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#pounditSunday, July 14, 2024

2015 NBA Draft recap/analysis: T-Wolves land slam dunk in Towns

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It was one wild week in the NBA hemisphere. We were treated to more than our fair share of Boogie bashing, LaMarcus leaving, Laker leaks, Ridnour re-trades, Sixer smokescreens, and Vivek and Vlade vexations. And for our valiant efforts, we were rewarded with a draft night that was the perfect culmination of the religious experience that is the sport of basketball. Here’s a look back at the roller coaster ride that was the 2015 NBA Draft.

– In about as sure of a thing as a bland Floyd Mayweather unanimous decision, the Minnesota Timberwolves selected Kentucky triceratops Karl-Anthony Towns with the first overall pick. Seriously, does this guy have any tangible weaknesses whatsoever? Size, range, a mature back-to-the-basket game, rim protection, ability to anchor a defense, post vision, guard handles, transition devastation — the kid has got it all. In the midst of the contrarian movement that seems to be running amok in the NBA, it was great to see Minnesota not overthink their options here and go with the no-brainer talent that stood head and shoulders above the rest of the draft class. Now we can officially imagine this: Ricky Rubio running the fastbreak with Towns trailing as Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine fill the lanes. Not to mention that Towns will have superstar emeritus Kevin Garnett mentoring him and adding fuel to his already blazing competitive fire. Send. Help. Now.

– After an entire month of leading us to believe that the Lakers were going to take Jahlil Okafor second overall, Mitch Kupchak threw us a curveball at the 11th hour and went with Ohio State point guard D’Angelo Russell. Kupchak must be confident because he’s banking on a lot with this pick. Not going with a big like Okafor would seem to suggest that the Lakers feel like they can land one of the LaMarcus Aldridge/Boogie Cousins/Kevin Love triumvirate. Plus, though Russell can play both guard positions, can we say the same about Jordan Clarkson? Nevertheless, in an increasingly point-guard driven league, Russell made a strong case for best player available, and even though new head coach Byron Scott probably already hates him for all the threes (instead of long twos) he splashes, Russell will be making Laker fans giddy for a long time to come.

– Meanwhile, Sam Hinkie continues to wage guerrilla warfare against conventional NBA logic. After using their first-rounder on a big man for the last two years in a row (Nerlens Noel in 2013, Joel Embiid in 2014), the Philly GM decided to extend the streak to three by drafting Okafor at No. 3 overall. Guess they’re not too confident in Embiid’s recovery after all. And unless Okafor can secretly play small forward, it’s hard to follow the thinking here. As Hinkie tries to singlehandedly disprove the Law of Conservation of Positions (especially since the Sixers drafted THREE MORE bigs in the second round before the night was over), it’s starting to look like Daryl Morey’s protege is becoming a post-modern David Kahn. Trust the process, I guess.

– New York Knicks fans are notorious bloodhounds. They are ruthless serpents who will rip you to shreds and banish you to whence you came. They have a bad habit of booing their team’s first-round selection year in and year out, especially if they don’t know a lot about him. Thursday night, Latvian wunderkind Kristaps Porzingis was the object of their ire and it was a shameful display of ignorance. It’s not like Porzingis is a no-name player; he’d been skyrocketing up draft boards for weeks. Everybody was buzzing. Everyone had seen the jaw-dropping workout videos. Everyone could see his upside. And for Knicks fans to hiss so uninformedly was a real shame. Kristaps has the highest ceiling of anyone not named Towns in this draft, and Phil Jackson made a smart pick. Porzingis has all the tools necessary to succeed at the NBA level and to witness that kind of reception to kick off his NBA career was xenophobic at worst and completely ignorant at best. We all want to see Porzingis succeed and know that he can. But like any young player, he needs the right situation in order to succeed. The unforgiving, bloodthirsty Knicks fans definitely won’t provide that type of situation. And after the reception they gave him, I’m not even sure they deserve for Porzingis to succeed for them. If nothing else, they have to at least admit that the dude is cultured though.

– What happens when you cross J.R. Smith’s game with Larry Bird’s build/trash-talking and give it a hint of Croatian flare? The Orlando Magic are about to find out after taking European forward Mario Hezonja fifth overall. The notoriously cocky Hezonja should be interesting to observe under Scott Skiles. Does he already think he has better hair than Elfrid Payton? A better beard than Kyle O’Quinn? Better singing ability than Victor Oladipo? Only time will tell but we can safely that he’ll be a more fun small forward in Orlando than Tobias Harris could ever be.

– The Kings actually didn’t screw up a lottery pick this time. By picking a 5-position defensive stud in Kentucky’s Willie Cauley-Stein, the Kings get a healthy dose of defense and athleticism, two things badly needed to weed out the dysfunction that’s plaguing the franchise from top to bottom right now. Just don’t expect DeMarcus Cousins to mentor the ex-Wildcat.

– Emmanuel Mudiay fell to the Nuggets at No. 7 (goodbye Ty Lawson?), and they pounced on him. New head coach Mike Malone will love the tenacious, all-around playmaker, especially if he fixes his broken jump shot. Mudiay probably would have gone top-3 had he stayed at SMU, and you gotta love the value he brings to the table at the range where Denver was able to get him. Oh, and please stop calling him an international prospect.

– Love the addition of Stanley Johnson to the notoriously wing-deficient Detroit Pistons (sorry Ersan Ilyasova). But as for the Arizona product’s proclamation that he’s the best player in the draft? Ehhhh

– You knew somebody was going to draft Wisconsin’s Frank Kaminsky way too early. That somebody was Hornets GM Michael Jordan, whose history of whiffing on lottery picks continues (Kwame Brown, Adam Morrison, Cody Zeller, Noah Vonleh, etc.). The pick is even more baffling because Charlotte just traded for a big in Spencer Hawes who does THE EXACT SAME THINGS Kaminsky does. No doubt that Kaminsky is a solid talent that will make a very real contribution at the NBA level, but taking him in the top nine is madness. At least this lends credence to my theory that Jordan just wants to stockpile an entire team full of guys he can beat one-on-one. At least the fashion was on point.

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