Notes and thoughts on Thursday night’s 2018 NBA Draft:
▪ I get the nasty New York boos when the Knicks bypassed Michael Porter Jr. and selected Kevin Knox with the No. 9 pick. If healthy, Porter could be a difference-maker. He was the No. 1-ranked prep prospect entering last college basketball season. He hurt his back, however. Back injuries are tricky and uncertain. But Knicks fans are desperate. They were all for taking a chance.
I think Knox will be a good pro. His skills are more suited to the open-floor game of the NBA. Remember his 37-point performance at West Virginia in an up-and-down game. But Knox needs more of an edge to his game. If he’s going to excel in the association, he’ll have to be more aggressive.
▪ Asked about the New York media, Knox said he didn’t see it as a problem after dealing with the Kentucky media.
▪ Tim Bontemps of the Washington Post on Knox: “Knicks fans here were going crazy for Michael Porter Jr. but the choice instead was Knox. One of the youngest players in the draft, Knox has intriguing upside and played out of position on an oddly-constructed Kentucky team. The Knicks are in the middle of what portends to be a lengthy rebuild, and Knox is a pick for the future.”
▪The Clippers seem like a good spot for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. The Clips are in rebuilding mode. They need a point guard. And I think Shai’s skills and length are perfect for the pros. At 6-foot-6, with a ridiculous wingspan, he is suited for the defensive switching all NBA teams favor right now.
▪ When Charlotte chose Gilgeous-Alexander at No. 11, UK fans were busy tweeting about a possible Shai/Malik Monk backcourt. Two problems with that. Monk did not start a game last season for the Hornets. And then Shai was shipped to the Clippers.
▪ Jonathan Givony of ESPN was most disappointed: “Charlotte trading Shai Gilgeous-Alexander away. I was personally excited to see the all-Kentucky backcourt with Malik Monk, as it felt like the two players complement each other very well.”
▪ Those of us who watched Gilgeous-Alexander find ways to get to the rim and finish have to believe that will translate in the NBA.
▪ Scott Fowler of the Charlotte Observer was underwhelmed with the Hornets’ draft: “To me, Bridges will not be a home run. He’s a safer pick than Porter, and you can see why new Charlotte Hornets general manager Mitch Kupchak would want to start his tenure with a player who was a second-team All-American last season rather than one in Porter who only played in three games because of his back injury.”
▪ Pete Blackburn of CBS Sports did not like Shai’s suit.
▪ Here's how the complete NBA Draft went down.
▪Taken in the second round by Brooklyn, Hamidou Diallo ended up taking a long and winding road to Oklahoma City, where he will join Patrick Patterson and Dakari Johnson as ex-Cats who will play for Billy Donovan.
▪ Interesting that Denver ended up with two players with huge health question marks. Michael Porter Jr. has the back issue. Jarred Vanderbilt has the ankle/foot issues. Rolling the dice.
▪ ESPN’s Jimmy Dykes: “10 years from now, we will be saying Collin Sexton was a steal at #8 in the draft. Dude can play…”
▪ You hear this from every player drafted or undrafted: “I’m going to make the teams that passed on me regret it.”
▪ Count me among those who grew weary of Chauncey Billups’ comparisons.
▪ The most under-utilized ESPN asset on draft night is invariably Fran Fraschilla.
▪ Adrian Wojnarowski conducted a master class in tipping picks without technically naming picks.
▪ I agree with David Padgett that Ray Spalding could end up begin a steal. Headed to Dallas, the former Louisville and Louisville Trinity star has terrific upside.
▪ If the NCAA allowed undrafted players to return to school: Trevon Duval could return to Duke; Wenyen Gabriel could return to UK; Deng Adel could return to Louisville; Malik Newman could return to Kansas; Rawle Alkins and Allonzo Trier could return to Arizona; D.J. Hogg and Tyler Davis could return to Texas A&M. Just to name a few.
▪ ESPN’s Mike Schmitz on Boston taking ex-Texas A&M forward Robert Williams: “He's much more suited for the open NBA game than the role he played as a power forward with clogged paint at Texas A&M. Boston is the exact environment that Williams needs to rev up his focus and commitment to his craft. The Celtics also could really use a big in Williams' mold, as he'll be a tremendous lob threat for Kyrie Irving and the rest of Boston's offensive weapons.”
▪ Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee on the Kings’ taking Marvin Bagley at No. 2: “The Kings stand alone in their trend of adding big men through the draft. They're the only team to take a power forward or center in the first round in each of the last four years.”
▪ Alex Schiffer of the Kansas City Star on Michael Porter Jr.’s long wait on draft night: “Porter’s agent, Mark Bartelstein of Priority Sports, started out at Porter's table seated across from him at the draft. But by the time the Knicks used the No. 9 pick on Kentucky’s Kevin Knox — another long shooter who plays on the wing —Bartelstein was sitting next to Porter, patting him while the forward dropped his head.”
▪ Jeff Eisenberg of Yahoo thinks the Hawks took a huge gamble taking Trae Young as the next Stephen Curry. “In today’s mismatch-oriented NBA, a player as slight of stature and disinterested on defense as Young will turn out to be a magnet for switches. Opponents will use ball screens to force Young to guard their best perimeter scorer until the former Oklahoma star proves he can string together stops or the Hawks pull him off the floor.”
▪ Mac Engel of the Star-Telegram likes the Mavs’ acquiring Luka Doncic: “Given the way the Europeans have transitioned to the NBA since the Mavs bagged Dirk Nowitzki back in what feels like 1968, it's hard not to like this pick.”