NBA Draft- UK Players Recap

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New Orleans Hornets — #1 Anthony Davis and # 46 Darius Miller

By selecting two Cats, New Orleans becomes one of UK fans favorite teams.  To no one’s surprise, the Hornets selected the consensus #1 pick and the one sure thing from this draft.  Davis comes in and will make an immediate impact for this squad, starting at either center or power forward depending on how New Orleans builds the rest of their team.  The Hornets already traded away last seasons starting center Emeka Okafor and fellow front court members PF Carl Landry and C Chris Kaman are unrestricted free agents so it is unknown if they will return. That leaves PF Gustavo Ayon and PF/C Jason Smith as the only other Bigs under contract at the moment.  The Hornets will almost certainly add another body or two to help Davis in the paint.

The Hornets will match any deal offered to restricted free-agent Eric Gordon so he will be back next season. Him and Davis is a formidable 1-2 punch if they can both stay healthy. Gordon has battled injuries his entire NBA career, limiting him to only 9 games last year, but if he is on the court will average 20+ ppg.  Teams tried to bully and be physical with Davis and he avoided all serious injuries while at Kentucky. However, in his first week of practice with the Hornets he suffered a light ankle sprain that will keep him out 1-2 weeks and likely taking him out of the running to play on team USA in the upcoming Olympics, which is very disheartening for me.  The injury is nothing serious though and should not be detrimental in anyway to Davis.

Miller comes in as a second round pick and will have to earn his spot on the squad. With the Hornets being so bad last year, there are plenty of holes and needs to fill on their roster. Free Agent SG Marco Belinelli was one of the teams best wing defenders and sharpshooters, so maybe that is a roll that Miller helps take over.  At the end of the day, Miller does too many things at a high level to not make this team. I don’t expect big minutes for him out of the gate, but he could be a nice reserve forward for them.

The rest of the Hornets roster has a few other promising pieces with this years #10 pick Austin Rivers, who the Hornets hope can play some point guard next to Gordon to form their back court of the future.  I am a little skeptical as I see Rivers as more of a shooting guard who needs to add weight.  He is sort of a gunner at times, but that was with Duke and to be honest he probably needed to be to try and keep them in games.  Gordon likes the ball in his hands and is an underrated passer, so between the two of them it might just work out.  PG Jarrett Jack, PG Greivis Vazquez, SF Al- Farouq Aminu, SG Xavier Henry round out the rest of this young and promising team.  With their cap space, if they can make the right moves over the next couple of years via free agency and the draft they will be one of the top teams in the West for years to come.

 

 

Charlotte Bobcats — #2 Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

Everyone knew that the Hornets were taking Davis #1, the big question was who would the worst team in the NBA take as they begin their rebuilding process.  A lot of people thought Jordan would blow it like he has done in the past (think Kwame Brown and Adam Morrison), however he made the right choice and took the 2nd best player in the draft.  MKG, the youngest player in the draft, brings a winning mentality and do whatever it takes mentality to a team that won only 7 games last year.  He is a bit raw offensively but will immediately be able to step in and be a defensive force with his length and tenacity.  If he is going to live up to the high expectations that go with being the #2 pick he will have to improve his jump shot and be able to generate his own shot in the half court. Right now, his unorthodox shot is too inconsistent for the NBA level and he won’t be able to get to the rim at will like he could at UK. Still, with his high motor, relentless work ethic, elite athletic ability, and killer rim-to-rim speed in the open court he will succeed in the NBA.

The Bobcats biggest weakness last year was scoring, so it was a bit of a surprise that they went with the least polished scorer out of those being considered at #2. Ultimately, MJ is looking to add high character guys with winning mentalities willing to do whatever it takes to win and when you look at that, MKG is at the top of the list.  The Bobcats did make a trade just before the draft to acquire some needed scoring punch, getting SG Ben Gordon and a future first round pick from the Detroit Pistons for SF Corey Maggette.  Maggette was supposed to help Charlotte in the scoring column, but was oft-injured last year and has lost a little bit from when he was in his prime.  Gordon comes with a hefty contract, but assuming he can revert back to his Chicago playing days where he averaged 18+ points 3 straight years helping the Bulls to the playoffs, it is a great deal for the Bobcats. It fills a scoring need and they get a protected future first that could have some value, as the Pistons have not been all the great, as the cherry on top.  It’s beginning to look like Jordan is figuring it all out.

The Bobcats now have a nice group of guards and wings in PG’s DJ Augustine and Kemba Walker, SG’s Ben Gordon and Gerald Henderson, SF MKG and 2nd rd pick Jeff Taylor from Vandy (all UK fans are familiar with his game).  They now need to find some bigs who can play.  They are currently rolling with project Bismack Biyombo, Byron Mullens, and Tyrus Thomas who was hurt and/or in dog house all last year so there is a chance he might find his way out of town before this season starts.

The Bobcats are still years away from competing and still have a lot of holes they need to fill.  The MKG selection is one in the right direction though and now they have someone to build off of.  Plus, MKG will still be wearing a Cats jersey, so I will have to get one!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Houston Rockets — #18 Terrence Jones

The Rockets had 3 first round picks in the teens coming into the draft and were hoping to package them to get a bona-fide star ie Dwight Howard.  It didn’t quite happen on draft day so the Rockets stood pat and took the best players available on their board.  With their third first rounder they took Terrence Jones. Jones has the ability and the body to be a very good player at the next level and could have gone much higher if it wasn’t for his poor body language and inconsistent play at times.  He has the ability to take over a game at any time, but also the ability to disappear.  For the Rockets, he will be hard pressed for minutes as it seems like just about every player on their team is a tweener like him and it will be very competitive for playing time.  They already have Patrick Patterson, Marcus Morris, Chandler Parsons, Luis Scola, and #16 pick this year Royce White who all fit the SF/PF mold.  Instead of drafting on need this team has drafted on BPA (best player available) which has led them to have very good, but mediocre teams on the playoff fringe.  This team has a lot of young valuable assets, but need a star to build around.  I predict that this team will swing some sort of deal involving some of these players to get a more elite player by mid-season at the latest.  As it stands now, I don’t see Jones getting very many minutes at his competitive position and could even see him being sent to the D-League for a stint as this team is so deep.  Even a more polished Patterson got sent to the D-League his rookie season, not because of lack of talent, but because the Rockets were so deep.  Lets hope some sort of deal happens that opens up minutes for him.

 

Chicago Bulls — #29 Marques Teague

Being selected by the Eastern Conferences best team in the regular season and having an opportunity to start right away is usually not a scenario that happens very often, but that is just the case Teague got drafted into.  With Derrick Rose’s knee injury more than likely keeping him out a majority of the season, Teague has a golden opportunity to be the starting point guard on a very good team.  A lot of people called this pick and said it is a good fit for him, but I was a little surprised.

I thought that last years back-ups, CJ Watson and John Lucas III, did a great job filling in when Rose was hurt last year and the Bulls would try and fill another need. However, the Bulls are pretty deep across every position and had the luxury to take a stab at improving their PG depth and adding a tremendous player in Teague.  The Bulls run a very PG friendly offense and have a strong supporting cast so Teague can put up great numbers if he plays to his abilities.  Obviously the loss of a former NBA MVP hurts, but the Bulls can still manage to hang in the middle of the pack of the Eastern Conference in hopes that Rose can return and ignite a playoff push. Of all the other UK players drafted, Teague has the best chance to make the NBA playoffs in his rookie year while also contributing.

 

 

 

 

 

Milwaukee Bucks — #42 Doron Lamb

I was hoping that Lamb would get selected in the first round, but him sliding to the Bucks in the second round is not a bad situation.  The Bucks starters are set with Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis, but other than that minutes are up for grabs.  Carlos Delfino is a free agent and Beno Udrih is the only other suitable back-up at the guard position.  With Ellis and Jennings slashing abilities, Lamb’s shooting ability compliments them very well.  The Bucks have a young team and will more than likely slip into the middle of the Eastern Conference pack.  By the end of the year Lamb could emerge and get more minutes to truly test if he is an NBA player.  Depending on what the Bucks do in free agency, Lamb has a chance to get some minutes his rookie year.