The NBA has commanded sports talk time this summer. But when it came time for their big TV show, things got a little messy. The draft was so ridden with trades that at the end it was hard to know who had who.
Because of the timing of the draft (June 20) and free agency, which begins on June 30, about a third of the 60 guys who went in the draft are involved somehow in trades.
This means a bunch of players drafted will not be wearing the uniforms of the teams who picked them.
So we won’t know how things shake out in the big picture until later this summer. You may have to buy tickets to NBA games just to see who shows.
One thing we do know: The New Orleans Pelicans, Memphis Grizzlies or New York Knicks weren’t about to let go of the first three picks, Zion Williamson, Ja Morant or R.J. Barrett.
San Antonio Spurs Draft Picks
Closer to home, another thing we know: the San Antonio Spurs like their foreign-born big men.
The Spurs had two picks in the first round and used the first of those on Luka Samanic, a 6-foot-10 power forward from Croatia.
Samanic has worked his way through the ranks of European international and club play. Though he only made second division status as a Euro pro, he made a strong enough impression in the NBA draft combine to prompt the Spurs to grab him up at No. 19.
It’s an example of the Spurs’ willingness to work with a player, if they think he will work in their system.
Then for the 29th overall pick, San Antonio took Keldon Johnson, a 6-6 small forward who was SEC Freshman of The Year at Kentucky, after averaging 13.5 points and 6 rebounds a game. He’s the wing player the Spurs needed, with shooting skills enough to hit 38 percent from 3-point range.
The Spurs other choice came up at No. 49, and they went with Mississippi State guard Quinndary Weatherspoon, who went through his senior year averaging 18.5 points a game and earning SEC first team.
The Dallas Mavs situation is a little more confusing, because they were in on one of those swaps. They had a chance at their own foreign-born player in Deividas Sirvydis, a Lithuanian.
They got their man at No. 37, but he’s only a holdover. The Mavs traded the pick to the Detroit Pistons for No. 45 in the order, who turned out to be forward Isaiah Roby of Nebraska.
It is hard to say how this deal will work for the Mavs. Sirvydis is supposed to be a more accomplished scorer, judging by his seasoning in Europe.
But Roby spent three seasons with the Cornhuskers, and worked his way into a solid performer who can play at the power or small forward positions. At 6-7, Roby is one of those long, athletic guys who can cover the perimeter as well as inside. He had two blocks a game as well as 11.8 points, and 6.9 rebounds per outing.
He may also give the Mavs some service if Dorian Finney-Smith departs with free agency.
Houston Rockets Get Leftovers
Houston made no plays in the draft, having lost their choices in past trades.
But the Rockets were not totally idle. They went out and signed a couple of undrafted guards who may be able to come off the bench and contribute.
One of them is Shamorie Ponds, who went through his junior season at St. John’s, averaging 19.7 points a game. Though his 3-point shooting was a little erratic, Ponds managed to shoot 43 percent overall from the floor. A versatile performer, the 6-1 Ponds also had 5 assists and 2 steals a game.
The Rockets also grabbed up high-scoring Chris Clemons from Campbell. Although only 5-9, Clemons found a way to get clear for better than 30 points a game, scoring from anywhere on the floor. He shot 45 percent from the field and 35 percent from 3-point range.
The Rockets are also expected to add some players who will get a shot at the summer league roster.