Rockets Pick, Hornets Targets, And More: NBA Draft Mailbag

Rockets Pick, Hornets Targets, And More: NBA Draft Mailbag

NBA

Rockets Pick, Hornets Targets, And More: NBA Draft Mailbag

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We are just a month away from the NBA draft and as we get closer and closer, the draft content is starting to ramp up. Today, I’ll be answering YOUR NBA Draft questions. I posted a tweet on my Twitter asking for questions and here are my responses to each one:

This is a really excellent question. My answer to this is yes and no. The reason I say yes is because I view Evan Mobley as a generational talent. He’s one of the best big men prospects in recent memory thanks to his special mobility and fluidity, elite defensive ability, and developing offensive game. I think Evan Mobley is on the same level as Cade Cunningham, although I think Cunningham is better. However, taking Jalen Green isn’t a bad pick by any means. Green is one of the best prospects in this year class and my clear #3 prospect behind Mobley. He’s an elite scoring prospect with incredible bounce and a terrific jumper. Taking Green over Mobley is a mistake because I think Mobley is the better prospect. However, because of how good Green is, I can’t really call it a mistake because I think he’ll have a sensational career as well.

If you want full breakdown on who the Rockets should take, here’s a video from my good friend Aidan Maher on Who The Rockets Should Take With The 2nd Overall Pick

Detroit is in a really awesome spot right now. Landing the #1 overall selection with Cade Cunningham is going to completely change their franchise. However, they also have pick #37, #42, and #52. While this draft is really deep and you can possibly get a solid role player with one of those picks, I think looking to package all three to move up is the best idea. A first round pick this year can land you a really great player, even in the late 20’s. If I were the Pistons, I’d look to move up into that late 20’s area and grab a complimentary guard piece to have off your bench. Guys like Miles McBride or Jaden Springer should be available in that range, and I think picking up one of those guys to back up Cade Cunningham and Killian Hayes would be ideal.

I watched a lot of the Charlotte Hornets this year to watch LaMelo Ball and while watching those games, it was abundantly clear what Charlotte needs: a big man. Cody Zeller and Bismarck Biyombo are not going to cut it long term. There are two centers that I think would be terrific in Charlotte. The first is Alperen Sengun, the Turkish league M.V.P. who dominated the competition he faced last year. He’s a terrific post scorer with a variety of post moves and counters. He also displayed excellent passing ability for a center and he has untapped upside as a shooter long term. Ball and Sengun both have excellent feel for the game with terrific passing ability, and those two could be a deadly pick-and-roll duo for years to come. Another interesting big man would be Kai Jones from Texas. While he didn’t put gaudy stats like Sengun did, the flashes he’s shown and the potential he has on both ends is incredible. He’s a fluid athlete with quick feet and incredible mobility which makes him a switchable, versatile defender who can guard the pick-and-roll and protect the rim down the line. On offense, he’s shown intriguing flashes of pull-up shooting, shot creation, and the ability to attack closeouts. Early on in his career, he’ll likely make a living off being a rim-runner. But if his raw tools develop, he has serious star upside.

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To me, Golden State at pick seven is the most interesting pick in the draft. Golden State holds two lottery picks (7 and 14) but with their first pick, they have a chance to draft a star level player. Last year, Golden State had the chance to draft LaMelo Ball with the 2nd overall pick but instead chose James Wiseman. That was a major miss by them however, they have a chance to somewhat make up for it this year. The top 6 picks in this year’s draft are likely to be Cade Cunningham, Evan Mobley, Jalen Green, Jalen Suggs, Scottie Barnes, and Jonathan Kuminga in some sort of order. After that, you’ve got guys like Moses Moody, Josh Giddey, Franz Wagner, Davion Mitchell, Jalen Johnson, Keon Johnosn, etc. The Warriors need to draft someone who can contribute now and hopefully has potential to be a star down the line. Josh Giddey would be my selection because of his star upside, but as long as they land a talented prospect, they could be one of the best teams in the West.

This is a tough thing to predict, especially considering that the 7-26 range is really fluid this year. One team that could walk away as the winners of this draft if they play the cards right is the Houston Rockets. I think that they’ll almost certainly land a star prospect with that #2 pick whether it’s Evan Mobley or Jalen Green, but the real intrigue comes with their later picks. They have back to back selections with the #23 and #24 spots. They could add another shot creator with Tre Mann, they could draft a defensive minded big with either Usman Garuba or Isaiah Jackson, or they could draft an interesting wing like Trey Murphy or Chris Duarte. They could land not one, but two real contributors with those picks. Golden State could be a huge winner as well because they have a chance to add win-now talent and help improve their championship odds for next season. Oklahoma City has three first round picks and could be a team to potentially trade up. I think those are the three teams with the best chance to add the most talent.

Davion Mitchell is the first guy that comes to mind when talking about players that are going to be overdrafted. Mitchell is almost certainly a lock for the late lottery and I wouldn’t consider taking him until the 20’s. There’s going to be a lot of nostalgia because of his tournament run but he’s one of the oldest prospects in this year’s draft, he’s six feet tall, and he has a lot of holes in his game that don’t get talked about. Someone that will almost certainly fall too far is Jaden Springer out of Tennessee. Bleacher Report’s Jonathan Wasserman reported that Springer is most likely going to be taken in the 20’s or 30’s. I view him as a lottery pick because of his combination of youth and tools. He’s already one of the draft’s best defenders and has shown a lot of promise as a finisher, passer, and shooter. He’ll need to fine tune his ball-handling and improve his perimeter shot creation, but he should not fall that far in the draft in my opinion.

Mykal McEldowney via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Oklahoma City is definitely a team that should be calling teams to try to move up. However, there’s two ways they can do it. The first way is by packaging the sixth pick, the 16th, and the 18th to try to get into the top four. That way you can look to get one of Evan Mobley, Jalen Green, or Jalen Suggs. If you can’t get into the top four, look to trade 16 and 18 plus another asset to move into the top 10. The top 10 this year is loaded and guys like Franz Wagner, Moses Moody, or Kai Jones should be available. I also think that the Magic should look to trade down a few spots. The 5th overall pick will likely either be Jonathan Kuminga or Scottie Barnes, and I don’t think either of those guys are great fits in Orlando. They already have the 8th pick where they can select someone like Wagner if he becomes available. I also don’t know how well they’d be able to develop a project player like Kuminga. They’re definitely a team that I think should trade down.

After the draft combine, I definitely think there are a couple of guys who have improved their draft stock and could be first round picks. The first is JT Thor from Auburn, an athletic freshman wing with flashes of perimeter skill and defensive versatility. Thor has appeal because of his 6’10 frame and long arms plus his projectable jumpshot. He only shot 29% from three during his freshman year but his smooth, compact form shows that he’ll likely be a better shooter down the line. He also shows flashes of switchability on the perimeter on defense and shot-blocking instincts down low. Another guy is Josh Primo from Alabama. He’s one of the youngest players in this year’s class with an intriguing offensive skill set. He’s in the mold of an athletic, 3-and-D wing who showed more ball-handling and playmaking ability at the combine. He’s got a high floor with a potentially high ceiling if his ball-handling and shot-creation continue to develop. I could see both of those guys going anywhere from the 13-30 range.

I really don’t think any team in the top four will or should trade down. If there’s one team that I think potentially could move down, I’d go with the Toronto Raptors. This is the first time in a  while that the Raptors are drafting at the top of the draft, and they’ll want to be sure that they draft a star player. Jalen Suggs is an appealing prospect but some, including myself, question how much star upside he really has. Josh Giddey is a prospect the Raptors have reportedly gone down to Australia to scout. If they’ve fallen in love with his star upside, he could possibly be a target for them. In all likelihood, none of the top four teams will trade out of their spots.

If Evan Mobley is somehow still on the board at pick #3, the Cavaliers should sprint to the podium to select him. Jarrett Allen is due for a contract extension this summer and some have questioned how he’ll fit with Mobley. However, if you get Mobley, they need to seriously consider trading Allen. He’s a really solid young player with good upside, but he’s got a very replaceable skill set and is asking for a lot of money. If I were Cleveland, I would take Mobley and sign-and-trade Allen to a different team. Mobley is that special and I think trading Allen would be the best way to gain assets for him rather than overpaying him and having potential spacing issues.

Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

This is an interesting trade proposal and one I’ve never really thought about before. Getting both Scottie Barnes and Franz Wagner would be really interesting for the Cavs, as they’d be able to boost their defense massively. Okoro, Barnes, and Wagner is an incredible defensive wing trio, and they have the complimentary skills to play alongside ball dominant guards like Darius Garland and Collin Sexton. However, I’d rather have Jalen Green than Wagner and Barnes. Green has superstar scorer written all over him and if he simply improves in one other area like passing or defense, he’s going to be borderline unstoppable.

This is perhaps my most interesting question yet. To start, I value different skills with different positions. I’ll try to break it down by each position:

Guards: Shot creation, shooting, and passing ability are absolutely essential for guards today. While defense is important, it’s not as valuable for guards and a bad offensive guard hurts a team more than a bad defensive guard. Passing is a super valuable trait to me, especially if it’s at an elite level. The reason being is that if you’re an amazing passer, but lack in areas like scoring efficiency or shooting, all it takes is one of those weaknesses to improve for you to become a really good player. That’s why Josh Giddey and Sharife Cooper are both lottery picks in my eyes. While being good on defense is important, I don’t value it a lot for guards because I think it’s easy to hide them. Trae Young is one of the worst defenders in basketball, but because the Hawks have an elite defensive supporting cast, they are still one of the best defenses in the league. Offense is definitely more important than defense for guards and passing, shooting, and creation are essential.

Wings: If you want to be a successful wing in the NBA, you need to hit threes and play defense at the bare minimum. If you can do that, you’re more than likely to be an impactful player. I also think passing is important for wings too. Not necessarily manipulating defenses or running an offense, but making reactionary reads and keeping the ball moving. Shot creation is a skill that can take a wing from being solid to great however, so it’s important to determine how much creation equity a wing prospect has. But, as long as you can shoot, defend, and move the ball, you should be a really good player. That’s why guys like Franz Wagner, Moses Moody, Trey Murphy, Ziaire Williams, and Chris Duarte will likely have long and fruitful careers.

Bigs: I value bigs the least of any position personally. However, I think defense is the most important skill for bigs because rim protection is so important. Bigs who can’t defend most often don’t get a lot of minutes unless they have an otherworldly offense output that makes up for it. On offense, I think shooting and passing are the most important skills to have because they help big men fill complimentary roles best. Back to the basket scoring is becoming less and less important, so spacing the floor and making reads as a roll man is more important at this point. 

Thank you to everyone who participated and sent in a question! Be on the lookout for more great NBA draft content coming soon!

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