By: Jason M. Sanin
Another edition of the NBA Draft is in the books, with another group of prospective players having been selected to the teams with which they hope to assemble a productive professional career. As always, the draft was filled with surprises, some smart moves, and some questionable decisions that will impact how basketball betting experts look at each team in 2015.
When you have the number one pick in the draft, your team has the ability to select any available player without any questions asked. This year, the Minnesota Timberwolves had that luxury, and took advantage of it by selecting Karl-Anthony Towns first overall. This was a no brainer for Minnesota, a team with a history of mistakes with first round draft picks, as Towns’ size and speed present a combination that should see him make an immediate impact in the NBA.
Los Angeles selected next, and were expected by many to take Jahlil Okafor with the second pick, but instead elected to grab guard DeAngelo Russell, in a shrewd move for the team. Having selected Julius Randle to play on the interior last season, grabbing another big man would have limited the effectiveness of both players, making it important for the Lakers to find a guard who can make an impact long after star guard Kobe Bryant retires in the coming years.
With Okafor having dropped out of the top two, the Philadelphia 76ers were left with no choice but to take him with the third overall pick. Displaying an unrivaled offensive touch for his size, Okafor joins a crowded front court with Joel Embiid and Nerlens Noel, ensuring Philadelphia that they will get at least one reliable player out of the three.
Perhaps the most questionable decision in the draft came from the New York Knicks, who drafted Latvian professional Kristaps Porzingis with the fourth pick in the draft. In their history, the Knicks had taken three international players in the first round of the draft prior to Porzingis, zero of which had a successful career with New York. General Manager Phil Jackson cited Porzingis’ work ethic and versatility as the reasons behind the decision, but that may not be enough to help the team improve from their 17 win mark last season. To many, it’s decisions like these that make it hard for fans or tipsters to have any faith in this dysfunctional club.
Perhaps the biggest surprise in this draft was guard Emmanuel Mudiay falling to the number seven spot, where he was taken by the Denver Nuggets. Mudiay, an American player who played last season professionally in China rather than go to college, was regarded by many to be the most NBA ready player in the draft, but teams at the top of the draft chose to ignore that and go with six other players first.
Now comes the most fun part of this process, which is finding out whether or not the players selected live up to their billing or become infamous parts of each club’s history by failing to meet expectations.