By Jack Hamrick
The draft went fairly as expected, with the top 5 shaping up to be pretty much what everyone thought. We saw a few early trades, as the Hawks and Mavs swapped Luka Dončić and Trae Young, and the Suns and Sixers traded Mikal Bridges and Zhaire Smith. But who had the best draft class?
The Suns had by far the best draft. Drafting the most NBA-ready guy at No. 1, DeAndre Ayton, then trading to get a secondary scorer to assist Booker, Mikal Bridges. Also, adding a bigger guard in Elie Okobo, the Suns have added all their pieces to turn their franchise around. The Suns should resign Elfred Payton, a bright spot for their offense last season, adding almost 12 PPG. Adding athletic offensive pieces to go alongside Devin Booker, the Suns could soon become a force in the West.
Getting the rights to Luka Dončić is a win-win situation for the Mavericks. Foreign players in recent years have been an anomaly to basketball analysts and fanatics. If Dončić does work out, it will be one of the best draft-day trades in recent years; but if he doesn’t work out, it will simply just be another foreign player who didn’t transfer to the NBA. Also, the Mavs got last year’s Wooden Award winner, Jalen Brunson, at 33, an absolute steal. Brunson is an excellent 3-point shooter, a great leader, and an exceptional defender. Brunson should turn out to be a solid pro, and as my colleague, Griffin Hill, says “Dončić will win an MVP at some point in his career.”
The Nets organization is just abysmal. They drafted two foreign players who frankly most people have never heard of. Now yes they could turn out to be great, but as most foreign players have shown us, they (usually) bust. They could become the next Dirk Nowitzki, or the next Darko Miličić. They also missed out on Collin Sexton this year because of the Pierce/Garnett/Terry trade (aka the worst trade in NBA history). It’s comical at this point.
The 76ers had a great pick at 10, Mikal Bridges, who also already loved Philly, but they traded him away moments later. Zhaire Smith is not a bad player at all, but Bridges, to me, is obviously the better pick. With their second pick, Philly drafted Landry Shamet, a player who just doesn’t impress me. Although he does have great size for an NBA point guard, Shamet should have a hard time creating his own shot, a problem Grayson Allen of Utah should see also. They also drafted Giannis Antetokounmpo’s little brother, Kostas; an odd pick to say the least. I see their interest in him, because if he’s anything like his brother that pick at 60 would be incredible, but I don’t see it.
Plenty of toss up picks from this year’s draft, including trades on trades. Hopefully next season will produce another great rookie class.