Today is the NBA Draft. Today is the day when the best prospect since LeBron James will find a franchise to call home. The 76ers favorite day of the year is now here and they will finally get a player to become the face of their franchise. After the #1 pick, countless proclamations of blasphemy from the NBA fan bases will try to explain why their team’s draft selection will be the next NBA superstar or bust.
Don’t believe all the hype you hear about each player. But also, just because you haven’t heard the name, doesn’t mean you should count them out. Knicks fans can attest to that after they booed Kristaps Porzingis at last year’s draft, and now he has ended up being one of the team’s best players along with one of the most promising pieces for the now playoff-capable Knicks (after the Rose trade).
And like the Rose trade, there will be trades and mix-ups tonight, rendering NBA mock drafts very flawed. It’s fun to speculate and dive into the hype, but the order is most likely going to change and players will be moved, making most NBA draft projections useless.
With that being said, we can still provide an idea of the range of when the players will be drafted and give insight to each player to fuel the hype for your newest member of your favorite team.
To give a quick preview of the incoming NBA players, deserving awards will be given to some of the most notable prospects in today’s draft.
The LeBron James Award (Biggest Superstar Potential): Ben Simmons, F
The hype surrounding Ben Simmons can’t get higher. The comparisons given to Simmons include basketball legends Magic Johnson and LeBron James. The comparisons may be unfair, and too much to be frank, but at his age, we haven’t seen some of the numbers he has put up in 20 years. If you have seen this kids’ highlights, you know why his name is already penciled in at number one.
His passing ability was overshadowed by his atrocious teammates, and he still averaged just under five assists as a forward despite his mindless coach being too arrogant to let him shine. Along with his tremendous and unique skill set on offense, he is a great defender when he wants to be. In a Nike Skills Academy game, he shut down Kris Dunn, the best point guard in this year’s draft. Dunn could not seem to get around the point-forward and Simmons showed that he truly can do it all. His only concern is his outside shooting. In his defense, he never had to shoot in college. His mechanics aren’t bad and with time he can develop into being a shooter who can make open shots from the perimeter. If we haven’t forgotten, LeBron James, Draymond Green, and Russell Westbrook are just a few great players that came into the league with an ineffective jumper.
Greg Oden Award (Biggest Bust): Marquese Chriss, F
His biggest attribute is his athleticism, and that won’t get him very far in the NBA. He has a good touch around the rim but really isn’t able to stretch the floor like most teams want in their future power forwards. Along with a below average all-around offensive game, he is not a good defender or rebounder. As an athletic post defender, he averaged just over five boards a game. Not good. He doesn’t have a high basketball IQ and is very poor in anticipating and reading the game. Also, he played under 25 minutes a game due to his incredibly high 4.1 fouls per game. Not to mention, he fouled out in six straight games! If you are a lottery pick and an important player on a struggling team, that can’t happen. Really, all he brings to the table is his athleticism and his ability to finish near the rim, qualities that are shared by almost every talented power forward in today’s game. Teams that are in the lottery would be out of their mind to start a rebuilding process with Chriss.
Stephen Curry Award (Most Exciting): Buddy Hield, G
Buddy can flat out score from anywhere on the floor. His lovable “Buddy” quality gives him a nothing-to-lose type season coming ahead. With the 3-point shot taking over the NBA, Hield can make an immediate impact with his volume shooting and incredible range. He’s not Curry, but at this point in Curry’s career, you could make the argument that Buddy is a better shooter at the compared stage.
Avery Bradley Award (Most Loved By His GM): Tyler Ulis, G
To explain more, Danny Ainge has said over and over that Bradley was one of his favorite players ever. Bradley isn’t an All-Star player, but he does everything he can to win, and GM’s admire that quality.
Tyler Ulis is a winner. Despite his size, the kid is never outworked and will always have an impact on the game. Like Jordan Lundy (@BlackNGifted91) explained in his latest mock draft, he has a Chris Paul-like leadership quality that is extremely rare. His sheer heart and passion for the game have led to his development of a high basketball IQ that allows him to be successful. He may not be a starting point guard next year, or even for a while, but someday he will make a GM very happy with his necessary winning intangibles.
Boogie Cousins Award (Best Big): Dragan Bender, F/C
Yes, he’s 18, but with a class of limited promising bigs, Bender can make an immediate impact as a stretch-4, or maybe even at center. For a high-tempo offense or an offense that needs to add a shooter to create space, he will provide that and more. He is not as good as Kristaps Porzingis (the comparisons are understandable), but he has a similar skill-set and with the right fit, a 7-ft. center could be very effective. His excellent basketball IQ gives him a great feel for the game and allows him to pass at a very high level for a center. On the right team, he can turn into a valuable asset.
While we’re at it,
Giannis Antetokounmpo Award (Best Name): Dragan Bender, F/C
His name is Dragan.
J.R. Smith Award (You Have No Idea What You’re Going To Get!): Thon Maker, F
Thon Maker is a 7’1 freak athlete that has been claimed to be worthy from Kevin Durant’s trainer. During his involvement with his new trainer, he has shown at times that he can stretch the floor and hit 3’s. But he is quite inconsistent. He has a lot of experience handling the ball on the perimeter and for a 7’1 forward, he will certainly build up an audience. Also, he is a capable defender and tenacious rebounder. However, despite his athleticism, he is very fragile and with his body, that is not a good sign. With his thin frame, it is hard to believe that he can consistently stay healthy and help a franchise. This gives reasons for NBA franchises to pass on him just based on his potential inability to play games. Not to mention his poor defense. However, at times his offense has made up for his lack of defensive ability, proving the fact that you never know what you will get from Maker. Will he be durable enough to make a long-term impact? Can he defend consistently? And is his offensive skill-level good enough to get him solid minutes on an NBA team?
Draymond Green Award (Biggest Sleeper): Malachi Richardson, G (Syracuse)
Malachi Richardson has shown a skill-set that is similar to Brandon Ingram’s. Like Ingram, Richardson is a tall, lengthy perimeter player who can score the ball in many ways. Richardson made a name for himself during his Cinderella-like run in the NCAA tournament, giving Syracuse a spot in the Final 4. Richardson has some concerns on defense and with his body, but he has the potential to be a reliable scorer in the NBA.
The All-Nowitzki team (Top 5 Foreign Players)
- Dragan Bender- Croatia
- Furkan Korkmaz- Turkey
- Ante Zizic- Croatia
- Thon Maker-Australia
- Juan Hernangomez-Spain
Top 10 Big Board “Best Available Players”
- Ben Simmons
- Kris Dunn
- Brandon Ingram
- Jamal Murray
- Buddy Hield
- Jaylen Brown
- Dragan Bender
- Malachi Richardson
- Henry Ellenson
- Jakob Poeltl
On draft night, nothing is truly predictable. With the phones ringing all day, trades will be made and players will be moved. It’s hectic, but that’s why we watch. We watch to see the moves our favorite teams are making. No matter what team or player it is, fans will believe the misconceptions that their team just went from the bottom of the league to title contender in tonight’s draft or lottery pick to future superstar. Whether or not your team has a great draft night, or whether or not you think your team has a great draft night, we can provide an intelligent insight that will get fans on their feet. To get a more specific, in-depth look at where your team’s hype begins, check out Jordan Lundy’s (@BlackNGifted91) mock draft.