The 2014 NBA Draft wasn’t the fireworks show that we were hoping for. There were no stars changing teams or top prospects falling down the board.
But as uneventful as the draft was, at least compared to expectations, it did give teams the opportunity to replenish their roster with young talent, while other franchises missed the mark with their picks.
Here are winners and losers from the draft:
They didn’t take Dante Exum at four like many expected, instead going with highflying forward Aaron Gordon, who’ll at worst be a perfect complimentary player in the league with his lock-down defence.
It was anticipated that Orlando would take a point guard, which is why the decision to forego Exum became clear when they traded for Elfrid Payton, taken at 10 by Philadelphia.
Payton will allow Victor Oladipo to play more naturally off the ball and the duo gives the Magic a young backcourt to build around.
Joel Embiid didn’t slide and a trade wasn’t struck for Kevin Love, but Boston did well to come away with Marcus Smart and James Young, two players that will help them immediately while still having room to grow.
Smart offers a pairing with point guard Rajon Rondo that could make Boston’s backcourt lethal, while Young, only 18, will be one of the youngest players in the league with already an ability to shoot.
After acquiring Arron Afflalo for what looked like a bargain, the Nuggets also turned their 11th pick in the draft into 16 and 19 by trading with the Chicago Bulls.
At those spots, Denver ended up with Jusuf Nurkic, a centre prospect, and Gary Harris, a two-way shooting guard who was expected to go in the lottery. Not a bad haul for a team looking to get back to the playoffs next year.
This isn’t so much a knock against Zach LaVine, whom Minnesota selected at 13, but rather an odd choice for a team that wants to be competitive and convince star Kevin Love to stay.
LaVine is very much a project and while his mouth-watering athleticism and shooting stroke are desirable skills, he has a long way to go to become a consistent contributor in the NBA.
If keeping Love is truly the top priority, the Timberwolves don’t have the time to wait.
It was hard for a team to really screw up a pick in this deep draft, but the Raptors found a way by selecting someone no one had heard of in Bruno Caboclo at 20.
Apparently, Toronto could have just as easily waited until the second round to take him, but prematurely pulled the trigger on a player whose highlight videos on YouTube are so limited, he makes Dante Exum look like a known commodity.
He’s also called “the Brazilian Kevin Durant”, so the Raptors might have the last laugh when we actually see him play.
BEST AND WORST OF THE DRAFT
Best pick: Jabari Parker
It’s easy to make a good pick when you have the second overall selection and it’s not as if the Bucks did anything but the obvious, but the fit of Parker in Milwaukee just works.
He’ll step in right away and immediately be a top-scoring option, while his defensive faults can be hidden among the lengthy, athletic players around him.
By getting the leftover of Parker and Andrew Wiggins, the Bucks also get the luxury of having the decision made for them and not choosing wrong.
Worst picks: Oklahoma City
With all due respect to Minnesota’s selection of Zach LaVine at 13 and Toronto’s choice of Bruno Caboclo at 20, the Thunder had not one, but two chances to address glaring needs and decided against it.
At 21, OKC went with Mitch McGary, who’s sure to contribute as a rebounder and big body right away, but doesn’t help their backcourt depth or shooting.
PJ Hairston, who went shortly after at 26, would have made a lot of sense. Instead of making up for it, at 29, the Thunder reached with Josh Huestis, a defensive-minded player. OKC were too locked in on their targets.
Biggest steal: Kyle Anderson
How do you win a championship then weeks later snag arguably the best value pick in the draft? At 30, San Antonio were giftwrapped Anderson, who is one of the more intriguing prospects entering the league, featuring point guard skills combined with power forward height.
Ironically, the Spurs already have a similar type player in Boris Diaw, who was just instrumental in their title run, but if there’s any team capable of utilising unique skill sets, it’s San Antonio.
Best trade: 76ers and Magic
This trade worked well for both teams as Orlando ended up with their future point guard in Elfrid Payton, while Philadelphia picked up additional picks and still got a long-term asset in Dario Saric.
The 76ers also received a 2015 second rounder and more importantly, got back their future first rounder which they owed to the Magic as part of the Dwight Howard-Andrew Bynum trade.
Philadelphia will be content to wait on their haul to pay off and the Magic filled a need with an underrated prospect. Win-win.
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