What a night, what a night! While we didn’t see the fireworks of say, a QB drafted by San Diego saying he’d only play for the Giants, but we had some interesting reaches, some surprising fallers, and one very happy/newly re-acquainted Hornets fan!
The crew and I had a blast tweeting through the draft, so I have a few other thoughts sprinkled in the first round recap below. It didn’t go quite (read: at all) like Slim and I’s mock draft, but here’s how the draft went down, with a fantasy outlook for these rookies for the 2014-15 Fantasy Basketball Season:
1. Andrew Wiggins – Cleveland Cavaliers
Well, I got this pick right in our mock! The Cavs had three great options and went the best route in my opinion. They could’ve blown it like last year and drafted, I dunno, Dario Saric first, but they avoid back-to-back shark jumping! I don’t think I applied that right… Anyway, the Cavs had a need at the 3 (I see no reason why they would re-sign Luol Deng after that failed experiment) and A-Wig should start right away. I need a better nickname. How about Wingdings? His name looks like:
in Wingdings, for whatever that’s worth… A freshman line of 17/6/1.5/1.2/1 on a stacked team (and if I recall right, he started a little slow) should translate into a multi-cat contributor right away. He’s not the first rookie I’ll take on draft day, but the top 100 is going to be littered with this rook class. More on rookie rankings after the picks.
2. Jabari Parker – Milwaukee Bucks
As I mentioned in our mock, I thought Parker was going to be the #1 rookie off draft boards in the fall, and I like him even more in Milwaukee. To say he’s an upgrade over Ersan “flat foot” Ilyasova is an understatement. Well, Parker would likely play the 3 then, I just wanted to work in an Ilyasova joke. Ilyasova could be traded too. New owner Marc Lasry is like, “We gotta get rid of this Turkey!” Parker is as NBA ready as anyone in this draft class – even for a one-and-doner – and about the only cold water I can throw on him is he shot 36% from deep and the perimeter game is still developing. Let my boy Brandon Knight chuck up the treys! Giannis Antetokounmpo (good to be back in in-season form – typed that right on the first try!) could slide to the 3 (or the 2 if Ilysaova stays, but he’d be a monster 2 guard) and all the sudden you have a really exciting stew goin’! Like Wiggins, Parker’s 19/8.7/1.2/1.1/1.2 hit all cats in college and he’s already grown into his frame. He’ll be my highest ranked rookie.
3. Joel Embiid – Philadelphia 76ers
Screams “avoid!” First there’s the 4-6 injury window with his broken foot then there’s the possibility he’s shipped off as opposed to the twin tower approach of he and Nerlens Noel. And with such a high-upside rookie (not to mention a 7+ footer), there’s going to be no rush. Either way, he’s a guy that’s likely undraftable in standard leagues. Where it gets interesting is in dynasties… I probably won’t end up with him in the REL, but he’s worth a mid-round gamble/some decent $ depending on your auction budget.
4. Aaron Gordon – Orlando Magic
Wellllllllllllllllllllllllll then… In Slim and I’s mock he fell to 9, which meant I would’ve bought all the possible Gordon gear I could in Hornets teal. But he got a lot of buzz (but not the “buzz” I wanted!) as we neared the draft and Orlando popped their collar. Really hurts Tobias Harris and the gaggle of SF/PF guys there (Harkless, Nicholson… Harvey Grant still there?), but since Gordon is still a little raw and an awful FT shooter, they’ll be able to filter him in and out. Great upside and will have some nice games, but also some maddening usages in the vain of Victor Oladipo last year as a 3/4. He’s another addition in my “really fun to watch, but can’t bring myself to draft him” pile.
5. Dante Exum – Utah Jazz
Love it. I thought Exum was going to Orlando, but instead the Aussie gets to go backcourt with Trey Burke. Wow, that sounds wrong. I guess either would’ve destination for Exum would’ve been nice, but there’s something I like about him landing on the Jazz… Maybe because my Trey Burke love is still lingering and I think they’ll be a fun pair. Not much is known from the import from down under, but since he can play the combo-guard without having to run the offense every half-court possession, I think it’ll help him ease into a productive season.
6. Marcus Smart – Boston Celtics
Love it times two. Another backcourt heading to combo-guarding (or Smart will be the full time PG if they trade Rajon Rondo), Smart is going to be a solid FG% and Stls guy from your PG position. The dimes upside won’t be there if Rondo stays, but Smart shot 51.4% last year for OK State albeit not a great perimeter shooter. Won’t be attempting many of those in the NBA (at least yet), and even as a hard-nosed driver, only 2.6 TO last year – a huge improvement from 3.4 the year before in virtually the same minutes. I love this guy, and I’ll be reaching for him in all my drafts, including the REL auction room. Slim and I are going to have a good old-fashioned bidding war over this one.
7. Julius Randle – Los Angeles Lakers
Poster boy for “great real-life pick, I’m passing in fantasy”. Mostly this pick was yet another “F you, Jordan Hill!” from the Lakers franchise. Seems like a great kid, eager to play with Kobe, and I’m going to cheer for him. Unfortunately this isn’t a “count how many times you’d doodle his name on your trapper keeper” site, it’s that “other” kind of fantasy site. He boards. He’ll score a little. That’s it. I guess he can join Aaron Gordon as guys I’ll like to watch, but won’t own.
8. Nik Stauskas – Sacramento Kings
What in the…? Apparently the Kings only like to draft guards and they still want Jason Thompson to start at the 4. I mean, JT’s got a really big smile! And ummm… guaranteed money…? While this was an awful pick, it actually was a fantastic pick for my Hornets! I thought for sure they were going Vonleh; instead they opt for a ThrAGNOF shooter and they’re crossing their fingers they can sell Ben McLemore. A weird pick and a guy I have no interest in.
9. Noah Vonleh – Charlotte Hornets
Yezzir! While it wasn’t quite as good as Aaron Gordon, I thought for sure Vonleh would be gone and we’d have to draft Doug McDermott. Whew! Vonleh comes into the NBA as mad athletic, with multi-cat ready stats. The Hornets have got to let Josh McRoberts walk right into the room marked “Pirate” and give Vonleh a chance to flourish next to Big Al Jefferson. Hopefully Cody Zeller won’t vie too much for minutes (Indiana grad battle!), but maybe Zeller can become the primary backup 5 and the team lets Bismack Biyombo walk. Which might actually be a good thing, considering Biyombo is getting sued by his “developer”. Makes Biyombo sound a little bit like an App in the App Store, no? I like Vonleh fantasy-wise right off the bat, but will temper expectations a tad until the Hornets round out their frontcourt heading into preseason.
10. Elfrid Payton – Orlando Magic (from Philadelphia)
Well, this is why they passed on Exum! I guess… I dunno, I don’t love it. Another longer-ish/not the best shooter to combo it up with Victor RainbOladipo. He doesn’t hit threes and isn’t a huge dimes guy, so I remain bullish on the ol’ VO. Payton did rack up the steals though while at UL-L. So am I saying we should call this Payton, Glove Jr. YES! NAILED IT!
11. Doug McDermott – Chicago Bulls (from Denver)
The Bulls picked him up to play a smart 3 and in fantasy, you’d be smart to not have him as your 3. ThrAGNOF oversize wing! And the Bulls are painstakingly trying to give Carlos Boozer the booter. I’ll be here all night folks! Give Carlos Boozer the booze cruise! I guess that is more fun. But what that means for your weekend is Melo or BronBron are the big targets at the 4 and there just won’t be shots except spot up treys for the coach’s boy. And I think one of the two super-ah-stahs landing there is pretty likely. Thank you Kings, again, for that Stauskas pick! I didn’t want McDermott on the Hornets at all!
12. Dario Saric – Philadelphia 76ers (from Orlando)
The Saric pick is kinda like finding a severed thumb in your Wendy’s 99 cent chili. “Er my Gawd! Disguting!” “…But wait a minute, this could pay off for me in there future…” I ain’t drafting him in anything to wait the 2 years he’s gotta play in Turkey.
13. Zach LaVine – Minnesota Timberwolves
Raw, with huge upside. He got vaulted on draft boards through the final month (I saw him in the 2nd round early on across big boards – and I thought my mock pick of him at 23 was a bit reachy at the time), so teams are seeing something they like. Did he really drop an “F me!” when drafted? Pretty funny. But I agree, it was just relief he got picked. I think it’ll be an inconsistent rookie effort, both production and usage-wise. Especially if/when Kevin Love gets traded and the Wolves go all out rebuild. Love is like, “F me, I haven’t been traded and it’s after the draft already!”
14. T.J. Warren – Phoenix Suns
Whelp, not a good day for Slim’s REL All-Stars! I had a feeling Warren would go top 15 (I had him a super reach to Denver at 11 – but the recent Arron Afflalo acquisition put that to rest) even though he wasn’t listed as such in most pre-draft boards. However, dude killed the ACC. Killed it like he wasn’t going to class! Wait, wrong NC school… Back to Slim, this makes it look like P.J. Tucker is either out or will have to re-sign with a more limited role. He’s not gonna do a whole lot besides hit the mid-range though, so not too appealing for fantasy.
15. Adreian Payne – Atlanta Hawks
A perfect pick for the Hawks to get a high-energy, NBA ready backup 4/5. Al Horford should be fine off the torn pec but you never know, and Paul Millsap is cemented at the 4. Last year’s revolving door of Elton Brand, Gustavo Ayon, Pero Antic… Not pretty. Well, Brand had some good stretches, but he’s that much older and probably signing elsewhere. Payne took a big forward in his senior year at MSU, developing a perimeter game and hitting 1.4 treys a night at a 42.3% clip. One of a select few that go into the NBA off 4 years in college, I think Payne could see enough minutes and hit enough out-of-position threes to be relevant right out of the gate.
16. Jusuf Nurkic – Denver Nuggets (from Chicago)
Color me intrigued. But only within the lines! I don’t know where I’m going with this… Nurkic is an interesting prospect – 7 footer with mid-range and athleticism, but his role is a question mark. Mozgov no like! J.J. Hickson tore his ACL late in the year so he’s a non-factor, but JaVale McGee will be back with Mozgov in a very crowded group of Cs. And none of them can really play together. Denver might trade someone.
17. James Young – Boston Celtics
Even Jeff Green‘s die-hard Celtics fan nephew (worst adjective chain ever) wants him traded out of Boston. James Young makes it that much easier. It’s tough to assess his Kentucky stats on such a stacked team, but he hits treys and has the upside to be a pretty solid wing. If Green is shipped out and Young is given the keys to the starting 3 (unlikely given he’s still a youngun, but we can dream!), he could be really interesting.
18. Tyler Ennis – Phoenix Suns
I mentioned in our mock I’m not a huge Ennis fan. He goes to a team that already starts two PGs. But he gives them added PG depth and Eric Bledsoe isn’t a 100% lock to return/stay healthy. Still, Ennis’ main upside is steals and I don’t think he can do enough of anything else to hold a starting gig this year.
19. Gary Harris – Denver Nuggets (from Chicago)
Everyone is calling this the steal of the draft. Hard for me to disagree. Slim and I both saw him going 10 to Philly, but Philly decided they wanted to wait out two years of Saric first (say whaaaa?). He’s got a tinge of ThrAGNOF-ness, but 1.8 steals a game for Sparty last year. Plus a good FT shooter. Well, all-around shooter. Yeah, he shoulda gone earlier, Nuggets got a fortune for trading Doug McD.
20. Bruno Caboclo – Toronto Raptors
I already saw, like 50 Sacha Baron Cohen as Bruno memes. Soooooo original. But this pick was original! Never heard of this guy and virtually no one scouted him. It’s called a second round pick for a reason! He’s 18, really athletic, and will take some seasoning. He apparently won something called “Basketball Without Borders”, which I guess makes more sense why the only non-US NBA team would take him…
21. Mitch McGary – Oklahoma City Thunder
I got this one right! I got this one right! But I had him at 29, the other OKC pick… Time for a super sexy copy and paste job!
“How vulnerable did the Thunder look in this series against the Spurs without Serge Ibaka? McGary gives them a polished, NBA-ready reserve center, as the ghost of Hasheem Thabeet is a UFA and adds depth. Nick Collison and Kendrick Perkins both have a year left in their deals [added note for this article - Perkins easily could be moving on though], plus Ibaka and Steven Adams are mainstays. But past next year, McGary could be a pretty solid minute filler off the bench.
If this is where he lands, only a rash of big man injuries would see him having even a remote impact on fantasy.”
22. Jordan Adams – Memphis Grizzlies
Slim and I both like Adams. Slim likes every Adams. Lurch and Jordan to the rescue! Able to hit treys and steal, but will have to work his way into fantasy-relevant minutes. Still like him though.
23. Rodney Hood – Utah Jazz
This is who I thought the Thunder were taking at 21. Good scorer, hits treys, but does little else. We have a little term for that!
24. Shabazz Napier – Miami Heat (from Charlotte)
LeBron’s got a winner! I expect Napier and LeBron to start making out on South Beach any time now. Norris Cole could be traded and Mario Chalmers, who pulled more disappearing acts than Kevin Bacon as Hollow Man, is a free agent. Napier could start right away, but he wouldn’t be too appealing unless the steals carry over. That said, he’ll be ownable in a lot of leagues for that sweet Stls upside.
25. Clint Capela – Houston Rockets
Well this makes more sense with the Omer Asik trade done with, but Capela is still a long-term project on a team with pretty good big depth.
26. P.J. Hairston – Charlotte Hornets
Staying in NC! And hopefully staying out of trouble! The Hornets needed a shooter and this is an awesome fit. He’ll start off on the second-unit behind Gerald Henderson, but if Hendo continues to sucko, Hairston could leap frog. Leap, my dear ThrAGNOF, leap!
27. Bogdan Bogdanovic – Phoenix Suns
Multiply the amount of “Bruno” memes by 10, and you get how many people tweeted, “I wish my name was JB JBovic!” Wait, that does sound kinda funny. DAMMIT! They swept me in! But Bogdan squared is probably staying in Europe for now. Meh. Boring boringovic.
28. C.J. Wilcox – Los Angeles Clippers
Slim was right guessing the Clips needed a scorer, and with Jordan Adams off the board they went for Wilcox. He finished his 4th year at Washington with a 18.3/3.7/2.5/1/1 line hitting 2.8 treys. That’s in the Pac-12 too! He won’t get the minutes to flash that kind of potential, but if mass injuries plague the former-Sterlings, I could see him surprising.
29. Josh Huestis – Oklahoma City Thunder
So I was right! The Thunder wanted a wing and a center! Which sounds like a Bdubs order… He’s more a defensive wing, and not someone too interesting off the OKC bench.
30. Kyle Anderson – San Antonio Spurs
STEAL! STEAL! I picked him 19 to the Bulls in our prior mock. I like everything about this kid… except… He now is in the Pop rotation scheme. “Dammit!” [in Jack Bauer voice] “We needed a better schematic!” A redonkulous 14.6/8.8/6.5/1.8/0.8 with 0.8 treys in his soph season at UCLA. Kawhi Leonard Jr.! I hope Slim stopped reading, because he’ll be someone I hope to get for $1-$2 in REL Bucks.
JB’s Top 10 NBA Rookies for 2014-15 Fantasy:
1. Jabari Parker
2. Andrew Wiggins
3. Marcus Smart
4. Noah Vonleh
5. Dante Exum
6. Gary Harris
7. Julius Randle
8. Adreian Payne
9. Aaron Gordon
10. James Young
Thoughts on the draft or my early, early rookie fantasy ranks? And we’ve got more in our first Razzball Basketball Podcast up now! We break down the draft and the fantasy impacts of the other players impacted by this elite draft class.