In Shane Larkin’s first three NBA seasons, he played for three different teams (the Dallas Mavericks, New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets) as well as four different head coaches (Rick Carlisle, Derek Fisher, Lionel Hollins and Tony Brown).
This upcoming season, the No. 18 overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft will play for the Spanish club Baskonia after signing with them this offseason. The 23-year-old point guard will join fellow former NBA players Andrea Bargnani, Roddy Beaubois and Tornike Shengelia on the Spanish squad. Larkin and Bargnani will be teammates for the third straight year, as they also suited up together on the Knicks and Nets.
Over the course of his three-year NBA career, Larkin averaged 5.8 points, 3.2 assists, two rebounds and 1.1 steals while shooting 43.8 percent from the field. Last year, he averaged 7.3 points, 4.4 assists, 2.3 rebounds and 1.2 steals in 22.4 minutes for Brooklyn. His per-100-possession stats were 16.3 points, 9.8 assists, 5.2 rebounds and 2.7 steals. After Larkin completes this season in Spain, the unrestricted free agent wants to return to the NBA.
Basketball Insiders recently caught up with Larkin to discuss his decision to sign with Baskonia, why he’s bounced around the NBA early in his career, what he hopes to accomplish while in Spain and more.
Basketball Insiders: One thing you told me before free agency was that you were determined to find a good situation, a good fit. Was your decision to sign overseas mainly about not finding the right situation in the NBA due to interested teams having a lack of playing time or offering only a partial guarantee?
Shane Larkin: “Yes, for sure. I had to switch agents halfway through free agency because I didn’t really like the direction I was heading with my former agent. But when I signed with Jim Tanner, he laid out all of the options on the table. With what was presented to me, I felt like this opportunity in Spain – on a historically good team that has had multiple pros come through this specific club – was my best option that late in free agency.”
BI: What stood out about Baskonia as you were making your decision? Why did you ultimately decide to sign with them?
Larkin: “They have had multiple pros come through this club and I believe that, in many ways, I can grow on this team. I can’t name every single pro who has come through here, but I know of Jose Calderon, Pablo Prigioni, Luis Scola, Mirza Teletovic and Tiago Splitter to name a few. So it is obvious that the culture is very good, and the level of coaching and competition is very high. I believe that with this great opportunity I have been given, I can grow here as a person and as a player. That’s what is best for me at this point in my young career.”
BI: This team has a lot of talent when you look at the roster. You’re teaming up with former NBA players Andrea Bargnani, Roddy Beaubois and Toko Shengelia among others. How good can this team be and what are your expectations entering the season?
Larkin: “I believe we have a lot of talent on this roster. We can be really good. Obviously, the goal is to win championships, so hopefully we can grow very well together as a team and win as many of them as we can. I say championships because we play both in the Spanish league and the Euroleague, which are two different championships.
“I want to win Euroleague and win the Spanish league. I want to be the best point guard in Europe. That doesn’t necessarily mean scoring the most points or having the most assists, just being the point guard who did whatever he needed to do on a nightly basis to help his team win. If we win, everything else will take care of itself.”
BI: Was there any part of you that was hesitant to go overseas? Sometimes players don’t want to give up the NBA lifestyle, or they are worried that they’ll never be able to get back to the NBA if they sign with an international team. Were you hesitant at all, and did those things cross your mind?
Larkin: “In all honesty, I wasn’t very hesitant at all. The NBA lifestyle is amazing, but I don’t play in the NBA because of the lifestyle. I play in the NBA because I love to play basketball at the highest level of competition. And with you saying players worry about not making it back into the NBA, that isn’t a concern of mine at all. I had several teams interested in me this summer and a few things – but nothing in regards to how I played – factored into how everything played out. Some are things I can control and some are things I couldn’t, but I think my new representation and new perspective on what it takes to be an everyday pros-pro will land me back in the league in no time. When that happens, I can grow and be more successful than I had been previously – especially after showing my abilities this year when put into a position where I can play my game in some ways.”
BI: Going overseas also presents somewhat of an adventure, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take in a new culture and gain a lot of life experience. How excited are you about this?
Larkin: “I’m very excited about this opportunity. I actually love the Spanish culture, which is one of the reasons I live in Miami during the offseason. It’s probably the most Spanish place in the U.S. My dad is actually fluent in Spanish and has wanted my siblings and I to learn Spanish forever. Overall, this will be a great experience that will only make me a better person and a better player. I’m definitely excited for it and grateful.”
BI: As you went through the free agency process, what was going through your mind? Especially as you saw other players coming off of the board, with many signing large contracts.
Larkin: “Man, this summer was insane (laughs). You had some guys going from playing low minutes per game to signing large contracts over multiple years, so it was definitely crazy. Last year as a free agent, I signed on the first day so I didn’t go through the whole process. This year, it was definitely a new experience with the cap jump and all of that. But at the end of the day, I’m happy for everybody who got paid this summer because I know the hard work you have to put in and the sacrifices you have to make in order to make it into the NBA. And oftentimes the players who don’t play as much just need the opportunity, so hopefully all of the guys people are saying don’t deserve their money play well and show their worth.”
BI: Do you feel that some of the players who signed these significant contracts with NBA teams this summer are less talented than you? I know that’s a common feeling for players.
Larkin: “No doubt about it (laughs). If you look at a lot of the guys who signed deals this summer and you look at my numbers per-36-minutes, it’s a toss up or I have better stats – and that goes for people who signed for $50 million to $15 million. But in a lot of ways, the NBA is all about perception. If you’re on a good team and you play minutes – regardless of if you produce or not – you’re viewed as a ‘winner’ and being a ‘winner’ goes a long way in the eyes of general managers and decision-makers around the league. So even though my stats are better or even, and I’m younger, and I have more potential than a lot of these guys, being on two different teams that had losing seasons hurt my overall perception in teams’ eyes. But no question about it, in my mind, I’m better than and have more potential than some of the guys who signed deals this summer. That is no shot to their games, I’m just a confident person and I know what I’m capable of if placed in the right situation with the right team around me.”
BI: In the past, we’ve talked about the chip you have on your shoulder. How much did the events of this summer add to that chip and further fuel your fire to prove yourself?
Larkin: “Maaannn, if I had a chip before, the chip has grown to the size of a damn building. Never in my life have I been so determined and motivated. A lot of stuff happened off of the court this summer that has added fuel to my fire as well. But I’m not one to talk about what I’m going to do, I just go do it and let my play speak for itself.”
BI: As I’ve pointed out in the past, you’ve done well when given significant playing time. Why do you think you’ve bounced around the NBA and what have you learned (as a player and as a person) from your career thus far?
Larkin: “I think I just haven’t been placed in the most ideal situations. In the three years I have played in the NBA, I would say that Dallas was the best situation. Dallas is an amazing franchise with great people on the staff – inside and outside of the locker room – and being drafted there was a great opportunity for me. Unfortunately, I broke my ankle two weeks after the draft and I missed all of Summer League, preseason and about the first 15-20 games of the season. So when given the opportunity to play, I had no reps against actual NBA players and the last time I had played was in March of my college season. Then, having to adjust to playing with guys the likes of Dirk Nowitzki, Shawn Marion and Vince Carter from playing with your college teammates, it was a huge adjustment and in a lot of ways I deferred to them and just tried to stay out of their way instead of using my talents and my abilities to help them and become a regular contributor on that team. I had a few good games that season where I showed my talent and potential, but by the time I got comfortable and healthy, Devin Harris had come back from injury. At that point, we were in the playoff race so Coach [Rick] Carlisle, who typically doesn’t play rookies that much, went with the more proven and trusted player – which I cannot be mad at or upset with him about because we did push the eventual champions to seven games that year and it was a great experience. I really wish I would have had a different experience there and not broken my ankle and had the path that I had because my game is very similar to J.J. Barea, who has had an amazing career there. I feel as though I could be doing the same, if not better, if given that same opportunity. But I will say, I wasn’t as mature and professional as I should have been when I was in Dallas and I made some mistakes that I shouldn’t have as a young player. That’s something that I do regret because I feel as though that could have been the perfect place for me to grow.
“My second year with the Knicks was very different for me as a basketball player and it was tough. As everybody knows, Phil Jackson had just taken over as president and Derek Fisher had become the head coach and they wanted to implement the Triangle offense. Everybody on that roster that year had a tough time adjusting to the Triangle and we had a terrible year – myself included. I had always been a basketball player who created plays for others with my speed and quickness and ball-handling ability. But in the Triangle offense, the offense makes the plays based on the reads of your teammates and the defense so it was a huge adjustment for us all, but specifically me as a play-making point guard. And actually, when you look at that roster on paper, it was pretty good. It just didn’t mesh well with the Triangle offense, which is probably why the only people left on the team from that season are Carmelo Anthony and Lance Thomas (who was there half of the year). That was just a tough season overall. We actually started strong, but we didn’t keep it up and kept losing. Then at the All-Star break, they decided to trade J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert, and waive Amar’e Stoudemire, so we basically started over with a bunch of young guys and we just didn’t have enough talent to win games after that. Losing was tough, and losing in front of the passionate fan base that the Knicks have was tough. Madison Square Garden was a wonderful place to play and it was a great experience. I just wish we could have been a better team that season and won more games because when you win there, it is a special place. And I wish I could have been a part of that. I still go back and forth with some of the Knicks fans on Twitter or Instagram so imagine [the support] if we would have won that year? They were great fans, like personal hound dogs for anybody who would talk about anybody in the Knicks (laughs).
“Finally, this past year with Brooklyn started off being a great situation. GM Billy King called me at 12:01 a.m. on July 1, 2015, and I signed a few days later. They wanted me to come in, be myself, play my game and help the team win. And to start the season, I was doing that at a very high level. I was shooting 50 percent from the field and around 46 percent from three, and just being confident in being myself on the court. There were several articles and media outlets saying, ‘Larkin finally found his niche’ and, ‘This could be a breakout year’ and, ‘He finally turned himself into a rotation player and serviceable back up.’ Everything was going well for me personally too. We, as a team, just weren’t winning enough games. After about 30 games, they changed everything. They fired the coach, reassigned the GM and everything went haywire. Imagine playing on an NBA team with no coach and no GM. There was no direction and the interim coach Tony Brown was just kind of told to do whatever. It’s tough for anybody – coaches and players – to be in that position, but we all tried to make it work. Tony did his best and we all as players played hard and tried to win games. And with the position we were in, I think we all did a good job – including the coaches. Once all of that happened, it was kind of a roller coaster ride for me. I would play well one game and then not so well and then average and then well again – all across the board. It was just hard to find consistency. Then, they hired Sean Marks as the GM and I ended up starting the last 13 games of the year or something like that. We won two in a row against Cleveland and Indiana, and I had two good games. Then, they decided to sit Thad Young and Brook Lopez, who were our two most talented offensive players, for the rest of the season. So I was starting with other players who were talented, but not to the level of those two. I feel like in the games I started with Brook and Thad, I showed I could be a spot starter. But once they sat, that opportunity left as well. It was a roller coaster ride this past season, but I feel like I showed my talent and my potential again.
“Overall, I’m grateful for the three different situations to showcase my talent and be in three great franchises. But with each situation, it has been tough and not the best for a young player trying to find himself early in his career. Also, playing for four different coaches in three years is difficult because, regardless of the coach, they are going to want you to do different things based on their preferences. But, like I said, I am grateful for every situation because it has taught me a valuable lesson about what you have to do in the league: Be yourself and be the ultimate professional. You have to play your game and do the things that you did to got you there. You can’t please everybody, but if you go out and play your game and be yourself then they will accept it because they brought you in for that reason. With my current situation in Spain, that is what I’m focused on – getting back to being that same guy I was at the University of Miami, the one who got drafted 18th overall because of his play and the one who has all the potential to be a great player in the NBA.
“My goal is to get back to being who I am as a player – a nightmare in the pick-and-roll because I can shoot it and go by you and, defensively, being the same pest that led the ACC in steals my sophomore year. I want to just basically get back to being that guy, only now being better because I am stronger, faster and mentally tougher now than I have ever been in my career.”
NBA Daily: Kevin Knox and Kristaps Porzingis Already Have One Thing In Common
Kevin Knox’s experience on draft night was eerily similar to that of Kristaps Porzingis.
Michael Porter, Jr. might be the next Kevin Durant, but he could just as easily be the next Greg Oden.
And if you’re searching for comfort in the wake of the decision of the Knicks to pass on the opportunity to draft the young man who was widely regarded as being the top prospect in the class of 2018, it is pretty easy to find in the fact that of all people, Jerry West decided that Porter wasn’t worth the risk, either.
While Porter might end up being a Hall of Famer, when it comes to drafting prospects, we might as well be shooting in the dark. We all knew that Markelle Fultz was the best option for the Sixers in last year’s draft, and 12 other teams clearly had no idea what Donovan Mitchell had in store for the league.
Heck, four years ago, as I was recently reminded by someone on Twitter, I predicted that the Knicks would select Emmanuel Mudiay with their fourth pick. Instead, they walked away with Kristaps Porzingis.
If I were the man making the call back then, with the information I had, I certainly would have drafted Mudiay. And you know what? That decision probably would have gotten me fired, and rightfully so.
The true moral of the story is that we simply can’t see into the future and all the analytics in the world won’t able to measure things like guts and heart. So as the Knicks pin their hopes on Kevin Knox, it truly will be interesting to see how the career arcs of he and Porter compare.
As for why we would single out the Knicks and make the franchise’s decision to draft Knox over him a personal one, quite a few people in the know relayed the same information on the Knicks and Porter going back to their date at the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago in May—they loved each other.
Thereafter, there were reports that the Knicks were looking to move up in the draft, and Porter was on their minds. On Thursday night in Barclays Center, with the Knicks on the clock, their fans in attendance cheered for Porter, as they were hopeful that he would be selected to be the franchise’s next stud.
They were disappointed, and now, they’ll hope that Scott Perry’s decision to go with Knox ends up being the right one. It might be, just like Porzingis was the right pick over Mudiay, and it might not be, just like selecting Frank Ntilikina over Mitchell wasn’t.
Like it or not, though, the two young men will forever be linked, both in my mind and in the minds of plenty of other Knicks fans.
“That’s just motivation,” Knox said of the Knicks fans in attendance chanting Porter’s name.
“A lot of people want him to get to the Knicks, but I mean, it’s all good with me. I’m ready to get to work. I’m ready to get to work and ready to prove people in Summer League and prove people in the NBA.”
Knox’s experience on draft night was remarkably similar to that of Porzingis, and now, if you even so much as suggest trading the Latvian unicorn for a player such as Kyrie Irving, Knicks fans just might call for your head.
It’s strange how quickly things can change for you in New York City. At the end of the day, it comes down to working hard and earning the adoration of the faithful in Gotham City. Porzingis succeeded there, and there’s every reason to believe that Knox will, as well.
“They booed Porzingis (on draft night) and look where he is now,” the rookie remarked.
“They can chant Michael Porter all they want, but they got Kevin Knox, and I’m willing to work and I’m willing to get better.”
When asked, Knox would tell you that he and Jayson Tatum happen to have something in common. According to him, neither of the two really got an opportunity to show what they could do at the collegiate level.
With more opportunities and more repetitions, the sky truly is the limit for the 18-year-old.
“I think I can pretty much play all around the floor,” Knox said.
“I can handle the ball, pick-and-roll situations, make plays, make passes. I can stretch the floor, shoot the ball, get rebounds, push it coast to coast. So I think that versatility in the league is something that a lot of teams really need, and I think that’s something I can bring to the Knicks right now.”
Privately, to members of the Knicks organization, Knox has spoken highly of the spotlight that he’s bound to face in New York and believes that playing at Kentucky helped to prepare him for the type of demanding environment that he’ll be introduced to once the season gets underway in New York. And even without a bad back, the crushing expectations and heavy burden could cause a weaker minded player to crumble.
A FaceTime call with Porzingis on draft night went a long way toward giving the rookie the confidence that he’ll need to thrive in New York.
That the franchise’s pride and joy immediately reached out to his new running mate to congratulate him, welcome him to the team and give him some insight is a good sign. At the very least, it shows that Porzingis takes his responsibility as being the team’s lead man seriously.
At most, it could signal K.P.’s being pleased with the selection.
We’re about to embark upon the story of Kevin Knox. We’ve only seen the preamble.
You can’t judge a book by its cover, and you certainly can’t know how the final chapter will end based on what you’ve read in the first chapter. So no, the Knicks fans that wanted Michael Porter on their squad didn’t get their wish, but in the long run, they may end up being better for it.
Just like Kristaps Porzingis, Knox wasn’t received warmly by Knicks fans on draft night.
Hopefully, for the rookie, it’s not the last thing he and the beloved Porzingis will have in common.
NBA Daily: Lessons From The 2018 NBA Draft
After a wild 2018 NBA Draft, here are four lessons and storylines worth watching over the next few years.
Now that the dust has settled on an unpredictable NBA Draft — what exactly have we learned? In amongst the unrelenting rumors, refused workouts and surprise reaches, there are a few key takeaways from Brooklyn. Of course, some of these are one-off instances, but others are definitely part of modern-day draft patterns. While draft night may sometimes seem like complete chaos or chance, each scenario on this rundown has been boiling over for weeks. Between passing on a talented prospect to letting an injured one slide, here are four important lessons from the 2018 NBA Draft.
Luka Dončić… Not The No. 1?
For months and months, it appeared as if Luka Dončić was poised to become the No. 1 overall pick in this draft. Even today, it’s hard to believe that somebody with Dončić’s age and resume wasn’t the top selection. In 2017-18 alone, the Slovenian took home EuroLeague MVP and Finals MVP plus ACB MVP, with championships in both leagues to boot — but here we are. Dončić averaged 14.1 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.1 steals over just 25 minutes per game, quickly transforming into the most well-rounded overseas prospect of all-time. But as impressive as Dončić was throughout the spring, the potential ceilings of both DeAndre Ayton and Marvin Bagley III eventually won out.
At 7-foot-1, Ayton’s 20.1 points, 11.6 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game were undeniably worthy of a top selection too, pairing well alongside Devin Booker and Josh Jackson for the foreseeable future. While the jury is still out on Bagley III — his defense needs some major fine-tuning — he won’t take key touches away from De’Aaron Fox either. More or less, nobody wants to be the organization to miss on such a franchise-altering pick. The Suns, Kings and even the Hawks may eventually regret passing on Dončić, but when general managers’ entire careers can depend on making the right choice at the right time, it’s not difficult to understand why the top of the draft unfolded as it did.
Playing Hard To Get Doesn’t Always Work Out…
As draft boards began to take shape, there was one particularly interesting situation sitting at No. 4 overall. Jaren Jackson Jr., solidly leading the second tier of prospects, was looking like a lock at the Memphis Grizzlies’ pick — but with one major caveat: Jackson Jr. reportedly didn’t work out or give his medical information to the franchise. After he was drafted, Jackson Jr. called those rumors “a tad out of context” — but, obviously, those are some massive red flags. Either way, Memphis went with their gut and selected the talented forward anyway.
But beyond all that, Memphis absolutely made the right move by sticking to their guns. Putting a modern three-point shooting, defensive-minded athlete next to Marc Gasol should prove to be an absolute nightmare for years to come. Naturally, Jackson Jr. will get plenty of easy looks from the stellar Mike Conley Jr. too — so if the draftee was once apprehensive, surely that will pass soon. Still, it reflects on a larger NBA pattern, wherein which prospective athletes sensibly look to mold their own path out of college. With players trying to control their draft narratives more than ever, it’s reassuring to see that some franchises will take their target first and then figure out the rest.
We may never know Jackson Jr.’s full thought process behind not working out for the Grizzlies, but there’s a great chance that the former Spartan was made for Memphis’ tough brand of basketball — and we should all be glad we’ll get to see it.
…But Injuries Will Lead To A Slide
Michael Porter Jr. — what a year for him, huh?
After missing out on much of his only collegiate season due to back surgery, Porter Jr. promised that he was feeling better than ever. But over the last month, scouts and front offices were treated to canceled workouts and hazy uncertainty. And, at the end of the day, it probably scared a handful of franchises away from the talented scorer. Just this week, the Kings heavily considered Porter Jr. at No. 2 overall — but even with that sudden unlikelihood passing by, few thought he’d drop out of the top ten altogether. Outside of the guaranteed money that Porter Jr. will miss out on, redshirting his rookie year may also be on the table as well.
The inherent upside with Porter Jr. is obvious, but — similarly to the Dončić issue — it’s tough to ask franchise officials to stake their livelihood on the prospect’s health. If Porter Jr.’s lingering issues stay with him and he never reaches his mountain of potential, that’s a tough pill to swallow. The 19-year-old would fall all the way down to No. 14, where the Denver Nuggets gladly scooped him up. During the combine in May, Porter Jr. called himself the best player in the draft — but it’s now up to him to prove them all wrong.
The Mysterious Men Nearly Miss Out
Let’s rewind to early April. Villanova had been just crowned NCAA champions for the second time in three years, the NBA playoffs were soundly on the horizon and mock drafts had begun to consistently pour out. Early on, there were two athletic big men that looked like shoo-ins as first-rounders: Robert Williams and Mitchell Robinson. Despite their undercooked skill-sets, both players pulled out of the combine and then waited for the hype to build — except, well, it didn’t. Williams, who was typically projected in the early teens, slipped out of the lottery entirely, only to be rescued by the Boston Celtics at No. 27. Williams is a booming, powerful prospect, but he could’ve really benefited from competing against the other top prospects in May.
Although he’s now landed in an ideal situation with Brad Stevens, Al Horford and a process-driven Celtics squad, Williams likely cost himself a whole load of money over the last 30-plus days as well.
In Robinson’s case, many believed his floor was the Los Angeles Lakers at No. 25 — rumors swirling that the 7-foot-1 center even received a promise from the illustrious franchise. Instead, Robinson dropped to the New York Knicks at No. 36 overall. Robinson had originally committed to Western Kentucky in July of 2017 before dropping out to prepare for the draft. After skipping the combine last month, Robinson indeed exhibited the potential to be both a steady shot-blocker and three-point maker during his individual evaluations. But with little to go off of but high school highlight reels and small session workout tapes, he understandably fell.
Sometimes the hype is impossible to ignore, but not participating in the combine and staying as mysterious as possible hurt these ultra-talented prospects.
While the 2018 NBA Draft wasn’t quite the trade-heavy, drama-laden extravaganza much of the world expected, there are plenty of narratives to reflect upon. At the end of the day, the ink is barely dry on this year’s festivities and it’ll be some time before there’s any indication of these successes or failures. Still, there are lessons to be learned from every draft, workout or injury process and these are four conversations worth considering as the NBA quickly rolls into the summer league season.
NBA Daily: The Losers of the NBA Draft
Shane Rhodes breaks down the losers of the 2018 NBA Draft.
The 2018 NBA Draft season has come to a close. And, while the actual draft wasn’t the fireworks show that it could have been, there was still plenty of surprises, both good and bad.
While Basketball Insiders’ Simon Hannig discussed the winners of the draft, not everyone was so fortunate. And, while the draft can come down to chance, some teams were worse off than others.
Let’s take a look at some of the bigger losers from draft night
Talk about heartbreak.
Mikal Bridges was going home. The Philadelphia 76ers selected the Villanova standout with the No. 10 pick. Bridges did an entire press conference, talking about what it was like to be staying in Philadelphia. His mother, Tyneeha Rivers, is even the Global VP of Human Resources for Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, the company that owns the team. It was perfect.
And then it wasn’t.
Mikal Bridges just did an entire press conference talking about staying in Philly. He was traded as it ended. He had no idea.
— Dan Wetzel (@DanWetzel) June 22, 2018
It’s hard to not feel bad for Bridges, who was dropped into a dream scenario and then had it all ripped away. Going to the Phoenix Suns, an organization heading in a new direction, to play alongside plenty of young, high upside talent, including No. 1 pick Deandre Ayton as well as former lottery picks Josh Jackson and Devin Booker, isn’t the worst thing in the world for the rookie forward. Bridges could even flourish in Phoenix.
But it certainly won’t compare to playing under the bright lights in Philadelphia alongside Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid come next April and for years to come.
Michael Porter Jr.
One year ago, Michael Porter Jr. was a top three draft prospect projected to go as high as No. 1 overall. However, with rumors of questionable medicals swirling throughout the draft process, he dropped all the way to the Denver Nuggets at No. 14 overall.
While Porter will certainly welcome the chip on his shoulder, the lost earnings will definitely hurt him and his pocket. Porter is missing out on millions on his first NBA contract. Plus, the sheer amount of teams that balked at his medicals doesn’t bode well for his long-term future in the NBA.
It isn’t all bad for Porter; Denver has a young, talented roster and was one win away from a postseason birth last year. They can afford to be patient with Porter’s back, should he need to miss some time, as well. Standing 6-foot-11, 211 pounds and with a smooth jumper, Porter still has a great chance to be a star in this league.
Still, it was an inauspicious beginning to what, hopefully, is a long NBA career.
This could apply to the Sacramento Kings roster as well as their fanbase.
The Kings got “their guy” in No. 2 overall pick Marvin Bagley III. And, while Bagley is still an amazing talent, the pick just seems like more of the same for the Kings, who have a glut of bigs — Willie-Cauley Stein, Harry Giles III, Skal Labissiere, Kostas Koufos — on the roster and a distinct lack of high-quality guard or wing depth.
In steps Luka Dončić, the 19-year-old Slovenian phenom. With the Suns taking Ayton with the top pick, the Kings had their chance to shore up their backcourt for the foreseeable future alongside De’Aaron Fox and move another step closer to relevancy.
And they whiffed.
Dončić could very well end up as the best player in the class. While he isn’t the most athletic, Dončić is exactly where the NBA is going; he is a multipositional defender and playmaker that can shoot the three. Meanwhile, Bagley, who is a questionable fit in the modern game, will be hardpressed to find playing time early on in his Kings tenure. Even worse, with their hearts set on Bagley, the Kings likely could have traded down a la the Atlanta Hawks and picked up another asset for their troubles.
While it’s much too early to call it either way, this is a pick that could come back to haunt Sacramento down the line.
It was not a great night for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Cavaliers missed out on one point-guard prospect, Trae Young, and another, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, flat out said he didn’t want to play for the franchise. And, even though they got a guard they liked in Alabama’s Collin Sexton, the Cavaliers are still in the unenviable position of dealing with LeBron James’ third iteration of The Decision.
Sexton’s selection doesn’t exactly help them retain James’ services either.
Since acquiring the pick from the Boston Celtics in the Kyrie Irving trade last summer, it had been speculated as to whether Cleveland would use the pick or trade it to get James help. With the team opting for the former, it’s difficult to imagine the Cavaliers getting any significant help for James, in free agency or otherwise, which could push him closer to leaving than he already may be. Meanwhile, Sexton, who dominated the ball during his time at Alabama, isn’t exactly the best fit alongside James in the event that he stays.
Either way, there appears to be a bumpy road ahead for the Cavaliers.
Troy Brown Jr. is a great pickup for the Washington Wizards. That still doesn’t mean he wasn’t a reach.
Brown is a twitchy wing that can defend multiple positions. But there were multiple wings that Washington could have taken ahead of Brown (e.g., Lonnie Walker II) that would have made this a better pick. Brown struggled as a shooter during his lone season at Oregon — he shot just 29.1 percent from three and has some iffy mechanics — and is a strange fit on the Wizards roster that already has a surplus of wing depth in John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter Jr. and Kelly Oubre.
With the team looking to move Marcin Gortat, a big would have been a better fit for Washington at 15. Or, if management was deadset on Brown, dropping back a few spots would have made more sense.
Brown certainly has the talent to make an impact, but it’s hard to like a pick that may not crack the rotation in year one, according to the Wizards own General Manager.
The Toronto Raptors took a big step earlier this offseason, moving on from Dwane Casey and placing Nick Nurse at the helm in early June.
But, with zero picks in a loaded draft, the Raptors have to be considered losers.
There were plenty of difference makers available up-and-down the draft board, but the Raptors didn’t end up with any of them. While management could improve the team via trade or free agency come July, they still feature the same roster that got manhandled in the Eastern Conference Semifinals by James and the Cavaliers and that isn’t good.
Not everyone can come out a winner in a crapshoot like the NBA Draft. Still, some teams found themselves worse off than others when all was said and done. Luckily, those teams still have a chance to improve themselves with free agency right around the corner.