Cleat Geeks

Ideal NBA Draft Prospects For 3 Borderline Play-off Teams From 2015

The Golden State Warriors are the 2015 NBA Champions. Every other team, however, has a different conclusion to their season. Some exceeded expectations, others failed. Some teams shockingly made the playoffs, others missed them in disappointment. For the teams that narrowly missed the postseason, one solid draft could get them over the hump. I split this up into articles, the teams under examination will be the Oklahoma City Thunder, Utah Jazz, and Phoenix Suns in this article. While the second article will focus on the Indiana Pacers, Miami Heat, and the Charlotte Hornets.

Oklahoma City Thunder

Writing an article on how the Thunder can get back to the playoffs seems kind of pointless. They were without their MVP and still came up just one game short. They lost their coach at the conclusion of the season that had led them to the 2012 NBA Finals, only to come up short 4-1.

The Thunder are absolutely stacked with young talent. Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant are both only 3 years older than Bulls rookie Doug McDermott. The rest of the bunch would still push for a playoff spot in the East. Dion Waiters, Perry Jones, Mitch McGary, Jeremy Lamb, Enes Kanter, and Steven Adams make up a core that look younger and more talented than half of the teams in “rebuilding” mode.

That being said, there are no huge holes that desperately need to be filled. The largest one in my opinion is the hole that was opened up when Oklahoma City traded away Reggie Jackson. If the Thunder can find a solid backup point guard in the draft, they should be poised to not only make a run for the playoffs, but also an NBA Title.

They can go one of two ways while looking for the backup point guard in the draft. One way is the safe way, which would mean selecting Tyus Jones, the floor general that led his Duke squad to a National Championship. The other way, and the way I would go, is by selecting Notre Dame Guard Jerian Grant. Grant is bigger, longer, more athletic, and more NBA ready than Jones. He played in a pick and roll heavy system at Notre Dame where he excelled. He is one of the best pick and roll ball handlers in the draft which will automatically translate to the NBA game. He has all of the tools to be a great backup point guard option for the Oklahoma City Thunder for years to come.

Utah Jazz

Unlike the Thunder, the Jazz didn’t miss the playoffs because of a tragic injury to their superstar, rather just because they’re missing a few more pieces. Their young core of Gordon Hayward, Trey Burke, Derrick Favors and Dante Exum look ready to set the league on fire. They are one of the least talked about teams in the NBA, but a 38-44 record in the West is definitely worth talking about considering how young they are.

Rudy Gobert came into his own after the departure of Enes Kanter, Derrick Favors nearly averaged a double double, Gordon Hayward is one of the most underappreciated players outside of the Salt Lake region, and Trey Burke and Dante Exum are both young, talented guards. There is no must-get position or player in this draft for the Jazz. A versatile wing couldn’t hurt, and that is what they should look to do. Unless if a miracle happens and Stanley Johnson or Justice Winslow fall to them at 12, they should take a hard look at Kelly Oubre. Oubre, the unsensational freshman from Kansas still passes all of the eye tests one can think of. He’s got the size, the length, the shooting stroke, the fluidity in all of his movement, and to top it off a Swaggy P-esque haircut. If he can tap into that potential for the Jazz, they should get over the hump sooner rather than later. Even if he can’t become a key contributor right away, he will still be able to help space the floor as a spot up three point shooter and defensive wing stopper in small spurts. Think of a poor man’s Trevor Ariza this early on.

Phoenix Suns

You just have to feel bad for any professional sports fan in Arizona. The Cardinals and the Suns are both very good in their respective sports, but are just stuck in the best division/conference. If the Suns weren’t in the West, they would’ve made the playoffs the last two years. The Cardinals were in the same situation during the 2013-14 season.

Back to basketball, the Suns are loaded at the guard position. Even by sending away Goran Dragic and Isaiah Thomas, it is still packed with talent. Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight are both starters in this league, while Archie Goodwin has shown flashes of potential. If they re-sign Gerald Green, they will have an adequate small forward, Markeiff Morris is more than capable of holding down the 4 spot. The center is where it gets shaky.

Alex Len, a former lottery pick, is the current starter at center. However, if the Suns want to go to the playoffs now, they should look to upgrade that. Karl-Anthony Towns and Jahlil Okafor will be literally impossible to get, unless if they find a way to reincarnate Steve Nash from 2005 and then trade him to the Timberwolves. The next best, NBA ready center is the Player of the Year from Wisconsin. Frank Kaminsky will be able to have an immediate impact wherever he goes. He can score the ball from anywhere on the court, and though not known as a defensive stopper, he still has the size and footwork to not be a liability on that side of the court. He may not be a walking highlight reel, but 9 out of 10 times efficiency is greater than highlights. You’ll never see him overpower an opponent and finish it off with a powerful dunk, but sometimes terrific footwork is just as good, right?

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