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NBA Draft Preview: The Top Five
It seems like just yesterday that the NBA Finals came to an end, partially because it was literally just a week ago, and also because ESPN hasn't stopped kissing LeBron James' ass since then. Seriously, do they remember that the Warriors actually won the Finals, or do they think LeBron and the Cavs lost to thin air despite LeBron's heroic efforts? Luckily (or unfortunately, depending on your viewpoint), we're just getting started, as the NBA Draft is set to begin this Thursday, followed by free agency and LeBron annoying the piss out of everyone throughout July (full disclosure; I actually like LeBron. It's ESPN, not him, that's made him insufferable). What's going to happen? That's why we're here today, at least in regards to the draft. For the next few days, I'm going to predict the picks for each team in the first round, starting with the top five today, the rest of the top ten tomorrow, and then the rest after that. It's like a mock draft, except it's not. Or maybe it is. I don't know, I just hope it's fun. Who cares what we call it if it's good right? But enough wasting time, let's get to it. ON WITH THE SHOW!!!
The Top Five
Who They Should Take: Karl-Anthony Towns. Could this be an easier answer? I don't want to hear all of this about Jahlil Okafor being a potential number one guy. Regardless of how high or low you are on the Duke center's skill set, Towns is just frankly better than him. He defends, he can shoot from distance to some degree (and has potential to further his range) and I'm willing to bet there's things we still haven't seen from the kid seeing as Cal kept him under lock and key like he was Hannibal Lector. In a league that is now all about pace, space and big men who are versatile, Towns is the most versatile big you can find. He's the clear choice in my opinion.
Who They Will Take: Towns. Yup, Minnesota is going to get this one right, no matter how much Flip Saunders' hard on for Okafor might be. Towns is simply too talented to avoid, and a potential pairing of him, Canadian Superman Andrew Wiggins, Ricky Rubio and Zach LaVine (the closest thing to Lucha Underground's Angelico on a basketball court) is something that just has to happen. You'll thank me in two years when the Wolves and the Utah Jazz have taken over the NBA.
Los Angeles Lakers
Who They Should Take: D'Angelo Russell. Frankly though, the Lakers need all the help they can get, especially if they don't want Kobe Bryant to axe murder everyone during the season. It may be hard for Russell to fit in with the Lakers at first, seeing as Kobe will still be around and second year guard Jordan Clarkson proved that he's a keeper after getting his shot last year. In the long run though, Russell will find his role, and a Russell-Clarkson backcourt is heavily intriguing to me. Plus, the Lakers have to find a replacement for Kobe sooner than later. And no, for those wondering, Dwayne Wade isn't that guy. What, I'm really supposed to believe Kobe's successor is a guy held together with duct tape? Why not just go get Adam Morrison to replace him?
Who They Will Take: Jahlil Okafor. Never bet against the sexy pick when the Lakers or Knicks are involved, and Okafor is the sexy pick here. I'm personally not high on him at all; his defense worries me, his effort worries me and with the way the league is heading it wouldn't shock me if Okafor absolutely bombs in the next few years. Sure he can score, but when exactly was the last time a center that was all offense and no defense coming into the league actually become a franchise guy? We aren't concerned at all that Okafor's career will resemble Eddy Curry's more than Patrick Ewing's? Perhaps I'll ultimately be way off base, but I don't have a good feeling here. Which makes perfect sense that the basket case organization that is the Lakers will take him, and regret it two to three years from now.
Who They Should Take: Russell. Granted, anyone under 6'11 would be an acceptable answer too, especially since Sam Hinke might trade Russell for me come midseason. For now though, the Sixers do need a main ball handler, and Russell is the guy. Plus, can you imagine what would happen if the Sixers took Okafor or the awesomely named Kristaps Porziņģis at number three, making this the third consecutive year they'd have taken a big in the top three? I'm pretty sure Sixers fans would revolt, followed by Sam Hinke taking off his mask and revealing his true identity as the Joker.
Who They Will Take: Russell. Relax Philly, the Sixers know they have enough big men and Hinke has stated the team would like to get a point guard that can shoot. Seeing as Russell is better than Michael Carter-Williams was (then again, who isn't?), that should be enough for him to be selected here, along with his other skills. And again, do we really expect the Sixers organization to risk a revolt by taking a third straight big? Come on; Hinke may be as diabolical a hater there is at the GM position, but he's not going to go out and pull a reverse David Kahn. I'd love if he did though, just so we could get more Wrath of Khan clips. Couldn't you totally see Hinke taking a big, and then telling Sixers fans, "I've hurt you, and I wish to go on hurting you!"? I think I'm starting to talk myself into this. Dammit.
New York Knicks
Who They Should Take: Anyone who isn't Emmanuel Mudiay. That may sound harsh towards the young man, but it actually isn't. I like Mudiay's game, and I think if he gets to a team that will take the time to help him improve his shooting, he could be special. The Knicks aren't going to do that, seeing as they (along with the Lakers oddly enough) seem to be stuck in a long ago age where long two's are good and three point shots are the equivalent of a Soulja Boy CD. Thus, for that kid's sake and for the Knicks sake, they should go with someone else. As for who, I'd either say Justise Winslow or Porziņģis. Those two can at least shoot to some extent and combined with their other skills, are a perfect fit for the Knicks. Then again, other than Mudiay, who isn't? I could make the Knicks team right now.
Who They Will Take: Mudiay. Because it's the Knicks, and you can always count on the Knicks to do the wrong thing. Get ready for several years of Mudiay not learning to shoot, the Knicks continuing to suck and this poor kid's career going the way of the two Corey's. And yet, Phil Jackson will somehow still say you can't win with threes, all while the Warriors, Cavs and others continue to do just that.
Who They Should Take: Justise Winslow. Okafor may have been the big man on campus for Duke last season, but Winslow was the one who won them the title. He was ferocious on defense, and showed some offensive skills that we hadn't previously seen. I'm also pretty sure there's room to improve, and what better place to do that than with a Magic team that has so much potential, their logo appears when you look up potential in the dictionary (I know, that was lame. I apologize). Am I a tad concerned about Winslow's height and what position he would play? A tad, yes. But it's not every day you find players that can defend right away, and as long as Winslow keeps that up, his height and position aren't bad problems to have. All that matters is whether he can play. And he can.
Who They Will Take: Porziņģis, though I don't believe it's a bad pick if they do. Yes, Winslow is better than Porziņģis, but the big man is highly skilled, loaded with potential himself and will bring some floor spacing up front, something the Magic needed when Channing Frye wasn't on the court last year. In fact, he'll be a long term upgrade over Frye if he fulfills his potential. Not a bad pick in the slightest, even if I think Winslow will make the Magic a tad bit better in the long run.
That'll do it guys. I'll be back with part two tomorrow, and perhaps something else later tonight. Depends on my mood I suppose. Till then, continue to remind ESPN that the Golden State Warriors won an NBA Championship, not LeBron James.