The NBA draft was very different this year — just as many other sports events have been, as every newly-drafted player could not physically be on the stage to shake hands with the commissioner and feel the joy of being presented as NBA players for the first time in front of fans. Instead, they were in the comfort of their own homes, where they were able to celebrate with family and close friends. Even so, that did not stop these players from feeling the joy of becoming NBA players and achieving the dream a lot of them have had since they were children. We will now look at the breakdown for each team who had a pick in the first round.
Minnesota Timberwolves: Grade: B+
The Timberwolves had the first pick of the draft, a responsibility that entailed some serious choices. Ultimately, they chose Anthony Edwards, the 6’5” guard right out of the University of Georgia. Edwards is a player that many teams had their eye on, and likely would have been the next pick if the Timberwolves passed on him. The Timberwolves were lucky to have their choice, as he is exactly what this team needed in their lineup in order to help Towns and Russell with shooting with a 40.9 field goal percentage.
The team also had the 23rd and 28th picks in the draft. At 23rd, they picked up Leandro Bolmaro, the Argentinian forward who was playing overseas at FC Barcelona. Bolmaro won’t exactly start in a Timberwolves jersey this year, but he will be someone to look forward to when he does get to play, as he was the best international player in this draft in overall passing and shooting ability. For their 28th pick, the Timberwolves chose Jaden McDaniels, the forward from the University of Washington. McDaniels is definitely still improving his game as his career goes on, but, from what his first year at Washington showed, he definitely is one to watch.
Golden State Warriors: Grade: B
Golden State hit an unexpected obstacle this year; their two-star players, Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, were injured for most of the season. They did have the second, 48th, and 51st pick in this draft, though. Many thought they would trade away the second pick beforehand, but they never did. Instead, they picked James Wiseman, the center who originally played at the University of Memphis, but withdrew from school and decided to prepare for the draft on his own. The Warriors this year needed an inside shooter and a rim protector, which makes Wiseman a great choice because he is a strong player at both ends of the floor. As for their 48th and 51st picks, Nico Mannion from The University of Arizona, and Justinian Jessup, who played overseas in Australia, will both need time to develop their skills. They may see some playing time soon, as Klay Thompson recently picked up another season-ending injury while practicing.
Charlotte Hornets: Grade: B+
The Hornets are in a sort of rebuilding phase for the time being. This year, they revived the third, 42nd, and 56th picks of the draft. With their second, they picked LaMelo Ball, the Guard who played overseas in Australia this past year. Ball was probably the most popular player coming into this draft thanks to his well-known family members. His brother, Lonzo Ball, plays for the New Orleans Pelicans. His father, Lavar Ball, has said some outrageous things in the past — like claiming he could beat Micheal Jordan in a one-on-one game, and much more. LaMelo Ball is a player to look forward to and a potential candidate for Rookie of the Year. The Hornets are in need of a player who is an elite passer and shooter; Ball is exactly that. For their 32nd, 42nd, and 56th picks, they took Center Vernon Carey Jr. from Duke University, Center Nick Richards, who played at the University of Kentucky, and Guard Grant Riller, who attended College of Charleston.
Chicago Bulls: Grade: C+
The Bulls probably still need time before they can compete with the rest of the Eastern Conference, but, for now, they have something to look forward to with the young team they have so far. With their fourth pick in the draft, they took Forward Patrick Williams from Florida State, which came as a surprise to most. Williams is a great player, but many don’t see him as an impact player — especially for this Bulls team, which has many players to go around the Forward position. Their only other pick was the 44th, and they took Marko Simonović, another forward who played internationally.
Cleveland Cavaliers: Grade: B+
Cleveland is another team currently in their rebuild stage, and with their one pick in this year’s draft, it may still be a while until they are finished rebuilding. With the fifth pick in the draft, they took Forward Isaac Okoro from Auburn. Okoro is seen as a top-five prospect in this draft, which is the primary reason Cleveland took him. Their current forwards struggle at times, which gave them another reason to consider Okoro as a favorable addition. Okoro also struggles behind the arc, but if he can improve his three-ball, he can be a good 3 and D player.
Atlanta Hawks: Grade: B
The Hawks are a tricky team to judge going into this year. They have the players to compete, but they still somehow come up short. They hope their number six pick in this draft — Forward Onyeka Okongwu from the University of Southern California — will change that. Okongwu was seen as one of the best overall big men from this draft class. While at USC, he showed that he will greatly improve the Hawks team as he averaged 16 points and 8 rebounds a game, which is missing some big man presence. The Hawks also took Guard Skylar Mays from Louisiana State University for their 50th pick.
Detroit Pistons: Grade: A-
The Pistons this year did some great business; they had three picks in the first round and one in the second round. Their biggest draft pick was seen as the steal of the draft when they acquired Guard Killian Hayes, who played in Germany. Hayes’s size gives him an advantage over other guards. The Pistons also took Center Isaiah Stewart from the University of Washington, who is not only viewed as a player with high potential but also gives the Hawks, specifically, some back-up in the center position. The Pistons were not done yet in the first draft; they took Forward Saddiq Bey from Villanova, who will definitely help the Pistons in the guard position, given that he shot 46 percent from the three-point line. They also took Guard Saben Lee from Vanderbilt University for the 38th pick.
New York Knicks: Grade: B
The Knicks have been struggling lately to keep their organization afloat without losing complete control. With recent low expectations and bad free agency, things have looked less than ideal; but this past draft could be a sign that things will start to look up. Their eighth pick was Forward Obi Toppin from the University of Dayton. Toppin will be coming into a team that has a lot of forwards that compete for the starting position. The Knicks then took Guard Immanuel Quickley from the University of Kentucky as the 25th pick; he was SEC player of the year.
Washington Wizards: Grade: A-
The Wizards are a team that could do either very well or quite poorly when the season starts, depending on if star Guard duo John Wall and Bradley Beal stay healthy to help the team compete. With the ninth pick in the draft, they took Forward Deni Avdija, who played in Israel. Avdija is considered as one of the best offensive players in the draft, so adding him to Wall and Beal will make a great trio. They also took Guard Cassius Winston from Michigan State.
Phoenix Suns: Grade: B-
The Suns will probably be strong competitors now with the arrival of Chris Paul. This year’s draft was really confusing, as their only pick this year, Jalen Smith, was not seen as a top ten pick. He does provide rim protection, but this team already has a significant number of big men who provide the team with this, so Smith was a strange choice.
Stay tuned! The QC will continue reporting on the rest of the first-round picks shortly!
Featured Image: Courtesy of NBA.com