It’s impossible to judge a draft lottery one month after the lottery concludes. Everyone is still in a state of shock and euphoria. Everyone is still high on the memory of the Adam Silver hand shake and the cap on the head and the dream coming true thanks to hard work and innate talent. In July, no one has been to training camp. No one has been a rookie yet. No one has had to sit on the bench because of foul trouble. No one has had veterans single them out as someone to embarrass because rookies have to earn everything. NBA means No Boys Allowed. But no one knows that in July when the fans are ecstatic but cautious. It’s the silly season because without seeing one minute of play, on the court projections are made.
The chickens come home to roost by the All-Star break. The game doesn’t lie. We see who can play and who are frauds. We see who were overhyped and who were passed over. We see who have work ethic and who just want the money and an easy time. We see who is older than their age and who is younger than their age. Future All-Stars are obvious. So are bench players.
But now that April is nearly over and the rookies have had their first year and taken their lumps and have had some great moments, we know a little something. If the lottery was reworked based on the small sample size of the season, this is how the top-10 would look today.
1. Karl-Anthony Towns. Unanimous Rookie of the Year. Hands down, the best player in this draft with no one close. If he stays healthy, he will pass Anthony Davis as the most dominant big man because he can pass, score, block shots, defend, cover all positions and hit perimeter jumpers. He’s an affable kid who likes the limelight. When Kevin Garnett told him great players come to the arena 20 minutes early, he did that. When Kevin Garnett told him great players leave after everyone else, he did that. PER: 22.5. True Shooting Percentage: 59.0 %. 18.3 points, 10.4 rebounds.
2. Kristaps Porzingis. Booed on draft night, Porzingis is skilled in the front court, a good rebounder, an active defender with a good work ethic and attitude, willing to learn. He has great range for his array of offensive shots. The NY limelight didn’t affect him but he wore down after the All-Star break. His upside is huge and the Knicks finally have a young talent they can build around. PER: 17.7. True Shooting Percentage: 51.8%. 14.3 points, 7.3 rebounds.
3. Myles Turner. Exactly what the Pacers needed after David West and Roy Hibbert went elsewhere. He has great hands and feel for the game and can play inside or outside. He has a toughness and maturity that make him seem older than 20. Being an active rotational player in the playoffs will serve him well for the rest of his career. And playing alongside Paul George doesn’t hurt. PER: 15.4. True Shooting Percentage: 53.1%. 10.3 points. 5.5 rebounds
4. Devin Booker. The one year Kentucky bench player never fully displayed what a versatile scorer he is until Eric Bledsoe got hurt and he was thrust into the offense. He thrived once Earl Watson was named interim coach. What separates him from the other guards in the lottery is that he is a willing defender as well as a scorer and is very mature. PER: 11.9. True Shooting Percentage: 53.5%. 13.8 points. 2.6 assists.
5. D’Angelo Russell: He began his career in the toughest market. The Lakers identified him as a Magic Johnson hybrid but by his own admission the point guard position is a challenge. More of a scoring talent than a passing talent, he has the size to take defenders and post them on the block and he has a nice 3-point shooting stroke. He led all rookies with made threes. His struggles came in the area of maturity as he had a difficult time transitioning to the requirements of the NBA mans world. This isn’t college. He ended on a negative note with his video taping scandal but he has plenty of upside. PER: 13.2. True Shooting Percentage: 50.7%. 13.2 points. 3.4 rebounds.
6. Justise Winslow: He entered the draft as the best defending wing and that is exactly what he is. He doesn’t have much of a jumper and his offensive efficiency is pretty weak. His shooting should improve but he’ll always be a complimentary scorer. He was lucky to be selected by a team with talented veterans and his playoff experience will only add to his young education as a defensive stopper. PER: 8.4. True Shooting Percentage: 48.9%. 6.4 points. 5.2 rebounds.
7. Jahlil Okafor: The Duke center had a tough rookie year but not on the offensive side of the ball. He met the scouts projections of him as a 20 point scorer who lacks the will and desire to be physical and bang with centers and grab rebounds. He’s not much of a shot blocker and he took plays off on defense. But his offensive talent was as advertised. He needs to mature and he may be on the trading block this summer as the 76ers have a glut of big men. PER: 17.1. True Shooting Percentage: 53.6% 17.5 points, 7.0 rebounds.
8. Willie Cauley-Stein: The big man defender had a good rookie year for the Sacramento Kings. He’s a solid rebounder and his hyper-athleticism makes him a player who can cover anyone on the court. A true seven footer, his length creates havoc. He’s limited offensively but he’ll perform best when he is playing next to a scoring forward. PER: 15.3. True Shooting Percentage: 58.8%. 7.0 points. 5. 3 rebounds.
9. Emmanuel Mudiay: A pure point who played in China, Mudiay is a strong passer who has great court vision and likes making plays for others. His major flaw is scoring the ball and turnovers. Often, he was left wide open on doubles and he couldn’t drain uncontested shots. Statistics wise, he was the worst shooter of all the lottery picks. PER: 9.9. True Shooting Percentage; 43.7%. 12.8 points, 5.5 assists
10. Trey Lyles: The Kentucky distance shooter showed his range for Utah and even though he only played 17 minutes a game, he made 38% of his threes, the highest average of any lottery pick. He will be an offensive sparkplug once he gets more minutes though I’m not sure if he’s a starter. He’s more a Jamal Crawford instant offense bench player. PER: 11.6. True Shooting Percentage: 51.7%. 6.1 points. 3.7 rebounds.