Every NBA draft has its own identity. Some drafts are stocked with premium guards like 2012. Other drafts, like the 2011 class which included Klay Thompson, Kawhi Leonard, and Jimmy Butler, are filled with good 2-way players who need a few years in the league to become great. 2015 is a draft class lacking an obvious trend. With the exception of maybe 7 players, I see mostly role players.
Be that as it may, the draft is set up to be interesting for teams who missed on the lottery. For the first time in a while, the landscape of the NBA hinges on who the first 3 teams pick as their future super stars. So what are my considerations for the middle-of-the-pack teams?
Detroit Pistons: Statistically, the Pistons were between Cleveland and Golden State in terms of defense. They ranked 14th in points allowed and 4th in rebounds per game. The problem is they were towards the bottom of the league in offense. Having acquired Ersan Ilyasova, the Pistons are trending upward. With the 8th pick, they’re in a space to go big or small. My guess? They fill the void on the wing with Arizona’s Stanley Johnson. He measured 6’6.5 at the combine and weighs 242 lbs. The kid’s frame is ridiculous to be only 19! Johnson has the same upside as a freshman that Draymond Green had as a senior coming out. I’m not a fan of his release, but shot mechanics are fixable with a 19 year old. Johnson is one of the few players in the draft that’s ready to be a starter right now. Detroit needs a forward who can guard multiple positions and contribute offensively. It’s the perfect marriage.
Miami Heat: The Heat were hit by the injury bug in a major way. Additionally, the Heat have to woo Goran Dragic and Luol Deng to stay in South Beach. With pick #10, the Heat won’t have the option to grab an elite positional player. Therefore, Sam Dekker is a safe selection for 2 reasons. As we saw in the Final 4 and championship game, Dekker can shoot lights out from beyond the arc. Second, at 6’9, he can space the floor. He’s not super athletic like Johnson or Justise Winslow. He doesn’t have to have the ball in his hands to be effective because he does many of the little things in basketball well. He’s one of those players that are labeled as “system” or “glue guys”.
Brooklyn Nets: When Jarrett Jack is making nightly highlight reels, there’s a problem. The Nets are stuck with the hologram of Deron Williams for one more season, along with Brook Lopez being an unrestricted free agent. At pick 29, they may find a steal in one of the lowly guards. Delon Wright comes to mind. What I like about Wright from his film is that he plays defense. Defense from a guard is an added bonus. He’s Langston Galloway with more height. He’s not as prolific a shooter as Galloway but he has the speed and lateral quickness to guard a 1 or 2. He needs to bulk up this summer. But the Nets should draft him then assess him in the summer league as the Knicks did with Galloway.
LA Lakers: It’s become evident, after his workout, that the Lakers plan to select Okafor number two overall. So with the second 1st round pick (#27), it’d be a miracle for the Lakers to be able to draft Okafor’s teammate, Tyus Jones. Jones comes with a bunch of question marks because he’s short and isn’t a very good defender. He’s essentially Trey Burke and we see how that’s working out in Utah. Seriously, though, Jones has a high basketball IQ to be a freshman. He rarely made bad decisions and consistently knew how to feed Okafor in the post. Offensively, the floater will likely be his signature shot. And as a timely reminder, remember all of the negatives Stephen Curry had around him when he was drafted. Jones is no Curry, but there’s a lot of room for growth.
I’m also curious to see what the Spurs and Pacers do in this draft. With money to play with, the Spurs have the rare opportunity to fill their major hole through free agency and draft a young center who’ll be learning from one of the best big men of the last 20 years. In Indiana, the Pacers are in desperate need of a center in the draft because Roy Hibbert gotta go!