Darío Vázquez, resident expert
The NBA Draft wasn’t surprising regarding the top 5 picks. It was known for a while that Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram were the consensus 1-2 pick but that doesn’t mean there weren’t a few surprises on draft night. An unexpected trade and a few steals on the first round made it a pretty interesting day in the Association. I’m going to talk about the trades, the players I believe were a steal and who landed on a team that will probably be a perfect fit for them.
So the Oklahoma City Thunder traded Serge Ibaka to the Orlando Magic for Victor Oladipo, Ersan Ilyasova and the rights to Domantas Sabonis. Who won on this trade? I believe the Thunder did. After seeing how successful the pairing of Enes Kanter and Steven Adams worked for them during the post season it looks like Billy Donovan and his staff are willing to bet on those two to be the primary bigs on the team. Serge Ibaka, although just 26 years old, has seen a decline in his numbers the last 3 seasons and it’s been reported that he has grown tired of his role in OKC. Now, Ibaka is a player that impacts well past the numbers as a rim protector and a big who can stretch the floor so it’s not like he is the type of player the league is crowded with. The Magic will get a badly needed rim protector and “veteran” to pair along with Nikola Vucevic and Aaron Gordon but what they gave up for him might be a little too much, even though they had a deep back court, considering the fact that Ibaka is on a contract yeat and might bolt for another team after next season. OKC now has a shooting guard with real upside, a serviceable (if healthy) stretch four and a young big prospect to back up Kanter and Adams for a player who could’ve left them for nothing next year. OKC was the clear winner on this trade and are clearly making moves to catch Kevin Durant’s attention during the free agency period.
Back to the main event of the night, there were a couple of teams who gambled with young talent, others were able to add possible contributors late in the draft and some who went the safe route. The biggest gamble in my opinion was made by the Milwaukee Bucks by selecting the intriguing seven footer Thon Maker at number 10. After some late reports about him being 21-23 years old instead of 19, Maker started to quickly drop off the mayor draft boards. The Bucks saw the possibility of pairing a rare talent like Maker alongside Giannis Antetokoumpo and Jabari Parker and we really can’t blame them. Having two 7 footer with guard skills could be a nightmare for the rest of the league but will Maker develop as steadily as Giannis has done? That remains to be seen.
For the steal of the draft I will go with the San Antonio Spurs. Now it’s pretty much a fact that whoever Pop and company touch they turn to gold, drafting at #29 a player who was ranked as high as 9th on a few mayor draft boards is just unfair. That’s exactly what they did by stealing Dejounte Murray. This kid is a 6’5″ point guard with a 6’11” wingpsan, elite size for the position. He has the potential to learn the ropes from the great Tony Parker and eventually take over the starting role. Murray is an elite passer and rebounder and with his lenght he should give the elite point guards in the west a bit of trouble. Remember how OKC had the at the time unbeatable Warriors down 3-1? Yes, with length. Murray still has to work on his shot as he should get open shots off the ball as the defense focus on LaMarcus Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard. Maybe his questionable shot is the reason he dropped so far in the draft but you can teach a guy to shoot, you can’t teach him size and hustle.