A Major Trade Shakes Up The NBA Draft

The eyes of most of the sporting world are on Russia, as the group stages of The World Cup build to a crescendo. Even in the United States, this is the biggest story of the moment. But today the NBA has stolen the headlines with the draft, as pundits and team management alike, vie to predict which young players, most of them teenagers who are years from their peak, will emerge among the next generation of stars.

The Phoenix Suns kicked off the festivities by selecting Bahamian behemoth Deandre Ayton, the dominant big man out of The University of Arizona. This was no surprise, as Ayton has the best raw tools in the draft. He was a disappointment on defense in college, given his physical dimensions and ability. But the consensus is that, as he gains experience, he will come to be a force of nature on both ends of the floor, which is why he was the clear-cut, number one pick.

There was also no surprise with the second pick as the moribund Sacramento Kings went with a safe and relatively well-developed option in Marvin Bagley III, out of Duke. Bagley also has impressive physical dimensions and tools, standing at 6'11" but adds a level of polish that many prospects lack. At age 19, he is already a devastating three-point shooter and will be a nightmare for opposing defenses right out of the gate. If he develops an elite all-around game, he could become a perennial all-star for a team that sorely needs one.

While the first two picks were widely agreed upon, the third pick of the draft is likely to leave one fanbase mired in regret for the next decade, while the other basks in their good fortune. Luka Doncic, out of Real Madrid by way of Slovenia, is regarded by some as the most polished European prospect we've ever seen. The Atlanta Hawks had him in their grasp, but traded him to the Dallas Mavericks for electrifying Oklahoma Star, Trae Young.

My feeling is that Doncic, who has already excelled at a fairly high level of professional basketball, is more likely to become a superstar who can carry a franchise into the future. Dallas struck gold in Europe once before, of course, with Dirk Nowitzki. But if he flames out, he won't be the first European prospect to do so, in spite of polish and pro experience.

Young is sensational on the court, but his slight frame and freewheeling style strike me characteristic of the dominant college star who cannot quite pull it off at the professional level, where the bodies are just too big and fast. In this regard, he reminds one of Jimmer Fredette or Reggie Bush in football. I expect him to fall somewhere between the two: either a marginal player who has moments of glory or a highly useful borderline star who never becomes a dominant force.

But if I really knew what the future holds for these prospects, I would make a lot more money. It will be fascinating to watch their careers unfold.

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