- Dylan Jackson
Five NBA Draft Player/Team Fits That Are Way Too Good
The NBA Draft is all about where players land. It's about picking apart athletes and predicting how they will do at the next level. For people like me, there is a lot to be excited about in discussing the next wave of talent to enter the NBA. However, about half of all players end up not performing to expectations. A lot of this has to do with the team these people are drafted by. Most times a player is a 'bust', it isn't necessarily because of their skill level. It's more about how the coaches develop the player.
Take Malik Monk for example. Last season for the Charlotte Hornets, Clifford had Michael Carter-Williams above Malik Monk in the rotation because of MCW's defensive ability. From a developmental perspective, this simply wasn't the right way to develop Monk. However, once Michael Carter-Williams's season was ended due to an injury, Monk exploded as one of the top scorers for the Hornets. In his last six games of the season, Monk averaged 20 points, one rebound, four assists, in less than 25 minutes per game. So, clearly, the difference in how a player is used can have a huge impact on how they perform.
What does this have to do with draft fits? Everything. In almost all of my player breakdowns, the phrase "if developed correctly" can be found. This stipulation is necessary due to the potential fits of players on teams. If a player that needs play time to get better is picked by a team loaded at that certain position already, the player is all but destined to fail.
Anyways, here are five of the best draft fits in the 2018 NBA Draft.
Marvin Bagley to the Memphis Grizzlies The Memphis Grizzlies have been involved in some rumors to trade the fourth overall pick for either a salary dump or a veteran player. However, if Marvin Bagley is still available, it would be very hard to pass up on him. The Duke big has a great offensive game but struggles defensively. Duke even ran a 2-3 zone in an effort to mend Bagley's defensive woes. However, the offensive-minded Bagley would be a great compliment to veteran center Marc Gasol, who has won defensive player of the year in the past. Gasol, who is now clearly declining as a basketball player, would be able to mentor Bagley on the defensive end, hopefully mending some of his defensive struggles. Bagley would play the power-forward position alongside Gasol at center. He would be an immediate upgrade over JaMychal Green, who started at the four for Memphis the majority of the 2018 season.
Miles Bridges to the Philadelphia 76ers The Philadelphia made a trade in December that served two purposes. The first reason was to get rid of Jahlil Okafor. The second was to acquire Trevor Booker, who the 76ers presumed would be a rotational forward for the rest of the season. Unfortunately for them, Booker didn't quite live up to expectations and he was cut in favor of Ersan Ilyasova. However, with Ilyasova leaving along with Amir Johnson, the 76ers have a major hole at Power-Forward, and Miles Bridges will likely be available when the 76ers pick at the 10th overall selection. Bridges, being only 6'7", can play either the three or four. His athleticism is one of the most coveted skills in his game. Bridges is known for being one of the safer picks in the 2018 NBA draft and has drawn some comparisons to, oddly enough, Jayson Tatum coming out of Duke. If his shot projects well enough and his athleticism maintains throughout his transition to the next level, Bridges could be a steal in this draft.
Keita Bates-Diop to the Indiana Pacers A lot of people think that the Indiana Pacers should pick a guard. And while if someone projected to go inside the lottery slips to them, that would certainly be worth considering. However, Bates-Diop is one of the most versatile wings in this class. For me, he projects as a solid NBA starter with the ceiling of a high-level NBA player. His defense is solid and he can score very well. In the 2018 College Basketball season, Bates-Diop averaged 20 points, 9 rebounds, two assists, two blocks, and one steal while mostly playing the Small-Forward position for the Buckeyes. The Pacers don't have much money invested in Bojan Bogdanovic for the 2018-19 season, so if they wanted to go a cheaper route, Bates-Diop is already ready for the NBA with a 6'8" 225 lb frame. He is one of the few players later on in the draft that could be apart of a rotation, and possibly even start right away.
DeAnthony Melton to the Portland Trail Blazers The Portland Trail Blazers will likely need a new backup point-guard this offseason when All-Star snub Shabazz Napier likely departs from the team. Napier, who had the best season of his career last season, averaged almost nine points per game backing up Damian Lillard, which certainly is not insignificant considering Lillard was voted onto the All-NBA first team earlier this week. Melton has all of the tools to become a good player at the next level, with even a chance to become a starting level player. Melton was not eligible to play for USC this past season due to his part in an NCAA money scandal. However, that does not take away his ability in any sense. The only major weakness in his game for the 2016-17 season was his jump shot, which looks like it has come a long way judging by the NBA combine scrimmages. Melton has a plus-defensive impact and the ability to play either guard spot. The only reason he is not more highly regarded is due to, again, his ineligibility for the 2017-18 season.
Wendell Carter to the Chicago Bulls The Chicago Bulls lucked out when they picked Lauri Markkanen in last year's draft after trading away All-Star wing Jimmy Butler and the 16th pick for Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine, and the seventh pick. Markkanen was one of the best rookies in the league last year, averaging 15 points, eight rebounds, along with one steal and one block. Wendell Carter would be the perfect player to pair alongside Markkanen as he has shown some ability to be an elite-Al Horford type defender at the next level. Carter projects to be a 4/5 in the NBA. He can stretch the floor and already has an NBA frame. Wendell Carter isn't a sexy pick by any means, but he definitely will get the job done for whatever team decides to pick him, whether it is the Bulls or not.