With the commencement of the 2018 NBA draft last night, we’ve crossed off the first major checkpoint of the off-season. There are going to be draft grades, love/hate, winners/losers all over the internet in the coming days, so you all can obsess over scouting reports as much as your heart desires. For me, I think the draft is fun for more reasons than just analysis, so here are some things I liked from last night, with just a little basketball mixed in to boot.
Thing I Liked: Dallas Mavericks
- Round 1, Pick 3*: Luka Doncic (6’8, Guard, Slovenia, 19)
- Round 2, Pick 33: Jalen Brunson (6’3, Point Guard, Villanova, 21)
- Round 2, Pick 56**: Ray Spalding (6’10, Power Forward, Louisville, 20)
- Round 2, Pick 60**: Kostas Antetokounmpo (6’10, Small Forward, Dayton, 20)
- * received pick via trade with Hawks for pick 5 + future first
- ** received picks via trade with 76ers for pick 54
Holy hell, guys. What a draft.
Rumors were flying all day yesterday that multiple teams were gunning for the Atlanta Hawks third-overall pick chasing after The Don, 19-year old Slovenian basketball prodigy Luka Doncic. Dallas won out, trading their fifth-overall pick (who turned into Oklahoma point guard Trae Young) and a future first-round pick to Atlanta and got their guy. Doncic has been a lock to make it to the NBA for a long time, ever since he signed with Real Madrid at age thirteen. He’s a big guard that has an incredible sense for passing and can fill it up, too.
He’s been compared to Paul Pierce, Gordon Hayward, Joe Johnson, Manu Ginobli. He’s compared himself to Ben Simmons. That’s not a shabby lineup. Only time will tell if Doncic is the next Kristaps Porzingis or the next Darko Milicic, but for now, the Dallas Mavericks are all in on the former and have no reason not to be.
Jalen Brunson is a stud. He improved every season at Villanova, finishing his junior year averaging 18.9 points and 4.6 assists per game, shooting 52/41/80%. He also filled up his trophy case quite a bit: this past season he won the Naismith Award, the Wooden Award, Big East Player of the Year, and was a consensus All American. On top of all that, he won his second National Championship in three years. The kid is a winner. Brunson should be a perfect third guard behind Doncic and second-year point guard Dennis Smith Jr.
I won’t pretend to know too much about the other second-round guys, but it’s clear that Dallas wants some length to pair with their young guards. Spalding projects as a defense-first center in today’s NBA, with a 7’5 wingspan and a 9’1 standing reach. He could become valuable in the high pick-and-roll in the future, something Doncic excels at. It also doesn’t hurt that he was coached for two years by Rick Pitino, who is known for developing defenders.
As for the last pick in the draft, you can’t go wrong with taking a (Daytona) flyer on a member of the Antetokounmpo family. Kostas isn’t going to be Giannis, and is still very raw. But his athletic traits are still intriguing. He is long and fast, and can take advantage of more lumbering big men on switches. It will take some serious developing in the G-league, but if you squint real hard, you can see somewhat of a poor-man’s Clint Capela someday.
Thing I Liked: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s suit
Holy fire emojis, Batman! My man SGA coming through dripping with some bad intentions on draft night. He may have been drafted at number eleven overall, but I’d imagine the ten teams that passed on him have to be kicking themselves after seeing this fit.
Thing I Liked: The Nuggets Going For It
This time a year ago, Michael Porter Jr. was considered to be the best prospect in this class. Porter Jr. was the number one ranked recruit in the nation in 2017, and decided to spend his one-and-done year with the Missouri Tigers, where his father is an assistant coach.
I love high school mixtapes. Seventeen year-old monsters dunking all over little white dudes that can’t wait to be done with this stupid game and sign up for summer rush. Porter Jr.’s is up there with some of the all-time greats.
Unfortunately for Porter, he suffered a spinal injury shortly into his first game at Mizzou that derailed the rest of his freshman season. Then, just a week ago, Porter had to cancel his first Pro Day due to hip spasms. Standing at 6’10, teams became skittish of Porter’s injury history. Still, he was expected to go in the top ten picks at least.
Then, last night, he began to slip. Pick ten passed. Then pick eleven… then twelve… then thirteen. Everyone wondered if the teams knew something we didn’t. Finally, at pick fourteen, the Denver Nuggets pulled the trigger. They will be adding MPJ to their core of Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, and Gary Harris (all of whom are twenty-three or younger).
If Porter Jr. can live up to his hype, this could be one of the biggest steals in draft history. I mean, can you imagine drafting a mix between Kevin Durant and Kevin Garnett at pick fourteen?
Thing I Liked: Woj Sticking it to The Man
Last week, reports came out that ESPN would prefer legendary NBA journalist Adrian Wojnarowski (and ESPN employee) not “tip” the picks to the draft, as he’s famous for doing so and they would rather fans tune into the network to watch the picks live.
Well, Woj stayed put to begin the night, until reporters like Marc Stein from the New York Times and Shams Charania from Yahoo started blasting Tweets out about the draft before the network showed it.
No one puts Wojey in a corner, and if you come for the king you best not miss. Next thing you know, Woj busts out his thesaurus and uses every single synonym for “select” and “draft” you can think of, carrying his sawed-off iPhone and whistling Farmer In The Dell. Here’s a few of my favorites from the night:
Absolutely incredible. Woj forever.
Thing I Liked: Lonnie Walker IV’s Hat
I never took Physics in high school, but there’s no way that hat should be able to sit like that. TI needs to consider himself put on notice.
What are some things you liked from last night? Hit me up and let me know.