The NBA Playoffs are over. LeBron James turned in a superior performance last night (37 points and 12 rebounds) to lead the Miami Heat to their second straight NBA Championship in a highly entertaining game seven.
With the Finals wrapped up, NBA fans can turn their attention to the NBA Draft. On Thursday night, teams’ futures will be changed in big ways. I recently published a post about five guys in this draft who I think are undervalued (you can read it here). Today, I will just run down some of my other thoughts on this draft. Enjoy!
- Alex Len’s draft stock may be rising like a hot air balloon, but I’m still not remotely sold on him as a top five pick, let alone a no.1 pick. Is he big? Absolutely. Does have great potential? Unquestionably. But, in two years at Maryland, the Ukrainian did not do much to make me think that he is he is deserving of such a high pick. He only rebounded well some of the time, didn’t do much offensively, disappeared from games frequently, and was never dominant on either end of the court. Defensively, he still isn’t that tough and, despite his 7-4 wingspan, he only blocked 2 shots per game (not bad, but not 0ff-the charts good either). I will say that Len showed improvement near the end of his sophomore season, but his game still has a dearth of polish. He looks the part of an NBA center, but Len still strikes me as a guy with a lot of risk and questions surrounding him. He never impressed me particularly in College Park. I don’t see him exploding in the NBA either.
- A guy whose draft stock might be dropping is Ben McLemore. He may have disappointed in some of his workouts with teams, but I still find it hard to fathom McLemore dropping out of the top 3. He just has so many NBA star skills. His athleticism is ridiculous. He might be the best shooter in the draft. He knows what he is doing on the basketball court and scores with efficiency. Above all, he is a great defender. He could be a franchise player.
- If you’re looking for a point guard, this is a really solid draft. Obviously the head liners are Michael Carter-Williams, the 6-6 true point from ‘Cuse who possesses a diverse set of skills, and Trey Burke, the brilliant reigning National Player of the Year from Michigan. (Carter-Williams and Burke dueled in the Final Four.) Beyond those guys there are a number of other good 1s. C.J. McCollum, from Lehigh, is an incredible player with blinding speed and nearly endless range on his shot. Shane Larkin is another awesome pg in this draft. Larkin may be small, but he combines Nate Robinson type athleticism with a high basketball IQ. German point Dennis Schroeder is apparently an excellent prospect, although I’ve yet to see him play (aside from in some impressive highlight mixes on Youtube). Other intriguing 1s include Isaiah Canaan (who is a fabulously fun player to watch), spark plug Pierre Jackson, and Erick Green.
- I would probably say that the weakest position in this year’s draft is the power forward spot. Beyond Anthony Bennett (a Swiss Army knife of a player who can do it all on both ends of the court) and the super-talented Cody Zeller (who is arguably more of a 5 than a 4), there isn’t much to get excited about at the power forward position. Another quasi center, Kelly Olynyk could be good, although questions about his defensive prowess (and about how many y’s there are in his name) likely will keep him out of the lottery area of the draft. After that, Tony Mitchell, an athletic, long, dude from North Texas and Mike Muscala, a rebound machine from Bucknell, represent the closest thing to exciting power forward prospects.
- One last note for the road: Shabazz Muhammad has drifted into the area where my favorite team, the Celtics, are drafting. While I’ve never been sold on the enigmatic scorer from UCLA, I can’t help but get excited about the potential of the C’s getting a player who people were talking about as a no. 1 pick a year ago. That said, I’d still be disappointed if the Green drafted Muhammad over Jamaal Franklin.