THE Sports & Swag Report

NBA Draft: Okafor, Russell, or Mudiay? Tougher choices for Lakers, Sixers, and Knicks than you think….

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With the Minnesota Timberwolves apparently set to select Kentucky big man, Karl-Anthony Towns with the overall number one pick in tonight’s NBA Draft. The emphasis has now shifted to who will be picked behind him, and where will they go? The consensus thinking has Duke big man, Jahlil Okafor going 2nd overall to the Lakers. Then, either Ohio State point guard, D’angelo Russell or Emmanuel Mudiay, who played point guard for a team in China going to the Sixes at three. However, with reports running rampant saying Russell does not want to play in Philly, and also with reports of the Lakers dangling the second pick and more for a shot at Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins, the top three to five picks could see a serious shakeup and set up some very interesting scenarios. Let’s take a look at this from each team’s perspective.

Lakers

The deal for Cousins would be the best possible scenario for L.A. It doesn’t matter how good they think anyone in this draft may be someday, when there’s a known commodity available and that known commodity can bring 24 points and 12 rebounds a game and is only 24-years-old, you take him. A deal for Cousins still seems unlikely. But, it looks a little more likely everytime Kings head coach, George Karl speaks and each day passes. There’s also the possibility of Trail Blazers free agent star forward, LaMarcus Aldridge or Cavs free agent Kevin Love coming to Tinsel Town. Something tells me that one of those deals gets done. My best bet would be Aldridge or Cousins. But, is it a slam dunk the Lakers go Okafor if it doesn’t?

It’s not like the Lakers couldn’t use a guard. That is, unless they’re banking on Jordan Clarkson being their point guard of the future. Russell, or Mudiay could step in and help right away. Russell, is the better shooter. Mudiay, is a bit more athletic and the better defender. The problem with Mudiay is we haven’t seen him play against top-quality talent. He’s been compared to Russell Westbrook . He’s a nice player and quite athletic. But, not Russ nice or Russ athletic. Not yet anyway. D’angelo Russell makes a lot of sense for the Lakers. He’s been compared to James Harden and Penny Hardaway. I can see some of that. But, he has a long way to go. Nonetheless, he could be just the guy to play next to Kobe for the next year or two, and then transition into the guy that leads the Lakers in the future. With everyone seemingly going small in the NBA these days, and Okafor not really being a guy that will play out on the perimeter, it would make a lot of sense.

Sixers

Newsflash: ‘The Plan’ coordinated by Sixers GM, Sam Hinkie isn’t working in Philly. Which isn’t a big surprise at all. For Sixers fans, they would be happy with someone who could just play for them next season. Nerlens Noel, missed his rookie season due to injury, and so did Joel Embiid, who they selected with the first pick in last year’s draft. It’s not looking good for Embiid to be back on the court for next season, either. That’s not to mention that it was announced earlier this week, that Croatian forward and 12th overall pick from last season, Dario Saric won’t be coming to Philly in 2015 or possibly even 2016. So, the Sixers have to make something happen with the third pick, or their seemingly few remaining fans in Philly are going to say adios, as well.

As mentioned above, D’angelo Russell is reportedly against going to Philly. So, what’s next? Unless there’s a trade in the works, it has to be Mudiay, because there’s no way the Sixers take Okafor. Then again, we are talking about Sam Hinkie. Who knows? He may be envisioning playing Okafor, Noel, and Embiid together someday. That would be something. Back to Mudiay. He’s not going to lead them to the playoffs next season or anywhere near it, but he gives them the point guard they need to cover up their weird trade of Michael Carter-Williams , and it looks to be the safest pick. However, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if the Sixers pick Kristaps Porzingis, 7’1″ center from Latvia. Again, it would be highly advised that the Sixers not go this route again, however the big man from Latvia has been said to be quite talented. He’s an excellent shooter with great range on his jumper. Teams have been searching high and low for the next Dirk Nowitzki , but this isn’t a practice the Sixers need to be exercising right now. Mudiay, should be the pick. Trading the pick would probably be the best scenario, however.

Knicks

It wouldn’t surprise me a bit if we see the Knicks drink a little of the Porzingis Kool-aid, either. The Knicks need a little bit of everything to put around Carmelo Anthony . This has all the makings of one of those classic Knicks picks from back in the day that left us scratching our head. Again, if Mudiay or even Russell is available at four, they would make the most sense. However, there are rumblings the Knicks would like to trade the pick, or possibly take someone like Justise Winslow from Duke. As with the Lakers and the Sixers, whatever they do with the pick, it needs to be a huge splash.

Madison Square Garden is still sold out every night. But, how much longer will that be the case for this struggling franchise? Also, will Phil Jackson continue to ignore the current state of how teams play offense in the NBA and stay with the triangle, or will he join us in the 21st Century? I think we know the answer to that question. As long as that’s the case, it probably doesn’t matter who the Knicks select tonight. Sorry Knicks fans!

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