In our NBA Draft Wrap Edition of The Three Man Weave, Duane Watson and Will Strickland from TSN 1050's "1 On 1 With Will & Duane" select with the first pick in the Weave To Achieve Draft Montreal-based writer and co-host of HoopsLounge.com Marc Griffin. We'll decide upside, potential, "bouncebackability", projects and projections after a wild night in the borough of Brooklyn.
What grade does Raptors President & GM Masai Ujiri get for his first draft in Toronto?
Griffin: Incomplete. Watching Ujiri talk about Bruno Caboclo, he seems like a GM "once bitten, twice shy" after not stealing The Greek Freak, Giannis Antetokounmpo in the draft last year. I'm really befuddled by this. I spoke to my man Mota Elb (@MotaElb) who played in the same Brazilian League as Bruno. Mota said he's a good talent, but not a great talent compared to who he's facing down there. It's a very odd pick at #20 with guys like Shabazz Napier still on the board. ...But in the end, "In Masai We Trust". International scouting is something Ujiri is exceptional at, so we have to wait and see with this one.
Strickland: Is "Work In Progress" a real grade? I have to issue an incomplete. Pretty sure anytime you hear that your first round draft pick is "two years away from being two years away", it doesn't instill fan confidence in the quality of the selection. The Brazilian Kevin Durant, Bruno Caboclo, will have the opportunity to prove all the naysayers wrong as Ujiri won't stash him away in Europe, bringing him to Toronto to begin the process now.
Watson: Incomplete. While the selection of Bruno Caboclo left everyone scratching their heads, it remains to be seen if he will be the next Kevin Durant or the next Rafael Araujo. Ujiri's track record at the helm of the Raptors has earned him the benefit of the doubt. How DeAndre Daniels and Caboclo pan out in the short term will define Ujiri's grade.
With a Canadian going #1 in the NBA Draft for the second year in a row, what does this say for the future of basketball in Canada?
Griffin: I love the moment when ESPN put up banners of Wiggins, Stauskas, and Ennis, while Bill Simmons & Jalen Rose called out America's youth to pick up their game or start playing hockey. It was a backhanded compliment to how much basketball has grown in Canada. This is not a flash in the pan; this is not a fluke. People talk about these guys as the leaders of a "Golden Generation", but I believe it's something bigger than that. Canadian kids are putting down hockey sticks and picking up Naismith's game. The stats don't lie. Scouts like Tariq Sbiet are saying that our youth programs are just chalk full of excellent, high level players. We're looking at the start of movement towards Canada becoming a dominant basketball country. And the basketball globe finally has our attention.
Strickland: If having the #1 pick in two straight NBA Drafts coming from above the 49th Parallel doesn't convince the rest of the hoops world that there is major talent in Canada, nothing will. With this great wealth of talent comes a greater responsibility, however. As Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett, Tristan Thompson, Cory Joseph and other young Canadian NBAers find success in the league, the pressure on them to grow national pride for the sport will come only as a result of competing and possibly winning a medal on the global stage by or before the 2020 Olympics.
Watson: It says that Canadians have the ability to go #1 just as other nations' athletes can, the talent is there. The Canadian Basketball program has to develop its team to get the players to commit and play together, developing international experience in order to become a contending basketball power.
After three Canadians were taken in the first 18 picks, why were no more selected?
Griffin: International trade law. Nah, I'm really not sure. There were 8 Canadians Draft eligible (which is amazing in its own right) and most of them will receive summer league and camp invites. Khem Birch could have possibly stayed in school another year, but hindsight is 20/20. Yet, I can't harp on this enough: Melvin Ejim will have a solid NBA career if given the opportunity in the right system. He just needs a little faith from a GM who doesn't measure talent by height alone. Overall, I expect to see the undrafted guys busting their butts this summer to land that roster spot. Now with so many Canadians in the league, there is that motivation and beacon of hope here to actually live that hoop dream.
Strickland: If we've learned anything, it should be that this talent assessment and drafting thing is far from an exact science. Canadian hoops fans should respect the fact that there was top heavy Canadian content in this draft, with 3 of the 4 selected overall out of 8 eligible going in first 18 picks. Perspective matters. Even still, it's hard to fathom that the player of the year from one of the top conferences in the country in Melvin Ejim wasn't selected at all.
Watson: While only three Canadians were taken in the first 18 picks, Dwight Powell's second round selection made four for a record amount of Canadians taken in the draft. It is another landmark moment for Canadian basketball, slowly showing that Canada is becoming a hotbed for hoops talent.
Which team came out best in the Draft?
Griffin: Orlando. I elicited the help of draft wunderkind Phil Boileau (@SportingPhil) on this one. The Magic picked up two starters who fill immediate roster needs. No one else did that. Aaron Gordon is a monster talent with athleticism, versatility, and an NBA frame. He'll figure out the league quick. Likewise, Elfrid Payton looks like a steal at #10. Small school, great hair, big heart. And he's really driven. ...Phoenix made my sneaky favorite pick of the draft taking Tyler Ennis at #18. He's a perfect fit for their system. And for Ennis to learn from Goran Dragic who learned from Steve Nash, that's pretty damn fitting.
Strickland: With obvious, easy bake nods to Cleveland and Milwaukee, as well as a dark horse pick in Phoenix, the Orlando Magic got a bigger, stronger, faster more athletic Shawn Marion in Aaron Gordon at #4 and a serious sleeper in Elfrid Payton to help Victor Olidipo harass NBA backcourts. Whether Duane Watson's buddy Jacque Vaughn is the man to lead them to great heights may be in question. But there are some serious pieces in the Magic Kingdom again, including the monster double-double machine Nikola Vuvevic. Orlando could make a 2013-2014 Washington Wizards-leap toward respectability next season.
Watson: Boston's youth movement took another solid step with the addition of Marcus Smart who could've been a lottery pick in last year's draft and James Young, who stood out for the Kentucky Wildcats in the NCAA Championship game. Two players who can step in right away and help turn around the Celtics. Danny Ainge wins again.
Which team fared the worst in the Draft?
Griffin: Philadelphia. Go ahead and send me hate mail. Joel Embiid's medical dossier scares the living tar out of me. He's extremely talented, yes, but two stress fractures and a broken foot is red flags, loud sirens, and Sam Bowie flashbacks for me. Plus his small frame and the plopping motion of his feet as he runs, I don't like the equation at all. Listen, I think he's an all-world talent in a league that lacks dominant BIGS, but this is too huge of a risk at the #3 spot in a very deep draft. I wish him well and hate all the memes already. But talk to Anthony Bennett, Embiid has a tall mountain to climb after all these setbacks. ...On the positive side, I absolutely love Philly's new Ben Franklin logo. Yup. That's the silver lining here.
Strickland: Ok, Ok, Ok!!! Who gets to play the bad guy and say the Raptors? That said, it won't be me! Sam Hinkie doesn't care what's said about his picks for the Philadelphia 76ers. If your asset management strategy is a Fran Fraschilla quote (see: Caboclo, Bruno), may the long-suffering Sixer fan base get Tylenol and Pepto instead of pizza or burgers every time a team scores 100+ on them... and may Mr. Hinkie's domicile, email address and cell phone numbers be unlisted.
Watson: Oklahoma City Thunder. For a team that proved in the NBA Playoffs it needed support for their dynamic duo of Durant and Westbrook, they missed the boat. The collective response to Steven Adams being drafted last year was collective disbelief. But the Kiwi panned out to be an All-NBA Rookie Second Team selection. However, at #21 this year, Mitch McGary is a duplicate of last year's pick. The Thunder has built themselves on draft picks, but Sam Presti and company whiffed on this one.
The Three-Man Weave contributors are co-hosts of TSN Radio 1050's 1-on-1 with Will and Duane, Will Strickland (@WallStrizzle1) and Duane Watson (@byDuaneWatson) and guest first-round draft pick Marc Griffin (montrealmarc).