Hating on someone’s draft pick is like hating on someone’s lottery ticket. You literally have no idea what its real value is until you cash it. There’s every chance that you could end up laughing at a future Hall of Famer and the joke will be on you. So, relax, my friends. I come neither to bury your team, nor to praise them.
I’m here to breakdown the 2014 NBA Draft the only way in which it is right and good to do so: based on what we knew about the needs of the teams, and what we know about the players right now. Now, the Draft plays as a moment based on glitz, glamour, and celebrity. Therefore, I will soliciting the help of the “Bond Girls” ranking system.
So, shake that martini, don’t stir it, and let’s break this down.
Tatiana Romanova Class
The Miami Heat
Received PG Shabazz Napier via trade from Charlotte
Tatiana Romanova worked for the Soviet embassy in Istanbul, and was duped by the powerful Rosa Klebb into luring James Bond to his death. The Heat didn’t dupe Michael Jordan’s Hornets into drafting Shabazz Napier with the 24 pick in the draft. But, no small amount of behind-the scenes dealing was used to convince the Hornets to draft Napier and then trade him to the Heat.
Why does this move get top-billing in our coveted Tatiana Romanova class? Because, according to media reports and James’ own Twitter account, Shabazz Napier was Lebron’s favorite player in this draft. It was also revealed through sources, that LeBron felt the Heat should spare no expense/effort to acquire Napier. Do not ask me why that is. I can think of no less than 5 other players whom I believe have greater talent and upside than Napier.
But what “The King” wants, the King gets. LeBron is the greatest player in the sport, and Pat Riley’s entire offseason is about keeping LeBron in Miami. So, if drafting Shabazz Napier helps to accomplish that, then it is the wisest and most impactful decision of this draft, regardless of what kind of player Napier becomes.
Drafted SF Doug McDermott with the #11 pick and then traded McDermott to Chicago for the #16 and #19 picks. Selecting Center Jusuf Nurkic at 16 and SG Gary Harris at 19.
Making the best value pick in the draft should absolutely help you in getting ranked at, or near the top of any draft recap and it definitely helps the Nuggets here. Doug McDermott was a great fit for the Nuggets and what they want to do offensively. But, trading him away for the 19 pick and netting Gary Harris was the steal of the draft.
Harris is small, but he scores very well, defends well, and is young. The Nuggets need more shooting and Harris fits the bill. By being patient, the Nuggets picked up a great player at #19, who was slated to go no higher than 10, and saved themselves some considerable dough in the process.
Nurkic has great athleticism for a big man, and will eventually give the Nuggets the ability to move Timofey Mozgov should they desire to do so.
Drafted PG Marcus Smart with the #6 overall pick, and SF James Young with the #17 overall pick.
Fewer names have been more perfectly tailored to a city than Marcus Smart’s is to Boston. But, “Maacus Smaat” will no doubt be a name on the tip of many a Bostonian’s tongue for a long time to come. Yes, he’s emotional. Yes, he loses control, can be profane, and sometimes physically combative. But, so can 98% of Boston.
Smart is a talented and tough Guard who plays great defense and will benefit under the tutelage of gritty former NBA guard Danny Ainge, and head coach Brad Stevens. Smart will certainly get a lot more direction and discipline from this tandem than he ever got from Travis Ford at Oklahoma State.
Getting Smart also allows Boston the flexibility to move on from Rajon Rondo, the same way picking the very talented James Young will allow them to move on from Jeff Green. With these picks, Boston might have laid the foundation for their future backcourt.
Los Angeles Lakers
Drafted PF Julius Randle with the #7 overall pick
The Lakers couldn’t have made a better pick here. For all the fanfare that Wiggins, Parker, and Embiid received in this draft, Julius Randle is the player most likely to come out and have a huge impact in his rookie year. This plays as music to the ears of Lakers fans, anxious to turn the page on the old guard and get to work on building for the future.
An absolute menace in the paint, Randle plays with attitude, can defend several positions, and has great touch around the rim. He also brings great passion and character.
Drafted Andrew Wiggins with the #1 overall pick
Wiggins was presumed to be the #1 overall pick by most analysts before the draft. The pre-draft report that the Cavs had turned down the Sixers offer of the #3, #10, and #32 pick to move up to #1 only served to convince most that the Cavs really loved Andrew Wiggins.
It also convinced me that there was something I was missing. I see a lot of goodness in Andrew Wiggins, but I’m not sure I see greatness. I will say this:: he’s a complete product in terms of his skill set and he seems like a great kid. He’ll also have the ability to develop in a relatively pressure-free environment. Dion Waiters and Kyrie Irving will do most of the ball-handling, allowing Wiggins to roam, be physical, and get in the flow of an NBA offense.
New York Knicks
Drafted SF Cleanthony Early with the #34 pick and SF Thanasis Antetokounmpo with the #51 pick
It’s literally shocking that Early was available this late (pun intended). But, a huge part of turning around a franchise that’s going nowhere is getting lucky in the draft. Go ask the New England Patriots about that. Not saying either of these guys is the NBA equivalent of Tom Brady, but they are both explosively athletic players who will keep Knicks fans interested.
Tilly Masterson Class
Tilly Masterson was a would-be assassin in Goldfinger who was plagued by poor marksmanship and ultimately killed by Oddjob’s steel-rimmed hat. In that spirit, these are some teams that took aim and may or may not have misfired on draft night.
Drafted SG Nik Stauskas with the #8 overall pick
I don’t understand this pick at all. Stauskas is an unbelievable shooter. But, if you were to look up one-dimensional, non-athletic basketball players in the dictionary, there would be a large picture of Nik Stauskas waving right back at you.
He is a one-trick pony who creates nothing on his own. Which is fine! There are several players like that in this draft. But, you don’t draft them #8 overall, or, at any point in the lottery. Especially, not with the uber-talented Noah Vonleh still on the board. Not an awful player. But an awful pick.
Drafted Australian PG Dante Exum with the #5 overall pick
It seems we’re obsessed with foreign things nowadays. We’re watching soccer, and the NBA had a Canadian drafted #1 overall in consecutive years. It’s just bizarre. But sometimes a fascination with the exotic and the unknown can lead to disaster.
Meet Dante Exum, he’s from Australia. Not that there’s anything wrong with that! But, there’s a relatively small amount of tape on him compared to other players and all of that tape shows him playing against very suspect competition. Maybe he’ll be great–the next Tony Parker. But, spending a #5 on a player with a questionable pedigree causes for concern.
Traded their #16 and #19 picks to the Nuggets and received SF Doug McDermott via trade
Two things happened here. First, the Bulls were not looking to take on two contracts. They still see themselves as contenders to land Melo, and taking on two contracts would have eaten too much into the financial cushion they plan to use to lure a superstar.
Second, the Bulls need more offense. Derrick Rose can’t be relied upon to stay healthy, and can’t be relied upon for all of the offense even when he is healthy, which is why Chicago targeted McDermott. In all honesty there’s no player in this draft I’m more torn on than McDermott. Sometimes he looks like one of the most gifted scorers I’ve ever seen, with underrated athleticism.
But then there’s the Baylor game, where he looked completely out-of-sync trying to score against guys with NBA length. I don’t know which guy he is at the next level. But I understand the move for Chicago.
Traded Dario Saric and a future first and second round pick to the 76ers for PG Elfrid Payton
Wait, what? Yes, this happened. This move actually makes the Nik Stauskas move seem reasonable by comparison. Elfrid Payton cannot shoot and is a turnover machine. That’s bad if you’re an NBA point guard. What’s worse is trading a future first and second round pick to acquire said non-shooting, turnover-prone point guard. No idea what the thought process was here.
Drafted Center Joel Embiid with the #3 overall pick and received #12 overall pick PF Dario Saric from Orlando via trade
Aki was an agent of the Japanese Secret Service, and tricked Bond into walking over a trap door which catapulted him down a steel slide that led to the office of her boss Tiger Tanaka. This is relevant, because tricking trusting people and watching them as they fall down a steel chute of doom is pretty much what the 76ers did to their fan base in this draft.
76ers fans sat through a campaign of fail last year, which included a 0-26 run on the promise that the team would use their impending high draft position to land players that could come in and help them win now. This did not happen. Joel Embiid may eventually be a fine player, but his injuries are a huge concern, and Dario Saric will in all likelihood not come over from Croatia for at least one more year.
Sixers fans were told their future was now. Instead, they were rewarded with year three of their rebuilding season.
Dylan Gwinn is the host of The Mighty Gwinn Show heard on Yahoo! Sports Radio every Saturday and Sunday from 1-5 EST. Follow him on Twitter @themightygwinn.