The 2018 NBA draft has concluded. Now players and teams officially begin their relationship which both sides hope to last a long time. As with all relationships, fit and chemistry matters. To that end, this article looks at perfect fit NBA draftees, players, and teams that match each other.
The Slovenian Sniper
Start with the obvious, Luka Doncic. While many are afraid to anoint Doncic as the star that he is, the fact is he is well on his way to becoming a legend. Here are some quick facts about Doncic. At age 19, Doncic has been Euroleague MVP, Euroleague Final Four MVP, Liga ACB MVP, 2-time Euroleague Rising Star, 2-time ACB Best Young Player, and All Euroleague First Team as well as All Liga ACB First Team awardee. What more does a team need to be convinced? Evidently a lot. Both the Phoenix Suns (coached by Doncic’s national team Igor Kokoskov) and the Sacramento Kings (incompetent run continues) thought better of selecting him.
The Atlanta Hawks selected Doncic and promptly traded him to the Dallas Mavericks for the rights to Trae Young. GM Donnie Nelson and team owner Mark Cuban sees Doncic as the replacement to superstar Dirk Nowitzki. Coach Rick Carlisle sees Doncic as a blank canvas. The potential greatness of Dennis Smith Jr. and Doncic has the Mavericks salivating at the mouth.
The Duke Devil
Next up Grayson Allen. The former Duke captain was once touted as a lottery pick a few years previous, but inconsistent play combined with an inability to control his emotions caused his star to dip and stock to slip. While at Duke, Allen played with players like Brandon Ingram, Jahlil Okafor, Jayson Tatum, Tyus Jones, Marvin Bagley III, Wendell Carter Jr. and Quinn Cook. What can’t be denied however is Allen’s love for the game or his insatiable drive to win. After repairing his image, Allen entered the draft but needed to be taken by the correct team. The perfect team if you will.
Enter the Utah Jazz. Led by former Duke assistant coach Quin Snyder, the Jazz is quietly rising up the ranks of the NBA’s elite. GM Dennis Lindsey’s smooth, thoughtful, slow-building philosophy has borne fruit. The Jazz is one of the toughest, most disciplined, well-coached units in the league. Lindsey, a former Spurs disciple believes in a certain set of principles, echoed by Snyder and adopted by the team. Allen fits in perfectly as he projects to provide needed assistance to both positions. While playing with point guard Ricky Rubio, Allen can provide an offensive punch, but more importantly Allen and rising star Donovan Mitchell can become one of the NBA’s most dynamic backcourts. With the structure in place both on and off the court, the Jazz seems like a perfect situation for Allen to step into.
The Celtics do it again
Danny Ainge and the Boston Celtics can do no wrong it seems. The luck of the four-leaf clover remained ever powerful. While the Celtics held the 27th pick, they selected talented center Robert Williams III. Williams was projected as a lottery talent but fell allegedly due to off the court issues. The Co-SEC Defensive player of the year stands at 6’10 with a 7’4 wingspan. Williams is also blessed with an innate ability to rebound in traffic. Athletically, Williams compares favorably to a player like Clint Capela, or a young DeAndre Jordan. Williams has the ability to bounce similarly to a pogo stick.
On offense, Williams is an aggressive rim-runner and provides vertical spacing due to his leaping ability. Defensively, Williams rebounding and shot-blocking capabilities will pay huge dividends for a Celtics team on the brink of greatness. Coach Brad Stevens must be ecstatic at the thought of teaming up Williams with perennial all-star Al Horford. Horford’s wisdom, experience, and leadership will aid Williams as he develops into the force Ainge projects him to be. The possibilities seemed endless for the Celtics before the draft. But now with the Williams addition combined with the return of all-stars Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward who knows how far the Celtics will climb next season.
Another diamond in the Rough for the Spurs
Okay, Lonnie Walker IV. Why is the rest of the NBA content with giving the San Antonio Spurs such amazing, high-end raw materials? Standing 6’5 with an incredible 6’10 wingspan, Walker is easily the most athletic wing in the draft. That said, Walker fell to the Spurs at 18. Walker is not the finished product by any means but the talent is self-evident. Expect Walker to grow from strength to strength under the tutelage of coach Greg Popovich. Afterall, Popovich developed a player (Kawhi Leonard) drafted 15th overall into a Defensive Player of the Year and MVP candidate. Like Leonard, Walker will start contributing on the defensive end immediately.
Walker professes to have a great work ethic and will be coached up by the Spurs renowned development staff from day one. While results may not show as immediately as Leonard’s, rest assured that Walker is a player to take seriously. Yes, even with that interesting hairstyle.
The Ultimate X-Factor
Lastly, there’s the elephant in the room, Michael Porter Jr. Porter was projected as the first overall pick prior to last season’s draft. Porter stands at 6’10, with a 7’1 wingspan and a standing reach of over 9 feet. A player that made scouts, analysts and NBA players droll, Michael Porter showed he was the epitome of the new stretch 4. Unfortunately, he was yet to enroll in college.
A player that can do it all, Porter became a victim to fate as a back injury and surgery limited him to playing less than an hour throughout his freshmen season at the University of Missouri. Throughout the draft process, rumors persisted that Porter was not quite right. Porter’s reluctance to share his medical information with some teams further inflamed the situation. There was also the canceled pre-draft workout allegedly due to hip pain. The inherent questions and innuendo about him being a good teammate also arose.
Enter the Denver Nuggets who at 14 chose to take a chance on Porter. At 14 seems like a perfect place or even below it to make such a gamble. The Nuggets were in the playoffs race all the way up to the last week of the regular season last year. There is no need to hurry Porter as the team is not in dire straits without him currently. Porter may miss the entire 2018-19 regular season so that’s good news. However, if just if Michael Porter returns to the player he was pre-injury, then the Nuggets gambit would have paid off handsomely. This is a win-win situation for the Nuggets either way as players drafted this late usually don’t turn out to be all-stars anyway (except Leonard of course).
In closing, these five players and respective teams each project to form symbiotic relationships with each other. These are perfect fit draftees. The players provide the talent while the teams provide the platform and guidance necessary to have them blossom. The next few seasons will prove fascinating to watch as the relationship between player and team grow and ultimately bloom.
Videos courtesy ESPN Draft Express