Got tired of hearing all the trade rumors around the NBA and just wanted the draft to hurry up and start? Were you waiting for the big blockbuster trade, whether it was including Jimmy Butler, Kevin Love, or some of Boston’s eight picks? Well, you would have disappointed.
This draft lacked much headlining moves or picks. Of course excluding Ben Simmons being taken first overall, or Brandon Ingram’s selection at number two to the Los Angeles Lakers. With the third pick, many experts believed Boston was going to do something dramatic. Instead, they went with a safe pick by addressing a need at the small forward position with Jaylen Brown. Boston Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck said, they tried to trade the pick, but nothing came close.
The moves that were made in the draft were met with speculation from NBA experts. The biggest blockbuster trade that went down last night involved the Orlando Magic and the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Magic traded Victor Oladipo, Ersan Ilyasova, and the rights to the 11th overall draft pick Domantas Sabonis to the Thunder for Serge Ibaka. Many experts, including ESPN Insider Jeff Goodman, believe the Thunder won the trade outright considering that Ibaka production has dipped and he is entering the last year of his contract. As the Magic GM Rob Hennigan states, the team made the trade in an effort to beef up their interior defense. The second biggest trade came between the Phoenix Suns and the Sacramento Kings. The trade involved the Kings swapping the eighth overall pick (Marquese Chriss) to the Suns for the 13th pick (Georgios Papagiannis), 28th pick (Skal Labissiere), a 2020 second round pick, and the rights to Bogdan Bogdanovic. The Suns kept their fourth overall pick which they took power forward Dragan Bender from Croatia. Even though it was known that Phoenix favored both Bender and Chriss, the trade still raised questions as to what their plans are involving the two power forwards.
The real story of the draft that is being hidden in plain sight is about the number of international players selected last night. In the first round, eight of 30 players selected came from overseas. The most in a draft since 2003. Of those 30 players, only 16 were born in the United States which is the lowest amount of American born players in the first round since 1973, when there were only 18 picks in the round. Another incredible feat was accomplished by Australian born Ben Simmons who was taken first overall. Simmons became only the second player ever to be born in Australia and taken first overall in the draft. The only other player to do so was Andrew Bogut in 2005.
International players usually don’t get love from the fans during drafts. Most international players never reach their potential in the NBA, and some teams elect not to even bring players to America. So those fans who wanted immediate impact in this draft (outside of Sixers and Lakers fans) were let down last night. With the cap continuing to rise and some big names hitting the free agency, maybe the big splashes are coming later on.
The best thing you can say about the 2016 NBA Draft is that teams generally didn’t shoot themselves in the foot, and their is always the possibility that these international players turn into studs like Kristaps Porzingis. Time will tell, but for now, we’ll have to do our homework and wait for the season to start before we declare this draft a bust or not.