The 2016 NBA Draft Lottery is a strange strange event. Perennial losers get a chance to shine every May when organizations send representatives to the lottery to determine the drafting position for the upcoming NBA Draft. What ensues is typically euphoric celebration for some teenager and usually some not so outlandish conspiracy speculation.
This year was no different, as the 76ers finally cashed in on their “race to the bottom” philosophy by collecting the #1 overall pick for the first time during their tank-a-thon (albeit without Sam Hinkie, which seems pretty poetic). The rest of the lottery drawing was chalk, with the Lakers and Celtics receiving the second and third picks respectively. And to wet everyone’s conspiracy theory whistle, Dikembe Mutombo (the rep for the 76ers at the lottery) tweeted this out hours before the start of the lottery…
I’m not going to delve into this too much, but let’s just say this wouldn’t be the craziest thing the NBA powers at be have ever done… (i.e. Patrick Ewing’s frozen envelope, Michael Jordan’s forced retirement due to gambling problems).
But the most interesting aspect of this year’s lottery seems to be how fucking awkward the prospect outlook for the top 3 teams is. So let’s break it down ya’ll:
No. 1, The Philadelphia 76ers
Options: Ben Simmons, Brandon Ingram
On the surface, Philly should be hyped that their historically embarrassing stretch of sucking has finally cashed in with the first overall pick. But the fit is far from seamless. Although Brandon Ingram is the best overall prospect in this year’s draft IMHO, all indications are that the Sixers will take Ben Simmons first overall. His skill set is jaw dropping while standing at 6’10” with room to grow. Simmons is like an air walker at his height. He dominated the college game with mismatches, overpowering small post players, and flying by bumbling ones. His passing ability is both real and spectacular.
Personally, I would argue Ingram has the higher upside, but Simmons’s talent in unquestionable.
What is questionable, however, is his fit on the Sixers roster wise… Simmons has a broken jumper, a jumper that could be described as High School Varsity level at best. That pretty much relegates him to solely being utilized as a power forward in the NBA at the jump.
As it stands, the Sixers also have Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor, Joel Embiid, Richaun Holmes and Dario Saric (reportedly set to make his Sixers debut next season) rostered in the front court. That’s pretty fucking packed… While the Sixers are definitely best served at taking the best talent available at first overall, there’s simply no way you can play all of those guys together and develop them simultaneously. The team has invested valuable assets and time in Embiid, Okafor and Noel, so to say that they can just trade some guys is easier said than done if you’re looking to get tangible return value. Sometimes the grass isn’t always greener with the first overall pick…
No. 2, The Los Angeles Lakers
Options: Ben Simmons, Brandon Ingram
The Lakers were able to keep their 2016 top 3 protected first round pick by drawing the second overall selection 2 days ago. GM Mitch Kupchak & Co. should be ecstatic to start off the post-Kobe era with some top end talent coming through in year 1. But, like the Sixers, the fit isn’t seamless. The Lakers will presumably take whichever of Simmons and Ingram are available at the 2 spot. For arguments sake, and based on early indications, Ingram will be the second player taken. But where do you play him?
Ingram is 6’9″ and is reportedly still growing into a Kevin Durant type frame. While eventually he will grow into a role best suited for power forward, Ingram should slide in nicely at small forward from the jump with his silky jumper and slashing abilities. Is he a liability on the defensive end? Absolutely. Is the roster a little wonky with Ingram on it? For sure. Managing minutes for Jordan Clarkson, D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle will be tough for new Head Coach Luke Walton moving forward both defensively and scheme wise offensively. Eventually, Randle may have to be moved to accommodate Ingram, but his talent is undeniable. The Lakers would regret not taking this guy at 2. His game is the closest thing we’ve seen to Kevin Durant since, well, Kevin Durant.
No. 3, The Boston Celtics
Options: Dragan Bender, Kris Dunn, Marquese Chriss, Buddy Hield, Jamal Murray, Jaylen Brown
Things could be a lot worse for the Celtics, who received the third overall selection via a pick swap with the Brooklyn Nets. They had a pretty high probability of getting a 4-6 pick, and while they were hoping for a top 2 selection, 3 is not awful. It is, however, not ideal. It’s more likely than not that the Celts are going to miss out on the known transcendent talents of Simmons and Ingram, so who does that leave them with? Well, nothing that really fits IMO.
The hope is when you’re picking in the 3 slot that you’re going to get a high impact talent right away. This is especially true for a team like the Celts, who are in the midst of a window, and on the cusp of being true championship contenders. They have a ready roster, but with clear holes and a lot of dudes who do the same stuff.
Dragan Bender, the guy many people are calling Kristaps Porzingis 2.0, is tantalizing and offers a new element to the team, but doesn’t fit the Celts’ time frame. Can they afford to take the time to develop him while simultaneously competing for a championship?
Kris Dunn seems like the next logical choice, but how well does he mesh with Brad Stevens stalwarts like Marcus Smart (a guy who the team has heavily invested in) and Avery Bradley. Plus, how valuable is Dunn when he is being taken at 3? If he’s the guy Boston wants, would they be best served trading back?
Buddy Hield and Jamal Murray are both intriguing options, but have similar concerns. Hield is clearly talented and has a high floor, but how high is his ceiling? He’s a 4 year college vet, and although the Trailblazers have found great success with Damian Lillard/CJ McCollum after 4 years of college experience, will the same apply to Hield? Are you willing to invest the third overall pick in a guy who could simply be a solid role playing shooting guard? The same can be said for Murray, who although is talented, may be benefiting from the low balling that Devon Booker received last year. The problem is that Murray isn’t Booker. He lacks the ball handling skills and functions best as a off ball sharp shooter.
Marquise Chriss might be the best option for the C’s if they choose to hang onto their pick. Chriss has the upside to fulfill the obligations of a third overall pick with off the wall bounce, a high motor and pre-surgery Amar’e Stoudemire type athleticism. He doesn’t turn 19 until next month and has always been considered a late bloomer, so the concerns of Chriss fitting into the C’s window are still prevalent. He fouls way too much, his game lacks polish (especially his rebounding mechanics) and he lacks the physicality to bang in the NBA. But, his frame oozes with potential to one overcome those problems and be the type of mutant that made Amar’e so special for sometime.
It’s a very strange year for teams this year in the Draft lottery. Besides the fact that this year’s crop of talent is underwhelming, the top 3 teams in the lottery may not find the best fit for the best talent available. When it’s all said and done, we could be looking at a lot of moves being made right before the draft so make sure you
HOLD ON TO YA BUTTS