Thursday night was a night of joy for the 60 young men who got drafted and will begin their NBA career. As with any draft, there were multiple instances that left you with your head cocked to the side as organizations made some interesting decisions. Below are some of the most interesting things that occurred on draft night.
Water is still wet, and as expected, Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram went first and second overall to Philly and Los Angeles. After them, Boston was expected to deal their third pick as they had been relentless in their efforts to move it. If they didn’t move it, either Jamal Murray, Dragan Bender or Kris Dunn would’ve been the best options for Danny Ainge.
He selected Jaylen Brown, a 6-7 wing with an NBA-body, explosive athleticism, but not much else. Brown was expected to be selected anywhere in the mid-to-late lottery, and Celtic fans were a little upset that they didn’t trade down for the Golden Bear.
The Celtics just took the 7th pick in the draft at no. 3 and used no. 16 on a French guy sitting in the stands. I'm gonna make a drink.
— Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) June 24, 2016
Even more questionable was who the Bucks selected at number ten. After passing on big name players like Domantas Sabonis, Denzel Valentine, and Wade Baldwin, GM John Hammond picked Thon Maker, a 7-1 Sudan-born center who was expected to be a late first-round pick. Thon can shoot, handle the ball, and has great athleticism for someone of his size, but teams were concerned about not knowing his age — yes, organizations were unaware of Maker’s actual age and estimated him to be anywhere from 21-23, despite being listed as 19. It’s important to know that he had a tumultuous childhood, and documents could’ve been lost.
DeMarcus Cousins Hates The Kings’ Pick
Sacramento swapped their 8th overall pick to Phoenix for the 13th and 28th picks, the rights to Bogdan Bogdanovic, and a second-round pick in 2020. It didn’t seem like a bad decision at first, but when Adam Silver announced Georgios Papagiannis at number 13, the city of Sacramento was a bit taken back. Notably, their star center took the most objection:
Lord give me the strength 🙏🏿
— DeMarcus Cousins (@boogiecousins) June 24, 2016
Papagiannis isn’t a bad player, but not much is known about him. He’s a 7-2 18-year-old who spent the last two years as a backup on a powerhouse team in Greece and has been noted as someone who has questionable enjoyment playing basketball.
Big Names Drop All Over The Board
International players stole the show from many of the domestic products and booted a bunch of the NCAA’s best into the late first or second round. It started with Henry Ellenson, the 6-11 forward out of Marquette who was the Big East’s Freshman of the Year, who dropped to No. 18 to Detroit. Another stellar freshman, Malik Beasley, was drafted right after Ellenson at wound up with the Nuggets, who had picked Jamal Murray 7th overall earlier.
Skal Labissiere was the third projected lottery pick who dropped late in the first, and he wasn’t picked until Sacramento grabbed him at 28. Drafted ahead of him were guys like Caris LeVert at 20, Malachi Richardson at 22, and Pascal Siakam at 27. Deyonta Davis took one of the hardest falls by someone who was a possible top-14 pick, and he slipped into the second round at number 31.
Short, Talented Players Get No Respect
I get it. The NBA is a tall man’s game. What I don’t get is how team’s pass on players like Tyler Ulis, Demetrius Jackson, and Kay Felder in the late first, early second round.
The trio landed at 34, 45, and 54 respectively, largely because of their lack of height and not lack of talent. Ulis made a case for being the top point guard in college basketball after averaging 17 points and seven assists at Kentucky and being named SEC DPOY. Ulis is 5-9; Kay Felder led the NCAA in assists at 9.3, averaged almost as many points as Buddy Hield, and is a tremendous athlete at 5-9 as well. Jackson slipping as far as he did is probably the most shocking since he has both good size, athleticism, and maturity for a point guard.
OKC Orchestrates Night’s Biggest Trade
Sam Presti traded away Serge Ibaka to the Orlando Magic in exchange for Victor Oladipo, Ersan Ilyasova, and the rights to 11th overall selection Domantas Sabonis. The trade wasn’t exactly unexpected, as Ibaka was possibly going to be traded over the summer, but who they got in return is what’s interesting.
Oldapido is coming off a solid year with the Magic and still developing his offensive game, but he has the talent to be a reliable option behind Kevin Durant (should he return) and Russell Westbrook. Ilyasova has battled injuries his entire career but is similar to Ibaka in his playstyle. At 6-10, Ilyasova doesn’t block shots like he should and doesn’t have off-the-charts athleticism, but can still make a defensive impact on defense by clogging the paint. His biggest upside is his shooting ability, especially from three.
Ibaka wasn’t a three-point threat, but he was able to step outside and hit them on occasion. Ilyasova knocked down 37% of his threes this year, making him a great option to space the floor for guys who can attack the rack like Westbrook and Oladipo.
Now that the 2016 NBA Draft is over, when can we start talking about 2017’s?