Welcome to the 2016 NBA Draft awards! Here are the players and teams taking home the hardware after an unpredictable evening in Brooklyn.
Potential Bust Award: Georgios Papagiannis – The Kings acquired the Greek center in a package that sent Marquese Chriss to Phoenix, but I’m not sold on his NBA future. Papagiannis has some offensive skill, although it wouldn’t have been surprising to see him go undrafted. Instead, he ended up being taken 13th on behalf of Sacramento. Naturally, Sacramento General Manager Vlade Divac is a big believer.
Dark Horse Award: Ivica Zubac – When it comes to the Lakers, most observers are focused on future cornerstone Brandon Ingram, and rightly so: the Duke standout has a diverse skill set. However, the Lakers’ second round pick Zubac has a good chance to contribute as well once he leaves his team in Serbia. The Croatian center might already be a better player than Ante Zizic who Boston selected ten picks sooner. The 32nd overall selection will enjoy every minute as he was already a big Laker fan.
Most Likely to Succeed Award: Buddy Hield – Hield seems really unlikely to flame out, especially on a Pelicans roster that desperately needs him. He developed tremendously over four years at the University of Oklahoma which culminated in him receiving the Wooden Award this past season and being selected sixth overall. Hield should thrive alongside point guard Jrue Holiday.
Future ROY Award: Kris Dunn – The Timberwolves are thin at guard, so it made sense for them to pick the point guard from Providence at #5. He gets to the hoop with ease and should have the physical gifts to handle defense at the highest level. First overall pick Ben Simmons will also have a good shot at Rookie of the Year playing for such a poor Sixers team, but my vote goes to Dunn.
Best Value Award: Dejounte Murray – Surprise! The Spurs made a shrewd selection at the end of the first round by grabbing the University of Washington guard who slipped out of the lottery. His fall on draft night may have been the result of an underwhelming freshman season, but it’s really hard to argue with taking him 29th. San Antonio won’t have to rush him, and Murray gets the added bonus of learning from the likes of Tony Parker.
Strangest Approach Award: Boston Celtics – Kudos to Danny Ainge for seeing beyond Jaylen Brown’s rebel image and taking him third. Still, I expected a potential contender to trade at least one of their whopping eight selections. The Celtics could have improved more in the short term without really sacrificing future success, and instead they now have the task of paring down a bloated roster.
Longest Wait Award: Deyonta Davis – I didn’t peg Davis as a lottery pick, but the Michigan State product was expected to be taken shortly thereafter. However, nobody grabbed him until the first selection of Round 2. Meanwhile, Davis and his family squirmed in the Green Room for what must have felt like an eternity. The power forward only played 18 minutes per game last season but looks like an effective shot blocker. The silver lining is that Davis heads to a quality team in the Celtics.
Boldest Move Award: Oklahoma City Thunder – Sam Presti could have stood pat after his team nearly made the Finals, but his trade of Serge Ibaka opens the door for potential improvement. Ibaka netted the Thunder versatile guard Victor Oladipo and newly drafted big man Domantas Sabonis in addition to veteran Ersan Ilyasova. Ibaka was a major contributor for the Thunder, but his role was in flux and the Thunder could have lost him for nothing after next season.
Best Draft Award: Philadelphia 76ers – I really like what Bryan Colangelo did here. Sure, one can argue that long-term tanking led to Philadelphia having the opportunity to take the dynamic Simmons. Nevertheless, I was surprised to see the Sixers get to draft Turkish sniper Furkan Korkmaz who was still on the board at #26. Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot is the wild card, but the French wing was considered a potential lottery selection and the Sixers also got him 24th.
Woody Allen Award: New York Knicks – It makes sense that the film director who gave us “life is divided into the horrible and the miserable” is a devoted Knicks fan. New York surrendered the 9th overall choice in exchange for Andrea Bargnani back in 2013 as part of a deal that didn’t look smart even at the time. The Raptors, fresh off an Atlantic Division championship, turned that windfall into Utah center Jakob Poeltl on Thursday. The draft was held across the Brooklyn Bridge from Madison Square Garden, but Knicks’ brass had no reason to show up.
Doc Rivers Award: Los Angeles Clippers – It’s hard to have a terrible draft when you don’t even possess a lottery pick. I was still underwhelmed with the Clippers, who haven’t had much success drafting in recent years. The Clips appeared to reach for North Carolina power forward Brice Johnson at #25. Then, they puzzled practically everyone in trading for point guard David Micheneau from France who the Pelicans took with the 39th choice. They also got Diamond Stone in the deal who was a solid player at Maryland, but there are questions regarding his mental approach to the game.
Worst Night Award: Milwaukee Bucks – Second round pick Malcolm Brogdon who played for the Cavaliers of Virginia was a reasonable choice. However, there were plenty of raised eyebrows when the Bucks took big man Thon Maker with the 10th selection. That’s not a knock on Maker’s potential, but alternatives were plentiful. The Australian by way of Sudan is a massive project and some franchises believed he is as old as 24 rather than his official age of 19. That’s a huge discrepancy for someone whose future development is already a key consideration. Sabonis, Denzel Valentine, or even Juan Hernangómez from Spain all could have helped Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks immediately.
Mr. Irrelevant Award: Tyrone Wallace – Wallace was picked last in the draft by Utah, but his college career with Cal was accomplished. When fully healthy in his junior season, Wallace averaged 17 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, and 1.2 steals. Utah GM Dennis Lindsey has a stockpile of guards but said he liked Wallace because of his strong defense and all-around game.
photo via llananba