Many professional basketball teams, perhaps even the one you support, drafted players in the hopes of bolstering their rosters the other night. Here are some snap judgments of their efforts from a fellow who watches a handful of college games per year. The numbers in parentheses are where they fell on ESPN.com draft guru Chad Ford's big board. Save those for posterity because he'll probably change them in a year or two.
The Lakers had an annoyingly awesome draft and my only solace is that I really don't know what I'm talking about so maybe it'll actually turn out to terrible. GM Mitch Kupchak was smart enough to figure out that Jahlil Okafor, who projects to being a mediocre defender, wouldn't be a good fit next to ground-bound Julius Randle at the four, so instead he got a do-everything point guard in Russell, who's a dynamic passer, a solid defender and a pretty sweet (albeit streaky shooter). Russell, a lefty, said he "studied" Manu Ginobili's game growing up, which is obviously a point in his favor, but I remember James Harden saying the same thing when he was coming out of college and o' how I've turned on him since then.
The really disconcerting thing for Spurs fans is the notion that the Lakers passed on Okafor because LaMarcus Aldridge might choo-choo-choose them instead of San Antonio. Maybe we'll be lucky and they'll "only" get DeMarcus Cousins instead.
If all that wasn't enough, they also picked one of my favorite prospects in the draft, Stanford's Anthony Brown. I was hoping the Spurs would pick him as their replacement for Danny Green. Not that I want them to lose Green by any means, but this guy sure seems to fit the mold.
Nance Jr., meanwhile, the son of the NBA's first ever Slam Dunk contest winner, is a kid with a high basement but low floor according to Ford, thanks to an ACL tear he suffered as a junior. He'll probably be a solid rotation guy, but not enough of a banger or rangy enough of a shooter to start. Much was made of a tweet he wrote about Kobe when he was 19, but it appears we won't even get any drama out of that. It just shows you, the Lakers are never dysfunctional and irrelevant for long.
Looney, a tweener forward who fell a bit because of a hip injury that will need to be surgically repaired looks to be a steal for the Warriors because of the numbers he put up as a freshman for UCLA, but as Spurs fans have discovered, such plaudits about Bruins taken with the 30th pick may not wind up being worth much. Looney may wind up being a small forward in the pros (or a small-ball stretch four) and I can see him replacing Harrison Barnes when his rookie deal expires. He'll have to fill out a bit though and toughen up inside. He already shoots the three better than most of his higher-acclaimed peers, regardless of position.
Sacramento Kings: C+
Oh boy. I've read people try to justify picking WCS this high by claiming that he and Boogie Cousins can play together as on offense/defense combo and make it work, the way the Clippers do with DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin. That's well and good except A) Griffin is a transition monster who can work out of the pick-and-roll and B) he's got the best point guard of his generation. The Kings, if they're lucky, will have Ty Lawson.
What's more realistic, is that the environment between Cousins and George Karl has grown so toxic so fast that the Kings will have to get whatever they can for him with little leverage. Even if their front office fires Karl while you're reading this sentence, Cousins has probably grown so bitter and disillusioned by now that he's not going to like the next guy any better unless they hire John Calipari and maybe not even then. Reports have surfaced that owner Vivek Ranadive gave Cousins' agent permission to pursue trades. My guess is if Cousins starts the season in a Kings jersey, he'll act like a pill until he's no longer in one.
Caulie-Stein has drawn many comparisons to Jordan, and may well wind up being a better defender when it's all said and done due to his superior instincts against the pick-and-roll. The question though is whether he'll ever rebound and be functional offensively enough to be able to start without a stud four next to him. I can see why they got him, he was probably the best center left on the board, but it's still a bit of a stretch.
Phoenix Suns: C-
Booker is one of the handful of guys I can have legitimate opinions about because I actually saw him play a handful of games. And from what I saw, he was just a guy. A good shooter, yes, but there just isn't much else there to justify him being a lottery pick. Seems pretty one-dimensional. The Suns used their second-rounder to acquire big man Jon Leuer from the Grizzlies for 44th overall pick Andrew Harrison, another Wildcat. That's something for nothing because Harrison is terrible. Bottom line, the Suns committed the cardinal sin of being a lottery team that didn't make themselves any better.
Los Angeles Clippers: D-/Inc.
The Clips didn't have any picks in the draft, but they did pick up Dawson from the Pelicans for "cash considerations," which sounds fairly vague if you think about it. "Hello, is this Dell Demps? I've considered giving you some cash for that Dawson kid you gave us, and have come to the conclusion that I will not. Have a nice day."
Dawson is a defensive specialist who played mostly inside for the Spartans. That's well and good, but if you're 6'7 and didn't make a single three-pointer in four years in college, my guess is your NBA career won't be very promising. The bigger news for the Clips is that they acquired Lance Stephenson in exchange for Matt Barnes and Spencer Hawes. This made me very, very happy. Chris Paul might give Doc Rivers a "he goes or I go" ultimatum by December.