It’s been a couple weeks since the NBA Draft, and all the dust has settled. We know who’s going where and now teams are trying to figure out their rookies’ roles, especially with the Summer League workouts going on. In a draft that wasn’t particularly strong, sometimes it’s the one-trick pony that turns out to be the steal of the draft. Whatever the case may be, these guys were great value picks and will be productive throughout their careers.
9. Shabazz Muhammad/G/Timberwolves – When the Thunder picked at 12 and Muhammad was still on the board, there was no doubt in my mind they would go with Muhammad to take the role of a poor man’s James Harden. They opted to go with big man Steven Adams and Muhammad fell right into the 14 slot, ending up in Minnesota after a trade. Shabazz is a guy that should be a better NBA player than college player because of his isolation game. When he gets going, there aren’t many players in this class that can score as easily as he can.
8. Reggie Bullock/F/Clippers – By no means was Bullock a sexy pick, but he was definitely a good one for Los Angeles. One, he eases the pain of losing Caron Butler to Phoenix. Butler’s game was to knock down open shots, which Bullock can do, albeit maybe not as consistently, but at a tremendously lower price. Two, Bullock plays lockdown D, and with time, should be able to take on the opposition’s best player. He makes guys like Lamar Odom, Matt Barnes, and Jared Dudley expendable, either due to trade or injury. At the end of the 1st round, Bullock was great value for LA.
7. CJ McCollum/G/Trail Blazers – Even though he was taken as a lottery pick, I think McCollum still went overlooked by some teams. He will be able to fill whatever role Portland needs him to take, whether it is to step right into the starting backcourt with Rookie of the Year Damian Lillard or to come off the bench and light it up. Portland is quickly piling up quality players and should be in the thick of things in the Western Conference.
6. Nate Wolters/G/Bucks – Wolters could be my favorite player in the class, as he’s just tremendous amounts of fun to watch. He has great size at 6’5’’, and has the ability to play either guard spot. He should step right in as a rotational guard that should have the chance to crack the starting lineup on a weak Bucks team. Once Wolters steps on the court, he’s in range, but will have to learn to take smart shots, instead of all the shots like he did in college. Head coach Larry Drew will love this guy.
5. Deshaun Thomas/F/Spurs – No matter where they pick, the Spurs constantly come out of the draft with guys that contribute. Thomas was taken with the third-to-last pick in the draft, but should definitely see playing time in San Antonio. Thomas is a scorer, but has the ability to become a very well-rounded player once he puts more focus into the game.
4. Trey Burke/G/Jazz – I think Burke was put into one of the best situations for any player taken in the draft, and is my early pick to win Rookie of the Year. He will start right away for the Jazz, on a team that features some real talent with Alec Burks, Gordon Hayward, and Derrick Favors. Burke has the ability to take over a game scoring the rock, or can step away from the spotlight and be a great distributor. I think Burke will have one of the quickest adjustments to the NBA, as he already plays that style of game. A big year is ahead for the college basketball player of the year.
3. Mike Muscala/C/Hawks – Muscala is an interesting name, as he came onto draft boards late in the season after a great career at tiny Bucknell University. Muscala was a tremendous collegiate player, but it may take him some adjustment time to get used to playing with people his size all year. That’s fine for the Hawks, as they have Elton Brand, Al Horford, and Paul Millsap to show him the ropes. Muscala is a guy that came close to averaging 20 and 10 last season, with over two assists and blocks per game. When he becomes comfortable, he’s going to be a very good big man in the league.
2. Archie Goodwin/G/Suns – Goodwin was a McDonald’s All-American heading to Kentucky, but didn’t have a great season and saw his draft stock sink. Wherever he landed, it wasn’t going to be a pick for now, but for the future. He fell into the lap of a very young Suns team that is building a core for the future, and Goodwin fits in well. It will be interesting to see how first time head coach Jeff Hornacek deals with the entire roster, but especially with the former Wildcat. The talent is there, but can he get the focus and determination to come out?
1. Jamaal Franklin/G/Grizzlies – The San Diego State product filled the role Kawhi Leonard when he departed for the NBA. He’s a very similar player to Leonard, as they’re both long and defensive-minded, but can score when they need to. The good news for Franklin? The Grizzlies don’t need him to do much right away. They were just a player or two away from making an even deeper run which could have resulted in a Finals appearance, and Franklin is a great glue-guy to bring in. He won’t be starting, but the Grizzlies will get quality minutes off the bench from Franklin, and in the future, they could’ve stolen at a star wing player. At pick number 41, I believed this to be the best pick in the draft.