The 2015 NBA Draft, one of the most highly anticipated events of every basketball season, took place on Thursday. Although there were a few surprises, the extremely talented young men who entered the draft were mostly chosen in a predictable order. With the majority of players aiming to play in the NBA right out of their freshman year of college, the increasingly younger group of draftees face heightened expectations and little experience past high school ball. Nineteen year old players will soon be thrust into the fire by becoming teammates and opponents with the All-Stars they have spent their lives idolizing. Let’s see exactly how the draft broke down.
To no surprise, Karl-Anthony Towns was chosen as first overall pick by the Minnesota Timberwolves, a decision which every analyst in the league predicted. The next pick was slightly surprising, however, as D’Angelo Russell was chosen second by the Los Angeles Lakers. It was generally believed Duke’s Jahlil Okafor would be picked up by LA, but General manager Mitch Kupchak said he and the franchise believed “Russell’s upside is unlimited, and we didn’t feel that way for all the players we were considering. It was clear to everybody that he was far and above, at his position, the best choice for us.” While any team should be overjoyed to add Russell to their roster, the Lakers forced the Philadelphia Sixers hand by leaving Okafor as the third pick.
Despite initial beliefs that he may not be the best fit, considering the Sixers drafted a top six player every draft for the last three years that plays the same position as Okafor, Philadelphia is confident adding another talented player to their roster won’t hurt them. Coach Brett Brown is enthused about acquiring Okafor, claiming “I knew Jahlil had great potential and is a terrific, young prospect, but I hadn’t realized what type of person we had, as well. I’m really excited to coach him, and the program is going to realize very quickly how special he is.” While the Lakers defied expectation by passing over Okafor, the Sixers are very excited about reaping the benefits of building a talented roster.
“I have to do everything that’s in my hands to turn booing fans into clapping fans… I know fans are a little harsh sometimes, but that’s how it is here in New York, and I’m ready for it.”Kristaps Porzingas
Probably the most controversial pick of the night came with the New York Knick’s fourth slot choice: Latvian star Kristaps Porzingis. Aggressive NY fans desperately sought an immediate talent who could aid the struggling team right away, and were enraged at the thought of a gangly international player who may not be NBA-ready joining the ranks. Although supporters are wary, Porzingas is a highly talented player who earned a vote of confidence from president Phil Jackson. While the Knicks are going through an intentional, but painful, 3-5 year reconstruction; Porzingas will be gaining muscle and refining his skills, which is all in accordance to Jackson’s plan. Unlike the fans, Porzingas is enthused to begin his career with the Knicks, saying “I have to do everything that’s in my hands to turn booing fans into clapping fans… I know fans are a little harsh sometimes, but that’s how it is here in New York, and I’m ready for it.”
Jerian is overjoyed to be joining the team under Phil Jackson’s rule, who claimed there were definitely “DNA considerations” when acquiring Grant.
The Knicks also acquired Jerian Grant, Horace’s nephew, after four years at Notre Dame. Grant was traded to New York after initially being chosen 19th in the draft by the Washington Wizards. Jerian is overjoyed to be joining the team under Phil Jackson’s rule, who claimed there were definitely “DNA considerations” when acquiring Grant, and will follow Horace’s footsteps by participating in Triangle offense. Jerian confidently claimed “You have to have the right players to play in the [Triangle] offense, and I think I’m a high basketball IQ guy. I think me being this old, I think I’ll be able to come in and help right now. But at the same time I can get a lot better.” Horace echoes Grant’s belief he will excel under Jackson’s guidance just as he did, reminding Knicks fans that “Jerian is a Grant. He works hard, I’ve seen it every summer when I work with him. Y’all are gonna love having Jerian on the Knicks, and you really just gotta trust Phil’s process.”