This NBA offseason (like no other) began in earnest as the Cleveland Cavaliers, with the #1 overall pick in the NBA Draft for the second consecutive year, chose Kansas guard Andrew Wiggins over Duke forward Jabari Parker who was chosen at #2 by Milwaukee. Milwaukee later made news by trading three future draft choices to the Brooklyn Nets for one year coach Jason Kidd.
The Bucks, by the way, had a coach when making this trade. Of course, Larry Drew was immediately fired after the acquisition of Kidd who apparently by any standard other than Milwaukee’s, grossly underachieved last season as the Nets, thought of as title contenders, started 5-16 and only ended up 44-38, losing to the Heat 4-1 in the second round of the playoffs. While Drew only managed 15 wins in one season, trading for Kidd is a bizarre move at best.
Almost as bizarre is the Cavs’ decisions with recent first-overall picks, though Wiggins will almost certainly do better in his rookie season than Anthony Bennett did in his after the Cavs took him first overall a year ago. Wiggins showed signs of the spectacular but had no consistency about his game, little defense, and his ball handling and mid-range skills need vast improvement.
Parker has a much better understanding of the team concept having played for Coach K at Duke, and has a much more rounded game. Cleveland hopes Wiggins has more upside, and Parker will definitely be better out of the gate in Milwaukee.
The Philadelphia 76ers, a sorry franchise of late, continues to mystify. Two years after trading for injured center Andrew Bynum and one year after choosing injured Kentucky star Nerlens Noel with their first pick, neither of which ever or has ever played in a game for the Sixers, they selected injured Kansas center Joel Embiid third overall in this draft. Embiid, seen by many as the #1 pick days before, was diagnosed with a stress fracture in his foot, which required surgery and screws. He will not be able to play this coming season. Taking a big man with foot issues rarely turns out well.
Orlando took Arizona’s Aaron Gordon at #4; Utah took mysterious Australian point guard Dante Exum at #5; Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart went #6 to Boston; Kentucky’s Julius Randle went 7th to the Lakers; Michigan’s Nik Stauskas went #8 to Sacramento; Noah Vonleh from Indiana went #9 to Charlotte; and rounding out the top 10 was under-the-radar Elfrid Payton from Louisiana-Lafayette, drafted by the Sixers but subsequently traded to Orlando.
Other first round notables include Doug McDermott taken 11th by Denver and traded to Chicago; Kentucky’s James Young going 17th to Boston; and UCLA shooting guard Jordan Adams going at #22 to Memphis. Most saw that pick as questionable for the Grizzlies, but the trade they made with Utah to acquire 35th-overall selection Jarnell Stokes from Tennessee might be a great one.
Stokes is a hard worker who fits in exactly with Memphis’ style of play, and he might be the best rebounder in this draft. UT’s Jordan McRae was chosen by the Spurs at #58, but unfortunately for him was traded to the 76ers.
Free Agency begins on July 1, and with Miami’s ‘Big 3’ and Carmelo Anthony all on the market, the news should be very interesting. But the balance of power will not shift any as everyone is coming back in San Antonio for one last run and as we saw in June, the road to the championship goes through San Antonio.