CHARLOTTE, North Carolina – Ever since the Golden State Warriors won a championship in 2016 without a true elite center, NBA teams have been emulating how the back-to-back champions built their team through the draft – that is building a team with wings and tall guards that are interchangeable in terms of positions.
The 2017 NBA draft saw guards Markelle Fultz going to the Philadelphia 76ers and Lonzo Ball heading to the Los Angeles Lakers. Wing players were premium in the 2016 NBA Draft with Ben Simmons taken as the first pick and Brandon Ingram taken by the 76ers and Lakers, respectively.
But this year’s NBA draft is shaping up to be a lot different.
The Big 5
Deandre Ayton of Arizona is the consensus top draft pick this year. Listed at 7’1” and 250lbs, the forward-center finished tied for first with 24 double-doubles in his lone collegiate season. The Phoenix Suns hope that his addition will fortify their young team filled with backcourt players in Josh Jackson, TJ Warren and Devin Booker.
Duke University scoring machine Marvin Bagley is a rare specimen in college where he was one of 4 players in the US to average 20 points in scoring and rebounding as well as finishing with a high field-goal percentage (61.4%). At 6’11”, he could contribute quickly to a team that needs an offensive artillery. He could go to the Sacramento Kings at the second pick of the draft.
Jaren Jacskson Jr from Michigan State is another lengthy player listed at 6’11” and with a wingspan of 7’5”. He is a defensive demon with the ability to protect the rim as well as switch out and guard smaller players in the perimeter. His length was put to good use when he recorded 8 blocked shots in a win against Rutgers last December 2017. The Atlanta Hawks are looking to get him as the 3rd pick of the draft.
Another tall fellow is Mohamed Bamba from Texas University. With an incredible 7’10” wingspan, he is touted to be a defensive anchor for teams that needs very good rim protection. Aside from that, his mechanics as a shooter shows some promise and his potential is drawing similarities to Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert. He figures to be picked by either the Memphis Grizzlies or the Dallas Mavericks.
Wendell Carter Jr from Duke University figures to be a more polished player who can quickly contribute on both ends of the floor. Going at 6’11”, he is a good size and exceptional length that the Orlando Magic or Chicago Bulls could use.
It remains to be seen how these tall and lanky players can translate winning for the teams that will pick them. The pace and space era has dominated the past few NBA playoffs with the Golden State Warriors winning their last two championships that did not feature a back-to-the-basket center or forward.
The last time that happened, it was in 2014 when 6’11” Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs won an NBA championship.
Another interesting fact that was noted – since the NBA Draft Lottery began in 1985, 4 of 33 No. 1 overall picks have won an NBA championship with the team that drafted them: David Robinson (San Antonio Spurs, 1987), Tim Duncan (Spurs, 1997), LeBron James (Cleveland Cavaliers, 2003) and Kyrie Irving (Cavaliers, 2011). James’ title with the Cavs came in his second stint with the team. – Rappler.com
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