Head Men's Basketball Coach – Pratt Cannoneers
Being in an airport last Thursday evening, waiting for the airline to decide if your flights is going to continue being delayed or cancelled, made watching the 2015 NBA Draft pretty difficult. Impossible even. Twitter serves as an okay substitute and friends update you with texts, but there’s something severely missing without sitting back and watching the draft on television. For example, I wasn’t able to see Rondae Hollis-Jefferson’s pants in real time.
After a week though, I’ve been able to take in all 60 picks and I’ve sorted through the winners and losers.
Minnesota Timberwolves – It’s hard not to be a winner when you have the first overall selection, but Minnesota’s track record had been less than stellar. They made the right selection, going with Kentucky’s Karl-Anthony Towns. He’s the perfect fit for the young, athletic, up and coming Wolves. He’s the ideal pace and space 4-man for the modern NBA and he’ll be a dangerous pair with Andrew Wiggins for years to come. Adding Tyus Jones late in the first round makes Flip Saunders and Minnesota a double winner. He’s going to turn out to be an undervalued asset in this draft when we look back. Verdict: Winner
Los Angeles Lakers – I don’t want to say that I’ve been captaining the D’Angelo Russell train, but I kind of have. (Exhibit A. Exhibit B. Exhibit C.) A 6’5″ combo guard who scores easily and creates for others? Sounds like a win to me. It may have been hard to pass on Jahlil Okafor, but the Lakers made the right decision. As hard as it is to move on from a superstar, Russell will make the transition away from Kobe at least bearable, and don’t forget the Lakers already have a young post player they think will be very good in Julius Randle. Verdict: Winner
New York Knicks – Entering the draft there were a consensus top four players. None of them were Kristaps Porzingis. I can’t even pretend to know if the 7’0″ Latvian will turn out to be a good player, but I do know that Emmanuel Mudiay was the consensus fourth great prospect and the Knicks passed on him. Do you want a player that DePaul assistant coach Pat Sellers described as “a 6’4″ Lebron” or a player that weighs about 150 lbs soaking wet? Even in the new small-ball NBA, Porzingis is going to get bullied around by NBA four men, even the Harrison Barnes and Kawhi Leonard types early on. Will the pick turn out to be okay? Who knows? But I’d rather have risked it on Mudiay. Adding Jerian Grant towards the end of the first round was a very savvy move, but it’s not enough to make up the error at number four. Verdict: Loser
Emmanuel Mudiay – Doesn’t have to play for the Knicks. Verdict: Winner
Phil Jackson – Sam Hinkie has done a tremendous job of selling hope and a long-term plan to the Philadelphia fans. New York Knicks fans are not quite as patient, but with the pick of Porzingis, that seems to be what Phil Jackson is selling. In four years, when we finally figure out if the skinny Latvian is good or not, Jackson will have held off fans with promises of a rebuild and collected his $60 million. By the time we figure out if this pick is a bust or not, Jackson walks away scot-free. Verdict: Winner
Boston Celtics – I’m not exactly sure what to make of the Celtics’ draft class. Picking Terry Rozier at number 16 seemed to be a bit of stretch, especially considering he is the same defensive-minded prototype guard as recently-extended Avery Bradley. I know I’m in the minority here, but I don’t think RJ Hunter is a first round pick. I agree that he can shoot the heck out of the ball and can play a role, but the bar for former Colonial Athletic Association players starts and ends with former Hofstra great Charles Jenkins in my mind (who only made it two seasons in the NBA) and I don’t think Hunter is quite as dynamic or impactful. Having said all that, I love the pick of Marcus Thornton in the second round. The William & Mary guard is going to surprise some folks, be able to play a role and represent both the CAA and high academic schools. Verdict: Loser
Miami Heat – Things certainly are not the same in Miami since LeBron departed, but Goran Dragic is a good resigning and adding Justice Winslow, in my opinion the fifth best player in the draft, at the tenth pick, is tremendous value. Winslow will be a perfect, cheaper replacement for Luol Deng and help keep Miami competitive and fighting for a playoff spot in the East. Verdict: Winner
Picking In the Early 20s – Three terrific picks in a row, in my opinion, came at picks 20, 21 and 22. The Toronto Raptors went with Utah point guard Delon Wright, who’s long, rangy and lead the Utes to a competitive tournament game against Duke. He’s got great size for an NBA point guard and should be a terrific backup for and compliment to bowling-ball starter Kyle Lowry. The Mavericks nabbed Virginia’s Justin Anderson next. He should make a seamless transition to the NBA. He can defend like crazy and with his size and skill will be an impact guard next year in Dallas. Finally, at 22, Chicago nabbed Arkansas forward Bobby Portis. The reigning SEC Player of the Year is a do-it-all type forward who will battle in the paint and stretch the floor for the Bulls. His selection seems to add to an already existing logjam in the front court, but too much talent is never a bad problem for a contender to have. Verdict: Winner
Kentucky Wildcats – Four players in one lottery, not too shabby. When John Caliper tells recruits that he’ll turn them into pros he’s not kidding. Sure, Dakari Johnson thought he may have been a first round pick, but no one else did. Absolutely the Harrisons exposed themselves over their two years and only one got drafted and it was in the second round, but four lottery selection in one draft is remarkable. The top overall pick, plus numbers six, 12 and 13 – pretty darn good. Verdict: Winner
Atlanta Hawks – Folks down in the ATL were excitedly looking for the Hawks to cap an exciting season with a terrific draft, yet the home team ended up walking away with…Tim Hardaway. I happen to think that grabbing Kelly Oubre at 15 was great value and would have been a win, but adding a few later picks to only move down four spots isn’t the worst. But coming out of the day with NY Knicks’ detritus Tim Hardaway? Can’t feel good about that one Hawks fans. Verdict: Loser
Memphis Grizzlies – I know I said that I didn’t think RJ Hunter was a first round pick, and I stand by that. But no team has a bigger glaring weakness than Memphis does with shooting the three-pointer. How do you pass on Hunter, WHO IS AN UNREAL 3 POINT SHOOTER? Verdict: Loser