Which of Philadelphia, New York, and Los Angeles most needs a home run in the draft? Why?

Philadelphia and it isn’t close. We are heading into year 3 of the most drastic tanking plan in NBA history set into motion by Sam Hinkie and the only positive result we’ve seen from it is Nerlens Noel. Now, with Embiid seemingly having a major setback and possibly missing another season, Hinkie’s job will depend on this pick being a franchise player. No matter how committed the Philadelphia front office may be to this plan, they simply cannot spend or justify 3-5 seasons passing before even attempting to put a winning team on the floor.

This isn’t to say that New York and Los Angeles don’t need a home run pick, but we are talking about two of the biggest market franchises in the NBA that will always be competitive for top free agents. For both of these teams, I think the top pick is more about supplementing a star (Melo in NYK, FA in L.A) rather than building around it.

Which projected top 10 player has the biggest “Boom/Bust” potential?

The answer here has to be Kristaps Porzingis. This is a kid no one has seen a ton of, but absolutely everyone is bringing in for a workout. The Lakers, Sixers, Knicks, and Magic are all allegedly interested. Every European player with some height and shooting touch is the next, “Dirk Nowitzki”, we’ve seen that prediction over and over. However, the hype for Porzingis is real.

CBS writers Sam Vecenie, Gary Parrish, and Zach Harper have Porzingis slotted to go at five, three, and four respectively. It appears almost everyone is interested in the Latvian. Here’s to Porzingis being the next Nowitzki and not the next Darko Miličić, Andrea Bargnani, or Oleksiy Pecherov.

Which team is most likely to make a big move on draft day?

Sacramento with Boston coming in a close second. Vlade Divac has made it known that the Kings will be more than willing to deal their pick for a veteran if the right deal came along. It’s not often that a top 6 pick is readily available on the market, so I imagine they’ll have an assortment of offers to choose from should they wish to deal.

Boston has the most ammo in the draft, but one of the major issues they run into is that the team most willing to deal a top ten pick, the Kings, want veteran help and not more rookies. It’ll be interesting to watch what Ainge can do with his three picks in the top 33 selections.

 

Rank the projected top 3 wing players (Mario Hezonja, Justice Winslow, Stanley Johnson). Who has the best NBA career and why?

1) Mario Hezonja. Deservedly he is rising up a lot of draft boards right now. He’s a talented shooter in a league that requires exactly that. He’s a two way guard with the deep range you need to see on the perimeter. The only person higher on Hezonja than myself is himself.

2) Justise Winslow. The lefty has the look of a future All-Star. He can take it to the hoop and his pull-up jumper does look awful similar to this years MVP runner up. I could easily swap the top two, they will be compared for years to come.

3) Stanley Johnson. Buyer beware. This is not a guy I’m high on. A freak athlete with limited range and handles is not the mold of today’s super-star. Johnson should be a very good defender and may still find the touch, but he is the clear #3 for me here.

Which lottery team save the Oklahoma City Thunder, (that’s too easy) is in the best position to make a playoff run next season?

I’m going to ignore two other playoff teams that missed due to injury, the Pacers and Heat, and go with the Orlando Magic as the team that makes the leap next season. The very young exciting core that they’ve been building the past few seasons has another year under their belts and another year of experience in the NBA to start tapping into their potential. This team is oozing with defensive potential and has the potential to be truly great.

A lot depends on Oladipo making that big second to third year jump and embracing his role as the franchise player and a top offensive option for this team. Does he become D-Wade or Larry Hughes? His third season will start giving us a pretty indication as to which direction he’s headed.

Add in quality young talents like Vucevic and Harris, promising talents like Payton and Gordon, plus another top 5 pick and it’s not hard to see this team being really good really soon. I think they’re still a few years away from truly being competitive, but they get the great fortune of playing in the East, where 35+ wins gets you in the playoff conversation. That isn’t hard to see from this Magic squad, especially if we see the projected leaps of their established core.

Who are two or three names in the later half of this draft (15 and up) that we should know about? Anyone you think can make an impact next season?

I’ll give you three. Just outside the lottery I like Bobby Portis. He’s flying under the radar in part because he isn’t a fit for the triangle and the Knicks haven’t mentioned him. Aside from Towns, Okafor, and Porzingis, Portis might be the best post player in the draft. That’s pretty good value for someone picking in the late teens.

Secondly, I like Delon Wright. I’ve seen quite a few draft projection models that have this guy slotted far above the 20’s where he will likely go. He has size and staying the extra year in college has likely made him better suited to step in and help an NBA team immediately.

Thirdly, going way deep I like Robert Upshaw. The talk of this draft is that all the talent is in the first 18-20 picks, that after that it’s slim pickings. Well if that’s the case Upshaw is definitely worth the risk. A huge body with a knack for blocking shots. This is the kind of rim protector you take a chance on and hope for the best.

If you were ranking the top five prospects, regardless of where you think they will land, how would you rank them?

  1. Karl-Anthony Towns

While there are some out there who think the top spot is between Towns and Okafor, I don’t think its quite as close when evaluating these two as prospects. Okafor, while the most skilled post big man we’ve seen since Boogie Cousins, mirrors a young Cousins in the same way where he’s a liability on the defensive end. Center is not a position where you can be weak at defensively in today’s NBA if you want to win.

We don’t have those concerns with Towns, who is my #1 player in this draft. While not the offensive talent that Okafor is, he’s the far superior two-way talent and already has the great defensive instincts to step into the NBA as a defensive anchor. I also believe he has the potential to be as good as Okafor on the offensive end, but will take a few years to develop.

  1. Jahlil Okafor

I’ve already stated some of my defensive concerns about Okafor, but I’ve also said how highly I think of his game by comparing him to a young Cousins offensively. If anything, his post game and footwork are more advanced than where Boogie was his rookie season. He He’s a #1 option waiting to happen and it would not surprise me at all to see him be an 18-10 player on good efficiency right out of the gate.

What will define Okafor in this league is if he’s able to make the leap into an acceptable defensive anchor. Center is unfortunately the one place you can’t hide on defense and he will have his work cut out for him. I think the tools are there, but its going to be up to the team that drafts him to develop him properly and be patient as he works to improve on that end of the floor.

  1. Kristaps Porzingis

Porzingis at three might be a slight surprise, but if this kid hits on his potential, he has a great chance to be the best player in this draft. In the latest installment of “Who’s the next Dirk Nowitzki?” Porzingis offers a tantalizing array of physical abilities with his height, speed, athleticism and shooting stroke. Porzingis has a few factors going in his favor that other top Euro big men did not who have come over since the Big German; he has a willingness to play inside and already has solid defensive instincts in place. He needs a lot of work on his body, but the foundation is there for an exciting player who contribute on both ends of the floor.

  1. D’Angelo Russell

I debated some between Russell and Mudiay, but I like Russell’s playmaking ability and his shooting to give him the slight edge. He’s got fantastic size, great range and a good sense of how to run an offense. I think the potential is there to be an excellent defensive player too. He’s not the athlete that Mudiay is, but not many players in this draft are.

  1. Emmanuel Mudiay

Mudiay enters the NBA as the next big time physical athlete at the point-guard position. He’ll contribute across the board in all categories and has drawn comparisons to John Wall and Tyreke Evans. As with the physical point-guards who came before him, most of his questions are about his shot and if he can fix it. If he can, he’ll be on his way to stardom. If not, he’ll still be a valuable player in this league with his ability to defend and rebound. Even though we don’t have college footage of him from this past season, I think he’s one of the highest floors in the draft.

Thanks for reading, enjoy the draft!

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