A little less than a week ago, the University of Kentucky Wildcats saw 4 more players get drafted into the NBA; although only two were 1st round selections, it was still a good night for John Calipari and the UK basketball program. Now given the state of the draft, it was a given that Enes Kanter and Brandon Knight would be 1st round selections, if not “lottery picks”. However, it was hard to predict whether or not Josh Harrellson and DeAndre Liggins would be chosen at all. While Kanter was chosen with the 3rd overall pick by the Utah Jazz, Brandon Knight actually watched his stock slide just a bit as he was the 8th selection, made by the Detroit Pistons. Knight spent much of the draft process being labeled a “Top5 pick” and he actually never had a formal workout for the Pistons.
Nonetheless, the night became much more special as with the 15th pick of the 2nd round (45th overall), the New Orleans Hornets selected Josh Harrellson. Now that same night, it was announced that this pick would be moved to the New York Knicks so his time as a Hornet was short-lived. It would be 8 picks later (23rd in the 2nd round and 53rd overall) that DeAndre Liggins would be selected by the Orlando Magic. So the fact that all four at least were NBA draft picks is a good thing; the question is regardless of where they were selected, which player landed on a team that is the best fit for him?
I will start with Enes Kanter and his selection by the Jazz. Kanter of course projects as a big-man with a good back-to-basket game as well as progressing face-up game. With Tyrone Corbin at the helm for a full season, it will be interesting to see how he works out his front-court rotation. The Jazz currently have veterans Paul Milsap at PF and Mehmet Okur at C. There is also C Al Jefferson and then the youngster, Derrick Favors at PF coming off the bench. So the front-court situation in Utah would appear to be a little crowded at this moment. If Jerry Sloan was still at the helm for the Jazz, I think the worries would be diminished as to handle the over-crowdedness and how Kanter would be developed. But for a young head coach like Corbin, I believe there is reason to be concerned for not only Kanter, but also Favors as well. Milsap and Okur and Jefferson are all veterans but Okur is expendable. The question is how much value and interest does Okur command if the Jazz try and move him via a trade situation. Jefferson or Milsap would have the more trade value but each is more valuable to the Jazz for the present, at least until Kanter and Favors can get themselves established. So the question is how much playing time can Kanter count on seeing with the front-court clearly having some capable veterans already on it?
As for Brandon Knight, I don’t believe he ever thought he would still be on the board for the Detroit Pistons to select at the eighth position but he was and they did. Most experts believed that at some point after that pick, Knight might have heard his name involved in some sort of trade but that simply did not occur. So now Knight is on a roster that currently lists just two PGs, Rodney Stuckey (teams leading scorer and assist man) and back-up Will Bynum. This would have to be the position they want to use Knight at because the other option, SG already has a log-jam of players led by the disgruntled veteran, Richard “RIP” Hamilton as well as veteran Tracy McGrady. The Pistons were absolutely a team in disarray for most of last season including what some deemed as a player’s protest when several players all “called in” to miss a practice / shoot-around on the same day roughly within an hour or two of each other. This was said to have occurred in protest over some of the coaching decisions being made; that job is currently vacant and GM Joe Dumars is starting to feel some heat. So the climate in which Brandon Knight is stepping into is not very favorable off the court, his on-court situation doesn’t look to be much better.
Most fans felt like a move to get another front-court player, preferably someone to man the center position as the only listed center is the offensively challenged Ben Wallace. With that being said, I am not sure of what the Pistons actually want to do or plan on doing with Stuckey and Knight (Bynum is expendable at this point). Neither of these guys is your typical PG as both are better scorers than distributors but they are both competitors and they play hard. Stuckey makes a littler short of $3 million per and it is hard me to imagine both of these players staying on the same roster for more than a season.
Josh “Jorts” Harrellson appeared to be headed to the “Big Easy” of New Orleans after his mid 2nd round selection but instead he will be headed to the “Big City of Dreams” and a chance to play his hone games in the famed Madison Square Garden. One look at the Knicks current roster and it is clear to see that Harrellson has a realistic chance of making this club. The only current listed center on the team is veteran Ronny Turiaf and the only other listed PF (with any sort of vital stats) beyond the household name of Amare Stoudamire is journeyman Jared Jefferies. The other listed players are PFs Renaldo Balkman and Shelden Williams but the obvious is that if Harrellson is going to make and play, it will be at the C position. If Mike D’Antoni remains the coach (their have been rumors he will not be by the time the season begins) then Harrellson could really take advantage of the wide-open offense he employs. He will not be just limited to posting up but he will also be able to step outside and shoot it with Stoudamire working in the paint most of the time. If “Jorts” can find his stroke, opposing big men would have to go out on the floor to guard him, thereby giving Amare more of the lane to work with. If the critics can stay off D’Antoni’s back and the Knicks can find the right chemistry on the court, this could turn out to be a great spot for Harrellson to begin his pro career at.
For DeAndre Liggins, the Orlando Magic saw a player that is gritty and tough, who likes to play it on the defensive end of the court. Liggins is not going to be an offensive threat but he can make his mark pestering opponents like Dewayne Wade, Carmelo Anthony, Joe Johnson, etc…in the Eastern Conference. Liggins is in a pretty good spot as the only listed SF currently on the roster is Hedo Turkoglu who is more of an offensive threat but because size 6’10” and lack of mobility, he cannot guard other SF in the league. Now the SG spot has J.J. Reddick, Jason Richardson and Quentin Richardson but Reddick is primarily a shooter who is a liability on defense. J. Richardson is a good offensive and defensive player but the fact is he is a free-agent to be and his return to Orlando is not a given. Quentin Richardson has seen his role on any NBA team diminish over the last 3 seasons so his role on this club is not guaranteed. Liggins can make this club and earn his minutes by being tough, physical and a hustler on the court. He needs to be able to improve his shooting enough that he can knock down open jumpers and be able to finish strong when in transition. If he can do that and eliminate turnovers and mistakes, he can become a Bruce Bowen (San Antonio Spurs) type of player for the Magic.
So with all of this being said, who do you think landed in the best spot when you take into account the current roster, team chemistry / style and coaching situation? Let me hear what you think.