2014 NBA DRAFT WINNERS: Barry Kamen
Los Angeles Lakers: The worst NBA team in Los Angeles stocked up on SEC talent, landing F Julius Randle with the 7th overall pick, and acquiring combo guard Jordan Clarkson from the Washington Wizards in round two. Prior to injury concerns, Randle was widely considered to be a top 5 talent. Randle is a polished lefty who has great passing abilities for his size, and should be on of the few players in the NBA Draft Lottery to make an immediate impact. In Clarkson, the Lakers get a productive player from Missouri that can guard both positions and could see significant minutes for the team if the Lakers decide to move forward without Steve Nash. The Lakers still have plenty of work to do, and the jury is still out on how Kobe Bryant will play in his return from injury, but acquiring a player of Randle’s caliber at number 7 is a great starting point for the offseason.
Milwaukee Bucks: The team with just 15 wins last year truly had nowhere to go but up. The Bucks used their four picks on NBA-ready players (trading their last selection, Lamar Patterson, to the Hawks), with the crown jewel being F Jabari Parker with the 2nd overall pick. I feel very strongly that Parker is the best player in this year’s class, and the opportunity for the Chicago native to become a star for a Midwest team that needs a star to build around. In the second round, the Bucks selected French wing player Damien Inglis, who is an above-average defender that will benefit from practicing against Parker. My favorite pick of the Bucks was was former LSU F Johnny O’Bryant. Another SEC talent, O’Bryant is an undersized power forward who is a great rebounder for his size. O’Bryant’s ceiling is probably Reggie Evans, but there’s a role for him behind Ersan Ilyasova and John Henson.
San Antonio Spurs: The rich just get richer. The Spurs traded both of their second round selections for cash, and used the final pick in the first round on UCLA G/F Kyle Anderson. Anderson is a carbon copy of Boris Diaw who fits the pass-first style of the Spurs. Anderson will likely come off of the bench to begin the season, but will certainly find a way to average 25 minutes per game.
2014 NBA DRAFT LOSERS: Brett Dickinson
Toronto Raptors: The most mind-boggling pick of the entire first round was Bruno Cabolco of Brazil; a small-forward that is three to four years away from even contributing. Maybe he pans out and becomes the hidden gem in this draft, but why not move down and acquire extra assets before selecting him? It seems Toronto was stuck on their man and did not play into his value at all when considering their 20th pick. Not to mention their best player, All-Star wing Demar Derozan, plays the same position! For a team that was making strides in the Eastern Conference playoffs, they did nothing to help develop their roster into a contender next season.
Phoenix Suns: For a team with three first round picks, none were used to address their biggest needs in the low post or at outside shooter. Instead, they added two small forwards (T.J. Warren, Bogdan Bogdanovic) and a point guard (Tyler Ennis) with those selections, which are the deepest positions on their roster. Passing on players like forward Adriean Payne and shooting guard Gary Harris will hurt the playoff chances next year and their long-term future as well. As a team that made major improvements in 2013-14, they may be doomed to take a step back, unless they overpay to resign key free agents guard Eric Bledsoe and forward Channing Frye.
Dallas Mavericks, Portland Trailblazers, Golden State Warriors: These are the teams that did not have any selections or trade into the deepest draft of possibly the past decade. It is just terrible team planning for not throwing your hat into a draft that saw tons of first round talent slip into the second round. Many of the players selected will make up the heart of the next generation for the NBA; and the Mavericks Trailblazers and Warriors didn’t select any of them.