Some Quick Draft Takeaways

Generally I feel like draft “winners and losers” or grades are a useless exercise within the first three years or so of a draft, let alone the first day, so I’m not gonna do that. I just wanted to give a few quick takeaways on what I thought of last night’s draft:

  • The 76ers are basketball’s Houston Astros

In using their first two picks on injured Joel Embiid and Croatian Dario Saric via trade, the 76ers showed the world that winning clearly in the short term isn’t the priority, as neither of those players will play much in the NBA this season, if at all. The Sixers have stripped down their roster and have worked to hoard young assets over the last two years, and will likely pick near the top of the draft again next year. This falls in line with their draft strategy last year in taking the also injured Nerlens Noel, who will debut with the team this season. There are some pieces there, like Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams, and Embiid has superstar potential if he can stay on the court and develop, but 76ers fans are gonna have to be real patient for a while.

  • The Magic could be a really, really fun team to watch

The Magic made a mildly surprising selection last night, taking Aaron Gordon fourth overall. He is regarded as a top prospect, but his offensive game is limited as he is a weak shooter. Where he lacks in shooting, he makes up for in ridiculous athleticism. Orlando then acquired the rights to goint guard Elfrid Payton from Louisiana Lafayette, a speedy, athletic point guard who loves to run in transition. Combine these two athletes with last year’s top pick Victor Oladipo, and Magic games could quickly turn into track meets. Should be a lot of fun to watch that team progress.

  • I really like the Celtics draft

The Celtics had two first round picks last night, and used the first on Oklahoma State point guard Marcus Smart. Smart reminds me of Kyle Lowry in that he has a couple of screws loose, but is an all-out competitor and should be a great fit in Boston. If he develops into a quality NBA starting point guard, it makes it much easier for Danny Ainge to dump Rajon Rondo and acquire more assets for their rebuild. Their second pick, James Young from Kentucky, is a project but has lots of talent and potential. Young starred in the NCAA tournament, showing great athleticism, and quality, albeit streaky, outside shooting. I can see them both being big contributors in Boston for a long time.

  • Toronto made a weird pick

This was the first real head-scratcher of the draft, as the Raptors took Bruno Caboclo 20th overall. ESPN’s international hoops guy Fran Fraschilla described Caboclo as the “Brazilian Kevin Durant,” but then went on to say he is “two years away from being two years away, then we’ll see.” I’m not one to doubt Raptors GM Masai Ujiri because I think he’s one of the best in the league, but taking a project like that in the middle of the first round was odd to say the least.

  • The Heat got their man

It was the worst kept secret in the draft that the Heat wanted UConn guard Shabazz Napier, and they traded up two spots to make sure they got their man. Much has been made of a tweet that LeBron sent out three months ago while watching him play, but Napier really is a good fit for the Heat. They need to bolster the point guard position, and his scoring, defense, and attitude will all be welcomed in Miami as they likely let Mario Chalmers walk in free agency. I would still try to acquire Kyle Lowry and let Napier come off the Heat bench, but acquiring these types of assets can go a long way towards keeping the Big 3 around for a while.

  • Isaiah Austin getting drafted was the best moment of the night

The night’s most emotional moment came when Commissioner Adam Silver drafted Baylor Center Isaiah Austin on behalf of the league. Austin’s career was taken from him before it began when he was diagnosed with Marfan Syndrome earlier this week, but the league made sure he would have the memory of hearing his name called and walking across the stage, and even received a standing ovation from the crowd. Austin handled the situation with amazing maturity and dignity, so it was especially cool to see him have his moment.

 

Featured image: (credit: Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

If you can’t appreciate watching LeBron, why bother watching?

Last night the Heat evened their Finals series with the Spurs at 1-1 with a 98-96 win in San Antonio. Dwyane Wade struggled for much of the night, and the Heat bench provided just 12 points. The difference, much like always, was the greatest player in the world. LeBron James was brilliant, with 35 points and 10 rebounds, knocking down jumpshots and getting to the basket at will. James also assisted on Chris Bosh’s go ahead three pointer with 1:18 to play. The play was identical to the one the Heat ran at the end of game 5 vs Indiana, when James was foolishly criticized for passing up the last shot for the obvious smart basketball play.

James has been subject to more criticism than any two time champion and 4 time MVP than anyone in the history of sports. Shows like “First Take” on ESPN fuel the idiocy that is broadcast to the world via social media. These days everyone has an opinion on everything, and more than ever those opinions are influenced by mainstream media, and tweeted by fans too childish or ignorant to make any sense. The question I have is if you can’t appreciate watching LeBron play, who can you appreciate? If it’s not apparent to you that he’s the most brilliant performer of a generation, perhaps in any sport, at the peak of his powers, than maybe basketball just isn’t for you.

So go on, pile on the world’s greatest player on Twitter because he got cramps or because he passed the ball to his all-star teammate, I’ll be busy watching basketball at the highest level it is played on this planet.

 

Featured image: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports