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The Downbeat #1308 - The Draft Front Office Edition

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Did everyone catch Clark's Honest Discussion with the Utah Jazz GM post from saturday? If you didn't, go check it out. That post, along with the ousting of Kansas yesterday afternoon, got me thinking about the draft... specifically, about teams making a mistake in the draft. Every team has made a mistake in one draft or another, and this year's lotto teams feature mostly GMs early in their tenure, but what teams drafting above the Jazz have made the best decisions? Which teams have bad draft history? What is the chance that a player "falls" to the Jazz? This Downbeat will take a look at these questions. We'll look at the current GM, any history that can be put together (try and keep it to 5 years), and where they'll draft for "need."

Milwaukee Bucks:

If we analyze this by current draft order, this spot belongs to the Bucks. Try as the Sixers might, the Bucks OWN this spot. Don't believe me? Last night the Bucks lost to the Kings. At home. By 17. They're  not letting go of the worst record. Let's look

GM: John Hammond

Hammond won Executive of the Year in 2010 for that Bucks team that won 46 games and made the playoffs for the first time in 4 years. No one will argue that Hammond has made some questionable trades and signings in the last few seasons (That weird JJ Redick trade?), but he has been fairly solid drafting.

Draft History:

Hits: Antetokounmpo and Henson look like they'll be at least solid rotation players. Larry Sanders has huge defensive potential. Brandon Jennings has question marks now, but he certainly helped the Bucks during his time there. Jodie Meeks was a second rounder that blossomed into a good rotation player.


The Bucks are truly rebuilding. They need just about everything, so they will take best player available. What they definitely need is scoring, and Jabari Parker scores.

Best guess: Jabari Parker

Philadelphia 76ers:

New Sixers coach Brett Brown recently mused about whether his team would win another game this season. As of this morning they've lost 24 straight. Their early season hot streak probably cost them the worst record.

GM: Sam Hinkie

Hinkie made a big splash in his first draft as Sixers GM trading Jrue Holiday for Nerlens Noel and the Pelicans' first round pick this year (only top-5 protected!).

Draft History:

He seemed to do well with his first pick of Michael Carter-Williams who will most likely win RoY and could be a great player.


Again... everything. The Sixers really only have Noel and MCW guaranteed in their future plans. Thaddeus Young is only 25 years old and has two more years left on his contract. He could be a good trade chip for the Sixers to get an additional player in this draft, on a draft night trade. A front court of Noel and Embiid would be interesting, though it may struggle to score. A backcourt of MCW and Exum would one of the most versatile in the league.

Best Guess: Joel Embiid

Orlando Magic:

The Magic are 4 games behind the Jazz in the win column, and likely won't be caught by any of the Western Conference teams, nor will they catch the Sixers in losses.

GM: Rob Hennigan

Hennigan took over for former Magic GM Otis Smith, just in time to see through the end of the Dwight Howard era. Considering the moves of his predecessor (The Magic are still paying Gilbert Arenas, via the "stretch provision" of the amnesty clause) the bar is set pretty low.

Draft History:

Of significance: Andrew Nicholson in 2012 and Victor Oladipo in 2013. Nicholson was a mid-first round pick that hasn't really wowed anyone, but Oladipo is a win if for no other reason than not being Anthony Bennett. The jury is still out on Nerlens Noel, who could prove to be the best player from that draft.


Like the teams above them, the Magic have need just about everywhere. Afflalo is having a great season, but he's already 28 and most likely in his prime. Like Young with the Sixers, Afflalo is a strong candidate to be moved in the offseason.

Where do the Magic go? Like the Sixers, adding Exum would make for a dynamic and exciting back court. What about the encouraging play of Randle in this tourney? Randle has looked skilled (he had 13/10 and 6 assists last game!) and aggressive. He is powerful, if a bit undersized. Randle could be the player that wows enough in the tourney to raise his stock, as Oladipo did last year. Having said that, Wiggins upside could be too much to pass up for a team in the very early stages of rebuilding.

Best Guess:

Andrew Wiggins

Let's assume the Jazz pick here. So, who's left?

Dante Exum- Exum is a relatively unknown quantity. There are serious questions about the level of competition in Australia, but he has shown that he can hold his own with high level talent in the Nike Hoops Summit and U19 FIBA games. Exum's physical attributes and ball handling ability will draw considerable interest from the Jazz (imagine him paired with any combo of Burke/Burks/Hayward).

Julius Randle- As mentioned above, Randle is probably helping himself the most in the NCAA tournament. He has shown power finishing around the rim, his passing was key in the Wildcats' victory over the darlings of Witchita State, and he has looked very confident. Of the players left on the board, he could be the most NBA ready, and that might be enticing to a team that is the closest to playoff contention of any high lottery team.

Marcus Smart- Smart had strong performances in the conference tournament and one game his team played in the big tournament. He hurt his draft standing by not leaving last year (he would have gone top 3). Smart doesn't possess the size that Exum has, which will probably hurt his standing on the Jazz's big board. Further, if any team is likely to scrutinize his attitude, it's the Jazz. The fan altercation (however justified) and his on-court behavior (flopping, whining) will be turn-offs for the Jazz front office.

Who do they take?

That was a long DB, so I'll leave you with this:

Read this post from Brother Ziller: Future NBA Stars Don't Need Their College Coaches