5 Players Who Were Drafted Into a Great Opportunity
Let’s start with the obvious. The first three players selected in this draft, Zion Williamson, Ja Morant and RJ Barrett, all landed in fruitful locations. Williamson’s new squad is both fun and in playoff contention, Morant has the reigns in Memphis and for Knicks fans actually didn’t boo their draft pick. So, what other, lesser-hyped prospects should be loving their new home?
1. Jarret Culver, 6th overall – Minnesota Timberwolves
Lately, rumors have circulated that the new Timberwolves brass has put former top draft pick Andrew Wiggins on the block. Not only does Wiggins have his consistency flaws but, he inked a massive rookie extension that will make him one of the more overpaid players in the league.
Culver is the anti-Wiggins. A lowly recruited shooting guard who from Texas, he certainly wasn’t branded a hoops hero like his new teammate, Maple Jordan. His work ethic and effort are never in question either. Culver is pliable and plays to his strengths in order to do what is best for the team, while Wiggins often tantalizes but leaves fans more frustrated than satisfied.
Positionally, Wiggins and Culver can coexist. Even if Wiggins stays a Timberwolf Culver will have a definite, immediate role. Expects fans to latch onto the Texas Tech product as some form of Wiggins relief.
2. Coby White, 7th overall – Chicago Bulls
Coming into the draft fans knew that the Bulls needed a point guard. Although Zach LaVine can handle the rock and Otto Porter gradually received more pick and roll duties towards the end of the season, the Windy City lacked a consistent point man. Enter: Coby White.
Known for his scoring prowess at North Carolina, White will be asked to run pick and roll reps until he becomes comfortable with every read. This is certainly achievable, especially with the players that will surround him while on the court.
A lineup of LaVine, Porter, and Markkanen are all good floor-spacers and I fully expect Wendell Carter to continue the upwards shooting trend he flashed while at Duke. Lanes for White should open up and help ease his transition into an NBA facilitator.
3. Grant Williams, 22nd overall – Boston Celtics
With the looming departures of Kyrie Irving and Al Horford, the Boston Celtics suddenly find themselves needing both a switchable defensive forward and a facilitator. Fortunately, Tennessee combo forward Grant Williams can do a bit of both.
As noted in a previous piece, Williams’ pre-draft strength numbers were historically impressive. Combine this with his ability to contains quicker players by using textbook fundamentals, and Williams could find himself earning Brad Steven’s trust right away.
Williams’ IQ shines while on offense as well. Marcus Smart could take over point guard duties and is an underrated passer but, the Cs may need a committee to operate the offense. Williams will be asked to do for the Celtics what he did for the Volunteers; man the offense from various spots on the court and create good chances for others.
4. Keldon Johnson, 29th overall – San Antonio Spurs
Some expected Johnson to be drafted soon after the lottery however, the Kentucky Wildcat almost fell outside of the first round. Luckily, he fell to one of the most well-run organizations in professional basketball.
While I project Johnson to be a serviceable perimeter shooter, there are plenty of scouts who question the purity of his jumper. Legendary shooting coach Chip Engelland should help. Expect Johnson to improve his release time and lower body mechanics.
There are also concerns about Johnson’s physical shape. He could stand to turn a few pounds of fat into muscle. Unless he turns into Boris Diaw, there is no way Johnson will see the court in San Antonio until he shows he has the stamina to do so. The spurs coaching staff will meld Johnson into whatever they want him to be and he should be grateful he fell to such a spot.
5. Talen Horton-Tucker, 46th pick – Los Angeles Lakers
Do I think the Lakers should have drafted Horton-Tucker? No. THT is very much a work-in-progress and the Lakers need players who can contribute to their title quest right away. But with the lack of role players in L.A, Horton-Tucker may find himself getting minutes next to LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
The Lakers cap situation is well known. It will be a struggle for them to fill out their roster with a dependable supporting cast. What’s more, they lack guard play. With a 6-foot-11 wingspan, Horton-Tucker could be tasked with defending opposing guards during pick and rolls and switching onto bigger players.
A fellow Klutch client, he has already met with both James and Davis. Perhaps these two have confidence that this high-upside pick can provide immediate help. I’m not convinced. Regardless, an opportunity exists for Horton-Tucker and it is one he must take full advantage of.