Moves To Make
PHOTO: Courtesy Tyrese Haliburton, Emil Vajgrt

What promised to be the most unusual NBA draft in recent memory did not fail to live up to it’s billing. A series of picks that could be simultaneously debated as steals/reaches and a lack of trade action saw to that. No matter where you fall on the debate around Anthony Edwards going first overall, or Obi Toppin’s fit with Mitchell Robinson, it’s impossible to say who is a long term winner or loser from this draft. With no ‘can’t miss’ prospects and a deep pool of potential rotation pieces, so many teams can rightfully claim to have achieved their draft goals. So who comes away from draft night as a winner or loser is an argument for another column. Today we’re simply going to take a look at a few teams who made some interesting moves on draft day but still have moves to make in the near future.

Golden State Warriors

Golden State’s best laid plans for the second overall pick were thrown into disarray on the day of the draft, with Klay Thompson set to miss a second straight campaign, this time with an Achilles injury on the opposite leg from his ACL tear. Get well soon, my man.

This probably doesn’t need to be said, but the Warriors – expected to vault straight back into title contention with their stars returning – are also-rans for the upcoming season. Steph Curry is now 32 years old and it remains to be seen what magic he has left in that slight frame of his.

Before the draft, given that we hadn’t seen a ‘contender’ land a pick like this since the Detroit Pistons in 2003 (didn’t that turn out well), the Warriors’ intentions were discussed high and wide. In the end, they did the sensible thing and took the best fitting prospect out of the top tier in James Wiseman. An unpolished gem who has played a mere three games in the past year and a half, the 19-year-old fills an immediate need as a rim running lob threat and has all the tools to be an excellent defensive centre. He’s in the perfect place to learn his craft.

Thompson’s injury makes the Warriors’ next move very interesting, however. They should choose to use this season as a second consecutive ‘gap year’ of sorts. They can nurse Curry and Draymond Green through the season whilst getting an extended look at Andrew Wiggins.

Golden State clearly have the future in mind, perhaps hoping to create an extended window of contention, similar to San Antonio’s. Their late 2nd round picks are the op-shop version of their star back court. Nico Mannion should be a steal at pick 48 and Justinian Jessup is a light out shooter who might not be athletic enough to evolve into a legitimate 3 and D player, though a Kyle Korver-esque career is not out of the question – both were picked 51st in a nice bit of serendipity.

What if, though, the Warriors decide that they need to chase another ring whilst Curry is still in his prime? As much as it hurts to say, Thompson’s contract is now amongst the worst in the league: $160 million through four more seasons for a man that will return to the floor at age 32 with serious injuries to both legs. Does the front office get aggressive and look to trade Thompson as well as Wiggins? They still have Minnesota’s juicy 2021 first as well as their own pick which has very suddenly shot up in value.

Stick or twist? The Warriors answer will be intriguing.

Detroit Pistons

It’s unclear what value Blake Griffin, his gargantuan contract and his fossilised knees have around the league, but you can bet that new general manager Troy Weaver is making calls. He’ll be looking to offload Derrick Rose as well. The rebuild is on.

How do we know this? Taking Killian Hayes at #7 – a high upside but exceedingly raw prospect – indicates that the Pistons are playing the long game. The trading away of Bruce Brown for Dzanan Musa is an interesting upside gamble, whilst offloading Luke Kennard means that Detroit handball the decision on what to pay the wing as he approaches the end of his rookie deal, whilst bringing in Saddiq Bey, who profiles as a Khris Middleton type.

The team also acquired pick 16 from Houston by taking on Trevor Ariza’s contract. That pick turned into Isaiah Stewart who they hope will be their centre of the future. Stewart could end up as a Derrick Favors type, assuming he avoids Favors less than ideal injury history – a consistent 14 and 8 player with a couple of blocks, stellar team defense and excellent leadership.

Drafting Stewart does beg the question: are the Pistons keeping Christian Wood? Whilst he can shoot, and he does have a thin frame, Wood projects as a stretch centre rather than a power forward. Despite the fact that he’s only been a relevant NBA player for a season – and a full time starter for less than two months – the 25-year-old Wood is going to get paid in free agency. Whatever team Wood decides on joining is going to be taking a risk given his less than ideal off-court habits prior to his breakout campaign. Are the Pistons prepared to take that risk?

There is a chance that Weaver be forced to keep hold of Griffin and Rose – both excellent professionals away from the court – though they can help shepherd the youngsters through their early development. Weaver’s moves on draft night, however, give the impression that he’s looking to build from scratch.

Philadelphia 76ers

Well, it didn’t take long for Daryl Morey to make his mark on the squad.

The Sixers aced their picks in the draft. Tyrese Maxey is a Lou Williams, microwave scorer type; Isaiah Joe is another shooter with range and a smooth stroke. Paul Reed is a steal at 58. He’s a versatile defender would could conceivably defend one through four right away. Reed developed an effective pick and pop game in his junior year at DePaul. If that continues he could be what people perhaps hoped Otto Porter would become. All in all, an outstanding haul.

But it was prior to the draft where Morey’s famous wheeling and dealing came to the fore. Morey took care of the biggest millstone around the Sixers neck in trading Al Horford along with pick 34 and a first in 2025 to Oklahoma City for Danny Green and Terrance Ferguson. As well as ridding the team of it’s worst contract, Morey has brought in a man that has started on championship winning teams for three different franchises and a freakishly athletic ball of clay. He topped that by trading the ill-fitting and expensive Josh Richardson for one of the best shooters on the planet in Seth Curry.

In the space of 24 hours Morey has gone a long way to fixing the Sixers shooting woes whilst simultaneously clearing playing time on the wing for Matisse Thybulle and at the four for Tobias Harris. In addition he managed to downgrade the Sixers cap woes from catastrophic to merely worrisome.

Morey being Morey, he’s likely not done. His moves on draft day have potentially set the Sixers up to return the top of the East. We’ve said that before, though……

Charlotte Hornets

Oh, to be a fly on the wall….

Minnesota Timberwolves

The Wolves were in a tough spot with the #1 pick – not a statement you expect to hear all that often. In LaMelo Ball and James Wiseman, they had obvious positional overlap with their franchise cornerstones. In Anthony Edwards they have a young man that openly stated that he doesn’t love the sport of basketball. On the day of the draft, no less. Ugh.

Still, the Wolves really had no choice other than to draft Edwards, who simply shattered athletic metrics every time he was assessed. If he ever does find a place in his heart for the game – or at least develops a modicum of professional pride – he has the best chance to be the best player in this class. That pick alone isn’t what made Minnesota’s day noteworthy – it’s all the stuff they did after the first selection that piques interest.

The Wolves moved their pieces around the chess board, giving up the 17th pick for prodigal son Ricky Rubio and a pair of picks in the 20’s, then flipping one of those (25) along with the 33rd pick to move up a mere two slots, only to pick Leandro Bolmaro. It’s not that Bolmaro is a poor prospect, indeed the Argentinian could be a very good play making wing if things turn out. The fascination around the pick is that Bolmaro was probably going to be available at 33 – the pick they traded to move up to get him.

In Jaden McDaniels – taken at pick 28 – the Wolves have themselves a athletic big wing, but one who at this stage of his development doesn’t appear to have a single NBA level skill to hang his hat on.

The Wolves probably have moves to make. Rubio will be a fine role model for Edwards and Russell, and Towns absolutely adores him – let’s face it, we all adore Ricky. . But where does this leave Malik Beasley? The former Nugget was a 20 point-per-game scorer after coming over at the trade deadline. Surely he’s going to be moved, now.

Ideally, general manager Gersson Rosas will try to bring in somebody that plays defense from time to time. None of his draft picks are likely to ever make a difference at that end of the floor.

Sacramento Kings

The Kings were understandably delighted to have Tyrese Haliburton fall into their laps at 12. That set up a fine draft for rookie general manager Monte McNair, who traded for the 40th pick which he used to take Robert Woodard, a player many had as a late first rounder. He’s going to be a defensive demon and he can already hit the catch and shoot trey. He’s got an outside chance of being a middle class Tobias Harris. With the 43rd pick, they nabbed Jahmi’us Ramsay; a flat out bucket getter with defensive potential.

The arrival of Haliburton and Ramsay likely means the end for both Buddy Hield and Bogdan Bogdanovic as Kings and it appears neither will shed tears over their impending departures. Hield has been openly unhappy for quite some time, though his limited game (outside of that sweet jumper) and terrible contract extension – $94 million over 4 years – that only kicks in for this upcoming season make him a tough man to trade. The proposed Bogdanovic sign and trade was a win for the Kings, though with that debacle likely dead in the water it remains to be seen if the Kings will get anything for their highly sought restricted free agent.

The Kings newfound competence in the front office is slowly giving this team an identity. The front court is still a mess, though McNair has assets to swing some deals for help. The Kings might just be on their way to genuine garden variety adequateness. Finally.