jeremy Evans, Rudy Gobert.  The Jazz have a solid young player at every position so regardless of what position you pick you will be duplicating.  Jazz fans are clamoring for the Jazz to make a trade and move up in this draft.  I just can't see that happening.  Short of giving up Derrick Favors and picks the Jazz don't have much that is considered valuable enough to move up.  So where do the Jazz go?  In my opinion the biggest need is at the small forward position.  With Gordon Hayward's pending free agency the Jazz should look to shore up this position regardless of how things work out with Hayward.  With Parker and Wiggins having come off the board already, that leaves only one other player that can play both the small forward and while a bit undersized, the power forward position, that being Aaron Gordon.  There is a lot to like with Gordon.  He is a defensive monster that moves like a guard laterally and has the length and athleticism to block shots and be a rim protector.  Gordon is a great ball handler for his size and often sparked the break on his own while playing at Arizona.  Gordon's weakness is the same as Marcus Smart....shooting.  Given the right offensive concepts and the athleticism that the Jazz currently have could help negate some of the weaknesses of Gordon.  The other option here in my opinion is Marcus Smart.  Chad Ford has gone on record saying Jazz fans should not be shocked if the Jazz selected another point guard.  Does this mean the Jazz are not that high on Trey Burke?  Only the front office knows for sure.  But the combo of Burke and Smart could work.  They balance out each others strengths and weaknesses.  There is also the thought that the Jazz could move Burke and have Smart and Burks as the backcourt of the future.  In my opinion the Jazz can't go wrong here with either player.  Both players come in and make an immediate impact.  Personally, I can't choose between the two so I am going to call them 1a and 1b being Gordon and Smart.

  This draft has so much potential and there will clearly be some franchise players, possibly more than people think....June 26th can't get here soon enough!

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